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self-titled – Mindface

self-released
Listening to Mindface’s self-titled release, I imagine the perfect
setting to hear these 11 songs: a small club, a hot summer night, a few
beers downed and a bunch of like-minded revelers in attendance.
That opinion comes about in part because Mindface’s music swiftly
transforms the mood into a party atmosphere. Yet, at the same time, it’s
also a reflection of Mindface as a recording entity, specifically in developing a
consistent and distinct personality in its songs. However, hints of
familiarity in the band’s songwriting and arranging approach doesn’t work as
well when dealing with the music on your home stereo.
Almost immediately, with the one-two tandem of Beam and
Beulah, one
can hear the groove and harmony echoes of Phish (think Weekapaug
Groove)
but, like the constant battle that goes on with Mindface, I’m caught up in
what’s going on even though I recognize that they are not the most striking
bits
of material that have come my way. Day Moon begins in that Afro-world
rhythmic excursion one
normally finds jumpstarting a piece by Rusted Root. Just as quickly, it goes
back to Phish mode (thinking Taste).
The inability to fully embrace one’s influences to the point that they’re
merely reference points rather than stylistic mimicry reminds me of Lenny
Kravitz’s early records. On those releases his songs were overwhelmed by
their influences that it became a game of affixing which artist he listened
to prior to writing and recording his own song. Still, Kravitz produced some
incendiary work during that time and, minus the reliance on ballads, still
does.
Again, the image of that "perfect setting" keeps running through my mind.
And
I briefly smile.
But all is not lost on "Mindface." The tracks that seem to offer more
than a nod to the band’s predecessors are enjoyable in their lightened
manner. And the group does strike out within its own parameters on such
tracks. The instrumental Vacation Song evokes a sense of time, place
and
frame of mind while moving along its travelogue of breezy jazzy notes. It’s
as if Steely Dan took on a Frank Zappa tune — polished playing, subtle
hooks
and a surprise or two.
The funk of Pen Pal contains a very nice electric keyboard solo
that shows that Mindface can find a home playing jazzier material. The
song’s
lyrical content – a paean to the narrator’s incarcerated sweetheart – can
be taken as a funny tale or one that’s related in odd way. Nogales
continues in that jazz format. Subsequently, Mindface heats up
and stays hot by its union of writing and musicianship. Another
instrumental,
Flip Jax, finds its organ-infused groove and just enjoys itself.
This is the sort of thing I look forward to with Mindface’s next release,
the type of material where influences are digested to the point that they’re
barely distinguishable.

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