I had very high hopes from the moment my chia-pet-resembling face was contacted by this band in review – Swami Lushbeard! Could it be the hand of fate steering another brilliant album towards my hairy chin? After listening – I just might have to consider that possibility…
This EP is short but precise; at only three songs long – they have to be good. Three songs have nowhere to hide when you press play and an EP has different expectations surrounding the quality than a single with a few throwaway B-sides; the purpose is usually to hype up the future and highlight the present state of the music. Whatever their purpose behind making it happened to be – they did their music proud; all three songs work perfectly. If this is what Swami Lushbeard is capable of then you’d better believe I’m looking forward to a full-length album!
One of the things I like the best is that it’s the same…but it’s not! Each of the three tracks has such a tremendously different pulse and feel to them…again, this is a sonic journey. Yet, each and every track has the core elements that make Swami Lushbeard’s music their own; from the singing to the constantly inventive and challenging arrangements they’ve come to record here on this EP, A Burning Desire.
Getting into this album track by track from multiple repeat listens, the opening track “Stay Lost” brings up one constant thought in my head: Accessibility. This is a true music fusion; blending styles from all forms of classic & progressive rock to late 90’s alternative – Swami Lushbeard have somehow managed to create an EP that sounds new to the ears right from the beginning from this collage of music styles.
The demonstration of musicianship on “My Best Thinking” and the different direction in the tone and feel show that this band isn’t simply one dimensional in their sound or their scope. You can’t help but completely dig the drum rhythm that creates this kind of tribal feel that mixes incredibly well in between the melodic guitars in the verse. This combination works effectively in the following track – “The Bottom” – which drifts hazily along close to the musical lounge line before coming back with a vengeance blending some great harmonies against a swaying rhythm that becomes nearly hypnotic over time.
Though each of these recordings indicated their rich musical palettes,
there’s a cohesion in these tracks that is undeniable. I feel like I would recognize this band instantly if I was to hear them again in a brand new song – and there’s something to be said for that. Their style of writing and level of execution really show that this is a band that will also be around for quite some time – so I’m looking forward to that opportunity to audibly identify them one day.
I’m sticking to it: Accessibility. Swami Lushbeard is writing complex music that would find its way into anyone’s collection; under the guise of something they think they already know and like for sound – this band will show you a fantastic update on all their influences by bringing them all together to give you something new on A Burning Desire.
Said very simply; short, sweet & worth the repeat.
“A Burning Desire” begins with ‘Stay Lost’, featuring a strong verse, a marvelous intro, and a unique groove. This song sounds like something you’d hear on ’90s radio, with a unique, individualistic twist. The keys and moving bass line add fullness to the song, and the lead guitar lines are tasteful and don’t step over any of the other instrumentation. The guitar solo is especially a highlight, along with the contemplative lyrics in each chorus.
‘My Best Thinking’ follows with a great guitar intro that leads into a musically diverse and extremely theoretical composition. Swami Lushbeard uses challenging time signatures and dissonance to their advantage, while always seeming to resolve musically at the appropriate place and time. Everything fits and works so well together in this song, as none of the instruments fight against each other for the spotlight, and allow the vocals to shine through strong and clear.
The EP concludes with ‘The Bottom’, an ever-flowing number with stellar instrumentation.
Each track is mixed and produced very well and it is almost impossible to classify the music of Swami Lushbeard by genre. I heard many genres and eras in their material, making this EP a breath of fresh air in the world of over-produced, auto-tuned, computerized recordings. Nothing seems out of place on this EP, as everything is so different in the best way possible. Most bands that I review on this blog have issues in their recordings, whether that be poor musicianship, undeveloped songwriting, or bad production. None of these problems were found on this EP, which was extremely ambitious and lives up to the billing, going far above and beyond my expectations.
Swami Lushbeard makes their sound work so well as a group, and I know there are only positive adventures ahead for the band. “A Burning Desire” is highly recommended, displaying a soft rock edginess not found in other music, whether it be from today or yesterday.
Swami Lushbeard’s story began at an airplane mock-up facility in Los Angeles, transformed into a rehearsal space. A few friends with a desire to be a part of something much larger than themselves gathered to make music, and before any of them realized it, they had started a new journey.
The band says that: “There was the idea of not so much believing what we’ve seen, but in seeing what we believe. We were ready to commit art. We needed a way to describe what we felt right at that moment… We needed someone or something to guide us and show us the way. An all-inclusive idea that would match our desire to master our inner-selves while looking cool doing it.”
Thus Swami Lushbeard came to life, bringing together two of rock n roll’s most beloved and essential instruments, the piano and the guitar, which are featured throughout the band’s music. They have recently released their Ep “A Burning Desire” which contains 3 tracks namely, “Stay Lost”, ”My Best Thinking”, and the “The Bottom”.
The three songs work great together, almost like it’s a concept Ep, and reading the band’s synopsis on the creation of “A Burning Desire”, this is not too far from the truth, considering that Swami Lushbeard describes the songs on the Ep as taking “…a journey to the desert of the truth, the whole truth and nothing even remotely close to the truth.” Clearly alluding to their interrogatory statement; “In today’s world of instant messaging, ego massaging ergonomic success stories, the mundane is the divine! Is there anything we won’t share about? What about our truth?”, they ask.
Every track on this Ep bristles with energy and passion. They truly sound like a band on a mission. They don’t spout off empty sarcasm and arrogance, like many of their counterparts, but truly examine the collective psyche of society. What amazes me most about Swami Lushbeard is the fact that they do what they do, no matter what the trends in music are currently dictating. While the mainstream is desperately seeking out the next trendsetter, Swami Lushbeard keep busy making great rock and roll on their own terms.
The Ep kicks off with “Stay Lost”, a relentlessly catchy and to-the-point opener. “My Best Thinking” is a colorfully sprawling, mid-tempo, acoustic guitar arrangement. “The Bottom”is my favorite track on the Ep; it represents the band at their atmospheric best, and includes some oblique counterpoint breakdowns, that remind me of both the golden grunge era and classic 70’s rock.
All throughout the Ep, there are nasty grooves and killer playing from Don Sprouls on Guitar (and Vocals), Danny Kopel on Keyboards and Accordion, and Andre Howie on Bass. Ian Michaels on drums plays tasteful and innovative beats and fills, rather than hammering out the usual tasteless, powerhouse fodder.
Overall Swami Lushbeard is a powerfully strong unit and seem to have full control of their music, making everything sound really catchy and inspiring on “A Burning Desire”. Intelligent dynamic energy is on hand here, while the band has its finger on the pulse of what makes good rock n’ roll, and why it ever came into being in the first place.
Music can be much more than just sound transferred to awaiting ears. When there is a meaning behind the music that a group puts together it can become much bigger than itself. Sometimes a band of talented musicians will have the same ideals in more than just music and great ideas can be hatched. This seems to be the situation with the fabulously named Swami Lushbeard.
The Los Angeles based 4-piece combine elements of classic rock with the diverse musical and geographic background of each of its members. Swami Lushbeard brings instrumentation not heard together much in today’s musical landscape. When you put together band members Don Sprouls (Philadelphia) on guitar and vocals, Danny Kopel (Los Angeles) on keys and accordion, Andre Howie (Virginia) on bass, and Ian Michaels (Chicago) on drums the mash up of styles creates something much bigger than the sum of its parts. This is a group of people ready to express their thoughts and make art.
The latest release by Swami Lushbeard is the 3-song EP “A Burning Desire”. The concept is about letting out the thoughts burning inside and being unafraid of the world and its consequences. The band says the record “takes a journey to the desert of the truth, the whole truth and nothing even remotely close to the truth.” The opening track ‘Stay Lost’ has that LA grime feel as it builds and builds. The musicianship is phenomenal especially the guitar and drum work throughout the song. On mellow and thought provoking ‘My Best Thinking’ the group slows it down slightly to let the listener enter into the bands mindset. This reviewer’s favorite track has to be the unique ‘The Bottom’. Beginning with an accordion and spooky sound it sucks you in and then turns to a 70’s style slick vocal play. Again the band members show off their skill with their instruments in creating something that can be truly appreciated throughout each part of the almost schizophrenic song. Great listening.
Go enter the world of Swami Lushbeard, you will not be disappointed.
Swami Lushbeard is Don Sprouls on guitars and vocals, Danny Kopel on keys, accordion and backing vocals, Andre Howie on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Ian Michaels on the drums. Residing in Los Angeles, Swami Lushbeard believes in creating good rock n' roll music as well as always having a good time. "We needed a way to describe what we felt right at that moment... We needed someone or something to guide us and show us the way. An all-inclusive idea that would match our desire to master our inner-selves while looking cool doing it." This quote from the band represents the birth of Swami Lushbeard and where the band plans to go with the project.
The band recently released their latest EP, titled A Burning Desire. This EP dropped in late March 2013 and includes three all-new tracks. The opening track, titled "Stay Lost," is an alternative rock song that encourages the listener to tap his or her foot to the beat. With vocals that sound like those of your favorite alternative bands and a great guitarist soloing away, "Stay Lost" is the perfect introduction to Swami Lushbeard. The lyrics written by Sprouls include phrases like "Why’s it such a tragedy if I won’t look inside of me?" The meaning behind each lyric represents emotions that are commonly felt by the human race in today's age.
"A Burning Desire" Cover Art
In "My Best Thinking," the soft sound promotes positive feelings and the listener's actual best thinking. "Is this one more chance to finally grow some wings?" Lyrics like these encourage the listener to truly spread their own wings and make a change in their lives. One of the most distinctive traits of this track is the variety in sound; the beginning and the near-ending of the song sound nothing alike, adding a twist to the average alternative rock song.
The third and final track, titled "The Bottom," makes a grand entrance within the first ten seconds. Being the longest track on the album, this is the song that will close your acquaintance with A Burning Desire. With a style that resembles that of Queen, "The Bottom" proves to be a versatile and ever-changing song. An earth-shattering guitar solo makes its way into the track almost suddenly and acts as the calm before the storm that soon closes the song.
Listening to Swami Lushbeard will only expand your musical horizons as this band does not stick to musical norms as many musicians seem to do today. Check out A Burning Desire to feel what these guys feel and to explore yourself as well.