It’s easy to get tangled up in this album’s tale of two families without ever getting to the music. A primer: Tangletown leader, Seth Zimmerman, is the nephew of Bob Dylan and cousin to Jakob. The album is the first released on ex-Prince & the Revolution drummer Bobby Z’s Zinc Records; the production credits include not only Zimmerman and Bobby Z but brother David Z (Prince, Fine Young Cannibals).
In case you were worrying, however, Ordinary Freaks sounds nothing like “Dylan & the Revolution”. It does, however, show Zimmerman’s affinity for the rootsy vibe of The Band, the pop of Big Star and the rough edges of the Replacements. This is the kind of album that plays itself repeatedly in your head for days after the stereo has been shut off.
From midtempo rockers such as “See Right Through” to the slow-dance closer “Rubber Road”, the band nails every song dead-on with fuzzed out guitars, gritty vocals, tight grooves and countless hooks. The MVP award, however, goes to Peter J. Sands for his understated piano, Hammond and Wurlitzer contributions. Throughout, Sands sidesteps flash for a series of restrained, tasteful choices that seem to leap out of the speakers.
So never mind the family tree. If you’re looking to ponder Dylan’s lyrical elegance, look to Dylan. If you’re looking for an addictive blend of roots-rock and power-pop, check out Tangletown.