Community Currency  - Labor of Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Community Currency

Labor of Love (2011)


Reared on punk but studied in jazz and classical theory and technique, the Romy brothers have considerable talent and the heart to match. Songwriter Matt Romy and bassist Nick Romy spent time in notable Bloomington, Ind. bands Busman's Holiday and the Delicious. With the Delicious on a hiatus and a not-so-amicable split from Busman's, Matt took back some of his songs, wrote some more and the result is an eclectic mix that came to be known as Community Currency. Primarily a keyboardist, Matt took on nearly everything to record this album, playing keys, guitar and most of the drum tracks, with Nick covering the bass and the rest of the drums. A few friends were called in for odds and ends, most of them now making up the current live band.

My favorite cut, "One of the Greatest Things," could fall under the "folk punk" umbrella, a blitzkrieg of chugging snare, bass runs and a kick-ass organ solo. All this power is fueled by love, paying tribute to family: "One of the greatest things my father ever taught me / Was how to ride a bike, he showed me how to ride." "Indiana Man" is a punked-up Woody Guthrie-style song with some great fiddlin' by Susan Anderson. "Nothing Left to Own" introduces itself as a chill strummer, but kicks into high gear with psycho-hoedown basslines and gritty vocals.

It's all got that attitude, but the album is not all so punk in sound. "Car, Or Bike, Or Feet" is a shuffling, harmony-laden song about taking action. "Change Makes Us Strong" tells a similar tale with a comfortable swinging groove. Most of the tracks are positive, socially conscious songs, though some of them simplify things a bit much and some teeter on the edge of cheesiness. On occasion, the lyrics stumble in other ways: "And I would never tell a lie / If it meant that you would never cry / And I would never get so high / If it meant that I would never die"("All That Stuff"). Still, the melodies are crafted so perfectly, it's an easy problem to ignore.

"It's All Relative" mixes things up further as an instrumental jazz piano piece, showcasing Matt's considerable skill. "Life on Earth" is considerably jazzy as well, complete with a smooth-as-silk horn section. Closer "Working As One" is a tasty country ballad.

Community Currency is due to put out a new EP soon, and I am very interested to see the direction the act with a full band on board from the start of the writing process. Will it remain as eclectic, or will they streamline their sound? Honestly, I'm up for anything from a group this talented.