CD Review: Chandler Travis Philharmonic “Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1”

Cape Cod-based singer-songwriter Chandler Travis has had a checkered career throughout the many decades he has been creating music. And even now, Travis has a very unique musical situation as he can be found almost any day performing with his many musical outlets. These bands include: The Chandler Travis Three-O, The Catbirds and The Chandler Travis Philharmonic.

Throughout the twenty years that The Chandler Travis Philharmonic has been together, they have created about 30 full-length CDs. Although, 26 of those have been website-only releases which were all released in the year 2000. And while the band has that incredible discography to draw from, The Chandler Travis Philharmonic has not put out a full-length album since 2010’s Blows. However, that is about to change.

On February 10th, 2017, The Chandler Travis Philharmonic will be releasing their newest album. The 17-song release will be entitled Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1.

In much the same way that the classic album of What Up, Dog? from the band Was (Not Was) incorporated many different musical elements that included a hefty amount of humor, Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1 changes directions almost on a track-to-track basis and also creates an album of music that keeps the musical landscape shifting as the listener makes their way through the seventeen tracks that make up the release. And yes, just like the album of What Up, Dog? from Was (Not Was), there is also a generous amount of humor incorporated into Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1.

Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1 from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic is divided into two sections. And as the title of the release suggests, the longer section of Vol.2 leads off the CD; that unusual decision sets in place just one of the many quirks that makes the release so unique.

The new release from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic begins with the track “You Got Me Started”. Like many of the songs that are included in this release, “You Got Me Started” has many layers that give the song character. The track features a straight-out Rock and Roll feel to the music. However, one of the things that is noticeable almost from the beginning is the unusual style of the piano that seems to drift off away from the melody to “parts unknown” several times during the track. The avant-garde feel of that piano part mixed with the Rock and Roll style of the rest of the music ensures that the listener knows that this release is going to be just a little bit different.

The release continues with the song “Maybe This is Our Year”. With this track, the listener really starts to understand the talent that is contained within the rather large ensemble that is known as The Chandler Travis Philharmonic. While the previous song features a Rock and Roll feel to the music, “Maybe This is Our Year” finds the ensemble creating a track that contains some jazz influence with just a little New Orleans flavor to it. The inclusion of the horns on the track brings that New Orleans Jazz feel to life. The song is one of the best moments on the release.

While the newest release from Chandler Travis and his group contains many memorable moments, one of the strongest of those moments belongs to the song “The Strongman of North America”. Within the five-minute playtime of the song, the ensemble makes use of several different playing styles that make the feel of the song change directions. The song begins with a light and easy pace to the Rock and Roll that gives the music a definite relaxed feel. Soon, bass vocals are added to the that seem very reminiscent to those within the a’capella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo from South Africa. As the song continues, a definite Paul Simon vibe takes over the song. The song would have felt right at home on the Graceland release. “The Strongman of North America” is one song on the new album from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic that stands out.

There are several weird or unusual things about the newest release from Chandler Travis. One of the most unusual things is the track “Untitled”. When most people use “untitled” as a label for a song or a piece of art, it’s usually because no title seemed right for it. However, “Untitled” by The Chandler Travis Philharmonic truly is the “title” of the piece. The mainly instrumental track features a style that all but screams They Might Be Giants as the song’s musical feel and limited lyrical content are very reminiscent of that band. The song makes a statement that if a song, piece or art, sandwich…is really that good, there really is no need for a label as that item will speak for itself and can therefore be labeled simply as “untitled”. And, ironically enough, “Untitled” by The Chandler Travis Philharmonic may just be that good.

As the listener makes their way through the seventeen tracks that make up the Waving Kissyhead, Vol. 2 & 1 release from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic, there are songs that would feel right at home on commercial radio. At the same time, however, several tracks on the release are quite a bit more challenging. The avant-garde nature of some of the tracks within the album is sure to challenge what some would consider real Rock and Roll.

The Vol. 2 portion of the Waving Kissyhead release is followed immediately by the Vol. 1 portion. And just like the thirteen tracks that make up Vol. 2, the four tracks of Vol. 1 are just as varied, unusual, and perhaps, just as strong…or weird, depending on your perspective on them.

While the Vol. 1 section of the Waving Kissyhead release contains four tracks, the song that stands out the most and seems to stay with you long after the entire CD is over is the track “E”. Like much of the CD, “E” is rather unusual and quirky. The track features a straight-out Rock and Roll flavor to the music while the words of the track are delivered with a sing-song, spoken style. The track is a story of sorts, as Chandler Travis and the rest of the group tell the “history” of “E,” one of the chords that helps to create Rock and Roll as well as every other style of music. The song of “E” turns out to be a very infectious track that stays with you. Just try getting the song out of your head. I dare you.

“Unusual” and “quirky” are two words that best describe the Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1 release from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic. Another word to describe it is “entertaining”. While most of the album is much different from what’s out there today, many of the songs on the album will ultimately catch your attention and beg you to keep listening…if for no other reason than to see what else the band comes up with. It may be a little out there, but Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1 from The Chandler Travis Philharmonic is definitely worth listening to.

To experience just a little of the genius of The Chandler Travis Philharmonic, check out the band’s song “E” HERE.  

Stay tuned to the Chandler Travis website for the release of Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1 on February 10th, 2017.

For more information, check out the band’s record label of Sonic Trout. And for even more information, check out the band’s PR Firm, Howlin’ Wuelf Media.

 

Waving Kissyhead