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Phish Tour 2021: A New Past, A New Perspective
Let me start by saying, no band on planet earth can do it like Phish, the highest highs, the lowest lows; transfusing dark riffs with whimsical merriment. I have said a lot about this band in previous reviews and I always try and find a different angle or something new to say about their performances. In the past, I have reviewed the sets, song by song, but good lord that’s tedious and after a while redundant. It’s best I stick with the hits and talk about the best parts of these shows instead of nit-picking and going, full journalist mode.
I have always wanted to travel to Deer Creek Amphitheater (now Rouff) the venue made infamous by the Grateful Dead and the gate-crashing incident. The drive north was worse than expected and I honestly didn’t realize Indianapolis was such a big city. Arriving in town, something just wasn't right with my stomach and I missed out on the first show, which turned out to be one of the best shows of the tour, filled with 30+ minute jams and improvisation. I have since listened to this show and I am still kicking myself for missing it but I was physically unable to attend. The next day was better after a long night's sleep but still, something inside was not right, I struggled forward in the earnest hope that the music would bring me back to life and I was excited to see what Phish could bring after this long hiatus. I had been keeping up with the setlists of the previous shows and was ready for whatever may come and boy did it!
The lot scene in Indianapolis was one of the largest I had seen and my sidekick, Jack, and I were graciously accepted and welcomed. I have been traveling with Jack for over 15 years now and we have seen countless shows and even journeyed to Egypt together. Jack has cerebral palsy and I am so grateful to be his friend and to have his perspective in my life. You can check out more with Jack below on the Out Of My Mind VLOG Episodes #4-5. I just wanted to mention him here, in case anyone was wondering.
After thoroughly "wookifying" ourselves we headed into the venue to await Phish. Friday was filled with monster jams, ethereal noises, and all-around spacey jams. The improvisation was on point and they always seemed to make it back to Earth before blasting off again. Needless to say, the band couldn’t keep that up all weekend and Saturday's show was more of a rock and roll experience. Not to say it didn’t have its moments where they got downright dirty and sleazy with those riffs. I knew Sunday was going to be off the charts but I was not prepared for the "Story Of Sally." What is there to say about this set? It might be one of the most creative and hilarious Phish moments since Merriweather's "Tweezerfest" for me. The band would go in and out of various songs, creating new lyrics, combining imagery, and having a lot of fun on stage. This is what Phish is all about, taking chances, taking risks, trying something that has never been done before, and can never be replicated. The "Story Of Sally" is really just the story of Phish and their inclusion of improvisational elements from all influences and their all-around passion for music.
We drove the next long haul of about 9 hours to Hershey, Pennsylvania and I came down with one of the worst stomach pains I have ever experienced. I barely made it to the next hotel before I was about to tap out on the whole week. These things happen on tour and while it sucked, it’s only time and music seems to help everything. Fortunately, I pushed through to hang with all my friends at Hershey. These two shows solidified my short run and gave me most of the songs I knew I was going to see. It was a grand event filled with loved ones going backwards down the number line. I would say more about these shows but I honestly barely remember most of it because I was struggling with stomach pains, I do remember some great jams from Birds Of A Feather and Chalkdust. These two shows kind of just washed over me, I don't remember much but I do remember dancing and having fun most of the time. Have any of you ever experienced a concert while sick? How did you push through? I am glad I survived getting brown in Hershey town but I wish I could have carried on to Atlantic City. Cest la vie.
Seeing Phish is like transporting myself into the past. The past me, past experiences, some past life; foggy in the haze of memory. Somehow reliving a deja vu-like dream but with new meaning, an advanced frame of mind. The pandemic has really put things into perspective and while I yearn for the past, I still look forward to what may come. Seeing Phish is like moving forward in life, not knowing what they will play, how they will play it, or how the hell they will get back down to earth. Things may be changing again quickly but one thing will never change, Phish absolutely jams and they do it like no one can.
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Jam Band Purist: FloydFest 2021 (A Return Home) Full Review
The Virginia backroads twist and turn into the future, traveling into a long-awaited musical journey. A return home. The past year-and-a-half have been some fevered nightmare where my bare essentials have been stripped from me, mainly live music, my lifeblood, which seems like a very unorganized religion for me. My Sunday Sabbaths are weekly or monthly musical journeys into the reaches of Improv and Rock and Roll but, this was all taken from me. With the return of FloydFest, I knew that I would be able to return to my sanctuary and rekindle the musical fire that dwells in us all. This spark was aflame as soon as I entered the venue.
It’s always quite the heartwarming experience when you walk into a festival for the first time in two years and see Keller Williams on stage, a smile on his face, barefoot, and singing some nonsensical dialogue. It reminds me of simplistic times when I was 18 and carefree, the world ahead of me. That youthful spirit invigorates me as I sally forth into the weekend headlong with music and dance. There is no rest for the weary here. All your bones must dance until tomorrow. Become one with yourself, the mountaintop, the drops of dew, the sun, and the music.
FloydFest is as a dream is. The mountaintop atmosphere lends itself to the blissful nature of the music. The music and natural surroundings seem in harmony with one another. The long-fingered ridge becomes a small town, a circus with all the fixings. There is something here for everyone, young and young at heart. Families pass by odd strangers who shimmy to the rhythm of the hypnotic tunes as though they have been doing this their whole lives, their outrageous attire eclectic and revealing. Sometimes I wonder what it's like in those kids' heads as they witness the spectacle. One day I hope they understand the absolute freedom they witnessed as youths. There is nothing like a music festival, and there is nothing like FloydFest.
Leftover Salmon is a joyous, exuberant, bluegrass experience with the Oden of the jam world, Vince Herman at the helm. I watched both their sets at the Hill Holler stage and the main stage. Each set brought its own form of progressive bluegrass greatness. The banjo shredding the parts where the guitar should be, Andy Thorn cutting through the mix and right into your feet. There is no possible way to watch Leftover Salmon and not kick a foot or pound it on the ground. Vince's long holler raises the crowd's excitement level as they kick into high-notch before slowing it down for another ballad like “Southern Belle.” Saturday's performance would see a massive rainbow streak across the sky. The colors of music reacting from the heavens.
Turkuaz might be the funkiest band on the planet. They create their own world of sound and lyrical landscapes. Turkuaz is the perfect band to join Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew for a complete recreation of the Talking Heads seminal album 'Remain In The Light.' Both Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew being prodigious parts of this record, there was an obvious excitement from the crowd. An electric halo seemed to surround us all as the recreating began. And no, this wasn’t a cover this was something else. Something even David Byrne couldn’t replicate onstage. The palpable energy source seemed to hover over the band as they lay into "Psycho Killer", "Born Under Punches,", "Life During Wartime", "The Great Curve", and "Take Me To The River." Jerry Harrison looks from underneath his shoulder-length hair, surveying us until he seems too shy to look anymore and retreats into himself. He is the leader of this group and his Byrne-like presence is less frantic and nonvolatile; more zen funk than some post-punk messiah. Adrian Belew is always waiting for his solo to gleam his Cheshire smile and whammy his guitar into some other dimension. Adrian Belew is one of the most unorthodox guitar players I have ever seen live and he has inspired me to learn the dynamics and complete creative prowess of his guitar virtuosity. I would love to interview Adrian and pick his mind about this show and his past. Now that’s a dream interview!
Travers Brothership may have the best single cover from the entire weekend with "City Of Tiny Lights" by the illustrious Frank Zappa which once featured Adrian Belew, synergy there. This cover was outstanding and high-energy. I have never heard it done in such a unique but almost perfect fashion. Travers Brothership has certainly come a long way from the first time I saw them at Floydfest 2 years ago and their strong North Carolina fan base has grown. Kyle Travers guitar antics are on show here but kept respectable for this difficult arrangement. Eric Travers drumming has come a long way and the polyrhythms of this song lend well to his hard, heavy playing. The bassist, scared the shit out of me when flipping his guitar into a barrel roll in the air. I guess sometimes the Brothership truly takes liftoff.
Dr. Bacon was my favorite up-and-coming act at FloydFest, their wild antics kept me hooked from the horn blast to the first shred. The characters are some motley crew of bearded ruffians who play the part of psychedelic pirate Shamans to the T. The growly roughness of the Tom Waits-like shanty shivered me timber’s but there was something beyond their outward appearance that intrigued me. In a sea of bands that sound kinda like Phish or kinda like (Pick your poison), Dr. Bacon is already coming out with a somewhat raw, but interesting, and compelling musical experience. I look forward to reviewing them further and delving into the crispy part of that bacon.
I have, for many years, Considered The Source, not only of the band itself but of each musical segment they bring within their music. Seemingly taking from various cultures or world music and straight-up smashing that fucker into Prog-Fusion. There is no other band like CTS and there won’t be a band brave enough to try any time soon. But something is being explored in their music that is ancient shamanistic and they are just touching the surface of the possibilities juxtaposing modern music with the ancient. I got to talk with Jeff Mann, madman drummer, and fellow Zappaphile for a few minutes during Turkauz and he told me of his experience in college playing Zappa’s music. It’s always great to share musical tastes with bands that you admire and appreciate.
Andy Frasco is fucking Batman; he is the hero we deserve, not the hero we want. I honestly wasn’t ready for the rage fest that would be the 1 am set in the Beer Garden. Having seen Frasco cause complete chaos in many situations, I had little, to no energy to get down as properly as I should have or as was needed to keep up with the band! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Andy Frasco's performance can only be compared to WWE professional wrestling or fucking GG Allen with a fro and less poop. There was no way I could create a more real raw band even if my wildest dreams. Andy Frasco and the UN tap into a primal musical narrative that flows through the veins of us all. To party and get down until we can’t anymore. This innate instinct is raptured and ushered into a new existence when Frasco and his band roar cacophonous at the dying night.
Should I even write about Goose? Do you want to hear what my thoughts were? Oh yes, I stayed for the entire set, but I got my opinions! Anyway, they have more potential than any young band that I have seen yet. I think that says a lot. They have some great grooves and are vocally solid but their transitions are super sloppy and some of their songs are cheesy and derivative; that being said, they are young and have so much room to grow. I would suggest for them to dial in back and define what they want to do and do that really well! No need to explore Country and Western until you're ready. I’m just not ready for a Goose hoedown especially with so many great bluegrass bands at Floydfest. Keep it Jammin'! Keep it deep, dark, and try new things, even if it sounds like shit or you have some know-it-all journalist telling you what to do! I look forward to seeing Goose again in about 5 years. I’m not yet ready to fly south for the winter just yet.
FloydFest caters to those who want to acquire new musical acts and new artists. The spotlight competition drives FloydFest each year and its family of bands further. Each year new bands get the opportunity to play for the community and many are embraced, returning the next year. Some of the newest bands I had the pleasure of checking out were: Abby Bryant And The Echoes, which brought out a slew of other performers from various bands like the Travers brothership and Andy Frasco, and The UN. (video in the vlog) Mary Heath and Her Heathens (whom I only heard for a moment but enjoyed what I did hear from their rendition of "Cortez The Killer") the Josephines and Butcher Brown are both on my vlog. I spent an entire show with Dharma Bombs in the VIP on Sunday, just relaxing and enjoying their apocalyptic bluegrass folk. (Video in the Vlog) Some of the members are from my hometown. Chupacabras again, horny, heavy, and fun! I like to get weird right along with them. They also added a great element to the Buffalo Mountain Jam and I was impressed with their horn playing abilities in keeping up with Turkauz. Hogslop String Band with a great rendition of Loudon Wainwright's "Swimming Song"(in the vlog). Very manly bluegrass but calm down a little bit with the cursing. Molly Tuttle did a beautiful rendition of "Standing On The Moon" (in Vlog) which reminded me of Jerry like it always does. I like that a new generation of singer-songwriters have latched onto hunter Garcia’s music, there is something eternally poetic about those verses.
It has been 3 years attending FloydFest. Missing out on last year was hard but I gained a new respect for how difficult it can be to create an event of such magnitude. All for the love of music, which is a pure and just cause. There is nothing purer than trying to bring live music into a community. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to cover FloydFest and I have truly been welcomed with open arms into the family. I hope to return to this amazing festival again next year but I’ll make sure do to make it on Wednesday for the VIP camping.
I hope that you all will give my VLOG (Out Of My Mind) Episodes #1-3, a view and let me know what you think! While I know it’s self-indulgent and somewhat narcissistic, I just want to share, not only my writing but my entire experience with you all. Thank you all for making my dreams come true and a special "thank you" to Sam Calhoun, Brian Swenk, and the Across-The-Way Team for always making me feel at home. See you all next year!
Jam Band Purist Presents: (Out Of My Mind) Episodes #1-3-(FloydFest)
Jam Band Purist Presents Episodes #1-3 of (Out Of My Mind) are up on YouTube! It’s been 5 years since I started this website and I’m happy to be stepping it up. LIKE, SHARE & FOLLOW for more!
Follow Jam Band Purist as he traverses the music festival landscape in Out Of My Mind- A Music Video Podcast/Vlog. Get inside the mind of a music journalist and the daily life at Floydfest, a music festival in Virginia.
Phish Deer Creek 2021
Thank you Deer Creek/ Indianapolis! And of course, the @phish let’s get brown in Hershey Town! 🍫
“I feel I never told you the story of Sally!”
Final FloydFest Photo Recap
Final 📸 Photo Recap of FloydFest and I just decide to have fun with this one. Featuring Andy Frasco and the tiny world we all live on for the weekend! Thanks to Across-the-Way Productions and everyone who made this year so special. Full VLOG and Review coming soon!
FloydFest 2021: Saturday's Photo Recap
📸 Saturday’s Photo Recap From FloydFest featuring Turkauz and The Travers Brothership much more to come….
FloydFest 2021 Friday Photo Recap
📸 Friday’s Photo Recap of FloydFest featuring Keller Williams, Larry Keel, Turkuaz and Jerry Harrison with Adrian Belew and Goose. Music is finally back! Full Recap and VLOG coming soon!
The Peach Music Festival 2018 Rewind Review
While I am not able to make The Peach Music Festival this weekend in Scranton, Pennsylvania, I wanted to share my review from 2018. I hope everyone has a blast at what looks to be the most stacked festvial lineup of 2021.
The Peach Music Festival 2018 Review (Jam Juices Overflowing)
It's always a pleasure to gain admission into such prestigious festivals like, The Peach Music Festival, which boasted one of the best lineups of the summer 2018 and that may be, a modest understatement. This year, I had to take the plunge to Montage Mountain, Ski Resort and Water Park very close to Scranton, Pennsylvania. With “The Office” theme song on an endless loop in my head, I anxiously anticipated Friday's stacked lineup but was still bummed about missing one of my favorite Jam acts, The Marcus King Band, and Marcus's various sit-ins, which always highlight his versatility and ability to improvise. For those that got to see Marcus, lucky you! I look forward seeing him, as soon as, musically possible.
Friday Highlights and Montage Musings:
Arriving at the festival location, I had to park off-site and take a shuttle to the venue. This was not the easiest experience, as I was nervous and excited to get into the festivals and see some live music! I suppose I could have bought an onsite parking ticket but seeing as I was covering this event, it's difficult to spend all my hard earned dollars on extra services and fees. No camping pass was provided and no media accommodations were available but the show must go on!
When I arrived within the pavilion area, I was confronted with quite a mess of festivalgoer’s vying for coveted seats within the pavilion. This was a much different festival atmosphere than I was used to but after getting somewhat situated, I attempted to enjoy moe. one of my all time favorite bands. moe. would bring out the Turkuaz horn section for The Bands, "Ophelia." The horns would definitely add some sonic compliments. "Maybe we should have ended on that one," said Rob but out of nowhere they cover Rush’s, "Tom Sawyer;" Rob thrashing the bass with an octave pedal on full blast. I was completely lost in the music and ready for more moe. the following day and had forgotten about the seating fiasco.
Past the lazy river and beyond the lodge, at the Mushroom Stage, The Main Squeeze was my in-between before settling in to catch Leftover Salmon. The Main Squeeze seems heavily influenced by R & B and classic rock. The lead singer had a great stage presence and I was impressed by the guitarist’s full force, Game Of Thrones cover.
Leftover Salmon was up on the Mushroom Stage, which is adjacent to a wave pool, where patrons can cool off and listen to music. I got the opportunity to meet Vince Herman before their show. What a great experience and kind man. Leftover would play many of their original songs, which have lots of energy. I particular liked “Gulf Of Mexico,” “Liza” and “Aquatic Hitchhiker.” Their sound is Bluegrass, mixed with Island (Calypso), Reggae, and throw in some New Orleans Zydeco for a tasty musical gumbo and you will have Leftovers. This band is raw, eerie and danceable, the last few songs were extremely Jammy and improvisational, with very progressive movements.
Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Band, began the night with a solid but easy rendition of "China Cat Sunflower" into “Mr. Charlie" with Midnight North vocalist, Elliott Peck, accentuating the original blues quality of the early Dead. (Pig Pen style) Again, the band followed up with another older catalogued number, "Tennessee Jed." Jason Crosby’s piano playing shines through flawlessly. “New Speedway Boogie” continues this bluesy song selection but they end that musical streak with "Throwing Stones" which turned into a yelling cacophony right until the end, when they progressed into a slower rendition of "He's Gone." Never stopping, they continue into "The Other One" with Phil forgetting the lyrics but that's ok, at 78, he can do that. Grahame Lesh took the lead on the guitar and has grown up humbly and professionally. Taking these songs to a sonically singular level with the addition of a flute (Gotta be Karl Denson) to the song structure and transitioning beautifully into "Bird Song" and then returning again into "The Other One." "Truckin'" was up next and the crowd sang along at the top of their lungs. "The Wheel" and "Sampson and Delilah" rounded out the end of the set with "Sugeree" bringing it home. The audience wanted an encore and the band rejoined onstage for one final song and of course, it's Phil singing "Box Of Rain."
As I was trying to get some water from this giant water tank, in anguish with the thirst of the day, I got caught in a jazz traffic jam with horns and drums blocking my every path. At that moment Umphreys McGee comes on like a panic attack; I get anxiety just thinking about some of their songs. I did my best to make it through but in the end, my nerves can't handle the twist and turns this band brings like, a bi-polar Van Halen on Meth. While I must admit they are talented and present a much more a psychedelic experience than most of the other bands that played during the day sometimes, I just have to call it a night.
Saturday’s Musical Experience (ie; Little Feat and moe.)
Repeating the shuttle process to the festival site and having very little sleep, I continued on to catch Aqueous at the Mushroom Stage. I always have a great time with this band, they have an eclectic sound and span various genres. The Turkuaz horns join the band for the "Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis and The News followed by "The Median" and ending with an extended jam, "Don't Do It." If you haven't checked out Aqueous, reverse this song and do it! They are one of JBP favorites. (pew pew)
Staying at the Mushroom Stage for Ghost Light, I was excited to see my second performance from this very improvisational group. Warming up with Tenacious D’s "F*** Her Gently," The Turkuaz horn section would join them immediately on stage for one of their originals, "If You Want It." Tom Hamilton is the consummate bandleader, calling out the shots and leading the other musicians including: Holly Bowling, Scotty Zwang, Steve Lyons and Riana Mullen into new territories. Their compositions like "Winter War Games" and "Untitled D Riff" are intense in all the right places and can bring some solid blasting Americana Rock. I will always check out Ghost Light, any chance I can and hope they return to 5 Points Music Sanctuary soon.
I tried my best to get a good pavilion seats before the mass exodus of people beginning to descend upon the Main Stage for moe. and Little Feat. This was compacted by the fact that the rain began to come down harder and without proper VIP credentials for the 100 row seating, it was almost impossible to find any room to accommodate reviewing the performance. I was lucky enough to have found a pavilion seat with a giant beam directly blocking my view but at least I was out of the rain for this amazing feat.
This performance was the main reason I had drove 5 hours to Montage Mountain and traversed the Pocono’s at 2:30 AM. Little Feats seminal live album 'Waiting For Columbus' is one of my all time favorite records and with hit after hit, I knew moe. and the remaining members of Little Feat plus The Turkuaz horn section, would knock this one out of the park. The show begins of course, with "Join The Band” which is sung acappela. Jim Laughlin's mallet cat was the first thing that stood out to me as they went into "Fat Man In The Bathtub." Billy Payne taking over, while Al Schnier holding his own, killing on the slide guitar. Both bands kept it coming on strong, recreating these classic songs and revisiting this album. The group of musician began to jam during "Day Or Night." With Rob Barraco and Fred Tackett leading the way, skipping "Mercenary Territory" and going straight for "Spanish Moon." "Willin'" saw the Montage Pavilion singing along with Rob Derhak, arms raised towards the sky. Rearranging “Dixie Chicken,” Billy Payne brought his progressive Fusion piano skills to the table. All and all, it was a fun and solid set but I would have loved to have heard: “Mercenary Territory,” “Sailing Shoes” and “Rocket In My Pocket.” I guess I'll just have to see Little Feat again ASAP!
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead has been gaining a lot of followers within the Dead/Jam community and for good reason. They are constantly morphing, shifting and transitioning into and beyond the cosmic space of The Grateful Dead’s musical catalogue. They begin with "Cats Down Under The Stars" which goes on for, well over 15 minutes until, at the snap of the finger, they switch into "Big River." "Row Jimmy" didn't diverge from the original at all and stayed pretty low-key while "Loser" felt like it could have morphed into anything at anytime. During JRADs second set Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger began dueling on guitars, Russo keeping time and Benevento sweeping across the keys. This band has gone further than any I have I have heard before and I look for them to continue gaining mass appeal with all audiences.
Having to choose between Dark Side Of The Mule and Spafford was almost sacrilegious but I stayed for some of Dark Side Of The Mule (Govt’ Mule covering Pink Floyd, which is kind of self-explanatory) before bracing for the rain and catching Spafford. Spafford has been really gaining a lot of support, as well in this community and it was good to see so many people dancing and braving the rain. The band had some hard times dealing with the weather but they brought the jams, they just played a lot of improvisation and instrumental. The set was filled with jams like, “The Postman,” “Slip and Squander,” “Electric Taco Stand” and “Virtual Bean Dip.” Some serious Spaffnerds that I talked to really enjoyed this set and were talking about how great the improvisation was. As I am not the most familiar with the catalogue, it all sounded like Jams to me and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, I will be checking these guys out again at Lockn’ Music Festival next month.
Sunday: (The Spirit Of The Allman Brothers And Beyond)
The Allman brothers theme is visible throughout this festival but I wasn't sure to what extent this festival actually represents ABB. I can assure you the spirit of the Allman brothers is alive in well at The Peach Music Festival. We may not be in Georgia but these were some juicy musical peaches.
Sunday was filled with Allman Brother songs and many members of the bands iterations, it became a true celebration of their spirit with Dickey Betts closing out the night, Oteil and friends and of course, Waking Up With Warren. It's hard to comment on all the great collaborations but notably, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer would really impress me yet again, sitting in with various musical acts at The Peach Music Festival. While the rain subsided for some of the day, it was still quite a mess at all the stages but I don’t want to get specific here for my Sunday review. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to talk about The Allman Brothers, their legacy and the losses we have all endured over the past few years musically.
My first concert was ABB almost 15 years ago and I haven’t stopped since. It was something that truly changed my life and my outlook on live music. I daresay, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for The Allman Brothers Band. While, I never got to experience Duane or Dickey with Gregg, what I did see was a wonderful iteration of the bands spirit and legacy; Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes intimate keepers of the flame. I did however, get to see Dickey Betts and Great Southern once and while it wasn’t such a grand experience as ABB, it was still great to see a founding member. I was always hung-up on dreams Id never see and after Gregg passed last year, things would never be the same again, I never thought I would see a celebration with that same spirit. Was it that lost forever? Not by a long shot. The Peach is the ultimate commemoration of ABB their formidable legacy will never die. The Peach may be lacking in a few overall technical issues but the music truly shone through. While the logistics were kind of a nightmare due to media limitations and overall expenses, I would return as a patron, as there are always, one of a kind musical collaborations that occur every year. I look for another solid, staked lineup next at The Peach Music Festival.
Eat A Peach,
JBP PSA: Due to the ever-changing music climate ie. I cannot deal with publicists, managers, or music executives.
Tautologic Album Review ‘Wheels Fall Off’ (is musical Rocket Surgery)
Tautologic Album Review ‘Wheels Fall Off’ (is musical Rocket Surgery)
It’s not every day that an album so different and original crosses my desk. ‘Wheels Fall Off’ the newest album from Chicago-based, Tautologic, immediately caught my attention and I had to review it here at www.jambandpurist.com ‘Wheels Fall Off’ has reached #8 on the charts via jamband.com and is already receiving rave criticism. I am proud to share this exclusive Album Review with all of my loyal readers. Thanks for keeping this site alive with your readership. You all make it worthwhile.
While I’d love to review this entire album, I want to delve deep into the songs that caught my attention the most and give my descriptions and overall thoughts on each. Over the past two years, I have strived to focus on things that mean the most to me, and music always takes precedent. I have started to make a ritual of listening to these albums while I review them and I focus all of my energy on becoming the music, embodying it, and understanding it. ‘Wheels Fall Off’ is an experience in and of itself. My first thoughts were filled with originality and the sonic compositions that make up each arrangement. I was captivated by the lyrical development with an almost classical compositional feel. Tautologic is certainly living up to its motto: “Perfectly normal music for slightly odd people.“ ‘Wheels Fall Off’ features: Ethan Sellers (keys/vocals/production), Patrick Buzby (drums), Nathan Britsch (bass), Chris Greene (Tenor/Soprano Sax), Emily Albright (violin, vocals), and Jay Montana (guitar). Tautologic also had some help from special guests: Tom Culver (cello), Johnny Showtime Janowiak (trombone), John Moore, Jr. (trumpet), and Sellers’ children. It will be hard for me to isolate individual names with instruments so I’ll name them here and refer to the instrument itself instead of the musician. Let’s get this review on the road until the wheels fall off.
The opening title track “Wheels Fall Off” is the introduction to the album as well as the final track. I’ll start here with the Alpha and Omega of this album. “Wheels Fall Off” is very much an anthem song. “Let’s keep driving till the wheels fall off" was most definitely stuck in my head for a few days after listening. One of the interesting things about “Wheels Fall Off” and many songs on the album is how relatable the lyrics are. The song tells a simple story about a man and a car mixed in a metaphor for life itself. The narrator seemingly growing old like the vehicle itself. The narrator is the vehicle. Musically this song transitions smoothly from anthem to melody and truly exemplifies Tautologic‘s sound and songwriting abilities.
“That’s What I Hear” is riff heavy and immediately the horns are highlighted and make this track a full composition that is vibrant and full. Many of the albums I review here at JBP do not do a great job of recording the brass or horns but ‘Wheels Fall Off’ is consistent and has some great recording qualities. The electric piano solo at 1:31 followed by the horns mimicking is a great touch that caught my attention. The vocals themselves also distinctly emerge in this recording. "That’s What I Hear" is highly progressive and thought-out.
“Rocket Surgery” has an almost Celtic, Prog-Rock compositional feel. The horns again play a huge part in the sonic foundation of this track. “Rocket Surgery” is as Progressive as they come and the obvious Zappa influence or even ELP influence is undeniable. As a huge Frank Zappa fan "Rocket Surgery" is right up my alley and I had to include it on the list of tracks from this album that are a must-listen.
The bass line in, “Covered In Grit” takes precedence and drives this song forward juxtaposing with the clavinet. I enjoy the lyrics and the breakdowns from each member which feels like a straight Funk song. "Covered In Grit" is a quick track that shows the diversity of this band and its members. I'd love to see more tracks from Tautologic that are Funk-based just to see what they could do with them.
“Exit Strategy” is my favorite track from ‘Wheels Fall Off’ and its musicality and compositional structure are unmatched. The heavy bass and overlying synth are eerie yet angelic, just the way I like it. "Exit Strategy" is the most "Jam" track from this album and shows the guitarist's versatility and formidable skill. If I were to pick any song to show my readers from this album it would be "Exit Strategy." This song goes hard.
I can relate to the next track on 'Wheels Fall Off,' "High School Reunion" the lyrics are fun and playful and that translates to the listener. The vocal stylings of the lead singer are very Alt-Rock perhaps like, Modest Mouse or The Postal Service but this pairs well with the other similar tracks on 'Wheels Fall Off.' The saxophone solo at the end of "High School Reunion" really ties the track together and leaves a lasting imprint in its conclusion.
Again, it was a pleasure to review this album and for Tautologic to reach out to me here at www.jambandpurist.com. I am thoroughly impressed with the overall concept of 'Wheels Fall Off' and the message that Tautologic is bringing to its audience. It’s no wonder it reached #8 on the Jamband charts. I think Tautologic are living up to the definition of their namesake, "true by virtue of its logical form alone." Hopefully Tautologic are able to play some live shows in the future and work up even more exemplifying compositions to record. I looked forward to what they bring next.
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I just wanted to share with all the work of Jameson Mangan! I have recently been acquainted with him and his work, to say I'm super impressed is an understatement. Jameson is also responsible for directing the Andy Frasco SHitSHow mentioned previously on my site. These are some highly creative, ambitious and fully realized works of art! Check these out now and let Jameson know how much you like his work.
WARNING: The views and opinions expressed on this site may not be in conjecture with your own. Be Advised
Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.