This Way to the EGRESS presents their astonishing new album Great Balancing Act. The band’s sound Is a colorful collision of ragged rock, skewed eastern european beats, gipsy ska, sultry tangos and other brands of unclassifiable musical mayhem. The album will be self-released released May 19, 2015.
This Way to the EGRESS cascades onto the stage in a breathtaking explosion of sound and color that’s equal parts unruly vaudeville, ebullient world beat band and three ring circus. The six-person troupe plays a swooning, crooning, swinging amalgamation of styles that catapults the audience through time and space with unexpected shifts of styles, costumes and time signatures. Confetti snowstorms, tuba farts, fire wielding evangelists, Balinese chanting and puppets sweep across the stage creating a jubilant, anything goes atmosphere, anchored by the band’s superlative songwriting skills and sterling musicianship. Accordion, violin and tuba aren’t instruments you usually find fronting a rock band, but This Way To The EGRESS uses them to give the music unexpected textures, while retaining a propulsive beat and generating enough energy to light up a small city.
“We always have a hard time figuring out what genre we fit into,” says Taylor Galassi, the accordion wielding bon vivant who founded EGRESS, with the help of his partner, piano plunker, fiddler and leading lady Sarah Shown. “We’re surfing on a hard-hitting wave of many colors. Gypsy, punk, ska, ragtime, Klezmer, blues and Balkan beats all wrapped up into one crazy foot stomping good time. We let the music take us where it will, regardless of genres and geography.”
Great Balancing Act shows the band putting their philosophy into action with a collection that includes tangos, reggae and stomping Gypsy beats, mixed in with a dash of old time rock’n’roll, 40s swing band bounce and classic pop. “This album was a group project, with all the band members sharing in the creative process,” Galassi says. “It was produced by Roger Greenawalt (Iggy Pop, Branford Marsalis, Joe Strummer, Philip Glass). He really knew how to get the best from us and challenged us be more focused in our playing; to allow more negative space in the arrangements. He helped us capture the sound and energy we bring to our live shows.”
The album takes off with the swinging Gypsy ska of “Let’s Not Pretend,” the rhythm goosed along by the tuba of John Wentz, Jaclyn Kidd’s banjo and Zach Martin’s galloping percussion accents. Galassi delivers the dark lyrics with a manic glee then, midway through, the band switches gears and goes into a chaotic Balkan break down, marked by an uncontained solo from Joe Lynch’s trombone. “We throw everything but the kitchen sink into this album, Galassi says. “We’ve got some tango rhythms, surf guitar, country saloon piano, Gypsy swing, a bit of punk and then super poppy endings.”
Shown’s honky tonk piano arpeggios introduce “Tarantella,” a tune that opens with a tarantella (surprise!), a flirty Italian courting dance. Then it flows into a dirty, frumpy verse, a dreamy reggae chorus and back to the tarantella. The song tells the frightening tale of a composer awakening the zombies sleeping under his floorboards to join him in a frenzied dance that will go on forever. “Devil’s Breath” brings to mind a Gypsy cowboy song with Kidd’s twangy guitar and Wentz’s cinematic tuba. “We Won’t Go,” is an exuberant drinking song that sounds like a room full of inebriated Russian Gypsies. The album closer, “Lucy,” is a polka-doowop sung by Shown; it looks into the glum realities of life, but comes away with a sly smile and a stirring, sing-along chorus. While the lyrical content of Great Balancing Act is often grim, the music is always uplifting, a giddy potpourri of sound that lifts your spirit and brings a smile to your face.
“We chose the album title because we always hashtag “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss because we find ourselves in the most interesting situations,” Shown says. “From there we got to brainstorming about the lines in the book that say” ‘And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!’ And we thought that’s it, because life is a great balancing act. Everything about this project is a great balancing act, as is everything about being human. It’s finding the place between all places where things work.”
1. Let’s Not Pretend
2. So It Goes
4. What Do Ya Want
6. You Never Know
7. This Side of Jordan
8. Devil’s Breath
9. Rogue Trip
10. Not Around
11. We Won’t Go
12. Lucy, a story about your mother.
02.12 The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
02.13 The Funhouse, Bethlehem, PA
02.20 Wicked Faire, Princeton, NJ
03.09 The Scene Scene Show, Collingswood, NJ
03.13 Cleveland Concoction, Cleveland, OH
04.10 Connie’s Ric Rac, Philadelphia, PA
04.11 Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, Bethlehem, PA
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