Music Morsels

March 2008

by Mark Waterbury
  To Die For

Sex & Patriotism - To Die For
Blast Zone Records - BZ00010

Stampeding down a trail blazed by the likes of Buckcherry and the Supersuckers, Lansing, MI’s Sex & Patriotism fires up a straight ahead rock machine with slight touches of modern edginess and solid musicianship. Songs like “Tearin’ It Up” and “Crazy World” are in-your-face party rockers. “Eyes Do Lie” steers a bit towards grunge, while “Dear Jani (To Die For)” has a punk tinged soul. Searing but soulful vocals, blazing guitars and thundering rhythms help you feel the power behind the music. This is a fiery fivesome to watch out for.


  Long Live Me

The Screamin’ Lords - Long Live Me
Brannick Records - BR002

This L.A. quartet of hard rocking musicians reminds us of an era when rock was intense, melodic, and fun. Fueled by classic rock influences in the vein of Dokken (George Lynch does some guest appearances), AC/DC and early Rainbow, this is pump-your-fist guitar rock at its best. Adding in the stellar, sonic vocals of two ex Michael Schenker cohorts Kelly Keeling and Robin McAuley, helps boost the music over the top to stand above many current purveyors of “new classic rock.” For anyone who loves to rock hard the old school way, this CD is a blast.




Airiel Down - Vision
Autumn Rain Records - ARR-2742

Raleigh, NC’s Airiel Down brushes the canvas with an ethereal backdrop ala The Fray, and then splashes on some vibrant colors. Crisp guitar power tilting towards Collective Soul, with sweet but potent vocals reminiscent of Dave Grohl’s mellower side. Even with these influences, the songwriting is strong and unique, balancing hooky melodies with ear-opening song structure, subtle emotions and occasional strangeness (check out “Anthem”). Airiel Down makes you think of the term “buzz band,” not just because of their influences, but the creativity they build from them.


  The Curse of the Songwriter

Pi - The Curse of the Songwriter
That Crazy Chick Music - TCCMCD-002

Bay Area singer/songwriter Pi has one of those lush, subtly sultry voices that is irresistible right out of the gate. This is the vehicle for the dark recesses of her soul which often flow forth in her thought-provoking words. Using musical backdrops ranging from the pulsing ambient electronica of “Prozac” to the spicy world flavors on “Monster” and eerie guitar and keyboard work in “Princess” and far more, she is a prolific, intriguing songwriter and vocalist that will no doubt turn more heads with this, her third effort.


  A Long Time Ago...

Tom Gavornik - A Long Time Ago...

Veteran jazz guitar picker Tom Gavornik has created another masterpiece, full of delectable freestyle plucking and intriguing arrangements. Tom’s music has an earthy feel, as if he was performing in your living room rather than in the studio. Unconfined, he toys with edges of new age, blues, and rock virtuoso while weaving it into his smooth, hipster jazz roots. He has this knack of laying down a groove so you can absorb the music and fully experience his talents. Tom is a musician who proves again that he deserves widespread attention and respect.


  Good And Reckless And True

The Alternate Routes - Good And Reckless And True
Vanguard Records - 79822-2

This four piece alt rock band from Boston finds various ways to make their songs intense, no matter the mood. The lead track “Ordinary” is a sort of microcosm, starting with a lush, acoustic vibe before unleashing a burgeoning power. “Who Cares” melds punk rhythms with pop alt hooks. “Hollywood” is a mellow but potently emotive ballad. The band obviously pours their soul into writing interesting songs with poignant lyrics, doing enough different and interesting things to entice the listener to take notice.


  Rooms for Adelaide

Mia and Jonah - Rooms for Adelaide

This Oakland based singer/songwriter duo create mesmerizing music, blending their diverse vocal styles in haunting, soul-tugging harmony. Jonah is a midground between Sting and Cat Stevens, while Mia channels Bonnie Raitt through a gritty wail ala Janis. Their lyrics are heartfelt and intelligent, augmented by edgy, rootsy blues folk sprinkled with enough instrumental prowess to make you notice that as well. A delectable sophomore effort.


  Extended Play

Brides Of Obscurity - Extended Play
Electrokitty Records - EK2227

Seattle’s Brides of Obscurity have this unique way of culling British wave influences from the Beatles, Bowie and Mott The Hoople and fueling it with a modern sensibility. Lush harmonies and glam-powered hooks have an undefinable edge that sneaks in there. The guitar riffs and rhythms are just a little bit dirty, balancing the sweet vocal work. This separates their music from many of the typified current pop alt acts by stretching the songwriting envelope and culling from a deeper set of roots.


  Piano and Sax

Alina - Piano and Sax

Russian born Las Vegas transplant Alina could be what the pop world is looking for. Her stunning voice displaying provocative beauty gives her impassioned words depth and honesty. R&B, folk, electronica and even some homage to her Russian heritage create a vibrant musical template, augmented by Alina’s further talents on sax and piano. Catchy but intense, simple and musically brilliant at times, this is well-balanced, highly listenable music.



Forwardhead - Pieces
Hard Volume Records

Metal bands with melodic vocals deserve more attention. Forwardhead is one of these bands, and the melodic tonal qualities in their vocals in no way inhibit the seething power of the music. The sonic guitar work and driving rhythms reminiscent of Tool and Nickelback scream at you to crank it up, and then the potent vocal croon allows you to absorb the lyrical messages. Rather then trying to be loud and heavy merely for the sake of being loud and heavy, these guys pay attention to the art of soundcrafting, something metal needs more of nowadays.


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