Indian Oven Cooks Up Full-Length Album Full of Surprises

Tenderness album coverIndian Oven
Tenderness
(Self-release/ DIY)
Release date: 8/12/16

In a 2013 interview, the members of the Western Massachusetts indie rock band Indian Oven – Sam Carpenter (vocals, guitar, bass) and Griffin Bazzeghin (drums, percussion, harmonica, backup vocals) – mentioned exciting plans of starting work on a full-length album. Now, three years later, the duo has emerged with the finished product.

With a name like Tenderness, listeners might expect the record to be chock full of sappy love songs or gut-wrenching odes to past relationships. However, it doesn’t take long to observe that Indian Oven may have had a secondary definition of tenderness in mind when it came time to title the album – sensitivity to pain.

Opening track “Oh, His Body” cuts right to the point. Over some tuba (courtesy of Pioneer Valley musician J Witbeck) and melancholy strings (from cellist Eric Remschneider of Siamese Dream fame), a tale is told of a thin, lonely man who amidst flashes of lightning and a wounded heart is pursued by a persistent memory. It’s an intriguing character study built off images to ruminate over, and the mood is accented by churning, dirge-like music that marches almost grudgingly forward.

It gets even better on perhaps Tenderness’ best song, “Mystery Novel.” Featuring banjo and a wordless intro filled with “oohs,” the track unfolds around a repeating guitar riff in almost short story fashion. Characters include the reader of the aforementioned novel, a lost father and a mystery woman who’s “nowhere to be found.” Plus, it’s catchy to boot.

Fittingly, a host of characters contributed to the recording of Tenderness itself. Though Indian Oven’s membership consists of just Carpenter and Bazzeghin, Valley residents like Witbeck, Jamie Kent (group vocals), Alex Drenga (banjo) and Emma Cohen (vocals) amongst others, also crop up on the record.

The addition of so many players to the group’s sound lends a wider scope to the proceedings. While many songs focus on intimate subjects, the songwriting structures used consistently ebb and flow. Rhythms shift from number to number, and different musical styles meet, mutate and merge into new creations. For examples, look to the burbling country rock of “Mama Don’t Buy Me Marbles,” as well as the indie rock sing-along “Harder.”

But in the end, everything boils down to the melodies. As far as Indian Oven stretches stylistically, the band still shows a knack for hanging its songs on a particular melody or hook. To wit, one of the group’s most hummable tunes “Warm Gin” even gets a reprise as a stripped down and unlisted bonus track.

Starting today digital downloads of Tenderness are available to purchase online via iTunes and CD Baby, and physical copies of the release can be found at Turn It Up! in Northampton.

For more information on Indian Oven please visit www.facebook.com/IndianOvenMusic.

Read more by Michael Cimaomo at www.valleyadvocate.com/category/blogs/northeast-underground/

Valley Rising Compilation Series Reaches Milestone with Third Release

Like “The Godfather,” “Back to the Future” and “The Matrix” before it, the Valley Rising Compilation Album series has completed a third chapter.

And much like those classic movies mentioned above, this newest iteration of the VRCA comes with weighted expectations.

Almost two years have passed since the last Valley Rising Compilation Album was released. Featuring local artists like And the Kids, Lux Deluxe and Vesuveo amongst others, Volume Two was a far-reaching blend of folk, rock and even hip-hop. Now Volume Three ups the ante with nine tracks of hand-selected Pioneer Valley goodness.

According to a recent press release from the Collective Music Group, who in addition to producing the Valley Rising albums is also responsible for putting on the Pines Theater SummerFest and the Northampton Speakeasy Series, 15 music industry judges, “reviewed 60+ songs and scored them based on performance and composition,” before winnowing the list down to just nine.

Listen to Valley Rising Compilation Album Vol. 3 here:

Among the chosen few are tracks like the spacey instrumental “Sky High” by Mammal Dap, and the more straight-ahead rock number “You Never Told Me” by Colorway. While both groups list their hometown as Northampton, the different sounds listeners are treated to when enjoying each song seem worlds apart. Only in the Paradise City could each tune sit on the same album and not seem out of the ordinary.

Representing other Pioneer Valley towns like Worthington and Hadley, the bands Indian Oven and Bunk also pop up on Valley Rising Vol. 3 with the worthy contributions “Mystery” and “Titans” respectively. The former track is a country-tinged tale of a troubled man who loses himself in a novel, “all about a murder, that takes place in Seattle.” But the latter is a bouncy number that recalls ‘90s rockers Fastball (of “The Way” fame) with its Beatle-ish arrangement underscoring lyrics that veer toward melancholia.

Of course, Collective Music Group founder Jamie Kent is included in the action as well, bringing his particular spirit of mischief to the down-home swing of the song “Hard Heart.” It’s a fun tune that also acts as a pretty apt analogy for what The Collective hopes to accomplish with the Valley Rising Album series and its continued efforts promoting local artists in and around Western Massachusetts.

“You can chisel, you can shake, but you won’t crack and you won’t break this hard, hard, hard heart,” Kent sings.

Yes, a hard heart is often seen as a negative attribute. People with hard hearts are viewed as cold, and shut-off from others. However, a second viewpoint might be considered. An individual with a hard heart, it could be argued, has constructed an impenetrable shell around their feelings for a reason. Perhaps their emotions are so strong, they have locked them away so their commitment may never be questioned or shaken by the world at large.

Jamie Kent shows such commitment to a cause. With a focus on shining, “a spotlight on our homegrown artists, both for our local community, and the industry that’s keeping tabs on what’s going on in MA,” Kent appears unwavering in his quest. And now with a third Valley Rising album under his belt, and a release party concert on the immediate horizon, he’s ready to share once again what he holds so close to his soul. Hard heart aside, he’s in it for the music and a community for all.

The Valley Rising Compilation Vol. 3 Release Party, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., $12.50/ advance $15/ door, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton,(413)586-8686, www.iheg.com.

For more information please visit www.collectivemusicconcerts.com.

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