Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Arthur Nasson "Echo Garden"

Arthur Nasson, a multi-instrumentalist out of Boston, is releasing his sixth album on October 5th. The record will be called "Echo Garden" and is a low-fi but sprawling three-part suite.

Arthur Nasson has been featured on NPR’s “Here and Now” and KALX’s "The Next Big Thing" w/ Marshall Stax. In 2008 he simultaneously released the retro rock "False Prophets" and the experimental noise work "Life After Telescopes", garnering praise such as, “False Prophets sounds like something John Lennon might have done. It’s varied, but cohesive; melodic, but adventurous."

"Echo Garden" is very similar in the sense that it is diverse and eclectic, a mix of brief instrumental experimentation and straightforward pop and rock songs. For some, the record will go down smooth listened to in its entirety like a full-course meal, but for others, they'll just want the desserts. I find myself in the latter category, despite the intriguing craftsmanship in the instrumental pieces. For example, "Summer Drops" is the verse chord progression of the following track "Bounce" pulled apart, with a series of vocal harmonies added to make it a completely different piece. "Echo Garden Theme Part 1" and "Echo Garden Theme Part 2" are the same chord progressions performed in different styles, with vocals added to Part 2. But if I'm being honest, I could have done without all of these quirky instrumentals and settled for a great EP of his power pop tunes.

Six of the songs spread across the three suites are truly brilliant. Nasson is a master at mixing contemporary and retro styles, possessing a voice that is well-suited to his craft. Aptly titled "Bounce" will certainly put a spring in your step - the driving rhythm and amazing piano playing are real attention grabbers. "The Other Side" is a sharp turn that combines surf guitar and a reggae beat, but it all works because the song is pleasantly catchy. "Unglued", my favorite on "Echo Garden", is a splendid pop rock song with an unforgettable hook. The final suite contains a string of excellent tracks such as "Drag", "Meant to Be", and the title track, collectively bringing this unusual record to a climatic end.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 5, 16, 17, 18

Arthur Nasson on MySpace. Official site.

No comments: