Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beware of Fashionable Women

Rock Bottom races from the speakers, laden with simple drum grooves, harmonies galore, and a euro-rock guitar line that puts an immediate summer-fun-lovin' smile on your face. In the vein of Beachboys' Pet Sounds meets Jellyfish's Spilt Milk, the CD has begun to please.

Obligatory Tattoo starts with a riff reminiscent of your favorite James Bond film. As the verse begins you'll agree that the song has sound track written all over it. But at the chorus, it moves from distant and ominous to pure pop - too angular for what started.

Found is as close to jazz as you'll get with these guys. Its a friendly and easy listening tune. If you're a tongue in cheek fan, you'll like the conflicting lyrics (dark and bloody) mixed with the quirkiness of a poppy Ben Fold's song.

I imagine a live fan favorite to be The Great Corrupter (Of Youth). It has a very live quality. More time in production might have made this one soar more completely on record. But its in the last track, The Big Yellow, that the band strikes gold. Clearly their best song. In all facets: writing, performing, and production, it stands out above the rest. Its a catchy song, again in the vein of Ben Folds, that I think any listener will enjoy.

All in all, Beware of Fashionable Women is an upbeat, fun record. Its full of harmonies and life. Check it out whenever you get some time!

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bright Lights (JJ Soul Band)

Bright Lights, the newest album from JJ Soul Band is a nice combination of easy listening blues and adult contemporary pop-rock. There’s a little something for everyone in this album. With a stellar band and instrumentalists at hand, the boys from Iceland execute nicely.

At The Mall, the album’s opener quickly jumps at you in a bluesy pop-rock fashion; full of tasty guitar licks and perfected Rhodes and hammond work. It’s busy, but not so much that it’s overdone or conflicting. Let Love Find Us spouts trippy guitar work that would please the likes of any Jack White fan. It swells and rises and falls in such an angular way that the listener can’t help but be drawn to it.

After a few more tracks, JJ Soul Band descends from the pop-blues sound to a very John Scofield-esqu piece in, Jazz And Tarantella. Again, the instrumentation brings this song to life, and the vocals knock at your gritty soul side. JJ Soul’s vocals are something between a growling Louie Armstrong and late Peter Gabriel.

All in all, it’s a well-produced and recorded album, so pick up a copy.

RATING: 3.5 of 5 stars

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

In The Midnight Hours (Dan Sistos)

Sassy percussion and guitar movement immediately draw in its listener on In The Midnight Hours. And so it continues for soloist, Dan Sistos in his most recent album. A true talent of the guitar, he eases through intricate runs and lead lines.

Sistos’ talent surrounds him and is evident in his past performances with the likes of Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton, and making several major appearances on television’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America and the American Music Awards.

Nocturne is a beautifully dark piece accompanied with full string arrangement that shows Sistos’ contrast from the uber-pop/Latin music genre. Again on Midnight Waltz, Sistos is able to slow things down to almost a breeze as his playing evokes the most intimate of emotions. But my favorite work is in the simplicity of Sistos’ Going Home. If you close your eyes, you’ll swear he’s in the room with you.

Sistos is accompanied by a truly impressive list of class A musicians on this record. Anyone that appreciates well executed Latin music or is a fan of the World Music genre will instantly be a fan of Dan Sistos’, In The Midnight Hours.

RATING: 4 of 5 stars