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Under the Covers
10-song CD
This is a female trio, two cellists, Rebecca Thornblade and Susanna Porte, and drummer Nancy Delaney, who play instrumental versions of popular covers. It’s their superior musicianship makes this basic idea so listenable. While their live performance has a lot of the natural warmth you’d expect from a cello, these recordings offer more bite. The production is simple—a single cello carries the bass line as one carries the lead melody.  They start off with Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” It’s got all the presence and sparseness of the original—and Nancy delivers the pounding drums just like Ginger Baker. They also saw through the Doors’ “Light My Fire,” the Beatles’ “Come Together,” Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” and six more gems with results that let me sit back and smile. It’s fun because it’s done so well. Their style goes far beyond elevator music because these musicians express themselves with the vigor of an eccentric symphonic player (which the two cellists are). Bravo, I say. Ideas like this add to the richness of the music created in the Greater Boston area—but whether it be local or not, there’s always room for cello.   (T Max)

ABC Records
Big City Rock [remaster]
10-song CD
Here are ten songs, and nary a wasted one, of what must now seem to some, at the very far remove of nearly thirty years, as music from a fabled realm of yore. Some of these songs now smell like new-wave classics (“When You’re Young”), others now reek of riff-tastic heavy-metal knuckleheadedness (“Television Girl”). Still other songs bring to mind the types of three-chord garage muck of celebrated garage bands writ large the likes of the Troggs, the Pretty Things, and even the Rolling Stones. Exhibits A, B, and C: “I Can’t Help It,” “Teenage Flu,” and “Modern Times Girl.” The melodramatic nature of “One Last Night” and the anthemic brio of the title track might strike some present-day would-be sophisticates as a bit overwrought and goofy; truly, you can’t go home again. But for those who never left, this seminal recording will bring back all sorts of memories.   (Francis DiMenno)

LowBudget Records
This is What I Sound Like
17-song CD
What we’ve got here is a greatest hits collection—selections from 10 years worth of non-stop musical creativity from Doctor X, head honcho of LowBudget Records. (We won’t even mention any of his film restorations or commersh video projects.)  So instead of a towering pile of CDs to wade through, we have one concise “desert island” offering. A quick rundown of the song stylings: pop-electronica (“You’re Breaking Up,” “Misfits,” “Hi-De-Up”); bass ’n’ drums (“Driving in My Car,” “Charley Don’t Gotta Be Scared”); delicate ditties (“A Picture of You,” “Keep Thee Hope for Me”]; wisely chosen cover tunes (“Spinning Away,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,”  “Girl from the North Country,” “Down by the River”); and even some straight up rockin’ (“The Golden Age,” “Rock and Roll”).  All killer—no filler! Having listened to his material for a number of years, you can spot possible influences (several of my fave mentors too:  Beatles, Bowie, Talking Heads, Trent Reznor), but it still all sounds fresh, original, and totally Doctor X.  Bravo, and keep on pushin’ through the years!   (Harry C. Tuniese)

The Scars
12-song CD
There’s nothing really novel to what The Scars do.  They write anthemic punk rock songs about friends, booze, and anti-authoritarianism delivered with the huge punch that always seems to come with recording at The Outpost.  Yet this record sounds fresh.  Maybe it’s because their Social-D-meets-the Pug-Uglies sound comes across as sincere instead of studied.  Maybe it’s because Dave actually sings instead of resorting to the Cookie Monster thing.   But it’s probably because songs like the soaring “Never Give Up” joyfully force themselves into your head, and slight curveballs like the pop hook of “Summer” and the stomping drums and acoustic guitar of “Foot in Heaven” do enough to keep monotony from setting in.  A couple of the songs like the simplistic “Get Out of My Face” sound like throwaways, but the highs outweigh the lows and I need to make plans to see these guys live where music like this really shines.   (Kevin Finn)

Pull Me Through
9-song CD
After hearing this album, I’m stoked on this band and can’t wait to see them play live! Based on the number of familiar faces I see in the album insert, I’m surprised it has taken me this long to jump on the Milo’s Syndicate bandwagon, but it’s the band’s short (I can’t stress enough the importance of conciseness in hardcore songs), energetic, fast-paced songs that made me a quick fan. This is what hardcore should be: fun and drum-driven with gang vocals and a we-don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously attitude. I love the song “Take It Back”—it has a great guitar line, and from the sounds of it, it must be a crowd favorite at shows. I honestly can’t wait to check this band out at their next show.   (Emsterly)

Tiny Problems
13 songs
Musically, there’s all sorts of things going on here, and many of them hearken back to L.A. music of the ’60s; not the Doors, or Love; more like the Beach Boys (“Early Choir”), Harry Nilsson (Squander”) and even Harper’s Bazaar (“All Too Easy”). We’re talking gorgeous melodicism, old-fashioned song-craft, and whimsical tunes. In music of this sort, you can expect to hear harmony vocals, atmospheric keyboards, multi-tiered song structures, and minor keys. Some Pleistocene rock-heads avoid this sort of thing like the plague; it’s too subtle for them, maybe, or they think it somehow threatens their masculinity. And furthermore, there’s no recognizable “hits” qua hits; hooks are subdued and depend more on barely perceptible gradations than on nagging five-note reminders. “Do the Opposite” is sort of like “Taxman” if it were dropped on the floor, had smashed into a thousand shards, and had been painstakingly reassembled all wrong. “So You Think” is about the closest thing to a conventional song on here, but even it skips and lumbers all over the textural landscape. If you liked Pet Sounds you’ll almost certainly find listening to this release an hour well spent.   (Francis DiMenno)

Waxboy Media
Modest Among the Living
13-song CD
This might a first for me.  I listened to this record several times and came out of it with pretty much no opinion whatsoever.  Maybe it’s because it had the misfortune of being reviewed along with one record I really like and one that I really dislike, but I feel like Silent Bob at the end of Clerks II.  I got nothing.  As for a description of the music, well, it’s a hard rock record with just a touch of industrial that probably would have fit in nicely on ’AAF a few years ago.  They lyrics are personal, introspective, and intelligent and there are enough hooks to hum along to.  But overall, the most remarkable thing about this record is its unremarkableness.  If one of the songs came on the radio, I wouldn’t necessarily change the channel, but I wouldn’t go rushing out to buy the album either.   (Kevin Finn)

19-song CD
Ed Morneau is a simple, angry man dealing with complex issues. He’s a former teacher concerned with real learning and lifelong lessons. With his newest project, Folksonomy, he has created a passionate album of consern and critique. These are phenomenal, and plaintive tunes of love and warthat press a thumb (or middle finger!) into the eye of the current administration and other dissolute modern media swine. And more often than not he lets his sarcasm and cynicism belie a gentle and gracious persona. Song after song (but not all) chooses a panorama of predicaments and drops it center stage for reflection and comment. No breezy lite-weight stuff here, although many of the arrangements are acoustic-pop-jazzy with fine harmonies and textures. Several of the demanding songs (i.e. – “To America,” “Radio Shills,” “Yes, Yes,” “Collateral,” “Dafur, Oh Dafur”) drip with political fervor while several (i.e.: “Albatross,” “Like Boo Radley Did,” “When the Birds Stopped Singing,” “Happy New Year”) speak most eloquently from the heart. Great musicianship from his collective adds further sensitivity to his impeccable guitar playing. Think lyrical John Lennon, Ray Davies, or Nick Drake channeling the musicality of Brian Wilson or Leo Kotke with an acerbic-but-muted Andy Partridge. Yeah, reach inside and let it all out! This is a magnificent album of deep reflection and purpose!    (By the way, to trepan is to trap, trick, or ensnare.)   Harry C. Tuniese)

Root Cellar Records
Toadstool of the Realm
12-song CD
Musically, hokum describes a largely jazz-inflected form of musical clowning ca. 1920-40; it was music that doesn’t always take itself entirely seriously; a blend of hocus-pocus and bunkum; a type of hokey-pokey or nonsense. What Root does here is essentially hokum under cover of another set of more folk-oriented conventions, ala Country Joe’s “Feel Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag.” Sometimes the concepts are insufficiently imaginative: lyrically, “Sir Real” might have been devised by a clever sophomore; “Secret Agent Lady” seems like a merely clever updating of the Johnny Rivers classic. “The Curse of the Mojo Hobo” is a mixed bag: half gratuitous wordplay, half film noir send-up. “Cocktail Melody,” on the other hand, is eminently enjoyable; Billy Joel filtered through The Goon Show. “The Devil’s Interval” is an entertaining and enjoyable recitative about the “toxic tri-tone.” The lively “Emperor’s New Clothes” knocks hipster cool down for the count. “Won’t You Be My Betty Boop” is straight hokum, jazz accompaniment and all. And “Forever Home-Grown” is a slightly skewed anthem not without a certain cockeyed grandeur. Occasionally notes of genuine grandeur creep in as well: “Melodramatic Fool” is a creditably introspective and self-lacerating song and performance.   (Francis DiMenno)

Mystix Eyes Records
Blue Morning
10-song CD
As the Mystix intrudes upon my morning awakening, I really can’t grab the words at first. This band, as early morning, go-to-the-job background, well, it really leaves a space between the mind and brain. For those who work the early, or “normal” shift of slavery to acquire the monies to pay thy rent and booze, I heartily recommend this. Okay, enough weird talk, this album GROOVES in the CCR way, funky low down blues-grooves with slide guitar—really great songs that could serve as an ass-kickin’ smooth drivin’ soundtrack for some new classic American film. Real pro musician quality (whatever that may be; make your own decision) permeates every song, and I love that twangy surf guitar. These guys know how to play, and they know how to play together. It’s refreshing to hear a veteran band like this in the midst of the Boston scene. Some bands got it, and the Mystix has it and uses it.   (Mike Loce)

Corleone Records
So Far on the Way
10-song CD
For folk music, this project helmed by Dan Beckman is some pretty spacy shit, and I say that in the most complimentary way. You need look no further than a track titled “This Whole World,” a mind-manifesting Thirteenth Floor Elevators-esque space jam (with a whistled intro!) to know that this ain’t exactly Peter, Paul and Mommy. Opening track, “Dead Pens,” has a certain Captain Beefheart style ambiance, but overall this reminds me of an updated version of the Holy Modal Rounder’s fear-inducing long-player Indian War Whoop, though not quite as focused. It’s outsider music for sure, and often seems nonsensical, but it’s not without its subtle and sometimes massive charms. For all its oddness, “Today the Mirror” is exactly akin to an updated “Wish I Was a Mole In the Ground”—it conveys the exact same sense of whimsical hopelessness. “Flotilla!!!” is a cracked-falsetto slice-of-life take on that archetypal American institution: The River. You’re not likely to encounter anything like it outside of a depraved hobo’s nightmare, but that’s part of its unique appeal. “Bird on a Wire (Tucson Song),” replete with extended kazoo coda, is another inexplicably appealing cracked-folk mantra. “Mountain Home” ramps up the strange-and-scary quotient and is a masterful slice of backwoods grotesquerie. This is a brilliant collection. And the cover of Sun Ra’s “Outer Space Ways Incorporated” is adequately loopy enough to do even the master proud.   (Francis DiMenno)

Corleone Records
Is Music Even Good?
19-song CD
Greetings, Zortar here, alien from another galaxy inhabiting that worthless, hunk of alcohol-drenched flesh your world knows as Slimedog. And as Slimedog might say “this CD is fucked.” I believe I was assigned this because it does not sound like it was made on your planet. It was made in Providence (same difference), which has come to mean two things to me—strange and good.
To describe the music within is very hard. Whimsical and experimental it never comes off as pretentious but as adventurous and fun with many changes during a song. In example, “Black Clouds Part Two,” goes from thrash to goth to synth-pop to classical soundtrack, back to thrash in two minutes. If I had to choose an overriding style it might be, “King Crimson-like progressive rock,” but that would not do justice to this original, challenging, and joyful music. It is one of the best I’ve reviewed on your planet.
This asks the question, “Is music even good?” I would say, no, but this CD is unequivocally great.   (Slimedog)

Dishes and Pills
15-song CD
Let me just say that with 15 songs, this is a LOOOONG disc to get through. I don’t know whether the singer-songwriter label fits Audrey Ryan but suffice it to say that this is a project that I can’t quite define. She has a lot of really intriguing musical ideas here like on the second track, “No Difference,” where she combines a discordant clarinet with accordion and piano. “Dishes and Pills” has what she calls that “weird harp thing” played pizzicato—which sounds like melodic water drops. Strangely, track 8, “Shiny Things,” sounds just like track 2. It’s a good thing Ms. Ryan provides a lyric sheet because the vocals are so distant-sounding that they’re barely discernable, which is a shame because I like her voice but it’s just too buried to appreiate. Overall, she experiments with melody, instrumentation, and discordant musical contrasts using not only the instruments I’ve mentioned, but also glockenspiel, lap steel, violin, and what she calls “other random stuff,” which is precisely how this CD sounds: random, which despite its really neat effects, grows tiresome quickly. It sounds unfinished as if a lot of what she’s playing could be part of more complete songs. Basically, it’s a good first draft.   (Robin Umbley)

Coming Home
11-song CD
These guys won the Rumble last year?  Really?  Wow.  I guess I didn’t realize there was such a market for bands that channel Foreigner.  I thought punk rock was supposed to have wash edthis stuff away.  But maybe I shouldn’t be all that surprised, as it seems that the hipsters have moved on from channeling overblown ’80s new wave to channeling overblown ’70s classic rock.  To be fair, these guys aren’t without talent, as much of the guitar and drum work is technically quite impressive.  But there’s no soul and the songs tend to meander along to the point where I was constantly forgetting fifteen-minute chunks of the album.  The worst thing, though, is that there is a number called “Baby Rock Me” that actually had me thinking, wow, this isn’t anywhere near as good as Great White’s “Rock Me,” which I think says all that needs to be said.   (Kevin Finn)

Where All Dead Leaves Go
11-song CD
I must say, I’m pleasantly surprised by this band. They play mellow, slightly-twangy rock that makes me think of open roads in the summer. My favorite track is “Stonewall,” an upbeat, bass-driven song with a catchy chorus. Another highlight is “All-Star,” one of the darker tracks on the album—it has a plaintive Led Zeppelin-esque vibe to it. There isn’t a bad song on this album—although one complaint is that the songs all sound a lot alike. My only other complaint? Whoever wrote the lyrics doesn’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your,” as they are misused in almost every instance in the album insert, but I guess if that’s the biggest fault in your album, you’re not doing too badly (note to band: notice the proper spelling of the contractions in the previous sentence).   (Emsterly)

18-song CD
If you listen to much indie rock these days, you’re aware that much of it is rushed and unfocused. On Living Syndication’s recent effort, Aneurythm, the Boston-based quartet proves that good things do come to those who wait. The 18-track CD clocks in at exactly 80-minutes with no fillers in sight. After five years in the making, which is traditionally the expiration date for most new bands’ careers today, Living Syndication has watched musical trends come and go while always keeping one-step ahead of the next crop.
This sonic blend of grunge and groove-rock kicks off with all four cylinders aligned. The rhythm section of bassist Andy DeCicco and drummer Gregg Irick offers tight backbone while framing Mike Desmond’s hypnotizing guitar playing quite nicely. “Limber, Hubris” and “Fight or Flight” are tailored blends of Alice In Chains and Tool with enough modernization to attract a younger fan-base. Pevez Taufiq’s haunting vocals complement the ready-for-airplay tracks “13 Minutes” and “Hold” with Eastern Indian influences shining through on “Choke” and “High.”
As nostalgic as it is to hear bands paying homage to the dismal era of grunge delight, it’s more than refreshing to hear a band that’s hell-bent on redefining that era.   (Rob Watts)

Record Breaking Records
Very Hardly Barely
11-song CD
It’s another bright, sunny day in northern California, new headquarters of the Slimedogs, and the birds are chirping as little pieces of white flowers fall from the trees, our substitute for snow. This CD starts out with some punk ’n’ pop, agreeable but not too compelling, making me liken it to Foo Fighters. Second song reminds me of Hüsker Dü, a better reference, I think. From there it gets a little experimental at times and a lot more folksier singer-songwriter like and I like it a lot less. “22 Months,” though, is cool in its cold dreariness. I stroll outside and now the birds are speaking rudely in French to me. This just isn’t right. Fans of punk/pop might enjoy three or four tunes here but I believe they’d be disappointed with the rest. I just wish the birds would stop berating me. I really do. Whatever could I have done to offend them?   (Slimedog)

Strictly Mixed and Mashed
20-song CD
My only real reaction to this album? I just don’t get it. I’ve never listened to Big D & the Kids Table before, so maybe that’s why the idea of an album comprised entirely of remixes of their songs doesn’t seem appealing to me, but most of these “remixes” are music-less—just vocals without any music. Some of the songs do have minimal backing music, but I still find them boring, flat, and uninteresting. Again, I’ve never listened to the band’s original music before, so I feel that I’m unqualified to say whether DJ BC’s remixes are good or not, but I definitely fail to see the musical value or appeal of this album.   (Emsterly)

I Turned Off Thinking About
10-song CD
Half folk music, half ambitious fusion of North-and-Latin-Americana, these home studio recordings are usually interesting and at times compelling. Best by far is the brilliantly hypnotic and riveting “There Was a Bridge.”  It’s a traditional Mexican son huesteco, strummed on a jarana huasteca, an instrument something like a combination of a ukelele and a mandolin, and the song is impeccably, gloriously accompanied by Jordan Wax on violin. Another south-of-the-border-styled number, the irresistible and joyously goofy “Great Unawakening” is a lyrically updated traditional Mexican jaracho.  “Adam and Eve” is a grand old-fashioned reel with churning piano accompaniment. Many of the other songs such as “The Door Is Ajar,” “Rosamar,” and “A Splitting Tree” are more standard folk fare familiar to aficionados of the Michael Hurley and Jesse Colin Young schools. But the one I keep coming back to, again and again, is “There Was a Bridge.”   (Francis DiMenno)

Stillborn Records
Was and Is to Come
10-song CD
Resembling a thrashier version of early Killswitch Engage, Thy Will Be Done (previously Kobalt) debuts their first full-length album on Jamey Jasta’s (Hatebreed) Stillborn Records. Original Killswitch singer, Jesse Leach himself, makes a pointless cameo on one track, his screams indistinguishable from lead singer J. Costa’s. Typical of many heavy bands, what keeps this CD from being a real hit is its lack of diversity between the songs. Despite the few dense guitar riffs, there are some genuine heavy metal hits. Competent tracks include the high energy call-to-arms, “Voice Divides” which opens the record with shredding guitars and call and response gang vocals. “In The Name Of” breaks from typical time signatures that convey a sense of urgency before the roared first lines: “True freedom is feared by those/ who oppose equality.” “Earth’s Final Embrace,” one of their signature tunes, typically provokes a mosh pit from fans at concerts as soon as they hear the rhythmic bass line and epic drumbeat. The record closes with the title track that sounds like an energized version of Pantera’s “Floods.” While this album shows promise, let’s hope this isn’t all that is to come.   (Brett McCabe)

2012 Here We Come
12-song CD
Interesting arrangements with a low-down, groove-based vibe don’t really save this album from being a depressing listen, in my opinion. I suppose the title is ominous, since 2012 is the year when the world’s supposed to end. I’d prefer the energy of this disc to be a “let’s go out partying” thing than a “let’s mope around and channel our remaining energy into less-than exciting music.” Now, I shouldn’t be too hard, these guys are from Vermont, and Vermonters see the world differently than the urban Boston crowd. In that respect, it’s an admirable slice of music from the area. This obviously popular trio consists of Jamie Bright on lead vocals and guitar, Jon Rizzo on bass and Jay Baskowski on drums. It’s probably a good band for those into the somber alternative sound… but just not my cup of tea.   (Mike Loce)

7-song CD
Bluesy jam band Shakyfoot delivers a self-titled CD where tight musicianship and stellar vocal arrangements are window dressing for neophytic songwriting. After a slow start, the disc delivers bluesy choruses that drive home the lessons found in the narrative lyrics. Jason Scolnick’s predictable rhymes add little to the rehashed standard Southern rock themes prevalent in many of those words. His top notch Ronnie Van Zandt, whiskey-tinged vocals, however, make them easier to digest. Jason takes on double duty as rhythm and lead guitarist and his fluid, yet sometimes frenzied, chops are marred by an out- of-the-box Stevie Ray Vaughn Line6 POD Strat tone. Tracked at Malden’s Oak Grove Studios by Joe Laquidara, the CD features well recorded and well mixed bass (Bob Gobron) and drums (Jim Walsh). Easily “C” work from an “A” student.   (Marc Friedman)

Once Around the Sun
7-song CD
Written and recorded in southern California, this Boston trio excels at instantly retro/modern hooks drenched in cheep beer and kind bud.  Fans of Living Colour and Red Hot Chili Peppers will like the Californication of this recording, while the rest of us will dig the slinky guitar grooves.  If indie rockers did porn soundtracks (that is, I mean more OFTEN) Build A Machine would have a promising career over at the Vivid offices.  Fans of Jane’s Addiction will dig the bonus track that features Stephen Perkins on drums.  Clearly this is a band that won’t be in Boston for very long.   (Joel Simches)

 16-song CD
September: In Manchvegas
Ah, yes, Mrs. Slimedog again, number one reviewer of The Noise. I’m being immodest, let me brush down my skirt, at least I’m the most knowledgeable for sure tutti fruiti a wop bop a lulu, a be bop wooh!
But up to the business at hand, this CD is wicked strange. It’s just a guy singing and playing a piano or organ sometimes like from the ’40s. The songs are supposed to be funny but not in the ha, ha, ha, way like the Reba show is but to make you smile wryly. I don’t want to smile wryly; I’d rather leap with glee and dance to Abba—they’re from Scotland.
Slimedog says lyrically it sounds like Jonathan Richman or Randy Newman, whoever they are. And that it borders on being a children’s record. I think it borders on South Dakota. I’d recommend this if you want to hear a loony play the piano. This is not my cup of coffee, thank you.   (Mrs. Slimedog)

Teenage Heart Records
Hope Dies Last
5-song CD
On their debut EP, Jason Bennett and his partners in crime in the resistance, guitarist Jimmy Burke, bassist Ryan Packer and drummer Mike McCabe, leave scarcely a doubt as to their roots and influences. This is street punk steeped in tradition, and hailing from Boston, they’re not short of it. Lead off track “(Open Letter) To An Arrogant Politician” smacks of street tough acts far and wide such as local homeboys the Bruisers, the Clash, Avail, and others of the earnest blue collar punk persuasion, while “Edge of the World” feels like a cast away B-side from the Ducky Boys “Dark Days.” Hope Dies Last isn’t trying for anything new, but hell, punk rock has always been less about innovation and foresight and more about spirit and feel, and luckily these boys have that in abundance. What’s more is their passion translates tenfold on stage, and anyone who’s seen the Resistance live should find this disc a nice complement to their stage set.   (Ryan Bray)

Babylon Is Fallen
5-song CD
Opening with a rousing rendition of a traditional Shaker hymn, Pariah Beat has clearly taken up the mantle left in the wake of the absence of the mighty Reverend Glasseye.  Pariah Beat are storytellers in the same vein as Tom Waits, The Denver Gentlemen, Beat Circus, Three Day Threshold, and World Inferno Friendship Society.  This celebration of folk and barrelhouse songwriting is a specialty and there are so few bands in Boston that pull it off with as much fun and honesty as these people do on this EP.  Pariah Beat is rootsy, fun and honest.  If you haven’t checked them out yet, this latest slab, available on their myspace, is a great way to begin your indoctrination.   (Joel Simches)

Corleone Records
The Diabolical EP
5-song CD
This isn’t your daddy’s hip-hop record. Or maybe it is. Lorna Doom is well-read, intelligent and political just like a caucasian Lost Poets or Gil Scot-Heron.  The production values come second to what the band has to say—not content to simply spew the same tired rhetoric of most local hip-hop records. The DIY ethic, the rough edges and the organic qualities of this recording underscore how Lorna Doom keeps it “real.” Thankfully these guys have realized how “gay” shout outs really are!! This is one of the best records I’ve heard since Saul William’s debut and they get extra brownie points for rapping over a Pixies sample.   (Joel Simches)

Be Polite Be Professional
6-song CD
This is simply a treat for the tympanic membrane! Starting as floormates in college, this band has evolved a level of sonic expertise that combines the nobler aspects of bands like the Pixies, Modest Mouse, Interpol, and Radiohead before they became, well, Radiohead.  If you like your guitar-driven indie pop hot and wiry, this band is for you.  With tightly woven songs with clever lyrics, great hooks and the raw polish only a producer like Darron Burke can translate to disk, Hundred Years War will need to be your favorite band!  Go see them.    (Joel Simches)

Modern Soul Volume 1
5-song CD
With an impressive resume and having played with nearly every famous person on the planet, Evan Goodrow is certainly an overachieving, talented player, well versed in the techniques and trappings of modern soul.  Like many artists of his ilk, playing the music and feeling the music are mutually exclusive and the result is a watered down rendering of music made legend by people who for all intents and purposes created the genre Goodrow is trying to live in.  That is not to say that this EP is not great, but that it seems so bland and emotionally static.  There are times where I am left wishing that Goodrow would stop holding back and let loose and it never happens despite some obvious opportunities.   (Joel Simches)

Let’s Become Machines
5-song CD
Okay, so they’re another quirky three-piece indie rock band from Cambridge.  The Darkbloom seems fun and clever, and their songs are about people they hang out with and stuff like that.  Bob Morris’s voice is distinctive in a geeky-college-Converse-All-Stars-faded-red-courdoroy sort of way, rem-iniscent of Larry Bangor, Todd Sparr, and Ad Frank mixed together in a Speed Racer thermos left at the Milky Way bowling alley.  This EP left me wanting more.  I could easily want to hear three more songs—not four. Two would be possible, but only when followed by three.  Five is right out.   (Joel Simches)

Nude Black Glass
6-song CD
On their first album, Nude Black Glass instantly evokes comparisons with Jeff Buckley, if he were singing with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  There are definite flashes of prog rock injected with a bit of soul.  Though the recording sounds like a cheap demo recorded after hours by an intern, the musical talent easily overcomes this and I would love to hear what this would sound like if the band had more time to objectively listen to (and edit) their arrangements and work with someone who could make this sound as big as it deserves to be. It’s nice to hear a band that covers as much musical ground in just six songs!   (Joel Simches)

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