almost ready for the future

ALBUM: almost ready for the future
BAND: tom curless &
tHE 46%

released: 5/20/2020
 

reviewed by NADJA DEE

Artwork Design: Lindsay Murray

TOM CURLESS & THE 46%

DOWNTIME

Released 5/1/2020

FUTUREMAN RECORDS

 

Musicians:         Tom Curless (Guitar, Vocals)
                           Chip Saam (Bass)
                           Ron Vensko (Drums)
                           Ron McPherson (Guitar)

                           Greg Addington (Extra Vocals)                           

                           Garret Bielaniec (Lead Guitar)                          

                           Brian Leach (Piano)         

Recording on location at: Tempermill Studios (Royal Oak, MI)

Recorded, Mixed & Mastered: Dave Feeny

Additional Recording: Joyride Studios (Chicago, IL) Brian Leach

                                      Big Sky Recording (Ann Arbor, MI) Geoff Michael

                                      Meccanic Studio (Grand Blanc, MI)

Tom Curless has to be one of the nicest people working in the Power Pop community today. That's saying a lot because he's also immensely talented to boot. Hop On Power Pop's history with Tom goes back a few years now, when we featured one of the songs, Never Been So Blind, off his 2017 band's release, Boomerang, by Your Gracious Host on our Podcast #3.  He also introduced us to his wonderful solo release, 2018 Songs Of Movement. This one without the additional 46%, just Tom Curless, glass half full. 

So it was a pleasant surprise when I cued up ALMOST READY FOR THE FUTURE, this time by Tom Curless but with his band, The 46%, and it rocked right from the start. Always In Between, the opening track, needs to be played loud, as it's one of those "turn it up to 11" type of tracks. When I was in elementary school, someone put on a hard rock album (I think it was Def Leppard) and the cabin and someone else yelled out, "Turn it up. It hurts the record if you play it too soft!" That's kinda how I feel about Almost Ready For The Future, turn it up because it hurts the record if you play it too quietly. 

Red Record Traffic Warning Sign copy.jpg
05 Always Bloom Forever

Track #5: Always Bloom Forever (Songs of Movement)

His niceness made it difficult to turn down a review for Songs Of Movement, despite the fact that it's a gorgeous album. It has a beautiful cover which matches the beauty of its contents. We didn't review it because it's a mellow album. It's a relaxing day in the country, driving through grassy medows. Not that it lack's momements that rock (The Dream Is A Lie & Always Bloom Forever) but it has more of a pour yourself a glass of wine and settle down vibe. 

Track #1: Always In Between

OTHER THINGS THAT ARE 46%

  • 46% of promotions into Vice President roles globally were female

  • 46% of social media users are worn out by how many political posts they see

  • 46% of people say they wouldn't purchase from a brand if they had an interruptive mobile experience

  • 46% think Facebook will fade away as new things come along (2012)

  • 46% of inmates have a close relative with a history of incarceration

  • 46% of young adults, between 12 - 24 years of age, use Snapchat

  • 46% of Americans will receive a mental health diagnosis in their lifetimes

  • 46% of on demand video streaming use YouTube

I began to wonder why Tom Curless had named his band "The 46%" so I looked it up. A Google search for 46% takes you directly to an article titled, "To the 46% who approved of Trump, what were you thinking?" The article refers to the 46% of people who approve of the current "president's" approval rating. 

 

Gulp. Really? Could Tom Curless have named his band after Donald Trump?  I try to avoid mixing music and politics, mixing the art from the artist, but really? Should I continue to review this album knowing I was promoting a known Trump supporter? Hmm. I was asking the question, "Should I?" when the real question was "Could I?" 

I decided to send a quick text message to Tom. (Remember I said he always seemed like a really nice guy?)

Q: Hey Tom, why is the band called The 46%?

A: It is a band in joke, when we were rehearsing for the recording our drummer would say, “I think we have about 46% of that song down,” after a few mistakes. It made us laugh so we started saying that a lot...we are about 46% done....” Well at least we got about 46% etc., so I named the band the 46%.

I began to wonder why Tom Curless had named his band "The 46%" so I looked it up. A Google search for 46% takes you directly to an article titled, "To the 46% who approved of Trump, what were you thinking?" The article refers to the 46% of people who approve of the current "president's" approval rating. 

 

Gulp. Really? Could Tom Curless have named his band after Donald Trump?  I try to avoid mixing music and politics, mixing the art from the artist, but really? Should I continue to review this album knowing I was promoting a known Trump supporter? Hmm. I was asking the question, "Should I?" when the real question was "Could I?" 

I decided to send a quick text message to Tom. (Remember I said he always seemed like a really nice guy?)

Q: Hey Tom, why is the band called The 46%?

A: It is a band in joke, when we were rehearsing for the recording our drummer would say, “I think we have about 46% of that song down,” after a few mistakes. It made us laugh so we started saying that a lot...we are about 46% done....” Well at least we got about 46% etc., so I named the band the 46%.

With all that nonsense out of the way, I got further into the album, an album which was off to a great start. Track #2, House On Fire, didn't dissapoint.

Track #2: House On Fire

House On Fire is probably my favorite track on the album, I was singing along to it after the first listen. But there's something quite puzzling about the ending. You see, near the end of the song, Ron McPherson starts laughing and keeps laughing until the very end. It's not just a laugh of joy, or a laugh at the fact that this song was only 46% finished. Nope. It's a maniacial laugh, worthy of THE JOKER himself. Which got me to thinking, "What would this laugh sound like as The Joker's laughter?" Let's take the most recent movie, Joaquin Phonix's Oscar worthy performance, and see how it fits.

A fun, quarantine shot, safe music video for House On Fire

It's a perfect fit. Now the only question remains, is Ron McPherson part Joker or part hyena? Maybe he's both? 

But enough fun and games, there's an album to review. 

Just Wanna Talk (Track #3) slows the album down and it feels like the album is now on cruise control, take off achieved and propelled by Always In Between and House On Fire, so now, with that momentum, it's moving along at a nice speed. It's like that phenomenon when you're moving along so fast that you don't feel like you're going fast because you're in the car that's speeding along. That is, until you look out the side window and realize you're really cruising along. (See "Optic Flow")

Track #4, Buck Stops Here feels like a Power Pop version of a Loverboy song, but in 1990 or the 2000s. Sure, it's not Loverboy or even in that 80's rock style, there's no electronic keyboards or synthesizer, but it could be a distant cousin to that band or a sibling to .38 Special. In fact, if this song had been released in the 80's, complete with those added signature sounds, it most likely would have charted pretty well. 

Track #3: Just Wanna Talk

Just Wanna Talk

Track #4: Buck Stops Here

Buck Stops Here

The same could be said about Track #5, Fall Like Dominoes. It's a lost track from those rocking 80's bands. It's right up there with the most popular tracks like "Working For The Weekend" or "Caught Up In You." Both of these songs should have been big hits. 

Track #5: Fall Like Dominoes

Fall Like Dominos

If I had any complaint about this album, it's in the way the subject of the songs don't reflect the album title. Consider the follow song lyrics:

  • It's about someone who's always in between yet searching for the middle ground

  • They're tired of people passing the blame and telling them STOP, the buck stops here

  • Their friends are falling like dominoes

  • Someone who's house is burning fast because it's on FIRE! (Yet they're laughing about it)

Maybe, they're ready for the future because they're fed up with the way things are right here, right now. I mean, by Track #10, they have plans to leave at dawn and head out with miles to go. So, if you base it on that, then the Lucille Ball expression on the cover art robot's face makes sense, if Lucy is making the "Eww Ricky" face.

Track #6: Middle Ground

06 Middle Ground

What's amazing to me, when I was reviewing this album was that, on one hand, I was thankful that ALMOST READY FOR THE FUTURE was a faster, more Power Pop album. But on the other hand, the best song on this album, the ones that really stand out, are the slower tracks on the album. 

Take a song like Track #9, You Can Try. It's got this beautiful piano part by Brian Leach, which is up there with the best songs by a band like Keane. It's radio friendly, college music scene ready for the future. It's my husband's favorite song on this album.

Track #10: Miles To Go

10 Miles To Go

Track #9: You Can Try

09 You Can Try

As well as Track #7, Unexpected Knock, which isn't necessarily a slow song, but it has a very strong Posies groove to it.

Track #7: Unexpected Knock

07 Unexpected Knock

And speaking of The Posies, I thought Track #11 was going to be a cover of The Posies song, Burn & Shine from Frosting On The Beater. It's not, but it has almost the same tempo.

Track: Burn & Shine (The Posies)

06 Burn & Shine

Track #11: Burn & Shine (Tom Curless & The 46%)

11 Burn & Shine

Thinking about the overall message of this album makes me think of the state of the world at this time. To put it succinctly, it's a mess. As Tom Curless sings in Ride Along Wave: 

You can't say that I'm wrong

Your whole message is so disjointed

Your list is way too long

Nothing left to do but start again

Those are lyrics from Track #8 Ride Along Wave. It's more a song about a failed relationship, or perhaps a song about how our current POTUS, in the face of all the atrocities, has run our country into the ground. 

Track 8: Ride Along Wave

08 Ride Along Wave

At the beginning, when I was about to review this album, I mistakenly thought that the 46% could be a nod to the percentage of people who approved of the job POTUS was doing. It's not as Tom Curless has stated in quite a few places now, including an answer to me through social media. But now, I think, the naive but hopeful attitude of this album is very appropriate to the times. We have lost our footing; our country feels divided and it would be nice to find some sort of middle ground. I too am tired of people passing blame on each other, and it's time to stand up and take some of the blame myself. I know I could do more. People of color, LGBTQ people, black lives, black trans lives, foreigners and anyone who's out there just trying to live their lives. I'm tired of people less fortunate falling like dominoes. It really does feel like our "house" is on fire.  

So, I too am ready for the future to get here Tom. The present kind of sucks. 

As Tom Curless sings in Miles To Go: 

 

We got miles to go but we're almost there

It's gonna take some love and special care

This album feels relevant, it feels like a canary in a coalmine at times, it feels like someone who's hoping for a brighter future while calling out the past. The music on Almost Ready For The Future is spot on and you'll be singing along to the songs after the first listen.

 

On the front cover and on the inside are two robots. The front cover robot looks like an old school retro robot. He has a look of apprehension on his face. But, the inside robot, is a futuristic looking, hi-tech robot. This robot looks like it would be called an i-robot and reminds me of Eve, from the Pixar movie, Wall-e. If you look closely at the "fuel gauge" on the front cover robot, it looks like we have a little less than 46% of gas left in our tanks. 

 

The future isn't here yet, but this album is, and I'd say it's more than 46% finished. Great job to Tom Curless & The 46%. 

AS ALWAYS, PLEASE SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MUSIC!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUY IT HERE! 

https://tomcurless.bandcamp.com/album/almost-ready-for-the-future-2

 

LINKS

https://tomcurless.bandcamp.com/

 

DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.

                  Go to HOP ON POWER POP ALBUM REVIEW GUIDELINES

for more information:

                  https://www.hoponpowerpop.com/albumreviewguidelines

 

  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon

© 2023 by The New Frontier. Proudly created with Wix.com