Hectic Watermelon – The Great American Road Trip
John Czajkowski: Guitars
Darren DeBree: Drums and Percussion
Harley Magsino: Basses
Featuring Jerry Goodman: Electric Violin
I: The Great American Road Trip
1. Sacred Watershed
2. The Third Derivative of James Brown
3. Bionic Hillbilly
4. F Street Fulano
II: Subterranean Suite
5. Dreams of Concrete Jungles
6. Subterranean Rapid Transit
7. Layover in Hamemet
8. Stray Dogs Messaging Project
III: Homeward Travelers
9. Steve’s Stunt Double
10. Twenty-first Century Visigoth
11. Bullets, Dice and 30 Megabytes
With so much competition in the marketplace, musicians can find it difficult to make an original musical statement that separates them from the pack. I mean, how often have you described someone’s playing by saying “He sounds a little (or a lot) like…”? Not everyone will be a true innovator. But there are musician’s who take their influences, add healthy doses of their own unique talent, and manage to push the musical envelope with their creativity. The music on The Great American Road Trip by Hectic Watermelon is a very good example of that process.
As the title hints at, the CD is about travel. The songs of guitarist John Czajkowski vividly capture the feeling of being on the road. The band is tight and handles the different styles and gear shifts of the pieces with ease. I got acquainted with this CD during my daily commute. I often caught myself doing at least 10 over the speed limit; focusing on the music rather than the gas pedal. The music became a soundtrack to my highway drive.
But scrutiny with headphones is where these tracks reveal themselves. Czajkowski’s layered guitars, sonic effects, and production not only give the sensation of taking you somewhere, they allow your mind’s eye to actually visualize the journey. The various guitar tones have a lot of contrast within the songs, and are some of the best I’ve heard in awhile. The highly distorted and scooped guitar tone is grungy and nasty; just the way I like it – and just the way it should be.
Listed as a special guest, violin virtuoso Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Dregs) plays on 9 of the 11 tracks. These pieces offer a chance to hear him play some great unison lines with Czajkowski, and to showcase some of that patented “Goodman Grit” during his solos.
Some disc highlights:
Sacred Watershed: brightly chimed chords with a slight delayed reverb start the aural trip. A distorted guitar playing some wicked licks is panned swirling in and out of the mix as the layered guitars conjure images of riding through the heartland.
The Third Derivative of James Brown: take a monster rock riff, add some old-school fusion, and just a dash of hip-hop and you are haulin’ some serious ass on the highway.
Subterranean Rapid Transit: another monster riff with band sounding like a Prog-band on steroids. You’re still on the highway, but you’re on a Hawg.
Steve’s Stunt Double: as in “Steve Morse”. If you’re jonesin’ for some new Dregs material, this might do.
Twenty-first Century Visigoth: At first I thought the band was about to commit the Cardinal Sin of ruining a great instrumental CD with vocals. But with the vocals done with a sense of humor and a nod toward the Indian scatting of John McLaughlin’s Shakti; combined with a stonkin’ riff, stacked guitars, and the rhythm section flexing some muscle…all was forgiven.
Check out The Great American Road Trip. The music sounds a lot like…Hectic Watermelon.