How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Here's a concisely arranged, quaint and slightly off-kilter effort from a crew of New York City musicians who generally shun the straight and narrow. Organist Jamie Shaft commences the opener, "Whatever Lola Wants," with an eerie, low-pitched groove followed by David Tronzo's wily slide guitar ruminations. The band continues to meld laid back, funk vibes with country blues and rock backbeats on many of these works. Saft's haunting organ motif serves as the underpinning for Tronzo's dreamy guitar and the group's altogether sullen soundscapes created on "Crawl." However, drummer Kenny Wollesen drags the pulse with his brushes while Tronzo consummates "Lane" with a Nashville flavor with his wistful pedal steel guitar work.
The musicians chart a course of quirkily fabricated themes and whispery choruses, although they provide an edge largely due to their unorthodox voicings and intermittent injections of humor and wit. They finalize the recording with a cacophonous, free improv fest on "Figure 1." Overall, El Oh El Ay is a fun outing, as the respective artists' distinct musical personalities provide that winning formula.