Review: Cheers Elephant “Man is Nature” Release Party-1/18/2011

Posted on March 2, 2011


“A person who thinks all the time, has nothing to think about except thought. So, he loses touch with reality, and lives

in a world of illusions.” This aphorism opens the second album of the Philadelphia-based psychedelic indie-rock band Cheers Elephant. It was on January 8, 2011, that the band chose to release their second album “Man is Nature” with extravaganza of little-known – but generally – talented local indie groups.

Album cover for "Man is Nature"

The CD release party, held as a ticketed concert for the public on World Café Live, began with an energetic performance by The New Connection. Despite good song-writing and a powerful singer, the band has a bland name and appropriately bland songs. The second band to perform was the rather unconventional Nicos Gun, creating a very loud “Disco meets David Bowie” sound. It was a bit much at times (no one needs a drummer AND a drum machine), and the band lacked showmanship, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy their set. The third band to perform was the indie-pop trio The Fleeting Ends. This band was the first that night to surpass the indie stereotypes and actually talk with the crowd. They got the crowd going with good, energetic songs and a well placed Kings of Leon cover of “Molly’s Chambers.”

Now the time had arisen for Cheers Elephant to take the stage. For their show, they performed their entire new album, complemented by a constant video feed behind them. The first song on the album, “6th and Girard”, begins with a catchy guitar riff, pulling the band in for an upbeat homage to the city they live in. From the onset, the band bares an audio resemblance to The Beatles, but this is not to say they weren’t very original.

The band roared through the first few songs, such as the gleefully relaxing “My Bicycle Ride,” and the mellow, vaguely countrified “Como Es La Vida”. The band toned it down for the spacey musical statement that is “Einstein’s Noggin,” and regained their energy with the shifting moods of the song “Jumbo Shrimp.”

The rest of the album was yet more impressive, more energy than I thought possible. Although some songs lulled into similarity, the song “Capt. Crowninshield” stirred the audience and the band as well, with black-clad dancers on stage and an energetic chord progression. This, and some other songs, was reminiscent of Syd Barrett-Era Pink Floyd, with their pleasantly innocent lyrics and meandering song structure. The album’s penultimate recording, “Time Well Wasted,” has an odd and shifting meter, affirming the bands musical talent.

The Album’s last and best song is the deliciously psychedelic “Slide Jelly,” harboring a chorus laden with exuberance. The dancers returned, the lead singer/rhythm guitarist did his trademark high kicks, the guest keyboardist danced across the stage in an astronaut suit, and the whole audience joined in with the “la-la-la” melody. After that song, the audience was held in suspense as the band left the stage and prepared for their encore. Outdoing themselves once more, they played a hit from their first album (“Space and Time”) as accompanied by Nicos Gun’s guitarist. It became clear that the new album has a much more positive tone than the last, but every ounce of songwriting talent remained. As the concert finished, one could not help but dance their heart out with the band as the energy level peaked; even I partook.

Leaving the concert, I was thoroughly impressed by the showmanship and talent found in such an obscure and indie band, and glad to have been there. Pick up Cheers Elephant’s second album “Man is Nature” if you like fun and innocent indie music, or pick up their first eponymous CD if you are looking for a darker and more varied sound.

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