Album Review: Honker by Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra

i first ran across Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra by way of the excellent The Late Greats (which i just found out today is back on Word Press since Blogger decided to shut him down a while back). At the time, they were hawking “Girl From the Renaissance Faire,” a song which, to this day, remains a favorite at Chez Terrible. i think i even put the song’s CD, Mr. Softy, in my Top 10 of the Year list at whatever music site i was writing for at the time (yes, your Uncle Terrible is a slut like that). It wasn’t exactly the funniest song i ever heard, and maybe not the wittiest, but Lords of Light, it was the somethingest song i ever heard, and that was good enough for me. My interweb searches taught me that this talented group of assumed gentlemen were seemingly adamantly Brooklyn-based, so the likelihood of me seeing them anytime in the near future seemed unlikely.

So when i received an email from the fine PR folks representing Lipton and his newest CD, Honker, well, i was happier than, well, The Missus’ best friend at a Ren Faire, i suppose (who loves ya’, Lauren?). When i somehow finagled a copy to review, well, words fail me.

Fortunately, such a problem never seems to be the case for Lipton and his cohorts. While their style typically lands in the lounge arena of jazz, this is by no means a belittling of their talent. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Think the opposite of Richard Cheese and more English Major with a great backing band. You’ve got an extremely talented group of musicians here, and if not for the lyrics that often make one think, their songs, while arguably less memorable, could easily fit in with some of the better jazz orchestras out there today. Fortunately, Lipton is a master wordsmith, and he does not disappoint on Honker. The man is capable of eliciting damn near every emotional response imaginable over the course of the album. He is at times sweet and romantic (Wonderful), sarcastic (Poor Old Whitey), sympathetic (You Were Right + It’s OK), sincere (I’m Sorry), educational (Wash Hands), humorous (My Pit Bull), and just “right” (Showing My Love). And that’s not even half the CD.

Basically, we’ve got an extremely talented group of cats fronted by one of the best lyricists working today, making this ideal for music lovers and nerds alike. Essentially, a damn fine product no matter how you slice it.

Regretfully for those of us outside of the Brooklyn area, it looks like Ethan and the boys upcoming shows to promote the release are only going to be inside the Brooklyn area. However, if you find yourself in that neck of the woods, well then, there you go.

June 26 – 8:00pm – Two Sets, Barbes, 376 9th St, Brooklyn, NY
June 29 – 7:00pm – Two Sets,The Living Room, 154 Ludlow Street, New York, NY

June 30 – 8:00pm – Two Sets,Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY

July 1 – 8:00pm – Two Sets, Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen Street, New York, NY

Now get out there and support these cats. A good time surely will be had by all. Just don’t ask the guy to sign any contracts.

mp3: Girl from the Renaissance Faire (Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra from Mr. Softy)

mp3: When You Die (featuring Matt Berninger of The National, Cynthia Hopkins & Dryden Middle School students) (Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra from Honker)

mp3: You Were Right + It’s OK (Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra from Honker)

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