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Thursday, 07 February 2013 16:25

Charting the Music: Melody Den, 'Storylines'

Charting the Music: Melody Den, 'Storylines' Nate Burrell
Written by Travis Dettmann
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From the Funky Butt horns to the Brothers Lazaroff, Melody Den weaves together veteran St. Louis musicians and other local heroes in a genre-crossing, collaborative effort called "Storylines."

Rejoining St. Louis' venerated alt-country club, Melody Den has just released its first new album in five years. This sophomore record contains 10 fresh stories featuring dynamic instrumentation and twangy delights for your listening pleasure.

88.1 KDHX Chart Position: #2 CMJ Top 30 for the week January 29, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Perdition Records released "Storylines" on January 12, 2013; it was produced by Marc Chechik, Jason McEntire and Ben Kaplan.

Can be heard on: Music at Work with Curt, Mystery Train with Tim Rakel and Sound Salvation with Steve Pick.

RIYL: Son Volt, Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

Hometown: St. Louis

Standout Tracks: The self-titled track "Storylines" is saturated with various stringed instruments to complement lyrics about living life, complete with a baritone guitar solo. The horns on "Robert Johnson" enhance the guitar riffs as well as the harmonies created by vocalists Marc Chechik and Nicole Hollway. "Amarillo" addresses the abandonment of love, ending the album in just less than half an hour.

About the artist: Marc Chechik, John Baldus, Jerry Baugher and Dave Melson are the core of Melody Den. With 15 or so years under their belts, music remains a stronghold in their lives.

About guests: "Storylines" features collaborations with many active St. Louis musicians. Ben Reece and Adam Hucke of the Funky Butt Brass Band fulfill horn duties, while Jeff and David Lazaroff of the Brothers Lazaroff deliver extra guitar and vocals. Coco Soul and Nicole Hollway gracefully back Checkik's soulful delivery on tracks such as "Going Back" and "Robert Johnson."

Play it while: Restoring and detailing a vintage pickup truck.

Album art: The cover of "Storylines" features a high-contrast, black-and-white photo of a first-person view of an open road. Could this vacant road and mystery transportation be a metaphor for the pad and pen that create such story lines? Such a photo leaves it open for interpretation. That being said, an open road is an ideal setting for this alt-country classic.

Did you know?: The boys in Melody Den are no strangers to the stage. Drummer John Baldus and bassist Dave Melson have provided rhythm for Magnolia Summer, the Linemen and Waterloo, a band co-founded by vocalist/guitarist Marc Chechik. Checkik was also involved with the Undertow Music Collective, a pro-artist venture that has since expanded and now operates out of four cities: Seattle, St. Louis, Portland, Ore. and Champaign, Ill.

What the critics say: "Marc Chechik has been leading Melody Den for over a decade, trotting out his steel-eyed, soulful brand of Americana every once in a blue moon. The quartet is set to release 'Storylines,' its sophomore record (and first since 2007) this weekend, and it was made with help from a handful of local friends. John Horton, Coco Soul, Kip Loui and others contributed to the LP, and these embellishments – the peppy horns on opener 'More Here than Meets the Eye,' the strong and well-placed harmony vocals on the title track and throughout -- give a bit more muscle to the songs. But it's Chechik’s voice and vision that give 'Storylines' its grounding and what makes these songs stories worth retelling." - Christian Schaeffer, Riverfront Times.

Playing in St. Louis: Melody Den performs on February 16, 2013 at Off Broadway with Bob Reuter & Alley Ghost, and Luella and the Sun.

KDHX coverage: KDHX welcomed the "Melody Den Album Release" show at Off Broadway on January 12, 2013. Melody Den performed at KDHX on August 11, 2007 for an in-studio session.

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