Joshua Charles - "A Positive Flow" (The Start Of J.C. Bosco) (1999/2004)
From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)
[Ed. note: A Positive Flow's 2nd Edition CD is now available (© 2004) with improved sound quality. Also note that some of the earnings from APF CD has been going to helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina as well as simply helping J.C. Bosco to continue on - so your support is much appreciated!.
New York City musician and songwriter Josh Charles has released an enjoyable and diverse collection of what he calls "progressive pop". As the promo sheet says, "Imagine the vocals of the Beatles filtered through King Crimson and the Moody Blues with a dash of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa eccentricity to spice things up".
While the examples above are rarely heard on "A Positive Flow", it is apparent that these assorted artists have influenced Josh, all coming together in what is clearly a personal effort on his part. Though Josh considers himself a bass player first, he plays most of the instruments on this album and handles all the vocals duties with assistance from guests on keyboards, horns, and drums. (Josh hopes to assemble a full Bosco band.)
Overall, the music on "A Positive Flow" travels in numerous directions making it difficult to pinpoint a trademark Bosco sound. But I'm a fan of diversity as along as there's a sense of coherence and Josh has succeeded in this regard. In fact, there is a feeling of continuity from one track to the next, almost as if a story is being told...
After a whimsical intro bit we hear "Dollar Bills", a tune that is catchy but backed by an instrumental complexity that gives a progressive kick to the Bosco "Pop". I also like the overall raw sound of the music that simultaneously makes good use of the studio and it's possibilities.
"I'm The One" is a 20 second Irish beerhall vocal bit that does a 360 degree turn into "Constant Motion", a good fun rapid-fire track that probably draws on Josh's Zappa influence (though it doesn't sound like Zappa). "People Listen" is another catchy tune backed by thoughtful, interesting music that has a bit of a Moody Blues sound. And "Sloppy Poli" (I love that title) has a Beatles/XTC feel to it.
"Fenderbacker Bass" is an aptly titled tune that I enjoyed. This is a bass exploration for Josh who, we'll recall, calls the bass his primary instrument. It's a cool instrumental that incorporates elements of both ambient and jazz, utilizing multiple bass tracks. Nothing Earth-shaking... just a cool jam. There is also a cover of the Beatles classic, "Here, There, And Everywhere". Hmmm... a nice rendition but it felt a bit out of place... not stylistically, but I guess I just felt Josh was on a good roll with own songs and didn't do anything to make this one his own.
Ok, on to my favorites... "Seconds" reminds me of an Echolyn song (the title of which I can't quite place). A simple tune with an absolutely gorgeous melody, the instrumentation is uncomplicated, though in a classic less-is-more sense. Slowly picking guitars and brief lead segments strategically placed throughout the song further illustrate Josh's ability to combine good songwriting with music that stands on it's own. "The Start" includes an intriguing intro that sounds like a psychedelic King Crimson bit. Another excellent tune that was in some ways like "Seconds", but also has Beatles influences as well. And finally, "Child Of The Sun" is a 10 minute psych tune that took me a bit by surprise. A spacey intro leads to a very cool psychedelic guitar/vocal bit. Like early Pink Floyd or any number of 60's psych bands. I'd love to hear a whole album's worth of this kind of stuff from Josh. The last few minutes of the tune goes off into left-field as a freaky collage of various sounds and basslines.
In summary, "A Positive Flow" will appeal to progressive rock fans who enjoy good songwriting and solidly performed music that focuses more on construction and melody than chops. Some listeners might feel they're being lead in too many stylistic directions, but after multiple listens I feel like the album knows where it's going... it just takes a lot of turns to reach its destination.
For more info contact Josh Charles at JBC29@hotmail.com
You can order "A Positive Flow" through Josh's CD Baby web site at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/joshuac.
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