CD Reviews


Olex Music

Outside the Lines

10 tracks

Telamor (98% Tom Hauck, 2% friends) has to be one of the most prolific artists out there today. About every six month Telamor serves up a new disc of guitar oriented rock for the 21st century. Outside the Lines leads off with “Brave Heart” where a choppy vocal melody creates a hook within itself. Love comes and goes with “Speed Queen” running through the night. “Trippin'” could be a reaction to the Speed Queen, but more likely another female flaunting a hippy attitude.  “Flash” has a great sustained vocal chorus with a cool ’60s sound. Tom’s got another woman swinging by for some action – and her name is “Ramona.” The fun cover of “Great Balls of Fire” sounds like Fred Schneider (B-52s) has hooked up with Jerry Lee Lewis. “It’s Love Miss Veronica” has a Kinks flavor to it. The chorus of “Fakin’ It” could’ve been a Devo track if the Ohio band lost there mechanical ways.  Tom’s clever swing rock interpretation of  Lil Wayne’s “How to Love” makes it sound like a throw back to the ’60s. “Rock All Night” closes the disc with a perfect bar-band rave up. Telamor’s common thread that keeps you coming back for more is Tom Hauck’s distinctive vocals. Outside the Lines has the future in mind while it borrows from the past. Pick it up today.  (T Max)

Club Bohemia D-BannerShell


Out to See 

9 tracks

This woman can sing. My God. The CD starts out commanding my attention with the song, “You are the Sun” –  a wailing slide guitar, and Clara making it very plain that she can express her pain vocally with an instrument that falls somewhere between Fiona Apple and Eva Cassidy. “Selfish Soul” makes me think she could have been the alternate vocalist for the band Heart. There is no fear in this voice, she liberates the wild Artemis. You know that female vocal by Clare Torry at the end of the Pink Floyd song “Great Gig in the Sky,” from the album Dark Side of the Moon? Like that. “Body of Mind” repeats the lyric “Body of mind/ don’t die,” her voice cascades over the chorus-effect guitar, moody and mind-altering, soaring. “Out to See” is where her Eva Cassidy side comes through, womanly and beautiful. “Middle of May” starts out a cappella, very solemn, like an old folk song, and then goes into a really interesting drum beat, and an evocative vocal. I wish the word epic wasn’t so overused now, because it describes this atypical composition. “Flye Point” starts out a bit like an old Rascals tune, a little soul, a little rock and then goes Jefferson Airplane or Fleetwood Mac. “Brown Eyed Man” starts out slow and sad and then starts flying. Really nice drum work on this one. This album is exceptional – it is wonderfully produced, and every musician, and every bit of vocal support is just excellent. Love the cover art too. Clara is truly a ONE IN A MILLION talent. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)


Farm-to-Turntable Records

Shameless Light 

7 tracks

Every couple of years, songwriter/ guitarist/ producer Michael Chorney appears on my radar screen. Since being introduced to him via Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown in 2010, I have become an avid follower. During the past two decades, he is considered to be one of Vermont’s most prolific and innovative musicians. His earlier works, either solo or with a larger ensemble, sparkle with exuberant sophistication in various genres – jazz, acoustic, or alternative. His group’s last album, Dispensation of the Ordinary, was a top ten pick of 2012. Currently working as Hollar General with Geza Carr (drums), Rob Morse (bass), and Brett Lanier (pedal steel/ lap steel/ dobro), he creates atmospheric tunes that he now describes as “farm-to-turntable music.” This is possibly as visual as sound can get and with every minute detail you feel like you are in a landscape with him – the playing is totally sumptuous! Over the past few months, I’ve played this album over and over, caught up in its drifting, relaxed vibe and the gentle flow of its themes of ennui, humility, spiritual and social graces, and personal discovery.
Shameless Light is tender, quiet, and silent in the same way that listening to nature can be bucolic, rustic, and transcendent. The more you hear these songs, the more gentility reveals itself in a sliding bass note, a graceful pedal steel glissando, or a whispering harmony in the distance, all in service to Chorney’s droll, laid-back voice and keen pensive lyrics: “…I’m becoming luminous/ as the world goes dark/ all lit up like fields of fire/ ignited by one spark” (“Luminous”) …Still I write/ it’s late at night/ I’m out of sight/ and out of mind/ I see what we once were/ able strong and sure/ dirty drunk and pure (“Fix”) …There’s people on the highway/ people leaving town/ trying to find a standing sign/ or just some higher ground (“Moline”). Evocative and sublime.
This is certainly not music for the masses, but in its quiet grandeur one can expect to have their senses hushed – yet amplified, their imagination ignited – yet warmed by nostalgia, and throughout its duration – enriched by a magical and wondrous aura. Absolutely beautiful work and hugely recommended!   (Harry C. Tuniese)


Teenage Heart


5 tracks

The excellent loping title track has a certain Lou Reed-style world-weariness to it, while “(Like ‘Em) Crazy” is an ecstatic Van Morrisonesque romp, what with its epic feel and heartfelt message and delivery. “(You Look So) Pretty in Summertime” is a magnetic slow-burner, while the touching, quavery “Awkward Girl” is a majestic ballad. “My Girl is Gone” is a heartfelt piano-and-vocal demo about the loss of a beloved pet. Once more, local legend Rick Berlin delivers the goods with an excellent EP. Recommended. (Francis DiMenno)

TOM BAKER & THE SNAKES                 

Rum Bar Records

4 Stars 

3 tracks

4 Stars is basically five guys with four guitars on three tracks of red, white and blue rock ’n’ roll. Sorta like The Neighborhoods meet The ‘Mats but you can hear The Stones/Faces influence too. “Doll Eyes,” “Waiting For Nothing,” and “High and Tight” are all loud and aggressive power chord driven tunes on this digital only release that explodes with energy and nice licks. Tom Baker on vocals and guitar, John Brookhouse on guitar/vocals, Charles Hansen on guitar, John Sheeran on bass, and John Blount on drums are former members of Boston rock heavy hitters Worshipper, Watts, Township, The Dirty Truckers, and Gymnasium, and these cats play real well together. Growling and grumbling vocals with stinging guitar licks and a good rhythm section are what to expect on these rocking songs. Recorded at Moon Tower Recording Studios in Davis Square, Somerville, and engineered by Mike Quinn, look for the full length CD to be out in the fall. A bit of punk. A bit of metal. A lot of rock ’n’ roll. Good job guys!  (A.J. Wachtel)


Heavy Rotation Records

Dorm Sessions, Vol. 11

14 tracks

The Dorm Sessions series has always brought a great variety of music exemplifying the diverse talent of Berklee College, and this newest edition is no exception. From the outset, Noe’s “Lady” delivers a smooth, electronic beat-driven experience that only gets better as the seconds pass. Symone’s another standout, with some intense R&B that showcase her amazing vocals and killer sounds. Honeysuckle take things in a very different – but no less impressive route – with some Americana selections. “Let the Light In” has been a big favorite of mine, and I love the ukelele and guitar work – they just sing and shine. Glow Team bring an amazing synth showcase with “Mr. Glow” that blends sounds for a fast-paced, head bobbing time. I could go on, but all you need to know is there isn’t a bad track to be found, and this sampling should give you plenty of new artists to learn about. If this is what the next generation of Boston musicians is capable of, I see good things and better shows ahead. (Max Bowen)


The End of the World

9 tracks

New Bedford’s Gaskill started in the mid-’90s. They played for about 10 years and called it a day. They came back a couple of years ago and have finally put out their first release in about 15 years. Don’t let Beatles and Carpenters covers fool you, this is extremely heavy. Kevin Grant swoons and serenades here and there but he is still a great screamer. His voice brings a little catchy feel to the brutality. A little more metal than their punk rock roots, Gaskill change not with the times, but with their own convictions. Be forewarned, you will be steamrolled and there will be blood. Lot’s of blood. (Eric Baylies)


The Post-American Century

10 tracks

Oh this is fine pickin’ and singin’. The homespunny opening number, “So Much More to Home” is a joyful and yearning song that opens the album with delicate harmonies by Mara Levine. “Sequel” seems like the next chapter of “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. It contains the great line: “We’ve lived our lives with the wind at our backs/ Blown free from the Summer of Love to the winter of AIDS/HIV/ Now nothing’s free, feels like we’re refugees in this post-American century.” The subject matter of “Perelli’s Barber Shop” probably resonates with many young men: “Peeking at the Playboys at Perellis’ Barber Shop.” Who knew? “Tall Against the Wave” is a tribute to a Civil War battle. It impresses like an eye-witness account. “Stay Forever” is the imploring heart of the lover reluctant to say goodbye to the dying beloved. Not an easy song to write I’m sure. “Rock of Ages” is an homage to a welcoming church who welcomes and heals a lost soul. “Mommy Come Quick” was written when Terry saw the parallels between his mother’s childlike behavior with Alzheimer’s, and his childhood memories. A sweet tribute. Terry has a gentle tenor voice and delivers each song with an easy style. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)


Geographic North Label


10 tracks

Do not confuse Landing, from New Haven, Connecticut, with Landed, from Providence. They are both great bands on different ends of the psychedelic spectrum. Landing have been around about 15 years and have over 20 releases including live albums. They change dramatically from album to album, so I will focus just on this fairly recent release. Landing bridge the short gap between ’90s British shoegaze bands and Icelandic dreamscape makers. It is not easy to match laid back glacial vocals over block rocking beats and make it work. Landing make the difficult look easy and sound amazing as they do it. This is a great soundtrack to float in a saltwater filled tub with the strobe lights on, if you have strobe lights in your bathroom. You know, like normal people do. (Eric Baylies)


The Instinct

14 tracks

The newest album from this talented North Shore rock quintet delivers a solid musical assortment, ranging from the mellow, jazzy “Certain Sudden Electrocution,” to the more rock-leaning “Over It.” I really dig the saxophone sounds on “G.I.T.A.R.T.” The 14 tracks on this album really span the gamut of styles, and this isn’t a case of “try everything and see what works.” These guys are good, plain and simple, and the fact that Fully Awake ventures down so many musical avenues shows that they’re not afraid to experiment with some new sounds and ideas. It’s a good trait to have, and one that should serve them well in the future. (Max Bowen)


Montana Peak

Album of Old Time Melodies

14 tracks

The husband and wife duo of Paula Bradley (guitar, banjo uke, banjo) and Bill Dillof (guitar, banjo, harmonica, fiddle) have made quite a name for themselves in western Massachusetts, and for good reason–their reverential treatment of mountain music classics both well-known and obscure make them an American treasure. The temptation with such revivalist projects seems to be to rev up the material to render it more palatable to a modern audience. There is none of that nonsense here. Even the production values, at Sweet Home in Becket, MA, are appropriately subdued (maybe sometimes even too much so). Overall, you’d swear you were listening to some uncharacteristically clean phonograph records from long ago. At its best, Paula Bradley’s voice carries the conviction of the untaught but the technical skill of the trained musician; much the same can be said about Bill Dillof’s vocals.  Highlights include the mournful “Reuben Oh Reuben”; the spritely “Deadheads and Suckers” (with its affinity to “I’m On My Long Journey Home”); the mindlessly joyous “Hot Corn”; the high lonesome vocalizing by Paula Bradley on “Gonna Write Me a Letter”; the tuneful and spunky “Riding in a Chevrolet Six”; the liquescent banjo and fiddle interplay on “Sugar Hill”; the subdued take on “Bound to Ride”; and the warm and friendly version of “Be Kind to a Man While He’s Down”. If I had any critique of this collection it would be that sometimes the duo seems reluctant to really let loose, rendering the tunes a bit musty. This is a minor caveat; the muscianship throughout is technically impeccable, and this recording is a feast for the ears for anyone who dotes upon this type of old-timey Americana. (Francis DiMenno)


Fuel Up

4 tracks

As the first track on this debut EP begins, I’m filled with both a sense of peace and a desire to get up and start traveling. McKenna’s voice has a soothing quality that makes the miles disappear beneath my tires, and the energetic instrumentation gets my heart pumping. It’s a great combination that has me feeling good as the last song winds to a close.

The subject matter is diverse, and “The Last Time I Was Me” is by far my favorite. It’s a reflection on the past and a longing to return to it. I can definitely relate to this, especially when my many responsibilities get too intense and a time when my days were occupied by friends and video games seem very tempting. This EP has a lot to offer, both in the intimate lyrics and the brilliant sounds, and is worth a few listens.  (Max Bowen)



11 tracks

There is something so reassuring about this kind of music. Michele Fay has a sweet and gentle voice, and the band has all the elements it needs for this down home sound – mandolin, guitar, fiddle, banjo and standup bass. Michele’s tunes tell stories about life – “Believe” is a gratitude song about love. “Falling” gives encouragement. “Morning Bird” seems like an old song, with a wistful message, sharing her prayer with a little bird. “It Wouldn’t Hurt You to Try” tells the story of a disappointing love affair gone wrong. I think my favorite song is the wry, Maria Muldaur-ish sounding “Moose in Love.” “Moose in love/ Moonstruck from above/ Loved that Jersey cow/ It’s all over now/ Oooh she was dusty brown/ hanging outside of town/ neath a shady tree/ He refused to leave.” All of these tunes are Grand Ol Opry worthy. They make me think of the kind of songs country folks would love to dance to on a saw-dusted wooden floor. The Michele Fay Band would be extremely enjoyable to see live, I bet they are an audience favorite wherever they play. (Kimmy Sophia Brown)


Sound Of (Eternal Now)

4 tracks

Boston’s Ghost Box Orchestra is back with four long tracks that are more like spiritual journeys than songs. This album will hypnotize you, and not in a sleepy kind of way. They take you on an interstellar overdrive, and what a trip it is. The music can be quite complex at times. Other times they can let one chord shimmer and shake for minutes on end, like Sonic Youth or the Velvet Underground. It’s been about six years since I saw this band at the late great Boston house venue Butcher Shop, and I am long overdue to see them again. Ghost Box Orchestra, along with Magic Shoppe, is one of the best psyche bands Boston has spawned since the original magic mushroom mixed salad days of Ultimate Spinach and Beacon Street Union. (Eric Baylies)


Badass Generation                        

12 tracks

This is a real guitar album complete with great grooves and screaming solos. Connecticut resident Paul Nelson was the second guitarist in the Johnny Winter Band but this release is more rock than blues. Songs like “DownHome Boogie,” “Root To All Evil,” “Swamp Thing” – with Susan Winter on cowbell, “Out of Time,” “Trouble,” “Goodbye Forever,” “Keep It All Together”-with Danny Lewis from Gov’t Mule on Hammond – and “Cold Hearted Women” all follow the same formula. Paul starts off with a nasty riff and the rest of the song either recalls this lick or clear and cool variations of it. This gives his music an internal cohesiveness and combustion that really showcase his guitar virtuosity. Check out the closer “Take It Back” where the song begins then takes up steam and becomes a bulldozer by the end. Paul Nelson on guitars, Morton Fredheim on vocals, Christopher Alexander on bass and Chris Reddan on drums rock with a capital R!    (A.J. Wachtel)


75orless Recotrds

Moving Misfortune

13 tracks

The debut album by this Rhode Island five-piece commences with a wistful country-rock number, “Middle 8,” which is followed by “My Turn,” a glad-making indie-pop toe-tapper. Their cover of the Meat Puppets’ “Up On the Sun” is a mellow confection; “PYT” is a circusy tune about a Pretty Young Thing which puts me in mind of Walter Sickert and His Army of Broken Toys. “Old Relations” varies the pace with a dirge-like lament. “Feel Good” is a spooky near-recitative with a bit of a psychedelic edge which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pebbles compilation. “Hands of Fate” has an invulnerable Bo Diddley-style beat in back of it, with a delivery worthy of Elvis Costello at his grittiest. “Handful of Pills” has an appealing cascading feel in the guitar hook and is sung with an air of insouciant despair. There are enough quality tunes on this inaugural foray to make me look forward to the band’s next outing.(Francis DiMenno)


You’re Better Than This

10 tracks

Exploding In Sound Records

Boston’s Pile do a lot of things and they are great at all of them. Is a ballad breaking out? Are there No Wave parts? Is it fast? Is it furious? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. No, they don’t sound like Yes. Wait, what? Oh,well, whatever, never mind. They have also mastered the loud soft dynamics but are way past the simplicity of Nirvana. This is not quite a noise rock record, it’s more focused than say Nation Of Ulysses but kind of has that ugly beauty. Discord and harmony lay side by side like the lion and the lamb at that great gig in the sky. This is it kids, this is the one. (Eric Baylies)



11 tracks

Great stuff. I love songs with a punk rockabilly fuck you attitude. These cats make a lot of noise  and make no mistake about it this is aggressive testosterone laced rock and roll. Sung patronizingly and  passionately  with rage and fury, and played at the breakneck pace of a 100 mph road race. Drew Indingaro (New Alibis) on lead vocals and guitar, Johnny Custom on upright bass, Jesse Von Kenmore (Shake the Faith/ New Alibis/ The Marvels/ Pug Uglies) on drums, Kim Kendricken (The Allrighters) blowing baritone sax and Charlie MacSteven (Wicked Whiskey) adding lead guitar and vocals play music for hyper-active people. My favorite melodies are: “Blood Moon,” “Gasoline,” “She Just Wants to Rock And Roll,” “Damnation,” and “Bayou Banshees” . You even have to fasten your seat belts for the ballads “El Matador” and “Kings.” In most of the songs, the guitar arrangement has to keep up with the driving beat or vise versa where the drums have to keep up with the frenzied guitar licks. Either way, the result is pleasurable, powerful and real dynamic. All the songs are written by Diablogato and all the music is real red hot. Check it out!   (A.J. Wachtel)


Reverb Room L.P. 

9 tracks

What a great and fitting name for a band. Boston’s The New Highway Hymnal mix the classic and the new. There are traces of the Stone Roses, Ride, and even the Cramps. The track “Isolation” sounds a bit like Bono fronting Radiohead, which is a compliment, though I realize that U2 are not hip anymore, so ignore that if you are too cool for school. These guys could fit in at a Boston Hassle noise fest or opening at the Fleet Center (well, if I booked the Fleet Center, anyway).Mystical, magical, and marvelous… long live The New Highway Hymnal! (Eric Baylies)


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