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Straight No Chaser

Sometimes it burns a little.

Archive for September, 2010

CD Review – Rusty Anderson (formerly of Ednaswap and Paul McCartney’s band)

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Born on Earth

Oxide Records

Rusty Anderson knows how play and he knows how to make a hit. He’s been a member of Paul McCartney’s band since 2001. He was a founding member of the 90’s alternative group Ednaswap. He wrote the song “Torn” for Ednaswap and shortly thereafter it became a global hit when Natalie Imbruglia covered it. He also has played with countless artists as a studio musician for (among others) Jewel, The Wallflowers, Santana, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and Ricky Martin. In fact, the lead guitar chords to Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca;” that’s Anderson. So his second solo album “better be killer,” I thought. It is.

The title track is a perfect radio hit while “Baggage Claim” has lead single written all over it. The only downfall with Anderson is his voice. He doesn’t have the commanding voice that a lot of his songs need to take them from good or really good to great. I found myself thinking about how songs like “Julie Roberts” and “Under a White Star” would be stellar if someone else (preferably someone like Regina Spektor or even Corinne Bailey Rae for the first, Hailey Williams on the latter) sang. The songs themselves are really well done and although Anderson has already firmly established himself as a go-to studio musician, he proves that he can write his own songs with the best.

CD Review – Callers

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Life of Love

Western Vinyl

When you have a singer who sounds like a better-trained and more polished Debbie Harry in Sara Lucas, you’re going to be good. And Callers is. Really good. “You Are an Arc” opens the album and sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom an was thrown in as an outtake, but it is quite possibly the best song on the album. Lucas’s vocals are like clouds hovering over the sparse beats of songs like “Glow” and the smooth groove of “Life of Love.” Callers is one of those bands that you don’t initially love, but every time you listen to them, they grow on you until they become one of your favorite bands.

CD Review – Old Blind Dogs (Celtic masterpiece!)

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Wherever Yet May Be

Compass Records

I love Celtic/Irish/Scottish music. I love the bagpipes, the accent, everything. So when I received Old Blind Dogs in the mail, I was stoked. And it was everything I thought it would be…and then some.

The opening “St. Kilda” is a slowly expanding instrumental and flows right into “Lough Erne’s Shore.” What struck me right away is how this Celtic quartet sounds almost like a Scottish band that has been listening to a lot of American bluegrass. The voices and fiddles blend seamlessly with the pipes and percussion to make an audio dream. A third of the tracks here are instrumental and normally that would bring an album down in my mind. I love reading the lyric sheets and seeing how they make them into the songs. Old Blind Dogs prove that you don’t need lyrics. “Psychopomps” and “Portobello” are just as good as the lyrical “Scotland Yet” and “Sir Steve Huska of Bryce Canyon.” Bottom Line: If you like either Celtic or American bluegrass music, then Old Blind Dogs is a must listen.,

CD Review – Steve Mason (Former Beta Band frontman!)

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Boys Outside

Domino Records

I first heard The Beta Band on the movie High Fidelity when John Cusack’s character plays it at over the speakers at his record shop. It was a lazy groove that you couldn’t help but fall for. On the latest solo album from Steve Mason, the former frontman of the group, he takes that undeniable groove and runs with it.

The press release says that the album was written entirely on acoustic guitar and “many of the finished tracks [were] stripped back to reveal his undoubted songwriting talent. Well, that’s sort of true. The album does reveal an artist that can write a song that’s better than most, but it’s a whole lot more electronic than the press release makes it out to be. “Understand My Heart” is a danceable track while the head-bobbin’ electro-pop that John Cusack’s character played gets revived on “Am I Just a Man” and “The Letter”

Steve Mason has his die-hard core of fans. For them, this is perfect. For anybody else who enjoys the singer/songwriter genre, Boys Outside is entirely refreshing and well worth the listen.

CD Review – Sevendust

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Cold Day Memory

Atlantic Records

I have been a fan of Sevendust since I heard “Waffle,” which is still my favorite song of theirs. The intensity of the music coupled by the fury of  vocalist Lajon Witherspoon. “Ride Insane” and the opener “Splinter” prove that despite over 15 years together, they are just as explosive as they were when their self-titled debut arrived back in 1997. “Confessions” and the first single “Unraveling” show that they also know how to make a perfect rock radio single. It’s catchy, hard and uniquely Sevendust.

While the pounding music is like a gun to your head, it’s Witherspoon’s vocals that are the complex, hammer and bullet that go through your skull and into the recesses of your brain. Sevendust have nothing to prove, but they still sound like they are trying to prove themselves, which translates to album after album of solid rock. Get it while you can.