Song Review -Andrew Gabbard “Cloud of Smoke” from the album Live in Loveland

Some songs are amazing in their relative simplicity and this is one of the classics.  A song like this you can just wrap around yourself while sitting on the porch passing the time on a cool evening.  The music that accompanies the strong vocal treatment really helps as the clean rhythm and airy pedal-steel relax your mind and add a very warm tone.   Feel free to put it on repeat and chill out for a long time.  

You can check out more of the music and information on the Bandcamp page https://andrewgabbard.bandcamp.com

And remember to get out and support your local businesses – community is powerful.  

Song Review Graveyard Club “Valens” from the album Moonflower

I was super happy to hear that this band has a new release coming up in June and took the opportunity to purchase this song which was out early.  Most of the reviews you read out there about Graveyard Club reference comparisons to The Cure, New Order and the like…and I really have no complaint with that as there is a definite connection.  For me through, their music does a great job of melding the influences of bands such as that with their own brand of energy and music composition.   

The way the drums lead off this song draws you right in and the synth gives a positive lift of underlying energy.   You have a sense of running somewhere and then the vocal comes in to tell a story that I am honestly still trying to figure out…which just makes it more fascinating to me:)  It is one of those songs that likely has a very different meaning to various listeners.  And high-five for the brassy guitars that ring out several times along the way…very dramatic!  My only complaint is that the vocal mastering is a little muddy but there is always the chance that this was intentional as it does add a layer of texture.

Fun song to listen to and well done – it definitely gets my recommendation.   

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://graveyardclub.bandcamp.com

Hey it’s spring! Please remember to hit up your locally-owned businesses as you go out to enjoy the sun…community is powerful 🙂 

Song Review – Meskales “Mis Amigos” from the album Mis Amigos

I first started listening to this band back in 2020 when I heard a song off of their eponymously named EP.  The energy and sense of fun that they bring to their music caught me right away and it shows up well on this track.  Even without a translation for the lyrics (which they do provide on their Bandcamp page to back up my poor Spanish skills…) you can experience the fast-paced and tightly played music that shines though on this song.   And those horns…what can I say…they make me happy 🙂   I also have an affinity for the lyrics: “It’s impossible to try to make me change…what you think of me will never matter.” 

This is a solid ska / reggae style song that I would definitely recommend you give a listen.   

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://meskales.bandcamp.com

And please remember to support your local artists & businesses…community is powerful 🙂 

Song Review -Partial Traces “Ruins of Rome” from the album Panoramic / Ruins of Rome 

Always check the B-side first…something I started doing a long time ago to mixed results but it paid off well here.  Not that there really is a B-side these days in many cases..but you get the point.  Not to say I have any objection to “Panoramic”…I just like this track better 🙂

There is something very poignant in the stark way in which this song begins.   And it is not just the discordant keys but also the way that the vocal cuts in over the top.   It sets an immediate mood…mournful, accepting…maybe a little sad humor.   The words here are simple yet evocative – lines such as “you like how it covers up the trash with the snow,” tell you much about the scene and also about the people involved in the story.  

The instrumentation is good here also, starting off slowly and building as it moves along.  It is a nice sonic journey that adds to the atmosphere and tone of this entire track.   And I really like that tight drum in the second half…hammering away…very nice. 

The last 40 seconds or so of this get a little too muddled for me but there is also a message there which does work…just a personal issue for me I guess:)  And at the very end there is a very graceful final 10 seconds that cleans it all up very well…kind of a static good-bye.  

Overall, there are a lot of good musical layers in this song.   These musicians, who have turned out such great music both together and separately over the years,  shine through here and I would definitely recommend it. 

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://partialtraces.bandcamp.com

And please remember to support your local musicians wherever you are…community is powerful! 

Song Review -Avenues “Supersonic” from the album We’re All Doomed 

I have always liked a hard-driver of a song and this one is a great example of just that kind of energy.   It comes in with some crisp, heavy drums and gets right to the point.  Much of the track maintains that initial drive but I really liked the bridge at the one-minute mark. It provides a nice contrast to the rest of the song while still maintaining the sonic feeling of the music.  The production quality is also well done with the vocals clearly out front while maintaining a good instrument mix in the very near background.   The lyrics are fun but also a little creepy (“she locks the cellar door behind her”) and the energy is…well, like everything else that Avenues does so well.  

Side note there that their video for “Lights Out” is a cool Halloween-type production and worth a look.  

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://avenuesrock.bandcamp.com

Support your local bands & artists – community is powerful! 

Song Review -Chamberlain “Fairytale of New York (Feat. Gabrielle Sterbenz)” – Single

Well, Happy New Year…and if you know me you are not surprised to see me writing a review for a cover of this epic Pogues song.  There are of course some songs that should just be left alone in their original version but I have never considered this to be one of them.  Even though Shane and his mates original from 1987 has been imbedded in the soundtrack of my life for many years, I consider the song free game for a redux.   Not to say all covers of it have been good…but everyone is welcome to try.  

This version by Chamberlain stacks up well and I really enjoyed playing it over the recent holidays.   They kept the pacing about the same and also utilized the vocal talents of Gabrielle Sterbenz for the female vocal.  Her voice is well-suited for this song and also pairs well with David Moore as they take us through the classic story told in the tune.  If you get a chance you should check out her music also (link below).

Well played all around by some talented musicians although sadly no tin whistle….but that is a rare talent to find these days.  And the shaker that puts the rhythm down in the background is a unique sound.  

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://chamberlain.bandcamp.com

Gabrielle Sterbenz here —> https://gabriellesterbenz.bandcamp.com

Please remember to support your local bands – community is powerful!

Song Review – Buffalo Nichols “Back on Top” from the album Buffalo Nichols

I have always and I am sure always will…love a tune with a slow, slightly jangly blues riff …just like this song.   I suppose that leaves me as biased listener but I just cannot help it and this selection really delivers on what I love about those kinds of songs.  The guitar and drum here provide such a solid foundation and allow the tune to unwind slowly.  Nichols also has a slightly smoky voice which adds a little bit of Memphis night club atmosphere when he sings and it all comes together well.   A really good song from what I consider to be a breakout album from this Wisconsin-based musician – highly recommended 🙂 

You can check out more of their music and information on the Bandcamp page https://buffalonichols.bandcamp.com/releases

Please remember to support your local musicians, artists and businesses – community is powerful! 

Song Review – Rid of Me “Traveling” from the album Traveling 

Well, I meant to post this as a “hot release” right when Rid of Me released this debut album on Bandcamp (12.03.2021)…however, I am late 😦  So, with apologies….

This song delivers exactly what Rid of Me have in their tagline “heavy, melodic punk” and in this case that is a good thing.  I am sure we have all heard the bad version of this genre and it does not go well.  This is the other kind.  The overlay of sound is so entrancing that I did not mind having to hunt around a little to pick up the underlying lyrics.  And those words are quite interesting all to themselves.  I spent several long minutes figuring them out and what they mean to me and you also might find it a useful exercise.   It will get your imagination working for sure.  Being mostly unfamiliar with this band, I did a quick search and found a slightly disturbing but riveting video for the song “Dealing” which is also off of this record.   You can check that at punknews.org and I am sure in the other usual places.   This is a solid release  and the rest of Traveling measures up well and gets my recommendation.  I have to get out and see this gang live somewhere for sure:)  

You can check out more of their music and information on their Bandcamp page https://ridofme.bandcamp.com

As always…support your local bands and artists and buy direct from the source when you can – community is powerful! 

Album Review – Wyldlife – “Out On Your Block”

Wyldlife - "Out On Your Block"

Yes, I know that I am going back in time for this one.  I was listening to the more recent release from Wildlife called “Year of the Snake” and even though that is a good record, my own mind said, “They had one I liked more…sometime in the past…when was that..?”  At which point I dug through a lot of old music info and realized it was “Out on Your Block.”  And no, I do not have any criticism of “Year of the Snake” to offer…but my personal opinion is that this 2017 release is just better….and the cover art is quite interesting.

If you are not familiar with Wyldlife I think they are best described as a punk / rock and roll cross with an edgy 80’s sound and style.  They play very well and put together solid songs that sometimes seem simple on your first listen but usually have a good bit of complexity running around in the background.  

This album kicks off with “Desperate Times” and this one has a nice, driving guitar that carries it along very well.  I think my only complaint is that the vocals are a  little bit too “screamy” at some points but it still sounds good.  That is followed up by “Teenage Heart” that has a definite 80’s beat and feel to it…and I mean that in a good way.  The lyrics even reflect that era as does the call-out chorus line.  I really like the bass work on this song also as it provides a great foundation for the music and peeks through at the just the right moments.  

The next song “Keepsakes” is one of my two favorites, both because it tells a simple but good story and also for its punchy delivery of the music.  The lyrics, such as “you were misery that I couldn’t figure out,” are compelling and stark.  That is followed up by “Deadbeat” which has really good guitar sound and even though this is a typical “youth / angst” type song, it is put together and played well.

Track five is “Bandida” which is a guitar and drum driven bopper that will get you jumping along with it if you are so inclined.  It provides a good lead in to “Contraband” which I would call an explosive song.   Building right up from a great drum intro this song has great nervous energy running though it accompanied by wailing and screeching guitar.  The taunting vocal delivery and the drop-out ending seal the deal – a great song. 

“Suburban” is the “meh” song for me on this album as it is a bit too squeaky and whiny for me.  It is followed by “120 Minutes” which is most notable for the guitar work at the 2:30 mark and “Cuffed” which has some very interesting lyrics, good bass lines and some atypical musical moments. 

Last up is “Get Loud” and this one is well worth the wait and another favorite of mine.   The best part of this song, and something that really adds to its overall quality, is that it does not come in super loud like you might expect.   It starts subtly with some swinging drums and guitar, the vocals creeping along and everything slowly building up to crash over briefly at 1:20.  It then holds before slowing down again.  This song is the longest at 4:07 and needs all of that room to develop fully and really shine.   There are a few lyrical gems in here also such as, “beneath the streetlights I wonder why I’m always chasing abuse.”  

Overall, a great album and enjoyable to listen to both for fun and for more serious musical appreciation. 

You can check out more of their music and information on their Bandcamp page https://wyldlife.bandcamp.com

And please remember to support your local music and art scene – community is powerful! 

Album Review – Romperayo e DJ Tudo + Sua Gente de Todo Lugar- “Rhythmic Emancipation” 

Romperayo e DJ Tudo + Sua Gente de Todo Lugar- “Rhythmic Emancipation”

We are going with some world sounds for this review and I am really pleased that I found this album when I was checking out the releases from the Names You Can Trust label out of Brooklyn, New York.  It may be outside of even the wide-ranging path I follow when listening but that is exactly what I love about exploring music.  There is so much out there, so many great rhythms, melodies, different textures, influences and cultures to experience.  I also often have my Joe Strummer moments and I can definitely see Joe sitting around listening to this record and enjoying some of the sounds.   

This starts off with “Los Mariguano Boys” and I really like the drum rhythms that lead off in this track.  It has a nice, pulsing beat to it that gives it some fun and flair.  That leads into the next song, “Guaracha Campesina Proletaria,” which is just as nice of a rapid tempo dance number as the name implies.  There is a really nice melody line in here, which I believe is delivered on guitar.  There are some subtle changes in tone that also lend some depth.   Right about the 1:30 mark some great horns kick in and catch your attention.  There has always been something about that combination that has peaked my interest and this selection is a great example of the reason for that feeling. 

“La Macumba” is the third selection and I believe the title references a folk religion although I admit I did not have time to look into it further before writing this post.   There is some nice vocal work at the beginning accompanied by the cowbell and then the horns come in to layer in a little mystery.  I really like the trumpets that you can find in the 1:30 to 1:55 range of this track.  The final song is “Encuentro” and I am still trying to work out the sound that lies  underneath the horns at the beginning.  The slower tempo of this arrangement  gives you a real sense of anticipation.  The military style drum beat leads some structure that plays off the horns in an odd but alluring way.   My only complaint here is that I feel this one runs just a little too long.

Overall I really enjoyed this album and the music is just right for a late evening get together or a mid-afternoon at the pool and beach.  There is also some nice artwork on the album cover.  

As I stated above, I picked this up via Names You Can Trust and you can check out their other releases at https://nyctrust.bandcamp.com.

As always, if you have the opportunity, please get out and support your local music and artists – community is powerful !