A cacophony of sonic teeth-grinding opens this alternately bizarre and beautiful album from artsy alternative-rock singer/songwriter Chris Stamey, who did time in the Sneakers and the dB's before moving on to multiple production duties. While certainly not metal (and it would stretching the definition of the term to call it prog) the music on A Question of Temperature nevertheless is worthy of your attention because of its charming eclecticism and disdain for categorization.
From rollicking and respectful covers of the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" and Television's "Venus" to original mutated experiments like the 101 seconds of "Conspiracy Theory" and the hypnotic mellowness of "Sleepless Nights," Stamey proves that he's a gifted writer and performer. In between these extremes come indie-pop/rockers ("The Summer Sun"), blues stompers (Cream's "Politician), rootsy alt-country fare (the instrumental "Come On") and scorching guitar solos ("McCauley Street"). Lyrically, A Question of Temperature revolves around freedom of expression that celebrates friends (both good and bad) and politics (again, both good and bad). In fact, Stamey and his band of musician friends, including members of Yo La Tengo, cover the 1970 Eddie Harris/Les McCann anti-Vietnam War tune "Compared to What," and the bouncy 30-second bonus track, "V.O.T.E. PSA," which is really more of a jingle, was widely distributed on the Internet in the months leading up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election.
Not everyone sailing on the Sea will dig this collection, but that's OK. There's room for everyone here.
1) Conspiracy Theory
2) Shapes of Things
5) Plainest Thing
6) Compared to What
7) The Summer Sun
8) Come On
9) Sleepless Nights
10) McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)
11) Desperate Man
12) Sleepless Nights Again
13) Dr. Strangelove's Assistant
14) V.O.T.E. PSA (Bonus Track)