Saturday, September 12, 2009


So I uploaded Phish's newest album, Joy, to my iPod this week, and I must say, it's getting quite a bit of mileage already.

Generally I'm not a huge fan of Phish's studio work, only because it's so computerized and almost too perfect.

I am growing on the music, but mostly because of the lyrics. They're more personalized this time around, and more (dare I say it?) generic. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Phish. I would go as far as to say they are my favorite band.

In fact, the reason I love Phish is because their music is unlike anything else. There are unique elements to their stuff that most bands just simply don't embody. Structurally, vocally..

When considering a jam band's repertoire, it always seems to me that there are (what I have unofficially termed) "first set songs." Songs that never really go anywhere, that never have any great jams. Songs that don't stand out. Songs during the first set.

By no means am I asserting that all songs played during the first set are in fact First Set Songs, however. I am merely pointing out the fact that songs like these exist in the jam band world. (Example: Casey Jones from the Grateful Dead, as opposed to something like Dark Star.)

And guess what? All of the stuff on Phish's new album seem suspiciously like First Set Songs.

Maybe it's because it's a studio album...

Or maybe it's because they ARE.

I think the recent summer tour reaffirms my position. I never heard one new song that was jammed out like something from their pre-hiatus days (think Ghost, Piper, even something like Chalkdust Torture).

And my other issue with their new album? It's generic. There's an intro, verse one, verse two, a chorus, a bridge, verse three, etc. My point? Anyone could be writing this stuff. Where are the new Guyutes? Harpuas? Harry Hoods?? Not only structurally, but lyrically as well. I want to hear about sleeping monkeys, big black furry creatures, mockingbirds! Zany things.

Any band can write lyrics like the ones on this album, but only Phish can describe a fat sweaty bulldog with grace and musicianship.

I mentioned earlier that the tunes grabbed me (such as 'Joy' and 'Stealing Time') because of their lyrics. Personally, I think lyrics should be secondary to the instrumentation (obviously the mainstream music industry these days does not particularly concur), especially with a band with such musicianship like Phish. So the way I see it, it's almost a bad thing that it was the lyrics that kept me coming back to those songs for more. (It must be noted, however, that 'Time Turns Elastic' is more structurally similar than others.)

So the verdict? Catchy stuff, but it just doesn't have a place in my heart.. At least not in the Phish category.

People come and go, but music is perpetual.
much love, E-Major

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So I managed to wrangle the McLovin's first album, titled 'Conundrum,' from my dad today for a long car ride. So I sat and I really listened. I mean really listened. Kind of internalized the music.

So here is my, unbiased (we're friends on facebook..its a big deal), complete, in-depth, honest opinion of the album:


The more I tune in to their stuff, the more I'm liking these guys. Definitely my favorite track on the album at the moment is Bri (In Memory Of). When I heard it for perhaps the third time today, it really clicked. Knowing a vague backstory and inspiration for the music made it that much better. From what I've heard, it's about a friend of the trio who has passed on.

And just listening to it and thinking, okay, these sections of the music are like stages, like each of the pieces of that whirlwind of emotion that accompanies the passing of a friend, well articulated and lain out. It made sense to me at that point.

'Sea of Wisdom' is worth mentioning too, especially in conjunction with the continuous theme of the Phantom Tollbooth throughout the album. There's sort of a laid back vibe for most of the song, complete with some good imagery all relating to the water. The lyrics give a sense of security to the listener, like they're trying to get the message across that knowledge is continuous and flowing, like water, but not threatening nor hard to find. There's also a great bass line starting about a minute in that only picks up as the tempo changes into something faster for maybe more than a minute at the close.

I began to notice while I was listening to this album is that the McLovins' structural style to their music is a lot like that of Phish, but in more of a subtle way. There are a few different parts or interludes to their music, which became apparent when listening to 'Dynne', the sixth song on the album. There's a lot going on in this song... Good things. Like how the guitar will switch from some serious shredding to a chill vibe on the drop of a dime. That's talent.

'Rhyme & Reason' is an ode to the aforementioned mythical princesses. The song is almost cut into two different vibes. The first is very laid back, and lots of mellifluous lyric choices. The second part is severely reminiscent of the Phish's 'Sparkle,' a very upbeat ditty.

So. Personal interpretation: the first part of the song is for the Princess of Reason, and the second half is for Rhyme. Knowing the book quite well, Reason is the one of the two sisters who needs to be persuaded into something. She is logical. The final picture of the first half of the song is a beautiful image all around, lyrics, licks, everything. There are words. Persuasions.

A swift drumbeat introduces us to the second part, our tribute to Rhyme. From what I can recall she is the crazier sister, the one who will spring for anything if it sounds like a good time, which fits perfectly for the upbeat guitar. The two sisters balance each other, not unlike the two segments of the song.

And, of course, there's 'Conundrum', Jazzy, a real standout. I venture to assert that it's much more intricate than most of the other songs on the album. There's the element of having multiple repeated parts throughout the song that makes it seem much more refined. I especially love the bassline about two and a half minutes in. (I'm a sucker for the bass.. Mike Gordon fall tour!)

Everyone knows how I love the ukalale. Heck, I posted four videos of Jake Shimabukuro in one entry! I couldn't resist... So upon hearing 'Please Refund These Sleeping Pills,' I instantly dubbed it a favorite. Although it is more of a bonus track, it's definitely worth a listen (or a few!). We have a pleasant surprise with a switch on the vocals from Jake to Jason, and an interesting combo with a rhythm acoustic guitar with ukalale. It always puts a smile on my face.

In fact I like it so much, here's another ukalale video for you all:

Consider this the Elizabeth stamp of approval.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ryan Montbleau NYC 8/27/09

Rocks Off! Cruise 8/27/09

I headed off to the big city on a Thursday afternoon in high spirits and with higher hopes of a great (and always stylin!) night. After a half of an hour playing wild goose chase with an elusive Chinese place on third avenue (I'm beginning to suspect it doesn't even exist), I was not in the best of physical condition, even in my stylin ankle boots. In fact, because of my stylin ankle boots. So it would make sense that I was psyched to get on the boat, perhaps take a brief respite? All good stuff.

So there we (as in, my bestie Caroline and I.. for all intensive purposes, she will be referred to as Dr. Cizzle from now on.. only because it's fantastic. and no, she is not aware of this.... yet.) were, walking up to this ferry, snapping pictures like there was no tomorrow. As we boarded, a man who looked strangely familiar approached us. Like, very familiar, but I just couldn't place him... until he asked if we wanted to work the merchandise table for the night! Then it clicked: it was James from the band (not the band, The Band, but.... oh dear.). So anyways.

We got all set up at the merch table by Larry the viola player and watched the show from there. Not a shabby gig, I must say.. we got freebies on any stuff we wanted (although I already owned everything on the table.... I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing) and made lots of new friends!

Dana and SATURDAY (and Dr. Cizzle and me!), the schizofrenic purple monkey marionette that Dana was kind enough to lend us for a while!

As for the show itself, it seemed as if there was nothing particularly standout at the time (except for a great cover of Bend Down Low and She Blinded Me With Science.. both crowd favorites!), I have been tuning in to the recording of the show, and it's actually quite stellar. The sound quality is amazing- almost like a studio recording. A great setlist and (as always) great musicianship. After listening to the show a few times, LIDS, Chariot, and Eggs are the favorites. I have a feeling I'm presenting a bias, though...

jamming to Eggs

So check it out yourself! The archive is really the way to go on this one.