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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Teddy Geiger

Under Age Thinking “Look Where We Are Now”

Review by Gary Hill

Teddy Geiger’s Under Age Thinking album was just released earlier this year, and now it’s being reissued with some bonus cuts and a DVD of extras. The cynic in me has to say that this really feels like the label cashing in. I also have to wonder if it might not have been a better move (at least one more fair to the fans) to release both at the same time so that you could choose which you wanted, the more expensive version with extras or the cheaper one that just has the original album. Certainly for those fans who already bought the full album this is just a bit of a slap in the face, or perhaps an unwarranted reach into their wallet. OK, so the cynic has had his say – on with the rest of the review.

This kind of marketing is very commonplace today – look at all the movies released one day, then six months later put out for the second DVD pressing with bonus features. How many bands reissue their entire catalog every few years with a few bonus tracks? I suppose that doesn’t make it right, but it does make this move no worse than those. Maybe they should offer a trade-in option, then the casual fans could get the new and improved version for a few bucks more. The hardcore fans would want them both, anyway – I know there’s at least one band to which I’m that devoted. The truth of the matter is, though, if you didn’t already rush out to get the disc, this is a great release and the bonus cuts and such make it that much stronger. I think my only real qualm was with the way the whole process took place. The other thing that should be pointed out, though, is that Geiger is much more talented that a lot of the pop schlock artists out there these days, so if he is taking up more of the pop music fan’s funds than one of those people are – that’s a good thing. I mean, this kid is very good. His music is pop, but pop with a lot of substance. Well, I guess that’s enough of the soapbox gabbing – for real this time. Let’s just say that if you don’t already have the first pressing of this, get this one instead. If you do have it, you still might want to consider this one – it has a lot of bonus material to make it a worthwhile upgrade. It should also be noted that since I already reviewed the first version of this album my track by track reviews of those songs are taken from or adapted off of those for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
These Walls
Feeling at first like a 1970's piano based rocker, this one changes up a bit with the introduction of the guitar sounds. Then it drops to a bouncing piano ballad approach that really reminds me a lot of Jellyfish. This song shows both how much Geiger has already matured as a songwriter and the fact that he has a really good grasp on pop music writing with integrity. It drops later to a Beatles-like interlude. The heavier, triumphant textured climax is pretty incredible, too. Then Geiger drops it way back to a reprise of the earlier themes. The final segments, though are more energized as they crank it back out to carry forward. This cut truly represents a new musical side to Geiger. I can't imagine a better disc opener than this one.
For You I Will (Confidence)
This time Geiger turns his attention to a song that we've already heard on the original EP. This is a great balladic anthem type number with some cool changes and a potent arrangement. It always holds up very well.
Night Air
This number is a bouncy piano based pop rock cut. Again Geiger's pop rock sensibilities are spot on, and the chorus on this one is exceptionally powerful. This one turns later through some rather challenging and complex twists and turns and reiterations. The interesting thing is that it never ceases to feel accessible, even though there is actually a lot of meat in the composition. That's truly a monument to Geiger's skill as a songwriter. I have to say that this is one of my favorite cuts on the CD.
Thinking Underage
A mellower piece this one has both folk and jazz elements in its mix. When it powers up to the chorus I hear a bit of Bread's "Guitar Man" in the mix. Coming from me, that's high praise as the musical texture and emotion of that piece have always blown me away. It drops to almost acapella later, then bounces back up the earlier mix. The little guitar fills on this one are a great touch. Yes, this is pop music, but it doesn't get much better than this. It's another of my favorites here.
Look Where We Are Now
Another song that first showed up on Geiger's EP, This one starts based on a piano ballad type of format, but turns into a pretty hard rocking pop cut. This drops back later to the mellower and moves back upward. It's yet another strong piece on a disc that doesn't have any kind of shortage of potent material.
Air Dry
This one has a lot of energy and enough interesting changes and surprises to keep it from getting boring. The vocal performance here and the guitar based song structures are both top notch here. It's another of the highlights of the disc.
Seven Days Without You
I have to say that if there is one cut that's weak on this disc (and I don't really think there is) it would be this one. The thing is, the chorus and the potent arrangement on it (with some definite Beatles elements) is quite strong. I'm just not blown away by the ballad-like verse. It gets pretty intense in the later segments, though, with the arrangement turning very lush. The amazing thing is, this one is really the weak point of this disc, and on a lot of other albums it would be the highlight. That's how strong this release is.
Try Too Hard
This is another that was also on the EP. I don't hear that much variant on this rendition, so for consistency's sake I'll reprint that write-up here. This comes in bouncy with an acoustic guitar - and feels a lot like the folk oriented songsters of the 1970's. Geiger's vocal performance gives it more of a John Mayer or even Dave Matthews approach. This one is catchy and rather understated, but very cool. The bridge has an intriguing texture - feeling almost a bit like a jazz trio sound. Geiger also adds in some cool guitar fills - they aren't big or flashy, but they add a lot of flavor and show his understanding of how to create a complete arrangement rather than just take the simple road.
A Million Years
Another that was on the EP, this is a bouncy Dave Matthews sort of jam with a bit of Bruce Hornsby thrown in for good measure. I love the breakdown in the middle of this with its rather jazzy texture. This one is another definite winner.
Possibilities
As this piece comes in it almost has a country feel to it, mostly due to the slide guitar soaring over the top. It shifts to another high-energy jam as it cuts into the song proper, though. This one features some tasty guitar riffs and solid classic rock texture while still maintaining its modern pop motif. I also love the funky bridge that reminds me a bit of Edie Brickell and New Bohemians' debut disc.
Gentlemen
With "Gentlemen" Geiger brings in a more intimate mellow folk rock sort of approach. That sound carries forward for a while, then the track is powered up with a classic rock mode for a while and begins alternating between the two musical themes. It definitely doesn't disappoint and shows more musical integrity from Geiger. It drops to an intricate piano melody to eventually end.
Love Is A Marthon
This is another track that appeared on his EP. It provides a nice cool down and a more intimate look at the artist. The acoustic guitar based balladic number seems to be less of a group performance and more just Geiger himself. 
As We Get Older
A bit more of a rocker, this one has both a retro texture and still a new pop sensibility. It’s a solid track, but not necessarily one of Geiger’s best.
These Walls Remix (Teddy Geiger versus MachoPsycho)
I have to say upfront that I’m not usually a fan of remixes. Sometimes they can add something worthwhile to the appreciation of a piece of music, but more often than not they are closer to redundant drivel. This electronic dance mix is more of the latter than the former. It’s all right, but I definitely prefer the original.
For You I Will (Confidence) Remix (Teddy Geiger versus MachoPsycho)
Now this one, on the other hand, is pretty cool. The groove is a steamy sort of funk based rhythmic texture. While I still like the official rendition better, this take is definitely interesting. 
Our Eyes (New Demo)
This opens with Geiger explaining when he wrote this song (after the album was done) and what the lyrical theme of the track entails. The cut does have that demo sort of slightly rough around the edges texture. It’s actually quite a nice ballad-like number. This one makes for a great addition. With the previous note about its slightly rough texture, it should be noted that the statement does not mean that the cut feels unfinished. Yes, it is a bit short, but there are actually a lot of layers to it. The mix is just a little less than what you would expect having come from a studio.
Look Where We Are Now (Demo)
Geiger starts this one with an explanation that this demo was recorded when he was 15 and first getting the track down. The truth is, while the recording has some rough edges it really shows that he had the right idea from the start. This is another track that is well worth inclusion here. It’s also a tribute to the talent of this guy.
Gentlemen (Demo)
Another demo from the same time period, this again shows just how much he had going on for him. It really brings an understanding that Geiger brings a lot to the plate in terms of song creation and even arrangements. It shows that he’s definitely not the product of some clever producer, but instead a genuine pop songwriting talent.
Possibilities (Demo)
Once more (according the spoken introduction) Geiger brings us back to that same point in his life. This rocks out quite well, although the recording has a few awkward edges. This kid is really good. I challenge other 15-year-old musicians to put something this good together. I’m sure there are some out there who could pull it off, but they are in the minority. Yes, I remember the kind of music I was creating at that age, and it was nowhere near the skill level of this.
Thousand Years (Demo)
Geiger explains that this song is the one that eventually became “A Million Years.” The cut really shows off such a sense of maturity in terms of songwriting that it’s almost scary. I’d have to say that of all the bonus cuts this one is my favorite. That said, it’s not without its rough spots, but I think that really showcases how Geiger was trying to stretch beyond his temporary limitations. Hang on after the end of this, though because there is a period of silence followed by what sounds like it must be a recording of Geiger at an even younger age – pre-voice change. That little bit is far from a great song, but it really shows (assuming I’m right about what it is) how long this guy has been working at it. From his voice he sounds like he must have been about 8 or 9.
DVD
The bonus DVD has a lot of interesting features. First you get the music video of “For You I Will (Confidence).” In addition there is a featurette, with a lot of interview segments, of the making of that video. After that a live video of the track is included. Next up is a similar treatment (minus the live video) for “These Walls.” The DVD is filled out by “A Day in the Life of Teddy Geiger” featurette, an assortment of home videos and a photo presentation. All in all it makes a great addition to give a glimpse into this guy’s life. As someone who has met Geiger I can tell you that he’s a genuine and very nice person who happens to be quite talented. All of those aspects show up in this video.
 
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