There will always be the time when a piece of music speaks to you or even jumps out and grabs you by surprise. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe‘s New Ammo completely blindsided me. I made the mistake of starting passively – only listening while I worked. It would only make sense though, that you really have to focus in before you can fully realize the vastness of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. The new album was released just a couple of weeks ago and features some of the most diverse playing from the band to date. Between the touches of funk, jazz, blues, and reggae, you hear their unique sound throughout each of the thirteen tracks.
The album starts with the combination of two songs driven by prominent riffs yet different in their approach. The first song “Grenadiers” crawls in with a darker sound, while the reggae-inspired “Three Trials of Strength” has a warmth to the track. The two provide a contrasting calibration, preparing you to take on the rest of the album. As you progress through each song, it becomes apparent that this is a heavier side of Mr. Denson. While the album still has that wide variety of influences that we’re used to, this release just has a little more edge than what we’ve seen in the past.
The title track is where the album begins to establish itself with a firm groove and plenty of room for Karl Denson to stretch his legs on the sax. The first solo runs just over a minute, yet finds the time to express so much in the short amount of time. Newly added guitarist DJ Williams takes the baton in full stride and lights it up before a drum solo that fully demonstrates how much the band came to play on this album.
Scattered throughout the album are a few covers, including their spin on the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” the Cold War Kids’ “Hang Me Up To Dry,” and the Beastie Boys’ “Sure Shot.” While not particularly inventive with any of the tracks, they still fit in nicely with the rest of the songs on the album.
Overall, the album sounded great with far too many highlights to individually call out; this could easily wind up being a top album when 2014 wraps up. Without spoiling anything further, one final must-listen is the song “Odysseus.” This ten and a half minute marathon requires your full attention with the volume cranked for the full experience. The layers within this masterpiece are simply beautiful and it really shows what this band is capable of.
Key Tracks: New Ammo, Malgorium, Odysseus
Check out the cover of the Beastie Boy’s “Sure Shot” below and pickup the new album on iTunes.
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