MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE

By Chris Pacifico

Since its inception, rock & roll in all its shapes and forms has caused listeners to lose their inhibitions and get swept up into one of its many grooves, be it expressed by dancing, foot tapping, finger snapping, head bobbing or booty shaking.

With bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors and many others in the 1960s, rock music was an outlet to express a sense of distaste and alienation with the expectations of parents and similar authority figures who told us to go to college, get married, have kids, buy a house in the suburbs and become a good consumer until the day we die.


Pink Floyd
At the tail end of the Flower Power era, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon in 1973, an album which proved that music can be a powerful and bombastic force that strikes down to the very marrow of your bones. The sounds conjured by Rogers Waters, Nick Mason, Rick Wright and David Gilmour didn't just go into your ear but seeped into your mind, body and soul. It was a milestone in the history of music. Many fabulous and mind-boggling albums subsequently came out over the next couple of decades from legendary bands that tried in vain to mimic Floyd's mastery but nothing really matched its force until better than 20 years later when Radiohead dropped OK Computer on the world. An album which touched upon themes of technology and alienation, OK Computer served as a nail in the coffin for the no-end-in-sight Britpop frenzy with Oasis and Blur as its official kingpins.


Secret Machines
Seven years later in May 2004, Secret Machines released their debut full-length Now Here is Nowhere, a sprawling assortment of songs with a psychedelicized shoegazer primer and a nominal Krautrock ebb and flow. Gaining critical acclaim after making themselves known through extensive touring, this trio was pretty much the first band to make music in the 21st Century capable of knocking listeners on their collective ass. On their most recent release Ten Silver Drops, the Machines have been able to avoid the curse of the sophomore slump by creating tracks which they consider to be a bit more song-oriented while still retaining a spark of originality within their trademark sound.

Recently, the brothers Curtis (Benjamin on guitar and vocals; Brandon on keys, bass and vocals) and drummer Josh Garza chewed the fat with JamBase backstage at Philadelphia's annual Memorial Day fiesta, Jam On The River.


Benjamin Curtis by Christie Harrison
The band formed in July of 2000 in Dallas and relocated to New York City that November. While most artists who relocate tend to do so seeking a better and wider reception, Garza saw it as more of a "life thing." "When you're in a band living in Middle America, it's just natural that you have an ambition to hit up the East Coast, West Coast or whatever. We just chose New York."

Their first EP, September 000, was self-released in 2002 and caused a ripple effect, leading to the band being discovered by A&R man Perry Watts-Russell and a subsequent deal with Reprise Records.

Secret Machines have repeatedly been labeled as "psychedelic rock" or "art rock" and while most artists tend to get irritated by labels or pigeonholes, this band doesn't seem to mind.

"It's cool with me," Brandon Curtis says in a laid-back tone.

"It's all just rock & roll," Garza agrees.

"It's just music that we like," affirms Ben. "We aren't one of these many bands out there who sing about how much our parents suck and going to the mall." "Wait a sec," says Brandon, "That's a title name right there - 'My Parents Suck So Lets Go to the Mall.'" "Alright, there's a song in that," Garza laughingly replies.


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