The Oakland based Once and Future Band’s newest release Deleted Scenes combines their love of larger than life psychedelic pop, progressive influences and overall 70’s aesthetic in throwback fashion.
The group’s love of David Bowie, ELO and The Beatles (especially the Paul McCartney tunes) is immediately evident from the first notes of opener “Andromeda”. The song is one of the best here as the layering of keyboards, vocals and soaring instrumentation creates a dramatic, vividly colored pop vista. The band, Joel Robinow (keyboards, lead vocals), Raj Ojha (drums, recording / mixing engineer) and Eli Eckert (bass, vocals), work their talents while constantly recalling their heroes.
Deleted Scenes as an album oscillates between larger than life theatrical pop numbers and blissful instrumental escapism. On the pop side of the equation the baroque “Problem Addict” goes over the top with harpsichords, rolling drum work and tons of backing vocals. The main lyrics are trite, but the tune is saved as it dissolves into la-la-la chanting and swelling keyboard work.
The title track tries to cram all of the band’s influences into one tune, but more successfully the band channels Harry Nillson for the first single “Freaks” adding horn work from Danny Levin to complete the humorous and touching effort.
The instrumental journeys are scenic as “Automatic Air” floats in space and the “Mr. G” blissfully unravels in a smooth fashion, both playing as delightful summer soundtracks. The outfit injects some mid-70’s soul into the awkwardly titled “Several Bullets In My Head” resulting in a tune a hell of a lot prettier than the title makes it out to be.
The band has always loved their prog-rock and decides to close the album out with their most adventurous offerings. “Airplane” begins the journey in understated fashion, recalling Peter Gabriel era Genesis before seeping into the elongated closing of “The End and the Beginning”. The finale starts small via Robinow’s piano then parades its way through a nine-minute journey of growing sound and drama in the vein of Yes or King Crimson.
Once and Future Band started back in 2012 because of the trio’s love of mid 70’s era fusion, prog, and lush pop. Now in 2020, Deleted Scenes prove that love which brought them together is only growing as they continue to swim in these soothing waters soaking up their influences and sounds. And for those that didn’t know – Robinow and Ojha are planning on suiting up as touring members of The Black Crowes for their Shake Your Money Maker 30th Anniversary Tour.