Music Morsels

June 2007

by Mark Waterbury
  Days Difference

Days Difference - Numbers
Black Dog Recordings - BDR13001

This youthful band out of Virginia Beach shows maturity and depth in songwriting and healthy musical talents with their full length debut. Even with obvious influences from piano driven alt rockers like The Fray and Keane, Days Difference add something personal and special to their roots. “End of the Line” and “Inside Out” have potent passages with gritty guitar work. Seemingly more balladic songs like “Faltering” and “Burn Out” snare you with their ambient, subtle intensity. Several songs sound radio friendly, having a familiar yet still unique sound that entices you to absorb the thoughtful vocals. There are several hot music prospects in the tidewater Virginia area and Days Difference could be one of the leaders of the pack.



KChari - Out Of Line

Atlanta’s KChari siblings may not be the first people to inject classical training into modern pop music, but they are certainly one of the more innovative. Each member is multi-faceted with Joshua alternating between guitar and electric cello, Sarah playing keyboards and drums, and Miriam handling bass and vocals. The result is music that can be haunting and sultry with a variance of feelings often conveyed by Miriam’s emotive vocal work. Subtly dynamic alt rockers like “I Cannot Stay” and “Desperate Enough” are balanced with touching ballads like “Crash With Me” and the Latin flavored “All The Blame.” This mosaic of edgy alternative, pop passages and classical fuel is sure to enthrall people who enjoy music that is a bit beyond the norm, and created with talent and passion.



Rush - Snakes and Arrows
Atlantic Records - 135484-2

There is always that anticipation before a new Rush album comes out; what direction will they take? Rush has always had the same basic direction and signature vibe. They are just so purely talented in the songwriting arena they can cultivate creative tendrils from this strong base. “Snakes and Arrows” is no different. In fact, the backdrop feeling harkens back to the “Farewell to Kings” or “Hemispheres” era. There is a lot of straight, hard hitting rock and roll involved here with most of the songs finding ways to stretch the envelope enough so you can tell these guys still write from the heart and soul. The lyrics tend a bit towards the dark side on this album but are no less intriguing. No matter what your expectations are, if you truly appreciate good music, Geddy, Alex and Neil always seem to deliver.


  Damien Jurado

Damien Jurado - Gathered In Song
Made In Mexico Records - MEX 15

Everyone from Seattle does not have to have a grunge influence. The Jet City’s Damien Jurado conjures images of dusty desert towns, cloudy Appalachian Mountain tops and Nashville dives. That is the most remarkable aspect of his music; he makes you FEEL what he feels. You are bound to be touched by the honest emotion in his music, while mesmerized by his voice which is like a marriage of Townes Van Zant and Cat Stevens. Augmented by excellent acoustic guitar work and tasteful string accompaniments, Damien could become a fresh voice on the singer/songwriter scene.



Khymera - A New Promise
Locomotive Records - LM317

If you miss bands from the 80’s who (everything aside) paid prodigious attention to vocal harmonies, then you need to check out the new CD from Khymera. It has a retro sound, but an extremely well done retro sound, graced by the extraordinary vocal work of Dennis Ward. Weaved into a melodic power rock atmosphere that occasionally touches the boundaries of metal and even prog, the music has that undeniably enjoyable vibe, with catchy songs and plenty of intense guitar work. Not groundbreaking, but very listenable and enjoyable.


  Jody Shelton

Jody Shelton Band - Child EP

This NYC based singer/songwriter infuses various alt rock influences into this delectable taste of what is to come. So diverse are the influences that you could name a lot of bands, or none at all, as Jody’s own songwriting personality shines through. The burgeoning guitar strength of the title track is a perfect foil for Jody’s stunning vocal range and emotive stylings. “Driveway” is a snappier tune with just the right blend of pop hooks and edginess. These four songs will heighten anticipation for his full release later this year.


  So It Goes

So It Goes - Historionics

The Twin Cities are not dead in regard to innovative bands. So It Goes blends 80’s synth pop in the vein of Oingo Boingo, with a touch of The Clash’s rasta tinged punk and a splash of Brit pop circa early 90’s. Then...they do a lot of crazy, unique and fun things with it. The lyrics are darkly humorous and often feel like they come from a bad sci-fi movie -- that is a compliment! Catchy and strange, retro and futuristic, this foursome has the potential to turn a lot of heads.



ActionReaction - 3 Is The Magic Number
Hope Division Records

ActionReaction may be the kind of band the world is looking for to put the alt back in alternative rock. Melding proper doses of hooks, power chords, intelligent lyrics and melodic yet intense vocals, perhaps the strongest suit from this New Jersey trio is their stellar songwriting. It is very unique but still with a familiar touch, creating many songs who allow you to absorb a mellower grove before nailing you with a potent intensity. Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Skid Row. ActionReaction could be the next hot item from the Garden State.



Swampdawamp - self titled
Big Penny Records

Not too many bands out there with the guts to do new Southern rock. Not only does North Carolina’s Swampdawamp have the guts, they also put plenty of balls into this music. The cool thing is, the are not trying to sound like a Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, or Marshall Tucker clone. There is that bluesy base, fueled by loud, rowdy guitars, pounding rhythms, and lyrics that could inspire a Jeff Foxworthy book sang with beer soaked, barbecue blistered fervor. There is nothing wrong with doing a retro music style as long as you get it right. These guys get it right...with a shot of JD on the side. Maybe two shots.


  Skidmore Fountain

Skidmore Fountain - Break
Triple R Records - TR3016

Brooklyn has some tough neighborhoods, and Skidmore Fountain reflects that with music that feels. not just sounds tough. There is a kinder gentler side as well, but even those passages have a coarseness that grips you, and they are often sandwiched by grittier bridges. Witness the highly creative “Blur” and you will get the picture. The band stretches songwriting boundaries further on the twisted blues of “Lost and Lonely” and the rootsy punk of the title track. A lot of inventive and enjoyable music here.


Adam Rich
Division of Serge Entertainment Group