Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cherry Bluestorms & Ban Penny Opera

I have to admit, Cherry Bluestorms didn't make an impressive first impression with me when I received their album, Bad Penny Opera. I mean look at that cover. It's horrible. It ranks up there with Cancer's To The Gory End as worst album covers ever. So with that image securely tucked away in my brain this band already had one strike against them.

Musically, they kind of swung and missed as well. While not completely folky, the band have this sort of slightly theatrical version of folk music that's not amazing, but not too bad either. What's weird about all this is that the first track on the album, “Bad Penny Overture,” is an impressive instrumental set up. Unfortunately, the album falls off a cliff soon after. Bad Penny Opera is a middle of the road kind of thing that's pretty mediocre. It' just of kind of plods along with an almost singer songwriter feel about it. I want to say that this is loosely some sort of concept album, but I wouldn't guarantee that.

Anyway, despite it's overwhelming sense of just existing there are a few good moments on this record. “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” is a stomping, horn laden pop tune that's a thrilling rush in a sea of mediocrity. Bad Penny Opera clearly has potential and is on the cusp of something better it just never gets there. The Cherry Bluestorms have great tunes within them, they just struggle to set them free. Hopefully, they can let this Bad Penny Opera go and crank out a true opus.

1 comment:

  1. Dear The Pop! Stereo:

    Regarding your review of Bad (not “Ban”) Penny Opera:

    The last thing I wish to do is to seem defensive. Everyone has a “right” to their opinion. But I believe a reviewer has an obligation to have some knowledge and understanding in order to have a valid opinion before expressing publically.

    Had you read the cover credits, you would have seen that the cover was painted by Peter Carpenter “after Paul Davis”. The title is a play on Three Penny Opera. Paul Davis painted a famous poster for the 1976 New York Shakespeare Festival production of Three Penny Opera. Our cover was meant to be provocative in that we substituted the very feminine, but mustachioed Deborah Gee in the role of “Penny” for the male Macheath character in Three Penny Opera. You seem to think that the dripping red poster paint utilized for the title was meant to depict blood. That would be erroneous.

    If you were out to review an album that “is loosely some sort of concept album”, one would think you would conquer your intellectual laziness so far as to figure out what the concept might be, for the benefit of your readership. Nearly all of the other reviewers of BPO were able to identify the concept, extract meaning from it and then made appropriate and enlightening comments. I’m sorry that you didn’t bother to research or consider the central meaning of our work before disparaging it. As or the music itself, I merely point out two things:
    All of the other reviews were positive and nearly all of the other reviewers took the trouble to say why.

    All art takes meaning from context. By neglecting to consider the concept and therefore the context, your points of reference as a reviewer are deficient if not necessarily invalid. I do not believe that you do your readers a service by making it known whether you like or dislike a work. Everyone will necessarily have their own taste and opinion. What is valuable from a reviewer but absent from this review, is a knowledge-based description of the work and an enlightened interpretation of the work, whereby an informed public can make up its own mind.

    Better luck next time.

    Yours truly,

    Glen Laughlin
    The Cherry Bluestorms