Proud To Swim Home CD review
by Jeremy J. Deibel,
As unique as the bumper sticker from which it gets its title, Proud to Swim Home is easily the most thrilling entry in the expanding sea of Katrina benefit records. There are the expected jazz and roots-music collections that reflect the general public’s perception of New Orleans, and the saccharine “We Are the World”-type records from national pop acts. But how many of these benefit records boast a track listing filled to the brim with experimental noise and electronica? And I’m not talking about the soundtrack to a raver’s Saturday night. At first glance, Proud to Swim Home looks suspiciously like a sampler for Backporch Revolution, the experimental-rock label run by the members of Chef Menteur. But the disc has an incredible flow to it and does not sound pieced together. The comp runs the gamut from the reflective ambience of Liteworks to the danceable bounce of the Buttons and the abrasive noise of the ironically named Uptown Cajun All-Stars, whose harsh, disturbing “Bayou Teche” is the most affecting track here.
The song titles tell you where the politics of the disc lie (“Bring Me the Head of Michael Brown,” “NOLA EKG,” “Downed Powerline Blues”), and there are few musical styles that can reflect the wildly disparate range of emotions in a post-Katrina New Orleans like instrumental electronica. With a few exceptions, if the tracks here aren’t numbing you into a trance, they are thrashing at you like violent waves of sound. If that doesn’t mirror how most of us felt during the storm, I don’t know what does.