Luminous Newts — Luminous Newts
(Amphibious A-0115, 2015, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-05-31
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.
Related artist(s): Luminous Newts
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more