CDs – Nov

celebrity-handshakeIf you are a band or act based in New England and would like to have your release reviewed in The Noise, send a hard copy to T Max/ The Noise, 28 Goodhue St #406, Salem, MA 01970

CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE

Eastern Prawn Records

Celebrity Handshake EP

6 tracks

This is an amazing EP by a band from Portland, Maine, consisting of A. M. Haines (vocal, keyboard), Jose Moreno (guitar), and Will Berdan II (drums). It is full of noise, spunk, and a rampaging and semi-articulated energy. “Political Future” is an interesting shouted declamatory over miles of scrawling feedback. “Religion on the Outside” brings to mind some of the earliest outsider punk –the kind they don’t make anymore – with one nightmarish buzzing riff anchoring the brave noise which sprawls like a 4:00am dipsomaniac atop it all. “Float (Don’t Take Care)” is another primitive, percussion-driven barbaric yawp. “Stick It to Fiction” is pretty much just a confusing gumbo of random guitar sputters and stumbling drums. “It Takes All Kinds of Bones” is a more or less straightforward horror-boogie vocal over deterministic guitar riffing. “Hit Me Where It Hurts” is a clamorous declamatory which builds to a monstrous climax. If you like stuff like early Gang of Four you’ll probably love this EP, which has every potential to become a cult favorite. (Francis DiMenno)

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DANNY BEDROSIAN

My Oldest Friend

14 tracks

Danny grew up in Lawrence, MA, and for the past 15 years has been the keyboardist for George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic and this is his 13th solo release. The sound is funky and jazzy, with r & b, pop and world music influences. Sorta like Weather Report meets Billy Preston and his personal playing style sounds like he just sits down and noodles but the more you listen the more you are impressed with his creative chops and understand what his fingers are saying. There is definitely a method behind his madness. Listen to “The Ire of a Vamp,” “Not Squeamish,” “Do the Alligator Elevator,” “In and Around,” and “Nor Piano.” All of these tunes showcase his vast catalog of catchy licks surrounded by tons of keyboards producing an almost analog-esque sound. The arrangements have the songs increasing in power and momentum as they progress and the good production is testimony to Bedrosian’s many talents. He wrote, produced, arranged, engineered, played synthesizer, grand piano, clavinet, organ and sang practically everything on this album with the exception of his Parliament Funkadelic band mates Michael “Clip” Payne, Lige Curry, and Garrett Shider who contribute their expertise to the final mix of one song.  Clip’s voice on the intro and Curry and Shider playing bass and guitar on “Wildfire” are the only cameos. I really dig the two renditions of the title track “My Oldest Friend,” one with vocals and one instrumental. Both cuts are cool with the vocal version making that one even more personable and relateable to the listener. The passion in the vocal-less one is quite evident but the addition of another form of communication is like throwing a double whammy in to make sure the ear doesn’t mistake the composition’s complete meaning. If you are not caught up with the intensity of the music, Bedrosian’s growling voice will help do the trick. More great music from the funk master himself. Not for couch potatoes or narcoleptics. (A.J. Wachtel)

ELDER

Lore

5 tracks

Elder is a stoner doom metal trio from different parts of Massachusetts. All the songs are roughly 10 to 15 minutes long, giving them time to breathe. This is their third album in the past decade or so, and they are really outgrowing their roots as Black Sabbath influenced kids. There are traces of Magma, Monster Magnet, Voi Vod, and The Melvins in there too. Lore is the album to put on when you are going on a long bone ride in your spaceship, although your spaceship may not have a working turntable. These guys have come a long way from New Bedford to Mars, and I hope their interstellar overdrive continues for 3,000 more light years. (Eric Baylies)

MIELE

Seed Crystal

6 tracks

“Walking Away” features the dramatic, intense, passionate, powerful female voice of Melissa Lee Niles. This is almost more a mood than a song, as are all of these songs on this EP. “Night Sky” reveals Miele’s advantage of having a self-realizing lead singer. When she belts out she is calling in the totem of Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit ” days. The song becomes the voice reaching beyond earth, beyond lyrics and guitar chords, “Lucky am I to see the sky….” What if Henry David Thoreau could put his nature observations in the voice of a woman wailing beyond the confines of the human body rooted on the earth? “Hold it Together” features loud chords, loud drums, infusing a sort of tributary of Jeff Buckley’s wild vocal pathway from his album and title song, “Grace.” “My Garden Grows” brings up the question in me that I didn’t know people still sing like this. I feel like her voice is seeking beyond ears, beyond comprehension, her voice is like a searchlight, swelling with growing confidence, communicating feeling beyond the lyrics;  “As I pen my final page, I hope in my absence my garden grows.” In the song “Jung” it becomes evident that these songs are impressionistic paintings. This one features thick paint about dreams and shadow, the voice carries the mood, again, carries the emotion of the searchlight voice. You can’t sit and listen to this music, you experience it – you shut your eyes and take off with it, you fly with it, you let it take you, and the more you let it take you, the farther you go. I almost feel like the listener could contribute to the sum of the song becoming greater if you could hear it live, because I think Melissa will respond to the response she feels from the listeners. That said, it’s an earthy, gutsy recording that feels live. There’s no antiseptic studio tweaking here, this girl sings with the birds of heaven. And the band keeps up! (Kimmy Sophia Brown)

MY SILENT BRAVERY

MWS Recordings

Breakthrough  

13 tracks

This a solo project by Matthew Wade. “Endless Ecstasy,” a key track from this new release, is heavily processed pop with synthesizers and drum machines, filled with a life-affirming message. They’ll probably be playing this one in supermarkets in the year 2037. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The song has a certain upbeatness which appeals to the ear intuitively. It’s a killer opening track, but most of the rest of the songs don’t have quite the same kick – they seem more like genre exercises. “Warning Signs,” for instance, has a vaguely Elvis Costello-like feel. “Missing Out” is a swirly confection which Prince might have written and then stashed away. “Good Enough” is a conventional pop-rock number which reminds me of Soul Asylum. However, two more songs are stand-outs:  “Pick It Up” is another life-affirming gem of a tune which reminds me a bit of late-period OMD,  and “Bigger Picture” is an almost magisterial declamation, with a hugely appealing melodic line. People who line up this sort of drily produced thoroughly modern synth pop will enjoy this, for all the unrelenting self-centeredness of the lyrics. (Francis DiMenno)

DETROIT REBELLION

The Man

12 tracks

Do you remember the Laurels? Well, neither do I, but my older friends tell me they were one of the biggest and best bands out of Rhode Island 20 years ago. Lead singer Jeff Toste is back with his new outfit Detroit Rebellion. Out are the proto grunge riffs and screaming, and in are folk blues inspired old timey rock ’n’ roll. “A Fork In the Road” has the band whistling past the graveyard on their way to work in a coal mine, with a feel that’s vaguely like Radiohead’s “The National Anthem” mixed with X. The song “Fire, Devil, and Desire” reminds me of Morphine minus the sax player and with a Neil Young solo. I’m late to the party for Detroit Rebellion, but now I’m ready to party all night. The Man is a great album by one of my favorite new bands. (Terry Boulder)

TRUTH ABOUT DAISIES

Liam’s Attic Records

Love This Life  

15 tracks

Emanating from Portland Maine, the band features well-etched character studies with a purity of intent seldom so well-realized. “Hard Times” is a sweet-natured song in a Van Morrison-ecstatic mode. “John and Mary” is a folksy romp with pretty harmony vocals. “Ed” is a cautionary tale about an obsessive alcoholic poet expressed in a style which is pure Americana. “Hard to Do” is a lovely song about a diffident love affair, replete with banjo. The tragic art song “Travis” is conducted at a funereal pace. The melancholy chiming of “Song for Roger” is another song in a Van Morrison mode. “Whiskey” is a surprisingly effective song of regret in a country mode. Diehard folkies are likely to greatly appreciate these songs. (Francis DiMenno)

BRYAN REYNOLDS

Spring Peppers

12 track

Bryan Reynolds has played various instruments in different Providence bands for years. On this solo album he sings and plays everything. This is a really eclectic record. The song “Creek Life” is like a Donovan song on acid, well more acid. Its an instrumental with Jaco Pastorius sounding bass and steel drums. The track “Salvador, Salvador” with its refrain “I Put A Lobster On A Phone” repeating a million times is a  pure magic dadaist art project set to music. There are traces of US Maple and the Residents on this spellbinding, awe inspiring epic colossus of an album. Simply put, Spring Peppers is magic. ( Eric Baylies)

BOYAN HRISTOV

Romantic Solo Guitar Volume One

16 tracks

This all instrumental release features great guitarist Hristov as the only player on this album and he only plays guitar on it. He has terrific technique, performs passionately, and has a ton of remarkable riffs which he incorporates into an enjoyable and impressive mix of finger picking, chords and strong strumming. His arrangements on the fifteen covers of songs we already know is as crucial and critical as is his choice of tunes to re-interpret; and his lone composition, “The Gospel of Me,” follows the same creative plan. My favorites are the opening Bee Gee’s cut “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis, and three Beatles melodies – two by Lennon and one by McCartney – “In My Life,” “Here, There And Everywhere,” and “Yesterday.” I also really dig his takes on Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera,” “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” The Platters’ “Twilight Time,” and Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.” We know all of these titles because of their singers but on this album Boyan drops the vocals and substitutes them with his own recognizable style on six strings. He even does a more contemporary version of the 1960s instrumental “Sleepwalk,” by Santo and Johnny. All the tender melodies are familiar and this powerful, introspective collection contains many melodic riffs and there are no filler cuts either. Each track is consistently first rate. Much of the music here is good enough to be on movie soundtracks and Hristov just may be the best unknown guitarist in Boston.    (A.J. Wachtel)

BEEEF

A Beeef ep

4 tracks

I don’t know why Allston’s Beeef has an extra E, maybe I can ask them someday. They have songs about taking the T, Allston meter maids, Mass. Ave., and everything Boston. Beeef have elements of garage, punk, and straight up rock ’n’ roll. They could play a frat party or be the critics darlings, not an easy line to straddle. With songs like “Dogshit Paradise” you know they are not concerned with getting played on mainstream radio right now, but that is the next logical step for this group. The solo on “Dogshit Paradise,” while not super complicated, is the most hummable solo I have heard in years. The songs are catchy but not contrived. Allston rock city, you have done it again! (Eric Baylies)

JEREMY HARMAN

Long Is The Walk  — Spirits + Ghosts

12 tracks

There are a lot of different styles of music you can hear on this listener’s labyrinth: modern jazz, contemporary classical, metal, hardcore, down tempo electric folk and free improvisation. Jeremy Harman is a Boston-based cellist, guitarist, composer and songwriter. On this cool release he sings and plays guitar and cello. Joey Pierog is on bass, and Jens Ellerhold plays drums. There is a dreamy, droning, trance like quality to this music that adds to their unique sound. Listen to the instrumentals “Currently,” and “Ever Widening Circles,” “Your Shine,” “Dreams,” and “They Start To Glow” to hear jazz and classical influences, “Align” for a bit of hardcore metal,  and the folkish “Spirits + Ghosts,” “Bloodsuckers,” “As the Crow Flies,” and “The Other Sky;” and imagine if Bob Dylan wrote all of his music in minor keys for a really haunting sound. All the cuts sound like scores too. I dig the instrumental  “Munich” for its improv feel and is that really a banjo being plucked? How cool! How original! The arrangements are all sharp and effective and the recording sounds very clear and the separation is fine. This cat went to Boston’s Longy School of Music, the small conservatory near Harvard Square, and his music is both high brow and educational. I really like it!   (A.J. Wachtel)

PETER CALO

Time Machine

8 tracks

Peter Calo’s Time Machine opens with bayou vibrations on the opening track, “Do I Love You Too Much,” cradling an interesting musical migration, at least to the ears of this long-time listener of Calo’s music.   The eight songs on this 2016 release, Time Machine, have the respected singer/songwriter/session man crafting a work that blends a multitude of styles within his three and a half to five minute essays/tunes.

In 1982 his jazz band, Bellvista, released a six song EP followed by 1983’s Spoonerism from the Peter Calo Band.  A mainstay of the Boston scene, Calo was involved as an original member of both Down Avenue (the band which had Charles Pettigrew of Charles & Eddie “Would I Lie To You” fame) and The Heavy Metal Horns. After his stints with both groups Peter moved to New York where he began doing session work, producing and eventually hooked up with Carly Simon, beginning what is now a 20 year relationship with the legendary singer/songwriter.

As the instrumental ending to “Do I Love You Too Much” concludes the singer switches hats with “Ida at the Back Door,” a tune that was already in circulation at online and college radio.  This mix is fully developed and impressive, a different approach from the opening track, though there seems to be some kind of thematic undercurrent threading the material.   “If My Heart Was Yours” opens with a nod to Ian Matthews notable Vertigo LP, If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes, then veers off to a soulful balladeer, think Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby,” with flamenco sounding guitar and – perhaps – Jay & the Americans dueling with Trini Lopez.  It’s a great pop ditty that is highly commercial.  The modulation and creative backing show Calo’s production skills at the top of their game.

That’s also true with “Elephants Never Forget,” a clearly Beatle-esque tribute to the family of Elephantidae.  There’s a full dimension and depth to the sounds Calo prompts throughout the track.  The five minute and three second “Sail Away”  is a folk song which could have been written in the time of DaVinci or Christopher Columbus (15th and 16th centuries – their dates of birth and passing actually very close) – its timeless story plays today just as well, as does Leonardo’s works of art.   “One Step Ahead of Crazy” brings things back to where “If My Heart Was Yours” started off, it’s as much a sequel as “Judy’s Turn to Cry” was to “It’s My Party” – and Peter Calo played with the late Lesley Gore, so maybe the idea was subliminally programmed. “Every Ordinary Day” and “Don’t Ever Go Away” are both over four minutes on this double-EP  two songs shy of a full-length 10 track disc. “Every Ordinary Day” would fit nicely on a television series – or real pop radio, not the stuff being passed off as pop radio in 2016.

The disc concludes with more magic that the Beatles could have used – the artist having worked on Julie Taymor’s Beatles soundtrack to her film Across the Universe (there’s a deluxe version, check it out) as well as his own instrumental tribute to the Fab IV.   Paul McCartney should sing this one as “Every Ordinary Day” is an absolute bookend to McCartney’s “Another Day,” not in chord changes or melody, just in the beautiful approach. It’s a classy conclusion to a sophisticated new chapter in Peter Calo’s deep catalog of musical contributions. (Joe Viglione)

BLUE CAT GROOVE

Fever Records

Too Much Talk    

10 tracks

Many bands which essay rocking electric blues are tolerable, in spite of the fact that the genre seems mostly played out. Nowadays, such bands can be assessed by their chops, and by how well they uphold the tradition, and, most of all, by how much they manage to move an audience. On the first two numbers, the band seems to be painting with rather broad strokes, and depending too much on some rather misguided production values, and flashy guitar work, and wielding the blues like a bludgeon.  Even their comparatively sedate take on “Stormy Monday” seems to telegraph its impact. “Too Much Talk” comes across as strictly pro forma, although the juddering guitar licks are a nice touch. “Heaven Rain Down” is a respite; a gospel-tinged number with spare instrumentation which showcases the vocals of Kimberly Hodgens-Smith to best effect; ditto for the rather pretty “One of Us.” Finally, the live track “Wade in the Water” is a subtle and introspective take on the gospel classic. (Francis DiMenno)

THE OCULAR AUDIO EXPERIMENT

Laughing Dreams

9 tracks

The Ocular Audio Experiment is a psyche band based out of Somerville, MA. It began life as a studio project by Alex Pollock and turned into a band at some point. You can pretty much see the THC dripping from your speakers as you play this, or maybe it was on my speakers beforehand. That’s not really important now. The important thing is that Laughing Dreams is a wonderful album for fans of psychic ills, Spacemen 3, and Embryo. They list some metal and new wave bands as influences in their bandcamp bio which are not as readily apparent, but there is a lot going on in these songs. They do warrant several listens in different states of mind. (Eric Baylies)

JAY WILLIE BLUES BAND

Zoho Roots Records

Hell on Wheels

13 tracks

Jay Willie is an excellent slide guitarist in the Johnny Winter style and his band includes first rate musicians Malorie Leogrande and her sultry five octave voice handling the lead and very emotive vocals, Bobby Callahan on guitar, Ted Yakush on sax, Steve Clarke playing four strings, and two veterans from past JW bands, Jason Ricci, on his fourth release with the group, blowing harp and Bobby T. Torello pounding hard. The music is consistently classic rock combined with traditional r & b, and Motown soul. Short and sweet: Having Leogrande sing songs originally released with male singers interestingly changes the whole perspective of the lyrics and backed by a great band with incredible harp, red hot slide guitar licks and powerful pounding makes this group one of the best in the area. Celebrating artists like Al Green, Smokey Robinson, and Johnny Otis with cuts “Take Me to the River,” “The Hunter Captured By the Game,” and “Willie And the Hand Jive,” there are also four originals that equally showcase their creativity and talent. The title track, “Hell on Wheels,” and “21” by Jay Willie,  “Alive Again” by Bobby T and “Everybody” by Callahan are cool bar band rockers that are sung by each composer in their own different and more growling voices; which better suits the grittier side of their music. I really enjoy their cover of the rare Cliff Nobles’ vocal version of the r & b classic “The Horse” with great harp and singing; and then the same song done as a jumping instrumental bonus track at the very end. Very cool! Great music from a great Connecticut band.     (A.J. Wachtel)

THE HAMMOND GROUP

Means Business

13 tracks

In 1977 Jonathan Richman put “Ice cream man, (ice cream man) ring your bell (ding ding)” on vinyl.  The Hammond Group, however, takes the part-time-job “Ice Cream Man” and writes about the angst and frustration with their ’60s garage/ punk self-pity pathos in a decidedly different dimension than dear Jonathan and his lovable goofiness.  “Hazmat” goes even deeper and darker and is one of the best songs on this 13-tune helping, Mean Business, a strong ’70s Who-styled adventure with lines like “You smoked all your weed/ now you think you’re a poet” and “relaxing in your Hazmat suit/ wonderin’/ who’s gonna peel your fruit.”  The lyric doesn’t impede the great rock ’n’ roll song that this is; a tongue-in-cheek attitude that hardly sneaks through each and every composition, it is the requirement as the trio dismantle Jefferson Airplane with “Volunteer for America,” the Jorma Kaukonen guitar sound backing a Beastie Boys snarl.  “Do the Math” would be comfortable on a Pebbles or Nuggets compilation while “Buttery Goodness” in its elastic, watery guitar setting again takes on The Who, specifically “Pictures of Lily.”  But while Lily’s pornographic photographs were meant to excite, this song about putting on the pounds – with the same melody as “Pictures of Lily” – has a healthy heaping of insanity to go along with the low self-esteem.  “Mosh Pit Girl” sort of says it all while the ballad for “Stephanie” has a sick wonderfulness to it, his love for her as pure as his vulgarity – “get your ass in the car for me.”  Perhaps it is The Modern Lovers finding a stash of expired Quaalude?   That old sedative with its hypnotic effect is what The Hammond Group has down: exactly what Richman would sound like on the stuff!  (Joe Viglione)

DNR

Do Not Resuscitate

8 tracks

What hath Black Sabbath wrought? This. Grindcore (mostly) from Providence; the growling lyrics define what the band hates (Pit Bull owners; sweater-wearing pedophiles), and the music, while competent in-genre, serves up a rather bleak sonic landscape in which everything and everyone is shit. Please. Forty-five years is a long time to (still) be yowling about War Pigs and the like. (Francis DiMenno)

If you are a band or act based in New England and would like to have your release reviewed in The Noise, send a hard copy to T Max/ The Noise, 28 Goodhue St #406, Salem, MA 01970

 

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