“Time and again I hear your voice in every language that I ever knew”
In October, 2008, Band of Outsiders reunited to perform at a benefit. They hadn’t been a band since their farewell concert in 1988. Inspired by the reunion, they decided to start writing new music. The subsequent four track EP, Sound Beach Quartet was released on April 28, 2012. On November 11 2013, Sound Beach Time was released off of Hanky Panky records in Spain. It is their first full length album as a reunited band, and contains 8 new tracks in addition to the first 4 released on Song Beach Quartet.
Based out of the East Village, Band of Outsiders is made up of guitarist and vocalist Marc Jeffrey, guitarist and vocalist David Lee, guitarist and vocalist James McCarthy and drummer Richard Maurer. The project was active throughout the 1980s, performing at clubs throughout the city. Their music is richly textured with a dynamic interaction of guitar between McCarthy and Jeffrey. Steady, driving drums and subtle yet complex bass lines compliment the guitar driven compositions. Incidentally, they played their final performance as a band at CBGB’s in 1988.
After first listening to Sound Beach Time I thought, ‘wow these guys have clearly been working together for ages’. Every song is instrumentally complex, weaving together each part seamlessly and artfully. The whole album appears as a friendly competition between the band members, over who has the best musical chops. The various parts complement one other, making the individual parts sound even cleaner. This showcasing of refined composition skills and musicianship is the standout quality of the album, and is most clearly highlighted on “Gods of Happenstance,” “Lost and Found” and “One Life is Not Enough.”
The album as a whole is nothing if not versatile. From trippy, psychedelic guitar solos to spacey melodies, the tracks vary greatly. Jeffrey, Lee and McCarthy also have differing vocal qualities and each take turn singing lead on the album, which provides the listener with a distinct atmosphere for each track. Some songs, such as “Lost and Found,” “Gods of Happenstance,” and “Why Would You,” are spacey and quirky, while others have that indelible NYC vintage punk vibe (“The Graveyard” and “Dead Reckoning” fall into this category). “Your Pleasure is Mine” and “As it’s Written” veer toward psych rock, perhaps suggesting a path the band is heading down creatively if they choose to keep playing together.
As a testament to the acquired circumspection attendant with a career that spans many decades, there are several songs that are unabashedly sentimental, engaging themes of love lost, growing old, and the sad realities of life, especially in “Gone for Good, in which the singer waxes existential: “It makes me sad // everything I had // So much is gone for good.” Oh, the life of a rockstar.
Sound Beach Time is the manifestation of old friends getting together to write music, and contains 20 years worth of bottled up ideas spread out onto 12 tracks. The end result is as dynamic as it is epic, from beginning to end: an accomplishment indeed.
Listen to “One Life Is Not Enough”, here via Soundcloud:
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