Things I Should Let You Know
I first heard Seth Glier as an opening act in Portland, ME, in 2009. I could tell then that he was a rising star. This CD is evidence of the ongoing depth and breadth of his musical talent.
Seth is one of those singer-songwriters who arrives on the scene far ahead of most of the competition. He has a feel for popular song, a gift for lyric writing, and a unique tenor voice with a big range, as well as being a first-rate musician.
The song “Things I Should Let You Know” is a plea for acceptance, rendered with a cinematic sense of sound texture. “Man I Used to Be” could easily be a big hit on Top 40 radio stations. But then there’s a song like “New World I See” which is very jazzy. This is what I mean about his breadth—there’s a Paul McCartney/Billy Joel sense of musicality and punchy lyrics: “She’s five-foot five, with big brown eyes, she don’t eat meat, but she can eat you alive.” The song screams with Dixieland horns and Seth screams right along and plays it up with an old fashioned crooner’s finish.
“Plastic Soldiers” is an anthem for the modern military recruit, sweet and somber. “Stars and Glitter” starts out with throat singing—(like in Mongolia and Tuva), and then becomes a protest song about the economy, with stomps and harmonium. “Down to the Wire,” “Good Man,” and “Too Hard to Hold the Moon,” have completely different moods but are all hit material.
I really love the cover art on the CD, too—a mug shot, a seedy hotel room torn to shreds, littered with feathers and empty booze bottles—like a compatriot of Bonnie and Clyde.
I think Seth’s music speaks to the masses. I can easily envision him in a gigantic stadium with thousands of people holding candles, swaying and singing along while he performs. In an interview I read about him, he was asked to give career advice to other young musicians. He said, “It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice.” I think he really feels that way, and the sincerity and dedication to his craft and fans comes across. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
“Sold Out” b/w “Terrorize”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
“Skate to Hell” b/w “Alcohol”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
Both these singles have been re-released as part of Get On Down and Taang! Records 30th anniversary box set—Taang! Records: The First 10 Singles. Each of the ten singles has been repressed on 7-inch 45 rpm vinyl. The box set also includes a 60-minute CD compiling each of the ten releases and a liner note booklet, penned by Taang! founder Curtis Casella, which describes the circumstances surrounding each single and, in true punk rock form, is riddled with endearing typos.
Taang!’s inaugural release in 1984 of Gang Green’s “Sold Out”/ “Terrorize” single captures the band at their sloppy, snotty best. The two tracks combined represent two minutes and 50 seconds of the best that early Boston punk/hardcore had to offer. “Sold Out” is a total kiss-off to the music industry that they would later become, at least peripherally, a part of. Its vaguely countrified refrain of, “All we want is money/ We’ll be on every station/ Give the fucking people what they want,” is likely to be lost on anyone under the age of 40. I’m pretty certain that we’re the only ones left to remember when radio in Boston had any meaning to the music scene whatsoever. “Terrorize” is is a 42- second blast of snot-core, moving at such ferocious speed the it’s over before you have time to catch up. What’s most amazing when listening to these old hardcore tracks are the crazy drumming skills of Mike Dean. I have listened to my fair share of hardcore drummers but have never heard someone keep time at the machine-gun tempos of this guy.
A year or so later, when Gang Green released “Skate To Hell”/ “Alcohol,” it might just be that they had drunk a little to much of their own punch (pun intended). “Skate To Hell” stretches out the hardcore formula with metal riffs and guitar solos. “Alcohol,” which served as the band’s unofficial theme song, is a hilarious ode to drink, which was much easier to appreciate at 15 than at 43. Unfortunately it also serves as a blueprint for the band’s undoing. Too much coke and beer usually doesn’t make a great band.
Listening to these tracks thirty-or-so years after their release, I find it unfathomable that this endearing band of knuckleheads won the Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble in 1996. I guess it goes to show that at certain times in Boston’s history the “popular” music establishment was able to have an open mind when it comes to crowning its most favored sons and daughters. [editors note: I was there—it was no contest after Gang Green dragged a synth center stage and totally demolished in with a green sledgehammer—this was visually entertaining and a statement about the current, at the time, affairs of music.] (George Dow)
When Lightning Strikes
When things go wrong, does life go on? Though a question we all ask ourselves at one point or another, it remains unanswered—or at least, unanswered in a satisfactory manner. Still, the topic remains fodder, and we cannot help but experience camaraderie with those brave enough to delve into its innerworkings. Enter Lynne Taylor, a professional musician since the age of fourteen, and an unfaltering force of the New England music scene, with a sensibility evoking the likes of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and Carole King. Fitting, as even her instrument of choice is the piano—made evident through the unabashed simplicity of the record’s opener, “Butterfly” and further expounded upon through “Pablo’s Glue” in all its Spanish flair (complete with Latin guitars for emphasis), and the jazz-tinged “No Words.” But don’t let such characterization fool you, as there are moments in which Taylor emerges in full-on Liz Phair rock chick glory, with witticisms to match. “Back by Suppertime” is an utterly stimulating dive into the country rock realm. Repeat-worthy, Taylor’s vocal tone is reminiscent of fellow New Englander Linda Viens (Bad Saints/ Angeline/ Kingdom of Love) throughout the duration of the track, and she even displays political brazenness throughout “Grand Empire.” Clearly, Taylor is a fearless singer-songwriter, one who is unafraid to get her hands dirty. When Lightning Strikes is, essentially, an exploration of diversity without ever straying from her roots. (Julia R. DeStefano)
Valentine to the Future
Tom Hauck’s latest is a mostly solid block of superbly accomplished songs which would sound even better with a more skillfully variegated vocal mix. I’d love to hear some cover versions of just about all of these songs, which offer up an amazing amalgamation of diverse garage styles. Opener “Shining Star” has a decided bite, as though ZZ Top were composing an acid garage punk anthem. “Ancient History” is a sneering sing-song punk anthem ala Joan Jett, with superadded wild guitar riffage. “Lonelyhearts” is a new wave anti-love song worthy of the Buzzcocks, what with its pulsing declamatory feel. “Plastic Heart” reminds me of an uncharacteristically uptempo Black Sabbath, while “I Got Up” is reminiscent of classic proto-punk such as “Talk Talk” by the Music Machine. “Poison Tea” reminds me of the Turbines with a decidedly nasty edge and enjoyably skewed lyrics. “Work Together” is a choppy declamatory punctuated by some appealing minimalist guitar licks. “Love Me Tender” is an entertaining Elvis riff whose chief charm is its brevity. “No Rest for the Weary” is another sing-songy new wave rave-up punctuated by a telegraphic guitar riff; “Racing the Sun” reminds me a bit of early XTC with the twee melodicism of Queen and another inimitable guitar line. If anything, the final track encapsulates the remarkable diversity of this admirable collection. A genuine keeper. One of the best collections of the year. (Francis DiMenno)
DWIGHT & NICOLE
All of the folk/ pop tracks on this release are very good with Dwight Ritcher on vocals/ guitars and Nicole Nelson on stunning vocals/ harmonies; and a stellar band including local celebs Marty Ballou on bass and Marty Richards on drums, and brothers Scott and John Arruda on trumpet and sax, making the music. The cuts are either written by Dwight or Nicole separately, or are co-written, and the final tune on the CD is the lone cover of folkie Leonard Cohen’s hit “Hallelujah.” Nicole originally sang this and blew away the judges on the TV show The Voice in September 2012. Regardless of the musicians, this is really a vocal CD with Dwight’s nice and smoky voice opening up many of the compositions including “I Need Love”—one of my favorites, “Tomorrow’s Not Today,” “Shine,” and “Plead” with Nelson coming in on harmonies and verses later on. The songs where the vocals are reversed somewhat and Nicole starts out and carries the melody, like “Saturday” and “Hallelujah” are the most memorable. I really like the ska flavored “Smile” with her passionate voice and nice harmonies; which are an identifying characteristic of the duo. This is evident on all of the tracks. Nicole was just voted Female Vocalist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards; “Shine On” is a great showcase for her. This music is sorta Etta James, kinda John Lee Hooker, a bit of The Stones, and in a way like Mavis Staple, but it is unquestionably ALL Dwight & Nicole. I like this a lot. Check it out. (A.J. Wachtel)
Setting the pace for this portfolio of Mr. A’s instrumental rock stylings, album opener “Ghost” has an Eagles guitar sound and is a nicely percolating boogie with a trace of blues. “A Mask You Wear” has a keening guitar reminiscent of “Layla.” “C’mon C’mon” is a peppy, poppy number. “From a Dark Place” is an instrumental ballad; “Out of Nowhere” is an engaging, anthemic number; “The Arizona Man” is ominous and bluesy; “It Must Have Been You” is another poppy romp. Overall, this is a showboating guitar showcase with competent drumming and subdued yet subtly refined bass. Best of show is the dreamy take on the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” and the relentlessly throbbing “Gone… (Like a Sunset)” with variegated percussive effects and classic riffing. This is surprisingly infectious guitar craft showcasing a true rhythmic and melodic bent from this long-time Boston favorite son. (Francis DiMenno)
Bubbles in the Think Tank
Seven Inches & Other Delights
For the past three years, Belinda Rawlin’s radio show Bubbles in the Think Tank has celebrated Record Store Day by releasing an EP compilation, on vinyl, of original songs about records.
The 2014 installment is Seven Inches & Other Delights. The disc opens with Travis, Shook & the New Club Wow. (That’s Chandler Travis and friends). Their tune is “Records & Bubbles,” in which they pay tribute to Belinda, the producer of this disc and host of the late night weekly show, Bubbles in the Think Tank, heard on WMFO Saturday evenings.
Chris Ligon is up next. He creates audio art with a montage of skipping records. He calls it “All My Records Skip.” At times it almost sounds like free jazz. Very trippy.
Side one finishes with a sudden punk tune by Darling Pet Munkees. Their song, “Mighty Tiny Record Player,” makes me want to play records all day. But wait—from punk, they switch to circus-like music, then banjo, and lounge jazz—all in the same song!
The B-side opens with Jake & Ry doing “Standin’ in the House of Oldies,” which contain the line, “No CDs or mp3’s.” It’s a nostalgic look back at all the old music on records, yet they do a contemporary one on a record.
Ed “Moose” Savage’s spoken word piece, “I Got Records!,” is a poetic rant about vinyl, and has some pretty funny lines.
Richard X. Hayman closes this charming little EP with “Talkin’ Kickstarter Campaign Blues.” It’s done in the old-style talking folk-blues, but is about contemporary ways of raising funds. It has a bizarre break in the middle. Hilarious.
The sleeve of the seven-inch is a rip-off of the Herb Albert’s Tijuana Brass classic mid-’60s record, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. And the vinyl itself is pure white. Gorgeous. (Chuck U. Rosina)
All the best elements of grassroots, folk, Americana, country, acoustic meld beautifully in the music that Sado-Domestics creates. Of the 15 tracks, some lean more to one genre than another but the lovely common denominator lies within the harmonization of the strings—fiddle stings, banjo strumming, upright bass, guitar, mandolin, etc.—it’s like a roots symphony—Oh, except for the surprise punk tracks at the end! Not to ignore the other wonderful musical accompaniments that appear throughout as for their respective tunes they add the perfect flavor—accordion, drums/ doumbek, Hammond organ, etc. I don’t mean to tick off a list here but I’m trying to get across how well Sado-Domestics produce and perform their music, how just perfectly they arrange each tune. I feel a genuineness emanating from the songs and a uniqueness among the comfort and familiarity of these genres. I must mention that Sado-Domestics are led by the singer-songwriter duo Lucy Martinez and Chris Gleason—with the songs either sung lead by one or the other or are presented as a vocal duo. It’s a top-notch effort along with the supporting musicians. They are a South Shore-based band that sounds like a seasoned nationally touring band. I’m impressed and glad that this CD landed in my hands! I particularly love “Dragonfly,” “River,” “Waiting,” and “Tainted Windows.” (Debbie Catalano)
THE SPLENDID NOBODIES
Shortcut to Now
What’s not to like? There’s splendid (I had to say it) country-inflected rock with lots of noodling, lyric inventiveness and good time vocals (“More of Everything”). There’s “What Is,” a basic boogie-woogie of classic dimensions. There’s “Amen,” a nice finger-pickin’ old-timey shout with a clever gospel twist. “Diamond” could almost pass as a Randy Newman song. The pace is varied by the stray mid-tempo tune, notably “Branches,” and by ballads such as “Shovel,” but I favor the barn-burning numbers. There’s all kinds of good stuff on here, and you’d have to be terminally depressed not to respond to at least one of these roistering toe-tappers. Solid. (Francis DiMenno)
ARI AND MIA
Land on Shore
Ari and Mia make exceptional music on Land on Shore. The first cut, “Turn Me Round,” is softly sung and strung wonderfully upon a delicate acoustic web. In fact, all the tunes are poetic and artistically executed. The sunset colors on the album art seem to reflect the colors of the third and fourth chakras—confidence and creativity—which are in turn reflected by a line in the song “Marble Moon”: “I can only hope it’s true, golden blooms ’neath marble woman moon.” “Away” is packed with inner and external journeying: “And as night became dawn and I woke up alongside myself in a far away home.”
The instrumental composition, “Turtle,” shows off their playing chops. The title song, “Land on Shore,” is an old Shaker tune with a familiar and beautiful melody. “Glad You Came By” has lovely harmonies and was written by their dad, Lev Friedman.
“All I Know” is a sweet little tune that carves up the air with the fiddle, just like the small canoe carves away at the blue in the lyric. What a clever song it is! And another clever one right after: “Beautiful Victories,” which is based on a poem and music written in the 1620s. The guitar, cello, and fiddle go jazzy and plucky and joyous. “Starry Crown” is a ripping, foot-stomping, hoedown-Hazel Dickens kind of song (a probable side two to her “Fire in the Hole!”). “Hymn” starts out a little like Tom Waits’ lovely tune, “Fawn.” Then comes an undercurrent from the harmonium, and a sad, prescient message about the state of the world, sung in somber harmonies. “The Dirty Bog” is another instrumental tune, written by Mia, but sounds like something old. This is a luminous album, excellent in every way. When they play in Maine, I’ll be there. I can tell from this CD that they would be great to see live in concert. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
James Dower’s music is mostly a mix of soft rock/pop. His talents would shine much more brightly if he were to step out from beneath the cloak of his influences and allow his own style to flow through his considerable skills. The striking likenesses to Elton John and at times, Billy Joel, in much of this CD were distracting. “Stride,” is a fun dance/house music tune with lots of psychedelia-laced guitar and keyboard work. This is an awesome and highly bass dominant piece!
In stark contrast is “The Artist,” a melodic and melancholy tribute to the woman for whom it is named. It’s impossible to hear past the early Elton John sound on this. “Taking It On The Road,” is a cosmically synthesized trip—a bass-driven instrumental with a bit of modern jazz thrown in, making it good to chill to. I like it. “Worry” is a sunny, reassuring song, chock full of encouragement, an upbeat and optimistic song with some happily piano work. All in all, what works best on this CD is when James Dower is simply being himself, playing in his own style. I’d really like to hear more of that. (R.J. Ouellette)
Included in the written credits is a quote from my November 2013 review in this publication of my four-song pre-view of their finally completed project, so only six of the 10 songs on this new release I am hearing for the first time. This trio includes Matt Gilbert, Reno Daly (both from Harlequin), and drummer Bubba McBride. Their sound is rooted in hard rock with loud guitars, passionate vocals, and a rock solid rhythm section. All of the tunes are written by growling guitarist Gilbert with occasional help from bassist Daly. The one song written collectively, “Funk Train Comin’,” is an instrumental that showcases the band’s identity: slick and frenzied guitar with the hard pounding bass and drums ably keeping up. There are two distinct types of music here: fast and ominous, and slower and ominous. The opener, “Boogie Woogie Ghoulies,” is the cut that their fans will be screaming for in concert—it’s got a great beat with an odd repeated chant of the song title. Can you see a crowd of drunk fans screaming, “Boogie Woogie GHOULIES” at closing time while the band plays it for an encore? The faster paced ominous tunes that I dig are “By the Light of the Moon” and “Jellyfish Sea.” Slower paced ominous tunes I dig: “Goodbye Mr. Butch,” “No Fly Zone,” “Cold Grey Morning,” and “Tremelo Road.” And their Mott the Hoople cover of “Sucker” is right up their alley: heavy pop with an attitude. Check it out. (A.J. Wachtel)
“Glad I Don’t Know”/ “I’d Like To”/ “I Am A Rabbit”/ “So I Fucked Up”
4 tracks on 7” vinyl
This single has been re-released as part of Get On Down and Taang! Records 30th anniversary box set—Taang! Records: The First 10 Singles.
There has always been a special spot in my heart for The Lemonheads’ early work. Their effortless mix of pop-punk and nearly-hardcore-punk amazed me from the first time I ever heard it. It was a combination of styles crashing in to one another that I had never experienced before—not to mention that their inane ditties about pining obsession, sexual frustration, and general hatred of anything and everything resonated with my ninth-grade brain and hormones.
Their first Taang! single runs the gamut. “Glad I Don’t Know” shows The Lemonheads’ pop leanings which they would explore more directly in their later releases. “I like to pick things up and drop ’em down again,” perfectly illustrates the silly frustrated 52 seconds of “I’d Like To.” “I Am A Rabbit” is easily the best song ever to use a carrot and bed of lettuce to represent frenetic teenaged sex. Lastly, “So I Fucked Up” reminded me of every high school kid’s arguments with their parents. “I did the best I could do… I fucked up/ What do you want? I said I was sorry/ I can always say it again.” Sounds exactly like a conversation I had with my son just this morning. (George Dow)
The classification of a “string rock quintet hailing from Northhampton, Massachusetts” is bound to get some quizzical stares—especially from those who prefer their music to fit neatly into categorized genre boxes. Just what IS “string rock,” exactly, besides the inclusion of a mandolin, cello, and violin among the guitars and drums? Many have gone so far as to draw comparisons to Chicago, IL, singer-songwriter Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire—so inventive is Darlingside’s musical concept that, much like Bird, it even shines through in the band’s name. But the reality is—sometimes, in order to enjoy something, one needs to let go of their desire to fully comprehend the “how, what, why, when”—and simply, let it be. It is then that Pilot Machines, the band’s debut, becomes a breakthrough—creatively speaking—even if the harmonies on the album’s opener, “Still” do evoke Snow Patrol. To say that this record is “uplifting” is an understatement—think sweeping stadium rock. Not since Boston, MA-based This Blue Heaven or The Lights Out has a band sounded so energetic and cheerful as a unit. Darlingside seem “worry-free,” seemingly overjoyed and grateful for the privilege to make music together—emotion that echoes through each track, even amid the varying subject matter. However upbeat (“My Love” and “The Ancestor”) or slow the tempo (“Sweet and Low”), Darlingside’s infectious energy remains prominent. As the opener’s lyrics state: “Your satisfaction is our first concern”—fitting when one considers the time and effort put into the careful creation of Pilot Machines.
(Julia R. DeStefano)
“Chunks” b/w “So Ends Our Night”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
4 tracks on 7” vinyl
SLAPSHOT Taang! Records
“Same Mistake” b/w “Might Makes Right”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
The Last Rights, Negative FX, and Slapshot singles have been re-released as part of Get On Down and Taang! Records 30th anniversary box set —Taang! Records: The First 10 Singles.
Jack “Choke” Kelly is the godfather of Boston hardcore. Taang! Records’ Record Store Day release of The First 10 Singles brings the point home, featuring nine tracks from three Choke-fronted bands—Last Rights, Negative FX, and Slapshot. While each single documents the evolution of Choke, they also serve as testament to the evolution of Boston hardcore over the course of the ’80s and ’90s.
Last Rights’ “Chunks”/ “So Ends Our Night” single, released in 1984, rips by in a flash. Choke’s trademarked barks punctuated by gang-choruses which would become a hallmark of hardcore in years to come. 30 years ago, and he was already wearing his straight-edge badge on his shoulder.
Minor Threat might have hoisted the straight-edge flag a few years earlier in 1983 with their Out of Step EP on Discord, but Taang! brought us Negative FX’s V.F.W. 7-inch in 1985 which put Boston’s stamp on the philosophy. Minor Threat’s “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck/ Out of step/ With the world” mantra always felt somewhat apathetic—mostly a resigned sigh. Choke, on the other hand, shouted his message on the head of a sledgehammer. “Mind Control” was a call to arms, “No! You! Can’t! Tell me what to do!” The implied threat being, “…and if you don’t do what I say, I’ll kick the snot out of you,” which any mid-’80s hardcore kid can tell you was not an uncommon occurrence.
With two legendary, if short-lived outfits behind him, Choke convened with other legendary Boston hardcore players to form Slapshot. The “Same Mistake” 7-inch came in 1988 between their seminal debut, Back on the Map and their sophomore follow-up, Step on It. The two-track single gives a nod to the past while looking squarely to the future. “Same Mistake,” while certainly a hardcore track at heart, features dripping feedback and haunted, almost spoken in tongues, backing vocals. A hint a some of the metallic turns the band would take in years to come. Conversely, the B-side, “Might Makes Right,” was a Negative FX leftover. It’s straight-forward, straight-edge hardcore about beating the shit out of anyone who disagrees.
Everything about these three singles reminds me why I was always equal parts in love with and scared to death of Slapshot. As a fifteen year old in 1986, at some of his first all-ages shows, I was always pretty certain that I would come away dead if not from Choke beating me to death with his sawed-off hockey stick, then from the mosh pit enforcers that followed the band. But the fact of the matter was, they were simply so talented, and a Slapshot show was such a tribal experience that I was compelled over and over again to take my life in my hands to watch them. (George Dow)
Touch the Sky Music
Don’t Forget About Me
The title track of this 2011 collection is a pleasantly anodyne mid-tempo folk-inflected number with electric guitar. “Goin’ Home Now” has some nice finger picking and a decided country-rock feel ala Pure Prairie League. The vocalist has a not unpleasant voice with a bit of a nasal honk, like a deracinated Bob Dylan, and the bulk of these songs are perfectly pleasant ballads, philosophical ruminations, et al. Standouts include the reverential love song “In an Instant,” the mysterioso “Colors,” and the lackadaisical shuffle “Say You Will.” (Francis DiMenno)
Faith ●Lost ● Love
I’m feeling a garage rock vibe to this self-labeled roots-based/ country-alt music. The underlying core of the sound is Americana/country but the rough-around-the-edges vocals and the guitar—even when it’s twang—has that driving rock urgency. On a second listen, I appreciated its nuances more—the classic cool keyboards that gives “Sandusky, Ohio (Sweet Vanessa)” and “American Dream” their jaunty feel; the melody and solidness of “Rose Colored Glasses” (one of my favorites); and the great drumming in “Angel Fire.” But the last track, “Better Days,” is the standout in this EP—I sense the soul of the band and this sincerity that pours through the lyrics and music create a visual image of some sort. I could see a rolling landscape, photos, a story in a film with “Better Days” punctuating the images. Someone put this song on screen! (Debbie Catalano)
Come With Me
This album is a collection of folk-rock-country tunes, about lovers parking at the lake, a woman longing for love and settling for a dance, broken hearts, marital infidelity, flirtations, and romance.
There’s a wistful playfulness in the song, “Play My Guitar.” “There’s floors to wash, laundry to fold/ food in the fridge that’s pretty damn old/ bills to pay, and a lawn to mow/ but I think I’ll just play my guitar.” The distortion guitar in “You’re Wrong” shows Kirsten’s edgier side. The title track, “Come With Me,” has a nice howling harmonica and fun message of hitting the road and following one’s dreams. “Come with me baby, it’s our time, it’s our time/ You know those old dreams you put up on that shelf/ Well now’s your chance to come and take them down/ Wind’s at our back so let’s give them a chase. Let’s reach for it all, not a moment to waste.”
The stories in these songs are accessible, referencing things everyone understands—shopping, watching television and just being alive. Kirsten’s kind heart shines through her pretty voice, along with a fine harmonious effort from all the other musicians on the CD. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)
Alexi’s music has the ability to connect directly with the listener, whether it’s through shared emotions, experiences, or hope. In fact, the latter is one of the themes of the album—the desire to find that something, and never lose faith that it’s out there. With an upbeat pop foundation layered with smooth jazz tones and some gospel vibe, this music is meant for raising a person’s spirit. When I first heard it, the title track shocked me at first—it spoke directly to feelings I was having at the time. That doesn’t happens often, but when it does, I take note.
Alexi has woven a beautiful tapestry of music and vocal skills. The KuumUnity Collaborations Choir is on a few of the tracks and their group chemistry shines through. It’s an amazing combination, and it shows that Alexi found a group that could feel what he feels and could help convey the message behind his lyrics. Willie Jones (keys), Parker McAllister (bass), Charles Burchell (drums), and Stephen Allsop, Gabriella Sharpe, and Courtney Walker (background vocals) each bring something different to the table, and ultimately, it’s a necessary contribution to the whole. (Max Bowen)
Manic Panic Records
Ms. Johnson has a pleasing, waif-like and sometimes pouting voice, and although I don’t get a large charge out of most of her acoustic numbers, tracks like “Supermoon” and “Promises, Promises” have the potential to amount to something grand. But the spartan studio recording techniques diminish the impact which these songs might otherwise have had, with the exception of the heartfelt “Oh (Don’t) Go.” This is essentially a set of very promising demo recordings, and Ms. Johnson sometimes displays a strikingly advanced rhythmic sense, as on “Do Any Good.” (Francis DiMenno)
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