GGLB is a Portland based three-piece band consisting of Marcus Covert, Gregory Malarkey and Andrew Schwab. Covert is the percussionist, Malarkey is the lead vocalist and plays keyboards and bass, and Schwab plays guitars and bass.
Malarkey, whose vocal style has been compared to that of Tom Waits, is the primary songwriter for the band. With the exception of Life in the Food Chain, written by Richard Hessian, all other songs are a product of band members’ collaborations.
WantNeedMustHave is the first project from this group. The album is rock-based with styles ranging from roadhouse to punk to pop rock and straight ahead garage band rock.
Also appearing on the album is Dan Cornwell on Evil Eve with guitar, mouth harp, and backing vocals credits. Mark Benson is featured on guitar on Need to Know, and Malarkey’s daughter Elizabeth provides haunting backing vocals on Come on Boy.
Schwab is a veteran of several the LA punk bands. He joins Covert and Malarkey, who have been together since their early days in seminal Portland underground band The Teeny Weenies.
*** REVIEW ***
By B.B. Blimpton
Puddletown Music Notes
GGLB – WANTNEEDMUSTHAVE
GGLB’s album WANTNEEDMUSTHAVE, was at first a bit confusing to me. In these days of the download and iPod, I kept looking for that ‘pop’ ‘single’ or often created ‘ringtone’. While their album WANTNEEDMUSTHAVE has several candidates for both, they violated that age-old rule: their songs didn’t fit a formula. They hop from style to style - which frankly is quite counter to what we have grown to expect. My first thought was that these guys are crazy…
But then I got it.
This is an ‘album’ in the sense that it is a complete work of art. Please don’t misunderstand me, the songs stand on their own, but the overall effect of the album as a vision (or point of view) brings the listener to another level with this work. GGLB’s take on the world that is America is at times startlingly, often disturbing and spiced with some cutting humor.
GGLB open with Morning, an instrumental piece which just didn’t seem to belong on a rock album. As you listen its’ repetition slowly grows like the morning sun waking, and it dawned upon me, that this was just their opening salvo. As the song ends, there is a bit of a twisted piano statement which wanders into the song that hints at what is to come.
I must also say that as with many of my favorite albums, while I enjoyed my first listen, I wasn’t that taken with it. As I listened to WANTNEEDMUSTHAVE a second time (and then a third, then a fourth) I found GGLB’s treatments of their songs had gotten inside my head. While not a pop album, much of the songwriting clearly has pop influences, which makes it easy to listen to, and also creeps into your head, lodging itself there.
Often with a sly sense of humor, GGLB approaches life as we all live it and ties their observations of modern American life with wit that makes listening to this album a real joy. I also must state that more than once I thought, “They said WHAT? They can’t say that!” Another caution—this album is not for young ears. This is not a ‘happy’ or ‘pop’ album.
The second tune, Song for Vivian, wanders through the start of a relationship, and then Lovin A Ghost, in almost a dirge style, expresses the loss of that relationship. Next, like a fist between the eyes, GGLB unleashes Birds, outlining the craziness of a man ‘set’ free. This ‘mini’ set of three songs is what opened my eyes (and ears) the overarching theme work of this album.
Malarkey’s vocals do remind one of Tom Waits’ harder edge vocals. No one will ever call his voice beautiful, but it is very expressive, hightly unique and just right for this album, and has the balls to rip the top off any club. On Bombz Malarkey’s vocal work highlights his strength in a way that many a rock band would have killed to have at their disposal.
I was amazed at the guitar and bass work of Andrew Schwab...where has this guy been hiding? His complex bass lines, when contrasted to Malarkey’s very simple bass lines, create a complexity that works, over and over. Often one would think that having such different bass styles would confuse the ear, but in this case, each adds to the other. Schwab’s bass playing is simply amazing, and Malarkey’s is amazingly simple. This contrast adds a strength to the album that I simply wasn’t expecting.
But where Schwab really shines is his tasty guitar work. Often a guitarist overdoes it when it comes to that moment in the spotlight. Schwab’s solid playing creates just the right platform for his solos, which never overpower the songs. From me, that is high praise indeed.
Covert's percussions are perfect for this album, driving when it needs it, and accenting at just the right points. Covert tightens up the overall effects of this work, and shows what a good solid rock drummer should sound like.
While the album starts a bit slowly tempo-wise, it does provide a contrast, when with Birds the album moves into more aggressive gear. Panties on the Chandelier had me in stitches and is a fitting tribute to the punk style of rock. Evil Eve had me from the get go (and was another point where I said, THEY CAN’T SAY THAT!!, but they did), and it and the ‘roadhouse’ song, Life in the Food Chain, kept a smile on my face. From the pop sound of Need to Know to the wishful longing of Cedar you never feel like the album drags.
GGLB ties up the album with Normal, which reinforces their overall take on the world we all find ourselves in.
While this album’s hard edges can and do work on you, the overall effect is both unsettling and elevating. This is a sleeper album, and you will be very happy to have it in your collection, as I suspect this one will stand the test of time.