The Compact
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The Compact

Hopewell Junction, New York, United States | INDIE

Hopewell Junction, New York, United States | INDIE
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I love this record. I’ve been playing it on a loop for days. A feel-good album if ever there was one, Talk Radio is a 10-track trump. Not that the themes are all that chipper, mind you. Hobson’s laid-bare lyrics put the world under a microscope with a wary eye. Even so, they are hoisted up by a hopeful, upbeat musical landscape that just won’t quit. Folk pop one minute, country twang the next, there are many musical bases covered here, and the production and players are stellar. Hobson has a gift for churning out catchy, melodic tunes that adhere to the walls of your skull like Stickum. Her voice, nearly vibrato-free, is smooth, sweet, and immensely pleasing.

I’m hearing bits of Lisa Loeb, the Indigo Girls, and the Sundays here, but there’s so much more. I simply cannot get “Crash” out of my head, a glorious guitar-strumming pop tune of hope and longing. “Divide” is pure flaming rockabilly fun, fun, fun. “Good Stuff” is jazz tinged, which is not surprising, since Hobson’s background is heavily saturated in jazz guitar. The ballad “Far From Home” is contemplative and loungey. I’ve only seen Hobson perform her coffeehouse fare solo, but I hear the Compact’s live set is amazing. Catch it on November 1 and 6 at the Rhinecliff Hotel and November 20 at Hyde Park Brewing Company. www.chokingchicken.net. - Chronogram


I've been a big fan of The Erin Hobson Compact's live shows for a few years now, but now there's another reason to rejoice, their first full-length album "Talk Radio" is now available!

Produced by bassist, co-writer, and advertising guru Steven W. Ross, Erin's debut album is chock full of great songs. My favorite is "Divide," featuring a rockabilly groove set on fire with Erin's superlative fret work. - Justin Foy, WDST, Radio Woodstock, Woodstock, NY

Today was my ?rst chance to listen to your CD I'm glad I did ... I think the album is great. A terri?c listen ... Bravo! - Peter Erskine, Jazz drummer and composer, Steely Dan, Weather Report, Diana Krall.

"Erin's voice wraps around you like a fleece blanket on an autumn evening--warm and cozy, it keeps the chill of the world off." - Brian Mahoney, Editor Chronogram Magazine

The songs are wonderful. A great job with the production. The instrumentation is lush -- it's really very good. - Robyn Flans, celebrity journalist with Modern Drummer Magazine, The Emmys, Oscars and Golden Globes, In Touch, American Profile, Statement Magazine

"All very intimate and thoughtful and most importantly, believable. All in all, excellent. Well done Erin and Steven." - Andy Newmark, drummer extraordinaire, John Lennon, Sly And The Family Stone, David Bowie, B.B. King, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Rickie Lee Jones, Roxy Music, Sting, Pink Floyd, etc - Unpublished


Maybe it’s a testosterone thing. Most killer guitar players can’t get over their own chops, aren’t really songwriters, and remain terrified of playing at an appropriate volume. With Erin Hobson it’s a whole different equation. Here’s a young woman with a virtuosity that can thrill an audience, but who chose to collaborate with a partner to find something more important. The resulting band, The Erin Hobson Compact, categorically refuses to be pinned down. Or musically wank. In fact, the contrast between her soft voice and those fat grooves are part of what distinguishes her obvious musicality, with singing that bears a subliminal similarity to Sade, paired with playing traversing Django Reinhardt to the best from decades of rock. In the case of The Compact the music comes first, like hand blowing a bottle and then figuring out exactly what letter gets placed in it.

For this band it’s about finding other sounds, and something else besides “I broke up with my boyfriend/girlfriend!” to sing about. What a concept! The songs are also credited to her partner, Steven W. Ross, who rather humbly claims to make little more than “adjustments,” so that at this juncture his contributions remain a pleasant mystery. It may be their special working relationship that allows them to blur the distinctions between writing and arranging.


Their new release, Fortune Cookie Philosophy, combines characters and voices that suggest a range of styles that could potentially cancel each other out. That’s right—that evil adjective “eclectic” rears its many-pointed head. But there’s also a sound “in there” that is recognizable. The band’s repertoire includes, urban, country, jazz, Latin, and more. Econo-funk grooves, such as found in “Water Signs” or “Material Things,” keep us on our feet with deft drive and effortlessly flowing rhythms. Gary Burke (Joe Jackson, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix) is one of several drumming legends in the Greater Woodstock area: listen to the superb set-up of almost any of these tracks and you know why. And could it be that much of what Steven W. Ross brings to the party, aside from a never-brag/never-sag bass line, is one damn sweet mix? The difference is in the ears. For The Compact goes for what was once part of popular music, but is missing from much of today’s music: color and texture. And to achieve these objectives you have to open up space—not a terribly popular notion in rock today. The difference is immediately noticeable between their first effort, Talk Radio—a fine B&W recording—and Fortune Cookie Philosophy, which is technicolor, baby...

Case and point: “Purple Crayon”—the third track on their new CD—puts this group in a whole new league. Guitars fall back as supporting voices in a spare, stately arrangement of the sort we’d expect of a major talent on a major label. Without breaking ground or re-inventing the wheel, the song simply unfolds with an inexorable dignity. It doesn’t sound like anybody else. Which means, of course, that it sounds exactly like The Erin Hobson Compact, who marry melody, lyrics and grooves for life.

Ross Rice provides a wide open, magisterial piano until the ride-out, which features more tasty licks than a tapas bar. “Purple Crayon” will get The Compact national airplay, I predict, and should by all rights take them to a new level. Of course, it would help if the rest of the record had something similar on it. Guess again.

“This Is Not a Love Song,” is built on a clave pattern. Not Sade, not Michael Franks, not Tito Puente, but possibly informed by them. And finely attuned information, too. I cop an attitude around track five, “Water Signs,” and no sooner than I do that track six nails me with inky pens to a paper white cross:

“So you’re a critic.
I can tell...
By the way that you can offend me so well.
So you’re a critic, another jerk…
Let’s me know after the show
How much better I can do and I know,
That everyone’s a critic
A goddamned cynic,
And I’ll do what I do,
For me not for you.”
Talk about perfect song placement, an under-rated art. “Everyone’s A Critic” fulfills the age-old function of a novelty tune capable of disarming an ornery crowd—a throwback to an earlier scene where audiences actually listened intently to a lyric. Why? Because it’s great fun and oh so, painfully true. Until, that is, violinist extraordinaire Larry Packer takes the solo and once again the ride out brings a sure smile.

I’m beginning to realize why The Compact delivers a great live show. It’s because everyone’s a real player. But unlike so many jam bands, when you listen close there’s actually a song here under the solos.

“What About Me? (What About You?)” might just be the crowd pleaser on this record. It’s total guitar ear candy: A fast Tex-Mex-Caribbean frolic that finishes long before you want it to. “Life,” showcases a singer/songwriter good enough to deserve a hot band. Hobson strikes again with the Sarah McLachlan-esque “So Seri - Roll Magazine


The songwriting team of Erin Hobson and Steven Ross churns out catchy melodies and evocative syncopations that never cease to surprise. From alt-pop, rock, Americana, funk, folk, and a world-music sound, their one-of-a-kind ensemble weaves tapestries of intimate, thought-provoking musical fare with unexpected lyrical depth and sensitivity alongside Hobson’s smooth, cozy croon. One earful of these huge grooves, rich colors, precision-perfect textures, and adventurous solos will keep you coming back repeatedly to pick up nuances you may have missed the first time around.

Hot on the heels of 2009’s highly acclaimed Talk Radio (Choking Chicken Records), this uncategorizable disc is a welcomed collection for triple-A and college radio. Uplifting, eclectic, and tight with stellar mixes, it combines different generations of music into a sound that’s fresh and new. The tunes are punchy, clean, and diverse—grown-up without being old. The slinky title track sits on a laidback, almost urban groove, with jazzy chords and colors, and is followed by the political “Material Things” and its funky, driving rhythms, sweetly smooth bridge, and subtly angry octave vocals. “So Seriously” blasts off with guest Pete Levin’s gospel organ and ends with an a cappella vocal and funky groove. The beautiful ballad “Purple Crayon” will leave Hobson’s lovely voice in your head for days. www.erinhobsoncompact.com. - Chronogram


A compact is a serious commitment between individuals and no more so for the Erin Hobson Compact, whose two partners, both from Red Hook, take life lightly, but music seriously. Erin on guitar and Steven W. Ross, on bass, will open their arms wide to embrace an even larger and appreciative audience at this weekend’s Seventh Annual Mountain Jam in Hunter.

“Erin and I have a compact, a formal agreement, that we will only make the music we love to make,” Ross said in an interview this week. He said the compact means they are real friends and partners. “We’re here for each other and the music, as friends and as artists.”

Ross said the two met about three years ago, when he heard Hobson perform at a local club; he, at the time, was studying bass. He also is an arranger and has a music studio where he ultimately recorded and produced Hobson’s first, highly-regarded album, “Talk Radio.” Their second album, “Fortune Cookie Philosophy,” was released in February.

Ross said the contrast of “the soft voice and the assertive playing gives The Compact unique command of the music and the stage.” He noted that he and Hobson have changed the name to The Compact, but already were set to play at the Mountain Jam as The Erin Hobson Compact.

Ross said that he and Hobson usually perform as a duo, but when performing as a band they add renowned drummer Gary Burke and the equally accomplished Ross Rice on keyboard.

Ross said The Compact’s sound of original music has texture, color, rhythm, syncopation. And reserve.

“The music is what we don’t play,” Ross said. Acknowledging the conundrum, he explained that The Compact’s power comes from reserve. “We don’t have to show everything we know. We don’t have to play hard or fast or loud. Our music comes from real strength – the whole package of melody, lyrics, sound.”

Ross said both he and Hobson believe the process of writing is more like “finding” – the music finds them and not vice versa. He said Erin brings the words. He edits, arranges and produces.

“We think of each song as a nugget, some form of the vibe,” Ross said. He said they both like African, Caribbean, jazz, rock, R&B and those influences find their way into the music. “It’s a mixture of musical styles and values,” he said.

For example, he said the single, “Purple Crayon,” from “Fortune Cookie Philosophy,” is getting a lot of radio play, but it’s very retro with almost a waltz tempo that’s very infectious.

The Compact’s next album, “It’s a Wash,” is in production now.

Further information may be obtained at www.the-compact.com.

IF YOU GO

What: The Erin Hobson Compact

Where: Colonel’s Hall, Mountain Jam, Hunter Mountain, Hunter.

When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m., during the Seventh Annual Mountain Jam, which runs through

How much: Tier 5, $197.50; day of, $214.50 Other tiers sold out. Camping options also available.

Call: (888) 512-7469

- The Daily Freeman


Discography

1@AX (One At A Time) TBR 2013

LP: Fortune Cookie Philosophy, February 2011

Current single is playing on radio stations all over the country, "Purple Crayon"

LP: Talk Radio, 2009

Singles were "Brick Wall" and Divide"

Photos

Bio

The song-writing team of Hobson and Ross churns out catchy melodies and evocative syncopations that never cease to surprise. From alt-pop, rock, Americana, funk to folk and a world music sound, their one-of-a- kind ensemble weaves tapestries of intimate, thought-provoking musical fare with unexpected lyrical depth and sensitivity alongside Hobsons smooth, cozy croon. The new albums live feel comes from its basic DNA- live tracks that are big and wide: Not coincidentally, in keeping with the buzz about The Compacts consummate musicianship and startling live performances.

In an industry saturated with the robotic creation of musical commodities, The Compact takes a quantum leap away from the current norm. One earful of their rich colors, precision-perfect textures and adventurous solos will keep you coming back repeatedly to pick up nuances you may have missed the first time around.

Hot on the heels of 2009s highly-acclaimed Talk Radio, the uncategorizable Fortune Cookie Philosophy (TBR 2011, Choking Chicken Records) is a welcomed collection for Triple A and college radio. Uplifting, eclectic, and tight with stellar mixes, Fortune Cookie combines aspects from different generations of music into a sound thats fresh and new. The tunes are punchy, clean and diverse-- grown up but decidedly not old.

The Compact has opened recently for Country icon Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, John Hall of Orleans, Jakob Dylan, Rusted Root, The Bacon Brothers, Dave Mason, and Chris Trapper of The Pushstars.

Band Members