SILVER CIRCLES REVIEWS Sept11


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WILLIE
“LOCO” ALEXANDER

Fisheye Records

The World
Famous Non-Stop Seagull Opera Meets the Fishtones at the Strand

16 tracks

To say that Willie
Alexander is music legend is an understatement. His explorations
in sound have touched generations, dating all the way back to the latter
days of the Velvet Underground. Each lineup of musicians has complemented
his dark, bluesy, garage sound, keeping it fresh with every listen.
This new release continues the tradition of musical darkness and weirdness.
The songs are dark and bluesy, bordering on lo-fi, but complex in its
arrangements and sonic textures. The songs are songs about life
and living in Gloucester. Somehow Alexander makes this dark and
interesting, combining backporch blues with trip hop, New Orleans swamp
rock, psychedelic excursions, experimental noise, Zappa-esque tangents
into the bizarre, and exploiting the mating calls of seagulls. Any and
every fan of Willie Alexander’s work will enjoy this latest disc,
and for those who haven’t yet delved into his massive discography,
this is a good entry point. While not as aggressive as some of
the more rocking stuff a few decades prior, there is plenty of rock
and weird for everyone.
(Joel Simches)

THE IN OUT

Sell You Records

The Venal Column

13 tracks

It can be fun trying
to describe the indescribable, but sometimes you’ve just gotta step
outta the ring. So it is
again with these baffling bastards, who can send
skulls spinning to unknown worlds on a whim and make it sound as natural
as breathing. Some say it’s minimalist, but the open spaces allow
for massive interpretation.
Forces it, actually. I hit them up for lyrics this
time, and got stuff about the terminally ill, the 1919 Boston molasses
flood, a talentless line cook, winks to obscure films, and bands from
the ’70s, parties gone wrong, blood, brains, with none of it quirky
or predictable. The groove itself here, which is pretty fucking deep,
has a decidedly dark tinge, but it’s not heavy in the usual sense,
which makes it all the heavier. Riffs and execution are insidious and
airtight. For a trio with the occasional curveball sound effect, they
infect the mindscape with methods few bands of any ilk would dare attempt.
One of those things where, when it’s not actually playing, I find
myself
thinking about where it’ll take me next time. And
sure enough, it’s always a different place. I can think of no higher
praise. (Joe Coughlin)

ANDY SANTOSPAGO

Shiny Bombs

13 tracks

This is Andy Santospago’s
second full-length solo album (he’s also a member of the critically
acclaimed and cruelly neglected band the Vinyl Skyway). It is a fascinating
melange. Santospago’s sometimes seemingly twee eclecticism may provoke
bafflement in some, but I have always thought that an album of songs
is a better representation of an artist’s vision if it offers up a
variegated menu of different styles. You hear all sorts of possible
influences, or at least affinities, in this collection—I almost said
“confection.” For me, it evokes the sound of the third Velvet Underground
album yoked to the sensibility of Magnetic Fields; the harmonic textures
of
Pet Sounds and Van Dyke Parks, the portentiousness of
post-
Crazy Rhythms Feelies, and the lyrical tricksiness of Ray
Davies. Santospago’s work is notable for its eccentric, architectonic
originality and his keen sense of how incongruity can serve to offset
cliche. The opening track evokes the ambiance of that eldritch ’80s
hit “Life in a Northern Town.” “Parasite” explores somewhat
well-worn solo Syd Barrett territory. “Text and Drive” features
exaggerated melodicism somewhat perversely undercut by irregular rhythms.
Then things start getting real real going for a change. “You and Everything”
combines a Romantic-era symphonic approach with C&W touches and
almost-but-not-quite affectless lyrics. “A Happy Farm” and “My
Delivery” brilliantly evoke the poppy sentiment of an artist like
Harry Nilsson. “Smithsonian” is like a delirious slowed-down They
Might Be Giants-style pastiche of American history. His rendition of
Procol Harem’s “Shines on Brightly” resembles some of the more
discursive vocal ramblings of the Kinks. Current-events mavens will
be ticked by the ironic deadpan Philippic “My Catapult (Ode to Bernie).”
Best of all is “Cornflower Blues,” an extended suite, and a pure
product of cracked-jug pop Americana. Personally, the more I listen
to this, the more I see faces forming in the trees, the clouds, and
even the bedding. (Kidding—I’m just kidding.) We might be looking
at an album, which in the future becomes a cult favorite. (No kidding.)
(Francis DiMenno)

FOUND AUDIO

Chalk

10 tracks

These guys really get off on the whole
alternative-country crossover thing and do a damn good job with it,
too. They veer on the softer side of the alt-rock spectrum with their
laid-back mid-tempo songs full of arpeggiated guitars, chimes, and smooth
melodic basslines, but with an old-timey dialect. The finger-pickin’,
banjo pluckin’, pedal-steel twangin’ goodness and, of course, the
close-knit vocal harmonies between the two fellas has country music
written all over it. But this ain’t that rootin’-tootin’ tobacco-spittin’
knock-out-yer-teeth-out sorta country. It’s more like that sentimental
sobbing-quietly-into-yer-beer sorta country. The lyrics really stand
out with their surreal narratives and idiosyncratic phrasing. They’re
like an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in Michael Stipe. And, they’re
sung with a free-wheelin’ vocal delivery that doesn’t always fall
into nice-and-neat verses and choruses, but instead spills over into
the rustic musical terrain. These guys got a real easy-going sound,
almost to a fault. In large doses, it starts to feel like the soundtrack
to a coma and I’m left waiting for a change of pace that never comes.
(Will Barry)

JIMMY RYAN

Mandolin

7 tracks

To those in the know
regarding the local music scene, especially folk and acoustic, Jimmy
Ryan is a well known personality. A professional mandolinist and fine
songwriter, Jimmy showcases six original tunes and one cover on
Mandolin.
The cover tune is none other than “Sympathy for the Devil,” not
my favorite tune in the world, but it seems to fit itself very well
into a mando interpretation. This album is primarily singing voice and
solo mandolin accompaniment… if you like the sound of that orchestration,
you’d love this. Vocally though, Jimmy sounds (at times) like James
Taylor with clogged sinuses, but what do I know from heartfelt singing?
I do know that the sound of his instrument has a melancholy, waif-like
vibe that’s driven by earnest intensity and technique. The thing I
mostly like about this disc, it doesn’t get boring. That’s always
a chance you take when you put yourself out there with an acoustic stringed
instrument. Nice stuff Jimmy.
(Mike Loce)

P.J. O’CONNELL

Clang!

Join the
Crowd

11 tracks

With a stunning crowd
of several, P.J. O’Connell’s latest release is a celebration of
pure pop for now people. I can almost feel Nick Lowe peering over my
laptop. Every song glimmers with jangle, the harmonies drip of
honey, and the piano is so very Nieve-y! There are also slices
of Hoff, Sweet, Westerberg, and Martin, and of course Wilson blew me
out. The production on this disc is as clever and sparkly as the
songs. There are sweet sonic goodies to complement this razor
sharp slice of pop perfection. I really believe there aren’t
enough of these albums being made without being cynical or ironic, not
that being cynical and ironic is such a bad thing. You can listen
to these tracks again and again and know that everyone on this recording
gets it and means it. This album has an appropriate pop sneer,
but at the same time sounds like a fun time with some gifted players
on both sides of the glass—a party I’d love to attend.
(Joel Simches)

PARANOID SOCIAL
CLUB

Axis IV

11 tracks

Is it punk? Is it indie pop? Heavy
rock? Worldy ska-licious psychedelic? Some terrific melding of all the
above… that’s what it is. Blending genres like this could confuse
the mind, but I like that Paranoid Social Club is different and unexpected,
and because I happen to love indie pop rock as well as garage and punk
and heavy rock—well, it all
works for me! It’s kind of like a carnival of sound. This is really
like nothing I’ve ever heard before and I can’t say enough times
how utterly refreshing it is to hear unpredictability yet consistency.
I realize I’m lavishing compliments here but it’s a bit difficult
to break down because of its wonderful musical eccentricity. I was going
to call out my favorite tracks like I often do, but honestly each song
holds something so groovily interesting, I love them all. Based out
of Portland, ME, and started by members of Rustic Overtones, Paranoid
Social Club are four ambitious, creative, highly talented musicians
who now have a new fan named Debbie Catalano. (Debbie Catalano)

ANTIQUES

Jwns

12 tracks

I’m not really sure what to make
of these dudes. Some of their songs sound like ’90s alt rock and some
of their songs are totally indie. “The Coffin” is probably the best
song I’ve heard all week. I can’t put my finger on what it reminds
me of— Smashing Pumpkins maybe? I just wish the vocals were more dominant;
they are slightly muted in every track. “Etc” is another sweet track,
but unlike “The Coffin” it isn’t channeling the ’90s—it’s
more of a mellow indie situation a la Rainer Maria. And then “Smile
at Me” reminds me of Bright Eyes. Go figure. Despite being all over
the damn place, I dig Antiques, and I’m just grateful that I can finally
offer a halfway positive review to T Max for once. Thanks, Antiques!
(Emily Diggins)

SOMERVILLE SYMPHONY ORKESTAR

Somerville Symphony Orkestar

7 tracks

Somerville Symphony
Orkestar is the essence of borcht on the rocks. It’s only after shooting
back the vodka does the orchestra slur into orkestar, for some feisty
Kelezmer-esque jazz. Jonathan Cannon unleashes the fiddle on “Clap
for My Birthday,” a truly festive anthem that hurls the shy birthday
boy above everyone for some controlled chair-surfing action, otherwise
known as the Hora.

Each ballad tells a folktale. The tuba grunts away like a wise prophet
on “Into the Wood Chipper.” The saxophone blares on “Blagojevich!”
with a rejoicing melody that sounds off a victory for the motherland.

Vodka aside, the Somerville
Symphony Orkestar knows how to party. You might just be lucky enough
to experience a Penelope the elephant sighting, a plushed-out elephant
whose fallen off the wagon so many times you might see her make an unannounced
appearance at a gig— the jacket sleeve does credit Penelope for being
the token elephant of the gang. SSO’s self-titled debut record takes
music from the motherland of yesteryear and injects everything from
Django Reinhardt’s gypsy guitar, to subtle tuba ska musical interludes.
So try Cossak dancing with SSO in the background, or party hard with
the tribe. Joel, Jon, Rowen, Max, Regan—and who could leave out Penelope—are
rebel rousing gypsies that kick out the jams, along with your teeth,
with no hard feelings because a black eye only means you partied right
last night. (Justin Korn)

THE BYNARS

The Bynars

12 tracks

Highly likeable if
formulaic pure pop, meticulously buffed to a high gloss, brimming with
life, and all somewhat akin to the Raspberries gone new wave: a pastiche
of classic melodic pop-rock with knowing post-punk touches. Nearly every
one of the songs starts from a simplistic but eminently sound musical
premise and lards it up with multitracking wizardry and nuancical rhythms
and textures. “Steal My Sunshine” is the most irresistible example
of this formula, but you can also detect it in the taut A-B-E progression
of “Can You Hear It.” “Every Little Thing You Love” could have
originated as one of the lost Lennon tapes for all I can tell, and “Angeline”
is cut from the same cloth as the McCartney-Costello collaboration “Veronica,”
albeit with a nagging ostinato and nouveau-Merseybeat middle-eight,
all topped by a rave-up coda. “Love Explosion” reminds me that the
first people to crack the formula for a new direction in pop were none
other than the Cars, though Wreckless Eric and Nick Lowe also deserve
some of the credit. Some people would profess to enjoy this album only
in an ironic way, and indeed, there are cheesy synth effects such as
on “Ba Ba Ba Ba” that make it difficult to take the compositions
entirely seriously. But the Bynars may have stumbled across a future
redirection for ’80s rock revivalism—as a lively riff-based platform
from which to exploit largely forgotten or neglected pop cliches long
buried beneath a self-serious troupadour mentality of “significance”
that ultimately did nobody any favors. I haven’t liked a new band
this much since Hooray for Earth; with luck, the Bynars may ascend to
the same exalted status. (Francis DiMenno)


RIFF GALLAGHER & A MURDER OF
CROW

Won’t Be Home Soon

12 tracks

The first song is a
little silly ditty, a seemingly deliberate attempt to play a Blues Brothers’
type of big cheesy production number, but then as the album really begins
with “The Spring of 49,” Riff Gallagher has grabbed your soul.
Owing a little nod to Warren Zevon’s style of storytelling, Gallagher
offers a full plate of hope, misery, and reflection. The musicianship
is top notch and well-recorded. The arrangement and instrumentation
seems to change and adapt for every mood. While his guitar playing
could be described as quintessentially classic blues-rock, Gallagher’s
vocal approach seems to work best when he’s being more natural and
less affected. I suppose you could chalk that up to attempting
different approaches for each song and style. There are some songs
where it really works. “Billy (Lordan of the Dance)” is a
barroom cinematic masterpiece. I wish “Things (That I Like to Do)”
didn’t get buried at the end of the album. Damn, that song is epic!!
This album tries to be a lot of things, but succeeds (for me anyway)
on the strength of the fairly straight-ahead songs with minimal embellishments.
Sometimes it’s good to hear an album that tries a little less hard
to please. (Joel Simches)

VELVETEEN PLAYBOYS

Shakin’
Not Stirred

10 tracks

Contemporary power-pop
performed by an all-star cast with a wide variety of different music
genres mixed in. Paul Souza (Beat Surrender) lends his powerful vocals
that can quickly convey diverse aural images almost instantaneously.
He can go from sweet sounding to world weary in a flash and his stellar
vocals, the songs’ punchy arrangements and the razor-sharp artistry
make this project so unique in today’s market. And so good. Robert
Holmes (’Til Tuesday/ Ultra Blue) adds his expert guitar presence.
Bob Gay (New Man) and his ultimate sax and premier bassist/backing vocalist
Lenny Bradford (Entrain) join forces with drummer Anthony Steele, Mike
Null on guitar and backing vocals and Ben Zecker on keys to create real
radio-friendly music. “Virtual Girl” is the hit. “I Want That
Girl” with its power chords is my second favorite song. Ballads “Over
and Over,” “Lucky Dog,” and “Darkest Hour” all feature Paul’s
haunting and expressive voice and Bob’s superlative sax is best heard
on the jazzy opening of “Last Girl on Earth.” This song is almost
like a show tune in that it’s so theatrical sounding I imagine it
could be covered equally by either Freddie Mercury or Rick Berlin. “Burn
It Down” is techno-flavored and is very clever. A nice and different
sound: Just the way I like them. (A.J. Wachtel)

FAX HOLIDAY

Rope &
Wine

10 tracks

I’ve been sent many CDs that were
recorded at Galaxy Park Studios, and this is by far the moodiest grower
of the bunch. There’s something of an elegiac warmth about this album.
It’s a feeling I get when I hear Neil Young’s so-called “Ditch
Trilogy,” some Buffalo Tom songs, and other albums/songs not worth
mentioning because they only make sense to me and they sound nothing
like this band. It’s just a feeling. Perhaps it’s the tuning of
the guitars—in some tracks it sounds like the standard E-A-D-G-B-E,
but roughly a quarter-tone off—a subtle trick that can effectively
alter a song’s mood. Perhaps it’s the warm distortion of the guitars
and the folky tinges (occasional banjo, etc.) that alternately appear
in these tunes, both reminiscent of said Neil Young trilogy. Vocals,
however, remind me of (yeah, this might be a stretch) a younger but
mellower J. Robbins. All told, these expertly woven elements form a
fabric rife with “the feeling.” Try this material out, break it
in. Could be a comfortable fit for you.
(Tony Mellor)

THE FATAL
FLAW

Narrow Hours

10 tracks

I’ll preface this
review by stating that I’m a bit biased in favor of the Fatal Flaw.
T Max sent me their cd to review back in 2008 and I have been a fan
ever since. I think “Narrow Hours” is a bit grittier than the band’s
last album, “We Are What We Pretend to Be.” This one has more of
a rock ’n’ roll vibe, and my only complaint is that some songs take
this heavier tone a little too far—for example, “Leviticus” is
a gang vocals, “whoa-oh,” bro-down situation that I just can’t
really get down with. The album offers the same catchy melodies and
biting facetiousness that I loved about the last one though, not to
mention Joel Reader could sing the alphabet and I’d probably like
it. The album’s title track is probably my favorite out of this set.
It’s crazy catchy, sort of bittersweet, and I think it embodies the
band’s style well, Journey references and all.   (Emily Diggins)

THE GIL CORREIA
BAND

Tattoo’s
& Blues

7 tracks

This is the band you
want to have playing when you are out partying at a blues bar. Growling
guitar at a loud volume, backed by powerful drums and held together
by a solid bass that results in both impressing and leveling the listener
at the same time. Gil plays guitar with a great, nasty tone, Dave Baker
on drums/percussion and four-stringer Scott Cormier play Chicago blues
like they are natives of the Prairie State. My favorite songs are the
opening cut “The Rattlesnake Hop” with its biting guitar, “Taken
It Back” with guest harpist Gregg Mackenzie blowing nicely, and the
final composition by Lightning Hopkins “Too Many Drivers” with it’s
sexual lyrics: “I’m in love with you honey/ I just want to drive
your automobile.” If you’re into Ronnie Earl, Kid Bangham, and Ricky
“King” Russell, this CD is for you. If you like jump blues go see
these cats perform live; this CD is hard to stop playing.
(A.J. Wachtel)

SHARKS COME
CRUISIN

A Past That
We Need to Know

11 tracks

I feel like I should
have hangover after listening to Sharks Come Cruisin’s 11-track
A Past That We Need to Know as it is 41 minutes of ale-fueled drunken
sailor anthem-type tunes with a definite Irish punk-rock flavor. There
you go… fun, good-humored, sing-along festival and/or pub rock. The
vocals are often off-key, and I wouldn’t say this recording is the
most polished or full-bodied, but hey first off, I’m not an
American Idol
judge, and secondly, for this genre and energy, it really doesn’t
matter. You’ll find yourself wanting to hit the local tavern and wave
your stein whilst you chant the catchy choruses from nearly all the
tracks off
A Past That
We Need to Know
. Enjoy, aye?!
(Debbie Catalano)


DAVID GREENBERGER
WITH
JUPITER CIRCLE

Never Give Up Study

13 tracks

DAVID GREENBERGER AND RALPH
CARNEY

OH, PA

29 tracks

DAVID GREENBERGER & BANGALORE

How
I Became Uncertain

30 tracks

DAVID GREENBERGER & MARK GREENBERG

Tell Me That Before

18 tracks

Shakespeare famously
said, “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”
These four CDs exemplify that philosophy, offering up Greenberger’s
well-known spoken-word adaptations of monologues by nursing home residents,
as originally published in his magazine
Duplex
Planet
, all backed by variegated
musical templates. The spoken-word collaboration with jazz band Jupiter
Circle is hardly unprecedented in the genre; Mingus recorded the album
A Modern Jazz Symposium of Music
and Poetry
(aka Scenes in the City) in October of ’57. What has advanced since
that time is the jazz form itself. 50-plus years of exotica, free jazz,
third stream, and fusion have left their footprints and moved jazz ever
more firmly into syncretism. I can’t speak highly enough of the broad
and all-embracing compositional skills of Jupiter Circle—they are
subtle and brilliant and provide a formidable but never gratuitously
heavy backdrop for Greenberger. That their music is from chamber arrangements
rather than improvisations does not diminish its luster. The arrangement
for percussion, piano, bass, and sax on “Chicken Feed” is ingenious,
and the tango motif that breaks up the introspective melody of “No
Funny Business at Roseland” is a treat. Concluding words of wisdom:
“It’s God’s place and you never feel lonesome.”

Ralph Carney has long been my hero, ever since his groundbreaking work
with the ’70s new-wave ensemble Tin Huey. As one might expect from
Carney, on OH, PA, his collaboration with Greenberger, there
is a avant-garde presence, with winds, keyboards, and treated sounds
predominant. There seems to be a strong emphasis on whimsy here, with
eccentric and often open-ended anecdotes serving as the subject matter—stories
of consequential inconsequence with significant meanings waiting to
be uncovered–and Carney provides correspondingly odd and fragmentary
musical snippets to accompany them. “Third Name” is the tale of
a girl who was thought to have died, and Carney provides a comically
portentous organ track. “Dolly Before Dolly” is a fantastical pitch
for a potential C&W hit; “Rem” is a surreal recipe for a cold
cure. The breath of life animates every one of these short short stories.

Greenberger’s collaboration with the Boston-area trio Bangalore, How I Became Uncertain, opens with “Skein a Day,” a funky take
on
OH, PA’s “A Happy Soul.” Many of the instrumentals
are riff-based and jaunty and add a great deal of vivid coloration to
the often whimsical and sometimes agitated monologues, though occasionally
these backdrops are so lively that they threaten to overwhelm the spoken-word
segments. On some tracks, such as “Sandwich,” and “Second Loves,”
the collaborative effort yields results, which are pricelessly humorous;
on others, such as “Four in One Year” and “Two Legged Buck,”
and the title track, the results are in each case uniquely bittersweet
and evocative.

Tell Me That Before, the collaboration
with Mark Greenberg (plus Paul Cebar on selected tracks) is a jazzy
but also musically eclectic set, perhaps the best of the four from the
standpoint of the oddball pop music aficionado. These mini-narratives
are the usual blend of winsome and strange; commonplaces expressed by
people with unique sensibilities—notable “Realistically” and “Good
Girl Spend It.” “Thanks to the Good Little Fellow,” “Army Conditions,”
and, especially, the heart-tugging “Grateful,” are uncommonly moving.
The final, title track is a 20-minute suite with a repeated ethnic Jewish
violin motif featuring musical pieces composed by notables such as Terry
Riley, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. It is Greenberger and Greenberg’s
tour de force, by turns touching, reflective, and strange; a fitting
finale. (Francis DiMenno)

THE ROADKILL
ORCHESTRA

Live at the
Emporium:

Greatest
Hits Volume 3

13 tracks

This album was recorded
with minimal overdubbing in Dr. Gonzo’s Uncommon Condiments Emporium,
which is a real place in Worcester. While one can debate on the
merits of having a house band in a condiment shop, these gentlemen from
west of Boston, have perfected in a musical concept they call “garage
lounge.” Musically they straddle the fence between Dr. John
and Dr. Teeth. The arrangements and the songs are so over the top but
played with such a fierce sincerity, that one can never tell how serious
this band really is or how much of it is a put-on. The musicianship
and arrangement are tight and sophisticated, but the lyrics straddle
the fence between MIT and Wal-Mart. At times, it sounds like Steely
Dan covering Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits singing a Bruce Hornsby
song. The fact that much of this was tracked all at once gives
this album a live performance feel, but with the separation of a studio
recording. I can only imagine what a “produced” version of
this would sound like. (Joel Simches)

MEDALS

Dancing in
Ceremony

10 tracks

A reinvention of indie pop, former
Jaguar Club members Will Popadic and Yoi Fujita have been joined by
Nadia Brittingham. The result is Medals, a self-proclaimed “…fun
but serious, loud and good” trio. A love for electronica of
the ’90s and the music of the English alternative rock outfit, Blur,
has spawned an effort that is equal parts dance and radio-friendly contemporary.
The opener, “Lonestars,” is a haunting plea to a lover: “Before
the war comes, will you be mine? When darkness falls, don’t
leave me behind, oh no…” amid a combination of otherworldly elements,
each of which successfully convey an eerie feel. Throughout the
effort, the interplay of male and female vocal inflections is reminiscent
of Frausdots, while the synthesizers call to mind the Bravery, resulting
in a creative and cohesive collection of melodic, nighttime pop.
(Julia R. DeStefano)

MICK VALENTI

Europolis Records

Beatlesque

12 tracks

If the Beatles locked
themselves into their style of writing in 1965, traded in Ringo for
a cheap drum machine and all of George Martin’s lush orchestral flourishes
for bad general midi sounds, it would still sound more creative than
the twelve songs on this record. While Mick Valenti can certainly
write in that style and does his best cartoon impersonation of a Liverpudlian
nasal caricature, there was much more to the Beatles than this.
Claiming that this is “the music the Beatles stopped making,” is
mildly insulting to anyone who was a fan. The Beatles themselves
evolved from this era, because they didn’t want to parody themselves
and they wanted to explore other ways of making music. This album
not only doesn’t embrace that philosophy, it leads the listener into
thinking that this album is somehow some kind of loving tribute to the
Beatles. I suppose Valenti may think so, but that doesn’t make
this CD any less painful to listen to. File this in the bin at
the Beatle convention next to the book written by the daughter of the
mailman who dated Cynthia Lennon’s second cousin after the Beatles
broke up. I am sure they will both be signing autographs.
(Joel Simches)

RICHARD MIRSKY

Mommy, What’s
a Mirksy?

13 tracks

Allow me to answer
the question posed by the title of this barroom rock record. A
Mirsky is someone whose music caused my cat to walk up to the stereo
speakers, sniff them, wrinkle his nose in disgust and walk away before
depositing the equivalent of this music in his litter box. I’m
allowed another hundred words or so, but I don’t really think anything
else needs to be said. (Kevin
Finn)


VARIOUS ARTISTS

Red Car Records

Twisted Rico—the
Scandalous Years

20 tracks

I’ve heard of Twisted
Rico for a long time; damned if I know why it wasn’t till this summer
that I finally heard a production. Featuring a collection of songs that
upon first listen sounds like an alternative smorgasbord of different
bands,
The Scandalous
Years
delivers the sounds of a group coherency that can only
be obtained by multiple listens. It’s true… sometimes we reviewers
throw a disc in once, scan through the tracks and belch out a review;
I’ve been guilty of that. But this album’s music gave me intrigue;
it gave me pause. It made me listen to it again and again. Wait a minute…isn’t
Twisted Rico a band? No, it’s a management company! That’s a clever
thing to do… release a great compilation of bands from around the
area, and then title and pack it so upon first impression it looks like
you’re
the artist! Well, you are if you come up with that idea. The real rock
stars are… the producers. (Mike Loce)

THE FUTURE
EVERYBODY

It Takes
Nothing

4 tracks

Andy Warhol, leader
of the pop art movement, was quoted saying,
In
the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.
It is only poetic that the Future Everybody’s
latest EP,
It Takes Nothing, just misses the benchmark—15 with 14 minutes
of phenomenal feel-good pop rock.


Affected guitar chords ring out on “Amy (Don’t Blame Me),” with
subtle synthesized chimes cueing Nate Roger’s to belt out from his
diaphragm. At times, you almost expect to hear Rogers exclaim, “That’s
me in the corner/ That’s me in the spotlight/ Losing my religion!”
But, alas, the Future Everybody showcase enough originality to ward
off all R.E.M comparisons. (Justin Korn)

SECRET SATELLITES

Secret Satellites

6 tracks

Fans of the much-missed
Sun Lee Sunbeam can rejoice as Jessica Sun Lee has returned, teaming
up with Jeff Clarke to form Secret Satellites. The Satellites’ brand
of pop is a bit of a departure from Lee’s previous band, a little
more relaxed and with an electro influence. What hasn’t changed, though,
is that Lee is still a solid songwriter. I often find this type of music
to be cold, but this is never the case here, largely due to Lee’s
honeyed vocals. The leadoff track “Siren” is the strongest, and
its title is certainly fitting. Not all the songs are overly substantial,
and the slower ones drag in parts, but it’s always good to hear from
Lee.
(Kevin Finn)

THE FAMOUS WINTERS

Carnival
Sky EP

4 tracks

If the Beatles and Pink Floyd magically
mated to create a new musical entity, the offspring would be named the
Famous Winters. It walks boldly along that side of insanity that Floyd
always brought us through. One second it is calm, tranquil, and safe.
The next, a torturous black hole of despair the only hope is that small
glimmer of light that shines brightly in the distance. The music pushes
us down the path, creating a new world to explore. The songs are mostly
stripped down to just drums, vocals, and various guitar parts. It is
so simple, that it becomes incredibly complex. I was pleasantly surprised
with the journey the Famous Winters took me through.
(Melvin O)

THICK SHAKES

Aurora 7 Records

Why Buy the
Cow

3 tracks

This band makes pop
music that attacks, bludgeoning you with a fuzzed out attack and leaving
you happily concussed. The songs are fast and aggressive, but never
at the expense of melody, a catchy chorus or a series of “oh oh oh”s.
“Go Back to New York” will play well around these parts, and so
would a full-length record. Three songs are not enough!
(Kevin Finn)

LENNY SOLOMON

“Soldier Coming Home”

1 track

We, as a people, need
a slap in the face about war. It’s happening under our nose but you
wouldn’t know it—there’s always something more important happening
to distract us from it. Lenny Solomon holds the mirror up for us and
it’s not pretty. “Soldier Coming Home” deals with the situations
that some of the unlucky soldiers face—not being able to adjust to
their post-soldier reality, and their country not being able to give
them the treatment they need. Lenny delivers this with acoustic guitar,
harmonica, and voice in the folk vein. It’s serious music about a
serious problem. “Soldier coming home from the war/ with his body
and future torn to shreds/ and leaders just refuse to see that their
policy made his reality tonight.” Good song, important message, keep
them coming. (T Max)

THE TIN THISTLE

We Were Promised
Better

5 tracks

I’ve seen these guys play live several
times, so I was excited when I was handed their CD. The excitement died
quickly when I started listening to it. I’m not sure if the title
was meant as a joke, because I repeated it like a mantra as I sat through
the longest 20 minutes of my life. Musically it is basic good old-fashioned
punk rock; it is loud, uncomplicated, and obnoxious. There is a reason
why punk songs are only a minute long though, because three plus minutes
of the same three chords grow boring real quick. Bil (singer) sounds
like what a drunken Bobcat Goldthwait would sound like if he sang bad
’80s hair metal, just not as funny. I actually have found this review
hard to write: it’s not easy typing while rocking back and forth repeating,
“We were promised better.”
(Melvin O)

GADI CAPLAN

Opposite Views

7 tracks

Gadi Caplan performs
guitar with passion and finesse in this seven-song primarily instrumental
EP.
Opposite Views features contemporary jazz tunes—all fluent,
relaxing, and pleasant. Though most of the tracks are a bit too long
for my taste, it does work for this genre as you can easily disappear
into this soothing music. Along with Gadi’s wonderful guitar playing,
his songs are enhanced with keyboards, bass, drums, alto sax, violin,
flute, viola, and cello—not in each but nicely scattered throughout,
all by equally talented musicians. There are even lead vocals on one
track, “Nocturnal Adventure,” which I quite enjoyed though I believe
one of his guest musicians, Patrick McConnell, provided the vocals for
that. Gadi’s background is in rock and he alludes to progressive rock
and fusion in his material but it feels more like modern adult jazz
to me… relaxing and lovely. (Debbie Catalano)

CAROLE STOCKWELL

Ear Munchies Records

Pieces Of My Heart

11 tracks

It isn’t easy listening
to easy-listening. Quite the opposite, in fact, as this collection of
bland adult-contempo tunes proves. The album is exactly what you’d
expect from a run-of-the-mill female singer/songwriter for whom the
whole sequence of human history seems to have stopped somewhere around
1975. A hokey onslaught of folk songs and wimpy blues numbers smeared
with hillbilly honky-tonk. At times, it’s not entirely unpleasant,
but it’s still utterly unremarkable. The lyrics sound like they were
cut and pasted from a pile of old Hallmark cards—not that I expected
anything less from an album entitled
Pieces
of My Heart
. Did I mention
the cover-art is a photo of a heart-shaped jigsaw puzzle? I think I’m
gonna be sick. (Will Barry)

THE TAKE BACK

Win Some
Lose Some

12 tracks

This is a pretty rockin’
collection of songs for those who love Social D, the Misfits, and the
Dropkick Murphys. The band and songs are pretty tight, featuring
some solid drumming and thick guitars, the usual Pabst enhanced fist
pumping vocal approach and some great moments of rock ’n’ roll silliness!
The great surprise is the vocal harmonies and how the band seems to
be able to move beyond the cliché of the musical style and just make
great music without trying to sound as much like their influences.
Three songs in and the arrangements seem to get a little more interesting.
Almost like Social D covering an ELP tune. Oh and could we please
outlaw covering the song “Rumble In Brighton” once and for all?
This is almost as tiresome as the wah-wah wuckachucka and the hip hop
shout-out. Those should be outlawed as well, but that’s another
review for another band!    (Joel Simches)

PRESENT RHYMES

Mertz & Sun Productions

Livin’ the Mission
  
13 tracks

Yep, hip-hop from the land of jam bands…
these cats are proudly reppin’ the birthplace of Phish: Burlington,
VT. Scary concept, isn’t it? As you may expect, there’s good news
and bad news. Let’s start with the good. The beats are a decently
done, quite serviceable version of that East Coast underground sound
that seems virtually unchanged in the last fifteen years—so, thankfully,
none of that recent trendy bullshit. Nothing weak or wimpy, but
possibly not memorable either… Bad news: the MCs. The voices are hackneyed
and whiny—not ICP-vomit-inducing, but still pretty annoying. There’s
nothing particularly compelling about the lyrics, either. Sorry, I can’t
feel this trust-fund rap. Yeah, I know, it’s not like all hip-hop
lyrics have to be about “the struggle” or anything like that, but
I like a good story, vivid imagery and clever wordplay. Not much of
any of that to be found here. However, I’m sure people who like their
Deep Disco Moe Banana Biscuit Blackout and their Tribe Called Quest
will find this a fleetingly good time.    (Tony Mellor)

 

If you are based in New England,
send your CD for review to
T Max/ the
Noise, PO Box 353, Gloucester, MA 01931.

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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