Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue

Reviews > CDs

Published: 2003/08/28
by Jesse Jarnow

Holding The Bag – 56 Hope Road, AstroGroove, Bohemian Sunrise, Coppersonic, The Electric Prunes, Family Groove Company, Rich Marcil, Pete Pidgeon and Arcoda, Unkle Funkle, Kevin Welch and the Danes

HOLDING THE BAG: August 2003
All Points Connect – 56 Hope Road
Continuing in the long jamband tradition of naming after homes (see 28
Orange Street or Mighty Fine Wine’s 1515 Gardner Avenue), 56 Hope
Road’s All Points Connects exudes all the charm of a beloved college
house. And who knows if that’s where their moniker originates from? Either
way, their straight-forward acoustic rock sure sounds as if it was conceived
in a spare room hung with tapestries to cover the holes from stray darts.
While it is mostly absent of inside jokes and silliness, the camaraderie is
still apparent, amidst the band’s earnestly serious song titles: "New
Philosophy," "State of Mind," "Walkin’ To The Mountain." The music is
inoffensive, though never quite makes the mark of ingenuity. Oblique
Strategies sez: "Make a sudden destructive, unpredictable action;
incorporate." More info…
self-titled – AstroGroove
It took me a good four or five minutes to realize that AstroGroove’s CD was
skipping madly. I think of this as a positive thing. Like The New Deal,
they’re Canadian, and their liner notes are peppered with pictures of
astronauts, but the music is a bit more irregular (though maybe that’s just
the skipping). Samples, sound sculptures, breakbeats, and random noise blend
with the band. Where most bands use the effects such as these to strike
surreal keynotes before playing perfectly normal tunes, AstroGroove
successfully integrate their methods into the numbers, keeping them
continuously exciting — which is why, when the CD erupted into a fountain
of glitchy repetition, it hardly seemed out of place. At least until it
jumped into the middle of a wholly incongruous jam. Though it was the most
surprising part, the discman still flashed the dreaded "Sorry!" message.
There’s nothing to be sorry about. AstroGroove get right up to the edge of
glitch-pop and make it sound normal. Pretty swell. Oblique Strategies sez:
"Assemble some of the elements in a group and treat the group." More info…
Intoxicating – Bohemian Sunrise
Man, Bohemian Sunrise are mellow, man. I guess I shouldn’t‘ve expected
anything more (or less, for that matter). They’re rather good at it. They’re
a through-and-through jamband, styles and approaches seeming a few steps
removed from their sources. Throughout the disc, reggae and Caribbean
grooves filter through, though rarely with even the slightest hint of
playing behind the beat. The result is a sound somewhat their own — reggae
so far rhythmically removed from reggae that it’s mellow for its own
reasons. The disc’s dozen tracks fade in and out of other, creating a fairly
coherent web o’ groove, solos, vocals, and sleepy psychedelia. Oblique
Strategies sez: "What mistakes did you make last time?" More info…
self-titled – Coppersonic
The self-titled debut from the New Jersey duo/trio finds ‘em squarely in
modern rock territory. Their blues-fused pop stays pretty focused across the
nine tunes. The tunes ride the line between well-crafted singer-songwriter
pop (the plot-driven "Memories of Hollywood") and the kind of material that
wants very badly to be licensed (the closest thing to diverse pop radio
these days). This isn’t a bad thing. The music just seems to capture the
feeling of the officially sanctioned corner of contemporary life. In another
era, Coppersonic might’ve been FM staples. Here, their country twists and
Hendrix riffs are old-fashioned, though impassioned — if not with the
emotional weight that the effects once carried, then at least with the
passion of a couple of music fans who genuinely love them. Oblique
Strategies sez: "Remember those quiet evenings." More info…
Artifact – The Electric Prunes
Jambands are the real garage movement, and don’t let anyone tell ya
otherwise. I’ve got a milk crate of ‘em right here to prove it. Somehow,
when I reached in, I pulled out a latter day CD by one of the first
generation o’ psychedelic garage acts — The Electric Prunes. The Prunes
first incarnation is a pretty traditionally weird rock tale: fuzzed out hit
Nuggets-worthy hit ("I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night") giving way
to label-approved songwriters before finally crumbling into a religious
album and a quiet fizzle at the end of the ’60s. And just that is an
American story, so is Artifact — the ol’ gang reuniting (in a
"garage-style studio," per the liners) to dust off the guit-boxes and
electronic gadgets and take another spin. And, for that, it’s pretty
entertaining. For a band that hasn’t recorded in 35 years, they adapt well
into the 21st century — stomp boxes giving way to processors for further
exploration. Still, they haven’t completely eradicated their mutant blues,
which surfaces throughout. Oblique Strategies sez: "Use ‘unqualified’
people." More info…
Reachin’ – Family Groove Company
I’m reasonably sure the influence isn’t intentional, or even if it’s there
at all, but there are places when the Family Groove’s Company’s songs
reminds me of The Monkees. That’s okay. I love The Monkees. It’s something
about the way the vocals are arranged, and something about the timbre of the
dude’s voice. That’s not to say that they’re not a jamband, ‘cause they sure
are – swelling organs mix with wacky lyrics and alla that – I think it’s
just the particular way that an ever-present Beatles influence collides with
the jamband approach. There’s not a whole lotta groove, which is okay.
Instead, the "Family Groove Company" moniker comes off more as a remnant of
one o’ them super-extended ’60s band names, ala Dr. Hook and the Medicine
Show, than any kind of self-advertisement. Surprisingly charming. Oblique
Strategies sez: "Simple subtraction." More info…
From The Edge – Rich Marcil
Guitarist Rich Marcil is actually Doctor Rich Marcil, a licensed
Florida psychologist. Thankfully, one supposes, Marcil has chosen to use his
powers for good instead of evil. The results come in the form of a ten song
CD with song titles like "Joy" and "Castles" and "In The Moment." The music
is obnoxiously "soothing" in places, relying heavily on such dependable
emotional barrier breakers as the 12-string acoustic guitar and Celtic
melodies. Marcil does, however, possess a healthily creative ear. Within the
bounds of this sorta bag, he ain’t that bad. The elements – e-Bow, mandolin,
etc. – are all perfectly predictable in the mix, though their actual
entrances and relationships to the rest of the voices, is pleasantly
surprising. Oblique Strategies sez: "The inconsistency principle." More info…
...At First Sight – Pete Pidgeon and Arcoda
Guitarist Pete Pidgeon emerge out of the vast fusion-fried jamband scene of
the northeast. Like their brethren in Uncle Sammy, Addison Groove Project,
The Miracle Orchestra, and The Slip, Pidgeon and company draw liberally from
snaky funk rhythms. While groove oriented, the songs are vocal driven. In
places, Pidgeon’s easy-going vocals ramble and wind like a guitar solo,
though little melodic nooks – such as a surprisingly David Bowie-esque turn
in "Apple Core" – justify the credibly original approach. On the latter
song, the band’s arranging matches the vocal approach as it builds towards a
pleasantly lazy climax. With Levon Helm of The Band on drums, the group
turns in a trio of surprising (and wisely grouped together) Americana-tinged
numbers — "But It Don’t Worry Me," "When The Devil’s Come To Take My Angel
Away," and "Pretty Woman Don’t Follow Me." A diverse effort, and a swell
entry in the annals of jamband pop. Oblique Strategies sez: "Twist the
spine." More info…
Your Mother’s Brother – Unkle Funkle
I’m not sure if these guys are around anymore. JamBase doesn’t show anything
and their URL is defunct, but – hey – their draft number came up, so the
disc found its way into the stereo. Recorded in 2000, the Florida band
catches the jamband movement on the cusp of discovering breakbeats. The
songs, especially the self-titled opener (named after the band, not the
album), capture an inkling of the kind of playfulness exuded by George
Clinton and company and mostly forgotten by modern day funksters. Unkle
Funkle, too, seems to forget it as the disc progresses into Santana/fusion
territory, all laced with the ubiquitous groove. In places, the music shows
exuberance, such as the Motown-like head to "High Expectations." These
slight peaks are soon subsumed by the disc’s flow. Oblique Strategies sez:
"Consider different fading systems."
Millionaire – Kevin Welch and the Danes
Journeyman singer-songwriter Kevin Welch found himself in Denmark for the
recording of Millionaire, backed by a band known only as The Danes.
The music brims with distorted atmospheres and outlaw country. Welch sings
with a sweet ‘n’ lowdown country croon, which would likely sound endearing
over a plaintive acoustic guitar, but ain’t quite dense enough to completely
work atop the strangely creaking Danes. Nonetheless, the downtrodden country
tunes sail firmly into the realm of the spooky, sonic ghost ships drifting
gently into the perimeter of the mix via strings and mysterious noises. A
creative, satisfying effort. Oblique Strategies sez: "You can only make one
dot at a time." More info…

Show 0 Comments