see also: Bumblefoot - 9/11 (CD Review)
  Bumblefoot - Uncool (CD Review)
and the Bumblefoot Interview

~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Every so often an artist comes along that makes us wonder: should this person be on medication? Bumblefoot is one such artist. And the answer is probably yes. Hands sounds like early to mid-90's alternative rock/rap/metal, except from a dimension where artists have impossible control over their instruments, a tendency towards the experimental, and a penchant for the bizarrely absurd.

After a two-record deal with Shrapnel Records as a solo artist, Ron Thal made a transformation into the artist now known as Bumblefoot (hey, it's catchier than "The artist formerly known as Ron Thal"). His original Shrapnel releases are out of print, and most likely appealed to musicians (guitarists in particular) because of Bumblefoot's crazy playing ability. Hands was the debut album under his new moniker, and what a debut it is... if you're hitting music from the guitar/shred/prog side of things, you'll be happy to note that Bumblefoot's solos are nicely impossible and each one has a distinctly cool and unique feeling to it. But unlike his original solo albums, Hands should hold a lot of appeal for most rock and metal fans in general.

There is a definite emphasis on songwriting. Every song has its own feeling and off-beat lyrical theme. "backfur" is a detailed account of a man's struggle with undesireable hair growth. It is sung, in complete seriousness mind you, as an angry rock song. At least, for a minute or two, and then the tune takes a left turn and ends up somewhere in the 60's with a poppy melodic feel and harmonized vocals. The seemingly disparate genres that Bumblefoot mixes across songs and during them all fit together because of the excellent songwriting. Bumblefoot's brother Jeff Thal fills out the rhythm section with some awesome drumming, and he keeps up with all of the unexpected changes perfectly.

The underlying theme on Hands is actually quite dark, and the angry/rappy/melodic vocal approaches are unexpectedly serious despite the silly lyrical themes. I've never been a big fan of music for comedy's sake, but Bumblefoot makes the amusing and sarcastic lyrics an integral part of a mostly non-comedic sound. Bumblefoot's singing is rich with diversity as he covers a number of singing styles flawlessly and with an unusual amount of emotional sincerity.

Hands most closely resembles work by Primus, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine, but I think it could draw in listeners with more exotic taste as well. Anyone into those bands will find a lot to like, but one listen to "Brooklyn Steakhouse" on shows that Bumblefoot means business. There is a loosely experimental feel that fits with all of the genre jumping, and the tone is quite dark and serious. That song is also notable for a literally unbelievable guitar solo that defies logic and normal human capability.

If you're a strict guitar fan and into Shrapnel artists, I can't recommend Hands on the merits of the guitar work alone. Yes, every song has an amazing solo, but there's very little in the way of overt showing off, and there's a much heavier emphasis on the composition than the soloing. However, anyone out there looking to branch out and explore new musical bounds should go listen to Bumblefoot right now. The bottom line is that Hands is an excellent and memorable CD. Where radio-rock often loses its luster over time, Bumblefoot's attention to detail has produced a work with more long lasting power than your average pink bunny. Plus, it's a mere $10 over at, so give the online mp3s a listen and show Bumblefoot some lovin' by stopping by