Oy! The cover to this one is terrible, like a poorly wrought label anthology meant to repel potential consumers rather than attract them. Man o man, someone needs to talk to someone about art direction, composition, color balance, and about 100 other facets of marketing principals. I looked at that liner and thought "Uh-uh! Maybe I oughtta pass this one by!", but that ain't the way I operate, Jeremiah, and thank goodness for that 'cause I woulda missed one very cool collection of get-up-dance-and-shout tracks. The music in Song by Song by Song is an interesting confabulation of DIY, amateur, professional, downhome experimental, cabaret, and rock and roll gospel. Glancing at the band photo, taken in someone's backyard, these are jes' reg'lar guys—'n one gal!—but obviously, once the tunes cut in, possessed of a fetchingly unorthodox slant on orthodox modes. What really got me into things was the second cut, Staring at the Lights, and it's catchy rhythms chockablock with infectious group harmony back vocals. I felt like joining in, passing a beer, and smiling in the sun.
Then Therapeutic Bliss started out more balladically, soon gained speed and gravity, cut the group voices back in, and, bam!, I was right back into the swing of things, kind of an atheist, open air churchy, naturist feel-good fete beckoning passersby to come on in and get down, none turned down, everyone invited. That was when I knew Mike Montrey—guitarist, singer, and composer—is an aesthetic evangelist with a solidly rockin' heart. In Laugh About It, he switches to banjo, Jen Andersen chimes in again in co-lead vocals, Adam Garneys totes his sax back to the fore, Karl Dietel kicks up his heels on piano, Rob Smith gets them drums trainridin' down the rails, and Anthony Duca builds up the ground work on bass. Every cut promotes that family of friends feeling, and, hell, if you brought a kazoo to an MMB concert, you'd probably be asked up on stage. It's that kind of atmosphere all through the CD.
Hell if I can typify this, but I'll give it the old college try: think back to the old Youngbloods' solo discs, then Paul Kantner in his offshoot work, a bunch of the hell-I'm-gonna-try-this! cassettes and CDs of the 80s, the purely rock and rolly strains of Phish, the Steve Gibson Band in its spunkiest moments, Barenaked Ladies, and that sort of thing. Song by Song by Song is, in short, music to get you high. You won't need a damn thing besides the disc itself, though I'm certainly not ruling augmentive substances out by any means, and by the time you're done, you'll be grinning and saying "Man, but that was a good time! Play it again! I reallllllly needed that!" This is when, euphoria now abated somewhat, you'll notice how clever the instrumentation really is.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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