If music were food, my favorite restaurant would be in Austin, Texas. And one of my very favorite chefs would be Bob Schneider. Bob is an incredible musician and songwriter, and he’s been consistently serving up some mighty tasty morsels for a while now. His latest offering, King Kong, is no exception.
I’ve loved Bob since I discovered him through the work of bassist Bruce Hughes – they’ve been playing off and on together for years. Once I heard Bob, I was hooked. Everyone always asks me, “what kind of music does he play?” I’m never quite sure how to answer. Austin Rock? Acoustic Funk? Alternative Ass Stompin’? Texas Reggae? Tough question. He’s so prolific that his style is hard to categorize. I simply shrug and say “it’s just damn good is all.”
I’ve been lucky enough to see him play live quite a few times – in Tulsa, Dallas, Austin, Luckenbach, Gruene… I’ve gotten to see him with his full band, I’ve seen him solo, and I’ve seen him with Lonelyland at the Saxon Pub. Bob tours a lot – if you EVER have the chance to see him, do it. Just – do it. Whatever iteration you see, you won’t be sorry.
The New Record/s.
I follow Bob on the FaceBooks, and last fall I saw a post inviting me to invest in his next recording project, King Kong. By signing up on PledgeMusic, I could pre-order an autographed copy of the CD when it came out, and by doing so, provide Bob with money to help record the album. Sign me up, that’s something I can get behind. Win-win!
There are, as of this writing, still several autographed CDs available over at PledgeMusic, and you can download the full album there, too. He’s also released ten songs from the record as two EPs, available on Amazon. I’m not sure why he did this – maybe someday if I ever get to meet him or interview him, I’ll ask… but for the purposes of this article I’m referring to the full 15 song album. Since this is a large, filling meal, I’ve broken it down by course, highlighting a few songs from each one. So pull up a chair, tuck your napkin in under your chin, and grab your fork and knife.
Welcome to Chez Bob
The record starts off with “Han Solo,” a great appetizer, informing you that the music to follow is going to be one tasty meal. It’s a welcoming song, inviting you to sit down and join him at the table. It’s so quintessential Bob, with those clever words and that friendly melody. “I’m your Chewbacca, you’re my Han Solo…” He’s letting you know, it’s going to be just the two of you dining together tonight.
First Course: Keep it Light
The first course consists of “Stars Over Your House,” “Fools,” and “Dirty Feeling,” all of which have just the right amount of tangy seasoning. Apparently “Stars Over Your House” is getting some national radio play, and rightfully so. It’s very accessible and very, very catchy. And happy. That’s two optimistic songs in a row! Is Bob getting soft in his old age? Nope. He might be mellowing out a bit but he’s still got some bite.
“Fools” is one of my favorite songs on the record. At first it sounds as if he’s dishing out some criticism against his fellow humans – fools are everywhere you turn! Working on a trailer for a movie, opening convenience stores… “there on the ocean, drink in their hand, and a smile… on their shoulder, the weight of the world…” But at the very end of the song, he admits to being a fool, too. A surprise twist, and easy to miss if you don’t listen closely. Thank you Bob, for putting it all in the proper perspective and serving up some humble pie – in a happily snarky sort of way.
Bob Brings the Heat.
The second course of the meal gets a little spicier. Up till now we’ve heard some nice, vegetarian music. But “Ventilation” puts some meat on the table, and I’m all in. I might be biased here, but one of the very best things about this song is the bass. Yes I have a predisposition towards deliciously awesome bass, but even the most casual of King Kong diners will admit there’s some super tasty little bites in this song. Hoo! Spicy! On multiple occasions, I’ve cranked this one up in the car and hit repeat. The chorus is addictive, and also sets a steamy tone. I don’t usually care for spicy all that much, but when it comes to a meal like this one, I’ll take a double-helping please.
We then head into “Cheaper” – another delicious serving of hot and spicy lyrics and music. This is a slick song with the lyrics flowing so smoothly from start to end, punctuated by some expressive bass, catchy guitar, and a bit of oh-so-smooth percussion. Happiness is free, y’all. Or at least cheaper than we make it out to be.
Are You Doing OK?
Here we take a little break. “Magic Wand,” “Into the Sun,” and the title track “King Kong” serve as palette cleansers – the first a somber piece, the second, a foot-stompin heap o’ positive that loosens you up for the rest of the record, and the third, a seemingly mellow song except for when you listen to the lyrics in which he admits someone has put his “heart in a thong, and that ain’t cool”…
You Can’t Stop Now!
The third course is pretty heavy, so hopefully you’ve saved some room for the serious stuff. “Black Mountain,” “Montgomery” and “The Unknown” are a little darker.
“Black Mountain” is not for the weak-stomached listener – you are gonna feel this one, it’s heavy (that Hammond organ!), but you will like it oh so much. Go slowly. “Montgomery” is haunting, dark, and the guitar is nothing short of magical. Then comes “The Unknown” – a reggae / rock tune, in which Bob admits he doesn’t like to dine alone…
Now we get to dessert. Do you still have room? Of course you do! Here Bob serves up the perfect end to this perfect meal. “You Be Alright” is one of the sweetest songs ever – at first I feared for my blood sugar levels but it’s actually just perfect. “You May Want to Take Some Time” is a little more somber but at the end of the meal things are mellowing out… or so you think. “Ready Let’s Roll” is the after dinner drink – instead of going for something sweet, we finish the whole thing off with a glass of smooth, expensive scotch.
Then it’s over, the music stops. You sit for a minute hoping that Bob will now invite you out to see a cool band somewhere, or cruise Austin to people-watch. But when you look up, you realize Bob has gone – home to his family to paint works of art, write poetry, and plan his next tour. At least you can always press “play” again. Damn, that was good.
Bob on Amazon:
Bob on PledgeMusic
Go here to see special goodies that Bob is selling!
Extra bonus video! Here’s Bob and his Dad, doin’ Luckenbach Texas right: