Monday, March 18, 2019
Charming Disaster's Spells + Rituals
[As an aside, I'm looking at yet another giant pile of music to review--always a good thing--but if I publish one review in Part-Time Audiophile per day, I'll never catch up. So I'm going to put some reviews back up on the blog until I catch up!]
So, what does it take to make it in the music industry these days? What does it take to become a big pop/rock star? That's kind of a boring subject in 2019, I know, since the stuff that makes the Top 40 these days is mostly crap. I hate saying that, because every other old guy out there is saying the same thing, but I listen to albums like Charming Disaster's Spells + Rituals and I think, "If this had been released when I was young, back in the '70s and '80s, they'd be a big thing. They'd be noticed. They'd get plenty of airplay."
Charming Disaster is fronted by Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris, a duo who sing well, write great songs and imbue every track with imagination and skill. We used to call that talent. Between the two of them, they also play ukeleles, guitars, pianos, music boxes, ratchet sets, glass jars, canned air and plenty of percussion. The band also includes Don Godwin, who plays bass, drums, horns, backing vocals and more percussion, with Heather Cole playing violin, Jessie Kilguss playing harmonium and Patricia Santos playing the cello. That's the kind of line-up that can play almost anything you want--and they do, in a way. Charming Disaster balances smart pop songs against a confident stage presence, sort of a swagger, that suggest the two people out front are destined for great things.
Let me amend that--in a perfect world, everyone would be talking about that cool new group Charming Disaster. Do you know them? They're great!
I know, I'm waxing nostalgic here, lamenting the passing of the days where most of us kids were listening to 40 or 50 groups and singers at most. Pop music has exploded exponentially over the last thirty years, and there will never be another Beatles. I'm blathering on and on because I know there are people out there who also miss a music scene where talent, intelligence and originality rise to the top. These people will hear Charming Disaster's mixture of bluesy pop, a little ironic country, an encyclopedic knowledge of the rock and roll canon, and a couple of great voices that harmonize perfectly. In a way, Charming Disaster resembles Queen--is anyone else getting tired of that band's second wind?--and how these people are overflowing with musical ideas that simply defy categorization.
In a way, Spells + Rituals makes me just a little sad--mostly because it is so good and so unique and maybe they'll get noticed and maybe they won't. I think of every great indie band that seemed poised to be a huge thing due to an excellent album, and how they faded into obscurity and even I don't remember them anymore. So maybe this is a challenge to all of you who are reading this. Listen to this album, this band, and let me know if you think they're as good as I do. Maybe I've lost touch with popular music, but I don't care because I still feel like I know what's good and what isn't. This is good, and Charming Disaster should be a big thing...in a perfect world that may not exist anymore.