Review: everyBoy – Parachute Mind

Monday, October 31, 2011

Not quite an “Overdue Review” (but close), this has been in my listening heap quite a while. It is one of those I find difficult to review because my first impressions have dwindled over time and, given that as a rule I feel more immediately if I dislike something (I did not immediately fall in love with Parachute Mind‘s title track) and I – at least where the blog is concerned – subscribe to the philosophy of not saying anything if I have nothing nice to say, this means that there is something that has shifted in my opinion since that allows me to put some words about it here and, in spite of some qualms I cannot quite overcome, there is something I like about this album, so bear with me if it seems I am derailing a bit here.

We shall start with some words of introduction. everyBoy is the project of South California’s Bruce Nathan, with producer John Holbrook (who has produced most everybody important, it seems, from Pink Floyd through The Rolling Stones to Fountains of Wayne) and Jack Johnson’s drummer Adam Topal. Parachute Mind is their second album after last year’s The Last La-La’s.

In spite of the wealth of (very apparent) talent on this record, I cannot help but feel that either something is missing, or, more accurately, there is something stood in the way of the heart of the record. There are occasions when it seems the production has let its guard down, such as within TV News, and these are my favourite moments on the record. And whilst this is clearly a personal document, with an emotional cord running through it, especially noticeable within tracks such as Bully Me and Ego Solo, there is a near-clinical tightness that refuses to let this emanate at times; to lapse into clumsy metaphor one might compare it to an actress after one too many botox injections: the tears might be seen to run down the cheeks, and there may be power in the words, but the tautness prevents an altogether clear, uninterrupted demonstration of feeling. This is a pity, because overall this album is one that has more going for it that I like than that which I dislike in terms of both quality and quantity and it could be argued that some of that to which I have been exposed lately has given me a need for immediacy of intent that this record cannot quite provide. Time has opened me up more and more to this album and I expect it to grow on me with each listen, and certainly I have kept on coming back to it.

I shall stop with my words and provide a sample or two so as to help you decide for yourselves what my somewhat conflicted rambling means. I will start with title track Parachute Mind, but bear in mind that, as I stated above, this is not in my opinion one of the finer tracks on the album (the actual opening track To Arjun, also below, is to my mind a far better introduction). It was, however, the lead-off single and has a video to go with it (and I cannot deny that it has an awful habit of sticking in my head), so I will leave you with this and encourage you to look into it if afterwards you are even only slightly inclined.

All the links you might need to purchase the album in various formats are available via everyBoy’s official website.

everyBoy – To Arjun by fanaticpro

EDIT: It transpires everyBoy has made a full album stream available, if you want to delve a little deeper and judge for yourself:


Review: Zs – 33

Monday, October 24, 2011

Remember two posts ago, when I said that Ben Greenberg’s group project – with Sam Hillmer on tenor saxophone and Ian Antonio on drums – Zs’ 33 was due for review soon? Well, not quite as soon as otherwise expected, here it is. (It is expected to be my last Northern Spy review in a row for a short while – though I expect to cover everything they have released in their year-and-a-bit of existence eventually.)

As with Hubble (Ben Greenberg’s solo project), this is improvisational performance at its most immediate and rawest. Unlike Hubble, the dynamics are altered by the varying timbres of the instruments to hand, the drums here largely providing a foundation on the top of which the guitar and sax intertwine, both as able to let their instruments ring out to create the impression of a great breadth of space as to fill out all the niches with a controlled cacophony of sound. Also unlike Hubble, the four sides of this vinyl release seem more like excerpts of a potential larger picture, meaning the risk here is that at each side’s close you will want for far more than is given.

Zs have, according to the description on the customary video located below, existed for ten years, over the course of which it has been a trio, a quartet and a sextet, so each member is well aware of being a part of something greater. This awareness is what prevents the sound from derailing; as a direct consequence, everything feels as carefully constructed as it does free-flowing and chaotic.

ZS from Haba on Vimeo.

33 is available for download now from Northern Spy Records, with a physical release date of November 8.

Review: Dan Melchior und das Menace – Catbirds & Cardinals

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The return to university and Freshers’ Fortnight has taken up a lot of my time lately, which is why there has been a lull in activity there. I am keen to address this, so here is the next review from my increasingly formidable stack of items for review, another from Northern Spy Records: Dan Melchior und das Menace’s Catbirds & Cardinals.

This is a record I want very much to love. Indeed, the good moments outweigh the bad; the lyrics – when they can be discerned (see below) – are excellently crafted and there are many well-crafted melodies to be found hidden beneath all the fuzz and distortion. Yet for all that makes me want to keep coming back for repeated listens, there is also something that pushes me away.

“What’s the use of even (evil?) speaking if you’re buried in bad static? May as well be mute like one of those masked record clerks,” Melchior may or may not sing (I listened closely three or four times and could not work out the words here), and this is probably my biggest problem with the record. Melchior’s heavily overdriven sound does not lend itself to easy listening, which is partly the point, but there is so much in songs like Catbird (from which these lyrics were taken) and Crow Radio #2 that contains inherent threat that it feels that one unnecessary extra step into the alienation territory.

Maybe I am trying too hard to review this as a pop record, which is not (quite) what it claims to be. Melchior’s construction should be perhaps seen as a sort of artful play, an antithesis to works such as Poptastic’s The Teen-Pop-Noise Virus (a project in which carefully-crafted pop songs were transformed by way of effects into a sonic barrage) – meeting at a similar juncture from opposite directions; Melchior has created something akin to ‘pop’ from the chaos of his sludgy signature sound and, on this basis alone, given that there is much to be explored that you have to work for, this album can be said to be a success. Certainly, this is not an album you can casually exhaust.

Below, you can stream and download English Shame (which would not actually be my pick of the tracks from the album) and watch Melchior perform No Horizons/No Prescription at Scion Garage Fest 2009:

Scion Garage Fest 2009: Dan Melchior “No Horizons/No Prescription” from Scion A/V on Vimeo.

Catbirds and Cardinals is available direct from Northern Spy Records and the usual others:

Amazon UK (MP3) | US (MP3)

Review: Hubble – Hubble Drums

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hubble Drums is clearly born of a great deal of experience with live adaptation and experimentation. The solo project of guitarist Ben Greenberg (of Zs, whose 33 is due for review here shortly), it showcases his ability to harness nothing more than his virtuoso abilities and a loop pedal [EDIT: apparently not; see comments] to create dense, swirling sonic soundscapes. The three tracks each seem to stem from a core motif which is expanded on and explored, owing more to minimalist compositional techniques than simple riffing, each filling the space with a tremendous, near-unrelenting energy.

It is better – to say nothing of how much easier it is for me – to allow you to experience this first-hand, so see below Greenberg performing as Hubble live on a New York rooftop.

HUBBLE from teresa eggers on Vimeo.

Hubble Drums is available from Northern-Spy Records on November 8.