Hearing Things – Here’s Hearing Things – Yeggs 

by | Sep 17, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews, Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Hearing Things – Here’s Hearing Things – [TrackList follows] – Yeggs YEGGS-005, 39:29 [4/15/19] ****:

(Matt Bauder – saxophone, guitar; JP Schlegelmilch – electric organ; Vinnie Sperrazza – drums)

New York City trio Hearing Things have been listening to a lot of 1950s and 1960s instrumental rock and pop. That classic sound permeates the 11 originals on the band’s 39-minute debut, Here’s Hearing Things. The music is a modern take of the kind of material made famous by groups like Santo & Johnny (“Sleep Walk”), the Champs (“Tequila”), Johnny and the Hurricanes (“Red River Rock”) and likeminded artists. Here’s Hearing Things is available as a limited edition, 12-inch, 140-gram vinyl LP with tip-on jacket and custom printed sleeve; as a four-panel digipack compact disc; or as a high-quality digital download. This review refers to the digital download.

Hearing Things comprises saxophonist and guitarist Matt Bauder (jazz credits include Anthony Braxton, Harris Eisenstadt and Taylor Ho Bynum; and Arcade Fire and Iron & Wine on the rock side), electric organist JP Schlegelmilch (he’s worked with Tim Berne and others) and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza (who has performed with Ben Holmes, David Ullmann and more). The CD opens with the smoky, late-night lounge cum rock tune “Shadow Shuffle,” fronted by Bauder’s earthy sax and Schlegelmilch’s organ. That’s a nice inaugural start but the magic rolls in with the threesome’s initial single, the rocker “Tortuga,” named after a Caribbean island which forms part of Haiti. There’s a whiff of tiki lounge in the arrangement, but mostly “Tortuga” would have been a bona fide smash if it was issued in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The digital download comes with the shorter 45-RPM version of “Tortuga.” One listen and you’ll be shuffling your feet to this nugget. Space age bachelor music spins through the cosmically atmospheric “Hotel Prison,” a sultry selection which is the B-side of “Tortuga.” Bauder’s lower-register sax gets down and slightly gritty while Schlegelmilch layers appropriate organ embellishments. Another trippy, psychedelic cut is the moody “Ideomotor.” The title comes from a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously, akin to what often happens during a séance or when using Ouija boards.

A bit of surf rock sensibility—minus the prerequisite twang—rides through some tunes. The five-minute “Wooden Leg” lopes along with a mid-tempo pacing centered on flitting ping-pong electronic effects and Bauder’s sax chords and would fit right in on albums by Laika & the Cosmonauts or Los Straightjackets. The surf rock inclination is stronger on the pumping “Stalefish” and the punchy “Uncle Jack,” where Bauder shifts between guitar and sax, Schlegelmilch adds organ reminiscent of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (“Wooly Bully”) and Sperrazza keeps a steady beat with an occasional jazz turn. On the other hand, the three-minute “Transit of Venus” focuses on a novelty-type arrangement which showcases the trio’s wry musical humor. Someone could re-purpose this as soundtrack music to some cheesy pre-Star Wars science fiction B-film with ease. Hearing Things closes with the classic-sounding “Triplestep,” aptly titled after the generic term for dance step patterns which utilize three steps done on two main beats of music. Put this on at a retro party and grab a dance partner. Here’s Hearing Things is a delightfully entertaining reflection of a by-gone era with some modern touches. If instrumental rock’s golden age of the ‘50s and early ‘60s is your go-to genre, you should probably try Hearing Things.

Shadow Shuffle
Wooden Leg
Hotel Prison
Uncle Jack
Transit Of Venus
Tortuga (45 Version) – digital only.

—Doug Simpson

More  Information at Hearing Things Bandcamp Site.


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