HUMP / Jon Gonzales
by Doug Jayne
I have the privilege of hearing and listening to lots of new music.
Most of the time, the CD's are presented to me along with fancy-printed artist bios called “one-sheets”.
In the case of “HUMP” the sparkling new CD by singer/songwriter Jon Gonzales, there was only an informal handwritten note by the Sonoma County ukulele slinger: “My new CD. ~J.G.”
I have a short bio of Jon Gonzales that lives in my head; he and I share something that we wish we didn't: the death of two young, beloved family members. Just a few short months after my grandson Jayson died, Jon lost his son Jasper.
Thank God for music; for it is music that helps sooth this often unbearable pain.
I mention this only because I think I hear things in HUMP (which is dedicated to Jasper) that may sound different to others.
For example, the opening track “Ad Glorium”, Gonzales sings “I really love to laugh”, followed by minor chords strummed on a ukulele, and a irresistible guitar hook.
I'm thinking that this song will sound whimsical and fun to most folks, and there is an adorable video on Jon's website (http://www.jongonzales.com), but I hear a melancholy in this song.
But it's an optimistic-melancholy. Thankfully it only brought a tear to my eye that first listen. I'm good now.
The arrangements and production on “Ad Glorium” are outstanding. The instruments are mixed well, the harmonies are lush, but light as a feather.
I single out this song because it is the job of the lead-off track to compel the listener to continue listening, rather than hit the SKIP button.
I keep listening:
“All Roads Lead to Love” has a reggae vibe. “Green Grass 'n Shade” could have been a single from the 60's. By the time I reach track 5 (“Lil' Purple Friend ), it becomes clear that each song on HUMP has a unique sound and vibe.
The album winds down after 10 original songs with a joyous, yet subdued cover of the Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)”, and closes out with Jon's tribute to Lou Reed, his original “Lou Reed”.
This is the 2nd release by Gonzales that was produced by Michael Lindner, who also plays bass in the JG Band. They obviously work well together, because HUMP sounds even more sophisticated and developed that the previous CD “Water 'n Whiskey”.
Most important, HUMP is a good listen from start to finish.
alleyone music: Press
... bless mah soul, mistah, mah eyes is cryin' tears a joy to hear you back spankin' dat can an' spit dem woids like dah junk yawd dawg I membah fum back ina day ... ooo wee, son, dats some funk-ay religion now !! ... an give dat git-tar player on "The Grind" a raise, homey !! ... an ah ain't nevah heared no envelope filter befoh, BLOW MAH MINE, bro ham !! ...
... stay greezy sucka, yo fren, Buttah Fat
Moon Over Healdsburg arrived yesterday and I have given it the initial listen. As promised, it delivers a mix of wacky fun and music. There is some really nice guitar playing on Drivin’ South, Optigan National Blues, Paper Round, The Avenues and The Grind (to pick a few early favorites). The production values are high and it must have been a blast to make. I look forward to listening some more.
Michael Lindner has been rockin’ the Bay since the mid-’60s in bands like Mojo, Those Darn Accordions and the surf noir band The Aqua Velvets. His latest offering is “Cocktail Napkin,” a mostly instrumental album of widely divergent styles.
Faux marimba and shimmering surf guitar give “Martin Dennis,” a tribute to Martin Denny’s exotica, just the right touches of Far Eastern mystery. “Tremulux” is a dark, bass-heavy, spaghetti-western-meets-’60s, spy-movie piece of reverb-drenched nostalgia, while “8 Strings” blends thick, atmospheric drum’n’bass textures with wistful bouzouki-like guitar meditations.
j.poet sf examiner 8-15-07
beautifully recorded cd (hmm, i wonder why... hahaha)
ralph alfonso bongo beat records
Phil Dirt - Reverb Central
PO Box 7240, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-7240 USA
Michael Lindner - Cocktail Napkin
New from Michael Lindner (bassist with the Aqua Velvets), Cocktail Napkin sports some very visual soundscapes that are based in exotica, lounge, and the tremolo moodiness of slow surf. This CD also includes some classic vocal material. This is not a surf CD, but it surely will enhance a rainy afternoon or romantic interlude.
Picks: Tremulux, Whirling, Birth-Day-2004, Conquistador, Martin Dennis, 8 Strings
96 Blues Per Minute ()
Blues Instrumental (Stereo)
This is a slow tortured blues number that borrows from "Hip-Hug-Her." It's a soothing organ and guitar soul-stirrer with a decidedly Memphis sound and feel.
Rock Instrumental (Stereo)
"Tremulux" is a slowly evolving tremolo shimmered and cooled number. It never exactly reaches a melody,but the throb of the tremolo renders that of no consequence. Eerie, rainy, moody, and mysterious. It's all about the vibrations.
Indian Instrumental (Stereo)
Exotic percussion, Indian mystery, tremolo shimmer, and a circling set of patterns invoke hazy trancelike images of far away places. It's a view as if you're looking through the jungle to see, perhaps as in a dream where you can't quite focus. Certainly not melodic, but the relentless visuals and slowly evolving soundscape are strikingly effective.
Hillbilly Surf Instrumental (Stereo)
"Birth-Day-2004" uses instruments in a manner that suggest you could surf in the backwoods on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Delicate and easy moving, you get an image of corn cob pipes and gentle swells on a lazy river.
Surf Lounge Instrumental (Stereo)
"Conquistador" is a slightly moody and exotic surf lounge dreamscape, with bongos and a tiki bar in the distance. It sets a scene as a film score might demand. Mysterious, yet inviting and almost romantic.
Martin Dennis ()
Surf Lounge Instrumental (Stereo)
One might guess that the title is an homage to Martin Denny, and indeed some elements of this song are suggestive of his exotica sound sans the bird calls. Sensual and haunting, "Martin Dennis" presents an image of cocktail-filtered jungles and red-eyed interpretations.
8 Strings ()
Dangerous Erotica Instrumental (Stereo)
Stereo percussion ping-pongs across the soundscape as ominous fuzz rises from a dark mist. "8 Strings" uses a simple progression to travel upon the way sixties psych sometimes did, and it floats on a foggy have of ambient mystery. Definitely more of s soundscape than a song, yet trance-inducing pleasurable.
Surf Lounge Instrumental (Stereo)
A slow western cowboy bass line gives "Winterlude" an outdoors feel, while the balance of the arrangement creates a sad view of a rainy outside. Just easy and cool.
WOBC 91.5 FM
http://wobc.org (Fridays, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EST)
Last week, I played 'Whirling' on my show. What a great song. I talked about it with one of the other DJs who was hanging out at the station while 'Whirling' was playing. She liked it a lot and called it "atmospheric" and said that she really likes how it "sets a certain mood for a mental journey." I'll just agree with her!
Two weeks ago, I played 'Endless Sleep.' I've already told you how much I like this song. Your voice is very clear on this song. So, the story is conveyed easily. I think that, in the original by Jody Reynolds, a lot of people miss the ending where he grabs his baby from the endless sleep. What a great song.
On Aug. 3, I played '96 Blues Per Minute.' You really settle into a nice groove with this song. I like it a lot. The keyboard adds a bit of a Stax-Volt Booker T. groove, which is definitely a compliment!
Then, on July 27, I played 'Little Red Book.' I love the driving beat on this song. You really add something to it. Perhaps because you don't do
it as primitive as the Love version that I remember. This is a great start to a great album!
This week, I'm going to play 'Party Doll,' mostly because it's my favorite song on the CD! I'll eventually play all of the songs, because
they're all great. It's funny how they are all so diverse, yet they all fit my show's format. I don't know if that says something about the CD
or about my show. Hopefully both!
Why won't this lounge-music nostalgia ever completely go away? More than a decade ago, there was a frenetic buzz was about the resurgence of swing and cocktail lounge music. If it wasn't 15-piece bands in zoot suits crowding the stage, it was small combos recreating surf-music and "Music To Hang Around in Your Smoking Jacket in Your Tastefully Decorated Bachelor Pad While Draining Your Martini Pitcher Dry By."
It went away rather quickly. But it did leave behind several good chunks of music, notably the stuff from Louisville's Love Jones, the retro-pop of Seks Bomba and the moody surf-rock of the Aqua Velvets. And now the Velvets' bassist, Michael Lindner, has released a solo work called Cocktail Napkin, a relaxed, entertaining collection of eight instrumental originals and four vocal covers that doesn't force our ears to endure more tributes to bachelor-pad-swing-surf nostalgia, but, instead, augments the best hooks and styles of the music that inspired it.
It's a big task to distill and rework the elements of a variety of music genres to make them something a little more original, but Lindner manages to do so with subtlety and understatement. And fun. The best examples? The pulsing Hammond B3 and fuzz-guitar underneath "96 Blues Per Minute," the trippy guitar tremolo riff that carries through "Tremulux," and the folky mandolin and acoustic guitar in "Birth-Day-2004."
Lindner also sings for us in "2000 Man" and the opening track, "Little Red Book," where a guy is trying to win back a woman he loves by promising to cross out the names of girls in his address book (the kind nearly all men still carry around, even though it's now digitized and compacted into a cell phone and to take out a name you just press a single button). The guy sounds both pleading and pathetic, made clear by how Lindner crams the lyrics into the song's steady rhythm.
A large part of the music we enjoy is rooted in nostalgia. Stuff we hear one year reminds us of something we heard growing up. Not a bad thing at all. But what makes a nostalgic sound distinctive is a maturity in how it is used. Michael Lindner's Cocktail Napkin takes those nostalgic elements (from a decade or more ago) and doesn't just throw them back at us to remind us of how cool they sounded. Instead, he treats them like, well, a cocktail napkin, which can be used not only to keep a drink from making a wet ring on a table, but can also be a means of swapping phone numbers, where ideas and notes are written down, where business plans are sketched out and started.
It shows how functional and versatile they are.
Find out how functional a cocktail napkin can be at www.alleyonemusic.com.
i can barely begin to tell you how much i have been enjoying 'cocktail napkin'!!
it's like you made MY solo album, almost! the covers are great, and you kept the weird '6-beat' in '2000 man' ... funny. there's a very cool (almost all) instro band down here, 'the reventlos' and one of the few vocals they do is 'endless sleep'!!
all the instros are great too...it's just a fantastic record. i'll put it
on and just let it repeat....
thanks for putting it out there!!!!!!!!!!!
so very goddam happily yers,
Michael Lindner - Cocktail Napkin (Alley One Music)
Who is he? Michael Lindner began playing the accordion at the age of eight. In 1964 he was inspired by the Beatles to take up the bass guitar and he's been playing it ever since. Of most interest to HangNine readers is likely to be the fact that Michael has been in the splendid Aqua Velvets since 1982. Here he presents us with eight original (although not especially surfy) instrumentals and four of his favourite vocal songs from the 1960's (Little Red Book, Endless Sleep, 2000 Man and Party Doll) and, with the exception of Pete McRae's lead guitar on Party Girl. Michael plays everything (he also priduced, engineered and did the cover art - so quite a tour de force).
What's good? As I know, it's all too easy when working entirely on your own to become rather one dimensional in what you produce; it can be very difficult to provide all the ideas, while also remembering to get all those technical dtails right as well. Michale Lindner, however, succeeds in not falling into this trap. The instrumentals, particularly, are never less than interesting and some are truly captivating, with special mention having to be made of the Indian-flavoured Whirling, the lovely Birth-Day-2004, Conquistador, and 8 Strings.
What's bad? The covers are fairly straightforward (although Endless Sleep is a seriously strange song, which I had never knowingly heard before), despite being lovingly crafted. The instrumentals are much better (but we would say that, wouldn't we?).
HangNine Rating: PDG-Pretty damned good. If you like this genre of music, you will probably enjoy this.
Michael Lindner Cocktail Napkin
There’s something uncanny, in the Freudian sense, about Michael Lindner’s album. All of the elements that go to make up his music are conventional to the point of being retro. There’s nothing particularly radical about his playing techniques, he rarely uses obvious effects or processing, he doesn’t experiment with feedback or noise. And yet Cocktail Napkin is deeply, profoundly weird. It’s the aural equivalent of a David Lynch movie.
The strangeness is particularly apparent on the four covers here. Lindner has tracked down some of the creepiest songs of the ’50s and ’60s, most notably Jody Reynolds’ ‘Endless Sleep’, and arranged them with a brutal minimalism that makes the Flying Lizards (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHs-6xnMEdE) sound like ELO. Together, his one-note bass lines, distant vocals, surf guitar washes and unprovoked war on hi-hats add up to something that verges on the disturbing. Sam Inglis Sound on Sound magazine dec 2007