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Album Review

The horns at the beginning of the title track of Lunchbox's Evolver album signal an evolution of the Oakland, CA, band's sound. Always a poppy and sonically diverse group, the band seems to have added to their allure. Tim Brown and Donna McKean remain the meat and potatoes of the band, with musician friends adding ingredients to some of the album's 11 tracks. After the festive album-opener, the tempo noticeably slows down on the second track, "Particle/Wave," which utilizes a dreamy synthesizer sequence. The band returns to their clean pop sound for most of the remainder of the disc. In live performances, the band seems to focus on their upbeat aspect, while on record (on this one at least) their reflective and melancholy moods shine through. The collection's highlight might be the eighth track, "Gravity," with its varying pace and vocals from both Brown and McKean. Distortion and synthesizers seem to have found their way into Lunchbox's sound with more regularity. They are somehow able to use their voices as instruments in a way in which other bands often fail, with regular vocal exercises by Brown, who often sings sounds instead of words. Mario Hernandez of From Bubblegum to Sky (formerly of Ciao Bella) adds drums to some tracks, while Rachel Blumberg of Boy Crazy donates backing vocals to the third track, "Letter From Overend." Steward's Steward Anderson also makes an appearance, performing on drums, guitar, and glockenspiel. The songs were recorded at Shafterhouse Studios in California. While the artwork is simple, with black-and-white photographs, the music is anything but simplistic. The tempo changes throughout, like all good Lunchbox albums. Their strength is in their variety and versatility.


Formed: 1994 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Lunchbox is an indie pop trio from Berkeley, CA, led by singer/songwriter and guitarist Tim Brown, along with bassist Donna McKean, and a revolving door of drummers, most notably Marty Kelly, Hugh Howie, and Jon Brahm. After forming in 1994, the trio released its self-titled debut on San Francisco's Not Happy label in 1996. Though that album was largely three-chord mod-pop in the tradition of early Jam records, by the time of their second album, 1998's The Magic of Sound,...
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Evolver, Lunchbox
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