The second album from the Lone Star State’s The Texas Gentlemen is a maelstrom of styles and influences. Floor It!!! Now!!!
Release Date: 17th July 2020
Label: New West Records
Formats: CD / DL / LP
Floor It!!! is the second album from the Lone Star State’s Texas Gentlemen and follows their 2017 debut, TX Jelly. It’s a highly intriguing album, bursting with energy that encompasses a whole range of musical styles and oozes their influence.
I’ve genuinely never heard anything quite like this; Dixieland Jazz, prog rock, southern boogie and 30s balladry are all mixed in together, sometimes all in the same song to produce a collection of tunes that go anywhere and everywhere and are utterly unpredictable. The album wears its influences on its sleeve and strains of Dylan, the Band, The Beatles, Tumbleweed-era Elton John, and particularly Little Feat are exuded throughout, yet the end result manages to be absolutely unique.
Even the album’s packaging is quirky. Physical copies of album come complete with full-sized board game and vinyl purchasers are offered the choice of a limited edition blue, red and yellow vinyl copy, or even what’s described as a “sticky icky vinyl green with orange splatter edition…” Hmmm….
Album opener, Veal Cutlass is a bold, brassy, Dixieland tune full of swooping trombone, crashing drums and swirling piano. It’s short, not at all sweet and gives no indication of what’s to come. It’s hard to believe that the second track, Bare Maximum, a funky, rocky instrumental that features yet more prominent brass work and is just one of the tunes to evoke Little Feat, is played by the same band!
Ain’t Nothing New sounds like The Band in their pomp and Train To Avesta is the first of the songs to conduct a trick that is a feature of this album. It starts as a soft piano ballad, before morphing into something completely different – in this case, a stomping Southern rocker.
For me, it’s the string of tracks in the middle of the album’s running order that particularly distinguish Floor It!!! Easy St is one of the longer tracks that rambles everywhere and manages to pack in a Chinese-sounding intro and refrain, some more Little Feat sounds, some wonderful funky piano and even a pastiche of Blowin’ In The Wind. Hard Rd is a tasty, jazzy 1930’s ballad with lush piano and smooth strings and the instrumental Dark End Of The Tunnel is a slow-building piece, almost ambient in its feel, with an insistent backing lick that provides lots of space for strings, synth and piano to run riot.
Sing Me To Sleep is one of the album’s more accessible numbers, a rambling song with vocals that recall John Lennon at his arrogant, confident best and a fatally catchy chorus, and Last Call takes White Album period Beatles (think I’m So Tired), Elton John and Sly and the Family Stone and mixes them together to produce a bafflingly well-structured masterpiece.
The album’s closer, the title track, is a demented southern boogie and, at 8:23, the longest track on the album. Like several of the other tracks, the main theme of the song morphs, for the final minute, into something unrelated and other-worldly; this time a slightly unsettling playout refrain, before morphing once more into a final blast of Dixieland Jazz.
Floor It!!! is an amazing album, quite unlike anything else I’ve ever heard and its success in bringing together such a mix of styles and influences makes it an album that deserves to be heard. It was recorded at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Niles City Sound in Fort Worth and at Producer Matt Pence’s own EchoLab Studios in Denton, Texas.
Listen to Bare Maximum here: