- ADAD, ADAD
(Self-released, CD, digital)
A scene in the 2006 Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up and Sing illustrates how a bass player's creativity can go unrecognized. Speaking with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, singer Natalie Maines says she'd feel bad if she played bass in a band and received writing credit equal to that of her bandmates. With the central Vermont rock trio Coquette and, now, his solo project under the pseudonym ADAD, bassist Angus Davis does anything but blend into the background.
Seven Days' Jordan Adams described Coquette's 2017 album Three as chock-full of "twisting, polymorphic rhythms, strobing time signatures and interpolative vocal bursts." Davis' debut solo album, also called ADAD, is just as eclectic, woven with elements of jazz, funk, new wave and rock.
The album opener "El Rapido" signals the aforementioned Chili Peppers with its funky, shifting rhythms. I picture a festival audience tipsy on hoppy craft beer and a day of disc golf under the hot sun doing their best white-people dance moves to "Stupefio."
Several songs such as "WorldGray" and "Come on Down Now" feature lyrics looking at dynamics between men and women in relationships.
Others are plain weird. In "____ On ____," a song Dr. Frank-N-Furter could have written if he had started a band with Dick Dale and Joe Strummer, Davis sings about a barroom creep hunting his prey, only to be apprehended by the FBI and thrown in prison. "Then a glory hole / In time and space appeared / A big blue knob came out / And he was speared." OK, got it. Except I don't actually get it at all. Weird doesn't mean bad — I'm just not on Davis' plane.
Twenty-four-year-old Davis coproduced ADAD with Vincent Freeman, who recorded and mixed the album at the Underground in Randolph. Notable contributors include Davis' old Coquette bandmates Titien and Cobalt Tolbert, who pitched in on drums and vocals, respectively. Davis also scored a guest vocal appearance by Dharma Ramirez of the now-defunct Brattleboro rock band the Snaz. Singer Amanda Ukasick essentially duets with Davis on "Stupefio," sounding like a more powerful version of Burlington soul chanteuse Kat Wright.
With his first release, Davis was not only unabashedly wacky but ambitious, as well. ADAD comes with a sister album called ELECTRICS, on which eight of the nine cuts are electronic versions of the songs on ADAD. If you're into old-school video-game music, this is the version for you.
Overall, Davis' style is not my cup of tea, but his talent and unbridled quirkiness are admirable. There's truly never a dull moment on ADAD — this bass player is fully in the spotlight.
ADAD and ELECTRICS are available at adad.bandcamp.com and other streaming services.