Exposé Online banner

Luminous Newts — Songs from a Local Universe
((Not on label) no#, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-09-03

Songs from a Local Universe Cover art

This Berkeley, California group of musical amphibians is based around the eclectic songwriting partnership of Eric Kampman (keyboards and vocals) and Thea Kelley (vocals, who also sings in Jack o’ the Clock), rounded out to a five-piece with the addition of guitarist Andy Charmatz, bassist Gary Hobish, and drummer Russ Gold. With their 2015 self-titled debut album, they definitely made a strong entrance into the field of Bay Area progressive bands, making a point to do it their own way, at once sounding like no others and offering up a sound that could essentially be timeless, belonging to no particular point in the musical timeline of the last 60 years. It wasn’t an easy task to top their debut, but their newest, released in September 2018, certainly is a further refinement of the musical ideals set in motion three years earlier. Like the latest by the band Oho, which I reviewed here just last month, Luminous Newts cross many styles and genres, without setting foot in any one place long enough to be tagged or confined by it, reaching out in many directions all at once. “Silence” is the album’s closer and is as good an example as any of the band’s ability to morph on the fly, starting in one place and ending up in another by crossing many bridges and serving up many unconventional elements including touches of psychedelic and progressive all built aroud an intelligent pop foundation, interesting lyrics, and strong vocal harmonies. Many other standouts include “Inside Out and Over,” “Green Tea and LSD,” “Shine,” and the quirky “When the Newts Cross South Park Drive (In the Hills of Berkeley).” This is an album of succict song-length compositions that make their point in three to five minutes and then move on to something else entirely different. With Kampman and Kelley at the helm and an outstanding group of top notch musicians, Luminous Newts has proven once again that they have what it takes to create something brilliant.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Luminous Newts

Latest news

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more

2020-01-07
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Clearlight/Cyrille Verdeaux - Rainbow Music: Best of Cyrille Verdeaux 1975-2000 – From his debut in 1973 with Clearlight Symphony, French keyboardist and composer Cyrille Verdeaux has combined impressionistic soundscapes in the spirit of Ravel and Debussy with progressive rock...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues