Asylum Street Spankers

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Asylum Street Spankers

My Favorite Record (Bloodshot) For their seventh full-length recording, Austin's Asylum Street Spankers turn down the novelty nob and amp up the contemporary appeal. My Favorite Record follows the wonderfully conceived Spanker Madness, forgoing the kitsch with 11 new songs and a well-chosen cover (Willie Dixon's "Insane Asylum"). The problem with ditching the kitsch is that the band must now stand on their own musicianship, but that's not hard. Christina Marrs' vocals sparkle with her boop-oop-a-doop thing on "Monkey Rag" and as a seductive whisper on "Breathin'," while her songwriting shines throughout ("No Song Sad Enough," "Smile"). Likewise, star players like Wammo and ex-Spanker Guy Forsyth come across with the terrific "Antifreeze" and "Whatever," respectively, the songs cleverly referencing everything from the Beatles to Black Sabbath to the My Three Sons theme. There's no denying the Spankers' charm and talent -- "The Minor Waltz" is a standout instrumental with Marrs performing on musical saw, and "Wingless Angels" is overwhelming testimony to Wammo's songcraft -- but something is lacking. Maybe the problem (besides dreadful cover art) is that their three-ring musical circus style smothers their substance and the clown nose is tough to take off after it's been worn for a while.

**.5

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