Music Morsels

August 2007

by Mark Waterbury
  Emerson Hart

Emerson Hart - Cigarettes and Gasoline
Back Porch Records/EMI - 0946 3 80566 2 19

The first solo effort from former Tonic vocalist/songwriter Emerson Hart reaches a higher plane of emotional lyrical efforts than he was able to do in the band. You can also feel the influences of his new home Nashville in the more bare-bones singer/songwriter rendition of songs like “If You’re Gonna Leave” and “I Wish The Best For You.” “Run To” and “Ordinary” still exhibit a gritty rock punch. Emerson really gets to push the envelope on this excellent effort, and while there is a waft of the Tonic style that should attract fans of that multi platinum group, songwriting connoisseurs will also be very impressed by what he has done here.


  Evil Beaver

Evil Beaver - In The Spirit Of Resilient Optimism
E. Largo Entertainment Group - 002

Chicago's Evil Beaver has this raw, brash approach to metal that is both intriguing and intense. You can feel industrial influences from fellow Windy City rockers Ministry, and maybe a touch of Lacuna Coil with the powerful female vocals and moody, somber passages. They do very unique things with the song structuring, occasionally throwing in thrash and punk influences evident in the wild romp “Happy All the Time.” It is refreshing music because it does to metal what some of the early punk bands did to glam; thrusting a middle finger at the norm.


  Rico Monaco & Sol Sons

Rico Monaco & Sol Sons - Luna  Salerno
Ricmon Records - 2-006

There is something undeniably enjoyable about this music right from the first strains of “Ciao Bella Signorina.” You feel the guitar influenced by Carlos Santana, a Latin groove that is both smooth and intense, and passionate vocals with a brightly colored timber. Perhaps it is the rock edge that Rico infuses into his Latin structures that catches the ear more. Whatever it is, the music is catchy, while also flaunting excellent musical capabilities without being too flashy, creating a well-crafted balance that enhances the music.


  The Ed Barrett Jazz Trio

The Ed Barrett Jazz Trio - Lunch With Millie

Hurricane Katrina survivor and jazz guitarist Ed Barrett will definitely open ears with his first original effort. An excellent finger-style jazz picker, the music has a refreshing vibe that feels like you are in a dimly lit Manhattan jazz club kicking back with a martini while getting into the grove. Backed by contra bassist Jimbo Walsh and drummer Dave Cappello, the music has a snappy, swinging quality while also letting you absorb the musical prowess of the players. Even picky “jazz snobs” will eat this up and ask for seconds.


  Therefore I Am

Therefore I Am - 3 song EP

This taste of the upcoming debut from Boston’s Therefore I Am creates serious anticipation of the full release. Hard driving modern rock in the vein of Taking Back Sunday, but with a touch more edginess, further songwriting depth and still a template of hookiness. “Farewell, Via Park” and “I Get Nervous In Cars” have radio written all over them, while “Anniversary” proves that the less “commercial” sounding tracks won’t even be close to throwaways. If these guys have the right work ethic and get the right representation, watch out.


  Pleasant Brothers

Pleasant Brothers - Tell Me Once Again

Perhaps you can feel a touch of Motown influencing with the songwriting of Detroit alt rockers Pleasant Brothers. That helps with this catchy vibe their music has, harkening to Fastball and maybe Sugar Ray to some extent. “Deco” is one of those songs that sucks you in with a laid back but energetic feel, while “Me and You” shows an edgier side. Sparkled with delectable harmonic vocals and intelligent lyrics, the music is well-crafted and high on the “I can’t help but like this” factor.


  Long Road

Long Road - This Too Shall Pass

Some newer rock bands forget their true rock roots; New York’s Long Road is not one of those. There is this rock solid base built around British Explosion bands that are often fueled with a grungy guitar growl, as in songs like “One Truth” and “Low Ground.” They pay attention to their songwriting craft and infuse their intense music capabilities into the songs. Add to this the vocals of Ted Amos that sound like a cross between Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison, and you have something that may not be commercial, but it is unique, enjoyable, and definitely rocks.


  Bill Vivino

Bill Vivino - self titled

Jersey singer/songwriter Bill Vivino has an excellent grasp on pop song writing, while possessing the talent to do unique and edgy things with them. The hooky guitar fueled “Sunday” has this soaring emotive quality. Glimpses of Bill’s jazz upbringing show up in songs like “Still Frame” and “I Found You,” with the later being a piano graced ballad further displaying his fervent vocal chops. Musical integrity and pop sensibility are merged to wonderful effect here.



Sona - Man In the Mirror
Imperial Records

Originally from Cameroon, now residing in Milwaukee, Sona his instantly grasped the street smart sounds of American rap, and could be a force to be reckoned with. With a smoother R&B aspect reminiscent of Guy, and a voice to the shade of Chuck D, Sona’s raps are poignant without being outrageous, with lyrics delving more into emotions and feelings of the streets, rather than based in incidents. Rap needs more fresh voices, and Sona could easily be one of those if this EP is any indication.


  Jason Ring

Jason Ring - Patchwork
Old Glove Press - OGP1208

Some people are afraid to stray too far from tradition in the realms of bluegrass and folk. Virginia's Jason Ring is far from afraid as he proves with his unique perspectives on this excellent CD. “Driving Song” kicks starts the disc with a frenetic, avant garde bluegrass instrumental. “Working On A Building” showcases Jason’s folksy but emotive vocals. Along with very solid songwriting capabilities, Jason’s acoustic guitar and banjo plucking are nothing less than phenomenal. If this guy keeps it up, they could be talking about him decades from now like they talk about Bill Monroe today.


Adam Rich
Division of Serge Entertainment Group