quinta-feira, 15 de outubro de 2015

Cosmic Rough Riders - Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine 2000

Every time you want to dismiss this Scottish quintet as harmless, winsome fluff, they disarm you with depth of feeling and substance. This LP is well titled: there's a real sunniness to these folks that's completely unforced. It's so surprisingly welcome. When so much of rock tries to beat you into submission, you find yourself playing Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine nearly everyday. Like some throwback California sun 'n' surf morning that never existed, the glistening harmonies, '60s light-pop touches, and over-earnest but well-mannered, tender lyrics send the cynic in you fleeing in disbelief that you'd fall for this. But fall you do. Mind, it starts slow, if OK. The opening "Brothers Gather Round" and "The Gun Isn't Loaded" are more Gordon Lightfoot than pretty Byrds and the more pastoralTeenage Fanclub, and the next few cuts only start to warm up for the nuggets down the road. Beginning with the gushing verses of "Revolution (In the Summertime)," the second two-thirds begins to soar on its own momentum. In particular, "You've Got Me" is as lithesome and sweet a love song as you've heard in eons, so sincere and heartfelt it beckons to your more valiant impulses. Likewise, "Melanie" draws you into the melodrama, cursing the JFK customs agents that sent the singer back, when his longed-for is here. Even when they interject a tiny note of callousness in "Sometime" -- fending off hints of marriage with a thoughtless "let's live for today" -- they redeem it by promising "Sometime/I might change my mind/But 'til I do/I'll be right here with you" -- set to a tune so breezy and grabbing, it's made for singing along. One is equally seduced by the pristine pangs of "Have You Heard the News Today," wherein a '60s bridge like "I really didn't like her style/And then I looked in her eyes" is placed within a diving riff and descending chord melody that's a knockout. This bunch has the tunes, they have the delicate appreciation for all that is small wonder in the bright light of one's stare, and a pleasant air that's bound to stop you dead. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Gear Daddies - Let's Go Scare Al 1998

A jangly guitar band that was greatly influenced by the Byrds' harmonies but had tougher lyrics, the Gear Daddies attracted some attention in the late 1980s and early '90s. Let's Go Scare Al, one of their best albums, is a fine representation of their attractive, melodic sound and above-average lyrics, which are often clever and humorous in a world-weary way. Especially thought-provoking is "Statue of Jesus," which finds a man questioning whether or not religion is really making life's difficulties any easier. Meanwhile, the Gear Daddies are content to simply be funny on "Drank So Much (Just Feel Stupid)." Country is an obvious influence on the folk-rockers (as it was on the Byrds), and they don't hesitate to employ touches of the Nashville sound on twangy cuts like "She's Happy," "Heavy Metal Boyz" and the lonely "Strength." Fans of this type of music owe it to themselves to search for this CD. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Fruition - Just One Of Them Nights 2013

True to its name, this Portland, Oregon quintet combines rock, bluegrass and folk to blend into an earthy and fulfilling whole. Two guitars and a mandolin bring the rustic backwoods to their sound and they sure can pick when they open the throttle as on the appropriately named “Boil Over” and “The Wanter.” But the band is smart enough to realize that speedy fingers are only a means to an end and all the high octane fret burning doesn’t amount to much without top shelf songs. They have written a batch of them here, of which the moody “Blue Light” finds the swamp rock lurking under the surface and the lovely and lively “Mountain Annie” flows like a burbling country brook. The latter features a chorus perfect for audience sing-alongs as the melody soars, riding on an effortless interplay between acoustic guitar and mandolin. Recorded with $20,000 raised through fans and family with a successful Kickstarter campaign, the album has a live and homey feel, perfectly suited to its rootsy traditions.
This is Americana of the highest order, driven by charming three-part harmonies that never feel forced. Mimi Naja, who contributes piano along with her sprightly mandolin, also shines as a tough, husky voiced lead vocalist, a role she inhabits all too seldom on these eleven tunes. She sings and plays keys on the sweet “Whippoorwill” and the closing “I’ll Get Back Home,” a beautifully moving ballad that brings drama to this wonderful set, and like the best albums, leaves us wanting more. 
listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Exene Cervenka and The Original Sinners - Sev7en 2006

Exene Cervenka, bless her heart, still loves punk rock and is still wailing more than a quarter century after she helped found one of the finest American bands of the 1980s, X. While X has forsaken writing and recording new material these days, Cervenka continues to have plenty to say and true to form she isn't about to keep quiet; Sev7en is her second album with her band the Original Sinners, and it finds her in enjoyably rough and rowdy form. Not unlike Xthe Original Sinners split the difference between punk and roots rock, though Jason Edge's and Dan Sabella's guitars lean more strongly toward the blues than the thrashabilly explosion that was/is Billy Zoom's style (the cover of the Gun Club's "Ghost on the Highway" marks a clear reference point), and there's a bit more open space and less violence in the group's attack (with acoustic guitars popping up on a few tracks). But the Sinners work up an impressive and sympathetic ruckus behind their frontwoman, and Cervenka's blend of street level poetry ("Last Dance," "Tavern") and surreal but pointed social commentary ("Lonesome War," "History Now") is as keen and compelling as ever. Exene is also singing great these days, revealing a technical skill that sometimes evaded her in X's early days but still shouting out with a feral passion. Sev7en isn't quite going to make you forget Wild Gift or Under the Big Black Sun, but the lyrical mind that helped make those landmark albums is as fierce and agile as ever, and you don't have to be a punk nostalgia junkie to dig this stuff. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Beachwood Sparks - Make The Cowboy Robots Cry 2002

Beachwood Sparks don't like being fenced into any one particular musical pasture. While their critics obviously have no trouble pointing out the band's love of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, they'll often neglect to mention how the band might also drop in a tottering "Interstellar Overdrive" organ riff or tear off on a psychedelic space rock tangent. Their spirited cover of "By Your Side" on last year's Once We Were Trees also revealed they were liable to make a whimsical pop culture statement without so much as tipping their hand why they would cover Sade's hit in the first place (talk about smooth operators). Make the Cowboy Robots Cry, however, is their most adventurous turn yet, a real reflection of where they are now and where they're possibly headed next. The focus on this wistful six-song EP -- which clocks in at just over 30 minutes -- is where it has been all along, placed front and center on Chris Gunst' s tender but frail vocals and the band's lilting harmonies (think Smile-era Beach Boys). This release, however, also finds them straying from the Cosmic American path to add electronic and post-rock elements along the way. Some of it sounds like Spiritualized trying to cover the ballads on The Notorious Byrd Brothers. According to bassist/vocalist Brent Rademaker, they were also listening to Dennis Wilson's Pacific Ocean Blue while ensconced in the studio. It makes sense, as some of that classic and somewhat undiscovered album's cosmic stoner vibe has managed to find its way into these grooves. No doubt the additional production and instrumental aid by Jimmy Tamborello (Strictly BallroomDntelFigurine) had its effect on their sound. This EP also marks the return of drummer Jimi Hey (Strictly Ballroom), who had originally played with them early in their career; Aaron Sperske, meanwhile, has rejoined Kurt Heasley's Lilys. There are many highlights among the half-dozen tracks: "Hibernation" resounds with somnolent beauty, all sleepy-eyed and soft to the touch, while "Ponce de Leon Blues" -- with friend Mia Doi Todd's sultry backing vocals -- is a soulful tune that wobbles along, accompanied by the sound of a stylus stuck in a sun-warped slab of vinyl. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Fistful of Mercy - As I Call You Down 2010

Fistful of Mercy is entirely too aggressive a name for the ramshackle trio of Ben HarperJoseph Arthur, and Dhani Harrison, a group of neo-hippies whose respective circles conjoined so they decided to strum some acoustic guitars together and see what happened. What happened was a collection of nine pleasant folk-rock tunes tinged with a little blues and a lot of softly psychedelic twists reminiscent of Dhani’s dad, George. The melodies may recall the elder Harrison but the overall feel is uncannily CSN at their softest, the harmonies always gentle and the tempos never moving any faster than a lazy stroll. The mellow vibes are appealing in their own lackadaisical way, but as the short LP approaches its conclusion it’s hard not to wish there was just a little more discipline, perhaps enough to sculpt these pleasant sounds into full songs. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Galactic - Carnivale Electricos 2012

For over 18 years, Galactic has been a restless, continually innovative ensemble that has sought to express every aspect of the cultural experience of New Orleans through music. Carnivale Electricos is a celebration of Mardis Gras Day (aka Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday). The quintet and friends celebrate the varieties of that experience throughout southern Louisiana and the American south, and also throughout the Southern hemisphere with its brand of parade music. In typical fashion, Carnivale Electricos is a crunchy, rowdy recording with some beautiful twists and turns by its guest performers. The band is augmented by a four-piece horn section led by Corey Henry (aka Boe Money) and percussionist Mike Dillon. Also typically, there are numerous guests on the set. Opener "Ha Di Ka" is opened by the war chant and roiling drums of Big Chief Juan Pardo and the Golden Comanches Mardis Gras Indians. The Big Chief knows how to get his funk on. Zydeco legend Clifton Chenier gets sampled on "Voyage Ton Flag" (to mark the Cajun celebration of the big day) with lead vocals by the Mamou Playboys' frontman Steve Riley, though this nasty creeper reflects Galactic as much as it does Cajun zydeco. The Revivalists' David Shaw and Maggie Koerner take NOLA brand blues-rock to the margin on "Hey Na Na," infusing it with gritty funk. The unmistakable Crescent City soul groove is represented by Cyril and Ivan Neville on "Out in the Street" with a killer horn presentation. "Karate" highlights one of the most important parts of Mardis Gras Day -- marching bands. The 140-piece Kipp Renaissance High School Marching Band joins Galactic on this strutter. Mannie Fresh and Mystikal offer the hip-hop take on Mardi Gras with the blistering, celebratory aggression of "Move Fast." Some of the most interesting cuts on this set, however, are those that employ various forms of Brazilian music (it's the biggest Carnivale day in the world because it's celebrated nationwide). There's the slamming, futurist forro of Carlinhos Brown's "Magalehna" by Casa Samba, with NOLA's unmistakable second-line funk laid in the backbeat. "Côco da Galinha" is a collaboration between postmodern samba poet Moyseis Marques and Galactic that retains the spirit of samba-driven MPB, but weds it to cracking breaks and NOLA-style R&B horns. "Guero Bounce" is even wilder. Blues, Baile funk, and the Crescent City's trademark bounce come together gumbo style. Local legend Al "Carnival Time" Johnson redoes his celebrated 1960 hit, updated for the Galactic generation. Carnivale Electricos is a further extension of the musical ambition, sophistication, and vision the band employed on 2010's brilliant Ya-Ka-May, but it's an even rowdier global celebration -- in full parade style -- of one very special day on the calendar. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Eleventh Dream Day - Prairie School Freakout 1987

Although they had released an EP prior to this, Prairie School Freakout really marked the arrival ofEleventh Dream Day. Somewhat disappointed with their first effort, EDD decided to basically cut this album live, and what you hear is the sound of a young band letting it all hang out. Things get off to a blistering start with "Watching Candles Burn," and the energy hardly lets up at all throughout the set. With a great batch of tunes and the guitars turned up to 11, the bandmembers tears into these songs as though their lives depended on it, and flat out deliver. Neil Young & Crazy Horse (music-wise) are an obvious point of comparison, as are Dream Syndicate and maybe X, but EDD are all Midwesterners, and maybe that's what helps make their sound distinctive. Janet Beveridge Bean and Douglas McCombs are a solid rhythm section, and Rick Rizzo and Baird Figi make a glorious racket when it's time to solo, especially on the epic-length "Tenth Leaving Train" (from the Wayne EP). "Beach Miner" drops a Richard Lloyd guitar figure over a Crazy Horse chord progression for a tune that'll stick in your head for days. Then there's the odd narrative of "Among the Pines," where a man splits his head open slipping in the shower, and the tale of killer "Albert C. Samson." No wonder Atlantic took notice.Eleventh Dream Day went on to construct better overall albums, but they never rocked harder than onPrairie School Freakout. This album smokes. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

3 Mice - Send Me A Postcard 2012

Before the era of ubiquitous Internet file sharing, the prospect of these 3 Mice making an album together might have seemed unlikely. But technology has surmounted geography, and Elaine di Falco(Hughscore) and Dave Willey (Hamster Theatre) -- both based in Colorado -- worked long-distance with Switzerland's Cédric Vuille (L'Ensemble Rayé) and Israeli mixologist Udi Koomran to createSend Me a Postcard, an album that sounds like it emerged from a single studio. Given their respective projects melding avant-prog, Euro-folk, world, and classical elements to create music both amiable and challenging, Vuille and Willey are a natural pairing, as becomes clear right from the album's opening track. "Hot Rod Waltz" features Vuille on cuatro and guitar, Willey on accordion and bass, andL'Ensemble Rayé drummer Daniel Spahni. The piece is indeed centered around a waltzy 12/8 verse and chorus -- featuring Vuille's crisp picking and Willey's insistent accordion chords and sky-high melody -- alternating with a 15/8 bridge (the "Hot Rod" part?) during which, on the second go-round,Vuille's power-riffing electric guitar charges in and Willey's ascending line elevates the tune as it returns to the verse. A roaring start, to be sure, and third mouse di Falco hasn't even made her entrance. Her contributions as composer or co-composer add moody ethereality, ringing vibraphone ambience, and sometimes a bit of darkness to the proceedings. On "Invitation," co-written with Willey, her deliberate piano arpeggios mark the harmonic changes over which Vuille's twangy, swooping guitar and Willey's accordion join in mysterious melodies, accompanied by Vuille's clarinets and moreWilley accordion in a counterpoint stereo throb.
di Falco's "Year of My Solstice," again guided by her piano, has a slow waltz rhythm and tango feel, more wintry than summery as her melancholic accordion melodies are echoed by Vuille's ghostly theremin; somewhere in the mix a timbre emerges that some might feel uncannily resembles the voice of Dagmar Krause. She also provides the disc’s edgiest moment as the composer of "Experiment," which builds into a huge droning onslaught of textured sound driven by Spahni's drums and her rhythm box. Of course, di Falco does sing on Send Me a Postcard, her voice usually multi-tracked in wordless harmony as another instrument in the palette, enthusiastically tackling something light and breezy like "Hey-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-ay-ay" in the closing "Skallaloo." And even when she sings actual words, as in her distressed rodent tale "Mr. Hamster's Dilemma," a quirkiness keeps this worlds away from earlier 2011 outings Decline and Fall by Thinking Plague and even Willey's Immeasurable Currents. Overall, in fact, Send Me a Postcard resembles a Vuille album like Faire in the brevity of its 12 tunes, forays into diverse international musical traditions -- Caribbean, Latin, and Celtic, to name three -- and head-spinning array of sparkling, multi-layered instrumentation. di Falco's charming booklet paintings suggest a metaphor that not all items cast skyward travel far and reach hoped-for destinations. Thankfully, these 3 Mice sent musical postcards to one another that arrived as intended. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Johnny Mastro & The Mama's Boys - Beautiful Chaos 2011

Johnny Mastro & The Mama's Boys music is a blend of new and old at the same time.  Roots run deep as Johnny spent 16 years (and Smoke 6 years) at the blues shrine "Babe's & Ricky's Inn" under tutelage from Laura Mae "Mama" Gross.  She taught them the only color that mattered was blue and encouraged them to develop their own sound.  The new is living in the present and absorbing sounds coming from music they enjoy Today!  The results are apparent at every show and every recording "Mama's Boys" make.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Consider the Source - Are You Watching Closely 2009

Consider The Source started forming in 2004 after Gabriel Marin and Justin Ahiyon played together in a jam session and discovered their musical compatibility. John Ferrara and Ahiyon had been playing together since childhood. The three musicians met and their collaboration eventually turned into Consider The Source. The group started out almost exclusively improvisational and was not a full-time endeavor. They released a demo EP in 2005 and their debut album, Esperanto, was included on jazz critic Howard Mandel's list of his favorite albums from 2007. Around this time, the trio decided to put all of their efforts into the band. In the next two years, they toured the United States seven times and began to play festivals such as the 2008 NYC Fretless Guitar Festival.

In 2009, Consider The Source released their second full-length album, Are You Watching Closely and quickly followed with a third full-length album, That's What's Up, in 2010. In 2012, Ahiyon left the group, and was briefly replaced by Louis Miller, before Jeff Mann took over on the drum kit. The band toured Germany and Israel. The new trio continued to produce original material which was constantly being introduced at shows and resulted in two live albums. Around this time, the band also began to play full acoustic sets at summer festivals. In February of 2014, Consider The Source completed a crowdfunding campaign to fund the production of their largest studio release, titled World War Trio. In October of the same year, part one was released as a stand-alone composition. In June of 2015, parts two and three were released as a double-disc.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK

Blood Oranges - The Crying Tree 1994

Before there was alt-country there were the Blood Oranges. Their three releases fell squarely in a genre that didn't even have a name yet; indeed, had it formed, they'd have been one of the leading names. Not only did they have a superb guitar player in Mark Spencer (check his jaw-droppingly good break on "Hell's Half Acre" if you need proof; they can't play that fast and cleanly outside of Nashville, can they?), but they had a wonderfully emotional writer and singer in Cheri Knight and Jimmy Ryan's mandolin, composing, and singing provided much of the country flavor. And with The Crying Tree they perhaps reached their zenith, firing on all cylinders with the slow crunch of the title track, the quiet desperation of "Shadow of You," and the loneliness of "This Old Town," which segues into the breakneck, guitar-driven "On the Run," with its breathless vocal and utterly wild guitar. They were never afraid to mix a bit of noise with their melody, with Spencer's solo edging out past the stratosphere in true guitar-hero fashion. Everything's helped by Eric Ambel's production, capturing lovely, raw harmonies and giving the band real musical freedom, as on "Hinges," which almost sounds like a Richard Thompson song gone below the Mason-Dixon line (ironic, given the fact the band was based in the Northeast). They had it all going and brought it all together in perfect fashion here. It's just a shame they were ahead of their time. AMG.

listen here

Buy @ Amazon: USA - FR - UK