giant sand 'heartbreak pass'
PRESS: FUTURE STANDARDS
***** POLITIKEN DENMARK'S DAILY PAPER (5/6)
**** RECORD COLLECTOR
Fire’s recent reissue of his fine, gospel flavoured ’Sno Angel Like You served to remind us of the range of the former Giant Sand frontman’s talents. Despite his country roots, Gelb seems at his best when going against the grain and defying expectations.
As the title implies, this time around Gelb is ambitiously bidding to add to the Great American Songbook with a jazz-flecked collection of wry, wee small hours ditties. These are tunes that often hinge upon a cute turn of phrase (see Impossible Thing’s “You might as well put screen doors on submarines”) and sound as if they could conceivably have been recorded live in a smoky basement – all brushed drums, fidgety stand-up bass and jazzy, tastefully employed piano.
Still, this would be fairly unattractive if it was a mere genre exercise. Rather, Gelb’s melodic dexterity and wicked way with words makes for an enormously appealing album – think the Tom Waits of The Heart Of Saturday Night encouraging Cole Porter to bunk off and spend the afternoon shooting craps and gargling bourbon.
It’s a pleasingly consistent collection of songs, but special mention goes to the raunchy Relevant (complete with solos for Reinhardt-like guitar and swaggering piano) and May You Never Fall In Love’s wordly advice. All said, it’s a good look on him.
**** ALL MUSIC
In February 2016, Howe Gelb made the surprising announcement that he was retiring his longtime project Giant Sand, and while he didn't offer specifics about what he was going to do next, he did end his statement with the words, "Piano for now. Songs forever." Those five words turned out to be an excellent summation of Future Standards, an album that Gelb issued roughly ten months later. Future Standards finds the great Arizona surrealist transforming himself into an alternate world version of Frank Sinatra, singing his own brand of saloon songs suitable for a late night and a glass of good bourbon. Most of Future Standards features Gelb accompanied by piano, bass, and drums, and the melodies pay unironic tribute to the graceful jazz-influenced pop sounds of the '40s and '50s. This is music meant for a cabaret or a piano lounge, not a rock club, and Gelb not only plays it straight, he sounds comfortable and playfully sly as he croons over his piano work, which manages to embrace the melodies while toying with them at the same time, while the drummer stirs the soup and the bassist gently tends to the low end. While this sounds very little like Giant Sand, this is very much a Howe Gelb album; the lyrics, most dealing with affairs of the heart, are gentler than many of his best known works, but there's still an edge of purposeful eccentricity that's authentically his in tunes like "May You Never Fall in Love," "Terribly So," and "Mad Man at Large." And the occasional vocal interjections of Lonna Kelley add a romantic touch while maintaining an off-kilter feel that serves this music remarkably well. Future Standards isn't quite "Howe Gelb, the Moonlight, and You," but it's closer than anyone might expect, and he plays lounge lizard here entirely on his own terms, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable detour for a multi-faceted artist.
PRESS: HEARTBREAK PASS
it’s a testimony to the current health of his
muse that Heartbreak Pass, while containing
only new songs, feels like a greatest hits ...
Despite the breadth of it, Heartbreak Pass isn’t sprawling.
It’s an impressive show of strength and act of endurance.. .
**** new noise
a stellar album from start to finish
ANOTHER CASUALLY EXCELLENT ALBUM TO ADD TO HIS VAST CATALOG
BLAH BLAH BLAH
ETC ETC ETC
**** All Music
**** ½ the Sun
WHAT THE ?!
**** musik express
2017 bio - howe gelb / giant sand
born in wilkes-barre. pennsylvania .. a small factory laden / coal mining town .. raised by wolves
alvino rey and his singing guitar become a televised influence
pennsylvania home destroyed by flood and tucson arizona happens in its wake
bestowed free 4 track recording time at npr affiliate wvia hosted and engineered by george graham .. records several sessions including his country duo “wow and flutter” and in the punk band “the stains” ... as well as his own rock opera 'zeqe 24.088'
meets * rainer ptacek * in tucson
giant sandworms happen with rainer
along with billy sedlmayr and dave seger
after the band becomes too popular in tucson, they relocate to the lower east side in NYC for a year
giant sand emerges from the ashes of giant sandworms with bassist scott garber along with drummers winston watson and tommy larkins
records / releases 2 albums by his own country band the band of ... blacky ranchette and records / releases 2 giant sand albums
produces rainer and das combo’s “barefoot rock with ...”
begins touring life in the USA and europe
meets and marries new bassist paula brown from the go go’s .. baby daughter born in hollywood
discovers drummer john convertino & invites him into the band
records and releases 3 or 4 more giant sand albums and another the band of ... blacky ranchette before the decade ends.
relocates to joshua tree area near pioneertown after divorce
discovers bassist joey burns & invites him into the band
moves back to tucson and suggests the band follow
giant sand become a buzz band
records about 8 more giant sand albums and some solo records too
re invents the band as op8 with special guest lisa germano
rainer diagnosed with brain cancer
produces benefit/tribute album “the inner flame” along with rainer fan robert plant
marries sofie albertsen from denmark
band begins to divide into 2
rhythm section form calexico
baby son is born
tours solo more frequently
discovers m. ward and releases his first album
relocates to aarhus denmark for 5 months to have another baby
giant sand is reinvented with a band of danish players
records several more giant sand albums
records more solo albums, one with a canadian gospel choir (receiving a 5 star review in mojo)
and another with andalucian flamenco gypsies co produced w/ fernando vacas featuring maestro raimundo amador
re-issues entire back catalogue on fire records ( about 50 albums )
giant sand expand into giant giant sand, doubling it’s previous size, combining equal parts danes and new young tucson players
produces kt tunstall’s album 'invisible empire/crescent moon'
assists in the debut album of dutch actress carice van houten (melisandre in game of thrones) 'see you on the ice' and pens her second single "particle of light"
howe is discovered by gary briggs at new west records
releases solo album “the coincidentalist” for new west records which features m. ward, steve shelley + thøger lund along with guest appearances by will oldham, kt tunstall + andrew bird
produces sylvie simmons’s debut album 'sylvie'
between the exponential cubed expansion of the band and its sheer audacity of a 3 decade lifespan, records giant³ sand album 'heartbreak pass' at various locations all over the planet with many guests in a variety of line-ups from intimate cluster to a giant giant giant throng
the new album marks 30 years since the first giant sand release of 'valley of rain'
decides to then put the band to bed so as to end on a high note after enjoying the best touring years ever
produces the john doe album 'the westerner'
delves into the lost art of the piano standard. where did it go ? no one alive seems to know.
releases 'future standards'
“His work has never acknowledged any borders that might theoretically exist between mariachi waltzes, psychedelic guitar rock, uptown piano jazz, or dusty improvised C&W“ (Pitchfork).
“In search of treasured happenstance, Howe Gelb is an enigma, an inspiration and some kind of genius” (The Quietus).