MMB (Mike Montrey Band) – Building The Block – Song By Song By Song
Mike Montrey takes on his biggest project to date with the multi-media components of Song By Song By Song. He’s hot on the heels of some highly successful releases such as A Perfect Reality, a record that opened many new ears and afforded great media opportunities like “Take Me Down Mississippi” being featured as a garageband.com track of the week. Weaving The Basket was MMB’s sophomore release and it received accolades from a number of press outlets. Here at The Aquarian, we said Weaving The Basket was “spontaneous and brimming with dynamic intelligence.”
Mike Montrey is a singer-songwriter that has had great success playing with The Samples, as well as touring in the Everyone Orchestra. The list of Everyone Orchestra participants include members of The Grateful Dead, Phish, Moe, The Flecktones, Club Adrian Belew, Taj Mahal, and many other performers. But now, Montrey and the band take a new step far outside of the standard format of simply releasing 12 tracks on one disc with their third, and most challenging, undertaking.
The new project will feature Montrey and company focusing on one song at a time, with an accompanying video to be released alongside the composition in specific time intervals. Along with this dual attack, the MMB will also be offering more visual accompaniment in the form of original artwork (supplied by fans) that will tie into the overall presence of the video and song set as a symbol of each piece.
Song By Song By Song will feature twelve original songs (one each month) presented with an emphasis on the building blocks of free-form creation instead of running along the standard, music industry guidelines. At the end of that 12-month period, the MMB will present the overall sessions as a complete set of multimedia art that will fit together like arabesque puzzle pieces with intricate meaning to match.
The idea came about as the band grew tired of following a formula that hasn’t changed in decades. Matter of fact, the idea of recording individual compositions puts the act of chance back into the game. It’s the thinking process of a chess player as he plans his next of several moves. It also harkens back to the old days of recording and performance, where an artist had to rely on wood shedding pre-production and insight. They didn’t rely on surveys, or Pro Tools and video editing suites to get their point across.
They’ve always been a band that leans toward the organic side of compositional design, and Song By Song By Song pushes that style to its furthest possible limit. The first track, “The Sunshine,” will be released in September, and will be available on iTunes, ReverbNation and Facebook, as well as the band’s website.
MMB consists of vocalist/guitarist Mike Montrey, bassist Anthony “Duke” Duca, drummer Rob Smith, keyboardist Karl Dietel, and saxophonist Adam Garnys.
For more information on the MMB and their new step-by-step release, Song By Song By Song, head over to mikemontrey.com.
Almost There – Abandon The Sinking Ship
Almost There are another one of those bands that we love to push here at The Aquarian. Zach Sicherman and Eddie Soles are a vocal team that can throw out dual vocal work without competing for the same registers or going for the usual generic showbiz tactics. Their harmonic sensibility put them on par with other vocally superior bands like The Grip Weeds, Delta Rae and Fountains Of Wayne.
Their fourth CD is interestingly titled Abandon The Sinking Ship. The title piqued my curiosity immediately. Is this some secret signal to let us know that they’re moving on to bigger and better things? Let’s take a look.
Abandon The Sinking Ship features some amazing studio talent that makes this record stand way out. The CD is loaded with the sharp and aggressive production talent of Jon Pikus (Hollywood Undead, Pennywise, and The Ataris) as well as the magical touch of Bruce Wiegner, axe man from the Philly band, Automatic Habit. The disc also features tracks that were engineered by Ryan Williams (Black Veil Brides, Paramore, Velvet Revolver).
Going through this CD produced a cornucopia of reactions to brilliantly penned pieces. Songs that jumped out at me were the raw power attack of the title-track, “Abandon The Sinking Ship.” The song alternates like night and day. Smooth, harmony heavy vocals and the jagged, rhythmic attack of newest member and Warped Tour Drum Off champion Mike Lucchetti meld with Sicherman’s bass work, which holds down the tarmac that Soles launches off of as he blends staccato, hot shots of harmonic distortion between his vocal duties with Zach. The song groans into the depths of their reverb and distortion laced space as it fades to black.
“From Way Up Here” fires under two-string runs and snare shots before settling into the meat of this riff dominated tune. Once again, Sicherman and Soles showcase amazing vocal prowess as Lucchetti drives this straight up the Gin Blossoms meets Weezer alley.
And, of course, Almost There’s super hit re-release off of Silver Lake, “I Cried Wolf.” It encompasses amazing choruses, precision breaks and all the thrill of a free-falling rollercoaster on its way over the next unforeseeable crest. You can’t see what’s coming, but when it hits, you’re in for a hell of a ride. Middle eight guitar chugs skittle into the double timed pre-chorus thunder of Lucchetti, who holds it back just long enough for the band to explode down over the top, sending the listener on a chill ride and a rock and roll bolt through the mind.
The Ennio Morricone intro dust on “Back From The Dead” reminds me of the old Clint Eastwood film, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (I loved ugly guy Tuco) as it side winds like a viper. “House Of The Rising Sun” guitar chords glisten and shimmer as the band gears up and slams into arpeggios of dark, minor pentatonic outbursts before pulling into a Jimmy Page “Since I’ve Been Loving You” bridge that drags them back from their bluesy venture and into a dark and progressive undertow.
The disc closes with “Worst Day Ever.” The opening line, “It’s been a lifetime in the making, the beginning of the end, has begun to unfold,” tells me this won’t be a feel good song. Guitars growl as drums roll and the band rises up into the mix. They go from ska and punk-influenced upbeats to an in the pocket vamp à la Adelitas Way. The chorus is strong; the middle eight is an eerie break overloaded with chord voicings and arabesque lead lines that slither between lyrics. It’s a brutal ride that I wouldn’t want to hear any other way.
Almost There are a band that has put forth much effort to arrive at this point—and it’s apparent that they’ve taken another big step up a ladder that’s running out of rungs. Abandon The Sinking Ship has all the emotional signs of love and life dropped into the raging turmoil of everything glorious and despondent about our experiences on this strange planet and the eventual return journey up and out of the dark and into some semblance of light.
The band will be performing on Oct. 5 at The Saint. For more information on the new CD and the band’s schedule, head over to almostthererock.com.