& Jon Tiven have a storied history, one that would likely be the envy of
any music biz veteran with a significant amount of years under his or her belt.
Their combined resumes include efforts by Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys, Alex
Chilton, P.F. Sloan and dozens of others of similar stature. As a lyricist,
Kalinich can claim numerous compositions sung by several of aforementioned
artists and various others. Tiven, a former music journalist, took his early
R&B influences and plied them to partnerships with Bettye LaVette, Steve
Cropper and Alabama Shakes, the latter among the more recent of his many collaborations.
then, that this sprawling collaboration finds them in a more or less retro
mode, with its ample stock of joint compositions — more than 30 in all —
reflecting their prolific prowess. The first disc of this two-part opus, Yo Yo Ma/Symptomology (the Yo Yo Ma presumably referring to
Tiven’s recently departed mother) finds the duo — with help from Brian Wilson
producer Mark Linett — taking a decidedly Stones-like stance, Tiven’s
Jagger-like vocal and the band’s swagger and strut bringing to mind the Glimmer
Twins’ ‘70s era output. That’s particularly evident on songs such as “You Want
What You Want,” “When I Leave My Body,” “Grow a Pair” and “Once My Zits Go
Away,” all slithering, swampy melodies that bring especially close comparisons.
Disc two, Shortcuts to Infinity, finds them in more of an R&B
groove, the brassy “Out of the Darkness” and “Livin’ and Dyin’,” and the sheer
propulsion of “Fingers 2 the Sky” bringing to mind the sound of Muscle Shoals
back in its ‘60s and ‘70s heyday. Then again, having enlisted cameos from Steve
Cropper, Brian May and veteran drummers Chester Thompson, Steve Ferrone and
Cody Dickinson, that groove is all but assured. Nevertheless, when, on the
track “I Believe in Elephants,” they testify, “I believe in Bob Dylan and PF
Sloan,” it’s all but assured that the inspiration remains all their own.
DOWNLOAD: “Fingers 2 the Sky,” “Grow a Pair,”
“You Want You Want” LEE ZIMMERMAN