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Record Review January 13 2001


The exclamation point splashed onto the album's title is no joke. It took less than a minute into this Raleigh, N.C., band's sophomore effort — somewhere around the time the group frantically shouts "all night" as horns wail and second-line percussion clanks and stutters behind them — to realize this is the disc anyone would want for their next wild bash.
Regardless of the confusing name (the Quartet is actually a sextet, but who's counting), the band swings through a raunchy New Orleans blend of honking horns, stuttering drums, funky rhythms and a twinge of rockabilly, providing as much good clean fun as you can stand without a lampshade perched on your head.
Split between perky instrumentals and vocals — many of which are talked/shouted in keeping with the rowdy atmosphere — the band mixes snappy funk, brisk jazz and clanging percussion into a heady and infectious bump 'n' grind mix best expressed in the impish title to the free-form poetry-driven "Crispy Like a Free Toe" ("willie my wongo" indeed).
Co-produced by Southern Culture on the Skids' main backwoods loon Rick Miller — who knows his way around a party or two — the sound is sharp and the arrangements punchy enough to keep listeners staggering back to the dance floor. And how many albums do you own with trombone solos?
You want life-altering messages, biting social commentary or philosophical stimulation? Not here. But if you're looking to temporarily forget your lousy boss, pitiful post-holiday financial status and the rest of the mundane daily stresses, start the Countdown now.
The Countdown Quartet plays the Star Bar, Thurs., Jan. 11.