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Introduction:


A series of essays wherein I explore the numerous musical identities of my favorite musician: from child prodigy to teen idol to guitar hero to singer/songwriter to award-winning in-demand film composer.

Comments are disabled but please feel free to contact me at rabinesque.blog@gmail.com.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A brief advert

Spotted on Facebook: here's a word from the boys in advance of their appearance at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino...punctuated by Our Trev with some weird noise (not found in that famous synth break played by his bandmate).

https://www.facebook.com/seminolehardrockhollywood/videos/10157475910430716/

update: tour reports

With a week to go before the start of the ARW tour, I have received a few inquiries from readers asking if I will be providing ongoing coverage.  The answer is: yes, I will be posting tour reports but they will be weekly rather than a separate entry for each date; I believe this strategy will keep it much more manageable and tidy for all of us.

I will include a SPOILER ALERT! heading on each entry to warn people away who do not wish to be spoiled.  However, any entry titled "ARW tour report" is going to contain spoilers, so that's your cue not to read if you don't want advance details.  But for those (like me) who do want to know, I will do my utmost to find everything I can and include it in each week's entry.

I will also be composing a separate entry for the shows I will be attending, an in-depth review of the experience from my perspective.  And if you'd like to send me comments/reviews of your show(s) for inclusion in the weekly tour report, please email me at rabinesque.blog@gmail.com

I would also suggest - for anyone desiring to watch the boys in real time - keeping an eye on Periscope during performance periods (in the applicable time zone) to see if anyone is broadcasting.  Generally no one can get away with streaming an entire show, but a few songs usually do manage to get through.

Monday, September 26, 2016

humblebrag

This is actually a step down from Rick's previous "holy trinity" comment, which is why it's so funny...


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

finally, a "Rescue"

As I noted in my entry "Meeting the Maestro," one of the things which occurred during Trevor's in-store appearance to promote Jacaranda in August of 2012 was affording those in attendance a sneak preview of his video for "Rescue."

At the time, I truly expected it would be out when my interview with him was finally published in October of that year, as I had inquired about his decision to create his own videos to promote the album.  I was interested in knowing if he had made any changes since the version he showed us.  But as the delay grew longer I wondered if he was going to reshoot it - we had waited quite a while for the release of the video for "Anerley Road" so I chalked it up to Trevor's perfectionist streak taking hold once more.  Thus I had to note in my text that the video would be released "in future."

But I - nor anyone else, of course - had no way of knowing that it would be years before everyone else was able to view it.

And it's two years ago today, in fact, when seemingly out of nowhere, Trevor posted an update to his Facebook page with the video.  He wrote:
I did this video a while ago. The record company was keen on doing a strategized release, I had decided not to release it.
I honestly don't know why he wasn't happy with the video and as the composition itself had great meaning for him it seemed a logical choice to be the next song to promote via a video release.  Trevor had noted on a few occasions that he wanted to create a video for every song on the album but I imagine other promotional duties coupled with a return to scoring work meant he no longer had the time to devote to such a big project.  From my memory of seeing it two years earlier it did not look as if he made any changes to it in the interim.


The video is an interesting mix of images: shots of Liz Constantine miming to her vocalization on the track either layered with or filmed while standing out on the back deck of the property - the background view is of the Los Angeles Basin at night.  Also included are some of Trevor's paintings, such as Johannesburg, and extreme close-ups of the Strat.  Stylistically-speaking it's a very simple kind of video compared to the one for "Anerley Road" but I think it fits the meditative mood of the song.  I appreciate that Trevor allowed everyone to finally view it, but I have to admit I'm disappointed that there weren't any more videos filmed.  For example, I think a montage of photos of Trevor and Ryan through the years intercut with footage of them playing in The Jacaranda Room would have made a fabulous video for "Me and My Boy."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

TCR @ ELO

Spotted on Facebook: Trevor dropped in to see his new bandmate Lee Pomeroy perform as part of Jeff Lynne's ELO at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this week and Scott Tay Kalb was able to score a photo op (clink on the link provided) courtesy of his friend Trevor Lukather, the son of Toto guitarist Steve Lukather (who as long-time fans know has been a friend of Our Trev for many years).  Trevor the Younger happens to be a former bandmate of Ryan's as well.  Small world, eh?

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208975577004249&set=pcb.10208975634485686&type=3&theater

Friday, September 16, 2016

Big Mess review

GROUPLOVE
Big Mess
(Canvasback/Atlantic)

"We're back in business!" Hannah Hooper proclaims on the opening track of GROUPLOVE's third album, and that's entirely evident on "Welcome to Your Life," which in my opinion is the strongest single the band has had in years.

This new release reflects the evolution of the band, whose members have matured both musically and emotionally, with marriage, parenthood and a lineup change all contributing factors to their current outlook and creativity.  But it's still all about the particular upbeat sound which they embody: a blending of various genre elements, sunshine-y manic energy, and popular polish.

Unlike their previous releases - 2011's Never Trust A Happy Song and 2013's Spreading Rumours - this album appears to be definitively delineated between the band's two primary identities: indie rock true believers and enthusiastic EDM dabblers.  And they perform each style well enough that the two disciplines blur throughout the arrangements and becomes their overall aesthetic.  GROUPLOVE is a band comprised of musicians with widespread interests, and it shows in the diversity of their songwriting.  But this album is sequenced in such a way that the crunchy rock bookends the airy electronica center.  I see it as somewhat of a return to their formulaic sense of fun, but I don't use "formulaic" in the pejorative sense, more in terms of understanding that they know who they are.  Big Mess is definitely less adventurous than Spreading Rumours, but mostly charming in its reprisal of those elements which the band uses to full advantage.  I can't help but wonder if working with alt rock guru Phil Ek was partly the reason for a more homogeneous collection.

Love to the Group.
Hannah Hooper, Andrew Wesson, Christian Zucconi, Daniel Gleason and Ryan Rabin

And now onto the contents...

"Welcome to Your Life" is inscribed with Hit Single from its arrangement and textures to its lyrical sloganeering, but thoroughly compelling and fun to sing along with in the car.  It's really touching to hear the voice of the song's central subject - Hannah and Christian's daughter Willa - sampled in the bridge.

"Do You Love Someone" has a great hook along with an interesting push-me-pull-you time signature, and Christian's ragged voice really sells it.  His voice is unique enough that it is instantly recognizable in the context of the band's oeuvre.

"Standing in the Sun" skirts the edge of being filler, but the acoustic guitar hook is everything (as the kids say these days).  This band definitely knows the value of a good hook, and sometimes that is all it takes to sell a song on being worth your attention.

"Enlighten Me" is the first of the electronica songs and its spacey textures are appropriate to Christian's philosophical musings.  The beat which anchors the arrangement is a definite rumpshaker, but slowed down just enough to sound a tad more mystical.  The middle break has a beautiful celestial quality to it, and the coda is nicely dramatic.

"Good Morning" showcases Hannah's playful hip-hop stylings set to a bouncy beat and old school synth sampling.  If the credits didn't already reveal the fact, this would definitely be pegged as a Captain Cuts production.  I envision sweaty people jumping in the club when I hear it.  Andrew's melodic metallic wash of a solo provides an interesting contrast to the poppy feel of this track.

"Spinning" has an almost California Sound aura to it, somewhere between the Beach Boys and Phil Spector, but rendered within the confines of indie pop.  The juxtaposition of Christian and Hannah's vocals is well-used.  The overall vibe is laid back and doesn't shift too dramatically between verse and chorus, but the integrity of the arrangement is to the song's credit in that all of the meticulous detail isn't lost in an actual wall of sound.

"Cannonball" is my personal favorite, a thoroughly propulsive and incredibly catchy song, I hope it gets released as a single even as it is doesn't sound like anything else on the album.  I can't be sure who is on lead vocal but the lyric has a great flow.  It actually reminds me a bit of what Kanye West was doing on Yeezus, but not nearly as dark.

"Traumatized" returns to the rock side of things, with its power pop/punk feel, an interesting choice for a song which is actually about parental sacrifice.

"Heart of Mine" is the other song I'd label as filler, although it does contain a heartfelt message which I imagine is drawn directly from the lives of its composers.

"Don't Stop Making It Happen" is another one which would make a fun single, and that cowbell really truly is everything.  I see this song as the tonal successor to "Tongue Tied" even if it lacks the absolutely joyful and addictive hook of the original.  It also contains the best use of a cash register sample since Pink Floyd's "Money."

"Hollywood" continues the band's tradition of closing with a ballad which beautifully blends its singers' strengths, the kind of blood harmony which occurs when two people in love sing together.  This song is a statement of identity, in a way, in that they position themselves in opposition to their chosen milieu: residing in a city where they are surrounded by artifice, the band declares it is wholly authentic.  The use of strings in the instrumental break is a lovely touch.

In summation, Big Mess is an easy enjoyable listen - it reminds me of how I felt the first time I heard Never Trust A Happy Song.  It's too bad such a summery album was released at the end of Summer, although it will do very well to evoke that mood for their fans all year long.  And there's something to be said for fostering traditional values, so even if the title is meant to be a bit ironic, the musical mess these five people make is always big and bright, exactly as they desire.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Media Watch: INsite Atlanta interview

An ongoing series wherein I comment on Trevor's recent publicity.

Back in early June I saw a mention on Twitter from journalist Lee Valentine Smith, who stated he had landed the first interview with Trevor regarding ARW.  Though his claim may be true his was not the first published, as the interview on the WOAI website claims that distinction.

I had thought Smith might make the interview available via his website, but I finally unearthed it via this link, on page 18:
https://issuu.com/insiteatlanta/docs/insiteissueweb-july16

It's very brief, and covers old ground as well as new, but there are a few interesting details:

  • This interview features the first statement from Trevor that he was putting his scoring work on hold.
  • His response (below) regarding future recordings seems to align with what Rick stated Trevor had said about desiring to record an album later rather than sooner.  Even as Trevor was working on a new song when the interview was conducted, it doesn't appear now there will be any new music released this year.

In this band you can control everything without the input of label people.  That must be a great feeling.  
It is.  The business is so different, why put out an album when you can just put out some great music?  So we're going to do three or four tracks, then after the tour is finished, maybe we will sit down and do a whole album.  But this summer and fall, all these tracks are going to come out first and I think that's the way we are going to operate.  I'm just very excited about it.