Posts Tagged ‘Lounge’

The Explorers Club: The Carolinian Suite

Monday, November 21st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. The Californian Suite, released last month, opened with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and this month’s entry, The Carolinian Suite, offers up the Club’s take on the Classics IV’s “Stormy.” The band relaxes the song’s tempo a notch, giving the arrangement a terrific, loungey air; Jason Brewer’s voice isn’t as husky as Dennis Yost’s, but his gentle blue-eyed soul, the harmony vocals and the jazzy guitar at song’s end are terrific. The EP’s original tunes include a ballad (“Sweet Delights”) that sounds like mid-60s Brian Wilson crooning from the Great American Songbook, and the Burt Bacharach-styled “It’s No Use,” featuring an emotional vocal coda that’s equal parts Little Anthony and Dionne Warwick.

You can stream “It’s No Use” below, and download the EP for free from Amazon. Up next month is The New Yorker Suite, with a cover of Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ a Ride” and two more originals! [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Carolinian Suite for Free!
Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

The Explorers Club: The Californian Suite

Monday, October 31st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. This first EP opens with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and finishes with two originals that evoke the genre-blending music of mid-60s radio. The marimba opening “Weight of the World” suggests Tijuana Brass, the rhythm is drawn from the Brill Building, the muted horns lean to Bacharach, and the ballad vocal has the heft of Jay and the Americans. The closing “Summer Days, Summer Nights” adds a dash of the Rascals and Grass Roots. The Carolinian and New Yorker suites (featuring “Stormy,” “Hitchin’ a Ride” and four more pre-LP mixes) are due in November and December. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

Jackie Gleason & Bobby Hackett: Essential Cocktail Lounge

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Instrumental mood music for orchestra and trumpet

These set is a budget-priced MP3 version of the 4-CD set Complete Sessions issued on the Fine & Mellow label. It collects 102 tracks recorded by Jackie Gleason and Bobby Hackett between 1952 and 1959, with Gleason conducting an orchestra and Hackett adding his trumpet. The set includes the original albums “Music for Lovers Only” (1952), “Music to Make You Misty” (1953, and not including the tracks featuring saxophonist Toots Mondello), “Music, Martinis and Memories” (1954), “Music to Remember Her” (1954), “Music to Change Her Mind” (1956), “Music for the Love Hours” (1956), and “That Moment” (1959). The last two, which were the final two pairings of these artists are previously unreleased. The last of the albums is also the only one originally released in stereo, though it seems to be reproduced in mono here. Even stranger, most of the tracks from “The Love Hours” seem to be broader than plain mono, but not really stereo. One channel or two, Gleason’s orchestrations are lush, with relaxed tempos and dramatic string arrangements that provide a compelling place for Hackett’s languid playing and smooth tone. The material sticks mostly to standards, and though Hackett has a jazz background, this is very much easy listening music. A hundred-and-two tracks (over five hours of music) may be more than the casual mood music fan can use, but for Gleason fans or anyone looking for hours and hours of pleasant background music, this set is a steal. Note that the track ordering does not follow that of the original albums, and the detailed booklet supplied with Fine & Mellow’s CDs are completely absent. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

The Postmarks: Memoirs at the End of the World

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Postmarks_MemoirsAtTheEndOfTheWorldIndie pop band indulges their love of ‘60s film score dynamics

Anyone who’s heard the Postmarks previous two albums will remember how Tim Yehezkely’s breathy vocals recall 1960s French pop chanteuses and more recent vocalists like Nina Persson of the Cardigans and Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne, not to mention twee-pop groups such as Heavenly, Talulah Gosh, and the Shop Assistants. The band has always brought a strong ‘60s vibe to their records, with jaunty tempos, summery melodies and brooding bass lines, and their album of covers, By-the-Numbers, laid out many musical influences. Still, their earlier cover of John Barry’s “You Only Live Twice” and a buzzing organ arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” won’t fully prepare you for this full-blown foray into vintage film score sounds.

“No One Said This Would Be Easy” opens the album with orchestral strings, tympani and castanets that suggest James Bond narrowly escaping the clutches of a Russian temptress. The bass and drums underlying the arrangement soften as Yehezkely enters, but the song’s forward momentum doesn’t lose a step, and the bridge add flashes of horns and glockenspiel to the drama. The effect amplifies the power of Yehezkely’s singing without having to amplify her volume or alter her breezy charms. It’s quite the brilliant trick to so fruitfully combine her girlish vocals with scored rock backings. Fans of British production music collections such as The Sound Gallery and The Easy Project will recognize the swinging London and international loungecore vibe.

The group’s indie pop peeks through the grander productions in washes of synthesizers and vocal processing, but the songs are carried by the cinematic bombast surrounding Yahezkely’s dream-cool delivery. The lyrics loom enigmatically, clearing for moments of romantic reverie and painful separation, and there’s a terrific send-up (or perhaps jealous accounting) of “The Jetsetter.” The music’s enchantment is in its melodies and the interplay between Yehezkely’s fetching vocals and the thickly crafted arrangements. This is a sophisticated and charming album whose underlying pop craft casts a big shadow with its soundtrack dynamics. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Stream Memoirs at the End of the World
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The Mumlers: Don’t Throw Me Away

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Mumlers_Don'tThrowMeAwayMesmerizing old-timey soul music with a mysterious touch

The Mumlers’ music seems to float from a Victrola wedged into a dark corner of a mysterious antique shop. Will Sprott sings like a megaphoned apparition, and the group’s horn arrangements have the languor of a New Orleans funeral parade that accidentally marched into a morning-after session at Stax. Even when the band adds a psychedelic organ groove, such as on “Coffin Factory,” the vibe still draws one to the beyond. This is surprising, given the Mumlers home base of San Jose, California, the population anchor at the south end of the San Francisco Bay that’s christened itself the Capital of Silicon Valley. You don’t know the way to this San Jose.

The group’s second album stretches even further than their debut (Thickets & Snitches), including the trad jazz and blues of “Tangled Up With You” and slinky second-line of “St. James Street.” The latter echoes the standard “St. James Infirmary,” but is actually a straight-up description of Sprott’s urban San Jose neighborhood. The group connects to loungecore with a slowly careening instrumental cleverly entitled “The Instrumental.” The band drifts between jazzy melodies for movie scores, circus music and the swinging-60s vibe of Bob Crewe’s “Music to Watch Girls By.” The genre mash-ups are terrifically organic, and in addition to guitars, stand-up bass, drums, keyboards, and horns, the Mumlers include euphonium, clarinet, French horn and pedal steel.

“Fugitive and Vagabond” features piano, harmonica, cymbal crashes and a whistled solo that seems to have been skimmed from aspaghetti western, and the set closes with the soulfully crooned “Don’t Throw Me Away,” an original that should have graced many a 1950s school dance. The Mumlers’ unusual influences and free-wheeling approach result in the sort of shape-shifting one would expect from a group named after a nineteenth century charlatan who made a living selling photos of ghosts to bereaved families. The Mumlers are the real deal, however, and their second album is one of the year’s most eclectic spins. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

The Mumlers’ Home Page
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