Thursday, October 14, 2010

Album Review: Lion Cub "Seneca"

Band: Lion Cub
Album: "Seneca"

Personnel: Chad Jewett: Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Bass, Synthesizer, Fender Rhodes Piano, Drum Machine Programming, Samples, Shaker
Chris Grabowski: Acoustic Guitar, Samples
Chelsey Hahn: Xylophone, Synthesizer, Bells
Alex Mazzaferro: Organ
Wil Mulhern: Drums
Trevor Johnson: Vocals
Jacob Goldman: Drums, Harmonica

Released: June 2010

Recorded and Engineered by Jacob Goldman

Produced by Chad Jewett and Chris Grabowski


Lion Cub’s album “Seneca” may be best described by a statement on the opening page of the Digital Book that accompanies it:

“Seneca is an album about many things: life, death, God, faith, love and our collective past, present and future. It has meant the world to me from the day I began writing it in 2005. It continues to be the piece of work I am most proud of, and I truly hope you enjoy it and thank you for listening. Don’t wait too long to fall in love.” - Chad Jewett

Talk about a guy wearing his heart on his sleeve. Jewett and his ensemble, which go by the name Lion Cub, stay true to these ideas and themes through out “Seneca” and at times open up so much they can make you feel uncomfortable, but remember that’s a good thing.

The opening track comes in with with gentle guitar, Fender Rhodes Piano and then a synthsizer. It’s ethereal and familiar at the same time. There is reverb and a build up that makes you wait in anticipation, will this deliver... it’s pretty good. Who would think to open an album with a song that clocks in at 6:54. It sets the tone with drum machine, xylophone, biblical references and ends eerily with someone reading a verse out of the Bible. Very Johnny Cash.

The second track “Southern Salt Baptist” has live drums. The lyrics come in, “like when I first saw you, like when I first heard you say.” This reminds me of Okkervil River. Lion Cub have no problems coming up with sing along hooks.

The songs on the album remain interesting lyrically and with their changing instrumentation there are always new sounds to experience.

“Meridian” is probably the best track on the album. It has everything someone would want in an indie pop gem.

Cool familiar and ambiguous lyrics : “I was in the army once, I felt my new blood, like a hiccup, like a sudden love Born on a covered bridge, your mama singing hymns, like a toothache, like a broken limb.” Check!

Not typical Instrument Combinations: Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Bass, Organ, Synthesizer, Marimba, Drum Machine Programming, Shaker, Whistling, Live Drums. Check!

Then a catchy chorus that will not let you go even if you stick your head in washing machine: “We’ll fix every hole in your heart And we’ll pull out all those poison darts.” Check! It was the stand out track.

In “Other Names for Saints” Lion Cub tackle religion, life and death head on. Jewett sings fervently “We spent our Saturdays writing new names for saints, coloring in that bible page /A handful of change left under a train, the Word of God on an old man’s face /And the only books I’ve understood were on life and death”. The song builds from a small drum machine and organ to a full band with live drums, bass, and electric guitars, xylophone
tambourine, and bells.

If you are looking for some good indie pop look no further here is Lion Cub - one part Americana, one part folk, one part dance pop. You can see this clearly on songs like “Our Hound” and “Seneca (Hatchet)” the last track on the album.

Lion Cub open their album with the lines:

“You’re up at four before the moon’s been gone, and you set the table to set breakfast on /And watch the fox pick the feathers out of the lawn/And so forth and so on.”

and end with:

“And if the devil ever tries to tempt me, I’ll tell him “I don’t believe in hell” /So you can bury that hatchet at the bottom of a well.”

Good and bad things seem to have come for Lion Cub. They tell their story through other people’s stories. Even if some of the songs have melon collie themes and lyrics, there always seems to be a slight smile behind them. Sometimes there ain’t much you can do except live your life and tell the Devil to fuck off. - A. Polk

To hear Lion Cub’s music visit:
They also have a cool digital book, with pictures perfect for New England Fall, and a story by PILGRIMS by Chad Martin Jewett

Next Show:
Polk Records Icebreakers
Oct 14 2010 7:00P
Church of Boston Boston, MA

Rating Key
1 POLK- Don’t Bother
2 POLKs- Give it a listen or two
3 POLKs - Make part of your daily routine
4 POLKs - Must Own, Buy, Illegally Download NOW!
5 POLKs - Don’t tell anyone about it (it’s your personal treasure)