Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Underscore Orkestra: No Money No Honey All We Got Is Us

      Apart from being possibly the longest post title on the blog so far, this album is a fantastic easy listening collection of songs. The Underscore Orkestra is a band hailing from Portland that concentrates on brilliant gypsy jazz and swing music, settled nicely on a solid Balkan foundation. These Southeast European vibes use piccolos, harmonicas, accordions, violins and banjos to create wonderfully traditional and slightly old fashioned sounds that force your feet to tap and your fingers to click. Download it for free here!
     This octet create songs of amazing variety, while the album as a whole retains a playful and relaxed atmosphere that you can really appreciate as music that has had a lot of passion and care pumped through it. Some songs are sang in a different language, (Magdelena), while some are sang in English. Others are more upbeat (Balancing Act...) and a few sound as though they sprang from a Disney soundtrack (Devil with the Devil). Male and female singers alternate throughout the album and frankly, I can't praise the diversity enough. There is definitely no problem regarding repetitiveness on this record!
     My favourite track on the album has to be 'Devil with the Devil', with it's swing atmosphere underlined in the high notes of the piccolo, and the contrasting tones from the male and female vocals. The feel is very much of an old-fashioned nature, with images of smoky jazz rooms floating into your head. The lyrics flow well and the climax at the very end of the song reminds me a lot of a Disney soundtrack, in the playful way the pitch rises. A fantastic song that in my mind, accumulates all the ideas laced throughout the record and brings them to an inspiring epitaph of sound and rhythm.
     The monologue and rise in notes at the start of 'Broken String' is slightly cheesy, but adds to the charm of the song. Rather than cringe, I found myself grinning manically, let's say! The penultimate track is another favourite of mine, simply because of the silliness, care-free looseness and speed of the singing that comes in. The song starts off slow and lazy, floating down the everglades in a rowing boat and taking in the sun. After a pause the vocals come in and after a few second they resort to mindless nonsense that can't help but make you smile! A male voice comes in and does the same, making the song feel well-rounded and which keeps your focus as the sound changes. The instrumentation at the same time, is awe-inspiring and very professional.
     Overall, I suppose the main element that lifts this album to the height it is, is the variety. There are Indian sounds, then songs keeping to a rhythm belted out by Russian sounding drums. Vocally, lyrically and musically, there is no excuse for downloading this twelve track record for free. If you like jazz music that fuses sounds from many different places and many different feelings, check this out. As a side note though, I apologise for all the positive reviews I've been coming out with lately. I guess I have to get more critical!