I really wanted to like “Upscale Madhouse” by Gideon King & City Blog when I read that their inspiration was Steely Dan but I must admit, I was let down by a largely boring and unimaginative album. For an album with a lot of groove it seems to lack a semblance of soul which is never a good thing, in my opinion. Starting with the dizzying album opener “Straight to Hell” I was led down a rabbit hole I wanted to desperately climb out of within the first few minutes.
My issue with the album isn’t necessarily the musicianship or vocals because the musicians and vocalists are talented, I just felt there wasn’t anything awe-inspiring or terribly imaginative about what they were offering on this album. If I had to choose a standout track I would reluctantly choose “God, I’m So Alone” because that was the closest track that I felt some sort of connection to and was the easiest to digest. If I could give any constructive criticism it would honestly be this: lose the Steely Dan smooth jazz schtick. You’ve got a bevy of talented artists that have come together, let them let loose in the studio where their imaginations can run wild. I felt as if this album was too reigned in and the overall product lacked as a result of it. However, other listeners might feel different than I do and they might really appreciate this release. It’s for you to decide. You can find “Upscale Madhouse” on Spotify.