Nucleus: Love and Gold

By: Johnny Goff

Humboldt County's own The Nucleus has taken a winding journey to the release of their latest album, Love and Gold. That winding journey, while still wrapped in traditional jam-influences and jazz coercions, apparently ignited an avant-garde desire to break jam clichés.

There are no forced quirky, lyrical metaphors or careless, lazy attention to the noodling on Love and Gold. The ease of their newfound "hitchhiker folk" nostalgia is communicated comfortably through idiosyncratic soloing and group chorusing that never allow the listener's mind to stray from the story being told. Throughout my countless listens to Love and Gold, I never once found myself disengaged from the great harmonies or the calmly shared Kerouac-ian lyrical chaos. In fact, I simply began to like it more and more.

This new avenue is not without potholes, but with more than half of this album's 63 minutes filled with road weary tour travels and clever coast-hopping observances, Love and Gold is a great travel disc that also works when you have friends over some Texas Hold ‘Em.

From the Neil Young-esque title tune that opens things, it's obvious The Nucleus has embraced their new musical direction. The second track, "Deep In The Heart," is pace changing storytelling, a nostalgia piece that accompanies an upbeat Police-like reggae beat topped by bassist Steve Webb's nasal, Claypool inspired vocals. This track is also the first time Nucleus' keyboardist B. Swizlo's impact is felt. He provides a catchy contrast between the hard, edgy sound of the vocals and chorus with keyboard ska rhythms.

Album highlight "Some Eastern Shit" finds frontman Piet Dalmolen's heavy rock chords laying the groundwork for a darker '70s power-psych ballad fused with inspired lyrics of three of Nucleus' founding members' ties to Upstate New York. Again, Swizlo's keyboards add some needed energy to the song's few slow moments. As the album's longest track, "Some Eastern Shit" is the most memorable because it provides a near 50/50 split between the original Nuclues motive of happy dance jams and the newer, more mature Nuclues.

"I Don't Know What Happened" continues that approach, capturing numerous influences including Tom Waits, Neil Young and Bob Dylan in stories of the French Quarter, being robbed and left naked, and morning-after party scenes while on the never-ending highways of this great land. A quick, one-sided opinion of Nucleus' sound here is impossible, as evidenced by "Cascabel," a ditty Dean Moriarty and Robert Hunter could relate to. The ramble rolls on with six minutes of storytelling before Dalmolen again makes it clear he's not a rocking chair rocker by dropping some excellent guitar work and masterfully harmonized lyrics.

Just in case, there's been too much country/Americana influence for listeners at this point, older Nucleus fans can just skip to track 9 – a brief version of Nucleus' jammy instrumental fan favorite "Webspan," a popular Nucleus live staple that's also been previously featured on Home Grown Music.

"Swizlo's Afro" is a deserving finale. B Swizlo is Nucleus' newest addition and his impact is obvious throughout the entire Love and Gold album. "Afro" rounds out a great album that's enjoyable from start-to-finish. Nearly every track is worth listening to and its final track really conjures some of the past Afrobeat jams fans used to hear when a previous Nucleus lineup rocked a full-time saxophonist. While still maintaining their funk and jazz credentials, this album evolves their overall sound from the late night dub tent jam band into ripened, clever, bluesy main stage contenders at festivals.

JamBase | Northern California
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[Published on: 4/17/08]

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stangetz3000 Sun 4/20/2008 12:39AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Does anyone still care about this band? This reviewer must be a friend or something because who in their right mind would ever drop a Dylan reference when talking about a Nucleus album?!? Washed up jamband - they should tour with Particle

DavidByrneMeetsJamesBrown starstarstarstar Mon 4/21/2008 10:42AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i just found out about jambase through a friend and one of the first things i noticed was this review about Nucleus. I went to Cornell many years ago and remember seeing these guys a few times. I really liked what I heard then. This album sounds like something I would be into. Not so much "jam" and a little more folkey. sounds all right to me. Thank You.

jmann2 starstarstarstar Mon 4/21/2008 02:33PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i have to say that ive been a fan of The Nucleus for a long time, and i know that the guy who wrote this article didnt write one last time.. i think because he wasnt really feeling it.. that says alot to me about people who are interesterdn in music and the evolution of it... The Nucleus hads been steadily evolving and their sound has been defined with this new recording.this album isn't a jammy whatever the closed minded call it. the songs here have substance, and the musicianship is obvious!

and i have to say, it seems to me that the person who wrote all that in the 1st comment must not have any idea what the new album sounds like, and maybe decided to shut them down cuz he didnt like a show or a cd. that's a good reason to not support a band, but the truth is, The Nucleus boys have been doing better and better and are always evolvong and getting better at their craft! i applaud The Nucleus, and their new album LOVE AND GOLD... athe those classic rock and folk influences are apparent and heard... thank you guys for bringing some of that sound back while still enjoying a good jam session!!!! yours truly, one of mnay who still care about this band!

pciotti starstarstarstar Wed 4/23/2008 09:55AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I saw this band two weeks ago on a trip to HSU. they are very good musicians with a lot to say. the new CD is great. it doesn't have a bad song on it! Go to their web site and buy it, you won't be disappointed that's for sure. and to the moron who said Dilan shouldn't be mentioned when talking about Nucleus, you should listen to the new album before you judge. A lot of Crosby, Stills and Nash influence and a lot of story telling. Check it out.


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