CD Review: Good God! - Self Titled

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Good God! recently released a self titled CD and with only one show left before guitarist Tim Grimes goes to live on the left coast …you’re not going to have too many opportunities left to get it. So make sure to get to the show Monday and get a copy. (Details on the show are at the bottom of this page....)
This recording is super crisp, clear and polished, which is a compliment for a band like this.  There are 4 instruments doing different things so it’s imperative that you hear all 4 clearly.  The guitar tones are all pretty sharp and slashing but there are a lot of intricacies in what they’re doing so the thinner and more attack oriented sound is advantageous. They sound great, very natural, very well panned,  (if you’re listening in headphones this makes a big difference), and prominent but not over powering in the mix.  Mike Winslow’s drum playing is very energetic and interesting throughout the entire record.  He is able to push the songs along and create flawless transitions between parts of the songs.

When most people think of primarily instrumental bands I would bet the first two that come to mind are Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky.  Well I’ll tell you right now there are very little of those bands coming through in this music.  The songs structures on this record are much more traditional and have a much smaller and more intimate sort of feel.  Think more of a mellow Don Caballero or Ghosts & Vodka.  The interweaving of guitar and bass and the solo’s are more of a factor than the giant buildups and huge atmospheric soundscapes. The track “Books on Etiquette” for example has super lyrical guitar playing which completely takes the place of the vocals which a song with an arrangement like this could have had. 

The tracks  “Michael’s Afternoon Swim”, “Misdirected Love” and “Awake at Night / Tom Cruise was a Lousy Lover” all actually have vocals in them.  They are very reminiscent of the band Hum.  They are almost talked and at points bordering on monotone.  It’s an interesting thing to mix in but these songs become very standard rock songs on an album that was surviving on great musicianship.  I will admit that the opening lick and the noise ending on “Michaels Afternoon Swim” are 2 of my favorite individual parts of the record.

Good God!’s self titled offering does not have much in the way of surprises or studio trickery but what it is, is an honest and clear representation of what these four individuals were able to accomplish as a band in their few short months together.

CD Review: Brava Spectre - The Hands, The Water, The Hands That Occupy The Water

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

There is an ambient violence to this record.  The brutality is not in the attack, as it is in their live performances, but in the building cacophony that makes up most of the tracks.

The reverb soaked guitar and yelping vocals that tend to get lost in the overall noise of a regular Brava Spectre show are allowed to shine when put on record. The guitar tones are very split between a sharp slashing sound to a giant wash of noise; this highlights the dynamics of the songs rather than causing them to drone.

Steve’s drums are forceful and very natural but at some points can get a little lost in the mix when the bass kicks in… the guitars seem to take up a lot of space. If you keep your ears on him though Steve will amaze you with some of his breaks and fills.  The bass sound is my one complaint with the record.

It’s all low end and leaves very little punch which tends to take away from the heaviness of the record.  The one place the bass sound works perfectly though is in the middle of “Noosery!  I Hung My Neck, Cursed Jowls!” right before gang vocals.  Standout track of the album is “By The Lust, By Such A Tender Proposal”.  The dueling guitar work and the incredible drum breaks make this song the most in-your-face on the record.  So be prepared for a different, but no less intense side of Brava Spectre with The Hands, The Water, The Hands That Occupy The Water


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CD Review: Recur Occurrence - Self-Titled

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Recur Occurrence's self-titled EP is a 6 song offering that is completely packed to the gills with a rock sound seldom heard in this area or on the airwaves anymore.  It’s big and aggressive as well as dynamic and pop sensible. 

The EP has a huge guitar sound that is reminiscent of Hum - the band not the noise.  It’s airy and fills up a lot of space, but it’s dense at its center.  This sort of sound works very well with RO’s song writing, mid tempo head bobbers or jumpier pop rock tunes such as the album's opening track "Looking On" which the guitar helps to emphasize choruses and bridges.  Conversely, the album’s second track, "So Much More", is more of showcase for the rhythm section.  Corina Malbaurn's bass line is what drives the song forward; it’s sound is just elastic enough while being able to hold the low end.  Eric Kendall's drums in the vocal breaks give the song shape and structure rather than just carrying through on a steady 4/4 stomp through the entire four minutes.  My personal favorite song on the EP is "Distant".  Jason Banta and Corina trade off vocal lines in the chorus which I love; and the delay on the guitar lead in the bridge gives it a spacey quality - it’s got and my vote for best lyrics on the EP.  

The biggest - and possibly only downside to the record, in my opinion, is that the vocals and drums may be mixed slightly too low.  RO is really much more on the poppy side of the heavy rock spectrum - think of bands like Simon Says or the last 2 Screaming Trees albums without the psychadelia.  This is usually an audience that is big into lyrics and needs a beat to jump in time to.  That being said, do yourself a favor and listen to this record for the first time on your headphones... you will be able to get the best idea of the way it’s supposed to sound. It may not mean a lot to the casual listener but the panning is great on this record which is also easier to hear on headphones.  If Recur Occurrence’s self titled EP does not make you yearn for this sound on the radio again I don’t know what will.

For more info on Recur Occurrence:

CD Review: Luke Hunter - Dizzying Heights

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Luke Hunter, drummer of the band Thick Thieves, has released his first self recorded/produced solo record -  quite ambitious for a young man.  Dizzying Heights has a mellow, ambient sort of vibe without being too spacey.  Like the Thick Thieves, the sound of the record is definitely more rooted in "classic rock" or even early "alternative" rather than the indie rock which most his peers are playing.  Unlike the Thick Thieves it doesn’t have that folky southern rock thing going on.  

The layers and textures are what make the record what it is.  The reverb and delay are caked on this record... it’s what gives it the ambient sort of feel but it can be a little much.  About halfway through the record they stop being a texture and almost become a whole other instrument.  The instrumentation is nothing out of the ordinary: guitar, bass, drums and keys - but everything is fattened up and aired out to make it sound like much more.  The song writing is almost post rock-esque at points, it just moves from one thing to another in a constant stream, never turning around to remind you what the chorus was. This can be a difficult style to make work but Luke does a good job making sure you don’t get bored or confused as the songs drift along.  

Most people would probably consider this an incredibly melancholy record, especially with the Radiohead cover at the end.  I don’t see it that way.  Mellow and melancholy, though containing a lot of the same letters, are not intrinsically linked.  I would say that it's introspective - a thinker - rather than just writing it off as sad.  This record shows a great deal of promise... Luke wears his influences on its sleeve but his influences are not common in this area of CT and it's his debut so that’s more than forgivable.  I'd like to see this be a continuing project for Luke to see the path it heads down.
 
Dizzying Heights is available for purchase at The Mystic Disc in downtown Mystic, CT.





CD Review: Sodium Lights - Post Signal

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Post Signal has a familiar indie sound of 90's bands like Polvo with electronic influences like Massive Attack.  There are also occasional poppy, almost Paul Simon-esque, tunes on the record: "Thimble" and "His Father’s Father". The change from indie song to pop song is pretty hard to swallow within one album.  The production of this record is completely radio ready -  it's slick as black ice but the genre of music calls for it so I can't hold it against them.  

The musicianship matches up perfectly with the production, it's very tight and calculated without sounding forced or like it was cut and pasted in the studio.  I never thought I would hear a record like this come from South Eastern CT.  Not that it’s completely outside the realm of what's going on in the area, but the electronic elements along with atmospheric, almost spacey, texture of the songs certainly puts them in a class of their own.   

Post Signal can get a little sleepy at times for the average listener but if you put a little more effort into your listening there are tons of new layers to discover within the tracks.  This is a very dense record disguised as an airy ambient piece.  The good thing about studio bands is that they are completely committed and focused to making sure that the songs that they write sound as good as they can sound when they go on record.  This is where a lot of live bands go wrong.  They forget to add little bits of keyboard or maybe some extra guitar tracks to add thickness and atmosphere because they don't want to be untrue to what they sound like when they play out.  

Sodium Lights have taken all of these "frills" and made them sound absolutely vital.  The art of creating a record is not even on the same plane of existence.  While a live show runs on adrenaline your record must run on maintaining interest through artistry... and Post Signal most certainly does that.

Post Signal by Sodium Lights is available for purchase at The Mystic Disc in downtown Mystic, CT.


CD Review: The Weird Beards - EP

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz


One of the many things for purchase during Hygienic's opening weekend was The Weird Beards debut EP... a 4 song ditty with the old lineup, the lineup that included OB on mandolin and does not include their current drummer.  The production team on this record is a veritable who's who of New London music. The recording itself was done by Hugh Birdsall of The Reducers and was mixed and mastered by Paul Brockett of the Paul Brockett Roadshow. 

For such organic instrumentation; baritone ukulele, standup bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin and percussion, there is quite a bit of studio trickery. There are some backwards vocals and also vocals with digitally manipulated pitches.  There is a cool loop intro at the beginning of "Patriot Act" as well as some ping pong panning on the ukulele and mandolin.  These kinds of things work well with The Weird Beards' psychedelic gypsy nature.  

The songs on the EP; "With a Lime", "Weird Beard", "Patriot Act", and "Beautiful Eyes" are super clever lyrically and all the songs are completely different topics. This gives you a really good view of the pallet that Brian Skidmore, lead singer and baritone uke, is working with to paint the landscapes of his songs.  The canvas of this record is the three musicians who are able to keep Brian’s dreamlike visions afloat with their expressive riffing. 

While not exactly a sing along record there are a bunch of gang vocals that add a little bit of fullness that can sometimes seem lacking with an all acoustic band.  This is no singer songwriter pop BS either… the instrumentation and song structure removes it quickly from that category.  This not your average folk -  The Weird Beards may actually be from outer space somewhere, but the songs are easy to listen to for the educated musical ear.  For anyone who has seen them live you know Brian’s vocal acrobatics and the jammy-ness of some of the songs can lead to them lasting a while.  Both of those things have been pretty much cut out… leaving the real gold of the songs to shine in three minute intervals.  This is a super worth-while record for the alt-folk enthusiast.

For More Info On The Weird Beards: