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CD REVIEW: Allen Shadow, "King Kong Serenade"
By David Lockeretz - 12/29/2002 - 05:04 PM EST

Artist: Allen Shadow
Album: "King Kong Serenade"
CD Review: Some people might find Allen Shadow an accquired taste. His densely packed lyrical pastiches certainly stand in direct contrast to much of mainstream pop music, as does his brooding, Waits/Dylan-esque singing over a droning background of guitars and drums.

But for the close listener, Shadow has a weird sort of appeal; there is definitely more than meets the ear. Whether it's the bluesy funkiness of "Downtown" or the ethnic folk influence of "Freedomland", Allen Shadow's compositions demonstrate a certain understatement and an appreciation of past writers. While Shadow sometimes seems to be trying too hard to put too many words in too short a space, one can't help but smile at unlikely juxtapositions such as "pixelated opiate of Zenith and Disney" or "Minnie Mouse gets grabassed by a white whiskered alchy." (Are you listening, Herr Eisner?)

Some of it doesn't work as well as it should. There are times when Shadow's singing is too vague and indifferent; his half-spoken word style on "Poet in the City" fails to hit the mark, coming across as rather amateurish rather than abstract. One might find his overly literate, somewhat sophomoric lyrical style a little grating after a while.

For fans of acts such as Tom Waits or REM, Allen Shadow will be just what the doctor ordered. For the rest of you, maybe it's time to take that Nelly CD out of the five hundred disc changer in your dad's Beemer. Even if Shadow doesn't do it perfectly, his honest, gritty style should not be overlooked.

For more information about Allen Shadow, visit or email

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