Pop Song On The Elevator Down
From Lincoln Journal Star Floating Opera to play new album at Lincoln Exposed
Floating Opera is one of the longest running bands that will play Lincoln Exposed this weekend. But the pop collective is far from the same group that began in the early 1990s and released a debut cassette in 1993.
More than 70 musicians have performed and recorded with the group, led by keyboardist Richard Rebarber, who writes the music for the poetic engineers and produces its recordings with lyrics provided by former Lincolnite Charles Lieurance.
On Jan. 31, Floating Opera released “Pop Song on the Elevator Down,” its sixth recording (Tremulant Records), and will be giving some of the songs from that album live introductions at 11 p.m. Friday at Bodega’s Alley.
Made up of 10 originals and a cover of the Pixies’ “Debaser,” “Pop Song on the Elevator Down” is the best of the Floating Opera albums. It fully realizes Rebarber’s brand of pop that blends violin, trumpet, mandolin and plenty of keyboards and backing vocals into the guitars/bass/drums structure.
That mix at its most propulsive can be heard on the driving “Meantime,” one of six tracks to feature the lead vocals of Genevieve Bachinski Sanchez. Then comes the lush “Starships on the TV,” and the shaking “No Time Machine” with Morgan Beach’s lead vocals driving as close to a dance track as Floating Opera has ever produced.
“Pop Song on the Elevator Down,” which takes its title from a lyric in closer “The Car Died of Shame,” is Floating Opera’s most rocking effort, balancing the uptempo tracks with ballads like the back-to-back “Calling Card” and keyboard-rooted “Ceiling Fan" that shifts toward California pop.
Two more lead vocalists turn up on the disc: Meg Bhagwandin on the band’s dark, shouting take on the Pixies classic, and Rebarber’s daughter Sonia on the swinging “Contents of My Pockets.”
Who knows how much of “Pop Song on the Elevator Down” will turn up in Friday’s show, the first Floating Opera performance in 1½ years. But I’m guessing it will make up most of the set and hopefully will sound as good live as it does on CD. Grade: A
From Aiding and Abetting Review of Pop Song on the Elevator Down
Richard Rebarber and Charlie Lieurance have been writing songs for the Lincoln, Neb., collective Floating Opera for more than 20 years. As is befitting a loose association of artists, the output has been sporadic (this is the first album since 2009). The music, however, has been utterly consistent. Consistently arresting.
Part of that is the dramatic settings for these songs. Rebarber writes and arranges the music, and he prefers a kinetic, orchestral feel. The strings (both electronic and analog) punch up the lush fullness of the music. Rebarber and Lieurance have had the luxury of working with some of the greatest female singers who have called Nebraska home in recent times. I still prefer Lori Allison's earlier work with the band, but that probably has to do with seeing the Millions a few times while I was in college. Current vocalist Morgan Beach has the supple alto that has well served Lieurance and Rebarber's work since forever. She's pretty great, too.
And so, this is another generous set of muscular chamber pop from Floating Opera. Personnel may change, but the sound bounds on. I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone pair strings and guitars quite so aggressively in a pop setting. That motif rings through this set again and again, and all it does is remind me to listen to all the other Floating Opera albums again.
Most likely, Floating Opera will continue to function as a semi-occasional thing, pumping out a brilliant album every few years. After all, no one here is making a living from this band. If you can live a full life and kick out some art like this on occasion, I'd say that's pretty damned awesome. It inspires me, anyway. If you have never checked these folks out, do yourself a favor and get on board. Life is too short to miss greatness like this.
From Lincoln Journal Star Live Show Review
Hopefully, however, more gigs will be forthcoming -- a band that good needs to play some shows. The eight-member group spilled off Bodega’s stage onto the floor, creating unusual visuals to accompany Richard Rebarber’s beautifully crafted and arranged music that rocked harder than any time I’ve previously seen Floating Opera. While I was at Bodega’s, Floating Opera played a handful of songs from its fine new album, “Pop Song on the Elevator Down,” all of them as impressive if not more so live than in recorded form.