CD Review: Hot Ham and Cheese

Wake Part One (Jib Machine)

Give Robby Mitchell, Charlie, and Louie Styx points for sticking with their band's goofy name. You can also give them a couple more points because they're a power trio that earned the right to open for both Wolfmother and Primus, an obvious influence. On their fourth record, Hot Ham and Cheese churn out lean groove-metal with the occasional twist, recalling Xeroxed Nirvana (on "Katie in Blood") and bar-band System of a Down ("Gray") at times. But they're funnier than your average bar band, reaching a climax on Wake Part One's opening track with screams of "Love is woooooow." The Cleveland band's musicality peaks on the EP's bookend cuts: "Mary" features a grinding pogo-stick rhythm, while "Doing Drugs in the Closet" is an unexpectedly gorgeous closing instrumental centered around, even more unpredictably, a big fat Hammond ballpark organ. — Dan Weiss