CD Revs – May

SOULSHA

“Rhythm’s in the Melody”

1 track

This complex and high-energy track from Soulsha blends a range of instruments in a unique and pleasing way. Along with some upbeat vocals, the band adds the bagpipes, fiddle, drums, saxophone, and trumpet to create their self-described Afro-Celtic funk style. The smooth-bluesy style blends with traditional Celtic sounds from the bagpipe and adds a modern vibe with the fast-paced drumming.

“Rhythm’s in the Melody” is aptly titled, as the song contains an excellent beat, sure to turn anyone into a dancer.  With a few instrumental solos from some string instruments, the song feels so vibrant and never repetitive. The vocals add a speed and light-heartedness to an already joyful song. Truly unlike any other jazz or Celtic band out there, Soulsha brings an intricate style to the music world. (Kathryn Leeber)

GLENN WILLIAMS

Lowbudget Records

It’s a Wonderful Day

11 tracks

It’s been a seven year itch waiting for another offering in lush acoustic pop from Glenn Williams. Finally, it has arrived with taste and musicality. With his gentle vocals, one of Roslindale’s formidable talents offers a collection of cool new originals (“Future Glory,” “Little Blue,” “Penny in My Pocket,” and the title track) blending with some unique covers (Paul McCartney’s “Junk,” Extreme’s “More Than Words,” and the classic Disney tune, “I Wanna Be Like You”). It features sublime musicianship from his cadre of gifted friends [Andy Hollinger, Tim Casey, Billy Carl Mancini, Eluid Herrea Jr., and Larry Harvey] who weave a tapestry that is always smooth and understated. Think sweetness and light and you can feel the man’s positive vibe… like strolling through a spring sun shower. This is a beautiful whimsical recording that belongs in the collection of every music collecting family – perfect for children and adults. It is a worthy successor to his dynamic first album, Breathing Freely. Listen and savor.  (Harry C. Tuniese)

LISTENING WOMAN

“none-a that stuff!”

8 tracks

Listening Woman (on this album at least) is a 7-piece avant rock jazz chamber music ensemble from Boston. This is not “easy listening” and I mean that in the best way possible. Sometimes it seems like the band is playing 7 songs at once, every song has a different style, and sometimes everything falls apart. On paper or in the hands of lesser skilled musicians, this could be a recipe for disaster. This mulligan stew of Milford Graves, the Residents, This Heat, Krautrock, and Barnes & Barnes turns tin into gold. There is hardly a band in the world that sounds like this, and they sound incredible. (Eric Baylies)

JENNIFER TEFFT BAND

Gypsy Spin Music

Cutting For Stone

8 tracks

By turns brazen (“Rollercoaster”), gallumphing and bluesy (“Cooler Than You”), mysterious and impassioned (“Silence”), and sweet and melodic (“Air”), Tefft runs the gamut of styles on the first four tracks. On best-of-show “Let Me Be” Tefft starts out a la Stevie Nicks and then the song evolves into a climactic anthemic swirl of stately percussion and grandiose guitars. “Follow Me Through” is an impassioned song of love gone wrong, and “Too Late” has a flat-out anthemic opening modulated by Tefft’s mournful, almost keening vocals. On the spooky and ecstatic “Breathe,” Tefft once again seems to channel Stevie Nicks. Produced with Tefft’s vocals clearly up front, this release displays her diverse talents to good effect.  (Francis DiMenno)

THE LIGHTS OUT

T.R.I.P.

10 tracks

This is a sci-fi record about parallel realities and is a collection of stories and characters from these alternate existences. A bit electronic. A little punk. Some techo and some rock. This concept album is done by Rishava Green on guitar and vocals, Jesse James, drumming and on vocals, Matt King playing bass and singing and Adam Ritchie on guitar, keys and vox. The impressive recording and mixing was done by Benny Grotto in all universes. Mostly power ballads ala Devo meets Moby meets local electronic wizard Jeff Hudson, “T.R.I.P. ,” “The Last American Virgin,” “Waves Of Sound,” “Layin’ Down The Law,” “I Dreamed Of You,” “Lies,” “The Undertaker,” “A Cosmic Gardener,” “Cruel Enough,” and “Making A Better Girl” all feature great guitar with blistering leads, powerful vocals, and quirky and dramatic arrangements. And it works well. The music is unique and thought provoking and there’s always something interesting going on.  I enjoyed the T.R.I.P. and you will too.  (A.J. Wachtel)

SILVER SCREAMS

Defective Machines

6 tracks

As an aging punk rocker myself, reading the SILVER SCREAMS bio on their Facebook page tugs at my heartstrings. “…three aging punkers playing the best music they know how to nobody, with no career aspirations, zero street cred, and no greater point whatsoever. It’s a power trio screaming into a void before they die, because they’re not dead yet…” Words that every young punker should tuck away and pull out 30 years from now. We all grow up. We all grow old. But we can all keep the spirit alive.

Heartstrings only go so far though. Aspirations or not, you have to have chops or you’re just another hack banging away in the garage. Well, guess what? Silver Screams have chops to spare. They play a hybrid of street punk and first-wave hardcore that still makes my spine tingle. It’s not original, but that’s not the point. It’s meant to remind us of a time when we were young and catching all-ages shows at The Channel and The Rat—a time when we could flail into a mosh pit or jump off a stage and not worry about breaking a hip.

You don’t have to listen too hard to hear their influences. There are little bits of Boston’s golden harcore era that are ripped from GANG GREEN and the F.U.S playbook. The vocals snatch their snotty pissed-off delivery from Dave Dictor of M.D.C. and Joey Shithead of D.O.A.

Tucked at the end, like a little prize hidden just for me, is a cover of Joy Division’s Disorder. It’s a fitting reminder that the first wave of hardcore was informed not only by the punks that came before but also by the new wave and post-punk that was percolating into the mainstream consciousness of that era.

For God’s sake, please listen to this album!
(George Dow)

SPEED FOSSIL

You’re So Next!

10 tracks

Speed Fossil’s You’re So Next utilizes electronic components coupled with smooth vocals to create a pop-rock album. The instruments are generally relaxed and at a slower tempo that typical rock music, but lead singer Garret Vandermolen’s calming voice flows perfectly with the drums and guitars.

“Say Goodbye” is a prime example of this, yet at times feels almost too relaxed and a bit boring. There are some solid elements of the song, such as the classic-rock vibes from the background vocals and guitars, but the song never really feels complete.

The backing vocals courtesy of keyboardist Greg McCleary and bassist Michael Scotti are used intermittently throughout the album, almost as a cornerstone for their style and sound. “Hymn” features noticeable layered vocals, as well as softer guitar playing.

While maintaining the relaxed undertone, some songs do have a bit more force, such as “Invisible,” which contains more diverse guitar and drum work. The lyrics and vocals do not stand out as much as they potentially could, but they do blend into the melody as a whole.

Continuing with the faster songs, “Tattoo” is very reminiscent of classic rock with guitar-centric instrumentation and the style of Vandermolen’s singing is harsher.

Speedfossil combines various elements of rock and throws in some pop to construct a relaxed, yet ambitious sound with some flair. The tranquil vocals compliment the instruments, even when the drums and guitar are a bit heavier, at which point Vandermolen smoothly alters his voice to match. The unique stylistic choices make You’re So Next a strong record. (Kathryn Leeber)

DOCTOR X

Lowbudget Records

The Strange Case of Doctor X 

9 tracks

It’s alive! it’s alive! Once more into the breach steps the ever prolific mad-scientist Tim Casey (aka Doctor X). His newest rock band album (as opposed to his ambient adventures) presents many musical concepts that are innovative, creative, and catchy. Melodies and harmonic structure fluctuates between sparse and lush, structured so the listener is able to absorb them after only a listen or two. Billy Carl Mancini’s guitar riffs are very rarely trite or predictable. Meter is full of syncopation and surprises and the team of Glenn Williams (bass) and Larry Harvey (drums) provides a sizable wallop throughout. Like David Bowie or Radiohead (talents  Tim truly admires), he approaches many concepts and challenges with sounds on this CD that you hear in other music, but there’s enough uniqueness that the songs make you feel like you’re adding new dimension to your collection. It’s got hooks, it’s got eccentricity, it’s got indie all over it. That is a liberating realization – a mental image of what sound is supposed to be, staying focused on the emotional plateaus that first inspired the song.

He opens the disc with a couple of tough rockers (“I Was a Teenage Frankenstein” and “485”) before moving on to the electro-groove of “Blows Me Away” and the gorgeous “Angels Everywhere” (very Beatle-esque), which touches on the Marathon bombing close to the school where he taught. Next up is one of my faves, the edgy “Kitchen Man” (very Tom Waits-meets-Morphine) followed by his lovely political ballad, “No Surprises,” all leading up to his masterful orchestral closer, “And All That Could Have Been.” And with each repeated listening, the designs of these compositions become even more valid.  Dare I say it, one of my fave local albums this year! Highly recommended.    (Harry C. Tuniese)

FLORAL AMORAL

The Warmest Touch

5 tracks

Floral Amoral are a Littleton, New Hampshire, psyche outfit with touches of jazz and chamber music. I’m not quite sure what songs like “The Keys In My Slippers” are really about, but they are hypnotic and draw you in to that fuzzy zone, you know, until the keys cut your toes in the slippers. Another song is called ” Bare Feet Meet.” Maybe this is a concept album about fuzzy slippers, or fuzzy feet. You’ll have to take some peyote, listen to this on auto repeat for three days, and get back to me. By the way, do you have any extra buttons for me? This album is a fantastic trip through the memory hole and a peek into the future. (Eric Baylies)

TIM MUNGENAST & ASTRO AL

Apostles of Vibrating Cheese

8 tracks

“Albanian Night Songs” sounds to me a bit like the Butterfield Blues Band tuning up in preparation for the “East/West” sessions, replete with a vibrating insect choir in the background. It gets weirder from there. “As the Grass Makes Love to Them” is a spoken word piece with mysterioso guitar; “My Guitar Dreams of Electric Yeti Meditation” is an ambient piece far more out there than Eno or Pink Floyd ever managed to get. “Harmonic Sponge Festival” is just downright wacky studio tomfoolery with the lovely DNA Girl on glockenspiel and Count Robot on synth. “Doubt Is Part of the Package” is another ambient piece which sounds vaguely like Yes getting down with it, accompanied by a spoken word piece. “What Doktor Plasmodium Found at the End of the Rainbow” is jazz and ambient merged into a dreamlike and gauzy soundscape replete with a narrative about a leprechaun. The album ends with the somewhat nightmarish swirling ambience of “Jun-Gal Subdues a Wild Goat.” As a whole, this reminds me of that bent psychedelic classic “Indian War Whoop,” by the Holy Modal Rounders. (Though not as focussed.)  (Francis DiMenno)

COMMIT SAMANTHA

The Singles

3 tracks

A medley of drums kick starts Commit Samantha’s three main singles. The vocals come in after an instrumental introduction in “The Fallen” and it almost feels like a soundtrack from a scene in a movie. As the instruments build, so do the vocals from lead singer, who goes by the name of Kon.

The melodic guitars provide a steady background, while the drums command the sound. Their music is heavy, but it still remains subdued with more rock-style vocals, rather than screaming ones typical of the genre. “Don’t Stare at the Sun” maintains the composed and rhythmic guitar work which leads the song. There is a short guitar solo about halfway through the song and it provides some variation in an otherwise repetitive composition.

The final single, “Closer,” has a heavier style than the other two with even stronger guitars. This track is definitely falls more into the rock genre in terms of the style of singing. The group states that they blend their backgrounds in theater, as well as various genres to create a distinct sound, and they do just that. The melodic and theatrical elements are evident, as are the rock, metal, and some electronic aspects. (Kathryn Leeber)

GLENN FRENCH

The Broken Dream Museum

14 tracks

A collection of wistful, somewhat old-timey songs, including the ukulele-driven “Happy in My Misery”; the bouncy and jazzy “The Willow Tree”; the gently jaunty “I Don’t Know About You,” and the lovely “Daisy.” “Showtune” is a stately and stellar piano piece with a new age bent. “A Long Time Ago” is an introspective and lovely love song, and “What’s a’Matter” a jolly barrelhouse bit of call-and-response hokum jazz. “Wishes” is a perfectly realized folk duet, and the love song “Halfway to Somewhere” is another stately piano piece. “Flight 1,” just to change things up, is a busy synth-driven rocker, “Almost Home” is a moving choral piece, and “Moonbow” reverts back to a ukulele showcase. This is a commendable effort filled with pleasant songs.  (Francis DiMenno)

GIRL ON TOP

Army Nation

13 tracks

This compilation contains old and new songs by the band that are politically based and the CD is rock solid and timely. Their modus operandi , where each song starts out with a great guitar riff that sets the tone, and then is accompanied by sultry female vocals that send the message; is timeless and a perfect match. Check out “Atomic World,” “In A Moment,” “Always,” and the rocking “Liberty” to see what I’m talking about. The new songs are done with Karen DiBiasse on vocals and guitar, Dave Simmons playing six strings, Peter Zicko on bass, Manual Smith on keys and Ray Fernandes (The Atlantics) and Angelo Aversa drumming. On the old cuts the late, great Jack Rootoo (Lou Miami) plays guitar and both Diane Gately and Dan Gharibian are behind the kit. Karen writes all the songs with occasional help from Simmons.  The tunes have a bit of metal, arena rock, some punk and retro influences. Listen to the title cut “Army Nation,” “Livin’ A Lie,” “Heal The Earth,” “Covered In Blood (JFK),” and “Raised To Die” to hear the group’s nice blend of influences in the final mix.Their cover of The Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” is both appropriate and powerful; and sung by a female vocalist changes the whole perspective of the original message. Great stuff from a great band. (A.J. Wachtel)

THE BRIGANDS

Night Patrol

16 tracks

Produced by the Brigands, this 16 track disc has a local slant as “The World’s Last Honest Man” walks along Mass Ave, is found in Kenmore Square, while the band steamrolls along in minimal fashion, a chorus that borders on a chant. Peter Parcellin (guitar) and Brian Sullivan (drums) share the lead vocals and on songs like “She’s So Hot” two voices mix in interesting fashion a la Kenne Highland’s Gizmos, less the naughty lyrics.  “Looking for Lewis and Clark” (with its line “Louie, Louie, Louie, Louie…) references the old Boston Garden while the guitars churn away.  Brigands approach their work like a working man’s rock band with a Ramones’ approach mixed in with more traditional sounds.  The backing vocals are supplied by second lead guitarist Michael “Scott” Stewart and bassist John Skinner.  Track 3, “Supersonic” is a standout and an alternative version of the tune closes out the CD.  With an MC5 attitude over climbing guitar chords this is the direction that succeeds the best, no nonsense rocking out.  On most of the disc it sounds like the boys are having fun at a frat party straight out of Animal House, a rock ’n’ roll mission to have a good time.  The cover of Bo Diddley’s “Pills,” most likely found in the New York Dolls’ catalog, is durable, while “Acid Test” and the title track, “Night Patrol,” are key moments as well.  Night Patrol was recorded and mixed by Rayboy Fernandes, former drummer with The Atlantics. (Joe Viglione)

BROTHER CLAYTON

Ticked Off Tapes

Homophobes Are Nothing More Than Closet Homosexuals & Shit

13 tracks

Brother Clayton is a one man force of nature from Western Mass. Some of this comes off as tongue in cheek but it is a mostly serious affair. There is mostly sparse backing, sometimes only a casio sounding keyboard. There are covers of The  Locust and Nightmare Pizza, and originals that bring to mind Ween, Jandek, and the more “out there” Beck stuff. This is what college radio should sound like in 2017. (Eric Baylies)

PACO  

Captivated

13 tracks

These are songs mostly written by the talented tenor Paco in collaboration with other artists, and they mostly hearken back more to songs from the great American songbook than to rock ’n’ roll, though the opening title track, with its swinging breeziness, might well have been a rock ballad standard in the mid-to-late 1950s. “Welcome to My Life” is a heartfelt love song which might have served quite well as a show tune. Ditto the very pretty “You Are My Life.” The bravura ballad “Forever” has a basic, rather tinkly piano accompaniment sweetened with strings, and features impeccable vocal phrasing. The wistful “Dream of Love” is another bravura vocal showpiece, again with minimal accompaniment, and with a show tune component. “With All of My Heart” is a very lovely and touching duet, with soaring melodies and a spartan piano and drum accompaniment. “Comfort Zone” is a British blues derived flat-out rock song which shows Paco’s vocal versatility to good effect. “Come On Baby,” a dance tune evocative of the late 1960s, is another, more rowdy rock number. “Comin’ Home” is the most modern-sounding song; a rocker seemingly straight out of the alt-rock ’90s. Finally, the orchestrated rendition of “Paco’s Impossible Dream” provides the icing on a very solid collection. (Francis DiMenno)

RESONATE

“Open Your Eyes” and “Shadow Trap”

2 tracks

Resonate’s two offerings are characterized by melodic guitar work paired with empowering, yet smooth vocals. The complex drumming contrasts the guitars for a variety in sound in “Open Your Eyes.” At times, the drums feel too intense compared to the singing and guitar playing, but overall adds a darker style to the sound. The vocals are layered at times, providing some variation in the structure of the song.

“Shadow Trap” continues with the heavier sound, courtesy of the drums. The quick beats from the kick drum pair with the repetitive guitar riffs. The vocals remain strong and become more relaxed as the instruments similarly quiet towards the end of the song. There are definitely some rock elements incorporated into the track, but overall the heavier style of drumming and the consistent guitars creates a distinct sound for the genre. (Kathryn Leeber)

SCOTT DAMGAARD

Leaving Hyannis

13 tracks

Leaving Hyannis… a 12-song, 13-track disc from Scott Damgaard, formerly of psychedelic band the Wayoutz, is almost as stylistically adventurous as Santana’s huge Supernatural CD and outside of singles – where the focus is on one composition – the abrupt shifts can be jarring for the first few spins.   Damgaard is a craftsman who rolls out the melodies and the stories with a free spirit abandon.

“Alligator” goes deep into the Cajun wilderness, the bluesy, slinky opening track would make Rusty and Doug Kershaw both proud.  In a sudden turnabout an uptempo Jim Gambino accordion (he of Swinging Steaks) on an Irish jig sends the mood into a different dimension on “Oh, Annie Murphy.” And if you think “Patrick Stands” keeps the Emerald isle a rolling, you’d be wrong.  This is a Dr. John blues beat that might fit in New Orleans, but it’s not of the same wavelength as “Alligator” which starts the show off.  There’s literally the cast of thousands at this party, different flavors from many musicians, co-songwriters and a variety of grooves. “I’ve Always Been Lonely” is in the Damgaard pop craftsmanship pocket while “Alden” opens up like John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” evolving into a superb folk/ pop/ blues song with staying power and heartfelt singing and playing.

“Darwin’s Uncle” opens up with Scott’s acoustic guitars very reminiscent of Ray Jackson of Lindisfarne’s Mandolin on Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May.”  Damgaard keeps switching styles, “I found love that first night/ her soft eyes looking at me” in the neo-skiffle “An Accidental Look (It was).”   Then we swing back to New Orleans on “Nantucket Stroll,” the song that has most in common with the CD’s title, Leaving Hyannis.  The musicianship is top notch throughout the 12 tracks plus bonus hidden adventure that is the unlisted number 13.  A baker’s dozen that are light years away from the pure pop/ psychedelia of the singer’s Wayoutz band and their classic Something Now disc.

Four minutes and 21 seconds of “Frankie Got My Lighter” sound like an opening act for Ricky Riccardo of I Love Lucy going half-reggae while “Sandcastles” gets more serious.  Saving the best for last, “Sandcastles,” “Bikini Island” and “You Were Here” close out the disc with some beautifully crafted pop.   “Margaritaville” with a bit of Elton John’s “Island Girl” gloss.   “Bikini Island” is a look at the devastation and radioactive fallout removing the beach music aspect of that area while “You Were Here” goes full-out reggae/ pop, the full journey of Leaving Hyannis clocking in at 52 minutes. (Joe Viglione)

SPRAYING MENTAL

Spraying Practice 2016

9 tracks

Spraying Mental hail from the noise rock capital of the world, Providence, Rhode Island. They play punk rock songs with free jazz arrangements. At times they almost sound like classic Black Flag or Circle Jerks styles. Just when you think you know what’s up, Spraying Mental explode out of the speakers in a million directions at once, like Daughters, Pissed Jeans, or Doomsday Student. This is the future of Providence, and its looking good. You can slamdance if you want to, but you had better bring your meds and a calculator. (Eric Baylies)

SKYJELLY

Eggs in Aspic

Gost Rock

6 tracks

When the centerpiece of an album is a 13-minute tracked entitled, “You’re in a Chair in the Sky,” you probably don’t need a reviewer like me to tell you that you’re in for some psychedelic space rock. That fact should be patently obvious. What you may need me for on the other hand is to learn just what kind of psychedelic space rock you’ll be hearing and why you should check it out.

Gost Rock runs the gamut. Opening tracks, “Seamagnet’s the Bullet” and “”Energy Vampire Weekend,”  tend towards the ’80s shoe-gaze aesthetic of Ride and Slowdrive, while layering Thom Yorke-ian vocal moans and snippets over the top.

Though referenced in the former song’s title, it’s “High Neighbor” that hints at the African rhythms of Vampire Weekend with its tabla-esque guitar plucking and chanted vocals.

The aforementioned “You’re in a Chair in the Sky” launches the album into space. It’s an Ummagumma-worthy exploration of guitar noise noodling, jazzy drum skittering and bass plunking. The song is a journey that at times breaks down into near free-jazz explorations before gathering back up into a cohesive rhythm and structure only to break down once again.

“Two Hands” sound like Crazy Horse on an acid trip. The guitars try to start shredding but can’t quite find their footing. It’s off-kilter and entertaining.

“Blowing Up My Mind” is an exploration of voice and guitar. The hummed/moaned vocals backed by sparse electric guitar notes build up to crescendo then peters out with a subtle yet agile bass solo.

Skyjelly finds a way to balance experimentation with tunefulness—freakouts with beats. It’s one of the most interesting explorations of sound I’ve heard in ages.   (George Dow)

THE COSMIC VULTURES

Black and White

4 tracks

Funky guitars and fast-paced singing from lead singer Derek Smith distinguish The Cosmic Vultures from other rock bands right from the beginning of their EP Black and White. “Backwards Lateral” utilizes various guitar styles to create a rhythmic and high-speed sound all their own.

The tone slows down with a softer drum beat in “Black Sheep” and the vocals are more relaxed and soulful. It might not be the strongest track, but it provides some contrast throughout the EP. “White Spade” continues with a more mellow vibe, but uses the detailed guitar lines to remind listeners of their bluesy roots.

Rounding out the EP is “Honey Child” which builds into a powerful and soulful song right from the start. A groovy instrumental solo in the beginning leads into the drawn-out singing the mirrors the soulful instrumentation. The blending of jazz and rock elements compliments the vocal talents of Smith to establish a detailed and entertaining sound. (Kathryn Leeber)

PETER BUZZELLE & THE ACADEMY

Devil Love

12 tracks

Modern meat-and-potatoes power pop with some nifty textures, notably the careering guitar sound on “Down by the Seashore” and the crunchy impetus on the Stones-like “Washed Away”. The music often hearkens back to older forms, as on the rockabilly-inflected “What We Got,” and the Pixies-like stomp of “We Could Have Saved Ourselves”. Many of the songs exhibit a softer side, as on “Straight to You,” “I’ll Never Give Up,” and the wrenching “Wing of a Dove.” At least one of the songs is more progressively experimental, namely the chundering and percussively halting best of show, “In a Breath of Farewell.” At the very least, these are competent and pleasant songs which are easy to enjoy. (Francis DiMenno)

THE DoBROS

Covered Bridge

7 tracks

This is real yee-ha music and I love it. Sorta like John Prine meets Delbert McClinton meets The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Cool country harmonies, nice guitar work, and the band plays well together. Tight, uptempo folk ballads with twang. “All My Friends,” “Jaelle,” “Hiding Away,” “On the Farm” and the title and opening cut “Covered Bridge” might be considered alt country or Americana by some but it is real campfire yee- ha music to me. Songwriter Luke Dobrowski pounding and playing percussion, banjo acoustic guitar and vocals, Ben Dobrowski playing electric guitar, piano, organ and vocals, Colin Nevins adding electric and acoustic guitars and singing, Chris Spannmeitz on electric bass and Joey Pierog playing an upright and helping the band with the production work have a great new release on their hands. Enjoyable to the max. The perfect band to see at a club out in the sticks or around a fire toasting marshmallows. Check them out. (A.J. Wachtel)

LOOSE SALUTE with MICK LAWLESS

Pisces, Cancer, Leo & Yates, Ltd. features:

13 tracks

Mick Lawless is a superlative musician and the final track on this “loose” salute to The Monkees puts an exclamation mark on that statement. “Sweet Young Thing” is a brilliant composition from Mike Nesmith, Carole King and Gerry Goffin amazingly reconstructed by Loose Salute, the almost two minute instrumental intro begins as stunning a piece of rock ’n’ roll music as you’ll find.  Track 9, “Grand Ennui,” is not a nod to the Lou Reed classic, “Ennui,” from Sally Can’t Dance, it’s actually a Nesmith country tune that plays nicely after the beautifully uptempo rendition of  his classic, “Joanne.”   There’s a quasi Vanilla Fudge version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppingstone,” two and a half minutes of a countrified “I Wanna Be Free,” a four minute “Take a Giant Step” – the immortal flip of the 1966 45 rpm “Last Train To Clarksville,” and a 57 second of a Hugo Montenegro-inspired (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) instrumental of “Theme to the Monkees.”   Monkees covers along with Nesmith originals that are derived from the Monkees’ style.  For the record, there are three Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart songs, a Goffin/ King classic along with the duo’s co-write with Nesmith referenced above and “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round?” a song by the Lewis and Clarke Expedition’s Michael Martin Murphey (he of “Wildfire” fame) and Owen Castleman. AllMusic.com notes that they were label-mates on Colgems with The Monkees, so it all makes sense, and comes full circle.  The CD cover, of course, is a take-off on  the number one album from The Monkees, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. … which itself was prophetic in the eventual metamorphosis that generated Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart.   Mick, Tom, Pete and Keith of Loose Salute are devotees, and their musicianship separately and collectively is major league. Take a listen to how they re-speak “Propinquity” bringing in flavors of The Band, Dylan, Nesmith and Kris Kristofferson.  Just wonderfully planned and produced. (Joe Viglione)

WALTER NOONS

Silent Dreaming

10 tracks

I get a strong impression that Walter Noons is one of those unconventional artists who just keeps plugging along, as on the insightful, depression-haunted opening love song “I Try and Try,” which chugs along like a mutant version of Blondie’s “One Way or Another.” “Murder Ballad #2” puts me in mind of Crazy Horse’s grandiose clamor fronted by a deadpan vocalist. “I Like Boys” is a surprisingly poppy effort full of low-key jangle and semi-operatic vocalizing. “I Heard You Calling My Name” is another, rather spare poppy effort, vaguely reminiscent of Lou Reed in sound and attitude. “Funky Soulstice” is something of a novelty rapping number. Best-of-show “My Death” is the sort of declamatory goo-goo muck the Cramps were so fond of; e.g., “New Kind of Kick”. Although a marginal figure, Noons cannot be dismissed as a mere eccentric; at its best his outsider music, under-produced and demo quality as it is, displays a fine songwriter’s instinct. (Francis DiMenno)

GLASS MANNEQUINS

March of the Mannequins

9 tracks

Glass Mannequins are a trio from Boston. They have drum machines, keyboards and violin with an old fashioned male crooner. This music can come across as cold, even icy, but this singer makes it kind of out this world. It brings to mind a mellow Radiohead or U2 but with Brian Eno nudging them to the left a bit. This is what Seal singing Velvet Underground songs with David Byrne producing would sound like, and that’s pretty great. March of the Mannequins is pop music for people who can’t be caught listening to pop music. (Eric Baylies)

A.N.T.

Dark Depths

8 tracks

This talented young local hip- hop artist Anthony Doucette, or All. Natural. Talent, is influenced by Nas, Wu Tang and newer rappers Hopsin and Tech N9NE. In fact, the opening cut “Born To Die” with its dark atmosphere and quick flow reminds me of the strange and unique Hopsin right off the bat. “Crows” has good imagery and the words work well with the beat.  On “Unstoppable,” ANT raps with A Milli and it’s a great pairing cause the flow runs together in a very smooth way. “Outside the Box,” produced by JustDre Productions, has tight rhymes and a good instrumental with solid studio work that makes this rap jump right out of the speakers. My favorite track on this debut release is “Horricane” which has everything I look for in a hip-hop presentation. Good imagery over a good beat. This is a cool composition and may be the sleeper hit of the bunch. The final song, “Just Watch,” sounds like a ’90s melody because, for one thing, it doesn’t have a violent and hopeless vibe to the mix tape, and in this way the tune reminds me of  the Wu Tang Clan because everything today can be indirectly traced back to them one way or the other. A cat to watch for sure. (A.J. Wachtel)

NEUTRINOS!

Surf Cult

6 tracks

Neutrinos! are a young, wild, and gifted trio from Attleboro. With songs like “Pizza Party” these punkers stick with what they know about and it works perfectly. They are classic sounding punk band, but with songs like “Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy” they know how to get the dance party going. These guys keep the songs short and somewhat sweet. They remind me of Chris Evil & The Taints, The Queers, and even the B-52’s at times. For a good time, call the Neutrinos! (Eric Baylies)

MARTHA BOURNE

The Light in Me

10 tracks

With an upbeat tempo and soulful voice, Martha Bourne latest release The Light in Me is powered by pop elements brought together by various instruments. “All About Me” has a seemingly simple structure, but the lyrics and vocals are so detailed and strong. The style continually changes with a smooth guitar solo halfway through, and various electronic elements introduced at different points in the song.

The title track has more of a blues vibe with slower instruments and drawn-out vocals. The guitars and drums continue to stand out with their distinct and varied sounds. The contrast between the instruments is noticeable, but works incredibly well to create something unique. Bourne’s effortlessly confident and strong voice matches the mellow tone of the instruments to provide optimism, despite the sad lyrics at times.

“All For Show” is a more minimal song, with simple tunes in the background and the main focus is on Bourne’s voice. The lyrics continue to contrast the positive sounds of the music when she easily sings “I don’t know what I want anymore/ Don’t know why I consider the score/ Can’t say what the matter is/ Have no idea what will come of this” with an impressive range.

Bourne’s vocal talents are truly excellent, with honest lyrics to match. Not only are the instrument sounds different than traditional pop or even jazz, but the lyrics are just as unique which creates a style that is all their own. Each song is different than the last, yet they all blend quite nicely.

“Tears of Joy” is heavier than the other songs, containing louder electric guitars and drums. There is an edge to Bourne’s voice that fuels it with power. Juxtaposing the title, the sound is more dark than joyful, but that seems to follow the contradictory-nature of the album.

The next few songs continue with the mellow tones and “Shooting Star” also follows with the almost comical lyrics that bring the album to life. Bourne sings in the chorus, “Who in the hell do you think you are?/ You’re a shooting star/ You tore across the sky/ So fast I could not say goodbye/ So goodbye, shooting star.”

Between the instrumental solos, detailed lyrics, and commanding vocals, The Light in Me conveys, and instills in the listener, a sense of confidence and control all while maintaining a light-hearted sound. (Kathryn Leeber)

Comments

CD Revs – May — 2 Comments

  1. I appreciate the honest review. I was curious, why no mention of “Beyond My Fear” and “Silent Dream?” My favorites. Thanks for taking the time to listen. Walter Noons