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Write. Record. Gig. Repeat.

The Propellers stay the course on The Propellers: 2
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 13, 2009

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The Warren-based Propellers are yet another notable band putting in work for the Warren-based label 75OrLess Rec-ords, and their sophomore release, The Propellers: 2, offers a gradual growth from their self-titled debut: break out the synths and Glockenspiel this time around, as the quartet have expanded their sound and perhaps etched a nice niche within the "piano-driven" rock genre.

That term gives 75OrLess founder (and Six Star General bassist) Mark MacDougall the creeps. "I think the general perception of piano/keyboard players resides in piano bars where a bunch of bozos drink beer and sing their hearts out to songs that make my skin crawl," MacDougall said. "Hearing the Propellers for the first time made me realize not every band led by a piano player has to sound like Ben Folds. In some other universe, the track 'Man On Edge' is a number-one hit, but in our world Tom Chace has to grin and bear the fact that people just don't get it."

"Edge," along with "Crop Circles" and "Colt State," makes their debut worth picking up (at The new disc is more evolved, as Chace, with brother Bob Chace on guitar, Baltimore transplant Mike Hoff on drums, and longtime friend David Tessier on bass, have hit his stride, albeit with a recording budget of $0.

"We recorded it literally in a 10'x10' Central Falls basement in the dead of summer, and the ceiling was, no lie, 5'10," " Chace recalled. "We discussed using a studio, but settled on decent microphones and Dave's formidable collection of vintage gear to get the job done, and we decided early on to approach it more as a larger conceptual piece, so the DIY approach really afforded us the time and breathing room to creatively attack the record.

"We're all type-A personalities, which has more ups than downs in the creative process," he said. "There's definitely no room for pussying around in this band." When asked to describe the sound, Chace cracked, "Pink Floyd meets Wilco at Lou Reed's salon." Makes sense, though, particularly on songs such as "Lifted" and "Fantasy." And keep the Magnetic Fields and Sparklehorse in mind when giving "Fun" a spin. "Roundabout Train" is a stirring, synth-driven tale of murder, while "She's Not Alright" sounds comically close to the Killers' "When You Were Young." The woozy and stirring two-part lullaby "Worry" bookends the album, with Chace's filtered vocals bouncing along with the metal xylophone: "What, me worry? I got time to pay the bills/I'm sleepy, where'd I put those fucking pills/Oh honey, I can't see you, I got no gas money."

Chace concedes that superstardom is difficult to obtain in Li'l Rhody, but they bring the heat when hitting the stage and do whatever it takes to capture the audience.

"I see bands play out around here that just want to be local weekend warriors and it shows in the performance," Chace chided. "They look bored, or they're wearing sweatpants or whatever.

"Sometimes, when we're playing some dive bar out in West Warwick where nobody knows us, I tell the locals we're from Helsinki, on the first leg of our world tour," Chace said. "We all have a laugh and people pay attention.

"Write, record, gig, repeat — that's the nutshell approach," he concluded. "We're content with having a good record to put on in the car and delivering onstage."

THE PROPELLERS + SUICIDE BILL & THE LIQUORS + SIX STAR GENERAL | The Common Pub, 421 Wood Street, Bristol | Saturday, May 16 @ 8 pm | 21+ | No cover | 401.253.9801



Aspiring lyricists ages 16-21 should report to AS220 TONIGHT (the 14th) for the ELEMENTARY SHOWCASE from 6-9 pm, with a $2 cover at the door, call 401-831-9327 for more. A great barroom-country thing is going down at Jerky's Bar with Colorado's DRAG THE RIVER headlining with help from Joey Cape (of Lagwagon) and locals GIRL HAGGARD (always a good time) and The Skinny Millionaires, call 401.621.2244 for more. Also on Thursday, FRANK MARTYN & FRIENDS unplug at the Greenwich Hotel, and head back there FRIDAY (the 15th) for JIMMYTOWN JUKE (lead by Blues icon Ed McGuirl) and JOHN FUZEK. Never a cover for the Hotel's weekly music series, call 401.884.4200 for more. The Blackstone (401.726.2181) delivers another good one with THE 'MERICANS, along with BLIZZARD OF '78 (pick up their latest, Book of Lies) and SU CASA opening up. SATURDAY (the 16th) includes some Goth-tinged psychobilly stuff at Cats (401.722.0150) in Pawtucket, with locals THE JERKTONES, TONY JONES & THE CRETIN 3, and regional openers JONEE EARTHQUAKE and DORIAN JAMES, or head to Brooklyn Tea & Coffee House (on Douglas Ave in Providence) for rootsy-blues with local artist and acoustic troubadour DANIEL CHASE with ANDREA BELANGER and JOYCE SAMPSON in tow, call 401.575.2284 for more. AS220 provides an entire evening of entertainment on SUNDAY (the 17th) beginning with the PROVIDENCE CUTTING SESSIONS at 5:30 pm, inspired by the freeform cutting sessions of the '30s and '40s. Musicians (any instrument) are encouraged to sit in with the house trio and reinvent classic jazz standards. Compositions are available at the Session or visit for details; original comps are welcome too. At 10 pm, a solid electro-laced lineup with LLOVE, MAKEUPBREAKUP (kicking off an East Coast tour), and Ontario's SPIRAL BEACH, only $6 at the door. SUPERCHIEF TRIO will play an early-evening set at Everyman on Valley Street with no cover, call 401.751.3630 for more. On TUESDAY (the 19th) at Club Hell, energetic quartet RUSTIC DRAMA ("White Lady" is a sick jam) headline with INFINITE CHILDREN and AIR CASTLE supporting, and on WEDNESDAY (the 20th), the Speakeasy at Local 121 hosts New Orleans foot-stomping folkster LOUIS LEDFORD along with a pair of talented local ladies, the KIM LAMOTHE TREE-O and ALLYSEN CALLERY & THE LAND OF NODS. Doors at 7 pm and the show is all-ages, call 401.274.2121.

  Topics: Music Features , AS220, Ben Folds, Cats,  More more >
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