Archive for the ‘MP3 Review’ Category

Belles & Whistles

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Mother-daughter vocal duo harmonize on country-tinged modern pop

Singer-songwriter Jaymie Jones is known as part of the sister harmony pop act Mulberry Lane. Signed to Refuge/MCA, they released a trio of albums and charted with the original song “Harmless.” Jones’ latest project is another family affair, but this time as a duo with her 14-year-old daughter Kelli. Produced by Don Gehman, and backed by top Los Angeles session players (including the rock solid drumming of Kenny Aronoff), the songs range from the twangy “River/White Christmas” to the bubblegum pop-rock “All I Need.” What ties them together are the elder Jones’ way with an ear-catching melody and the tight family harmony. Instead of sounding preternaturally mature, the younger Jones retains the tone of a teenager delighted to be singing, and her spiritedness blends perfectly with her mother’s voice and songs. The production is likely too mainstream-modern for the roots crowd, but this is worth a spin for anyone who favors sharply crafted radio pop that range from the Everly Brothers’ tight harmonies to Tom Petty’s AOR rock to Taylor Swift’s ‘tween anthems to Sarah Jarosz’s recent pop inflections. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Belles and Whistles’ Home Page

The Monotrol Kid: What About the Finches

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Seductive folk-pop duets from a one-man-band

The Monotrol Kid (born Erik van den Broeck) is a Belgian folksinger who’s gigged around Europe and released a single (“Almost”), EP (Today was a Good Day), and now this 10-track album. Recorded entirely on his own in a home studio near Brussels, his sound favors that of Elliott Smith and early R.E.M, with dashes of Cat Stevens, Don McLean, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan; his double-tracked duets suggest Simon & Garfunkel, Blind Pilot and the Delevantes. The album hits its deepest moment halfway through with the simmering advisory “Try” and the crawling solicitation “The Horse Ride Home.” Broeck’s duet singing is seductive, in part because it doesn’t always sound like one voice doubled, and in part because it does. Singing with and to yourself adds unusual semantics to lyrics nominally directed outward at others, and gives these performances unique finishes. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

The Monotrol Kid’s MySpace Page

John Mieras: Painted Glass

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Sophisticated modern folk-pop

John Mieras is a college educated musician whose background in choral conducting, counter-tenor singing and French Horn are balanced by the informal schooling he received picking guitar with his grandfather. His voice has the high purity of Don McLean, backed on the opening “Love & Rent” by harmonies that suggest CS&N. His music could be classified as contemporary folk, but in the rich veins explored by Paul Simon, Elliot Smith and others who ventured beyond the acoustic guitar and stool. You can hear a suggestion of Simon’s Andean flavors in the bass and organ of “Yesterday (I Wish There Was a Way),” and Mieras’ subtle use of horns adds interesting texture to his original songs of longing, nostalgia and regret. Working out of Colorado, Mieras has yet to build a national profile, but this mini-LP should garner some fans coast-to-coast. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

John Mieras on ReverbNation

Jeremy McComb: Leap and the Net Will Appear

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Nashville country artist goes direct to his fans

Jeremy McComb’s 2008 debut, My Side of Town, was the product of serendipitous Nashville connections. Signed to J.P. Williams’ Parallel Entertainment, home of Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, McComb recorded a debut whose mainstream production was salted with an earthy voice and a couple of terrific songs, including the original “This Town Needs a Bar” and a honky-tonk cover of Bob Dylan and Old Medicine Crow’s “Wagon Wheel.” But when follow-up projects failed to materialize, McComb opted to take an independent route, funding this follow-up through Kickstarter and recording “without the Music Row ass kissing.” He’s fully engaged the direct artist-to-fan model of Internet marketing, performing live shows via Stageit, posting frequent updates and blogs on Twitter and Facebook, and growing his fan base into a social network.

Interestingly, McComb’s self-produced work sounds a lot like his debut. The old-timey banjo leading into the first cut is only a feint, as the album launches into the sort of rocked-up energy you hear in Nashville’s mainstream. McComb distinguishes himself with soulful guitar playing and a voice that resounds with rough-hewn vitality. He has a talent for marrying words to rhythms, enlivening lyrics that lean to the tried-and-true topics of hell raisers, romantic desire, distress and dissolution, and a father’s unconditional love. The album’s more adventurous lyrics include the philosophical “Time” and the self-appraising solo acoustic “Breaking, Folding, Fading” hidden at the end of track seven. As on his debut, McComb proves himself an interesting singer and songwriter, but one whose sound still remains tied to Nashville’s mainstream. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Jeremy McComb’s Home Page

Personal & the Pizzas: Diet, Crime and Delinquency

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Joey Ramone meets Stiv Bators and Handsome Dick Manitoba

This three-song EP could easily be lumped into the neo-Ramones category, but as Jason Diamond of Impose Magazine suggests, there’s a strong helping of Stiv Bators’ post-Dead Boys pop, and the opening monologue (which tells kids to smoke, drink, fight and eat pizza) rolls in the self-aggrandizing style of the Dictators’ Handsome Dick Manitoba. The closing “Bored Out of My Brains” is among the best Ramones songs never actually written or recorded by the Ramones. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Personal and the Pizzas’ Facebook Page

Buck Owens and Susan Raye: Merry Christmas from Buck Owens and Susan Raye

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Bakersfield country legend sings original holiday fare

Buck Owens was no stranger to holiday recordings, having released Christmas with Buck Owens and his Buckaroos in 1965 and Christmas Shopping in 1968. By the time of this album’s release in 1971, Owens was recording duets with Susan Raye, and riding the tail of their first three hits, this holiday album was released. Ten of the eleven tracks are originals, capped by Raye’s solo cover of Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The songs favor idealistic Norman Rockwell-styled holiday scenes, but there are a few mournful lyrics of missing fathers, absent lovers and tough economic times. Raye sings lower harmonies than Owens or Don Rich, making these duets satisfyingly distinct from earlier recordings of these titles with the Buckaroos. Fans should start their Buck Owens holiday collection with Christmas with Buck Owens, but when you’ve played it to death, this is a good addition to the carousel. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Lyle Lovett: Songs for the Season

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

A three-song holiday treat from Lyle Lovett

This three-song EP from Lyle Lovett includes jazzy covers of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmastime is Here” and Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” with vocalist Kat Edmonson serving as harmonist and foil. There’s also a sly new original, “The Girl with the Holiday Smile.” The latter is slated to reappear on Lovett’s next album, but the cool yuletide covers are only available here. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Lyle Lovett’s Home Page

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Talented American Idol Top-10 finalists sing a holiday duet

Reinhart and Abrams were each too sophisticated and jazz-oriented to win the popularity contest of American Idol, but hopefully the attention they received will turn into full-length releases. In the meantime, this duet is a nice showcase for their hip style of singing. Too bad they didn’t include an Abrams bass solo! [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Haley Reinhart’s Home Page
Casey Abrams’ American Idol Page

The Explorers Club: The Carolinian Suite

Monday, November 21st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. The Californian Suite, released last month, opened with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and this month’s entry, The Carolinian Suite, offers up the Club’s take on the Classics IV’s “Stormy.” The band relaxes the song’s tempo a notch, giving the arrangement a terrific, loungey air; Jason Brewer’s voice isn’t as husky as Dennis Yost’s, but his gentle blue-eyed soul, the harmony vocals and the jazzy guitar at song’s end are terrific. The EP’s original tunes include a ballad (“Sweet Delights”) that sounds like mid-60s Brian Wilson crooning from the Great American Songbook, and the Burt Bacharach-styled “It’s No Use,” featuring an emotional vocal coda that’s equal parts Little Anthony and Dionne Warwick.

You can stream “It’s No Use” below, and download the EP for free from Amazon. Up next month is The New Yorker Suite, with a cover of Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ a Ride” and two more originals! [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Carolinian Suite for Free!
Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

The Explorers Club: The Californian Suite

Monday, October 31st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. This first EP opens with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and finishes with two originals that evoke the genre-blending music of mid-60s radio. The marimba opening “Weight of the World” suggests Tijuana Brass, the rhythm is drawn from the Brill Building, the muted horns lean to Bacharach, and the ballad vocal has the heft of Jay and the Americans. The closing “Summer Days, Summer Nights” adds a dash of the Rascals and Grass Roots. The Carolinian and New Yorker suites (featuring “Stormy,” “Hitchin’ a Ride” and four more pre-LP mixes) are due in November and December. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page