The Prairie Cartel is an odd group. Their music reminds me of the 90s, with a mush of grunge, Fatboy Slim, and the Beastie Boys. Once I realized that Scott Lucas of Local H fame was in the group, it sort of made sense. While I can't say this helped me stomach it any better, it did make more sense, at least. Most of the album is what I would qualify as noise. For instance, "Suitcase Pimp" is very spastic. The rock is heavy but the verses, mainly spoken vocals which come off as very difficult to listen to, are accompanied by a sparse beat. And that's how Where Did All My People Go pretty much maintains itself. Grungy instrumentation supplemented by electronic gestures, spacey flourishes, and strange vocal editing are what make The Prairie Cartel.
I wanted to like the album. Unfortunately, since it all pretty much sounds the same, it failed to impress across the board (with some minor exceptions). "Cracktown" might be an acceptable track to pluck off the album and insert somewhere else, perhaps on a compilation with like-minded artists, and it might shine better. If the vocals on "Beautiful Shadow" didn't sound so sad and depressive, the track might be a decent candidate for mainstream attention. As it is, the vocals detract from what is a fairly enjoyable musical presentation. On "Homicide," it really sounds as if The Prairie Cartel are trying to use technology to revive grungy by means of the Beastie Boys, for what sadly ends up an uncomfortable mess. "Narcotic Insidious" barely passes through the album with a plus mark but sadly, nestled in towards the middle are some unfortunate vocals. "Ten Feet of Snow" tries to get you to sing along, and the instrumentation is fun and radio-friendly. "Jump Like Chemicals" tries a bit harder and this track might actually be a decent standout from the album, not for being an electronic song but for being a decent pop-punk track. The track is sung relatively well and doesn't really drag at all. "F*** Yeah That Wide" is just tragic and can, and should, be passed over at any cost. "Lost All Track of Time" has a punchy beat and almost passes through without any vocals, but luckily they don't sound bad this time.
The Prairie Cartel is a side project that should be shelved, in my opinion. While the collaboration and musical intent are interesting, the results just aren't that listenable. Perhaps a different singer would benefit the project more? While the album sounds sincere, I sincerely wish it sounded different.
Released October 2009 on Long Nights Impossible Odds Records.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.