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March 24th, 2009
Tuesday reviewsday: Two more bands

Scene Reporter

Submitted for your approval, reviews of two more local releases.

Battle for Grundelia

Battle for Grundelia is the first EP for San Marcos jamband Funkotron.

The sextet consists of Anthony Madrid “Old Man” Stokes on guitar, John-O “The Pickler” on guitar, Leonard Baily on keyboards and organ, Stephen Garrett on bass, Jak White on drums, and Marshall Johnson on congas.

Like the New Orleans jazz-funk band Galactic, Funkotron’s music is entirely instrumental. Incorporating a variety of instruments, the beat and tempo throughout most tracks never remains the same. The quick transitions and diverse rhythms are suitable for ADD listeners. The nine-track EP features five studio cuts and four live tracks.

The album’s first track entitled “Galvanic Machinery,” begins with timid keyboards and quickly escalates to a rousing samba-esque instrumental powerhouse of psychedelic funk. “Dan Blanksy” begins with a repetitive key sequence and slowly integrates a quite cymbal tapping and sole Bass drum before progressing into infectious dance jam. A peevish guitar riff begins and remains constant throughout “Serengetis,” the album’s third track. The first of the EP’s live tracks, entitled “Prelude,” is titular to the arrangement in that prelude means preliminary. In music terms, it also means an autonomous instrumental composition, saturated with improvisation and loose in form. “Funk Off” maintains a funky groove comparable to something performed by New Orleans musicians Rebirth Brass Band.

The art drawn by Kyle Osiek featured on the album’s insert displays a bewildered wide-eyed wooly beast with horns chasing two men into the foreground of image. One man, shirtless, is sporting aviators and a white-trash ‘stach, while the other looks like a used-car salesman in a burgundy suit and blue tie. The band’s name and album title are laid atop the scene. The back of the insert shows photoshop filtered picture of all six band mates drinking wine in a Jacuzzi. The internal tray demonstrates the same, story except the band is now accompanied by bikini clad girls.

The Living Sound
Rosebuds Records

Tuen, roughly translated into “Love,” in Vietnamese, consists of John Holden Forrest on vocals, guitars, keyboards and percussions, Ben Belin on drums and percussions, and Kacy Ray on bass. The Living Sound released in 2005 is the first full length CD for the Austin alternative rockers.

The first track, entitled “Trying to Achieve,” begins a rhythmic guitar riff that’s promptly interrupted by a whistle and joined by Forrest’s almost forced raspy vocals. Sounding like a dryer, more alternative version of progressive rockers Umphrey’s Mcgee, Tuen’s tracks encompass a funky jam element. The fourth track, “Friends,” is about Forrest’s kindergarten friendship with best friend Simon as depicted by the linear notes. A bass heavy song, the track is suggestive of a carefree juvenile experience: “I don’t care about tomorrow; I just want to stay with you and dance away all my troubles.” The track, “Beautiful Things She Said,” is a rollercoaster of down-tempo and upbeat progressions that range in both instrumental levels and vocals. Commencing in almost a whisper, Forrest’s vocal range reaches a plateau midway but quickly alters to fit the tempo of the song. The album features two bonus tracks, which are not listed on the album’s track list. The funky alt album is great for a hang out at home with friends slinging beers soiree.

The album cover features vintage black and white stamps from all over the world varying in values; some of the stamps have been post-marked. Images of horses, athletes, flowers, old-fashioned buggies, multi-sail boats and Wright Brother-esque airplanes make up the stamp designs. Most of the stamps include the name San Marino, the world’s oldest republic. The band’s name is displayed in small, red digital font on the lower right side. A picture of the band mates clad in long sleeve collared shirts graces the backside of the CD. Inside the insert is a black and white photo of the trio among two art pieces on the other pages done by Cray, a single name listed on the outer left of the thank yous. Song symbolism and meanings are included on the back of the second and front of the last page.  A color photo of Forrest and Belin rocking out graces the posterior of the insert.

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