Atlanta-based, power-pop indie rock artist, Paul Melancon released a number of full-length albums in the early 2000’s to a modicum of local success, even touring with the Indigo Girls. But then, as he described in this new album’s Kickstarter campaign, he went radio silent due to “severe clinical depression,” and while in treatment became medication resistant. But fear not, there’s a happy ending. Melancon travelled to Peru to take a traditional hallucinogen administered by a native Shipibo maestro, called ayahuasca… and long story short, he’s doing better and making music again. Oh, and with cartoons.
This Spring, Melancon completed his Kickstarter project by unleashing “The Get Gos Action Hour “ out into the world, including a cartoon video of the Get Gos’ song “Hyperventilate.” Think a cross between the Archies and the Scooby Do crew, sans the big goofy dog, complete with their own theme song that opens the album (think The Monkees). Thankfully, the concept is pretty loose, and Melancon doesn’t waste a lot of time trying to inhabit these fictional cartoon characters, as most of the album tends toward catchy 60’s influenced power-pop, with the occasional tilt toward psychedelic sounds. The actual players on the record are, of course, Melancon on guitar and lead vocals, supported by his live band, The New Insecurities, which is Debra Tala on keyboards and synths, Lee Kennedy on bass, Pete McDade on drums, and Jonny Daly also on guitar. But if you’re looking for a place to hang Melancon’s power-pop musical leanings culturally, it’s worth knowing that back on his 2002 album, “Camera Obscura,” he wrote a song called “Jeff Lynne,” where he acknowledged how many times he tried to be just like the Electric Light Orchestra leader.
After the brief “Action Hour” theme, “Permanent Makeup” is a big bold, power pop rocker, with a catchy hook, fun chorus, and screaming guitar solo. “Robot World” follows with a similar drive and theme, an effort to be real in one’s own human skin, not faking it, not pretending, packaged in bright musically up-tempo settings. “The Shaky Lullaby,” more of a piano pop ballad, faces life’s worries a little more head-on, with the simple request to “don’t ask questions, I’m too afraid I’ll pull you down, I’m too afraid you’ll be undone.” But “Hyperventilate” picks the energy right back up, building to a big rock hook and its sing-along chorus, and a cool guitar solo and old school synth run that has a 70’s Boston feel, again pleading to hold on. And that same positive musical energy runs through “The New Decay,” another piano rocker that builds to the distorted guitars toward the end, embodying the very decay of the song’s title.
“St. Cecilia,” a dialogue with the patron saint of musicians, another steady rocker with a bit of a Keith Emerson feel in the synth solo over Melancon’s Greg Lake like vocal about the insecurities and aspirations that any musician might struggle with seeking to produce musical art that matters. For “When Do We Get Smaller?” Melancon sings and plays solo on acoustic guitar, but the beat gets picked back up on “Fitzcarraldo,” another strong power pop melody, with a floating soaring synth twirling up into the sky, but as is often the case the lyrical tone is darker, questioning, wondering. But if you were wondering when the acid kicks in, I mean the ayahuasca, it’s in the 11-minute song “Mareacion,” the intoxicating feeling brought on by the drink. Musically Melancon expresses the trip in a series of movements, a fast prog-rock fusion-like episode follows the early acoustic finger picking, followed by a more psychedelic piece, that kicks into a big rock jam before settling back into the gentle acoustic guitar playing with Latin influence, over jungle sounds. Yeah, it’s a trip, alright.
Which leads to the final two songs of realization that end this 11-song recording, and the realization that he, as a person, as a musician making music, is enough. The point of “Here and Now I Was” is self-acceptance, and then in yet another big, bold pop song, Melancon suggests that when facing the questions of life, always “The Answer Is Yes.” These two final positive expressions tie up all the album’s uncertainty and loose ends in a big bright, musically satisfying conclusion. The result here, “The Get Gos Action Hour” proves to be such a great fun return to recording that it’d be just fine with me if next time it was just Paul Melancon & the New Insecurities, although the cartoon was a cute touch.
Key Tracks: “Permanent Makeup” / “Hyperventilate” / “The Answer Is Yes”
Artists With Similar Fire: The Monkees / Boston / Neil Finn & Crowded House
-Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb