CD Review: It Came From Connecticut Volume 1

Music IndustryHurricane Sandy (2012)Vessels (music group)Eric IdleCheshireNew Haven (New Haven, Connecticut)Michael Cera

When I was growing up in Boston in the 1970s and '80s, I saw a lot of great local bands ruined by overzealous studio producers who tried to conform the bands' lively and distinctive sounds into some imagined "commercial" radio formula of the day. You would think that in the wake of early ‘90s mainstream hits by Nirvana, Folk Implosion and so many other uncompromising acts, that such mailing would no longer be an issue. Yet it persists in small regional recording studios throughout the nation. A lot of local band simply don' t sound like themselves once they've been through too "professional" a recording experience.

So It Came from Connecticut deserves a special award of merit just for taking a hands-off approach and being respectful of squalor. The whole album, with each band basically rushing in and out of the studio in the minimum amount of time it takes to record a decent track.

Thirteen bands were chosen. Each was given an hour in producer/compiler Tom B of Cheshire in his own Bonehead Studios to produce up to six minutes of music.

The line from Eric Idle's Rutles movie All You Need is Cash is telling here: "the band's first album was recorded in 20 minutes. The second one took even longer."

You can quibble about which bands you like best on this generally loud and punky yet still remarkably diverse compilation. What counts is that they all sound real.

Also, as loose and freewheeling as the production quality gloriously gets, it’s skillful and focused and professional. A band like the Gene Gnomes, which uses a tuba for a bass, can’t be easy to mic. They have only one song among the 28 tracks here (several bands—Sadplant, The Hulls, The Midnightmares, DefCon Five—squeeze out three apiece), but it’s among the best of the whole lot, a rousing anthem about the death of rock & roll. The Sonic Superchargers, whose contemporary rock/punk sound is inflected with ‘50s-style rock riffs and vocals, is exactly the kind of band which shouldn’t overstay their time in a recording studio. It would be tempting to work studio trickery on them, but here they sound natural and powerful and just right. The Lost Riots, the band playing when the police shut down the Ideat Village festival in downtown New Haven last summer, maintain their righteous riotous edge with “Into the Light” and “King of the Burbs.” There’s ample comic relief from the reliable Lamb Bombs (“Peppermist”) and Empty Vessels (“Everything’s About Michael Cera”).

The long “invitation” which Bonehead distributed to bands last fall, enticing them to join the project, is notable in its graciousness. Several times it proclaims that there are “no gimmicks” to the deal. Bands weren’t required to invest in a stack of albums to take part; no minimum purchase necessary, they’re allowed to buy as many copies as they need wholesale. The rest of us can buy the disk for the “low introductory offer” of five bucks (from http://boneheadstudios.homestead.com/comp2012.html)

The release party for the album was last week, Dec. 15 at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford. But this isn’t one of those situations where the comp album and the live show are of a piece, and one is crucial to understanding the other. And while this is a charity endeavor—proceeds are being donated to Hurricane Sandy relief—these tracks aren’t colored by anything other than that they’re good music you should want to own.

Can’t even use that old local-comp cliché here about It Came From Connecticut being a “snapshot of the scene today” or somesuch. The bands may herd around a certain type of pop-punk sound, which I assume is a personal taste of compiler Tom Bonehead, but there’s a span of ages and abilities and backgrounds here that can’t really be grouped rationally.

Only the obvious: They all come From Connecticut. 

Don’t  buy it because it’s cheap, or because it’s for a good cause, or because it’s a novelty, or because it’s homegrown. Buy it because it rocks for real.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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