Showing posts with label "CD Review 08". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "CD Review 08". Show all posts


o'death: Broken Hymns Limbs and Skin review!

If music was a hard-on, then o'death's new release, Broken Hymns, Limbs, and Skin, is it. This is not a casual listen but a hard one. Listener Profile: Risk Taker The exhilaration and exhaustion that succumbs to experiencing o'death live is well known. The instruments, vocals, and power penetrate straight away. Their mix of punk, metal, and roots with Americana corner originality. Influences that morph, not mimic. On Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin production tricks are not apparent. With the help of Alex Newport, they have captured the gestalt of their live sound and more. 

This recording highlights the robust sound of muscular instrumentation, stellar song structure, and composition, evoking a rollicking acoustic symphony. Every track is constructed with contrasting movements: mock speed, measured nuance, and scaffolding volume. I’ve always had an affinity for string instruments. Bob Pycior plays the fiddle like a lead guitar creating riffs that jolt and intone. The characteristic sappy sound of the fiddle can’t be found here, and good riddance. Greg Jamie’s vocals evoke a subtle swell, rise to a nasal pitch, and segue into guttural channeling that inspires his voice of distinction. Gabe Darling’s awesome vocal accompaniment, ukulele, and banjo playing are staples of the music. The foundational force of o'death's masculine sound is fueled by Jessie Newman’s beefy bass accents and David Rogers Berry’s psycho-punk drum auxiliary of chains, cymbals, and gas tanks. He rears them in with unbridled force. 
It is difficult not to highlight all the songs on this release because the penned words and striking music is alive with death. The intensity of “Fire on Peshitgo” about a historical lake fire where many died, sets the context for the remaining songs dedicated to an individual, Eliza. Her short life ended abruptly but is celebrated and mourned. / and robbing life of dignity / to every desperate end / alone / breathless air / lake on fire / land too /. The lamenting slow tribute “Angeline” is breathtaking in its beauty and honesty / the leaves have turned / your ways have burned / your naked flesh against the sun /. The concluding full-bodied chorus / Angeline / Angeline / all your friends on their hands and knees / tired of your tragedies / is like a joyous funeral music procession. The first track “Lowtide” starts with the ukulele plucking and continues to build in volume with the fiddle strong-arm enunciation. As the drums crash and burn, the vocals rise in pitch, and pathos ends on a pluck. / I plant the face in water / I held her broken feet / I taught the wave that caught her / now she is yours to keep / hang the hardship baby / we go to sleep and then we die/ is the choral interlude of “Grey Sun” and cries out like a folk epic with words that kill, literally. Greg Jamie’s Neil Young-like vocal and Darling’s harmonies are highlighted in “Home,” which slowly begins with the chorus of / home / home / the air I breath / and is broken up by a fiddle interlude scaffolds to a full orchestration emphasizing the urgent chorus. Greg Jamie’s vocal flurry is in nasal overdrive on “Legs to Sin” and catapults into a screaming metal-head. “Mountain Shifts” polka beat lends to the muscular masculine all-band chant that increases with a breathless pace in this experimental song arrangement. / Her hair lays violent / dead in the stream / I hope that she’s peaceful / wherever her body may be /. Bridging the fast to slow sounds of contrast that are brutal “Vacant Moan” combines slow fiddle interludes and chains-hitting cymbals. / I plant my feet / I left the ground / I sought the wind too / I fought this out /. Then adds the most intense fast rant chorus gone haywire. All my / all my / all my own / could have grasped a vacant moan / then the lush of violence / crushed the pride of naked wind / dance the dance of broken veins / by the hand of all attained / left before you all the same / broken from the start /. “Crawl Through Snow” has a rock opera structure, then it softly enters into a divine passage / and on that foggy night / the trees fired up / and grew endless / I held the beast at bay / grew tired / from the light fading /.... ending with an impressive finale of the full orchestration. With Broken Hymns, Limbs & Skin, o'death has moved the music culture forward, displaying their capacity to experiment with what is and evolve into what isn’t. In contrast to death, o'death's music is alive. It breathes and celebrates the importance of living and feeling everything fully. 

Side Note: Jimmy Joe Roche's Packaging design is top-notch. Collage and handwritten lyrics are placed on pages in the likeness of an authentic artist's journal with pasted artifacts, scribbling, and photographs. Starting off organized and evolving into a living document. o'death website and blog!! Myspace


Sgt. Dunbar and The Hobo Banned; review

Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned 2007 self-released The Thing About Time is a passionate collection of brass-centric gypsy folk rock featuring a community of spirited voices and an array of instruments that sound like weathered antiques given new life.  This band of nine multi-instrumentalists and counting play the guitar, accordion, trumpet, trombone, flugelhorn, French horn, mandolin, saxophone, violin, ukulele, singing saws, banjo, bass, typewriter. The phenomenal found object percussion of hot water pipes, stainless steel chairs, squeaky glass pot top, and coffee mugs imaginatively enhance the festive atmosphere. The songs fluctuate between intentionally sloppy melding of instruments and cohesive mixing, two distinct but agreeable directions. The large band sound is reminiscent of Bright Eyes touring band during Lifted. It has that kind of a charming mess and endearing qualities. It also reveals the admiration of The Neutral Milk Hotel. Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned is a lyrically smart outfit. The word Banned is cleverly chosen to highlight their culturally rebellious point of view. They weigh in on philosophical issues of life and time. Refreshingly nuanced is the term Wake Up which is repeated in several songs, affirming a commitment to staying awake and being aware. 

The first offering“Passing Time,” starts with a rumbling of guitar strumming, accordion, horns, and Alex Muro’s nasal fervent vocals that plea wake up. / I hear the sound months make when they disappear / gone into air, and only clues remain / that they were ever here / leaf floats freely down and turns into ground /. The full force of the orchestra is revved up as Wake Up, Wake Up is emphasized and harnessed between verses leading to an awesome prolonged lullaby chant, “Dave’s Song,” in the vein of “Hey Jude”. / Wake up / wake up / you can’t sleep all day / you can’t sleep all day/ the sun is out calling your name / the sun is out calling your name /. “Don’t Fall Asleep” is an appeal to those that have given up hope. / Dear little girl / I feel that your sadness is quite profound / chasing you around your mind / no place to hide / is dragging you down /. This song builds in volume and intensity, employing the singing saw to weep and the full chorus to implore / please don’t fall asleep / when you wake the world is a dream /. The song “The Weight” has a plucky bounce using the ukulele, guitar strum, and singing saw to launch a weighty message / some people's shame could fill up the ocean, some people's sadness can block all the sky/ some people's guilt could pave every highway, and some peoples fears makes many men die…then the reaffirming chorus / oh how heavy this gritty grating life / that the world is on / oh how silly is all you strain and strife / build a world so real and strong. “Realism Is The Purest Form of Art” features banjo, lazy horns, and clashing symbols with a pitter-patter beat. While "Telescope" is slower and examines how far you need to look away when love is untrue. / Do you believe in karma / does she believe in you / but what if I told you / that she wasn’t true? / Oh, what would you do? / Both songs exhibit Muro’s vocal range that strains higher to reach sighs of emotion. The under-belly of the beast is urgently felt in the stalwart rants on “Communist Father” with vocal force and added experimental accents that mimic the uncertain future. / Under the brightly blemished blanket of the night / an arrogant anthill with life / while weeping cities shed tears of light / into the unknown vastness of the universe / Sgt. Dumbo and the Hobo Banned recorded The Thing About Time in the living room and basement. 

This homegrown undertaking amplifies the community spirit they embrace and has enabled them to create ambitious and worthy music! B3nson Records CMJ Pete's Candy Store October 21, Brooklyn NY


Word Painter; Conor Oberst self titled review

Conor Oberst's songwriting is an intricate composition of words that construct images real and implied. Words that juxtapose, contradict, form associations, comparisons, and work to form an asymmetrical structure. The listener navigates the labyrinth of iconic symbols, religious legends, history, geography, and societal phraseology of a troubled world. Oberst is always trying to figure it out and maybe get it right. 
  Conor and The Mystic Valley Band recorded in a temporary studio in a mountain villa for a one-month session in Tepoztlán, Morales, Mexico. The simplicity and comfort of production capture the words and bring to life the songwriting palette of Conor Oberst. His brushes are metaphors that are lovingly woven into melody structures. There are familiar sounds like Dylan song-speak in “Get-Well-Cards” and Tom Petty in the upbeat “Sausalito” and " Souled Out” that are inspirational appropriation. And yes, there is Bright Eyes. The beautiful single note intros, treatments of atmosphere, and countryesque rootsy folk charm. 

 The song “Cape Canaveral” starts with a pulse of percussion marking time while the guitar gently picks. The narrator weighs his destiny as he reveres the ancient stoic presence of totem poles juxtaposed with the rocket's boundless possibilities at Cape Canaveral. Our lives, often messy and complicated, are not symmetrical like a universal formality. We search for common truths in our memories that fade and blur with time. / some 1980’s grief / gives me parachute dreams / like old war movies / while the universe was drawn / perfect circles form infinity. The sad circumstances of a young life taken too soon from bad bone marrow take on a celebratory tone in “Danny Callahan.” A message ensues / how the love we feel inside we can pass / see a brother in the gutter / you reach out your hand /. In contrast, the rollicking rockabilly of “I Don't Want To Die (in a hospital)" is a hilarious affirmation of life. An older man passionately declares / I don’t want to die in the hospital / You got to take me back outside /. In the form of a desperate chant of determination, he shouts/let me get my boots on / as the raucous piano chops of Nate Walcott play on with Jason Boesel's drum shuffling with abandon. “Lenders in the Temple” has the emotional weight necessary to convey how money and power can corrupt and lead to the hypocrisy of divergent ideas. / There’s moneylenders inside the temple / that circus tiger going to break your heart / something so wild / turned into paper / If I loved you / well that's my fault / He manages to insert his own frailties and remorse and make some kind of atonement for what he has done. Overwhelmed with empathy for / the starving children / ain’t got no mother / and commercialism gone awry, / while there are pink flamingos in the mall / I’d give a fortune for you infomercial if somebody will just take my call / take my call…… “Sausalito” and “MOAB” are road songs where both the physical and abstract meet. / while bikers glide by highway shrines / where pilgrims disappear / is the chorus of “Sausalito.” The happy, upbeat sounds glide by while / hair blowing in the hot wind / and smell of leather in your new car /. As the chorus celebrates the joyous simplicity of a road trip, the words find footprints anchored in history. “MOAB” is a slow country tune with beautiful harmonies / there’s nothing that the road cannot heal / that has a formidable answer / you can’t break out of a circle that you never knew you were in /. The music starts simply on “Eagle on a Pole,” but dramatically becomes full as Conor’s wavering and forceful emotional voice is highlighted. The drama of fragile memories and the significance of our mementos are fleeting …/ while the ashes of the dead / like the dandelions head / exploding and are scattered by the breeze /. The weeping guitar leads of Nik Frietes poignantly erupt. And sadly, these words ring true / It’s such a long way back / when nothing seemed to bother me. The last track, “Milk Thistle,” expresses the fragile nature of life and always-looming death compared with life’s harsh realities. While this sentiment is relayed, there is still hopefulness and a fight to go pound for pound, encouraging those trying their best. Unfortunately, there are always reminders of what a struggle it can be to stay above the ominous reality…/ newspaper / newspaper / can’t take no more / you’re here every morning /waiting at my door / I’m just trying to kiss you / and you stab my eyes / make me blue forever / like an island sky /and I’m not pretending / just let me have my coffee before you take away the day. / Effective simplicity, with Conor on guitar and Macey Taylor on bass

On this release, words are vehicles for understanding and give meaning in a world filled with contradictions. As I visualize his words, I find solace and claim life and optimism despite the inevitable. One day I won’t feel it, but on this day, I still do. Produced by Conor Oberst with the help of engineer and longtime associate Andy LeMaster. Conor Oberst (guitar, voice), Taylor Hollingsworth (guitar, voice), Nik Freitas (guitar, voice), Macey Taylor (bass, voice), Nate Walcott (Keys, Piano), Jason Boesel (drums, voice), Andy LeMaster (voice)


Langhorne Slim; Self Titled, kick-ass good

Langhorne Slims Self Titled release on Kemado Records is what I need in my life. All thirteen tracks posses the soulful conduit that that goes to the heart and exhilarating energy that can jump-start the spirit. Times are tough and these finely written songs are a welcome reality.

Langhorne’s signature voice is sweet but on this recording the rough edges reek with soulful timber. It is no surprise that his inspirational music hero is Otis Redding.
Bringing this inspiration to fruition is Slims hard guitar pickn’, the duo The War Eagles Paul Defiglia on stand-up bass, Malichi DeLorenzo on drums, with guest player Sam Kassirer on Wurlitzer, piano and accordion. The tuba and trombone are bonus entries.

Combined, create a soulful hoedown, rollicking folk raucous, swaggerific bluesy folkabilly and fierce exhilarating mix. DeLorenzo’s drumming is kick-ass good, his acute timing accelerates to take you higher.
Creative treatments by the production efforts of Malachi Delorenzo and Sam Kassirer lend distinct detailing to the sound, like in the song “Sometimes” a distant sequence of noises descend and artful clapping ensues, or the choral ooh ooh's in “Hello Sunshine”. This band is tight and the added textures, sparkle.

The bowing of the stand-up bass is innovatively accented on the first track “Spinning Compass” and zydeco style accordion accompanies the sing-along conclusion. The wit and philosophical leanings kills in “Rebel Side Of Heaven” / though we have sinned / we ain’t going to hell / we’re going to the rebel side of heaven /. The tuba blows as bass accents, the trombones short repetitive styling, humming chord progression of the Wurlitzer, banging piano keys and vocals that relish the sentiment expressed with a giant wink.
“She’s Gone” starts with a cool cooing sound. Midway the clink and clank percussion breaks up the song and the soulful screaming, bluesy keys and incredible drumming bring on the great chorus / she’s gone / I’m staying / I’m nobody /. I need to come up for air and then comes Colette….

Colette, Shit this song rules. Slims voice is the best I’ve ever heard it. Slow and steady it slowly comes on. / All I wanted was a song and a close friend / we stepped into the light and took pictures of each other / some are in black and white / the others in color / . Then it steps up with a soulful exuberance / Here she comes! / Here she comes! / Here she comes! / with accordion right on queue. Expressing new love and the breathless moment of anticipation, wow even I want to see Colette.

The slow and soulful “Diamonds and Gold” is my new mantra. / You can have all the diamonds / you can have all the gold / but someday your still going to get old / you got to learn to get happy along the way /.
“Tipping Point” is rootsy folky and rollicking with fast paced zany rappin’, guitar pluckin’ hard-ass stand-up and amazing shuffle drumming. / I got so hung up / I said HI_DE _HO / the tipping point / the tipping point / WOWWW…. In keeping with folk styling “Oh Honey” is aligned with the best folk standards focusing on guitar, bass and vocals. / We must walk alone sometimes but oh honey / won’t you let me be / I just love it!

Ending slow and softly with “Hummingbird”. / I’ve been leaning on you without reason or truth / I’m leaving my demons / and the first one I’m leaving is you /. Well love can pull you through but sometimes you got to go it alone.

Yes I am a fan, but I also have ears that hear and a heart that still can be moved. I’m in love with this collection of songs, they make me happy along the way, and that is a basic necessity.

I've seen this group eight times live. Press labels and read more about the hardest working band around!!!!

View headlining tour dates on:
Langhorne Slim MySpace

Shot by Andrew David Watson freelance filmmaker


Deer Tick, War Elephant; hard to forget /review

Deer Tick’s debut release War Elephant on Feow Records, is hard to forget. The melodies are countrified confessionals reflecting the lineage of legendary folk, alt-country, grunge, and blues. War Elephant respectively pays homage to the styles and songwriting of yesteryear; Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and in the vein of Tom Petty, Bright Eyes (alt-country) Two Gallants, to name a few.

The songs feature the stellar songwriting and vocals of John McCauley. With lyrics worth remembering concerning unreciprocated love, romantic notions, self-reflection, self-doubt, and religious reference that bridge a broader discourse. In the songs “Not So Dense,” / now the kids are making models of god in papier mache / and “Christ Jesus,” / its your face I don’t see / he opens the discussion.

McCauley’s worn weathered tobacco-laden voice blends in perfect tandem with his smart lyrical notations. The tone, rawness, and delivery are likened to Kurt Cobain. His words defy his age and are indicative of an old soul.

The quality of Deer Tick's musicianship gives the songs tang and a homespun sound of familiarity. Strongly melding melody-driven finger picking on acoustic guitar, throwback electric (John McCauley), drum brushed snare shuffle and clanging cymbals (Dennis Ryan), dramatic double bass (Chris Ryan), and the violin for romantic and aggressive treatments (Sine Jensen).

Opening with the beautiful “Ashamed,” a classic folk ballad that conjures social commentary; / the eternal testament to how your so animalistic / and / you should have seen how the arches tumbled / they are golden no more / the beguiling chorus rise in angelic contrast as they join McCauley singing / oh oh oh / oh oh oh / oh oh / what a crying shame / what we became /.

The full jug band glory and a two-step rhythm in the songs “Art Isn’t Real (City Of Sin)," “Diamond Rings 2007,” and “These Old Shoes” bring the melody to fruition. Making the upbeat tempo of songs about unrequited love a welcome dichotomy. He declares his lovelorn circumstances inventively… / I know of a city of sin / and that’s the place I want to see you in / romancing, go back to the beginning / and / I’ll stay the whole night through / and I’ll turn from black to blue / I’m choking after you /.
“Standing in the threshold” comes on like a grunge storm, building intensity with the bass and electric guitar and plowing through the song's entirety. / you and me / created something special / oh you and me / oh we’re standing at the threshold /. The anguished screams and strained vocals provoke the finality / I fall apart from the inside out / and die…..

“Nevada” is a soft, bittersweet love declaration as
violin heart strings accompany McCauley’s voice imploring his love to / stay here and wander beside me / and ending on a sour note. / I spill my gut / if I had your trust / oh, believe me but you leave me crushed /. The haunting “Christ Jesus” is forbidding. The bass, crashing cymbals, and McCauley’s impassioned voice are equally pronounced, creating a jolting resonance.

McCauley shows off his phrasing abilities in a campy cover of an old standard “What Kind Of Fool Am I.” Beginning with a clank snare and cymbal that leads into a Bossa Nova arrangement. It emphasizes the sad but comedic self-deprecating lyrics. / What kind of clown am I / what do I know of life /. The song ends on an optimistic note, cleverly kicking in piano and violins to bring home the ultimate sappy true romantic within. Appropriately closing War Elephant with a hoot.

With not one misstep, all 14 tracks on War Elephant display their influences proudly and lovingly. It is a music assemblage of caliber and a rewarding listening experience.


Irresistible Charm of Peasant; On The Ground

The irresistible charm of the arrangements and vocals on Peasant's full-length On The Ground, released by Paper Garden Records, has folk-pop elegance and unexpected detailing. The songs of love and loss are genuinely stated. Warm and dreamy vocal harmonies are delicately entwined with inventive composition. It is seductive and, yes, beautiful.

Peasant’s music is like the Sirens persuasively calling from the distance. The sounds are muted as if to hold in feelings. And so Peasant takes us on his odyssey appropriately, starting with the beautiful “The Wind” / I am speaking for the wind / blowing on my door / and it’s saying words I know / but in a different order /. The harmonica breathes in between verses as if to pause and think. Ending with stunning harmonies of / I am you / I am you…...

The random movements of the wind are unpredictable, and so are Peasant’s recording sensibilities. The guitar leads that glisten, snapping, organ, haunting lead-in harpsichord in “Birds”, the offbeat clanking of percussion in the song “Missing All Of You,” or the thump-strum of the guitar in “On The Ground.”

Peasant articulates the stages of falling in love, breaking up, confusion, loss, and the reassessment of moving on. The words expressed in the song “On The Ground” sum it up / Actually, I don’t believe a word I tell myself / we woke up / and we broke up / thinking all the time that it was easy…. Well it’s not.

In the gorg
eous “Not Your Savior” the continuous guitar strums stop to exhale / where do we go from here / and where are we now /. The added pulsating heartbeat of the soft bass spaced in a loop, is striking in the song “Raise Today.” The lyrics linger and question/everything’s dancing around / a circle that I cannot see / what is there missing from me / that I see in you / and ending with / just trying to stay on the ground /.

The yearning for lost love in the song “Those Days” expresses the enduring seduction of imagination. His voice cries out / you were my lover, for now, just another / those days are gone /. The killer chorus rises with assertion / I don’t know who you think we are / you can miss this nearly healing scar /…and ends with a lingering note like a foghorn in the distance.

All fourteen tracks are created as a self-catharsis of sorts. Peasant might be hurt but not ready to drown in his tears. Through his songs, he will sort everything out and come back standing.

And stand he does, as a singer-songwriter, Damien DeRose's phrasing, and recordings are deliberate and skillfully directed. With On the Ground, Peasant has seamlessly assembled a collection of songs with the enduring quality of giving.

Exposure MP3


Jukebox The Ghost; Let Live and Let Ghosts / Review

Jukebox The Ghost’s Let Live and Let Ghosts full-length debut is lyrically smart piano pop with equally compelling vocals. This three-piece outfit of piano/keys /, guitar, and drums blend catchy hooks with over-the-top bounce. While the compositional shape of the music holds comparisons to Queen, it has an original sensibility.

Ben Thornwill’s piano/keys are the standout that combines classical vignettes, show tune swagger, dance punk edginess, and pop/rock styling. Tommy Siegel’s funk guitar grooves in the mix and Jesse Kristin’s rhythmic drumming drives the bass line. The great vocals of Ben Thornhill and sing-along hook-bait harmonies are no rest stop. This shit compels you to move.

Soaring with a wink are Ben Thornwill’s tenor vocals that take off in unexpected ways. While his voice can reach levels compared to Freddy Mercury and Jeff Buckley, they are uninhibited and wildly witty with a hint of Kentucky drawl. ”My Heart’s The Same,” a moving epic love song, shows the emotional range his voice can carry.

Jukebox presents our world's massive dilemmas like a black comedy.
The impending doom runs through a three-part grouping of deceivingly up-tempo songs. "Fire in the Sky,"/ "Where Are All The Scientists Now," / "A Matter of Time.” The song “Where Are All The Scientists Now” applies phrasing like, / It’s the end of the world la, da de da / da da de da /. Employing dramatic crashing piano segments to emphasize gloom with a capital G, reminiscent of cheesy old movie soundtracks. With "In Your Face" and "Wordplay," they have updated the sentiment found in the 1956 hit "Que Sera Sera" (Whatever Will Be Will Be).

The lyrics in th
e song “Static” provoke social and political examination. The followers and believers fall lockstep with a hypnotic leader and…. / 10,000 strong / shouting in unison / and then Thornwill’s impassioned chorus frenetically sings…. / Mom and Dad wake up, wake up from your slumber / because where going to burn this mother fucker down / sometimes we burn and steal and rape and kill and sacrifice / just to remind ourselves that we’re still alive /.

Other songs like “Hold It In,” “Good Day,” and “Under My Skin” are so memorable that they might be considered dangerous to one's health. Ever heard of earworms? Hold it in oooohhhh / Hold it in ooohhhhh /.

Jukebox The Ghost’s songs unpredictably develop, leaving the listener thoroughly engaged. They joyfully create a complex compositional dialogue with a quirk, perk and bounce. Wow! Plus I have heard a must see live.

“Hold It In” MP3