20 YEARS LATER 'CROOKED AUTUMN SUN' IS FINALLY GETTING THE VINYL RELEASE IT HAS ALWAYS DESERVED!!!!
It's not immediately clear what Rick Bain is up to, but that's not a bad thing; "Crooked Autumn Sun," the debut album from Bain and his band, the Genius Position, is more intriguing for revealing itself gradually. The opening song is called "Three Chord #1," and the quartet does dabble in the sort of '60s pop rock that title evokes. Yet the Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter and his group are also a little bit alt-country, somewhat psychedelic and even capable of lengthy instrumental workouts.
Bain used to play in a band with Dandy Warhols drummer Brent DeBoer, and his current sound has a kinship with the Warhols' cocktail of rootsy and trippy. The Genius Position takes most songs at a woozy stroll, with organist Joe Kaczmarek endowing an appropriately circa-1967 ambience to lines like "sunburned brain cells all the way" and "it's much better when you're high." Yet most of these blissed-out tunes are reportedly about a volatile romantic relationship. Balanced between endless summer and persistent bickering, songs like "So Good" and "Not Now" are a pretty good trip.
-- Mark Jenkins (The Washington Post)
Portland, Oregon sure does seem to be a hotbed of psychedelic pop bands. King Black Acid and The Helio Sequence have been featured in Aural Innovations, and though I've yet to hear them I understand the Dandy Warhols fit the mold. And now we have Rick Bain and the Genius Position. Early Pink Floyd pop-psych and the Beatles are apparent throughout, but the band rocks hard too with a combined talent for melody and intensity. Both retro and modern, the band manage to create accessible songs that have the added benefit of being backed by a gorgeous psychedelic sound. The band consists of Rick Bain on guitar and vocals, Michael Ford on drums, Joe Kaczmarek on organ, and Eric Pfau on bass. Crooked Autumn Sun is their debut CD.
Not all of the 14 tracks on this album grabbed me, some being well written but unmemorable. But the ones that worked, worked well. Among the highlights is "Three Chord #1". Strained weaving guitar lines and trippy organ give the music it's pop-psych edge. The full band sound is heavy with a slight drone, though the organ lines and gorgeous paisley slide guitar licks are easily heard. "Lovin' Yummy" is a crashing rocker with a Beatles feel during the guitar solo. I love the organ's participation in the heavy parts which gives the music a beautiful 70's feel. On "Orlando", once again the organ embellishment and Beatlesque guitar licks go a long way toward giving the song it's power.
"You Are Still" is a standout track that opens with a cool combo of freaky noodling sounds that leads into an oh-so-simplistic but beautiful 60's pop flowery psych tune. But there's power to the song as the organ propels it into more modern and heavier rocking times. An excellent track. "So Good" is similar, but not as powerful. And "Linear High" is another potent pop-psych rocker I enjoyed.
Really good songs. But I'll be damned... these guys can also throw structure out the window and jam. The trio of "Assume The Position Part I", "Magic Horse", and "Assume The Position Part II" feature the Genius Position tripping out and exploring the cosmos a bit. "Assume The Position Part I" is a simple but mucho cool bluesy tripped out psych journey. But "Magic Horse" is the most spaced out track on the disc. Cosmic wailing guitars and totally Rick Wright Floydish organ. Then as if inspired by the Pink Floyd influences of "Magic Horse", for "Assume The Position Part II" the band let their hair down and keep the journey firmly in space. Quite nice.
So now I'm completely absorbed in these three tracks and I get to the last song on the album, "Amber Waves Of Grain", and see it's 12 minutes long and figure the band is going to completely take off now. No such luck. It's a 5 minute song, and not even one of their better ones, and then they do the tired old lengthy dead air thing that finally leads to a couple minutes of nonsense. I HATE IT when bands do that! (Sorry, that always makes me vent.)
In summary, Rick Bain and the Genius Position will appeal to fans of well written songs with a firm psychedelic influence. Love that organ. If you're in Portland and a committed King Black Acid concert goer then you'd do well to eyeball the papers for a Rick Bain performance.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz (From Aural Innovations #15) (April 2001)