Perpetual Groove - All This Everything



Ever since the term “jamband” was coined, it has been applied to a continually wider spectrum of music, but those in the midst of the genre and the “scene” know a true jamband when they see one. They are unmistakable in their musical quest for the cosmic and transcendent through repetition, improvisation and the fusion of every genre under the sun. 99% of them produce tedious, airy pap, not just because they never reach their lofty goals, but because they wouldn’t know the cosmic and transcendent if it was sitting on their face.
Perpetual Groove is one of the 1% that effortlessly finds universal truths in every word and note. Their second release, All This Everything, is a simple, gorgeous burst of light, crackling with sonic splendor and lyrical truth. Singer and guitarist Brock Butler's voice has all the emotional familiarity of Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carraba, but without the emo posterchild's whining frailty, and the band's blissful, buoyant melodies lift Butler's down-to-earth maxims to near scripture.

All This Everything isn't quite a concept album, but the musical theme of "Life," the opening track, is revisited often throughout the course of the disc, and the album as a whole explores the grand scheme its title suggests. Guest Caroline Pond's slow, weeping violin implies a plaintiveness that counteracts the angsty guitar riff of "All This Everything, pt. I," and the gorgeous melody and hypnotic lyrics distract from the relentless climb from a quiet, meditative shade to the blinding light at the top of the world.

On "53 More Things to Do in Zero Gravity," the piano and guitar lead the rhythm section back from the peak before Butler's guitar briefly breaks off the path then rejoins the band for one of several weightless flights. The second time around, Matt McDonald's piano leads the same melody on a slow approach to a new and unfamiliar world as a fresh, lush landscape opens to reveal the beauty of what was just moments ago a tiny speck among many in a sea of black space.

Perpetual Groove takes time to enjoy life on the ground as well, though. "Andromeda" is a bouncier, more structured take on the themes of the rest of the album; its simple, universal message is stated, restated, then left for the band to expound upon. The resignedly somber lyrics of "Long Past Settled In" are placated by the indifferent but sympathetic melody, but the ethereal harmonies of the refrain contradict the gloomy message and lend the song a dreamy ambience. The Caucasian pop-funk and half-cryptic lyrics of "Scooter" yield one of the best pop songs to come out of the jam world since the Spin Doctors.

The album's closing tracks oscillate between gentle, foggy seas and rocky breaks, finding a calm harbor in the soft, sleepy ballad, "For Now Forget," and leaving the dreamer as he was found, with visions of "Life" dancing in and out of the slumbering "And Everything."

Ultimately, All This Everything is but a dream: the concrete and abstract mingle, and visions of the real and surreal flow into and out of each other; all the while, delicate waves of melody crash on the shore that divides the conscious from the unconscious. Like many jambands, Perpetual Groove combines musical repetition and variation with optimistic, existential truisms, but this quartet finds an equilibrium that most bands lack. They give a fitting voice to the idealist within us all, buffeting our doubts and encouraging our hopes with angelic sound and a complicit message that, despite the setbacks and disappointments, the reality of "All This Everything" is an essentially good place with infinite possibilities.

by Brian Gearing