CD Reviews

ButterscottWEB

BUTTERSCOTT                 

Ka-Bling!!

Presents the Slick Overproduced Commercial Pop Thing™    

36 tracks

Here follows a Skeleton Key to the Finnegan’s Wake of Rock Albums. Well, not exactly. More like Bizarro Superman comics. But anyway, note the interpolated commercials, just like that ’60s classicThe Who Sell Out (and don’t think for a minute they have never heard that album). Butterscott, in case you don’t know because you’ve been living in a cave on Mars (or even if you haven’t), specializes in the delicious literary device known as travesty:  a “burlesque of a serious work or subject, characterized by grotesque or ludicrous incongruity of style, treatment, or subject matter.” The cover copy promises that two-thirds of the album is not re-treads of earlier songs, and I suppose that’s true. I will admit that it’s nice to see an Elvis-oid version of “Mindless Boogie,” the band’s passive-aggressive tribute to (among other things) the fabled star-making machinery. “Kissing the Velvet Glove” is a classic late-’60s psychedelic rock farrago with the equally classic low-affect sardonic Butterscott vocal touches. “Legoagogo” is a “Fame”-like disco song which bravely tackles the ubiquity of Legos. While pretending to celebrate them. Sadly, no commercial potential here. Sorry boys – we can’t USE you. Better go back to driving a truck. “Wheelchair Woman” is a proto-metal song which addresses the menace of the overbearing cripple. Edgy stuff, man. Ginger Baker would hate it. “Rekkid Grouch” concerns Your Typical Record Store of yore and takes us into fake-Monkees territory. “Pajama Mama” takes on, with electo-funk, the sociological phenomenon of daytime pajama wear. “Solitude for Two” is a Motown send-up with goofy doo-wop elements and a kicking bass line which makes it, like, an even more authentic fake. “Groggy Froggy” is a “Louie Louie”/“Banana Splits Theme” send-up which is actually quite catchy. “Hot Buttered Toast” is a nod to quaint Kinks numbers such as “Have a Cuppa Tea.” Pop music a la The Association gets eviscerated in “Moist” – also see “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by The Shondells. “Slim Kim” pays obvious tribute to sports anthems like Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll” – and to Kim Fowley, the LA songwriter, producer and impresario. “Bartleby” is another re-run, reminiscent of kludgy rock a la The Move, which devolves into a psychedelic freakout. “Thank You Captain Obvious” is a lyrically deft send-up of faux-marching bands. “How’s Yer Hair” – another re-run – is an introspective number in the style of Bread, with superadded Beatlesque pomp in the coda. “Kalliope Krouch” is a twisted children’s song – with an important message about drugs! “Wannitbad” is a country rock parody with dirty lyrics. (Sorry Boys, etc.) “Infinity Forever” caps the proceedings with a grandiose pronunciato—a bit like Todd Rundgren, maybe. Plus, there’s a bonus track, “Hey Ho and a Bottle of Brew.” There’s lots of nifty songs here.  You look at their obsessions and realize that they’re also yours and you wonder what you’ve done with your life. And then you laugh. Because they’re funny, and bitter, and so are you now maybe, just a little bit.         (Francis DiMenno)

CHARLIE KOCH

Help Me to Believe                  

10 tracks

Charlie Koch is an unpretentious performer; the opener “Don’t Go Away” has a nice James Taylor feel to it with simple piano accompaniment by Kent Allyn. When Charlie’s voice jumps high on the end of the chorus “I don’t want to be alone… alone,” you can hear his vulnerability.  “If You Stop Lovin’ Me” is a sweet plea for a heads up if love ceases to exist. And love is all over this disc – nice, calm caring affection from a sensitive man. The more I listen to this album, the more I feel the tenderness in each track.  Seth Connelly’s beautiful lap steel with a little distortion, echo, and tremolo slides through “Shine a Light” adding just what the song calls for.  Cosy Sheridan sings a duet with Charlie on “If I Were a Bird” and I can sense the origin of the love. The tracks are short; only one “Old Brown Shoe,” extends five seconds over three minutes, where Hatrack Gallagher provides harmonica that adds a Sunday country porch atmosphere—even when the showy diminished chords climb. The one (out of place?) break-up song was penned by Charlie and Julie Snow and the sadness in it adds contrast to the theme in the rest of tracks. Then, like a wife in shining armor, Cosy Sheridan returns as if she’s been away too long, to join Charlie in the final song and pulls the devotion back into this collection of love songs. I’m feeling all warm and taken care of after listening to this. Thank you, Charlie, for the experience.                    (T Max)

JAY STOLLMAN featuring  DEBBIE DAVIES

Number7Records

Room For One More            

14 tracks

After listening to this release for the first time I realize there are a lot of things to like about this Connecticut blues artist’s killer CD. The vocals are rock solid, really gruff and growling, and sung with great emotion, feeling and passion. But beyond all of that, this man is a great interpreter. Listen to his covers of  Johnny Winter’s elegant “Tired of Tryin’,” where he turns the original into a harp song. Check out Sam Cooke’s Civil Rights epic  “A Change Is Gonna Come”; where he turns the gospel spiritualism of Cooke’s classic into a slow Memphis blues burner. And I just love his take on Chuck Berry’s B-Side rocker “Back To Memphis” with the tight rhythm section and Debbie Davies’ stinging two-string leads. It’s great stuff that really showcases Stollman’s feel and connection to what he sings. From the opening track, “Ride ‘Till I’m Satisfied” by Walter Trout (an uptempo blues tune), to the title and closing cut “Room For One More” (a slower, introspective blues ballad), this music just jumps out of the speakers. Jay on lead vocals, Debbie Davies on lead guitar (along with Andy Abel and Jeremy Goldsmith), Scott Spray from the Johnny Winter Band on bass (along with Johnny Mennonna), Tommy Nagy on drums (along with Gerald Myles),  Matt Zeiner on keys and Kevin Totoian on harp are a powerful and smooth band that does a great job backing up Stollman’s stellar singing. Listen to Debbie’s incredible guitar licks on “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson’s “Lonesome In My Bedroom” and “Pucker Up Buttercup”; this woman is remarkable. Hear the nice slide by Abel on Stollman’s “I’m Done” or his and Spray’s “Love Me & Leave Me.” And I like how all of a sudden I’ll hear Zeiner tinkling the ivories at just the perfect place. One thing is for sure: whether covering classics or doing their own originals, these cats sure sound sweet. After listening to this release for the first time, I just want to hear it all over again.    (A.J. Wachtel)

T MAX

Fill ‘Er Up                                  

11 tracks

I like that T Max sent this my way. It’s like he’s baiting me to give it a classic Sleazegrinder lambasting, like he wants me to burn both of our careers down to the ground in one final cleansing fire of piled-up adjectives. Well, as much as that appeals to my self-destruct trigger, I can’t. The record’s good. Mostly. I can do without the infuriating, nursery rhyme-y “Chop Chop Chop” (Chop those vegetables up!), but otherwise, T (who plays everything himself, incidentally) vacillates pleasantly betwixt slinky, tongue-in-cheek blues, Beatles-esque pop, and champagne-bubble crooning. Vintage, classic, whimsical, slightly pervy. It’s exactly like hanging out with him, really.    (Sleazegrinder)

TAD OVERBAUGH    

Peeled Label Records

Beauty & Barbed Wire             

9 tracks

This CD falls into the category of modern country/alternative rock. It’s sunny sounding and mostly upbeat. Even the songs with more dour lyrics don’t sound like a downer. I can see it getting a good amount of airplay and being well received in any venue that favors this sound. While not a fan of this type of country, I really wouldn’t object if it were happily playing in the background. It’s music that respects auditory boundaries, if you will.

Tad Overbaugh, who wrote many of the songs and co-wrote many with James Hankins, plays acoustic guitar and has a voice that is well suited to this genre. Shawn Byrne backs him on vocals and plays lead guitar, bass, and a nice banjo. I’m a sucker for the lilt of a good steel pedal and Tommy Hannum comes through, peppering much of the CD’s music with his playing. This shines through really well on “North Side of the Grass.” Nick Buda’s drums keep the beat nicely without jumping out at you and Steve Scott and Mike Webb are credited with the sound of a well balanced and unobtrusive Hammond B3.

Fans of the new type of country music will enjoy this CD very much.

      (R.J. Ouellette)

PYRAMID

Pyramid Demos                        

7 tracks

Pyramid are three women from Providence who sound like little kids having a fit, but, you know, in a good way. This album chugs along like the little train that could – before it runs your ass over. Get out of the way or turn it up! Points of reference for this rocking not quite rock ’n’ roll are Jandek, Ween, Carl Simmons, and The Happy Flowers. This is the most fun album I’ve heard in a while. With songs about going to sleep and brushing your teeth, you better be careful, or you just might learn something! (Eric Baylies)

LAY LOW MOON

One Winter                                 

5 tracks

The follow-up to One Summer, this was originally released in February. In February, if you gave me a CD about winter, in the middle of the worst winter on record, I would’ve probably hung myself, so good thing I got this in June. Also, speaking of hanging yourself, opener “All Affirming” is so hilariously bleak it’ll have you gobbling fistfuls of Prozac. I’m a huge fan of severely depressed folk music, so thumbs up. The rest of this five-song EP is a few shades lighter, but it’s all still pretty bummed-out. I dunno who to compare it to, really, except maybe for Jose Feliciano right after his cat died. Pretty good if you like staring out of windows on rainy days and feeling forlorn.   (Sleazegrinder)

HONKY GABACHO

Crossing Swords Productions

We’re Alive                                

11 tracks

Strange. Multitracked a capella vocals creating some unusual sonic textures are the opening track’s declaration of independence from conventional sounds. Subsequent tracks utilize more normative techniques: “We Don’t Belong to This Way of Living” is a kind of a quirky yet strangely monumental chantey. “Kinky Wonder” is a perverse love song with HG’s trademark herky-jerky vocals and songcraft not heard since Marc Bolan and maybe not even then. “Beefcake” features eccentric time signatures with a deterministically strummed guitar and half-meandering vocals a la Syd Barrett. “Diane” is a quirky but otherwise surprisingly mostly conventional love song replete with a keening guitar passage; “Got a New Girl” is a subdued near-rap with an insistent guitar line, which breaks unexpectedly into an acoustic “Billy O. O’Day” passage. “Happy Birthday Zalim” is an odd sing-song to a lost child with a mildly ominous edge. “Take It easy, Angelo” is an epistolary song which has a rattling feel amid the angularly chiming guitar and jaunty vocalizing. “Manymuch” is a pulsing bass riff with a vocal recitative; one of the oddest tunes on a singularly odd album. “Massimo in the Underworld” has a Spanish influence with the usual twists and turns in the guitar and the discursive vocals. “When I Hear Your Lonesome Whistle Blowing” is a clever song which brilliantly replicates with a strummed guitar the rhythms of a train. Of all the songs, this one is the most monumentally irresistible. Overall, this is a solid batch of eccentric songs and lively, well-crafted lyrics. Fans of Beefheart, The Incredible String Band, early Pink Floyd and The Soft Boys will find much to like here. Unique. Strange. A solid keeper.                       (Francis DiMenno)

ARLEN

Animal                                         

6 tracks

There are no slow, easy-listening songs or melodic tracks on this alt/rock EP to mellow you out. This one’s all about pushing things to 11 and enjoying every second. This isn’t a quiet set of music to pass an idle evening. No, this is meant to be listening to while on a road trip with your buddies, running headlong through the city in search of adventure, or just dancing your ass of at home when no one’s watching (your roommates are gone for the night, right?).

“Tell Me” is my top pick of the pack crafted by this Lowell foursome. It’s extremely personal, and one that’s instantly relatable. Lines like “Quiet is too loud” remind me of many down times in my life.

The title of this EP, “Animal,” is so fitting. The heavy rock, slamming drums, and killer guitar work brings all the primal urges to the surface, but these are the good ones—the ones that crave adventure and excitement, the ones that should never be repressed. This album lets them all loose, and that’s something we should all try and do more often.           (Max Bowen)

METHADONE KITTY

Darkness                                   

12 tracks

I gotta say, their name engenders no confidence whatsoever that this is gonna be a good record. And guess what? It’s not. Apparently Methadone Kitty has been around since 2001, which is alarming. That’s 14 years, man. You don’t know how to sing in tune yet? You can go from high school zero to brain surgeon in that amount of time. Nations have been built in 14 years and you guys can’t even bang together a hummable two-minute rock ’n’ roll jam? The noisy post/pre-punk sounds they mine are straight from ’79, which is fine, but nothing ever congeals into an actual song. It’s just riffs and warbling. Jesus Christ, do you think we’re gonna live forever, Methadone Kitty? I could be listening to Steely Dan right now. In summation: fuck this.                  (Sleazegrinder)

DAVE GERARD

Five                                             

10 tracks

“Magical Day” sets the tone of Five with some jazzy soul, leading me to believe Dave Gerard’s musical lifeline leads back to Van Morrison and Al Green. Dave has been at this for three decades (this being his fifth full-length) and the quality is up there with his guitar playing, the relaxed grooves, and the effective keyboard playing of Bill Payne (Little Feat). Listening to Dave is like getting a good back massage: the groove is just right and it makes you feel good. The chorus of “Happy Home,” with its soothing Hammond B3, gets under your skin immediately, making me wonder if I’ve heard it before. The disc hits its stride with the over six-minute “The Messenger” where the rest of the band (David Bailey on bass, Conor O’Brien on percussion, and Kent Raine on drums) captures a nice groove; the vocal line “Is he the messenger” in the chorus is repeated in a slightly distorted echo. The song has a section where the band comes way down and Dave talks, reminiscent of what Jimi Hendrix did in “If 6 Were 9.” “The Unknown” comes close to sounding country with its mandolin line, but Dave’s voice keeps a certain soul in the mix. Based in New Hampshire, Dave Gerard has seen fame with his other band (Savoy) Truffle and has played as many as 275 shows a year. His experience shows in this CD – an excellent listen that leads me to believe he’s got a fun live show.                           (T Max)

 …

AYLA BROWN

Ambient Entertainment Records

Let Love In                                

13 tracks

This is Ayla’s third country music album and she just keeps getting better and better. Her powerful and expressive vocals do a great job of communicating what she is singing about and Brown wrote or co-wrote all the cuts with Nashville writers on this May release. All the songs are ballads but there’s not a weeper in sight. And although this is a very autobiographical album, Brown focuses on the positive in tunes like the opening title cut “Let Love In” with its great harmonies, “I Wanna Kiss You Too,” “Mr. Right,” and “Plain Ole Me.” Also check out the nice twangy guitar in “I Just Wanna Be Your Baby” and “Can’t Run Away.” “Matches And Gasoline” and “Stupid Me” really showcase the strong passionate side of her singing while “That Morning Never Came,” and her hushed intimate opening express yet another side of her great talent. It’s nicely produced by Gus Berry – a lot of very good songs sung right from the heart. Love it!        (A.J. Wachtel)

THE UNGRADED

Not Guilty                                   

7 tracks

Oof. More like The Tragically Mediocre. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s not even good enough to compare it to anybody we’ve both heard of. It’s standard suburban barroom hard rock with a few punk flourishes. I wanna have more to say about this because I know the guys in the band probably worked really hard on it, and I’m sure they’re nice dudes, and press is tough to come by these days, but I mean, what the hell. Gimme something bigger to bite on than this. We live in a world of infinite choices now, and I just can’t see why you’d choose this over something genuinely exciting. Sorry, The Ungraded. I tried. And hey, maybe it’s just me. It’s not, but maybe.       (Sleazegrinder)

THE LIED TO’S

The Lied To’s                             

11 tracks

The self-titled debut album of the Lied To’s is a collection of country-rock tunes mostly sung in two part harmony. Susan Levine has a voice somewhere between Dolly Parton and Maria Muldaur – it carries an edgy passion with a wailing “want my man” quality. Doug Kwartler has one of those John Mellencamp-ish, longing, honky-tonk voices that make women weak in the knees. Like in the song “Do You Ever Miss The Things You Swore You Never Would?” Together they ain’t just singin’ an playin,’ they’re cryin’ and terrible sorrowful. This is the kind of song that Johnny and June would’ve sung, or George Jones and Tammy Wynette. I can picture them with big hair and everything. “It was not so long ago that you called me by my name and professed undying love for me with an ever-burning flame.” “Ten” is a great country song, their lyrics are poetic – not just on this song but the others too. “Ashes blowing down the highway/ Remnants of a careless cigarette/ I never understood how someone lights a fire/ Throws it out a window and forgets.” They know what they’re doing and they do it well. It’s a great little CD. I suspect they would be great live too.             (Kimmy Sophia Brown)

FAMILY PLANNING 

Pretty Purgatory Records

John Wayne Frankenstein     

11 tracks

Family Planning sounds a lot like an “unplugged” version of Primus (“unplugged” in quotes because they play stripped down as opposed to truly acoustic). Like Primus, Family Planning leads with the bass. Even the guitar, which is front and center, is presented in a bass-heavy way. You will find the same noodly string work that Les Claypool has trafficked in for time immemorial. You even get the slightly jarring, but ultimately endearing, nasally vocals that Primus fans have grown to love.

Setting aside the Primus comparisons, Family Planning is more rooted in jazz and beat poetry than in rock. Jaunty bass and guitar chord progressions meld with spare yet complex, skittering drums, all of which bring to mind Sunday morning coffeehouse jazz brunches. Scatting vocals contemplate halitosis, ringworm, and strawberry tarts, in a stream of consciousness that is sometimes hard to follow but always entertaining.              (George Dow)

I EAT ROCKS

Trash Culture                             

7 tracks

I Eat Rocks is a trio from Providence who sort of play punk rock, if you consider the Butthole Surfers and Fantomas punk. Fuzzed out bass, distorted vocals and relentless pounding drums propel this album to dizzying heights and rumbling lows. This band is pretty great live, too, so maybe they should put out a video.        (Eric Baylies)

CHARIOT BRIGADE           

4 tracks

Is it really just two guys doing all this?  Damn, they make enough noise for four!  Maybe five if one’s taking it easy, but definitely a four. This collection of four songs offers a good sampling of the music of Chariot Brigade. It’s loud as hell, with the drumming sounding like a thunderstorm of cymbals and snares. The guitar work is solid, particularly on “Out of Service,” and adds to the sometimes chaotic, but all-around impressive style. Give these guys a listen, and then see them live. Just wear earplugs – you’ll thank me later.                           (Max Bowen)

TED SOLOVICOS      

Tedhead Prod.

Mixed Emotions of the 21st Century             

19 tracks

Alongside of the Moody Blues-style pop smoothness are mostly unpretentious tunes with strong melodic values reminiscent of Love circa Forever Changes, and solid and dynamic guitar playing, as on the satiric “Kingdom Hall,” and “I Got My Mind on You.” “Pack Rats” is a deviation from the norm: a darker song which could almost pass as a type of funky heavy metal ala Black Sabbath or Steppenwolf, with an irresistible guitar line. “Bring on the Switchitters” caps the album with an intricate guitar line and tough, bluesy vocals. If you like British bands of the ’60s, and you don’t mind mostly simplistic lyrics, you’ll probably find this enjoyable.                    (Francis DiMenno)

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Heavy Rotation Records

Dorm Sessions X                      

21 tracks

A roster of Berklee musicians trot out their projects, many showing great promise and more. “Output,” by I/O, is heavy-duty ecstasy rock and ends the album on a monumental note. Check out their debut album “Saudade.” Recommended. Other highlights include “Lemonade,” in which Grey Season contributes some mildly folk and country inflected earnest Rock and Roll. On “Creighton Court,” Kyle Thornton & The Company offer up a heavy metal blues which is ineradicably weighty. “In Search of Souls” by Cocoa Jackson Lane features exotic vocals and a too-brief stormy psychedelic funk passage which devolves into shimmering West African rhythmic pop. Recommended. “Dysphoric” by The Rare Occasions is standard headbanging fare, but “Halfheartedly” has an irresistible momentum as it weaves dynamically back and forth between quiet and declamatory passages. Recommended. “Hands Like Guns” by Cordelia and the Buffalo is a Sinead O’Connor-like lament, but the electronic rock and symphonic touches on “Free” approach surpassing grandeur. Recommended. The Boston-based DJ and producer yeah Dubz contributes a bright and flashy collage of rhythm and sound titled “All the Days” which is alternately stunning and euphoric. Amy & The Engine scores with the catchy “I Got You,” their gladsome folk-inflected love song. Recommended. “Tarde De Abril” by 3 Sudacas is a slow dance number with a South American flair. Fever Charm has an ’80s rock vibe with a 21st century outlook, and their energetic song “Sound of Summer” reminds me of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Recommended. Oh, Malô contributes “Feed,” a swoony dirge with expressive vocals and swirling textures. All in all, this compilation is an impressive showing.  (Francis DiMenno)

THE RADIATOR RATTLERS  

Spiral Records

The Radiator Rattlers  

11 tracks

Upon my initial listen, I wanted to throw my hands up in the air, wave the white flag and surrender.  It’s 2015; haven’t we had enough of bands playing punk music with folkish instrumentation, especially if accompanied by gravelly gang vocals?  Clearly, the answer is yes, but The Radiator Rattlers still won me over.  The songs are energetic and catchy, and the album has surprisingly crisp production values that flatter the band without sacrificing any grit.  The record makes me want to see the band play live, and I have no trouble picturing them winning over a sweaty, boisterous crowd at The Midway Café.  (Kevin Finn)

TAXICAB COWBOY

Long Time Comin’      

13 tracks

The TaxiCab Cowboy is singer/songwriter Paul Sullivan and he really is a taxicab cowboy – a driver with the streets as his frontier. Inspired by not only life’s experiences and feelings, his songwriting is fueled by the taxicab life: the late nights, the people, the stories, the personal thoughts and reflections. Capturing all of the above through pure country roots rock is the perfect genre for this cowboy. Paul’s talent for genuine, honest songwriting and performing, teams up with a terrific array of supporting musicians who beautifully lend to each musical tale. One such musician is the outstanding guitarist Tony Savarino, who besides playing lead guitar on nearly every track, wonderfully produced the album.  Each of the 13 songs features a different sides of country, rhythm and blues rock. They’re peppered with mandolin, pedal steel guitar, sax, accordion, and keys – consistent in genre, but strongly standing on their own individually. So many impressive musicians help shape and express the feel of each of Taxicab Cowboy Paul’s songs, so pick up this CD or find the songs online to see the full credits. Highlights: “Just A Man,” “Taxicabcowboy” (kinda punk country), “You Turn Me On” (showcases the gorgeous supporting vocals of Ajda Snyder), the smoky “Audrey Rose,” the dirty bluesy “I Remember Love,” and the emotionally raw and beautiful “Brothers Song.” (Debbie Catalano)

MATTHEW CONNOR

Farewell Motel 

11 tracks

The music on this CD reminds me of Leon Redbone meets Tom Waits. It’s done well – very interesting and dark, somber and almost funereal. And I mean this in a very good way. His sound is very different and for special ears only. He opens with the dirge-like “Midnight Blue” and includes eclectic cuts like the somber “Somewhere Down There,” “Veronique Waiting,” “Limestone And Yew,” the almost Gothic “Money Goes,” “Paper Trail” and “After The Show”; they are all the same salad with just a little different dressing. All the titles are self-composed ballads, but I really dig the matinee idol quirk that Connor employs in his crooning: all of a sudden his voice will rise an octave and this just sounds so sweet. Matthew is originally from Alabama but now resides in Boston. Local artists Thad DeBrock (pedal steel), Karl Doty (upright bass), Beth Holub (violin and viola), Dave Ragland (electric bass), and Kenneth Frank, Julia Haltigan and Pia Romano on vocals contribute to the final mix. Interestingly, Thad plays SINGLE notes and slides them every which way instead of a many note country style pedal steel performance. There isn’t a solo, just sparse notes that add to the mood. I also really like listening to Connor’s funny and unique lyrics in all the music. For best Leon meets Tom, check out “How Is July Almost Over?” and the title track “Farewell Hotel” – my two favorite tunes. Nice voice. Interesting songs. Different style. And another neat illustration of the New England music scene’s great depth and diversity.   (A.J. Wachtel)

LEXI JAMES

Stop                                              

6 tracks

This 23-year-old New Hampshire resident is also a national spokesperson for PACER-Teens Against Bullying – and she has the voice of an angel. She is a country music singer and songwriter whose style at times reminds me a bit of Taylor Swift, some Carrie Underwood, and a tad Lady Gaga but she has a better voice, more like Whitney Houston, than any and all of them. Just listen to her great phrasing and her powerful and emotional voice. And above all, she’s got passion. Her band, Kyler Creek, goes from the hard country-rocking “Knockin’ on Your Heart” to ballads “Dreamer,” “Stop,” “Standby,” and “Echo” without missing a beat. My favorite cut is one she wrote called “Out of This Mess” – an uptempo country/pop song that really showcases her sweet voice. All of the tunes are radio-friendly and one better catch her now before her career explodes. In May, she played a gig up at Exeter High School in New Hampshire. Next year she’ll be playing arenas. It’s great music from a young New England artist. Check her out.   (A.J. Wachtel)

THRIFT STORE RANSOM

Thrift Store Ransom    

10 tracks

Listening to this CD has been a great experience. Thrift Store Ransom is an experimental effort by Eric Ott and co-producer Sean Yadisernia. It’s very eclectic and inasmuch as its influences are so widely varied, it defies categorization of genre. I was often unable to pin down the influences that various songs brought to mind while feeling as if it were on the tip of my brain.

The feel of the CD is warm, smooth and soft, with plenty of heart. The sound changes radically from song to song. This man is possessed of dazzling talent and the diversity of these tunes allow him to showcase that, switching styles with graceful ease.

In “Cold Blue,” I hear traces of John Lennon mixed with Electric Light Orchestra in just one song! “How Can You Love A Dying Man” evokes The Grateful Dead and  Neil Young, tinted with country/bluegrass. “Middlebrook Road” has a familiar sound which I couldn’t identify. Invitingly warm, it makes me long to reside there. “Mill Song # 2 (The Strike)” is laced with Tom Petty’s influence.

I don’t want to imply that Eric Ott comes off as a “tribute” artist. He owns what he does, displaying  many influences while being original. Becoming bored while listening to this CD would be difficult. It’s hard to find something unique these days, but this CD qualifies. It was definitely a mixed bag of tricks. I enjoyed most of it and feel it worthy of a recommendation. Give it a listen.   (R.J. Ouellette)

LINES WEST

Two of a Perfect Pair    

10 tracks

My goodness these vocals, both the lead and gorgeous harmonies are delicious – creamy, silky smooth, sweet tones, truly the strongest points of Lines West. Credited to confounders John Radzin and Brian Larney – both of whom also play guitar, percussion, and piano on this recording. The band is rounded out by Kenny Cash on bass and Scott Logan on drums. Out of the gate, I was impressed by the flawless, incredibly clean recording quality – there is not one critical thing I could say about this production value and full, crystal-clear sound. But all the technical prowess in the world really doesn’t mean anything if the songs aren’t there. Fortunately, Lines West’s songs are right up there in quality – catchy, steady, lovely, indie-vibing pop. So pleasing to the ear and soothing the soul, I could listen to Two of a Perfect Pair repeatedly without tiring of it – that’s a gift, and what any artist would desire. Some songs are stronger than others, like ”Honeybee,” “Foolish,” “A Deeper Shade,” and showcasing their rootsy, Americana/acoustic-y side, “Straw Man” and “Nowhere Feels Like Home.” Just wonderful overall! (Debbie Catalano)

AUTUMN ABOVE

Blessed You’re Still

11 tracks

If you have a soft spot for drawn out prog-rock that lands somewhere between Cursive and Dream Theater, then Autumn Above is for you.  For the rest of us, getting through this album is a bit of a slog.  Before listening to this band, I wasn’t aware that you could fit 11 hours of music onto one CD.  At least, that’s how long the album feels like.  Some of the songs are so mellow and hazy that they come off as the aural equivalent of melatonin; others are so overwrought and melodramatic that you feel like you’re reading the diary of a sensitive, but not yet articulate, teenager.   (Kevin Finn)

BUTCHER BOY

Pretty Purgatory Records

Rhubarb

3 tracks

Butcher Boy’s three-song EP Rhubarb may be short in tracks, but at over 25 minutes in length, there is plenty to wrap your ears around. Each of the seven-minute-plus songs follow a similar path – banjo and dobro shifting from Appalachian folk to droning psychedelia, overlaid with vocals that split the difference between The Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano and O’Death’s Greg Jamie. I suspect that both bands were influential on Butcher Boy’s sound.

Each track meanders far and wide without ever finding a destination. But, in the end, that’s the fun of these songs – each playing more on mood than melody. The mood though is a strange one. Never sure whether it’s a funeral dirge or a basement jam.   (George Dow)

THE ALMIGHTY BUCK

So Long

5 tracks

“Your Favorite Song” is a lazy, loping delight, as casual as a summer day. “Ravin’ Mae Renee” is a vocal duet with Tim Ko and the toughly angelic-voiced Bethany Brooks. Again, there is that casual feel—replete with carnivalesque keyboards by Jen Kearney which makes this song come off as the best song Levon Helm and The Band never recorded. Best of show “Orbit” features tumbling percussion and bright guitars and is appealing in a vaguely wistful way until it drifts into a dynamic middle section, where it approaches classic psychedelia with a folksy vibe, and leaves one wishing for more. “Old San Juan” is a quavery, country-inflected ballad, nothing exceptional, and “A Fireman’s Mustache” is a lonesome plaint. Three great songs out of five is pretty swell. (Francis DiMenno)


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Comments

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  1. I just read your review of the album ( Not Guilty ). I would like to see if we can change your mind about the product we put out,this time live. We would to invite you and a guest to our show on the 24th of July @ Sammy’s patio. Pittie love rescue it’s for a good cause . Please let me know if you’re interested , if not no pressure.