Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers - On Being (2011)

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I mentioned in my intro post that Michigan folk-rock band Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers were a completely unplanned discovery for me. My CMJ was supposed to start at Spike Hill with a show by Baltimore duo Lands & People and then take me wherever good music beckoned me. But Joe Hertler and his band took the stage first, playing to a mostly empty crowd consisting of me, two of their friends, and then fashionable latecomers. From their first song, I was instantly captivated; they were energetic, fun, and had a blindsiding wealth of songwriting talent. So when I met them afterward and they told me of their upcoming album release, I added it to the definitely buying pile. A decision I couldn’t regret less than any in recent memory.

On Being is a soul-stirring set of wonderfully well played and even more wonderfully well-written songs. Hertler’s vocals are downright caressing but also jumping to heart-rousing highs that pack one hell of an emotional punch. Aided all the more by these absolutely fantastic vocal harmonies peppered throughout at all the right moments.

Considering how great On Being is, it seems to only get greater when you discover the fact that it is in fact a concept album: on existence. That’s some pretty heavy subject matter right there which Joe Hertler and his band do an amazing job of utilizing. The songs aren’t the kind that make grandiose statements on what it means to live but rather with are subtly colored with a feather-light touch that makes them all the more likely to resonate with listeners. There’s some religious themes but they’re juxtaposed with these sort of slice of life moments on the album (like “Devil, Don’t Steal My Bicycle” or “Carbon C-14”) that manages to both give them a bit of weight while also equalizing them a bit. On Being is an album that though it deals with all these big ideas doesn’t aspire to be much more than a good album. And that’s exactly why it’s so effective. An unbelievably great debut from delightfully talented group of musicians.

You can stream Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seeker's debut album On Being on their Bandcamp and buy it on most major online retailers.

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