A short 13 months ago, we stumbled across a Tampa trio called The Reality at a wonderful microfest in Plant City, ZenFest. Guitar, bass and drums rumbled through rock, funk, jazz, blues, ska and just plain fun. These guys were quirky good.
In short succession, they issued their first album, Rhetoric, and we covered the joyous album release party at Dunedin Brewery in June (read our review here). Then, in quick succession, we caught three more of their shows in January and February, including a great return to ZenFest.
And now The Reality, expanded to a quartet, have announced a house party to celebrate the release of album number two: Car Trouble. The party takes place Sunday, March 26th (that’s tomorrow!), with music from shoeless soul, Future Vintage and Summer Survivors in addition to a set from The Reality, of course! Big thanks to Felipe Bennett for hosting the party for us! (He will be jamming with the band, too!)
1:00 pm doors
3:00 pm Shoeless Soul
4:30 pm Summer Survivors
6:00 pm The Reality releases CAR TROUBLE
8:00 pm Future Vintage
So who ARE these guys? Daniel Benjamin Jones is the lead singer and plays guitar and trombone. Caleb Bone (the birthday boy) plays bass and sings lead and backing vocals. They are original members of the band. As the group resurfaced after their first album and tour, a new drummer was at kit: Brian ‘B.A.’ Jones; he also sings. And the band added a great new dimension with Kyle Sareyani, who plays keyboards and flute.
About ZenFest, we raved:
The last three sets were truly magical — in my parlance, as good as it gets. The Reality were first to tee off. This trio, now expanded to a quartet, are on fire, working at preparing their sophomore album Car Trouble for release in the near future. They opened and closed with songs from their first album, Rhetoric, but everything else was new.
Dan Jones is so engaging as a frontman, singer, guitarist and trombone player, and his vocals on “All My Time,” with its stutter step style, always delights. Then the newer material came popping up: “Do It for Yourself,” “Play with Me” and the anthemic “Pineapple Salsa.” Caleb Bone sings harmony or unison on many of the songs and plays a wicked space bass as well, with B.A. Jones pushing the pace on drum kit.
And the band’s newest addition, Kyle Sareyani, gives The Reality a great new dimension with his keyboards and flute. Funk, jazz, rock, blues — they’ve got it. The set closed with “Dancin’ in D,” fully stretched out and jammed up. (The band followed set up with an equally tremendous one the next Thursday at The Ringside.)
So about that Car Trouble. The album benefits from the superb production by Vinny Svoboda, bass player for Displace and a master at twirling the knobs and sliders.
The intro is just some brief clowning recorded inside — where else? — a car. The real action begins on “Goddess” with a sweet soft ska beginning, but the lyrics! “I want a goddess from Malaysia and a pack of game greens.” Sareyani plays flute before the song suddenly shifts into funk overdrive, chunky funky guitar, thumping bass and a blistering guitar solo, then just as quickly downshifts to the original tempo.
“Sweet Toof” is pure sex, the sound perfect for the content. Funk guitar and organ lead into the gossamer-draped lyrics. Dan’s voice is so sublime, and the effect when he and Bone sing together is pure pleasure. There is an organ solo, followed by Dan on trombone. For some bands, a guitar player doubling on trombone might be a novelty of some sort, but Dan is equally adept on both instruments. The flute gets a turn as well.
“Do It For Yourself” isn’t pop, but it’s probably as close as they get to it. You may decipher the message for yourself. It begins with nice bluesy guitar and features an excellent laid-back guitar solo, with electric piano bubbling underneath.
Given that The Reality adopted the pineapple as a sort of avatar early on, it comes as no surprise that they offer an homage to “Pineapple Salsa,” with a medium tempo funk on guitar, bass and electric piano. Dan adds another nice trombone outing, then more flute. And Chris Sgammato of Displace crashes the party with his alto saxophone. Finally, Bone gets to explain it on bass (always helps to have a bass player producing!).
“We’ve got pineapple salsa, so bring your chips,
We’ve got pineapple salsa, so wiggle your hips, and kiss my lips
(sizzle my grits).”
The guitar intro to “Play with Me” is straight-up rocker, but that derails immediately as the song links hip hop, ska and rock and includes some clever word rhymes such as “whiskey – frisky -tipsy” and “dirty – flirty.” It’s a request: “Come stay with me; come play with me.” It could happen.
“Me Yourself and You” probably shouldn’t be on this album, but we’re delighted that it is. This is a ballad — no more, no less — all wrapped around Dan’s warm and tender voice. The soft intro sets the mood as cymbals and then synthesizers fill the room. Beautiful.
To this point, it might seem we have ignored the tremendous contributions made by B.A. on drums. Rest assured he and Bone provide the backbone for this entire project and the band’s live performances. His cymbal work in particular highlights “Get Funky,” with great electric piano and another great trombone solo.
Speaking of “Medium Tempo” (earlier), that is track 9. This is another gorgeous song, Dan’s voice in concert with Bone’s. There is a great guitar solo in the midst of this song about relationships, and a suggested pace.
“Such a Thing” is a lovely ska-drenched ballad, trippy guitar at the beginning, spacey organ throughout. Four minutes into the song, they shift into an instrumental section, in particular highlighting B.A.’s drums.
Back to funk for “I Can Dig It,” which has been in regular rotation for some time at shows. Seriously, Dan is an amazing vocalist, and that is so clear on this song, which shifts tempos back and forth. And when he and Bone sing in unison, well, that’s just badass. You’ll hear better guitar players, but you’ll experience very few who ring more emotion and joy from their playing than Dan. B.A. kicks them along.
The album closes with a re-recording of “All My Time,” one of the best tracks from Rhetoric, this time with the addition of keyboards and flute. This is pure pleasure. “I would waste all my time with you.” Sareyani kills on clavinet, Bone is all space bass, Dan funking and chunking, with B.A. at the engine. Damn!
If you don’t have Car Trouble, you ought to get some. Well, it.