Music Morsels

November 2007

by Mark Waterbury
  The Donnas

The Donnas - Bitchin’
Purple  Feather Records

One thing you can always expect from The Donnas; no nonsense in your face rock in large doses. Their seventh album does not disappoint, as they keep their punk/metal fueled rock tachometer planted in the red throughout the fourteen tracks. Stand outs include the snarling foot stomper “Wasted,” the hooky but edgy “Save Me” and fist pumping anthem “Here For the Party.” They do stretch out a bit, melding brash vocals with lush harmonies, and adding interesting instrumental twists into four cord firebombs. The Donnas are not known for trodding on too much new musical ground, but they sure do leave scorched earth in their wake.


  Jason Spooner

Jason Spooner - The Flame You Follow

Maine singer/songwriter Jason Spooner has both honed his talents and pushed the songwriting envelope a bit more with his second CD. With a delectably harmonic, subtly emotive voice channeling thought-provoking lyrics, Jason straddles various edges of folk, country, rock and blues. Haunting ballads like “All That We Know” and “Meant To Be” are balanced by the uptempo alt-edged “Black And Blue” and funky groove of “Simple Life.” Maine is a long way from Nashville or Austin, but Jason’s talents can equal anything that has come out of the supposed singer/songwriter “capitols” as of late.


  Billy Joe Royal

Billy Joe Royal - Going By Daydreams
Raindrops Records

What is obvious right out of the gate on this new CD Billy Joe Royal is that he still has one of the most recognizable and incredible voices in the biz. The same songbird croon that stamped “Down In The Boondocks” and several other songs in the brains of the faithful has not lost anything, still conveying the passion and lush harmonics that he is famous for. From the tear-jerking emotion in “One Morning, Two People” to the poignant blues of “Where Did The 60’s Go” and his operatic take on “Under The Boardwalk,” Billy Joe proves that there are plenty of reasons why many consider him as legendary among vocalists. After over four decades, he is still creating these reasons.

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  Shark Island

Shark Island - Gathering Of the Faithful
Manifest Music

Another child of the 80’s L.A. rock scene who were highly respected before basically vanishing from the scene, Shark Island proves why many consider them one of the greatest bands that never was. Forget the “kinder gentler” opening track, the rest of the CD has plenty of teeth. Original vocalist Richard Black’s throaty wail is as intense and melodic as it was twenty years ago, fueled by the explosive guitar riffs of the other original member, Spencer Sercome. Kind of like a less poppy Winger or less bluesy Tesla, Shark Island’s brand of gritty but hooky rock could enjoy a rediscovery due to the current resurgence of 80’s rock, and the killer music on this CD.



Mountain - Masters of War
Big Rock Records

If you are going to tribute Bob Dylan’s songwriting, you had better either do it faithfully, or bring something unique to the table. Rock legends Mountain chose the latter route to brilliant effect. Consider the driving thunder behind “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Leslie West’s bluesy growl will knock you out on both the plugged and unplugged versions of “Blowin’ In the Wind.” Corky Laing provides drumming pyrotechnics and deep, rap like vocals to “Like A Rolling Stone.” One of the greatest songwriters in history tributed by one of the greatest rock bands in history? And on top of that, doing mostly war protest songs considering the current times? Awesome combination!



Scorpions - Humanity Hour 1
New Door/Universal - B0009777-02

When you hear the first thunderous strains of “Hour 1” blasting from the speakers, you can happily bang your head with the knowledge THIS is the Scorpions! Granted there are a couple power ballads here, but they even have a bit more edge and creativity to them, while further exemplifying Klaus Meine’s fierce vocal talents. Mostly, “Humanity Hour 1” is a reminder of just how hard the German fivesome can rock when they want to. “You’re Lovin’ Me to Death” heralds back to the raw power era of “Animal Magnetism.” “321” and “The Cross” are full throttle rockers with interesting twists. This is a huge “yes we are still here, and yes, we still rock!” CD.



Letterperfect - In Transit

Orlando’s five piece alt rockers Letterperfect show very solid potential on this five song EP, mostly because they refuse to be fully typecast. “If” kicks things off with a punk fueled abandon, like an edgier Sum 41. “The Greatest Lament” is a potently emotive acoustic ballad with sweet string embellishments. “Indiscretions of Classroom Morale” shows a touch of progressive ideals and intricate instrumental prowess in a power pop back drop. What you have here is a lot of talent melded with a sense of rawness. Could be a band to watch out for.



The Art Of All - Morgan

A unique hybrid of trance and prog rock weaving subtle elements of nu-metal and classic alt creates a multi flavored debut stew from this Massachusetts duo of Peter Aliferis and Ruben Ruiz. Think of Primus and The KLF hanging out at a Porcupine Tree concert and you can imagine the wonderful, mind stretching strangeness happening here. The music throbs with life and breathes with excellent musicianship, punctuated by somber vocals spouting minimalist but intelligent words. Great futuristic thinking-man’s music that can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates talent fueled by imagination.


  Dave Boutette

Dave Boutette - The Piccolo Heart
Embassy Hotel Records - EHO 042

Pop vocalist Dave Boutette fuses a sort of classic folk feel ala Woodie Guthrie or early Dylan with kisses of modern alt folk edginess and a touch of crooner blues. The result is unique and refreshing, with music that lets you pay attention to the wonderful stories while experiencing them in subtly non traditional singer/songwriter fashions. You can also think of Tom Waits without the gruff voice. Songs like “Waltz For Smelt,” “Dime In Hand” and “New Parade” cast perspective on his  talents. Music that is catchy, honest and enjoyable as well as being skillfully crafted.



Until Further Notice - self titled

It is not often you hear of a band coming from Salt Lake City, but Until Further Notice looks to change that.  A punk edged brashness nodding towards The Ataris or The Offspring is tempered by a more melodic approach particularly with the vocals and occasional acoustic melodies. Hard drivers like “Lost Again” and “Fifty Miles and Counting” are laden with hooks while also injected with something a bit different you can’t quite put your finger on. Even the mellower songs have a crackling energy to them. Not really groundbreaking but they do have the talent to inject some freshness into familiar feeling music.


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