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An off-kilter charm

Birthday Suit
Birthday Suit
By Bill

Contessa Records: 2006

This review first appeared in the August 3, 2006 issue of the North County Times.

A bit reminiscent of early Cake with its off-center rhythmic figures and sharp horn charts, the debut album from San Diego's Bill is a charming combination of musical humor and gorgeous melodies, coupled to some stellar playing.

Hard to tell who plays what, as even their Web site ( is vague and mysterious about the members. The pianist plays with absolute assurance, though, and the drummer seems more jazz-oriented than rock. Whoever is on guitar has a nice Spanish-tinged sound that adds a certain cabaret ambience to the sound. We do know that it is David Marciano who provides those fierce saxophone passages and haunting clarinet.

But what really defines Bill, even more than this fantastic musicianship or the three-part vocal harmonies, is the songwriting. Interesting melodic structures, clever lyrics, deep jazz inflections – and then they'll break out into a lush ELO-styled bit of harmonious pop glory. Can't promise everyone will like Bill – but no one will be bored by them.