At a time when the musical industry has been severely hobbled by the ramifications of dealing with a worldwide health crisis, the hypnotic groove-infused musicality and carefully woven originality of regional artists Marsupial Creampie comes shining through on the ten tracks of original compositions contained on their newly released debut album titled Pass It On.
Consisting of Amelia Jo on vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, and bass; vocalist and trumpet player Andy Hahn; Lennard Zimmerman on electric guitar; and drummer/percussionist Terry Poirier, the group first formed together as a band seven years ago when they converged to nurture and incubate a unique mix of musical ideas that created an innovative hybrid sound that blends Electro-Acoustic Reggae Pop infused lyrically with an expressive and tasty blend of Soul and Hip-Hop sensibilities.
Given the emotional complexities of an Age where people are told to socially distance yet yearn for the connection of community and the human touch, Pass It On comes out at a time when the message and music contained on each of these ten tracks is needed more than ever to sooth our souls and stimulate our sensibilities.
According to Amelia Jo, the entire project took about two years to complete from beginning to end, with an ear towards crafting each track in order to maximize its listening impact by expanding the sound of each song in a manner that only the studio can afford. “It took time to build each track musically, with a goal of widening the range and adding to the texture by bringing in various guest artists such as Matt Nyquist, who played bass on Again, Ben Alcorn who played bass on Older Maid, and Leslie Gregory, who added violin to the song Where You’ve Been,” explains Andy.
Beginning with the smoldering groove of For The City and Older Maid, the added texture is readily apparent through the tasty jazzy trumpet accompaniment that Andy sprinkles throughout the tight precision and rhythmic fluidity of the song structure.
When I compliment Andy on the tasty precision of his trumpet playing, he modestly defers to comparisons of Herb Alpert and responds, “The studio production helps make my trumpet sound a lot better, plus it’s easier to play trumpet on songs things that you make-up for an original song because when you’re improvising you can’t really ‘get it wrong’.”
“I really dig it when Andy adds trumpet, as well as the way the additional instrumentation improves the sound of each track because it makes the song more attention-grabbing and gives it that Ska feel,” notes Terry. Indeed, on songs such as Where You’ve Been, an ethereal and haunting musical landscape is rendered for Amelia Jo to lay out her lyrical tale of poignant reflection and personal assessment, with Gregory’s violin accompaniment tugging at each note to give it the perfect emotional resonance.
One of my personally favorite tracks on this debut release is The Thing, which has a primitive resonance to it, as if peeling away archetypes from distant ages to grasp some form of truth through the musical mist. When I ask the band about this one, Amelia explains how it was written back when she was learning how to play the bass guitar. “I came up with this weird bass line and then Terry double-tracked the drums on it. To get that weird sound, dogs were howling when doing some of these trackings, so we included them and added effects to them, so the whold song came out like a relaxing chant.”
Following the The Thing is the album’s namesake track, Pass It On. With the tempo and chorus of a shuffling sing-a-long, Amelia Jo explains the narrative genesis of the song. “Sometimes people don’t want you to succeed in life, so lyrically this song is about surrounding yourself with people that do want to see you succeed. It’s about how we can go around negative people to align ourselves with good people; and the importance of letting things go. It’s about transition, really - Pass It On - you know what you need to do. And sometimes you have to get into these eerie parts of yourself.”
“I think Pass It On is anthemic in the sense it’s about getting everybody together,” adds Andy. “Everybody has a light so you have to pass that light on and built it up.”
The follow-up track Harlan is a shuffling swamp-boogie rhythm set to a choral harmony of plaintiff chanting and release. “Harlan is definitely an ‘in your face’ kind of song,” muses Andy. It’s got the chants in there and is really a mining song about survival and how these people achieved it. They had to face hardships and some never got out. Sometimes it feels that way in life.”
On Me is one of Marsupial’s originals that always go over strong at their live shows. Set to a shuffling and infectious rhythmic beat, with fluid lead guitar treatments by Lennard, Andy displays his melodic rapping skills in all their seamless beauty, while Amelia adds calming counter-points to each measure…almost like a hypnotic lullabye.
Again is a brightly lit shuffling ditty that also has an anthemic quality to it. Centered around the notion of change and how we never look the same nor feel the same from day-to-day, this track (again) benefits strongly from Andy’s trumpet work.
The Sad Whale is an intriguing experimental track that starts out with processed electric guitar from Lennard and an overall heavier tone to it than the rest of the recordings on this release. Unfolding like a toned down compressed almost heavy rocker, Terry’s drumming tapestries drive the song in a unique direction, with the guitars syncopated on counter-beats.
There’s also an amusing back-tale behind this tune. Explains Amelia Jo: “When I first wanted to record one of my songs I went to some other people and said I had this idea, but didn’t know how to record. I’m a minimalist type of person and when the recording came back the producers had turned it into a Bananarama sounding song. The original track was just me and my guitar, but they responded that this was the vision they had for me, so the song came back as Bananarama. At that point I said, ‘Yeah, that’s not me at all. I think I’m going to record on my own from now on.”
Closing out their debut release is All My Fault, a calming acoustic track featuring Amelia Jo with tasty flute playing from Andy, which adds another nuanced dimension to the overall mix of the album. “I really feel All My Fault balances out the album nicely because the whole album taken together has a very eclectic feel to it,” reflects Andy. “When we do our live shows we mostly play covers, which come from all over the place; so when we approached our first original album we felt our sound should come from all over the place on our own material as well.”
Originally Pass It On was slated to be released on April 17th, but had to be postponed because of the pandemic. “I hired a Sartori circus and a burlesque clown for our CD release party that we had planned for April,” explains Amelia Jo. “We had a stilt walker and jugglers lined up and Winaschnitzel was supposed to open for us, but then everything got shut down.”
According to Andy, Pass It On is available for streaming and download on any site you can think of along with several others he didn’t know existed. “We also have a small run of 100 CD copies that are available and if they sell out we’ll get some more,” he explains. “It seems the world is moving away from things like that, but if people prefer physical copies instead of online platforms we still have CD’s available for people that haven’t followed the rest of the world into that digital place.”
“We would also like to thank Allison Scott and Jeff Poirier who fill in with us from time-to-time as our bass players,” concludes Amelia Jo. “It’s good to have a couple in the pocket. Plus we want to give a shout-out to Barbarossa Brothers and Loren Kranz. We watch them and look up to them and think they are fantastic. If you don’t hear their influence in our songs, they’ve informed and influenced us by their talent and their ability to adapt. Also, I’d like to thank our website designer David Danger who helped us set things up so we can handle digital sales through our website; and Luke Goss who designed our cover art on the CD.”
“Marsupial Creampie would also like to especially thank Bob Adamczyk and Judy Prahl for being with us from the very start; and also for being the best Pouch Parents a band could ask for!”
16th November, 2023
7th November, 2023