Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Halos & Lassos
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Christian
With hints of fitness music and video game sountracks, "Halos & Lassos" tromps through nineteen songs like a mostly sunny afternoon in Berkeley, CA, home of band leader John Ringhofer. With the modal purity of Moondog, sym... more »
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With hints of fitness music and video game sountracks, "Halos & Lassos" tromps through nineteen songs like a mostly sunny afternoon in Berkeley, CA, home of band leader John Ringhofer. With the modal purity of Moondog, symphonic elements of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", and the ancient art of punning, the album boasts pop melodies arranged around the ambidextrous Omnichord - a vintage 80's kidney-shaped electronic autoharp/drum machine/synthesizer. Biblical allusions, sophisticated theology, and lyrical displays of affection are measured by Ringhofer's indelible sense of humor.
Lassoing us in
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 03/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John Ringhofer is pretty lovable. He's a psychedelic popster who makes offbeat pop music, and he's got the guts to infuse it with his own religious beliefs. And not in a preachy way that makes you want to turn on some Black Sabbath.
It's worked in his previous three albums, and it works in the most part in "Halos and Lassos." It's a bit more confrontational than his previous works, but still has those short songs, wacky Christian lyrics, and cheery music that makes you tap your feet every now and then.
It opens with a cash register ringing and rattling, before Ringhofer starts off with "I'm still your dad, my son/I'm still your mom, my daughter/But a fire guards the garden/and it led the way back home..." Yup, the Biblical references are firmly in place, and they continue through the cheery pop melodies that follow.
Ringhofer verges on pushiness at the beginning of the album, which includes some lines like, "The unbelievers seem to have it easy," but only until he admits his own doubts and worries. It's a fine line between bravery and pushiness, but Ringhofer manages to stay on the brave side.
Then it's off into a long string of pretty little pop melodies: the rippling prettiness of "A Suit of Clouds to Ride the Skies," thoughtful acoustic pop, and some bouncy piano-pop. Ringhofer even seems to be flirting with rock'n'roll in "You Wouldn't Embarrass Me, Would You?" but he yanks himself back to psychpop after a few seconds.
I'll admit it: I don't like Christian music, unless we're talking about medieval hymns. Actually, I don't like most religious music at all. But there's something so upbeat and endearing about Ringhofer's music -- Half-Handed Cloud sounds like the religious cousin of the Flaming Lips.
The vocals don't hurt that impression; Ringhofer has that Wayne Coyne/Jeff Mangum voice, which is off-key in a pleasant way. And his cheery way of singing works well for the songs he writes. They're occasionally a little syrupy, but they're also wonky in their descriptions of styrofoam peanuts, cowboys, royalty, sheep, dead people, prophets, cars, and bad weather (lots of clouds!).
The main instrument here is the Omnichord, a sort of synthesizer/drum machine that does a pretty good job setting up many of these pop tunes. There's some acoustic guitar in some of the songs, but the rippling sound effects and bubbling noises are more prominent.
The main flaw is that the album could have used fewer bells and whistles. Okay, it could have used more bells and whistles, not to mention the horns, because those are delightful, and the album is at its best when Ringhofer throws in tambourines and bells. Just use a bit less Omnichord in the middle of those songs.
Half-Handed Cloud sticks to what it does best in "Halos and Lassos," and fans of the previous three albums won't be disappointed."