Shaggy Wonda - Real World Shaker CD

Shaggy Wonda offers an energetic romp through the realms of rock and funk with this spirited release.
Shaggy Wonda, a quartet from Bloomington, Indiana, offers a collection of hard-charging songs for their sophomore release, "Real World Shaker."  The band features Colby Miller on guitar and vocals, Steve Laine on bass, Zach 'Panama' Martin on drums and vocals, and Teddy Jones on saxophone.  The quartet presents a robust, full sound on the tracks of this release, presenting an interesting amalgam of funk and rock.  The songs are characterized by warm, engaging vocals (often imbued with the spirit of late night revelry) and excellent work from Teddy Jones on saxophone.  The album features 8 varied tracks, ranging from straightforward rockers to more contemplative arrangements spiced with saxophone and guitar.  

"Sweet Rose Moonshine" introduces itself with energetic horns and muscular funk grooves.  The track is spiced with lilting saxophone and enthusiastic guitar.  "Whiter Shade of Grey" employs breezy saxophone and a fusion of jazz and rock rhythms to create a charming, playful track.  A hard-charging funk jam signals the arrival of "Nothin Boy," a story of a down-on-his-luck kid who grows up to face the challenges of adulthood.  The song is characterized by aggressive bass, drums and energetic lyrics.  It closes with a smoldering saxophone solo that blends all the ingredients nicely.  This characteristic is evident throughout the album, as subtle and evocative use of saxophone accentuates the best tracks.

Lonely horns and atmospheric sounds introduce "Sirens," the longest track on the album.  The song seems to have split personalities.  Passages colored with airy saxophone blend with choppy guitar chords.  The vocals even seem reminiscent of Seattle "grunge" luminary, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.  The overall mixture is diverse and appealing.  "Electric" has a sexy groove accentuated with horn play and guitar that reflects on the power of good chemistry and a passionate kiss.  "Two Hearts" is a playful ballad spotlighting the trademark saxophone work that highlights the core of this album.  This appealing song utilizes stripped down production qualities to evoke an "old time" sound.  "My Whole Thing" explores a layered funk jam, and sets the stage for "Real World Shakin," which closes the album in mellow, understated waters.

The album is characterized by excellent saxophone, strong vocals, and a spirit of enthusiasm and swagger.  Saxophonist Teddy Jones stands out in the tracks of this album, as he adroitly maneuvers between blustery and sophisticated passages with ease.  I find myself drawn to a couple of songs in particular, as I was charmed by the playfulness of "Two Hearts" as well as the aggressive funk of "Nothin Boy."  The tracks on "Real World Shaker" prove to be an interesting, energetic excursion, as well as a testament to hot saxophone.

- J. Evan Wade