Music Morsels

February 2008

by Mark Waterbury
  Rotation of the Earth

Bayadera - Rotation of the Earth
Bitemark Records - BR-2012

The fourth CD from this culturally diverse OC quintet displays a masterful weaving of various world flourishes with female voiced alt rock. Think of a more Latin slanted No Doubt, or a less punkish Garbage hanging out at the Casbah and you get an idea of the template here. Gina Bandy’s provocative vocal work is wrapped in the potent talent of the players, creating music that snares your soul while getting you into a highly danceable groove. With inherently catchy music backed by strong songwriting, look for this band to break out of SoCal very soon.


  The Song Within

Phil Keaggy - The Song Within
Autumn Records

Although many people relate Phil Keaggy to his Christian based recordings and tours, it should be more widely recognized beyond those who listen to his Christian music that he is a highly gifted guitarist. If you haven’t experienced Phil’s phenomenal capabilities yet, then this instrumental project for McPherson acoustic guitars will flat out blow you away. With styles ranging from folk and new age to blues and jazz, Phil’s prowess will hold your attention throughout the sixteen tracks, as “The Song Within” rates comparably with some of his best previous instrumental efforts. Even without words, the way he displays his talents in a non-ego flaunting way on this disc, he is glorifying the Lord using his God-given talents to full effect. If he reaches more people this way, that’s what it’s all about, right?



Ann Wilson

Hope and Glory - Ann Wilson
Zoe Records - 01143-1085-2

I know, it seems like everyone is doing tribute or cover CDs these days, but that is no reason to ignore this delectable effort from Ann Wilson. Heart’s legendary golden piped diva lends an intense personal stamp to more acoustic based songs like Floyd’s haunting “Goodbye Blue Sky,” Jesse Colin Young’s gritty nugget “Darkness Darkness” and Elton John’s “Where To Now St. Peter?” On the flip side, Zep’s “Immigrant Song” starts with a more stripped down acapella treatment, with Ann’s vocals absolutely on fire. With guests including Gretchen Wilson, Allison Krauss, Rufus Wainwright and Ann's sister Nancy, this may be one of the best cover CDs to emerge from the recent deluge.


  Long Story Short

The Thrillhammers - Long Story Short

Sometimes you just have to rock. That is what The Thrillhammers appear to be all about if this debut is any indication. This Canton, Georgia based foursome infuses touches of country and blues into a blistering rock machine, like a more honky tonk fueled Georgia Satellites with frayed edges nodding towards Jason and the Scorchers. They don’t try to be trendy or modern. The music just feels like they strapped on their guitars, grabbed their drum sticks, cranked up the amps, and let loose. Pure rock is often created that way, and that is what The Thrillhammers have done here.


  Soul Theory

Zanya Laurence - Soul Theory
Soul Spot Music - SSM001

The pop world could use more people like Zanya Laurence. On her debut, this SoCal native displays captivating and emotive vocal pyrotechnics, fueled by a pop edged R&B backdrop that allows you to fully experience her talents. Also writing the lyrics on most of the songs, this is obviously music created with as much of Zanya’s heart and soul that she could possibly fuse into it. Anytime you can marry this type of talent with catchy, likable music you have something special going on.


  When She Whispers Your Name

Buck 69 - When She Whispers Your Name

Toledo’s Buck 69 takes the roots of blues rock more often found in Texas and blends it with a touch of jam band free form feelings. Even though the music is well written and produced, the result feels like you invited them over to your house for a band party. Excellent groves with top notch musicianship still has that feeling that they are letting their hair down here and there at just the right spots. You have to do a bit more when you play blues rock these days, and Buck 69 has the talent to grasp you with their music.


  Introducing Danny Ross!

Danny Ross - Introducing Danny Ross!

Imagine if Elton John went alt rock. You may get an idea of what NYC’s Danny Ross sounds like, because he can twinkle the keys like the Rocket Man, but his music feels more like Ben Folds or maybe a touch of Third Eye Blind. A heady brew of hooks, edginess, instrumental talent, uniquely melodic vocal work and intelligent lyrics work to great effect here.  Danny is going to snare your attention and make you want more after listening to the five tracks of this EP.


  Mountains and Tumult

Annie Barker - Mountains and Tumult
Beautiful Revolution Records

The exquisite occasionally operatic voice from L.A.’s Annie Barker shows astonishing range and vocal control. Take a listen to “Revolutionary Rock N’ Roll and you will get a good idea of the depth of her talent pool, both vocally and lyrically. With an ethereal but intense instrumental backdrop like a marriage of The Verve Pipe and Keane, the music is the type that twists its way into your soul in a comfortable sort of way. Stunningly emotional and very enjoyable, watch out for this lady!


  Caught Looking

Greg Roth - Caught Looking
Rio Rancho Records

Singer Songwriter Greg Roth infuses a healthy does of sardonic wit into his lyrics, and sings them with a gutsy yet tempered emotion. Fueled by music that rides the fence between alt folk and alt rock, many of the tunes have snappy grooves that draw you deeper inside what is happening. With embellishments including unique instrumentation and occasional forays into various styles including bluegrass, island and blues, Greg weaves it all together in masterful fashion for a very well crafted debut.


  Blood River

Doop & the Inside Outlaws - Blood River
Highland Music - BR 001

Detroit seems an unlikely home for folk that runs this deep and muddy. It feels more Nashville or Austin, but it feels damn good, even when the songs touch upon more somber subjects. Emotional storytelling vocals are enhanced with gritty, jangly guitars, sweet touches from a Hammond B-3, and solid rhythms. From the tearful ballad “Let You Bleed” to the scorching rocker “Who’s To Say” this rootsy band wears their heart and guts on their sleeves, and could easily be the next big thing out of the Motor City.


Division of Serge Entertainment Group