Autumn Electric — Make Me a Tree
(Bandcamp no#, 2012, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2013-07-26
I had never heard of Autumn Electric before I saw them open for Johnny Unicorn at a dive bar in Seattle. Since that time I've been metaphorically kicking myself for not paying more attention to the local music scene. What a discovery! The band is largely the vessel for Michael Trew's songs, though the band (Naomi Smith on keys, Barton McGuire on lead guitar, Daniel Desrosiers on drums) plays an essential role throughout. In the credits, producer Johnny Unicorn is thanked for "letting us 'prog out' when necessary." Unicorn also handles the bass parts on the CD — when I saw them live, Smith covered the bass parts on a keyboard, and Max Steiner (who also plays with Alex's Hand and is in Unicorn's touring band along with Smith) handled the lead guitar, so it's a cozy little Seattle scene. The sound is a kind of jangly folk-rock with noted psychedelic elements, and they're not afraid to stretch out. One of the highlights is the eight-minute "Spaghetti Western," which weaves its way through numerous sections of varying tempos and intensities, with Smith's keys playing an important role. The lead guitar parts are dextrous but unpredictable, the perfect foil for Trew's warbly voice (a bit like Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes) and delicate melodies. And the backing vocals are luscious, very full and on-key without sounding too stuffy, made up of a variety of voices instead of a single voice overdubbed. Occasional guests provide strings and other nice touches. This is music to float away on, unearthly beauty grounded by earthly emotions and the flaws of real people playing real instruments with great art and little artifice. Lovely!
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more