CD Reviews


If you are based in New England and would like your latest release reviewed, send a hard copy to The Noise/ T Max, 40R Highland Ave #219, Salem, MA 01970.


Iddy Biddy Record

Waving Kissyhead Vol. 1

4 tracks

Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2

13 tracks

Decades from now, local music historians will look back and see that Chandler Travis created his own genre, quirky pop. This two pronged, unevenly divided set of songs is his current contribution to his own personal twisted and eccentric universe. And in his usual fashion, this Cape Cod legend is consistently creative on all the cuts and you can hear ska, hillbilly, ’40s jazz, big band brass, Beatles, ragtime, blues, low-end groove, and  ’60s pop influences; sometimes in places you’d least expect them. “You Got Me Started” and “Your Wife And More” are ska with tinkling ivories. “Maybe This Is Our Year”  is Americana with brass.  “By The Way” with it’s nice harmonies is Beatles-ish while “Going Back to Work Tomorrow” sounds like The Beatles on Methadone. “Here For A Reason” has a great bass line groove. Pop ballad “Sure Gonna Miss You” could have been in crooner Bobby Rydell’s catalog and “When The Moon Shines” sounds like a WW II era jazz ballad. On Vol. 1, “E” has a sparse, booming bass reminiscent of Morphine: and the funereal dirge “Bobby Brown,” with the repeating of his name as the only lyric, and “Untitled,” a song about an untitled song,  best illustrate Travis’s sophisticated humor which is evident throughout the CD. There are a lot of artists in The Philharmonic – Dinty Child (mandocello, accordion and vocals), John Clarke and John Styklunas (bass), Berke McKelvey (clarinet, saxes and keys), Cliff Spencer and Phil Clements  (keys), Chandler (guitar and lead vocals), Rikki Bates, Sam Wood and Ducky Carlisle (drums), Mike Peipman and Scott Aruda (trumpet), Bob Pilkington, Quinn Carson and Ty Newcomb (trombone), and Fred Boak and Rachel Jarvis (backing vocals). A lot of contributors with Chandler writing all the tunes and Ducky doing the production at Dimension in Jamaica Plain and Ice Station Zebra in Medford. I really dig the horns and their arrangements on all the songs. Never a dull moment on yet another great and capricious release by the king of whimsy. (A.J. Wachtel)



Lowbudget Records

Cap it Off!

4 tracks

Mr. Curt (aka Curt Naihersey) and Geoff Panko (aka Geoff Pangonis) open with what is a highly personal song, Curt’s “She’s a Miracle” which is brimming over with optimistic brio (and a pretty catchy melody). The cover of John Cale’s “Chinese Envoy” is another can’t miss proposition, and the duo manage to translate anew the stateliness of Cale’s original. The Curt/Pango scribed followup “OK, Cupid!” is a suitably sedate and magisterial followup, taken at a moderate pace, with a lovely, moody guitar riff and displaying a deeply formed sensibility. “Not Bad (But Could Be Better)” tops off the EP with a playfully melodramatic song of lost love. The duo’s theatrical notions of performance is noteworthy. (I still can’t get that final song out of my head.) They promise to release more. I hope they do. I’d like to hear it. (Francis DiMenno)



4 tracks

Goddard are a Worcester based 4 piece heavy post punk steamroller of a band. They recall Fugazi, Zeni Geva, and Shellac, with a trace of Patti Smith but have forged their own unique musical identity. This live recording was done in Chicago, but you have plenty of opportunities to see them around here. Don’t be remiss! Lend me your ears and check out the amazing sound machine that is Goddard! (Eric Baylies)


Another Other

13 tracks

It helps but it’s not crucial that you know a bit about this band’s history before listening to their recently released music. Lead singer/ guitarist/ songwriter Naseem Kuri is a Palestinian-American raised in an affluent suburb outside of Boston, and his lyrics are all about the observations and social injustices he has experienced growing up in these two drastically different cultures. In this sense, the compositions are similar to Springsteen’s and are personal, perceptive and telling. Kingsley Flood is a rock band and their songs are mostly pop/ folk ballads that speak with experience in an almost Dylanesque way, but with better vocals. This is a very introspective collection about change. Nick Balkin (bass/ vocals), Chris Barrett (Keys/ jazz trumpet/ vocals), George Hall (lead guitar/ vocals), Travis Richter (drums), Jenee Morgan Force (vocals, sax and violin) and Eva Walsh (vocals and violin) round out the band. Produced by Paul Kolderie (The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Radiohead) and recorded at 1867 Recording Studio in Chelsea, songs like the opening cut “The Bridge,” “Try,” “To The Wolves,” “Tricks,” the title tune “Another Other,”  the Americana “A Walks Away,” the punk leaning “On My Mind” with Hall’s screaming slide guitar, “Suddenly The Same,” the string-led “Think of It,” and the closer “What Am I Gonna Do With You” are all equally thought provoking and enjoyable. Mellow music with the high energy of The Clash and with deep meaning. Good stuff. (A.J. Wachtel)


I Am                                  

11 Tracks

It’s rare when I find an album that touches me on an emotional level, that can reach deep and bring my own feelings to the surface, to be experienced in a raw, powerful way that makes me wonder how long they’ve been down there.

George Woods’ newest creation is just such an album.

In the many times I’ve listened to the music of “I Am,” I’ve been moved to tears each and every time. It could be George’s voice, a kind, passionate tone that speaks of such a rich life, lived in each moment. He’s a modern-day traveling bard, sharing his stories with anyone who cares to listen, and bending an ear to them in return. It could be the subject of his lyrics, which share much of his life and times, his family, his hopes, and his fears. It could be the music, which ranges from a pleasant, walking tune that weaves around you like a summer breeze, to an energetic, foot-stomping rock sound that is an easy cure for a bad day.

In the end, I worry less about the specific source of this album’s power and just feel grateful that it exists. I think we all need a hand in exploring our psyches, in wandering the halls of our hearts and minds. George Woods’ album is a helpful guide, but it’s up to us to decide what to do with those inner thoughts once we find them.    (Max Bowen)


Sidebar Records

Feel the Revolution

46 tracks

Familiar tropes abound: Anthems (“Feel the Revolution”); stop-start dynamics (“Love Is Strange”); high lonesome yowl ala The Smashing Pumpkins (“Write Me”); and brash, ecstatic power pop (“Foolish Eyes”). But don’t be fooled. This 2-CD set is rife with quality tunes. Notable songs include the taut, rigorous “Undressed,” the sad, translucent “Raining in Baltimore Again,” the rigorously catchy “Inferior Complex,” and the melancholy, lassitudinous “Fade Away.” Of further note is the angular, ominous, vaguely schizoid “100 Tainted Cells,” the sprawling, rippling jangle pop of “For So Long,” and the ineffably lonesome “Two Lost Dogs,” the singing on which is perfectly complemented by clear, clarion guitar. Disc Two opens with a ranting hardcore declamation “Excite!” Outstanding numbers on this disc include the epic and vaguely creepy “Forgive and Regret,” the wistful song of love and obsessive longing “Kimberly Says,” and the eerie, mind-manifesting, Neil Young-like aching moodiness of “Blind Man,” a nascent classic. Other notable songs are the raggedy, ebullient punk of “Bull By the Horns,” the otherwordly, langourous melodicism of “Real Love,” the lovely, fragile melodicism of “Summer Moon,” the wispy, bewitching, almost insubstantial “Back From the Moon,” the mysterious, broken, chaotic, and repetitive melody of “She Never Knew My Name,” and the final song, the sprawling, brazen and spine-tingling “I’ve Seen That Film Before,” with its fine, needling guitar work. There’s more than a mere handful of good songs here, and at least three great ones: “Blind Man,” “Two Lost Dogs,” and “She Never Knew My Name.” It’s unfortunate, however, that the composer (or, I suspect, composers) saw fit to include every single song in what I presume to be their spacious cupboard. Also, the various production techniques lead me to suspect that these songs were recorded in at least three different studios. Nevertheless, this is a highly impressive collection, and a keeper. (Francis DiMenno)


Heavy Weather

7 tracks

Title track “Heavy Weather” from Jason Bennett & the Resistance is an impressive blast into the future, think the Justin Hayward Moody Blues meet Bruce Springsteen with MC5 overtones only welded together for today’s generation.  It’s an anthem that cruises along for four minutes and 24 seconds.  Recorded at Mad Oak Studios in April/May 2016 and released on Mission Songs Music, the crew open the disc with “Holding On,” a fast pace punk-meets-mainstream with sparkling guitar work from Bennett and lead guitarist Jeff Swann. “No Good Advice” keeps the angst on the table, no let up whatsoever, and that’s okay, they know what they like and the band delivers the goods with some interesting nuances that keep things from running into a ditch. “Never Going Home” rocks like a train making a quick turn, Matthew Bulmers Trainor’s drums verging on Ramones’ territory.  Nice vocal chorus before the guitar blitz gives it a manic, frantic extra something.   “All of Us” is equally crazed, something Boston scenester from the ’70s Roy Mental would have loved to bang his head to.  Aria Rad’s bass work keeps the guideline / 12 inch ruler to the mania, something for the band to hold onto while the gang pushes the pedal to 120 mph.   Fun stuff with, as stated above, no let up. Engineered and co-produced by Benny Grotto with Jason Bennet & the Resistance.   (Joe Viglione)


Selkie Records

Love Lead

13 tracks

Ms. Veccione displays the sweet-tempered voice of a singer like Maria Muldaur and some of the ecstatic vibe of an artist like Van Morrison, particularly on the excellent opening track “Light of Day”. “Keep Knockin'” seems to come directly out of the Stax/Volt school of Soul, replete with call-and-response backing vocals, cool and subtle bass, and a busy horn section. The title track is a stately Gospel-tinged number, and “Birdsong” is squarely in the mode of the European art song, with trilling vocals which approach the benignant calm of a lullaby. Her cover of “Rockin’ a Baby” is a shuffling boogie with a honky-tonk ambiance. “You’re the One” is a reverent love song suffused with a gentle melancholy. “Lone Wolf” is an accomplished orchestral arrangement full of subtle grace, for which Veccione is in especially fine voice. The final piece, “Midlife,” is arranged for piano and cello and is stately and classical as well as wistful, brooding, and sad. Laura Vecchione is an accomplished vocal artist whose name deserves to be more widely known. (Francis DiMenno)


3 tracks

Shalom raps and Aisling (pronounced Ashleen) sings these three songs that showcase their enjoyable soulful rap and perfect sound. “Angels In The City” has an epic and upbeat vibe with a good, catchy and poppy hook. It’s a remake of “The City” by The Game and Kendrick Lamar and the cool flow is fresh and reminds me of a young Futuristic the way she delivers her word. Aisling’s stunning vocals drive “Dear God” and the rap makes me think of a younger Kanye when he was still relevant in terms of it having a very introspective verse over a lofty instrumental backing. But their female rendition makes the tune completely their own. The final song “Sail” is an interesting remix of the Awolnation original. This is very good. The song is about addiction and the combination of the great vocals and the strong original rap give a new take on this old song. Great stuff. Check it out. The full CD should be out in the near future but this teaser will do for now. (A.J. Wachtel)


Wet Willy

6 tracks

We live in messed up times with an uncertain future and knowing deep in our hearts that all of the good band names are taken. Do we give up? No, we just take the first name that falls out of our lips and start wring songs. Fortunately Gym Shorts get over the stupid band name hurdle and put out some really well executed meat and potatoes punk rock like the Neutrinos or Green Day. They are not reinventing the wheel but they write fairly catchy songs. The tune “Burrito” even makes the most of a dumb song title to convey the inner feeling and emotional turmoil of eating a burrito. This is the best album ever put out by ten year old kids. Wait, they’re all grown up? Well, it’s still fun. (Terry Boulder)


Boston Is Trying to Kill Live Music

A Can of Bees

7 tracks

A bit of something off the beaten track here. This 2015 release (which I have already reviewed once before in these very pages) opens with an excellent instrumental cover of “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” taken from its brazen context and molded into something soft and pliable and surprisingly jazzy. “A Quitter Never Wins” is an inexorable blues taken at a delightfully loping pace. “Zoe’s Chromatic Blues” is filled with nifty guitars and even niftier electric keyboard fills. “Letter From Jail” is driven by burbling guitar and a metronomic guitar-drum interplay which ably mimics the slow pace of prison time. “Roll Over Stockhausen” is a low-key funky number which nimbly percolates along in a manner almost brazen, replete with slyly excellent bass work and percussive interplay. “Damn Your Eyes” reminds me of a slow-burner out of Santana. “I’m a Corpse Part 2” is a more experimental piece with oddly foreshortened percussion and some truly gnarly guitar. Overall, a most pleasurable romp. (Francis DiMenno)


No Sorry

9 tracks

Birthing Hips are self described as noisy defective pop music for freaks. That is a pretty great and accurate account of this Boston based quartet. They have their own sound that recalls Debbie Harry backed by Devo, or a more conventional Guerilla Toss at times. I say that and then an acid soaked freakout comes on that would make Captain Beefheart proud.  How about Nina Simone backed by Sun Ra? How about go out and buy this tape. It will change your life forever. It will inspire you to start a new band or improve your old one and make the world a better place. (Eric Baylies)


MDSM Records

About Time

6 tracks

The music on this CD is made by a harp and a guitar. That’s it. It is a very personal, intimate and provocative release, almost sounding like these two amazing artists are simply sitting in a room pleasurably playing for each other’s own enjoyment. Magic Dick (The J. Geils Band) and Shun Ng team up on four covers and two originals and produce a fun bunch of very cool interpretations. In fact, none of the covers sounds much like the originals. “Let The Good Times Roll” sets the tone – a rollicking romp with great harp leads and Ng’s beautiful backing guitar. They play so well together and both instruments say a lot without stepping on each other’s toes. This is one of the things about the album that makes it special. “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix is funky with Magic taking on Jimi’s leads in the beginning of the song that just burns. The cool arrangement turns this psychedelic screamer into a funky and haunting r&b groove that Jimi would love. James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” again with Magic’s funky harp and Ng’s impeccable rhythm/ lead guitar and faultless timing, perfectly illustrates their tight cohesion. Shun keeps it together and Magic Dick wails. Mr. Brown would love it. The two originals, “Dixology” and “Space,” are very different from each other. The first was recorded live at Extended Play Sessions at The Fallout Shelter in Norwood – you can hear and feel the excitement as you listen. The credit lists Magic Dick first. The latter is a jazzy instrumental with Shun Ng’s name listed first as the composer. These two cuts are on different ends of the audio spectrum and are both impressively creative and powerfully performed. The last song, a cover of a cover, is a great take on Magic’s signature J. Geils Band melody, “Whammer Jammer,” the old Juke Joint Jimmy tune. Without the Geils Band’s intense force in the mix, this sparse guitar and harp version is both very interesting, very different and very good. About Time has influences from James Brown, Debussy, Little Walter and Miles Davis and should be in everyone’s collection. Check it out. (A.J. Wachtel)


Fact and Fiction 

15 tracks

On his 4th solo venture, Methuen-based Mr. Birch’s thin but not unpleasant voice leads us through a series of story songs of variegated styles and hues. “Gypsy Wind” is squarely in the folk camp; “Look Down the Road” is reminiscent of Warren Zevon; “Mr. Limo Driver” has a distinct Neil Young vibe; “Thirty Miles to Richmond” is a gentle song in a country rock mode; “The Good From the Bad,” about a women who puts up with abuse in a small town setting, has a naggingly catchy riff. And “Chasing the Sunlight” is the best of show: a soulful, breezy number which is strongly evocative. (Francis DiMenno)



8 tracks

Before I even get into the music, I just want to mention that this is one of the greatest local album covers I have ever seen. This album should jump right off the shelves at record stores. The music really is kind of like a tapestry, with layers and colors blending in. With each listen you find something different. Tapestries is the project of Mike Decosta of Providence and an army of sidemen. This is a psyche record that swings the doors of perception wide open. It recalls the olden times of Iron Butterfly and Embryo, but with a more modern recording sound. A great album from start to finish. (Eric Baylies)


New Journey 

5 tracks

The Jeremy Turgeon Quintet’s New Journey five-title extended play opens with “New York City,” an interesting adventure with a variety of musical elements from rhythm and blues, soul to jazz. Springfield based band leader Jeremy Turgeon guides his four associates in this ensemble with a precision that makes them the pride of Western Mass.  The same formula works on second track “Feels So Good,” infectious rhythms from Forest Loomis-Dulong on upright and electric bass and drummer Ashdon Reynolds mirror the title, feel so good it does. Amazing is not hyperbole when you spin “You KNow What I Want,” Turgeon’s trumpet shining on what I want to dub “smooth  melodic jazz.”  The fun jam of “Progress” allows keyboard/synth player Jarreau Pitts an opportunity to match wits with Mtali Banda on soprano/alto/tenor sax. “J’s New Ride” closes out this EP and holds interest by intertwining funk, soul and R&B.  Five compositions leave you wanting for more in a world where too many artists tend to jam discs with filler. (Ed Wrobleski)


Nocturnal House

7 tracks

Willow are a Providence, Rhode Island rock band with touches of math rock, shoegaze, and psychedelia.  Some of the songs cruise along in a rock and roll kind of way. With other songs you can close your eyes and find yourself floating on a mushroom cloud. Dreaming is free, but it is a lot easier with this album bleeding through the headphones. They can sound like Stone Roses in one section, and At The Drive In or Tool the next. Willow are number one on my must see list for new Providence bands. (Eric Baylies)


EP #2

4 tracks

La Noia are an Amherst based noise rock quartet with both male and female lead vocals. They remind me of early Sonic Youth in many ways, not just the vocals but the abrasive guitar playing and varied dynamics within the songs. They are very noisy yet remain tuneful. They sound like PJ Harvey leading the Swans, which would be pretty amazing, but maybe not as amazing as this. There a ton of good bands in western Mass doing this kind of thing, but no one does it quite like La Noia, the new kings and queens of noise. All hail La Noia! (Eric Baylies)


Rusty Loved Christmas

5 tracks

When an album starts off with the title “Party in my Pants” one thinks of Iggy Pop on a drinking binge. Though Jesse & the Hogg Brothers call their music “cow punk” it is more rock than country with a tongue so far in cheek that your head will spin.  Produced by Peter Yarmouth on Black & Blue Records – yes, friends, the same label that issued G.G. Allin’s offerings, cute doggy Rusty with a candy cane in his mouth on the cover reflects the music of these guys and gals who play Boston, Kentucky, Las Vegas, but hale from Medford, Massachusetts.  The “party in my pants” that’s a jamboree is hilarious at one minute and 54 seconds while “Don’t Mess with Christmas” has political leanings and marvelous instrumentation. Recorded at The Bridge, Dimension Sound and Buford’s Trailer one wonders what the engineers thought about “Christmas Time in Texas… is Something You Don’t Mess With…” not your ordinary Brenda Lee or Burl Ives Yuletide fare.  Santa didn’t get the electric chair, so they hang him in the square from a Christmas tree.  Yikes.  Kind of puts Black Sabbath’s “After Forever” with its line “Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope – do you think he’s a fool?” in perspective, doesn’t it? The songs are constructed with skill while the band is top notch. Mixed and mastered at The Bridge by Alex Allinson who must have done a double-take listening to “Squirrel Tooth Alice.”  You will too, and that’s the point, isn’t it?    (Joe Viglione)


Unconditional Love

6 tracks

Gary Santerella is a mainstay on the New England scene and his Unconditional Love CD contains all his regional classics heard in clubs over the past three decades.   “Don’t Kick Me When I’m Down” was aired on WAAF’s Bay State Rock with Carmelita back in the day, that pure pop version has the sublime chorus enhanced with vocalists from the a capella group The Bosstones (no relation to the Mighty Bosstones.) The song received high praise from Carm when Santarella was shopping it to A&R men from New York to Los Angeles and also got play on Kiss 108 and WCGY.    The new version is decidedly different, featuring versatile bassist Roger Kimball in a delightful country/ rock setting.

The music contained in this package has a very retrospective ’70s country rock flavor to it, and was clearly inspired by what this writer would say the cream of the crop of that genre, with influential sounds of just to name a few artists in that period the likes of the Eagles, Orleans, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and too many more to mention.  The Orleans ’ sound is prominent in opener “Don’t Kick Me When I’m Down” – in that “Still the One” groove with a hook that will want you to keep it on “repeat.”

“No Hard Feelings” reminds me of those late ’70s or early ’80s ballads like Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” while “Daddy-Oh” could be John Denver fronting the Eagles.  Especially when Denver was “Back Home Again.”   Santarella gets credit for creativity in the songwriting while twisting different styles together, and it all works in a positive way.   “Rocky” is a happy, upbeat tune about man’s best friend… nice that our dogs are getting some attention in music.  The singer going on runs, Rocky greeting him at the door, drives in the car, I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever heard something this good – ever – about our furry friends.

“Punta Cana” is a nice mellow relaxing piece about an island of fun and relaxation.    Like to be there, actually, hearing the ocean breeze and sipping on a nice cold beverage of choice while lying in the sun. Damn…and getting a natural tan.  “Hey Hey Sweetie” follows in the same flow – “hey hey sweetie, can we grow old together?”  Fun and catchy and that’s the point.  It’s just much too short of a CD, more like a maxi-EP,  but in that short amount of time you’ll just have to spin the tunes again because this album is just that good.   (Ed Wrobleski)

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