Van Tassel's Uncanny Elixir | Famile Chorus


Family Average: 4/7

Happy Monday family review readers! We have a little one-man-band for you today. No he is not a bird as the album art would suggest, but a real life multi-talented man. Gavin Brown, under the artist name Van Tassel's Uncanny Elixir. Famile Chorus is the album up for review today, and we've got a kids only review for this one. That's right, no parents in this clubhouse. 

Listen along on Bandcamp and check out what the kids of the family had to say:


I must say, this album was more enjoyable than I initially anticipated. Mostly because it had this incredibly fun unique sound to it. Like what a circus is supposed to be. It felt like I was on a carousel of folk and bluegrass, infinitely spinning until the dizziness kicked in. The lyricism didn’t exactly strike a chord with me however, and I felt it was severely lacking on things to say. But the upbeat sounds really do sell the songs more. My personal favorite song off this is “The Hotel”. It is incredibly constructed and you can feel the actual buildup as it progresses through. And the background singers really add a nice touch when they jump in and out in choir like unison. Overall, I was pleased with it. Don’t know how much replay ability it would have for me in a day. But I could throw this on a vinyl for an hour while I’m repotting my plants.



Okay alright, Van Tassel! This sounded like I was navigating a Shakespearean/Wes Anderson collab on a pop-up storybook that took place in some heavily wooded and mystical forest. Each track was very indie, dreamy, and something else. While the vocals were not my favorite part, I am a fan of a lot of the lyrics. Particularly on "Floorboards". "Sun creeps across the floorboards as it paints Eastern Hills. Still tangled in these bedsheets, as we waken our deepest thrills" — that's rather tasty imagery. The music like I said is all very woodland-ey the point where by the end I started to assume Van Tassel must be some tree dwelling elf. Most of it is folky and enjoyable. If he pegs down more pitch and style to his voice I think I'd much enjoy a following album!



(while building a dining room table) I couldn't really get into this album. It's not that I didn't like the idea, I just think that it was too much all over the place. There were too many instruments at a time, which made the whole thing sound really messy. They were sometimes all out of sync and out of tune, which made matters worse. The singing was also rather pitchy; it added to the messiness of it all, and not in a good way. I think Van Tassel would gain a lot by simplifying his tracks, by giving each instrument its own time to shine, to better give the songs more depth and perception.



My interest was immediately piqued by the album art as it looked like a cover for Neutral Milk Hotel or The Decemberists. A total red-flag that this was gonna be pretty indie and folk infused, so I was KEEN. The opening of the first track had me pretty excited, but then the vocals came in. I thought I was listening to “I am the Walrus” underwater. But, once I digested that initial shock, I fell deep into this sweet little sing-songy world crafted by the Van Tassels. The swaying guitar and harmonies had me feeling like I was following around that little garden gnome in Amelie. No, that’s not a euphemism. All in all, a pretty enjoyable experience. As I said, I wasn’t totally into the vocals, but the music itself is pretty strong.



Simmer down simmer down. I got something to say here... Okay I would be really angry at this album for being so darn folky if I was not so completely in love it. Got to be honest I was a little worried looking at the album cover. I was saying to myself “oh dear me that is a lot of flowers what is going to happen here”. But wahm bam these guys pulled it off! They inserted the perfect amount of levity, and sadness that to me makes up a great folk album. Don’t get it twisted I am not some kind of sad weirdo. I can just appreciate it when the sad covers the album from head to to like a thin sheet. I would equate it to an alcoholic saying cheers. Trying to pass along good vibes, but with some inherent sadness behind it all. Okay enough about my feelings, if you can get down with a little Banjo and Tambourine action this diddy is for you! As a final note pop on Juniper, to get your feet stomping.


Sean Maldjian