AB Clyde and the Kitty Litters – Muscle Beach
California comedy rock troupe AB Clyde and the Kitty Litters take a page off of everyone from Weird Al to Harry Nilsson to the Calypso sounds of Jimmy Buffett on their second full-length album Muscle Beach. It’s a refreshing breezy groove with hysterical lyrics, smoothly rockin’ arrangements and great production. Kicking off with “Bulldozin’ Bad Memories,” an opener that relates ridding the mind of a bad relationship memory with bulldozing a garden filled with vegetables not only has a sly, smirk across its face but an irresistible blend of tropical acoustic guitars, sultry female harmonies and Clyde’s rock solid lead vocals adding a serious touch to the tongue-in-cheek proceedings.
“Nashville Girls” is a lively, countrified acoustic trot with plenty of pedal steel guitars making it a worthy tribute to that classic, rural sound. You get more of the same on “Why Won’t You Make Love,” albeit at a slower tempo with some plaintive piano accoutrements. The lyrics tell a tale of being sort of a sloppy average Joe pondering the reasons why he can’t seem to attract a lady. More references to being a cowboy come into play on “I Wish I was in Paris” but the subject matter soon takes a riotous turn whenever Clyde reveals that the Paris in the song’s namesake is really Paris Hilton. It’s kind of a raunchy number that gets the job done without resorting to the lowest common denominator of directly filthy language.
Subtle electric guitar spices up the darkened acoustics of “Drinkin’ in the Dark.” This tune’s got a share of the darkness on hand that Harry Nilsson toyed with whenever he wasn’t cracking jokes. The pensiveness equates to an album highlight where the humor enjoys a backseat to the bleaker side of the drinking life (although the line about “Stumbling through 19 with my fake I.D. alone,” does elicit a much needed chuckle). I was quite surprised to hear that “Shortenin’ Bread” turned out to be the EXACT song I was thinking of whenever I saw the title. Clyde and the Kitty Litters rock it up a bit ragtime style but this is the last thing I expected the group to cover. The sizzling guitar lead is only shortening on this particularly entertaining layer cake.
The title track transports us back to the beach with a margarita in hand and a Buffett-esque vocal/instrumental structure leading the way to the good times. Things really get out of control whenever “I Brake” explains that Clyde will gladly brake his car for midgets, dwarfs, midgets and clones, yet he won’t slow down for the girl that broke his heart (and wrecked into his car!). By far this is probably the funniest song on the record and the music isn’t throwaway at all. Country flavors return on “Beautiful,” a love song with plenty of juvenile scatological references. Other highlights include the vengeful ballad “Billy Blane” that oddly sounds like Dire Straits as a funky groove gives way to Clyde explains how he’s going to get even with some dude that cheated on his lady, the pop harmony laced “Bowling in London,” the boozy “Railroad Buddies” and the positively dreamy closer, “Outside.”
AB Clyde and the Kitty Litters manage rare feat on Muscle Beach; they manage being completely silly and riddled with belly laughs while serving up some good songwriting to boot. More often than not the songs and the jokes hit the mark. There are a couple of lesser, undercooked moments (“Hooterville” and “Little Miss Snow White” could benefit from better hooks) and the album is a tad long in the tooth but overall this release should certainly put a smile on your face.
8 out of 10 stars