about Chandler, the Three-O, and the Philharmonic
10 Best Concerts of 2011- Chandler Travis Philharmonic at The Linda (November, 2011) …not just my favorite show of the year, quite possibly my favorite concert of all time, period. A rare night of something spectacular happening on stage from uproarious virtuoso start to sublime and quiet end.
Dixieland romps, twisted Mardi Gras marches, sweaty 60’s rock, smoky torch songs, and occasional novelties that sound somewhere between Randy Newman and They Might Be Giants, all with hilariously offbeat lyrics. The world would be a better place if Travis would only visit more often.
the best band in the universe …
The amazing Three-o is our favorite: they can play anything the highly unconventional nine-piece Dixieland/avant-jazz/pop Philharmonic can play, and then some. The focus is tighter, and the songwriting, which has always been at the heart of Chandler’s bands, gets center stage in a way that is not possible with the riotous pageantry of the full Philharmonic.
… a strange, wonderful, totally distinct ode to musical mastery and nonsense… imagine Andy Partridge of XTC and Beat poet Gregory Corso, wandering between Saturn and New Orleans to sit in with the Sun Ra Arkestra… at once simple, abstract and wondrous to behold.
…playful original songs that mix mind-bending wordplay with jazz, shimmering rock, and horn-fuelled R & B.
Bob What’s-Is-Name – the best song you never heard, unless you live on the Outer Cape
A keenly entertaining blend of the Ringling Bros. and Ra…[that] puts the harm back in Philharmonic.
What Frank Sinatra is to New York City, what Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey, what Elvis Presley is to Memphis, Chandler Travis is to Cape Cod.
What really ropes you in is the awesomely courageous and gentle way Travis explores human emotion. All his many love songs are at the heart of it all meditations on this theme– not sentimental wishy-washy fantasies of imaginary happiness, but site specific stories of two way streets, cul-de-sacs, and dead ends. It’s honest in confronting the tragic aspects, as well as the delirious joys, of falling in, out of, and sideways in love.
Most excellent show on Mayo Beach…first time I ever saw a trumpeter receive a pizza delivery onstage, eat a slice in two bites, and turn the plate into a mute before the song was over.
…Jonathan Richman for adults…
…like a Mexican version of the Bosstones on Caribbean holiday…
Little did I realize one of the greatest nights of my life would unfold in St Joseph Michigan. No foolin’ -Friday June 15, The Chandler Travis Philharmonic dropped into a west Michigan club, Czars, and proceded to tear the roof off the dump. Sheesh, they were great. I was really uncontrollably shaking…
…[CTP’s] gleeful tendency to ignore genre boundaries -not to mention the musicians’ preference for goofy costumes -evokes New Orleans. Elvis Costello-like pop songs, avant-jazz vamps, novelty pieces, and way off-beat lyrics factor into the wildly inventive mix.
…a one-of-a-kind songwriter whose absurdist wit coexists with a bruised idealism that gives his best tunes a deep and haunting resonance.
this man should either be locked up or made king of the planet. Despite the apparent anarchy, the band (playing their “psycho-jungle-dixieland”) is incredibly tight.
One of the best shows in recent memory. So get this latest record, Kitty, but get clued into their website and side projects, and know when the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is coming to town, because that is something you don’t want to miss, ever.
Travis treads a fine line between chaos and genius. … But even when he was just making noise, it sounded like beautiful music.
[Chandler Travis Philharmonic] exist somewhere on the continuum among middle period Kinks, any-period NRBQ, maybe a pinch of Sufjan Stevens, and every Grammy winner in every category in the history of the world.
Great songs. Great harmonies. Clever arrangements, visuals, and just a whole lot of fun.
An ineffable blend of humor, sincerity and lush dreaminess -not to mention that the Three-O is entertaining, charming, and spell-binding to watch!
He’s a true New England eccentric, a master of daft power pop, and live, he plays in his pajamas…
From the sing-along party anthem “That’s What She Said,” bare-bones and raw, to the “I’ll Simonize your parents, if you don’t Simonize them first” straight-ahead Kinks, Replacements rock vibe of “Wireless” or the lush “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly,” you know you’re going to have a good time.
…dazzling musicianship and fearless merry-making… explores the terrains of love and life’s absurdities with rowdiness, tenderness and a sardonic faith in humanity that never wavers… we’re witnesses and co-conspirators in something that feels magical.
…these musicians have got serious chops, as well as a really twisted sense of humor. The Chandler Travis Philharmonic is more fun than a barrel of pancakes.
Dixieland, pop, avant-jazz, rock…and fully over the top
…a truly original musical experience.
smart, swinging and winningly strange… a fairly fantastical free-wheeling show full of memorable tunes
…one of rock’s true originals.
What more do you need? A party hat.
It is often difficult for fans to say just what attracts them to Travis’ music. But attract them it does! As the composer of “a few hundred” songs, Travis offers a wide array of musical moods at each show, allowing every fan to enter and engage in their own way.
Not unlike NRBQ meets Sun Ra on the beach, doing bong hits spiked with primo acid and laughing gas.
The horn players howl, the rhythm section wobbles, and the boss pulls lions out of his hat…if you’re in favor of Vegas weddings, the Firesign Theatre, and the Bonzo Dog Band, you could have yourself a dada field day.
…when you stripped away the nuttiness, the music was refreshing and strong. The nine players could not hide their competence, no matter how hard they tried.
about “This is What Bears Look Like Underwater”
[Five stars (top rating!)] The album’s almost uniformly ridiculously good… hungry, sad, beautiful, and funny – a collection of music so cumulatively beautiful that imagining its live impact is almost painful.
Make the Small Things Pretty” is a pop song with the damndest sense of dynamics I’ve ever heard, flowing along at an easygoing pace—so easygoing!—and with lush melodic breaks which slow the pace even further, yet somehow it works brilliantly, mostly due to the irresistibly chiming hook in the main guitar line. It’s a song every bit as risky and rewarding as a Brian Wilson confection like “The Little Girl I Once Knew.” Nearly as great is the inimitably loping, gorgeously melodic and impeccably constructed toe-tapper “Paper Roses.” The astonishing thing about this record is that the pace is mostly slowed way down, yet the melodic values are so strong that on the best numbers you can hardly bring yourself to stop tapping your feet all the same.
…a record that’s full of sincere joy, lacking a single particle of jaded attitude. Plus, as far as categories go, I’d have no idea where to place it. That’s always a good thing for my ears.
The disc feels at times like a back-porch session somewhere near Morocco, at other times like a lazy ramble through a smoke-filled pawn shop. All that salt air seems to produce a devil-may-care approach that results in songs that are nonetheless incisive and compelling.
about “Chandler Travis Philharmonic Blows!”
…a flat-out party…more great musical merriment from CTP.
…The Philharmonic is like no big band you’ve ever heard. There’s R&B, jazz, some lopsided Dixieland, blues, and rock & roll. Best of all, this stuff is just hilarious!
…pure, unadorned heart…Even if you’ve never seen the band before, the wild carousing brass, ringing electric guitar, boisterous handclaps and whoops make it clear how amazing it must be to experience the band live.
Discs like this restore my love for sound and the written word. With its pickled Dixieland ebullience, wicked irreverence and demented melodic sparkle, “Blows!” is unbridled joy clasped between two covers (both of which, incidentally, are hilarious).
One of the things I love about this latest CD from the Cape’s quirky musician is the delightfully personal feel of having been invited to an afternoon jam session, complete with adult beverages and lots of laughter.
about “After She Left”
Chandler Travis is creatively liberated … [After She Left] works softly over a group of plaintive musings built around the ageless and somber notions of love lost.
“After She Left” recalls Mose Allison working with Burt Bacharach… gentle romantic elegance… 6 stars!
There’s a hushed intimacy and quiet restraint about “After She Left” that seeps directly into your bones… – a complete 180-degree turnaround from the exuberant antics of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.
… full of downbeat ballads, but with quite astounding musical and lyric detours sewn inside familiar and engaging pop song structures, like a coyote in a pillowcase.
…a gently stunning meld of melancholy and chin up/feel-good sentiments… songs, chops, brains, and attitude galore.
An evocative mix of sadness, longing, stubbornness, tradition, humor and kind-hearted acceptance.
a rare and unexpectedly sincere solo album
Atypically moody and contemplative but also typically smart, funny, sad, and tuneful.
about “Tarnation and Alastair Sim (a/k/a) ‘Kitty'”
If the members of Monty Python had grown up sneaking into bars in New Orleans, they’d have formed a band a lot like the Chandler Travis Philharmonic. The 48 tracks include a CD-opening Christmas song, ad jingles for fake products (including Unibrow Man Oatmeal) and stream-of-consciousness gibberish voice mail from comedian George Carlin left on Travis’ answering machine. The disc also includes some delightful Dixieland-flavored pop songs (“Wireless” and “Must Be Love” among them) that prove what we already knew: Travis and crew are as talented as they are clever and bizarre.
…wonderful, trippy, wild and rewarding… the final track sounds like you’ve duct-taped blown 1985 Walkman speakers to your head and had a drunken rhinoceros push you on a rope swing.
Inspiring, creative, and honest… To think that this wild group of eight music makers can keep us entertained with such unusual tunes is a compliment to Travis’ obviously natural flair for harmony. The album never sounds forced or stupid. It sounds creative and honest.
More or less the antithesis of the expected, the CTP is an eight-man musical ride from Dixieland to jazz to pop to the avant-garde and back again. As wacky, zany and bonkers as the music is on tarnation & alastair sim, the CTP does something that should be done more often – it makes music fun. Living up to everything it’s created since its 1996 debut as a traveling band that would be proud to be called a circus too, tarnation is an album that touches a lot of musical bases. At 48 songs (less than 70 total album minutes), there’s a version of “Brown-Eyed Girl” that definitely won’t remind anybody of the original. “Vasco de Gama” features a 50-vocal track; “Dance Godammit” will most likely elicit that exact response; “Ronald” reminds that the CTP is actually a tight musically driven orchestra; and songs like “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly” showcase sitar, mandocello, and four drum kits.
… a dynamite band… one giant ball of explosive thunder… there is no real way to describe the music except to say big, bigger, biggest.
…playful original songs… mind-bending wordplay…
a tour de force that canters effortlessly from horn-y Dixieland jazz to sitar-laden psych-rock to Princely funk to whimsical ephemera…
Travis and his Philharmonic raucously plow back into town with their overstuffed new CD Tarnation and Alastair Sim and its 48 (!) songs. Such overstuffing is just part and parcel of the CTP experience: too many genres (glam rock, Afropop, ska, r&b, Christmas songs, free jazz, Dixieland, Tom Waits-y art-clank, funk) going toe-to-toe with too many instruments (horns, mandolin, synths, guitars, sitar, mando-cello, strings, four drum kits) disgorging a hodgepodge of over-the-top wacky fun.
Among the highlights are the live opener “It’s Almost Christmas Again”, which turns a joyous observance into a tinsel-covered threat, the swirly eastern flight “I’m Chandler’s Butterfly”, the poppy “Wireless”, the soul-grooved “Strong Strong String”, the blissful tongue-twisted toe-tapper “Must Be Love”, the island exploration “Vasco Da Gama”, the zapped-out musical comandment “Dance Godammit” and a brilliantly twisted version of “Brown-Eyed Girl” that finally gives Van’s anthem its long overdue trip through the wringer.
There is no one quite as cracked as Chandler Travis… a crazy carnival of sound… an alternative Dixieland band but so much more — wild detours into rock, pop, spoken word, and experimental sound collages… suggests a gene-spliced hybrid of Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” and “The Who Sell Out”…
Like some cosmic collision between NRBQ, Marcel Duchamp, Captain Beefheart and Spike Jones, the Chandler Travis Philharmonic is utterly charming and totally unpredictable.. lots and lots of fun.
A long and winding road with a surprise around every turn, “Tarnation and Alastair Sim” is a joy ride whether you’re a frequent or first-time Philharmonic flyer.
This band will bring you joy… trippy, jazzy, poppy, rockin’… a record that’s impossible to listen to and not smile.
about “Llama Rhymes”
…never a dull moment… Travis is a rock-n-roll Brittanica … obviously dead seious about his music.
At first glance you may be surprised at their weird, cool, and strange world, but soon you’ll be fascinated by the charm of the songwriting (which may remind you of Elvis Costello); then you will have big fun with the co-existence of free noise and melancolic jazz-pop, and with the humor of a cult glam-rock show. This is just a great omni-pop record.
Intelligent, imaginative, witty, entertaining, and sometimes sweetly sentimental, “Llama Rhymes” is a CD that reaches the head, heart, and feet.
…the band sounds an awful lot like the Kinks circa Muswell Hillbillies (“My Old Man”), or XTC circa Oranges and Lemons (the instrumentally brilliant and lyrically witty “Village of the Darned”)… they are frighteningly versatile, and many of their arrangements are almost symphonically meticulous and complex…
“Llama Rhymes” is one of the best and most indescribable Cape Cod record releases in years, if not ever.
about “Let’s Have a Pancake!”
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic are a huge cosmic accident…very odd, very beautiful, and you know there’s a message in it all. We need more bands with this kind of nerve and the tunes to back it up…a delicious, nutricious, and total mind-fuck.
They put the fun back in dysfunctional!
…might be the most unconventional act on earth…a Cape Cod version of surf-punks Sublime, substituting Dixieland for ska in a lively mix that will make a great sound track for your next clambake…one track sounds like Loaded-era Velvet Underground gone berserk…
“Pancake” is a skillful, fun, sometimes funny collection that is played with joyous, wreckless abandon, and the Philharmonic is the best damned music show you can see in a small club ever.
…like filling a music store with laughing gas, then turning eight wonderfully talented virtuosos very loose inside…seriously sharp and spirited…
Fast and giddy and loose as a clown’s drawers, his Philharmonic sounds like the ‘Q saluting Louie Jordan.
“Let’s Have A Pancake!” uses accordions, horns, mandocellos, guitars and drums to decorate pop songs of inconceivable appeal and inarguable ingenuity. Expect the unexpected is the only rule…
An eight-piece monster of a band [with] a big raucous sound…seriously energizing…