Live performances are nothing like the conventional studio process; they give us a side of the players in the mix that we wouldn’t get anywhere else, and while PGS’s new single “I’m Falling off of the World” is merely a live incarnation of its original form, it feels much more enthusiastic than one might initially expect. Instead of dazzling us with additional virtuosity, agility and precision are the main order of the day in this release, which has already got critics around the country very interested to say the last. Overall, Project Grand Slam is one of the smartest indie acts around right now.
Even without the presence of an audience for this piece, the vitality in the group’s play is raw, and I would say that it feels a lot less inhibited because of the push that the musicians can make with each other. They sound completely free to fill in the depth of their collective artistry in this single, which is something I don’t get to encounter nearly as much as I’d like to as a music critic. For them, this is an exhibition – for us, it’s like being a fly on a wall for a creative session.
There’s nothing blasé about this groove, and because it’s getting as much love from the master mix as it is, there’s never a moment in which we aren’t made to fall in love with the beat driving home “I’m Falling off of the World.” This lineup has got to be the most rhythm-centric of any I’ve reviewed in the history of PGS, but this doesn’t mean they’re leaving melodic details on the sidelines; if anything, they’re incorporating them into the physicality of the music. It takes a careful hand, but with Robert Miller at the helm, listeners know they’re in for something good here.
Miller controls every aspect of this arrangement, and I think it’s obvious that he wanted to give us as much swing on the front and back ends of the mix as possible without having to rely on an ultra-heavy bassline. To me, his action here is more than that of a bandleader – it’s one that comes from a lifetime of devotion to the medium, as he curates the kind of backdrop for “I’m Falling off of the World” more akin to a free jazz performance than anything you’d expect from a studio act.
“I’m Falling off of the World” could effectively be the best sample of what its parent LP is made of, and if you haven’t listened to The Shakespeare Concert yet, let this be the first song you check out from the tracklist. Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam isn’t going anywhere; they’re riding the indie hierarchy brilliantly at the moment, and their creative evolution doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. There’s more for this crew to explore, but right now, this is probably the best way to get a taste of what they’re making in and outside of the recording studio.
by Jennifer Munoz