Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Grownup Noise: "The Grownup Noise" (2008) CD Review

The Grownup Noise's self-titled album is a total treat. It features excellent musicians and well written songs. And yes, a cello.

This band is so refreshing and original. Its voice is earnest and honest, and there is a sense of play as well. The Grownup Noise reminds us that music can be both fun and beautiful at the same time. These guys are talented musicians as well as good songwriters.

"Make Believe"

The first moments of "Make Believe" sound like a standard rock song, with a full electric guitar sound, but very quickly the song proves itself to be anything but. The moment the vocals start, with the lines, "Would you run away and be mine/Even for a day wake me up and say/It's not a dream," it's clear there is nothing standard or ordinary about this song.

Paul Hansen (the lead singer and guitarist) has a wonderful voice. And then there is the cello, not a standard rock band instrument. But its presence is not gimicky at all. It feels integral to the music. Katie Franich is perfect on the cello.

"Messy Apartment"
"Messy Apartment" also starts off as a standard rock tune, with a simple bass/snare drum beat. But when the vocals kick in, it changes. The song takes hold. And the drum beat (by Kyle Crane) works so well, especially considering the lyrics contain the line, "I miss those days of rock and roll." There is also a wonderful moment in this song when the bass (played by Adam Sankowski) comes to the fore.

"Grey Skies"

"Grey Skies" is a great tune. It's performed somewhat differently in concert these days, but whichever way they decide to play this song, it's wonderful, one of their best. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "And I don't care what they say anymore/I'm inspired by grey skies/You can tell it's me when you see my ill at ease/And once more, the moon will relieve me."

"Nothing Is Real"

"Nothing Is Real" has a strange, seemingly disjointed opening, which leads to a relaxed vocal section backed by acoustic guitar before kicking in again with the electric guitar. Paul sings, "When I'm all alone, nothing is real/I pick up the phone,it looks like a meal." The song has a complex instrumentation, with the pieces sometimes working in conjunction and sometimes in seeming opposition. All of this works well with the theme, with the idea that nothing is real. The song ends where it began.

Instrumental Track

"Missing Letter" has an interesting, mellow beginning. The cello, when it comes in, is gorgeous. This instrumental track blends two musical themes or ideas into one excellent and surprising piece.

"The Oldest Running Feature"
"The Oldest Running Feature" features Katie Franich's incredible work on cello. And Paul's vocals are wonderful. His voice is used particularly well on this song, which features excellent lyrics, like "And I wait for your gravity to pull me in" and "I would die if you would let me." This is just an all-around great song, one of the best on the album.

"Vampire Love Song"
"Vampire Love Song" is a fun song, with a great rhythm. Sure, there are a lot of songs about vampires these days, but this one has excellent lyrics and strings. Check out these lyrics: "I'm so in love with you I might have to bear the sunlight/Gone are the days of moonlight/And I don't care if I just turn/No, I don't care if I just turn/No, I hope that I just turn to dust."

"Give Me Time"
The album concludes with "Give Me Time," a wonderfully bright tune slightly reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian. It features quirky lyrics, like "Give me time to see you're right/You're perfect indeed, you're speaking Chinese/Your laundry is clean/Your future is bright." This song is so enjoyable, though it ends abruptly.

CD Track List

  1. Make Believe
  2. Messy Apartment
  3. Love Me Still
  4. Grey Skies
  5. Nothing Is Real
  6. Missing Letter
  7. The Oldest Running Feature
  8. First Time
  9. Vampire Love Song
  10. The Trick
  11. The Urban Myth
  12. Vic Chesnutt
  13. Give Me Time

The Grownup Noise is Paul Hansen on lead vocals and guitar, Adam Sankowski on bass and backing vocals, Katie Franich on cello, and Kyle Crane on drums. They have also released an EP titled, Shall We?

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