CD Reviews


“Waterfall Away”/”I Want You to Stay”

2 tracks

This Boston/LA combo delivers a delightfully chirpy-cheepy bit of countrified bubblegum on their debut single. Both sides infuse the warm melodies of the Beach Boys with chewy hooks of the Brill building. Sure it’s retro, and like all sunshine pop, there’s an underlying hint of Laurel Canyon-esque death-cult dread billowing through the grooves, but that only sweetens the deal, really. For the most part, it’s all popsicles on a bright summery day. As you might have gathered from their name, the Syndicate is more of a liquid gang than a band so who knows what they might do next, but if you’ve wondered what it might be like to breathe in the dry Californian air in 1968, this single might be your best bet.  (Sleazegrinder)

Club Bohemia D-BannerShell


Olex Records


4 tracks

This is subtitled, “Four Iconic Rollings Stones Tracks Re-Imagined.” Tom Hauck, the solo mastermind behind this project, brings an interesting twist to these well-worn Stones tracks. “Sympathy for the Devil” features an ominous electronic drone vibe like the gates of some North African hell yawning wide open. “Satisfaction” is a low-key take, as though Buddy Holly’s hiccuping vocals were combined with Bryan Ferry’s vocal stylings. There’s also a faintly mechanistic approach to the track not wholly unlike Devo’s celebrated cover. “Happy” is presented with a soulful and more melodic approach which is by far the most radical, and memorable, departure from the original. “Undercover of the Night” is taken as a ballad rather than an anthem and has its own mysterious vibe. Overall, this project is an intriguing set of interpretations; but one which reveals more about Telamor than The Rolling Stones. (Francis DiMenno)


Continental Blue Heaven Records


10 tracks

This is a horn album. There are trumpets, trombones, and saxophones EVERYWHERE!  From the opening uptempo shuffle and title track “Showtime” to the closing traditional blues “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” there are tooters all over the place. And that’s an understatement. I really like Sax Gordon compositions “The Way It Is,” “I Got It,” and “Don’t Mess With Me”  because they showcase his amazing skills the best. He flutters and honks all up and down the scale with a power you can FEEL as he blows. Then, when you least expect it, he jumps an octave, and the sound and fury comes at you with an even GREATER force – then he returns and continues his audio muscle flexing with a more potent and energetic thrust. It must be heard to be believed. The momentum of the songs never waver.  Close your eyes, play this CD on volume 10, and it may be the closest you have go to feel like you are there with him live. On horns you have Sax Gordon blowing tenor sax, Scott Aruda on trumpet, Jeff Galindo sliding the trombone, and Tino Barker and Jeremy Valadez on bari saxes. The rest of the band includes Matt Stubbs and J.R. Watson on guitars, Matt and Jesse Williams on bass and Chris Rivilli and Chris Peet pounding. This is wailing, screaming, and honking horns at their best. I love it !   (A.J. Wachtel)


Dove Records

The Portal’s Rhyme: Undoing The Secret Of Time

6 tracks

Love T’s music! This CD is no exception. Only six tracks, but he fits a lot of diverse coolness into it.

The music is still T, only better. The same sound fans love, only a fuller, matured feel. Familiar songs sound richer and new songs, surprising. “The Magician” is reminiscent of early Bowie. There are background noises sounding a lot like… sea gulls in spaceships. Completely unexpected!

T’s gritty cover of The Beatles’ “I’m a Loser” lends a heartfelt vibe to it that I’d never sensed before, making me feel that this is the way this song should be sung, given its lyrics. There’s a Tom Waits sound to it which works remarkably well.

“Danny Boy” is quite simply, beautiful. T’s voice fits this beloved classic so well. A sentimental song and his voice works magic with it.

“Rhythmatic Addicts” is at the opposite end of the spectrum. A fun, sexy, song (love the line,”My baby rubs gasoline down the nape of her neck.”). Again, that awesome Tom Waits’ grit. Nice sax and slick keys compliment it perfectly.

“Sometimes Smart Phone” just didn’t work for me. What really did work for me, is “Turn To A Song.” Blues tinged, with a killer bass. Meant to make people feel good, this song delivers. I’m loving the quality of T’s voice on this gem of a CD. It’s a winner and he knocks it out of the park.  (R.J. Ouellette)


Bufu Records

Kalvin & Kline

4 tracks

Boston’s Designer is relentless pounding spaz rock. They have more structure than US Maple but retain a certain restless energy that jumps out of the speakers.This album is noisy psyche that you could probably slam dance to, but it is a little complex for a pit, like The Daughters meet The Doors. The singer is either very happy or in a great amount of pain all the time, I’m not really sure. Is it noise? Is it jazz? Is this even music? Yes, yes, and yes. This is easily one of the best records I’ve heard this year, from Boston or anywhere. This album is cuter than a bag of dead kittens. (Eric Baylies)


They Call Me The Professor

10 tracks

I really like the way the Professor plays a lot of fluttering notes. It’s really cool how when you least expect it he’s fluttering away on a note when he solos. And his vocals are believable too. His voice sounds like it drips with experience and he’s not just singing the words. This combination forms his music’s formidable foundation and his great band supplies the rest. Marty Ballou and John Packer play bass, Tom Ferraro is on guitar with Glen Hardy on piano. Mark Texeira from Duke Robillard’s band and Mike LaBelle are drumming and Doug James is blowing sax. They’re a great band playing great music. From the Memphis shuffles “They Call Me The Professor,” “That’s What You Do To Me,” and “Fighting The Battle” to the cameo of Brookline native and Muddy Waters band vet Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin on “My Life: An Exercise In Blue,” this band plays with passion and pleasure.  I also really dig the jazzy “It Just Comes Natural” with the Chuck Berry leads. And check out the slow blues closing cut “Eine Fur Herr Schmidt,” the Professor’s tribute to his mentor George Harmonica Smith. On this cut he plays a chromatic harp. Another treat is his remake of the ’60s instrumental the Rocking Rebel’s classic “Wild Weekend,” where he changes everything and makes it a harp song. It’s first rate red hot and blue music.   (A.J. Wachtel)


Blue FX Records

Chili-House Pay Phone

12 tracks

Derek Astles’ mildly strangulated voice, like Bob Dylan’s, takes a little getting used to – he’s a stylist, not a full-bore singer – but his very best songs are haunting and memorable and brave, and well worth hearing. While I find a lack of sonic variety in the lone man with a guitar approach, he does manage to accomplish a lot with a little. Among the best of his songs is a plaintive ballad (“Message to Rita”), a lovely guitar pastoral number (“At Her Mercy”), a folksy disaster song (“Coming Home”), a rousing working-man song (“Shit, Shovels, and Whiskey”), a wonderful jaunty and ominous, clever and unusual folk blues with a Flamenco twist (“Neil Young Knew Charlie Manson”), a true, plaintive and bitter talking blues brilliantly reminiscent of Michael Hurley and best of show (“Find a Fat Girl, Knock Her Up, and Call Her Mama”), and a wondrously lyrical traveling ballad (“Frozen’). At its best, this collection is captivating. Recommended. (Francis DiMenno)


Old Glories and War Stories

11 tracks

I was pretty excited that there was a song called “Cock Rocket” on this record. Figured maybe I had some kinda sleazy, GN’R sorta situation on my hands. This is not the case. Old Glories and War Stories is a years-in-the making pop-punk record that sometimes veers into Social Distortion-y hard-luck hard-rock territory and sometimes into Midwestern ’80s slacker-rock. Somehow Chanticlear make all those side-winding sub-genres sound like the same thing. And that’s fine, it’s not like I’m expecting dungeon synth or anything. If you like barely-together garage-rackets and warbling vocals (lots of people do, put down your knives already), then this is the Lawrence, MA-based low-watt punk rock band for you. But also if you write a song called “Cock Rocket,” it would be nice if you sounded like a band that would have a song called “Cock Rocket.” GG Allin did it and I’m pretty sure he was brain-damaged, so it can’t be that hard.   (Sleazegrinder)



9 tracks

This cat can play! Tomo teaches at Berklee and this completely instrumental release showcases his incredible abilities that guitarists and music lovers alike will appreciate. He is a groove guitarist who plays lovely jazz chords in the middle of his lead solos, and I really dig his power and finesse. Beautiful tone, imaginative chops, and when he picks up or slows down all of a sudden in the middle of a solo you just can’t stop listening or anticipate what he’s gonna do next. Fujita composed all the music and he plays guitar with Will Lee on bass and Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, and session legend Bernard Purdie, the world’s most recorded drummer, supplying the backbeat. My favorite cuts are “Boy Back Home” and “Tiny Tapper” with the remarkable drum breakdown where the guitar, bass, and keys pick up the slack, and the bluesy “Through the Pain.” Listening to this remarkable guitar playing is very enjoyable. It’s cool how you hear distinctly jazzy chords out of nowhere in all the songs, and he uses the entire neck of his guitar with nicely thought out high end solos moving down the fretboard and ending on the low end. The only vocals on this CD are the “one two” count offs at the beginning of a few songs. Very very cool! (A.J. Wachtel)


Mayner Manep

13 tracks

If you think this album title is a tongue twister, you should see the song titles! Keyboard wizard and singer Ethan Weiss has assembled a talented crew of New Bedford and Fall River musicians behind him. If you ever wondered what would happen if New Bedford and Fall River had a baby (it would be an ugly baby), here is your answer. Why would you wonder that, anyway? Do something constructive with your life and listen to Lazertuth. This is a deep space trip with some aggressive rock leanings. Think Don Cabelero meets Amon Duul and Tangerine Dream. This is like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer without the boring parts. This is a jewel of a punk prog album. (Eric Baylies)


10 Songs of Pain

15 tracks

This Rhode Island artist’s music is like The Who meets Deep Purple meets Pink Floyd meets T. Rex.  Metal arena rock ballads with loud guitars and vocals and pounding drums. From the opening crescendo of power chords in “Denial,” “Salem,” and “Even I Can Dream” to the English rock ’n’ roll feel of “Warsaw” and “I Want To Go,” every song is loud and filled with attitude. Lampert wrote all the music and I really like “I Don’t Like Her.” Andy on guitars/ bass/ keys and all vocals, Joe Auger did all the keyboard programming, percussion and harp, and Mike Rovin is on drums. This is heavy metal rock ’n’ roll the way it was meant to be played. Great stuff.    (A.J. Wachtel)


Everything Is Subject to Change

10 tracks

A grab-bag of hard-rocking tracks in a variety of modes. “Some Days” will remind you of “Woman From Tokyo”; “Losing My Mind” will remind you of The Rolling Stones back when they were jealous of Marc Bolan; the liquescent “Don’t Stop Being a Rocker” has a diddly guitar filigree evocative of early ’60s rock. “No Soliciting” is a soulful toe-tapper; “Heart Condition” is a flat-out rocker a la The New York Dolls; “Searching the Skies” boasts a telegraphic guitar figure, and the tune evolves into a plaintive love song. “Self Awareness” is a song of thwarted love; a heavy metal grinder in a truncated march rhythm. “World of Pain” is a heavily percussive and polyrhyhmic piece of harrowingly melodramatic agitprop. You have to admire the ingenuity of Tait’s songwriting – particularly his mastery of various tropes from the history of rock ’n’ roll –but, ultimately, there’s little here that’s so original that it will truly open your eyes.  (Francis DiMenno)


The Long Fall

11 tracks

Barrett is a great guitarist and I enjoy listening to everything he plays on all the cuts throughout the whole song. The music is a mix of guitar groove melodies and more uptempo Memphis r&b tunes; and for a three-piece group they sure do make a lot of good sounds. Anderson wrote most of the music and backing him on vocals and guitar is legendary B-3 organist Ron Levy and veteran drummer Per Hanson, whose impeccable beat-keeping cements the song as Barrett and Ron play off each other. The drums push the song but the tunes are taken to another level whenever Levy comes in. Listen to the opener “Not our Baby,” “Tomorrow Morning,”  “Emma Lee,” and “Peace I Need” to hear what I mean. I like the slide guitar tunes “Mile Wide Wind” and “Grinnin’ In Your Face” by Son House. Sorta like Rory Gallagher meets Bo Diddley. The great lead guitar work influences of Rory via Barrett and the rhythmic swirls of Bo from the rhythm section. My favorite cuts: “Atwoods,” a traditional blues song about the Cambridge club, with Barrett’s stunning guitar work, “Good Man/Gotta Move” with Per’s non-solo as “Good Man” progresses into “Gotta Move”; and “Grin & Bare It,” the instrumental, for its great groove and fantastic force. Check it out.  (A.J. Wachtel)


I Am Become Death

6 tracks

There’s a lot to like about this CD. It starts out as a Daughters sounding metal core type thing and you say, Oh, I know what this is going to be. Before you know it, the train takes twists and turns and flies off the tracks. This album is super heavy but swings in a way the old Killing Joke albums did. Take a little Dillinger Escape Plan and add a dash of the Jesus Lizard and you get an idea of how unrelenting and great this record is. Not only do they have one of the best band names in Boston, they are one of the heaviest and best groups as well. (Eric Baylies)



Weathervane Records

Ice Fishing 

14 tracks

Kevin has been on the local scene making music since the ’80s with his band The Great Divide, and this is his 10th CD. His first in five years. He plays the guitar and does all the vocals and his older brother Jim provides upright bass, banjo, piano, backing vocals, percussion, and melodica. This is basically a labor of love between two brothers on different coasts and it took three years of trading files to complete. Legendary local production ace Ducky Carlisle plays drums and produces the material. The voice is very personal and you get the feeling that Connolly is singing just to you, which is what you expect from such a personal project. The songs are all ballads at different tempos and every song has either country, folk, or rock influences. I like the uptempo opener “Bus Station” with the neat mid-song bass riff, the almost twangy “Up On Willoughby,” and the folkie “Blow Them Away,” about his daughter’s coming of age. I also dig  the country-rock “Here Comes Whitey” about you know who. The nice country/folk ballad “Interstate” and the pop/rock ballad “Just About To Fall” are both sweetly special too. There are nice harmonies on “Bus Station,” “Hot In Arizona,” and “Busy Thinking Bout Love.” Cool music for the heart and soul from a vet.    (A.J. Wachtel)


Riot Starter EP

5 tracks

Hey, remember when Boston hardcore was basically a psycho-circus of blood-soaked, male-dominated ultra-violence? These dudes do. They play classic Boston thrash n’ mosh, catchy and fast and testosterone-packed, perfect for beating some dude with a baseball bat or half a hockey stick because he’s from out of town or whatever it was all those dudes were angry about in the ’90s. Five songs in less than ten minutes, the highlight being the berserk “Stop Saying Stupid Shit Online” which, ironically, is what I’m probably doing right now. Also my copy is pink, which is probably the punkest thing about this whole affair.  (Sleazegrinder)


Slide on Over

13 tracks

This is a boogie band… and these cats can play. The music is jump blues/ boogie woogie/ shuffles and slow traditional blues. All the uptempo songs start with a blistering groove Charlie sets with or without his slide. Lenny Turnquist on bass and Uncle Dom Micarelli on drums keep the groove going as Keating sings and plays guitar. The opening instrumental “Elmo’s Boogie” showcases his stunning Johnny Winter influenced slide guitar chops and it rocks. Another Keating original,”Eric’s Boogie,” is also a screaming instrumental  that follows along the same hard-pounding path.  Elmore James’ “Shake Your Money Maker,” the traditional “Rollin’ And Tumbin’ ,” and Memphis Slim’s “Everyday I Have The Blues” all have the same good-time, great bar-band sound. The blues tunes are tense and passionate rather than introspective and calm. Even Charlie’s slower blues songs “You Don’t Have To Cry,” “Goodbye Baby,” and “Dog Biscuit” simply shout and scream. Check it out.   (A.J. Wachtel)


A Touch of Blues

5 tracks

This is a very good and unique blues release. Carolyn’s beautiful and powerful voice is the main focus, and these five cuts are all duos. Carolyn’s voice combines with Tokyo Tramps’ Satoru Nakagawa on guitar and backing vocals.  His licks are red hot, clean and creative. One cut, “Blues Medley” starts with Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights Big City” and visits “Baby What You Want Me To Do,” “Kansas City,” and “Sweet Home Chicago” before going back to and ending with the Reed classic. And it’s all her wonderful voice, without a guitar, and Peter Tillotson on bass. I love his mid-song solo, too. B.B.’s “Rock Me Baby,” John Lee Hooker’s “Black Night Is Falling,” and her own closing cut,”I Really Like The Way You,” are very creative and bluesy. She’s got a great voice and there’s a lot of cool guitar guitar here. And it works!   (A.J. Wachtel)


CD Reviews — 5 Comments

  1. Found Hummingbird Syndicate through this blog! Love the 60’s vibe with the harmonies and if I’m not mistaken they are using a rickenbacker guitar on their song “waterfall away”. Love it!

    • Lenny,
      Glad you are happy with your review in the Noise of THE CHARLIE KEATING BAND’s latest CD.
      T Max