BAND:Justine and the Unclean
TITLE: Get Unclean
GET IT: Rum Bar Records
The first song I heard from this CD was Love Got Me Into This Mess and I still find it hard to stop listening to it and move on to the next song. Its punky, it has a hook you want to sing along with and it has Justines voice which is immediately captivating. Cant Pretend I Dont Know, Passive Aggressive Baby, and I'm In Love With You, Jackass are all cut from the same cloth.
Bring Me Fire, Rock and Roll Blackmail and Something Out of Nothing have a pre-punk feel to them and they have the same earworm quality.
This has got to be the best debut from the Boston punk scene in a long time. The whole package is like those LPs you would buy on a whim because the cover seemed to say the music must be good and it would become your favorite.
The group is a pack of local veterans who never fail: Charles Hansen/guitar, Jim Janota/Drums, Janet Egan Long/bass and Justine Covault/vocals, guitar.
Even with all the quality playing, the lyrics and the songwriting; its still the attraction of Justine Covaults voice that makes it extra special. It's been a long while since I feel in love with a voice but thats what happened here. It reminds me of the first time hearing Christie Hynde singing Stop Your Sobbing.
Its almost too good to be true.
BAND:The Billy Connors Project
TITLE: The Billy Connors Project
GET IT: Bandcamp
The Boize only had a small recorded legacy. So, its been interesting to see Billy Connors, of that group, pick up the baton 35 years later and rectify the situation first with Cadillac Heart and now with the Billy Connors Project.
This is a four song CD EP. Its further proof that Billy is strong as a song writer and band leader.
You can hear it all on the first song Stranded. It crunches out three chords that hang together as the simple melody slips right into it. Veteran Boston punkers Ray Fernandes and Michael Quirk make it sit in a grove. Adam Sherman does magic with the lyrics.
Adam who is the new guy in the group used to be in Private Lightning. He has a distinctive voice that can put multiple shadings into a lyric.
Hurry Up Sundown has a completely different lilt to the melody that talks of love gone bad and the singer wants to Paint It Black in effect. Theres wonderful back to back singing by Billy and Adam.
I Dont Like You has a punk sound and attitude. You dont like me and I dont like you. This sort of song is our bread and butter and we never get enough.
In I Know My Place the singer seems a bit more world weary as he declares I know my place, dont try to put me in it. Even though the song is short the chorus builds some anthemic steam.
Its four rocking tunes. Another sign of quality: its produced by David Minehan.
BAND:Kingdom of Love
GET IT: Bandcamp
Kingdom of Love is the latest band of Linda Viens and
Richard Lamphear. Linda's credits go way back in the Boston scene. She's
been sought out continuously by groups as a vocal sweetener to projects
of all styles. On this CD (and live) they add musicians to make a full
“Play It On” starts with a solo piano that puts you in a quiet place. Linda's voice comes in and sweeps you along into a song of heartbreak. It's a perfect romantic tune you would be hard pressed not to give into.
“When You Follow” is the other pop effort. They successfully capture a slice of noir. At the beginning the atmospheric background travels from left to right speaker. They manage to record a perfect noir trumpet to color the piece. They also have some muffled vocals kicking in here and there. Here is a group that can use the studio like an instrument to deliver what they want.
“Two Souls” is an electronic ditty which also displays the melodicism that is actually in every song on the CD. The melody and the singing raise this above similar efforts out there.
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TITLE: The Bright Side
GET IT: Amazon
Theres no sophomore slump with Roy as he makes another finely crafted CD. His other CD, Eclectricty is reviewed below.
When the first song on the album is “The End” you know you are being set up. Is it a Memento flip? If so, its more like Pinters Betrayal because the songs deal with real relationship issues.
Its not a lighthearted work even the final song The Bright Side is about how he cant find a bright side.
Whether hes gifted, or has picked up his song craft during his long career, it's evident in every second. Song structures have been tweaked so that the nuts and bolts hold things together seamlessly. Melodies carry the songs along and in the chorus they marry to the lyrics to deliver the hook.
Stephen Gilligan on bass and Lenny Shea Jr. on drums are a classy rhythm section.
Roy has been hiding in plain site as a member of Fox Pass and Tom Dickie and the Desire. The Bright Side shows off his impeccable taste, guitar mastery and sure handed song craft for all to see. Its hard to say too much about this CD.
TITLE: Pop Tricks
GET IT: Band web site
The first single from Hummingbird Syndicate had elements of Sunshine Pop. The first song on their album “Romance” has that quality too. You might suspect that's what the rest of the album will be, but not so.
About half is in the Country/Americana style where its acoustic guitars and mandolins that color the sound.
At the center of the group is the Jon Macey and Lynn Shipley writing team. Couple that with their performing chops and thats a big jump start to any project. The rest of the band are top notch players who all play with subtlety. Everything is nice and tidy. Its a pristine recording, as are all of Maceys albums.
The first song “Romance” name checks 60s song lyrics as it goes
its feel-good Sunshine pop way.
They wait for the penultimate song “Guitar Star” to rock it up. Then they put it in relief with “Clever and Astute” where Jon starts by whispering the lyrics. Its has an intimate atmosphere. It makes you want to curl up in the speaker cabinet as Shipley takes over and offers, If you have any time, I can spare a few moments of mine. Its so wistful. If you stop and give it attention it will capture you.
Live Hummingbird Syndicate go even wider musically afield. It feels like this CD is just the first step for this gang.
TITLE: Took Long Enough
GET IT: Bandcamp
They call the CD Took Long Enough, like it was too long in coming, but I think the timing is exactly right. Right now Losers Circle has seized the day with their live show - and this CD. If you want some pop punk for right now this is the group and this is the CD.
Its amazing what you can do with just three instruments and three voices.
Losers Circle follow the Ramones as far as having a
bare bones sound and getting millage out of it.
No matter what cut you go to it hits like youre hearing it in the middle of a great live set. Every song is upbeat, there is no dragging ever.
“Ghosts of Yesterday” is the highlight with its ascending intro
guitar riff and nicely written chorus where the chords descend in steps
that are unusual and it catches your ear.
Those are a few examples of what they're doing all through the CD. Something gets you in every song; be it the lyric, melody or singing thats embedded in their bone crunching group attack.
Its 12 cuts of memorable punk. What more can you wish for?
TITLE: Broken Biscuits
GET IT: www.corinashley.com
This is a much bigger aural feast than biscuits. Its what happens when your diet consists of Sgt.Peppers era Beatles. Thats not news for Ashley fans. He recorded at Abbey Road for his last effort, but even for him, this is a big accomplishment.
The first 7 songs are a suite referencing Corins stroke and recovery.
Wind Up Boy would be a captivating ditty before the production
afterwards its a marvel.
Corin also sings and plays bass like McCartney. Its worth giving one listen concentrating on the bass lines.
The last five songs are separated as Side Two and thematically they go elsewhere. Junior Partner is about the Rat Race and Jellyfish is a heart breaker. The last song is a Dean Martin cover!
Quality, trippy pop music; only Corin could have pulled this off.
BAND:Oh the Humanity
TITLE: Tired Ears
GET IT: Bandcamp
I love OH the Humanity live and this EP does a good job of showing what they do.
All the songs are very wordy. Often theres pressured singing as the vocalist gets every word in. Its like hes telling you exactly what he feels and wants to get every detail in there.
To me, its the last two songs (side two on the EP) that are the most successful.
Both those songs are special because they transmit such heart and humanity. They are a sort of window into us and others that the best art gives you.
TITLE: 100 Proof
GET IT: CD Baby
BAND:The Chicago Vin Coalition
Here we have two CDs by Greg Allens Fringe Religion graduates. In their new projects the ex-Fringers take things in different directions.
The Hi-End has Curt Florzcak, Gregs previous
guitarist, it also has Johnny Carlevale from the Skeleton
100 Proof is a life declaration that comes crashing out of
Chicago Vin played bass in Fringe Religion. He also
plays guitar and Vox organ on this CD.
The first three songs are garage tunes that remind me of the work of
Rick Coraccio and the Last Ones. It
will remind you of lots of sixties faves. It has the Vox Continental at
the front with cutting guitar leads through it. A lot of smart, hip and
trendy people are trying to do this but Vin seems to accomplish it effortlessly.
If I didnt review CDs I might not have given this the time which is sad. Its an unexpected gem.
BAND:The Lost Riots
TITLE: The Stories are True
GET IT: Bandcamp
You want to like this New Haven group just from the way they look; They're all studded up like 1977 UK punks. The music sounds like it has studded jackets on too, its snarly punk.
In the opener Die Alone they just yell out "Die Alone" a lot of times. Their song titles must be vetted for the way they sound yelled out because thats what happens most of the time.
I like Die Alone, This Job Sucks, NYC Nights,
Aimee, and Dead Boys - but really any one is as good
as the other. Its more of a soundtrack when you're playing it.
On track 11 they go acoustic for Were Getting Old. (You have to get the EP 45 to get it electric and I would do that. Last Night Was Fun on that EP has lyrics relate a club social situation and name check some groups.)
They have an unlisted phantom track 13 which is the Replacements
Goddam Job all punked up.
The CD is even on Die Hipster! Records!!
TITLE: Happy Accidents
GET IT: Bandcamp
Ive seen OC 45 play live a few times and its a rush of sound and fury. What were they singing about? Didnt know but it didnt matter.
I played this CD and it was a lively blur of punk. What were they singing about? Didnt know but it did matter this time. Nothing caught my ear to distinguish what was going on. I then listened with the lyric sheet in hand and it was - aha, thats what there singing about and thats cool.
It turns out that they sing about gun control, prejudice, family tragedy, heart break, and the general shittyness of some of our society. OC45 does this? Yes, and then the songs opened up for me. They didnt just rock out they said something.
I thought This Bottles Got Your Name On It would be a mindless drinking song but no its a rather sober look at a failed love relationship where, surprise, the lyrics admit, I got exactly what I wanted. Im all alone and broken hearted. They dont blame the other party! It hits its mark and I felt sadness welling up.
Dads Home is a tribute to a father who dies the day after Christmas. It ends with the line, Ill always remember the person you were, the father I knew," again, an effective song.
Keep Your Guns brings up the scenarios that buttress the anti-gun argument and justify the singers anger; not just a mindless rage of nihilism which is the more common funnel for anger.
My fear is that others dont give this the deeper listen it deserves. Theres a lot there for those that do.
TITLE: The Black Heart of Rock n' Roll
GET IT: Rum Bar Records
We became familiar with many of these songs by hearing them live. The great news is that they have translated all their live excitement into the recording.
Its good songwriting coupled with a party time, barroom rocking vibe and an arena rock ambience also. There is AC/DC and Cheap Trick influences up front.
Nothing is too complicated but nobody can slash out a chord and let it hang in the air like these guys. They own that style. See the opener The Black Heart of Rock n Roll for this. They also have mastered the hook in the bass riff punctuated with a crunched chord. The playing is a text book on how four musicians can all add to the mix and not step on each others toes.
Danny Kopkos voice has always been the main attraction for me and it
still is here. They slow it down on Bye and Bye and you get a
good showcase for his voice there.
The CD is what they wanted; an instant big rock concert in your bedroom.
BAND:Duck & Cover
TITLE: Stuck in Decline
GET IT: Bandcamp
The first song Yeah Dont You is a live fave and its nice to have it recorded. It shows their songwriting skills; more chords than your usual punk song, a memorable intro, variations on musical themes, hooks in the vocals and under it all the appropriate guitar crunch.
Wasted has great momentum with ringing guitar tones. They use dynamics to change things up and give added interest to the end of the song. Anyone else would just bang it out without the risk. They do this all the way through the CD they add complexity to break the punk formula.
Thats why we pay attention to Duck & Cover because
they are forwarding the punk genre with some smart moves; if you see it
as straight punk thats alright because its that too.
I listen for Chris Brats vocals all the way through. The lyrics are just beyond reach. A lyric sheet would be appreciated.
Get this Cd to see what punk Boston has to offer now.
BAND:Tom Baker and the Snakes
Boston locals know Tom Baker and the Snakes because they have been working the clubs. That led up to getting into the semifinals of the 2017 Rumble. Now its time for the rest of the world to get in on this band.
The Snakes are veterans who have honed these crowd pleasing riffs for a long while. Its AC/DC style chord crunching but with three guitarists theres always more going on. It sounds simultaneously simple and complicated.
The center of it all is Tom Bakers voice. Its midrange, soulful and has classic rock and roll phrasing. Often its the way he says a word that makes the song. Its saying something that in a group with three superior guitarists you come away thinking about the voice.
Ive become a boor telling people about Doll Eyes but the descending
bass line hooks me every time and Toms handling of the refrain Doll
Eyes just does it to me.
There are no sharp edges to this it all rolls along smooth with the drums/bass always pushing out a forward momentum.
Its a crowd pleaser by any measure.
BAND:The New Frustrations
TITLE: "Dee Backle"
GET IT: Inquire here
They don't gig much and they only have one other recorded effort. They don't make it easy. If you only have this four song EP to go on you would kill to see them. It's old school power pop circa the seventies.
The first song Radio Generation is a paean to the time when the radio was a potent and magical force. It's so good it takes a while to give the next three songs their due but they are all of a kind.
Radio Generation is full of cascading riffs and expressive crescendos it stops just a few times to chunk along. With all its parts it's a little mini symphony. It has a bit of grandeur to it.
The next three songs share similar attributes. It all goes by so fast. You have to keep playing it through again and again.
A gem. We wish the pop fans find this.
Silver Screams have been able to get their monumental live sound on this six song EP recording. They sound big but agile with snappy tempos and sharp playing. They scoop what they want from various sources with punk at the fore.
The first song Dead Air starts with a bass/drum rumble, a feedback squeal, two fast chords and then a furious metal type riff that drags you into the song and then you're in for a ride. To me it's an irresistible sonic pull that carries me along and now and then I hear the chorus "Dead Flowers, Dead Air" in there somewhere. It's a powerful performance and a good as live recording.
The next four songs continue with heavy riffage and tight playing. There's no mindless shredding, all the guitar work serves the song.
There were a lot of albums through the years that print Play Loud on the sleeve. I never have played much heed to it but this baby you turn up without the prompt. The loudness is in the fabric of the overall music. I don't know if it's in the recording or the mastering but this music jumps out of the grooves. The grooves in this case are nice orange vinyl.
They close the EP with a cover Joy Division's Disorder. They put more rock in it with the drums working up a lather. It rejuvenated my appreciation of the song. I played that a dozen times.
It's a thoroughly enjoyable hard rocking album.
BAND:Jeff and Jane Hudson
Jeff and Jane were a big presence on the scene at the beginning.
The Rentals gave us the first taste of art punk and we loved
it. They soon switched to synths and were the first of the groups to play electronic
music. That was a comfortable fit for them and they had many fruitful years
This CD takes up where they left off many years ago. It would be anachronistic but there are many new groups doing the same thing (Passion Pit, Freezepop and not to forget Olivia Neutron-John ) so it's just jumping back in the stream really. What's old is new again.
To me the CD is front loaded because the first four songs are very strong. It's all synth and drum machines plus some raw guitar lines that are a major plus in fleshing out the texture so it's not 100% electronica.
There are a lot of Jeff and Jane fans out there and they
should love this.
Heres one we didnt see coming; a double LP (vinyl) of 22 primo Boston bands from the late seventies and early eighties.
These songs were dubbed from MITs WMBR
archives of demo tapes the bands sent in or live studio performances. This is
how we first heard the songs before the material was officially recorded. If
this doesnt take you back in time nothing will.
With so little Maps material available,
getting a new song called Explosive Decompression is a treat. It shows
the Maps playing fast and arty with Judy doing things with her voice that were
just so cool. Phobia gets two songs, one is the unreleased
Hot Rod. The Dogmatics do You Say. There are
four La Peste songs.
This was put out in Europe only
And no there is no Vol. 1 or 2.
Its hard to keep up with Jon Macey. He has a new group, Hummingbird
Syndicate, which is part of a larger project. He's calling this a culmination
of his career to date.
Waterfall Away is pure sunshine pop. The opening 12 string guitar line makes you think of the Byrds. The song goes through subtle variations. For the listener its a treat to catch the different settings; changing vocal line ups and harmonies . Instrumentally the bass carries the song along as the guitars give the texture. In the end Im reminded of the Buffalo Springfield whose songs went through similar paces. Theres a lot of writing going on for a three and half minute song.
In I Want You To Stay the drums and bass lead you into the song, then Lynn Shipley takes the lead vocal. Two overlapping guitar lines going on in the solo section is a great idea not often done. At the end of the solo the guitars sit on one note that carries for half a minute with vocals over it until it finally breaks. That feeling of tension and relief gives the song drama. After that there is a section that is double timed. Just some of the ways they make the song go through variations.
Right now we're hearing new bands taking up the psychedelic sound. Jon is right in line with the times on this. Doug Tule is in the same sonic territory. There will be a another full length new CD by Hummingbird Syndicate soon.
TITLE: Tomorrow the World
GET IT: Available at Bandcamp
This was an ambitious project for John Surette. After a long period of inactivity hes produced a Rock Opera. It has the reach and drama a project like this requires. Part of the opera's story is about a rock band trying to make it big and that allowed John to get the members of the original Boys Life together and record three new songs. One inside joke is that the song Boys Life is actually from a group called Apache and its from 2007.
From our perch in 2015 we can appreciate Surettes talents like never before. Its not just his singing and playing but his real rock persona that raises everything he does here and gives it a stamp of authenticity that makes it avoid that Broadway song feel some of these operas have.
This CD was recorded at David Minehans
Wooly Mammoth studio and he plays on the CD here and there. If you are still
waiting for new Neighborhoods material take a listen to Innocence
Lost written by Minehan.
There was a huge snow storm the night of Tomorrow the Worlds premier at the Middle East. There was no rescheduling with the all-star cast. That was a shame. Many people missed it. Maybe some of this excellent material will be played when John gets a new group going. Hope so.
TITLE: Double Trouble
GET IT: Available at Bandcamp
This is where Tony Kaczynski shows everyone how its done; a double CD that never flags in creativity or energy.
Even before I get the song material I have to note that this CD has been recorded
and mixed to give a hot sound and even balance. It was recorded at Ducky
Carlisles studio. Carlisle has won a Grammy for engineering and you can
hear that prowess. Its a big up front sound without being pompous.
Tony has a full bodied voice and he can do a few things with it. He doesnt do fancy things but has control. He can move a note around to make a sweet melody line that others may not go for, or do a short falsetto. He can wrap his voice around a word, or group of words, and drive them home. For my money Fireking outdoes Elvis Costello on the Tokyo Storm Warning cover and captures Gene Parsons So You Say You Lost Your Baby. Tony picks wordy songs maybe because he writes wordy songs.
The main thing for a CD of this length is the songwriting
and Kaczynski evidently has a big pile of material. All
songs are well developed and he has plenty to say. The songs shoot out
of the gate and have a momentum that carries them along. His lyrics are
filled with musical references and more, like: Metal Guru, John Coltrane,
Young Marble Giants, Roxy Music, Pale Blue Eyes , Philip K. Dick, Balaam
and the Angel, Sal Mineo, P.F. Sloan, Badfinger, Charlotte Rampling. Marco
Pirroni, Divine etc.
This CD has it all; the sound, the songs and the performance.
BAND:Michael J. Roy
GET IT:CD BABY
A guitarist's first album would most probably be a guitar blow out. This is
not the case with Michael Roy's effort. Eclectricty is foremost
song centric and guitars serve the tunes with solos at a minimum.
Songs are mostly mid-tempo but don't drag because the songwriting
is spot on. The guitar lines also carry the songs along. This can be heard on
slower tunes like The Difference and Taking My Time
where the melody and guitar lines are irresistible.
I have many favorites: Land of Forgotten Dreams,
Taking My Time, Stop the Rain and Wired in
TITLE: Night Patrol
GET IT: Available at CD Baby
As time goes on there is less punk and garage around so it's a treat to get the Brigands CD. The Brigands have been doing it garage style for 30 years and you gotta love that but don't get the attention of more known entities. They are a Boston band through and through. They cover songs by other Boston groups and sing about the city in their original lyrics.
They start up with a cover of the Atlantics' Teenage
Flu. They take out some polish and add some grit to make it their own.
They are similarly all over two covers by La Peste, Acid
Test and Spymaster. They just get rocking and let the
song show itself. Looking for Lewis and Clark is recovering a
gem by The Long Ryders a criminally forgotten band now.
Cuts 10 to 16 are a string of originals that make the case for Brigands as a band that should be getting more kudos out there.
BAND:Sonny Vincent and the Spite
GET IT: Available in November 2014
The CD abruptly begins like it starts in the middle of a song. Its swirling along at full energy and you feel off guard like your have to catch up. Its like you walked late into a club as the band is ripping it up. I think that is a great effect. The song is full of punk attitude. Theres Sonny but theres also Rat Scabies, Glen Matlock and Steve Mackay doing their best to blast it out. Thats quite an intro.
Sonny has a long history but we didnt hear him until we caught him at WMBR. We were fans immediately then. His gigs have been rocking. He also has many recording and if you go through his catalog you hear plenty of good songs which is to say hes no novice and he never does anything half way.
He knows how to write a song so there is always something of interest going on and with this band behind him theres no way this would miss. Im not a big lyric guy but Ive been struck many times in this CD with the pointed lyrics. They are not just placeholders with easy rhymes. Hes expressing emotions that earn the screams he punctuates them with. The songs are not power chord workouts Sonny hits full chords which give things a little more character.
Now That I Have You has that undefinable something
in the combination of writing and playing that gives the overall song a feeling
and sound that give it an identity. I have to fight myself to not put it on
endless repeat and sometimes I dont fight it.
Im spotlighting bits of songs but the truth is that this is a solid effort where the strengths dont falter, its 14 worthy songs. As one listens one is struck by the anger and energy in the vocals. Its not just volume that hits you but that blast of emotion that makes you listen and love this CD.
We are tantalizingly close to the release of the Real Kids CD. It looks like it will be available the first week of June which means it will be in time for the June 14th gig at the Middle East.
The EP (see review below) reveals the essentials - a fully
realized Real Kids effort, new songs, great playing, a superb recording
and stand out covers. With the CD you can add refashioned earlier songs. You
can say it's like the EP and you would be right but think of it this way; it
means you have sustained quality over 12 songs.
All Night Boppin' is a fifties style rocker
that gives another dimension to this song collection. Real Kids roots
go way back. This is an upbeat lead in to the redone Common At Noon
which along with Who Needs You is like a coda to the preceding
TITLE: Shake Outta Control EP
GET IT: http://www.aceofheartsrecords.com/
It takes a nano second after the needle hitting the groove of She Don't Take
It to realize that this is primo Real Kids material. It has a simple
riff that Felice rocks the way that only he can. This is not just a song this
is a return to form for John and a gift for us rabid Real Kids fans.
It was a long road to this and a lot of work getting it recorded. This EP has
the combination of Felice composing and playing and Rick Harte recording prowess
going for it, in many ways that's all you have to hear to want to have it.
There's three more songs but really for me this is even enough. It's something we wished for and didn't think would happen. It is new and quality Real Kids material in 2014. Wow.
John then picks Fly Into The Mystery by Jonathan
Richman. The local references must mean a lot to John. The tempo is slow
but the drums and bass are strong. There's no wimp factor here. In the solo
the guitar is an overdriven feedback animal. It's as if he is saying that when
and if he is flying into that mystery he's not flying quietly.
Back in 1975 we were
trying to get an alternative to the soft bland version of what rock had become.
The Real Kids among others gave us what we were looking for. Even with
all the music available to us now this Real Kids rock is still what satisfies.
TITLE: First Coming
GET IT: https://sonicdaze.bandcamp.com/
Somehow Kenne Highland came in contact with these Italian
garage punkers. (There is another band called Sonic Daze from Maryland,
so do not confuse.) They started as a DMZ cover band four years ago and still
cover The First Time is the Best Time and have a
video of Mighty Idy.
BAND:Randy Black and the Heathcroppers
TITLE: The Sky Goes Clear
GET IT: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/RandyBlackandtheHeathcroppers
It's been a long time since Limbo Race won the Rumble. It was a welcome surprise to see Randy up on stage again. Randy still gives out what he did back then: good songwriting, good playing and that certain extra layer of passion that earmarks his style.
That's all on this CD. It's not flash or production trickery that gets your attention it's the peak into the window of our deeper selves that hits you time and again as you listen. This is music with an adult point of view.
I was going to list favorite songs but I would be listing
almost every song, Randy is very consistent, but I have to mention Trying.
Its lyrics delineate a city neighborhood scene that has a gritty verisimilitude
and attains a unique moody noir tone.
TITLE: American Soul
Like a Ford truck Pop Gun is solid and dependable and screams America. The rap on this group is that they sound very seventies-like and that is true, but somehow they sound just great now. I'm a punk guy but they won me over.
No One Knows received local radio play and when I
hear "she wants red roses" from that tune I get a tug of welcome recognition
and realize that their songwriting has the ability to cut through the tons of
other songs out there. That's gold.
If you are going to do the 70's thing why not do it great?
That's what they accomplish with Love and Wine which sounds like a 70's
hit maybe by Blues Image. It's a perfect 70's power ballad. For my money
it's the highlight of the CD and deserves airplay in a just rocking world. Don't
Ever Wanna Lose Ya is another power ballad not that far below that.
BAND:James Straight and the Wide Stance
TITLE: No Loitering
Joe Fagan's guitar always steals the show. His hallmark
is a short catchy phrase etched with a rusty corrosive tone. It's a never failing
formula. I see guitarists with thousand dollar guitars they can't tune, Joe
takes a cheap knockoff and creates memorable riffs left and right.
BAND:Johnny Angel Wendall
TITLE: My Lesbian Friend
GET IT: http://johnnyangelwendell.bandcamp.com/
There's a new single out called My Lesbian Friend
by expatriate Johnny Angel or Johnny Angel Wendall, I guess it is official now. I heard the song on the LRC
on WMBR and Johnny Angel directed us to his Bandcamp
That's the way you find out about things now (says grandpa) not by seeing it in the record store.
TITLE: Crashes on the Platinum Planet
Label: Almost Ready Records
Sounding no worse for the gap of time Big Dipper comes out with a typical Big Dipper album. Maybe it's a little less unkempt maybe. The songwriting and playing are all on par with their former releases. One change is that Steve Michener has been replaced by Tom Brewitt on bass.
I love their quirky charms that they still show. The most obvious being the deceptively plain lyrics that stand out and stick in your mind. Some of the lyrics shouldn't be in any rock song but somehow they make it work. Like a chorus that repeats "I'll never forget the chef", that should be laugh inducing but it rather successfully invokes a place and experience. I would have liked a lyric sheet to get into the words more.
This is a rewarding gift for all fans and a reminder of how neat indy music could and can be.
TITLE: Dark Night
That first song Down the Road is a modern garage classic and like many other songs here invite comparisons to any 60's version of your choice. She Brings the Booze - that title is so good it doesn't even matter what the song is (but it is good).
All Banged Up and Made It Up are two more faves.
GET IT: http://jonmacey.com
In quality and quantity Jon Macey has already left his competition way behind. Intention continues that trend.
The very first words are I'm outdated/ Seems like I'm fated. This signals the lyrics that follow which are mature and deal with adult issues. We (those who started with punk in 1976) are faced with these issues as we now see things through older eyes. It's appropriate that we get material like this.
BAND: The Ducky Boys
TITLE: Chasing the Ghost
GET IT: http://statelinerecords.bandcamp.com/
There are a lot of words hence a lot of singing. Others say and I will too that the vocals have some Axel Rose in them.
After hearing them rock the house live and then putting out this long CD I can't imagine why they even faltered for a minute. The Ducky Boys have a lot of music in them to keep going.
GET IT: http://johnnyangelwendell.bandcamp.com/
Punk is out the window with Johnny Angel it seems and maybe that's not a bad thing. On IT!! Johnny fits his songs into a county style and they sound very comfortable there. This is country with a rock sensibility like the Byrds or Poco. The songwriting is notable. This is no rush job the songs have great melodies and plenty of twists and codas with full arrangements. The whole CD has a wonderful feel to it. The mix is clean, you hear every instrument and every lyric. I love the guitar sound. Scott Gilman did some great work on the production along with Johnny. The playing is perfect for the material with a special nod to Boo Burns on pedal steel guitar.
Crazy Eyes is a strong opener. Three songs have Boston references. September in New England has Johnny pining for his old stomping grounds. I love Do I Ever Cross Your Mind which is the poppiest song. It's almost in the Raspberry's range. Oh, for a CD full of similar stuff!
Johnny was right to do this project. It was time for something new and it solidifies his songwriting reputation. It also opens up a whole new world where he can progress.
BAND: JJ and Thee Cuban Heels
GET IT: www.greenmistrecords.com
This is old school stuff. Guitars are clean and the playing is nuanced and controlled.
It's all a lot of fun as is the group live. This is fine accomplishment for the group, it sounds great on the radio and it's another notch in JJ's belt.
TITLE: Cadillac Heart
The roll call on this is - Rayboy (The Atlantics and Primary Colors), Billy Connors (The Boize), Gary Soprano (Third Rail), Scott Baerenwald (Reddy Teddy and Robin Lane) with help from Rick Coraccio (Lyres, The Only Ones) and Billy Loosigian (The Boom Boom Band).
The Boize was one of Boston's earliest punk groups. They quit early and then surprised us all when they got together a few years ago and I was blown away with the new songs Billy Connors was writing. This group gives him a chance for even more songs.
He still writes things in the garage vein.
BAND:Muck and the Mires
TITLE: A Cellarful of Muck
GET IT: Muck and Mires web site
A new Muck and the Mires CD - life is good. There are 13 songs, some we know the live performance like Saturday Let Me Down Again and wow, that is a great one.
Muck and the Mires CD's are much like their live show: it's always a rush of up tempo songs that take your breath away. This time however it's not all 'up' songs there are some moody ones like Love Hated Me, That's the Way It's Always Gonna Be and I Don't Need a Reason among others that widens the emotional landscape and keeps your attention for the whole CD. Even in these songs the Mires never let the tempo get too slow. That's one of their secrets, there's always a forward momentum.
This may be their best recorded CD.
The Mires have always had bare bones recording habits. It seems like they just want to get it done and leave, but here every extra track they throw in works wonders.
They have descending chimes during I Don't Need a Reason that show how a little production adds to the magic. The backing vocals mixed cleanly to one side during a few songs are another instance. I think it's time for a full CD done with elaborate arrangements - just a suggestion.
BAND:DMZ - Lyres
TITLE: DMZ Radio Demos - Lyres Live at Cantones
GET IT: Munster Records
There is other live DMZ material out there but this is a good addition. The recording is as rough and sharp as the performance. We get to hear some covers that aren't as obscure as usual, like Til' The End of the Day (Kinks), Glad All Over (Dave Clark 5) and Heart of Stone (Rolling Stones). Heart of Stone is just a little too out of tune to digest, the rest of the set is a treat.
TITLE: Ghost of an Empty Bottle
GET IT: www.lamf.biz
Our premier bass player Carl Biancucci has recorded a CD with this group from England. The CD was recorded in Brian James' (of Damned fame) studio and he plays on one song (He's Got Style) and even though it is short it is a real kick to hear Brian's signature sound.
The group sound is fast, punky and crunchy. The female lead singer makes the group sound like the Midnight Creeps to me, which is a good thing. Every song starts full bore and fast which works to give them a sense of urgency. I like Come On! Get On! which gives shout outs to the Dolls, Iggy and the MC5 among others. In Pixie the chorus goes into a retro girl group sound as she sings "She's got a crush on you." I'm a sucker for that especially when the rest of the song just does its punky thing.
All the way through we have Carl doing his patented bass runs. Check out Come On! Get On! where you can hear him pumping up the proceedings like only he can.
TITLE: Across Their Universe
GET IT: Lowbudget Records
This is a Beatles tribute from the Lowbudget Records' people. There is a wide variety of styles here.
I've been captivated by everything Tim Casey (Doctor X ) has done lately. Here he does Across the Universe in his synth centric way with great success. Bird Mancini gets the feeling right in Don't Let Me Down. Allen Abate gives She's Leaving Home a guitar symphony as a back drop. It's heavy sounding yet the emotion of the song stays intact.
One big surprise is T Max's version of No Reply which becomes the aural equivalent of a Sergio Leonie western. It sounds like he smoked a pack an hour to get his voice in shape.
They drag some songs through some genres and styles that I don't always go along with but the playing is always first rate and show off the strengths of these locals. There's not a lot of rockin': it's ballads and more quiet songs.
TITLE: Triple Thick
GET IT: www.triplethick.com/
Triple Thick hit us with more of the simple, short yet satisfying garage punk we love. You want sophistication or complication you should go elsewhere. I am reminded of listening to the early Ramones albums where I soaked in those blasts of punk songs with such a need to get a fill of it. Triple Thick does that for me now. It's a joy to get the basic stuff sans the fluff.
I loved Mailbox about meeting his love at the box: and She's All Mine with its easy riff that the Shadows of Knight could have used.
Forget about the 3 minute song the instrumental Step on the Gas is all of 34 seconds.
There are 16 songs with four covers. The covers are always interesting with TT and here they go from Gene Clark to The Minutemen with a visit to the Remains in between.
One of the amazing things that TT does is to get that 'feeling' into the recording similar to the 60's garage bands they know well.
We do our best to champion this band because they are punk the way we thought of it in 1976. They have the sound and the work ethic.
GET IT: Actuality Records
There are precious few bands that can serve up to their fans what Fox Pass can. New and old songs, pop and rock songs, years of yeoman service, innovative ideas and of course more and more new CD's of material.
BAND:Johnny Barnes and the Thin Blues Line
TITLE: The Willie Dixon Tribute
GET IT: www.johnnybarnes.com
After resurfacing and writing a few books Johnny Barnes comes back again this time with an CD of 13 Willie Dixon songs. This is fine pack of rock blues right in line with old Boston albums by The Colwell Winfield Blues Band and James Montgomery.
The backing musicians are top notch including the man himself, James Montgomery, on harmonica. Joe Pet on drums is a standout. Barnes makes his guitar snarl, squeal and sustain its way though these tunes with the same tone he had back in the day. The recording is sharp and the mix is full.
If you like this style of blues, and I do, then this is all kick ass ear candy. I listened to this for days. I just couldn't get enouogh of it.
16 songs about Murder, Death and Prison - now that sounds like a pleasant listening experience; most of this CD is earthy and sobering and done with just acoustic guitar and voice but some use a light touch and humor.
BAND:The Nervous Eaters
When the Nervous Eaters played Dodge Street in 2003 Steve Cataldo took the chance to apologize to everyone there and not there for their first LP. Now, here it is; re-released on Wounded Bird Records.
You had to be around to know how disappointed and yes, mad people were about this. In 1977 the Eaters were not just dirty, they were lyrically obscene and they had a bad ass attitude all around. Then you get the album and Cataldo is singing romantic songs in a falsetto. People felt cheated.
Me, I sort of liked what it was, so I'm not being revisionist by pointing out the good things here, although I was as shocked as anyone when it came out.
They also recorded some of the live favorites we expected :Loretta, Get Stuffed, Girl Next Door, and Last Chance All sound good, better than they got credit for back in the day. All through it is great playing (Nicky Hopkins is on this!) and wonderful vocals by Steve Cataldo.
When I saw this I thought it must be a re-release of their 1982 LP on Star Rhythm but its not. Included here are the 3 tracks from the Elliot Easton EP (The two rockers sound as sharp as the day they were made and Paper Moon is that uniquely punk/romantic beauty.). Then there are 4 studio tracks and 6 tracks from a WERS Metrowave show both from 1988.
Brother Cleve plays the keyboards and does his usual excellent job. The material is more roots originating than before. They excelled in establishing a deep groove that carries the song along. The swampy Love on the Levee is a standout in that fashion. Jacks on Drugs is one of the standout rockers. Phil Haynen wrote all the material and there are no clunkers. The recording quality is good.
BAND:The Whore Moans
The refreshing thing about The Whore Moans is that they're not trying to be punk. They dont chunk out power chords that limit the group sound. They mine some pre-punk influences and come up with some different twists.
As a for instance, lets look at the third song on the CD. Fingers and Martyrs starts heavy then snaps into a melodious chorus (real catchy) then to some yelling, next a metal influenced instrumental that leads to an unusual male chorus tapering into a soaring womans voice, more yelling, more chorus and finally a quiet coda of violins and cellos. Thats a lot of changes for one song.
Not every song is so complicated many are straight forward, but its obvious that some good work went into the music and lyrics.
Live, they come over as a good time party band but this worthy CD shows a depth that could give them a long career.