By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Never mind the music; it's time to get star-struck. Stephanie Wallace, the violinist and keyboardist for the Hungry Mind Review, appeared last season on an episode of the WB teen series One Tree Hill. All we have to do when she comes to town is make her acquaintance, and we immediately skip to only one degree of separation from Chad Michael Murray himself!
All right, all right, we'll talk about the music. The Hungry Mind Review is a band from North Carolina led by former St. Louisan Stephan Bayley. Since 1996, there have been four CDs by this band. The newest CD, The Hungry Mind Review, marks something of a new beginning, because it's the first to be made with the group's current four-piece lineup: Bayley on lead vocals, guitars, piano, mellotron, Chamberlain, percussion and keyboards; Wallace on violin, backup vocals, mellotron, Chamberlain and percussion; co-founder Holt Evans on bass, Chapman stick, guitars, e-bow and cowbell; and Rob Hay on drums and percussion.
Bayley writes most of the songs, which generally have expansive, languorous melodies built to take advantage of the band's penchant for rich, lush arrangements. All those keyboards build up layers of color around Bayley's direct, spare vocals. Evans contributes a few upbeat pop songs in the mode of Crowded House or Let's Active for variety. Speaking of Let's Active, the album is produced by Mitch Easter, former leader of that '80s outfit, and Easter contributes some powerful guitar solos when given the chance.
Of course, Easter won't be touring with the band. Bayley and Wallace did appear earlier this year at Lemmon's, and they more than whetted the appetite to hear the full outfit live. St. Louis' own Julia Sets will be opening the show.