wild eclecticism that works

Fuel to Keep Us Cool (Wrocklage)
10 Foot Pole

By Kory Wilcoxson

Trying to describe how 10 Foot Pole churns out a song is like trying to describe how Michael Jordan scores a basket: there are 100 different ways to do it and none of them can quite capture the feeling.

Instead of struggling to explain what 10 Foot Pole is, I'll tell you what they are not. They are not boring, they are not confined and they most definitely are not lacking in originality.

The power of their songs comes from their variety. The title song is dominated by a funky bass line, "Carry On" features John Turner's sterling horns and "Fool" has some fiery guitar riffs from Billy Quinn.

What this all amounts to is that 10 Foot Pole is a different group with every song, either emulating someone else or going off on their own tangent. Several tracks call to mind some pretty big names: The off-the-wall "Idiot Twins" would sound at home on an XTC album, "Very Vacationable" has a definite Chili Peppers taste, and David Arnett's vocals on "Girl Who Dances" are a dead ringer for David Byrne during his Talking Heads days.

As if the myriad of styles on Fuel weren't enough proof of their flexibility, 10 Foot Pole tosses in The Ditties. The Ditties are little snippets of music that act as a buffer or a segue between each song. The Ditties can be anything from a carousel-like synthesizer to a mournful horn solo to a downright bizarre guitar and vocal mix.

The Ditties boil down to being either musical ventings or spontaneous jams, which could also be said for some of the full-length songs. At times The Ditties tend to dilute the more solid material around them, but for the most part they are entertaining diversions that keep the listener guessing. With 10 Foot Pole, you never know what's next.

10 Foot Pole also deserves some credit for being technologically hip. Included in their liner notes is an E-Mail address, so that anyone who can access a computer with E-Mail can ask the boys all types of questions, like where the got their name and why someone would want fuel to keep them cool instead of warm. They didn't tell me.