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Fleeting Phases: Falling for Once and Future Band

Posted by Kells, September 28, 2014 07:25pm | Post a Comment
once and future band brain ep mouth magazine record vinyl debut san francisco prog psych rock Joel Robinow (keyboards/guitar/vocals), Raj Ojha (drums/recording engineer) and Eli Eckert (bass/guitar/vocals)

Sheesh, it's been a minute since I've thrown my two cents into this here pot and I've got a lot of pennies to spend. So far, 2014 has been a damn good year for new music and I would like, if I may, to take you back to May when a local band dropped one hell of a debut EP for the ages.

Seemingly fixed somewhere between derivative approximations recalling the Crimson courtiers of Progressive Rock and master multi-part harmonizers of yore like, for example, maybe Wishbone Ash or Bubble Puppy, it could be said that Oakland's Once and Future Band has calculated dead reckoning in waters more well known than uncharted. However, this assessment is flawed. Roughly two minutes into the sprawling eponymous opening track of their debut EP, Brain, when lead vocalist, guitarist, high synth-sayer, and man behind the dream Joel Robinow (of Howlin' Rain, also wearing an exceptionally well designed OAFB tee, right over there) sings, "everyone knows ‘cept yourself that these phases are fleeting, time to take stock and face up to the path life is leading", it's time to give up and give in. The nearly nine minute saga advances not unlike said fleeting phases, progressing along most unpredictably in stone grooves, lucid pulses, transitory textures, and ascending arpeggios, executed with a passion for sound and vision so palpable that any trifling comparison made to apparent forebears would seem a dull and heartless pursuit. Considering the first track alone, it is clear that this band possesses something of a sonic timelessness, a quality that perhaps gives some credence to wanton Steely Dan-ish, CSNY et cetera Classic Rock banalogies, but is rather more a result of a fortuitous confluence of unabashed creativity and masterful musicianship. Fact: these guys make music magical, fanciful, adventurous, and valuable -- every second worth the effort. Once and Future Band simply rules. And they would still rule even if Rick Wakeman had said "no" to Yes.

once and future band poster rad joel robinow design art artwork Ale Leonelli of Studio Gogogoch local san francisco oakland bay area prog rock psych band
bomb-ass OAFB poster by Ale Leonelli of Studio Gogogoch

The rest of the record rules too as it is teeming with appeal. Extra special gold stars are due in part for  overall multitude of tight vocal harmonies and Phil Manley's contributions as well as for the triumphant guitarmonizing solo and soaring synth sendoff that launches "Heavenly Bodies" into full orbit, closing out the album with a full on spacial delivery rather than sticking the landing. In the meantime, I'm hoping these fleeting phases are enduring and indicative of an eventual full length LP from OAFB, provided that the trio, Joel along with drummer/recording engineer Raj Ojha (also of Howlin' Rain) and bassist/co-guitarist Eli Eckert (Drunk Horse), can take stock and face up to their professed impetus for convening in the first place i.e. "performing and recording Joel's massive library of songs before they are lost to the ages after the Great Hard Drive Crash of '12".

Whatever the future holds, I am presently enjoying this EP more than ever.
There is something rather seasonally correct about these far out and fantastical extended Psych/Prog jams. They pair perfectly with Fall, particularly the brisk Autumnal awakening that follows Summer's September last stand. I've been rockin' this sweet baby on the hi-fi all summer looking forward to the satisfaction and propriety of listening to it come Fall. Which reminds me, if you're looking to catch these guys live, I suggest holding out for their upcoming Halloween show at Amnesia. OAFB will be sharing the bill with SF local Black Sabbath cover band extraordinaire, Bobb Saggeth. Which also reminds me...

Now, I'm not one of those folks who habitually shucks and jives about "you had to be there and you missed it" shows and performances, but great balls of almighty hellfire, if you missed the life-giving world premier (and very likely only performance?) of the devastatingly funky all-Betty Davis cover band FRONTBUTT (featuring OAFB's Joel Robinow on keys and all five members of Bobb Saggeth) you done bungled bigtime, bra. It was so very major.

All FRONTBUTT photographs below by Gabriel Wheeler.
frontbutt betty davis soul funk diva miles cover band san francisco bobb saggeth once and future band joel robinow josh pollack warren huegel meryl theo press photography gabe gabirel wheeler
frontbutt betty davis soul funk diva miles cover band san francisco bobb saggeth once and future band joel robinow josh pollack warren huegel meryl theo press photography gabe gabirel wheeler
frontbutt betty davis soul funk diva miles cover band san francisco bobb saggeth once and future band joel robinow josh pollack warren huegel meryl theo press photography gabe gabirel wheeler

Go see Once and Future Band. Buy their record at Amoeba. If FRONTBUTT ever plays again don't miss it.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! While you're down here you should totally check out this What's In My Bag vid featuring Joel Robinow + Garrett Goddard + Ethan Miller = Howlin' Rain!

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Betty Davis (4), Frontbutt (1), Bobb Saggeth (2), Eli Eckert (1), Phil Manley (1), Raj Ojha (1), Howlin' Rain (2), Joel Robinow (1), Once And Future Band (1), Progressive (1), Psych (16), Rock (26)