SILVER CIRCLES REVIEWS Aug11


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COUNT ZERO
SineAppleSap
Never Be Yourself

11 tracks

Tracks from Count Zero’s fourth full-length
CD
Never Be Yourself possess desirable qualities essential for
opening songs on a live concert circuit. The house lights go dark and
the musicians take to their respective places on stage. Finally, cue
a synthesized guitar or a pulsating drum solo before the entire band
colors in a picturesque rock portrait of a dance rockin’ renaissance.
Count Zero delivers a modern-day Joy Division revamped, provided Prozac
was available for the chronically ailing and epileptic Ian Curtis.
“Cry for Sugar” seductively attempts to explain the occurrences
of a mythical spacemen with vocals that reverberate in the stratosphere,
much like My Morning Jacket’s Jim James demonstrates on
Z.
The dance-party continues with “Shake,” a PSA for men who cavort
with malign women. Lead vocalist Peter Moore satirically reminisces
about how a malevolent woman lures some poor schnook into a parasitic
relationship—“Hell, let’s both unzip our souls/ and run through
fields with goat-hoofed gods/ and swim, all star-lit, in lonesome lakes.”
The songs from the album are blissfully trippy. Peter Moore and the
gang launch you not to the moon, but perhaps another dimension—or
universe.
Never be Yourself pledges Count Zero’s allegiance to downplaying
relationships with cosmic-like properties that resolve all coupling-counseling
sessions with the suggestion that “E.T. dance [phone] home.”
(Justin Korn)

NRBQ
Clang!
Keep This Love Goin’

12 tracks

“Boozoo & Leona” kicks off
this umpteenth NRBQ release with a feel reminiscent of—of all things—”In
the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, but in the hands of consummate pros,
that type of throwaway fluff becomes worthy of extended scrutiny. The long
instrumental passage is not quite jazz, not quite an extended blues
jam—it’s almost Third Stream—or think of Keith Jarrett or Dollar
Brand. The song is absolutely brilliant and already belongs in the classic
canon. As does “Sweet & Petite,” which is reminiscent of late
’50s novelty doo-wop like “Rubber Biscuit” by the Chips or the
immortal “Shombalor” by Sheriff & the Ravels. It sports a knowing
rockabilly guitar line and a rollicking though attenuated piano sola
ala Jerry Lee Lewis. Yet another song that scales the heights is “The
Animal Life,” which is full of concentrated brio and could almost
be a Kinks out-take circa
Muswell
Hillbillies
. The rest of the
album is, admittedly, a grab-bag, but full of subtle charms all the
same. The title track is a breezy mid-’70s style pop confection ala
Seals & Crofts, though with a late ’60s Beach Boys vibe courtesy
harmony vocals, glockenspiel, (virtual) handclaps, and a wild organ
solo. “I’m Satisfied” is a good-timey blend of rockabilly and
pop-inflected rock; “Here I Am” serves up a blend of ’50s pop melodicism,
early ’60s Beatles and Broadway, and Beach Boys inflected balladry.
“Gone With the Wind” is a poppy ballad out of the Harry Nilsson
playbook with swinging syncopated vocals and downright jazzy piano tucked
in. Tracks such as “Talk,” “Let Go,” and “My Life With You”
serve up lovely, almost primeval balladry; the lattermost offers trombone
by Sun Ra sideman Tyrone Hill. Closing this smorgasbord of musical pastiches
is the raggedly rhythmic jazz-rockabilly confection “Red’s Piano.”
Much wailing has ensued regarding the fact that Terry Adams is the only
“original” member of NRBQ on this record. Who cares? The best songs
are splendid, regardless of who’s on board.
(Francis DiMenno)

TWO VIEW REVIEW

JJ RASSLER & THEE CUBAN
HEELS

Green Mist Records
Behold!

14 tracks

Rassler is a founder and longtime veteran
of this “scene” (as much as I hate the term), but this is practically
a scene unto itself. About half originals and half obscure covers (okay,
one not so obscure, but they give it a brand new life), there’s stuff
that smacks of garage, surf, soul, proto-psych, British invasion and
teen-beat, straight-up raunch and lots more, yet it never lapses into
retro-chic shtick (and any genres not represented are not missed for
a second). This is exactly the kind of thing I wait for all year, and
I’ve yet to play it once without hitting “repeat”
at least
once. Songs, sequence, arrangements, playing, and production are all
tops. You can also hear that they take it far too seriously to ever
get all
serious about it, which is fucking crucial. Heartfelt
but never sappy, breezy but deceptively powerful, tight but with plenty
of breathing room, it nods to its influences without slavishly aping
them. This is NOT easy to pull off, but they sure make it sound that
way. I’ve said it before, but it ain’t nostalgia when the shit was
timeless in the first place. A rare and special gem, and we’re lucky
to have ’em. Thanks, you guys!
(Joe Coughlin)

JJ RASSLER & THEE CUBAN
HEELS

Green Mist Records
Behold!

14 tracks

Despite the ragged but righteous vocals,
this begins as a fun romp through an assortment of originals and intriguing
covers. Look to the good-timey summer-is-here rockin’ pronunciato
“Shades” and the steamy band instrumetal “Book ’Em” for examples
of the former. For the latter, see the storming “Candy” and the
interesting take on the old chestnut “Suspicion.” This collection
seldom transcends the status of a Pebbles-Nuggets-Mindrocker fanatic’s
dream disc, but, sometimes, well-wrought revivalism is more than simply
good enough. I’ve heard enough failed reunion albums and lacklustre
side projects by classic rockers to know a dog when I hear one; this
one doesn’t woof. JJ Rassler has a long pedigree, stretching
back to DMZ and the Odds, as well as production work for the (cruelly
forgotten) local troublemakers the Queers. Furthermore, Rassler not
only grew up with, but was smack in the middle of, the classic and ’60s
rock canon, and his direction of the band and the arrangements of the
songs are impeccable. A lot of this sort of stuff is really very simple
to play (hence the hordes of ’60s garage bands, past and present)
but if the feeling isn’t there, then the ensuing production can come
across as sterile and lifeless. Happily, this isn’t the case here:
their smokin’ version of “Cadillac” alone would convert the doubters,
and the final trio of band-composed originals would seal the deal, particularly
the rollicking “Tiger Beat.” (Francis
DiMenno)

SUICIDE BILL & THE LIQUORS
75 or Less Records
Good Morning Breakfast, Fuck You Lunch

12 tracks

Suicide Bill seems like my kind of
guy. He references Carl Yastrzemski; he has a sense of humor, and he
knows his way around a rock song. This is lo-fi, barroom rock that occasionally
gets a bit repetitive and noodly, but generally succeeds at its mission
of making loserdom seem kind of fun. Bill seems to be more bemused than
scarred by life’s curveballs and beanballs, which is an attitude I
wish I could take more often. I also wish I could come up with a line
like “your smile is like a box of stale donuts.” I find my mind
wandering a bit by the end of the twelve tracks, but if these guys are
the house band in your favorite bar, then you know you’ve found a
dive worth frequenting.
(Kevin Finn)

JOEY PRATT

More
8 tracks

This is a stunning piece of work. I
am completely in love with Joey Pratt’s EP
More. If I wasn’t given this CD to review and
I just happened to hear a track on the radio (which if this isn’t
already, it most definitely should be), I would immediately run out
to buy it. A most warm, soothing, and soulful voice immediately emanates
from this recording and it’s a voice so musical in and of itself,
it almost doesn’t need any instrumentation. You may have ascertained
the style but if not, it falls into modern acoustic/singer-songwriter.
The instrumentation is not overly done. It perfectly accentuates Joey’s
vocals and lyrics—plus is just as gorgeous. When I feel this stirred
and inspired by an artist, it makes me feel encouraged and excited.
I wish I had the power to make something happen for him. I hope it does.
Talent this wonderful deserves to be heard. Thank you, Joey!
(Debbie Catalano)

TAB THE BAND

Zoo Noises
16 tracks

“One, two, three, four, he gonna
die, but he wants to stay alive/ She goin’ down to the old folks’
home ’cause she wants to say goodbye.” A communal celebration of
rollicking, raunchy rock ’n’ roll at its finest, Tab’s latest
effort follows closely on the heels of their 2008 twofer—the expertly
titled
Pulling Out Just
Enough to Win
and Long Weekend.
Described as a “freewheeling, all-encompassing carnival ride,”
Zoo Noises
blend of contemporary arena rock, power-pop, and fist-pumping punk is
a welcome breath of fresh air in an otherwise tired industry.
The disc’s fourth track, “I’ll Be Waiting,” sounds eerily reminiscent
of one of the band’s major influences, the Rolling Stones, and even
a bit Beatle-esque. Lead vocalist Adrian Perry channels Mick Jagger
throughout a song that could effortlessly fit within the Stones’ expansive
catalogue of chart-topping hits: “Look what you’re doin’ to me/
That’s what you say when you ain’t thinking/ Look what you’re
doin’ to me/ You never know goodbyes from old hellos.” Though largely
fun and entertaining, the band is no stranger to thoughtful, life-affirming
themes, as is evidenced throughout “Your Mission”: “When you’re
feelin’ down/ And you’ve lost your ground/ You gotta sit up just
enough to look proud.” Throughout
Zoo
Noises
, Tab proves why they
are a bright light of the music scene. The effort is only one
example of an ever-evolving career that is destined to prove fruitful.   (Julia R. DeStefano)


BIRCH HILL DAM

Colossus
9 tracks

Holy shit, are these guys brutal. It’s
the first thing I thought when I heard them at the Middle East in Cambridge
and it’s only reinforced listening to their album. And this is coming
from a guy who’s got plenty of metal in his veins. The album starts
with a punch to the teeth and a kick to the spine, and keeps going from
there. You can’t keep this on anything less than 11 if you want to
really appreciate it. Vocalist Mike Nygard’s somewhat gravelly voice
runs right alongside the pulsing drum work of Matt Neely, the ripping
bass of Pete Gelles, and Sam Barrett’s shredding guitar. Big props
go to Damage Studios for the crystal clear sound of Colossus.
I’ve got no problem hearing Nygard belt out the lyrics, and the rest
of the band comes through with unmatched intensity. This album doesn’t
lose a step throughout all nine floor-punching tracks. While not all
the songs are fast-paced, every one bleeds raw sound and gives the audience
some musical gristle to chew on. This one’s pure power, and if you
ever have the pleasure of catching Birch Hill Dam live, I dare you to
try and stand still. Can’t be done.
(Max Bowen)

DAN BOWDEN

No Better Time Than Now

13 tracks

Veteran gunslinger Dan Bowden and his
first-rate band that features Alizon Lissance and Ed Scheer (the Love
Dogs), Rosy Rosenblatt (Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers) and Paul
Ahlstrand sound like they have a lot of fun making music together with
plenty going on in each song. Guitars play against keys that play against
horns (with cello and violin parts in two songs) that play against the
harp, pushing the collective instrumentation to a higher level. The
sharpness and power of each original composition is captivating and
impressive. The R&B shuffle of “Talking ’Bout the Weather”
features Dan’s nice slide guitar. The funky blues of “Unbrace Your
Face” includes stunning Stax/Volt horns. My favorite “Done And Over,”
with its rocking melody, could have been on an Outlaws or Lynyrd Skynyrd
set list. Nice Southern blues that sometimes rocks and always showcases
Dan’s beautiful guitar tone and tasty licks. It’s good music for
the summer. (A.J.Wachtel)

GREY VALLEY GHOST

Curve of the Earth Records
Bad Malady

9 tracks

Two songs in and I’m already having
flashbacks to my awkward teenage years spent listening religiously to
bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, and Weezer in between bong-rips
and whip-its. Yeah, these fellas take me back. The standard-issue vocal
rasp and boilerplate song-forms that typify ’90s alt-rock seem a bit
dated here, but they remind me what I loved about the music in the first
place. Like those manic depressive shifts between petal-soft bass-driven
verses to the buzzsaw guitar backwash of the distortion-drenched choruses.
Plenty of that here. Plus, all the jangle and memorable hooks of pop,
too, but with teeth—a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth. Steeped in angst-ridden
grease-monkey grunge, GVG distill the ’90s style into 100-proof rock
’n’ roll. The record’s been mixed, mastered, and polished to a
mirror-shine. A little too polished, if you ask me. Like they buffed
out all those delightful imperfections that give a rough-and-tumble
band like this its character, its rawness, its grit. But, this only
heightens my cravings to see them in their natural habitat—live onstage.
(Will Barry)

SORROWSEED

The Extinction Prophecies
19 tracks

This two CD set is essentially a rock
opera with the theme of man’s rape of the Earth and Mother Nature’s
fighting back, looking for human blood as retribution. Sorrowseed’s
concept and presentation prove that they are accomplished musically
and lyrically. Morte McAdaver wrote all the songs as well as some of
the guitar, bass, and keyboard parts. Peter Gelles and Daniel Lifshitz
contribute additional guitar and bass respectively. Lilith Astaroh and
Casey Jones, Sorrowseed’s vocalists represent the Reaping Willow and
the Scarab Prophet. Chris Adamcek does additional chanting. Casey’s
vocals explode with ferocity while Lilith’s swoop and soar. Joseph
Gavin’s percussion erupts like Vesuvius and the bands’ guitarists
sear like an inferno. However Sorrowseed understands dynamism and knows
when to hit us with a stunningly delicate keyboard piece a la Erik Satie’s
“Iere Gynopedie.”
The
Extinction Prophecies
is a
beautiful and artful presentation that in addition to having intensity
and power, shows Sorrowseed possesses knowledge and a dedication
to their craft.  (Nancy Neon)

SCHOOLTREE

My Metal Mother
8 tracks

I feel like I just took the blue-pill—like
I’m stuck in some blissful fantasyland, drooling all over myself.
Not gonna lie, it’s a good feeling. At first, I’m annoyed by the
over-the-top opener with its alarmingly ’80s synthpop sound—seriously somebody cue the '80s-movie freeze-frame.
I’m further irked
by this gal’s vocoded vocals, multitracked to the
nth degree. But, she grows on me. Seriously.
She’s kinda like Enya, only cool—and all crunked-up on purple drank.
The quicksilver harmonies of the cybernetic chorus give it an irresistibly
campy touch, as do all the synthesizer bells and whistles. Tongue-in-cheek,
yes, but at the same time, catchy as hell—kitschy, too. Not only do
I not hate it for being vapid bubblegum-pop, I can’t get enough! Maybe
it’s the undercurrents of darkness beneath the sugar-coating. Maybe
it’s the bebop-worthy piano modulations and time signature shifts,
or her flair for the dramatic. Maybe I just have a sweet-tooth. Still,
part of me aches to hear her playin’ on an old Steinway during a power
outage, with no resplendent effects—just that angelic voice—utterly
unfooled around with. (Will Barry)

THE DEMOGRAPHIC

Verse Chorus Verse
7 tracks

The Demographic is a minimalist two-piece
whose straight-ahead approach is reflected in the title of this EP.
The band consists of a guitarist/ vocalist and a drummer, with a sound
that leans toward the similarly constructed Japandroids, and showcases
a love for both noise and melody. The songs are generally short and
urgent, clocking in at around two minutes. For the most part, they are
effective if not overwhelmingly memorable. The band is actually
at its best on the longer “This Broken Place,” whose darker, more
layered atmosphere contrasts sharply with the rest of the record. More
of this experimentation would be welcome. (Kevin
Finn)

LITTLE BANG
Vivacious Records
Boom


11 tracks

For many years local audiences have
been treated to the exceptional talents of Phil Kaplan and Dave Sholl,
each with their respective outfits. The former, a guitarist with incredible
sensitivity, has served time with Men & Volts, the Roys, the Funeral
Barkers, and Bangalore, and the latter, a saxophone phenom with Barrence
Whitfield, Big Mama Thornton, Dr. John, the Fathoms, and Four Piece
Suit. Friends for decades, they have finally joined forces to form Little
Bang, a tasty collaborative that creates intriguing, upbeat instrumentals
with deep grooves and strong melodies. Along with Sven Larson (bass,
percussion) and Grantley Smith (traps, dumbek, congas), this quartet
can move into the same compelling circles as Natraj, Club d’Elf, and
even the Either Orchestra.
From
African to Indian classical to mid-Eastern to American influences, the
tunes come in all shapes and sizes. “Behind the Veil,” “Mirouch’elli”
(with its glorious fretless guitar and bass solos), “The Vine,”
and “Confidencio” enchant with a slinky blend of cabaret sheen,
crisp jazz inflections, and a powerful global base. “Volts for the
Others” is a danceable rock serenade with gorgeous multi-horns. Other
tunes, “Sympathy for the Whistle” and “Whistle Re-Duckx” are
more comic, with cute uplifting quirkiness and deft percussive touches.
Little Bang’s debut release,
Boom, is world-class and top notch.
(Harry C. Tuniese)

AGE RINGS
Dopamine
Black Honey

22 tracks

Whiskey-soaked rock for the soul is
synonymous with Age Rings’ latest hour-and-a-half-thriller,
Black Honey.
Ted Billings displays raspy vocals that make listeners quiver in their
desert boots. Almost a hybrid of Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, Billings
gasses his vocals without worrying about his carbon footprint on virgin
ears.
Side one of
Black Honey kicks off with “Rock and Roll is Dead,”
a ballad that trades off on surfer rock and alternative country. Expressing
a similar sentiment as the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,”
Billings poses the question whether the golden age of rock has come
and gone, or does it still linger on? “Infinity Minor”
boasts a haunting piano ballad that portrays a Bret Easton Ellis futilitarian
vibe. Billings cries out in despair, “I go blind and then know
what it’s like/ not to be sure if love is something I’m capable
of/ maybe it’s something I can’t give or receive.” Keyboardist
Alex Sepe provides an impressive versatile upright piano, kicking out
American ragtime, as well as wistful melodies that are typical of Sufjan
Stevens. All in all,
Black
Honey
provides well over an
hour of post-coital entertainment if you can’t bum a ciggy, or if
the commute from your bed to the liquor cabinet is too damn exhausting.
(Justin Korn)

SUN KING

The Curve of the Earth

12 tracks

I’ve been dabbling in mixology lately,
and for this review, I will attempt to combine music writing with my
budding cocktailian craft… won’ t you come on down to my Sun King
coctail party? There aren’t many ingredients in Sun King’s sound,
kind of like a Manhattan: 2 ounces Beatles Bourbon, 1 ounce Refreshments
sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of Sublime bitters. Stir and strain
contents into chilled cocktail glass and add a Big Star maraschino cherry
for garnish. I’m a dry gin Martini man myself, but the Sun King Manhattan
has its drinkers. The lead singer’s voice is a cocktail in itself.
I need to restock my bar, so let’s wing it: 1 1/2 ounces Lennon-flavored
vodka, 1 ounce Soul Asylum guy sour mix (I prefer lemon/lime juice),
and let’s try 1/2 ounce of this Herman’s Hermits creme de menthe.
Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Yeah… weird combo—won’t
try that again. So how’s your buzz? Oddly, I feel like I only drank
a Bourbon and Branch. Bummer. (Tony Mellor)

PRAYER FOR ATHEISTS

Strange Famous Records
New Hymns For An Old War

13 tracks

New Hymns For An Old War is the first hardcore record to make me stand
up and take notice in years. On their sophomore release Prayers For
Atheists settle into a groove that mixes punk, hip-hop and poetry slam
aesthetics in perfect doses. The subject matter alternates between socially
themed calls to action (“U.S. Out of the Amazon”), home-town shout
outs (“Hope City Sky”), and hardcore scene inside jokes (“Bouncers
& Cops
)—a combination that at once inspires, entertains,
and engages listeners in their world.
New
Hymns For An Old War
is a record
best heard at unhealthy volumes.
(George Dow)

JIM GALLANT

Old Hat With A New Coat
11 tracks

Down-home country goodness. Sounds
like an ad for an old-fashioned country meal, but Jim Gallant’s music
provides a warmth and comfort that just comes along with old-school
country music —when it’s done right, as it is here. Eleven folksy
tunes make up
Old Hat
With A New Coat
(great title,
by the way) and I can say that this Maine native and his talented band
serve up the genre perfectly for those who love this style. From the
disc opener, “Joshua,” a tune that conjures up images of good ol’
square dancin’ in a barn, to the traveling vibe of “I Never Cried,”
to the wonderful instrumental “My Aunt Obie’s Reel,” Jim Gallant’s
CD is a delightful mix of finger pickin’, toe-tappin’, great country
music. (Debbie Catalano)

SUN JONES

Sun Jones
14 tracks

This band has all the bases covered—
blues, jazz, Calypso cadences, and Americana, with all the original
compositions a nice mix of up-tempo numbers and ballads. Great vocals
and harmonies are everywhere. “The Power of Two” has guest blues-belter
Vikki Vox showcasing her strengths. Her sweet-sounding voice makes this
CD special. John Vanderpool’s flute and sax playing is sometimes jazzy,
sometimes bluesy, but always up-front and memorable. In the up-tempo
Americana style “Coming Home to Play,” cool flute arrangements show
up where you’d expect to hear the fiddle. This is a groove band whether
it’s present in the mellow reggae of “Live,” the jazz/rock of
“Sun Jones,” or the blues feel of “How’ve You Been” and “Worship
My Virtue.” Charley Carrozo, Chris Nemitz, Jason Sullivan, and Michael
Lewis unite to make a CD that’s a good listen for ears of all musical
tastes. (A.J. Wachtel)

JADE SYLVAN
Red Car Records
Blood & Sand

11 tracks

One girl, an acoustic guitar, and her
poetry: whisk until you get the consistency of Joni Mitchell’s
Blue album.
Jade
Sylvan is the daintiest of dainty. On her latest record,
Blood & Sand,
Sylvan sagaciously paddles across precarious waters with nothing but
an oar and a heart-shaped lifesaver. She’ll toss the lifesaver overboard
if she hits an iceberg, although she’s also just as likely to toss
her allegorical heart when she’s on a stool reading her poetry.
Throughout
“Once My Heart,” Sylvan recites metaphors that attempt to deconstruct
life’s hardships, backed with the delicate strumming of an acoustic
guitar. At one point, Sylvan claims that, “my heart was a cigarette/
a slow burn of the time I had left.” Sylvan also embraces a brighter,
blithe outlook on life, similar to Regina Spektor’s dark humorous
and mildly amusing piano ballads. On “Before We’re Born,” Sylvan
questions whether living is anything like “a bad porno.”
Blood
& Sand
accomplishes in
approximately 40 minutes a semesters worth of a contemporary poetry
seminar that will take you to the highest of highs, and the lowest of
lows; this is all made possible with the help of an acoustic guitar
and a quirky enchanting Jade Sylvan. (Justin Korn)

RADIO CONTROL

Hot Audio
15 tracks

I’ve listened to this CD three times
and each time I dig it more. This two-piece punk/garage rock band (since
they don’t call themselves a duo, I won’t) deliver punk with every
ounce of energy and rawness you’d expect. The recording is a little
tinny and thin and sometimes the vocals are off-key but so what, it’s
punk—it’s not supposed to be polished. Radio Control is Kristina
Otero on drums and vocals and Matt Sullivan on guitar and vocals. They
breeze through these 15 tracks quickly but substantially. I’m not
sure if this was recorded live but it has that feeling, which fits their
spirit and style. The tracks that kept standing out to me in all three
of my listens were “Robot Machine,” “Riding Bikes,” and “Tavern
at the End of the World,” but really all of the tunes were catchy
quirky punk pop pleasures.
(Debbie Catalano)

ART YARD

Ride the Snake Records
“The Law” b/w
“Something in Your Eyes”
2 tracks (on vinyl)

From the press release: “Ride the
Snake is a collaborative effort made by four friends based in Boston,
MA, Portland, OR, the USA, and Planet Earth. Among many other things,
they hope to collectively share a bunch of totally awesome records created
by some of their favorite bands with the world! So far, they have
released sixteen records, mostly by young punkish rockers (my take on
their sound),” but this nod to the independent Boston scene of early
’80s cannot be overlooked.
Art Yard was part of the Propeller Records label that featured angular,
post-punk, anti-corporate bands decidedly left of center (like Dangerous
Birds, Wild Stares, People in Stores, CCCPTV, and the Neats). They were
comprised of Jim Clements, Bob Valentine, and Dan Salzmann, all ex-members
of the Maps, one of Boston’s premier rockers who had a smash local
hit, “I’m Talking to You.” It was their new step into the next
wave. They recorded these two tunes for a cassette compilation in 1982
(long out of print) and to hear them again—remastered for vinyl!—is
like a jolt of electricity. “The Law” is an ambiguous pastiche about
depression and recovery. “Something in Your Eyes” is about heartbreak
and breakup. Both tunes are challenging, pounding and honest, angst-ridden,
with tricky playing and flaying. Totally essential listening and a memorable
treat! Keep your fingers crossed that there are more historical surprises
planned. (Harry C. Tuniese)

SECRET SATELLITES

Secret Satellites

6 tracks

Don bright plastic vinyl clothes, folks,
because Jessica Sun Lee has risen, with a new incarnation, new instrument,
a thumping baseline, a different sound in her pairing with Jeff Clarke.
She’s still got the silken voice with a razor’s edge for those lyrics
which adds sincere depth. Musically this multi-instrumented tandem has
tastily blended ’80s new wave with rock and innovative modern arrangements.
On “Inseparable” they conjure Molly Ringwald dancing in her designer
brown boots in the library of some Chicago area high school, but it’s
the electronica undercurrent that makes it, and all the songs, fresher
than fresh. (Rick Dumont)

BROADCASTER
75 or Less Records

Drunkard’s Walk
6 tracks

Broadcaster’s bio contains some kind
words from the amazing Ted Leo, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned
in my 35 years, it’s that ol’ Ted is a man who can be trusted. Broadcaster
plays fuzzed out, frantic indie rock that clearly has its roots in the
classic period of the late ’80s/early ’90s when the indie world
was more concerned with rocking out in a basement than growing a beard
and recording folk songs in a cabin. At various points, I hear the Replacements,
Fugazi, Jawbox and Sonic Youth, but at no point do I find myself thinking
Broadcaster sounds overly derivative. I am definitely interested in
hearing more from these guys.
(Kevin Finn)

PHILIP BELL

Since
5 tracks

First off, the production on this five-track
CD is absolutely outstanding. This sounds like a major label effort!
But of course, production can only get you so far if the music and talent
isn’t there so what makes this EP fantastic along with co-producer
Brian Charles’ production is the vocals and songwriting of Philip
Bell—who co-produced this with Charles. Toss in Boston all-star musicians,
Duke Levine, John Sands, Jamie Edwards, and Jim Haggerty and voila—beautiful,
lush, top-notch, utterly emotive… a truly lovely and moving piece
of work and of which Philip and all involved should be proud.   (Debbie Catalano)

INEVITABLE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

Lick It Or Ticket
6 tracks

Oh man, I’m so disappointed—what
a waste of a cool band name! When I received this in the mail, I took
one look at the disturbing cover art, and was expecting some sick Misfits-y
punk rock or psychobilly with horror show lyrics—couldn’t wait to
listen to it and give it a good review. Maybe this band has other CDs
with music living up to the name, and that this EP release is a stylistic
departure. Either way, it’s not far off from bar-band crapola with
predictable lyrics and a couple of songs that don’t know when to stop.
Lame.
(Tony Mellor)

KAREN ZANES

Moon and Stars Records
Radio Flyer

7 tracks

Utterly entrancing mind-manifesting
music right from the get-go from Zanes, a founding member of the Freeways.
Unlike many third-wave psychedelia projects, this is composed more of
modest snippets than of grandiose, sprawling manifestos, and is all
the better for it. You might close your eyes and almost imagine the
second coming of Galaxie 500. “Lover Boy” is ethereal and haunting
and the title track doesn’t even need the echo to make its ambiently
melancholy point.
(Francis DiMenno)

FACE OF THE SUN

Face of the Sun
10 tracks

This gas-guzzling prog-rock engine
pumps fire and brimstone through its piston-driven heavy metal heart.
But these aren’t your typical headbangers. Not by a long shot. Their
music has an art-rock outlook and industrial edge. The drums are unmistakeably
metal (driving rhythms, breakneck fills, and double bass-drum carpet-bombing)
but the drummer isn’t afraid to slow things down and quiet all the
noise to a slow sizzle. Each track is drenched in drone-heavy dystopian
soundscapes that are chock-full of textural guitars and electronica
miscellanea. Clearly these guys prefer to blow minds with soot-blackened
sonic bliss rather than melt faces with pedantic shred technique. Smart
move. Nice use of vocal effects that makes it hard to tell where the
voice leaves off and the lead guitar comes in. The lyrics sometimes
suffer, though, getting garbled in the mess of effects. Appropriate,
considering they’ve been passed through the uproarious meat-grinder
that is this band. A little rough around the edges, their music sounds
like a grade-school science experiment gone horribly wrong, but in such
a way that you can’t help but enjoy all the chaos and carnage. (Will
Barry)

SUZUKI SMITH

Ends
10 tracks

Basically, what we have here is an
attempt at mimicking the Dropkick Murphys that went seriously awry.
The lyrics are repetitive and uninteresting and the vocals are lackluster.
The music is kind of muted behind the vocals, which I’m not a fan
of. The one redeeming quality? The random instruments that make appearances
throughout songs. “This Fucked Up City” features a flute. Well,
okay, that was the only random instrument I heard in any song, but I
liked it anyway. Also, did I mention that the lyrics are kind of annoying?
“Celine Dion/ Eat my poo/ ’Cause you’re a bitch/ I want to pee
on/ and I hate you.” Yeah… you can draw your own conclusions.
(Emily Diggins)

JAMES KEYES

Devil Take the Hindmost
14 tracks

Studious and serious and well thought
out adaptations of the classic roots, country, and blues canon, though
not as variegated over the course of fourteen songs as one might wish.
As a singer-songwriter, Keyes has a mellow, seasoned voice well suited
to his well-trodden material. Many of the productions are arranged and
performed to melancholy and haunting effect, notably “Long Way Around.” Fans
of this ruminative style of rueful and melancholy music will find a
great deal to like here. (Francis DiMenno)

KRISTEN FORD

Alone, Together
12 tracks

Mixing solo songs and full-band tracks,
Kristen Ford’s album Alone, Together brings an eclectic mix
of tunes and some unexpected lyrics to the table, setting the bar high
for any other folk/rock performer. The first six tracks are Ford flying
solo, which alone is worth putting down cash. “Keep Pace” and “Alaska”
are my favorites out of this selection, mainly for the mix of tempos
that they offer. Listeners get a bonus with the next six, which feature
Kristen along with Sarah Icklan (drums) and Paul Hendrick (bass) who
add their skills to a live performance recorded last April at the Institute
for the Musical Acts in Goshen. “Uke Song” is, well, a song with
a ukulele, and it’s my vote for best of the bunch. The sound quality
on the live set is pretty good, and in “Ember Autumn,” Kristen gets
a little help from the audience with the chorus. What I like best about
this album is the array of subjects Kristen touches on. Some of them
are pretty familiar, like relationships and doing what you have to do
get through the day, but it’s the delivery that sears this album into
my head. Kristen speaks in the universal language of someone who’s
gone through the blender of life. What comes out after the puree cycle
is a kaleidoscope of mirrors, and anyone looking into it will see pieces
of themselves, their friends, and that random stranger reflected back.
(Max Bowen)

THE FAREWELLS

Litterbug
7 tracks

Almost baroque in its intricacy, this
carefully crafted EP is a collection of wistful pop that’s easy on
the ears. It’s Byrdsian folk-rock that favors jingle-jangling guitar
lines and lovelorn vocal harmonies. The husband/wife duo make things
interesting by incorporating whispers of electronica into the folkiness.
So subtle it’s practically subliminal. A flutter of synth here, an
industrial beat there. Nice touch. Unusual, but it works. The tracks
are, for the most part, creative and well written—even quirky. The
sultry ballad “Burgundy Red,” for example, piles smokey female vocals
atop slide guitar, stride piano, accordion, and even a ukelele. It sounds
like a steamy New Orleans night. However, a couple songs—the even-numbered
tracks, oddly enough—sound to me like mindless radio-friendly drivel,
so sappy and uplifting they make me wanna puke. Granted, it’s expertly-produced
drivel, but drivel just the same. Grandma will love these tracks. I,
on the other hand, am begging for a prefrontal lobotomy. Perfect music
to accompany some feel-good romantic comedy or tampon commercial. Not
really my thing, but then again, I’ve always been a bit of a cynical
bastard. (Will Barry)

REVEREND JJ & THE CASUAL SINNERS

Naked
10 tracks

“Homeless Guy” is the standout
track here, with a sense of playful fun, which makes me glad to have
listened to Reverend JJ. The song is full of vigor and conviction beyond
its status as a novelty track. The rest of this collection is an occasionally
lively assemblage of mostly unadorned vocal and acoustic guitar accompanied by
harmonica. I’m certainly no genre allergic, but the lyrical content,
howsoever expressed in a heartfelt and evincing fashion, occasionally
comes across as callow. Otherwise, in places, Reverend JJ’s collection
is happily reminiscent of the first two Bob Dylan albums. (Francis DiMenno)

KATET

Quantum Journey
13 tracks

As easy as it is to make fun of Katet,
I’m going to be the better person here and show some mercy. There
are some mighty fine-looking fish in this barrel, but I’m just gonna
walk away and ignore my itchy trigger finger. I promise I won’t make
fun of the singer’s STP Core-era Scott Weiland voice, nor will I laugh
at the dramatic spoken asides he uses at times, like when he quotes
the Bible in the song that features the singer from Stryper on backing
vocals. I won’t ridicule the band name that apparently comes from
Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of novels. I will not slam them for
being the North Shore’s answer to Creed many years after the fact,
nor will I rib them for looking and sounding in places like some alternate-universe
version of the band that CMC International forgot (remember that label?).
I’m going to leave all that alone. I’m just going to wish them the
best, and hope that many will be inspired by this album’s “journey
of possibilities.” (Tony Mellor)

JIM
COYLE

Here and There
12 tracks

Ugh, Jim Coyle. I have been listening
to this album for a couple weeks now, trying to figure out something—anything—to
say about it. Despite all the time I’ve spent torturing myself with
these 12 tracks, I haven’t been able to come up with anything constructive
to say, so I’ll tell it like it is: (1) his voice grates on my nerves.
(2) The lyrics are uninteresting, and (3) all of the songs are repetitive
and annoying. It’s a “Kars for Kids” level of annoyingness. In
fact, the songs are so fatuous they all sound like bad jingles. “Dirty
Town” is the only somewhat acceptable track because it at least has
a discernible chorus. Sorry Jim Coyle… I tried. (Emily Diggins)

If you’re sending a CD in to
the Noise make sure to use our new address.
And everyone else should
update our contact info too. Thanks.


T Max/ the Noise
PO Box 353
Gloucester, MA 01931
617-331-9637
tmaxnoise@aol.com


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