Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Project Grand Slam, an independent outfit based out of New York City. Their new record, ‘The Queen’s Carnival,’ is out right now on all major digital music platforms. It’s made the rounds to wide acclaim on sites similar to the Independent Spotlight - indiemunity, Music Existence, and the like. (The former of which has partnered with the Jukebox Podcast before in the past, actually.) Thus, is ‘The Queen’s Carnival’ worth the Spotlight’s stamp of approval? Let’s dig into a selection of its tracks and find out.
‘The Queen’s Carnival,’ the titular track of the album, is the most recent single released in promotion of the project. Right off the bat, it exudes prowess and production quality. There are very few things in the indie scene better than an excellent jazz rock fusion group. On the song ‘The Queen’s Carnival,’ Project Grand Slam explodes with instrumental intensity. The infectious performance is so full of personality, it’s nearly impossible to listen to sitting still.
One of the elements of ‘The Queen’s Carnival’ that makes it such a great track is the lively banter. You can hear the band, and what seems like a small audience, yipping back and forth at one another in a joyful musical raucous. It gives the music a very welcoming aura to it, and the loose nature of the audience accents the powerhouse musical performances. In particular, the brass section and the keys are absolutely on fire throughout.
Though Project Grand Slam excels in an instrumental set-up, they shine even brighter with a vocalist. ‘You Really Got Me,’ their lead single for the record, boasts a strong female vocalist who can hold her own masterfully against such powerful material. That material, of course, originated with The Kinks. Project Grand Slam’s rendition of the classic British Invasion track, however, is so vastly different than the original that it’s even a stretch to call it a “cover.” It technically is, yes, but it’s really more of a Kinks homage in a different genre.
‘The Rescue,’ another instrumental jam, focuses heavily around the organ, electric guitar, and saxophone. I’ve said it on the Independent Spotlight before, but it bears repeating: good instrumental music must live or die on its personality. The composition has be performed so well that lyricism wouldn’t be necessary. The performances are the lyrics. ‘The Rescue,’ I’d argue, does this. Each performance feels starkly different in its own unique, beautiful way, while accentuating a grander musical notion at the same time.
As I remarked above, there are few things better in our community than the excellent fusion outfits. They’re few and far between. There are even fewer things better than outfits like those creating Kinks covers that rival their source material. Project Grand Slam is a must listen for fans in the indie music scene. ‘The Queen’s Carnival’ has three singles very much worth your time, and if they’re indicative of the whole record, this should shoot to the top of your musical to-do list.