First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2002, Volume 9, #4
Written by John Metzger
Itís been a decade since Ohioís Ekoostik Hookah first began to establish itself with what would develop into the jam band crowd. Since then, the scene has flourished, and the group, along with the likes of Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Phish, has become a middle- aged survivor. While Ekoostik Hookah remains one of the stronger songwriting outfits ó particularly when compared to the subsequent wave of jam bands that followed them into the market ó one listen to the bandís latest album Seahorse explains why the group has struggled to reach the mass audiences of its peers.
The sad reality is that Ekoostik Hookah has become stagnant and stale, and in an attempt to compete for a younger crowd, itís actually taken a step backwards. The band has always combined classic rock styles into a nifty little stew of familiar, yet intriguing rock. But it never moved past this to create its own sound. Even worse, nearly everything that the group perfected on its last studio release Where the Fields Grow Green is now gone, and in its place is a more structured form of progressive rock. As a result, Seahorse often sounds a bit banal ó like a poor manís Phish ó attempting little beyond what the rest of the groupís followers have to offer.
For what itís worth, Ekoostik Hookah still delivers its music with a skilled sense of musicianship, particularly on the bluegrass-laced Highway Home. In addition, the groupís harmonies are tight and sometimes ó as in the case of the title track ó quite beautiful. In the end, however, nothing on Seahorse is truly memorable. The songs tend to drag on forever, and the band seems largely disinterested in performing them.
Seahorse is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box