6. Groovelily, Are We There Yet? (self-released)
It is utterly unfathomable that Groovelily remains unsigned. They may owe their independent status to the fact that they’re not readily categorizable; they play smart, funky, friendly pop-rock that owes debts to Steely Dan, the Beatles, and (gasp!) Stephen Schwartz. Or maybe labels just can’t deal with a band fronted by a really good electric violin player. But this is really great music, and it deserves a wider audience. The arrangements are perfect, the vocal harmonies subtle and tasteful, the solo violin and keyboard work really hot. Violinist Valerie Vigoda and keyboardist Brendan Milburn trade off lead vocal duties; Vigoda sings with passion and intensity, while Milburn is more detatched and witty, though still soulful, in his delivery. Drummer Gene Lewin takes over vocals for one track, “Diva Girl,” and he gives it a perfect, sardonic reading, analogous to Walter Becker’s single vocal outing on Everything Must Go in its cool wit. The only downfall of this album is the occasional lyrical clunker, like the “longer” / “wronger” / “stronger” and “sunshine” / “one mind” / “punch line” rhymes in “Live Through This.” But such moments are rare, and on the whole Are We There Yet? is an excellent album, full of equal parts wit and soul. Go to their site, give some tracks a listen, and buy a copy; bands this good deserve all the support they can get.
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