Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Sugarbeat Sessions" by The Latchiko's

Music Comes Alive in This Debut Album!

If you don't know what a sugarbeet is, think of a gigantic, non-orange carrot made for the Jolly Green Giant, and it's spelled sugarbeet (with an e), not sugarbeat (with an a). Yet, when it comes to The Latchiko's, they are anything but conventional, and the spelling with an a is in the title of their album, which I just received a few days ago. Now I can't stop playing it and am so addicted it's crazy. Like when KISS released their "Dynasty" LP when I was 9! (I didn't get MY record until I was 11 or 12!); or, when Prince released "Purple Rain" when I was in high school! Believe me, this is better. Waaaay better!
     We all have those cds where one, two, or even three songs we don't really like and can live without. I hated "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince (still do...) and when anyone other than Paul Stanley sang on "Dynasty" I wanted to vomit. However, on this Sugarbeat Sessions album, there is not one song I can live without. NOTHING makes me want to throw up! I love all the songs! The sounds are so chameleon-like, so changing, blooming, and explosive. For little over a month, I've been seeing and hearing bits and pieces of most of this on YouTube. As I finally get to put it all together, it blows me away.

Tim Scanlan performing in New Jersey, March 2013. Photo courtesy of Terri Taylor Tattan

     10 magical, hypnotic, overwhelming, and oh-so-amazing-it-makes-me-smile-tingle-and-dance songs are on this album. After listening to track 1 “Sugarbeat,” I thought, “Wow, this is amazing. It’s my favorite.” Then, after hearing track 2 “Pish Shtains” I thought, “Craaap, THAT’S my favorite.” Then came track 3, and well you get the idea. Each song affects me this way. The diversity of sounds, rhythms, and lyrics fits together like caramel and chocolate, it’s perfectly soothing, satisfying and exciting at the same time. I DO NOT have a favorite because I can’t pick one. 
     With song titles like, “The Shligo Rovers,” “Nova Nova,” and “The Moogaga Jig,” this album is so eclectic, groovy, sexy, up, down, funny, sad, wild, crazy, energetic, spirited, and diverse as are the guys in the band. While Aindrias and Eimhin are from Ireland, Tim hales from Australia. Look at Aindrias, he’s so gypsy-looking it’s unreal. (I think he’s really from Transylvania or Romania and simply wants to say he’s from Ireland. I guess he thinks people like the way the Irish talk? Who knows?) Then, there’s Tim who looks like the cool, hippy cousin (or uncle depending upon your age) you want to go fishing or fighting with. To watch him play his instruments takes my breath away. Then, we come to Eimhin who looks like an accountant rather than a percussionist. Nothing wrong with math, I have a 2-yr degree in Accounting!  His smile, his singing, his beats blend like flour, sugar and eggs to make the most perfect cake. How crazy is this trio? Oh, and by the way – they ALL sing and play. I tell ya, there is method to the madness. But whatever method these guys use, the formula works. To show how crazy they are, Aindrias performs bare-footed here in a performance!
Aindrias de Staic performing in Maryland, March 2013. Photo courtesy of Terri Taylor Tattan.
     Listening to “Pish Shtains” is like watching the most flowing, flawless, beautiful Tango dance mixed with the haunting and hallowed sounds of “The Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack. A very dark message of being pulled back into a world of bad behavior and addiction is hidden within groovy, arousing, melodic sounds that you can’t help but move to. I could make a one-man silent play based on this song alone! The contrast of the message and the music is out-of-this-world. Analogies and metaphors abound. Right from the beginning you are blinded to the actual meaning. At first, you think it may be a funny song with funny lyrics simply because of the funny title. Then you hear, “…but as I tried to turn around, but on this muddy ground, the shlope that I was climbing, it was shlippy.” The song ends with these lines:

I woke up three weeks later in a muddle.
In a bed of little weeds I had to cuddle.
My digits they were shtingin,
my head was loudly ringin,
so I caught my own reflection in a puddle.
To focus on this face it was a chore.
I had way too much to drink but needed more.
As I shtood up empty handed,
that puddle he demanded,
“Have we not met somewhere like this before?”

      Track 7 “Reggae Reel” is also mind-numbing. In 4 ½ minutes of instrumental music, I hear three distinct mini-songs. With no break, they bleed together with fascinating efficiency. At first, you don’t even notice. Then, you think, “Is this the same song? Did it change and I didn’t notice?” The first minute contains the slower reggae-style, harmonica-laden, soulful vibrations in a very hypnotic, melting and groovy feel. Second, at the 1:15 mark, the pace increases with faster rhythms and funkier beats. As certain notes get higher, higher, and higher it goes straight into the final part of this song, at around the 2:50 mark, with what I consider traditional Irish music. Blasts of an even faster tempo and an exploding fiddle cut straight to your heart and sizzle like bacon frying.

      Every song is a story. Yet, the voices Aindrias gives to the characters in these story-songs are like when you were a child. If someone read a bedtime story to you and put voices to the characters in the book, the story came alive on a personal level! In these stories, even the music becomes a character with its own changing voices. Not many artists can do this. Nothing is felt forced. It all sounds and feels so natural. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the music itself is alive! And…just as I am left to wonder about the characters in these stories, I also want to know what happens to the music after the songs end. (Told ya’, I’m addicted.)
Both Tim and Aindrias in Maryland, March 2013. Photo courtesy of Terri Taylor Tattan.

      If I could have only one CD for the rest of my life, it would be this one! I still don’t have a favorite. Maybe you will once you hear this music combined with storytelling and background elements. It’s so beautiful and inspiring. I wish these guys much success and hope they continue making music together. Music touches us all in different ways. If you want to be touched by wild, raw, sexy, calming, charismatic, electric, tingling tunes, check out “SUGARBEATS” by The Latchiko’s. Each of these guys is a master at his craft, and it shows.
     I urge you to visit their website, look them up on YouTube, do whatever you have to do! You can buy your own cd straight from their website store at and see for yourself. It's very easy through paypal. Don't let the international transaction scare you.
Cover of their CD. Photo courtesy of their website