Wells Goes Big(ger)

Singer/songwriter Jason Wells' band, FOR ALGERNON, assembles for a CD release party Saturday at The Poison Room. Wells and Co. ­ celebrating the release of the new album, remember why we ran &#

Jul 26, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Singer/songwriter Jason Wells' band, FOR ALGERNON, assembles for a CD release party Saturday at The Poison Room. Wells and Co. ­ celebrating the release of the new album, remember why we ran ­ will be joined by locals Ashley Peacock and The Spectacular Fantastic, plus singer/songwriter Matt Marque, whose latest album, Nothing Personal, features guest slots by members of Wilco and Fruit Bats.

Wells' previous releases (remember is the third long-player under the for algernon name and his fourth overall) have been isolated affairs, with the multi-instrumentalist recording most of the sounds himself. It was an approach reflected in the songs, which seethe melancholy and float on intimate atmospherics. While the songs on remember retain much of the close-quarters mood from past releases, Wells incorporates a large supporting cast this time out, including the members of his live band and local musician friends like Misty Perholtz (The Newbees) and Andrew Geonetta (Bulletproof Charm).

The tasteful ornamentation (organ, piano, synths, melodica, additional lead guitars) is enhancing and engaging, but it's the songwriting that's the centrifugal force of Wells' output, and remember why we ran contains some of his best songs yet. He cleverly uses a running theme throughout the record, based on two people — one just out of a long relationship and the other yearning to get out of one — who connect but ultimately fall apart because they're looking for happiness in others instead of within themselves.

In lieu of grand poetic statements, Wells tells the story through the characters' own words. It's a brilliant device, as the lyrics often sound like they could have been cobbled from actual conversations and arguments overheard through thin walls. On the track "Salt," for example, we hear this exchange, which should register with anyone who's had a "We need to talk" moment with a lover: "So go on, do what you want to/Unlike you, I give you support/I think it's safe to say, that we're losing this game/And money's not the only thing we're short."

The songs continue in Wells' low-key Indie Pop tradition, with the wispy, emotional resonance of Wilco songs like "She's a Jar" or the work of amazing Chicago singer/songwriter Chris Mills. Built around gentle acoustic strumming, Wells' songs feature magnetic melodies that go from unassuming and somber ("The Army That Is You & Me," "That Angel's Song I Heard") to buoyant and classic ("Grey Ghost," "September of When"). With remember why we ran, Wells has crafted a poignant, humble masterpiece that will haunt almost anyone who has ever experienced relationship woes and charm any Indie music fan who lives for honest, emotive songwriting. (foralgernon.com)

'Heaven' Can Wait
Local Progressive Metal trio BLOODSEAL, formerly known as The Seventh Seal, returns to the local music scene for a show/CD release party Friday at the Wyoming Fine Arts Center (322 Wyoming Ave.). The band takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

The band is celebrating the release of its new disc, Silence in Heaven, a curious fusion of Metal, Prog, Classical and Dungeons & Dragons-like imagery. Bloodseal's cited influences like Rush, Maiden, Sabbath, Yes, Motörhead, Blue Oyster Cult and Bach give a good sense of what's contained on the epics within. Musically, the band is at the very least interesting, laying down a mystical, boundless landscape of vintage Metal. Guitarist Chris Dunnett, known more these days for his impressive acoustic guitar-virtuoso releases (which draw on Latin, Classical and World music), provides proficient, creative guitar flash, which will certainly get a rise out of Metal guitar-heads, and drummer "Troll" offers theatrical Neil Peart-esque fills throughout. Prog fans might appreciate the dynamically bloated, melodramatic song structures, which wander well over the seven-minute mark on a few occasions.

Those not into Prog Metal are advised to stay away, unless they're looking for a good giggle. Bloodseal often come off like a local Metal band version of Spinal Tap (the "Stonehenge" years). Singer Augustus Bludstone (also of the Punk/Metal band Bludstone) usually doesn't so much "sing" as "speak," sounding like Jello Biafra on a Tolkien bender. The lyrics are also pretty comical, with references to beasts, demons, runes and The Necronomicon (if you don't know what that is, Bloodseal isn't going to float your non-HP-Lovecraft-lovin' boat).

If the songs on Heaven were better executed, it would just be pretentious and overblown, forgivable sins in Progland. As it is, it's mostly a confounding, impenetrable mess. (myspace.com/bloodseal)

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com