And We Might Be Glad They Are
(Pretty Little Mess Records)
There's another unwritten rule of being a music critic (but it isn't the one specifying the number of beers you need to suck down as you listen to a record), and that's never judge an entire recording based on the opening track. A good, solid opener might belie a whole bunch of crap behind it, while a snooze-inducing one might cause you to skip over a few gems that follow.
So I'm pleased to report that the grandiose first cut of Now I'm in Your Head, the debut from Louisville-based girl band The Confessional is just an overture to a festival of rock and pop that drives harder than anybody in NASCAR. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes edgy and angry, but mostly fun, it is like a midway where all the rides do nothing but spin you around and flash candy neon into your eyeballs. A long holiday weekend with two party-packed Saturday nights.
The instrumental opening track "Chrysalis" starts out with incredibly crisp rhythms from drummer Jyn Yates that gets overlaid with lots of dreamy wah-wah guitar. Then the strings come in and the whole thing sounds like one of those big, blowsy epic overtures from a 1970s concept album, as sumptuous and lush as what composer Craig Armstrong did for the instrumental portions of Baz Lurmann's Moulin Rouge!
Then things get even better. We're treated to ear-stabbing guitar from Ashley Burchett in the opening bars of "Since I Left You." Later, guest performer Jonathan Shippey adds some sad violin in "I Became the Love." But the real star performance on Now is the band's rendition of "Eleanor Rigby," where the violins from the original are replaced by thrash guitars. In this version, Eleanor and Father Mackenzie are more than just lonely. They're lonely and pissed off because of it.
The Confessional manages to pull in some local talent to fill out the band on Now. Along with Shippey on violin, the band is joined by (among many others) vocalists Leigh Ann Yost, Teneia Sanders, and Jessica Morris, bassists Dan Wiegleb and Deanna Burnell (who doubles on flugelhorn), and guitarists Bubba Coy and Bobby Rich.
Thomas Dolby (the musician, not the noise-reduction scientist) once had a set of instructions on an album he produced: "Due to the exceptional length of this recording, play it loud." The Confessional's Now I'm in Your Head might not have an exceptional length, but the sound it contains demands the same thing: Play it loud. Especially on long weekends with three Saturday nights.
Find out more over at www.myspace.com/confessionalmusic.