Children In The Park EP
I met Mosey Greams when he was using the name Guy Zaccardi. Mosey daily spills more creativity out his back pocket than most musical artists can squeeze from their muse in a year and it’s apparent immediately on this EP. “Ravens Wood” rides on top of a flamenco type percussion played on a the body of a guitar and bass drum. The vocal melody moves to places I have yet to be taken—it’s very direct and repeats with piano accents that break into trails of notes when the chorus hits. There’s wisdom in the lyrics—offering advice to slow down. “The Cage and the Animal” stuffs a bunch of words into one line, the way only Freddie Mercury could do. “Children in the Park (interlude)” is a lone piano waltz with heavy hall-size reverb drenching the dream in the middle of a foreign art film. We awaken, flamenco sunlight hits our eyes, and we’re back in Mosey’s memory (“Break Bones Eight”). Brian Eno would like this track if only for the percussion that enters in the second verse. Whistling, Mosey’s preferred solo instrument, takes us out of this one. Glistening piano starts the last track, “Brazilian Waters,” with a bouncing acoustic guitar and vocal melody that slips into triplets without taking you under, aways skipping like a flat rock on water; he has us floating on water. It’s the tip of Mosey’s melting tropical iceberg. In time we’ll all be swimming in his ocean. (T Max)
Deep Eddy Records
The Legend of Daphne Blue and The Westernmental Sound
This is a very good and very different release. The music is Tex-Mex/Americana complete with studio effects and twangy guitar; and the 13 cuts are all instrumental. It’s a retrospective of the band’s best from 1990-2013. The sound is cleanly produced and recorded by Drew Townson, who also plays lead and jangly guitar. Adam Cat is on bass, Al Harper plays lead and rhythm guitar, and Paul Gallo pounds the skins. They sound like they grew up in Austin, which really powers the music. This stuff is authentic. Because there are no words to help identify each composition, I have separated the songs into two soundtrack categories: slower, more intimate and getaway scene. A cover of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is one of the two live recordings on this CD and is a good example of the former, as is a very different version of Glen Campbell’s poppy “Wichita Lineman.” Both showcase Townson’s great use of the whammy bar. I really dig the more uptempo getaway cuts “’69 Firebird,” “Magdalena, NM,” “Monkey Island,” “Santa Monica,” and the other live (on WMFO) recording, “El Chupacabra.” Daphne Blue is the name of Townson’s 1961 Stratocaster, which provides the great guitar tone. Very different. Very good. The latest from the Master of Twang. Check it out. (A.J. Wachtel)
Dream of Fire
Indie rock/Americana greats The Rationales come out swinging with their new EP, a five-track assortment of everything that has made this band such a mainstay in the local music scene. The album is a lush, vibrant, and multifaceted collection of music that explodes with an energy that excites the ears and stirs the soul.
“Let It Go” shows the full range of the band’s spectrum of styles, opening with a soft, mellow tune and ending in full guitar-ripping, drum slamming, vocal onslaught of musical goodness. “Drunk All The Time” is a great opener with an old-school rock sound that provides a proper introduction to what this band is capable of.
Dave Mirabella (vocals, guitar) has a truly versatile voice, well-suited to being paired with an intense rock jam, but also able to slow things down when the songs take a more measured tone, which talented fellow band members Mike Mirabella (drums, vocals), Sean Black (bass, vocals), Chad Raleigh (guitar) and Dave Lieb (keys, vocals) help shape. There’s no final form to this creation, however—like the musicians who make it, this album isn’t contained within one genre or style, and offers something different to each listener. (Max Bowen)
Hot Cars Warp Records
Chris Corsano, the demon drummer of Western Mass., strikes again! Whether he is playing in arenas as Bjork’s drummer or improvising solo percussion in a crummy art gallery in New Bedford, Corsano consistently shows why he is perhaps the best and most creative drummer alive. He tackles several different styles with this release. Some songs sound like Balinese gamelan gong music. Some tracks are essentially drum solos. There are impossible jazz patterns sprinkled in with noisy sections, marches, and swings. I’d like to play this album for all my drummer friends, but I’m afraid that some will smash their drums or jump off a cliff. This record is the bridge between Buddy Rich and Yoko Ono. While that may make for a difficult passage for some, the adventurous ones who make it to the other side will have their lives enriched for the experience. Forget everything you know about percussion. This is how to play drums. (Eric Baylies)
Garden of Rainbows
Generally, I find that a lot of albums that get past the 10-12 song mark tend to suffer for their length. Either things get too repetitive, or flaws begin to bubble to the surface. This record is an exception to that. Lowman has a lot of ideas and the majority of them prove to be worth exploring. I found myself more and more interested the further in I got on each listen. That’s rare. The music itself is quite polished, but only occasionally veers too close to easy listening. At its highest points, the music would fit in nicely with Elvis Costello’s mellower output and not just because Greg Loughman’s vocals are very reminiscent of Costello. The transition from the horns and noise of “Balloon Boy” to the strings of “Devil You Know” is one of my favorite moments on a record so far this year. At times, I’d like to see these guys unwind a bit more, but I’m curious to see where they go next. (Kevin Finn)
Oddlot/Pure & Easy Records
In Perspective: Big Hits and Rare Finds 1979-1994
This is a pleasant collection showcasing front man Gary Shane’s various combos, including Shane Champagne, The Detour, The Maldens and The Free Radicals. “Gonna Storm” from 1985, sounding a bit like a cross between Style Council and Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” is a picture-perfect bit of pop confectionary from that era. 1982’s Detour track, “Johnny’s Coaltrain” is a relentlessly nagging riff which is irremediably catchy; the ambitious “Man & Machine” sounds a bit like the anxious, jittery songs of early XTC; 1979’s “Shadow World” is a Shane Champagne classic with a reggae feel, and the catchy “Night Job,” by Gary Shane & the Maldens, has an early Springsteen vibe. This compilation is an important if not particularly notorious bit of mainstream Boston pop history. (Francis DiMenno)
I’m going to take a different tack for this review and present a sampling of things my classically-trained wife said while I listened to this piano and cello duo. “Please tell me this is something you are reviewing and not something you actually paid for.” “Do they not know how to tune their instruments?” “They sound like a bunch of junior high kids who thought it would be cool to try to play classical music without ever having heard or read classical music.” “I’m going into the basement. This is so terrible it’s distracting me from being able to do anything else. I’ll just wait in the basement until it’s over.” I don’t think I could express my disenchantment any better than that. This album is a mess. (Kevin Finn)
Have It All
Kyle Davis plays the kind of blue-eyed soul/R&B that makes adolescent girls scream and forty-something moms swoon. This is music ready-made for The Voice/American Idol set. In fact, Davis was axed by the American Idoljudges during an unaired celebrity audition in 2012.
Kitschy American Idol-style music aside, Davis has a fantastic voice—sometimes taking on the timbre of Michael Jackson, other times latching instead to the neo-folk, alterna-pop of James Blunt.
The tracks on Have It All have hooks aplenty but the album suffers from thin production. For the first time in my life I think that I understand the value of hiring a multimillion dollar production team. With The Neptunes or Farrell behind the boards, Kyle Davis might be on his way to next-big-thing-dom. Without it though, the songs simply lack the pop, or gloss, or whatever magic pixie dust they sprinkle to make a Top 40 hit.
Track four, “No,” demonstrates the best of Davis’s hit-making skills, while “Retreat” has a nice proto-Caribbean flair. “Hey World” is so good it could almost be mistaken for Bruno Mars’s “Count On Me.” The biggest misstep on the album is “What’s Not to Love,” which features Davis performing a ridiculous rap that makes the Fresh Prince sound like Jay-Z. (George Dow)
MC HOLY GHOST
They Call Me HG
Holy Ghost brings me back to the days of raw hip hop. This album has thuggish ruggish swag I’m diggin’: a healthy dose of bangin’ beats complimented by rugged lyrics. It harkens back to Pharaoh Monch with his grit, yet has elements as if ODB were part of the gravediggaz bonus! I really vibe with the tracks especially the beats in “Psycho,” and the flav on track four, “Hypocrites,” featuring Jahydia is fun. Track seven, “My God,” has a ’90s New York wild out vibe. It’s a stoopin’ in the city or rolling in the whip down the block kinda record. I do feel it has moments of being a hair repetitive, but I like it’s vibe, and deserves a listen for sure. (Lara Jardullo)
FRANK STEWART (PACO)
Paco’s Oldies Songs of the 50’s, ‘60’s & 70’s
Frank Stewart pulls no punches. He’s all about bringing you back in time to the hits of yesterday. The opening track sounds like a late night informercial, selling you a CD set of oldies. And that’s exactly what is delivered here. Frank sometimes sings with the original backing tracks—yes, in a karaoke style. Other times he recreates the tracks from scratch. His enthusiasm is easily felt and adored by his fan base. I’ve seen him do this live with a simple boom box and the results are amazing. He’s not covering deep album tracks—these are the iconic oldies—”Earth Angel,” “In the Still of the Night,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Calendar Girl,” “Run Around Sue,” “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” “I Believe,” “My Way,” “YMCA”—the list never ends. And he’s getting great results—the CD landed at number one on the Global Radio Rock charts after its first month of being released. (T Max)
TONY SARNO &
Presents Live at Laconia NH MS Benefit
The sound quality of this live recording ranges from poor to indifferent, but it is an interesting documentary all the same. Notable tracks on this 2012 compilation include Don Beane & No Name Band’s stark rendition of “Working Class Hero.” Gary Shane & the Detour follow up with a ferocious version of the strongly percussive sprawling blues-pyche jam “Deviated Rock,” which is the highlight, followed by Tony Sarno’s soulful “Redman.” Mark Aleo contributes a folksy acoustic version of “Blind Marie”; Gary Shane & the Detour reprise “Shadow World,” with its moody reggae feel; finally, Mark Aleo delivers a touchingly spare version of Morphine’s “Cure for Pain.” (Francis DiMenno)
Chris Guaraldi has anchored punk band Chris Evil & the Taints and more rootsy group the Blood Moons for over a decade. His new outfit, Sick Pills, is a bit more straight ahead rock, with garage and punk elements still there. This album is in-your-face rock music, but there are catchy parts that subtly recall The Cars or Modern Lovers. Chris Evil is turning over a new leaf and uncovering some dark subject matter in songs like “Wormfood” and “Dead Teenager.” I think I can best describe this CD by quoting my friends The Tall many years ago, “This is rock ’n’ roll.” (Eric Baylies)
Let’s Start a Cult–Part 2
Rustic Overtones make mildly funky coffeehouse rock that is spurred on by a sense of nonthreatening pep and vigor. The songs are played competently and with an intelligent melodic sense, but they are mostly devoid of any defining characteristic that would let you recall anything about the album five minutes after you stopped playing it. There are two exceptions to this, one good, one bad. “High on Everything” has an appropriately trippy sound. That is the good exception. The bad one is “You Should Be Worshipped,” which has a creepy/sexual/religious mixed vibe punctuated by a refrain of “You shouldn’t be loved / you should be worshipped” that won’t leave my head no matter what I try to put in there to replace it. I even tried stabbing my brain with a Q-Tip, Homer Simpson-style. That song makes me long for the band’s blander material. (Kevin Finn)
HAVE A NICE LIFE
Enemies List Home Recordings
The Unnatural World
Have A Nice Life stakes out an odd piece of musical real estate which sits at the intersections of goth, industrial, drone, and metal. It is dark out here in the borderlands and Have A Nice Life has no interest in bringing a little light to the table. Gauzy feedback envelops every track. It’s as though you are listening to this record through a heavy, black-velvet drape. Chanted, double vocals bring to mind an army of monks frantically speaking in tongues at the end of the world. The lyrics themselves are obliterated by layer upon layer of distortion and feedback.
The Unnatural World carries mood more than melody and mood is a downer—a curl-in-a-ball-and-pray-for-the-pain-to-stop kind of downer. The sheer weight of each track musically illustrates the numbing effect that sets in after living in sheer terror indefinitely. But if you are in the mood for music to water-board your enemies by, this is the record for you. (George Dow)
JOE-LOU Squarepop Records
The Bluffington Big Band
The Bluffington Big Band is a solo release by Providence saxophone player, sampler, and singer Joe-Lou. This album has something for everyone. Do you want to get down? To rock? Do you want noise, melody, harmony? What else do you want in an album? It’s probably here if you listen hard enough. The song “Burial At Sea” is like a sea chantey as performed by The Residents, but weirder. Other songs chug down the tracks like Trans Am or Men’s Recovery Project. This album is more fantastic than Super Elastic Bubble Plastic! (Eric Baylies)
featuring vocals by CONCETTA
There’s No Place Like Home (Boston Is The Place For Me)
This release contains just one anthem-like song written by Mark Starling, but with four tracks featuring four different versions. Track one is the outro only: which translates to Concetta and the male background group vocals singing “Boston is the place for me” repeatedly over the poppy, high-energy loud guitar focused melody. Track two is just the instrumental re-mix. Track three is the instrumental only with no horns rendition and the last track is the full version. Concetta has a somewhat high-pitched powerful and strong sweet voice that is perfect for this arena-rock tune. I like it. It’s great for cruising down the highway at midnight; with this cut playing loud and pumping your fist in the air. (A.J. Wachtel)
New Roots Records
The Disaster Song Project
Judged as a pure product of Americana in general, and folk music in particular, does this project manage to grasp from the air a living tradition and allow us to view plain what Greil Marcus has called “the old, weird America”? It does indeed; to that extent it is an unqualified success, if only as a feat of ventriloquism. But The Disaster Song Project falls short when compared to superior multi-artist compilations such as the admittedly exemplaryAnthology of American Folk Music; it comes across as something of a vanity project, and a somewhat didactic one at that. Rather than transforming the older, traditional Tin Pan Alley-style material, the artist all too often merely assumes an archaic mask from behind which he parades his modern knowingness; the style gives an inescapable impression of a type of archaic drag. On the artist’s own compositions, on the contrary, very often too much of his own performer’s voice shines through—rather than universal, the overall effect is (not so profoundly) parochial. The version of Leadbelly’s “Titanic,” for instance, trivializes and corrupts the source material behind a facade of postmodern spoofery. (Compare it to “When that Great Ship Went Down” on Harry Smith’s Anthology and you’ll see what I mean.) A couple of the original compositions are quite successful: the introspective “Louis Taylor” approaches a certain level of grandeur; “The Blizzard of ’78” is a lighthearted romp. Overall, this project, to which many talented people contributed, is a worthy one; however, I can’t help thinking that in the hands of a more practiced artist, this suite of songs might have amounted to a good deal more than the sum of its parts. (Francis DiMenno)