RockIt Records & Recording Catalog
Gary Tanin/Sublime Nation
1. Through My Lover's Eyes
There seems to be some confusion surrounding the album entitled Sublime Nation.
Sublime Nation is the title of the debut album from Gary Tanin, not the name of the band. But if it were, it would be quite a band! Besides Gary Taninís keyboards and vocals, it would also include Jerry Harrison (from the Talking Heads), T. Lavitz (from Dixie Dregs), Victor De Lorenzo, (formerly of Violent Femmes), along with Roger Powell (from Utopia), and Connie Grauer.
Sublime Nation is Gary Taninís record, but all the aforementioned worked on the disc, along with others, to form a disc that sounds as good as you would think with a supporting cast like that. A CD made by a group of innovative keyboard players, released on a label that began as an interactive CD-ROM company may sound like something that could only be appreciated by sound engineers. But Gary Tanin knows a secret... Begin with really good songs and get innovative with how you record them. This is what sets Sublime Nation apart from things like Rick Wakemanís synthesizer albums of the seventies (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Six Wives of Henry the Eighth, et al.)
Beautiful lyrics sung with beautiful, multi-layered vocals, combined with standard song lengths, make Sublime Nation very accessible and its technical merits are still intact to be appreciated by the experts.
"Through my Lovers Eyes", "Out of My Head", and "Every Trick In The Book" are the best songs on the disc although there are really not any bad ones. Donít try too hard to categorize this album. It doesnít really fit into Jazz, Pop, or Techno. It simply belongs in the category of good music.
There's not a lot roaming the racks that bears much resemblence to Tanin's debut effort. Sublime Nation is an independent shot with some major league collaborations (Jerry Harrison/Talking Heads, Dixie Dregs-man T. Lavitz, and former Femme's drummer Victor De Lorenzo) that has clean, up-tempo pop melodies swimming in a mix of bright guitars, neatly arranged synthesizers and harmonies. Tanin's voice approximates something that sounds like a spry Donald Fagen minus the cynacism as he goes through a roster of love songs that are unique in that they are so unabashedly straight faced in a time when vague lyrical allusions reign supremo. "Little Black Book" has an effective dash of horns and a revivalist emotion to it and the strolling bass rhythm and the pleasant overall feel of "When You Need Somebody" may get Tanin some attention in the end.
You may not know Sublime Nation now, but you will soon. Gary Tanin is the mastermind behind this star-studded project, which also features the likes of Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), T Lavitz (Dixie Dregs) and Victor DeLorenzo (Violent Femmes). This set of finely tuned pop songs is made for radio, with a fine selection of dance rockers for the MTV crowd and love songs for the VH1 types. "... this is a solid project, with excellent production and outstanding musicianship."
Although Tanin's keyboards are the dominant force throughout, he changes pace almost from song to song to keep things interesting. The disc starts with a slow paced love song, then cranks up the horn section for track two ("Out Of My Head"). The guitars come out in force for "Little Black Book", which also brings back those killer horns, and the bluesy "Cold Black Night". The last song worth a special mention is "When You Need Somebody", which features some nice bass and a jazzy piano track.
Check this out if you listen to: Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, E
Top Cuts: Little Black Book, When You Need Somebody, Darling
Sublime Nation is an
indy offering on the MultiMusicaUSA label. This debut CD features the
songs, musicianship, and production skills of Gary Tanin, a Milwaukee,
The CD itself is professionally and pleasantly packaged. With award winning cover art (full color no less), foldout liner notes, color photos, and creative use of graphics; this CD has unique and attractive curb appeal. More impressive is the content, which unfolds with the same attention to detail and artistic expression. Digitally recorded and produced, the sonic quality of the tracks included in Sublime Nation emulates and matches major label industry standards. The 15 tunes that collectively make up Sublime Nation are as refreshing as they are original. Tanin has mastered a musical formula that includes strong keyboard articulations, clean raw vocals surrounded by richly textured harmonies, and concise, carefully constructed Alternative/Pop/Rock song structures. The melodies are memorable with clever hooks, refrains and choruses that you will be singing to yourself, after a listen or two.
Rhythm tracks were generated with digital samples and programmed by Tanin. The sonically superior Bob Clearmountain A&M studios percussion samples are clearly evident. They work well here and provide a fat, firm foundation for the instrumentation and vocals. Rarely does a debut album demonstrate the consistency and musical maturity that characterizes Sublime Nation.
Like a collection of well-written short stories, Sublime Nation has a stylistic unity of itís own. Each song is unique and has an individual tale to tell. After a single exposure, I found myself singing the refrain to "Out Of My Head." This paean to techno-pop, recorded and produced with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, reminded me why I missed the group and itís incredible urban energy, apologies to David Byrne.
"Little Red Book" is driven by syncopated Rhythm & Blues groove that will move the wayward to return to the path of righteousness. With its bible thumping chorus and gutsy lead vocals, this tune captures the spontaneity and energy of a gospel revival. The funky blues organ voicings, provided by former "Elevator" Jef Eaton, are nothing short of inspirational.
"When You Need Somebody" borrows the metaphor of a cold Midwest winter to describe lost love and the loneliness and longing, which are part of this experience. The darker elements are cleverly contrasted by confident harmonies, horn arrangements that swell with joy, and downtown piano voicings, provided by T Lavitz, which all point to a future "State of Love" in transition for a "Loveless State."
"Every Trick In The Book" is a solid rock entrťe and perhaps the best all around composition on the CD. The lyrics describe the difficulty in realizing that there are some situations in life that cannot be resolved by personal effort (i.e. trying every trick in the book), but can only be resolved by letting go. This dilemma is musically expressed with the blue percussive piano chops of Junior Brantley, played against the backdrop of contrapuntal, string like arpeggios by Jerry Harrison. The result is an interesting mix of tension and resolve that flows from beginning to end.
Sublime Nation is an
independent release deserving of much wider recognition.
This is the question Gary Tanin asked himself for years. His answer comes in the form of his release Sublime Nation.
Enlisting the talents of Jerry Harrison (former member of Talking Heads, with production credits on projects by Violent Femmes, Fine Young Cannibals, and The BoDeans), T. Lavitz (Dixie Dregs charter member and renowned jazz session pianist), Junior Brantley (alumnus of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Jimmy Vaughn Band), Victor De Lorenzo (original drummer for Violent Femmes), and Connie Grauer (who has worked with Indigo Girls and k.d. Lang), Tanin recorded much of the album in his living room, using his own DAT and MIDI equipment. Brantley and Lavitz uploaded piano performances via modem, and Harrison took the music into the studio on disk for final mixing.
Tanin views the accessibility of technology as a useful new tool for up-and-coming, as well as established artists. "I think the greatest advantage to the individual musician nowadays has been the fact that technology has provided affordable means that get very close to what major-label projects are doing."
Marketing and distribution for Sublime Nation is taking place directly over the Internet, through World Wide Web sites such as [RockIt Records & Recording on-line catalog: www.rockitrecordsusa.com/catalog/].
"I think this is what it all should be about," Tanin continues. "The dissemination of the distribution channel to the artist, artist to consumer. Thatís what I love to see, because then we get a lot of variety."
Sublime Nation, along with other albums that are being created using home studios, punches holes in the idea that anything made with a computer has to sound like Kraftwerk or Technotronic. Tanin agrees, "you have to take the time to learn the particular piece of software youíre going to use, but itís not limited to techno and dance anymore."
Sublime Nation itself is a collection of slow- to mid-tempo pop tunes. Although musically it may not be a major groundbreaking effort, the way in which this album came to be embodies the true spirit of independent music. Using Gary Taninís model, other musicians may find the confidence and innovative spirit to produce and distribute their own home studio projects. Imagine the possibilities...
David J. Widmann, Editor
Tanin and Harrison bring a sincere pop vision to the project, billed as a "collection of unpretentious love songs." The sound recalls the also ambitious Don Dixon (check the studied soul hooks of "Little Black Book") and the studio wizardry has drawn (deserved) comparisons to Steely Dan. "When You Need Somebody" is the setís finest moment.
Sublime Nation is being marketed on the Internet and through "gourmet record shops;" and itís gonna be big in Japan.