Count Chocula **** Franken Berry *** Yummy Mummy ** Fruit Brute *
MotherCity, MotherCity *** .5 As sleek and smooth as the cityscapes of Tokyo on its sleeve photographs, Utah’s MotherCity purveys little instrumental sojourns into meditative spaces that aren’t empty or hollow but actually contain some interesting musical content, touches of jazz in the guitar glissandos and breathy cymbal brushes. Billing themselves as a “jam band” among other things, they rise above the dumbed-down hippified hamhandedness of most bands in the genre. They can’t help making the song title pun “In Tents Dreaming,” but they are pleasing enough to the ear that you can forgive them.
Although the music on the six-song EP is pretty homogenous, a song called “Trail Mix Tampon” just has to jump out at you. And the song is as arresting musically as the vision of said refuse on a hiking path would be to ‘harsh out your mellow.’ It starts out with another light, jazzy groove but then descends into almost Sonic-Youth level discordance, before emerging again, like crossing through a mountain cave in broad daylight.
MotherCity is what would happen if music in your “chill out room” was played by actual musicians instead of synthetic sounds from machines. That’s not a bad thing at all.
Opal Hill Drive, Opal Hill Drive ***.5 “Sometimes it seems like the road you’re on is too hard, too damned long,” sings Opal Hill Drive’s vocal team of Maddy Gilbert and Jeddie Duffey on the self-titled theme song that starts off their self-titled album. And it’s fitting, since the recording took eight years to see the light of day. Their sound falls somewhere between jam band and Southern rock; touches of country are also de rigor. It’s a musical recipe that has been done before, but their instrumental finesse and urgency added by the male-female vocal coupling makes them one worth checking out, probably “bringing the house down” as they say, live, or at least helping an establishment sell a lot of (insert your favorite brand of redneck beer here).
They slow things down for the ballads “The Past” and “What Age Brings,” finding the band “feeling their age” but seemingly wiser although recalling countless episodes of “playing the fool.” The greater part of a decade they took perfecting their sound and creating a perfectly balanced recording makes this one of those sleeper local CDs that escapes a lot of hip indie best-of lists.