FGB brings classy, catchy sound

FGB brings classy, catchy sound

by Matt Bower

Family Groove Company is a “jam band” quartet hailing fromChicago, Ill. FGC’s sound is a mix of jazz and jam band, with jazzwinning out in most of the songs.

The four members that make up Family Groove Company include AdamLewis, Janis Wallin, Mattias Blanck and Jordan Wilkow.

Lewis plays the guitar and is the only member who does not singvocals.

Lewis stays true to the band’s desire not to sound like “all theother jam bands out there” by not including any guitar solos onhere.

His playing provides a nice atmosphere to the band’s soundthough.

Wallin plays bass, sings vocals and is the only female member inFGC.

As the name Family Groove Company suggests, there is a lot ofgroove to be heard in their sound. Most of this groove is suppliedby Wallin and her bass. The thump, thump, thump of her bass is nothidden in the background. It’s right out in front guiding the songsalong.

Drums, percussion and a second set of vocals are handled byBlanck.

He usually keeps an upbeat, steady paced tempo that gets thefoot tapping right away. Other times he slows it down and thisappears to the give the song more feeling.

Finally, Wilkow is a key part in the unique sound of this bandas he is responsible for the piano, Hammond A100 organ, Rhodes,Wurlitzer and vocals as well.

Wilkow adds melody to the FGC with these instruments and the onethat stands out seems to be the organ.

Usually organ music invokes images of sitting in pews while atchurch. However, FGC incorporates it nicely to fit their uniquebrand of jam band music.

No matter who is singing, the vocals are usually high pitched ontheir debut album “Reachin.”

The album begins with “Agenda.” This song starts off slow andeasy but about halfway through, the tempo changes completely andspeeds up, only to go back to the slow and easy rhythm. This onehas a nice ringing chorus though.

“Just Like I Planned” follows “Agenda” and the vocals here are abit lower and more rugged. Rhythm doesn’t appear to change as muchas in “Agenda.”

“Christy” opens with a piano intro, followed by a drum roll fromBlanck. This is a catchy song about baseball that will easily getstuck in your head.

The next track, “As Abe Was Walking” begins with Wilkow’s organand rolls along as he adds a little piano to the mix.

Wallin starts off “Flowers For Giza” with a slow bass line.

All three vocal harmonies can be heard on this one as theychant, “flowers for giza.”

The vocals are very light, almost airy and mainly just repeatthe title over and over again.

The instrumentals to “I’d Sing” sound as though they would fitnicely as the background music for a Super Mario Brothersvideogame; especially the organ.

“One’s On The Way” is another track that begins with the organ,but added to this is Lewis’s guitar. He plucks away at a slowmelody intro on the strings.

This song is entirely instrumental and breaks up the songsequence nicely by throwing in a track without any vocals. Eachband members’ talents are showcased here.

“Interesting Changes” begins with a slow piano accompanied by asolo set of vocals.

Overall, the song is slower than many of the ones preceding itand gives some contrast to the tempo of the album.

“Seein'” picks up the tempo again and the vocals are sung withmore energy and feeling.

The only place “Seein” slows down is a brief section for thechorus, but it picks up where it left off.

“Rattler” is the final song as well as the longest song on thealbum.

Wallin, Blanck and Wilkow open it beautifully with quiet cymbaltaps, low bass thuds and some piano playing that is all over thekeys.

As the song continues, the volume increases and Lewis joins thejam.

“Rattler” is the second instrumental on “Reachin” and it’s agood closer for the album.

Family Groove Company’s “Reachin” may take a few listens tostart sinking in and get the foot tapping.

Upon first listen, I was not drawn in and was almost turned offby the opening track because of the wild tempo changes, but if yougive FGC a chance, you may discover something new and unique thatwasn’t quite what you were looking for.