Jennifer Gentle, Dodos, Richmond Flowers 5: Psyche Pop Charade
The Italian psyche-pop group Jennifer Gentle, along with the Dodos, and the Richmond Flowers Five played an intimate show at Charlottesville's Tea Bazaar, on August 25th 2007. The eclectic palate of sound was most enjoyable and made for a diverse and pleasurable experience. The confluence of musical minds from Northern Italy, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, on a balmy late summer Virginia night, was a perfect prescription for the late summer blues.
Richmond Flowers Five is guitarist Joseph Zehner with Jeff Melkerson on drums "The name includes Melkerson's characteristic mix of the historic and absurd. Richmond Flowers was the Alabama Attorney General that supported the Civil Rights movement in the '60s." This was heavy, unaffected, low guitar strumming with heavy handed drumming and no vocals whatsoever. The performance was meditative and sophisticated, in contrast with several past Melkerson freakout moments that have taken place in the Tea Bazaar. (The other wily avatars of the Melkerson rock beast.) Bravo!
The Dodos are an groovy Californian duo. They brought a beautifully effected guitar-scape-crystal wash of color. A new weird Americana, pop psyche potion, guided by cosmic rhythms, and polished with ethereal shoe-gaze vocals. Catch the Dodos as they continue traversing the nation, on the road with Jennifer Gentle, and later with Akron / Family. Their recent release, "Beware of the Maniacs" is a killer record.
After a lengthy soundcheck, trying to wrap their heads around the Tea Bazaar's tiny minimal PA system, and arranged carefully on the small tatami stage, Jennifer Gentle proceeded to charm the room with their homespun blend of carnival music and acid-pop. One could tell the band was a bit less than totally comfortable as th
e set began, but grooved their way into the zone. After the show I told lead singer and songwriter, Marco Fasolo, how much I enjoyed the show and he told me he didn't have such a good time himself. When I inquired about why, he told me he had such a hard time hearing himself sing. I said the singing was spot on and although he didn't enjoy the show I was glad for the chance to see them. He smiled and told me that for him, not being able to hear himself sing was like, "F*cking with 25 condoms on..." Whoa, who else says things like that! This band gets more likable by the minute. If this was an bad night for them, a good night must be pure magic. Enjoy this taste of Jennifer Gentle's sound, and for further investigations try to catch them live somewhere or check out their fantastic new record "The Midnight Room" recently out on the Sub Pop imprint. According to a Sub Pop press release, "Marco (Fasolo) wrote, performed and produced the entire new album alone in his Ectoplasmic Studio, a rambling old house lost in the foggy plains of Northern Italy, infamous for its previous ownerâ€™s suicide by rifle."
It was intriguing to hear the fruits of Marco's imagination manifest with a live band. Beach Boys-esque three part harmonies came to life, punctuated by playful trap kit playing, mind melded guitar, bass and keys.....and the occasional kazoo howl. Marco's unique, high register vocals wove convoluted tales of myriad subject matter, disguised in a pantheon
of styles, flavors and moods. The experience was the sum of many influences from rock history, swirling in a good dose of Italian psychedelia (ala Fellini or Morricone), and all the weird vibes of the fun house at the carnival. Overall very cool and original music and a very talented live band.
Enjoy these recordings! Peace!
Words by Matthew Clark
Live recording by Simon Jolly