By Mike O'Connor
Released January 1st, 2013 - EdTangMusic
Before I listened to Ed Tang's latest album Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner, I did, as any time-stretched music reviewer should do, a bit of internet-based research on Mr Tang and co. Although I'm yet to find any explanation for the album's title, I did discover that the band fromNew Jersey come from varied musical backgrounds - Ed with an interest in Hip Hop and the Chops with a background in bluegrass and indie rock.
And it's these influences that shape Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner - there are touches of Pogues-style punk and rough-and-tumble lyrics, with a dose of heartfelt harmonica-led folk for good measure. This adds up to a varied, although a little inconsistent, album.
The album kicks off with first single Vaya, a rousing ode to a traveller's life spent out under the stars and on the road, which successfully avoids the well-trodden ground of packing up and moving on. It's personal, catchy and sounds like it was written to get a crowd singing along. It's a great start.
Unfortunately the next songs just don't maintain the momentum of the first single - Lincoln is pretty standard rock-fare, and even a well-played harmonica solo can't save Recharged from cliché.
Despite this, there's an honesty here that's quite endearing, best heard on Pualei, and Just Two Old Friends, where the band are joined by singers Andrea Scanniello and Juliane Suozo, who provide a beautiful balance to Ed's gravelly tones. These songs however seem an afterthought, relegated down the pecking order.
Goodbye, Zen5, Sushi Dinner is a solid album in many ways, but a frustrating one at the same time. You can't help but wish the band were more adventurous, as they clearly have the chops (pun intended) for bigger and better things. One to watch perhaps.