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Collaborateurs: “Marshall Sessions” – ambitious, absorbing, and at times, even blissful!

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Posted December 22, 2016 by Peter Burns in Headlines

I’m in love with this album. “Marshall Sessions” (as in Marshall, NC) is filled with beautiful melodic themes, sweeping lush choruses, and one of the smartest rhythm sections I’ve ever heard in a little while. The Collaborateurs make music that is evocative of the psychedelic sounds of the mid-1960s rock-and-roll era right up until the indie rock and pop scene of today, and everything in-between. And that’s about the closest you can come to describing the all-embracing styles catered to across the 17 tracks available on this album. When I started listening to this album, I did a double take.

The sound is a total anachronism compared to today’s mainstream music. The music is challenging, melodic, trippy, funky, and even jazzy at times. The sound is complex and savvy—very pleasant and exciting to listen to if you crave a creative sound similar to what was coming out during the various golden eras of rock. “Marshall Sessions” will go into heavy rotation in my home musical library. It really is a treasure.

The album cover

The album cover

The Collaborateurs – Curtis Hubbard, Glenn Hubbard, Roger Brandon, and Jeremy Cayton all have successful day jobs, but they also have extensive backgrounds in music, long lists of albums to their credit, and thousands of live performances under their collective belts. They say they’re not in music for money or fame, but they continue writing songs and recording because they love it.

The weird thing is, the music keeps getting better as we get farther removed from our professional gigging years, and I don’t think that’s an accident,” Glenn Hubbard said. “Once we stopped thinking of music as ‘work,’ we discovered that it’s supposed to be art – and then we got inspired.”

And inspired they are, as these wonderful melodies cruise through your mind and leave you wanting more. If you want a sound ready to spur on a rebirth to real music like the revolution of the 60’s did, this may be it. And you’ll get the vibe of what I’m saying the minute you crank up “Dirty Job”. This sounds like the great psychedelic music era with its glorious harmonies, beautiful song structure, and a fantastic drummer.

Hubbard and Brandon’s ear for infectious melodies vaguely recalls early Lennon and McCartney, and it is evident in many tracks here. Musically, the spaces between riffs are taken advantage of as well, with layered keyboard atmospherics and intertwining instrumentals and harmonies filling those gaps, and when combined with the myriad of musical styles and influences contained within, results in one of the most ambitious, absorbing, and at times, even blissful albums I’ve heard in recent memory.

Savor it on the fully fleshed out “Why Would Anybody”, horns and all, or the Alan Parsons-type melodic rocker “Sun_Culpit”, and even the insanely catchy chord progression and vocals of “Opponents”.

While most albums released are front-loaded with the best tracks, this album hits its groove from both ends of the stick. The first half is dedicated to up-tempo, rhythm driven numbers, while the second half is concentrated on slower, more thoughtful compositions. Here you’ll run into outstanding slow-burners like “Breeze”, the eclectic “Moonlight in Vermont”, “Take The Pain Away” and the marvelous “No Tomorrow”.

But from end to end, “Marshall Sessions” is one of the most original, progressive, and just-plain-mind-blowing albums, blazing its own trail while using past influences as its launching pad. “Marshall Sessions” is also a masterpiece of obsessive arrangement and production, with melodies snaking around melodies, Harmonies weaving in and around the main hook to the point that it’s nearly impossible to absorb it all on the first, or even second or third listen.

These songs, in my book definitely require headphones for maximum effect. “Marshall Sessions” is about as close to flawless as there is in indie, alternative, and modern pop-rock today.

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