Reviews

Seal Party


Seal Party
MMXXII
New Age Distribution
(new video for ‘You’ll Be Fine’ out Sept. 30)
Release: 30 September 2022

Oakland-based art-rock collective Seal Party present ‘You’ll Be Fine’, a stirring tale of resilience and tenacity in trying times. No matter what markets plummet, how currencies devalue and what logistical calamities clog up the supply chain, the human spirit endures.

The album’s closing track, ‘You’ll Be Fine’ culminates in a jaw-dropping solo by trumpeter Rich Armstrong, who has toured and recorded with Spoon, Train, Thomas Dolby, Boz Scaggs, Josh Groban and Tony! Toni! Tone!, among many other top-shelf artists. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra cellist Evan Kahn also appears on this track, as well as multi-instrumentalist Liam Wesley Craddock.

Premiered on the big screen at the Chabot Theater in northern California, the accompanying video features a party of two — a man and his trusty canine pal. Director Alex Largusa enrolled actor Michael Cahalan and his real-life dog (Moose Cahalan) to bring this story to the screen.

Following up the singles ‘Maison’ featuring R&B organ wizard Chris Rob (Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Anita Baker) and the soul-infused piano-based ‘Kaleka’, this is the latest offering from Seal Party’s debut album ‘MMXXII’. Recorded by Liam Wesley Craddock and Chris McGrew, the ‘MMXXII’ album was mixed by McGrew and Jaimeson Durr (Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Hope Sandoval). 

“The idea for ‘You’ll Be Fine’ came from a hypothetical — what happens if everything collapses?,” says frontman Kevin Seal, who co-wrote the song with Seal Party’s Chris McGrew.

“What if our current economic system melts down? As horrifying as that idea may be, it is possible. It almost happened in 2008. If it all tumbles, we’ll be relying on our neighbors — our immediate neighbors — and finding our own food. We’ll be fishing, hunting, and canning. We’ll be bartering and swapping. And as idealistic as this sounds, I think people are both tougher and more cooperative than we are often told to believe. If this happens, you will actually be fine,” says Kevin Seal.

As a songwriting-production duo, Chris McGrew (drums/production) and Kevin Seal (keyboards/vocals) formed Seal Party after many years of helping other artists realize their visions. On their debut record, these studio veterans let their own voices come to the fore, revealing and beauty, both rock and groove. Epic melodies soar over tasty chords to tell their stories.

After years of being session musicians, quarantine culture finally gave McGrew and Seal access to an empty recording studio — namely Studio C of Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco (AKA Wally’s HydeOut), in the room of the former Wally Heider Studios, where artists ranging from the Dead Kennedys to the Grateful Dead to Herbie Hancock recorded some of their most legendary sides.

‘MMXXII’ is a meaningful and timeless collection, filled with improvisation.  Every song on the album involves an array of world-class musicians. Evoking ‘70s soul, rock and R&B while maintaining a raw and exploratory approach, this eclectic work meshes unusual songwriting and musicianship that is at once playful and rebellious.  Eclectic and beautiful, this album is continuous, expansive, engrossing. Stretching across genre boundaries, jazz luminaries and punk stalwarts join together to create a series of unique songs.

This record involves world-class horn players, violinists, organists and vocalists. An all-star cast of 22 collaborators includes music royalty like Isaiah Sharkey (D’Angelo, John Mayer, Patti LaBelle) and Keyon Harrold (D’Angelo, Maxwell), punk icon Larry Boothroyd (Jello Biafra, Victims Family), bassist Uriah Duffy (Whitesnake, Fantastic Negrito), Ben Misterka (Collectivity), saxophonist Kenneth Whalum (Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake), trumpeter Rich Armstrong (Spoon, Boz Scaggs, Thomas Dolby), guitarist Jonnie Axtell (Psychefunkapus, Dee Snider, Tone Loc) and saxophonist Daniel Casares (Atta Kid, Jazz Mafia, the New Mastersounds).

‘MMXXII” album is out now, available everywhere digitally, including SpotifyApple Music,and Bandcamp..The digital version will be released via New Age Distribution and the CD released by X Racer Productions.

CREDITS
Chris McGrew – drums, percussion
Liam Wesley Craddock – bass, acoustic guitar
Rich Armstrong – trumpet
Evan Kahn – cello
Kevin Seal – vocals, Rhodes electric piano
Written & produced by Chris McGrew & Kevin Seal
Recorded by Liam Wesley Craddock & Chris McGrew
at Wally’s HydeOut in Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco
Mixed by Jaimeson Durr & Chris McGrew
Mastered by Justin Weis
‘MMXXII’ album cover artwork by Tony Calzaretta
Artist photos by Shealin Ritter and Maryzelle Ungo

Seal Party – You’ll Be Fine

Seal Party – Kaleka

Seal Party – Maison

Seal Party – Juvie

Seal Party links:
Band/Artist location – San Francisco, California
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