All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 23 String Band - Catch 23

The 23 String Band - Catch 23
2011, The 23 String Band

Eastern Kentucky is the home base of The 23 String Band, an acoustic quintet consisting of Chris Shouse (guitar, lead vocals); Curtis Wilson (banjo, vocals); David Howard (mandolin, vocals); Scott Moore (fiddle, vocals) and T. Martin Stam (bass, vocals). In spite of their acoustic approach, the band brings electric energy to modern songs with traditional bluegrass stylings. A live set from The 23 String Band could easily follow a traditional bluegrass tune with a Beastie Boys cover; the unpredictable nature of the band has earned them a significant following in a short time. And their "original hillbilly music" has earned them the respect of bluegrass fans both modern and traditional. The band released Catch 23 earlier this year. The only surprise here is that they haven't received wider acclaim.

Catch 23 opens with "Fat Frankie", the frenetic tale of a small time drug dealer. The dark and urgent modern bluegrass arrangement is compelling, and The 23 String Band has created a classic story song. The violin work of Scott Moore is particularly amazing. "Long Hot Summer Days" features solid, deliberate pick work. Shouse gets soulful on the lead vocal, and there's a distinct blues feel blended into the bluegrass arrangement. "Catch 23" is a dynamic instrumental that breaks out into a jazzified breakdown. Once again, fiddler Scott Moore is a standout. The band is forward and fun on "Leave Everything To Me", an amusing little love song with a memorable melody.

"Listen To Her Heart" is a soliloquy sung to a romantic interloper; an attempt to hold on to the one he loves. The arrangement here is pure gold, with tremendous instrumental interplay and absolutely gorgeous vocal harmonies intertwining throughout. The 23 String Band goes old school on "Bees Knees", getting back to deep bluegrass roots so completely you'll think you're in a time warp. "Hey Pretty Mama" is a tongue-in-cheek come-on song that's fun and entertaining. It's followed by the vibrant instrumental clinic of "Deer Tick". It's the barrelhouse for "Raleigh & Spencer", a prohibition era fiddle tune that's relentlessly entertaining. The band gets real props for their original read on "Cripple Creek", in a rendition that's vaguely reminiscent of the Grateful Dead's version, but has a more lyric feel.
The 23 String Band are a marketer's dream. Riding the high energy of youth, this finely tuned musical machine approaches traditional bluegrass with great reverence, but can also kick out the jams and update their sound to the minute. With the rise of Americana music as an over-arching pop form, it's a matter of time before a band from its ranks breaks out into pop-culture stardom. That band could easily be The 23 String Band, and Catch 23 could be just the vehicle to take them there.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about The 23 String Band at or

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yael Meyer - Everything Will Be Alright

Yael Meyer - Everything Will Be Alright
2011, KLI Records

Santiago de Chile native Yael Meyer was drawn to music at a young age. She began studying at a classical conservatory at the age of 5, and at 18, Meyer set her sights on Boston and the Berklee College of Music. Unlike to many of her contemporaries, Meyer has always seemed to understand that the space between the notes is as important to melody and composition as the notes themselves. Meyer writes songs blending a level of complexity and subtle finesse that’s rare in modern music. Meyer recently released Everything Will Be Alight, a sometimes brilliant collection of brilliantly understated songs.

Everything Will Be Alright is as optimistic as its name. Yael Meyer has a sweet and light quality to her voice that makes it difficult not to play along. Kicking things off with "Fire", Meyer strikes a catchy, simple pop pose. It's a solid start, catchy but subtly so. "Backbone" is a love song sung with the cadence and feel of a lullaby. The all-electronic arrangement casts an ethereal cloud on which Meyer's voice simply floats, the perfect fit for the moment. "Used To Be" is a catchy and upbeat song about change and regret. The tempo and energy suggest bright intentions, but there's a quiet melancholy laced through the song that can catch you by surprise. Meyer keeps the vibe going with the soul-searcher "I Wonder How". Exploring her own inability to give her heart completely, Meyer grabs a particularly vulnerable moment, steeped in gentle neurosis, that's remarkably sweet and real.

"I Wonder How" marks the album's apex. The rest of the way it's slow and steady pop for Meyer. Songs that are pleasing in a background-music fashion but don't really grab your attention. It's as if Meyer wrote two EPs: a 5-song number with some very solid songwriting and endearing performances, and a 6-song albumette with gentle story songs that would probably play better in a house-concert or coffee shop than in the studio.

Yael Meyer spends much of Everything Will Be Alright exploring self-doubt and dysfunction as it pertains to love and relationships. Featuring supple, and occasionally overly-subtle songwriting, Meyer makes a quiet mark on each listener. At her best, Meyer's almost-shy presence is quietly engaging. Other times she fades into the background like an eternal wall-flower. There is power in this approach, but Meyer front-loads the best material on Everything Will Be Alright, giving listeners an all-or-nothing experience rather than the gentle up-and-down that so mirrors life. So if the album misses the mark, it's more a matter of song ordering than of songwriting or performance. Meyer has the fundamentals in place, and seems to know her sound and limitations well. This is a very good effort that's mildly flawed by decision making, but not fatally wounded.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Yael Meyer at or

       Amazon MP3             iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Good Intentions - Someone Else's Time

The Good Intentions - Someone Else's Time
2011, Boronda Records
Liverpool trio The Good Intentions are born of the blend of folk, Americana and bluegrass. Husband and wife team R. Peter Davies and Gabrielle Monk are joined by longtime friend Francesco Roskell, blending their instruments and voices with the help of friends from both Nashville and Los Angeles on their latest album, Someone Else's Time.

The album is a solid, lovely listen from start to finish. The interplay of instruments and voices on Someone Else's Time is truly worth tuning in for, yet the album is so subtly crafted and well-blended that those who do not listen carefully will let it pass as pleasant background and nothing more. Opening with melancholy "Gone So Long", The Good Intentions paint subtle pictures with a broad musical brush. This approach continues unabated throughout the album. It's difficult to point out true highlights on the album, as the sound, approach and quality are utterly consistent throughout. The swaying feel of "Everybody Loves A Drinking Man" is notable, but otherwise you need to really dig into the consistently excellent musicianship and gloriously blended voices of The Good Intentions.

Well-written, well-played and sonically appealing, Someone Else's Time actually suffers from its own consistency. This is the perfect example of an album that is excellent in all aspects, but likely to be passed over by most listeners because it is what it is very quietly. If you have the time to spare to repeated careful listens, Someone Else's Time will bear significant rewards. Unfortunately the utter lack of flash, or even the up and down banter of The Good Intentions live performances, likely doom a really fine album to relative anonymity. And that's a shame.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Good Intentions at or 

          CD                           MP3             iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Monday, November 21, 2011

Laura DiStasi - Laura DiStasi [EP]

Laura DiStasi - Laura DiStasi [EP]
2011, Laura DiStasi
Laura DiStasi is a songwriter of substance; the sort who makes an impression that stays with you long term.  Born of southern New Jersey and now calling New York City home, DiStasi captures the urban landscape in song, both in the hardship of a granite city and the loneliness of the many walls.  Her third EP, Laura DiStasi, digs at the wounds of a life spent living so close to so many and yet so far away, ultimately closing on a moment of beauty within the madness.
DiStasi opens with "Colors And Shapes", an intriguing comparison between anonymity in a large city and in a relationship. It's all about getting lost in something that distracts you from what you want or need to do. DiStasi shows a distinctive lyrical subtlety married to a solid, melancholy pop arrangement. "Humming Along" is a run-on rumination on a relationship in a rut. DiStasi shares this internal dialogue in song, displaying conflicting senses of frustration and desire. The lush, folk/pop setting is the ideal complement. "Go On" is meandering and melancholy, a reproach of a partner who simply won't commit. DiStasi cycles through disenchantment, monotony, realization that things won't change, and ultimately separation. The incessant nature of the song overmatches the message however, as pacing and intentions struggle to match one another. DiStasi closes with "Covered In Snow", a musical water-color exploring the illusion of rebirth at the first snowfall of the year. DiStasi celebrates the sense that things might be better, even while not letting go of the reality of before.
Laura DiStasi proves to be the real deal on her self-titled, debut EP. With a gorgeous, dulcet voice, and a lyrical refinement that's both intelligent and elegant, DiStasi crafts highly personal stories that are colorful and universally accessible. DiStasi does struggle a bit with the pacing on one track, but otherwise delivers consistently well-written songs, and performances full of presence and personality. Get to know Laura DiStasi. You're going to be hearing a lot more from her.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Laura DiStasi at or 

             CD                      MP3                         iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alpine White - The Hale E.P.

Alpine White - The Hale EP
2011, Alpine White

San Francisco rock quartet Alpine White is born of the road. First generation German immigrants Colin (lead vocals, guitar, piano, drums) and Ian Denker (bass, vocals) formed the core of Alpine White, and were joined by friends Ivan Wence (guitar, vocals) and Javier Benavides (drums, percussion) in April, 2011. Songwriter Colin Denker strives to capture feelings in song, nearly eschewing traditional storytelling styles for the colors and nuance of emotion. Alpine White's debut EP, The Hale, is clear evidence of this mission.

Alpine White opens with "When She Gets Home", a nice bit of low-key pop/rock songwriting. Ultimately tuneful and driven with a solid chorus, The Hale EP gets off to a solid start. It does become evident; however, that Alpine White never really came to a solid conclusion to the song. The sudden cut-off chosen hear is jarring and essentially destroys the mood of the song. Alpine White struggles to capture the same energy and panache and the three remaining songs. "The Evidence", "Days And Nights" and "All The Weight" are unfocused musically, and never really establish premise nor presence.

Alpine White has something, although it's hard to define what exactly that is on The Hale EP. Colin Denker's middle-of-the-road pop/rock voice is solid and engaging, but doesn't really stand out in the crowd. Likewise, the musicianship is solid, but never really steps out of the safe zone on the four tracks presented here. There is a charisma that runs through The Hale EP, however, that is hard to ignore. It will keep you engage in spite of a sound that reflects a band that's still trying to figure out who they are. It's much too early to define Alpine White, and honestly, it was probably a bit early for an EP. A little time on the road together to let the dynamic of the full band set in would season the sound and approach. It will be interesting to see what Alpine White puts out next.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Alpine White at or  Alpine White's website indicated The Hale E.P. will be available on November 1, 2011, but the EP appears to not yet have been released.  Keep chcking their website for more information.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gina Sicilia - Can't Control Myself

Gina Sicilia - Can't Control Myself
2011, Swingnation Records/Vizztone

Philadelphia singer/songwriter Gina Sicilia has been making waves in Blues, R&B, rock and country now for four years.  The 25-year-old has already been nominated for a “Best New Artist Debut” at the Blue Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee.  Sicilia recently released her third album, Can’t Control Myself, showing off her distinctive voice, and a blend of original songs and classic covers.

Sicilia kicks things off with "Addicted", showing off an impressive, deep and smooth alto voice. There's a lot of sound to hang onto here, even if Sicilia sticks to a very compact range. A more soulful sound works its way into "Crazy Bout You Baby", and Sicilia works the song through with good energy. There's something missing here, though. Sicilia sounds great, and no one can say she doesn't put herself into the performance, but for someone whose songs are so steeped in the blues; you never quite get the sense that Sicilia feels that fundamental fatalism that underlies the genre. Much the same impression is won by "Members Only" -- once again Sicilia sounds wonderful, but she doesn't sell the soul of the song the way she might.

"Before The Night Is Through" is a great vehicle for Sicilia's voice, and might just be the best pure vocal performance of the album. "Can't Control Myself" plays in the same territory. Sicilia plays the relentless, heavy cadence of the song well, although this is perhaps a bit overdone in the end. Listeners finally get to hear a different dimension of Gina Sicilia on the closing track, "Once In A While". Sicilia opens up voice, showing off some wonderful timbres in her upper range. The distinctly country feel of the song also is a nice change of pace, and fitting for where Sicilia lives musically. This is the most nuanced performance of the album, and bodes well for the future.

Gina Sicilia impresses on Can't Control Myself. She's got a knockout voice, and a bit more range than you might think after listening to most of the album. Her more blues and soul based performances have an almost academic air at times, seemingly separated from the deep emotions that underwrite the respective genres, but Sicilia wraps her voice around you in waves and suddenly it doesn't seem to matter quite so much. The country turn at the end of the album is a great sidebar, and shows off a slice of Sicilia's voice that might be even more intriguing than the big sound she practices on much of Can't Control Myself. Sicilia has a real future with her voice, and while this is a great start, she might have a bit of soul-searching to do on her sound. She's definitely one to watch.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Gina Sicilia at or 

              CD                    MP3                  iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Friday, November 18, 2011

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys - Another Lost Highway

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys - Another Lost Highway
2011, Arty Hill

Arty Hill is well-known in songwriting circles, with songs of his recorded by the likes of Jason & The Scorchers, the Kenny and Amanda Smith Band, Marti Brom and the Sapphires, but Hill is a pure performer as well. Drawing crowds from his home base in Baltimore to Austin, Texas, Hill takes honky-tonk country to a new level. This transcendence is abundantly clear on the latest effort from Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys, Another Lost Highway.

Another Lost Highway soars, and the reason becomes apparent in the opening track. Hill explores the pure joy of music in "Roll Me A Song", blending rockabilly, blues and the sort of exuberant pick work usually reserved for bluegrass circles. "Roll Me A Song" isn't just a song, but a mission statement that describes what is to come. "Mae Dawn" is a love song to a call girl, full of the hope and tragedy that seems like it should be cliché but somehow is not. Hill recounts time in detox in "Omaha ICU", wrapping a nifty arrangement around a harsh subject painted in subtle undertones. Hill gets back to a love of music on "King Of That Thing", an ode to a pedal steel man. The six-string guitar work here is so subtle and refined you'd think that Hill was channeling Chet Atkins.

"Another Lost Highway" is a classic-style country trucker's lament. Hill has constructed a wonderful melody here, and a joyously feckless violin dances and fills the counter-melody. Rock and country blend on "Big Drops Of Trouble", featuring, once again, some seriously notable guitar work. Hill puts on something of a clinic here, and the guitar players out there will be dissecting the song for hours. Hill actively works to nullify heartbreak on "12 Pack Morning", in a classic bit of country pique, before moving into "Halfway House". This is a great tune that bears the essence of Johnny Cash. An entertaining number, Hill again reminds listener of how good he is with a six-string in his hand.
"Breaking-Up Party" is a solid bit if blue country with a healthy dose of optimism woven inside.

Infidelity is the subject of "Victoria's Secret Is Safe With Me", a solid story song that's perhaps a bit trite, but nonetheless entertaining. "Blackwater Wildlife" is a danceable honky-tonk party that breaks out into fits of raucous rockabilly. You won't be able to get this one out of your head. Another Lost Highway closes with "The Last Time I'll Ever Go Away", a sad tale about a travelling man who gains the road but loses his family in the process. When push comes to shove, he realizes that what he's losing isn't worth what he's gained, and in an unlikely turn in country music, he gets a second chance. This positive lift at the end is perfect closure for an album that turns expectations on their heads.

Arty Hill And The Long Gone Daddys hit new heights on Another Lost Highway. Rather than an apex, however, the album suggests a band continuing to rise. Hill is a masterful songwriter and storyteller, and he is surrounded by first class musicians. Another Lost Highway was checked along the way by illness, death of a band member and arguments with Hill's former record label, but you'd never know it from the end product. Another Lost Highway is utterly brilliant.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Arty Hill at
           CD                        MP3                        iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grant Atlantic - Constellations

Grand Atlantic - Constellations
2011, Grand Atlantic

Brisbane, Australia rockers Grand Atlantic have big ideas. Taking their name from The Grand Atlantic Hotel, Grand Atlantic evokes thoughts of the psychedelia and shoe gaze blended in a David Bowie meets The Dandy Warhols pastiche. All of this is rooted in a distinct melodicism born of influences such as The Beatles, Ray Davies and Brian Wilson. After playing SXSW and Canadian Music week in 2010, Grand Atlantic toured across North America and released the album How We Survive. The reaction from commercial radio was positive, with more than 50 stations picking up Grand Atlantic. The band struck gold when featured on Gossip Girl.
Thankful for the exposure, but not wanting to lose track of their creative purpose, Grand Atlantic returned home and undertook the writing/recording of a new album, the recently released Constellations. Recorded at the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum, an abandoned psychiatric hospital near Dunedin, New Zealand, Constellations has a sparse, psychedelic cast that's attention grabbing.

Constellations kicks off with "Carved From Stone", featuring a wall-of-sound fullness that washes over the listener. Behind this is a somewhat bland core, but the song is an effective first impression with which to open. "Control Station Blues" is an intriguing juxtaposition of styles. Imagine mid-career, techno pop U2 trying to achieve the same feel as a garage band. After numerous listens it's still not entirely clear if this mix "works", but the attempt is so compelling, and the song is driven by such a bitter energy it stays with you. "Searchlights" is a slow-grinding monster, shoe-gaze power-pop that pulls you along in its relentless wake.

This general mood of slow and inexorable music progress plays out over several tracks, including "Constellations", "Mountains Too Steep" and "Poison To The Vine". Grand Atlantic finally breaks out on the high-energy "Fresh Ideas In Home Security", bringing a chutzpah and charisma to match the big sound they convey. Things slowly settle through "Voyager" and "No Man's Land", ultimately subsiding in the dispassionate "Queenie."

Grand Atlantic struggles to match big sounds, big ideas and sufficient energy on Constellations. Loaded with talent and good intentions, Grand Atlantic seems to shoot for the stars on every track. An admirable goal, but sometimes a softer approach can serve to highlight the true highs.
Constellations shows the outline of the sort of band Grand Atlantic will eventually become; with flashes of greatness visible in the clouds. As they develop their own path further, they'll fill in the gaps that become apparent on Constellations. In the mean time, this is a great effort, even if the band's energy and enthusiasm are ill-managed at times. A good producer who understands and will work with the band's vision, but also can manage their collective vision and energies into a narrower focus would transform an album with great potential into a great album. That is the ultimate moral of Constellations.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Grand Atlantic at or 

              CD                       MP3                        iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Abbie Barrett & The Last Date - The Triples: Volume 1

Abbie Barrett & The Last Date - The Triples: Volume 1
2011, Beige Bomber Records

Abbie Barrett grew up in New York City attending private schools. A professional career and upward mobility were the clear goal. Even through college, Barrett was on target. But once free from formal education, Barrett jumped around from town to town anything but. Eventually landing in Somerville, Massachusetts, she first picked up a guitar and began writing down the songs that kept running through her head. This was a watershed moment, both a continuation of her rebellion against the expectations she was raised with, and an embrace of the person she would become. Drawing on influences as disparate as Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Neil Young and Aimee Mann, Barrett continues to write songs about underdogs, unsung heroes and rebels. Along with her band, The Last Date, Barrett recently released the first in a series of EPs called The Triples.

The Triples, Volume 1 opens with "Here To Stay", a low-key, but high energy rock n roll fight song that's part Chrissie Hynde and part Sara Bareilles. Featuring a memorable chorus, the song shows off Barrett's distinct voice, which is distinctly beautiful but contains a formidable toughness that's not to be ignored. "On The Range" is a drearily ethereal spaghetti western in song. Barrett's voice and the vocal harmonies of her band help to create a distinctive sound that is both uplifting and haunting. The EP closes with "Draw Me In", an elongated and smooth ballad that sounds like Hope Sandoval singing along to Pink Floyd. The ultimately sad feel of the song holds its own unique beauty, and avoids the neuroses that pervade "sad pop" music.

Abbie Barrett is a distinctive voice in Indie Pop music. Together with The Last Date, Barrett has created three memorable and likeable songs that run the gamut stylistically. The Triples: Volume 1 is a wonderful introduction to an artist who shows a lot of promise. This EP will ensure that careful listeners are likely to be waiting for the release of the other two volumes in the series.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Abbie Barrett & The Last Date at or  The Triples, Volume 1 was scheduled for a November 8, 2011, but as of this review does not appear to have made it to market yet.  Keep checking Barrett's website for release details.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christine Salazar - On To Something

Christine Salazar - On To Something
2011, Christine Salazar Music

Christine Salazar is a bright light on Puget Sound.  The young singer/songwriter has been sharing her music around the sound since 2009, but has been active in area bands since her high school days.  Salazar’s warm alto voice delivers her personal and intelligent story songs with a depth that belies her young years.  Salazar released her debut album, On To Something, over the summer.  The title is aptly chosen.

Salazar has a wonderful smooth, lyric alto voice. There's an interesting juxtaposition of warmth and distance in her sound; a classic singer/storyteller sound reminiscent of Shawn Colvin or Denise Culhane. Salazar gets things moving with "No Time For Worrying", a pessimist's love song that's charming in its own inner darkness. "Anyway" is a mature love song written from the perspective of one who understands she needs to let go to find the love she seeks. The plaintive melody is lovely, and delivered with the quiet reserve that seems Salazar's vocal trademark. Salazar lightens the mood a bit with "Always With You", a quietly uplifting number celebrating a perfect day. Salazar struggles a bit with the high notes here, but otherwise delivers a characteristically strong performance.

Salazar slips into a melancholy air for "My Friends", "At Peace" and "On To Something", before coming alive on "Mirror World". The energy in this last is very positive, even if the darkness never truly abates. Listeners will hear more color and accents in Salazar's voice here than previously, with the mild sonic revelation worth tuning in for. "Find Me Now" is a solid pop love song, imploring the right one to come along right away. The songwriting here is solid, and the straight-ahead pop arrangement features a mild, funky flavor that is appealing. Salazar closes with the mild, blue jazz of "Tangled", a near-perfect venue for her silky-smooth voice. Salazar ends in particularly dark territory, mulling murder in the aftermath of a failed love affair. The imagery here is chilling and evocative, the harsh concept blended in smooth sounds like hard burn of a smooth whiskey.

On To Something finds Christine Salazar poised on the precipice of heartbreak. Even her lighter moments are often cast against the backdrop of fatalistic intentions or moods. She nearly slips over the edge at the close, but holds on much as she has throughout the album; by her fingertips. On To Something is an intriguing experience, from the darkness of Salazar's songs to the vibrant warmth and quiet reserve of her voice. The songwriting is a bit uneven at times, but shows real promise. Salazar will stay with you, and On To Something is certainly worth spending some time on.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Christine Salazar at or 
             CD                        MP3                      iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Friday, November 11, 2011

Video: Sheri Miller - Spoons

Check out the new video from Sheri Miller, Spoons.

Learn more at or

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Video: Kate Miller-Heidke - The Tiger Inside Will Eat The Child

Here's a great performance from Kate Miller-Heidke on Australian program Q&A.

Howie Newman - You Shoulda Been There

Howie Newman - You Shoulda Been There
2011, Major League Records

Brooklyn-born Howie Newman moved to Boston in 1968 to attend Northeastern University and never looked back.  His love of sports led him to nearly two decades as a sportswriter, and as a part time color analyst for the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox minor league team.)  Oh, and by the way, Newman is also one of the most engaging singer/songwriters on the New England folk circuit.  His humorous and ultimate human observational songs put listeners at ease, and his live presence is as folksy and down home as you could imagine.  Newman recently released a new captured live EP, You Should Been There, a highly entertaining 6-song cycle featuring Newman at his best.

You Shoulda Been There opens with "Products On TV", a cute and comical take on infomercial fare written before the advent of the remote control. Newman brings his usual charm in the live performance, although the recording setup leaves something to be desired. "My Baby Can't Parallel Park", a song Newman wrote for his wife, is full of pep and humor, and would have fit perfectly on the old Dr. Demento show. Done in a 1950's rock and roll style on acoustic guitar and harmonica, the song is highly entertaining and fun. Newman turns to sweet reminiscence on "Our Kids Aren't Kids Anymore", a heartfelt ode to a father's love and how quickly the time you have with your children fades. Newman does a stand-up cover of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic?” a solid rendition that's absolutely faithful to the original. Newman immortalizes a late night road trip with his brother from 1970 in "My Last Cup Of Coffee". It's a sweet and funny remembrance in classic, folk singer/songwriter style. Newman's anecdotes are worth listening to as well, particularly the 'music consultation' (you'll have to listen to find out.) Newman closes with "That Old Car", a folk and rhythm and blues ode to the memories an old, rusted-out bucket can represent. What might seem cheesy in another's hands out plays as sweet and sentimental from Newman.

Howie Newman keeps things simple on You Shoulda Been There, letting the sweet authenticity of his songs speak for itself. While Newman's songwriting generally stays on the lighter side, there's a palpable heart to his work that you simply can't ignore. You Shoulda Been There is highly entertaining. There will always be coffee house stages waiting for performers like Howie Newman.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or  If you’d like to purchase You Shoulda Been There on CD, you can get it directly from Newman via a PayPal payment, or from CDBaby.  Digital links are below.

     Amazon MP3             iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club - Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club

Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club - Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club
2011, Chris Cubeta

Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club is practically a New York City institution.  Not only have the Brooklyn-based roots-rock trio have played some of the hottest clubs in New York, they’ve also toured extensively in support of artists such as The Wallflowers, Suzanne Vega, Will Hoge and others.  This summer, the band released their third album, an eponymous, 11-song collection that is in the spirit of the band’s past work, but stretches the band’s musical boundaries more than just a little bit.

The album sets sail with a brief intro, a sonic prologue to the first song, "All We Are". "All We Are" is a striking Americana exploration of how we are lost in found in new cities, new experiences and new smiles. The catchy, active arrangement leads to a circular realization that nothing changes in spite of our attempts to hide from who we are. "Truth Be Told" is a compelling and catchy number full of dark need, from the mournfully energetic verses to the Police-style breakdown at the end. The song is full of angular guitar work and screams for you to listen closely and dig into the depths of its layered sounds. Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club strip down the sound on "Approach", a straight-forward rocker with a quiet pop sensibility and relentless build into a chorus that gets stuck in your head. Cubeta's voice won't floor you, but is affably pleasant and easy to listen to throughout the album.

"Lana" opens with a catchy guitar-driven run, reminiscent of the Gin Blossoms (right down to Cubeta's vocals.) This song is a sure winner, a pop-inflected, Americana-flavored rocker that you won't be able to get out of your skull. "Midnight" is an interesting change of pace; an orchestrated, lush arrangement with an air that can only be described as optimistically melancholy. This quiet moment is abruptly upended when Cubeta launches into the urgent "I Need You There". The crunchy, sparse song construction provides the perfect edge, competing to complement and contrast to Cubeta's lyric rock voice.

Cubeta quietly explores the feelings of sorry and abandonment of a relationship lost in "No Idea", trying to explain to the one who wronged him what she's done. The lyrics are factual and representative without anger. The arrangement more than makes up for the lack, as Cubeta lays down blistering guitar runs and solos to accentuate every tempestuous spike of anger. "Apathy" is a solid album track, exploring the intricacies of an emotion more complex than it might first appear in a relentless arrangement. "I'm Sorry" has a laid-back, vaguely psychedelic feel that comes across in the stripped-down, acoustic-ambient structure. There's a pensive sorrow here that's almost more intellectual than emotional, and plays itself equally in the arrangement and the vocal line. Cubeta winds things up by continuing the thoughts of "I'm Sorry" into "You Should Be Too", transitioning from acoustic to full-scale electric arrangement without giving up the essential flavor of the song. This switch up is an intriguing way to say goodbye, a parting shot and words of wisdom all rolled into one.

Chris Cubeta And The Liars Club craft dusty diamonds from mundane soil on their self-titled album, living in the valley that exists between Americana and edgy rock and roll. Even with the occasional ambient intervention, the pop sensibility that pervades this album is irresistible. Cubeta's everyman voice is appealing, and he always plays it off to best affect against arrangements that range from quiet ruminations to crunchy, roots-based rockers. This is one of those albums that will get its hooks into you early, and keep getting better with time.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about or on Facebook.

      Amazon MP3            iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Monday, November 7, 2011

Carley Tanchon - Leave The Light On

Carley Tanchon - Leave The Light On
2011, Carley Tanchon

New York-based singer/songwriter Carley Tanchon has made her success the old fashioned way.  She’s earned it with relentless touring and hard work.  The Cleveland, Ohio native has lived in Boston and Nashville, with a side-trip to Australia, but settled in NYC in 2010.  For her latest album, Leave The Light On, Tanchon enlisted the production and songwriting assistance of Felix McTeigue (Lucy Wainwright-Roche, Katharine McPhee, Madi Diaz, Anais Mitchell).  The result is a mixed blessing, with Tanchon finding a solid sound but getting too caught up in her own musical safety zone.

Leave The Light On opens with "Missing You", a regretful, down-tempo pop ballad that finds Tanchon yearning for someone from the past. Tanchon has a pleasant voice, although she sounds a bit breathy on the higher notes here. "The Great Unknown" is an apologist, multi-level love song, written in a classic singer/songwriter style. Tanchon gives an intriguing vocal performance here, and the emotional Diaspora that characterizes the song is amazingly clear. "I Guess I Know" is a soulful pop number, stripped down and wide open in arrangement. Tanchon's voice inhabits the middle as if it was born there, and the funky rhythm that underlies it all will get your toes tapping.

After a strong start, Tanchon settles into a comfortable zone that's aurally appealing but doesn't really stand out, and stays there for much of the rest of the album. "Blues In C (Fearlessly)", is a minor exception, and the almost country strains of "Walk Away" are appealing. Tanchon is almost at albums end with "On The Road" before she breaks out of her rut with the almost peppy, yet absolutely catchy tune. Tanchon takes her leave with "Love Will", an optimistic love song that's solid enough, although once again Tanchon struggles a bit with her tone when she ascends the scale.

Carley Tanchon gives fair effort on Leave The Light On, but gets too bogged down in a sense of musical complacency that is likely to wear on the listener. Tanchon starts strong, but just cannot maintain the momentum across the full album. Even in the lull the album suffers in the middle, Tanchon's voice is enjoyable as long as she doesn't try to go too far up the scale. This is a solid effort that is pleasing to the ear but never really distinguishes itself from the pack of indie singer/songwriters.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or The Light On is available digitally via iTunes, or on hard copy directly from Carley Tanchon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bess Rogers - Out Of The Ocean

Bess Rogers - Out Of The Ocean
2011, Bess Rogers

Some people write great melodies.  Others craft lyrics that leave you breathless.  There are even some in the music world who build arrangements that go beyond day-to-day to comprehension.  Any one of these talents can make an artist a household name.  Any two may well make them a legend.  On her prior EP, Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers, we found an artist who showed flashes of these types of brilliance.  Fourteen months later, Rogers returns with Out Of The Ocean, making unbelievable strides as an artist, and transforming herself quickly from a singer/songwriter with big talent and tremendous potential into a maturing, brilliant artist you simply can’t ignore.

Rogers has built her reputation on several fronts.  The Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist has been involved in numerous projects over the years, playing nearly every style of music imaginable.  A few years back she was picked to be Ingrid Michaelson’s guitarist, and has earned a well-deserved reputation as a dynamic performer with a flair for the dramatic and the technical chops to back it all up.  Rogers began building her name as a solo performer through her web presence and technical savvy, but it’s the music that speaks for Rogers.

Out Of The Ocean opens with "One Step Free", the song snippet that gives the album its name. Rogers makes an impressive start here, although it may leave you wishing she'd finished the song. "Standing Tall" opens with a plaintive verse that resolves into a beautiful, lush and lustrous pop chorus. Roger's voice is pure ear candy for those with rich musical tastes, and she bends and shapes the melody line here like a true artist. The song itself is one of safety and confidence in love - a nice change of pace from the glut of starry-eyed pop songs and anguish filled navel gazing ballads that fill up the airwaves. "Weak Link" is an anachronistic invitation from one who views her own imperfections as the perfect complement to the object of her desires better qualities. There's a romantic, tongue-in-cheek element here that's charming, and the full, active arrangement makes it a pop gem.

Rogers bemoans the relegation of romance and attraction to chemical processes on "Math And Science", yet indicates a continued willingness to play her part. Rogers draws you in here with a chorus that simply will not get out of your head. "Anchor" goes up-tempo, running along at a gallop while Rogers keeps pace with a flawless vocal line. The melody line here is brilliant, and once again, Rogers will stay in head for days. Don't be surprised if this is a break out hit. Rogers slows things down a bit with "In The Waves", a utopian invitation from a mermaid to a broken man that parallels immersion in water and falling in love with artful delicacy. Rogers creates a gorgeous sonic landscape here with layered voices and synth over a sparse arrangement. The song closes in haunting fashion, fading away into the depths.
Water And Dirt" is another wonderfully catchy pop/rock rumination on love. Rogers plays with the theme of elements, and the almost hopeless part we play in the human dramas of love throughout the album, but here she creates a bit of musical and lyrical magic that's impossible to ignore. "The Fittest" is another example of the sort of diluvian, edgy pop that Rogers is capable of creating. The arrangement is beautiful and lush, but with a backbone as hard as iron. Rogers rocks out on "I'll Be Gone", throwing down the gauntlet in a relationship where the sharing is no longer equal. This is done not in angry tones, but in a driven melody with honest lyrics that are more intelligently questing than spiteful. "Second Chance" is the most stripped-down and personal of the offerings on Out Of The Ocean, showing off Rogers' voice in a more open arrangement that reveals its simple beauty in broad daylight. Similarly, "Brick By Brick" sticks to an unfettered musical formula, whereby Rogers explores the minutiae of relationships in affecting and intelligent imagery. Rogers builds the intensity of the arrangement back to where she started in a conveyance of the building process, before falling back to the simple strains of a guitar string that fades as if leaving a story in progress.
Bess Rogers showed herself to be a special talent with her debut EP, Bess Rogers Presents: Bess Rogers, but Out Of The Ocean is light years ahead of first effort, showing a fast-maturing talent for melody, lyrics and song construction, all wrapped up in a voice that resonates in your mind. Rogers shares the love of lush arrangements apparent in the work of Sarah McLachlan, as well as the willful, independent narrative lyrics found in Aimee Mann's work. This all comes together in a fashion that is comfortingly familiar yet excitingly original. Very quietly, and without warning, Bess Rogers will knock your socks off. Out Of The Ocean is a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc, and figures to be featured heavily in year-end lists.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bess Rogers at or

           CD                       MP3                   iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Check out with current tour-mate Allison Weiss in the first episode of "Van Jams", below:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bryan Johnson And Family - Brian Johnson And Family

Bryan Johnson And Family - Bryan Johnson And Family
2011, Bryan Johnson And Family

There’s a lot to be said for complex creations in rock and roll.  The intellectual crossroads of music theory, the raw energy of rock and roll, and the hubris to take an art form known for simple, recursive structure is an intriguing playground that can be wonderfully refreshing or disastrously awful.  Then again, there’s also a time to just let loose and have fun with the music.  That’s what Buffalo, New York-based Bryan Johnson And Family does best.  Their latest EP, The self-produced and self-released Bryan Johnson And Family, brings listeners back to the early days of rock and roll, when the biggest problems were simple heartache, and what to wear to the party this weekend.

Bryan Johnson And Family opens with "Beaches", a catchy little rocker that will have your toes tapping and a smile on your face. Ironically, "Beaches" is a forlorn love song in pure 1950's rock tradition. The Lo-Fi recording style has a period-feel that works well, although the vocal discipline in both the lead and the backing vocals is questionable, with pitch issues popping up throughout the song. "Cool Your Jets" gets stuck in the monochromatic melody of the choruses, but resolves well in the chorus. The song is catchy enough, but the chorus does wear a bit. "Deck Party" is a solid filler track, set firmly in the roots of 1950's rock. Bryan Johnson And Family overuses the catchy hook that is the basis of the song, but in a style consistent with pop songs of the era. "Doesn't Matter" has a wonderfully catchy chorus - radio worthy in almost any era of rock n roll. The recording quality/production here leaves a bit to be desired, but this has the potential to be a real hit. "Get Over" is a wonderfully is also virulent in nature. In spite of the sonic imperfections, Bryan Johnson And Family draws you in, and you're having fun before you know it. "Not Having Fun" is a solid, brief number about relationships and friends and the poor mixes they sometimes make. The song seems a bit out of place here, and is something of a discordant close to an otherwise consistent and enjoyable experience.

Bryan Johnson And Family brings a certain stripped-down charm to their self-titled EP, surfing the sounds and styles of 1950's rock and roll with a subtly modern edge. The songwriting is solid throughout, and even the sometimes questionable pitch in the vocals doesn't seem out of character with the period sound. Bryan Johnson And Family does suffer somewhat from low-end production values, a choice both artistic and necessity-driven from being an indie band with a very small budget, but the heart of rock and roll beats clearly in this deliciously rough hewn bit of ear candy.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bryan Johnson And Family at or on Facebook.   You can get a digital copy of Bryan Johnson And Family!  Just message the band through Facebook for details!