Review by Joanne Bennett
Cheese comes in all varieties, from the flavorless yet squeezably convenient Velveeta® to the delicate Camembert or the pungent and robust Gorgonzola. The same holds true for swing. Some varieties are barely palatable in terms of musicality, yet their kitsch appeal satisfies a certain craving. Others offer a complex assortment of notes and arrangements to be savored. By this reckoning, the Vienna-based combo Five in Love are the masters of cheese, crafting tunes that appeal to a variety of tastes.
On their latest release, Brothers in Jive, the sextet of Euro-hepcats serves up a platter of tracks suitable for a casual cocktail party. The eponymous opener is straight up the middle: a toe-tapping original in which singer Paul Kreshka introduces the other musicians. It is followed by the pleasant shuffle of “Wandering Shoes,” but the ensuing selections quickly veer toward the cheesy, in that Velveeta sorta way. This homespun southern gal was mildly offended by track three, “Bubba! (Don’t forget your rubba),” and underwhelmed by the cutesy lyrics of “Offshore.” The swing arrangement of Santana’s “Smooth” is intriguing, but fails to push the envelope, and hearing six Austrian men perform “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is just disturbing.
That said, the album does offer a few flavors worth noting. Some of the better selections include the original “Rich White Man,” a jazzy rendition of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” and a swingin’ version of the Bangles’ hit, “Walk Like an Egyptian.” Kreshka also delivers more passion than usual on “Big Beat a Rockin”, and the CD closes on a very pleasant note with the melodic “Have a Good Time.”
If you’re a fan of swing-kitsch bands, like Lee Press-On and the Nails, or if you’re just looking for a good beat you can dance to, you may be pleased with Brothers in Jive. But if it’s exemplary musicianship you’re after, you’re better off turning to the classic artists of yesteryear.