Melodine - 2000 Appreciation

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ARTIST: Melodine
ALBUM: Appreciation
LABEL: Would Work Records
YEAR: 2000

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Evan Frankfort - vocals, guitar * Joel Martin - guitar * Mike Farrell - keyboards, vocal * Eric Dziembowski - bass * Luke Adams - drums

Guest Players: Rami Jaffee, Fred Eltringham, David Harte, Greg Richling

TRACK LISTING: 01 Over My Head * 02 It's Coming Around * 03 She's The Man * 04 Petered Out * 05 Milk It * 06 Willetta * 07 Judgement Call * 08 Homespun Disaster * 09 Nothing New * 10 Even * 11 Your Fault * 12 Chew Your Life

Background

The year 2000 produced some truly fabulous independent records - Wilshire, Supremium, Davy Vain and David Isaacs, to name but a few, have all recorded wonderful albums that provide evidence that great music is bubbling under the surface, all the A&R guys need to do is look for it.

Now prepare to add Melodine's 'Appreciation' to that list of 2000 highlights. Melodine is the brainchild of vocalist, all round musician and songwriter Evan Frankfort, and those who pay attention to such details will recognise his name from touring stints with The Jayhawks and The Wallflowers, as well as full time band duties with power-poppers Gingersol and Sony act, Maypole.

The difference with Melodine, of course is that Evan has graduated from sideman to frontman and the end result of superbly produced, hook-laden alternative pop-rock begs the obvious question: how come it took him so long to make the move?

The Songs

Like David Isaacs, Melodine has benefited from a strong Internet presence already, as the tune 'She's The Man' narrowly missed out on landing the band a $250,000 recording contract on www.garageband.com.

'She's The Man' is a great song, but such is the sheer quality of Melodine's material, it's fair to say that any song handpicked from 'Appreciation' would give most unsigned bands a run for their money.

The most immediately striking thing about Melodine, is not the great mix of clean and slightly left of centre riffs, or the huge hooks; it's Evan's unique voice. Right from the opening bars of 'Over My Head', it's clear that his delivery combines with the band's overall sound to make it one of the most dynamic, different and refreshing I've heard all year.

Instantly catchy, yet strangely off the wall, 'Over My Head' perfectly sums up Frankfort's ability to pen songs which burst with pop and melodic joy, but which are also characterised by a dark and moody vibe. 'She's The Man' continues this versatility of styles, as it toys between a Beck-like verse and a memorable pop chorus.

As Frankfort himself says, it truly is a tasty smorgasbord of sounds. Many of the songs on 'Appreciation' were written while Evan was touring with Maypole and have already appeared in demo form in 1999 under the band moniker 'erbudie scurbudie'.

'Petered Out' is a brilliant angst-ridden song which is almost acidic in its bitterness, but is driven by a clean, melodic riff and monster chorus. Ditto the edgy drama of 'Even', written about the time Evan was the victim of a car-jacking in LA from the perspective of the car jacker, and the experience has been moulded into a ball-breaker of a tune.

But there's plenty of diversity on 'Appreciation' too, check out the optimistic 'Coming Around' and the minimalist 'Willeta' and 'Chew Your Life', of which the latter nods in the direction of Radiohead.

Also, Frankfort's association with Wallflowers Greg Richling and Rami Jaffee spawns more than just guest musical appearances, as the trio combine to write 'Nothing New', one of the album's strongest cuts.

For my money, the most commercial track on 'Appreciation' and the one which should make 2001 a busy year for the band is 'Judgement Call', a solid, crunching tune which sounds as though it would not be out of place on a Wallflowers record.

In Summary

'Appreciation' is rightly a contender for my album of the year and even though Frankfort insists he's in no hurry for a deal, something tells me that with material, lyrics, and a vibe as good as this, Melodine may not remain an independent act for too much longer.


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