Music Morsels

October 2007

by Mark Waterbury

Firefall - Colorado to Liverpool: a Tribute to the Beatles
Winged Horse Records

Jock Bartley and Steven Weinmeister, the heart of seminal country rockers Firefall have created a wonderful and unique tribute to the Fab-Four. In a stripped down acoustic format that allows their excellent vocal work and guitar plucking to shine, the two produce harmonic luster in classics like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Norwegian Wood,” and “Here Comes The Sun.” More rocking tunes such as “No Reply” and “Come Together” are intensified with throaty vocal fervor. Not your typified tribute, Jock and Steven’s talents pay homage in a way that even your pickiest Beatles fan will no doubt enjoy.


  Eternal Descent

Eternal Descent - Losing Faith

The brainchild of the UK’s Llexi Leon, this soundtrack to his upcoming anime project paints an intense portrait of the stories to come. This is subtly powerful metal that allows the listener to experience both the story and musical prowess involved. A background industrial throb and intricacies nodding in the prog direction are balanced by the sweetly melodic but emotive vocals of Elysha West. Bringing to mind Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, this music has its own uniqueness and intrigue factor, leaving you with the satisfying realization that the full-fledged anime project will be no less than stunning.


  Marea Alta

Marea Alta - Live in Buckhead

The Latin influenced jazz created by Atlanta based combo Marea Alta is the type that draws you in with catchy grooves, then making you pay rapt attention to the stellar musicianship. Led by keyboardist J. Santiago Nunez, you can feel a sort of laid back vibe as if the songs were all created via jam sessions, combined with a tightness that is the spawn of experience and talent. Everyone in the band gets to display their chops, and sax lovers will no doubt be thrilled with Nick Longo’s pyrotechnics on the alto. The songwriting is unique, weaving varied jazz influences with a deft sprinkling of Latin spice. From the frenetic “Monte Carlo” to the mellower “Mexico Beach,” this is one highly enjoyable musical journey.


  The Brothers Dimm

The Brothers Dimm - To Oblivion
Dick and Jane Records - 0003

Picture Coldplay with both mellower and catchier facets and you get an idea of what this California based trio is all about. Sweet, harmonic vocals tilting towards a Beatles/Byrds crossbreed is balanced with hooky touches that are both undeniably likable and ear-opening due to the musical talent involved. From the slightly island vibe in “Too Busy Shopping” to the folksy “Probably Wrong” and subtly intense alt rocking “I’ve Changed My Mind,” this is well-crafted music that despite its more obvious influences injects a healthy dose of originality.



Stark - The Curse

Loni Ford puts a tough chick slant on a voice in the midground between Ann Wilson and Annie Lenox. Spouting brash, often R-rated poetry while pounding out bass lines, she is the heart and soul of Stark, but not the only reason that this is a very good band. The backdrop of Josette’s gritty and intricate guitarwork fueled by the punkish beats of drummer Sweet Rob Endemann create a rock machine that will nail you right between the eyes. Not merely punk, alt, classic or metal, but possessing elements of all of them, this is pure rock with some interesting twists.


  Jeff Gutman

Jeff Gutman - Now Way Back
Mr. Knees Records - MKR007


San Francisco singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Jeff Gutman shows varied personalities on this, his fourth album. “Hitchhiker” kicks off the disc with a rock flavor ala unplugged Collective Soul. “Emerald Eyes” is one of several songs that show a deep rooted folk influence, while “Movin’ Down the Line” is organic bluegrass where he proves his prowess on the banjo is equal to his acoustic guitar mastery. With a haunting emotive voice and lyrics that are intelligent but also to the point, Jeff has that little something extra that fans of singer/songwriters hunger for.



  Ben Marshall

Ben Marshall - Songs for Everyone

Despite the title of the second album from this Michigan native, the music is not all over the map. Instead, you have wonderful music that feels like a more acoustic The Cure, with lush vocals reminiscent of Donovan, and musical backdrops that are unpretentious, but still the spawn of solid talents. There is an honesty that grips you, offering you the chance to experience the heartfelt lyrics. You can really feel the emotion here, and that ratchets up the intensity without having to use loud music as a crutch.



Zandem- self titled


Created by Alan Kelly and Bob Kaisis, this hard rocking combo from Greece combines the power and hookiness of American classic rock with touches of European prog. Think The Darkness with less operatic but still intense and harmonic vocals. Sure, this is pretty retro, but also very well done, especially when they turn up the rawk in songs like “Stand and Fight” and “Poison Heart.” The power ballad “Helen” is as good as anything churned out in the 80’s. Familiar sounding music that has enough uniqueness to make you pay attention.



  The Singular

The Singular - I Finally Know What’s Good For Me


If Prodigy would have been influenced by Keane, this is what it could have sounded like. Electronica that occasionally pulses and throbs as in “Metal For Breakfast” is often more ambient and atmospheric, graced by lilting, frenetic vocals and tempered guitar and rhythm ejaculations. Few people in the electronica world strive to do something truly original. The Singular accomplishes that with a healthy dose of warmth in a musical genre that is all too often cold and calculated.




Rockidle - Life Is For Living Not Merely Existing


London by way of Ireland singer/songwriter Derek Hagen seems to have plenty of indigent Nashville or Austin in his soul. If Robyn Hitchcock and Billy Bragg played at the Bluebird Cafe with Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clarke this could be the spawn. Perhaps it is the obvious nasal Brit accent that flavors down home sounding tracks like “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” and “Razor Tongue.” Whatever it is, it works wonders whether you are hanging out on Music Row or in Picadilly Circus.



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