For years hyper-prolific Mercy Choir mastermind Paul Belbusti has been releasing a steady stream of albums, EPs, and singles, quietly becoming the 21st century's Bob Pollard, both in output and killer melodic hooks. Recorded with an assemblage of live analog instrumentation and portable digital gizmos, these songs saw Belbusti embracing various styles, from anything-goes electro-acoustic noise experiments to bittersweet hushed folk ballads and traditional, sometimes blown-out, rock and roll. Rock typology aside, the intent and delivery has always been pure, with the resulting sonic landscape sounding like nothing other than Mercy Choir.
Belbusti played the majority of the instruments on the previous (mostly) home recordings, but his Twin Lakes debut, Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style, marks the first time he has recorded with a full band backing him. He is joined by the current live version of the band: Tim Goselin (bass/guitars), Sachin Ramabhadran (drums), and Chris Zollo (keys). After gigging regularly for over a year, Tim and Sachin approached Paul about getting in the studio to record a collection of fully fleshed out MC songs that reflect the band's live shows. Paul agreed, and the result is what followers and insiders have been waiting for.
The record is arresting. Sometimes Belbusti and Co. seem to be stretching out or highlighting stylistic aspects of material and taking it to new spots — like he's writing songs to show us places we know but at a different time of day — where we are unrecognized passers-by wishing we had entree. Sometimes they lay out and just rock-- happy to perform gems and point (hard) at the parts they like with an open grin. We are old friends listening to music drunk at 2AM enjoying our arm goosebumps together.
A cover of Fabian's "Turn Me Loose" rings out chilly and distilled. Fan favorites like "Birdwatcher" take on new depth.
These songs pull you by the neck hairs with sour breathfuls of close admissions and conspiracy. This is the candor people share after a disaster (or love), confident in the rhythm of the telling when they are happy to share fears, longing, and a wish to connect, knowing they might end better. These are vain wishes to have intention answered with a better world, and the ‘mournful moans’ of the wish granters throwing back what they know is not enough. And suddenly all this time spent in places willfully familiar are not in vain. These songs are closed-rolled-eyes good and universe secret granting, and when the record's over, we're back to the beginning listening to what we thought was something else last time but is now even more so, and waiting to get back to the end song which is more familiar than this newly crazy sounding traditional rock style.
Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style reviewed in The Metal Dad (2015)
Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style reviewed in The New Haven Independent (2015)
Mercy Choir featured in IMPOSE Magazine's Week in Pop (2015)
Lonesome Noise premiers "Birdwatcher", the first single off Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style (2015)