CD Review: The Suicide Dolls - Prayers In Parking Lots

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Having been raised on a steady diet of classic rock and having forged my own musical identity with the grunge movement of the 90’s I have come to miss rock and roll.  I feel like I’ve been forgotten.  There is just something missing in a lot of bands today.  Perhaps it’s the fact that genres like “classic rock”, “grunge” and “alternative” don’t actually have anything to do with the sound of the music. They are all just flowery ways of saying ROCK.  In a day and age where bands have pigeonholed themselves into super specific genre’s, bands like The Suicide Dolls are now having to cope with being called rock bands. Prayer’s in Parking Lots revels in the fact that you can’t stick it in a box but never lowers it to being a “genre crossing” experiment.  The punk rock clang bass gives the songs speed and movement, the drums range from a hardcore thump to psychedelic cymbal wash and guitars soar over the rhythm section covering the whole thing in a blanket of buzz saws and dope smoke.  There is an unmistakable intensity and paranoia to the sound of this record.  Prayer’s in Parking Lots is a wild animal that has been backed into a corner which has forced it to lash out.  The guitars at the end of “Drive” go from a melodic single note melody to crushing chords on the verge of massive feedback that are only accented by the near constant crack of the snare drum.  The noise soaked bridge section of “Smash” builds to out of control only to recoil perfectly back into the verse readying to strike at you again.  The explosions of sound you hear on this album do not come from an artsy abstract place but from the hands of people that feel looked over and are trying to grab a hold of your attention at all costs, even if they have to be loud and mean.

Through all this the Suicide Dolls never alienate their audience.  The chorus’s are prevalent and hooky which always gives the listener an anchor when they feel like the song might leave them stranded.  There isn’t a single scream on the album either.  While the singing sometimes goes more towards talking or reciting and isn’t the most melodic part of a song the vocals wouldn’t be considered offensive.  These are things that keep Prayer’s in Parking Lots from being pigeonholed as a “noise rock” or “post hardcore” record.  It may not be pop sensitive in style or subject but it is a pop sensitive structure that they’re building from.

The Suicide Dolls draw from a lot of bands that people now take for granted; The Pixies, Joy Division and Sonic Youth are the first 3 that come to mind.  These bands that once saturated the hearts and minds of rockers everywhere are now going extinct.  Prayers in Parking Lots will force you to remember what it was that drew you to these bands.  Not because it sounds like them, but because it has the same quality you can’t quite put your finger on... because it’s something that can’t be summed up in a 2 word genre.

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CD Review: Skobie Won - Bedlam and Squalor

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Is "space rap" a genre?  If it's not then I am coining it and putting Skobie Won in there.  If it is a genre... than Bedlam and Squalor should be one of its shining stars.  Categorized by a sound that’s bright and vast, it allows you to sink into the album as a whole, but with enough thumps and cracks to blow up a star destroyer.  The balance between a slowly rising tide of synth sounds and drum beats that sound like over clocked Rock'em Sock'em robots is what elevates Bedlam and Squalor above the heard.

Having reviewed 2 Erik Lamb albums, both of which are heavily produced by Skobie Won, I feel like I'm familiar with Skobie's work.  There's a dance music vibe to the beats.  The sounds are reminiscent of Nintendo noise only rounder and clearer.  Listen to it on headphones and you'll be much more captivated by the panning.  Whether it's Bedlam and Squalor or Shoot Everything (Erik Lamb) all three of those statements are true.  Bedlam and Squalor just sounds bigger.  It surrounds you in a ball of neon glowing circuitry and bounces you around a room made completely of subwoofers.

Purposeful is the first word I would use to describe the vocals on this album.  There is a quiet anger in Skobie's voice.  He speaks as if yelling would be too cheap.  He annunciates like he was smacking you with syllables.  There are no tricks in his cadence; it’s the steady barrage that keeps you on your toes.

The beats being what they are Skobie could load his songs with short simple choruses to anesthetize a crowd and keep them moving.  That would be too easy.  Skobie jams lyrics between shout along phrases in his choruses and keeps them spread out so they don't become monotonous.  He also likes to throw Tom Waits references in his lyrics.  If you were to drink a shot of Bourbon for every lyrical reference and sample you’d be good and drunk by the end of the album.

Bedlam and Squalor is enough of beats you know from previous Skobie Won productions to feed your craving but enough improvement on previous techniques to keep from being stagnant.  The strings and guitar sounds in the title track are plenty of evidence of that.  If you keep your ears open you’ll hear things that you wouldn’t expect but will end up falling in love with.

FEATURE INTERVIEW with Sean Spellman of Quiet Life

Interview by Corrine Jensen
November 22, 2011

Quiet Life emerged onto the New London music scene in 2004 and soon became a local favorite. In 2009, the then quartet packed up and moved to the other side of the country where they’ve been living, creating, and performing up and down the West Coast.
Over the years, the group has featured a variety of talented musicians with it’s current line-up featuring original members Sean Spellman (vocals, lead guitar), Ryan Spellman (drums), and Craig ‘The Rupe’ Rupert (guitar), now joined by Thor Jensen (guitar, bass) and Jesse ‘The Ozark’ Bates (steel guitar, bass).

Quiet Life is in the middle of a jam-packed tour (17 states in 33 days!) in support of their latest album Big Green and they’re doing it all gasoline free in a converted Ford Diesel Van appropriately named 'Greasy Pete'. The local rockers will be home in Connecticut later this week with multiple shows throughout the area and two in New London.
Somewhere outside Chattanooga, TN., easy-going front man Sean Spellman charmed while talking about Quiet Life’s "ultimate road trip", going gas-free as an economical choice and his memories of New London.

WC: You grew up in New London. Tell me about the music scene from back then. Any memorable stories? Bands? Shows?
Sean: Yeah, actually, I used to work at the El ‘N’ Gee when I was about 17. Yeah. (Laughing) It was great. I was the runner. I was the dude who went and bought all the all the energy drinks and backstage food, like veggie lasagna, for the bands. It was cool. I got to go into all the shows for free and I hung out with all of my favorite bands at the time. There were a ton of emo, punk and hard-core bands. I saw a ton of hard-core shows there. I also used to work at The Oasis. I bartended and my brother, Ryan, used to work the door. We were there all the time and one of my favorite shows there was definitely the Justin Townes Earle show. One of the best shows at the Oasis.

WC: In 2009, the whole band decided to move out to the West Coast and now live in Portland, OR. How has the music scene been for you guys out there?
Sean: It’s been great. There are a lot of bands and a lot of places to play. There are a lot of great bands. Some of my favorite bands that are well known all over the country live in Portland and we get to be a part of that whole music area which is really inspiring. It pushes us to do more and be more productive and work harder so that’s the most beneficial thing about living there. There’s always room to grow.

WC:  Now you’re on a pretty intense tour with some very talented bands in support of Big Green. How’s that going? Enjoy being on the road and playing and seeing the country?
Yeah, we’re opening for a few bands. We did 2 weeks with Dr. Dog and then rode up to Philly and met up with Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside for a few shows with her. Now we’re doing about a week of shows on our own before meeting up with Cotton Jones for a few days. It’s kind of a hodge-podge of bands for the tour. Being on the road has been pretty great. Just getting to see places is the added bonus to getting to play music every night. Discovering new bars and restaurants and meeting people in different towns that want to show us the things that they enjoy about their city because they know we’re out of towners, it’s like the ultimate road trip really.

WC: Let’s talk about why your band decided to convert your tour van to run on used vegetable oil vice gasoline?
Sean: We’ve been trying to do the conversion, running on grease, for a long time. Really, it’s the only way we can actually tour because it’s unaffordable to pay for gas. We’ve only spent $160 bucks on diesel so far on this tour and we’ve been out for 3 weeks and driven from Portland to Cleveland, down to New Orleans, over to Charleston and back up to Tennessee, we’ve been all over the place. We actually just filled up. We got 60 gallons of used vegetable oil here in Chattanooga and that’s probably gonna get us up to Philly.

WC: So, what does it smell like?
Sean: Right now it smells like a mix between garbage, egg rolls and french fries. (Laughing) We got some stinky grease a week ago and it still smells a little funky. I think we all get used to it though.
WC: I read that you guys are taking donations. Are there restrictions or a minimum? Sean: We’re just looking for used vegetable oil that’s golden and clean and doesn’t have a bunch of sediment in it. We’re trading people tickets into shows for some fuel. It’s cool. We’ve had people in different states come up to us and give us grease and it’s working out pretty nicely. We’re hoping people will continue to do that so that we don’t have to search everyday for hours. It’s nice to get about 5 gallons but there’s no minimum. What we’re really hoping for is somebody will say "Oh, I work at this restaurant" or "My friend owns or manages this place and they have a grease trap and you should come get our grease" that means we can get a lot of grease. We are trying to spread the word so that people can get in touch with us. They can email us at

WC: So this week you’ll be back home in New London. Are you excited? 
Sean: I’m stoked about that. We’re doing two shows in New London and I don’t think we’ve done that since... I don’t even know when? We’re playing The Bank Street Café on Thanksgiving and then we’re playing The Oasis the next night. We’re going to get to see a bunch of old friends. It’s going to be great.

WC: This is where it all started for you guys 7 years ago; you have to have a good Quiet Life and New London story from back then.
Sean: Basically, what happened was Quiet Life needed to book a show with this band called The Only Children from Lawrence, Kansas and we had booked the gig at this place called Heroes, which is this old bar on Golden St., but it actually closed down and we wound up doing the show at the Oasis. From then on out, Sean Murray pretty much started working as the promoter at the Oasis, I got a bartending job and my brother started working at the door and we had such a great little scene happening. There were so many local bands coming out at the time and we booked as many shows as we could and had as many out of town bands come through as we could. I think it was great for all the local bands, especially for us, to play with them. It was just a really awesome time. I think New London’s definitely changed a little bit but I think hopefully there’s a new breed of younger bands that are going to do that because that’s what it takes. It takes people like Sean Murray to book the shows and bands to get out and play the shows.

WC: What is Quiet Life going to do after the tour is all over?
Sean: Oh, we’re going to relax for a little bit and then we’re going to hit the road again in February. We’ll go home and try to finish the record in January and we’re still trying to figure out the tours but ultimately we’ll do a full U.S.

WC: Last question, do you have any advice for singers, bands, or musicians out there who want to get into the business or are just starting to emerge?
Sean: Work your ass off and play as much as you can. Play wherever you can and keep doing it. We’ve been a band for almost 7 years and we’ve played at all sorts of places, everywhere from H.S. football fields to bars that fit literally 15 people. We just played as much as we could and I think you just have to do that. Have the motivation to play wherever you can because if one person likes your band and that one person buys a CD, then it’s worth it and it’s a step up.

FEATURE INTERVIEW with Barefoot Truth

Interview by Corrine Jensen 
November 20, 2011

First performing as an acoustic duo, Barefoot Truth was born on the summer beaches of Mystic, CT., and has grown over the years into a dynamic 5-man multi-instrumented line up led by co-founders Will Evans (Lead Vocals, Drums, Guitar, Didgeridoo) and Jay Driscoll (Weissenborn Lap Guitar, Acoustic & Electric Guitars), and joined by Andy Wrba (Electric & Upright Bass) Garrett Duffy (Harmonica,) and John “Wayno” Waynelovich (Pianos, Organs).
Together they’ve created a distinct sound that is a blend of root-rock, jazz, folk and reggae. Their shows are high energy and filled with fans singing and dancing to catchy songs filled with lyrics that are both meaningful and uplifting because as Evans puts it "People have enough to deal with in their lives. When they go out to a show, let them be happy."
Barefoot Truth remains an independent band that continues to take a grassroots approach to the music scene. Through hard work, planning and the strength of their music they’ve created an impressive resume: their latest album Carry Us On shot to #10 on the iTunes rock album chart, they recently hit over 8 million plays on Pandora Radio, and their song "Threads" was featured in the game ‘Rock Band’.
Recently these 5 guys, who refer to each other as "brothers" and are as close as family, took time out of their busy touring schedule to speak with

WC: Will, you grew up in the area, how did that influence you getting into music and what experiences did you have here?
Will: I grew up in Mystic but for a few years my family moved to Burlington, VT and I went to a very liberal school where music was very encouraged. We moved back to Mystic and I went to Cutler Middle School where I started playing trumpet in Jazz, which was actually my first instrument. I was also in choir, where I was the only boy.

WC: I bet you got all the girls...
Far from it! (Laughing). But then I went to Fitch and I continued in Jazz, but to be in Jazz you also had to be in Marching Band and ultimately I didn’t like the structure of it all and it was stifling creatively, so I quit. But in the summers I would go to Esker Point Beach with my friends for the concerts and I remember watching all the great shows like The Sugar Daddy Band and I really liked watching the drummers and would think ‘I can do that.’ So, during my sophomore year I picked up my dad’s guitar and he and I kind of taught me how to play. That’s also when I started playing the drums. I played in a rock and roll cover band called Overdrive for a while but that got frustrating and I wanted the freedom to express myself musically. That’s kind of the time I met Jay and we started jammin’ together.

WC: Jay, you grew up in Massachusetts but met Will down in Connecticut, what brought you to the area?
Jay: I have cousins who live in Groton Long Point and I spent every summer there. I still have lots of family in the area and it’s basically a second home for me. Will and I were introduced through a mutual friend the summer between High School and College and I remember going out and watching him perform in Overdrive. During college we kept in touch and visited each other and kept making music.
 Will: I remember going to UMASS, where Jay went to school, and we would jam in the stairwell of his dorm and it was about 26 floors and all cement. It had great acoustics. We then played casually in some bars along the Connecticut shoreline and in Rhode Island as a duo.

WC: So, then you went from 2 to 5. How did each of you guys (Andy, Garrett and Wayno) join Barefoot Truth?
Andy:  Before I knew who they were, I was at a Jurassic 5 concert and a mutual friend told me they were looking for a bassist. I contacted them (Will and Jay) and we talked but we were all busy and things didn’t work out. A few months later I went to one of their shows and I liked their sound and introduced myself and shortly after I was part of Barefoot Truth.
Garrett: I met Will in college (St. Michael's) and wanted to jam with him and other friends so I started playing the Harmonica because no one else did and also, because my older brother used to play it. I remember my first official show was at the Coast Guard Academy in New London in 2006.
Wayno: Andy and I were in Jazz Studies together at Westfield State and I was incredibly intimidated because he was such a monster on the bass. At his final Jazz Studies recital he transformed the Barefoot Truth song "Reelin" into this huge 18-piece jazz composition and all the guys from the band were there and I was played piano for it. Later, I played on two songs for their Walk Softly CD. It was an interesting time because I would play some shows with them but I still had 2 years of college left and the guys were already out there doing their own thing. I grew up listening to and playing Dixie and Swing and I’m super proud of that but I’m most proud of what I’ve done with Barefoot Truth. These guys already had their own sound, their own product, and I had to figure out my place in all that.
WC: So you’re not only the newest but you’re also the youngest, how’s that?
I do feel like the youngest but we’re all equal. I’m a little more different, from my hobbies to what I eat, but being with these guys has opened me to so many interesting things and ideas. It’s neat. 
Jay:  Wayno is an oddball.

WC:  Barefoot Truth was officially born in Mystic, Ct what experiences have you guys had living and performing in the area?
We lived in Mystic, as a band, for 3 years and we hung out when we could. There’s not a lot of our style, our sound, in the area but we’ve played locally at places like The Bean and Leaf and The Hygienic Art Park, which was a great show and we had a great response.
Andy: I remember the Hygienic. We were playing outdoors and it was just a beautiful night.
Wayno: I only lived in Mystic with the guys for a year but it was a great place to be a band and create music and provided a solid home base to come home to. I love that area. It’s where we met Raise the Rent and allowed us to play with them and other bands.
Garrett: We love Raise the Rent, they’re cool!

WC: Barefoot Truth is playing at The Garde Arts Center Thanksgiving weekend on November 26th. How does it feel to be playing such a large venue so close to home?
We love playing there. Will and Jay both have family in the area and it’s nice to catch up and when you can incorporate that love into a show, that’s always a good thing.
Jay: It’s really special to come back and play for friends and family. When we see how excited they are at our growth as a band, it keeps us excited.
Will: Yeah, there’s always a thrill when playing big venues like The Garde but there’s also something special about playing small venues or even in a barn like here (Holcomb Farms), it’s so vintage. But we’re definitely looking forward to the show because we appreciate local shows and it is a Homecoming for us.
Garrett: It’s more or less home for us because that’s where everything started.
WC: You guys have been called the ‘symbol of independent music success’, how do you feel about that label and why are you unsigned?
Jay: That really is a big title and it’s amazing, sometimes we’re blown away from it. As for why we’re not signed? It has never been a priority for us. If that’s why you’re in it, then you’re probably in it for the wrong reasons.

WC: What do you guys do outside of Barefoot Truth?
Will: I’ve been doing some solo shows on the Cape, where I live now, and it’s liberating because there’s no set list and I just play off of the vibe of the crowd. But playing with the guys, there is the warmth of a family behind you. It’s nice to have when you’re having a tough night. It’s nice to know you can rely on your brothers.
Andy: I do some funk/jazz jammin’ on Monday nights with a rotating group of musicians in Pittsfield, Ma. It’s a little more song base and loose and intimate. I’m also big on family and I spend time working on my family’s orchard (Riiska Brook Orchard) whenever I can.
Wayno: I’m currently training for a marathon and eating lots of candy. Yep! I’m also a musical theatre geek and occassionally do a production in my town with my family who owns a performing arts building. I also try to keep busy musically. (Check Wayno out on Raise the Rent’s album Dig & Be Dug)
Jay: Today I was actually helping Wayno’s family build a set for a performance. Other than that I keep busy with Barefoot Truth and friends and family.
Garrett: I’m an avid practitioner of Yoga and I do many other outdoor activities. I’ve also started to write and compose songs.

WC: What advice do you have for musicians/singers/bands trying to make it?
Will: We’re still trying to figure it out! We’re still very much grassroots but I would say it’s all about balance. You gotta find the happy medium of not driving yourself crazy on the road. Play less shows but make them better shows. It’s easy to burn yourself out trying to play everywhere. Picking when to play and where is important. Be cautious and smart with touring.
Andy: It’s hard work. I would say practice and persistence. And practice doesn’t necessarily mean shredding the bass, it could mean actively listening to music or studying music theory. It helps to set realistic goals and learn about yourself and what you want.
Jay: If you’re playing in a band it’s more important to base it on friendship and not to let music get in the way of that. Play with people you like.
Wayno: I have a lot of respect for these guys. It’s amazing. I’ve made four best friends.

FEATURE INTERVIEW with Samantha Urbani of Friends

Interview by Corrine Jensen
November 17, 2011

Friends are a playful indie-cool band with an old school Brooklyn vibe infused in their sound, music videos, live performances, and in each one of them. Comprised of real-life friends Samantha Urbani (Vocals), Lesley Hann (Bass, Percussion, Backing Vocals), Oliver Duncan (Drums), Nikki Shapiro (Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion), and Matthew Molnar (Keyboards, Percussion, Bass), the rhythm heavy dance-loving quintet has been generating lots of attention on sites like Spin and Stereogum.
The band is currently on a globe-trotting tour that kicked off in Amsterdam this past weekend and will end in the Midwest shortly before Christmas, but mesmerizing front woman and former Mystic resident, Samantha Urbani took time to talk to about Friends, Music, and New London.

WC: Friends have been playing together for just over a year but in that time you’ve created a fresh sound with fun songs and funky beats. What inspires you musically?
I can feel inspired by other music but I don’t necessarily feel directly influenced by it. Things I am influenced by are all kinds of sensory things and when I am making music I think about visual art and stimuli. I’m usually inspired by relationships I have with people in my life and myself and nature and my sense of reality.

WC: The music videos, ‘Friend Crush’ and ‘I’m His Girl’, in which you were either co-editor or director for, are very artistic. Did you take the same approach when making them?
Yeah, I definitely like a certain type of aesthetics and production quality. I don’t like the sound or look of things being produced right now. It’s very over polished and kind of a hyper-reality that doesn’t sound or look like real life; it’s an HD version. I think it’s more interesting when you’re creating a piece of art. For the ‘Friend Crush’ and ‘I’m His Girl’ videos I was thinking of a 70’s playboy photo shoot/80’s home video look and it worked out and I really like both videos.

WC: You’ve been getting attention not only here in the states but overseas as well. You’ve played in the UK and also, this past weekend at the London Calling Festival in Amsterdam and there is a Europe Tour scheduled this February. How does it feel to be going international? Surreal?
It’s very surreal. It’s hard to have any perspective on it right now. Two years ago, seeing my life, I would have been really excited and impressed and blown away but the way that things have progressed it just seems natural and it’s hard to suddenly realize I’m doing what I’m doing and what I’ve always wanted to do. I think the world feels smaller, a lot of people probably realize that feeling, especially with having access to the Internet and being able to communicate with each other. Now, traveling and playing for thousands of different people from different places and easily being able to reach out, kind of proves that everything is connected.

WC: Ok, but there’s still no place like home and this Friday you’ll be playing at The Oasis Pub in New London, CT.... growing up in Mystic, this must definitely feel like a homecoming show for you. Are you excited? Nervous?
I’m excited because I don’t get to come home that often anymore and see all my old friends. I love to play in New London and I have been hanging out at The Oasis since I was way too young to hang out there. Ha, hopefully no one gets in trouble! It was definitely a home base for me before I moved to New York and I’ve seen a bunch of really cool shows there. To someone who didn’t grow up in New London, maybe The Oasis just looks like a regular, small-fries bar but to me it’s infamous and tons of people in New London still feel like hometown celebrities. It always feels really good to come home and have everyone be really excited about what I’m doing and not only about my music but about me, personally. Everyone there really inspired me and I really appreciate that they gave a shit enough to have a ton of touring bands come thru the area and have shows all week and didn’t kick me out of the bar.

WC: Hilarious! So, tell me about the New London music scene that you remember, any bands or musicians that stand out?
When I was younger there was a punk scene and all these cool bands. Specifically, I used to hang out with The Electric Noise Act when I was 18 or 19. It was with some of my best friends, these guys named Jared and Michael... and Randy who died a few years ago. Hanging out with those guys was kind of the high point for me. There was also Fatal Film, I love those guys and they’re really good friends of mine, and Brava Spectre, those kids always have a million different products going on but they’re great, and, of course, The Royale Brothers. But another thing that’s hard for me is a few of my favorite people from New London have died over the last few years so it’s a bittersweet feeling coming back because I miss those guys and it’s never going to be the same as it was. But I have faith that New London is going to continue to survive because there’s always people there who really, really care about and are trying to bring the city up and they’ll keep doing what they’re doing. It’s kind of an amazing place.

WC: You’ve been writing songs your whole life and now you’re lead vocals for a band that’s on the cusp of something big, what advice do you have for those bands/singers/musicians out there who are just getting starting or wanting to start?
I think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to “know” how to do something to do it. You don’t have to be taught. You can do it intuitively and if you’re passionate about it and it makes sense to you creatively and it works in a way that you want it to work, make it happen. Also, it’s really, really important to go on tour and expose yourself. If you have a band and some songs, don’t wait around until it feels perfect, just get out there and do it because it’s never going to feel perfect. Don’t be scared ever. Make music in your room until you’re not scared anymore and then play it for real. Do it. And living in New York doesn’t hurt either. As much as I love New London and I totally support smaller cities and their scene, I can’t lie, it’s way easier to get attention from labels and booking agents or other bands and network in a bigger community. It’s in no way a put down to a smaller city like New London but it doesn’t hurt to move. Once you feel like you need to get to the next level and you’re really serious about having a band, you need to figure out if you need to stay or go.

WC: Alright, so tell us, what can we expect from Friends in the future?
We’re going to put out our full-length album in the spring of 2012 and go on tour in Europe and in the U.S. around that time too. I just think, ‘don’t have any expectations, we could do anything’. I don’t know what we’re going to do in the future just like I didn’t have any idea what we were going to do when we started the band. My whole life’s philosophy has sort of been to take things as they come and recognize opportunities. Everything is fluid, just go with it and see what happens. This is all I can really say about what we’re going to do next because I don’t really know. Hopefully it will make a positive impact in some way.

CD Review: Raise The Rent - Dig and Be Dug

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

There is a certain amount of struggle between modernizing a style of music in order to evolve the genre and staying true to the roots and original intention of it.  This struggle is especially true when you’re playing Jazz, Country and or Folk. There are Jazz purists that would call the music of Cecil Taylor noise, Country purists that say Hank III is a disgrace to the family name and Folk purists that still curse the name Bob Dylan.  With Dig & Be Dug, Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent have made it clear that they have no intentions to playing to the purists.

There are 4 Tom Waits-esque songs that land somewhere between The Heart of Saturday Night and Blue Valentine that set up the framework for the album.  They have a loungey vibe but with an electric and more lush instrumentation.  The intricate mix takes the songs out of the smoky basement bar and puts them on the silver screen.  It's not so much about the authenticity of the sound as it is using the sound to tell a story with grand, vivid images.  The other songs on Dig & Be Dug run the gamut between the southern swing pop of "Pull My Daisy" to the New Orleans trumpeting of "In Lieu of Flowers" and floating country ballad "Saratoga Rain".

Confused on how these sounds all fit together?  The simple answer is Daphne Lee Martin.  Her voice and charisma pull you through the album easing your mind about the different sounds and structures you're hearing behind her.  There is a full range of emotion on the album but Daphne never loses composure and allows a boisterous chorus to pull her out of her range or a somber verse to dull her to whisper, she shows control rather than restraint.

The work ethic of both Daphne and her orchestra of Americana musicians shine like a beacon to those wondering how to make a good album.  The sounds on Dig & Be Dug are not a shot in the dark.  These are the sounds of effort, vision and drive.

FEATURE INTERVIEW with Daphne Lee Martin

Interview by Corrine Jensen
October 26, 2011

Daphne Lee Martin, of Raise the Rent, is a free spirit harboring a wise soul and a genuine smile for everyone she greets. Her lyrics and voice have been enchanting folks all over the country and New London is no exception. Recently, the lovely Daphne took time out of her busy life to answer a few questions for

WC: So let’s talk about Daphne Lee Martin. You grew up in a very musical family and you even performed together. What was that dynamic like?
DLM: I was lucky enough to have parents who were both musically inclined, and there were instruments and records around all the time. When I was 8, my mom caught me singing along to "Chapel of Love" and I had just intuitively started singing harmonies without really knowing what they were. We started singing together, old country and folk songs and when my sister was old enough, she joined in as well. We did that off and on up until I was in my early 20s, but we all grew up and moved apart, it's tough to keep a group together from 900 miles away. We still have a good time singing songs on those rare occasions when we're all in the same place; it holds a really neat nostalgia for us, almost weepy at moments. And now that I have a baby nephew, the whole family is surrounding him with music. He'll probably blow us all out of the water!

WC: You were born in Ohio and wound up traveling all over the country performing but obviously made New London your home. What is it about NL that drew you to ultimately stay?
DLM: I moved to Brooklyn in my teens and started performing at open mics, in the subway, at folk clubs and doing living history interpretation for South Street Seaport Museum. I was really star struck by the boats and maritime music, it was all so romantic that I signed up and ended up working for over three years on various schooners, teaching environmental education based on Pete Seeger's Clearwater program. It was a nice hand-in-hand adventure with some music mixed in. I ended up on all 4 coasts of the US for chunks of time, playing sporadically, but I never got to develop anything or work in an ensemble and eventually I really ached to get myself into a place where I could knuckle down and do music more seriously. I'd had friends here in Connecticut at Mystic Seaport who had been a big part of my life through the maritime music community and a few of the schooners I'd worked on had stopped through New London for OPSAIL and Boats, Books, & Brushes. The crew had stumbled into the Dutch Tavern and checked out places like the Hygienic and the town seemed to have the most beautiful potential. Then I saw my house, and I couldn't sign the papers fast enough. Some people look their whole lives for that place they can really call "home", whether or not they were raised there, and New London is it, it's home for me.

WC: I’m sure New London, having such an amazing and diverse music scene, didn’t hurt. What have you observed about it in your years here?
DLM: New London is absolutely chock full of brilliant artists: visual, performance, con... errr... ha ha! The music scene is of the caliber of a city like Omaha, Portland, even Austin, a real music destination. Our biggest problem as a scene is that we're all far too comfortable here, and we seldom get our acts on national tour routes to help spread the gospel of New London to the rest of the country. We like playing in our back yard, and though the enthusiasm in the scene has ebbed and flowed over the years, I've seen a huge sea change over the last couple of years with bands beginning to look at music as their business, as an actual career rather than a side project. Bands are developing websites, producing albums, and reaching out for more recognition in ways they hadn't in years before. And if that keeps growing the way it has and we get some bands on the road, New London will be a household name across the land in no time. That's one of the most unique things about the scene; we really are all in it for the community. And more and more, acts that might never have mixed are collaborating to innovate some sounds that I think will make us an even more interesting group of musicians. I have a remix coming out with my western swing album that leans on dub and includes Erik Lamb rapping; it doesn't get any more collaborative than that!

WC: That sounds so interesting and I can’t wait to hear it! Ok, are there any local groups/singers that you're digging right now?
DLM: I'm really into those rappers at the moment; their energy is so fresh and positive. Their lyrics are really well thought out, the music is hypnotic and fun, and they're the hardest working promoters around. I hope the rest of the scene takes note of these cats: Erik Lamb, Skobie Won, Poe Swayzie, Camacho, and their crews. On the Americana side of the scene, I'm really impressed with what John Fries has been up to. He's not only working hard, but I think he's finally shaped his sound and his band into one of the tightest, most pro acts in town. And of course, my two favorite songwriting mentors endlessly amaze me: Jim Carpenter & Chris Castle. My one request: more chicks! Anybody want to start a girl rock band with me?

WC: So, you happen to be married to Mr. Rich Martin who has been a vital part in helping to grow and promote New London’s music scene through out the years and is a highly talented musician in his own right (Low-Beam, Brazen Hussy), what kind of role has he played in the creation of ‘Dig & Be Dug’?
DLM: Well, from inspiring songs to tweaking art files for the replication company to helping nail down PR and radio campaigns, he's been there for it all. There's no way this scene would be what it is today without him and his ventures (Hygienic Art, The Telegraph Recording Company, T.A.Z.) and a few other key folks in town, especially Sean Murray (The Oasis Pub, I AM Festival, Whalie Awards) and Meghan Killimade ( trumpeting the art that the whole town produces. I could say clichéd stuff like 'thank goodness he keeps my head on straight' and 'I couldn't do it without him', but honestly, none of us could! He really kicks ass.

WC: What can fans expect from ‘Dig & Be Dug?’ What kind of inspirations were you feeling when you wrote most of the songs on the record?
DLM: The songs came from all over, some from the old days, and you can still hear some of Phil Agins' influence on how I wrote them. There's a lot of nostalgia on this record, childhood memories and family members appear in a bunch of places. Especially my grandfather, Carlo. My mom's dad was quite a character, rough around the edges and full of folk wisdom. He's become my favorite muse and “Saratoga Rain”, which is based on a Langston Hughes short story, is all for him. Most of my songs grow out of some kind of literary reference, I read fanatically. “Me & My Boots” is based loosely on James Thurber's ‘Is Sex Necessary?’ “Pull My Daisy” is something of a schoolyard rhyme run through the beatnik ringer. I've always wanted to cull down some of the old forms, to re-invent traditional music so that it stays alive in new shapes.

This being the first real record we've put out, we fell into the trap of spending way too much time in the studio working out arrangements. But at the end of the day, going about it that way forced us to all look very hard at the sound we were trying to create and it wound up being pretty unique. I always knew I would want it to be a cross-over record- appealing to both roots music lovers as well and more pop minded people. It was mostly our producer, Jim Carpenter's vision that whittled down a lot of wild ideas into a cohesive album. But needless to say, I can't wait to get cranking on the next album.

WC: We have to mention Raise the Rent’s Kickstarter campaign. How did it feel to have so many of your family and friends and fans go online and donate money to support you guys to have this CD made because they love your music?
DLM: It's a pretty amazing feeling to have that much support after really only ever-playing live shows for these guys. They believe in it enough to chip in to be part of our first recording. Usually what happens is that people fall in love with music they've listened to over and over on a CD in their car or their iPod, but we've never been able to offer people that before and still I have people come up to me and sing me back my choruses- people are paying attention to the live shows. It's the best feeling in the world, and we're so grateful. That's why we're developing so much more media to go along with this album, to thank you everybody for showing us so much love. There'll be that remix with “Sexual Healing”, Hatch Show Print posters, tees, and a series of music videos as well as a special mixtape of songs by other members of the band (we're almost all songwriters) to give everybody some fun stuff to dig on while we work on the next one. Not to mention vinyl! Blue vinyl at that! Big thanks to everyone that made it happen!

WC: Ok, so very last question, to all the singers and bands and musicians out there who want to make it in this town, any words of advice for them from one of New London’s finest…
DLM:  Believe in what you do enough to work as hard as it takes. Think of it as a business, one that needs your constant care and attention, reasonable goals and pure motives. Be ego-less and realize that the only way to "make it" is to make it happen a little more and a little better every day because you believe in your art. None of us are going to make a million dollars at this, and none of us are any more valid than the others. Remember that it's our job to be the storytellers, the dreamers of dreams if you will. Music is what makes bad situations bearable, helps us fall in love, gets us through our workdays and our tragedies, reminds us of things that are true, and things that aren't. We're the vessels; we're here to make everybody else's lives better. It's a tough way to make a living, but it's one of the most beautiful ways to spend your life.

For more info on Daphne Lee Martin:

CD Review: DeafDisco - Purple Noise

CD review by Adam Wujtewicz

After a cursory listen Purple Noise gives you a sort of Hollywood car chase feeling.  The songs portray movement and have a rhythmic nature that would allow for cuts between drivers and different camera angles. Even as I write this I realize that is probably also why this makes good dance music.  What else, besides movement and rhythm, could you ask for in a dance song?  Not being much of a dancer myself I'm much more inclined to judge this on its sonic merits.

The album starts with what sounds like bad cell phone reception and static over a steady kick drum rhythm and low end synth line.  The static cuts away and other interlocking synths enter along with some... "porno noise" I guess is the best way to describe it.  You then get a pretty constant build until the song is cut to nothing but 15 seconds of a singular ascending note and then you're blasted   back to full volume.  The ups and downs for songs under or around 3 minutes are pretty impressive.  I didn't expect a lot of dynamic changes in a dance record but Purple Noise is brimming over with them.

The synth sounds all have a familiarity to them.  If you're looking for off the wall electronic noise this is probably the wrong genre for you anyway.  "Zombie Swagger" my personal favorite song on the EP, has the weirdest sounds but still nothing obnoxious just a little spacier.  The reason I like it the most though is the half time sections.  Equivalent to a hardcore breakdown this is right up my alley and a truly pleasant surprise.

I suppose what most people think makes a good dance record is how much it makes people want to dance.  A steady bass rhythm and high end bleeps and bloops will make a bunch of drunken kids get off their barstools.  Purple Noise is more substantial than that.  It's danceable for sure but the intermingling of sounds rhythms within these 4 songs is in a higher class than most.

CD Review: Estrogen & Tonic - The Story Of The Brecord

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Another record by Estrogen &Tonic?  Yes, apparently during the midst of some weekend shenanigans at Breck Kearns' house they recorded The Story of Brecord... a semi-live, totally stripped down mix of new and old songs.  Matt Potter of Fatal Film is credited as manning the controls but pretty much allowed the crazies to run the asylum.

Twenty minutes or so of high energy fun without a single bell or whistle.  It's just Estrogen & Tonic being Estrogen and Tonic.  The CD is worth having just for "Fatal Film Rocks" which is a bizzaro cover of "Rocks" by Fatal film and "Bobby Crash on the Merry Go Round"... with the only words in the song being "Bobby Crash on the merry go round". Happy 15th guys!

CD Review: Estrogen & Tonic - Project Involvement

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Project Involvement sounds to me like some kind of corporate slogan. Like a tag line on a yearly review that says whether or not you did more than just what was on your job description.  With Chris playing bass for A Honey Wagon and Wrist Like This, Steve playing bass for Missing Cat and Todd fronting Wrist Like This... the members of Estrogen & Tonic get an "Exceeds Expectations" for their extra efforts musically.  With all this going on it's a testament to their commitment that they were able to put together a product as cohesive and thought through as Project Involvement.

With Jay Curland, (drummer for A Honey Wagon and Wrist Like This), at the controls, the sound is decidedly dirtier and angrier.  The lyrics are still ridiculous and fun, i.e. "I’m gonna ride my jet-ski to court", but with the distortion on the vocals and the increased volume of the music, the lyrics are taking a back seat.  The sound has been harnessed into something that is far darker and more punk than expected.  The one two punch of "Garbage" and "Imaginary Friend" illustrates this perfectly.  "Garbage" is a feedback driven stomping/yelling crusher of a song, while "Imaginary Friend" sounds like Tales from the Punchbowl era Primus playing "White Rabbit" if the rabbit was the one from Donnie Darko.

With this kind of drastic change in sound you'd expect a great deal of musical change to accompany it.  You'd be wrong in this case.  Todd's bass is still in the driver's seat, Annemarie is still bashing the hell out of the drums and Chris and Steve criss-cross their quirky guitar lines throughout the whole record.   Most of the songs are upbeat and short so you're constantly being pulled in new directions but never slowing down.  I defy your ears to get bored or lazy while listening to this album.
Project Involvement may come as a surprise sonically but if it didn't that would be a step backwards for Estrogen & Tonic.  A hard left turn and a musical slap to the mouth should be considered a blessing.  This is a band that's completely based around being different and not giving you what you expect and that is still something that should command respect.

CD Review: Sue Menhart - Forever EP

CD Review By Adam Wujtewicz

Soul music has always been a way for singers to exercise demons.   It’s personal … it’s putting yourself out there without all the trappings and it’s a way to tell people what’s in your heart and on your mind.  Forever does just that.

The music flows well, but behind Sue’s voice, it’s really just texture. The pace is slow and the content intimate justifying the relaxed feel of the band. Sue could’ve taken that as her cue to show off the vocal acrobatics that most modern soul singers use but instead Sue puts her effort into hitting her notes and making sure that each one has power and conviction.

The blues has always been a big part of Sue’s music and even though she’s not rocking it out on Forever she uses the phrasing and the vocal riffs to keep things familiar and strong.  The subtle nature of the record gives it class and allows Sue to shine in ways that those who know her wouldn’t expect and those that don’t will see immediately.

2011 Whalie Award Winners


 Above/Below "Two Sides"
 Erik Lamb "Shoot Everything"
Sodium Lights "Transtulit"
Matt Gouette "Emeline at the Moontower"
Gone For Good "The Bright Lights"
Gramz "I Have Arrived"


The Facelifters
The Rivergods
The Swagger Jackers
End All Suffering
N.M.E The Illest
 Brava Spectre
The Hempsteadys
The Reducers
 Matt Gouette
The Sinners Circle
Matt Gouette "Opinion"


 Straight to VHS "Patchwork City"
Dogbite "Electrified"

 Franklin Brothers "New London Blues"
ight In May "Modern Modifications"
Gramz "I Have Arrived"
Erik Lamb "Shoot Everything"
The Fears "Closer"
 Get Haunted "Crimson Ribbons"
Sadplant "Codependence"
Gone For Good "Ride To Nowhere"
Steve Elci "Dance With You"

CD Review: Chris Castle - The Firelands EP

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Originally from New London, Ohio, (can you believe that?!), singer/songwriter/musician, Chris Castle, is now calling New London, CT his second home. He's been planting seeds here for couple years, playing frequent sets at Hanafin's Irish Pub, as well as the Blue Collar Happy Hour. You may have seen Chris playing as part of the latest Sinners Circle which took place last Saturday (May 7) - and he's even shared the stage with New London favs Matt Gouette, Daphne Lee Martin, Brian Skidmore and Sandy Allen... just to name a few.

More recently Chris has been recording his latest EP The Firelands, which he worked on right here in New London. Fittingly, Chris has joined forces with New London record label Cosmodemonic Telegraph to release it.

The Firelands EP starts out in the standard neo-folk finger picking guitar and softly sung song of love... but the second song is where things start to get interesting.  Think New Orleans setting for a film noir that was narrated by 1973 Tom Waits.  From there it gets a little Ben Folds-y and a little southern pop.  There’s gospel organ and blues guitar and soulful bass.  It’s a fried chicken and Arnold Palmers at a picnic after church, it’s joyous in a very laid back way. 

The EP ends with a downtrodden piano ballad which is kind of a quick drop, but still an extremely well written song.  The EP built up to such a fever pitch before that; the come down is a little harsh.  The Firelands EP will most certainly leave you wanting more.  This is a super polished and complete product that Cosmodemonic should be honored to have under their banner.

7" Review: Ferocious Fucking Teeth - Hounds

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

There is certain comfort in a big riff. Knowing that simple string notes can convey a powerful emotion is probably what a psychiatrist would tell you it is.  Being a guy who grew up listening to my father’s Black Sabbath albums I’ll tell you that it has much more to do with repetition and the ability to bang your head in time.  Keep it simple, turn it up, and do not think twice; Hounds, the new 7” by Ferocious Fn' Teeth, lives and dies by those 3 rules.

FFT take the Melvins approach to stoner rock song writing with Sleep’s huge transitions and inject it with a sort of 80’s hardcore punk vibe to jolt the beast awake.  This means a fair amount of speed and enough distorted guitar to turn most stereo’s to rubble.  This, despite the connotations of the stoner rock genre, is still standard procedure.  

The biggest break from the norm is the instrumentation of this band.  The baritone guitar and standard guitar give FFT some extra flexibility without causing the bleed that a two guitar combo could cause.  Steve and Sgott, the two drummers in FFT, add to the attack of the beat or allow fills that one drummer couldn’t do.

Coming from a band with members of Brava Spectre, Total Bolsheviks and Trillion Gallons of Gas, there is a surprising lack of noise on the record.  The songs are all straight ahead and all put together in small manageable bites.  The tempo slows gradually through the EP. The last song and title track “Hounds” has a droning quality but it only lasts 4 ½ minutes – and to call a song “drone” which is that short, would be pushing it.  I don’t understand the spoken word monolog on the track - it’s distorted and back in the mix so it’s not clear what’s being said. It’s a non melodic vocal track which should push to be more of a focal point.  I still don’t know what the attraction to poetry over the top of heavy music is. My vote for best track on the EP is the second song “Handsome Creeper”.

Hounds is like comfort food to the metal enthusiast.  It’s loud, it’s simple, the riffs are cool, there’s yelling and screaming and it’s short.  It’s not boasting a lot of nutrients or intense preparation but it always tastes good.

FEATURE INTERVIEW with Brian Lee Skidmore of The Weird Beards

Interview by Corrine Jensen 
April 19, 2011

WC: So, you’re Brian Lee Skidmore… how awesome is that?
: It’s about as amazing as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

WC: That is pretty amazing. What’s also amazing is your music. Recently you traveled up to Vermont and performed some solo gigs. How was that experience?
It was fantastic. It was just me and my Uke and everyone was just so kind and my music was very well received.

WC: Well, that’s cool. What knowledge did you take away from the shows?
BLS: It really showed me that I need to be on the road. I need to be out there making music. There’s a market for it. People want something original and creative, something just… different.

WC: Ha. Well you are certainly different! 
BLS: Yeah, it’s true. But different can be exciting and unusual and people need that. Some of these people, they don’t even know it yet.

WC: Speaking of things that are different and exciting and unusual, let’s talk about the New London music scene. Are there any New London bands out there that you’re digging?
BLS: Definitely Straight to VHS. Their passion and drive are constantly inspiring me.

WC: What would you tell up and coming musicians and bands emerging onto the New London music scene today? 
BLS: I would tell them that this city is absolutely the best place to start. This city has evolved so much musically over the years. New bands can survive here, they can thrive here. It is a good place to ‘come from’ but hopefully they can break out onto a larger scale.

WC: What do you mean by ‘break out onto a larger scale’? 
BLS: Just, New London is great, but if you perform in the same city over and over again people lose interest. There will always be the die hard fans, and I love each and every one, but the appreciation and interest in your style of music comes in waves. You need to keep it fresh.

WC: Speaking of, your band, the Weird Beards, are coming out of a 5 month hiatus. What did you guys do during that time? 
BLS: We’ve been working on our first full length album ADED (All Day Every Day) and practicing and lining up gigs.

WC: What’s up next for the infamous Weird Beards?
BLS: The big show coming up is the 4/20 Uke fest at the Oasis Pub. What started as a celebration of our bands birth (4 years ago) is now a New London tradition and this year the line up is huge. Everyone should come.

WC: I’ll be there!
BLS: Awesome. We’ve also been talking with the talented Chris Castle about a summer tour on the East Coast and Mid-West. We also plan on making some music videos this summer and will be looking for actors, models, dancers to partake. It’s going to be epic.

WC: So should we be on the lookout for the Weird Beards name on the Whalie awards ballot next year?
BLS: Definitely. We have big things looming in the future. We’re just constantly changing and evolving and growing with no end on the horizon.

Look for an upcoming full length from The Weird Beards titled ADED! Arreaka!

CD Review: A Honey Wagon - How Come Every Time We Get Kentucky Fried Chicken It Rains?

CD Review By Adam Wujtewicz

A song that’s both easy to listen to and artistic seems like an impossible feat in today’s musical climate.  Most people believe in order to make artistic music you have to be so abrasive that you alienate people from your sound.  Most pop music is watered down formulaic garbage.  Why is no one aiming for the bull’s-eye anymore?  Is it the artist or the audience?  Does any of this really matter?  How come every time we get Kentucky Fried Chicken it’s raining outside? by Honey Wagon proves that it does matter.  It’s equal parts Kinks and Exploding Hearts; it’s careless and fun without ever being sloppy and thoughtless. 

Terry Flynn (vocals & guitar), Chris Moore (bass) and Jay Curland (drums) have raw musical energy that they’ve crafted into beautifully produced, listenable pop rock songs.  Simple, energetic, four chord rock songs are usually turned into lo-fi recordings that intentionally sound bad in order to give them credibility.  Honey Wagon took pride in this recording and labored to get a fully formed product and layered sounds to fill in all the spaces that a live show can have.  The vocals are doubled and harmonies added with great care taken to add the correct effects rather than just slapping a huge amount of reverb on them.  The guitar may be thin and jangley (ala the Jam) but again with multi-tracking and proper application of effects it loses its abrasiveness and fits into the mix. 

With all that being said about Terry’s contributions to the record,  it’s the rhythm section that makes this record complete.  The bass lines are elastic and melodic and the drums play to the songs and really accent the performance.  Instead of just being the backbone of the band Jay and Chris are more like the entire body; receiving signals from the brain and actually making them reality.  The quality of this album is typified by "Sleepwalker" and "January 33rd".  These songs will stick in your head and show you what it means to really build a recording from the ground up.

CD Review: The Hempsteadys - The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Punk rock reggae enthusiasts rejoice... The Hempsteadys are releasing their debut EP.  It's been a long time in the making but when you have something like 6 million and 30 band members... booking studio time is difficult.  Well the wait is over and it was worth it.

Knowing their punk rock tendencies, The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street has surprisingly clean and polished production.  All the instruments are separated and panned and you can hear them all.  This is welcome change from the mush of sound you can sometimes get from 3 guitars playing at the same time, which this band often has live.  The dynamics show through with this kind of production so that you don’t lose the ups and downs of songs like "Bad Government".  With Isaac's vocals being as gruff and forceful as they are, this song could beat you over the head verse after verse... but it's not until 2/3 of the way through the song when the band builds to match his intensity then fades out at end of the song.  The "quiet-loud-quiet" dynamic of "She Only Loves Me When She’s Drunk" is something you wouldn't expect from a band labeled as a "party band" but the huge choruses with heavy guitar strumming and skankable bass line reminds you why they got that label.

The dynamics and production are all well and good but for my money, the best part of this EP is "Judas Priest".  What this song lacks in ups and downs it makes up for with raucous wall of sound that the rest of the EP doesn't showcase but their live shows are known for. This song is full tilt from beginning to end and is still sounds clean throughout.  The crack of Matt Covey's snare drum makes this song jump, then the steady thud of the kick brings it back to the floor.

The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street is everything you'd expect from a Hempsteadys EP but with more thought put into it than some may give it credit for.  These guys have done their homework within the genre often dubbed "dirty reggae" and deserve more credit than being labeled as just a "party band".

CD Review: The Rivergods - Signs

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Stalwart alt-country folksters The Rivergods have been pleasing audiences with their unique blend of all things "Americana" for over 10 years.  Their brand new full length Signs offering is full of everything you should expect from a word like Americana.  It’s not just another day at the office though, there are moments that, if they don’t surprise you, then they’ll at least make you smile a little wider than you already were.

For all of the instrumentation on this record the sound is surprisingly sparse, not to be confused with "hollow" or "lacking".  Due to meticulous mixing and panning none of the instruments jockey for position and none of the sounds overlap or muddy each other up, a place for everything and everything in its place.  This doesn’t add up to a wall of sound but it allows your ear to drift from instrument to instrument and catch sounds as they come into and fade out of the songs.  A song that’s as quiet and personal as “Shallow End” most people would not play with anything but an acoustic guitar.  The Rivergods took that song and used full instrumentation and by keeping everything subdued and minimal they made it even more powerful.

On the poppier side of that coin "Runaway Mind" is another tearjerker of a song set to a very choppy piano driven  verse which makes it skip along so you’re hopeful rather than crawl along and make you cry in the dark.  This is my vote for best song on the album.  The lead guitar pop’s and chirps over Nancy’s natural and fluid vocals while the piano and bass boost her up and let her shine.  The Rivergods have always been an “all inclusive” band, they know how to pull people in, keep their attention and make them listen to and enjoy things they wouldn’t expect.

The biggest surprise on Signs is the Neil Young meets Black Angels "Roadrunner Blues".  A tense psychedelic journey through the rock n’ roll desert.  The clicking snare drum is a time bomb that explodes during the choruses.  Guitars sneak up on you from all sides and the low distortion rolls over the whole song like a fog.  This is probably the most atypical song on the record and though it may surprise some listeners it’s the song that showcases the production of the album the best.
Signs is a collection of great songs that you would have to try very hard to wear out.  There is plenty of variety and nothing to push you away from it.

CD Review: Gone For Good - Lightning Behind The Grace

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Gone for Good is back in full swing and their new full length Lightning Behind the Grace, is all the proof you need.  The record was recorded by Jason Banta of the band Recur Occurrence, mostly in a run down room of a downtown New London building that just happened to have perfect acoustics... this is a home grown affair.  A little more agro and intense then they once were, they've focused that energy into creating a fully formed and cohesive LP.

The quality of sound on this record is top notch.  The guitars are huge, full and round.  There is a large Queens of the Stone Age influence in the guitar sound and riff writing on the album, but what they diverge from the 'Queens is the amount of vocal melodies and harmonies that add whole new dimensions the songs.  There is plenty of force in Nick’s voice but even when he's pushing his voice to breaking there is always pitch, (with the exception of the Phil Anselmo-esque monolog on "Devilish Grin").

The sound of the rhythm section is one of a train rolling downhill with a belly full of coal.  Ryan's bass is driving and keeps the sound from getting too top heavy with the amount of guitar on the record.  The overdriven bass breaks are great reminders that Ryan is present... pushing and shoveling fuel on the fire throughout the record.  Gene's drumming is as steady as it comes and it's constantly inventive and attention grabbing.  The best example is the snare work on "House of Ghosts".  This could have been played straight the whole way through but he keeps your ear working with the extra rhythms.  The crack of the snare and the boom of the toms are great compliment to each other.

There is a much heavier straight ahead rock sound on Lightning Behind the Grace than the poppy, swinging sound of Gone for Good’s previous EP The Bright Lights.  This should in no way deter anyone from listening.  GFG knows a song needs a melodic chorus after an intense verse, and they know that songs need rhythmic breakdowns when a song has been rolling at a steady tempo for 2 minutes.  The songs don't have the Pixies style 'loud-quiet-loud' dynamic formula but are dynamic in tempo and feeling which allow them to smooth out all the edges without sacrificing the integrity of their sound.

What truly makes a great LP is cohesion and flow.  There are a few things that most small market bands won't bother to do either because of money restraints or because they simply don't think about it.  Songs like "Nowhere Reprise" give continuity and allow the listener to relax before they're hit with another whole song to absorb.  The album’s closer "Big Sleep" is a nice wind down with an interesting sound so that you don't hit stop before it ends.  Young bands take note, it's these things that take a collection of very good songs and turn them into a great album like Lightning Behind the Grace.



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