Reinvent the Wheel
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 1999, Volume 6, #5
Written by John Metzger
Since forming on Halloween night in 1995, Puddle Junction has gradually developed their sound and built a loyal following in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout Northern California. They've performed at the prestigious High Sierra Music Festival and shared stages with a variety of notable musicians including Merl Saunders, Leftover Salmon, and Zero. This past March, the band left their home base in Chico for their first venture along the East Coast.
In 1996, Puddle Junction released their first album Reinvent the Wheel and have been touring ever since. It was a monumental project for a young, unsigned band, but they were clearly determined to stand out from the many other groups touring today. The resulting album is a multimedia affair that contains nearly 55 minutes of music, video snippets from live performances, biographical and background information, and animated graphics — not bad for a self-produced project!
Not all of the songs on Reinvent the Wheel seem to work quite right for the band. For all their brawn, songs like First Light and Separation of Union never seem to take flight. On Fruits of Labor, the group attempts to meld Led Zeppelin with Elmore James' It Hurts Me Too, but the end result falls flat.
Nevertheless, when the band finds a sound that works, they do manage to take it for quite a ride. The title track and With Every Wave recall the power of The Who from their mid-'70s period, and Pagan Lament is a psychedelic excursion straight from The Doors' songbook. In addition, keyboardist Rob Lamonica helps to lift many of the tracks on Reinvent the Wheel above the usual fray by bathing them in a mixture of gentle piano overtures, funky organ grooves, and honky-tonk keyboards.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box