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coverpic flag US - Tennessee - Full Moon 234 - 09/28/15

The Diet
Merge / City Slang

Can you believe it: Lambchop's Kurt Wagner has started an electronic (!) music project (named HeCTA). Wagner says that they've '...created what we consider to be a collection of songs that move and move through you, from the dashboard to the dance floor, from Decatur to Dornburg, from Dorchester to Detroit'. Lambchop goes New Order/Electronic/Revenge/Monaco. Plus many, many, many more.

It's been 3 1/2 years since Alt Country's finest, Lambchop released their latest album, Mr. M - their 11th (or 10th, depending on if you're counting 2004's Aw Cmon and No You Cmon separately or as a double album). HeCTA is quite a leap from Lambchop's style. Indeed it is. The latest release connected to Kurt Wagner was Yo La Tengo's Stuff Like That There, to which Wagner wrote the 'liner notes' (being a long-time friend/fan of YLT, who did several recording/mixing sessions in Nashville - for Electr-O-Pura, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Summer Sun, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass and Popular Songs). Anyway, the HeCTA crew counts more names from the big Lambchop family, as the 'disco house' trio project also features Ryan Norris (on synthesizers, vocoder, electric guitar, electric bass, synth bass, programming, and editing) and Scott Martin (on drums, percussion, piano, synths, programming, editing). However, this 'dance' project was not what I expected to come from the hands and mouth (and mind) of Wagner (voice, keyboards, programming, editing).

On The Diet, Wagner and co. has worked Nashville producer Jeremy Ferguson (of Battle Tapes Recording studio - who's worked with Josh Rouse, Cerys Matthews, Be Your Own Pet, Turbo Fruits, The Carter Administration, PUJOL and several others), plus NY nu-disco producer/remixer/DJ Morgan 'Storm Queen' Geist, and Chicago-based drummer/producer John McEntire (of The Sea and Cake, Tortoise) - who has also worked with Yo La Tengo (producing Fade). Some of HeCTA's songs holds Wagner's signature voice (and partly the dazed and comfortable Lambchop style), such as "Like You're Worth It", "Change is in Our Pocket", "We Are Glistening" and "We Bitched We Bovvered and We Buildered". Even "Sympathy for the Auto Industry" has Lambchop in it, except there are beats and rhythms all over. At first, I am sort of sidelined by the rhythm patterns driving the songs, but I must admit there are some cool tracks in here. Such as "Till Someone Gets Hurt", plus the already mentioned "Sympathy for the Auto Industry" and "We Bitched...". That said, I'm having problems with some songs, like "Prettyghetto" and "The Concept", and I guess the players are having most of the fun here. It must have been fun for Wagner and co,, doing something completely different - and totally unexpected. Tongue-in-cheek? I don't know for sure. Like Kurt Wagner (a.k.a. Kurtx) has stated:

'Suck it up, hippies. This music is our attempt to extend the boundaries of our expression and have some fun. It's not Americana, house, techno, trap, juke, or blaze. Why would it be? And like any good diet, it will be reviled then ultimately loved by all who give it a chance to work its way into their lives. We love you for trying, and we're trying to love you back.'

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