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Thai Stick Dragon
Silent Music, Inc.

Shawn Kilroy is back with his first offering since his impressive independent debut The Neon Gate. The first two tracks establish right off the bat that while Kilroy has maintained a rock base to his music, this time around it seems like he's haunted by the ghosts of electro pioneers like Herbie Hancock, and not the Who or the Rolling Stones. The Neon Gate was put together as a conglomeration of tracks from various genres that were stylistically very different from each other. This time, the tracks have a common foundation, but Kilroy expands upon it by peppering the music with different styles like rap, blues, spoken word, funk, etc. To give you an idea of the range here, consider "2 Feet Deep"; it starts off with a drum sequence reminiscent of NIN's "Head Like a Hole", fires off some rapid-fire staccato rap vocals and is accompanied by some Tumbadoras drumming in the background. The album is pretty strong up 'til "Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln", a track regarding the nature of equality and Abraham Lincoln's musings on the subject of slavery. It's an interesting homage to the former president, but doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album. The remaining tracks are hit or miss, with "Coal Dragon", having an interesting story tie-in with the album title about a detonations expert Kilroy once met who had tattoos of a Unicorn and a Thai Stick Dragon burned off of his forearms in an explosion that went awry. The song is a gloomy and pseudo-industrial ballad that's a fine piece of work that captures the lonely silence of being deep in the earth, but it also doesn't really mesh with the slicker, cooler visions of anti-hip electro darkness conjured up by the first half of the album. Since the last 3 tracks aren't listed, I'm not going to really judge their contiguity with the rest of the album. However, Track 13 is worthy of mention because it is pretty strange. It sounds like a press conference for a guy claiming to be a master of the arcane arts and he's talking about a nemesis of sorts, a black magician who uses pictures of Moe Howard (of the Three Stooges) to conduct destructive attacks, and pictures of Ed Sullivan to talk to the dead. Uh, yeah. Ok.

The two aforementioned examples aside, Thai Stick Dragon is still a worthy follow up to The Neon Gate, which was also not perfect, but managed to live up to its ambitious packaging. And let's get to the packaging: This one is so cold and remote that the character on the front resembles what Tom Cruise must look like at night when his Church of Scientology handlers flip his switch into the "off" position. (I think it's right next to the Gay / Not Gay switch.) Although, this person-masquerading-as-mannequin still has more genuine personality in his shaded, vacuous stare than Cruise did in War of the Worlds.


Standout tracks: Snake Charmer, Daughter of the Devil, The Seed on My Pants

Track Listing:
1. Snake Charmer
2. Daughter of the Devil
3. This Piano
4. 2 Feet Deep
5. She's Afraid
6. Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln
7. The Seed on My Pants
8. X-Mas Eve Eve
9. Coal Dragon
10. In My Time of Dying
11. Track 11 (unlisted)
12. Track 12 (unlisted)
13. Track 13 (unlisted)

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