IMAGINARY WATERMELON – Swimming in Potential
You can purchase this at Bandcam here or at any Imaginary Watermelon gig.
Imaginary Watermelon will appear with J. Marsden at the release party for his debut solo album Gravity at the Frequency on August 24th at 8:30 pm. Also on the bill are SADBOYES and Random Lama.
Following hot on the heels of her most recent solo recording Me & Lady G (read the review here), Dana Perry is striking while the iron is hot; this time with a fully-fledged band of Madison contemporaries well-seasoned and ready to catapult her Ani DiFranco-inspired pop songs to another level. Joining Perry (who also is a member of SHESHE) in the new Imaginary Watermelon are drummer Jenna Joanis (Color Me Once, Shawndell Marks, formerly Sexy Ester), bassist Maggie Richardson (Supervillain Fire Drill) and lead guitarist and mandolinist Ellie Erickson (Croaker, Shotgun Mary, Gold Dust Women, formerly Sigourney Weavers and Getaway Drivers).
Perry wrote all of the songs, two of which are direct carryovers from her solo record, the band layering their parts on top of the original guitar and vocal tracks. “Catatonic” benefits from Erickson’s intensity and the sturdy but restrained rhythm section. “All is One” is ramped up in similar fashion with the addition of mandolin. “Manifesting light / The eternal choice to be here / is bigger than the darkness… One is all / And all is one.” The lyrics chase Lewis Carroll down rabbit holes and Perry raps off existential lines with the rhythmic snap of DiFranco, each syllable on the dot, adding flags to the vocal notes to squeeze some of the phrases in. At times it approaches verbosity but then redeems itself with the simplicity of an ear-candy chorus. Perry’s voice is strong and emotive and with a pleasing timbre.
Two other tracks are re-recordings of selections from Perry’s first solo outing The Shit in My Pockets. The mandolin/acoustic guitar instrumentation on “Vibrations of Strings” forms a nice backdrop for Perry’s more plaintive side; a call-out to her muse. The title track from the earlier solo outing capitalizes on its catchy chorus and driving pop beat; Joanis turning in a great drum performance, varying the pattern on the choruses to drive the point home.
Lots of the tracking was done in Erickson’s living room and Mike Zirkel worked his magic in the mix and mastering, keeping the electric guitars from going too far off leash and preserving the essence of the material. That said there is an underproduced feel that keeps things real; timing and other glitches left in for authenticity.
The rhythm section really shines on a couple of songs. “Ultimate Creator” sounds like the band finding itself, a driving beat with acoustic guitar foundation, sharp, staccato drumming in the middle section and some burning electric guitar. “Bells n Whistles” is more commentary on the be-all of making music. The drums are great here, changing things up throughout several sections, putting Perry’s knack for arranging a tune in the spotlight.
The album closes with “Nothing but Truth” which lyrically juxtaposes stripping things down to a kernel of truth – “one simple statement” – with a myriad of multiple-syllable words that would leave a less articulate vocalist tongue-tied. The track then goes into an extended, spacey middle section before returning to a brief restatement of the refrain, making this one of the more interesting arrangements.
Imaginary Watermelon have a lot of momentum going and there is an energy and a buzz about them. Like the album title suggests there is a lot of potential here and enough talent to allow them to really stretch their wings with arrangements, hone the lyrics and sit the electric guitars even more comfortably into the mix. Perry is no slouch on guitar either as the Me & Lady G recording attests. Keeping the trajectory she’s on could result in some spectacular music and that’s not merely imaginary.