This past Friday, Vermont-based jam band Twiddle released their 2-disc album, PLUMP (Chapters 1 & 2), which was funded by a fan-powered Kickstarter campaign. Chapter 1 of the record, originally released in December of 2015, has also been digitally remastered by legendary producer Ron Saint Germain of SoNo Recording Group. With over 40 years of production experience, Ron has worked on 19 Grammy-nominated projects with 14 winners, and has earned over 60 gold and platinum records with sales of over a quarter billion units. Musicians and groups on Saint Germain’s historic resume include legends like Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Tool, and Muse. Chapter 1 now also includes Twiddle’s best-known single, “When it Rains It Pours,” as well as a reworked version of “Five.” Chapter 2 is comprised of completely new, highly-anticipated material with a total of 15 freshly-cut tracks.
The two new radio edits, “When it Rains it Pours” and “Five,” both received significant makeovers. Both songs were digitally remastered for radio play, resulting in two carefully refined tracks that will certainly add new faces to the band’s rapidly growing fanbase. “When It Rains It Pours” has been a community favorite for some time, and while the new arrangement may throw older listeners for a loop, the song is more crisp than the original recording found in Somewhere On the Mountain, and the new harmonies in the chorus add a tasteful new texture to the composition. The radio edit of “Five” is wonderful – I’ve always loved the song, but this newly released version brings the tune to an entirely new level.
The vast majority of Chapter 2 contains brand new material the band has never performed on stage. Twiddle debuted the 12th track, “Blunderbuss,” at The Capitol Theatre in May 2016 as their first set opener, but then did not play any other Chapter 2 songs until their performance of “Moments” this past Fall at the State Theatre in Portland, ME. At their recent PlayStation Theatre run on 3/31 and 4/1, they debuted five Chapter 2 tracks in anticipation of the album release including “New Sun” (written by Brook), “Orlando’s,” “Juggernaut,” “Nicodemus Portulay” and “Fat Country Baby.” You can read our entire review of the PlayStation run here.
The second chapter features an intro and outro that perfectly suits the progression of the album. Dempsey’s dexterous piano playing in “Enter” sets a majestic mood for the album, and he cleanly ends the two-disc feature with “Purple Forest.” In between, Twiddle delivers songs written by each band member and the unique character of each musician certainly shines through on the recording. Each song has its own distinct feel, yet the whole disc flows incredibly smoothly from start to finish. “Orlando’s,” the second track on Chapter 2, is musically diverse with different stylistic segments, and also contains incredibly fun lyrics. It’s relatively long for a studio track — just over 9 minutes— but with the diversity of sound and jammed-out segments, each second of the track will keep Twiddle fans on the edges of their seats.
“Juggernaut” is a particularly angry, hard-hitting song that delivers commentary on our current political situation. The rage in this song is something a lot of people are presently feeling (especially Twiddle fans), so to hear a band that generally upholds raw positivity exhibit that much agitation is a potent change of pace. “Juggernaut” has a Rage Against the Machine type feel, earning this song the nickname, “Twiddle Against the Machine.” “Blunderbuss” has a similar feel to it, so it’s interesting to see the band add teeth and edginess to the mix in Chapter 2.
But there are also feel-good songs. “Moments” contains a characteristic, chilled-out reggae ethos, and the light-hearted tales in “Ricky Snickle” and “Nicodemus Portulay” are incredibly catchy, well-painted sonic stories. “Forevers” is another carefully composed track chalk-full of personality, and contains my favorite piano feature on the two-disc set. “New Sun” and “Drifter” are two tunes where drummer Brook Jordan takes the helm on lead vocals, and he clearly displays how far he’s come and how hard he’s worked on polishing his voice.
Rounding out Chapter 2 are “Milk,” “Peas and Carrots,” and “Dinner Fork.” Each of these songs are well put-together, with “Milk” featuring the one-and-only Tim Palmieri of Kung Fu and The Breakfast on guitar. In addition to Tim’s guitar playing, I was also drawn to the standout bass lines in “Milk,” and personally think this was Gubb’s most impressive track. All in all, I have to say I love the direction Twiddle takes in Chapter 2. This new collection of material is particularly diverse, and I’m excited to see how these songs evolve within Twiddle’s rotating live repertoire in years to come.
(This review was written by a new writer, Karen Elizabeth. More Twiddle coverage is on its way from this exciting new contributer!)