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Mike Keneally: You Must Be This Tall

Ex-Zappa man makes music to test your ears and brain.

A prolific multi-instrumentalist, Keneally made his reputation with Frank Zappa in the late 80s, and has also worked as a sideman for Joe Satriani. His solo material reflects Zappa’s eclecticism rather than Satch’s slick shred-rock and You Must Be This Tall displays huge breadth.

The title track moves between classically-influenced passages and rock guitar theatrics, and only four of the dozen tracks here feature vocals. He uses these as another form of instrumentation, keeping the voice relatively low in the mix and always tying the cadence of the words to something happening musically, either as accompaniment or counterpoint.

His guitar work is exceptional, particularly when taking centre stage. On Cornbread Crumb he tastefully draws on blues and jazz with excellent support from excellent support from drummer Joe Travers and bassist Bryan Beller, and drum virtuoso Marco Minnemann lends his chops to the demented Kidzapunk.

Popes has a laidback groove, Indicator is twisted disco and the ambitious, flawed album closer Glop shifts gears on a dime. If you’re tired of the same-old same-old, you’ll find none of that here.