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Luminous Newts — Luminous Newts
(Amphibious A-0115, 2015, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-05-31

Luminous Newts Cover art

Here we have a rich helping of excellent songcraft from SF Bay Area quintet Luminous Newts, at the core of which are songwriting partners Eric Kampman (keyboards, vocals) and Thea Kelley (vocals), the former was a member of Now (a long, long time ago), and has a few solo releases to his credit as well in the time since. The band is rounded out by guitarist Dean Kattari, drummer Charles Waltmire, and bassist Alan Novidor, with guitarist Paul Wells guesting on a couple cuts and adding vocals to one. Most of the twelve songs here take a more unexpected melodic approach, juxtaposing a fair amount of pop sensibility with angular ideas that are extremely original and seemingly timeless, with roots crossing several decades, but never sounding particularly retro. These are memorable tunes, bearing rich melodies that easily stick in your mind for days. The lyrics are intelligent and thoughtful, generally worthy of note, integrated well as a package, not simply filler to pad out musical wizardry. Tracks like “Flying Fish,” “Up and Out,” “St. Patrick and the Snakes,” “Envy,” and “Waiting (A Bridge to Nowhere)” are all worthy of note, for their lyrics, harmonies (especially on the latter) and melodic brilliance. Is this “prog”? Probably not, there are no 25-minute magnum opuses, no particularly flashy solos (well, maybe a few), and no Mellotrons; I guess it depends on your definition. I am reminded at times of mid-70s Curved Air, though without the violin. One thing for certain, this (the band’s debut album) is quality work that most definitely deserves to be heard.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Luminous Newts

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