If you think that the Mostest is essentially the collective name of anyone who plays in any capacity of Bend's roots music scene, well, you're not far off. The collective, captained by all-around music man Mark Ransom, has long rotated a slew of musicians in and out of its lineup, keeping what appears to be an open-door policy to its membership, culminating in live performances in which the stage looks as crowded as the cover of Sgt. Pepper's.
But for the band's new record, Masala Mostest, Ransom went with a much more scaled-down approach, using only long-time friend and bassist Patrick Pearsall, percussionist Shireen Amini and Julie Southwell on violin. The sound isn't thin, however, but rather somewhat spacious - clearly an effort to capture the band's live sound.
The record opens up with "Pray for the Light," an uplifting and mostly poppy tune with a chorus that gives a shout out to Eddie Vedder. From there, the album keeps things positive while also hitting up several covers that - if I had to guess - are some Ransom favorites. There's a take on Mike Gordon's "Poor Heart" and a spirited version of "After Midnight" by J.J. Cale, as well as what seems like a sure live sing-along in the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." But back to the originals - Ransom's vocals shine on the island-vibed "One More Wave" and the band lets its funk flag fly on "Bubble Muffin."
Again this isn't the electric, jumpy Mostest from the "God Bless the Taco Stand" days, but rather a smoother, more subdued act, and good for a spin this summer. This is short notice, but you can catch the band's CD release notice at 7pm, Wednesday May 20 at McMenamins in the Father Luke Room.