CD Review: Anne Castellano - What's Been Going On

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Armed with a drum machine and rack of guitars Anne Castellano is releasing What’s Been Going On this Friday November 12th at the Hygienic Art Gallery.  Performed and recorded on her own, (except for the first 2 songs which Matt Potter of Fatal Film recorded and played bass on and having the mastering done by Jim Carpenter of the Hoolios), Anne acted alone and took the time to really think this one out.

The guitars and effects are stacked high up on top of each other leaving only the drum machine and bass tracks to keep them from toppling over.  Their sound drifts like a dense electric fog over every song.  The guitars do have a lot of high frequencies and chorus effects that give them their airy quality and this allows the drum machine and bass to do a more than adequate job holding up the low end.  Anne’s voice is the focus of this album though.  Her voice is strong, melodic and shines through the music without trouble, but this is not a white light at all.  Anne has a dark and brooding quality about her voice that makes her music what it is.  The songs are upbeat enough to be pop but almost all of them have a minor tone and feeling to them.

There are a lot of early 80’s alternative bands, like Psychedelic Furs and the Cure that Anne is drawing influence from but she absolutely puts her own stamp on everything.  When those bands did a single it was decidedly more pop than anything else they did.  Anne has melded enough pop sensibility and recognizable song structure into her own brand of dark alternative songwriting.  This makes for an easy flow through the album and allows the listener to decide which song to grab ahold of rather than having the band tell you.  “How Much More” is my favorite song on the record - it’s got a steady driving tempo and vocal melody that will easily get stuck in your head.  The mix between the vocal and the guitar on this song is much closer than the others which makes it into a tighter, denser package.

What’s Been Going On as a whole is an easy listen and you will instantly feel like you’ve owned it forever.  The songs are familiar but not overplayed and they all give you something a little different to key in on.

CD Review: Erik Lamb - Shoot Everything

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz


I always wondered why there weren’t more hip-hop artists that embraced beats with more of a techno/electronica sound.  I may have been looking in the wrong place all this time but Erik Lamb is doing it and he’s making it sound like a viable option.   

Shoot Everything is as professional sounding an album as you’ll hear.  All the sounds are crisp, the vocals are all duplicated in the right places and the beats all bounce at the right tempo.  None of this makes Shoot Everything sound cookie cutter… it means it’s easy on the ears, it means that there is more than likely going to be some fist pumping going on at his shows.  Actually I think the thing that takes the longest to get used to is Erik’s voice.  It’s got an Aesop Rock sort of nasal quality that gives it character.  I personally love Aesop Rock and think his voice is his best attribute and similarly with Erik Lamb.  He’s got an incredibly laid back sound to his voice no matter how fast his rapping or what he’s rapping about.  It’s a sort of quiet confidence that is incredibly refreshing when compared to the soulless mainstream hip-hop chest-beating and materialism.  

Speaking of mainstream hip-hop, stealing a page from Jay Z and twisting it into a clever turn of phrase Erik says "99 problems, the past is done, I’ve got 99 bananas let me pass you some” in “Peapod”.  Things like that make me laugh and that’s what makes hip-hop fun, and isn’t that why we’re listening?  The song after “Peapod” is “7:30” and that’s my vote for best beat on the record.  Just about every tone in the song has the skipping CD sound to it and when you line them all up it sounds amazing. 

Shoot Everything is equal parts indie rap intelligence and mass appeal madness.  This may be one of the only records that fist pumping goons, uber stoned cheeba monkeys and everyone in between can agree on the merits of.

CD Review: Get Haunted - Volume 1 & 2

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Get Haunted Vol. 1 was recorded and co-produced by Bobby Crash and includes Kevin Hodge of Brava Spectre, on slide guitar.  Despite the subject matter of death and monsters, Bobby was able to make these songs sound jumpy and fun. The banjo is distorted and slashing, the drums thump and clip and the slide guitar floats above the whole thing like an angry spirit.  The music is like a snake handler keg party... it’s fun and dangerous and you will never forget it.

Joey’s voice absolutely booms over this spastic junkyard band.  It’s got melody and heft which is not usually a combination you hear anymore.  There may be a little Johnny Cash twang and low end in his delivery but let it never be said that Joey doesn’t have his own style.  The chorus's on this record are what really puts the final nail in the coffin though.  Almost the entire album, especially "1,000’s of Devils" and "Jim", is meant to be shouted along with.  Yeah it might be a strain on your voice and it’s certainly creepy but these are really catchy and easy to sing to choruses.

The charm of the entire record is that it brings us all to the same place.  Most people will tell you that you can interpret music however you want and that’s the beauty of it.  I disagree; I think what makes something great is the ability to make many different people feel the same way.  Get Haunted reminds us why it’s fun to watch horror movies and why we don’t care if we step on each others’ toes or get hit with an elbow when we’re dancing.  It’s just the ability to throw caution to the wind and get caught in a moment that makes us alive.

Get Haunted Vol. 2 is a much more somber and concentrated effort.  Done completely by themselves, except for "Silver Eyes" where Bobby Crash plays drums, Joey and Sarah show you what 2 people that have a passion for each other and music can do on a record.  Vol. 2 has a sort of folk/gospel feel to a few of the songs and it colors the entire album with a sort of supernatural/spiritual feeling.  Not so much like creep show and horror motif on Vol. 1, but a real life 'the-killer’s-outside-your-room-and-he’s-sending-you-to-see-your-lord', sort of way.

This albums' sound is much more reminiscent of the band 16 Horsepower or Them Poor Bastards than O’ Death or Can Kickers... it’s lively, but never overexerts itself.  The production values are the definition of lo-fi.  There is no polish or trickery on the entire CD and if there was it would ruin the atmosphere.  I’ve said this about other recordings that have been purposefully lo-fi but this is the real McCoy.  Not everything clips, but some things do, the distortion doesn’t bleed all over everything, but the tracks weren’t meticulously cleaned up either.  There may be a weird guitar note here and there or an off drum beat but you never lose the feeling. This recording just sounds honest, it’s not trying to be anything more than what it is and that’s refreshing.

If you think everything I’ve described does not sound like the Get Haunted you’re used to... don’t fret... there are still up tempo foot stompers on Vol. 2.  In fact my favorite song on the album, "Jean Jacket Kids", is one of them.  The songs will still get stuck in your head.  "Horses" which has a sound that’s similar to "Earth Angel" if it was sang by a mortician, has been stuck in mine for days.  Sarah even sings a couple tunes on Vol. 2.  "Silver Eyes" and "Falling Stars" are well thought out songs that keep with the somber sound of the record but give the listener something completely new to grasp on to with Sarah’s shy but simultaneously strong voice.  Vol. 2 is still Get Haunted but it’s fleshed out. There is a solid identity to the band and it’s now gone beyond death and monsters.  It’s about people and the things that scare all of us or make us sad or excite us.


CD Review: John Fries - EP

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

If you know John Fries "the Lo-Fi Radio Star" you know that he can wail on a cranked up electric guitar.  If you know John Fries "the Original Sinner" then you know that he is also familiar with an acoustic guitar.  Well the latter John Fries is releasing a self titled CD.... it's seven tracks of live solo performances... just a man and his guitar. 

There are guys who've become famous doing the sensitive man with an acoustic guitar shtick and there are a great many bluesmen that most people have never heard of that are incredibly soulful and out of this world guitar players.  John walks this huge difference in styles like a tightrope made of dental floss.  He sings like a sensitive guy; he's always on key and does have a tendency to show off a little with his vocal runs.  He plays guitar like a bluesman; finger picked, slapped and plucked until most people would cry out for mercy.  It is this dichotomy that allows John Fries to tell a story two ways in the course of one song.

Songs like "Out of Place" and "Another Love" were originally played under the Lo-Fi Radio Stars moniker.  This may seem like an old MTV Unplugged trick to get you to buy a song again in a different format but I promise you that these songs aren't just stripped down... they're transformed.  You can really hear the craft in the song writing when they're played and recorded like this. 
While the songs all sound similar because it's just John and his guitar... they were all live recordings from different places and times so they all have their own personality.  I don't think a format like this would work for most bands but for this recording it's exactly what John needed to do.



For more info:



http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Hot-Stove-Tops/135646006471779?ref=ts

CD Review: Gone For Good - The Bright Lights

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

The Bright Lights from Gone for Good is now out for public consumption. Their final recording with drummer Josh Lecce, (who passed away in a car accident in May 2009), was long delayed but it's out now and it's something that all involved should be proud of.  Fuzzed out pop songs with splashes of rockabilly and swing are not something you come across often but if this record got the national airplay it deserved you would hear a lot more of it.

The guitar sound is what drives this record and when you hear it you'll know why.  The guitar demands attention... it's got a heavy distortion on it but it's never offensive to the ears and it's got plenty of articulation so you can tell what notes are being played. It's just quality sound. That being said the rhythm section could have been a little higher in the mix.  Case in point is the drums in "Bad Child".  Josh is all over the kit and keeps everything tight.  While the drums are not inaudible, in this song they should have been a real highlight.  The bass is in a similar situation.  It provides the record with a very solid bottom and roundness but a little more punch and volume would have made it the counterpart the guitar deserves.

It's not all guitar, bass and drums though.  The real "x factor" for this album is the effects and added decorative touches. The rock n' roll piano banging and organ swells in "Bad Child" account for the almost mandatory keyboard element.  Then on "Dinner Date" you have the horn accents that add to the swing nature of the song and give you another flavor most pop music lacks now a days.  The reverbs and delays on the vocals are tasteful and add atmosphere to vocalist Nick Johns' voice.  The conversations and idle chatter running through the track "4 am" add to the laid back feel of the song rather than distracting you from the music.  It's the little things that make an album great and The Bright Lights is a perfect example of this.



CD Review: Above/Below - 2 Sides

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Eighteen songs is a lot.  You may not think so in the grand scheme of things - my iPod has 14,605 songs on it. However for anyone who’s ever bought a CD or record and especially for anyone that's tried to record an album... 18 is an extreme amount of songs. In fact, this may be our longest review yet! Guess what folks... Above/Below just raised the bar on you.... 2 Sides hits on all cylinders from start to finish.

Is Above Below a hip-hop group?  Is Above Below a jazz ensemble?  Is Above Below a rock band?  I'll tell you one thing, 2 Sides will not answer that question.  They run the gamut and make no apologies for it.  With a 7-piece band and an MC at the helm would you expect them to keep a constant style?  There are 2 many personalities there.

The lyrics on this record are constant.  Vocalist Gabe Chandler, (AKA MC Stat), spits lyrics like sunflower seeds all over this record till they're piled up in a neck high heap.  Most hip-hop is usually this way but when you’re doing hip-hop with that old school "double time" delivery you have to write even more lyrics and this can make them a little hard to keep up with.  Primarily the subject matter deals with a sociopolitical issue but before you go running in the other direction because you "don’t like political bands" listen to the songs "Socialist" and "Profits".  These songs are clever, catchy and current... that's the 3 C's of a good pop song.  There are some lighter hearted subjects on the record.  "Fly in My Soup" is a story about Gabe punching out a smart mouthed waiter.

You've got 7 more people rocking consistently on this record and in some cases that can lead to some self indulgent soloing and songs that last for millennia.  Above/Below is not all about that.  They use the guitar and bass to move the songs along from part to part and the horns to accentuate the changes and punctuate the statements the band is making musically.  Drummer Jonas Sanchez drives this bus using jazz riffing, funk high hat and rock n' roll beats to keep everyone together.  This is a mature band.  They all know the part they have to play and they are proud to do it.  None of them show ego on the recording and it makes the listening much more enjoyable.

Mixing all these elements together can be difficult thing to do in the studio.  The rhythm guitar tends to sound far away and while the reverb sounds cool there are points when it should punch more.  The horns and vocals are right out front as they should be but that baritone sax should sound rounder and more full as it is it sounds almost like a synth.  One of my favorite parts of the sound of the album is the turntables.  It's not something I'm used to having seen Above/Below many times live.  They could've taken this guest star and pushed him up to the front to make the point that they're doing hip-hop music but instead they use it as a texture as an added bonus rather than selling point.  The sound of the record has the proper amount of polish on it; this is hip-hop/pop/jazz after all.  Everything is audible all the time and that's not an easy thing to do with all those sounds.

2 Sides, 18 tracks, millions upon millions of words and riffs.  This is a huge testament to Above/Below's song writing ability and the diversity of their talents as musicians.  Get this recording and listen to it over and over again because you will continue to find new things each time you do.



7" Review: Brava Spectre - Cuss Tongue

Review by Adam Wujtewicz
 
Brava Spectre just released their brand new 7" vinyl... (that’s a 45 for all you super old school folks).  The A-side track "Cuss Tongue" right off the bat shows that the Brava boys have learned from the things that took some of the excitement away from their last release The Hands, The Water, The Hands that Occupy The Water.

The bass punches super hard and the mix is all together far more violent.  This is an exciting recording.  They still have the ambient parts which add texture but never a feeling of calm.  The B-Side track of this 7" is "Bouquet Appendages" which is a bit less sparser to start off but still incredibly interesting.  What makes this song great are the ambient effects behind the building madness of the instruments and vocals.  This is powerful stuff..."Cuss Tongue" is an outing to be reckoned with.






CD Review: Estrogen and Tonic - Let's See What Happens

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Estrogen and Tonic is a band of many reputable singers and undeniable impulse.  Their brand of comic punk is something that never ceases to bring a smile to my face.  Let’s See What Happens is completely irreverent, ludicrous and all in all a thumb-in-the-eye of anything that is processed and stale about rock and roll.  Annemarie Newport’s wild vocals and patented smash drumming technique set the tone of for these short bursts of music.  Chris Moore sings a few tunes in a much calmer manner but with similarly insane lyrics.  The loudest thing on the record is Todd Romanella’s bass – and in a very Pixies sort of way keeps the songs grounded in reality.  The two guitars, played by Chris Moore and Steve Swan, do completely different things all the time and this is completely key in keeping with the crazy vibe of the band.  Both guitars are usually doing very simple things but complexity would ruin all this bands charm.

The overall production of this record is clear enough but without polish.  The songs sound like they were all recorded at different times and then the settings were all set the same in the computer.  This allows every song to have a little bit of it’s own charm without the album sounding like a sampler of songs that were never meant to be on the same record.  My personal favorites on the disc are “Banana Stab” because it’s a mellow but still crazy Annemarie song and “Dirty Pot” which is a completely punk Chris tune.

Let’s See What Happens is what I believe Estrogen and Tonic say every time they write a song, play a show… and maybe even get up in the morning.  I’d say what happened with this record is what happens with your favorite cartoons.... childish fun from the minds of clever adults.
Contact the band to get your copy of this CD!



CD Review: Urban P - Welcome To The 860

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Urban P's latest record  Welcome to the 860 is probably the most standard hip-hop record that will make a splash in New London.  Now I don’t mean standard as in boring or lacking… I mean standard in that fact that it contains the essential pieces that makes a great hip-hop record: a man with a microphone, rockin' electronic beats, and some killer turntables. This record has that... and more.
While other local bands like Flowers & Kain and Above/Below use hip-hop vocals mixed against a rock and jazz backbeat, Urban P and Jon Concept have put together a hard hitting record that is hip hop in it's truest form.  The first thing that hit me about the sound of this record is that the bass drum isn’t all that low end trunk rattle sound… it’s got great punch and clarity. The production values are slick and clean like chrome.

There are some interesting sounds on the record like the string melody on “N.I.G.G.A. Odds” and the dichotomy of the angry lyrics and delivery against a piano track on “The Fair One”.  You also have the title track that has simple little soul piano on the verse that holds down the rhythm... not to mention horns on the chorus.

Not only is the music on the record diverse but vocaly Urban P throws you a few curve balls.  He attacks the track "Kill or be Killed" like a bull in a china shop, lays back and mellows out on "Let's Take Off" and gets the crowd riled and chanting along on "Champion".  These diverse change ups are extremely important in a style of music that doesn't tend to have a lot of vocal melody to speak of.
Welcome to the 860 is a quality record with a great package to represent it and if you want a local way to break into hip hop, pick this record up. Contact Urban P at one of the below links to purchase a copy.


For more info on Urban P:

FEATURE INTERVIEW: Sittin' On Top Of The Clouds With Urban P

Interview & Photography by Meghan Killimade
 

Over the last few weeks our scene has been buzzing like mad about Urban P. The video for his single "Champion" was nominated for a Whalie Award, and his performance at the actual Whalie Awards ceremony in May was nothing short of stellar. That's all I've heard people talking about... for weeks! Now he's got another new video out for his latest single "Sittin' On Top Of The Clouds", which just debuted at his Oasis show on June 12. The one thing I've learned about Urban P in the last few weeks is that this guy digs deep to bring the best to his audience - he likes to do it up right, and he likes to do things large. He's obviously got New London's attention! Everyone wants to know... who is Urban P? Where did this guy come from? Today, we've got answers.
WailingCity.com recently asked Urban P some questions about his new album Welcome to The 860, how get got started, who he's collaborating with and what he's got planned for the future.


WC: How did you get started in music?
Urban P: For me music kinda just happened. I didn’t grow up in a musical family – as a matter of fact I’m the only musician that I know of in my family. The first rhyme that I recall ever writing was in my junior year of high school. I linked up with Jon Concept probably about a year after that. We went to middle school together and we started skateboarding at the same time and just started making music. We linked up with a kid James Clark from Portland, OR. Who at the time was like our mentor.  He was so ahead of his time and he definitely molded us. We went by the name Stealth Mob. We watched tons of kung-fu flicks, worshipped Wu-Tang and just made music every minute of the day. At that time my craft was very raw and over the years I’ve matured… my music has too and it’s grown from a very gritty hip hop vibe to a very diverse artist depicting murals on a very broad canvas.

WC: What was your main drive/influence for your latest record "Welcome To The 860"?
Urban P: The major influence behind Welcome To The 860 was that I basically had a lot of shit on my chest and inside my heart that I had to release. Music is very therapeutic and Welcome To The 860 was 25 years in the making. I aired out a lot of personal issues on the record. Just to let everyone know… I was scared to death to release this record because it’s so personal and it’s 100% me. I just wanted people to take a real good glance at the place I’m from, because CT is so overshadowed by NYC and surrounding areas. I wanted people to be like ‘You know what? CT got talent!’ I want the people from here to represent their shit. I put CT on my hand because I truly love it, and no matter what people say I will always stand behind my people.

WC: How do you feel about the current status of the New London music scene, and how did you become a part of it?
Urban P: At this moment NLC music scene is really buzzing and I’m happy to be a part of it. In the past few weeks I’ve met so many people that are in the music scene and are making great music. It’s overwhelming when you sit back and look at all the talent. I go to everyone’s shows – I was just at the Paul Brockett show and they killed it. You know we’ve got a great core of DJ’s who all spin great tunes. The bands are killing it every time – from The Hempsteadys, to Above/Below. NME is killing it, The Fears have an amazing sound. A lot of people don’t know this but Urban P didn’t just come out of the blue like it seems. I came back from Portland, OR with the mindset to get back with Jon Concept and pick up where we left off. At the time I came in he was spinning every week in New London at The Oasis hip hop night with Frank Lo. I carried their crates and helped set up their gigs. I was on Jon Concept’s album Dear Hip Hop which had a great buzz in the summer of 2007. We had everyone screaming ‘you ain’t hood enough’ which was a skit featuring Frank Lo. I can’t remember the exact date but my first time ever performing happened to be at The Oasis. I was probably 20 years old and when I went up to perform I was so nervous. I sat on a barstool and spit my raps. It was so horrible that I wanted to quit but I didn’t and I refocused… took my time perfecting, and 5 years later – here I am, Urban P!

WC: What would you like to see change or what would you like to contribute to the New London music scene?
Urban P: Unity… definitely more unity amongst the artists… you know, especially in the hip hop part. Everyone has an ego and they think they’re the best, but I don’t see it like that. I want to make good music and if you want to be a part of it, I’m all for it. I want to see the whole 860 really get behind us, (the artists), and support us. Go out to the shows, pay the 5 dollar cover, and purchase the CD’s. It’s time for NLC to come together and that’s something I plan to help achieve, but I can’t do it alone. If we all move as one we’re unstoppable, but when the ego’s come out and the pride starts flowing, this scene will fade out.

WC: If you could join forces with one New London artist/band/DJ for a day, who would it be? Or are you currently collaborating with someone now?
Urban P: I can’t pick just one and that’s a good thing. Jon Concept and I have a new mixtape we’re dropping July 17th called The Paper Plane Project. We’re currently shopping around for beats for the record. So far we got Smoke The World to produce a beat for us, Chumzilla and G Wiz producing stuff as well. I just got a CD with 10 beats from Octavia. We’re probably going to use a bit of his. That’s just production. As far as emcees, we’ll see what happens with that… a lot of politics. I’m anticipating a studio session with John Fries – he’s down to lay some guitar down for us. I want to work with The Fears – they’ve got a chill vibe…I really want to do a record with them soon. NME and I are going to do a song. I reached out to Gramz to do a mixtape. My arms are open if you want to work… let’s work!

WC: What is in the future for Urban P?
Urban P: The future for Urban P is a lot of work. The mixtape is on the way in July called The Paper Plane Project… with Jon Concept’s new album Illusions soon after that. Be sure to check Jon Concept out on the new DJ Kayslay mixtape hosted by Ty FyFe. I’ve got shows lined up for July opening for Ninja Sonic - doing a show at The American Legion in NL on July 17 and then we’re heading on tour July 6th through 9th. Coming back in town for the Sailfest show. I’m grinding out trying to open up new markets. I’m headed to Denver on August 6th to attend culinary school. I’ll be working with some people out there doing shows. Gaining more exposure is what the main goal is besides putting out good music. Other than that Welcome To The 860 is out… get a copy… it’s an amazing record. Urban P is out here. I’m a laid back dude – all about working hard and taking this to the next level.

Thanks to Urban P for taking the time do do this interview with us!


Check out some of Urban P's videos:

 



For more info on Urban P:






2010 Whalie Award Winners



(Whalie Winners: Members of Stressbomb, NME & Jaimee from Low-Beam)


Here are the winners!!

• Album of the Year: Low-Beam - "Charge Of the Light Brigade"
• Record of the Year: Straight to VHS - "Self Titled"
• Song of the Year: Matt Gouette - "Opinion"
• Breakthrough Artist Of the Year: Get Haunted
• Best Alternative Artist: Fatal Film
• Best Alternative Performance: Straight To VHS - "Hey"
• Best Americana Artist: Paul Brockett Roadshow
• Best Americana Performance: Sue Menhart Band - "Why You Love Me"
• Best DJ: Chumzilla
• Best Hardcore / Metal Artist: Amido Black
• Best Hardcore / Metal Performance: Black Water Blessing - "Chainsaw Hands"
• Best Hip Hop Artist: Above / Below
• Best Hip Hop Performance: N.M.E. - "Thank You"
• Best Indie / Experimental Artist: The Weird Beards
• Best Indie / Experimental Performance: Brava Spectre - "The Lioness Eye Tamed My Open Palm"
• Best Music Series: Sinners Circle
• Best Music Video: The Weird Beards - "Willow Tree Express"
• Best Punk / Ska Artist: The Hempsteadys
• Best Punk / Ska Performance: Stressbomb - "No Time For This"
• Best Rock Artist: Gone For Good
• Best Rock Performance: The Reducers - "Tokyo Bay"
• Best Solo Artist: Matt Gouette
• Best Solo Performance: Brad Bensko - "Why Do You Do That"


CD Review: Matt Gouette - Emeline At The Moon Tower

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

I have lived in New London for 3 years and been witness to its local music scene for around 5.  Once a week for those years I have heard the young and the old... and the square and the hip ask Matt Gouette when he was putting out an album or when he was playing next. Well guess what?! He’s got a proper release out now and it’s called Emeline at the Moon Tower, (Telegraph Recording Company).

It’s what you’d expect from Matt in that it’s chock full of pop rock songs about love, loss and various other human emotions.  What you may not expect if you know his live show is that these songs are surprisingly upbeat and super layered, creating production of pop grandeur.  This can be double edged sword for musicians.

For as good as it sounds and as well written as it is, the planning required for this sort of thing strips it of any spontaneity or moments that make you gasp.  Planning does make for cool little quiet moments like “(Opening)” and “Eerie Highway Sounds”, which turn this into an album rather than a collection of songs... and that is important. There are of course some stripped down slow dance numbers on there, “Glorious You” and “Moon is Low” for example.  This also adds to the atmosphere of the record.

In the end “Emeline at the Moon Tower” turns into a soundtrack of sorts, most likely for big Hollywood romantic comedy maybe starring Drew Barrymore and Ewan McGregor.  It is a record for a big audience and big speakers; so if you know a huge audience send them Matt’s way and if you’ve got huge speakers listen to “Emeline at the Moon Tower” on them to catch all the nuances.

CD Review: Uncle Flatty - Sad Songs and Wildflowers

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

With the lack of countryside and or farmland in New London you wouldn’t think we’d produce so many folk/country acts but we do and Uncle Flatty is one of those bands.  With a mix of traditional country and 70’s southern rock you’d swear these guys came from Alabama if they didn’t have Connecticut accents.  The first song on their record Sad Songs and Wildflowers has a southern fried Grateful Dead feel.  It sets the tone for the summer time traveling music that makes up the record.

It’s mellow but the songs move along at a pretty good pace which keeps the music from being sleepy.  Though the vocals are the focus of the record the moments when the music shines through is what makes the record what it is.  It’s not like the southern rock guitar solos ala Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers.  These moments are much more subdued like the lead guitar work on “Janet Guthrie”, the slide guitar on “Buddha” or the Harmonica on “Sarita”.  This subtle change in form is what makes Uncle Flatty more than just another bar band.

With the tone and feeling of this record it’s actually a little difficult to picture them playing anywhere besides a green field under the midday sun.  Even the songs that should be sad seem to be played with a smile.  I don’t know if this makes the title a complete misnomer or if it completely explains the title.  I’ll leave that decision to you.

You can purchase & download Sad Songs and Wildflowers by Uncle Flatty here: Uncle Flatty on CDBaby

 




CD Review: A Moment Of Silence - The Silence Is Harder

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Though most angry young musicians have pointed their style towards tough-guy hardcore or noise rock there are still the select few who realize that a big riff and mid tempo pounding drums can show just as much aggression. A Moment Of Silence is one of those bands and they’re set to release their debut CD The Silence is Harder. I would bet my bottom dollar that there is a double meaning there....

There is a great deal of grunge worship on this record. The vocals are vaguely Chris Cornell-ish while the music sounds more like Alice in Chains, especially on the track “Valek”... or the Undertow era of Tool like on the track “Retina”.  The big difference between the records of the early to mid 90’s and The Silence Is Harder is the production.  This record is slick sounding, which usually wins over a bigger audience but it also takes a lot of dimension away from the guitar and it sometimes loses the bass in the mix.  On the plus side of that coin is that Reid's drums are clear as a bell and punch through everything, keeping you tuned into where the song is headed. 

The vocals are probably the biggest part of the slick sounding equation.  They are always out front and this puts pressure on vocalist Tony to sound just as ferocious as the instruments, a task which he successfully completes.  Even though the vocals are a touch too loud for my taste most people like the singer’s thoughts to come across loud and clear.   

The one thing that most people will write off as fluff, (even though I think it shows a great deal of character), is the weird and nonmusical track #7 “Untitled”.  It’s just background noise and it only lasts 1 minute and 19 seconds but it proves to me that they were thinking of this release not as a collection of songs but as an album.  They use this track to give the listener time to breathe before the home stretch of the record. 

Even though the production doesn’t showcase it, the songwriting on this album is what makes it worthwhile.  The loud-quiet-loud approach, and the bass lines that seemingly jump around the big guitar chords are what set this apart from another teenage rock bands demo. 
You can snag the new CD The Silence Is Harder from AMOS directly from the band or purchase and download it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/AMomentOfSilence

---> AMOS/NL FACT: AMOS guitarist Marissa Mazzotta, 18, attended The Berklee College of Music summer program in 2009 and was the first student to utilize the Phil Agins Berklee School of Music Scholarship. Phil Agins was the lead guitarist of New London's Royale Brothers, who passed away suddenly in April 2008; the scholarship was set up by his mother and brother in his honor. Marissa continues to be a strong supporter/team member to help further the scholarship.


CD Review: Roadside Attractions - Whispers

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

New London’s many faced folk quartet Roadside Attractions are set to release their debut EP Whispers through Cosmodemonic Telegraph this Friday Feb 12!  I say many faced because not only have they had a whole slew of different members but their style has such a wide range.  The EP starts off with a mellow Allman-esque rock song “You Ain’t Gonna” and is followed up by the title track which is a doom and gloom reggae number. Granted most of the other songs on the record are folk and country based but there are splashes of blues and rockabilly in the mix as well.

The musicianship on the record is awesome - the steady tight rhythm section of Jason Banta (bass) and Matt Gouette (drums) along with the fiddle and lead guitar work of Craig Edwards… you couldn’t hope for a better backdrop to lay your vocals on.  The vocals are what most people are going to take away from this record and Daphne Glover has really become known for her sultry cabaret vocal stylings.  The low calm tones can be soothing but when switching over to a louder chorus the vocals can at times come across as a bit apprehensive. Paul Brockett also lends his own brand of twang to “Campari” along with Paul Brockett Roadshow band mate David Anderson who plays the piano on this track like it’s straight out of an old west saloon. The mixing on the record is very well balanced and the production values are clean and slick like a freshly waxed kitchen floor. This allows for maximum intake of musical ability but can tend to make the atmosphere of the record a little sterile.
The one song not lacking for atmosphere is the banjo ballad “The Night We Fell in Love”.  On top of the sparse music, they laid sounds of New London: trains, sirens, seagulls, etc.  It’s a nice touch to a record with no other studio trickery.  Whispers  is a solid representation of what Roadside Attractions is all about and they should be happy to have been able to capture that on an album.




CD Review: Straight To VHS - Self Titled

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Straight to VHS has wasted no time getting their name out as the hot new thing in New London.  They’ve been playing shows, shaking hands, kissing babies and now they’re releasing their debut EP Self Titled.  So what does it sound like when 2 mustaches and a weird beard record under the supervision of Fatal Film front man Matt Potter?

Well the production values are somewhere between Jay Reatard (R.I.P.) and Times New Viking.  Almost everything clips and there is a hiss and fuzz that will be endearing to most garage rock and punk fans but will most likely turn off the casual listener. As for what catches your ear... the vocals and the bass completely rule the tone of this record.  The overdriven bass cuts through absolutely everything and socks you straight in the gut. 

The vocals, though melodic, are multi tracked so that it sounds like there is a large gang of people singing at you.... (and by the way, that actually happens too, thanks to Matt Potter and second Fatal Film guitarist Sebastian Coppotelli on backing vocals on tracks "Hey!" and "Have You Gone").
There will be a lot of comparisons to ’77 style punk when people talk about this record but the snarl and swagger of this record is much more rock n’ roll.  The fun time pop mixed with the aggressiveness of these songs reminds me more of underground 60’s bands like The Sonics and The Standells than the Sex Pistols and the Clash.  In short Self Titled is 5 simple and well crafted rock songs that you could very easily find yourself bouncing around your room to… while no one was looking of course.




Straight To VHS "Have You Gone" @ Oasis November 14:
(Video by Wailing City Photography 2009)

Straight To VHS Video "It's Fun":

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