The Bilge Pumps,
The Idiodyssey
(Ibidis Mortem, 2012)

Kudos for persistence, and a certain kind of bravery. The Bilge Pumps have been reviewed here three times before, and never with too much enthusiasm for their peculiar brand of piratical bombast. And yet, one of the band members -- Craig Lutke, a.k.a. Maroon the Shantyman -- wrote to me late last year to pitch their latest album.

I know we Bilge Pumps can be viewed as gluttons for punishment based upon your past reviews of our albums, but we always like to get valid opinions of our albums and are curious to see what you think of our latest.

Bold! Gallant, even! I wish I could reward Craig's optimism in kind, but sadly, my former opinion holds true.

These guys just aren't great singers. Some of them are worse than others, although I can't bring myself to point fingers at the biggest offenders. Overall, they do much better when they sing as a group; some of the solo performances will make you cringe.

The thing is, fans of the Bilge Pumps down Texas way, where they haunt fairs and festivals and the like, probably love these guys. They are enthusiastic and hearty and loud. In a live setting -- moreso in a fair environment, rather than a sit-down concert somewhere with a proper number of forks to account for -- they're probably oodles of fun. Heck, I'd probably find myself singing along, even though my own voice ain't no great shakes, neither.

Most of the songs here are familiar, in one form or another. Look for titles like "Bonnie Ship the Diamond," "Johnny Jump Up," "Blow the Man Down," "Lowlands Low," "Nancy Whiskey" and "The Mermaid," among others.

But on a CD, where you lose that vital "coming to you live" atmosphere and are faced only with repeated playings of songs where key is more an impression than actual science, I just can't recommend exposing your ears to the assault. Yes, they're pirates, but even pirates don't have to be cruel.

If you don't believe me, follow the link to their album on Amazon and listen to a few MP3 samples. Hey, if you like 'em, buy 'em -- persistence deserves some reward.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Tom Knapp

1 March 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new