Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reviews:: Pete Bush East is Past

myspace :: buy East is the Past

Without completely removing any credibility from this review, Pete Bush is my best friend in the entire world. He was the best man at my wedding (although for he attempted to "bring the ice" to the morning brunch) and I have spent countless hours driving across the US to see shows with him (or by him), simply talking music and Carl Weathers. I'd say that is full disclosure, but it's also acknowledging that his tastes have dramatically changed the music I gravitate towards over the years.

Pete's musical evolution is probably similar to most multi-instrumentalists - randomly picking up instruments to see what he can do with them - it's just the first time I've seen someone's process unfold in front of me. I've been around the songs for so long (I think I might have been the first person to hear Fly Away Bird) and heard them evolve into the complete compositions they are today. The old saying is you have a lifetime to write your first record, and in some regard that's what East is the Past really is. Sure he's put out a solo EP and a few successful records for bands it Pittsburgh, but this is the first time Bush has decided to record his songs the way he wanted them to sound, regardless of cost.

Since he started toying with some of this songs, Pete's writing style has changed with every new genre/influence he adapts - the sexy jazz he picked up at Jazzfest and working with Salena Catalina, the country roots he experimented with while playing in Cub Country, the Latin influences that have trickled into his songs and the spoken word diction he leans on after digesting Bukowski's books all mix with the heavy rock he cut his teeth on - and now with East is the Past, I finally feel like Bush has delivered on his potential.

Having no knowledge of what songs made the final cut and how the final arrangements would sound, East is the Past really was a fresh listen for me, even thoug I've heard demo after demo for most songs. The record flows nicely, slowing and peaking at the right times and after a few listens I realized this is the first time I've not felt the urge to nit pick. The arrangements are well thought out, but the songs sound accessible instead of simply complex. He's moved from people saying, "man, this guy is good" to "man, these songs are good." It may seem like a small difference, but it's what makes East is the Past work.

His influences have stood the test of time; Waits, J Robbins, Tribe, Monk, and Andrew Bird come to mind, but Bush has come into his own as a song writer. He's not writing songs that sound like a song "x" would write and certainly not taking the easy way out with pop friendly ditties. He combines the building blocks of the great in innovative ways; complex guitar parts, frequent transitions, mood changing strings, and bouncing stand up bass lines all play an important role in his unique sound.

Very few musicians can incorporate a melting pot of styles and not leave the record sounding disjointed and lost. He can play a delicate singer/song writer effort like Fly Away Bird, and have it flow naturally into the slinky This Just In - probably the most infectious track on the record - or a traditional jazz number like Just Browsing and not lose the listener or never leave a song sounding out of place.

Mirroring themes and sounds resurface to help the record; Melissa's well placed vocals or enough strings and guitar burst/feedback to jump start a stand-up bass heavy track like Canary Wake. Heroine Sheik starts as a confessional, but explodes into a Toadies inspired freak out. Long Distance is the most enjoyable song about a stalker and a woman who loves being stalked you are ever going to hear. The pace and strings on Margaret have transformed a simple song into a fleshed out foot tapper.

I could go on and I know it's easy to say, "buy my buddy's record", but if you look at the site you know we don't flog shit on herohill. In fact, most times we write about bands no one cares about. We could easily review the records you see on every blog in the world, but we don't. You could also wonder why in the 4 years he's been in Seattle, I've only mentioned Bush twice but with East is the Past, Pete's delivered a record that I truly enjoy. The songs will surprise you and fit into your collection, no matter what kind of music you like. That's something not too many artists can lay claim to, and something that makes Bush worth a few of your bucks.

Posted at 7:06 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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