[Please note...while you might be able to find a bunch of blogs out there about this next band, this is probably one of the few written by someone who knew the artist as far back as middle school. Of course, that serves the dual purpose of making me appear a bit biased, but truthfully, I don't like music for the people that put it out, so I wouldn't let that association get in the way of an honest review.]
In high school, a group of guys (not much unlike the group of guys responsible for MMM), went around creating bands. The band members would rotate, change names, change styles, but the basic nucleus remained the same. Red Rum, Blue Fin, Gobo, and then Elephant Blend were all part of the revolving door of bands this group of guys created. From all of these came interesting music, with the Elephant Blend CD Liberty Market Summer providing a clear example of just what kind of quality music these gentlemen were capable of producing. Scott Reitherman of El Granada teamed with Alan Khalfin and Aaron Goldman, created lyrics and sounds derived from their experiences with travel, women, and to some extent the effort involved in growing up and the experience of living in San Francisco.
Scott Reitherman grew up in El Granada, CA attending Nueva before moving on to Crystal Springs Uplands. Following graduation from college, Scott moved to the Seattle area and has now helped co-found Baskerville Hill Records. Baskerville Hill is a record label based on the principles of a family type community and musical collaboration. To date, they’ve released Black Bear‘s debut album The Cinnamon Phase, and Scott has reincarnated himself musically as Throw Me the Statue to release Moonbeams. Now, when I first heard the name Throw Me the Statue, I thought it was a reference to James Ferrer’s high school game of picking up expensive things in his parents’ house and throwing them at unsuspecting guests, not really caring if they broke or not. It’s not, but the image remains.
To know Scott is to better understand the breadth and depth of his music. He’s not content to put out a disc, or even more than a few tracks of similar sounding material. At times he keeps things very simple with easily to grab pop melodies and honest lyrics to sing along out loud with. At other times, the musical compositions are complex and layered, making you not sure where one musical influence ends and the next begins; the lyrics personal enough to make the listener feel almost excluded in an odd sort of way. Through all of them, Reitherman’s unique voice continues the current musical trend in indie music vocals of on key but just off. And musically, he doesn’t hesitate to get his hands dirty, being credited in the liner notes on vocals, guitar, keys, bass, melodica, accordian, glockenspiel, drums and percussion.
Moonbeams brings all of these sounds together for the first time. Previously, Throw Me the Statue could be heard on the Dr. Rhinocerous compilation CD from Baskerville Hill, but the first solo release, complete with well designed insert art and well-paid professional session musicians in places, finally showcases the diversity of the music and the inspiration behind it. You can hear traces of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Bosstones, Postal Service and Death Cab, Say Hi to Your Mom and Black Bear. Not to say that all of these artists had a hand in Reitherman’s musical make-up, or were in his mind during the creation of the music (you always need to be careful when attributing influences to a writer or musician), but traces of those sounds are there. You can also simultaneously imagine watching him kneel down on the good side of an ice luge at a backyard high school party, lamenting a break-up, driving cross-country or making music on the floor of his Seattle apartment with the rain hammering the windows.
In an effort to get y’all to go out and support the band, see a show or get the CD, I’m not going to give you a track by track breakdown of sound description like I’ll usually do with albums. The tracks I particularly enjoy are “Young Sensualists,” “Yucatan Gold,” “Groundswell,” and “Take It or Leave It.”
What’s amazing about it all is that growing up in the Bay Area, we saw plenty of shows over the years at Bimbo’s 365 club. Now, we welcome Scott as TMTS back to San Francisco to play there. You can see Throw Me the Statue performing with Jens Lekman November 9th at Bimbo’s 365 in San Francisco, or November 10th at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. You’ll have to get there early though, the word is they’re sold out and you’ll have to scalp. Come February of 2008, you can pick up the tweaked and re-released version of Moonbeams from the indie label Secretly Canadian. Congratulations Reitherman!