Berry – Blue Sky, Raging Sun

Berry - Blue Sky, Raging Sun

Blue Sky, Raging Sun
Joyful Noise Recordings LP

Berry is an under-heralded band. The post-psych rock quartet, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Joey Lemon, bassist Shane Bordeau, keyboardist Matt Aufrecht, and drummer Paul Goodnnough, employ the warmth of vintage gear – they record at home on an 8 track reel-to-reel deck – with the expansive ambitions of latter day space rockers such as Granddaddy and Super Furry Animals. Despite releasing four LPs and a handful of EPs in just five years, the Chicagoans’ brand of multi-layered psych-pop is still just glimmering at the edges of indie awareness. But perhaps this will ultimately prove fruitful – they’ve had time to cultivate a special musical language, simultaneously evocative of artful pop constructions past while retaining a fresh outlook. Their latest recording, Blue Sky, Raging Sun is being handled by the Joyful Noise imprint, which has a knack for raising artists’ profiles while allowing them to continue music-making with integrity.

Perhaps my impressions of the album will always be slightly skewed towards emphasizing the haziness the group is capable of in songs such as “Desired Desire” and the title track. A sonic artifact plays a role in this; my LP arrived banged up, imparting a warped ‘wah’ to the proceedings. Although working vinyl beets digital on an ordinary day, here a download from the label came to the rescue. I’ve returned to the MP3s again and again, savoring the arrangements’ varied hues. One usually associates long form pieces with this level of shifting details, but Berry manage to fit a startling amount of subtle variation into the standard 3-4 minute format. The exception is “Beauty is All,” a space-rocker with a touch of prog which takes the listener through seven minutes of rhythmically supple, metrically shifting terrain. Groovy yet substantive stuff!