The title track of There is Not a Snake gets off to a bit of a rough start with what feels like a failed attempt to channel Tom Waits and Sinatra that comes off as strained and disingenuous. But for Toronto’s Nick Teehan’s first full-length recording it’s forgivable and quickly forgotten. It turns out the first song just happens to be one of the weakest and as the record moves along Danny Michel is a more fitting comparison. (Hey that’s a compliment.)
Teehan comes off more honest working a balance throughout between an admittedly smooth country croon to a maniacal howl during “Disneyland” as he screams “Take your iPods from your assholes and your bluetooths from your ears / Come down from your ivory castles where the food’s all disappeared.” The clarinet plays happily along for one of the strongest moments on the record sure to be a highlight of a live set.
The wildly varied instrumentation is enough to keep things interesting and a little confusing in the proper ways. So confusing actually that I got thinking the bass sounds more like a tuba which makes sense because it is a tuba (a sousaphone which is a kind of tuba). A horn section features prominently tagging in and out of the lead with a rambling guitar accordion keys strings and a host of other instruments that impressively sound at home here but borrowed from an Italian marching band.
It’s clear Teehan is trying to do something a little different and he achieves it. The record is worth a listen and if his band tags along could also make for a fun show.