Sunday, April 1, 2012


BRAVENOISE "Everything Was and Everything Will Be"

Instantly, a modern rhythmic rock sound takes hold. The vocals carry a nice pop melody, yet there is a world music vibe weaving its way in and out at various points. Modernist and urban at it's core, yet open and worldly in spirit.  Reggae, soul, rhythm & blues, indie rock all are a part of this recipe. There is a danger of having too much here, but the band avoids the potential calamities with its control of their sound. They achieve quality results by letting either voice, lead guitar or the beat to take a distinct lead when needed and then taking a backseat while something else leads. This balances things out and does not allow an uncomplimentary mess to result. This sort of album takes a few spins for me as it is not in my wheel house, but it does work its magic over time for me and I think braver modern day listeners may pick up on this all the more quickly.

Hear this material live and pick up a CD at their show with Satori Trova this Saturday, April 7th at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. I'm looking forward to this one.

Songs to try out first:

Set Up, Set Down - Some hot guitar and even a rap in here.

A Night of Pleasure - Cool melody, rocking guitar with R&B melody holding it together.

Come Onto Me - Sumptuous thick rock sound on here.

ROUND ABOUT "Hanging by a Thread"

This is good straight forward indie rock. That hardly narrows it down, but thankfully there are many personal touches that are original enough to allow them to stand out from the crowd. The first thing I notice is the interplay between acoustic guitar and electric guitar. Not only that, but the acoustic guitar playing shows a deft touch more advanced than most. There are some shifts into gutsier rock or into a bit more of a hard country vibe, but the two guitar work and the vocal style steadies it all out and keeps their sonic personality at the fore. As with most bands, the song quality varies over the eleven songs, but the highlights are spread out nicely so it is easy to pay attention to all the songs and hear a complete album. And it will be worth further relistens to see how it plays over time. Hopefully, a live review will be forthcoming.

And the CD release show is at the Velvet Lounge on Saturday, April 21st. I'll be there. Join me.

Songs to try out first:

I'll Be Gone - Cool melody combining old pop feeling with more timeless rock moves. Dreamy vocals add a touch of worldliness as well.

Hanging by a Thread - As is often the case, title cuts do have the hooks.

The Letter - Snappy rhythm akin to a 16HP song along with flexing rock guitars.

CATHY RICHARDSON "Delusions of Grandeur"

This album is a few years old, but I thought I would give it a review in addition to the several listens thus far, as I had the pleasure of briefly getting acquainted with this fine artist. Although the album features many high quality songs that blend the Americana sounds of folk, blues and rock together, there are some other fascinating elements. Right off the top, Richardson begins with some mystical soaring vocal work before heading into a nice song cycle showcasing subtle variations in style mentioned previously. The songs tell a dramatic story that is even further fleshed out by a booklet with prose and lyrics both. The packaging is some of the finest I have seen since the reissue of the Trees Community (a huge cult favorite). But back to the music and lyrics which are the essential components here. Sharp language and story telling and powerful sounds stand out from the many more comfortable sounds in this genre. The guts underneath never quite allows the listener to settle in to a comfort zone, which always interests me by keeping my attention high through the entirety of an album. I look forward to future projects in between her tours as lead vocalist for Jefferson Starship. She has both the vocal strength and vision to create engaging songs.

Songs to try out first:

A Fool's Regret - Gripping vocal work pulls you in and jazzy moves take you on a surprisingly near random journey. This are fascinating contrasts in this song.

Things are Different - Folk beginning builds into a full production featuring a wide vocal range carrying a nice melody.

Two Questions - Superb vocal workout that really showcases Richardson's powerful pipes and concludes the song cycle.

Adrian Krygowski "Hope for Us" ep

Six songs here from local singer-songwriter Adrian Krygowski. I have seen him on stage previously in rather humble and simple presentations and was pleased with how full and rich the sounds are on this CD. Since there are only six of them, try them all. It is a fine listen. I particularly enjoyed the snappy "Simpleton" with alternating male and female vocal lines along with harmonies on the chorus (of course). It has far more rock than folk and there are the expected Americana and even country touches, but those are light enough. Even when the acoustic instruments are in the foreground or the country touches stronger, there is an inner rock drive at work. Krygowski just goes pretty much straight ahead with pace and/or intensity, whatever the song calls for. Good music and pleasant surprise in the production department. I am feeling some growth here.

You can hear this and more live at the Dunes on Friday, April 20th. See you there.

Lilt "Onward"

Here is something I often do not get a chance to review for DC Rock Live, a local Irish folk duo. If I am wearing my Folkworld hat and digging into my pile of CDs, I might expect something like this. But it is refreshing to hear such crisp modern performances on mostly traditional Irish reels, jigs, and folk songs. The two musicians known as Lilt play flute offset by a stringed instrument such as cittern, banjo or mandolin. They have guest fiddles and a bodhran which add more flash when desired. The production is clean and the playing is sharp and with enough pace to make it interesting enough for those that learned their Irish music from the Pogues and not their father's favorite crooner braying away at "Danny Boy". If you enjoy De Dannan, Planxty and the many bands that do this sort of thing, you'll easily enjoy this as well. The key that makes this stand out for me is that little bit  of extra sharpness in the way they hit their notes and pace they maintain. And they play around the DC area often enough, that a live show seems like it would be well worth the effort. You can certainly expect to read about it here when next I get them on my calendar.

Songs to try out first:

Actually, this album plays through nicely and you can easily find your own favorites. I like "Gallagher's Frolics" with its heavy flute and light strum. "The Thorn Tree" also featured some great picking.

The Shondes "Searchlights"

This Brooklyn based four-piece has released a gutsy little album that offers pop hooks with a nice in-your-face attitude. Pleasant and congenial, but these songs come with plenty of gusto. Hearty vocals are on top of the usual rock sounds with the added spice of a violin weaving its way into the melodies. The melodies are there with a nice sense of attack while they retain pop familiarity. It is not power pop as the vocal thrust gives it more power than that of the guitar. Although all the instruments work together as well. This has heart and is fun and carries a larger whallop as each song enters your conscience. The live set should be exciting as well. I can easily see this band could easily connect with a wide variety of fans. Hopefully some touring and exposure will continue to help their cause.

But see for yourself at their show this Thursday, April 5th at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel.

Songs to try out first:

"Ocean to Ocean" - Superb backing vocals with lots of subtle shifts and offsets from the instruments create an evocative environment for this driving song.

"Searchlights" - Great violin work and a memorable song.

"Are You Ready" -  If you are not ready, this song will snap you to attention and will not let up until it is over.


Chris said...

I, for one, appreciate your reviews of albums by lesser-known bands that are not the fodder of gossip columns and entertainment magazines. I'll pore over these a little more when I have the time, but I'm glad to see that most of them are playing around here soon. Thanks much.

David Hintz said...

Thanks, Chris. It really is fun to give smaller bands a listen. One of them wrote to me apologizing for adding to my inbox. I immediately told him not to apologize for promoting his music. I am happy smaller bands believe in themselves enough and take the time to find and write to people like me one by one. And yes, it does help that some of the bands got these to me before their shows. I am looking forward to most of these as a result, when I easily would have missed most of them.