“… Hey, I can’t find nothing on the radio !”
I have a love hate relationship with the radio. As my friend Dani Cutler, over at KWSS in Phoenix and I have discussed, one of the reasons I have Ghost Writer Radio is so that I don’t ever have to be without my tunes, my jams, no matter where I am. But we all know the radio, they are going to play the same batch of songs, over and over, and pepper in a few others. It is mostly going to be pre-recorded, and most real “spin” DJs are either on independent radio or they have fled with Tom Petty’s Last DJ to Mexico.
So when I opened the package that came in the mail with the newly released New Chums EP, See It For Myself, and I saw the title of the first track: Disposable Music – Michael Stipe and REM jumped right into my mind, but only stayed there for as long as it took the CD to boot up onto my XBOX. Then, my amigos, the New Chums… chased all the remains of songs left over in my brain from the day away, and filled it with something I only wish…
We could hear on the radio.
You know, I have made a lot of noise about not doing album reviews, and now I am on my third one. Apparently, I do album reviews. I guess where that whole dialog came from is that my first articles were conversations, rather than band reviews. So it became important to make sure the artists that I was interviewing realized they were part of my piece…. not the piece itself. That said, this journey has been going now for about nine months, and I have really made some great friends. As an additional bonus… a lot of them are REALLY good. On top of that, I too am an independent artist, and getting honest reviews, that you don’t have to pay for… are not always easy to come by, and they are treasured. Besides… my Chums know how to butter me up!
I really liked the New Chums first EP, Tuolumne; but being introduced to their music first live, I was left feeling a certain hollowness on the record. It simply did not capture the energy of the band’s live performances. That is not to say it is a bad record, because it is not. It is a great record… but See It For Myself is a better record.
As I wrote in one of my very first articles, Old Amigos by 3 AM, the addition of Matt Lloyd on guitar and Cassandra Clark (no relation) on bass, really elevated this band to a new level of energy, charisma, and synergy. They just rocked harder, and rolled easier. As I showed you with my video, Here’s Matt, in that article…. the New Chums were reborn! When I heard that the band would be working with Bob Hoag, over at Flying Blanket Recording Studio in Mesa, AZ… I didn’t even have to hear a song. Bob would get Ben’s drums to reverberate from the center of the earth, and Matt’s guitars were never going to have sounded better. The man is a music wizard!
So, without further ado from me….
See It For Myself – New Release 2017
Radio Song was firmly in my head. I don’t have a home stereo, so as my XBOX was loading up I had the song’s funky social commentary rapping through my mind.
The world is collapsing
Around our ears
I turned up the radio
But I can’t hear itI tried to sing along
But damn that radio songWhat are you saying?
What are you playing?
Who are you obeying?
Day out, day in, huh?
Baby, baby, baby
That stuff is driving me crazy
DJs communicate to the masses
Sex and violent classes
Now our children grow up prisoners
All their life- radio listeners
And New Chums simply added fire to my already racing analytical mind with the first track. I have talked to Seth Boyack, the singer of New Chums, quite a lot; the man is becoming quite a good friend actually. And one of the topics that comes up often is the changing face of art in our world, and the artists that would love to be able to do their art as a livelihood. So much of the world seems to be disingenuous, and nowhere is this more evident than the arts. An artist is continually having to question who they are, what they are saying, what the world wants, and if they even care. There is a certain brand of insanity that comes with trying to surf the waves of public opinion, especially when if seems everyone now has attention deficit disorder. Everything is now. Fast. Immediate.
It doesn’t necessarily give artists a chance to mature into their product. Many times they are devastated before they even get started, or the opposite, being given accolades and accommodations because of networking and nepotism. These inner issues exist in all areas of the arts, so an artist is continually having to face the juxtaposition that exists between their personal drive, that necessity, to create, versus the world’s ambivalence. Seth told me, “You know, maybe it’s my ego, but I just want to know I left something behind with my time here.” And that my friends, is the only reason to create in the first place. Because their is a furious need to leave something of our inner self to mark our passing.
Won’t you let me figure it outSo I can see it for myselfIf I’m wrong, I’ll let you knowI’ll be finished with shows.I’m not going to sayI don’t mind at allBut whatcha whatcha gonna do?
And REM was gone. The main stream radio is gone. Youtube. Facebook. Likes. Shares. Instagram. Trending. Liquid Attention. This is the name of the game of the arts these days, and it has quite honestly turned everything on its head. But, what are you going to do? An artist creates. The songs, the stories, the poems, the visions… they must escape. The human heart has not necessarily changed with our demands of technology, we have just had to adapt with the way that we try to engage with the world. So stand back… the Chums are figuring it out….. and they are going to see it for themselves, because, really…. what else are you gonna do?
One of the most important and instantly noticeable differences between the first two New Chums records are the sweeping guitar parts written by Matt Lloyd. His Gretsch has this clarion tone that comes in clear and vibrant, and it provides the perfect complement to Seth’s vocals. Matt’s Gretsch in many ways is the second vocalist of the New Chums, with Matt working through his progressions similar to a wordsmith layering imagery and tone into a good story.
This quality is obvious in all of the band’s songs, but it bursts to the forefront on a few tracks more than others. With Cave In, that dialog between Seth and Matt is very obvious, and seamlessly weaves two distinct voices into a wonderful song that simply says,
I’ve got a billion things swirling around in my mind and it puts me in corners and it makes me feel caved in. If there is a commonality that I see in the lives of artists, it is that we are incredibly vibrant, constant, and sometimes manic folks. It takes a toll on our loved ones.
With Cave In, it is like Seth and Matt are telling the story of an artist torn at the seams heading over to a loved ones house and trying to figure it out.
I don’t wanna loose controlI won’t cave inSay you won’t go awaySay you wanna be here when you’ve lost your wayI’m waiting for you
Come On, Come On
The middle song on the record is your proof, audibly, of what Flying Blanket brings to a sound studio. Come On, Come On was one of the New Chums favorite songs to play live, and with the two new members of the band bringing such a new sound and energy to the recording process, one of the things that became immediately obvious is that their old songs were going to change. Their old songs were going to get better, as they developed lengthier guitar solos and a much more satisfying depth to their sound.
By re-recording Come On, Come On, the New Chums don’t give us album filler. What they give us is solid verifiable proof that they are reborn, new, and coming at you with a whole new vibe! What a phenomenal song!
The Right Thing
As I get to the last half of the record, the theme of See It For Myself starts to pound through. There are no guarantees. There are no road maps. Whether we are talking love and romance, or the life of a tortured artist: there are no rules, no real guidelines that will give you a sure thing.
Holding back cuz your following all your dreamsWhat’s that done for youCuz you’re so uptightThat you won’t believe in loveYou want that romanceNot to showBut I don’t wanna give it up
Really the only sure thing, is the right thing. Whether the right thing is a person that you need in your life, or the risks that you take throwing your soul out to a group of people you don’t know. The right thing is what is it in the moment, not what you deny yourself trying to fret over the details.
The final song is all about bursting out on the scene, showing your colors, blossoming for all to see, but it is almost disguised as a break song. With a clarion clear guitar opening, and pounding rhythm and percussion, one feels whisked away in a convertible, with the top down, rock n roll blaring out of the radio and everyone in the car singing along.
As she walked awayI don’t know what else to sayShe’s going back downtownYeah, the other wayI don’t really have no place to beBut I don’t really wanna be sittin here.
A listener is filled with that feeling of starts and stops: all the failed launches before something finally takes off and works. But the song is so upbeat, so exciting, and easy to sing along to, that one is left thinking about all the possibilities of new beginnings, all the new dreams to come, rather than the things that are being put to rest.
Every ending is a new beginning. And in many ways, this is what 2017 has been for the New Chums. They grew out of their first incarnation, regrouped, took a look at their own lives, and came back with a new vibrancy that rings true through all five tracks on the record. The New Chums are here, blossoming right in front of you in Phoenix, Arizona.
Trust me, the most beautiful part of this 18 minute EP, is you can play it on repeat and listen to it three times on the way to work and not mind it one bit! What a fantastically fun record!
New Chums will be bringing their hi energy show to the famous Nile Theatre on Main Street in Mesa on October 27th. Show starts at 7 PM. I will be reading scary stories across town, but when my gig is up….. you know where I will be.
Keep the Greasy Side Down My Friends !!