Silver Circles Reviews

Silver Circles Reviews

BANDIT KINGS
Epic Hello

10 tracks

The Kings of Gloucester have developed their own sound. It’s melodic, it bops, rocks, and soothes, it’s subtly unpredictable, and its biggest feature is the double vocal attack of Renee Dupuis and Ann Marie Shamanoski. These two strong female vocalists have different styles that compliment each other—Renee is the perfected studied voice, while Ann Marie adds a colorful delivery of character (note: both can wail). “Find” is a melodic standout that I swore was titled “On a Friday.” The barroom pleaser has the gals (did I mention that these two are very eye-pleasing?) dying to get “The Shirt Off My Back.” Oh yeah, before I forget, there are also three talented guys in the band—the solid rhythm section of drummer Dennis Monagle and bassist Joe Cardoza, and the Man—the excellent songwritin’, co-producing, guitarist Dan King. Recorded at Tony Goddess’s Bang A Gong Studio with Dave Mattacks co-producing, mixed at Q Division by Matt Beaudoin, and mastered by Jonathan Wyner at M-Works—the experience in the product shows. I saved the best for last—the final track on the CD—the title track “Epic Hello” stands by itself as a soothing, sad, emotional journey of desire with a matching melody that is rarely stumbled upon by any rock ’n’ roll musicians. (T Max)

THE FRANC GRAHAM BAND
Steady

13 tracks

Ah… low rock. Have you heard that musically descriptive term before? I’d like to believe it’s strictly a Boston thing. If you were around in the early to mid ’90s and had experience with the band Morphine (one of the best ever musical sounds from this area), you’ll get the gist of Franc’s material. Her band has that… low rock sound; understated but dwelling bass, laid back drumming but with an insistent underpinning of a groove that will not be denied, and a smooth vocal brushstroke technique over the music. Depending on your disposition, this album might evoke a beatnik mood or in my case, a little deeper, dirtier and lowdown affirmation of whatever it is you’re doing. I was driving when I first listened to it, so it turned my visual field into a great soundtrack moviescape. Franc had to wait six years before releasing this album; motherhood and other life commitments were the priority during that stretch. Sure was worth the wait. Recommended! (Mike Loce)

DMZ/LYRES
Munster Records
Radio Demos/Live at Cantones Boston 1982

25 tracks

We’re born, we live, we have a dream, and all too soon the dream is over. Gaze then, upon the early ceremonials of Jeff Connolly, Monoman, shamanic front man of the occult rock ’n’ roll ritual; communication with the spiritual world as epitomized by DMZ’s raucous, slopping-over version of “Heart of Stone.” Sometimes no message at all allows the davening, the keening prayer ritual, to reach itself back to the source both loud and clear. No signal, all noise, all good. Not “good” in the way as usually defined by musical technicians but by ethnomusicologists, who act as archeologists of the under-meaning, the internal logic of the ritual behind the spectacle. Hackneyed indeed to call it Dionysiac, but how better to put it? These raunchy love songs designed to facilitate dancing, fucking, and brawling in the streets; their audience men and women at their peak reproductive age? Remarkably powerful, this cheap music, presented nowhere better on the DMZ collection than on their cover of “Teenage Head”—itself worth the price of admission. But there’s more: the goofy complaint of “Ball Me Out,” as well as covers ranging from “Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In)?” to “Search and Destroy”—all perfect ritualistic evocations of the maniacal fury of pure rock and roll circa 1976—that truly pivotal year. DMZ offer up some ragged renditions indeed—but sometimes the spirit of a performance trumps merely technical competence. It has to, or else you might as well be playing prog—a dirty word in 1976. We forget at our peril that even as late as the mid-1970s, for every tie-dyed airy-fairy hippie-dippie golden child, there were probably three or four down to earth blue collar hard-core stoners. Let the hippie elite glide off to unicorn land with their prog rock manna—this was the acid-washed 100-proof alternative. Everything changes, changes too fast—and everything stays the same. 1982, and Lyres are performing at Cantone’s, a famously cramped concert venue shoehorned into an Italian Restaurant, a holdover from the days when purpose-built concert venues were the exception. The audio quality is what you might expect—sounding like a transmission from Mars, slathered over with Monoman’s ubiquitous Vox organ. It is difficult, perhaps, for the uninitiated to understand the appeal of such a long-past phenomenon. But these rescued live recordings can at least give one a sense of the newness and the rawness of the experience—the defiant minimalism of tracks like “Help Me Ann” and “Don’t Give It Up Now”—they are pure things defined solely by themselves, standing alone, isolate in space and time, and hence, their appeal is, and will continue to be, timeless. We might think of “Liar Liar” by the Castaways as perhaps a prototype for the Lyres—rock as shamanic chant in the lyric guise of a nursery rhyme or schoolyard chant. This type of ritualistic pop was also used in other contexts—see also “Iko Iko” or “Sally Go Round the Roses” or even Ersel Hickey ‘s “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down.”

Songs like these are distillates of the shamanic promise of the Doors, but free of their ponderous, pretentious poète maudit baggage: the shaman, like the magician, courts psychosis, yet, according to lore, the shaman breaks through to the other side and becomes as necessary to his people as clothing and shelter, because he alone can draw from the realm of the unseen and emerge unbloodied. DMZ, and, to an equal extent, Lyres, were in the vanguard of the hermetic garage revivalist canon; the hidden, nearly forgotten acid punk that emerged in the 1960s and, years later, eventually revitalized the fading rock genre in the mid-to-late 1970s… and beyond. No better example of this can be found, perhaps, than on the closing track of the Lyres concert, “Journey to Tyme,” a cover of the Kenny and the Kasuals classic. All the ingredients for an acid punk template are there–a declamatory manifesto: Kinks-like primitivism mated with Yardbirds era theatrics. We’re born, we live, we have a dream, and all too soon the dream is over. If nothing else, this disc demonstrates that certain things are better savored when the dream is left undisturbed. (Francis DiMenno)

JEDDO STARS
Red Car Records
Pop Rocks

12 tracks

If you couldn’t tell by the name of the record or the pedigree of its band members (the Charms, the Gravel Pit among many others), Jeddo Stars, knows its way around a hook, but likes to ensure that it’s delivered with a little punch. At times, the pop side leads the band into frivolity, but this is generally a solid piece of work that will particularly find a home with those of us who miss the glory days of the mid-to-late ’90s when pop rock stalwarts such as Boy Wonder, Letters to Cleo and the Sterlings were everywhere to be found. While singer Ellie Vee’s silky voice is what first grabs your attention, the real star is drummer Pete Caldes, whose mix of power, taste and dexterity might be unmatched in this town. (Kevin Finn)

ADVENTURE SET
Gimme That Sound Productions
Centuries to Go

5 tracks

From out of the electro-pop past comes a magical name Adventure Set, not seen on the scene in over twenty years. Last spring, they released an excellent teaser single (“Paler Faces” b/w ”Vitamin,” which is added to this EP) to test the contemporary market and found an eager base awaiting their return. Once upon a time a quintet, the group is now whittled down to its main members, Ken Scales (super vocals) and Mark Pothier (keyboards/ programming/vocals). On this release they are joined by a few musicians to enhance their ambitious analog mind-set, but overall the duo is an arch, precise team of immense range and promise. Their obtuse poetic lyrics curl around their mechanical, computer-driven funky beats, urging a thinking man to dream and to dance. These tunes emit a lush, silky quality, filled with exotic ephemera. The three new songs pulse with a palpable musicality, especially my fave, “Curiosity Shop,” and “My Cathedral.” Here’s hoping their next release will be a masterful full-blown album. (Harry C. Tuniese)

BRING THE KNIFE
Thrashachusetts Records
Bring the Knife

7 tracks

I’ll probably never find work in this town again, but I’m gonna say it: Bring the Knife ain’t thrilling me. I see singer Duncan Wilder Johnson’s name all over the place, including the pages of this here zine. People love this guy and his heavy metal spoken word, but listening to this album, I’m wondering what the big deal is. Is DWJ the Henry Rollins of Boston? Rollins’ spoken word stuff is pretty much unfuckwithable, but I’ve never kept a single Rollins Band CD for long, much as I’ve tried. To his credit, DWJ has a better voice than post-Flag Hank for sure. Still, if you told me this music was, say, Slipknot after firing half the band, I would believe you. Are these guys good musicians? Absolutely. Do they sound like they had a fun time making this album? Definitely. Will people have an equally fun time listening to this? Oh, I’m sure. Singing about a “werewolf fuckdown” (whatever the hell that is) is guaranteed to bring a chuckle to someone, just not me. (Tony Mellor)

JOHN CATE & THE VAN GOGH BROTHERS
12 tracks

This cool CD is in the power pop/Americana vein a la Rick Nelson, ELO, and Steely Dan. The band members play banjo, mandolin, pedal-steel, and violin on the tracks. Local vets Andy Plaisted (the Swinging Steaks) and Tony Resta both pound the skins for this project and some of the music is recorded by Dave Minehan at Wooly Mammoth resulting in a consistently well-performed and well-produced endeavor. Radio-friendly rocker “California,” Nashville sounding “Piece of Me” with its twangling and trebly guitars, and the folksy “American Night” with its gentle guitar picking are my favorites. Cate’s expressive and easy listening vocals are stellar throughout. The pedal-steel playing, especially on “Only Rain,” is standout and on several songs, the acoustic slide guitar adds a great deal to the mix. Country pop (“Georgia & Alfred”) and an instrumental country weeper (“Dreamers”) are also present, but these melodies are the extremes. A nice local release. (AJ Wachtel)

THE GOBSHITES
Good Cop Bad Cop Records
Songs Me Da Got Pissed To

23 tracks

Oh, this is good. Why did I have to get this CD during the weeks I decided not to drink? It begs for it. A nice Guinness or three in hand and face would be great right about now. For those not in the know, the Gobshites are a Celtic punk band with a rich and varied tradition and this album is a collection of the drinking classics in that tradition. We’ve got “Wild Rover,” “Whiskey In the Jar,” “Seven Drunken Nights,” and much more time-honored musical swill of heartaches and joy. Musically these old tunes are pretty simple 1-4-5 affairs, but the ’Shites full sound and gruffness actually does an alchemical jig with the arrangements; the songs come out sounding smooth and powerful, somewhat like that Clontarf single malt in the imaginary glass I’m thinking about right now. Maybe I’ll set aside a special night and a special bottle with friends for another nip of this. (Mike Loce)

CADILLAC HEART
Civil Defense Music
Cadillac Heart

12-tracks

Simple, basic pub-rock style tunes which could have emerged picture-perfect from the maws of Jules Shear, Elvis Costello, or even the Raspberries in a stripped-down mode. Curiously enervated vocals for the most part, although “You Better Run” has some absolutely stellar guitar work and would deserve inclusion into any classic canon of your choice. I have the utmost respect for Mssrs. Fernandes, Loosigian, Coraccio, et al., but this album seems more an exercise in purist retro craftsmanship than a revelatory revival of a lost golden age, even though “My Baby Walks” has affinities to “Summertime Blues,” and “Fed Up” powerfully evokes “Shakin’ All Over.” (Francis DiMenno)

COO & HOWL
Sudden Sun
11 tracks

I’m probably not going to do this album justice by this review, mainly because I don’t have the right words to describe how I feel after listening to it. I will, however, try my best by saying this is very dreamlike. The music is airy and sweet. The dual vocals are done extremely well. The vocals are not just words propelling the song forward, they’re another set of instruments blended perfectly into the layers. The reason I say dreamlike is because there are several instances where random instruments bleat out of tune, out of place parts, but rather than stopping to ask, “what was that?”, it seems to just be right at that time. It’s like those nights when you’re all snuggled in and your dreams bring you to your favorite place but instead of meeting friends, you see a hippo serving burgers to a table of snails. Normally this wouldn’t make sense but it works in that beautiful world of dreams. I recommend this if you’re looking for a brief but pleasant escape from reality. (Melvin O)

TONY JONES & THE CRETIN 3
Cretin Records/ Brown Bag Propaganda Records
Live at The Trash Bar NYC 7.2.11

10 tracks

I’d like to start off by saying I have no doubt that the performance on here lost something in the translation from live to record. While the concert took place in Brooklyn, it sounds like the recording equipment was in Queens, and the guitar solos were performed on the Upper West Side. In addition, the band’s mix of punk, rockabilly, and garage rock thrives on the energy of the crowd, which can’t be replicated on a recording. Even with those caveats, this pretty much comes across as C-level Abbey Lounge music. The band is decent, but there are many others treading the same ground and doing it better. The Cramps and Ramones covers do nothing but make you wish you were listening to the originals instead. (Kevin Finn)

JENEE HALSTEAD
The River Grace

10 tracks

Halstead kinda blows my mind with this musical curiosity. At first, I peg it for the usual country/folk singer-songwriter fodder that’s all the rage these days. But, there’s more to it than that. Much more. There’s a strong bluegrass backbone with the acoustic pickings of her six-string, the bell-chime strummings of the mandolin, the washtub plunking of the upright bass, and that slide geetar speakin’ with a slow southern drawl. Now, herein lies its strangeness: she peppers the old-timey sound with some newfangled thingamajiggery, like drum machine beats and some atmospheric synth sounds (used sparingly and tastefully), as well as the warmth of an electric organ. What ties this album together, though, is that full-bodied alto voice of hers with its graceful lilt and sky-high range. It goes down smooth like a fine wine, but gives ya a good kick in the ass like a swig of white lightnin’. Sure, purists might call this crossover blasphemy and listening to it, a mortal sin. If that’s the case, so be it. I’ll see you all in hell. That’s where all the cool musicians go when they die anyway.   (Will Barry)

MOVERS & SHAKERS
International Harvester

11 tracks

Boston’s Movers & Shakers play bourbon-and beer-soaked American rock ’n’ roll music in the tradition of the Drive-By Truckers while paying homage to earlier influences stretching back to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen and the Allman Brothers Band. What sets them apart is their relentless DIY ethos and punky undertones which drive the band past a simple copy-cat of their influences into a space all their own.

Lyrics lack the biting commentary that the Truckers are famous for but Movers & Shakers manage to spin a yarn, telling stories of down-on-their-luck protagonists. Through International Harvester’s 11 tracks, they run the gamut from rollicking barroom rockers to soulful rootsy ballads. If the record leans a little too heavily on the ballads for my taste, meticulous production saves the day. Horns and banjo beef up the slow-burners, making them worthy of repeat listens.

All told, International Harvester is a fine addition to the Movers & Shakers catalog, and continue their hearts-and-influences-on their sleeves tradition and bring a little bit of the South to New England. (George Dow)

WHITCOMB
Crown Park
7 tracks

Metal and poetry—and no, we’re not talking that Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration—Whitcomb’s music is way less of a chalk and cheese combination. All the lyrics on this album were penned by Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), and it works so well, that other than the name of the band, you wouldn’t notice anything strange. I myself didn’t realize until I read the credits, though some of the outmoded language used, such as “and gazed out noward, idle eyed” and “tresses pressed of froth” should have made me think something strange was afoot. This poetry is seamlessly integrated in a melodic metal with progressive (not prog) qualities that blend cerebral and visceral really well. The musicianship is totally ace, and while I wouldn’t necessarily go out and buy something like this, I respect the hell out of it, and it’s growing on me. “Tempest” is my least favorite, with the repeated line “O woman!” cheesing up the proceedings a bit, but even that song is quality when all’s said and done. I dig it. (Tony Mellor)

BENTHAM (two CDs)
Pacific

9 tracks

Miss Wisconsin
12 tracks

Now I’m all for the genre-bending mix-and-match musical ethos, but Bentham’s Pacific goes overboard, even for me. There’s zero coherence, besides the lead vocals—a nasally tenor which isn’t even that distinctive—and, of course, the overall Muzak-like vibes. He starts off strong with a snot-nosed pop-punk anthem, replete with some raucous lead guitar, but takes a long detour into the humdrum flatlands of middle-of-the-road banality. There’s a jangle-pop love song meant to pay homage to the Beatles, which ends up sounding like a bad impression. There’s a soft-rock tune with a blasé Chicago-style horn section. There’s even a smooth jazz ballad that sounds like it belongs in a department store elevator. The album isn’t all bad, though. There are moments of real ingenuity. “Afterglow,” for example, is breathtaking with its yearning string quartet and primal African drumbeats. It’s like a lush oasis surrounded by the unforgiving sands of the Sahara. The rest is, I’m sorry to say, filler—and I call it filler ‘cause it fills me full of apathy.

Miss Wisconsin is in the same vein as Pacific. It chronicles a very talented multi-instrumentalist and a capable band of session musicians as they shill out adult contemporary mediocrity by the boatload. The album maintains Bentham’s stylistically adventurous smattering of vastly different styles, like “Bad Country Song,” which delivers exactly what it promises. He tries spicing up a few tunes with Latin rhythms and even incorporates some shoegaze-style ambience into another. Whatever guise, it all sounds like he’s trying to be something he’s not. Maybe he was an edgier rocker back in the day and is now dumbing down his music to cater to the broader corn-fed audience of Middle America. Maybe he’s a run-of-the-mill musician trying to be hip. A sheep in wolves clothing, so to speak, or a wolf that’s been domesticated, declawed, and groomed into a lapdog. Neither sounds particularly appealing. (Will Barry)

FLABBERGHASTER
Live Like Lightning

12 tracks

Why oh why do jam bands still exist in the 21st century? Can’t the fans just dig into the vast archive of Phish shows and make compilations of the 65 best versions of “You Enjoy Myself”? “No, Tony, we like our jams live, and we like to hear the next generation doing them. Humans cannot live on Trey alone.” Okay, fair enough. Enter this band of early 20-somethings from the enchanted Green Mountain State (where else?). They should fulfill your every jammy need. They have the jazz chops, the Hammond organ, extended meandering jams that get you looking at your watch (if you’re sober), wah guitar, positive puddle-deep lyrics, the obligatory attempt at rapping, and a dedication to protecting the funk! The more they want to protect said genre, the more I wish it was cryogenically-sealed in the 1970s, unless we hire a necromancer to reanimate James Brown and Eddie Hazel. I’d prefer undead funk, even butyric acid funk to Flabberghaster funk. By all means guys, live like lightning. Then please get struck by it. (Tony Mellor)

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Teenage Heart Promotions
Teenage Heart Presents:
Still Beating

27 track compilation

Few local music scenes lend themselves as readily to a punk/hardcore compilation as Boston, and they’re not even in short supply. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still offer up the goods. Working in conjunction with Performer Magazine, local punk promoter Teenage Heart gives us Still Beating, a dense (and maybe slightly overloaded) sampling of the best that Beantown’s stocked underground punk/hardcore/thrash market has to offer. The disc serves up worthwhile contributions from the likes of the Welch Boys, Jason Bennett, and the Swaggerin’ Growlers among others and also includes an unreleased track from Tijuana Sweetheart. Good stuff.

Of course, even the best comps struggle with issues of unevenness and inconsistency, and punk/hardcore has never won points for diversifying its sound. But while Still Beating occasionally finds itself a victim to these pratfalls, there are enough high points contained within the record’s 27 tracks to make up for the its shallower, more redundant moments. What you have in the end is a pretty credible and well-intentioned set of songs that does the city’s proud musical heritage justice. Plus it’s free. What else do you want? (Ryan Bray)

THE PITY WHORES
A Pensive Mood

10 tracks

I usually hate when punk bands record their music on acoustic guitars note for note and call it something different. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. These guys switched out their electrics for a banjo, a cello, and pan flutes, overhauling the songs completely making them fresh and new. The majority of these songs are originals but they do slip in a couple Levelers tunes, and a great rendition of Lenny Lashley’s “Can’t Take Anymore.” Some bands play punk mainly because it is all they can play. This disc shows just how talented the Pity Whores are, and that they choose to play punk not because they have too, but because they love it. (Melvin O)

THE UNDAUNTED PROFESSOR HARP
They Call Me The Professor

10 tracks

All fans of Chicago blues done by Boston veterans will love this debut CD by Professor Harp, himself a veteran of gigging with both Muddy Waters and Solomon Burke. Tunes like “Texago At Doyles,” “Sugaree” with Marty Ballou rocking out on bass, “What You Do To Me” and a great version of the ’60s classic “Wild Weekend,” where the band turns this pop song into a blues instrumental, really stand out. More traditional cuts like the slower tempo versions of “Fightin’ The Battle” and “Sly Black Fox” showcase Professor Hugh Holmes’ convincing vocals. And the last two cuts, the jazzy melody with Chuck Berry guitar riffs on “It Just Comes Natural” and his tribute to mentor George Harmonica Smith, “Eine Fur Herr Schmidt”, are strong tracks that add to the CD’s flavor. And having Brookline’s slide guitar legend Bob Margolin jumping in on the autobiographical “My Life: An Exercise in Blue” is the icing on the cake. Cool blues for a hot night. (A.J. Wachtel)

REASON TO FIGHT
Blue Collar Pride

10 tracks

What the music people call hardcore today, sucks in my opinion. Rhode Island is pushing out some great old tyme hardcore lately. Reason to Fight is at the front of this pack. This disc is drenched with realism, something lacking in most music today. In “One Step Fall” they point blank yell out “you are nothing, I feel sorry for you. I can’t wait to see you fall.” This disc lives up to its name: the Blue Collar Pride seeps through on every track. Their anger and disgust comes from their everyday struggle, but this shows that the working man has a voice no matter how hard they try to silence him. (Melvin O)

BILL DUNCAN
The Dark and the Light  
12 tracks
Bill Duncan has been a regular on the open mic circuit for several years now, slowly honing his material and garnering new friendships. He has finally put together a damn fine album of positive and poignant tunes, often illuminating a rugged  passage he has traveled—addressing broken relationships, child rearing, spiritual counseling, and inner faith. He has chosen many of the players from the Roslindale music coterie—i.e. Rob Norberg (drums/percussion), Mike Delaney (mandolins), Al Ferix (bass), Junko (piano/organ), Ruby Bird (accordion), and a stand-out guitarist whom we haven’t heard from in quite a while—Mr. Joey Ammo! These are basic, well-written MOR songs, beautifully recorded and co-produced by Steve Friedman at Melville Park Studio, with gorgeous string and vocal interplay (which reminds me of the Eagles in their harmonic lushness). Not ultra-hep in the present era, but it works in adding superb dynamics to tunes like “Just Run,” “Carolyn Turn,” “Victim of Vanity,” and “The Light.”  Not every new release has to be cutting edge, tres moderne, or soooo cooooool. As Bill sings: “Life’s no smooth sail… let me believe in me.” Congrats to an earnest effort from a fine middle-aged man. (Harry C. Tuniese)

GHILLIES BAND

From Boston to Nashville 
10 tracks
This authentic-sounding modern country-rock project is a great blend of solid songs, hummable hooks and first-rate musicianship, and contains all the obligatory characteristics one would expect from a new Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, or Garth Brooks collection. Artie Eaton’s voice is the centerpoint and his seductive, world-weary vocals push the effect of these songs to a higher level. When he cries in the ballads you understand his misery. When Eaton laughs in the uptempo melodies you share his joy. They may call this modern country-rock, but it shares a lot with classic C&W, including great harmonies and menacing and twanging guitars. There is a wide mix of material here from feel-good and easy going to introspective and contemplative, and the vocals shine on each cut. I really liked the Skynyrd-sounding “You Don’t Know Me,” the rollicking “Better Days,” and the real country radio-friendly “Bright Lights ’n’ Big City,” but the hit may be “Phat & Happy” where I can imagine a stadium full of men screaming the words to every line. For a taste of Nashville check out this great band. (A.J. Wachtel)

TWO VIEW REVIEW

KILEY EVANS
Kiley Evans  
5 tracks
I’m of two minds about the music of Kiley Evans. I listen to “Johnny Depp,” a tune that’s reputed to have a good amount of radio play, and I’m getting a decent country song infused with some pop elements, not exactly the favorite kind of tune. But others, like “Poppa’s Song,” have a mellow country/folk sound, and it’s these that move to me to listen more closely. While I’m not thrilled with the complete EP, I can hear the skill in her music, which presents a mix of upbeat, peppy tunes and slower, more heartfelt melodies. I’ve also had the chance to hear her live, so I can say for sure that she brings some real skill to the table. When it comes to local Americana and country, one of the themes I often hear is a rawness to the music, with an added harmonica, ukulele, and banjo adding something extra. It’s clear that Kiley is trying to stand out in her own way, and that’s going to be a good or bad quality, depending on how you like your country. Me, I’m in the middle—I’m not going to shell out $60 to hear her play at the Hard Rock Café, but I wouldn’t mind dropping $10 for her CD. There’s definitely something worth listening to. (Max Bowen)

KILEY EVANS
Kiley Evans  
5 tracks
I am not a country fan—in fact, I’m quite the opposite. That fact aside, it’s a thrill to hear Boston native Kiley Evans bringing a little Boston to the Nashville sound. EP’s feature track is the opener, “Johnny Depp,” a barn-burning pop-country tune, custom-made for country radio. On other tracks Evans breaks away from the popular country mold with soulful ballads (“You Turned Away”) and nods toward folk-rock (“Papa’s Song”). It seems that Evans is ready-made for pop-country success. By all appearances she has it all—an innocent blond-bombshell look, a fantastic voice, and a knack for soulful, radio-ready pop-country tunes.   (George Dow)

SHAREN WENDY ROBERTSON 
From My Heart to Yours 
8 tracks
Well, this is something different than what we usually get down at ye olde Noise headquarters. Robertson delivers a mix of blues and jazz that lacks any edge whatsoever, but provides a nice soundtrack to a quiet evening at home or at the coffeehouse.  And I don’t mean that as an insult, as Robertson clearly isn’t looking to rock anyone’s boat.  She has a warm, smooth voice that allows her to showcase her consistent ability to create a strong vocal line, and she always leaves room for her crack band to shine.  Two major missteps, though, mar this effort.  “Funky Time” is just plain embarrassing, with Robertson sounding like the lovechild of Mr. T. and George Clinton trapped inside the body of the world’s whitest soccer mom.  And “We Danced” features a pseudo-disco beat that is painfully out of place. (Kevin Finn)

NOW DENIAL 
Witch Trial Records/ Intense Human Victories
Fuck Now Denial 
5 tracks
Now this is heavy metal I can really sink my teeth into. They’re heavy and brooding, but with a knack for graceful melody buried in the distorted power-chord chugging, drum-rumbling, bloodcurdling clamor. They do a good job of avoiding many of the tired clichés that plague most budding metal bands. There’s the occasional flourish of dual lead guitar harmonies, but none of that mechanical look-how-fast-I-can-play-the-aeolian-scale type of shredding. There’s the occasional balls-to-the-wall instrumental free-for-all as well, but none of that constant blunt-force trauma-level volume. An altogether engaging listen. I just can’t get over all the vocalist’s screaming. Somebody get this guy a throat lozenge! (Will Barry)

 

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T Max/ the
Noise, PO Box 353, Gloucester, MA 01931.

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