Saturday, November 21, 2009

Album Reviews for November 2009

Here are two album reviews of New York bands, Red Rooster who has played in DC recently and Goldspot who is playing the Black Cat on Sunday, November 22nd.

GOLDSPOT“And the Elephant is Dancing” LP

The album begins in a psychedelic folk style that is quite vogue these days. Not only is this style post-Incredible String Band, but it is also post-Devandra Banhart as well. As the song moves from its sparse acoustic guitar and glockenspiel, electric guitars and pop sensibilities come into play and take over the direction of the album. The band's style seems equally mixed from mid-period Beatles to a Brian Wilson styled American pop. They do bring in a touch of India, but it is a light one. I do enjoy how the songs are just varied enough as the album progresses to create some nice momentum builds and releases. I believe that is both a component of good songwriting and careful arrangement and production. And the sound is quite lush with some good variant sounds and instruments appearing sporadically. More ever present are the dreamy vocals that are at the forefront of all the songs. “What’s Under the House” rocks out just a bit, before the album closes with the quieter “Miss Johnson” with a banjo that I notice for the first time. This pleasant second Goldspot album could easily win the band a good and deserved following.

For you song-by-song buyers, here is where I recommend starting:

1. Grocery Store – An excellent conglomeration of folk and pop rock with just a touch of psychedelia. It captured me instantly.

2. Gopi Blues – String accompaniment quickly yields to a nice slower song with great production and a haunting background.

3. Miss Johnson – Just a nice closer featuring vocals, lyrics and light banjo.


Red Rooster is lead by the strong clear voice of Jay Erickson. He has that classic road weary voice enhanced by superior vocal style and resonance. In fact I would say it more of a relaxed understanding of the road as opposed to a weariness with it. There is a very good arsenal of players (I am writing this while watching the British soccer team Arsenal play so of course those three words pop out) behind the voice which mix a lot of styles beyond the folk base. Nothing radical, just the Americana, blues, pop, jazz, world and country touches that blend together nicely. As good as the male vocals are, the background vocals by Susannah Hornsby and the lead she has on “Borrowed Money” are outstanding and a nice change of pace. I really enjoy the interesting instrumentation and can even handle some of the pedal steel that is one of my least favorite instruments. A band that can work that in and keep me happy clearly has a fine command of its sound.

For you song-by-song buyers, here is where I recommend starting:

1. Black Point Road – A rich powerful song that even has a surprising sequencer tone within. Great song, well arranged.

2. Let it All Go – A song I remember from their recent show. Excellent mix of styles and instruments and a lovely chorus.

3. Borrowed Money – Great female folk qualities abound in this lovely song.

No comments: