Monday, June 16, 2008

Review: Modulations by Chewy Marble

In 1995 Brian Kassan, then bassist for the band The Wondermints, decided to start his own group Chewy Marble. In the last 13 years Brian and his gang have released 2 albums, their debut self titled album in 1997 and their follow up, Bowl of Surreal in 2001. Now 7 years later their 3rd album, Modulations is upon us.

I have to admit, I have not heard their first 2 albums, so I was pretty much in the dark when I popped this one in. I was expecting something along the lines of the Wondermints style of orchestral pop songs with shining harmonies and polished production. I think it's pretty unfair to compare this CD to anything by The Wondermints because in actuality it is nothing like them. Not to say that it is completely original but the influences of the album are a little trickier to put a finger on.

The opening song, the band's single from the album "She Roxx" plays off as an ode to high school life and crushes on those tough girls we all remember. The pop/rock sound of the song is easily comparable to popular music of the early 90s (when bands like Weezer were just starting to enter the main stream) but doesn't seem quite as convincing as the track could be. Perhaps its the use of words like "Fox" to describe girls or spelling the words rocks as "Roxx". It feels corny.

But fortunately the album does save itself from this false start. The next track Don't Look At The Sun has a much better pop appeal and melody that can be sung along to. In fact, the album flows from this point rather smoothly with the dreamy song cross-hatched world and the summery relaxation that the song Somewhere Else offers.

The album is a very large melting pot of the pop, rock and classic rock genres, creating a sound that can be uniquely refreshing and incredibly interesting at some of the most unexpected times. It's very clear that Brian Kassan has devoted a great amount of energy into this album and at it's best moments Modulations rings with the glory of albums like Led Zeppelin IV and The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle.

The album ends strongly with the folky and heartwarming instrumental Moments which transitions into the ballad at the end of the album, Clutter. I think having listened this far into the album I really turned from a listener to a real fan; Chewy Marble can really write a pretty damn good song.

If you are in the mood for some great 70s classic rock revivalism with that 90s alternative edge, you should head to the link below and give a listen to Chewy Marble's new album, Modulations.

Myspace | Label

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