Though Ouroboros (Louisiana Red Hot Records) is the third album from the New Orleans Suspects, CR Gruver, who's on keyboards, electric kazoo, drums and vocals, says it's really more like the band's first.
"It's our first all-original studio (album), so we're kind of putting it out there, making a statement as to who we are as a band and who we are, musically," he says. "There were a lot of misconceptions about who we were in the beginning, people thought we were just a supergroup, just a collection of people from other bands. We felt like we were more than that, more of an actual band."
Jake Eckert and Jeff Watkins both helped write and produce the album, out Oct. 14. Eckert, who's on strings, drums and vocals, says the album attempts to walk listeners through various styles of New Orleans music, track by track. "From New Orleans funk aspects, to another tune that may have some Mardi Gras Indian tune on it, to another that may have some Southern rock, swamp rock kind of vibe to an Earl King kind of vibe," he says. "That was part of the idea we had in our minds."
"Magdalena" blends several styles, beginning as a funky track with a snaky melody, ultimately ending in what you'd expect to hear coming from the corner of a smoky New Orleans bar. Watkins, who plays saxophone and a handful of other instruments and also sings on the album, is partial to the jazz funeral number, aptly titled "In Your Mind," which carefully balances structure with improvisation, complete with all the fanfare of a hot New Orleans day but with nods to the influence of New Orleans musicians of days gone by, namely James Booker and King. — JEANIE RIESS