I received an email from a chap from a record company. The chap is Brian (Hi, Brian!) , and the record company is Fin Records. Brian told me about a Fin Records artiste by the name of Gavin Guss. Mr. Guss recently released an album called On High, and Brian wanted me to hear it.
I had a listen to the little critter and made some notes (see below – if you dare).
By the way, I feel it my duty to let you know that Gavin’s album is currently being sold in vinyl form, not on CD. However, if you’re the kind of person (like me) who doesn’t have a turntable (I sold mine to buy more CDs), the purchase of the album includes a digital download.
(I don’t know why I said “digital download”. Aren’t all downloads digital?)
If you don’t mind, I’ll switch to present tense for my comments about the album…
With this album I’m going to try something the switched-on Internet people call “live blogging”, where I’ll type as I’m listening.
Considering the shortness of most pop songs, I’m going to have to type as fast as I can.
1. “Avenue A”
When this song started I thought “That’s not bad.” But as it progressed my thoughts changed from “That’s not bad at all” to “Hey, that’s alright” to “This is pretty good” to “I really like this song”. Can I play it again? (Note to self: Nope. There’s another song coming along.)
Non-important Announcement: Well, I’m going to have to admit defeat. I had to stop playing the track to type the last couple of sentences. I couldn’t keep up. Ah well. Now I can take my time with each track.
2. “Come Over”
This is pretty good too.
Interlude After Two Songs:
It’s only been two songs, but from what I’ve heard I can safely say that as a songwriter, Gavin is a traditionalist. He writes songs with solid melodies, solid structures. Solid. (As opposed to liquid.) In addition to the solid songwriting, I’m thoroughly enjoying the production. It’s not excessive, and it’s not too minimalist. (It has nice little touches of extra instruments placed here and there in the mix.) Themore I’m listening to the album, the more I’m enjoying the production. For me, it’s exactly as Goldilocks said everything was.
Although it’s only been two songs, I’m rather in the mood to buy this album.
3. “Voice Inside My Head”
OK. This one I’m not as keen on as the first two songs. Oooh. At 0:26 Gavin added an unexpected chord and some brain-melting vocal harmonies. Oh no. I’m going to like this song too. Grrr. 1:09 – what a great middle eight. And the rasp in Gavin’s voice here – excellent. What’s not so excellent is the guitar solo that follows immediately after the middle eight, from 1:19-1:41. The guitar is out of tune, and there’s a bum note at 1:29 that actually made me groan out loud. (It was something in between “oh” and “ewww”.) The good thing about the solo is that it finished at 1:41 and Gavin came back on board to sing the rest of the song. I spent the rest of this song noticing the drums. I like the sound of them. They sound wonderfully natural. (No fancy “room effects” or sound manipulation to make them resemble something they’re not.) The thing I liked most about the drumming were all the drum fills. They’re very Ringo-ish. I have a feeling someone likes Ringo’s drumming style.
4. “Riga In The Fall”
An exceptionally relaxed song. Very nice. I thought the Leslie organ was a nice touch. As this track progressed I was reminded of Pink Floyd (specifically “Us And Them“).
5. “On High”
A bit of boogie. I’m liking this album the more I hear it. I hope it’s available on CD. (Beware: From 1:21-1:38 there’s another dodgy guitar solo. But it’s mercifully short. And the song is good.)
6. “Sister Patchouli”
I like this one too. (No dud songs so far. Splendid.) I love the sound of the bass guitar in the left channel. It’s very Paul McCartney-esque. And I like how the bass guitar in the left and the piano in the right are basically playing the same thing. Yum.
7. “Wonder Too”
This one isn’t doing much for me. Maybe I was subconsciously hoping for an uptempo poppin’ rockin’ ditty to keep things a-boppin’. This is enjoyable enough, though. However, I love the melody and vocal harmonies at the end of the chorus (2:01-2:04). I think they’re perfect for that part of the song. By the way, from 2:10-2:30 and 2:30-2:50 there are two guitar solos, and they’re much, much better than the ones in the other songs. (Maybe it’s the change of guitars that made the difference.)
Update: By the time this song finished I liked it.
8. “Will To Fly”
This one isn’t doing much for me either. I might like it by the time it finishes. I don’t mind the chorus, but it isn’t thrilling me an awful lot.
Update: Nope. It didn’t do much for me.
9. “Invent You Myself”
A slower song, and one that uses the honky-tonk piano from a few tracks ago (6. “Sister Patchouli”). This has a nice 3/4 (waltz-time) lilt. It also has a not-horrible guitar solo from 1:33-2:07. I thought it was unspectacular, but well thought out. I liked this song more than the previous two.
10. “Parc Monceau”
For such a pleasant album, I was surprised to hear young Gavin swear on this track (at 0:22). Here’s a suggestion: why not “…the leaves sticking to the streets” instead of something else sticking to those streets? Despite that awkwardness, I think this is an enjoyable low-key song. And I like the sound of the bass guitar. There’s a little non-vocal motif that’s played fairly regularly throughout the song, and it reminds me strongly of something else. What it is? I have a feeling it’s in a Fountains Of Wayne song. Possibly. (I’ll try not to think about it, otherwise I’ll end up going through Fountains Of Wayne’s entire discography, and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather listen to the rest of Gavin’s album.)
11. “Once More”
This is better. Gavin’s gone back to an uptempo song. I like this. I don’t think it’s a great song, but I’m glad that it’s uptempo.
12. “Lesson One”
And it’s back to ‘low-key’ for the final track. I wouldn’t have minded that acoustic guitar having better intonation. (It’s slightly out of tune, and bothered me.) And I wouldn’t have minded the backing vocals to be a little more in tune too. It’s entirely possible that the overall out-of-tune-ness was deliberate, in that it’s supposed to convey an air of spontaneity, but it just annoyed me.
Despite the last track annoying me, overall I liked the album. There were a few things I would have preferred, such as more uptempo tracks, a guitar that was in tune for its solos etc. But for the most part, I thought that the album I heard is the album Gavin wanted me to hear.
Thanks, Brian, for letting me know about the album.
Er, I wasn’t going to write anything else for this post, but I want to mention a weird coincidence.
As you may or may not know, for the last three days on this blog I’ve been featuring songs from a Futureman Records sampler. On what I had thought would have been a completely unrelated note, I went to Gavin Guss’ website for some more information about him and noticed that one of the albums Gavin is selling there (he has two for sale) is Three Minute Hercules. It’s a pre-solo album that Gavin describes as being “from my old band, TubeTop”. Well, it just so happens that a TubeTop song from Three Minute Hercules appears on that Futureman Records sampler. It’s an incredibly small word, crazy cats.
Hey, wait a minute…
I just found a link to that TubeTop album on Bandcamp. It’s presented by Futureman Records. What’s going on here? Does Keith from Futureman Records (Hi, Keith!), who contacted me a couple of weeks ago about that Futureman Records sampler, know Brian from Fin Records? Is this not a coincidence at all?
Maybe this world we live in isn’t as small as I thought it was a few minutes ago.