Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Kicklighter - The Fascinating Thinking Machine

It’s a rarity in life to be given a second chance, let alone a third or fourth to excel at just about anything, especially for a dream as big as doing that which you love. Yet, for newcomer Everett Young, he’s been graced with chances time and time again and this time he’s taken the bull by the horns and isn’t letting go, living in such a way to avoid any and all regrets as he releases his latest record The Fascinating Thinking Machine.

Young’s life has been a study in multiple failed starts, from an early attempt to learn piano as a child to a flirtation with becoming a pop star in college to get girls, an experiment that failed when he just couldn’t get his mind around the guitar. He managed to release an album in his 30s but the fallout from the divorce he found himself in the midst of drew all of his attention, leaving him little if any energy to promote the album. After a few more stops and starts, Young thought his musical days were behind him until he again decided to give the guitar one last go.
“About 1½ years into it, around 42 or 43 years old, I realized that something unique was happening,” says Everett. “I was getting to the point where I could really play the guitar. This was something that a lot of middle-aged people had tried to do but virtually no one had ever done. About the same time, I went looking for a guitar teacher and in my search I learned that teachers couldn’t relate to me; they had no idea how to teach anyone my age or in my position. The person that helped me the most turned out to be a life coach. He taught me to stay the course, to embrace the adventure, embrace myself, take it day by day and stay in the moment, if I wanted to succeed in playing guitar.”

Drawing inspiration from that experience and leaning on his newfound abilities, Young himself took to teaching the instrument, allowing his wisdom and understanding to help other older learners. But his true passion lay in making his own music and he finally has all the pieces in place for his latest.
The Fascinating Thinking Machine is an album that resonates with singer-songwriter charm, Young weaving together earnest 80’s styled pop templates to complement his intelligent lyricism, a key ingredient for the artist.

“I’m trying to make sophisticated, intellectual pop,” he shares. “I want the album to have deep lyrics and be philosophically stimulating. I want the melodies to stick in your head and be yummy pop melodies — a gourmet meal, not fast food.”
That meal opens up with the moody textures of “Until I See the Sun,” a haunting note leading into a track that opens up into a mid-tempo rocker while “Says A Tender Mind” opts for brighter textures and jangly guitars. “When Howie Dressed Me Down” is a vintage 80’s jam, synthesizers and more merging together to form a perfectly retro vibe while Young infuses his own mojo into the proceedings as “Kid” holds court with a restless sense of wisdom and energy, Young’s vocals rich and pleasantly just touched with grit.

Young’s also possessed by a softer side and, quite frankly, it’s that side that dominates more of this record as tracks like “Building a Robot,” the jazz-influenced “The Sultan of Brunei,” and “Saying Goodbye” show. These find the artist taking things from a more laid-back, acoustic approach and the result is reminiscent of 70s torch songs, the vocals smooth and framed by arrangements warm and subtle. Of special note is “After the Healing,” a song informed by gentle piano and snippets of trumpet that carry along a message of hopeful reconciliation between lovers, a tale just about everybody can identify with.
It’s been a long time coming but Everett Young has finally managed to do what he’s wanted to do for so long, placing his heart and passion into song. The Fascinating Thinking Machine is a solid listen, particularly for fans of 70s and 80s flavored pop and while there are a few moments that beg for just a bit more energy, Young has done a job worthy of hearty applause by Mr. Kickliter, the artist’s high school choir instructor and band’s namesake.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen and write about our album! It's so funny you say the softer side dominates. I hadn't thought of that, but it's exactly right. The original concept for the album was that it was going to be a pure new wave record. But records take on lives of their own during the making. One of the uptempo songs got jettisoned at the final hour because...well, the vocal was not quite hitting, or something just wasn't quite right. Then "The Libertarian" got bumped to bonus-track status--we didn't think it quite fit in with the others. And just like that, the record took on a jazzier, mellower tone.

    Great job, and great music review site. Thanks for the work you do! -EY