Saturday, January 1, 2011

RECORD - REVIEWS - December 2010

Paris Stairs
Brittany Jean is from Springfield, Virginia and although has been performing for some time, she can be considered a newcomer on the local scene. That is in part due to working with Will Copps on drums and Brian Young on guitar and bass. The band has recorded a four song ep due for release this January and the four songs are well worth a listen. Brittany Jean's vocals have a medium strength to them which I rather prefer than that of a Joplinesque belter of the blues. She has pop sensibilities, but covers Americana and classic rock styles comfortably. The music is a catchy indie rock/Americana/folk hybrid of some sorts and makes for comfortable listening. The band has the energy to push the melodies forward, so it is actually comfortable, but purposeful listening. This is a good start, although the recording at the famed Inner Ear studio is a little murky at times, but that is probably a bit by choice along with the fact that this is the band's first recording. When they do the full length release, they will hopefully have some clever production and arrangement ideas to give some variance and clarity to the sound. But for now, good songs and good energy will keep me happy.

The song to try first: "Paris Stairs" has an infectious melody with energized vocals that have me backtracking to play this several times in a row.

JUSTYN WITH A Y - Swansong LP plus untitled EP
I am not sure if Justyn's album is called Swans or Swansong as the "ong" is crossed out in both places. This is a live recording in the Laurel National Forest and there are some natural bird and cricket sounds sneaking into the mix of acoustic guitar and voice. It's not my favorite production technique, but it is not too distracting. The playing is strong, unvarnished and straight ahead. There is a somewhat feral quality to it, but it does not lapse into weird "real people music". He reminds me of some of my favorite obscure folk artists deep in my vinyl collection. Nicodemus comes to mind and maybe a simpler Perry Leopald. There is some fine material here and I can recommend this to folk fans who like a few earthy twists in the guts of the music. The ep has a rock rhythm section and electric guitar (or effects at least). There is a nice production here which keeps a raw garage feel in the folk-rock sense of the mid-60s, yet sounds more within today's indie scene. There are still great acoustic guitar runs on the ep as well and the rhythms remind me a bit of 16 Horsepower, although Justyn's voice and songs are his own and not as much in that vein. It sounds like he has a nice arsenal of songs and I am looking forward to seeing him live at the Velvet Lounge on January 16th.

Songs to sample:

"Jason Moran" - Highly energized strumming with vocals that come straight from a Peter Hammill styled depth. That is an excellent vocalist to sound like.

"Even if Your Road Leads Down" - A good strong guitar melody with some intricate picking and a nice vocal line on top. A good rock feel to a classic folk style here .

"Coastal Highway" - Has an old Nicodemus feel to it with a great distant vocal line and some nice guitar work. 

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