Rambunctious energy and meditative moods mix with newer voices and familiar ones in this year’s Good Sponge Sampler, Vol. II.
There’s a tune for every taste in this CD, produced meticulously by Ben Parent and Carl Franklin, and subtitled “Music for the People.” You can pop in this CD and, if you’re in the mood for rowdy, pumped-up selections, bop with rockers The Sue Menhart Band, Carl Franklin, Matt Gouette and Dave Rave. Or you can fast-forward to a varied set of thoughtful, gentle meditations by Hannah Fair, Nancy Parent, Black Marmot and Vince Tuckwood. Or any style of roots, Americana or blues-rock you can imagine!
But the beauty of Good Sponge is that you don’t have to know any of these artists to enjoy their contributions and find your music-loving self craving more.
Late to the party (here it is, almost June and the CD was released in early April), I chose to listen to the CD the first time without reference to the disc jacket. Since I know a lot of the artists personally, it wasn’t hard to pick out by ear comrades whose style is familiar, though the songs are new. I was, therefore, struck most by the artists I had not heard before: Hannah Fair, Chris Mackay & The Toneshifters, and Black Marmot.
One striking song by Black Marmot is so tender and fun to listen to, the ear candy belies a deep meaning explained thoughtfully by singer/songwriter Linde Clark. In an email about “The Lesson,” she describes the quest of youth for answers to dissatisfaction with the roads taken, and the surprising discovery that comes out of it.
“In the end,” she writes, “when reflecting on where you have been and the path you’ve taken, there is a tendency to look back with reverence and in some cases you’d like to do it all over again AND you discover you wouldn’t change a thing!! I guess that is what I mean by THE LESSON, which is to learn to understand that cycle and embrace it.”
At the other end of the spectrum are rocking tunes by Dave Rave and Matt Gouette, no less thoughtful but more insistent and intense.
“Everyone seeking solutions/ there ain’t no easy solutions,” repeats Dave Rave in his refrain. The tune, “Solutions,” has a distinct rock ‘n roll feel reminiscent, quite simply, of The Beatles.
Matt’s “Nobody Calls,” with lyrics like “stay at home/ stare at the walls… I travel on/ just don’t care at all,” recalls Green Day‘s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Matt’s lyrics evoke a similar vibe to Green Day’s “I walk a lonely road/ the only one that I have ever known./ Don’t know where it goes,/ but it’s only me and I walk alone.” And the rock edge, a bit harsher, reflects the angst.
Reached through Facebook, Ben Parent said he chose singer/songwriters in the roots/Americana/blues-rock vein, and picked rock music that could also stand up in a stripped-down version.
“I tried to work with people who I knew had projects of their own coming out who might benefit from the exposure of a compilation,” he added.
When can the world get another dose of Good Sponge songwriting?
Says Ben: “The future is wide open…. We’ll see. Taking things a day at a time at the moment!!!”
Each of the 18 tracks stands on its own and does, or will, grace a CD by the artist or band. So pick yourself up a copy, and treat yourself to a selection of songs that only hints at the depth and quality of songwriting and performing in good ol’ southeastern Connecticut. It’s the place to be!