The Duluth-based band Glitteratti is a supergroup, of sorts. The outfit, headed up by songwriter Marc Gartman, is also comprised of guitarist Dave Carroll and bassist Tim Saxhaug of Trampled by Turtles fame, along with former Gene Ween drummer Kyle Keegan. Low's Steve Garrington is also involved as a keyboardist and producer. That's quite the lineup.
Over the last few years, Glitteratti has released several EPs, and their latest bit of wax, "Among the Wild," is being called the band's first full-length. At 10 songs, it is technically an album, but a close examination of the record's contents reveals it's actually another EP, albeit one with five previously-released bonus tracks included. Surprise!
Here's the deal: Side A of "Among the Wild" is a new batch of five tracks recorded last year with Brian Frederick Joseph in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Side B is the band's 2017 EP "In Pasadena." Given that we reviewed that release right here two years ago, it's only right to ignore that portion of this record and refer the curious to that previously-published review.
So, then: side A. It's another clutch of nicely-produced smooth music from the group that fits in with their past output, but, this time around, it seems like the band is in a slightly-more-playful mode. The opener, "I Believe You," is essentially part one of a two-part song, as it flows directly into the second track, "Another Day." Both pieces add up to a five-minute light-disco number that stresses repetition over typical verse-chorus-verse songwriting.
"I believe you," sings Gartman, repeatedly. Then: "Have a look all around / is there nothing left that's true?" And that's it for the first song, lyrically. There's funk guitar chords and hand claps. The whole thing sounds like "Funkytown" without the killer hook. As the song morphs into "Another Day," it doesn't get much more complicated, but a nice tremolo guitar line pops into view here and there. Watery-sounding vocals burble up out of the mix to state what sounds like "I don't know, but he's scared of you." Gradually, the track's mix becomes murkier and dreamier, and that's that. It's a slight beginning, and it's an odd way to open up a record, but it's certainly not bad or anything.
"Who We Are" is more of a song-song, with Gartman singing over a few tinkly piano notes. "Why do we weird some people out, when others simply love us?" Gartman sings. One gets the impression that the "we" in the song isn't Glitteratti, but people Gartman identifies as comrades in personal strangeness. "Why does it have to hurt so much / when someone doesn't get us?" As the bass and drums come in, the tune starts to sound like a low-key My Morning Jacket tune, what with all the reverb slathered over Gartman's undeniably Jim James-esque voice. "We're all just who we are / for better or worse," he sings. True, that.
"Plans" sounds for all the world like a song that could've slotted in nicely next to a Christopher Cross hit on the radio in the early '80s, it's so laid-back. Fifth track "Songs of Love and Devotion" is a country-tinged ballad with some nice vocal harmonies that Simon and Garfunkel fans should enjoy. Again, as with the openers, it's a sparse tune, with the line "You belong among the wild children / singing songs of love and devotion" as its only lyric.
All of this material fits well with the stuff from two years ago, but it's tough to treat this one as a full record or a complete thought. It is quality music, though, and people who like easygoing, relaxing, scenic-vista sounds should find plenty to enjoy.
Album: "Among the Wild"
Produced by: Steve Garrington
Personnel: Marc Gartman (vocals, guitar), Dave Carroll (guitar, vocals), Tim Saxhaug (bass, vocals), Kyle Keegan (drums, percussion), Steve Garrington (keyboards)
Upcoming show: 9 p.m. Friday with Paint Party at Pizza Luce, 11 E. Superior St.
Tony Bennett reviews albums for the News Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.