More than 200 cancers threaten humans. In each case, cell growth goes haywire—skyrocketing, spreading, invading other parts of the body. It is creation as destruction. While the fight against cancer scientifically carries on in labs worldwide, cancer's victims—the patient, their friends and family, anyone who has ever watched someone suffer through it—must deal with the sickness on a daily and pragmatic basis. Sometimes, as the side-project supergroup The Flute Flies demonstrates, it takes a little music to get by.
After losing their friend Cy Rawls to brain cancer in 2008, local band leaders Ivan Howard (The Rosebuds), Reid Johnson (Schooner) and Zeno Gill (The Sames, Pound of Miracles) formed a trio to record a few tracks for CyTunes.org. The website, a music downloading nonprofit, contributes all of its proceeds to Duke University's Tisch Brain Tumor Center, where Rawls was a patient. After a three-song EP proved rewarding, they expanded their catalog to include the nine additional tracks found on the worthwhile Yes Means Maybe.
Howard, Johnson and Gill trade songwriting and vocal duties with casual confidence, adding their own trademark flare to the tracks they lead. "We Went Alone" harnesses the melancholy pop verve of The Rosebuds, for instance, while "Heavy Minds" offers a retro stroll that would fit comfortably on any Schooner record. Gill and company wrestle the shoegazing grunge of The Sames on "Will There Be Prizes?"
But the effort is best when it forgoes a claim to any singular identity, or when it's as likely to stir up comparisons to its members' other bands as to recall '60s harmonies and early '90s rock gusto. "Pedestrian Illuminaries" pairs a shuffling drive with a call-and-response chorus ("I know you" / "You can't make everything OK"). That inclusive spirit affords necessary levity to a project inspired by sadness. "Singing and drunk, we gave up on those happy endings," Johnson sings on the album's closer. To the contrary, after 35-plus minutes of tambourine slaps, whistles, choppy pianos, show-off solos and throwback harmonies, it's too late to wallow and time to, as the bulk of this welcome little album does, live.
Label: Cy Tunes