ABOUT THE BAND
Based around the guitar playing and songwriting of Jeremy Hilliard, the band first came together in mid- 2016. By that Fall they played an inaugural, now-infamous residency at American Beauty in New York City and then road-tested many of the songs on an extended northeast tour. One thing that became apparent right away was that there was going to be an exploratory spirit to their live shows and that the songs are, on one level, springboards for extended improvisation as well as vehicles for dance-floor workouts. Inspired by rock, funk, and jazz artists such as The Band, The Talking Heads, Phish, The Grateful Dead, James Brown, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis, Grant Green and countless others, the goal, in their own words, is to “not know where we’re going” because that feeling of excitement and adventure translates to the audience. Front and center in the mix is Hilliard’s guitar, which is unmistakable in tone. He lists as early inspirations BB King and Jimi Hendrix, and using that as a jumping off point he brings jazz concepts to tell longer, more complex sonic stories.
Jeremy is no newcomer to the scene. He established his songwriting voice as a bandleader and lead guitarist for the band Turbine, with whom he made 4 studio albums and toured nationally for many years, including regular appearances on the some of the country’s biggest stages such as Bonnaroo Music Festival, Telluride Music Festival, Gathering of the Vibes, Moedown, and many others. For his new group, he searched far and wide to find the perfect complement to his sound and finally found it in the great gospel organist Otis Williams. Williams is a master of his instrument from a very young age, as well as a musical Swiss Army knife. He is able to incorporate synths, vocals, samples, really any sound under the sun. Coming from the Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop, beat making and dance music are second nature to him. He also plays with a totally unorthodox harmonic approach that will make any listener sit up and take notice. Holding this all together, and the driving pulse of the band, is the bass playing of Eric Thachuk. The new band was lucky enough to meet him when he first moved to New York from Toronto where he worked as a top studio and touring musician. He somehow always knows exactly the right note to play to hold down the fort for all the harmonic and rhythmic interplay, and his elegant choices as an improviser give the music a sophisticated form. He is also a multi-talented musician, programming all the electronic drums on the bands’ debut album. The newest member of the group is John Venezia on drums who is an up-and-coming killer on the kit. He recently finished at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and although you don’t know it yet you need to see him live. After spending their first summer jamming, and then going out and getting 50 shows under their belt, the band knew that they wanted a full-length studio album to define their sound, and it would be all about the songs. So in early 2017 they hunkered down in Dave Brandwein’s (Turkuaz) Galaxy Smith Studios in Brooklyn to finish writing and record what would become their debut album, Electric Bouquet.
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Electric Bouquet is a remarkable and mesmerizing mix of musical flowers. Initially, it also appears to be a big, beautiful mess. Jeremy Hilliard is clearly a conflicted man. He veers between letting the lyrics lead the way and having the guitar drive the narrative. He also careens between the moody vibe of indie music and the good timey-ness of funk and rock and roll. However, after taking in the album as a whole, you realize that these intertwining musical stories are being told on a big canvass, and the result is an album on an epic scale.
Like all epics, including War and Peace or Star Wars, there is a personal story set against a massive framework. In this case, the intimate tale is told through poetic, lyric-based songwriting and the backdrop is a groove-based, psychedelic guitar workout. The range of mood is cinematic in scope. It is spacey, trippy, extremely funky, playful, and raucous at times, and bittersweet, poignant, reflective and dark at others. From the ominous, impending sound of the opening ‘Barometric Pressure (Here Comes The Rain)’ to the triumphant blues freak-out of ‘Nothing New Under the Sun,’ and the final stately resolve of ‘The Ballad of Wiley Jones,’ the hero’s journey unfolds.
All epics find cohesion through world-building, and the same applies here. The rock solid rhythm section of Otis Williams, Eric Thachuk, and Dale Paddyfote wails away, coloring and imbuing each moment with rich detail and feeling. Sonically, the crisp production by Dave Brandwein (Turkuaz) gives it a hi-fi, yet raw edge. And what finally seals the deal as a truly long-lasting achievement is the fact that these are 13 UNDENIABLY good songs, each with a completely unique identity, but clearly from the same songwriting voice.