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Album review: The Return of Peppermaint Joe

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Dan Jensen checks out a new album signalling the return of a band you probably never even knew had disappeared.

LET ME FIRST SAY, straight off the bat, that I have a love of music and comedy joining forces. Any time a band the likes of Electric Six, The Bloodhound Gang or Lonely Island can both have me laughing at their lyrics while tapping my foot to a groovy tune, you can count me as a fan. But one band who can do that better than anyone else is Group X - Arabian Rap Sensations.

Group X has been around since the late '90s but was absent from the music scene since their second album, Stepping on the Crowtche owf Your Americain Presidaint, released in 2000. Lead vocalist and key music writer, Hashmeer Shashmeer, released a solo album in 2008 called Geev Five Doller, but last month returned with a new Group X album since the “original” band finally returned from a harrowing ship crash when trying to meet Hashmeer on the shores of “Yew Nork” from Cramshananteen, Saudi Arabia (don't go looking it up, apparently it's way too small to have even been included on the world map) in 1998. Hashmeer was spared for his love of hot dogs and chips and the enticing smells of hot dog stands scattered along the Cramshananteen coast and port harbours.

The Return of Peppermaint Joe came from out of nowhere. Taking two years to create, Hashmeer re-assembled the original band featuring DJ Erik Turturro, Attorney at Law, aka Karen Smith "The Harpsichord" and the titular Peppermaint Joe on drums after they finally made it to Yew Nork. But one thing that has remained is the solid laughter from the opening track until the last notes have played, along with some damn catchy music along the way.

“O is for the O in the middle of ‘Joe’”

The album begins with a prologue of the band's journey to America before starting off with the first part of a recurring theme involving a poodle. We're then treated to 19 tracks (or 20 if you count the hidden song at the end) including sequels to some of the songs from the first album and other fan service nods to some of the more memorable jokes from previous tracks. But even after 18 years passing, it feels like they never left. Hashmeer still sounds the same as he did vocally and the music still retains the same feel and catchiness as it did all those years ago, maybe having evolved into something slightly more mature.

That being said, Group X isn't for everybody. Some may find their extreme level of humour a bit over the top or even silly. All the songs are sung with heavy faux Arabian accents, the subject matter ranges from the poisoning of a beloved poodle by a meatball dipped in antifreeze to the problems associated with trying to purchase something with a credit card when only debit cards are accepted. Some of the humour could come across as just way too bizarre to be truly appreciated and there will no doubt be some who consider it too low-brow or even racist. But if things like South Park and Family Guy tickle your funny bone then I would strongly recommend getting into this band.

Not only that, but one of the most appealing things about Group X is the fact that there isn't really any other musical act working today that they can be compared to. The music industry is full of clones, generic pop acts and bands who play songs that we've all heard before. I'm not saying there isn't some genuinely good musical talent out there, but how many acts can you count who are doing something completely unique? These guys are simply here to give us a good time.

Arguably, the band's biggest success was a video made for the song Schfifty-Five in 2006, which currently has over 9M views on YouTube. The song was bizarre and made no sense and the video was equally as weird, but it was catchy and featured a low-key, punk rock vibe.

Upon listening to all the songs on their debut album, 40oz Slushie, it becomes clear that most of the songs feature just a drum kit, bass guitar and vocals. It had a raw kind of energy to it that sounded like a group of guys just having a blast making some fun music. The follow-up album was a bit more polished and featured new versions of some of the songs found on the first record, but also gave us some great new tracks to laugh along with. And that's one of the key things with this band — even if the lyrics or mock foreign accents don't appeal to you, they've delivered some really great music that's hard not to nod your head to. The Return of Peppermaint Joe finds a nice balance between the first and the second album, retaining a lot of the simplicity of the earlier songs while showing hints of the polished sophomore recording.

The Return of Peppermaint Joe is available now on iTunes and Spotify. Fans of the band should stay tuned to the Group X social media accounts as there is a lot of great stuff in store to celebrate their comeback.

Verdict

While not everyone will find it appealing, this album retains Group X's ability to amuse with hilariously funny songs and incredibly catchy tunes. This is a perfect comeback album to both satisfy old fans and gain a legion of new ones.

5/5

You can follow assistant editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @danjensenmovies or check out his YouTube channel, Movie Talk with Dan Jensen.

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