CD Reviews – Sept

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Imaginary Dream

10 tracks

This is a pretty cool CD in a number of ways.  The gritty blues ring out true. Bobby Leger’s worn matured voice adds a believable factor and gives the lyrics a true blues feel.  The inspiration for the blues on Imaginary Dream is Mary Lou Lord, who made her slice of fame by connecting with another famous artist. Bobby has piggybacked onto the story: the late-in-life artist finds love, loses love, dreams about love. The songs are basic blues with a trumpet, organ, piano, and background vocals adding to the basic guitar, bass and drums. “Hideout” begs for soulful female voices to sing the background. “Will You Miss Me When I Go” hoists a red flag for radio airplay with its B.B. King feel. “Light the Light” has Bobby in his upper vocal register sounding a bit like AC/DC. “Evil Hearted Girl” draws a little from “You’ve Got to Change Your Evil Ways” but Bobby’s song is stronger in the finger pointing. He gets his hope up in the Stones-ish “She’s Coming Back Home to Me” and his emotions peak in the instrumental “Movin’.” But he lands in a good place to close the disc with the sweet sounding track “Dreams Are Hard to Find,” though the sentiment is still sad.  Imaginary Dream and its heavy love lost theme holds together well as a whole and could easily transform into a rock opera if Bobby desired it.

Jimmy Tournas’s cover photo hits the mark in creating the imaginary dream: Bobby is playing guitar in a field of giant mushrooms with a couple of Through the Looking Glass characters hanging around and a sort of Emerald City looming in the background.  Excellent job on many levels.  (T Max)


Imaginary Dream

10 tracks

The cool cuts on this North Shore guitar ace’s new release were all written over the years by Leger and Charlie Flannery and can be generally divided into two categories: Memphis r&b with great horns and keyboards and powerful ballads featuring his rugged, weary and passionate vocals. The name of the game on this CD are good songs, scorching and stinging guitar leads and a band that plays really well together. For top notch  bar room r & b check out: the opener “Hard Times,” “Hideout,” “That Letter,” the rocking tunes “She’s Coming Back Home” and “Light the Light” and the uptempo and radio friendly “Waiting For The One.”  For straight – ahead blues listen to “Will You Miss Me When I Go.” The ballads include: “Evil Hearted Girl” and the closing cut “Dreams Are Heard To Find.” My favorite melody is the instrumental “Movin’ ” because it really showcases his screaming licks. Bobby plays guitar and sings, Ron Chane is on bass, Alizon Lissance (The Love Dogs) sings backup and tinkles the ivories, Jeff Casper pounds and Leger’s son Sebastian blows the horn. Donald Crockett Perry is heard on the conga drums and the album credits list Mary Lou Lord as the inspiration.

Leger’s style can be briefly summarized as Jimi meets Jimmy (Hendrix and Page) and this Joe Canatelli and Leger produced album is a great listen. Turn this music up LOUD.     (A.J. Wachtel)


Biltmore Music

Revolutions and Romantics

11 tracks

Swirly ecstasy rock from Providence, RI; the incipient classic “Never Let You Go” comes roaring out of the starting gate, and the parade of dark sunshine pop, swoony and delirious, proceeds unremittingly. There are some very nice tunes amid the electric rainbow glitter, including the broken and stuttery chantey “Neon.” The catchy “Dirty Pillow” is full of  dynamic touches, replete with a sock-o-delic guitar solo; the inimitably springy “Going Out” reveals an introspective side of the band reminiscent of early-’80s neo-psychedelia; the beautiful “Stars in the Attic” is a touching lullaby which resolves into grandiose jangle. This is a high-quality production worthy of repeated listens; the best songs constitute a musical feast. Highly recommended. (Francis DiMenno)



10 tracks

Admittedly, Comanchero is one of my favorite local bands, so I may have a bit of a bias as I review their eighth release Thrown. That being said the collection of songs featured in Throwndoes not disappoint, holding true to Comanchero’s trademarked blend of American themed jam music, yet at the same time, each songs venturing out on its own undiscovered territory.  As a long time fan, I was alarmed at first listen by what seemed to be a heavy reliance on synths and keyboard, but after a few listens, it becomes something my ears can’t live without (much similar to the reaction I had the first time I listened to Morphine’s Like Swimming album).   In “Citgo” Caribbean rhythms meld with traditional country and bluegrass. “Ghost Creator” dances with reggae. “Watching Rome Burn” is classic barroom Honky-tonk mixed with New Orleans funk and multi part harmonies.  As one would expect from these veteran musicians, Comanchero’s performances are exceptional. Jim Levin and Greg Moon bring so much to the collective on percussion and drums, leading the charge on these experimental rhythms.  Andrew Kramer and Sam Margolis take the reins driving some infectious melodies. They also work on the back end as engineers, recording much of Thrown in their own home studios. Bob Moon tops off this release with some tasty licks, even taking a stab at singing lead on “Make Me Whole,” a folky pop song, reminiscent of a modern Donovan. (Kier Byrnes)


The Great Indoors

11 tracks

I met Sam Bayer at Giuseppe’s Singer/ Songwriter Shuffle and immediately took to his smart city/folk approach to performance and songwriting. He’s got kind of a high-end attack with a direct shot at the cerebellum, causing you to think sometimes and laugh at others. When his CD arrived in my mailbox, I wondered how well this approach would work in the recording studio. He gets right to the point on The Great Indoors with a cool acoustic rhythm and the declaration “I Ain’t In It For the Money” (’cause there ain’t money in it) in his edgy voice that doesn’t leave you guessing the lyric. He almost over-pronounces to make his point clear. And he gives us a lot to take in. He’s full of an abundance of clever lyrics. In “Crimes Against the Blues” he admits he hasn’t suffered much in life but does it all with phrases that bring the blues to mind. To spice up the ending there’s sort of a talking drum solo. “I Wanna Be Your Henchman” shows Sam’s admiration of the colorful life of crime and those who choose the excitement of the dark side. “Wagon” is a sad love song to alcohol, or to a woman who has the same effect on him. “The Handyman’s Waltz,” with its catchy chorus of “Three parts McGiver, one part Magoo/ The world is my toolbox it’s true/ I’ve managed to solve all the problems I’ve found/ with whatever’s been lying around” is dedicated to his dad… which reminds me of my dad who gave me his old Chevy Malibu that was being held together with duct tape. Sam has written “I Wanna Write Me a Bad Song” but I don’t think he’s capable of it. He jams this one full of typical ways you can ruin a song but he’s so aware of what it takes to fail that he’ll always end up on the right side of tastes. “Not Quite the Truth” is a tale of a compulsive liar who tries to explain his way out of every untruth he congers up. It’s wrapped up in an acoustic blues progression. The title track “The Great Indoors” bounces along like a Jimmy Buffet vacation tune. In it Sam bathes in the joy of his control of the situation – “I am the king of my thermostat/ halogen sun at my fingertips/ rubber duckies sail in my bathtub seas/ and beach blanket laid out beneath my electric breeze” verses the reality of actually being in nature – “There are signs that warn of bears if we go off the path… There are tiny little creature at the edge of the wood, that would eat you if they could.” He ends The Great Indoors with another track about songwriting, “The Songs That Write Me.” He describes the talent of his younger self – “A knack for staying in time and a taste for internal rhyme and a hook as he approaches the chorus.” And Sam Bayer still has it. He’s an intelligent songwriter with a great feel for the flow of music. Pick up The Great Indoors if you’re looking for something that’s three steps up from the ordinary.   (T Max)


Ferocious Fucking Teeth

Safety Meeting Records

11 tracks

Ferocious Fucking Teeth are based in New London, CT. They traveled to Chicago to record this album with Steve Albini. This record explodes out of the speakers from the the first second to the last note.  The first track “One Bright Light” reminds me of Ministry but the rest of the record is more in the vein of Today Is The Day, Tar, and Unsane. The song “Fred” is just over a minute long and sounds a bit like Kyuss. Ferocious Fucking Teeth takes these influences, or maybe accidents of history, and creates a sound that is 99 percent there own. Steve Albini has recorded some amazing music in his life, but this album has to rank up there as one of the very best, and that is really saying something. (Eric Baylies)


The Velvet Drapery

5 tracks

What is an Ikagila? Is it a Finnish furniture store or a Swedish fish? Damned if I know. This is a heavy instrumental album with little singing and long  complex songs and arrangements. Is Ikagila Berklee kids with a Rush cover band on the side? Their Bandcamp makes them a bit of a mystery, I guess they prefer to let the music do the talking. The Velvet Drapery is fairly heavy on the Tool influence, with a bit of that kind of Mars Volta Latin percussion thrown in. I don’t know how only two guys can get this many sounds. The must do a million overdubs, so I don’t know how they will pull this off live, but I’d like to see then try it. It’s heavy but not quite heavy metal. (Terry Boulder)



3 tracks

Silverteeth are a Newport, Rhode Island duo that seem to have a time machine in their studio. They effortlessly move back and forth between current sounds and classic ’80s sounds and ’60s melodies. They cross that (Clairborne Pell) bridge between Modern English, Icicle Works, and REM with the Mamas & The Papas and Byrds. This way too short EP is by turns beautiful, rocking, and magnificent. These songs are both familiar and alien. In the changing musical landscape that we exist in, the question is, what is this? Is this college rock or commercial? The lines have been blurred. I don’t know how this will be marketed, but this should rise to the very top of wherever the powers that be decide to lump them in with. I’m reluctant to say that Silverteeth is one of the best albums of the the year when it is so very brief, but I am excited to hear more, much more. (Eric Baylies)


Zen Tarr  

11 tracks

A highly ambient album, reputedly improvised in the studio, and mostly driven by synthesizer electronics, albeit with superadded violin, guitar, bass and percussion. I will resist the impulse to say that much of it seems Eno-esque. The most accessible tracks are the reverb-laden “Gunk Loops”; the heartrending “Reprieve”, and the dreamy soundscape “Half a Sliff,” with Richard Carr’s emotive violin at the forefront. Lovers of this type of avant-garde ambience will be well pleased by this effort. (Francis DiMenno)


Skin Drone

9 tracks

The team of Otto Kinzel and Erik Martin have crafted a crushing, deliciously intense assortment of devastation. This one that takes me back to hitting Soundchasers for the latest albums from Cryptopsy, Necrosis, and Nile. It’s the sound of nostalgia – hitting my first show to see Eternal Suffering at the Lions Club and spending the next day wondering what that damn ringing sound was. Good times.

This metal/industrial duo hit hard and fast with the opening of each track and keeps the pressure constant with a steady, slamming beat. Guitar and drums are like endless cannon salvos, one atop another.

The lyrics from Martin are shredding and vicious, the kind of verbal assault you’re glad to hear. Vocal effects in songs like “God Complex” create ghostly wails and echoes, a nice touch and strong enhancement to the album. The opening of “Death Sentence,” with Martin saying “I want your blood, then I want your soul, and I want them both, right, fucking, now!” sets the tone for nine tracks of wonderful brutality.

Skin Drone is old-school in the lyrics and instrumentation, and incorporates the tech to create some killer effects. It’s the sound that defined my teens and 20s, and hearing this makes me want to see if the bands I grew up hearing have put out anything new. I hope these guys remain for years to come so that the next generation remembers what this genre really sounds like. (Max Bowen)



11 tracks

Do you consider guitars a nuisance? This recording features only mandolins, drums and various ambient noises. It’s completely free of guitars or bass guitars, which is remarkable, as guitars have become synonymous with the vast majority of modern-day rock ’n’ roll.  That being said, this album does indeed rock, even if it is sans-guitar. What it lacks in guitar, as the album/ band title suggests, it makes up for in creative arrangements of all things mandolin: octave mandolins, electric five-string mandolins, mandocello, mandola and of course, the traditional plain old mandolin.  The city’s finest mandolinists do a bang up job showcasing their talents, proving the mandolin is a bit more versatile than one would think. Matt Glover shows off his fretwork with Bach’s “Musique Concrete” and Aaron Goff and Jimmy Ryan battle it out over eight strings in Goff’s original composition, “Allegheny Ridge.” The album from start to finish is a keeper; it’s a good example of out of the box thinking in musical composition. It’s become one of my go to CDs whenever I have a long drive to the mountains or am trying to impress fellow audiophiles at a dinner party. (Kier Byrnes)


Permanent Wave

14 tracks

This all instrumental album is chock full of interesting surf riffs and passionate playing. The songs are all aggressive. They are all ominous. And they are all performed with the necessary nervousness and jittery-ness required for authenticity. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon would have loved this release. “Boogie Boardwalk” could have been in Beach Blanket Bingo, and “Pearl Harbor” should have been in Gidget Goes Hawaiian. The rest of the music sounds like a soundtrack for a ’60s fictional feature film. Riding on the crest of this wave are Dave Esposito on guitars and reverb, Jamie Huggins on bass, Bob Damiano on guitars and keys and drumming dervish Rick Sanger. Esposito, Huggins and Sanger composed some of the music together. Damiano solely wrote others and they do three very interesting covers. The 1963 Rocking Rebels hit “Wild Weekend” is wild, the Herb Alpert hit “Spanish Flea” is estupendo and they even eclectically tackle “The Cantina Band” from the 20th Century Fox film Star Wars; written by ex-Boston Symphony Orchestra bandleader John Williams. All the music sounds vaguely familiar and that’s a good sign that the band is playing up to expectations. Performing good surf music that keeps your attention all the time on every song is a tough nut to crack but these cats really rise to the occasion. Check out: “Pull Toy,” “If Pete Could Surf,” “Blue Fonda,” “Linda’s Bench” and “Mr. Moto” for foot tapping nostalgia. While listening to this, I’m thinking the only thing missing is the sun and the cute chicks in bikinis.    (A.J. Wachtel)


The Middle

11 tracks

Well, one of our all-time favorite Boston bands, The Rentals, echo back to reality with their prime motivating force, techno wizards Jeff and Jane Hudson releasing The Middle, a CD which includes two re-worked Rentals classics, “Elephants” and “Gertrude Stein.” Opening with the title track, “The Middle” we encounter a forest of cosmic sounds, Jeff Hudson giving an hypnotic reading that climbs a spiral audio ladder gathered from some hidden place of inner space. “Innocent” follows – a haunting melody Jane sings as if locked in some glass prism, the synth-bassline directs as it also drives the dance beat.  This music would be perfect to blend into the deep house nights at Club Bohemia in Cambridge, and would merge the underground rock with the dance music which currently play to two separate audiences.  The emphatic piano stakes the claim of the song’s title.

With a thump-a-thump bassline Jane indulges Captain (Star Trek Next Generation) Jean Luc Picard’s favorite line with “Make It So,” bringing back thoughts of Boston’s November Group and its explorations of these continuous vibrations and themes.  “Friday 1” is simply amazing, 3-D depth with persistence of aural vision. The guitars annunciate as the keyboards set the pace, drums rollicking along as if a human got inside the computer beat

The three minutes and fifty-three seconds of track 6  – “Up Til Now” – groove along with the proficiency we’ve come to expect from the sound research that this collaborative engage in. The vocal reads/sings the lyric in an authoritative manner, commanding to keep up with the soldier like instrumentation. With Greg Hawks going ukulele and Lord Manuel Smith exercising his creativity in an alternate reality, Jeff and Jane have the genre cornered throughout this New England region.  This is synth rock meets Metropolis, touches of techno, machine shop, industrial, electronica all swirling and cascading as in the delightful “Forever.”

“Los Alamos” goes back to the themes from the duo’s Manhattan Project in the ’80s, Jeff asking the favor, the music on a sideways roller coaster, an eerie piece but one of the best on a consistently solid outing.  “Victory” and “Sleet Blues” close out this imaginative disc, dissimilar and making for an interesting conclusion. “Sleet Blues” winding and turning, bordering more on synth jazz than blues, but enough elements of the latter to qualify a spot in the title.  (Joe Viglione)


Wake the Ghosts of Night

11 tracks

The Invisible Hours hail from Providence. What we have here is a nice collection of rock songs with some subtle psyche influences, more shoegazey in a ’90s kind of way. The music is very British without the accents. This is excellent driving music, when driving your yellow submarine or your beautiful balloon, but beware, you might get lost.  Very moody and atmospheric,Wake the Ghosts of Night is aptly titled and a long dark journey into the light. (Eric Baylies)


Cheeseballs to the Wall

8 tracks

The Guilloteenagers (Gheee-OH-teenagers) CD Cheese Balls to the Wall had Club Bohemia resplendent in… cheeseballs, of course, for the record release party for this excellent and consistent disc.  “The Guilloteenagers Are Back” blasts open the disc with early Alice Cooper meeting iconic Boston punk band Unnatural Axe and it doesn’t let up. “50 Seconds” takes the Black Sabbath “Paranoid” riff and brings it to the Ramones, smack dab in their face.  The onslaught continues with a chant over power chords on the two minute, seventeen second suspended anthem “Let’s Get Greasy,” a middle finger response to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” Hannah Montana’s “Let’s Get Crazy” and Slade’s “Mama, We’re All Crazee Now.”   Beer is a main theme here, and why not when cheese balls are bouncing all over the placeBefore Greg Walsh formed the band Pop Gun his song “Packie Run” was a staple on Boston Radio. “Part Deux,” track 4 from the Guilloteenagers at 2:04 is the logical continuance of bad-boy behavior.  And when you hear the energetic “Even Though I Drink a Lot” it sounds like the Real Kids on methamphetamine.  All the songs on this eight-song disc are under two and a half minutes save the last two, “Ride On King Jesus, Ride On” and “Michelob” (but, of course!) which clock in at 4:01 and 3:33 respectively.  (Joe Viglione)


Ocelot Records

…And Friends

16 tracks

Opener “Better Luck Next Time” is frenetic ala the Buzzcocks, and earthy ala the Clash (or maybe even the Dictators). We then proceed with some yob-rock (“Gotta Believe Me”); some more fine, sputtery, relentless punk rock taken at a hyper-accelerated pace (“The Diplomat”); and from here on we are treated to a full panoply of quick-stepping (if not quick-witted), foot-stomping hook-laden punk rocking racket. Highlights include: the irresistible “Last Laugh”: the almost pretty intro to “Dependence Day”: the downright anthemic “Just Another Scene”; the blowsy fake-reggae intro to “Out of Focus”; the rambunctious chugging of “Truth in the Stereo”; the fiery “Gallows”; and the grinding “Better Than Nothing.” The Drunk Nuns manage to accomplish a great deal while employing a genre-limited palette; all in all, it’s a worthwhile listen. (Francis DiMenno)


Funk the Beach

6 tracks

“Baby Please (Don’t Go)” is smooth and beautifully produced r & b that one would find populating the Top 40 in the 1960s, respectful of its roots and bringing that classic sound into 2016.  Recorded in November of 2014 at Big T Productions in Quincy,  Jeff Shwom’s vocal is an everyman pleading, not Arthur Conley or James Brown shouting please… please… please, not Levon Helm re-working Marvin Gaye’s “Baby, Don’t You Do It” (which Levon truncated to “Don’t Do It,” ) Hot Sauce brew their blues sauce for a newer generation. The same formula works with “French Perfume Blues,” where vocalist Shwom takes it from an American perspective on Bryan Ferry’s first solo work on cover songs from his early Roxy Music days.   Not spoken word, but not wailing in pain, more like just devastated by love and stuck in the mood that makes for that bluesy feeling.  “Shake It Up!” may be the title of a Cars song and album, but this is more like J. Geils with Cory Magno’s squawking guitar and the general mayhem of the band condensed into a fun stomp. In 1973 the final studio album from Rod Stewart & the Faces Ooh La La, landed in the stores the year that Ian Lloyd and Stories’ Blue-eyed-Soul reigned supreme on the charts with “Brother Louie.”  In 2016, 43 years later, Hot Sauce give us a similar title “Oo La La” – drenched in a laid-back style trumpeter Hugh Masekela keeps alive, perhaps if Masekela’s usual tempo was slowed down with backing from Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues Band.  At 3:25 it is short and sweet and despite the ’70s motif noted above, it also harkens back to the ’60s.  The instrumental “Tribute to Mr. McGriff” grooves like the Hot Sauce Thursday night colleagues at Cambridge’s Cantab Lounge, Chicken Slacks Soul Revue. It’s a good showcase for the double trouble of Fabricio Bezerra’s saxophone and CD co-producer Cory Magno’s guitar.   The closing track, “Jimmy Lou,” drives well thanks to the magnificent Lee Lundy’s bass and Osi Brathwaite’s drums.  Lundy is a staple in multiple bands at the Cantab and is quickly becoming a legend on the local scene.  (Joe Viglione)


The Amazing Andy Califonia! Live!

Macchio Records

7 tracks

Andy California! has lived in Boston a long time, though I don’t know if he is even from California. I do know that he played in Tunnel of Love and has transformed into a gritty, old timey blues artist. No drums and bass, just electric guitar and vocals that ring through the mud of the Mississippi. This is the last of a dying breed, American folk blues from the heart. The Amazing Andy Califonia! Live! keeps it real and is fun in a jump blues kind of way. (Eric Baylies)


Hard to Explain

11 tracks

This is hooky folk-rock brimming over with genuine fellow-feeling, as on the opening title track. The band’s forays into rock are perfectly competent in a Creedence Clearwater Revival sort of way (particularly on “Bad Habits and the Blues,” and the choogling “It Ain’t Easy”). “First Train Home” is a pretty standard blues number with a funky guitar line; “Ways to Go” is a Band-like country ballad with elements of gospel; “Suite Mary Lou (Part Two)” is a lively CCR-style rocker; “Beg and Plead” is a ’70s-rock pastiche; “It’s Alright” is a rockabilly-inflected number. In hearkening back to an earlier era of songsmithing, the band might be righteously placed to exploit the nostalgia market, and perhaps even bring pleasure to those who might have missed out on the era and the genre the first time around. (Francis DiMenno)


She Wanted the Future

5 tracks

The fourth E.P., She Wanted the Future, from Mystics Anonymous of Northampton, Massachusetts, is a journey through a variety of popular genres that today’s audiences are attracted to, all wrapped into one visionary sound that is highly enjoyable. With the vocals/ bass guitar of Jeff Steblea along with his comrades, Brian Marchese, Matt Silberstein, and Andrew Goulet, this unique package should have a solid place in whatever your favorite listening device is.

The opening title track, “She Wanted the Future,” is so catchy it sticks in your head – inspired by Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.”  The strong lyrics in “Imperfections” reflect the band’s perspective on current politics and the atmosphere of violence.  “(I Want to Be A) Mathematical Rarity” is equally appealing with a tip of the hat to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Barenaked Ladies, then ends with an echoing ’60s psychedelic guitar. “Maudlin, You Liar” is more ’60s retro musical styling using Mitch Mitchell’s “Manic Depression” beat, a dash of Jefferson Airplane/ Jorma Kaukonen guitar playing  and Steblea’s vocals channeling Mr. Mojo Rising himself throughout the track.  She Wanted the Future closes out with cosmic sounds in “St. Elmo’s Fire,” which has nothing to do with the John Parr track from the 1984 film – it’s a cover of Brian Eno’s tune of the same name and it’s got everything.  And so does this disc. It’s a keeper.  (Ed Wrobleski)


Move EP

4 songs

Telelectrix has Steven Borek from a great Boston band The Luxury, so I was excited to check this out. This album is called Move and you will once you hear it. This is an album for the future when we can all dance in outer space. This could be the album Madonna worked on if she were famous about five years early and worked with OMD or New Order instead of playing with jellybeans in the studio. Somebody better get the key to the mops, there’s about to be blood on the dance floor. Move is a great album for fans of Giorgio Moroder type dance music. (Eric Baylies)


Wet Sounds

6 tracks

David Esposito (guitars), Rick Sanger (drums), Jamie Huggins (bass) and Bob Damiano (guitar/ keyboards) team up for the latest Tsunami of Sound release. The band is in classic form, tearing through surf rock tune after surf rock tune. The band alludes to the great sounds of Dick Dale, The Ventures and Link Ray, yet at the same time bringing their own reverb-drenched signature sound to the mix. The production on the album is solid, produced and arranged by Tsunami’s own multi talented Bob Damiano. Next time the surf is up, my advice is to be a big Kahuna and strap Wet Sounds to the roof of your woody and go on a surfin’ safari. Or better yet, just play Wet Sounds on your audio device.  (Kier Byrnes)

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