CD Review: Puscifer – Donkey Punch the Night EP

[ 0 ] February 18, 2013 |

puscifer donkey punch the night ep Review by Ellen Eldridge

 

I get nervous with my Puscifer CDs because I know I will want them around to comfort me when I need a pick me up song full of boldly layered lines and powerfully dynamic vocals. Many Tool fans assume Puscifer is frontman Maynard James Keenan’s bastard child; a joke band that not even he takes seriously, but anyone who listened to Conditions of My Parole would instantly disagree in favor of its musical prowess and deep thematic content.

Keenan sinks all of his self into all of his projects. A quick look past the EP’s explicit imagery, and the crazy redneck getups and trailer park jokes broadcast via video at Puscifer live shows, will betray the earnest and heartfelt integrity in the music.

The reason Keenan claimed to feel pressured to put out the Donkey Punch the Night EP involved a strong desire to tackle Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which he pulls off with classic style and professional fervor.

“While continuing our tradition of releasing a few new songs at a time,” explained Keenan, “I also had an itch that needed scratching, and that itch was ‘Balls to the Wall,’ which was followed by an even harder to reach itch known as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’  And scratch them we did.”

Fans will hear Keenan’s take on Freddy Mercury’s famous song, but I would have loved it if Keenan had taken more artistic liberty; I never for a second doubted Keenan could pull off the technical vocal aspects so I would have relished his taking the rhapsody for a ride.

With Accept’s classic “Balls to the Wall,” Keenan removes the grit and similarity to an AC/DC tune. Puscifer truly transforms the 1984 track into a moody modern hit full of pillow-biting fury and inline rhythm topped with smooth, mellow vocals. The immediacy of Accept’s version feels stripped; when Keenan sings “Balls to the wall” it sounds like something to enjoy.  The female background vocals make the song sweet and moving.

The collection features two new songs written by Keenan and Puscifer cohorts Mat Mitchell, Carina Round and Josh Eustis: “Breathe” and “Dear Brother” as well. Though I consider the “Drumcell rework” remix a throw-away, “Breathe” won me over just as much if not more than “Dear Brother,” whose “Denton remix” actually starts more stoutly with harder grab. I honestly can’t decide which version I like more. These two new tracks alone (with or without the remixes) make the EP worth the investment, even for those uninterested in the band’s covers.

Donkey Punch the Night was recorded in Jerome, Ariz. in Keenan’s Caduceus Cellars (www.caduceus.org) with the same roster from 2011′s Conditions of My Parole (Keenan, Mitchell, Round, Eustis, bass player Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl) and guests Zac Rae (piano), Juliette Commagere (vocals), Josh Morreau (bass) and Claire Acey (vocals).

 

 

Donkey Punch the Night track track list:

 

1.  Bohemian Rhapsody “O.G. Mix”

2.  Breathe

3.  Dear Brother

4.  Balls To The Wall “PIllow Fight Mix”

5.  Breathe “Drumcell rework”

6.  Dear Brother “Denton rework” (Big Black Delta)

7.  Balls To The Wall “Silent Servant El Guapo Mix”

 

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