Music Morsels

April 2007

by Mark Waterbury

Speechless - Time Out Of Mind

Atlanta's four piece instrumental rock band Speechless catches your ears right from the first strains of "In The Clouds." They let you appreciate their musical prowess in an understated way, creating songs that are listener friendly without overwhelming you with bombastic presentations and ego stroking overblown solos. Template influences of bands like Kansas, Rush and Dixie Dregs along with jazzy flourishes can be felt, but their own musical personalities shine through. The intriguing symbiotic balance of guitar, bass, keys and drums display not only musical talent, but a knack for creating songs that are enjoyable at their core.


  Martino Conspiracy

Martino Conspiracy - Hope in Isolation
Gladius Records/Aspirion Records

Songwriter Tony Martino and his friends have created what could be the hottest music innovation from the Windy City since the Smashing Pumpkins. Slightly nodding towards Death Cab for Cutie or The Fray, Tony's songwriting persona injects distinct influences and weaves them into a subtly intense vehicle for his thoughtful lyrics and emotive vocal lilt. Songs like "Growing Pains," Re-Ignition" and "Moat Around Your Heart" have radio friendly hooks with the right touch of edginess. An eyebrow raising influence from Brian Wilson can also be heard and adds a wonderful breath of harmonic tonality and vibrance to the songs.     


  JJ Cale and Eric Clapton

JJ Cale and Eric Clapton - The Road To Escondido
Reprise - 44418-2

This first ever collaboration between these two legendary guitarists makes you feel that they must have had a blast recording this together. They transfer that vibe to the listener as this is feel good music at its finest. The bluesy groove in "Missing Person," country foot stomper "Dead End Road" and down home folk of "Three Little Girls" are just a few of the many noteworthy tracks here. Brimming with delectable vocals, phenomenal but tempered guitar work and captivating songwriting, one can only hope this will not be the only time these two greats record and write together.   

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  Return of Simple

Return of Simple - Saffron    

Keane already proved you don't need a guitar in the band. Ohio trio Return of Simple is echoing that ideal with this debut. With more of an edgy strangeness ala Ben Folds and a less produced more earthy feel, the music grabs you right out of the gate. "Hover" has a burbling intensity graced with a haunting piano melody. "Flying Blindly" has a bit of a jazz inflection while "Opportunity" shows a bluesy side. Add to this vocals in a mid ground between Sting and Jon Anderson and you have a recipe for riveting music.     


  Regan Lane

Regan Lane-Don't Mess with the Pretty
Mannequin Bonfire Productions - MB-2

Puyallup, Washington's Regan Lane combines power pop influences from various avenues into music that is both catchy and edgy. The title track can make you think of everyone from Bowie to Iggy Pop to Alice Cooper. "Play the Part" has a more Brit Pop vibe. "Time Flies" is a twisted blues ballad showcasing Regan's avant garde but quite stunning vocal abilities. Excellent songwriting both lyrically and musically, Regan uses his roots to break molds with this very entertaining effort.     


  Memphis The Band

Memphis The Band - Radio


The fourth album from this Chapel Hill, NC based fivesome should garner them more widespread recognition. If not, there is something wrong with people out there. Granted, they are not commercial, but I have been keeping an ear to these guys and they are just a flat out damn good band. Raunchy, punk and country edged roots rock in the vein of Southern Culture on the Skids with touches of blues and jam stamps a loud, exclamation point on what these guys are all about. Ragged and rough but with the right touch of melody and musical prowess. For Pete's sake, check these guys out.    



Makaela - Secret Me


It is refreshing to see that more pop vocalists are writing their own songs. 19 year old Makaela shows maturity in her pop R&B fueled writing, allowing you to fully absorb her stunning vocal pyrotechnics. Lyrically, she reaches deeper within her soul than many of her contemporaries, portraying the words in subtly hip-hop fashion that is very understandable. Her music is radio friendly and is backed by enough talent to entice you to really listen closely to it, savoring the songs rather than just using it as a mere backdrop.    


  Victor Bravo

Victor Bravo - Shut Out the Sky    

The energy that this New York trio packs into the four songs of this EP will knock you over like the shock wave of a nuclear bomb. This is a band who understands what punk was, without really hanging onto anyone's coattails stylistically. Brash, edgy and loud, there is a comfort level with the roots punk riffs and rhythms combined with something that is hard to put your finger on, but you realize that these three bring something decidedly unique to the table. It is more than enough to make you want to hear a full album from them.    


  Falkner Evans Trio

Falkner Evans Trio - Climbing The Gates
Consolidated Artists Productions - CAP 1004

Highly regarded New York jazz pianist Falkner Evans has stripped things down a bit, enlisting the talents of bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Matt Wilson for this wonderful CD. You get the feeling that these guys improvised a lot in the studio, and it works to great effect as their capabilities really shine. From frenetic snappy tunes like the title track and "Talking Rocks" to the moody ballad "I'm Through With Love" and smile enducing "October," any fans of jazz trios will spin this until they wear holes in the disc.    


Adam Rich
Division of Serge Entertainment Group