Album Review – Keith Horn’s Rock Scissors

Thought I’d try some album reviews on the blog. The goal is to give a curated glimpse into artists you’d like, if you already like my music. Up first – Keith Horn:

Keith Horn’s music is a lot like Steely Dan’s:

  • He’s an East Coast-er grudgingly living in LA, to be in the center of commercial music (he scores reality TV shows for a living)
  • He stacks triads atop triads into functional harmony like only a music school grad could

His music is also a lot like Frank Zappa’s:

  • His sarcasm has no bounds, and never in his music is there a tender or wholly sincere moment
  • He shreds the guitar, though not to excess – he prefers a clean, composed unison ensemble soli to any improvised guitar-gasm

I first encountered Keith on his Jango channel, and followed up with a feature of his new album Rock Scissors on my interview site Our conversation gave me the insight needed to untangle the suggestions his songs are making:

Ghost Town – a slick R&B/fusion jam in 7/4 meter – is his ode to the hordes of unsung ghost writers and other behind-the-scenes creatives who keep the Hollywood machine running – and a veiled rant against his own day-job employer, a renowned TV soundtrack composer.

Chick Little – another track obviously about his experience in the deadline-oriented field of TV music. Keith would feel less special if he knew that most every line of work – not just his – suffers under the same fools who mis-manage their projects into the ground, such that only doers like he and I can save them. The sky is always falling.

Macho Nacho Thang – my favorite track on the album – tells the story of an endangered species in America: a real man. The hero, sung in the 1st person by Keith, spends each verse wondering why his woman left him for a pussy-man who drinks tea, hugs trees and refrains not just from eating meat, but any animal products at all. Its a smart, sardonic anthem against the Oprah-fication of the American male.

If Donald Fagen or Dweezil Zappa are looking for an opening act, someone must inform them that Keith is available and desperate to get out Ghost Town.

Test drive Keith’s album here, and buy it here.