Monday, October 15, 2007

Introducing... Chris Robley

Chris Robley performing at BrainWash in San Francisco, Oct. 13, 2007.

Some time ago, last month maybe? (Swiss cheese memory strikes again!), I received one of many regular "new CD arrivals" emails from Bullz-Eye. One of the discs I saw listed was The Drunken Dance Of Modern Man In Love by some guy out of Portland, Oregon, named Chris Robley. My eyes jumped out, because I knew a Chris Robley back when I was attending East Greenwich High School in its small namesake town dead center in the state of Rhode Island. Was this the same guy?

After following a link to Chris' myspace page and sending him an email, I happily discovered that it was indeed the same Chris Robley. And here I was about to review his album, whether it was him or not, just out of curiosity from name recognition alone.

Turns out the album is damn good too. It's mostly acoustic guitar based, with loads of other instruments adding color and flavor and a lyrical sensibility that would probably have Harry Nilsson banging down his door if here were still alive. You should see a review on Bullz-Eye probably by Friday of this week, if not next.

Chris concluded a brief West coast tour on Saturday in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco, at a place called BrainWash. It's a most unusual venue - part laundromat, part bar, part restaurant (the burgers looked amazing, but I stuck to a chai latte as I had already eaten), part video arcade, part internet portal... oh, and they host live music too! It was at this weird place where Chris - the guy who convinced me that 1980s Miles Davis albums weren't crap, hipped me to Jaco Pastorius' Birthday Concert, and played guitar so well that I used to call him "God" - and I reconnected after eleven years. We even did an "interview" across the street at Julie's Supper Club, the results of which will also be making their way over to Bullz-Eye once I finish transcribing the recording.

I say this with no amount of bias (call me a liar if you want, but I'm sticking to my story): hearing Chris' new music has been the biggest musical joy for me all year. There's a purity in his songs and performances that I haven't been able to find in a lot of the new discs I've heard this year, even in discs I've enjoyed tremendously from established artists like Modest Mouse, PJ Harvey, Springsteen... OK, I'm not going to say anything I've heard has bested McCartney's new one, but he's in a class by himself. But seriously, check this guy out!

And from youtube... a clip of Chris overdubbing a keyboard part on his song "Little Love Affairs." He uses analog tape, yet another reason to buy his albums!

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