Show Review

New Year's Jam Comes Off Assembly Line
Boston Herald
Thursday, Dec 28, 2006
Written by Christopher Blagg

You won't find Assembly of Dust on MTV or any Top 40 radio station. There are no sex-tape scandals or flashy silhouette-dancing commercials beefing up the band's profile either.

So how did low-visibility Assembly of Dust score not one, not two, but three back-to-back gigs at the Paradise this New Year's Eve weekend?

According to AOD songwriter/frontman Reid Genauer, the answer has something to do with buckets.

As a musician you struggle to figure out what bucket you live in, Genauer said."In general, I think we have our hands in a few different buckets. I believe our music appeals to a broad range of people. While at present we don't live in a mass media place, we do appeal to several of these smaller orbits. It might be the singer-songwriter scene, the jam-band scene, the alt-country scene and even the indie-pop scene at some level."

Assembly of Dust, which plays the Paradise tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, has indeed forged a unique blend, employing classic folk-rock structures that seamlessly balance songwriting and improvisation. While jam-band nation may stake the biggest claim to AOD, the band’s country accents and melodic pop sophistication have perked the ears of a following beyond the neo-hippie scene. AOD's new CD,Recollection, - a follow-up to its beautifully polished, live 2004 set,The Honest Hour - comes out in March, and reveals songcraft and polish leagues ahead of the jam-band pack.

AOD's delicate balancing act derives from the powers of collaboration. While Genauer may be front and center, he's surrounded himself with a veritable supergroup from the New England jam-band scene. The ace in the hole is keyboardist and fellow songwriter Nate Wilson (of Percy Hill and the Nate Wilson Group). When writing songs together, Genauer plays yin to Wilson's yang.

For me the lyrics and the arrangement and the finishing of a song come very easily, Genauer said. "The thing that I find myself more challenged with is coming up with a fresh idea for a musical theme. I don't want to speak for Nate, but my feeling is that for him it's the opposite. He's very prolific when it comes to coming up with a cool musical theme. Collectively we're two halves of a whole and we complement each other nicely."

Just because the Genauer/Wilson combo makes for greater attention to song detail and structure doesn't mean the band has abandoned spontaneity.

For the live shows, Genauer said,"we still will try and have a blend, to make sure the songcraft doesn't get lost in the noodling. But we all enjoy the improv element, and the audience certainly enjoys it. The truth is, I don't think anybody, whether you're a musician or a fan or a rock critic, enjoys going to see a show that is a carbon copy of the album."

Assembly of Dust is not Genauer's first touring band. In the 90's, he co-founded Vermont's beloved Strangefolk. But after 10 years of touring and recording, Genauer needed a change.

Strangefolk just became an impossible situation, Genauer said. "It just stopped functioning as a vibrant organism. I needed to reassess, needed a change. So I jumped into the great unknown and this is where I landed."

With an even bigger following than Strangefolk and New Year's shows at the Paradise that are quickly turning into a Boston tradition (AOD gave two year-end performances there last year), Genauer's landing looks like a soft one.