Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson were strolling down Bourbon Street…

So anyway, Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson were strolling down Bourbon Street with Chicago’s horn section, a couple of Replacements, and a handful of modern musical hipsters, with the spirit of Leon Russell following along. When all of a sudden, Ray Davies and the Grateful Dead jumped out from a nearby alley. Now there’s a recipe for some nice, if all-over-the-place (and absolutely schizomusical) pop/rock. It’s the latest by the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, entitled Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1. Just out in February 2017.
chandlertravis-wide-www-npr-orgTo set the scene, Chandler Travis began as a founding member of Boston band the Incredible Casuals, who released several albums throughout the 1980s-90s. Soon after, he quickly formed his 8-piece (now 9) Philharmonic in 1998. Meanwhile he has turned up in other incarnations like the Catbirds and Chandler Travis Three-O. As for the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, that ensemble has produced five albums since 2000 (plus a four-song EP called Waving Kissyhead Vol. 1, which appears at the end of Vol. 2 & 1, hence that disjointed title).

The sound on Vol. 2 & 1 is the above amalgam and then some. The “then some” being the stuff from the EP: the T. Rex guitar and over-the-top Beefheartian (is that a word?) narrative “E,” the happy ska of “Your Wife and Mother” (posing the philosophical question, “Would you save your wife or would you save your mother?”), the Graham Parker/Tom Petty-infused “Human” (featuring chunks of that Replacements-style noise), and the soulful sing-along “Make Yourself Happy.”

chandlertravisphil-album-coverBut before all that transpires, there’s bright, beautiful jangle-pop (“By The Way”), bluesy, organ-driven, tongue-in-cheek-optimism (“Maybe This Is Our Year”), full-out horns-and-keyboard good times (lead-off track “You Got Me Started”), Mr. Costello with crazy sax and trumpets added (“Break The Chains” and “Going Back To Work Tomorrow”), Sunflower/Surf’s Up-era Beach Boys (“Air Running Backwards”), both those last two guys – uh, Elvis Wilson? – yes! (“Sure Gonna Miss You,” the best moment on here), neo-New-Orleans a la Mr. Russell (“When The Moon Shines”), Dixieland jam-band style, complete with Dead-ish harmonies (“Grand Rt St John”), and the wit-and-whimsy of Sparks with Ray Davies onboard (the largely instrumental “Untitled,” whose single verse actually features the word “untitled”)…plus a waltz that’s part peaceful interlude and part insane asylum (“Bobby Brown”) and a funky-beat art-rock mini-epic (what?) (“The Strongman of North America”).


Visually, if their many YouTube videos are any indication (I have never seen them live), the Chandler Travis Philharmonic are certainly a colorful crew, with their array of robes, pajamas, and hilarious headwear. And should these guys rear their hilarious heads anytime soon (there are a number of imminent dates in their native Mass. and one so far in NYC), I would suggest checking them out. In this day and age, we all need some FUN!


photos courtesy npr.org, dailygazzette.com, chandlertravis.com


One thought on “Elvis Costello and Brian Wilson were strolling down Bourbon Street…

  1. you’re my go-to site for pop music history .101,

    and .102/3/& 4 as well.


    your fund of knowledge is–as colby used to say–


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