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2004-12-28 - Indie rock/folk group offers uncommon sound
By MEGAN PAOLINI
How many bands do you know that include a harmonica, trumpet, guitar and drums in their songs without sounding like music you'd be more likely to hear your parents listening to? There's just one that I know: Common Rotation.
Common Rotation is self-described as "a true independent act" that has released all its own CDs and creates its own merchandise. Principle band members include Adam Busch (vocals) and Eric Kufs (vocals and guitar). Jordan Katz (trumpet and backup vocals) and Professor Ken Beck (on drums) also contribute.
Most of the songs are written by Busch and Kufs. If the name Adam Busch sounds familiar to you, it's probably because he is also an actor. Busch played Warren on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Steve Dixon on The Jury.
During an interview over the Internet, when asked how they describe their music, Busch and Kufs answered, "Shout folk, anti-anti folk, house folk, no folk and not folk."
Others have described their music as "indie rock." When asked what this meant to them, Kufs and Busch replied, "If the entire music industry collapsed, we would be unaffected. We would continue working in exactly the same fashion. It means we do everything ourselves."
Unlike other music out these days this band doesn't get by on sappy lyrics or catchy beats alone. They use both of these things and so much more.
All of the members of the band are incredibly talented, at times singing three-part harmonies. The lyrics of their songs provoke the mind and entice the ears. They encourage you to think beyond the pretty tunes and tight harmonies. The listener is challenged to question things instead of being told. You are a participant not just a listener. Plus, instead of telling you straight out what they think, the band members' metaphors are mixed in with sarcasm and satire.
As Kufs writes in his song "The First Time," "One could say that words are never clear/ Maybe they're only meant for our mouths to savor."
Instead of the many songs on the radio that are about lost loves and the girl you can never have, Common Rotation plays songs about the more important issues in life, such as death in their song "Gone Dyin," which features lyrics such as "I'm gonna die someday/ That's all that you never can say" sung in a sarcastic up tempo beat.
In concert, the group invites the audience to sing along. Its members put a fun spin on things that normally scare people, such as death. They also express their opinions about things that happen in the world with their song "It's Always More Than Once Before It Takes," which is related to the recent election, and their song "Clear Channel," which shares how they feel about recent events in the broadcasting industry between Clear Channel, Howard Stern, the FCC and First Amendment right violations.
A simple protest
The group's latest CD, The Clear Channel EP, which was released Nov. 15, is also about the band expressing its views. According to Busch and Kufs, "It should exist as a simple protest against Clear Channel, the current administration in office in America, the civil war in Northern Ireland and James Dean."
When asked how The Clear Channel EP differs from the group's other two CDs, Busch and Kufs answered, "There is no real cohesive sonic arrangement. Some tunes are live; others are old demos or newer studio tracks, and some are field recordings."
No matter what type of music you like to listen to, Common Rotation will have something for you. The band doesn't stick to one specific type of song. Some are upbeat and fast, like "Sit Down," "Oklahoma" and "True Hollywood California."
Some songs are more folk sounding; others have hints of jazz, while others sound like rock songs.
If you ever have a chance to see Common Rotation live in concert, you should definitely go. The ticket prices are usually inexpensive and always promise a good time.
Altogether Common Rotation has seven albums: 28 Orange Street, The Big Fear, The Clear Channel EP, and four live recordings from concerts. The group's live music sounds as good as their CD cuts. All of these recordings are available through the band's official Web site, www.commonrotation.com.
The Web site also offers free downloads of some of the band's songs.
"So what's next for Common Rotation?" I naively asked during the interview.
"Lunch," they said.
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