Opsvik & Jennings: Commuter Anthems (2007)

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Opsvik & Jennings: Commuter Anthems
Eivind Opsvik and Aaron Jennings describe Commuter Anthems as such: "If you've ever wondered what it would sound like if a bassist/tunesmith from Norway teamed up with a guitarist/software enthusiast from Oklahoma to make music—well, this is it. Not so much a spectacle of international diversity, Commuter Anthems delivers itself more as a cohesive blend of electronica, acousticism and lyrical accessibility, bringing these elements together for a musical impact reminiscent of an old-world classical symphony.

"Last Country Village is like the theme song for the most complicated but lovable TV character you have ever seen, something like if Jim Rockford had a son. An army of background instruments contributes to this number—bells, guitars, violins and drum samples—all quirkily adding to the timbral mix while not being so quirky as to obscure the delicate lyricism of the piece.

Concertina, synth, banjo and lap steel guitar work together to create an elaborate tonal quality on "Silverlake. Much like "Last Country Village, "Silverlake shines through with astonishing attention to detail. Opsvik and Jennings treat each voice in their ensemble with its own unique, ever-changing sense of transparency, coloring the arrangement intricately yet never taking away from their overwhelming sense of lyricism.

The title track features the duo singing, their voices soft and folksy as an introduction to what becomes a robust pop anthem, coming out of Pet Sounds and Animal Collective alike. Their singing is also found on "Port Authority, fast-paced and ethereal with a hard hitting almost hip-hop backbeat.

Much of the album consists of subdued mood pieces. "Lorinda Sea begins with a chaotic mesh of sounds and samples, including a sample of Jacob Sacks and Craig Taborn playing celeste, with Ben Gerstein playing fills on trombone. Eventually, it goes into a mellow violin/slide guitar groove that builds and falls ever so slightly, living up to the "Sea reference in its name. "Ways also utilizes the celeste samples, with a banjo plucking away nonsensically in the background as the violin carries the melody line like a romantic ghost.

"I'll Scrounge Along is almost like an outer-space version of early 1990s hip-hop, with the groovy upright bass reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory (a record on which Tribe used legendary bassist Ron Carter).

Track Listing: The Last Country Village; Silverlake; Commuter Anthem; Wrong Place Right Time; Lorinda Sea; Port Authority; Ways; I'll Scrounge Along; The Pendler; Apology/Goodbye.

Personnel: Eivind Opsvik: double bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, piano, organ, theremin, vocals, software; Aaron Jennings: electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel, banjo, concertina, vocals, software and electronics; Ben Gerstein: trombone (3, 5, 9); Rich Johnson: trumpet (3, 9); Peter Opsvik: flute (4).

Record Label: Rune Grammofon

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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