Album Review:Dave Plaehn's "Radio Sister"

If you were to compare the pop of today versus the pop of the 80's , the flaring difference would be the emphasis on song writing and the uniformity of production due to the reliance on technology such as auto-tune. Not that the 80's didn't have producers slapping effects on singers voice to tried to compensate for lack of talent, but there was less homogenization. "Radio Sister" takes you back to the golden days of pop music, where  even the adult contemporary had a depth to it. Dave Plaehn follows a path not unlike that of the 70's rock stars who found themselves uprooted in the 80's and forced t to contend with the  post- disco world. During this time established artists scrambled to reinvent themselves.  Dave released his first solo album in 1981, so he lived through that period already and those lessons stuck and stayed.  This is not a bad thing as , he embraces that same courage to redefine himself with each song. He sets gospel backing singers against reggae grooves, and then on the next song "mix fusion jazz with the type of pop Paul Simon dabbled in on his"One Trick Pony" album.

The  host of new wave haunts the  title track with  Polices like guitar holding a taunt folk like chord progressions, before the  Culture Club like harmonica chimes in. Plaehn is an excellent singer, throwing his voice around while retaining a James Taylor like smoothness. Other influences bubble to the surface like the Elton John  belting out on "Is Any Body Listening". This is hidden by the fact its not a piano driven song. Despite the 80's thumbprint there are songs that would sit well on the radio next to today's pop market.The Jimmy Buffet island feel to 'Hello, Melinda" could be something Jack Johnson or Zac Brown would do.The Tom Petty meets Fleetwood Mac swing of 'Better Things to Do" might not transcend  arrested development, but it is fun.

The frenetic jangle of the guitar to "Soda Fountain" mixes the Proclaimers and Talking Heads, before it launches in a more ska section.I suppose Paul Simon's "Graceland" period also had these elements.
Despite his blues background which doesn't show it's face until the finally song , Plaehn comes across more like a pop crooner. His voice often resembles Lyle Lovett's plaintive mid range, without dropping  into Lyle's moodier lower register.He does have a much more adventurous upper register than Lovett. When does reach down into a baritone,it's boisterous and more Elvis fashioned. He really showcases on a A Capella Leadbelly Medley. The blues that he comes from is really only fully embraced on the closing track. Overall this album takes you back to a time when songwriting had more soul  and was about the songs not product. This album is honest and endearing.

Preview: Rising Appalachia

Playing the Fox Theater in Atlanta Friday December 19th, Rising Appalachia is not only a group that creates music to tickle your eardrums, but they are equally adept at raising your conscious level and attempting to lead you toward an insight on the inner-workings of the universe and the role of humanity within it. Their earthy sound is comparable to Nahko and the Medicine for the People, The Dirty Projectors, and Atlanta band Hello Ocho, with beautiful harmonies, spacious grooves, and an overall tribal vibe throughout much of their music. Their tunes are best enjoyed with in a dimly lit room, with a fire going and some of Washington state or Colorado's finest, and perhaps a glass of red wine - or by a camp fire, in the woods.

Album Review: G2p

G2p hails from Tampa, despite their love of  beat grooves that  seems more fitting for a band out of Jacksonville or Fort Lauderdale. To me it's weird considering Tampa's most notable musical export is death metal.It was pretty much created there.These guys are a far cry from death metal and tend to fall on the guilty pleasure side of the dial. They come from a similar place as Incubus and the bands that followed like Hoobastank. The singer even as a twinge of Brandon Boyd to his voice as well as a tendency to reach for the big hooks. What is  impressive about these guys is despite  having  funk and reggae to their sound,  they also have the restraint and good taste to not turn this into rap rock.

More fluidly rock than the Peppers are these days, G2P smokes from  the same bong as 311 at times . They bring to mind the famous Keith Richards quote "It's better to steal than to barrow, if you barrow you have to give it back." G2P is never caught red handed. They might be at he scene of the crime, but they inject something into the songs that has it's own identity. Think you hear  the Chilli Peppers's guitar tone? Listen again and you will hear  a slight country twang to it. Through this well produced album ,  the guitarist  flips through some interesting clean tones, his distorted tone, isn't what I think of as metal, but it might work for the weekend suburban head banger. These guys are also in standard tuning which sometimes brings out a more pop punk side.

The singer's brassy  tenor, knows it's way around a melody and has personality to  keep him from becoming  an Adam Levine clone. He even touches on the sort of charisma a pop singer like Bruno Mars capitalizes on. I like the  quick bursts of throaty blues accents he throws in.The band closes the ep out with the most adventurous song "Scream". It hits almost Tool inflected prog. The drummer shows his worth on this song. This song is surely the show stopper. Cranked up to ten it must come across heavier live than in the studio. Even the darker palm muted opening riff of "Purge", suggests these guys have a metal side that is battling against the desire to be radio friendly. If this is pop rock then I will take these guys any day over the whole Mumford and Sons folk thing that got popular a few years back.

Picking Up the Slack For Mtv : Nate Paladino's "Buy Your Heat"

Despite being a pretty laid back ballad the video features California Pole Dancing Champion Drea Roers, not that any one is going to complain about that fact pole dancing tends to occur to more upbeat twerk-able numbers. Paladino is no fool and knows that nothing gets thousands of Youtube views like pole dancing or anything involving scantily clad women. Needless to say the lyrics to "Buy Your Heart take on a pathetically creepy connotation when set against the videos subject matter.  The song is an otherwise honest stab at an indie folk songs that happens to carry the swing of  "Earth Angel" . This take on retro pop is by way of  Orange County  and it's vibe reflects the California sun.   There is nothing of any Twerk  value on the rest of this ep from which the single springs from . It does however opens with a retro guitar sound that sets Paladino apart from your typical Californian singer songwriter.The  darkly smug irony of  " My Kind of Bitch" brings a sense of humor to this modern taken on the early days of the 50's  rock n roll. This would be a much better song for Evan Peters to have sung on American Horror Story rather than  the less time period appropriate Nirvana. There is also a hint of indie folk to songs like the first single "Buy Your Heart". It keeps the swing of  "Earth Angel" covered by a guitarist from Orange County whose riffs reflected the California sun.  This sunny disposition does away with the tongue in cheek darkness of the opener, but it is still well executed.

"Don't Say Maybe" is a dirty Jerry Lee Lewis stab at rockabilly. The piano bangs in the background making this a pretty color by numbers tribute to this style of Elvis era rock. The guitar playing owes a great deal to Brain Setzer. It employs a similar manner of cool phrasing and tone. His voice takes on the mock warble of the King at times. The more western feel that recalls more of a Roy Orbison feel sets the tone to " Come Back to Me." Less heart wrenching than say " Only the Lonely" it is sung in a much less dramatic fashion than Roy, never going up into that classic head voice, instead it brings to mind Bright Eyes ' country album.

"Something to Prove'" switches gears on his time machine and amps up into  70's flavored bar room blues. Nate adds more husk to his voice.  He doesn't reach the sort of  whiskey and cigarette worship with his pipes that  t Tom Waits has, but that's the aim. The instrumentation is more in line with something Joe Cocker would have backing him, but the lyrics have that more deprecating Waits feel. Tom Waits never gets this upbeat even in his earlier work. The album closes with another song that not only steers clear of the earlier retro sound, but brings Bright Eyes to mind. Though he doesn't have the overly emotive quality as His voice returns to his normal plaintive mid range. The guitar is crisp and as lyrical as the folk melody he pours his contemplation over.  This ep is a good escape back to the beach for those of you who do not relish the coming dark of the winter months. At times  Paladino  might relish weaving  some of the songs together with retro sounds, over all it's indie flare and attitude dripped over clever singer songwriter pop that avoids sounding like your run of the mill CW soundtrack fare.  The album is not drenched in  reverb , instead offers some pretty refined and crisp sounds.

Album Review: Pacanomad's Restless

This Canadian soul/rock band began refining their sound years ago before dropping this labor of love in July. Formed by guitarist Nick Cifaldi and singer Chantel Rivard,  Pacanomad became the fully realized songwriting machine after employing the rhythm section of drummer Zack Stewart and  bassist Dave Bell. Their debut kicks off with as strong blues groove that is not unlike the early days of the Black Crowes. The lusty alto Rivard is overflowing with the soul to balance the scales and keep them from being just another rock band. At times this is executed in a similar manner to  Maroon 5's middle road , the big difference being is that these guys are way more organic. They don't rely on  the over produced radio sound. The band has captured a warm sound ,  harkening back to the type of production that Brendan O Brian made popular  in the 90's with artists like Pearl Jam.

The band can  blend with different styles while maintaining there own sound. They start to shift into  a more retro 70's soul sound but retain rock drive. Their singer's voice has the punch to push the melodies in your face and shove the hooks into your mind. Delicately thoughtful guitar sets the tone for the title track. This gives the  vocals room to play with. Rivard uses this space to form melodies with a greater se depth and dynamics.  It's like a  modern rock version of what Amy Winehouse or the artists that sprung up after her death such as Adelle, have done with 60's girl group soul.

"Tell Me Not to Doubt" follows a similar formula , but with more groove injected into it, resulting in something closer to what Bonnie Raitt might do.  The rhythm section of drummer Zack Stewart and and bassist Dave Bell  shine and Stewart really nails the point home that  While there is no question  t that a band is only as good as there drummer. He can go from rock to the pop inflected reggae undercurrent  of "Till it's Mine". This element is enough to for Rivard to  twist her phrasing and show the Gwen Stefani influence that is keep in the closet up until this point. Their punchiest rock moment comes at the build up of this song which is a fitting way to close out the album. For a debut this is really strong effort, the bands strength lies in a balanced display of chops and memorable songwriting. They are still defining who they are, but have a pretty solid foundation laid out to do this as they know where rock music started. So with this knowledge of where they came from, there is no limit to where they might go in the future. If soulfully organic rock is your thing, then you will get hooked in no time and find yourself looking forward to where they might go from here.

Picking Up the Slack for Mtv - Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson - Turtles All The Way Down

Hailing from Jackson, Kentucky Sturgill Simpson's music is roots country with a touch of stoner rock n' roll. This philosophical tune below reminds me of Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds and Jamey Johnson's High Cost of Living. There's not much to his video for his song Turtles All The Way Down, but it is slightly psychedelic and is likely best watched in states such as Colorado, Washington and Oregon - if you get my drift...
Another great tune of his that brings to mind Kenny Powers or maybe The Big Lebowski is You Can Have the Crown. It's about a man who can't seem to get it together and makes use of some great Southern colloquialisms.

Tonight: Pallbearer

One album that is sure to be on most best of 2014 lists is Pallbearer's "Foundations of Burden" that saw the band building a lusher landscape to their take on doom. Often labelled "funereal doom" the the darker more exquisite side of the doom genre, that often allows it self more room for melody and experimentation than the more traditional take on the genre which is often no more than black Sabbath worship. Pallbearer has even blazed new trails of pot smoke with their newest release that find the band at times even bordering on shoe gaze due to the level of ambiance at atmospherics, yet the songs have more groove and movement to them than their break through debut "Sorrow and Extinction" that already thrust the band ahead of it's peers. A full review of the album can be found here.

The other reason this is one of the shows not to miss this years , is openers are New York black metal trio Tombs, who like Pallbearer are innovators in their respective genre to the point of the label being perhaps a bit too snug these days.

a full review of their latest 'Savage Gold' can be found here.

and also on the bill is Vattnet Viskar A BAND WHOSE "Sky Swallower" album is impressive in it's own right. So three awesome bands means your Halloween party can continue on tonight at the Earl.

November 1, 2014
doors open at 8:00pm
Tombs | Vattnet Viskar