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CD REVIEW -- The Congregation


Right Now Everything

Indie release

The Congregation CD art

by Mike O’Cull

            Living, as we do, in a world that is comprised of virtual reality, computer replication, and manufactured culture, it is often difficult to find something that is organic and real to get excited about. Music fans are especially hard pressed in this department and can find it tough to discover new artists who can deliver the same levels of groove, sweat, and emotion as the great ones of days gone by. Those of you out there searching for a fresh breath of air need to discover Chicago’s new soul sensations The Congregation.

The band is an eight-piece, old school outfit comprised of guitars, horns, and keyboards and fronted by the passionate vocal stylings of the lovely and talented Gina Bloom.  She is backed by the considerable talents of bandmates Charlie Wayne (guitar), Joe DeBord (bass), Chuck Sansone (keyboards, percussion), Dan Wendt (drums, percussion), Brian Crane (trumpet), Nick Nottoli (trombone) and Eric Eiseman (sax).

The sound is soul music on fire, touched by the blues, and wrapped up in the energy of rock and roll; it is completely infectious!  It is the kind of sound that reminds us all how powerful live music can be.

            The Congregation’s debut album, Right Now Everything, is a rollicking affair packed with a dozen original songs about love gone wrong and the wreckage left behind, all set to beats that are strong enough to rock any house in the world. The blending of soul music with elements of punk and garage rock has been attempted by others but has seldom been handled so well or so convincingly. Bloom really pulls the emotion out of each song and the band is equal to her intensity, putting a lid on the pot until it boils over rather than keeping things at a more traditional soul simmer. All the songs presented on the album work nicely with nary a clunker in the bunch. Especially worthy of a listen are “Real Thing”, “You Always Told Me (Terrible Things)”, and the title track that kicks the record off.

            The coolest thing about The Congregation is hearing them play this kind of music, not with the bearing and grace of the old masters, but with the something-to-prove grit of a young band on the way up the ladder. This is not your grandpa’s soul music, but a new variety of the sound, one based as much in loud rock and roll as in Memphis funk. Right Now Everything is a record that needs to make its way through the Pitchfork and Lollapalooza crowds, as well as the roots and blues audience that already loves this kind of music. Far from being a revivalist act or some sort of history lesson, The Congregation is as vital and now as it gets. If too much pre-programmed canned music has got you down, spin The Congregation and remember why you fell in love with music in the first place.  

For more info or to buy the CD, visit:

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