Three new Chico albums that should be on your playlist
So Happy it Hurts
Three of the four dudes from the avant-garde jazz group Bogg are also some of the dudes from eccentric Chico prog-rock band Clouds on Strings. So, it’s no surprise that Bogg’s six-song album, So Happy it Hurts, is a balance between refined virtuosity and being all super-weird.
With elements of math rock, jazz fusion and even a little hip-hop (guest rapper Avita Treason’s warbled, breathless delivery on “Cobra Coils” certainly falls under the super-weird category), and contributions from a handful of well-chosen local musicians, So Happy It Hurts feels like a cohesive piece of music despite being all over the place.
And unlike some more self-indulgent forms of jazz, there are genuinely moving moments throughout the album. In the particularly superb “Tetrachromat,” for instance, vocals and horns are treated with spacey delays and reverb for a heavenly, cascading waterfall-type effect, while the down-tempo all-instrumental title track could be this summer’s theme song for somber self-reflection.
And if any of you wannabe bassists out there want to feel bad about even attempting to groove, listen to the latter half of “Sea Miner” and feel the shame.
The Stage Fright EP
The new EP by local singer/songwriter and new papa Kyle Williams is a moving six-song tour through the thoughtful, self-reflective musical territory that Williams has been staking out for a while now.
From the first song—the slow, pretty “Practicing Pain”—to “The Mountain,” the album’s powerful closer (“I behold the mountain, standing tall and miles wide/ but I refuse to be disheartened—I will see the other side”), Stage Fright presents a picture of an all-too-human Williams wrestling with such vulnerability-provoking issues as romantic relationships and stage fright. And, one can also extrapolate from his lyrics, dealing with expecting a first child, as in: “This ain’t no dress rehearsal and I know the curtain’s rising soon/… Am I man enough? I never felt quite this afraid.”
Excellent support is provided by Williams’ wife Carrie Williams, on back-up vocals and glockenspiel, Dave Elke on Dobro and guitar (and behind the board as engineer), drummer Casey Schmidt and violinist Joel Quivey, among others.
As Williams put it on Indiegogo.com during his fundraising campaign for Stage Fright: “I strive to make real music.” He succeeds with this EP.
-Christine G.K. LaPado-Breglia
Kyle Williams EP release May 4, 1078 Gallery
Michael Strishak is better known locally by his singer/songwriter moniker, Fera, but he spends nearly as much time playing with a variety of side-project bands as well—the improvising Drmweapon, anti-folk duo Dark Castle in the Deep Forest, and noisy indie-rockers The Chrome.
The Chrome is actually the remaining members—Strishak and drummer Robert Smith—of the defunct and similarly bent The Great Good, and this debut EP finds them making a lot of great noise over the course of just five tracks. The songs are fast and loose, each built on a dirty riff, Fera’s dramatic vocals and Smith’s unrelenting drum attack. It’s garage rock, but not in any stylized Nuggets-revivalist sense.
If it’s a revival of anything, it’s of ’90s indie rock, with plenty of lo-fi fuzz, sassy vocals and simple melodies.
Right now I’m digging the fast ones—frenetic opener “Spinning Umbrellas in the Rain” and the muscular closer “Karaoke Disco Queen” ( Smith taking over vocals). Trampoline is definitely raw and even sounds unfinished in a few places, but the essentials—irresistible hooks and infectious energy—are there. If given the choice of having a bigger, more polished (yet possibly less spirited) version, I’d pick this wild and free Trampoline every time.