For someone who began his musical career in the ’60’s, Cape Cod mainstay Chandler Travis shows no signs of slowing down on his quest, having recently released his latest epic, Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1.  Whether it was with The Incredible Casuals, or now, under the guise of Chandler Travis Philharmonic, Mr. Chandler makes it his aim to deliver the most unpredictable forms of pop music he can (in one instance, it can be referred to as “unpop”!).  If you were to mix the likes of XTC, The Kinks, Sun Ra, NRBQ (and a slew of others), you may be able to distill where Mr. Travis’ influences lie.  Nonetheless, you’re in for a rollercoaster ride with this album. After 51 albums, you don’t know where he may go next – and that’s a good thing!

No matter what the quirks may be, the man knows how to put together a pop framework, even within the nuances; “You Got Me Started” is catchy, upbeat and yes, it isn’t something that wouldn’t be familiar on an XTC album (especially during the Barry Andrews period) – hooks, big production and throwing everything into the stew – guitars, horns, keyboards – you name it, this opener has it all.  “Maybe This Is Our Year” is wry, slightly demented and has brilliant touches of New Orleans-style jazz; “The Strongman Of North America” has stylistic and time changes all over it, making it more like a suite than a single composition, but it makes it fun, intriguing and interesting; “Here For A Reason” is slower and more low-key and mixes an almost easy-listening vibe with blues and “Break The Chains” is a straightforward, uptempo pop-rocker and an album highlight.  “Air Running Backwards” is another outstanding pop-masterpiece (emphasis on masterpiece); “Sure Gonna Miss You” echoes a ’60’s/surf-tinge – simply classic and “Make Yourself Happy” is a good-time track that (for me) gave me pause to think about The Lovin’ Spoonful.

I understand that 17 tracks can be a lot to digest but you’re bound to find more than one thing to please your ears in this cornucopia of sounds offered by Chandler Travis.  It’s impossible to resist and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most – finding the beauty.  And there is a lot of (chaotic) beauty in this collection.


Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1 is currently available


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About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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