Monday, November 9, 2009

A potpourri, if you will.

I miss blogging.

And more importantly, I miss going to shows.

I blame my education.  Going away to such an oppressive (read: busy) school is so preventative of my jam band mojo.. It's rediculous.

That hasn't stopped me from reviewing, per se.. The problem is I just don't have any new shows to talk about!  I have been writing for my school newspaper about jam bands, but I do more of an overview of bands rather than a review of specific shows.. it's not the same!

HOWEVER.  I am thrilled to report that I sucessfully sniped tickets to two nights of Phish in Albany over my Thanksgiving break (is there anything else to be thankful of?  I think not.)  I'll have lots of new material in the near future!

I've gotta say, I haven't really been into the jam scene these past few months as much as I would like to be.. Indie tunes have caught my eye, and I finally learned who the heck Notorious BIG is!  I blame living with 350 teenagers for my growing tendency towards the mainstream.

I want to kick it with the hippies.

Christmas music is entirely appropriate for any time of the year,

PS! Here's the most recent review I did for my school newspaper.. I covered the McLovins, but due to time constraints, I stole a little bit from my previous review of 'Conundrum'.. you can't win em all, I guess.  But anyways!

The McLovins- An Overview 
by Elizabeth Bayne '10
Red & White Staff Writer

There’s no doubt you’ve heard of the explosive craze within the jam band world for the group Phish.  And perhaps you’ll even know of the infamous (and oftentimes uncomfortable) tension issued between the diehard Phish Phans and Deadheads.  So was I surprised to hear faint riffs of the complex Phish tune ‘You Enjoy Myself’ drifting through the ocean breeze on the grounds of the Gathering of the Vibes this summer?  Bet on it.  (The Vibes is a four-day festival dedicated to the loving memory to Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead).  My immediate speculation as to the source of the music was that some barefoot, sunbathing, peace-loving hippie decided to blast it out of his car stereo.  Upon sleuthing the campground I came upon its legitimate source –The McLovins, a high school trio hailing from West Hartford, Connecticut.

While my anecdote may prove unnecessary to some, I must disagree; it is entirely relevant in order to illustrate the monstrosity of this band’s sound.  There’s this fusion of jazzy riffs and mind-blowing jams that’s vastly unlike the stuff on the radio today.  What really impresses me is the fact that the guitarist of a mere fourteen years can eerily replicate the likes of Trey Anastasio and Neil Young.
He’s fourteen.  A freshman in high school this fall.  As for the other members, they are both sixteen, juniors.

The McLovin’s debut album, titled ‘Conundrum,’ is such a win.  It is inspired by the boys’ favorite novel, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster.  The two favorite songs off the album are album-titled ‘Conundrum’ as well as ‘Sea of Wisdom’.

‘Sea of Wisdom’ is worth mentioning especially in conjunction with the overlying theme of the Phantom Tollbooth.  There’s sort of a laid back vibe for most of the song, complete with soothing imagery all relating to the water.  The lyrics give a sense of security to the listener, like they are trying to impart that knowledge is continuous and flowing, like water, but not threatening or hard to find, which, if one is familiar with the novel, happens to be a recurring theme throughout.  A great bass line starts about a minute in that picks up as the tempo changes into something faster for maybe more than a minute at the close as well.

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 tenacious bass line about two and a half minutes in.

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 becomes apparent upon listening to ‘Dynne’, the sixth song on the album.  There’s a lot going on in this song, like how the guitar will switch from some serious shredding to a relaxed vibe on the drop of a dime.  That’s talent.

Another new favorite is ‘Virtual Circle’, which was debuted after the ‘Conundrum’ was dropped.  There’s this exchange of the vocal line between the drummer, Jake, and the bassist, Jason, which switches into this jazzy, heavy jam from the guitar with bouncing drums and a driving bass line for backup.

These kids are not your average high schoolers wielding a clarinet for an art credit.  There’s some serious passion, musicianship, and dedication going into their stuff. says their album embodies “a cornucopia of musical genres” which “melts your face then gives you a minute to recover before melting it again.”  Need I say more?

So, without further adieu, consider this the official Elizabeth stamp of approval.
Up next on the agenda?  Two days in Albany this November for Phish.  Anyone else going?

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry - you will have plenty to blog about soon when you see Phish - plus the experience will whet your appetite to talk about other bands that you want to see, etc. I would "guest" for you, except that the only concert I've seen recently is Steve Kimmock, whose music I don't really "get." All of his songs sound the same to me, except for an occasional break out. His drummer son is pretty awesome, though - only 18 or 20 years old and pretty darn good. That's all for now. Keep the faith!