Central Vermont's Maddub is the future of rhythm- and-roots . . . if you believe everything you read on the Internet. I don't, so I gave their new live disc a spin to see if there was any truth to the boast. It turns out there's not.
What's on offer is rambling "dubtronica" - which in Maddub's case is a convoluted hybrid of reggae, electronica, house and jam. The jam is a convoluted hybrid of rock, funk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, hip-hop, nursery rhymes and so forth.
Perhaps something is lost in the translation from stage show to pressed plastic. Had I the opportunity to experience the performance in real time, maybe I would have responded differently. Given copious amounts of narcotics, a woodsy backdrop and a glowstick or two, I may have even stepped out of time itself. Instead, I experienced Maddub's supposedly futuristic sounds from my run-of-the-mill home stereo. Where's Marty McFly when you need him?
It's not that Maddub aren't capable musicians. But many acts, local and otherwise, have done this kind of thing before, and better. Burlington's late, great Concentric comes to mind as a band that ably recreated the dance-friendly intensity of house music with live instruments. Much the same could be said of such national groups as the indie-tronic VHS or Beta and electro-jamsters the Disco Biscuits.
Maddub does have the distinction of employing a Chapman Stick player named Jofus. He certainly knows his way around this Frankenstein of an instrument. For those not in the know, the Stick is a guitar/bass hybrid on which notes are sounded by tapping with both hands. In other words, it's Eddie Van Halen's wet dream.
Actually, a part of me likes this album, but if pressed, I'd have a hard time explaining why. Of course, I am currently pressed, so I'll say this: It's got a beat and I could dance to it. Then again, so does the ring tone on my cellphone.
If Live! At the Northeast Kingdom Music Festival is the future of rhythm-and-roots, then this review is the future of American rock criticism. Hey, we've all got dreams.