The band Swami Lushbeard is a four-piece pop/rock band that calls Los Angeles home. The musicians who make up the group consists of Don Sprouls on guitar/lead vocals, Danny Kopel on keyboards and vocals, George Chrichton on bass and vocals, and Ian Michaels on drums. Who You Were?, Swami Lushbeard’s latest fourteen-track offering, is split between keyboard-driven and guitar-driven compositions, and the variety keeps it from getting stale. Rating: 4 stars (out of 5) Who You Were? begins with “Silver Bodycase,” featuring Kopel’s piano as the diving force behind the song, while Sprouls’ guitar work helps to fill out the sound. Next “Another Reason” picks up the pace. While “Silver Bodycase” has a “pop” feel to it, “Another Reason” is heavier, with the guitar work of Sprouls leading the way through a song about accepting what happens to us as we go through life. On “Broken Record,” Sprouls fill the first 40 seconds with his playing his guitar and singing before the rest of the band kicks in. This track also features some of the best harmony vocals on the album, as the other vocalists in the band join in to add depth to the lyrics of the song. “Woman: Disassembled” is one of the most interesting tracks on Who You Were? During the verses of the song, the band plays in one tempo, but changes gears and tempos during the pre-chorus and chorus to create a completely different feeling. The title of “Obligatory Pop Song” is most apropos. While all of the songs on Who You Were? are very listener-friendly, it is “Obligatory Pop Song” that sounds the most like something you could hear on the radio airwaves. The commercial feel of the song all but says “hit single.” To add a bit of humor to the album, the band included “Jesus Christ Handle.” To my knowledge, this is the only song written about that handle found on the top of the passenger-side door, which is there to help prevent that person from going through the front windshield in the case of a crash. Great song, and the humor in it just makes it that much better. “Turn Signal” is another radio-friendly number. From the opening riffs from Sprouls to the structure of the song, this track feels like the band wrote it to be released as a single. “Turn Signal” might just turn into a fan favorite. Swami Lushbeard has done a great job of creating an album in which the piano and the guitar both get a chance to shine. Whether it’s on songs like “Silver Bodycase,” where the piano is featured, or on songs like “Another Reason” where the guitar takes the lead, the ability to create a style of rock that allows for both instruments to influence the direction the music takes is testament to the abilities of the boys in the band. With this album containing fourteen tracks of rock music that hit the hour mark, there are plenty of musical moments on the release that will make any pop/rock music lover happy. Whether you like guitar-driven songs, or you are more of a fan of keyboard-driven tunes, Who You Were? from Swami Lushbeard is well worth a listen.
Based in Los Angeles but hailing from various parts of the country, Swami Lushbeard is comprised of Don Sprouls (Philadelphia) on vocals and guitar, Danny Kopel (L.A.) on keys and accordion, Andre Howie (Virginia) on bass, and Ian Michaels (Chicago) on drums. Coming from a variety of regions and backgrounds, this quartet has combined their backgrounds, influences and talents to create the album Who You Were? It begins with “Silver Bodycase” and Swami Lushbeard makes it evident that their sound is comprised of much piano and guitar. Don’s vocals are solid and his pleasing voice can bring to mind a young Bon Jovi. “Another Reason” kicks off with a nice bass line from Andre and some screaming guitar work from Don. Danny on keys keeps right up and Ian on drums makes sure everything stays up-tempo and rocking. This track has an edgy feel to it and Don’s vocals are rugged at some parts and seductive in others. The overall sense this track gives is one of excellent collaboration amongst the band members. “Legion” is a slower piece with solid instrumentation throughout. The twangy guitar rhythm in the background is a great touch and there is a melancholy vibe to this one that will make it a listener favorite. “Memories & Bills” is a lyrically sound piece that many people will be able to relate to. Don’s voice is reminiscent of Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge and his guitar solo is excellent. The rest of the band does not disappoint and this song cruises right along. “Broken Record” starts slowly with some exceptional acoustic guitar work with a western flair. Don’s vocals are perhaps the best we’ve heard so far and this is when the listener will truly appreciate his talent and that of the other gentlemen of Swami Lushbeard. With its catchy rhythm and intriguing lyrics, this will be a song that fans clamor to hear performed live. Who You Were? continues with “Woman: Disassembled,” which really showcases the eccentric rhythm that this collective has mastered. It tends to feel slightly choppy from time to time, and not quite comfortable, but this is precisely why people will love it. It’s unique and Swami Lushbeard combines a plethora of sounds and rhythms into their own signature melody that is unmistakable. “Obligatory Pop Song” is exactly what it should be. Every album needs a pop song. This is it. And it’s just about perfect too. The band really comes together in this piece. Everything about this track is mired with talent and it simply sounds wonderful. The “Obligatory Pop Song” is what the fans will want to hear, and this should be the first single. It would also be a treat to see performed live. “Out of Soul” is another classic Swami Lushbeard track with eccentric and almost out of tune coordination, but not quite. There is so much going on in this piece that the listener may not be sure what to grasp first, but the overall effect is one of chaotic harmony and the lyrics carry a subtle sense of humor that should not go unnoticed. When the song slows down and Danny on keys takes over, this track goes from mediocre to exceptional. When Don shreds the guitar to hell and back, this track goes from exceptional to excellent. Some of the best instrumentation on the album is contained in this song. “K-Town” gives Ian on drums his chance to shine, and shine he does. This song starts off mellow and there is some great harmonizing going on in this one. This piece goes up, down and all around in the best Swami Lushbeard fashion and fans won’t know what to expect next. “Jesus Christ Handle” has a fantastic guitar hook and the lyrics are intelligent and well written. The beat of this song is slightly smoother than other pieces. The vocals are the front-runner in this track, but the instrumentation is stellar too. “Turn Signal” may surprise listeners, as it is a bit off the usual Swami Lushbeard path. The guitar rhythm at the start is catchy and Don’s vocals are strong and confident. The piano kicks in and then this track takes off. The beat of this piece is more uplifting that most of the preceding tracks despite the deeper lyrics. We’ve already discovered that this band is an enigma and their music is a wonderful experience of orderly chaos. This piece is just one more original song on a whole album full of them. “Revolving Door” carries some of the best piano work yet and a beat that gets the feet tapping. This track is a crowd pleaser all the way. There isn’t so much going on in this piece that the listener’s head is in a whirl, and there is a perfect balance to this piece with regards to instrumentation, vocals and background noise. This is a cleaner sound that perhaps Swami Lushbeard should utilize more often. The album begins to close with “Innocent,” a soft piece with excellent guitar work, stellar piano playing, and a slick bass line accompanied nicely by the drums. Who You Were? ends with “Wishful Thinking” and it’s a good choice for the closer. The lyrics are intriguing and will catch the attention. In the best Swami Lushbeard fashion, this piece is eccentrically performed and the rhythm is sometimes smooth and sometimes a bit choppy. This is the classic song that we’ve come to know and love from this band of talented musicians. While there is occasionally too much going on in many of the songs, and the ear isn’t sure what to latch onto first, this is a solid album and there is clearly an overabundance of talent that lies within this group. Their unique way of perceiving and playing music will endear them to listeners and Swami Lushbeard has every reason to be proud of their album Who You Were? Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)