(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
Formed in 1973, the enigmatic Baltimore band has been a fixture in the underground music scene for many years. Oho has had their share of difficulty having disbanded in 1977 and again shortly after they reformed in 1983, just after the release of their Roctronics EP in 1984. The remaining members Jay Gabroski (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and David Reeve (drums, keyboards, vocals) soon added Steve Carr (bass) and Grace Hearn (vocals) and the band lived to see another day. That is a good thing because Bricolage is a very good album. Although the band does not release a lot of albums it is hard to complain once you hear the music. This is clearly a case of quality over quantity as the band has only recorded a handful of albums during the past thirty plus years.
Bricolage consists of twenty tracks, the first thirteen of which have never been released and were recorded between 1983 and 2000. The last seven are listed as bonus tracks originally released on the OHO, Up and Oriency Anthology albums. Bricolage has the band going in a more folk-like direction rather than the psychedelic acid explorations of their earlier albums. Joining the four core members are numerous female vocalists and various musicians adding instruments like violin, sax, flute, harmonica, theremin, mandolin and more. The result is a richly layered, organic sounding album that works on all levels. Electric and acoustic guitar are blended together almost perfectly and the female vocals are excellent throughout, including the background harmonies. The earworms keep coming track after track making this one of the most melodic albums I have heard this year.
If you like bands like Mostly Autumn or early Fleetwood Mac you should find plenty to sink your teeth into here. Some of my favourites include the acoustic folk pop of “The Great Attractor” with its delicate flourishes of acoustic guitar, the musical build up in the quirky yet progressive “Time” with stellar acoustic and electric guitar and the Fleetwood Mac inspired “Dream Lifted Up” with spot on drum work and some ripping electric guitar. The rest of the CD is just as good and the sound quality is excellent throughout.
The DVD features a photo gallery, CD credits and lyrics and concert footage from a variety of venues including the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood, CA and the Wammy Awards (a Washington area awards show). The video footage is somewhat grainy and the sound quality is not as good as on the CD but this is still a nice addition to have. Also scattered throughout are snippets of interviews giving us more insight into this strange band.
Although this CD is not as eclectic as some of their past releases I like the band’s change in direction. The songs are more accessible while still retaining a progressive edge and the melodies are everywhere. Highly recommended.