Saturday 22 December 2012

The Herbert Bail Orchestra - The Future's In The Past

Following last year's EP release, LA-based collective The Herbert Bail Orchestra have now provided us with their debut album 'The Future's In The Past': eight tracks of courageous and imaginatively-orchestrated americana.

Opener 'Holy Smokes' begins the album with a series of fun broken chords of vocal "bom bom"s that are soon superseded by some livening accordion. Trying not to - at the very least - tap your feet to the rhythm is seemingly impossible, and anyone who dares try will surely give in when the vocals begin their wonderfully loud and guttural ascent.

Quick to provide juxtaposition, second track 'The Big Sound' is a much more sombre affair, though some defiance and strength remains in the way the lyrics are thrown out at us, at times somewhat reminiscent of early David Bowie.

This peak and trough of beats-per-minute continues throughout the album and lets each tune stand solid and separate from the others whenever they wish, yet they all share common themes that hold them together: change, the learning of life's lessons, and acceptance.

'Epic Diva' takes us towards the final track with a short musical parable of damsels and demons, accompanied by steady guitar strums, head-nodding accordion, and clatters on the cowbell. Although perhaps the simplest and briefest of the album's offerings, its story keeps it interested and amused.

"And these fair ladies are like wild animals,
Try and take them home and they'll scratch your eyeballs out.
And this kind of gallantry is gonna kill me.
The next time you see a diva drowning, brotha',
Let her be."

The album fittingly ends with cries of "woah woah woah" on the danceable title track; yet again managing to couple a sense of despair with some rock n'rolling instrumentation.

Whilst their initial EP may have given us a glimpse at The Herbert Bail Orchestra's skills, it is this album that truly gives the group a time to shine. 'The Future's In The Past' is a narrative-filled journey with poetic lyrics towed by some gloriously danceable melodies.


"Go ahead and play the blues if it'll make you happy" - Dan Castallenata as Homer Simpson

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