Thursday, November 1, 2012


Fresh after a nice live show at the Velvet Lounge, I get a listen to the new album by this Philadelphia band. It is a fine representation of the songs they executed so well on stage. This band is not a genre bending niche band, but a classic rock band that sounds like they've worked their way out of a lot of small bar shows and frat parties into an excellent band that can handle the clubs or record their songs that sound like classic 70s radio fare. The guitarist's lead vocals are soulful and emotive with three additional voices offering excellent harmonies throughout. The rhythm section is solid, the keys and guitar work well together and a good clean sound emerges. The album is not quite as flashy as the live set was, but that is often the case. I would certainly suggest a live show, and this would be a good souvenir to take home with you from that or just something to listen to even if they do not make it to your fair city.

Songs to try out first:

Boundary Blurring - The opening cut has all the punch, crunch, and vocal quality complete with harmonies that in combination nicely sum up their live shows.

Halfdone - This sounds like a rock song you would hear on the radio back in the old days sandwiched between Van Morrison and the J. Geils Band.

Vapors - A nice rocker with a great power-pop vibe to it.


Justyn WithaY is on guitar and vocals with a rhythm section backing. The music is outsider psyche-folk, which is one of my favorite little sub-genres. The outsider vibe is due to a slight real world approach to sounds a bit more lo-fi and even a bit independent of the independents. This music is somewhere between Perry Leopold and Cosmic Michael, to reference some real obscurities. It may br just off the fringe, but this is personal music played smoothly and capably while walking on the edge. The rhythm section fills the bottom end with care and the vocal harmonies are at times quite interesting with the guitar creating several interesting bits. I like the fact that these guys don't go precocious with this sound as many of the free folkers do. Instead, this is a little more relaxed with being 'out there' and not so self conscious. It is a nice collection of songs that would fit well in a psyche-folk collection, new or old.

Songs to try out first:

The Morning Song - The opener has a great relaxed strolling journey feeling with a nice instrumental psychedelic passage before the relaxing fadeaway.

Big Really - The title cut sucks you in with the opening spacey guitar intricacies before the song settles in with it's steady rhythm and intriguing backing vocals.

Year of the Rat - This has a classic psyche-folk vibe with the delicately picked guitar, wailing vocals, and even Roy Harper-like songwriting shifts.


These songs are less psychedelic folk than personal folk with playful instrumental additions that invoke a light psychedelia in the manner of Dulcimer, early Marc Bolan or Tir na Nog. The fragility is present throughout the songs and there is a slight uneasiness in the contemplative side here. Fey this is not. It is quietly presented, but there will be plenty going on in your mind as you listen. This album has 15 songs coming in at 32 minutes and with a couple songs passing the five minute mark, most are quite short and at times not complete enough to my tastes. There were a few cuts where I wanted them to continue on and explore the musical themes further. Still, this is a fascinating personal take on folk music that is well worth a listen. In the right room, this could be a mesmerizing live set.

Songs to try out first:

Sargasso Sea - This has a childlike simplicity to the melody with all kinds of fancy instruments bringing a happy Tim Buckley style into the song (yeah, I'm not sure there was such a thing).

Vain Prince - Delicate touch on the guitar, keys and a thoughtful song results.

Winter Blossom - This reminds me of a Donovan outtake from Sunshine Superman (that is high praise from me).


There is a kicking garage sound to this album, but it veers toward the heavy hard hitting variety. They slip in between styles with post punk moves, Australian classic punk sounds, heavy 60s garage punk, and loads of pop hooks. There are many bands in this general field and with enough energy and sense of melody, most all succeed at some level. I think if the Turbo Fruits continue with their songcraft, they can be as good as anybody in the field. The highlights here really manage to explore some new terrain while maintaining a firm grasp of the genre, which is exactly what long time listeners like myself desire. And although this music is invariably good live, there is enough variety in the songs here to make this album a pleasure as well, making for many relistens here.

Songs to try out first:

Gamble Tamble - Quiet intro quickly turns into rocker with a classic Sonic Smith like guitar solo.

Sweet Thang - Bands like this should always have titles like this and it turns out it to be a good ballad with edgy ringing guitar and pounding rhythms.

10 Years - Coolest song on the album with a real psyche vibe and loads of pace like Radio Birdman covering Love. Seriously, this is excellent.


It is not terribly surprising that Luke Mitchem performs the opening number with Josh Ritter as they are quite similar in their modern folk rock artistry. The arrangements are lovely with light steady percussion anchoring the guitars that move in and out from the keyboards and bass. This is a mature album balanced with heart and skill. It succeeds in transporting the listener deep into the song without being overly gothic and intense, but through the sharp song writing and vocal delivery. Luke Mitchem has crafted a sharp album that can hold up to any singer songwriter working today. It is hard to imagine this failing to make an impact with any fan of modern music from the heartland.

Songs to try out first:

Omaha Lillie - Not only is the lead vocal delicate, but the female backing vocal adds a haunting quality that coupled with the subtle yet startling raga quality makes this a real gem.

Charlie It's Alright - This has some nice rock elements along with the folk feeling. The electric piano is delightful and the slide guitar is subtle.

Steamboats Sing Hymns - A touch more Americana with an epic movie soundtrack like quality.


Trixie Whitley has a classic bluesy voice but showcases it in some interesting arrangements on this album. Ever imagine Siouxsie Sioux singing the blues? Yeah, me neither, but it may be somewhat in that direction. There are some PJ Harvey elements in here as well as this record embraces that modernist approach, although the vocals lean a bit more to the traditional blues and folk elements. But only a little, as there are classical rock and soul touches (such as in "Breathe You in my Dreams"). Everything sounds so fresh here and there is much power at the heart of this album. Even as it gets that smoky lounge feeling at times. There is plenty of versatility here and it is all fun and vibrant much of the time. Trixie Whitley is well worth seeking out and giving a listen to as she shows an experience beyond her years here.

Trixie Whitley is playing the Jammin Java on Sunday, November 4th

Songs to try out first:

Irene - The opener has that bluesy strength in the voice with a post-punk pop tune.

SIlent Rebel Pt. 2 - Trippy banjo with ethereal singing in a Woven Hand direction (a big compliment from my pen).

Hotel No Name - Intense electric guitar startles in the manner that it does in Roy Harper's work. Jefferson Airplane meets Nick Cave here.


Wes Tucker is one of the better Americana styled songwriters in our area who showcases his songs in solo shows or with the Skillets, a full rock band. But it only takes one note to tell you the full band is here raring to rock. It's a couple of guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards all maxxed out with just enough space left for Wes Tucker's hearty vocals. Things vary quite a bit thereafter with folky numbers, a brief touch of Byrdsian country-rock, and some more of the strong stuff. It all holds together with Tucker's smooth vocals and assured songwriting. The band pushes and pulls back song by song and their output flows as all good albums should. It closes with the quieter "Oncoming Train" which features Roseanne Cash (!) on guest vocals. This album is his most assured yet. The record release party is coming up soon, so be sure to give Mr. Tucker a listen live and pick this up for many more listens at home.

Wes Tucker is playing Iota at his record release show on Saturday, November 17th

Songs to try out first:

Good God - The opening cut is real blaster of a rock song that is sharp as nails in production and execution.

The Line - The delicate acoustic picking sets the stage for a nice vocal line, before the band slowly adds some heft to this lovely song.

Forgive - A nice long rocker that flows as a river with rapids that are controllable, but only just.


This record from the Cuneiform label has all the pleasure of the many Tangerine Dream records I listened to over the past four decades. It is not quite as krautrock-heavy as early TD, but certainly employs the distinct keyboard and synthesizer parts sounding like a keyboard quartet of sorts. The sequencer parts are pure class and the variation of ambient sound and direct tonal melodies meld together with these rhythms resulting in distinct compositions. Personally, a jarring guitar or saxophone or another keyboard element would have elevated this more for me. But Moore shoots for his specific sounds and succeeds smartly. It is easy to drift off in this music, but there is enough thrust to it all to keep the brainwaves flowing. He has played Sonic Circuits shows here previously, and no doubt went over well with the audiences that gravitate to that side of the musical spectrum.

Lisa/Liza has a fine command of ethereal psychedelic folk. She keeps the vocals beautiful with distant echo with only a slight nod to the warbley cute sounds which is too much the trend these days. Her songs here remind me of those of Shide & Acorn, which is a lovely band I do not reference too frequently--actually not at all until now. Her voice is even spacier, like a cross between Licorice McKechnie and Stone Angel's vocalist perhaps. This is a lo-fi recording but does keep a slight magic working much of the time within these songs with their nice acoustic guitar and delicate vocals. She hails from Portland, Maine which is a fairly fertile area for interesting folk variations. There are some experimental qualities with piano tape loops and the last few songs go into sharp left hand turns to parts unknown, or maybe part drone. These are wise choices as the songs break up expectations and are a challenge that most true psyche-folk fans will have no problem with and embrace with pleasure. Hopefully a live show is in the cards for us in DC one of these months.

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