MP3 Thorn - Conscience
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13 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Acoustic, POP: Piano
Looking through the album credits of the new album 'Conscience,' by Thorn, the name O'Reilly is ubiquitous. It turns out that this is attributable to the fact that the band is composed of relations:
'Yeah, we're all related,' vocalist and pianist Sean O'Reilly admits, 'but to call us a family band is misleading; it's like saying The Osbourne Show is equivalent to the Brady Bunch or something!' he chuckles, 'But seriously, the make-up of the band isn't some kind of gimmick; it's really about what's best musically. The voices seem to have a natural blend to them, I guess because they ultimately come from the same gene-pool, and I've never played with a musician and had the kind of connection I have with Pat. It's almost like ESP or something.' He laughs.
The album certainly doesn't sound like anything in the Partridge Family catalogue: pianos rumble majestically in union with driving acoustic guitars, sometimes complimented with strings, horns, and electric guitars ranging from atmospheric to downright raunchy.
'We've been compared to bands like Pink Floyd and Coldplay, which is flattering, but we like to think of the music as genre-less. We just say it's something to think about.' Sean continues, 'I guess the band's sound can sometimes travel along the lines of those bands, but the lyrics are their own animal, I think.'
With lines like, 'I see bishops and popes blowing vatican smoke,' the album addresses issues that most musicians would never touch.
When speaking of Vatican Smoke, O'Reilly states, 'The song is definitely very contemporary, and some people have said that it seems very angry, but I think that the song is more bittersweet. The chorus is all about how we must look to ourselves and song ends with the line ''the sacred is the world,'' so I've always thought that the song has an ambivalence that I find more realistic and poignant than if it were merely some scathing rant or on the other end a sort-of melodramatic lament. I guess the purpose of all the songs on the album is representing a reality as opposed to a one-sided view.'
The group works out of the New Haven area and frequents Toad's place, opening for acts such as Jim Capaldi of Traffic, who was just recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Looking around at the Band's living room, one cannot overlook the large speakers and the even less conspicuous nine-foot grand piano.
'It's a Baldwin model SD-10 concert grand,' Sean states. 'It's a bit older than I am, so I learned how to play on this piano - it's sort of a first-love. Patrick, he's the guitar guy in the family, we both picked up guitar at the same time, but my fingers didn't understand it the way Pat's did. The piano was actually in hock then,' he laughs, 'but when we got it back and I touched the keys, it just spoke to me in a way other instruments didn't.'
Both Sean and Patrick are self-taught musicians. In fact the family is building a musical pedigree of its own.
'My father was a major-label recording artist in the '60s; my mother always had a knack for music also: she sings and taught herself the piano. They never pressured any of us to get into music; we all just gravitated to it on our own. That's really how the band was formed -- we all just wanted to play. I guess when you zoom in on the situation it seems very coincidental, but when you take a step back it looks a bit fated I guess.'
When asked about the recording process, Sean answers, 'Well it happened very spontaneously, the old man got it in his head that we should start writing songs and before we knew it we were at Avatar studios in New York every Friday putting down tracks for Conscience. My Dad is a very determined guy, without him the album would never have happened. It's as simple as that.'
The linear notes also include a very interesting piano on some of the tracks, O'Reilly elaborates, 'Well, initially, Patrick seemed the lucky one with recording: he loves Taylor Guitars and could bring his wherever and so he recorded on his choice instrument. At the studio there was a Yamaha Piano and we recorded most of the songs on it, but when we went in to put down the last few songs we had sort of got tired of the sound of the piano, so I suggested that we rent a Bösendorfer -- it's a hand-made Austrian piano. So on ''Brother of Mine'' and ''The Waitress'' I got to play a nine foot two Bösendorfer, it was probably one of my favorite experiences thus far. I was also told by the folks renting it out to me that Tori Amos was scheduled to play it a week after I did. I thought that was funny: Tori Amos getting my ''leftovers.'''
When asked about what he wanted people to get from the music, he replied, 'Well, in a modest sense, I would just want the album to provoke thoughts in the listener, hopefully of a little more depth than, ''This sounds good,'' or, ''This sucks.'' What would be most pleasing is if someone was really helped through something difficult by the music. There are a few artists who have profoundly affected me, I hope that the record could do that for someone else.'
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