Scrapomatic - I'm a Stranger
Record Label: Landslide Records
Release Date: Aug. 14, 2012
Every now and then you have to take a left turn and listen to something different.
I'm a Stranger is the fourth record from a Florida band comprised of Mike Mattison and Paul Olsen. Truth be told this is Mattison's moonlighting gig as he mostly makes his rent writing for the Grammy Award-winning act the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Olsen is an in-demand New York musical director with two ASCAP songwritign awards to his name. On I'm A Stranger, the band has added guitarist Dave Yorke, bassist Ted Pecchio and drummer Tyler Greenwell, ultimately making this album a true group effort. Stylistically, the disc incorporates an amalgam of different sounds, making for a mixed bag of a release. It is far from perfect, and even farther from revolutionary, but it is engaging, earnest and in many places, expertly done.
The most immediate and accessible of the dozen is "I'm a Stranger (And I Love the Night)," a breezy and whimsical slice of autumnal Americana. The easiest comparison is probably something between The Eagles and Wilco. "Don't Fall Apart On Me Baby," is gauzy and light and feels akin to something one might listen to while curling up in a hammock on a hazy summer afternoon. Despite the desperation in the verses, there's an airy vibe to this from the opening note. Being that Mattison makes his pay in a blues band, one would expect to hear a good howler or two. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the guitar-driven "Crime Fighter," a bruiser of a cut that is sexy, sleek and quintessential blues. Other notable cuts include the swampy bayou song "Alligator Love Cry," the restrained and ruminative "Night Trains, Distant Whistles," the horn-driven "Malibu," and the Randy Newman-esque "How Unfortunate For Me."
But I'm a Stranger does have its hiccups. "Rat Trap," sounds hollow and forced, as if Mattison is trying too hard; "The Mother Of My Wolf," is buoyant and howling but doesn't really go anywhere; and "Gentrification Blues," is as absolutely uninspiring and vacant closer. In the end, while it is inconsistent in places, there's enough to like here. That in and of itself is enough to keep one anxious for a Scrapomatic follow-up.