Caley at Musings of an Indie Kid just posted a thoughtful review of Open Book—he totally gets what the Egg is all about. (He also dug the Song of the Week project.) Here’s hoping that with his new class schedule, he can somehow continue to bring the music to the people. The other indie kids need you, Caley!
Monthly Archives: February 2006
I’ve sat down and listened to almost the entire collection and I implore you, this is a must own. I was unfamilar with Thunderegg (minus the recent posts on their last lp) and I was literally blown away.
Thank you, Matt!
An awesome review of Open Book and A Very Fine Sample in this week’s New Haven Advocate, the newspaper where will interned in college and then worked as a cub reporter. [2013 update: Now that alt-weeklies are dead and the beloved Advocate has been absorbed and reabsorbed by various media conglomerates, all of its archived content has been scrubbed from today’s Web. Thanks to services like the Way Back Machine, you can still find it if you dig a little, but here’s the full text of Brian LaRue’s Feb. 2006 article.]
Crack That Egg:
An embarrassment of pop riches on Thunderegg’s new studio and retrospective albums
by Brian LaRue
Obscurity holds a certain preciousness in the arts. When a listener comes across an album or a song by a little-known and long-defunct band, or by a provincial group that has hardly left its remote hometown, or in a handmade format clearly not meant for mass consumption, that discovery feels unusually special and exciting.
Thunderegg’s recent public flowering, via the 2005 album A Very Fine Sample of What’s Available at the Mine and the ’06 retrospective Open Book: The Collected Thunderegg, 1995-2004, twists the whole “precious artifact” situation. For one thing, we’re presented with not a great lost album but an entire recorded legacy. Thunderegg was, for roughly a decade, the nom de four-track of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist (and mid-’90s Advocate intern) Will Georgantas, who recorded and self-released eight albums while living in New Haven, New York City and Hartford; Open Book collects most songs from all eight albums, plus bonus tracks, in mp3 format (that’s 231 tracks). For another thing, Thunderegg isn’t special just because of the records’ obscurity—the songs are often really good. Georgantas’ melodies sound effortlessly executed, like he simply exhales, or stumbles upon while playing his guitar or keyboard, unusually catchy and inviting tidbits. His lyrics are wordy but unpretentious, clever but not grating, and natural-sounding enough for entire verses to go by at times before the listener realizes he’s actually rhyming.
Cloaking sadness and anger in literate humor and deceptively bright melodies, the one-man Thunderegg at times recalls early They Might Be Giants; the breezy melodies and loping rhythm guitar recall Loaded-era Velvet Underground, and frequently the chord changes and countermelodies bring the Beatles to mind. But referents aside, what Thunderegg most sounds like is, simply, one guy, a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a drum machine, an active mind mulling over a series of girlfriends, and a bedroom recording technique sounding more professional with each successive album.
There’s another difference between Thunderegg and the average “artifact” band—they’re an active unit, still playing and recording. In some regards, they’re more active than ever: For the first time since sometime in the ’90s, Thunderegg is a full band, one that plays shows. A Fine Sample, the full band’s recorded debut, reprises ten songs from Georgantas’ back catalogue, and not one is a dud.
It’s not fair to say that A Fine Sample is necessarily an improvement over the earlier versions of these songs. It’s also not fair to describe the contents of Open Book as “demos”—many of the songs are much too intricately arranged for that. Rather, A Fine Sample simply offers an alternate take on these songs. While Georgantas sounds heartbroken or angry on the early versions of some of the more emotionally bare songs, he sings as if smiling proudly all through A Fine Sample. The band’s album loses some of the artier angles of the earlier versions, but it gains the rush of a real rock band, as well as more confident musicianship. The new album loses the intimacy of Georgantas’ demos—one of the most rewarding aspects of one-man-bandism—but it gains the loose feel of a band that’s just learned a batch of songs and is still excited about them.