Author: Jory Carroll


an A.merican D.ream

Mexican Summer

Street: 02.26

Vietnam = Max Pain & the Groovies + The Flaming Lips + T. Rex

The sophomore album from this Brooklyn rock group is a wild ride, with dark, psychedelic tones festering throughout the record. At its best, you can settle down into the groove of certain songs, but the majority of the tracks tend to be misguided with no clear direction. The band’s frontman, Michael Gerner, doesn’t necessarily “sing” his obtuse lyrics, but, rather, tends to spew them in long winded phrases that you can only try to comprehend before another set begins. But despite the lack of cohesive thoughts, there are a few highlights. Midway through the album, the track “1.20.09” offers a groovy piano ballad, with a dark church organ blaring underneath as well. The tune “Flyin’” may be the best track on this album, as its upbeat tempo seems to keep the wheels on the track and in a steady motion. I don’t question the musical skillset of Gerner—it’s clear he has a knack for this shit, but after several years since VietNam’s last release, it seems like the band could have used some more time polishing the songs and making the record more connected overall. –Jory Carroll

Sob Story
Slumberland Records
Street: 06.18
Spectrals = Holy Water Buffalo + Elvis Costello + Big Star
The sophomore album from U.K. band Spectrals is a step up from their 2011 debut record, Bad Penny, as their sound seems more confident and polished. The brain behind the band is Louis Jones, and his well-crafted pop/rock songs and distinct voice make this album stand out from much of what is being released today. Maybe it’s just because the Spectrals are from across the pond as well, but the sound on this album reminded me a lot of fellow English musicians like Nick Lowe, who emerged on the scene back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Some of the standout tunes on this album, like “Let Me Cave In” and the title track, “Sob Story,” show off the influences of the aforementioned musicians, but the Spectrals’ sound presents a new twist on the style. The 12 songs on this album don’t necessarily blow you away, but they are catchy and enjoyable. –Jory Carroll
Virginia Wing
Red Sails
Critical Heights
Street: 07.02
Virginia Wing = Beach House + Hospitality
This 7” features two great little indie pop tunes from the English group Virginia Wing. Formed just over a year ago, the band is still flying under the radar at the moment, but this short 7” definitely leaves your ears wanting more songs. Their first single is called “Red Sails,” and it features more of a dream-pop sound, with echoing guitars and keyboards. The coy vocals of Alice Merida Richards also blend perfectly with the band’s sound, creating a truly mellow vibe. The B-side, “Creation,” begins sort of where “Red Sails” left off, until a fuzzed-out guitar kicks in aggressively and Samuel Pillay takes over on vocals. Even though the band’s sound takes on more of a psychedelic essence on “Creation,” they pull it off very well, and then, unfortunately, it abruptly ends before you want it to. –Jory Carroll

October Gold
Bridge of the Sun
Alderbrooke Records
Street: 07.16
October Gold = Iron & Wine + Bon Iver
A folk duo from Canada, the band October Gold is made up of Kit Soden and Aliza Thibodeau, but for this album, they brought in over 20 other musicians to help create a more symphonic sound overall. This album is also a concept album, as a lot of material, such as the lyrics, are taken from poetry featured in Steven Erikson novels. There is a lot of beautiful material throughout this record, as both Soden and Thibodeau are strong musicians, and Thibodeau’s powerful violin playing stands out in the majority of songs. However, the repetitive themes and sounds on the album become a bit overwhelming, and would greatly benefit from more diverse arrangements. Nonetheless, this is an intense piece of music, and the strong musicianship of October Gold is put on full display. –Jory Carroll



Indian Headset
Skin Of Your Teeth
Street: 03.20.12
Indian Headset = Fleet Foxes + Laura Gibson

After releasing their debut self-titled album around four years ago, local band Indian Headset returns with this short, but really great, six-song EP. The album stays mostly faithful to a blend of indie-folk rock, with some strong musicians on board—most notably Ryan Schoeck, who formed the band back in 2008. Schoeck’s voice and guitar playing mesh very well together, and the sound is among some of the best I’ve heard from local bands. At certain times throughout the album, Schoeck’s set of pipes reminded me a little bit of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. The opening track “Bourdeaux” puts Schoeck’s chops on display from the get-go, and the tune also benefits from some eerie pedal-steel guitar echoing in the background throughout the song. Other songs, such as “Canoe” and “Mother’s Words,” are great as well, and follow a similar musical theme. Overall, this is a fine EP, with lots of simple chords and mellow soundscapes. –Jory Carroll

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
Dig Thy Savage Soul
Bloodshot Records
Street: 08.13
Barrence Whitfield & the Savages = Chuck Berry + Bo Diddley
Even if you’ve never heard of Boston musician Barrence Whitfield, as soon as the opening track “The Corner Man” begins, you know he’s a seasoned veteran of the blues and rock and roll. Whitfield adds his powerful, raspy voice to his long-time backing band, The Savages, creating a fiery combination. This is demonstrated nicely on the tune “Daddy’s Gone To Bed,” as the band is firing on all cylinders while Whitfield howls the line, “Don’t worry, daddy’s gone to bed.” Having played together since the ’80s, Whitfield and the band’s sound on every song is tight and crisp, and they simply put on a clinic on Dig Thy Savage Soul. –Jory Carroll

Candid Coyote
Blessed Be Those Who Weep
Street: 04.14
Candid Coyote = Townes Van Zandt + Gram Parsons

One of the great challenges a solo musician faces is to engage the ears of their listener, and, once they do, to elicit some kind of emotive response or make them feel a certain way. However, when you choose to use only a guitar and your voice to do so, achieving that milestone becomes exponentially more difficult. This album from local band Candid Coyote, aka singer/songwriter Chris Cullen, features a ton of country-folk ballads, with simple chords behind Cullen’s expansive lyrics. Due to the lack of depth of sound and unique melodies, the main problem on this album is that the songs tend to sound quite similar to one another, aside from the lyrics. With 14 tracks total, the bare sound of Cullen and his guitar can be a little tedious and monotonous. However, Cullen does show he can put together well-crafted tunes, and has a nice voice to back it up. –Jory Carroll

David Lynch
The Big Dream
Sacred Bones
Street: 07.15
David Lynch = Tom Waits + The Velvet Underground
David Lynch is most well known for his work in television and films, such as the acclaimed cult TV series Twin Peaks, but his late-career foray into music includes similarly bizarre elements. Just like his films, it’s not for everybody. Lynch released his first album, Crazy Clown Time, back in 2011, and his new record, The Big Dream, contains a plethora of moody soundscapes blended eerily well with his own take on the blues. In other words, if Tom Waits made a record with Lou Reed and then polished it up heavily, The Big Dream would be a likely result. Much like Waits, the 67-year-old Lynch doesn’t so much “sing” as he does ramble and moan, albeit with a more gentle, ethereal approach. The album also features an interesting version of the Bob Dylan classic, “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” as well as a track featuring Lykke Li called, “I’m Waiting Here for You,” which is only available as a bonus track and is not included on the album itself. Overall, this album surprised the hell out of me, and it seems to get better with each listen. Don’t get me wrong: There is a lot of weird shit, but Lynch, like he’s done so many times before, pulls it off. –Jory Carroll

Son of Ian
Good Morning September
Street Date: 06.01.12
Son of Ian = Dave Matthews Band + Black Crowes
The biggest thing that struck me after listening to this album was not any particular song, but the strong musical chops that Son of Ian put on display. Their sound has a fusion of both rock and funk. The local group’s sound is also quite tight on Good Morning September, much like a band that’s been playing together for 20 years. Lead singer Trenton McKean has a great set of pipes, including a unique growling technique that he throws in here and there. Another thing that stood out to me on this record was the saxophone playing of David Oster. You don’t really hear too much saxophone in rock bands these days, but Oster knows his shit, and it blends nicely with the group’s sound. Although there’s nothing mind-blowing about this record from Son of Ian, it is enjoyable nonetheless.

Brown Bird

Fits of Reason

Supply and Demand Music 

Street: 04.02

Brown Bird = Gogol Bordello + Trampled By Turtles

It’s hard to imagine so much sound and energy coming from just two musicians, but the Rhode Island duo Brown Bird pull it off well. The band features David Lamb and MorganEve Swain, who show off their strong playing and singing chops on Fits of Reason. The duo’s sound varies a little bit throughout the album, with some psychedelic and Middle Eastern flavors at times, but overall, it’s mostly a blend of up-tempo Americana and dirty blues guitar, with Lamb and Swain singing in harmony a lot. Even though there are only two of them, they still manage to add some basic percussion instruments, like a kick drum and tambourine, to help drive their songs. There is also some great gypsy violin playing throughout the album, which reminded me of the violin that was prevalent on Bob Dylan’s 1976 album, Desire. However, the one downside to the large amount of energetic and upbeat songs is that your mind and ears are a little exhausted by the end of the record. I think this album could have benefited from a couple slower tunes that you could actually settle down into a groove. –Jory Carroll