a sensibility that encompasses everything from traditional folk music to indie rock;...
Olli Siebelt 2002-11-20
This debut 7 tracker blew us away the moment it hit our CD player. Maestro Echoplex (from Washington DC) is technically a one man operation, a gifted singer/songwriter named Johnny Fontaine who writes all the music and plays all the instruments. On this debut release however, he's teamed up with Ben Azzarra, (drummer for Captiol City Dusters) and banjo player Anthony Broadman to release, quite frankly, one of the strongest debuts we've heard all year.
These minimally produced sweet and melancholy songs evoke the feel and pace of Will Oldham or Neil Young, yet bring a sensibility that encompasses everything from traditional folk music to indie rock; dark and foreboding on one hand yet spectacularly gorgeous on the other. Tracks such as the simply wonderful "I Know, I Know" with it's off kilter drum track and modulating Hammond are a joy on headphones, as is the interestingly constructed "'Die Knowing Something' Said Walker Evans. (Karen, don't be lonely)" which bounces along with its rather unconventional chord structures and intimate lyrics.
Another surprise here is a version of Shellac's "A Prayer to God" which takes the blistering original and turns it into something much more powerful and personal with nothing but acoustic guitar, Hammond and an analogue bass accompaniment to make its point. When you hear Fontaine sing "kill them, kill them, just f**king kill them...", it will certainly make you wonder whom it's directed at (hopefully not you).
This is a very impressive start to a musical career that looks certain to take off. Fontaine is taking on a new project called The Amelia Players, which will be a "3-way split concept album of songs for Amelia Earhart, collaborated on by Maestro and his band, Ulf Magnet, and John Lindenbaum." If this release is anything to go by, we're sure that his new project will be just as impressive. In the meantime, hunt this glorious release down as soon as you can. We'll be keeping a close eye on this one. We think you should too. Simply wonderful.