Tomahawk have never been my favourite band. I like all their albums but there were always songs that I didn’t really feel that much for. It’s not fair to describe them as a conventional rock band, because obviously conventional rock bands don’t do albums of Native American covers, which is what “Anonymous” essentially was. Incidentally I appear to be one of the few people who liked that album but even then (as with all Tomahawk) albums there was good and bad. And so it is with Oddfellows, with the opening track being a fairly standard Tomahawk song, then followed up by the deceptively simple but catchy “Stone Letter”.
Restraint seems to be a watchword with the band, with all the members seeming to reign themselves in to form a harmonious unit that presents a consistent identity, even with the recent loss of mainstay Kevin Rutmanis. I think this means that those people who turn up to hear Stanier’s drumming or Patton’s screeching or Edison’s oddball riffs may be slightly nonplussed to presented with a self effacing record. And anyone who’s listened to Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant knows how fucked up bass playing can get, but he has slotted in to the band like a pro and sacrificed his ego for the sake of an album that must be a welcome relief for its constituent members to play. Because while it may not be a massively challenging record to play (for them) it does sound like it was a lot of fun and it also strangely allows them to just be Tomahawk, rather than the “supergroup” that they are constantly referred to as.
So while “White Hats/Black Hats” or “Oddfellows” may not be the most distinctive or charismatic songs any of them have ever played on there are plenty of great moments. Consider the brilliant “Rise Up Dirty Waters” which morphs from macbabre jazz swing into a juke-joint gospel stomp and is brilliant from start to finish or the understated espionage soundtrack cul-de-sac of “I Can Almost See Them”. The album continues to see saw from good to average but overall it’s as good as any of their albums and judging by their smiling faces on the current tour, they’re enjoying themselves immensely. And good for them.