When the Stray Cats brought back swing rock, people were on board at first. That was promptly followed by a sigh and filing away the albums under “fun/retro” to only pull out on rare occasions. This reemergence of what was once the mainstream music has exposed its head over the last several decades. Just like waves on water, they peak but then lull again with few emerging as lasting groups.
Don’t worry: the southern pedigree that created a backdrop of youth for AM is not swing rock. Instead, the multitalented musician – currently living in LA – did what anyone of his genius would do. He teamed up with the spectacularly talented Shawn Lee to create a funktastic masterpiece.
Celestial Electric is the first twelve tracks laid out under the AM & Shawn Lee cap. The album has taken the talents of these two unique individuals through a spin cycle of sound made famous near the 70s, and emerged on the other side as an honest, well-composed 40 minutes. With the exception of the first, each track is over three minutes long. There is an obvious passion of each of the songs that erodes any potential thought that they’re simply filling time. While playing on the hand dealt to mainstream by the likes of My Morning Jacket and the Black Keys, these guys follow suit with their one of a kind style. The funky bass riffs heavily accompanied by infectious keyboards staple their sound to your emotional leisure suit. Taken by surprise, the beginning of what was once B-Side, I was thoroughly entertained by the appearance their take on the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “Jackie Blue.” Any way you approach it, this album is full of grooving tracks and memorable sound. Taking into consideration each track’s length and the fact there are twelve of them, this album has me hitting replay. Sadly we’re faced with the fact that these two gents are successful artists in their own right and this sort of companionship last only briefly. Thanks to individuals such as Danger Mouse, not even the fact their touring has me convinced. I remain hopeful nonetheless.
Despite a sound that can simply be tossed into the “retro/fun” pile, don’t be too quick to categorize this; because where other bands recreate a sound, AM and Shawn Lee create originality. Unfortunately, just like the funky grooves of long ago, the lifespan is unknown.