Japonize Elephants — Mélodie Fantastique
((Not on label) TZME 04, 2012, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01Perhaps this is one of the most eclectic bands around, nothing quite like their mix of styles and influences. Although it's been ten years since their last album 40 Years of Our Family, I knew they hadn't given up because I kept seeing notices for their live shows, even went to one at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley about five years ago. From humbler beginnings in Bloomington, Indiana back in the mid-90s, their original collision of styles included Appalachian fiddling, gypsy circus sounds, humorous interludes, middle-eastern modal threads and straight-up hillbilly music presented by a large and variable lineup that might include fiddle, guitar, banjo, flute, trumpet, saxes, vibraphone, accordion, bass, vocals and junk percussion. All these years later, the band is now established on the west coast in the SF Bay Area, and with this latest release (their fourth), the range of styles and influences has been blown wide open to include just about everything – all of the above plus jazz, rock, country, show tunes, a capella, folk, classical bits, and much more. Currently a twelve-piece lineup with additional guests all led by guitarist Sylvain Carton, the production level is far more sophisticated than it was in those early days. After ten years some evolution was inevitable, and in this case it's all for the good, but amid all this bizarre sonic diversity, every tune still carries the Japonize Elephants unmistakable signature. Whether you're an old salt that cut your teeth on Bob's Bacon Barn, or you're a newcomer that’s never heard the band before, Mélodie Fantastique offers a treasure of great tunes for the open minded listener.
Related artist(s): Japonize Elephants
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more