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Transvocalizers — Dendrophile

| Feb 27, 2012
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Dendrophile by Justin Vivian Bond
CD review

Justin Vivian Bond’s latest project, Dendrophile (produced by Thomas Bartlett with additional production by Patrick Dillett), is an album that’s hard to categorize. V, (as Bond wishes to be known) has a background in theater and cabaret and that becomes extremely evident in the vocal delivery. To a lesser extend, the same can be said about the overall song selection.

V chose to open Dendrophile with American Wedding, written by J.V. Bond and Essex Hemphill, the song is simply voice accompanied by sax and bass clarinet (both played by Dough Wieselman.) Most artists use material that’s more “in-your-face” up tempo to begin a project.

While it might be something of a gamble on V’s part to open Dendrophile like this, I feel it’s more of a planned calculation to throw the listener a little bit off base. You know the entire album won’t be this sparse . . . or can it? The real attention grabber in American Wedding is the lyric content, which you’ll just have to hear for yourself.

Keeping in line with this sparse presentation are Equipoise (almost bluegrass, with Brad Albetta on bass, and Sam Amidon on banjo, guitar, and harmony vocals); 22nd Century (folkish, with a very fast vocal moment that almost ventures towards rap; guitar and drums by Nathan Carrera); In The End (written by Scott Matthew, with Sam Amidon on banjo and vocals, Thomas Bartlett, piano and vocals, string arrangements by Rob Moose, who also plays violin and viola, and harmony vocals by Dawn Landes); and the Joni Mitchell tune Court And Spark, which closes the project, accompanied by the aforementioned Mr. Bartlett on piano.

Other tunes that attest to the “hard to categorize” feel of the project are the laid back Salome (featuring the work of the previously mentioned Amidon, Bartlett and Moose), and The New Economy, which is a combination of banjo, bass, horn, and drums. The uniqueness of this one song reminds me a lot of something King Crimson would have done way back when — when that band first appeared on the scene.

Stand out tracks on Dendrophile include Genet Song, a jazz tune with a full backing band, and Crowley a’ la Lee, which is even more pure jazz than Genet Song, once again with a full band. While this one song almost sounds like an intentional rip-off of the old Van Morrison song  Moon Dance in a way, all is forgiven because of the excellent guitar work of Oren Bloedow and Amidon’s violin. This particular track is my personal favorite on Dendrophile.

The tune with the best production quality is Superstar/Diamonds And Rust, a medley of the old Carpenters tune (written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell, and the older Joan Baez tune.) V’s love of The Carpenters is well known, especially with his release in 2007 of Justin Bond Is Close To You, a tribute to The Carpenters classic Close To You. Here, V does a perfect segue from Superstar to Diamonds And Rust, then closes the medley with the chorus to the first tune. This is another song with a full backing band.

V is currently on tour and will be working on a new album project soon. Until then, Dendrophile is a listening experience that is worth checking out. From sparse arrangements to full band productions, the album doesn’t fall into that very common rut where everything sounds the same after 2 or 3 tracks. A very musical and thought provoking project throughout.

Unless otherwise noted, all songs are written by J. V. Bond. Check the CD insert for proper musician credits, some of which might have been skipped in this review. For more information on Justin Vivian Bond, go to www.justinbond.com. Also on amazon.com, facebook, and YouTube.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Tying in with Justin V Bond’s current activities, this recent email was received from Sherry Vine: “I only do a mass email once a year, and it’s that time of year! There are two Big events coming up that I’m very excited about and wanted to share them with you. Here TV presents a new variety show called She’s Living For This, starring myself and featuring David Iiku, Busted, and the Sherry Vine dancers. Musical numbers, sexy boys, hilarious sketches and special guest, Mx Justin V Bond.” While this particular installment has already aired (Feb. 24), Ms. Vine says that the show will be airing every two weeks.

Coco Peru will be performing There Comes A Time at the Renberg Theatre in Hollywood, CA on March 2nd and 3rd, 8 p.m., and March 4th at 7 p.m. Call for tickets at 3230860-7300, or go online.

Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes sent this message in regard the new projects he’s undertaken, called Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour:

“It’s only February and we’re off and running with a project that’s been in my heart for about 3 years now. That project is called Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time gospel Hour, a gender bending celebration of the traditional country gospel music genre using old time gospel standards and incorporating new, original country gospel music written by me and inspired by A Course In Miracles. I consider this project a concert and a ministry, as I feel moved to perform it not only in clubs, bars and music festivals, but also in churches. I believe that seeing a drag queen perform Gospel Music in a funny and sincere way (not a parody) is a powerful statement to all of us that we are all one regardless of our beliefs and traditions. I also will be using the Gospel Hour concerts as a fund raising platform for organizations and churches that welcome me to do so.”

Rev. Yolanda has two fund raisers already scheduled in NYC at The Duplex, as well as Texas Bear Roundup (March 15-18), Unity Center, Norwalk, CT (March 25). More shows will be announced later.

Storm Miquel Florez is also quite busy.

“Dropping a quick note to let you know how my music video/single for I’ve Been To Manhattan is coming along. So far we’ve raised $1500 out of our $6000 goal! This great, especially because it means while we still need $4500 to reach our goal, we have raised the exact amount we need for upcoming recording studio time. I’m super excited that I will be joined in the studio by amazingly talented folks including Shawna Virao, Eli Conley, Annalize Ophelian, Tonilyn Sideco, and Matt Boudreau. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated thus far, and thanks to all of you who have posted the campaign on your facebook pages! I seriously could not do this without you. We have 38 days to raise $4500 and hit the toal goal for this campaign. Every little bit helps. Please pass the word on, and donate if you can. I return, I promise excellent perks and a shiny new single/music video.” Check here for details.

SOME NEW MUSIC

Neon Hitch’s F**K U Betta is now available as a 5 track remix disc. www.neonhitch.net, also on facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

K’Naan’s Is Anybody Out There? featuring Nelly Furtado, is now available as a 6 track remix disc. www.knaanmusic.ning.com

Lana Del Rey, Born To Die. Okay, it’s not really dance material, but there are some really great moments here. Check out Video Games and especially This Is What Makes Us Girls.


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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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