Hodge Podge
"Melodies and Maladies"

(Self-Released 2003)Hodge Podge - Melodies and Maladies

Hodge Podge is the rock band equivalent of that ice cream truck. The first couple of songs on their 6-track album, "Melodies and Maladies," are a repetitive mish-mash of punk, ska, and reggae (though the latter two are, perhaps, redundant). It opens with "Soundcheck," a song with, at most, four notes in its grating, overworked main line. But we can't blame Hodge Podge for this catastrophe -- only for choosing to cover Less Than Jake. The second track, "She Just Happened," The soothing sound of steel drums on the second track, "She Just Happened," doesn't make up for the off-key harmonies and monotone melody, although the quirky lyrics lighten it up significantly.

"Pattycake," at a whopping 11 seconds, makes for a surprisingly adorable a cappella interlude. I wish it could have been longer, but it's a good choice for the middle of the album -- it separates the distinctly different styles of the first and second parts of the CD. The fourth track, a strange, cyber-rock number cleverly titled "Carpet Diem," barrages the ears with disjointed, all-over-the-place electricity. Although discordant and messy, hardly a pleasant sound, it is nonetheless original and far more interesting than the generic blah of the first two tracks. "Memories," too, is an interesting piece, marked by well-executed trumpet solo. If it weren't for the constant banging on one single synthesizer note in the background, I would really enjoy this track. "Pfantom Gruv," the last track, brings lyrics back into the picture. Here, the poor tonality is clearly intentional, but that doesn't make it any better. Under the singing, it sounds as though somebody is experimenting with the music equipment for the first time.

That's probably Hodge Podge's biggest problem. Their sound is reminiscent of the kid who gets a new drum kit and keyboard for his birthday. It seems like they just opened everything, plugged it all in, and recorded their first tinkerings. I want to hear more of that pattycake stuff, though. That was way cool.