Thursday, April 25, 2013



Long one of my favorites, I look forward to each and every album from this eclectic trio (once a quartet). They live in three different states and evoke at least that many states of mind with their innocent and playful brand of modern psychedelic folk rock music. I love deep, contemplative music, yet Akron/Family consistently provides a lightness to their brand of contemplative music. They bring out the light smiles as listeners can drift back into warm thoughtful psychedelic pastures, even as they rock out with standard rock instruments.  This is one of their steadier album as the space between light and heavy is less than usual and has a smooth sonic theme woven into the fabric of the entire album. You owe it to yourself to check out their music and by all means, see the live set.

AKRON/FAMILY celebrate the release of this album, tonight  (Friday, March 29th) at Iota.

Songs to try out first:

No Room - The opening cut has power, drive, drone and that passionate clarity that the best of their vocals bring out.

Until the Morning - Lovely lead vocal work atop a mix of African and Americana background vocals with shimmering guitars and a hypnotic beat.

Holy Boredom - More magical meditation as only this band can bring.


The dreamy state of this album is even more cottony and that of the semi-conscious rem state of sleep than most of the dreamy psychedelic albums released this century. You almost do not notice the chunky rhythm guitar underneath the delicate guitars and layered vocals. Or perhaps it is the hypnotic rhythm section that is the ribcage of this band? It is a slippery sound that is at times a little too low key, but careful listening will reveal some lovely highlights. If you are into Hush Arbors or if you can imagine Sigur Ros covering Voice of Seven Thunders, this album is something worth devoting some time to. After another ten listens, I may get closer to the heart of the matter. But if not, it was worth the journey.

Songs to try out first:

People of the Sticks - This has a bit of rock bite within the elegant pop structures and flows majestically.

Catalina - Simply, there is a comforting musical pattern in this song.

Alamogordo - Deliberate pace with one of the longest gentle fade-outs I have heard in some time.


If you enjoy classic rock merged with soul, R&B, and a touch of Americana--basically the sound of around 1970, then this Texas outfit may be worth a listen. There are some things that are fairly essential if you tackle this style of music. First, you better have good vocals. Thankfully the lead vocals are steady and have the ability to push the envelope enough at the intense moments. The backing vocals could even be used a bit more as they shine brightly when employed. The rhythms for this musical style need to be assured which is true enough here, with plenty of space offered for horns and guitar runs that sneak in and out of some songs while offering steady rock moves in others. Possibly the only thing I would like to see more of, is more dynamic shifts in intensity and/or instrumentation. The songs are all good and although few stand out as 'hit singles', they all play well together and have you enjoying the band more at the end than at the beginning, as you get into their sound.

You can come see what this band does live at the DC9 on Tuesday, May 7th.

Songs to try out first:

Moorie - Quiet song with that distant organ sound, horns, light and tasty guitar and full out gospelesque backing vocals.

Shine - More good vocal work that really brings out the soulful late 60s/early 70s

It's Alright - Maybe the best hooks in the songs here and the strong guitar and horns don't hurt a bit.


This local guitarist had a successful run in a Philadelphia band called Caveman who dazzled many with its unique brand of experimental post rock music. Now, John Lee is an active local guitarist who sounds like he enjoys stretching barriers even further. This is fantastic instrumental landscape music that is fully inviting, yet has all sorts of creative edgy shifts within the melodic framework. As I so often bore people to death with, I thoroughly love music that is experimental and challenging, while retaining firm grasp of core musical forms. It is a delicate balancing act that many great artists have been able to maintain. And John Lee shows that here with fully twanged electric guitar painting the Leone/Morricone landscape, while there are mad keyboard, guitar, and percussive bursts to take this to Dali-land.


The electronics of Love an Radiation come more from the synthesizer pop scene of old than anything too newly twisted and beat infused. There are interesting skronky noises from time to time, but the lush atmospherics are what will pull you in. That, and the scrumptious harmonies the two women design. This is not my first genre of choice, but when you have the hooks and create an atmosphere this warm and relaxing, I am happy to accept the invitation in. They specialize in shorter songs that accomplish the pop atmosphere they strive for and move on, with the atmosphere as a whole lingering in the air. This is a light pleasure with enough substance to allow for enjoyable revisits.

Come see them live with Sansyou and Silo Halo (both I will happily endorse) at the Pinch this Sunday, April 28th. And if you can't make that they stay in town and play at the Velvet Lounge with Pleasure Curses and Lenorable.

Songs to try out first:

Winter - I love the harmonies and this opening cut will hook you in for good.

Ganymede - Frankly, I just like the word Ganymede, but the vocals shine again.

Augury - Why do they choose such cool words for song titles? How about Murmur? Oh wait, REM did that already.


Fifteen live tracks served with style and panache by this Baltimore collective. They are certainly a part of the Americana roots scene, but they conjure up a lot more jazz and worldbeats than one might first suspect. That is likely due to the high level of musicianship these guys have. All the more amazing that this is a live recording. The keyboards are outstanding and they connect with the guitar parts in elaborate ways, while the rhythm section swings effortlessly (seemingly so after a million years of practice and gigging no doubt). This is a veteran band that is smart with the songwriting and the arrangements. The live forum is definitely the way to present this material and hopefully they can make it their way south some time. But if you are in the Baltimore area, I would advise finding their live shows whenever you want a a cross between a bar band and a major league all encompassing rock band.

Songs to try out first:

Daybreak Until Seven - Undulating rhythms and instruments locked in a loose manner proving the unlikely.

He's the Weatherman - Hilarious lyrics and one of the more dancehall beats, old school. I'm bopping around at home looking quite silly to Jimmy Stewart across the way in the other window.

McCarthy's in the Second Row - This melodic line is as playful as it gets with clever lyrics and a quick pace.


I had envisioned this band as a monster noise machine, but was left impressed with the sonic complexities at a variety of volumes, tempos and tones on this thoroughly interesting album. They remind me of a more experimental (and stoned) Black Mountain taking psychedelic approaches to carefully extended songs. There is more minimalism in this, than that of fellow psyche travelers Dead Meadow and the Black Angels. It is not a sound that will grab you as instantaneously as those bands, but for people wanting to move from their world of electronica into psychedelia, Suuns may have opened the portal doors significantly wider. This will not be the record I grab when I want a few psyche nuggets to blast open my mind, but will be one to put on when I want to drift into similar terrain for 45 minutes.

Songs to try out first:

2020 - The twisted slide guitar run sounds like something from No Wave Land with disturbing undertones near by.

Sunspot - The soft vocals work well with the quiet bite of the guitar and the electronics moving amongst the rhythms.

Music Won't Save You - No, but it sure makes the time pass by more pleasantly.

You may know Vakirai as the former vocalist of the excellent local band, The Honeyguns. His stellar tones took the lead in an intriguing stew of mixed genre rock music. He uses some of his bandmates along with the excellent guitarist John Lee and some other top musicians for this, his first solo album. The style is not as rocking as that of his former band, but is every bit as creative with a mix of intriguing styles. It starts with his personal roots from Zimbabwe, which immediately has me thinking of one of my favorite musicians, Thomas Mapfumo. The songs are not fully of that style but there is a lot of backing vocal work that sounds familiar to fans of South African vocal music. American soul music may be the strongest root here, but there is so many subtle touches occurring in both the songwriting and the skills of the backing musicians, that there is great pleasure in feeling all sorts of styles come together. I hear Isaac Hayes style guitars, folk moves, and standard rock signatures mixed with African or American rock rhythms. Above it all, Vakirai proves once again he is one of the finer singers in the area as his personality stays strong on every song, no matter where he may travel. And I should also thank him for inviting me to a listening party at One World Studios, where he and producer J. Kofi Rozzell presented the songs to a small crowd. This was a fun way to be introduced to a new album. I am happy to see Vakirai continue to create great music and hopefully will catch a live set some time soon as this album in officially released on May 31st (with the single Shine out May 2nd).

Songs to try out first:

Oliver - The opening cut has a great combination of trad African sounds fused with rock, Americana, which pulls together into a cohesive pop soul song.

Michael - I like the sparse vocal and acoustic guitar folk style here, with a vocal that is powerful in a Dino Valente manner.

Shine - The production and full bodied arrangements complete with horns shine here, yet Vakirai's vocal work is still strong enough to stay on top of all the exciting instrumentation.

This local slightly-psychedelic rock band's new album is filled with B-sdes, alternate versions, demos, and all but the kitchen sink. Some times these albums are 'for fans only', but thankfully this has lots of intriguing music with psychedelic roots along with quieter pop rock tunes. The quieter tunes are not as interesting as the heavier material (are they ever?). What really works best for this band is how they take a quiet dreamy vocal line and manage to blend it in to a thicker distorted guitar sound with loads of fuzz and feedback and manage to make it so complete. The quiet/loud compare and contrast within one song is a great way to explore psychedelic territory. It is a bit of a grab bag here, but that sort of goes with the premise of this album. The highlights are well worth repeated listens as this band manages to take familiar sounds and combine them in ways that make them intriguing to any long time of recent psyche-rock fan.

Songs to try out first:

Save Room for the Water - Nice crunching guitar fighting through feedback noise deep in the mix with crisp rhythms and nice understated vocal work.

Let's Go with Alice - The wailing guitar battles the dreamy vocals to see which is more haunting and it is a tie.

Anyone - Byrdsian vocal harmonies atop a good garage rock stomper.

1 comment:

Amos said...
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