The Tapples - Where You've Been
The Tapples, that “may just be Massachusetts next big band” as said by WCVB Channel 5 Anchor Katie Thompson, consists of six young boys who look like they’re not yet old enough to drive. The band consists of lead vocalist Sam Doff, lead guitarist Riley Zakarian, guitarist Avery Zakarian, bassists Daniel King and Arie Shalita and drummer Liam King. They are Needham, Massachusetts’ youngest recording artists and their first release was their EP Bus Recovery.The boys met in grade school and began performing at the annual Hillside Elementary School Talent Show. Always up for a musical challenge, each band member plays multiple instruments, sings three-and-four-part harmonies and are learning how to record and produce their own music using Pro Tools software.Their latest ten track release Where You’ve Been was recorded at Wooly Mammoth Sound in Waltham, Massachusetts, by sound engineer David Westner, mixed by Dennis D'Angelo and mastered by Tom Waltz(Waltz Mastering).
The first song and album title track "Where You've Been" is about life in Needham with references to the band's favorite places. Heavily influenced by Green Day's sound on Dookie, the band taps into that classic power pop-punk sound of the early ‘90s. Geez, do we call ‘90s music ‘classic’ already? "Stuck in Our Own Ways" is a song about the constant struggle between teenagers and parents. The intro is a throwback to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” while the rest of the song was influenced by the sound from R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” You can really hear the deep bass and drum sounds, as well as the vocal harmonies. I would even say the band reaches back into R.E.M.’s I.R.S. label years, too. "Place to Hide" shows the acoustic side of the band. Although they originally recorded it in the studio, they re-recorded the acoustic guitars at home during the mixing process, using sound dampeners out of towels inside a walk-in closet. This one shows off the band’s remarkable talent, not to mention their fantastic vocal harmonies. I was pretty amazed!
Next up is "Beautiful Disaster" and it’s about overcoming mental roadblocks and irrational fears. What caught my ears right away were the drums, but dang, everyone else rocked hard, too. This song has a ton of power pop energy behind it and I loved the solo breaks, too. "Cabana Boy" was originally a joke song the band wrote about a series of bets between two of their dads, where the loser had to be the other's cabana boy for a day. The band keeps up the energy on this one – and I’ll be danged if Daniel Kings or Shalita’s bass didn’t sound like Simon Gallup’s from The Cure. Loved the sound effects of the guitar solo as well. "Namaste Bob" was another joke song written about the drummer's family strife. It features the drummer's dog, Sierra, at the end. Plenty of bass popping and slappin’ on this one. The dog bark was awesome in this fun number.
"The Lobster Song" tells a slightly varied story of the band’s singer's grandfather who loved to order lobster at Chinese restaurants. This tune really showcases the band’s vocal harmonies – like a lot. Well done lads! "Step Outta Line" was written about a dream that the lead guitarist had. The overall sound was heavily influenced by Counting Crows. It’s got an interesting timing arrangement between the guitars, drums and vocals. I thought this one had something about it that set it apart from the others. To me, it sounded like something well-seasoned musicians would play. It definitely became a favorite and I loved the band’s choice to fade the song out, too.
"Waves of Thunder" was influenced by The Who and U2 and it’s a song about the singer's irrational fear of boats. This one was also a favorite, because it seemed to show another side to the band’s style. A side that may hint at what’s next for them. I loved the layered guitar parts, rumbling drums, as well as the guitar solo and echoing effects towards the end. Last there is "Starlit Sky" which was recorded at home, in a closet, but you wouldn’t know it. This is the band’s only “ballad”, complete with heartfelt words sung by a very young tenor, Riley Zakarian, alongside tender melancholic guitar melodies. A gem of a closer. Well, what can I say? Mind blown.
This Massachusetts sextet sounds like they’ve been playing for years and years. Their voices are bound to get lower – but perhaps not so much? They certainly have a grasp on control and harmonies in my view. No doubt they already have their instrument chops down pat and a lot of years ahead of them playing music. And hopefully, a lot of gigs lined up once this whole Covid thing is over with. I wish them well.
Corner House - Caribou Party
Corner House is a Boston-based acoustic group with Irish, Scottish, Appalachian and bluegrass influences. Formed in 2017, they’ve released two EP’s (their previous release Smart Folks was reviewed here on Divide and Conquer) and had hoped to record a full length album when the pandemic hit. Instead, they’ve released their third EP titled Caribou Party and intend to complete an album later in 2021.
Corner House is comprised of Ethan Hawkins (guitar), Louise Bichan (fiddle), Ethan Setiawan (mandolin) and Casey Murray (cello.) These songs were written and recorded on a small Pennsylvania farm in a barn and cabin, which sometimes required the use of a large battery. “This music sits in a proud place in our hearts, and we hope that the minute your finger touches play, you feel the gravity that we felt listening to the notes leave our little music boxes.” The songs were engineered and mixed by mandolinist Setiawan with mastering by David Sinko in Nashville.
When I started listening to the opening track “Woolwich” before I read their bio, my first thought was that this was recorded in a warehouse or silo. I could feel the natural reverb and it works beautifully for this kind of music. The melody of “Woolwich” channels Irish traditional, with a bit of the baroque inventiveness of Gentle Giant. Even the percussion feels authentic. The band says this music “came out of rainy day at a serene cabin in Woolwich, Maine.”
“Grass & Peas” feels more like an old-timey walking blues tune. The arch lyrics were added the night before recording “while pondering if we’re doing as much good as we intend.” Even the disappearing bees get a call out! Some especially nice mandolin chording in this tune. “Caribou Party” adds Murray’s understated banjo to the mix, for a slower and more contemplative sojourn. The fiddle carries most of the emotion here, evoking a tentative disquiet. A gem among gems!
“The Hawk, The Hound & The Homers” was apparently written after the band interacted with some of the local animals, two or which are named Pete and Stevie. This one again feels traditional with an upbeat and lovely interplay among all the stringed instruments. Toward the end there’s a short section where the mandolin and fiddle take a moment to shine on their own.
“Easter Sunday” feels like a slightly more modern folk tune with a heartfelt vocal about grappling with “…the dichotomy we all experience between our upbringing and our lived experience.” The lyrics aim straight for the soul: “I want to believe in Heaven if I go / I believe the angels cry the day we all are born / I want to believe in the things I saw in church / I want to believe that God is not the worst.” The playing here is almost supernaturally gentle and evocative, until it morphs into another delightful reel.
The final track is an eight-minute epic titled “Snow On The Rooftop / The Fallen Squirrel” and features guest Darol Anger on fiddle. Inspired by a nest of squirrels on a rooftop next door, the band says this set “…reminds us not to take pretty much anything too seriously.” Starting out slow and stately, the fiddle provides both lovely melodies and a pleasing drone. The tempo picks up after three minutes for some jig-worthy jamming. The solid “floor” provided by Murray’s deep and low cello should not be overlooked.
Clearly this is a group that makes you happier while listening to them, as my own experience and their many Bandcamp fans can attest. Can’t wait for the full length project!
The Darkhorse Collective is a three-piece psych/prog outfit from Chicago, IL that consists of Alex Owsiany (bass/vocals), Marty Cooney (drums/vocals) and Tyler Klivickis (guitar/vocals/synths). The band has worked hard to hone their sound through local shows, releasing two singles and a music video. This year also sees them unveiling their debut self-titled album The Darkhorse Collective. The record itself is an amalgamation of different elements from progressive metal, alternative, jazz and more. Their influences range from Modest Mouse to Ween, Alice in Chains, Animalas as Leaders and Angelmaker. Described as “prog Nirvana,” the band certainly has the ability to dance around genres and is able to pull all this off with deliberate dexterity and aplomb. They chose to blur many different genres and influences into their music.
The Darkhorse Collective gets revving with “Intern,” where some mournful guitars take this track by the reins. Slowly the guitars evolve into more arena-rock mode, feeling very prog rock with hits of metal and hard rock. Though this is just an instrumental piece, it seemed like a great way to introduce their sounds. Some psychedelic guitar riffs sound out on “Something Beautiful.” I found the guitars sounded really fantastic here. This track sees the first introduction of vocals. The vocals are echo-y filled with tons of reverb. It is a little hard to discern what the lyrics were saying. In this instant, the music felt jazzy and cool. Wonky guitars flare up with a tad of attitude on “Ocean.” The hushed vocals sound out with a rather subdued vibe. The contrast with the psychedelic guitar riffs is interesting. The intricate instrumentals in the backdrop show the members’ mad skills as musicians. Each instrumental solo highlights this.
Rumbling bass sparsely lights up the start of “The Quickest Way To Kill Yourself.” Next, a voiceover announcement makes for an urgent delivery. The guitars are explosive, spiraling in out-of-control riffs. The band flips the script going for more country-bent blues with some rendering on the acoustic guitar on “The Man.” The vocals are marked with a country-twang twist, making the vibes feel more authentic. This warm song seemed like a departure from the band’s more prog and metal influences seen previously. Some scintillating synths greets the start of “Less Stress More Fests.” The driven nodes of music and the vocals reminded me of punk rock outfits like Green Day and Blink-182. I loved the energy and the band’s delivery on this track. This felt like a great song to rock out to.
Auto-tuned vocals add a robotic flair to “Sonder.” This seemed to be a different direction for the band as they move forward with a more electronic-based sound here. After this unique introduction, the sauntering grooves grow in traction, making way to some harmonious overlapping vocals. A piano melody adds to the vibes. This felt like the most pop-oriented song out of the bunch making it feel like a definite highlight. On “Los Papis,” percussions sizzle in the forefront of this track as some twangy spaghetti western guitars arrive. The drums demand your attention right away as the beats are relentless. I can see hints of surf, Latin and psychedelic in the mix. Some revved bass and guitars make for a driven sound on “Legz 4 Dayz.” The energy could especially be felt in the gritty vocals that had dashes of metal and hard rock in it. The riffs were especially hard-hitting and adamant. Rage-fueled shouts add to the gnarly sounds. The music contained heavy riffs that primarily leaned into a dark sound. The band closes with this raucous closer.
The further in the album you get, the more you get to see that the band likes to jam out. The band explains that most of their songs had already been written by their guitarist Klivickis, while he was going through the process of searching for the right members to complete the project. Once you reach the latter half of the album, the songs really start to come together with the band sounding more in the pocket as a result of their harnessed energies as a newly-formed group. I can really see this happening, as the band members feel more fully synchronized to each other even allowing more room for some innovation and improvisations in the riffs. The album feels like a band getting closer and closer to a more signature-based sound. As the trio continues to develop their sound and style, hopefully they will turn the experiences from their first album and streamline the process into a more cohesive and impactful undertaking in a follow-up release. But for now, The Darkhorse Collective seems like a great record to familiar yourself with in the meantime. This proved to be a great introduction to the band’s sounds and I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
Found People - Anhedonia
Found People is a studio project that started with Laura Govoni and Mike Haines. The band did some major recruiting with Jeff Weed, David Keith, Eloy Palacios, Jonathan Weed and Matt McCarthy. They recently released Anhedonia which contains a whopping seventeen songs and comes in just under an hour.
The album is about the topic that is far and away the most popular topic I’ve read about that bands are singing about. They say: “The subject matter is a mix of highs and lows that highlight the members' mental struggles and triumphs in the strange, modern world and the role of music as a therapeutic element in life.” It seems to just be a sign of the times but in all honesty I feel like every other album I review is about this topic.
The band to my ears primarily has a ’90s rock vibe with some ballads but there are unusual twists and turns along the way that keep it interesting. They play with a number of genres including experimental and electronic. There are also male and female sounding vocals, both of which I thought were about equally as good.
Out of the seventeen songs I thought there were some highlights. The opening track “Reveries” is quite good with notable hooks, a great groove and spoken word ending that I thought was engaging and sounded like a meditation session.
Another highlight that goes slightly against the grain is “In a Dream.” I thought the vocals combined with the reverb laced piano sounded fantastic. It is one of the more pensive, melancholy and warm moments on the album.
Another killer track is “How It Ends’ which contains a kinetic bass line that makes it sound like you’re traveling through a wormhole. The vocalists both do a great job and the music just drives. The next track “Further from Reality” is beautiful and one of the more abstract pieces. As the album progresses with “Quiet in the Night,” “Chant” and ‘Vantablack” which I thought were highlights.
This is definitely an epic album in scale. I congratulate them on that. I’m old school and prefer listening from beginning to end and my only critique was the length. I could make a case that the ten strongest songs would have been more powerful.
Overall, this is a really good album. The songwriting and delivery was top notch. Take a listen.
Jonah Atkins - Jonah Atkins
The last time I heard from Jonah Atkins was in 2017. His previous album High Hopes Kids was about a young teenage kid unsure of the future. Atkins continues a very similar coming of age theme with his self-titled album Jonah Atkins. He explains: “The album is about being on the cusp of complete independence, but feeling behind the curve compared to my friends and colleagues.”
Well before I even start the key to this is comparing yourself to who you were yesterday not comparing yourself to other people. In my forty years on this planet that is one nugget I think that is very helpful.
The album contains eight songs and musically this is definitely his best work yet. I thought the songwriting and delivery was consistently good. The album starts off with “On The Mend '' which is a great combination of reflection and hope. It’s catchy and I thought the vocals were exceptional.
“Two Steps Back” is another good song. It’s reflective and introspective but even more importantly is musically engaging. There's warm pads, classical guitar and minor electronic flourishes. “One Big Thing” is the most chipper and warm yet but still has that foundation of meditative melancholy. “I Resist” was solid but a clear highlight was the beautiful “I Promise” which is a sparse song.
The energy gets moving with the Americana inspired “Not Ready” which is a single worthy song. “A Message, A Reminder” was another slower song similar to “I Promise” that was another highlight. The album ends with “Feels Good to Laugh” which is hopeful, sentient and a good way to close.
I thought the stripped songs were his best. The songs with a full arrangement would have benefited from a more live quality from the drums but besides that I thought this was a great album. I love hearing an artist improve and that’s what you have here. Recommended.
The Fragile Corpse is a DIY alt-rock band from Ann Arbor, MI that recently released Day Of The Cusp. They mention: “The album was an attempt for me (Thew) to write something less abstract than my previous bands and more socially relevant/relatable.”
I can say that was accomplished. The album features eleven songs somewhere between soft and hard rock. They get going with one of the harder songs “Theme Song (1996)” which revolves around distorted guitars, bass and steady drums. It’s a solid start with dynamic transitions and well-delivered vocals.
“Bad Blood” features melodic, clean guitars and a more pensive mood. “In Isolation'' is a slow burn of a song that unfolds with warm elements and what sounds like a very different vocalist. “Aegis'' was a highlight. I especially enjoyed the guitar work on this song.
They bring back the distortion with “The Great Betrayal” which contains some badass riffs and feel a bit ominous. As the album progresses you get a mix of those types of songs and I thought the very slow moving “Fallen Hero” and closer “Bad Code” with both vocalists were the highlights.
The flow of the album was cohesive. I thought the change in vocalists was interesting and kept my attention. On top of that the change in dynamics and aesthetics worked well in that there were novel aspects but not too novel.
My only critique was the recording quality. As an engineer myself this sounded like a good home recording. I have to admit I wanted a little increase in the engineering aspect to make the dynamics more powerful and provide more clarity at points.
Overall, this was a solid album from beginning to end. The songs were well written and I think it’s also accessible to a general demographic. Take a listen.
Apricot Protocol - Feel Something
Apricot Protocol is the duo of Daniel Cavi and Colleen Thomas. While both Cavi and Thomas have been active musicians for many years, their link-up to form Apricot Protocol is recent (2020). Feel Something is their debut release, a six-track EP fueled by some discount studio time that they won in a songwriting contest.
The needle drops, appropriately, on “Take It From The Top,” which shows off their songwriting chops. The track has a few different sections and drum beats, and blends an upbeat, poppy feel with some less-optimistic lyrics sung by Thomas. Apricot Protocol’s instrumentation offers nice textures: there are nice thump-y piano parts with gritty electric and strum-y acoustic guitars, complemented by solid electric pianos and synth work. We’re cruising right along, enjoying the Natalie Merchant vibe, and then the track morphs into something more ominous. Will Feel Something be a pop EP, or something more unsettling? The surprise ending doesn’t let us off the hook--and Apricot Protocol won’t let us off the rest of the way.
“It’s No Mistake” takes us back to pop, but there are some alterations in the chords that provide some tension. Here the solos shine: the first synth is very cool, and the melodic guitar solo evokes Santana in its tone, use of overdrive and space. The second synth solo is even cooler, and is something Steve Porcaro would have happily played, especially with the note bending that emulates guitar phrasing.
Apricot Protocol heads a little towards grunge with “All That Matters,” a mid-tempo, tune-it-low, funky-meter tune. Thomas’ vocals work exceptionally well here: she’s in a lower register, and her voice offers a bit more power, suiting the dark mood of the riff. The track leaves us with some hanging tension (of course), fading out with a keyboard tritone.
Up next, “The Signal I Received” is radio-ready, dreamy major-key pop perfection with up-front bass that alternates between driving and melodic lines. This could have been played by an ‘80s new wave band, although Apricot Protocol adds their own touches. Here they’ve added some thickening synth-strings just underneath, low and left. The tension comes from the tones, not the notes, this time. It’s really well done, and adds some welcome variety.
The ‘80s influences continue on “Something Like Normal”. Imagine The Edge playing on The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” but the chord chart was crinkled up so the changes didn’t come exactly where you expected. There’s a very cool keyboard part over the chorus, and it’s interesting how Apricot Protocol has chosen to mix the keyboards higher and the vocals lower over the chorus. There’s another great, melodic guitar solo here too with some great phrases and note choices.
“My Sunday” caps the record with Cavi taking over the microphone. It starts as if he’s just sitting on his amp, playing his guitar and demoing this song. The band fills it out later and takes us through a quiet breakdown with some cool chords. There’s one final melodic guitar solo (think Mark Knopfler with a country twist, or something from the Grateful Dead), and Apricot Protocol, of course, leaves us a bit unresolved, as they’ve done throughout.
Feel Something is pop, but pop on Apricot Protocol’s terms. The EP does indeed make you feel something; will it resolve on repeated spins? You tell me. We eagerly await their next disc.
Blindfold Sights is the third album I’ve reviewed here on Divide and Conquer by the virtual collective New American Hustle, but if anything they’ve become more mysterious over the past year. For starters they seem to put out a new album (plus singles and videos) every month, which makes them a modern equivalent of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Strangely, many of their earlier albums on Bandcamp have been tossed down Willy Wonka’s garbage chute along with Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop (though a bit of internet sleuthing will turn them up).
Additionally, each new album comes with less information on the players and collaborators than the one before. We know that New American Hustle is a virtual band from San Francisco led by Ian Smith and featuring Lolita Larsson and Hilda Britton on vocals, and that their sound is an amalgam of “alt-rock, trip hop, rap and grunge sounds of the ’90s.” Their influences include Beck, David Bowie, Gorillaz and Portishead. They put together their songs using live players, tapes loops and samples with analog mastering by Nate Bridges in Nashville. But for Blindfold Sights there are no specific performance credits or mission statements.
As always, Smith’s presentations through Instagram photos and youtube videos are professional and enticing, given that Smith is a graphic designer and many of his collaborators are models. The photos and music convey a seductive, cocaine-drenched sexual vibe, sort of Studio 54 meets Ariana Grande. Given the group’s massive output, each album feels similar but rarely like a retread of what’s come before. The following tracks are my favorites from this particular edition.
“Tricky Locks” slowly unlocks all the tools in Hustle’s bag, as each instrument and sample takes a turn “signing in.” A slow vamp then kicks in for a solid rocking groove with complex slide (or lap steel) guitar breaks. From what I can discern, Smith plays five-string bass and it’s always solid. The female vocals are soulful and bluesy. Five minutes into the song, a killer hard rock beat kicks in that sets off and comments on the erotic female earplay. “Still Alive” starts with a similar melody to “Tricky Locks” to which is added some cool drum samples, Smith’s bass and a Leslie guitar-type effect with lovely lead vocals from the girls.
“Blindfold Sights” features Ian Smith’s sprechgesang style rapping with a busy, rolling drum pattern. I like Smith’s vocal takes as he brings a somewhat more relatable vibe than the supermodels. Based on the video, this song appears to deal with the sad aftermath of lives too closely aligned with drugs and debauched glamour. “Exorcism of the 90’s (Dead Star)” is a mostly instrumental grunge guitar and bass track, and I’m guessing it’s a tribute to David Bowie, what with the reference to Dead Star (“Blackstar”) and the video shots of a Major Tom-type character floating in space for all eternity. “You’re a dead star / Beautiful and free.” I get chills!
“Paper Shrine” is another Smith vocal showcase, this time with some interesting off-tune electric guitars as his backing. “Deepfake to Shakespeare” is an eight-minute epic with an interesting prog-rock structure with rapping by an unidentified male. The album closer “Prelude To A Drowning Girl” has a lovely female vocal and a violin playing traditional Irish melodies along with mandolin, acoustic guitar and a busy but engaging drum construction. Surprisingly different from the usual New American Hustle sound, this one’s my favorite by a mile.
Clearly there’s no stopping the pace of Smith’s music machine, and I’m hoping his manic speed never causes a downturn in quality.
Andrew Steinmetz - Record Low
A veteran of several Montreal bands of the ’80s and ’90s, Andrew Steinmetz now presents his own five-song EP titled Record Low. More than just a nod to lo-fi recording, Steinmetz has embraced a simpler approach to recording by first trying out song ideas for a couple weeks, then diving in headfirst to nail each track in (preferably) one take. He explains: “I’m very serious in my belief that the first take is the deepest. I rarely re-record. Mistakes and noise on the track is better than overproduction or pretentiousness to me.”
As far as “lo-fi” goes, I’d have to say I’ve heard a lot worse; what Steinmetz achieves is intimacy and immediacy. However he’s far from alone: his recording band includes himself on vocals and guitar, brother Peter Steinmetz on “bass, lazy tambourine and encouragement” and - most strikingly - Paul Ciechanowski on bass, strings and accordion arrangements. Ciechanowski is the secret weapon on this album, as his accordion opens up the sound wonderfully. Files were swapped between Ottawa, Montreal and Seattle using Logic with Steinmetz mixing on the spot. “Noise left like blood on the tracks was good enough for Glenn Gould and so it's good enough for me.”
Steinmetz’s album title has another meaning: he says these songs are “the lo-fi recording of low moments past and present.” So there’s that. In the title track he pronounces “Record Low” as in vinyl record, an interesting twist. Acoustic guitars strum and chime away with Steinmetz’s laid back, '90s style vocals following along with what sounds like a distant drum machine. “Who-iz Hungry” is a slow bluesy tune that recalls the White Album acoustic demos. Steinmetz’s voice is especially appealing here in an early Randy Newman-John Prine style, folksy and real, sounding much older than his given age.
“Family Folk” kicks in with a fun story about growing up, thematically just like an Amazon novel I read called “Free Range” by Steve McMoyler. “Haircuts by the same old man / we just called him Dad / My brothers chased me through the yard / they trapped me by the door / we just called that war.” This song marks the first appearance by Paul Ciechanowski: his bass, accordion and horn sounds really flesh out this heartwarming tune.
“Those You Left Behind” has a classic folk construction with plaintive harmonies and dark minor chords. “Those we leave behind / Are never that far / look up high / who’s that hanging from the stars?” Ciechanowski’s understated accordion and ersatz horns again lift the song a few notches. The concluding “Weaker Thing” has a structure so close to a George Harrison solo tune (“Give Me Love”?) that it’s hard for me to take it on its own merits. The more original chorus is engaging, if slightly out of tune.
Clearly Steinmetz has succeeded in creating a short lo-fi classic. His songwriting bonafides are obvious, and I’d love to hear him try a different experiment where his songs might shine through in a clearer light.
Chachee - Dark Light
The artist named Chachee is my kind of guy. Somebody gifted this Boston-based player a used Tascam Portastudio in the ‘90s, and he’s been filling shoeboxes full of Maxell cassettes ever since. He also plays drums for the band Woodsy Pride. This 13-song collection titled Dark Light was recorded by Chachee over the past few years in various Boston bedrooms and practice spaces using M-Track 8 and Audacity, and was mastered by Bantam Mastering. Finally, there’s a professionally duplicated cassette available on Bandcamp along with a digital download.
Chachee drew inspiration from ’90s lo-fi punk and indie rock. “There is a melding of acoustic, electric and digital instrumentation with field recordings from protest marches, open apartment windows and animals sprinkled into the mix. Dark Light maintains its authenticity as a classic bedroom album set in a timeless story of the search for light among the darkness.”
Right off the top, you’ll notice that Chachee’s drum tracks are above the abilities of most solo recordists, since Chachee is an actual drummer. His sound is indeed somewhat lo-fi, in the sense that tracks are filled to the brim without too much worry about sonic purity, but it’s a fun and amiable sound. The average track length is about three minutes so you rarely feel his welcome is being worn out.
“Deep In The Clouds” starts us off with upbeat chiming guitars, a wah-wah melody line, understated vocals and tribal drums. “Back To Bed” has a late ’60s Monkees/Byrds quality, which is interesting since Chachee never mentions his intent to mimic this era or style. This may be a case of ’90s alternative bands grandfathering down these earlier influences. At any rate, this is a great song, if a bit dense.
“Bett to Moses and His Posse of Freaks” is a slower contemplative tune about what I’m assuming are Chachee’s posse of ’90s friends. The world weary vocals interact nicely with the grungy guitar melodies. “Grabbin’ Pussy” is a one-joke song but the joke is pretty funny, though it also features unexpected protest march sounds. “Sopchoppy Thunder” slows things down even further for a dark, bluesy lament. “Some days I don’t even know if I can keep it going without you.”
“Walking You Home” begins with some of Chachee’s found sounds, then melds into a lengthy Donovan-like folk instrumental. The picked guitar lines are so nice (even if slightly out of tune) that it makes me wonder what a studio-clean version of Chachee’s songs might sound like, but it definitely works here. There are distant vocals but they’re more for the vibe than lyrical clarity. I’m guessing all the real-life sounds are reflective of things you might hear walking home with someone you love.
“While You Were Sleeping” features gently picked acoustic guitars with a plaintive Dylanesque vocal, upon which a clomping beat and reverbed electrics are overlaid. The drums here sound like they were recorded down the hallway of an abandoned castle, which I really liked. This is one track I would have welcomed more of. “Sad Day” features cool guitar dynamics with a Jim Morrison vocal vibe. “Cold And Grey” feels more retro-spacey with old-sounding drum and keyboard patches. “A Call From Nowhere” is a short bluesy track featuring Chachee’s expert acoustic playing and boxy drums.
“The Park” is a six-minute concluding track and features the bittersweet, lovely melodies Chachee has established that he can fire off on a whim. Acoustics, tremolo electric guitar and piano all frame Chachee’s vocals. At two minutes in, Chachee introduces highly distorted beats which (intentionally) throw the song’s already tenuous tempos even more off kilter.
Though I do believe there are other worlds for Chachee to conquer by spending more time on his sound and arrangements, there’s much to enjoy here, especially for someone like me who appreciates Chachee’s homegrown aesthetic.
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