Gentlemen Hall. Best Live Video of the Year. Pop Artist of the Year.
Review by Bluebird.
While listening to the bands on the 2011 Nominee List, Gentlemen Hall caught my attention. When I heard them for the first time, I double checked the category. I didn't hear this band as pop. They seemed to me to be more indie, techno, rock and even a little funk. Oh, what do we call a band that is open minded, talented and offers a range of listening? Pop the way it should be. Quality, popular rock.
I heard their newest EP, "When We All Disappear." Who did they remind me of? An upbeat version of TV on the Radio. The fusion of instruments, flowing lyrics, ethereal themes, yet grounded voices, were a refreshing splash of new musical adventure to me. They aren't exactly like TV on the Radio, though, because their sound has more movement for the general listener, which is a good thing for a pop artist. The deep bass and voices were reminiscent of the 80's band, Toad The Wet Sprocket.
During my travels that day, I ran into the tour manager, Josiahs Porter, of Gentlemen Hall. We chatted about music, then he introduced me to the bass player, Ro, who discussed the history of the band. Gentlemen Hall has been enjoying a following of fans who love their music because of its danceable forms. The tour manager talked about how they are heavily influenced by the arrangements of the Flaming Lips. I read on their web information that they also appreciate the vocals of David Bowie. In their upcoming project, they don't want to change these, however, there is a pull to do more soulful tracks, with a rhythmic undertone and of course, incredible stage presence. Ro seemed most proud of the last album, because of the cohesion of the band and their solid identity of sound. Yet, they keep striving for more creativity, more ways to reach out to the corners of the room, while still offering real musical talent on real musical instruments - a flute even ! After this conversation, I couldn't wait to see their show tonight. They were one of my favorites among the talented nominees. And Gentlemen Hall are true to their name, in our talk, they boasted of other bands that were at the BMA's and were hopeful for their success too. We also spoke a bit about the blues, Josiahsis a Robert Johnson fan. This reflects good education all around in my book.
We watched in earnest to hear the winners of the night, and much to our delight, Gentlemen Hall won two awards, "Pop Artist of the Year" and "Video of the Year". Musical insight reigns.
From beyond the horizon ... enter Gentlemen Hall:
Cobi - Guitar / Vocals
Gavin - Guitar / Vocals
Bradford - Synths
Ro - Bass
Phil - Drums
Seth - Flute
I came in during "How Long" and the room was already ablaze. Party goers, fellow nominees, Streight Angular were there, fans and BMA members were dancing in unison to the steady beat that this band can create. The Gentlemen told us how they've been on the road and that it was good to be home. "Tame The Beast" was played next and the song took the stage as if it were it's own entity. They built an elevated character and we reached for it. The FLUTE was jammin.
This band has the edge we all look for in quality music. They take risks with massive doses of buzz without giving you a headache or being too weird. The third song of the night later Ro told me was pre-named, Psychedelix, but that name may change. It was a slower tempo for GH and emphasized more harmonies with still a driving backbeat. He said they wanted a track that was more soulful, yet 'makes you feel alive.' I had talked with Ro about how, as a band, you have to create the music that you feel is challenging and interesting for you, even if your audience has to hear a slight change. I heard that shift tonight. I liked it, and I think the audience did too.
The rest of the set list was Blush, Better Things, Gravity and All Our Love. These tracks are great when you hear them recorded, however, to see this band live adds a quality that soars beyond acoustics. It's the energy they create, the vision that adds another perspective to their music. I always want to learn something from every article that I write, today I learned to think about music in three dimensions ... maybe four ?
It was a great night for music and a dream come true for Gentlemen Hall. Their award winning video, Close To Me by Gentlemen Hall. was produced by Ethan Goldhammer and I hear he is working on some new material with these genuine artists.
After posting this review, I had some great correspondence with Ethan Goldhammer. He said, that the song "Psychedelix" was originally just "The Kitchen Beat". He shared a great story about the song and the creative process of the Gentlemen, here is what he said,
"one night I came over around midnight after a job, and the keyboards, speakers, laptop were all set up in the kitchen for a change of scenery. Brad had just gotten a new wooden Casio that they were keeping in the kitchen for ambiance (it had some awesome cheesy presets that were nice to eat to) so I think that set off the whole idea. And in the recorded version you can hear the sound of pots and pans percussion. Now the song is called "Makes Me Feel Alive!" What they have now in their house is one of the most amazing and productive home studio set-ups of which I've never seen or heard. At any given time, there can be 3-4 songs developing simultaneously in different rooms. They don't really brag about it, but it's what makes them unique."
We here at Bluebirdreviews can't wait to see what the next adventure brings with this band.