Forward Motion's New Releases: Chris Alvy, Robert Goodman, and Live Album

Music vet and New

Times scribe Lee Zimmerman shares stories of memorable rock 'n' roll

encounters that took place in our local environs. This week: Three new releases

from this remarkable record label continue the emphasis on excellence...

It seems like Forward Motion never rests. South Florida's

most ambitious record label also boasts a roster bearing the area's most

prodigious artists. The past few weeks have seen no fewer than three new releases

-- a live sampler recorded just last month at a benefit concert, a new disc from

recent signing Chris Alvy, and a debut disc from Robert Goodman, the latest

addition to the Forward Motion family. Each reaffirms an unshakable tradition

that practically guarantees that every new offering this label produces will

be, simply put and without exception, awesome and outstanding.

Given that prodigious productivity, Forward Motion Live is an ideal introduction to the label in general. Recorded live at the label's first-anniversary show at Revolution on September 29, it features 15 performances by 14 of the label's artists, organized as a fundraiser for two local charities -- Kristi House and Musicians on Call. Produced by Fernando Perdomo, Omine Eager, and Lizette Santana and recorded and mastered by ever-proficent engineer Zach Ziskin, it's a remarkable display of our leading local talent, all of whom translate their music adroitly from studio to stage with the polish and authority they're known for. The well-known names give the set marquee value -- Dreaming in Stereo (who return at the end with an encore titled "Smile," dedicated to Perdomo's mother, Araceli Perdomo, who died of cancer only nine days before), Jim Camacho (contributing a scorching version of his signature song "Good Things Are Coming"), Chris Alvy Band (the riveting title track to their latest, Art Noise, reviewed below), Jorge Moreno, Kim Drake, Tyler Bernhardt and Omine -- but even those less-well-known up until now -- Robert Goodman Band (a review of its new album also follows), Joshua Stedman, Danny Luis, Jennifer Kaiser, Vic Kingsley, and the aforementioned Lizette Santana -- show they're more than capable of holding their own. With the addition of an accompanying DVD coming soon, those who weren't there get a fresh sense of the energy expended via a uniformly superb set that's as earnest as it is infectious. 

The Alvy Band album, boldly titled Art Noise, follows quickly on the heels of the Anything Goes EP, his first disc for the Forward Motion label. I knew Chris -- who was then going by the much more formal Christopher -- back in the early '90s, when he was recording under his own auspices and planting the seeds of his future trajectory. I lost track of him in the intervening years but was happy to see that he was getting the opportunity for reinvention courtesy of his new association with Forward Motion label chief Fernando Perdomo, who also participates for the first time as a member of the band. While Anything Goes was a confident and assertive return, Art Noise is far more ambitious, reflecting a decided Beatlesesque influence, nurtured no doubt by Perdomo's own partiality for anything bearing the stamp of Brit rock invention. As a result, the album is more nuanced and carefully crafted than before, the psychedelic sound of the Fab Four clearly etched in the arrangements and articulated through Alvy's Lennon-like vocals, especially on tracks like "Something's Missing," "Born," and "Before You Burn and Fade." It's a bold step forward but one that finds him and his band conforming well to Forward Motion's signature style. In fact, by bringing this new dimension to its music, the Chris Alvy Band shows all the more potential for achieving breakout status and the national audience that's likely to come with it. Catchy, cool, and compelling, it's easily the best thing Alvy's ever done.

The Robert Goodman Band is a relative newcomer to the Forward Motion lineup, but his offering on the live set, "Tears on My Shoulder," is also a highlight on the group's aptly named album Everything Is Beautiful. A reliable rocker driven by an irresistible refrain, it finds Goodman's singing soaring to the upper reaches of his vocal register. Goodman and company are obviously adept at radio-ready piano pop, and indeed, even on first hearing, these songs sound like they've been circling in the cosmos for an eternity. The immediacy is apparent, as is the band's savvy when it comes to finding the perfect combination of melody, arrangements, and application. Hints of Ben Folds, Billy Joel, and Eric Carmen weave their way through these dozen offerings, clear indication that the group has nailed a reliable formula and turned it to its advantage. Here's one more reason why we in South Florida can look with optimism on the current crop on homegrown music makers. With its first entry, the Robert Goodman Band is already well situated at the forefront of the pack.

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Lee Zimmerman