CD Reviews

THE MICHAEL J. EPSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY
Faith In Free

3 tracks

It’s fitting that this EP is one song broken into three movements because its wide breadth and artistic imagery evoke classical music as much as pop.  In less capable or more austere hands, this could be a disaster, but Epstein and crew pull it off without a hitch.  The first movement, featuring an array of instruments and voices, has a spooky, haunting vibe, and its use of repetition puts the listener in a pleasantly hypnotic state.  The second movement is a gypsy waltz that recalls DeVotchKa or Firewater, and its shifting tempos amplify its tensions.  The third movement, which lyrically recalls the first, goes down the smoothest, with the lyric “I’m not afraid of the dark” bringing the song’s soothing nature to the forefront.  There’s a lot packed into this piece, requiring the listener to spend some time with it to fully discover its charms.  It’s time well worth spending.        (Kevin Finn)

 

RICK BERLIN w/ THE NICKEL & DIME BAND
Whitehaus Family Records
Always on Insane 

14 tracks

Not all the melodies here are certified knockouts bound to set you to rocking back on your heels, but a jolly manifesto like the cover of “(I’m a) Slut” is an ingenious opening salvo, and a tuneful number like “Hilary (Galway Girl)” shows to gratifying effect lead vocalist/writer Rick Berlin’s patented sense of high style. The Nickel & Dime Band is a talented crew who contribute a hyper-competent garage rock template, as well as a user-friendly vibe replete with a soulful but restrained horn section. Throughout Berlin’s latest batch of introspective song scenarios, you can hear resonances of the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Buzzcocks. More pleasing still are the vocal nuances Berlin brings to many of these tunes, notably the delightfully wacky “Karaoke.” “7 Foot Woman” is a similarly amusing novelty; “I Love You in the Rain” is a quieter ’70s-era jazz pop confection driven by piano and saxophone and a bravura vocal performance,  and “As Long As it Takes” is a nuanced love song with a delicate bone-china melody. “Summer Roof” has touches of ska and Northern soul and is perhaps the most appealing song on the collection.  Unfortunately, there are more than a few misfires. The genre-clowning “Kitchy” seems more self-indulgent than whimsical and strikes me as a poor man’s Springsteen circa “Candy’s Room”–a song which seems epic to some, but comes a cross as merely schmaltzy to the less susceptible. I have a similar problem with songs like “Salut” and, especially, “I’m Jes’  Sayin’,” which features somewhat ludicrous vocals over a low-key arrangement. “Party Comin’ Up the Stairs” is an overlong and somewhat muddled mess—Gary “U.S.” Bonds it’s not. The Berlin oldie, “Beer Belly,” seems like a misguided attempt at musical slapstick ala Lou Reed’s “Disco Mystic.”   And, as an ostensibly inspirational song,  the album closer, “All in This Together” comes across as less than subtle, verging on strident. Some artists latch onto a style and hone it until it can no longer be improved, and eventually reach a point of diminishing returns and commence to spinning their wheels, Other, arguably superior artists, continue to attempt stylistic progressions and constant innovations. Throughout his long and storied career, Berlin has shown both these qualities; his best compositions here fall squarely in the latter camp.  (Francis DiMenno)

 

SANS NOMENCLATURE      
Tea & Kittens

4 tracks

Sans Nomenclature’s 4-track, Tea & Kittens, sounds a bit like an early Mistfits record, if Glenn Danzig had been traded out for Government Issue’s John Stabb. The band disguises their peppy tempos and classic influences beneath a veneer of crunchy distortion in much the same way the aforementioned Misfits did. What’s unfortunate is that Sans Nomenclature suffers from the same muddy production that plagued the Misfits, rendering this EP good for little more than getting a taste of a band that may have a very bright future. I, for one, hope that their next release enables them to showcase the quality music that they are capable of.    (George Dow)

 

THE BENEDICTIONS
American Wasteland

10 tracks

From a repetitive opening three-chord rock track that sounds like a bunch of your pals chanting drunkenly over and over, to the second three-chord track that sounds like a bunch of your pals chanting drunkenly over and over…there’s a bit of charisma, kitsch, and panache here.  For a band comparison, I would have to say I hear a 2012 Rolling Stones, though not getting to the chorus.  It’s the sound of safety, something none of us really need in this vile world of 2012.  In music we want danger, not security.  We want risk, not safety; we want entropy, not stability.  I can see the fun in blasting out a bunch of rock and stroll songs, perhaps if anything else for party’s sake, but it doesn’t move the soul.  Then again, my soul is under question and akin to many of the Boston harbor tunnels in terms of construction and leakage.  So take it with a grain of salt, rock on, and more power to you.     (Mike Loce)

 

THE LIGHTS OUT
On Fire

8 tracks

With their latest release, the Lights Out continue to do what they do best. And what, you may ask, does this band do best? They play their ’roid-raging brand of rock and they play it loud. It’s the type of rock that’s souped-up on muscular basslines, steady backbeats, and chunky blues-rock guitar riffs. It’s driven by charismatic vocals that range from guttural growls to fierce falsettos and bolstered with richly-layered spot-on vocal harmonies. Though this album lives on a steady diet of red meat, non-light beer, and unfiltered cigarettes, it’s not mindless or shallow jock-rock by any means. It’s got depth and soul to match it’s gusto. “One Way To Die,” in particular, stands out. With it’s pulpy hard-boiled lyrics, minor-key twinges of Americana, epic build-ups and breakdowns, this tune sounds like it could be the title track of some long-lost Bond flick. While these guys may cut their teeth in the local club circuit, their style is clearly meant for the arena. Keep it comin’, boys. (Will Barry)

 

NELSON BRAGG
We Get What We Want          

11 tracks

“Dedicated to Brian Wilson… Thanks for the road trip,” singer, songwriter, percussionist, and all-around artist, Nelson Bragg, writes in the liner notes of We Get What We Want.  An individual best described as a melodic power-pop aficionado who has succeeded in crafting a dazzling sophomore record, Bragg has been a key fixture in Brian Wilson’s Band since 2003 and is now one of the musicians backing the Beach Boys.  It is particularly admirable to see Bragg take elements of his influences and inspirations, molding them to create something unique and pleasing to listeners of all generations.  For instance, the album’s opener, “You Could Believe,” keeps listeners on their toes as it shifts from a cappella harmonies evoking the treasured, multi-layered harmonies of the Beach Boys to a full-on sound reminiscent of the Byrds and the Beatles.  The ethereal “Steel Derrick 1979” is also worth noting, with its utilization of an acoustic guitar, beautiful guest vocals supplied by Evie Sands, and the trumpet work of Probyn Gregory, one of Bragg’s bandmates from Brian Wilson’s Band.  The record closes with “Everything I Want To Be,” a warm and welcoming tune that is, essentially, a celebration of friendship.  It evokes summer nights spent around a campfire with compatriots, sharing anecdotes through spoken word and song.  Bragg’s vocal is especially intimate here, its accessibility blending nicely with the track’s theme.  We Get What We Want appears to be Bragg’s psychedelic love letter to the ’60s, so inspired is he by this timeless era.  (Julia R. DeStefano)

 

BEN TAYLOR
Sun Pedal Recordings
Listening

11 tracks

This is a solid CD packed with great songs that touch on folk, pop, reggae and Americana and are all sung by Ben’s supremely soulful voice. Singer/songwriter Taylor sounds most like his father, James, withhis wit, skill as a songwriter, and by his expressive vocal delivery. But the music mix from song to song encompasses solo acoustic melodies to multi-layered vocal tracks which include backing vocalist sister Sally, and with fresh beats. This is where the main differences lie; the songs are up-to-date and current and have an urgency and intimacy that separate them from being classic rock or anything else. The songs I really enjoy are “Oh Brother,” “Dirty,” and “You Could Be Mine”; there is a lot to like on this project. “Giulia” and “Worlds Are Made Of Paper” are uptempo/folk/pop tunes that showcase Taylor’s talents tremendously, too. I also dig the funky folk of “Vespa’s Song,” the reggae influences of “America,” and the haunting Americana closing ballad, “Next Time Around.” His father’s folk is most evident in the opener, “Listening,” “Not Alone,” and “Burning Bridges.” Listen long and listen good: this is a great CD that makes me hungry for more.     (A.J. Wachtel)

 

THE PANDEMICS
Lonely Like the Sun

11 tracks

For those who want their rock without any modifiers like indie, punk, classic, etc., I give to you the Pandemics, who play what just might be the most straightforward rock you’re likely to hear these days. But please don’t mistake straightforward for boring or thoughtless.  This is intelligent, well-played and well-recorded music.  The songs have a lot of punch to them, but not at the expense of hooks, and the musicians are given enough room to show their skills without being given enough room to show off.  Most importantly, it got my wife humming along, and she probably has higher standards than anyone reading this right now.  If there is a drawback, it’s that the tempo stays mostly the same throughout, which can lead to occasional bouts of monotony, but is this really the type of band that you want toning things down and doing a ballad? I didn’t think so. (Kevin Finn)

 

THE STRANGE AVENUES
Bacchanalia

6 tracks

Part chain-smokin’ guitar-slingin’ hard-rock, part busted-knuckle punk, part raunchy gutbucket blues—Christ, I’ve never heard an identity crisis sound this damn good. They’ve got a dark brackish guitar-heavy sound that’s dragged along kicking and screaming by the driving drumbeats and skulking basslines. The two vocalists duke it out song to song, one with his husky smoke-dried baritone, the other with his glass-eating punk-rock shriek. Hell, even the guitars have five-o’clock shadow. The tracks are, for the most part, high-energy hook-laden song-explosions fulla Fender-bending guitar solos and smeared with punk-rock sneer, but it’s those WTF moments I get listening to tracks like “Queen of Hearts,” a slow-burning drop-D blues that’s darker than a Mississippi Delta barroom at midnight—it’s those moments that really get me. I’m not sure if I should give these guys a round of applause or a chest-bump.       (Will Barry)

 

PETER BALDRACHI
Prodigal Son Records
Tomorrow Never Knows 

11 tracks

Okay, where has Peter Baldrachi been hiding that I haven’t heard of him? I’m sure he hasn’t been hiding, I just missed him somewhere in this sphere of Boston music but I’m glad to have found him now! Due to circumstances unfortunately beyond my control, I got quite behind in my CD reviews and since this was submitted, I believe he has released another, but this still very much deserves a review. Tomorrow Never Knows features a refreshing blast of commercial pop rock tunes; Peter’s music is upbeat with a perfect blend of a Brit-pop / American alt rock feel with decided dashes of twang. I absolutely adore it. Accessible, catchy, and happy—we all need music with a goodtime spirit and Peter’s got it—not to mention that the production is outstanding. It’s a very rare and special thing to love every track of a CD but I can honestly say with Tomorrow Never Knows that I did. Can’t wait to hear the next!      (Debbie Catalano)

 

GOLDEN BLOOM/
THE MICHAEL J. EPSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Swap Meet

4 tracks

Epstein et al. perform two by Golden Bloom, and vice versa. Fun ensues, and both ensembles are covered with glory. Golden Bloom’s rendition of the heroic and anthemic “Amylee” is brilliantly understated and polishes that gem-like song to a high gleam, while their rendition of the sardonic “Civil Engineering” is creditably lighthearted and upbeat.  Better still, TMJEML’s version of “Theme from an Adventure at Sea” is comically atmospheric in an ineffably appealing fashion reminiscent of the best of post-punk era keyboard synth. Best of all, their version of Golden Horde’s “You Go On (and On)” is an unexpectedly  touching melodic lament. Both bands acquit themselves spectacularly here. A stellar release.                     (Francis DiMenno)

 

MARK CUTLER  
75orLess Records
Sweet Pain

13 tracks

I can see this dude playing at some little roadside bar, and I can see myself hanging around for his set, especially if he plays “Heart of Stone,” which just won’t get out of my head (and I’m okay with that). This is folky, rootsy rock ’n’ roll with a very lived-in feel, and while the songs could benefit from more variation in tempo, there’s enough song-to-song variation in mood and structure to keep the listener engaged.  The record’s biggest strength is Cutler’s charismatic voice, which falls somewhere between Petty and Dylan; it might not technically be the strongest, but it’s quite adept at conveying emotion.  This is a solid effort.         (Kevin Finn)

 

BILLY SHAKE
Crashing Down

11 tracks

It’s interesting how Billy Shake blends Americana rock with garage and hard rock elements. In tracks like “Down The Road,” heavy guitar riffs complement the jangly rhythms. It’s a standard roots vibe flavored with a hard edge. Lead vocalist George Simpson’s vocals fit the genre—they’re a bit flat but the Bob Dylan/Mark Knopfler-ish vocal style is spiced with shades of David Bowie, creating an original voice for George and the band. Am I over the moon with Crashing Down? Not exactly and I can’t pinpoint why—it’s done well and the musicianship is top-notch—especially the guitar-playing! Not sure whom I should credit the outstanding guitaring to as both Chris Bernard and Ken Sparrow are listed as guitarists on the CD (on their site Dan DelSignore is listed as a guitarist) but I’d say that’s the standout of this entire CD. Also a big plus for the band is the fact that Brian Maes co-wrote a couple of the tracks—nice to have his touch on those. Overall it’s a very good job.                    (Debbie Catalano)

 

NEW PILOT
Looser

8 tracks

This versatile collection features a blues-based shuffle  boogie, (“Little Bird”), a rock song with touches of reggae (“Stuttering”), and some well-wrought Americana (“The Waiting Is Over”).  “When I Go to See You” is a memorably heartfelt ballad, and the raga-rock of “A Queen’s Gambit Declined” is commendably ambitious. All of these songs have an appealing, laid-back ambiance; all are competently arranged and meticulously executed, and yet there seems little that is original or remarkable in the band’s approach, and so the overall result is one of pleasantly executed craftsmanship—no small thing, but not yet the stuff of which legends are made.      (Francis DiMenno)

 

FRAN REAGAN
Heard, Not Seen

10 tracks

This CD clocks in at about 57 minutes, which is at least an hour longer than it needs to be.  While listening to it, my cat actually jumped on the CD player and turned it off.  When I turned it back on, he then tried to change it to the radio.  Smart dude.  To be fair, Reagan has a very lovely baritone, both warm and friendly, but the problem is the material.  The music is often extremely overdramatic despite its mellow vibe, and the lyrics often aim for a sense of inspiration that is beyond Reagan’s grasp.  At times, the music feels like it should be playing over the closing credits of a Disney movie.  Other times, it feels like it should be playing over the boring parts of fantasy movies where the characters are hanging out discussing love instead of killing orcs and shit.  That said, I’m probably not the target audience here.  All listening to this CD made me want to do is turn on Seinfeld re-runs and listen to punk rock records, so that I could reconnect with my sarcastic, bleak self.   (Kevin Finn)

 

BLISS
Seconds in a Minute               

12 tracks

Never have there been statements truer or more applicable to a band than the old adages, “Find your bliss” and “Follow your bliss.”  Three Durham, New Hampshire-based women, Kristan Bishop, Cathy O’Brien, and Karen Larson, are doing just that through a combination of originals and covers using acoustic guitars, a violin, a keyboard, and beautiful soul-stirring harmonies.  The result is a blend of the folk, rock, and pop genres in the realm of Emily Grogan and Linda Viens’ Angeline.  However, while the innovative qualities embodied within Angeline serve to captivate and hold listeners’ attention, the Bliss ladies become repetitive.  For instance, the disc opens with “Shine On,” which would be a lovely tune except for the fact that it sounds similar to several other tracks, namely, “Seconds in a Minute,” “Better Days,” and “Love, Love.”  Despite this, the girls’ cover of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” is worth noting with its harmonies that are both gorgeous and haunting, and clean guitar work.  Overall, Seconds in a Minute comes across as one long song as opposed to a twelve-track album.  Variation in instrumentation and in vocal dynamics would result in something that leaves more of an impression on listeners.        (Julia R. DeStefano)

 

A BIT MUCH
Labor Day 2011
2 tracks

I like the band’s name and their sense of humor (i.e., “a bit Much is rock ’n’ roll’s mid-life crisis”). I’m not sure, however, whether their ’80s vibe is intentional—in particular the guitar riffs. The classic rock thing they have going on jumbles up amongst a non-descript vibe. In other words, they’re a bit all over the place but I get the feeling they relish in this. The first tune is eight-and-a-half minutes—too long for my taste. Track two is another eight-minute song and a schizophrenic mash of sounds. But I think I hear some strings mixed in—a nice touch amongst the chaos. If anything, they possess self-awareness and a spirit of enjoyment.       (Debbie Catalano)

 

THE FEW
Live at WMFO                           

3 tracks

Up until recently I had never heard of this rock band the Few, which is weird because I usually know my rock around Boston.  This live set at WMFO studios begins with the thunderous rocking track “Got to Try.”  It is a solid start and reminds me of the Stooges.  Perhaps not as gritty or as vile, but it certainly has a similar style and attitude.  You can tell from this first track that the Few are ready to rock.  It is a bit too crisp and clean for my tastes, but I think most will find it pleasing to their ears.  It is definitely a song one can bang their head to.  “Got to Try” is filled with sing-along harmonies, steady drum beats, and brief guitar solos.  The next track, “Nowhere to Run,” keeps up the same ode to classic rock sound as its predecessor.  This song, however, is a bit slower, but nonetheless maintains the same energy. The final song, “Push,” is perhaps the band’s catchiest on this release.  With this track we hear Jaime MacKenzie on lead vocals; you can tell her singing truly reflects the attitude and lyrics she is delivering  in the song.  She’s got some powerful pipes and I hear a little bit of Robert Plant in her voice.  Overall, this brand of rock  is not exactly what I am looking for in music as it is a bit too conventional for my standards, but at the same time the band clearly has some strong songs under their belt and with this in studio performance they prove to be the rocking force they claim to be.             (Chris DeCarlo)

 

AYLA BROWN
Ambient Entertainment
Ayla Brown

9 tracks

The first thing I notice is the stunning vocals: this young lady sure can sing. Check out “Beat By A Girl” and you’ll see what I mean. The second thing I notice is that Ayla can go from straight-ahead Americana to Americana with a hard rock edge quite smoothly, which isn’t necessarily easy. And I can hear the folk influences too. Listen to the closer, “Can’t Make Up My Mind,” with its nice piano opening and it almost sounds like a Carole King melody. I really dig “Goodbye for Good” and “Don’t Mess This Up” for their country rock ’n’ roll feel and I love Brown’s steely vocal delivery in “Playin’ With Fire,” where she sings, “Don’t mess with me!” I also like the pedal steel present in many of the songs that give the whole thing a real Nashville sound. She writes most of the music, and her tight band never gets in the way of her vocal delivery either; which definitely adds to the overall audial appeal. This is good stuff so check it out now.    (A.J. Wachtel)

 

THE NEW LOWS                
Rock and Roll Limbo

13 tracks

A little bit punk. A little bit bar-band. A little bit honky-tonk. Sound confusing? Well, it is. And that’s not all either. The New Lows mix in classic ’80s and indie rock influences to boot.

Rock and Roll Limbo is a good record but very difficult to pin down, bouncing from one genre to another, each track utterly disregarding the previous. The genre-jumping is manageable, mostly because the New Lows play each with skill. The exception comes about halfway through, with “I’m Only Sayin,” an embarrassing attempt at white-boy rap. My personal favorite is the straightforward guitar rock of “Lost In The Maze”

Aside from the hip-hop misstep, the New Lows deliver an entertaining debut.             (George Dow)

 

PLUMERAI
Your Guilty Prize                      

9 tracks

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact feelings experienced when listening to Plumerai’s fourth studio release, something best described as a melancholic, supernatural trip blending folk, rock, punk, and industrial genres.  Frontwoman Elizabeth Ezell is the embodiment of intriguing sultriness; her heartbreaking breathy voice comparable to the likes of PJ Harvey and Carina Round, and is capable of leaving a lasting impression upon listeners.  The result is a sophisticated emotional record full of depth and indicative of the band’s collective growth.  Take the foreboding tone of the opener, “Strike,” and compare it with its polar opposite,  “Spinning Landscape,” a song that appears to effortlessly float through the air and utilizes elements that make it dizzying to the ear, exactly as its title would suggest.  “Empty Graves” also takes on this kind of ethereal quality and is reminiscent of the Cure’s vast catalogue.  Overall, the effort is bold in its production, taking risks so as to keep listeners guessing, which makes the work commendable in its own right.  However, I cannot shake the feeling that I have heard something very similar to this before.  Think the sweeping and pop-oriented dreamlike state that Mazzy Star’s work manages to evoke.  If you put both bands side by side, Plumerai tends to assume the role of little sister and suddenly, their work no longer appears so innovative.  But it is enjoyable, nevertheless.      (Julia R. DeStefano)

 

PACO
You Are My Life

16 tracks plus 1 music video

Paco (Frank Stewart) is a throwback to old-school big band vocalists. He sites his musical heroes as Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Crawford, and Ronan Tynan, but he also mentions Paul Anka, Neil Sadaka, and Barry Manilow for artists that I’m more familiar with. This musical project is based on love of family and friends and Paco’s heart leads the way. The show rolls out with the old standard, “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” that starts like a piano bar performance and ends with the whole orchestra joining in with Paco’s exuberant vocal crescendo—complete with the trumpets squealing. He picks great classics (“Georgia On My Mind,” “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” “All of Me”) and becomes the lovable manly ringleader. It appears like Paco would like to make his fans an extension of his family. He’s got the love vibe is leading the way.  ( T Max)

 

SHARKS COME CRUISIN
Hardtack EP

4 tracks

These are a couple of age-old songs of the high seas that are given the punk-rock treatment. The time-worn waterlogged melodies are retrofitted with cranked-up electric guitars, a drum kit, screamed gang vocals, and, of course, the lead singer’s gravelly voice. It makes me timbers shiver, or whatever. There’s a nice array of traditional instrumentation mixed in, including banjo and fiddle, which help to preserve the traditional nature of these chanteys. All in all, it’s a good balance between old-world and new-world. The punk aspects give these tunes a shot in the arm without overpowering their humbler roots. Of course, for this band, there’s no escaping comparisons to the Dropkick Murphys, but let’s face it, this is a comparison they’ve certainly earned.           (Will Barry)

 

DIDN’T PLANET
We’re Goin’ Nowhere

14 tracks

On the first track I thought they were doing a tribute to the Fat Albert theme song… how many people know about Fat Albert these days?  Hmm, maybe a lot, maybe we’re all just older and don’t talk about it as much.  Maybe that was the idea, keying in on a tune that we over-35 folk would say, “Hey man, it’s our chance to be retro and nostalgic and pretend we loved the good old days!”  Frank Zappa was right; nostalgia is consuming itself in ever-shrinking cycles, faster and faster. I liked the mood. The second tune was a good Green Day-on-beta-blocker composition, with tight production, snappy chord hooks, and vocal assuredness.  The thing that separates this album from any other fare of the same genre is a sense of definite humor in the segue and sequence of songs: vocal bits of randomness such as answering machine messages, unedited studio chatter and vocal commentary about the topics at hand hold the story together—the story of being in a band.             (Mike Loce)

 

TED HU
The Path to War

12 tracks

These heartfelt keyboard–based art songs are often filled with attempts at epic grandeur. But “The Engineer”  hovers uncomfortably close to Queen-style excess, and purists might furthermore argue that certain of the vocal stylings are overly dramatic, as on “Man” and “Anchored.” Such genuine passion can often verge into the realm of the overwrought.  However, more restrained and intricately structured numbers such as “Orange Revolution” showcase Hu’s keyboard artistry to better effect, and there are some stunningly lovely and artistic instrumental passages here, as on “American Perfume” and the tuneful “American Lullaby.”        (Francis DiMenno)

 

DAVID ARVEDON & THE PSYCHOPATHS
Oink Records
Lieutenant Salt’s Solitary Brains Organization Orchestra

12 tracks

I guess if you’re into Weird Al Yankovic’s hokey musical parodies, this album might be up your alley. But chances are, it still isn’t. Chances are you’ll find this watered-down parody of the classic-rock style with it’s poorly-sung lyrics, ham-fisted Beatles references, and grade-school humor just as unbearable as I do. I could go on, but I’d rather beat a dead horse. Literally.    (Will Barry)

 

ONSLO               
Understanding, Inc.
A Taste of Purple

7 tracks

For their sixth CD, Onslo drop a 10-minute, bite-sized bomb of post-hardcore, prog-rock goodness while channeling equal parts King Crimson and Mars Volta. Most of the seven tracks clock in at two minutes or less, an amazing feat given the denseness of their songs.

Onslo sticks to the formula that they’ve established over their previous EPs by jamming multi-part suites, time changes and instrumentals, and other bursts of genius into some of the shortest songs ever. The denseness factor is incredible.

At little more than ten minutes total runtime the one drawback is that A Taste of Purple is only enough to give listeners a taste of Onslo.

Download available on bandcamp.   (George Dow)

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Kinder Angst

14 tracks

Finally! A “kids” rock album that parents can really dig!

Though it has been blessed by an appearance by the (god)mother of punk, Debbie “Blondie” Harry, much of this raucous rock collection sounds more like Avril Lavigne and her once-removed generation of disgruntled descendants. From the aggressive, alphabetic tour of the neighborhood near the legendary CBGB  (“Alphabet City”), to a creepy Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-y take on hide-and-seek (“Peek-A-Boo”), to an alternative aggro-imagination that poses Cinderella as the vindictive victor (“Let’s Play Pretend”), this album takes childhood’s most precious gems and chips away at them. Though some songs may work well as group rave-ups, Momma Harry’s ska-tinged suggestion to “Do It Yourself” offers a welcome respite from the frenetic pace and push of the rest of the album. Though faster, the upwardly-moving hoe-down, “Jump Jump,” is a country-fried bouncer that may require a helmet but is fun anyway, as is the Japanimated pop-popper-babbler “Bubble.” Other clever offerings include the goth-y glower of “Sourpuss” and the gloomy emo-ter “Today.” Far more knowing than many of its nu-hip childen’s fare (including those by co-creator Rachelle Garniez’s Boston-based buddy, Dan Zanes), Kinder Angst (birthed by Friggs fronter Palmyra Delran) encourages listeners to look at the source of their issues, as in the revealing (and somewhat finger-pointing)  “A.D.D.” When the trouble reaches a peak, a young Sid Vicious gets a “Big Time Out.” In the end, however, the album leaves listeners with a friendly reminder to “Be Kind to Your Parents.” After all, it notes, you might be them someday (perish the thought!).  (Matthew Robinson)

 

THIS SCARLET MOURNING
Spinning

8 tracks

This is an orgy of effects-swollen guitars, oscillating, flanging, phasing, you name it, coupled with an almost telepathic mind-meld between the melodic string-popping mantras of the bass and the thunderous rhythms of the drums. On top of this carries the  vibrato-heavy female vocalist, Rachel Drucker, with her ominous lyrical meanderings. There’s a touch of metal to the guitars and a post-grunge approach with the anthemic walls of distorted guitar djenting coming in on the choruses, but there’s absolutely no mistaking their obvious shoegaze style—each track a nebulous sculpture of guitar sounds, trance-inducing rhythms, and goth-tinged vocals that is given some semblance of form from the unsubtle, explosive refrains. This band will tug at your psyche, that’s for sure. And then, when those choruses hit, they’ll blow your mind. (Will Barry)

 

OLD NEW ENGLAND WEATHER
Knew Myths

9 tracks

Never judge a CD by its piece-mealed cover or even its description—something I was reminded of with Old New England Weather’s submission. I understand that, at the time it was submitted, they were in the process of putting together the actual CD, so this package included all the pieces and, in their materials, an invented genre of their music (love that!) “vanilla prog” and “headphones folk.” I’m not a prog-rock lover so I wasn’t sure what to expect and unfortunately got stuck on the word “prog” before listening, but I dug it—much more than I expected to; and I personally think headphones folk was the closer of the two made-up genres. This CD has an old-time folksy vibe that seamlessly melts into modern folk. It’s a bit drifty at times… kind of like lazily floating out on a river raft, while other times it diverts a bit into psychedelia. Nice use of the whistling banjo saw, trumpet, and trombone. Old New England Weather feels more like old-time New Orleans and a West Coast hippy state had a summer storm, but hey New England weather is unpredictable, isn’t it?    (Debbie Catalano)

 

If you are a New England-based artist and would like the Noise to review your CD, send hard copies to T Max/ the Noise, PO Box 353, Gloucester, MA 01931, or send your links to tmax@thenoise-boston.com.

 

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