O.B. James 1 p.m., March 7
The Gandhi Method
Chuck Schiele: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Percussion, Vocals | Cathryn Beeks: Percussion, Vocals | Sven-Erik Seaholm: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Keyboards, Trombone | Scott Wilson: Bass guitar, Vocals
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Inception: San Diego, 2003
Acoustic folk-rock trio the Gandhi Method was founded by Sven-Erik Seaholm and Chuck Schiele, who were soon joined by Scott Wilson. "I wrote a bunch of songs for The Gandhi Method when I was in that band in June or July 2003," says Wilson, who spent around half a year with the group. "They were looking for a third member. I was introduced to Sven by Scott Lee, who is a drummer and attorney in town, at a Carlos Olmeda show at Lestat's. Carlos was recording his album with Sven at the time, and he recorded the group chant for a song called 'Willamena' in Lestat's on that night. Sven gave me a copy of his new CD at the time, called Upload, and we met a week later at his house."
"I left The Gandhi Method around Christmas of 2003 and Cathryn Beeks replaced me," says Wilson. "I played some bass, and guitars on a few songs, and did some background vocals for one song, 'Turn Away,' on their album Hi, which was released in 2004." The same year, the band was nominated for a San Diego Music Award.
The band called it quits in 2004 after a year of performing together...so the story goes with all ephemeral side projects of accomplished local artists. What the three immortalized on their only album -- Hi -- transcended the acoustic prototype for saccharine tragedy; it evoked something meaningful.
Each of the trio's 13 funky folk melodies showcases the group's tight musicianship in a nearly flawless stream of rhythm. Lyricism wavers between playful to sincere, with lines like "another shooting star is selling out her constellation." Chuck Schiele and Sven-Erik Seaholm on acoustic guitar create a driving, lucid, and purposeful sound. Their resounding chords allude to something fresh and clear as they lead a dynamic rhythm section.
In "Crawl Back Down," Schiele's smooth vocals twist around a morose and expedient melody line. He sings, "Witness to the offer, apples changing hands/ Scarlet letters passed on by telepathy/ Trial's almost over now, it's time to take your stand/ Justify that, nothing worth remembering." His fierce, dramatic intonation is the kind that can take melodic frustration to new levels.
Most of the sound is characterized by a fusion of rock and folky pop. Airy guitar chords generate a catharsis in "This Moment" as Catherine Beeks works her words into an anthem, singing, "Are you happy in this moment? This moment is your life." The lower tones on this last half of the album, especially in duets between Schiele and Beeks, contrast with the lighter three-part harmonies heard previously, though the themes of love, life, and justice are still far removed from becoming trite.
The album pulls no punches; each song has its own underlying meaning. The fact you can rock out to it is a bonus.
-- "Hometown CD,'' 4-28-05