Vickey A. (adorkable1987) Reviewed on 6/11/2012...
I really enjoy this CD. I didn't give it a full 5 stars because I sometimes get a bit bored of it (hence putting it on here to swap).
Potential that will hopefully be fully realized later.
Mike K. | Massachusetts, USA | 07/04/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's kind of a cliche' thing to say, but this is a band that, at this point anyway, you kind of have to see live to fully "get". On record, it's possible to hear the orchestral instrumentation, former Tripping Daisy vocalist Tim Delaughter's Jonathan Donahue-esque vocal delivery, and choruses like "hey, it's the sun, and it makes me shine" and (mistakenly) write them off as a twee/hippy version of Mercury Rev. But being faced with 24 people dressed in robes up on stage performing this material with such abandon that it becomes contagious, such cynicism inevitably fades away. Still, despite paling before their live performance, this is a very strong creative release, especially for what is essentially a demo recorded in 3 days. The main mood of the album is spiritual uplift, with Delaughter offering such advice as "have a day, celebrate, soon you'll find the answer" backed by a soaring chorus of backing vocals. As I said, it can all come off as a bit "twee" at first, bu they're truly sincere about this; Delaughter and company just want to bring the sense of joy back into pop music and cut down the prevalant angst at least a tiny bit, and terrific pop songs like "hanging around the day" and "light and day/reach for the sun" find the band poised to do just that. Not that it's a constant stream of happy music, although optimism mostly prevails, there are also darker moments like "middle of the day" (noticing a pattern in song titles here?), a spine chilling ballad with a cloud of dischordant instrumentation around it that brings a mood of weary uneasiness, and even "soldier girl", which is otherwise peppy in a bossanova era pixies backed by pet sounds-ish orchestration kind of way, has a strange disorienting moment where the backing music dissapears and the vocals suddenly go through an odd echo effect. This band has an amazing album in them, but unfortunately this is not quite it. For one, the production by Delaughter himself doesn't quite do the group justice. Although the mix isn't bad, and I understand the inherent difficulty in having to produce such a large group, especially if you're a member of the group and not at all a professional producer, the album just sounds a bit too tinny for what is 20 or so different instruments playing at once. The bonus EP that now comes attached to the album mitigates this somewhat, offering up often better sounding re-recordings of tracks from the album, including an absolutely gorgeous "orchestral version" of "follow the day". Another minor complaint is that not counting the 36 minute "ambient" 10th track, the album offers a fairly skimpy amount of music (about 30 something minutes if my math is correct). Again, this is understandable since from what I've read these were the only songs they had at the time, and the album is essentially the live set they were playing in order. And finally there's the 10th track itself, "a long day", while interesting in theory (every sound in the song is actually Delaughter's own voice sampled and altered beyond recognition) and after a few minutes even hypnotic, it's essentially a waste of album space that goes nowhere, although at least it's not in the middle of the album or something. Still, as they say themselves, it is "the beginning stages", hopefully their next release (which is expected in 2004 and will be produced by longtime Pere Ubu member/sometime Frank Black producer Eric Drew Feldman) will more fully develop their budding genius."
All about the sun
Andreas Graham | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of Mercury Rev or the Flaming Lips, or if you have grooved on the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar, you really owe it to yourself to get this album. The mood of the album is so infectious, you will be smiling and singing along and that's a good thing.
Things tend to be dreary when you are in the dead of winter in New England - this album has put me in a good mood for a week now, and that's what music is all about, isn't it? Making life sweeter?"
Could only have come from Texas
owlberg | Seattle, WA USA | 09/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, Texas... there's something about the place that inspires this kind of stuff. Anyhoo, to those who might be thinking "OK, why, when we already have early ELO, the Beach Boys' SMILE (almost nearly compiled within the context of the GOOD VIBRATIONS box set), everything by the Cowsills, Pink Floyd's ATOM HEART MOTHER, and Jellyfish's SPILT MILK, do we need this?", I'd answer "why not?". Yes, just about everything here has been done by someone before. But the concept of assembling a full-blown band/orchestra-and-multi-voiced-chorus specifically for the purpose of performing this type of material is pretty darn cool. 'Have A Day' and 'Soldier Girl' (the stand-out tracks, IMHO) are basically blissed-out sing-alongs, and I mean that as utter praise, similar to the giddy rush you get from singing along to the coda of "Hey Jude". These are not songs as much as they are chants: invocations of good cheer, if you will. There's not much lyrical depth here, because it simply isn't necessary. If Brian Wilson yearned to write 'Teenage Symphonies to God', then these are 'Schoolyard Jingles to Everybody', a series of incantations (literally... look the word up) designed to conjure up a smile and a bit of inner peace. If that makes them hippies, or worse, a musical version of a cult, whatever... I guess Texas is still breeding hippies then. Doesn't bother me a bit... quite the opposite, actually, if these are the results."
Great musical ideas...
owlberg | 08/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I heard this group reviewed on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered", and knew right away I had to pick up the CD. As a lover of classical music as well as off-beat...well, one can hardly call it "pop" if it's off the beaten track, I found it refreshingly upbeat in this era of the negative and degrading. The mix of orchestral instruments, synthesizers, electric guitar and a chorus (in some places the themes rather remind me of moments from the musical "Hair") makes the sound strong without the need for a thumping beat or annoying techniques like guitar feedback. You don't have to blow out your eardrums to be blown away.There are a couple of drawbacks to this CD; first, the recording doesn't do the band justice. Someone talk to these people about hiring somebody who has experience recording orchestral/choral music to produce their next recording! Put them in Boston's Symphony Hall or something, with a battery of really good microphones to get the sound right, and a pro who knows how to mix recordings of large diverse groups of voices and instruments. And then call me. Because I want to be the first in line to purchase the CD.Second, the final track, "A Long Day" doesn't really go with the rest of the CD. Not only is it not polyphonic in any sense of the word, it is definitely NOT something you'd think of when you hear the word "spree". It sounds more like the kind of noise you hear when you're just a tad off the radio station you're almost tuned to. Not that I can't listen to hums, buzzes, pops and modulated static for hours on end, but the track IS 36 minutes, 32 seconds long. Which makes the title of the track apt. Listening to it all the way through makes you feel like you've had a long day.The CD is worth the price, even though you only really get about a half an hour of what most of us would consider music. Although the 4 cuts on the bonus CD are the same songs that appear on the main recording, they are different takes, and I actually preferred them."