SILVER CIRCLES REVIEWS Feb11


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SALVATORE BAGLIO
The Vinyl Frontier Record Company
Bellezza e Disturbo
10 tracks (download only)
Once upon a time, in a land known as East Boston, there was a “Little Fat Boy Crying On the Stairs.” He had a “Pocket of Dreams” that one day he would grow up to be a “Starboy.” He spent “Days Like These”—maybe weeks—obviously years “Ruminating” just what it took to become all that he could be. Perhaps his Italian heritage filled him with “Immaculata” or stuffed him with “Canzone ’65,” possibly a secret diet that could transform him into “The Boy With the Amplifier Head”—so in love and alive with music that his songs would float into the sky and shower his passion all over the world like “Heavy Rain.” A weeping wailing wall of torrent and talent. He was the kind of kid in the neighborhood who always did just what he should and nobody let him know it. Everybody thought he was born that way! And yes indeed, he grew up and hit the road with some magical groups. That beginning was so long ago and now the present is filled with a sweet memory theatre of poignant and evocative pop tunes written whilst riding the rails. Let him pull up to your campfire and spin his “Hobo Song.” It’ll give you a major woody, Guthrie! Music for the ages! Absolutely brilliant! (Harry C. Tuniese)

THE BANDIT KINGS
Victory Agents
Precious Stones
10 tracks
Why am I thinking of Kim Wilde and “Kids in America” as I listen to the opening track, “The Jerker”? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess it’s pretty good, at least as a signifier. The Bandit Kings are certainly not transcendent genre-redefining geniuses, but they’re obviously not dumbos—their musicianship is rhyth-mically sharp and the songs are firmly grounded in and informed by melodic values out of both old-timey country rock and modern-day idioms such as commercially oriented post-punk indie rock. It could be a dire mix in lesser hands. Done well, it is the band’s unique selling proposition. The follow-up track, “Motorcycle,” is catchy in a joyfully deterministic sort of way. “GoGoGo” is an appealingly melodic elegiac. “Twist My Arm” has echoes of the archaism of the Band but with an in-your-face rock ’n’ roll attitude. ”Threads” is an incipient classic; a truly inspired anthemic rallying-cry. “Show Me the Stars Tonight” has a countrified Yo La Tengo vibe. “Laredo” is a lovely country ballad in its own right, a welcome addition to the genre. “YTOFM” is full of almost anomalously joyful lowbrow expressiveness executed with the subtlety of high art; a fine feat. The album features inspirational tunes like “Decompression” and “Over,” as well as being jammed throughout with joie de vivre. These musicians are no ironists, camp followers, or genre clowns; rather than treating country as a bad joke, they take the genre, and their work, quite seriously indeed, enough to make even a jaded connoisseur want to really like them, and the care they have put into their debut collection is proof. I am even willing to stick my neck out onto the chopping block—something I’ve done about half a dozen times in the last twenty-six years-—and venture that these guys have the potential to be huge. Not lower-case “h” huge, but Huh-yooooge. I wish them Godspeed. (Francis DiMenno)

WATTS
On the Dial
12 tracks
Watts doesn’t add anything new to the stew, but you can’t really quibble when the ingredients are so solid. I mean, really, who doesn’t like Cheap Trick or the Rolling Stones? Or, to put things in a local perspective, the Dirty Truckers or the Neighborhoods? This is well-trodden ground, but fortunately, Watts’ love of all things straight-up rock comes off as sincere, and on the better songs on the record, you can actually hear the sweat. Johnny Lynch’s backbeat keeps things moving, and the twin guitars provide just enough grime to keep things from getting too ’ZLX-y. Giving each band member a turn on lead vocals helps alleviate the occasional shift toward monotony, and with Lynch’s turn on “Time to Give the Devil His Due,” it gives the record its best song. (Kevin Finn)

THE LIGHTS OUT
Primetime
11 tracks
I love these guys, so I was happy to see this in my envelope of reviews for the month. The band’s strength lies in their energy, their ability to be pop while still rocking—not everyone can or chooses to do that but the Lights Out does it with ease. This CD flows with vigor both musically and vocally—whether it’s an in-unison shout or in their gorgeous harmonies—have to say I’m kind of in love with those harmonies. Fantastic vocals seem a dime a dozen and the Lights Out work theirs along with catchy, fun tunes. Their one-sheet states that Primetime is a theme album about “what it’s like to be in a band,” and though the recording is nice and clear, I would have loved to have read lyrics to follow this theme but alas, none were to be found in the CD material. Speaking of the clarity, Primetime features a stellar recording and production. Tight musicianship, hooks, vocals—the elements you need to be a standout band. Picks: “Can’t Buy A Hero,” “Open Season,” “Interstellar Valentine,” “Having It All.” (Debbie Catalano)

VARMINTS
Endora’s Box
Boston Cream
8 tracks
These Boston rock vets (formerly of the Real Kids and the Downbeat 5, among others) have been dishing out high test rock ’n’ roll for years now and with this CD they have created a seamless slab of pop punk songs that rocks like a mutha. The title track inspires wonder at the imagination of Billy Borgioli—who else would think to compare a woman to Boston’s most famous dessert? “She’s the sweetest thing I ever seen/ a little bit of heaven, little Boston cream” (maybe it should be renamed “Neon Boston Cream”?) The rest takes up where rock ’n’ roll never left off, with songs about annoying people you’d like to line up and shoot down (“Talk Talk”), tabloid tales from a screwed up world (“No Promise”—quite clever lyrics here), and the ups and downs of love that redeem it all in the end. The guitars sound warmly buzzed and fuzzed with concise solos cutting through at just the right moments. Borgioli paraphrases John Felice’s line “happy just to be alive” and adds a mischievous twist: “I’m so glad I’m here, I’m still alive/ yeah and I wanna, get in and on her.” “One Square One” is a tender bit of rock ’n’ roll nostalgia where everything comes full circle with the line “I never thought I’d see this place again.” By the end the Varmints prove that what inspires us in our youth never really changes, we just get more perspective on it. (Misty Lane)

COROLLA DEVILLE
Junkyard Deville
11 tracks
So this band would appear to be made up of sitting down pee-ers that Slimedog’s cat spoke of last issue so eloquently. These ladies work in a style mixing garage, rock, and pop with results going from the very depths to the utmost top. Early Blondie is one band that comes to mind but any band with ladies and rockin’ guitars would suit their description just fine. “Junkyard Deville,” “Pink Triple Deckah,” “User Friendly,” and “Lady Kenmore” are to me, the best songs—but many more are running just a step behind and could maybe belong. Not an overwhelming recommendation but still a recommendation indeed, and a hearty wish for these fine sitting down pee-ers to succeed. (Slimedog)

ERIC MARING
The Line
13 tracks
A companion piece to the controversial novel written by Mark Laxler entitled, The Monkey Bible: A Modern Allegory, The Line is Maring’s moving interpretation in the form of a rock musical. Themes seen throughout the written work include that of creationism versus evolution, genetic make-up, religion, biology, and anthropology. Among these discussion topics is an earnest plea for the conservation of wildlife, which resonates throughout Maring’s thoughtful effort. The message is straightforward: preserve the beauty of God’s creation—the biosphere—before it is too late and we realize the magnitude of what we have forever lost. The concept album, which features a variety of musicians from Washington D.C. and Montreal, evokes the ethereal Pink Floyd (“In My Own Skin”) and the alternative sounds of the Chicago-based Wilco (Sad, Tired, Beautiful World) while several compositions, including the emotive “Monkey See, Monkey Do,” are theatrical. Although recorded with the intent of complimenting Laxler’s narrative, it is the combination of pleasant melodies and provocative lyrics that allow for the piece to easily stand on its own. (Julia R. DeStefano)

ANAL CUNT
Patac Records
Fuckin’ A
10 tracks
This is by far the most approachable A.C. CD I’ve ever heard. Yet, this isn’t a band I’d recommend to very many people—it is grindcore at its very rawest. A.C. has made a career being the band that just doesn’t care what you think. Their songs are meant to be comedic, but usually border on racist and homophobic. This CD is A.C.’s take on hair metal. The packaging includes all the metal essentials: a mock Motley Crue cover, pictures of groupies performing sex acts, and the singer blowing lines off a stripper’s ass. The songs are about groupies, drugs, and just plain old kickin’ ass. The music is very ’80s metal gods, while Seth Putnam’s vocals keep the distinct screech A.C. always has been known for. I can see metal mullets growing by the masses, and neon spandex being brushed off as this CD starts circulating. I actually enjoyed this CD—it is highly offensive and most of the lyrics are very cringeworthy, but I wouldn’t expect anything less. (Melvin O)

SUZANNE McNEIL
Candescent
Willow
11 tracks
On her new and second release, Suzanne McNeil further explores a mainstream-pop-somewhat- folksy style that has been the meal ticket for female singer-songwriters for many years. With the help of a very strong band, led by Guitarist Tim Mahoney, and a solid recording engineered by Sean McLaughlin and mixed by Ducky Carlisle, McNeil has developed into a very good recording artist. Willow contains several strong tracks including “Bend” and “Aphrodite” (my personal favorite), which she lets loose on. Unfortunately, you have to labor through several average songs to get to the good ones. In this case, like many other potentially great singer-songwriters, the material can always be the obstacle that holds you back. This is not to imply that this record is not good because it is very good, but it can get even better for McNeil. She needs to keep this solid band together and start writing more songs like “Aphrodite” and then she could really be on to something. (Steev Riccardo)

ERIC CLEMENZI
Basement Tapes
11 tracks
As someone who is not a guitarist, albeit still part of the music world, I may not have the technical terms down but maybe it’s better that I’m approaching this purely as a non-musician. Could someone who is not a guitarist or guitar aficionado listen to an hour’s worth, 11 tracks’ worth, of pure instrumental guitar? If the songs are as diverse and interesting as Eric Clemenzi’s are, I’d say yes. I get bored without variety and I believe it’s a challenge to keep that interest when you go all-instrumental. Eric got me and kept me there for the most part. He approaches his songs with fire and passion and each song captures a vibe or emotion. Yes, Eric knows how to shred, does it well but applies his shredding talents appropriately. This doesn’t feel like an egotistical, look-what-I-can do collection but rather a compilation of Eric’s feelings expressed through his guitar. Maybe not for everyone but if you appreciate clean, skilled, and creative guitaring, you’ll appreciate it. Faves: “Katrina,” “Thank You,” “Major Rip Off” (love the throwback jazz style), “Short Attention Span,” and the lovely “For Amanda.” (Debbie Catalano)

PROJECT AM RADIO
Ordinary Man
9 tracks
This Metrowest band from Ashland includes Tony Alberini on guitars, bass and vocals, Ronnie Morazini on guitars, keys and vocals and four different drummers to complete their heavy sound. Picture a band whose influences sound like the Beatles, Led Zep, Queen and even Rage Against the Machine and whose delivery captures all the energy of an arena rock band encore and you have a general idea of what their sound is like. Highlights include the Foghat-ish screaming slide guitar in the opening song, “Don’t Even Think About It,” the menacing heavy metal opening riff of “A Room With A View,” and the blazing Robin Trower-ish guitar intro of “Last Dance.” Whether doing ballads or power pop the menacing guitars give the band its identifiable sound and make them a group I want to go catch live. (AJ Wachtel)

KRISI MARTEL
Sealed Lip Records
The Scared Whore Demos
8 tracks
The Sacred Whore Demos has to be one of the most beautiful CDs I’ve heard in a very long time. It’s very basic musically. It’s just Kristi and her piano. It’s amazing how such a timeless formula can still sound so good. This is a musical diary, a place where Kristi lets us into her darkest places. She leads us through painful memories, happy moments, and feelings of confusion—but mostly she brings a positive feeling of empowerment. She stands tall in “Warrior Daughter” when she says, “I am your warrior daughter/ fighting for you to love yourself wholly.” In “Dear Sister” she writes an open letter to a younger sibling, wishing with a cautious apprehension to make sure her future husband really is the right one, ”because we all change with time.” “Blessed Community” explains openly her reasoning why she gets so deep and personal, “Here, I can be myself/ And here, I can look right at you/ Here, I can sing the song of my soul/ And I will be heard by you.” If you’ve been lacking a strong opinionated woman expressing her deepest thoughts unfiltered, I recommend adding this CD to your collection. (Melvin O)

TOMMY DICE & THE HARDCORES
That’s Just Hardcore
14 tracks
When I received my first copy of this CD, I saw the band name, the horrible cover and ridiculous song titles and dreaded that one day I was gonna have to sit down, listen to this a couple of times, and review it. Then, when that day came, I was psyched—the CD was blank! Of course, I reported this to T Max, so then he had another copy sent! Seems I wasn’t going to get off that easily, apparently. So, here I am listening to an unfortunately-functioning copy of this opus. Having done that review of the hardcore compilation, I realized that this guy is also in Division of Hate, and I liked the one song I heard that was on said compilation. I had a bit of hope. But this must be his joke-vanity-side-project. It’s sloppy, silly, dumbass hardcore, and he keeps saying his name in every song. There’s nothing redeeming or funny about it. Is it an inside joke? Beats me. The “Ice Ice Baby” rendition is unappreciated, to say the least. (Tony Mellor)

RAIANNE RICHARDS
Nobody’s Favorite Records
Simple in this Place
11 tracks
A musician exhibiting insight beyond her years, Raianne Richards (The Accident That Led Me to the World) is an eloquent up-and-comer of the folk and pop genres. Her sophomore effort, recorded in a secluded cabin in Maine, is both timeless and organic. The addition of banjo and bass by Mark Mandeville, along with drums and keyboard by Jerry Fels results in a mellow country sound that is reminiscent of Caitlin Cary, Gillian Welch, and Whiskeytown. Richards’ warm, raspy voice shines throughout the entire album but especially within the opener, “Simply Uncompromised.” Slightly more up-tempo tracks include “Driving” and “A Hundred Miles,” which are suitable for inclusion on a mainstream radio playlist. The beauty of this album lies in its sheer simplicity. Through an introspective, no-frills approach, Richards demonstrates growth as an artist. The simplicity of this disc makes it the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday afternoon spent on the porch while being at one with nature, and far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. (Julia R. DeStefano)

ROOTS OF CREATION
Harmonized Records
RoC Live Vol #2
8 tracks
I have to admit that when I receive a reggae-tinged album by a bunch of white dudes from New Hampshire, I fully expect to it to be the sonic equivalent of the after effects of eating too much Taco Bell. But much like the Celtics still have to play the Clippers when they come up on the schedule, I still have to listen to every disc that lands in my mailbox. Roots of Creation proves why you should always listen with an open mind. They may not be the Celtics, but they sure as hell aren’t the Clippers, either. Let’s call them the Atlanta Hawks, a team with a lot of nice, young parts that wins more often than it loses, but doesn’t yet have the experience to go far in the playoffs. I probably rambled a bit with that comparison, which is similar to how Roots of Creation’s songs sometimes suffer when they ramble on. But for the most part, the grooves won me over. They have played a few festivals in their time, and I can see why. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture a bunch of chemically-induced folks dancing out in an open field to these guys. And to their credit, they add some color to the reggae with touches of electronica, funk, and jam music—you know, all the genres that lend themselves to people taking drugs and dancing in an open field. (Kevin Finn)

SICK BIKES
Sick Bikes
17 tracks
Ah, yes, Mrs. Slimedog here, top writer of the Noise and top reception top writer, also. I’m here with my assistant the adorable, snuggle bunny himself Seymour the cat. We have been having so much fun since we signed up for our free parachute lessons from the Coast Guard as we soar across the skies of Boston. Leave that birdie alone, you silly kitty.
So this CD is a little hard to listen to. I think the root beer of the problem is the murky, fuzzy recording. I feel like I’m in a hairball inside Seymour’s stomach listening to this CD. These are short, echoey, lo-fi recordings that are hard to tell sometimes if there are drums or bass on them. Unlike me, Slimedog actually likes some of these eccentric songs and says they make him think of Syd Barrett who I believe was the bassist for the Sex Pistols.
I do not like this CD because it does not make me dance like Lady Gaga does but they have lots of free tunes at sickbikesband@yahoo.com if you want to check them in. Now, it’s time for me to fly up, up, and away. C’mon Seymour, bombs away! (Mrs. Slimedog)

BARRENCE WHITFIELD & THE MONKEY HIPS
Q-Dee
“Built Like A Rock”/ “I Love Her So”
7-inch vinyl single
Legendary Boston rock ’n’ roll/soul master Barrence Whitfield is a staple in the Boston R&B scene and has been at it for years. This new colored vinyl single shows no signs of any kind of a letdown. “Built Like A More” pays homage to the Detroit sound and explodes out of the box. This is the kind of soul rock that makes you dance and sweat. Guitarist Allan Sheinfeld and an outstanding dual saxophone attack and a solid rhythm section lead Whitfield’s bands, the Monkey Hips. For collectors and fans alike, you can’t go wrong with this gem. (Steev Riccardo)

MISS TESS
The Waltz Set
6 tracks
In the tradition of Norah Jones, the sixth release from songwriter Miss Tess is nostalgic and draws on her inspiration from older musical styles. Listeners are presented with original waltzes and one rendition of Skeeter Davis’ 1962 song entitled “End of the World.” With the accompaniment of upright bass, vibes, sax, clarinet, drums, and guitar, themes include bicycle riding through the nighttime city streets (“The Bicycle Song”), the landmark Ferris wheel in Coney Island (“Wonder Wheel”), and that of lost love (“Song for a Southern Boy”). Emotive and bittersweet, The Waltz Set is, quite simply, a thing of pure beauty. (Julia R. DeStefano)

MERRIMACK DELTA DUB SET
Yes Sir Records
Cover to Cover
6 tracks
Clearly written after weed and highballs, they’ve got Trey-Anastasio-on-meth vocals. The rapper has dulcet frat-boy tones. I bet their female fans don’t shave their legs OR their armpits, and their male fans wear baseball caps. This music would totally fit on a soundtrack to a ski resort comedy that’s got a subplot in which a bunch of frat guys are looking for their stolen bong, and while they’re looking for said tobacco-filtration device, this one guy’s like, “Hey, chill guys, I got this to tide us over,” pulling out this huge spliff he hid in his dreadlocks. Red alert! Autotune alert on last track! (Tony Mellor)

DOC DESOLATE (John Mooney)
The End Is Near
6 tracks
This six-song teaser contains much of what will be on The End Of Infinity CD planned for release next summer. Doc Desolate’s aggressive hip-hop has good flow, good lyrics, good emotional vocals, and a fresh beat. Both East AND West Coast influences are evident but this young artist is able to utilize this duality into his own unparalleled hybrid sound and delivery. Much of the music is very dark—more of an East Coast trait. “Namesake” uses a mid-’90s beat and horns that takes the listener back to ’40s Harlem jazz rather then having a West Coast Haight-Ashbury more laid-back groove. “Procedure” has a wah-wah/ swishing sound that is typical of west coast beats. While the track’s mid-song breakdowns and halts in the beat, are very unique. “Music” showcases Mooney’s great lyrics and has a great opening spit. “Buy The Ticket” is a good, dark way to end the CD. It’s clichéd to leave a project on a good, uplifting note—here the dark ending says: The world ISN’T really upbeat. Dark equals reality. And how can you not like a lyricist who raps, “like a Kennedy ski trip” or “I’ll get straight to the point like Steve Irwin”? (A.J.Wachtel)

BY THE THROAT
Winter Street Records
One Good Night
5 tracks
By the Throat is an apt name because that’s where their music grabs you—this is in your face, take no prisoners, no holds barred, face-against-the-windowpane pure aural assault.
This is hardcore punk music that isn’t afraid to shake up things with tempo or time changes or throw in a blistering guitar solo just to add to your pain.
This is music to commit malicious destruction of property to. This is music to give you one more reason, besides the booze, to breathe again today. This is music with beats that have let the horses out of the gate, with vocals that won’t let you look away, with guitars that tell the truth no matter what lies you’ve chosen to believe in your life.
This is blood on the sidewalk, knife in the gut and you’re only escape when life’s got you, you know it’s got you; it’s got you by the throat. (Slimedog)

JAMIE ALIMORAD
Cornerstone
4 tracks
The debut offering from Jamie Alimorad is aptly named. Short but substantive, this album is a solid building block for future endeavors. The instrumentation of John Scott (guitar), Pat Gorman (bass), and Lucas Jones (drums) is tight, the production value high (courtesy of Somerville’s Time Bomb Studios), and Jamie’s voice carries loud and true throughout the quartet, mostly love and relationship-themed tunes. Because when all is said and done, that’s what makes the shit we go through each day worth a damn—having someone to go home to, in essence, our own little cornerstone. Although in my case, my cornerstone is lots of coffee, a bottle of vodka, and Super Smash Bros. Melee, but I digress. The intensity of the music is felt right off the bat with “What You Have,” and gets kicked up a notch or three with “Stay With Me.” This is no mellow folk artist, people. It’s the kind you crank up as you’re speeding down the interstate, windows down, letting the sound carry you over the miles of endless asphalt. Jamie sets the bar very high with Cornerstone, and it’s worth going to a show to see if he can replicate on stage what he does in the studio. (Max Bowen)

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