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Album Review

MUNRO MELANO
Running Round

Who is Munro Melano, you ask? I was asking the same thing when Aussie songstress Hannah Gillespie posted a little blurb asking that people give him a few moments of aural time because he had something to say (erm, sing). And who am I to diss Ms. Gillespie, whose All the Dirt album shoved all others out of my way for a long period last year (or was it the year before?). I mean, have you heard it? A monster of an album (you can stream it here-- you're welcome) and one which should have had music writers falling all over themselves to be the first on their block (and not to have your boy sent home in a box, as writer Mike Marino always finishes that line--- his writings are always highly recommended, by the way, especially when they apply to music).

I'm sure Munro will grant me those two plugs for two of my favorite people partially because Munro himself would love Marino's takes on Pop Culture (and especially the music of Pop Culture) and could hardly say anything negative about the Gillespie project being's how he played on it. After Hannah posted the Munro blurb, I contacted him and asked about an album and he sent me, uh, a three-song EP. Three songs! A CD and a jacket and three songs. Though I have to admit that the jacket has had me entranced for these past few months, having an outstanding picture of helicopters flying over what I assume is an Australian city, one copter having “navy” printed on the fuselage which reminds me every time I pull the CD out that the United States is not the only country in the world with one. Navy, that is.

Is three songs enough? Not hardly. Not for me, although there is a lot to like in these three. For instance, I was quite taken aback by the semi-Gruppo Sportivo sound of Expectations, a light ska-influenced track with just enough of a hint of odd chords and chord changes to make me salivate. Who is Gruppo Sportivo, you ask? Only one of the most creative bands ever to come out of The Netherlands is all and one which should have been world-renowned. Instead, they are just nowned and legends in my own mind. All that's missing in Expectations is the absurdist humor that Sportivo brought to most of what they played. That's cool, though. There is only room enough in the world for one Sportivo and, who knows, maybe one Munro Melano. We'll see. Three songs are not much to go on.

It's mostly synthesizers driving Running Round (it is semi-jazz combo driving the others) and because of that it sounds like the not-all-that-ugly stepsister but once you get past the change in orchestration, it is a mirror of what I loved about one of the tracks from Bill Puka's self-titled album from 1970. There is something in Munro's voice that brings Puka's She's Just That Way back full-force. Maybe Munro's voice is a bit lighter but it is still as haunting.

Of course, the kickoff track is the one which really caught my ear. Somersault strut-dances over a ticking metronome, jazz-tinged rhythms free-flowing and easy-going, but that's just the prelim to apogee. The key to the song, my friends, is the second “half” of the song (in truth, it is less than half) wherein the song structure changes and the harmonies begin. These are not your standard major harmonies but voices in major/minor dischord, as if Munro is singing in a different key than the background voices. Does it work? Oh, yeah. It works beautifully. It takes the song up one level at least and maybe more.

Normally, I would insert a video here because Munro has what I consider a good one for Somersault. Unfortunately, my html program will not support it. Instead, I will give you the link (click here) and you can make the jump yourself. What can I say? It's an outstanding track. And I dig the girl.

So here's what I think you should do. Check out Munro Melano, then check out Hannah Gillespie (if you haven't already), then check out the writings of Mike Marino (click on his name in the first paragraph), and then, if you have any time left, do a search for Gruppo Sportivo. They are all worth a look and listen and, well, I might not have even mentioned the others, Munro, if you had given me more than three songs. Next time, make it a full album. Hell, make it a double.

That said, thanks for the three. You done good.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.


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