Friday
Oct082010

Water Tower Bucket Boys 'Sole Kitchen'

 This energetic string band have upped their game with their new album. Bringing in producer Mike Herrera (of MxPX and the excellent Tumbledown) gives their sound an new edge and added dimension that makes their self-written songs and multi-vocal assault work that much better than before. They've also added texture with the array of acoustic instruments including banjo, guitar, bass, fiddle, dulcimer, mandolin, harmonica and on three tracks drums, played by Harley Trotland of Tumbledown. These are song that take a age old form and give it a new lease of life as these song deal with the band's life and travails rather than being rooted in the songs of the past that many similar bands use as the basis of their set. Telegraph is a less frantic tale of meeting people in specific places. The vocals are shared between the four players and are often delivered in unison creating a punk like fusion of action and vision. The country break-up tale of Since You've Been Gone could easily find space on a straight country album. London Breakdown highlights their instrumental skills which are pretty damn good. Their hundred-mile-an-hour street gang bluegrass is full on in Blackbird Pickin' At A Squirrel, while the more measured Sunday Night Roast is another strong contender. Kenny Feinstein, Josh Rabie, Cory Goldman and Walter Spencer are the Water Tower Bucket Boys and they are doubtless picking up fans as they go and with the albums getting better with each release it can't be two long before they get the same interest as bands like Old Crow Medicine Show or Chatham County Line. They just need the right breaks and a little more exposure to help them on their way from Their Portland, Oregon base to the world at large. www.watertowerbucketboys.com

Friday
Oct082010

The Avett Brothers 'I and Love and You' American

This trio have been building a strong following in the USA through some strong live performances and an increasingly sophisticated set of albums. They have brought their music from it's acoustic string band roots to a full sound that has seen erroneous comparisons to the likes of Coldplay. The foundation of these songs is still rooted in their original intentions but has, in the studio, been expanded and built on to the point where now with a major label and having their album produced by Rick Rubin has brought them wider attention (and criticism) for what they do. The piano and percussion are all much more in evidence on this album, which, not unexpectedly, has a greater sonic footprint within it's sound than on previous albums, although it's immediate predecessor the indie Emotionalism is not that far behind in terms of overall direction. The trio are multi-instrumentalists and also employ a team of additional players to give this album it's layered and textured range. What has been apparent all along is that these guys can write a good song and give it a good lyric. There is a sense of a set of songs that have a high lyric content that are both literary and likable. From the title song to the telling Ten Thousand Words to percussive dynamic of the more upfront Kick Drum Heart. Then there's the sibling harmonies which grace many of the their melodic and memorable songs. Many of these songs will find a place on rock radio as they are filled with hooks and choruses that lodge with the music memory cells. The word is spreading and it won't belong before they start to play in bigger venues and many more will know who the Avett Brothers are in the way the Kings Of Leon built on their original inspirations to reach their own sound and audience. The Avett Brothers are coming from a different place but could end up standing on the same stages but you getting the feeling that whatever way it turns out that these guys will continue to their music. As the song says It Goes On and On.

Friday
Oct082010

Mike Bartlett 'Truth & Love' Self-released

A singer/songwriter with a big presence, a big voice and some big songs. His influences range from outlaw country heroes like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard through to rock with connections to his native Ireland that included Thin Lizzy and The Waterboys, as well with a meaningful band like Pearl Jam. That manifests itself with a rock heart and a country soul, with rock songs delivered in a roots style. Built around the central core of acoustic guitar and voice the arrangements feature a full sound with rhythm section and electric guitar and keyboards. The songs deal with life, reflections on how people deal with its tribulations. How the small man deals with bigger issues is shown in David And Goliath. The title track is a direct appeal for truth and love as the bedrock of any relationship, and is given a sparse setting that works very well in the context of the song. Song That Changed The World looks a the wider issues of hoping for some lasting peace in the world at large. Bartlett doesn't have a hugh vocal range but he still conveys the emotions he intends. The albums is one which has a depth that requires several listens to gain the most from Bartlett's songs. Truth and Love is a engaging debut from a artist who will undoubtably grow and develop as he gains performance and experience. In the end you come away with the impression of a big man with a big heart. It's a shame then that he hasn't conveyed that on the album cover which is one of those that lacks and real connection with him or his music. Find more about him at myspace.com/mikebartlettmusic

Friday
Oct082010

Stone River Boys 'Love On The Dial' Cow Island

The tragic death of Dave Gonzalez's Hacienda Brothers partner Chris Gaffney left him with options. Options which he has decided to persue with his new band Stone River Boys which, to a degree, pick up from where the Hacienda's left off with further explorations of the country/soul music that they had at their core. This time out Gonzalez has teamed up with former Hollisters singer Mike Barfield, who has a strong soulful voice well able to bring the depth of soul and the heart of country music to the mix. He also brought a bunch of songs that he'd written solo or with others to the table. Dave Gonzalez is a reknowned guitar player, singer and songwriter himself and this makes them a perfect frontman combination. But in the engine room there are players like Kevin Smith and Hank Mainger on bass, Justin Jones and Damien Llanes on Drums as well as having the textures of Dave Biller's sensitive steel guitar to top it all. Gonzalez has done a excellent job on the peoduction, a meaty one that keeps all the elements balanced. One strong package. The songs rum from Biller's instrumental Steel City to the soul covers Can I Change Your Mind and the Goffin/ King song Take A Giant Step. The original are right up there with the steel led Lover's Prison right next to the sad ballad 40 Acres which has some nice steel and baritone guitar interplay. The title track is the band at it's most soulful with Hammond organ swirls around the compelling vocals. Fans of the Hacienda Brothers will love this. It's not that band with Barfield replacing Chris Gaffney, but rather a somewhat different take on that timeless soul country theme. It the sort of album that grows with listening and is an album in the best sense of a complementary set of songs creating a greater whole. Tune in. 

Friday
Oct082010

Lilly Drumeva 'Loving You' Music Author

Proving that music crosses many borders Bulgarian Lilly Drumeva and her band Lilly of the West (and guests Monogram from the Czech Republic) are playing quality bluegrass and acoustic country. The songs are from the pen of such traditional stalwarts as Bill Monroe, Hank Williams Snr, Jimmie Rodgers as well as from Tim O'Brien, Townes Zan Vandt as well as contemporary writes like Gillian Welch. The versions here are not pushing any envelopes but are delivered with skill, verve and understanding. Drumeva, in her sleeve note, say her passion for this music came from hearing Emmylou Harris' Live At The Ryman album and that is a pretty good compass point for what's happening here. She also mixes thins up a little by choosing to cover a 1930's jazz standard Pennies From Heaven in a way that nods to it's source. While the closing song, her take on Tennessee Waltz shows that her range could easily extend to traditional country as easily as the acoustic bluegrass base of much of the material. What comes across is a singer and set of musicians enjoying what they are doing and exploring the music they love. It shows that in the future that if it was decided to seek out some less well know choices and expanding on original writing abilities that Lily Drumeva should be able to take her music to another level. In the meantime Loving You is here to be enjoyed.