I suppose it's no mistake that I received Mega Gem's Colors of the West along with the Strawberry Runners' debut (here), 'cause these two groups have a lot in common, even though the former comprises 30 members and the latter only 5. Each sounds as though recorded through cotton candy, gauzy with a Saturday afternoon's pleasant demeanor and languid benevolence, even when heavy guitars suddenly erupt in Mega Gem's energetic cuts and passages. In fact, MG sounds like a Penguin Cafe Orchestra version of Strawberry Runners invaded by a bunch of smiling maniacs amped up on Mountain Dew and Red Bull. Then there are the impish elements in Creepy Fingers and elsewhere, cavorting amid compositional chops a lot more sophisticated than at first seems to be the case.
In fact, there's as much fun and almost-boozy good fellowship in the MGs as in a good jug band. As the group's Bandcamp page says they like to party, and sure as hell they'd be a-lotta-fun bunch to down beers and bourbon with in a park somewhere away from the noise and bugtussle of a big city, an orchestral good times rock unit of brainiac nerds tickling the funny bone as they craft up an often eye-widening level of sophistication that sneaks up behind you and starts chuckling…though the simple songs like Mia's Sing-Along are just as delightfully surprising. I don't usually like good times music, doom and gloom are more my baseline, but this stuff is highly unusual and as infectious as a giggle-flu leavened with industrial strength eye-sparkle and grinning hop-leap. Don't take my word for it, listen. And if you find yourself dancing in the forest half-naked, don't blame me 'cause I'll be up in the trees, bouncing from branch to branch with the squirrels. And, man, this ensemble would be a trip and a half to see live in concert.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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