By: Django Gold
SuperVolcano is a prog-metal band, and though it would be unfair to label them “technical” in nature, it is each musician’s prowess on his instrument that immediately jumps out through the speakers. Drawing on the cerebral moods of modern-day progressive acts like Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, SuperVolcano’s songs are in fact highly complex, but they are also grounded in a driving rhythmic sensibility that keeps them from straying too far into the excesses of the genre. These stabilizing rhythms come largely from drummer Jesse Weiss, with guitarist Michael John Thomas III and six-string bassist Matt Powell dancing over the top with intervallic gymnastics and a distorted crunch. Singer/madman David A.K. is a versatile vocalist, able to transition between metal shrieks and his more restrained, yet equally forceful, singing voice.
It’s a delicate balance between the four musicians, probably best realized in the decidedly un-jazzy tune “Jazz,” which takes off smoothly from ethereal menace into a stunted funk vibe. Less successful is “Wine/Aft. Error,” which suffers from a series of “complexity for its own sake” moments, in which structure is abandoned for acrobatics that don’t really pay off. But, when they hold their course (especially in a live format), SuperVolcano can blow its top with the best of them and are certainly worth a listen.
By: Django Gold
To deviate from that hackney phrase employed by reviewers unsure of where to place a given band, it is not that Club d’Elf defies categorization, but rather it is that they reach out into far too many categories for the band to be safely placed into just one musical genre. Jam band funk? Bottom-heavy trance-hop? Moroccan free jazz? One could spend hours mixing and matching genre catchwords and not come close to defining that unique brand of sound that emits from the multi-faced monster that is Club d’Elf. Let it suffice to say that, with a “revolving door” of band personnel that can encompass percussion, reeds, effects-souped piano, and turntable riffs within a single performance, Club d’Elf is a swirling mix of tones, voices, and musical interactions that evolves with each live performance.
The band’s one constant is bass player and bandleader Mike Rivard, whose dark grooves and powerful rhythms provide the framework for the band’s exploration into some very weird territories. Live performances find the maestro guiding the players seamlessly through funk jams, spacey electronic landscapes, earthy percussion showcases, and always back to that same voodoo funk that is the band’s foundation. With a supporting cast that can include such figures as local country rocker Duke Levine (guitar), joyful Either/Orchestra percussionist Vicente Lebron, and jam circuit hero John Medeski (keys), Club d’Elf’s defining trait may just be putting on a great show.
By: Django Gold
“After Jason's horrific but liberating death,” reads the band biography, “the Argonauts spent years in search of a vocalist.” So began the musical trials and tribulations of Jesus and the Argonauts, an alt-country act whose religious/mythological obsession ends with its name, and perhaps some of its fliers.
What remains is the music itself: smooth folk-pop with the barest hint of Nashville twang. Attendant are the many woodsy voices we’ve come to enjoy from the forest glen: acoustic thumps; airy vocal harmonies; and a minimalist approach to percussion. When it works, as it does in the case of “You’re the Man Who Broke My Heart,” a hooky duet that could have come straight from the Bonnie Raitt catalogue, it’s marvelous. When it doesn’t, it feels forced, as if the band isn’t quite sure how to present itself. Take “All the Switches,” for example, a dirge-like slow rocker that simply comes off as confusing when compared to the delicate mandolin-plucked landscape set by “Whiskey and Wind.” As is the case with most bands, specialization is vital, and Jesus and the Argonauts work best when they’re stepping in time with the gentle gait that is at the core of their sound.