Friday, August 24, 2012

FDF Volume 3 Issue 277 - Remy Zero - Villa Elaine

Album – Villa Elaine
Artist – Remy Zero
Key Players – Jeffery Cain - guitars, Gregory Slay - drums, Cinjun Tate – vocals and guitar, Shelby Tate – vocals, guitars, keyboards, Cedric LeMoyne - bass

Produced By – David Bottrill with Remy Zero

Release Date – August 25, 1998

What caused me to blow off the dust? - On a recent vacation I found myself in a used cd shop..and just seemed to pass this over when I was digging. Realizing I hadn't given it the good old “once through” in quite some time. No other reason.

Overview – This is the second studio album from Birmingham Alabama based band “Remy Zero”. The story is that the bands demo was heard by Radiohead who asked them to support them on tour. Soon after they released their debut which didn't gain much attention, but this record was early on called “the next big thing”. The album was named for the apartment complex the band stayed in while recording. They'd garner critical acclaim but after the third album the band decided to call it quits. As an aside, I didn't intend to have this be on any sort of anniversary..but the album will be 14 years old tomorrow??!

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – The 11 track album begins with “Hermes Bird”. The band slowly comes together and then the guitars bass and drums find their melody. Cinjun begins the vocals and right away you hear the clean tone. He has a mid range baritone voice and seems to feed well off the instruments. Cain, Slay and LeMoyne all seem to find that real comfort zone and it is a solid opener giving a taste of what is to come. Three of the tracks on this record found their way to films. This particular track was used in “Charmed” as well as “Felicity” The track “Prophecy” is next. This is the track that got a fair bit of attention for the band as it was included on the soundtrack to a few movies (“She's All That and “The Last Kiss”). The first guitar cuts out one side of your headphone/speaker before the monotone lyric starts. Slay then gets things moving forward. The guitars buzz and the bass finds that good groove. LeMoyne has a solid bass line that seems to really spark off Slay's drum work. The hook is there on the stuttered instruments during the chorus. I think the rhythm section should get the most credit here. “Life in Rain” finds Cinjun alone with a very subtle acoustic guitar accompaniment. Shelby Tate plays a short run on the keyboards before it comes back to the guitar and some backing harmonies. “Hollow” we find the band stretching in the the six minute mark of a track. The slow quiet build up is jarred awake with the strike from Slay and Cinjun seems to push himself a little more. Cain puts some delayed guitar chops over LeMoyne and Slay's tandem. Cinjun finds the right time to push, and the band is willing to oblige, soaring to a new height. The keyboards are up in the mix and the band seems to find a solid section to stretch out on. The guitars seem to be struck harder and you can almost hear the smiles on their faces. The track “Problem” (featured in the movie “Never Been Kissed”) follows. The band is a bit more urgent and happy. It is a nice change to hear the band seem to take off some. The guitars slowly bring up the more down tempo “Whither Vulcan”. Cinjun seems comfortable with the approach and has a bit more of a drawl to his vocals. Shelby has some longer keyboard sections and the band harmonies well around the chorus portions. A piano is the first instrument as “Gramarye” gets underway. After about 20 seconds the full band comes in and it gets a bit more of a bounce in the back beat. LeMoyne finds a solid groove and Slay keeps things steady and on point. Vocal tandem is nice on this and the back fills of piano is also a welcome addition. The guitars also seem to battle at times, again, keeping things interesting. “Yellow Light” feels a little “canned” as it begins. LeMoyne seems to be the bright spot as the guitar loops on the same few notes. The drums just feel more out of a drum machine than “live”. The band seems “busier” on the track as well, and the harmonies continue to shine. We trip out some on the guitars as “Motorcycle” gets underway. This sounds like a Radiohead track with the tight playing and cool vocals. The electric and acoustic guitars resonate well on this and we hear a bit more of the percussive instruments, adding to the full sound. The fourth track on the album to make it's way on to tv/movie soundtrack comes via “Fair”. This track was used in “Garden State” (heck the soundtrack won a Grammy Award). The two guitars compliment the vocals while the bass and drums are absent for the first portion of the track. It is a pretty ballad. Concluding the album is the track “Goodbye Little World”. Clocking in at 13:29 this is one of those “hidden” track tunes. (11:15 through we get the track “Instrumental 523”). At the start of the track there is a riff/vibe totally stolen these days by the likes of Jason Marz. Just those bouncy acoustic guitars with long verses. Sorta stare at the floor and crack a smile type songs. Its harmless, but it has been so badly duplicated the last few years its hard to accept. The track fades out about the 5:30 mark and then you can fast forward if you really want to hear the “instrumental”. It honestly is hardly worth it. Tucked away for a reason some might say.

Where are they now? - After the break up the band went on to various projects. Drummer Greg Slay died on January 1, 2010 of complications from Cystic Fibrosis. The band reformed in 2010 for a few shows in memory of their drummer. The band then said via Twitter this was the “final word”.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – Never saw them live.

FDF Overall Take – Barring the final track and the sort of senseless instrumental there are some good moments on here. I can hear the comparisons to Radiohead at times and can agree with some of the buzz. A strong record I am not sure it holds up the best today. Could be that there are too many radio friendly bands stealing this formula. Worth tracking down for “Prophecy” alone. The band had it all right there, but maybe it was before everyone else was ready.

Official Site

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
Sorry for some reason I can't embed this week?

Fair (Garden State clips)
Hermes Bird (Live from Reunion show)

It is out of print, but not too hard to find.  Start here

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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