Tag Archives: Rainbow Quartz

Let’s Kickstart Kontiki!

The Holy Grail just came into view again.

Back in 1997, Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, George Reiff and Dana Myzer crafted Kontiki, possibly this generation’s Big Star album. You know…the one that didn’t sell well upon release but is revered by everyone who was lucky enough to grab it; a generation later everyone will claim to have owned a copy, only to lose it to an ex-wife or a klepto roomie.

Liars!

But now they don’t have to be. Harrison, on behalf of his band Cotton Mather, has just popped for a moderate goal on Kickstarter. He’s looking to raise $12,500 to create and market a deluxe two-disc edition, featuring a remastered original and a full disc of outtakes sure to thrill fans of the band. A diverse and rich blend of powerpop, rock and psych, Kontiki has often been compared to Beatle albums, usually Revolver, thanks to the uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon. But this is a deep, rich, original work that has only grown stronger in time. (You know…like Revolver?)

Video: “Password

Here’s Robert, from the project’s banner page:

 In 1997 my  band Cotton Mather recorded our second record, Kontiki,  on 4 track cassette and ADAT in an old house about 30 minutes outside of Austin. It was released in the US without much fanfare on a little label called Copper.  But when the record made its way to the UK a year later on the Rainbow Quartz label Kontiki was quite the hit with the press and music fans. 

Now Kontiki, the “lost classic” has been out of print for years.  I (Robert Harrison) have been busy readying a re-release of Kontiki which will include an entire second disc of bonus tracks. Not just a few out-takes but an entire discs worth of extras because when I dug back into the archives I found some real treasure… I do think there is something undeniably magical about Kontiki. It was a special moment in time we landed on back there. All of us from Cotton Mather would love more people to hear it. So let’s get Kontiki in the hands of the people and help Cotton Mather at long last shed the mantle of rock cult obscurity. 

The money we raise will pay for mixing an 11 track bonus CD (the first one will remain as it was), mastering, new artwork with extensive liner notes about the making of Kontiki and the history of Cotton Mather, manufacturing, publicity and if we go past the target a good ways- a vinyl pressing. Then of course if somebody goes for the grand prize….. look out!

Video: “She’s Only Cool

I know that anyone who has heard “My Before And After“, “She’s Only Cool“, “Vegetable Row“, “Password” and “Spin My Wheels” likely had their mind blown much like I did. Hell, even Oasis knew enough to pluck these guys out of Austin, Texas and get them onto stages in England. Musically, vocally, sonically…Kontiki is a first-rate classic.

I was resigned to the fact that I had their small but vital output to savor, but the thought of more Cotton Mather to enjoy has me jumping for joy. (Not literally…the needle will jump. But damned close!) So while you continue to enjoy the work of this group in their next bands (Future Clouds and Radar, Stockton, Farrah) let’s do the right thing for Cotton Mather, shall we?

Sign up for this project on Kickstarter. (The video is hilarious!)

Listen to clips on Amazon.

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New Album! The Parties

Not quite brand new, but hopefully new to you..

Maybe it was the personnel turnover, maybe the effort to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, but whatever the motivation, Coast Garde is a solid step forward for The Parties. Sounding at times like a merger between Let’s Active and The Three O’Clock, the jangle-pop, harmony-laden album also boasts some primal early Who and Stones DNA for muscle. It’s a great combination that grounds the more ethereal elements with substance, elevating what could be sing-along pop songs into something more substantial. 

Video: The Parties Much Better” (live)

Can’t Seem To Get My Mind Off Of You” is so catchy it could make a bus full of strangers sing along in unison; it’s a sixties AM radio formula repurposed through a current filter. Ditto “The Target Smiles”, a piano pop melody that Paul McCartney would have likely slotted on an album circa Ram. And tell me “Leavin The Light On” wouldn’t have been a smash for The Hollies. But the most impressive bit is the three-part “Suite”, clocking in at over seven minutes and incorporating everything from Kinks references and Byrdsian chord changes to Stones horn riffs and Who-like anthemic flourishes.

Don’t misunderstand – this is way more ambitious than it is derivative, and it’s persistently listenable. If you like the references you’ll love the album.

Listen to clips at Amazon

The Parties on MySpace

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #5

You have to have brass balls to release a double album in an era when the record industry is imploding upon itself. But psych-garage popsters The Grip Weeds decided to go all in with Strange Change Machine, and from the critical and popular response, it’s clear that they made the right decision.

Blessed with multiple singers and songwriters, the Grip Weeds have enjoyed a long career at the forefront of the modern pop movement. The sound from brothers Kurt and Rick Reil (on drums and guitar) with bassist Kristen Pinell and guitarist Michael Kelly is exponential thanks to all of the band members being multi-instrumentalists, but I must single out Kurt’s powerhouse drumming – he should be mentioned alongside Clem Burke and other greats. Many bands are just individuals orbiting each other; The Grip Weeds are truly a four-headed organism.

Based upon the title alone it should come as no surprise that several of the tracks on Strange Change Machine will teleport you to groovier times. “Coming and Going” and “Twister” are Sgt. Pepper-ish while “Don’t You Believe It” and “Truth Is Hard To Take” deserve to be pumping full blast out of jukeboxes and radios. “Close To The Sun” (my favorite) features harmonies that lift you up within the song, while “Be Here Now” is delicate and mesmerizingly melodic.

Although this is not a derivative effort, an artist whose name did pop into my head was Todd Rundgren, mostly for the overall feel and the complexity of the arrangements (“Speed Of Life” and the title track could be slid into a Utopia mix with good results). Ironically the album includes a straight-ahead cover of “Hello It’s Me”, which although well performed seemed an odd choice for mid-album placement. It broke the mood for me; perhaps it would have been better as a hidden bonus track?

Video: “Speed Of Life

I was fortunate enough to see them play two months ago at Pat DiNizio’s annual Halloween Bash; their set was heavily laced with the new cuts. I am pleased to report that these songs are just as dynamic in a live setting, reinforcing my decision that this is one of the best albums of the year and probably their most consistent effort. At twenty-four tracks long it’s not perfect, but the hits vastly outweigh the misses. And for great music contained on one album, the ranking should answer your question.

The album is deep, and repeated listenings only bring out more nuances. This is also one of the best engineered and produced albums I have heard in a long time – the clarity and presence is in audio Technicolor on everything from a car stereo to a full system. I recommend setting aside 80 minutes with a good pair of headphones for maximum bliss…and then repeat as necessary.

Listen to clips on Amazon

The Grip Weeds on MySpace

Outstanding in their field.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten from Rainbow Quartz

Rainbow Quartz is one of my favorite labels, because they had a vision and have been both aggressive and consistent in fulfilling it. They were determined to create the best guitar pop roster on the market and some might say they have. Their target artists are pop bands with strong writers that combine a bit of jangle and a bit of psychedelia; true outgrowths of their classic roots rather than simpler melodic Beatle imitations.

There’s an interview with label founder Jim McGarry from 2001 (conducted with esteemed pop writer and International Pop Overthrow honcho David Bash) where Jim breaks down the evolution of rock into distinct phases. Now any of us who have been around for a while can certainly draw lines of demarcation in the sands of time, but I was struck by the fact that when I interviewed Little Steven a few years back he passionately discussed a very similar scenario (albeit with different dates). The constant is that both men felt strongly enough that an era of rock has gotten short shrift that they were determined to do something about it.

So here are ten links to some of my favorite Rainbow Quartz bands. By no means is this an exclusive list; there are many more for you to explore at their site and elsewhere. Each link will take you to the appropriate band page with bio, discography, reviews, links and audio clips; more than enough to read and hear to make up your own mind.

Also enjoy their SXSW promo page audio files

As the weather here in the north-eastern US starts to warm up a bit, so does the call for music like this to be wafting through the air. Enjoy!

 

* The Broadfield Marchers – link

* The Contrast – link

* Deleted Waveform Gatherings – link

 VIDEO: “Ride Pillion” by Deleted Waveform Gatherings

* The Grip Weeds – link

* The Lackloves – link

* The Orchid Highway – link

VIDEO: “Sofa Surfer Girl” by The Orchid Highway

* Outrageous Cherry – link

* The Rhinos – link

* The Summer Wardrobe – link

* The Three-4-Tens – link

VIDEO: “Everyday” by The Three-4-Tens

 

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