Band: Luminous Newts
CD Title: Songs from a Local Universe
Label: Independent Release (2018)
Rating: Entertaining Art-Rock styled set of tunes
I have always had a soft spot for Art-Rock bands. This is a Proggy sub-genre that includes bands such as 10CC and Roxy Music. I’ve described this style as more positive major chord music that doesn’t stretch out as much as mainstream prog might, but still manages to incorporate plenty of musical variety and creativity so as to take it out of the mundane.Luminous Newts, a band based in Berkeley, California, certainly fit neatly into this category. Their new album Songs from a Local Universe is the band’s second studio release and is a breezy thirty-five minute listen made up of eight compositions. Everything is between three to five minutes other than the closing seven-minute track called “Silence.” They’re not shy about referring to prog influences such as Genesis and King Crimson, these are supplemented by listening to bands such as Steeley Dan and Kevin Gilbert. All together it makes for a rather agreeable listen that reminds me plenty of bands like Bent Knee and Half Past Four. Featuring male and female vocals, lyrical pop music lines set up against slightly tougher Hammond organ styled pieces the listener is treated to a pretty wide range of musical adventures. Words like quirky and inventive come to mind in attempting to describe the writing approach used by the Luminous Newts and they certainly help to define the band’s musical vocabulary. These are first and foremost catchy songs, structured in an arty way that will entertain by their ever shifting and unexpected turns of musical phrase. There are some shining moments here and some that portend to something grander but perhaps not yet realized. I’d certainly like to see them stretch out a little more. All in all this is a band worth keeping an eye on.