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Thursday, July 23, 2009 07:34 pm

Go! Tsunami mingles with Carillon


When planning this week’s column, I found we had two very deserving bands hosting CD release parties at the same bar on different weekend nights. Please welcome the odd pairing of Go! Tsunami and Carillon, bound together by nothing more than circumstance.

Let’s take the Friday night spectacle first and discover the peculiar world of Springfield’s one and only instrumental rock band. Go! Tsunami rides the wave of lyric-less, rock-n-roll music that began with electric guitar pioneers Link Wray, Duane Eddy and Dick Dale, peaked with the Surfaris’ 1963 classic, Wipe Out!, and hung loose through the ages with those lovable Fender benders, the Ventures. After mass public exposure in the film Pulp Fiction, the surf rock genre made another big splash in the 1990s through contemporary suppliers like the Mexican wrestling mask-wearing rockers, Los Straightjackets.

Go! Tsunami player-participants, “Riptide,” “Stingray Jr.,” “Stan Overboard” and “The Fury” (not their real names) wear personally altered hockey masks and standard issue coveralls, while playing with nothing less than loud and wild abandon in a cacophony of rhythm-driven, minor-key songs intended to “conjure images of hot rods, horror movies, long boards, Tiki idols, beach parties, exotic islands, classic cars, pin-ups, cheap beer and rum,” according to a group summary. The band scored airplay lately on the radio show Surfabilly Freakout from Champaign-Urbana’s WPGU and played several dates in Springfield, Chicago and Champaign over the last year and a half.

Recently the band went into Marc Broomby’s MoonPanda Studio located in downtown Springfield and recorded these original, sonic surf songs,creating New Wave Order. This Friday, July 24, the band hosts a CD release party with Daikaiju, a surf-rock band from Huntsville, Ala., and local outfit Black Feet at Bar None on Fifth and Monroe. The masked quartet then heads north on Saturday for a show at Chef Shangri-la, a popular Tiki bar in Chicagoland and rocks the boat in August at the 2009 Surf Ohio Festiki in Dayton. Go, Go! Tsunami, go and keep the music ripping, as they say, in perpetual surfdom.

Now we leave the beach for the bells as former Springfieldian Jonathan Cour returns to his hometown for a Saturday night show at Bar None, sporting a new band called Carillon and a new CD titled Summer Chemicals. Cour last played the capital city as a promising solo artist, fresh from a big buzz in the industry on the strength of A Motion Picture Scene, his debut release. After time spent touring with major acts and songwriting with heavyweight writers, Cour opted to change artistic directions, forming a band to beef up his sound from acoustic pop to an alt/rock indie direction.

Carillon is a direct effort to bring a harder-edged rock feeling to Cour’s music without losing the modern pop sensibilities that captured the attention of music power brokers, buyers and listeners. Grant Essig and Matt Hickenbotham round out the musicians in Carillon and both are seasoned St. Louis players with major label, touring, and outside the local scene experiences. Essig also heads the production team and owns the studio responsible for creating the sounds on Summer Chemicals, which one could say enter into the “atmospheric” category with lots of layered vocals and “found stuff’ to go along with the raw songs. Transferring the recorded feeling into a live sound will be an interesting challenge, and one I’m sure Cour and Carillon are up for and excited about.

Locals may be curious about one song on the CD called MacArthur Boulevard, but anyone looking for a pleasing, cool sounding record of 20-something, emotional musings at life, love and the pursuit of learning about it all, will appreciate the clever lyrics and smart songs combined with the luscious and pristine production qualities of the record.

And that’s how Go! Tsunami and Carillon found themselves on the same page and the same stage one weekend in July.

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