Friday, 18 February 2011

The Goldberg Sisters - Album Review/Interview

Label:Play It Again Sam…
Release date: 11/04/11
Link: Official Site

The Goldberg Sisters are the brainchild of actor Adam Goldberg, star of such films as Saving Private Ryan, the excellent Dazed and Confused as well as making an excellent cameo in Friends as Chandler’s insane room-mate Eddie.

I got a copy of this recording and to be honest thought it was going to be another actor wanting to play rock star and was content in Frisbee-ing it across my flat into a pile of long forgotten recordings by the fabled movie stars who have decided to do music.

This long forgotten arena is currently home to such luminaries as Bruce Willis, Don Johnson, Keanu Reeves (remember Dogstar?) and Leonard Nimoy with his Mr Spock’s Music from Outer Space. But in the case of this album I will happily grab a slice of humble pie as it’s a great. It truly is. From the opener ‘The Room’ it draws you in with various layers of instrumentation like an audio blanket (especially when listened to on headphones.) Where comparisons with bands and artist’s such as Sean Lennon, The Sleepy Jackson are easily made Goldberg definitely has his own voice and is comfortable just being himself. As the album continues through ‘Mother Please (The World Is Not Our Home)’ and ‘Shush/Ooh La La’ shades of early Elton John shine through although maybe not intentionally but in the harmonies and very melodic musicianship it just ticked the box for me.

The record as a whole has a very warm home made feel about it and I doubt there was any record label executives poking their nose in the studio and worrying about “the hit” or the first single. This seems very much a labour of love. The overall sound of the record is very high while at the same time keeping the quirky Lo-Fi New York vibe to it with acoustics, melodica’s and vocals being the main foundation of each song with sporadic glimpses of fuzz guitar and strings added like icing on the indie cake.

With all the albums released weekly and especially since the Internet took off at such a rate and music is brimming with new bands and tracks I don’t think this album will get the publicity and promo it needs to be a bona fide hit (although I think it would diminish the beauty of it if it did manage to get to these heights.) I think The Goldberg Sisters is destined to be a Lost Classic, although a Classic none the less.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Adam in regards to the making of the album, the influences before and during the recording as well as the curious case of his twin Celeste.

Q) Why "the Goldberg Sisters" rather than just simply "ADAM GOLDBERG"?

A) There's a singer in Chicago named Adam Goldberg already, and I didn't want to miss the sister’s band craze train either. Plus my twin Celeste insisted.

Q) It sounds very much a labour of love rather than making a premeditated commercial MTV based album, was that the case?

A) Really? That's hurtful. I really wanted it to be a commercial venture. I'm broke. I want Mentos ads. I hoped JJ Jackson would be playing the record on heavy rotation. I wish I knew how to say I'm going to make something commercial and then do it. Believe me.

Q) Did all the songs get written around the same time? There seems to be a similar thread running throughout the album.

A) ‘Erik Erikson’ was written in 1999. Two others were written in 2003 and 2004. Others were written in the year leading up to the record —‘The Skin of the Patriot’ written during the session, ‘The Difference Between’ was written a couple days prior. Death? It's the theme that keeps on giving.

Q) Will you be gigging this album? Any UK dates?

A) I'm not a big fan of playing live. Crippling anxiety, fear of flying, and really cranky when it comes to sound; basically I'm a real pleasure. I like recording a lot. But I’m going to bite the bullet and do a little press tour in Europe. There' s 3 or four of us, no drums or bass per se. Andrew Lynch (trumpet, keyboards) and I sampled a bunch of my old drum machines and sequenced them and OPTIGAN samples and I'm doing some onstage looping, etc. Plus we'll have two violins. It's sort of like we're a cover band--of my bands.

Q) This sounds a very personal record. Do you feel that it is a release from acting where you play different characters, here in fact you can strip them away and be yourself?

A) In a sense. I liken it to the process of writing and directing. When I've done that, for better or worse it is an honest expression of my tastes and emotions. I view acting much more as a job, a craft I can employ and often times connect to but far less personal an experience.

Q) I heard early Elton John/Leonard Cohen in the record as well as the Plastic Ono Band album. Would any of them be an influence in your writing?

A) I actually started listening to Elton John a bit during mixing. I'm not a huge fan, though I've tried. But I can really appreciate his genius and do often like his production. I love early Leonard Cohen but he's not a direct production or song writing influence. Maybe osmosis?

Q) Which bands/artists would you say had influenced the writing and recording of this album?

A) Here are the influences, depending on the song....Plastic Ono for sure, always a big production influence; Eno's Taking Tiger Mountain, Curtis Mayfield, Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach, David Bowie's Low and Station to Station, America, Paul McCartney's Ram, T-Rex,Odessa era Bee Gees.

Q) I've found this is a really good album on headphones to listen to; each instrument has its own depth and place. Did you have any involvement production wise or make any suggestions?

A) The insert/poster of the CD says "Wear Headphones!" so, I'm glad, thanks. Aaron Espinoza and I co-produced. He has an incredible technical facility, knows when and where a kick drum should hit and its relation to the bass guitar; he has an uncanny ability to translate my requests, i.e., "Let's put 'Breaking Glass' drums on ‘Erik Erikson’," into reality. We have a similar sensibility and are able to communicate well through short hand. Lots of that layered stuff, backwards reverb, echoes, string arrangements, layers of backing vocals etc. There have certainly been trademarks of my personal recordings but Aaron's ability to execute them and give them that certain sheen was a terrific contribution... I personally recorded the more Low Fi sounding tracks like ‘You're Beautiful When You Die’ and ‘Skin of The Patriot’.

Q) Were you worried that being an actor breaking into the music and album’s market was going to be a problem and not taken seriously? So many have tried to make the cross over and failed after all. Not that I’m comparing you to Don Jonson or Bruce Willis albums obviously.

A) I was concerned a bit although less so after having broken the ice already with my first record (the LANDY record). At this point frankly it's more important that I feel comfortable in my musician's skin. After having done music for my film "I Love Your Work," having recorded my own music for many years now, then eventually had the opportunity to collaborate with guys like Aaron and Steven Drozd, I feel a bit more acclimated to this pursuit of this "publicly.". I can't control the perception and invariably I get the response--this time and last--"Hmm, it's ACTUALLY pretty good" or "hmmm, it doesn't suck." Performers used to have to act, sing and dance. I don't dance though. I shimmy.

The album is released on the 11th April.

'Originally posted on The 405'

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