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Gumshen draws upon an eclectic palate of musical styles dishing out a healthy dose of rock, pop and funk/rap. Gumshen sounds like King Crimson and Weezer adopting Elton John, renaming him Prince, and celebrating with a sunbeam of absinthe.
Gumshen began as Menthol James, a hard-rocking Seattle quartet who played several successful shows at the historic Rainbow club, and a well-received live performance on KBTC 91.3 FM. One year and a few demos later, the band became a trio and recorded the Menthol James EP, mixed by Glenn Lorbecki and mastered at Glenn Sound. This mid-2007 release was followed by positive reviews.
Early in 2007, the band enlisted the help of veteran Seattle music producer/engineer Rich Hinklin (faculty member at The Art Institute of Seattle, Word of Mouth Productions, Reciprocal Recording – helped w/ Nirvana, Soundgarden, Gits recordings), changed their name to Gumshen, and returned to the studio to record their next EP. The result was the diversely entertaining Stew, which was released in January 2008, and also received glowing, positive acclaim.
Gumshen’s latest and most ambitious release is entitled “Everything What We Recorded.”
I started listening to this album from different angles, just picking the track titles that grabbed my attention first. From my opener, “Jag It Up,” you know you’re in for something impressive. Jan Ciganik’s melody/countermelody overlayed guitar intro and wah-wah rhythms, Ron Hippe’s bizarre synth riffs and the half-spoken vocal ala Talking Heads over an ever changing back beat supplied by drummer Dennis McCoy and Rich Hinklin on bass. Eight minutes later, you’re overwhelmed, its got a groove, its a great rhythm, it’s retro, it’s futuristic…its just plain amazing.
The rest of the album pretty much follows suit in terms of being brilliant to the point of overwhelming, while the environment and the mood changes constantly.
Catchy guitar riffs and bass hooks rule several of the songs (the breathtaking “Gooch Machine”, with impassioned vocals and some of the quaintest keyboard interludes you’ll ever hear, the desperately frantic “Done”, where you can really hear the power grooves Gumshen deliver under some serious six-string soloing).
These are offset by a great ballad (“Every Drop Of Rain,” with its beautiful seagull sounding guitar and initial, almost lazy feel to the vocal, which slowly builds into a dynamic choral crescendo, above a crushing musical orchestration, featuring some great guitar work).
Amidst of all of this guitar-based, noise revolution, you’ll find uptempo, funky and spunky, post new-wave pieces, like “Hammer And Nails” and “Too Much Good Times.”
“Say What You Want” sounds like it’s taking the last generation of King Crimson to the dance floor. It’s an explosion of guitar pyrotechnics, blazing bass lines and bubbling synth rhythms that works like magic.
“Everything What We Recorded” is not strictly a progressive rock album (in pure terms of the genre), in fact, its got a lot more in common with acts like the Talking Heads, Television and The Gang Of Four than it does with Yes, Pink Floyd and early Genesis.
One of the reasons why I like Gumshen, is that they give the impression of not wanting to stand still or be locked into one sound genre, they seem to experiment and change on each track, and may probably even become something else on their next album.
Bottom line though, “Everything What We Recorded” is a great innovative alternative rock album and highly recommended.
Press: Independent Music Promotions – firstname.lastname@example.org
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