Inventing an entire genre ain’t easy

by By Paul Olund /  / Updated  / Source: msnbc.com contributor

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Tucked on stage at a trendy Hollywood club, Bedroom Walls’ tenderly complex melodies slowly slink, gathering speed and intensity as the eclectic mix of foot-stomping hipsters howl and clap from the crowd. And then the music stops.

“F--k.”

At that, the audience roars to laughter. Smiling, Adam Goldman, the band’s thespian front man, sloughs off his failed recitation of a song off the band’s new album. One more time and Goldman is on track, toying with the crowd as his syrupy vocals drip over co-crooner Melissa Thornes’ adulating purr.

In the rear, bassist Jeff Kwong and keyboardist Donna Coppola plug away quietly, as drummer Vanessa Kaufman bangs away on her kit. Nothing out of the ordinary, until an unexpected game of musical chairs sets them all on different instruments. Then, showing that it’s not all just an act, they begin to play.

Visually, the rotating group of part-time musicians wouldn’t be out of place at of one Warhol’s signature basement bashes. Singer-songwriter Goldman acts the part of the band aesthetician, dappered to the T with a disco-era white suit and floppy rocker’s hairdo. Perhaps a set piece from his stint composing scores for porn movies, or his way of standing out in a group of 11 on-and-off members, the stage theatrics of an otherwise quiet, thoughtful frontman play nicely into Bedroom Walls’ often conflicting musical identity — unabashed clamor vs. reticent euphony.

Such contrasts are palpable on the band’s new LP, “All Good Dreamers Pass This Way.” Building lush arrangements that skillfully display their talents, Bedroom Walls bust out tunes that sound as tight on cellophane as they do on stage. Drum smacks, bass drops, tinkling keys and Goldman’s unmistakable presence on guitar anchor each track, while the band’s seemingly unending supply of instrumental goodies — tambourine, glockenspiel, violin, clarinet and melodion — juice up each song to perfection.

On “Kathy in Her Bedroom” Goldman raps on the realities of love: “Well hello / I never thought that I would get through from before / I always wanted to forget you.” But soon recants: “Well hello / I never wanted to forget you.” Later tracks droop briefly in lieu of a few well-placed production tricks, creating a moony ambiance that remains throughout the disc’s darker second half. “Somewhere in Newhall” plays nicely to the band’s dreary disposition as Goldman chants, “You were sinking / Just one breath / Just one breath,” to a cast of battling violins.

At just over 40 minutes, on “All Good Dreamers Pass This Way” the Bedroom Walls crew lilt along softly, throwing down harmonies that glide casually toward the cosmos before drifting back to earth. An ethereal experiment in pseudo lounge rock, the band successfully transcends the genre by marketing its own brand of indie music — “romanticore.”

The band explains: “‘Romanticore’ is the term we coined for the kind of music we make. Some elements include: staring at the ceiling; sedatives; stale cake for breakfast; sighing too loudly; knowing your ex-girlfriend is happier now,” and the list goes on. Egotistical to acknowledge their sound as revolutionary? Maybe. But the name fits.

In Flaming Lips/Broken Social Scene/Pink Floyd fashion, the Bedroom walls show they’ve successfully mastered the use of dynamic composition, delicately wafting tinkly guitar over keys and strings to utilize the open space of a simple drum beat. Undercast bass lines and a few doses of the melodian add to the disc’s orchestral feel, offering a classical quality that at times seems more in line with Mozart than David Gilmour.

Much of “All Good Dreamers Pass This Way” moves in this direction, exalting the impressionist quality of a fine piece of art. And like a great painter, Bedroom Walls embraces its own dedication to creative exploration, trying desperately to walk the path of artistic discovery.

So far, they seem to be right on track.

For more information on Bedroom Walls, visit http://www.bedroomwalls.com/.

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