Friday, March 29, 2013


Bells and Hunters has such a relaxed way of presented their style of rock'n'roll. There are elements of classic rock, Americana, blues, lounge, and garage pop music in their particular brand. They play it straight and pure and have such an earnest attitude, that it works well both on stage and here on this eight song LP. I am impressed with the nice variety of sounds they coax out these songs. They change the guitars to work with the lyrical themes and root of the music. Of course, the more down and dirty the guitar is, the more I dig in and there are fine examples here. But there are horns and plenty of vocal harmonies to mix it up as well. The writing is starting to shine through more on this album than what I had previously picked up from their live sets. But that may be due to the arrangement choices they make here and the solid production. This one scores very high on the likability index with an above average height on the quality scale and should be worth a listen for fans of straight up American roots rock music.

BELLS AND HUNTERS celebrate the release of this album, tonight  (Friday, March 29th) at Iota.

Songs to try out first:

73 - There is a sultry lounge feeling with guitars that alternate from delicate to rocking. Great atmosphere in this song.

She Wants to Roll - Good rock song with catchy chorus, great snarling guitar sound in rhythm, and crisp lead work on top--it reminds me of 21st Century reunited Electric Prunes sound.

Grey Before the Dawn - Slower, bluesier tune with acoustic guitar and voice.


This young local band has established a solid presence on the local scene the last few years with highly professional and emotionally engaging sets of modern rock music. Their live shows continue to draw large audiences with their energetic, yet danceable music. They have a brand new three song EP out that leans more toward the dance side of the equation. Their thick sound is stronger than ever with these three songs yet there are more keyboards and electronics than guitar. That is often the case with with many dance oriented bands when comparing their live sound to their records. Frankly, it is a good way to present danceable pop rock music, although it never quite resonates for me as strongly as it will on stage. The melodies and vocal work is as strong as ever especially evident on "Shine On", which shines on with its old school synthesizer, distant backing vocals and powerful chorus. The production is effective here with a shimmering feeling throughout. I find the Silver Liners to be an interesting band that could capture loads of music fans if their music catches on in all the right places. Although I may prefer their more rocking live set (coming from someone who deeply wishes he could enjoy New Order even one tenth as much as he loved Joy Division), this record will resonate with a broader based crowd and I still believe big things await this band.

Although known for uptempo mostly reggae based live shows, Dale and ZDubs show off a wide array of worldly moves on this long player. They begin with sounds that could have come from Shaft meets Superfly. After a metal guitar solo, they move into world beats, then some reggae before heading off into indie pop land complete with strings. And that is just four of the eleven songs. Yet it always sounds like the same band, which is the way to succeed with diverse music. Things settle down a bit more as the album rolls along, songwriting ways, but the energy is always there. At their worst, they sound like a great live band putting down some of their staples. But at their best, they nail down some rock songs that defy eras and simply deliver the goods, albeit with some chops well beyond simplistic. They surprised me a little here as I often expect energetic party-atmosphere styled live bands to not be as creative. Not to worry here, as there are several outstanding songs that anyone would be proud of.

DALE and the ZDUBS celebrate the release of this album at Bayou (on Penn) on Saturday, March 30th.

Songs to try out first:

When She Smiles - Gotta love that Isaac Hayes style guitar work offsetting the smooth vocals.

Man in White - This song is almost delicate. I love how it goes out quietly and leaves a small chill.

Leave the Drama - This defines the harder edge of the band with all the signature rhythmic elements and vocal works… and a spooky organ bit even if only for a few seconds seals the deal for me.

This band does not try to reinvent anything in particular, yet they possess a nice creative flourish to their straight forward hard rock approach. They know their way with melody and dynamic shifts to keep their material fresh and inviting. I hear a lot of influences here, but it's a pinch here and a dash there, without anything overtly obvious at any one time. Although, if forced to choose, they offer a slightly rawer version of what Kattatonia or Baroness may offer. This is a hot little record here and clearly shows off enough rock moves where one can anticipate an exciting night in the clubs with No Blitz. Sorry I missed their recent show, but hope to catch them in the clubs sometime soon.

Songs to try out first:

This is for You - The opener does what an opener should, rock firm and hard in a melodic fashion.

Unreal - I am sure they did not intend to answer the Wipers question/song "Is This Real" but the early Wipers rhythm in here was a major connect for this Wipers fanatic.

Aim to Please - The vocal work is excellent and there is a main street American rock feeling that works in a good way.

This local band describes their sound a reminiscent of Pavement. That is true enough and I also hear some early Flaming Lips in there, as well, particularly in the vocals. Like those bands, there are some crazy fun weirdly rocking songs that twist away as easily as hit you in the face. Like those bands, this style somewhat wears me out in the long term, but the highlights here are tremendous fun. It is all fairly melodic when you listen beyond the feedback parts and could be played very simply if desired. But that does not happen for more than a few minutes here or there. If you like your indie on the crazy side, yet have the patience to let a band pull back and deliver intriguing pop nuggets, then this band would be worthy of your listening time.

They celebrate this album and more at the Black Cat this Saturday, March 30th.

Songs to try out first:

Hiway Holmes - Nice rhythmic crunch with swirling noise surrounding it all, and there is a pop song in here, too.

The Night - Crazy slide guitar and vocal work remind me of a noisy update on the classic Gun Club sound.

Miami Viceroys - Bleeding guitar moves atop pounding rhythms and off kilter vocals. What is not to like?


This is a slippery album here. It is constantly flowing, yet the stream quickly moves between the fingers with the liquidity leaving a fresh natural sensation as it goes by. There is a modern indie progressive feel to it that does not quite hit psychedelia, except in a folky sort of way. They even pull it further back for some pure folk moments with acoustic guitar and violins which is a bit of a surprise. There is a delicacy to the vocals and musical approach even when they rock it out. The rhythm section is intriguing and even reminds me of Joy Division at time, although only if they were playing with a fresh indie pop-rock band in this decade. This is a lovely album full of surprise and even enchantment at times. I was not so sure at first, but once I got into their style, it yanked me into its unique world. I will not recommend individual cuts. Rather, let it flow from beginning to end and especially listen to the ending where Steeleye Span seems to connect with COB in an elegant psyche-folk ancient chant (with a blast of electric guitar rock for the last minute). My eyes are open and my blood is moving, this one worked me out hard.

Be sure to catch them when they hit DC at Ghion on Wednesday, April 10th.

This is a band that successfully plays relaxed folk rock songs with nonrelaxed messages atop a psychedelic foundation (I suppose that is where Escher meets Munch). There are electronic bridges and plenty of mysterious moments that connect the songs while keeping music flowing at an incredibly steady pace. The vocals remind me a bit of Mark Arm meeting Randy Newman with a raspy quality that some will like more than others. But the overall ambient nature to the arrangements of what otherwise would be street corner blues or coffee shop folk is what really sets this record apart. This may have Viet Nam era folk music as the starting point, but establishes itself as an interesting modern tale that will take me more listens before I really can place it--but Vietnam is probably happy about that.

To see what these guys are like live, come to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel on Friday, April 19th

Songs to try out first:

Kitchen Kongas - Try this one out if you are experienced in trippy arrangements of seemingly pleasant pop music. I love the twists and turns on this spacey tune.

Yaz - Wish I had a hammock to listen to this one with its relaxed pace.

Flyin' - Great twangy west coast styled psyche with a fast beat, yet still slowly delivered vocal work. Great contrasts working well. A real gem, this.

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