Industrial Tepee

What Divine Engine
M o t h e r W e s t

by Darren Paltrowitz and Karena Bernard

What's really in a name these days? I mean, a name like Industrial Tepee would lead the listener to conclude that this is an industrial, or possibly gothic act. However, you know what mother always said about jumping to conclusions...

Much to my surprise, I found "What Divine Engine", released October, 1998, to be a multi-genre, yet consistent album. Consistently good, that is. This, their third release, is tight blend of melodic and harmony laced acoustic and electric material that calls to mind Gin Blossoms, Teenage Fanclub or Dire Straits.
When Charles Newman of Mother West Records heard "Groove Queen of the 21st Century", he asked the band to record it for a compilation. It went so well that Charles decided to produce a full-length CD on Mother West. The band recorded ten additional songs in less than a week and added five tunes from a set of songs called the StonyBrook Sessions, produced at the home of close friend, Claude Coleman, jr. , drummer of Ween, and along with Newman, producer of "What Divine Engine."

"What Divine Engine" begins with "Crawling To Heaven", a combination of dissident guitars with light, yet heavily distorted vocals. As soon as you begin to believe that Industrial Tepee is just another (feel free to shudder now...) modern rock act, "At The Gun Show" boasts both clean acoustic and electric instrumentation, with a sweet tune that is quite hum-worthy. Towards the middle of the album appears "Lucky Day", an honest, melodic number that shows chorus harmony/background vocals ala Jakob Dylan. On a strange twist from all that is heard prior, "Viva Las Nowhere" is a Spanish/Classical style guitar-based ballad that will hold your undivided attention.

This, their third release, is tight blend of melodic and harmony laced acoustic and electric material...

Among the more alternative tracks is "Highway Buddha". Within the song's opening seconds, the bass solo may spark a slight reminder of the Pink Floyd classic "Money". However, by its third or fourth repetition, you see that riff to be holding its own, creatively. Soon after, distorted vocals (much reminiscent of Anthony Kiedis, circa 1988) are added above a strong bass groove and tight percussion. Then, just as I had the album pegged as going in the direction of Soul Coughing, the next song, "New York City Is Paradise", displays a Phish-like four part harmony boosted by a top notch drum solo.

Industrial Tepee is the brainchild of Tom Shaner, who began playing in the subways while attending N.Y.U. in the early 90's. Gigging at various east village coffee houses and clubs led to an offer to record for PNYM Records. In 1992 guitarist and songwriter Bob Sharkey joined up with Tom Shaner as a 'Tepee' mainstay. While there are a number of contributors to the recorded material, the touring band is completed with bassist John Turner and drummer Josh Margolis. An added plus is that Industrial Tepee's rich lyrics often show story-telling or elusively poetic qualities, so put aside your preconceptions and take in the diversely influenced "What Divine Engine".

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