New Jersey Stage

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CD REVIEW: Earthman Remember

by Colie Brice
In the Asbury Park music scene artistic alliances are often enthusiastically formed and then tumultously broken.  Getting a group of people together to volunteer their time, talent, and committment to a common unified goal can often be elusive at best.

Yet often within the triumphs and tragedy of band politics, musicians start cross pollinating into side projects that often take root.  Such is the case of Earthman.

Comprised primarily of members who are in or used to be in Capt. James and the PAIN among other well know Asbury Park based bands, Earthman is a spectacular group featuring cohesive, well thought out pop compositions, luscious production values, and very mature performances that serve the overall song rather than any particular ego in the band.

This is admirable considering the virtuoso capability of Matt King as a guitarist.  Having played with him for a couple of years in the P.A.I.N., I was often awed by his sheer technical ferocity.  Truthfullly he reminded me a bit of back when I used to play in Phantom's Opera with Michael Romeo of Symphony X fame - a true guitarist utterly devoted to his craft.  Yet in Earthman, his playing is so tastefully subtle and restrained that the whole ensemble remains the focus - not any one individual player.

Mike Smith, formerly of Last Perfect Thing makes a striking debut as a lead singer.  Confident, clean, toned, and emotionally intense but still centered -  his vocals on Remember illustrate an entirely new dimension of the man's considerable talents.

Now I had previously heard some really good studio work that producer/keyboardist Jared Beckerman had done in urban oriented genres, but have to admit that I was genuinely stunned by the quality of his mixes and utterly tasteful, classic but contemporary sonic choices he made for this bonafide progressive pop rock album.  For some reason this release reminds me a wee bit of Porcupine Tree's more accessible moments.

Kevin Conroy on drums.  What can be said?  He lends his talents to many great acts in the area and it's just a matter of time before he gets snatched up into the major leagues.  The kid's a clock and plays with impeccable feel and dynamics.  Basically he's a true bad ass rock & roll animal.  They only come around so often..

Chris Smith makes his Earthman debut on bass, and it's quite clear to hear that talent runs deep and bottom heavy in this musical bloodline.

Last but not least, Capt. James Peacock himself, steals the show on his guest vocals for "Lost in Thought".  The song's incisive but heartfelt lyrics are served graciously and reverently with Capt. James stately yet somber, brooding, eloquent, and elegant delivery.

Overall this is a serious, professional, debut by some old space pirates turning a new earthly leaf.