Eclipse, 'Adventure' or both?


Gainesville's Morningbell celebrates its third album at the Atlantic on Saturday.

Special to The Sun
Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 12:25 a.m.
Astronomy holds little interest for me, so, normally, I wouldn't care that there will be a total lunar eclipse this Saturday.
Back on Oct. 28, 2004, when the last one occurred, I was blissfully unaware. I had gone to the Shamrock to investigate a band about whom I'd heard good things.
It just so happens that that same band will be playing at the Atlantic during this weekend's eclipse while celebrating the release of their third album.
They call themselves Morningbell, and the disc in question is "Through the Belly of the Sea: A Choose Your Own Adventure Album."
I'm sure many of us remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. I'm almos's certain nobody remembers the same concept being applied to a record. According to the band, who did a bit of research, this appears to be a first.
Each track on the album has a corresponding "chapter" in the booklet that leaves you to decide the character's next move. Each choice brings up another song - with suggestive titles like "In a Wreck" and "Journey to the Bottom" - and another piece of the story.
Just like the title suggests, the story takes you on an underwater adventure, complete with secret treasure and battles against sea creatures.
Sure, the whole idea might sound a trifle cheesy. Maybe it is.
But it's fun.
If spinning a tale and spinning a record don't mesh for you, it's not a problem. Nothing says you have to follow the story. This album is good enough to stand on its own.
I don't know of any genre label that can accurately describe Morningbell's sound. There's a pattern to their composition, but what makes them interesting is the nearly-seamless blend of styles.
You can call them indie, neo-psychedelic, acoustic "alternative" or just laid-back rock. You'll be both right and wrong every time.
"Through the Belly of the Sea" takes you from dreamy, delayed guitar effects, to steady acoustic rhythms through pulsing electronic interludes and isolated vocal transitions.
It's not just an album to be appreciated by Morningbell fans or listeners of a certain taste. Anyone who enjoys the art of music itself would be remiss not to give it a listen.
Their live shows, naturally, follow the same lines.
Seeing Morningbell moving around on stage, energetically getting into their act, won't cause anyone to need a defibrillator.
Yet, they tend toward letting the music speak for itself. The brothers Atria - Eric and Travis - have an intrinsic dynamic when performing in front of a crowd that lends a sense of fluidity to their shows. Not to slight other members' contributions, but, when you have two people working that well together, things rarely go wrong.
Morningbell won't be alone in the lineup for this show. Joining them will be The Umoja Orchestra, Oh No! and the Tiger Pit and Orange Records label-mates Inuit Jargon.
Morningbell is the highlight, but none of the others will disappoint. I can't even choose a "second best," because each group offers something different done well.
Be it for the innovation or the style, this show offers an almost-ironclad guarantee to be a great night of music. I'm certainly not going to miss it, and neither should you.
. . .
Common Grounds is putting on a smooth show tomorrow night featuring Soulphonics and The Captives. An old-school soul act, Soulphonics will also be releasing their debut album, which I'm personally looking forward to. The Captives' reggae beats should round off the edge of their counterparts, making for a well-balanced presentation.
. . .
At the Side Bar tomorrow, ...and this is my odyssey will be adding the prog-ish element to a mix of rock styles. The Dauntless, Officer Flossies and The Grenadines are handling the lo-fi/garage and more pop portions. Five bucks for four different tastes of the genre is money well spent.
. . .
On Saturday night, 1982 is holding a benefit for...1982, with Pissing on Susie, Scum of the Earth, Cara del Gato and more. Of course, people going to the show will get the real benefit. It's an early start - 5 p.m. - but only because they've got eight bands to get through before the night's over. There's punk, hip-hop, ska and pop at this one, so there's something for everyone.
. . .
On Sunday at Common Grounds, it's a rare site to behold: a spoken-word show. Queen Sheba, of "Def PoetryJam" fame, and Sami J, of Gainesville's own The Apartment Poets, will bring their words and ideas to the stage. There will also be some music provided by quirky groove artist John Quincy Adding Machine.
. . .
Way ahead on Tuesday, The Atlantic is hosting a solid country and bluegrass night with Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band, The Damn Wrights and Guerrilla Grass, which is a conglomeration of Billy Reese Peters, Sir Prize Fighter and Peachtree. You've got bluegrass played by punks and two "damn" bands. What's not to like?
Reach Kyle at quieteidolon@gmail.com

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