From internal bust-ups to bankruptcy, most fledgling indie-rock bands experience varying degrees of struggle, but few stack the decks against themselves quite so much as the Nashville-based quartet Parachute Musical.
First, the name. Though hipster-friendly, it's already closely associated with something entirely different — New Zealand's annual mammoth Christian music festival.
Secondly, they debuted with a self-titled album in 2003. Their follow-up, Everything is Working Out Fine in Some Town, wasn't released until 2008. Five years in the indie-rock world is the equivalent of Guns 'N Roses' Chinese Democracy. Even a band's most ardent fans will find ways to fill that kind of gap, making it harder to capitalize on any kind of initial success.
Thirdly, they're just four guys making piano-fronted, orchestral-influenced, indie-rock. Josh Foster handles vocals and piano, with Tom Gilbert on guitar, Andrew Samples on bass, and Ben Jacoby on drums.
Fourth, Parachute Musical have too many influences, so there's no consistent listener experience from song to song. Will you get a lush orchestral arrangement or salsa-inspired romp-pop? It's like throwing a dart at a wheel.
In the band's favor, though, is a solid foundation of genuine talent. PM's 2008 release took more than a year to record, and featured Foster writing orchestral arrangements, recruiting and incorporating a 20-piece ensemble, and utilizing a seven-piece brass section. The album's title track is truly stunning and beautifully original (that 20-piece orchestra doesn't hurt). Throughout PM's small catalog, Foster's voice is sweet and familiar, but occasionally generic. However, his passion behind the piano charms, particularly on the moody intro to "One More Song." The soaring, cabaret-influenced "Instead" builds to a crescendo fit for a Rockette. Almost every song samples a different genre.
Parachute Musical is a young band with big dreams and plenty of easy-going, multi-purpose pop songs with cross-generational appeal — plus a satisfying smattering of incredibly brilliant songs that indicate huge ambition, pretty much guaranteeing theirs will be a show unlike any you've seen before.