CD Reviews – Aug

CD-StonesComp

If your act is based in New England and you’d like to get a review of your latest recording, send a disc to T Max/ The Noise, 28 Goodhue St. #406, Salem, MA 01970.

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Lowbudget Records

You Can’t Always Want What You Get

A Lowbudget Tribute to The Stones

two discs – 34 tracks

There are almost two and a half hours of good music and interesting covers on this epic tribute to the greatest rock ’n’ roll band in the world. A collection of songs from the early to middle Stones career that also includes classics and many B-side tunes. You can hear “Gimme Shelter,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Honky-Tonk Woman,” “Satisfaction,” “19th Nervous Breakdown,” “Angie,” and “It’s Only Rock and Roll” as well as lesser known Jagger/ Richards compositions “Hand of Fate,” “We Love You,” “Loving Cup,” “Child of the Moon,” “Coming Down Again,” “I Got the Blues,” “I Am Waiting,” and “Moonlight Mile.” And it’s fabulous. The cover art is a take on the Exile on Main Street album with human freaks shown in black and white photos, and producer Tim Casey made the sound clean and clear with perfect separation. You can hear  everything. There is so much good music on these two discs I don’t have the space to tell you about every cut but here are some of my favorites: Paul McDonough’s goth/ punk version of “As Tears Go By” with the loud guitars, the rocking piano in The Abzurdists’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” Adventure Set’s dreamy punk cover of “2000 Light Years From Home,” Louder Than Milk’s rocking “Rip This Joint,” Hummingbird Syndicate’s psychedelic groove on “Child of the Moon,” Bird Mancini’s psychedelic “Jumping Jack Flash,” the jazzy, swinging “Respectable” from Electric Standard, The Rolling Bones’ “It’s Only Rock and Roll” done less like Chuck Berry and more like Lou Reed, The Junk Dealers’ grungy “Heartbreaker,” and The Trap Dorz’ psychedelic punk version of “19th Nervous Breakdown.” I really dig the opening cut on disc two: David Greenberger’s “Everything Spoken Between Songs in the Order That They Appear on All The Widely Released Official Live Albums By The Rolling Stones.” This is genius. And pretty funny. David just speaks all the onstage banter from each of their many live recordings in his lone, emotionless voice.

In 1994, I came out with Boston Gets Stoned on Mickey O’s BoTown Records. I got my friend the legendary producer Jimmy Miller, who produced all of the original music for The Rolling Stones from Beggar’s Banquet to Goat’s Head Soup, to do the final mixing and mastering for this earlier local compilation. Twenty four years later it’s time for my original idea to be revisited and to have another great Stones tribute from another rocking generation of local musicians. Fun facts: Bird Mancini is the only band to appear on both releases and Mr. Curt appeared on my first compilation 1988’s Boston Does The Beatles with his band Mr. Curt’s Camaraderie doing a punk version of The Fab Four’s “It’s Only Love.”  Three songs from my decades old release, “Sway,” “Dead Flowers,” and “Street Fighting Man” are redone very differently on Lowbudget Records’ project as a sign of the times. This great double disc closes the circle for me and opens the door for all of you. Very cool and enjoyable to hear another generation’s take on The Rolling Stones. Check it out and turn the volume up to TEN.    (A.J. Wachtel)Cal'sAd-Tix

FIL PACINO

Death By Lions Records

Death By Lions

12 tracks

The first track of this 2013 entry recalls the MOR bands of yore; specifically, Dire Straits, The Police, and even Jules & the Polar Bears, albeit with the production values of the present day. Overall, this CD is a slick and enjoyable romp through tunes you might find on the playlist of a not particularly progressive college radio station. “Sleepless” makes a stab at profound beauty, but instead comes across as mildly synthetic. Excellent as some of the songs are – notably “Wander” – the whole project bears a faint whiff of self-satisfaction at having painlessly mastered so many mainstream tropes: the “mysterious” song (“Without Knowing”); the attention-grabbing crypto-hoedown (“Farewells”); the tuffcore manifesto (“Death By Lions”); plus a thousand-mile-stare quasi-raga, and a delicate “look at the beauty of nature” dreamscape. Death by Lions is better than I’m making it out to be; I’m just jaded – because I’ve simply heard it all before. (Francis DiMenno)

WISHBONE ZOE

Fossil’s Dream

12 tracks

This is my second Wishbone Zoe CD. I loved the last one that I reviewed by them, “All Of These Oddities,” so much, that it was with some trepidation that I approached this one, simply because I admit that I am cynical and the odds of hearing two CDs in a row that I liked this much were not high at all. Happily, I can say that I was wrong in this assumption. Both Wishbone Zoe, and this CD, “Fossil’s Dream,” stand as proof to me that the brilliant lightning flash of originality really can, and does strike in the same place twice sometimes.

I am fascinated and enchanted by Saera Kochanski’s voice, innovative style, writing, and all that she and her band have done so far. I admit that it will not be to everyone’s taste. You are either going to “click” with this music, or you are not. I just don’t see being on the fence about it. And that’s okay. It’s artsy and earthy at the same time. Brainy and playful, all at once. The element of surrealism in any form of art, can often feel like a threatening thing to let yourself go with, but Wishbone Zoe, manages to keep it all friendly and fun. Avant Garde art, completely void of any airs of pretentiousness. To my mind, that is akin to finding a Unicorn in this world, which interestingly enough, is exactly what you will find on the cover of the CD. A toy one, too!  It’s an experience that I find joyful and light.

The one problem in trying to explain what their music actually sounds like, is that I just don’t really feel that there is anything else quite like it with respect to comparisons. People typically hear music described, and question, “But what does it sound like???” I can only say that it is more about what it feels like. Experimental, trippy, benevolent, trance/house/ambient/punky, it gives access to both childhood revisited and even reinvented, evoking an inviting place for your mind and spirit to mesh with. Mischievous, but innocent as well.

“Fossil’s Dream,” really does sound like a literal “play session.” Both musically, and quite literally, as in a session of playing.  I can’t really say that any particular track is a favorite for me but then, I’m not really sure that they were meant to be. I love all of it.  I really liked the random additions of the recorded voices of children here and there. “Gumbo Jumbo,” is a funky and fun track. “Mellow-Tron,” has a distinctly tropical, and yes, mellow flavor to it. “Pulmona Lisa”is definitely a shining light where Saera K’s great vocals plus the amazing instrumentals are a total win. Really, I love them all. Can I state emphatically, that you will? Of course not. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But I really hope that you will at least try this one out. I just believe that even if it’s not somewhere you would typically go, that you may very well ending up enjoying it. Have fun. Sometimes we forget that, but no worries,  thankfully, Wishbone Zoe is there to help!  (R.J. Ouellette)

KISS CONCERT

Humour

5 tracks

Worcester band Kiss Concert are a fairly serious band, so I’m not sure why they named this record Humour. The funniest thing about them is probably the band name, which might get them some attention. They can be catchy in the way that Motorhead were catchy, but way less metal. They seem to have verses that are influenced by television and choruses influenced by the Bay City Rollers or Mudhoney. So, yeah, there are many layers here, and they are as unexpected as they are great. “Fear And Loathing In The WWE” starts sounding like “Bad Leroy Brown” before the piano falls down the stairs, out the window,into the earth, and straight into hell, except there is no piano, and this song will lift your spirit into heaven, if that’s the kind of stuff you are into. Humour contains some great stuff. (Eric Baylies)

TOM GUERRA

Casa Del Sol Records

Trampling Out The Vintage

10 tracks

This is a guitar album with a tight band and good songs, and these cuts showcase Connecticut native Guerra’s creative and very talented playing.  The music is old school rock ’n’ roll with ballads and rockers but even the slower melodies have a musical heaviness to them. Check out “Hard To Love,” “Grow On Your Own,” and the more rocking “Super Moon” to hear what I mean. Tom is a real guitar whiz and all the songs have the same formula; power chords, strong rhythm and great riffs form the basis of the presentation. Sorta like Deep Purple/ Tommy Bolin meets Leslie West. Growling guitar with a clear and ringing tone is the focus, and heaviness and great licks provide the sound and fury. Listen to his cover of the Mama Cass ’60s pop song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, “Make Your Own Kind Of Music,” or Dylan’s “Pay In Blood.” “The Brill Building” song is still poppy but now with louder power chords driving it, and Bob’s tune sounds more like a Stones song and Guerra plays it in open G tuning; which adds much more power to the take. All the other songs are written by Guerra. My two favorite compositions, the opener “All Purpose Song,” and “Tell The World” are radio friendly rockers that just jump out of the speakers. Great feel. Screaming guitar. On his second solo effort ex- Mambo Sons front man Guerra pummels the guitars and sings, Kenny Aaronson plays bass, Morgan Fisher is on piano/ organ, Mike Kosacek pounds, and Matt Zeiner commandeers the Hammond organ and piano parts. These cats can play!   (A.J. Wachtel)

THE 7CS

Long Odds and Loose Ends

8 tracks
Every once in a while I run up against a release that is difficult to review. Not because the music isn’t good but instead because it is difficult to neatly categorize. If say The 7Cs play FM radio rock ’n’ roll, what does that mean? Does “FM radio” even exist anymore. I’m not convinced that it does. The trouble for me as a reviewer is that’s exactly what I hear when I play Long Odds and Loose Ends – FM radio rock ’n’ roll.

The 7Cs’ brand of rock ’n’ roll is timeless thought. If they released this album in the ’70s or ’80s I would have compared them to Kiss or Aerosmith. If they came along in the ’90s I could have said they sound like Nada Surf or the Screaming Trees. Maybe in the early aughts I probably would have tossed The Strokes as a reference. Their sound has enough breadth to at one moment evoke The Kinks (“One Big House”) and in the next borrow from The New York Dolls (“Monkey Bar Lover”).

With all that said, don’t let the limitations of my skills as a reviewer stand in the way of this record. How can you go wrong with music that has kinship with each of those artists? Long Odds and Loose Endsis a fantastic rock album. This style of rock has been popular since the late ’60s and will never go out of style. And with that being the case, I recommend that you check them out.   (George Dow)

JEFF AND JANE

The Middle

11 tracks

Living proof that the old adage “the family that plays together stays together” is a truism, husband and wife artists Jeff and Jane Hudson started out in late ’70s punk/ new wave band The Rentals, and today this electronic duo combines synth pop with guitar driven post-punk, and produces a Devo inspired almost European industrial sound. And it’s a good mix. Jane is a great poet with a good ear for melody and Jeff provides the rhythms. The music is driven by a drum machine surrounded by melodic riffs and artsy arrangements. There’s a lot going on in these songs and in a sense it’s almost like Jeff is taming about two hundred tracks. Check out the uptempo opening cut “The Middle,” Jane’s sultry vocals in “Innocent,” and  the electronic funk of my favorite song “Gertrude Stein,” with it’s cool clavinet. I also dig the Devo-ish “Los Alamos,” and the punk “Friday.” Jeff’s good guitar work in all the songs sounds like it was done in one or two takes which also gives a punk feel to the release. Listen to the spacey and cold mechanics of the closing cut “Sleet Blues” to hear what I mean. In the middle of a tune, all of a sudden you’ll hear something unexpected and you’ll grin and think “that’s cool.” I like this latest release, The Middle, from this synthwave couple and so will you.  (A.J. Wachtel)

BELLEROPHON

Teosinte

5 tracks

Bellerophon is the solo project of Mauricio Ossa of Chile, now living in Providence, RI. It sounds like a full band, but Mauricio plays all the instruments, and there are a lot of things going on in these songs. The record is kind of a throwback synth pop album that could have come out 30 years ago, yet sounds as fresh as can be. Although it doesn’t sound like Stereolab, it reminds me of them in the way that it has poppy vocals over what could be Neu! or Faust underneath. It somehow reminds me of both New Order and Billy Idol at the same time, maybe its the handclaps or it could be the attitude. Come to think of it, this Teosinte reminds me of myself, a little short, but wicked nice! (Eric Baylies)

JAY PSAROS

PB and Jay Records

Jay Psaros

10 tracks

The opening tune “Young Man” calls to mind your standard-issue sensitive singer-songwriter product with shades of “The Boxer” and the first Paul Simon record, and with superadded steel guitars. Nice, delicate; subtly produced; but nothing spectacular, and maybe that’s the problem. What do we ultimately get from listening to this CD? We get a mildly funky Caribbean vibe with the perfectly bland “Downtime”; we get more touchy-feely balladry with “Whiskey in the Rain”; we get a wistful lullaby of ‘what is the world coming to’ in “Modern Times”: and we get a soothing but faintly ludicrous country song called “Barroom Singer”; we get a super-mellow but admittedly lovely vocal duet with heartrending violin called “Sapa Valley Love Song,” which is best of show. This is followed by a couple more Simon-esque toe-tappers, plus a perfectly unassuming jazzy number (“Time to Go Home”) which makes Michael Franks look like a meat-eater; and then there’s the dreamy but mostly perfectly underwhelming “Underneath the Moon,” replete with a short section of grandiose strings. Folks as dote on a mellow setting in their tuneage will likely find this most satisfactory as their relaxation therapy.  (Francis DiMenno)

TOWN MEETING

If I Die

11 tracks

There’s a lot to like on this debut folk/ rock/ Americana release but the first thing that you notice and love is the gorgeous harmonies ever present on all the songs. These beautiful voices give the whole production a very comfortable country feel and sound. They are provided by brothers Luke (guitar), Russell (cajon, drums) and Brendan Condon (harp), whose instinctive singing and vocal arrangements are the driving force behind this Ayer, Massachusetts band. Dean Adrien (Orphan) plays guitar and Tim Cackett mans the bass and mandolin, and their music sounds like it would fit in everywhere from a coffeehouse to an arena. Sorta like if Crosby, Stills & Nash played the same set in your living room before their gig at the Garden. And they are interesting because while their music has many obvious influences their taste spans the whole spectrum of the genres. Take Americana ballads for instance: “If This Were A Movie,” and  “Leave The Light On” are country-ish, “Phoenix,” “Verge” with the Dylan harp and “Wash My Hands” are more folk influenced and “Orange And Red,” “Digging,” and “Missionary Street” have a bit of country blues in them. Sorta like The Ozark Mountain Daredevils meet Nickel Creek meet The Lumineers. They remind me a bit of the ’80’s band Scruffy The Cat in terms of that group’s super-catchy songs, interesting  instrument usage, and with an easily identifiable Americana/ garage punk sound. My favorite track is the opening cut “If I Die” with it’s great harmonies and super-solid delivery. Great music. A great listen.  (A.J. Wachtel)

LEAP OF FAITH ORCHESTRA

The Expanding Universe

2 tracks

Do not be deceived by two songs. This CD is 90 minutes of pure improvised bliss. Free jazz, noise, rock, it’s all here, but mostly free jazz. This might be among the “free-est recordings I have ever heard, right up with Arthur Doyle, Albert Ayer, or Henry Cow. There are so many musicians, and so many instruments, that it is difficult to keep track of what’s going on. This is a fantastic, amazing record. I suggest you check out some of their other recordings online. The Expanding Universe is not easy listening, but the patient listener will be rewarded. (Eric Baylies)

POWERANIMAL

A.D.

6 tracks

For openers, we hear a take on that old warhorse “Gloria” with a tune called “Complete Frustration,” and this more-or-less sets the tone for the rest of this collection: it’s blisteringly raw garage punk (and thrash) with some endearing touches – a groovy bass solo here; a yelping vocal there; an overall attitude of not giving a shit. But the drumming is rudimentary; the vocals are shouted and snarled rather than sung; and none of the minimally produced tracks make a lasting impression except the somewhat ambitious “Blind Eye.”   (Francis DiMenno)

DUKE ROBILLARD

Blues – Full Circle

13 tracks

It’s pretty much a guarantee that after your first listen to this remarkable release you will be sure that these players are in the best bar band around today. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Duke on guitar and vocals, Bruce Bears on keys, Brad Hallen on upright and electric bass and Mark Teixeira on drums are as tight as they come. Guests Sax Gordon Beadle, vocalist Sugar Ray Norcia and legendary Thunderbirds guitarist Jimmy Vaugan add their tremendous talents to the mix and bring the overall audio electricity up a notch. Hear Sax Gordon wail along with Sugar Ray’s passionate vocals on Jimmy Lewis’ “Last Night.” And check out Stevie Ray’s older brother Jimmy and Duke challenge each other on their co-written “Shufflin and Scufflin.” In case you’re interested, the last guitar solo is done by Jimmy. What a powerhouse band. The right chemistry is there and they are the perfect performers to provide the fantastic feel behind every note played. Listen to Duke’s ever-present beautiful guitar tone communicating every creative and inspiring solo he emotes. Robillard wrote most of the songs recently, but the last three on the CD, “You Used to Be Sugar,” “Work Waitin’ On,” and “Come With Me Baby,” he composed about 35 years ago and were never recorded before. I really dig “Blues For Eddie Jones,” which was Guitar Slim’s real name, a solid Chicago trad blues tune, and the boogie-woogie piano opening by Bruce Bears along with the great vocals by Kelly Hunt on “The Mood Room.” As a blues rhythm section, Brad and Mark are the best in the business. Just listen to the solidarity and power in their playing. The great bar band r&b sound of “Fool About My Money” and “No More Tears” reinforces my original premise and showcases what these cats are all about. Great band. Great release. End of story.   (A.J. Wachtel)

JAKE DURKIN

Jake Durkin

# 12 tracks

So, here I am, listening to Jake Durkin’s self-titled CD, and I have to say that this is the type of scenario that presents me with a dilemma, which as both a listener and a reviewer, I have come to dread. Not an unusual one really, as given my personal tastes in music, I run across this often. The crux of it is that the artist is obviously technically speaking, really talented, but I am simply not feeling the music that they are playing. I am hearing it just fine, but unless I can feel what someone is singing, it leaves me feeling that the heart and soul of it is missing.

Also, part of the problem for me, is that this CD is a bit too mainstream for my taste, but even aside from that, I really just need more focus placed upon feeling and character in music. What I want to hear has a lot less to do with perfecting something technically, and a lot more to do with raw emotions and something within it which leaves some unique mark of originality. It’s not enough for me to hear it. I really need to feel it, and I find that this is lacking for me here. This may very well have to do with my own personal preferences, which embrace a certain personal trademark quirkiness within the music that I usually gravitate towards. I love quirkiness, I love imperfections, I love character, I love depth, ( sometimes).

All of this, only adds to the experience, and/ or character that is so crucial for me in the music that I cherish the most.

Really, the bottom line is that I am simply not feeling this, and while I will never say, “never,” this is  most likely not going to work for me. I may very well be the minority here. We can definitely agree to disagree. I get that others may very well love this music, but it’s just not to my taste. I took my time, I kept an open mind, I listened objectively, but I’m afraid that if I am forced to say, “Yay,” or “Nay,” I am going with the latter. Just not my thing, but by all means, do as I did. Keep an open mind. Decide for yourself.  (R.J. Ouellette)

WOLFMAN & THE BRIMSTONE BOYS

Back Alley Abortion

6 tracks

Wolfman & The Brimstone Boys are a Providence horror themed punk rock band from Providence. They are a sort of old school throwback to shock rock punks the Dictators Mentors, and G.G. Allin, but with better songs that you can hum along to as you get destroyed in the pit. As you can guess by the album title, they are not exactly politically correct and make no apologies for that. This album was recorded live and the sound quality is pretty good. If they polished this up a slight bit they would have the Misfits and Rob Zombie opening for them, instead of the other way around. I think they are content at doing what they do, when they want to do it, smashing down walls and not having anyone tell them what to do. On Back Alley Abortion Wolfman & The Brimstone Boys take no prisoners, so watch out, punk. (Eric Baylies)

THE 7CS 

Long Odds & Loose Ends  

8 tracks

This is mostly predictable meat and potatoes rock ’n’ roll, with curiously subdued production values. The keyboards help give them a certain sound which they can call their own, but they utterly fail to conceal the unfortunate mediocrity of the standard fare on offer here. “Living By Candlelight” is a refreshing singalong ala The Kinks; “Wicked Wicked Ways” is initially promising as a rock pronunciato but then devolves into bad bar blues; “The Problem and the Cure” is a curiously off-kilter song, and not in a good way; “Rock n Roll Y’Own” is just plain ludicrous. I’ll have to pass on this one. (Francis DiMenno)

LOS GREYS

Family Acid Baptism

8 tracks

Los Greys are from Allston, Rock City. This is the ultimate headphone album. This is a great record to run around in the bullpen at Fenway Park blind folded, you know, so you can trip balls and stuff. If Tangerine Dream collaborated with Leonard Cohen and everyone took five million hits of acid it would not sound as good as this, though that might sound pretty good. I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name and I had this on in my headphones. The batteries died and the acid leaked into my brain, and it sounded better and better. Los Greys are one of the better bands to emerge out of Boston in the past 50 years. (Eric Baylies)

JAWZWA

Jawzwa

10 tracks

Jawzwa is a solo artist that sounds like a full band. He plays every instrument in the world, and if it doesn’t exist he will build it. This record is poppy and weird and wonderful. Jandek and Beck comparisons are fair, but this Boston dude sounds like no one you’ve heard. Jawzwa is the next big thing in the Boston underground. This self-titled CD is great but he’s also on point live, too, so check him out, Beantown! (Terry Boulder)

 

Comments

CD Reviews – Aug — 1 Comment

  1. Recently discovered Jay Psaros. Saw The Mavericks at Cohassett Music Circus in June with some friends and Jay was the opening act. Loved his music. Purchased his CD and play it all the time. Yes, his voice and guitar style is easy/plesant to listen to ( like James Taylor ). Inspiration comes in many forms, including others music. It’s when an artist can take from others and make it “their own”. Jay Psaros has done that.