Sunday, February 23, 2014

Overstep: Full Album Review

Mike Gordon is at it again. This prolific songwriter/soundmaker/noisecatcher has recently released his newest album, Overstep, available for free stream on the Rolling Stone website.  The tone of the album follows closely on the heels of The Green Sparrow (2008), sidestepping from the ethereal, spacy tone of Moss (2010) and Inside In (2003).  Lots of upbeat, funky bass and guitar abound, which is captured nicely by the cover art.

The album begins with the slow groove Ether, which seems to ease a listener into the weird world of MG. Featuring interesting chord progressions and trademark inscrutable lyrics, the song lays down a nice foundation of what's to come.

 The second tune, Tiny Little World, is the first time on the album we hear that bomb-droppin' bass that Phish fans know and love.  I really like the counterpoint it provides to the upbeat, sunny melody of the lyrics.  This song is, to me, the catchiest and most danceable one on the album.  The line It's the sauce that makes the dish makes me think that the Soulfood Man had a hand in writing the lyrics for this one.

Jumping is the first time we hear Scott Murawski sing on the album.  The driving acoustic guitar and the duo's vocal harmonies are notable.  Murawski's electrifying guitar solo remains whimsical.

So far so good. 

I'm pleased to report that I was present at Phish's debut of Yarmouth Road at SPAC on 7/5/13.  This song is most likely the most well known among Phish fans who stay current; the band played it eight times in 2013.  The placement of this song is excellent; it's a nice place to slow down, both lyrically and in tempo.  The verses remain characteristically poetic, but the prominence of the chorus makes it seem like a good platform to dive into a ~sweet jam~ ... as Phish began to explore last year.  I can't wait to hear the Mike Gordon Band's take on it.

The following tune, Say Something brings about a background of bouncing guitar and vocal lines.  The subtle dialogue that occurs between the two is engaging and energetic; I predict that this tune, along with the following tune, Face, will launch some serious disco jams this spring.  Breath: baited.

Face features an exposed bass and syncopated guitar line, making it feel spacey sequined funky.  I find myself caught up on this one because the song structure seems unique; I love the stripped down passage At first I heard the bass... it's unexpected and brings a renewed energy to the song... and it's super meta.  We're all about that here in the liberal arts.
A Different World features a guitar riff that's simple yet infectious; I love how independent it is while still interacting with the rest of the music.  It's earnest but still somehow distant... how do they do that?

The soaring solo in Long Black Line, the penultimate song on the album, brings the musical momentum through to the very end.  In this tune, it's the real star.

The album closes with the song Surface, which is saturated with lyrics and some spacey vocal effects sung by Scott Murawski.  The faded quality of the sound serves as a fitting outro to an impressive next album.

I can't wait to see what tricks the dudes in the MGB have up their sleeves for their spring tour.....!  I'll be at the show in North Adams, MA on April 5th.  If you're there too, come say hi!  I'll probably give you a glowstick.

Peace, love, and sequins,


1 comment:

  1. You skipped Peel, in my opinion one of the most interesting songs on the album (and which strongly reminds me, vocally, of Adrien Belew)