Eleven Magazine "Through the Grapevine"
by Nelda Kerr
From the February 2011 issue
Wanna get away? Grab a comfy couch, the best speakers you can find, and your mind-altering drug of choice. Lay needle to vinyl for Humdrum's second album, The Arrangement. Turn off the lights, kick back, and close your eyes. If you time it just right, the album will burst into a hearty and colorful recollection of your 2010 escapades, rocking your hips, rocking your metaphysics, then rocking you gently towards the tenth track. But then! Just after rocking you thirty five minutes down a winding road of self-reflection, keyboardist Phil Strangman tinkers on a five minute improv-distortion of “Claire de Lune” that’ll dissolve you right out of yourself. No longer in St. Louis, you’re in space, man. You may not be Pink-Floyd-Far-Out, but you also won’t have a sonic-hangover at the end.
It’s a credit to the project and its members that an ambling solo track gets the final note. A maturity has evolved in the quartet over the last year that allows them to create with a more confident sense of technical dominion. These are disciplined musicians with clear vision, tight transitions, and sweet (never saccharin) harmonies.
The band is relentlessly self-critical and reflective. Fully developed themes find their counterpart: serious gives way to silly, time is syncopated and then released. Humdrum’s two singers - Paul Maguire and Dan Meeshans - become lyrical foils. Paul has picked up where he left off on Individual Man, exploring notions of life-after-death that wash physical form in shades of uncertainty (“where will my mind go when I die?”). Dan invites counter-entropic waves of coolness and clarity (“we’re a part of everything”).
Humdrum’s musical cohesion communicates the band’s depth of exploration better than their lyrics ever could. These guys know each other: at times I’d swear Mic’s drums and Dan’s bass were the same entity. It’s all coming together in our very midst. The Arrangement is on the cusp of greatness - I want to fast forward to their third album before this one is even released. Until then, let us revel in all they’ve created, supporting Humdrum with our moneys and our presence at their live shows. Be thankful this music comes from your city, and listen, dammit.