Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

By Robert Barry Francos

It’s true, as AGESANDAGES prove with “Alright You Restless” (, everything old is new again. The first cut of this updated folk tradition, the ironically named “No Nostalgia,” brings an image of all seven members of this group sitting around a campfire – though in this case it’s a microphone – and singing with harmonies enhanced by the multi-gendered group playing various instruments. This is contributed to by knowing that they recorded the pieces “live,” rather than using overdubs and other studio techniques. The music is soaring, whether all seven are in a joyous choral arrangement or in smaller numbers, in a rev up or ballad, celebrating life in different aspects. Songs like “So, So Freely,” “The Peak” “When I Was Idle,” and “Souvenir” (the closer, which sounds a lot like the opener) showcase their sound well. Occasionally they veer into New Christy Minstrels territory, but without being mawkish. Still, they sound best when in a harmonious group than when one is singing (I have a digi copy, so I don’t know who is who). It’s worth looking up their videos, and if you like what you see and hear, come back to the album. Here is a good example of their fun lyrics, from the opener: “I’ll be the bottles on the beaches / You’ll be the waves that wash them all ashore.”

New York-based duo ASOBI SEKSU refers to its style as “Dream Pop,” and I’m not going to argue with that after hearing their latest, “Fluorescence” ( Following what seems to now becoming a popular trend, Yuki Chikudate sings and plays the keyboard with synth effects in a pop-heavy way as James Hanna plays guitar (and sings lead on the processed-until-drowned “Counterglow”; I have no idea what he actually sounds like). Even in Saskatoon, there’s We Were Lovers, who follow the same formula. I’m not making a judgment about that, just noticing that it is a new genus. Of what I’ve heard of this subgenre, I must say that AS is among the better. Mind you, I’m not a fan of effects, as you will see as you read through this column, but somehow Yuki uses it more often to enhance rather than burying it. This positive reaction is boosted by the actually good song melodies and Yuki’s soaring vocals, even though they too are put through some synthesizing. Songs like “Perfectly Crystal” and “Sighs” show some of this. Doesn’t mean I’m going go and listen to more of it, but I can appreciate it and even actually enjoy some of it.

You’ve just come from a hard day at work, or a night of stage diving. You wanna just kick off the dust and Doc Martens and relax. You reach for the JULIANNA BARWICK release, “The Magic Place” ( Its Enya-like ethereal highly reverbed non-lyric vocalizing of Celtic-influenced melodies played by a nine-instrument backing that have a magic aerie quality to bring you to another world, such as you might think of in a “Lord of the Rings” pastiche. With chants over repeating, similar riffs (per song), it’s easy to fall into a state of hypnotized peace, perhaps because this may remind you of what you hear playing while having a deep-muscle Swedish massage. In other words, listen to the songs at home and not while you’re driving. Some of the highlights include “Cloak” and “White Flag.” Very effective and haunting.

MARTY BALIN is having a career that spans before and way after his most famous gig as one of the founders of the Jefferson Airplane. On one of his latest releases, “The Versace Mixes” (Varulven, c/o, he gets what I call the “Varulven Special”, namely multiple mixes of a song on the same disk. There are four different versions of Balin’s song “Versace,” about the murder of the famed designer: an album mix, a dance mix, a dub mix, and a club mix, each ranging between 3:09 and 4:14. Marty’s voice definitely shows some age, but he still sounds great. In fact, his “Somehow the Tired Reach Home” is excellent, including a bizarre choice for a bridge (which I will l”eave for you to find). Also a Varulven Special is a non-musical section, here a “Lost and Found” 16-minute interview of Marty on WMBR-Cambridge, MA, conducted at the end of 2009. Marty shares not only the history of the Airplane’s beginning, he talks about his entire early career and some of the later. Also present is Marty’s sense of humor, which is bound to make one smile. In the middle of the interview is an audio clip from Marty’s live show in 2008 at the Boston Esplanade, where local singer Didi Stewart admirably fills Grace Slick’s role for “Somebody to Love” while Marty wails on guitar (the DVD of this event is available at

I was way behind when I received the new CHESTY MALONE AND THE SLICE ‘EM UPS CD, “Torture Rock” (Wrecked, c/o, in the mail. And yet I stopped everything I was doing and immediately put it on; then played it again. That’s gotta tell you something. I knew if this second release was as good as their first, I was in for a treat. Happily, I can say I was not disappointed. CMATSEU are a post-hardcore band whose sole focus is material suitable for “Chiller Theatre”. In fact, the band explains in their song “Filtheater,” “I got brainwashed when I was 3… / Would stare at me thru the TV.” Zombies, cannibals (they are not the same thing), vampires, rednecks, “The Brain That Ate New York,” and sex are just a sliver of shiver that the band extols. Starting with an instrumental (a reprise of it end it as well), they dive right in with a solid humor that shows their mettle with “Protest the Unborn” (“they got nothing to give”). Each song races to the next with guitar up front and a laugh riding shotgun. We learn about the band’s “Favorite Things” (“fucking and killing”), though they amusingly contradict themselves in “Bloodsong” (“drinking blood is my favorite thing”). I’m glad they included their “Zombie Relief Fund,” which a live version can be seen on video. Along with “Favorite Things,” I also enjoyed “The Night Jaqueline Came Out of the Grave,” both of which have the catchiest chorus (among many sing-along numbers on the disc). Speaking of which, I am happy to see (and this is a presumption on my part) that lead singer Jaqueline Blownaparte (brilliant name!) feels confident enough now to shout in her own voice, rather than doing the gravely (as opposed to grave-ly) throat thing. Their Halloween gigs are camp highlights, usually held in Brooklyn, and worth a see. Still wear my CMATSEU tee that I received at one of those shows. And congrats on Jaqueline and lead guitarist Anthony van Hoek for their 11.11.11 tying the knot (or whatever else). Hope it is not because they have to…

I totally got into the indie film, “Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein,” so I was excited to get the chance to review the director’s group (actually him and his wife, Mrs. Creep, aka Nikki Wall), CREEPERSIN via their second CD, “Faster Creepersin Kill! Kill!” ( Not surprising, they are from a cross-genre subgenre that focuses on horror. Some previous participants include the Cramps (voodoobilly), Children of the Night (rock), Chesty Malone and the Slice ‘Em Ups (hardcore), and most of both Black and Death Metal. Initially, thanks in part to a wild electric organ, they are reminiscent of the Fuzztones (garage). While I would put Creepersin more in the metal column, they do cross a bit into at least two or three of the categories mentioned above. The songs are simple and to the point, with titles like “Dead Girls Not Dead,” “Flesheater,” “My Chucky Doll Came to Life,” “I Need More Blood,” “Ribosomic Good” (dedicated to the ribosomes of one celled animals), and “Vamp Girls From Planet Fuck.” The Creep has a decent voice, but I do have two issues. First, he mumbles everything, despite having a decent voice for the genre. Second, the vocal track is juuust back of the music, so it’s even harder to tell what the hell he’s saying. As a horror fan, I feel like I’m losing out in something witty, but I can’t tell. The least he could have done was added a lyric sheet (pout-pout). Best cut here is “Creeper Crew Anthem,” a chant along with a chorus that includes the voices of members of Kings of Evil, Grynch and Domesticide. Wonder what Tura Santana and Russ Meyer would have made out of Creepersin using the artwork from Meyer’s film… [[Clint W]]

The JOE DENINZON TRIO takes an interesting look at the term “standard” on their “Exuberance” ( Along with a number of original jazz compositions by the trio - Joe’s nine-string violin accompanied by Steve Benson on guitar and the recently late Bob Bowen on bass - they take music from the near and relatively far past, and put it through a progressive jazz filter. Sure, one might expect it of tunes like Fat’s Waller’s “Jitterbug (Used To Be A)” or even Chopin’s “Nocturne in Eb Op. 9 No. 2,” but they move it significantly further with Steely Dan’s “Bodhissatva,” Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Linemen” (perhaps the one piece that strains the most), Alice in Chains’ “Heaven Beside You,” and even Radiohead’s “The Tourist.” And these guys make it all work so you may not even realize that this isn’t the original genre for those tunes. The one vocal is by guest Luba, whose silky smooth voice slides comfortably over an original, “Sun Goes Down.” Over an hour of cool jazz.

Even though I saw the penultimate performance before Squeeze broke up (the “Saturday Night Live” dress rehearsal), I was never really a fan. After hearing the new release by ex-member CHRIS DIFFORD, “Cashmere If You Can” (, I may go back and try them again. This is a really fine pop (not in the Lady Caca sense) release, with songs written and sung by Difford. After years of personal and addiction problems, Difford has turned his life around (albeit alone and broke). This is a very intimate record, including about how he spent the years (“1975”), remembrance of both his own dad (“Sidney Street”) and also Jools Holland’s father (“Upgrade Me”), and even his sordid skinhead youth (“Back in the Days”). There are some imaginings, like how he wonders if his teen years being around the house was a hindrance to his parents sex life (“Passion Killer”), and what will happen when he’s elderly (“Cotton Tops”). All really good songs, with well written melodies, strong and accessible lyrics, and his baritone voice with the right touch of emotion. His back-up musicians (Difford plays no instrument other than his voice) are substantial, and Ben Abrahams’ production is solid, with the voice up front. The coda, “Wrecked,” is about “meeting myself for the first time” and realizing he’s happy. Hearing this collection made me content, as well.

Do I really need to explain Vancouver’s punk legends D.O.A.? Recently, founding member Joey Shithead Keithley released both his second book and this CD, “Talk-Action=0” (, which share the same name and are meant as a companions to each other. While the songs here are ones that the band has been doing for years, Joey’s the only original member, so with the new bassist (Dirty Dan Sedan) and drummer (Floor Tom Jones) has recorded or re-recorded some new and old material, all of it amazing, as always. Starting off strong with “That’s Why I Am an Atheist” and continuing to never let the foot off the neck of the listener, they slash through the likes of “They Hate Punk Rock,” “I Live In a Car,” “Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty and Bones” (I dare you to listen and not come away with the title stuck in your brain; remember, two of those four are Canadian), “Consume! Consume!” and “We Won’t Give In,” just a few of the many great tunes here. There is even a cover of Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’ (once again proving my theory that punk and protest folk music are just a volume and speed apart). Strong vocals, melodies, harmonies, and message run through every song. Hell, if you do know D.O.A. you must also be aware that this is a must-have.

Is it me, or does a lot of the (relatively) recent metal bands sound like a cross twix Andrew WK and Three Days Grace, such as the song “Long Ride Home” by DOWN THEORY, on their “Invisible Empire” ( CD. Perhaps it’s the technology, like the echo drum sounds of the ‘80s? These guys are good in the genre, that’s not the issue, just that it’s a bit cliché. Tatt sleeves? Check. Goatees (both with and without moustaches)? Check. Shaved heads? Check. Yeah, I know, “don’t judge a book…” Okay, the music IS the crux. The musicianship is great, the vocals by Nick Lee are gratefully front and center, but the studio ravages his intensity by burying it in gloss and overdubs. Very radio friendly, though. I’d like to hear them be as fierce as they look, such as on the grinding opening of “Someday.” Hey, that they cover the Cure’s “Fascination Street” speaks volumes, even if they “hard” it up a bit. Songs are about being “Defiant,” “Over It” (one of the best cuts), and “Pushing Back Tomorrow,” among others, which are actually quite sound underneath the technique. While there isn’t really a bad song here, the treatment of them is, well… Bet they’re awesome live, dude.

DREAM DIARY is a Brooklyn trio, and their debut release (on both CD and LP!) is “You Are the Beat” ( The music and Jacob Danish Sloan’s vocals have a, yes, dreamy pop quality to them with a ‘60s influence, reminiscent of, yes, Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town,” right down to the nasal quality and the really nice female backing by Madison Farmer (mostly “ahhh / ahhh”). The guitar has a gentle, jangly feel to it that matches the vocals quite well. The two acoustic guitars, in fact, seem to dance around each other like a balanced DNA helix; Alexander Iezzi’s drums sound kind of processed and occasionally hollow (via production, not playing). The songs have very nice melodies that are romantically twee, a feel that is added to by the tight harmonies and tighter reverb. Usually processing music to this level is distancing for me, but in this case all the elements pulled me in. The songs are consistent in the pattern, and are also equally entertaining. That being said, I especially liked the infectiousness of “El Lissitzky.” Very cutesy, cuddly, and any of those other words of that nature that at are at the tip of your tongue.

Every musical milieu has its bands that lean toward the extremely profane. For example, in country there’s Chinga Chavin and Uncle Fucker. However, no genre can compete with punk. I mean, the Sic F*ucks, Angry Samoans, (arguably) the Gizmos and GG Allin are just the tip of the iceberg. The difference with them and THE DWARVES, who have been around for nearly 3 decades, is that this band produce some amazing records, as their latest, “…Are Born Again” (Greedy, c/o, proves. These San Fran guys are mainly hardcore, though they manage to tackle many other stylings, such as the theme to a made-up Manga show, “Zip Zero.” They were also early users (i.e., pre-rap) of sampling. In my opinion, when they get into their hardcore groove is when they really nail it. Right from the start, they show their mettle on the first cut, “The Dwarves are Still the Best Band Ever,” whose chorus is “Let’s get high and fuck some sluts… / Forever stuck in juvie lust / So what?” Sex, drugs, suicide, murder, and slaggers are all fodder with the likes of “Stop Me,” “You’ll Never Take Us Alive,” “I Masturbate Me,” “It’s a Wonderful Life of Sin,” “Happy Birthday Suicide,” “Working Class Hole” (love that title), “Your Girl’s Mom,” and “FUTYD” (aka the double entendre “Fuck You Till You Die”). There are some really funny social commentaries as well, such as a treatise on the career of an unnamed Bieber (“15 Minutes”), and the introduction of a new dance, “Do the HeWhoCannotBeNammed” (inspired by the band’s masked – and revolving? - guitarist). Yes, they all have fake, funny names, including The Fresh Prince of Darkness, and Rex Everything. The thing is, though, that there is some amazing music and production by Dwarves’ lead singer Blag Dahlia (aka Blag the Ripper), and Eric Valentine (Slash, All American Rejects, etc.). Two really great cuts among many others are “Bang Up” and “The Band That Wouldn’t Die.” Throughout the CD there are amazing harmonies, noise, musicianship, sing-along lyrics, and a whole lot of fun. Also included is a 2-hour DVD of clips from through the years of fighting, nudity, and lots of live performances. You can watch Blag’s changing hairline while listening to some entertaining music and unbelievable visuals. Punk rawk!

What is it about the mountains of upstate New York (spreading east to the Berkshires) that brings out the folk sensibilities, be it traditional, electric? Or in the case of THE END OF AMERICA, as posited by their release of “Steep Bay” (Forest Park, c/o, modern folk (e.g., The Mammals, Kim Delmhorst. Started as a side project, James Downes, Brendon Thomas, and Trevor Leonard brought a battery powered recorder to a remote location (for which the release is named) in the Adirondack Mountains, and recorded live at various spots and times (including during a rainstorm). There are conversations at the beginning and ends of some of the tracks. The songs, which often employ guitars and banjo, are not of the “Guantanamera” type, but rather a more present approach, looking at the world around from a self-reflective perspective, without going emo. For example, my favorite cut is “Fiona Grace,” concerning the protagonist’s discussion with a three-year old child who is wise well beyond her years. “The Hardest Thing” is a very sharp look at the end of a relationship without bitterness. A fine example of an experiment gone well.

EAST BAY RAY AND THE KILLER SMILES is led by EBR, who used to be the guitarist for the Dead Kennedys. This, his first solo release, is eponymous ( The rest of the band is made up of DK fillers (i.e., the touring band) and a member of the Wynonna Riders. The style doesn’t exactly pick off where the DKs left off, however. While leaning more toward pop punk than hardcore, they still manage to steer clear of the cliché sounds. Sometimes (but rarely) EBR’s vocals feel a bit loungey (especially on the cover of Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons”), but mostly it seems more like he is having a good time. Every once in a while he even breaks out a bit of a harsher bent, such as the excellent “It’s Broken.” Also at the top for me is “The Last Time You Failed.” Overall, it’s really a good release, thanks in part to the solid studio work of the producer, Butthole Surfers’ guitarist Paul Leary (known more for his producing of the overrated Sublime).

The FLAT RIVER BAND comes from a long history of a family harmonizing traditional C&W. Look at the Statlers, for example, though the three Sitze sibs that make up FRB are more in line with the Gatlin Brothers. “High Roller” ( comes across as somewhere between ole timey C&W sounds and honky-tonk, leaning more towards one or the other song-to-song, but usually falling somewhere in the middle. They’re a fun band that doesn’t push the boundary, but sits comfortably in its sound, which is quite refreshing. With plush harmonies, guitar focus, and original songs, whose topics cover, in part, positiveness (“I’m Alright, I’m Okay”), loneliness (“Lovely,” “Mr. Casino Man”), a touch of southern rock (“High Roller,” ”Bitter Sweet Humble Pie”), reminiscence (“Things I Remember”), and even some lust here and there (“Blow My Mind”). Their sound is consistent through the CD, which is quite the feat, and yet they are diverse enough that they could play seedy clubs, festivals, or even amusement parks (hey, if it’s good enough for Reba…).

FLOATING ACTION, named for the bass drum foot pedal, is the side-project nom de music of Seth Kauffman, who is also known for his work as a producer, not merely as a singer-songwriter. On “Desert Etiquette” (, in true and pure DIY mode, he played every instrument and performed the entire recording task himself. He certainly has the knowledge. Genuine DIY is a thin line to walk; without any outside feedback, there is usually a tendency to not really be able to tell what will be successful. The predisposition is to do too much with the technology simply because one can. For Kauffman, it is debatable: on one hand, this release is lo-fi, using an old Trident console with minimal instruments and production values that keeps the sound a bit flat (as in “popping,” not “out of tune”; I don’t have a problem with that), yet the overuse of reverb and overdubs of vocals sometimes feels oppressive. And yet, I respect what he is trying to do. The songs are pretty good, with just a hint of country (he is based in North Carolina, after all, y’all). Funny thing is, through all the tinny sounds, a clear instrument or vocals will occasionally come through, such as the guitar during “Rincon.” He sort of reminds me of a clearer Jandek. If you’re a fan of low-fi, experimentation, or DIY, this certainly may peak your interest, as it did mine.

Back in the late ‘70s, I worked in a movie theater in Bay Ridge as a ticket-ripper. They guy behind the candy counter was in a band called Wünderbread (I still have their cassette release), and we’d talk sometimes. Marc Seligman went on to play in the seminal New York bands the Cyclones and the Mad Violets (among others). Now he’s backing up his 13 year old multi-instrumental and talented songwriting son, Evan (who’s probably at least 14 by now). Evan (aka Johnny Lightening) and Marc (aka Johnny Rock) have joined with guitarist Louis Mottola (aka Stuart “Long” Johns) to form FOOLS ON SUNDAY. They have been in the studio under the guiding hand of producer Andy Shernoff (aka Andy Shernoff) to produce a four-song EP, “The Best We Can Do! (reverbnation/foolsonsunday). The two opening cuts, written entirely by Evan, have to deal with school angst, including the humorous “Stupid.” The other two, written by Marc and Evan are fun, especially “Morning Blues” (which sounds like it could have been one of the better O. Rex cuts). This is worth checking out on their website. Meanwhile, before his voice changes, the last I heard they were heading down to record with Mitch Easter. Is Marc the coolest dad, or what?

Yeah, so, I was born a Hungarian/Prussian in Brooklyn, but for some reason, Celtic music has always had a soft spot in my heart, since as long as I can remember. FOUR CELTIC VOICES doesn’t disappoint with “Four Leaf Clover” ( The two main voices, Celeste Ray (keys) and Erin Hill (harp) are razor sharp that could probably cut glass, without being operatic, thankfully. Most of the tunes here are covers that are so traditional that they may have been hoary (such as “Molly Malone,” “Greensleeves,” and “Danny Boy”), but instead they work fine, especially the latter, sung accurate at a very high pitch. Along with other covers like “The Foggy Dew,” “The Blackbird” and some jigs, there are also some originals, like “Psaltery Dance #4” and “Angels,” which are more of a mix of a traditional sound and more modern tones. Definitely closer to the Rankins than the Corrs (again, thankfully), the four (also including Wendy Luck on flute and Carol Crittenden) work well together, aided by a few other (male) musicians backing them up. Part of what makes this succeed above and beyond is the simplicity of the actual recording. I’m sure the arrangements are quite complex, but the sound is stripped of extraneous studio handling.

I am assuming FREEWOOD’s album, “Talanzias” ( is named after the tillandsia flower, but who knows considering the number of ways the cover’s image can be interpreted. This is the interesting one-person side project of a Los Angeles musician, guitarist Micah Lashbrook (from the band The Laughing Man). Definitely lo-fi, the vocals are tinny and the instrumentation minimalist. As the Website explains, “Micah tracked [the] singing and playing at the same time to capture each songs’ raw emotion, stating how crucial it was to record ‘the interplay between voice and instrument.’ No more than 10 takes of each song were laid down, then he'd pick the take that conveyed ‘the most sincere interpretation of the lyric and melody’.” Inspired by the death of Lashbrook’s mother, there is a theme of sadness and loneliness, though without being morbid. Lots of echo, and overdubs, but that’s all the effort towards effects that are here. Definitely an “art” project, and luckily you can download the whole (or part) album from the website listed above.

It is amazing how fast CHAMPIAN FULTON’s “The Breeze and I” (, a collection of jazz standards, became a stalwart in our household. When we have dinner parties (and yes, we do; one can live on punk friends alone, but we don’t), we put this on. And every single time, at least one person is bound to ask about the disc. Fulton has a lovely voice and rocks a fine piano on classics like “The Sheik of Araby,” “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Easy to Love,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “If I Had You,” and of course the title piece, among others. There are a fine mix of instrumentals and vocal pieces, all done with full heart.

I had just commented to someone that I miss the whole ‘80s garage revival scene when I received the new FUZZTONES release, straight from Germany (where they now reside), “Preaching to the Perverted” ( Recorded all in analog, the ‘Tones prove that, like the Ramones, they didn’t really need to change their sound, just make it better. With their feet firmly planted in the tones (pun intended) of the likes of the Music Machine and the Chocolate Watchband, the band sees the seedier side of things, with tunes such as “My Black Cloud,” “”Flirt, Hurt & Desert,” “Launching Sanity’s Dice,” “Don’t Speak Ill of the Dead,” “This Game Called Girl” and “Lust Pavilion” [sic], they wallow in the dirt; like living in a Russ Meyer film. Though time hasn’t changed their focus, the band’s leader, Rudi Protrudi (voice/lead guitar) addresses the passage of time with “Old.” His partner in grime and usually co-songwriter, Lana Loveland (vox) plays the heck out of her organ without it being overbearing, even with the sharp opening of the collection. There is lots of dissonance and salaciousness, but then they’re just preaching to…well, you know. Sweet and evil, a great combination.

The GOLDEN DOGS have a third release, “Coat of Arms” ( GDs is a five piece from Toronto, but is mainly focused around Dave Azzolini and Jessica Grassia. Dave sings most of the songs, and Jessica a few, though honestly I wish it was the other way around. Dave’s pieces are recorded hot with some vocal distortion, occasionally flattening the sound of his voice to adhere to the neo-psych sounds, much of which is contrived via their garage studio know-how. That being said, Dave’s chant of “Come back to haunt ya” in “Darkroom” is very effective. It’s nice how each song has its own look at a modernization of the ‘60s, from the Mersey Beat of “Lester” to the psych pop of “Underwater Goldmine.” On “Movie’s Over,” my fave cut here, Jessica sounds like the Shangri-Las. She definitely has the better and stronger voice. All the tunes have a level of jangly melodies and instrumentation which works for them. Occasionally, though, it almost sounds like the backing equipment are actually toy contraptions, or like it was recorded underground. This is just the new trend of alternative pop music that processes sounds rather than just playing them. Sometimes it works, as it does here.

No, I have never heard of GWENDOLYN before, but after hearing “Bright Light” (Whispersquish, c/o, I learn that it’s my loss. She’s a west coast singer-songwriter, here dabbling in what she calls alt-country, but it seems to be more toward the former than the latter. Lots of good twang inspired goodness about relationships with people and the universe, without being overdramatic in either. Her voice is reminiscent of early Dolly Parton without the Deep South yee-haw vibe. Playing the acoustic guitar, she is accompanied by some of her regulars and helped by some bigwigs, such as Josh Grange (k.d. lange), Tony Gilkyson (both X and the underrated Lone Justice), famed glass harmonicist Douglas Lee, and producer Ethan Allen, who has worked with the likes of Patty Griffin. Allen works his charm with this collection, giving it a professional feel without being overdone. Thank you, the world needs more of that. Some of the crème de la crème here include “Tater Tots & Whiskey Shots,” “Plants,” “Durango,” “Monster in My Heart, “ Sing This Song,” “Songbird,” and “Let the Light.” Yes, there is more, and I could have easily listed them all.

Supposedly, according to their publicity, rockers HALFBROTHER SID are one of the more popular bands in the genre in the southeastern US. As far as I can hear on their messy “Crazier Than Thou”, they’re alright, but I don’t really see the fuss. Musicianship is fine, with the guitar (Tony Harritan? Not sure of the spelling as the text is confusing, and I’m too ambivalent to look it up) in front, but usually melded in with everything else. Vocalist Tony Jackson is suitable, but lacks the personality and power of, say, Daltry. There is also too much of a reliance on studio effects for the vocals that make me think they’re a bunch of rock wannabes. Even their “Hate You” sounds like they’re trying to jump on Three Days Grace’s wave. Drummer Brian Kluender sounds like he’s getting quite the workout though, and nods to him. Totally fine for the Saturday night at the local rock club, but as headliners on a tour? Why? They’re not bad, just bored me. Not my genre, I guess. Anyway, for those completists, they do a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.” Good choice, as it’s one of the better cuts here.

RACHEL HARRINGTON never fails to amaze me, and her latest, “Celilo Falls” (, is no exception. Her voice has a depression era ring to it, and she uses it to great advantage, backed by an excellent band with banjo just behind the voice. Rather than taking the “Sunnyside” road, she rambles down the dark, unlit byways of the Townes van Zandt-level side of human nature. Gamblers (“House of Cards”), morphine (“Little Pink”) and a touch of gospel (“He Started Building My Mansion in Heaven Today”) are just some of the scenery Rachel’s all-original material brings to the listener. But it’s hardly all bad news, with a touch of love and lust thrown in there and there (“Where Are You,” “You’ll Do,” “Let Me Sleep in Your Arms Tonight”). Despite the sober tone that runs through the release, like a river that is actually much deeper than it looks, Rachel’s tunes are smart, sharp-edged, and quite beautiful. I’ve compared her before to the likes of Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris, and I stand by that, with the caveat that they deserve to be compared to her, as well.

The tracks HERE WE GO MAGIC have released for their “January EP” ( were the extras from when they recorded their “Pigeons” LP. I can certainly see why they didn’t want to leave these to languish somewhere. HWGM are a post-psychedelic pop band who employs some electronica (synths, drum machines) to back them up. Despite the reliance on electronics, the songs are decent in a ‘80s sort of way. Luke Temple’s vocals are in the aerie range with just the right amount of harmonies from the rest of the band. The melodies are equally light and enjoyable. Wish they’d rely less on synthetic sounds and just play, as I believe it would make the experience that much more enjoyable; for me, at least. Sometimes it feels a bit too “precious” for its own good (e.g., “Hollywood”), but they’re gaining in popularity, so perhaps I’m the one that’s wrong.

During a past life, JOHN ILLSLEY was a founding member of Dire Straits, so, I did not know who he was until I heard his latest solo release, “Streets of Heaven” (Creek Records, c/o He can definitely hold his own, as this release shows. With a new back-up band, Illsley examines at his life from a present perspective, sometimes looking at the now, sometimes at the past (but never from the then), but through most of the songs, there is a feeling of the passage of time and regret. Sure, there’s the lively, positive numbers, like “Young Girl” (about, I am assuming, his daughter, as she leaves home), but there’s past loves (“I Thought I Saw It Coming”), the rearview mirror glance (“Toe the Line”), and the looking ahead (the title cut, “Streets of Heaven”). Illsley’s voice is deep and smoky, sort of like a mid-period Leonard Cohen (which is possibly unintentionally ironic as one of the songs here – a cover – is “No Way to Say Goodbye”). Most tunes are ballads with John’s lush guitar (and on two of them, accompanied by Mark Knopfler), and it’s not until the last couple of cuts that one can hear the Dire Straits link more clearly. The songs are tightly produced by Illsley and Guy Fletcher in the UK, with all but two written by Illsley (others were by David Kenning). I’d like to make a special mention of Chris White’s sax work and Polly Wood’s background or co-vocals, both of which bolstered the sound. Also, Paul Spong plays a solid trumpet in the Mariachi-influenced “Tell Me.”

JOOKABOX, who has a new release, “The Eyes of a Fly” (, is a foursome. Not quite sure why they need all four, since the music is just programmed synths. Perhaps they play them all rather than just using loops, but obviously there is no need. And for me, no desire. They’re a noise pop group whose vocals are chanted together in a mish-mash so the lyrics become a bit obtuse (sort of like trying to understand a Greek chorus who are all talking at the same time). Amazingly, I made it all the way through. Now, once again, I am not saying this is bad - in fact, it’s quite imaginative - but this is not my idea of a good time. I’m more of a plug-and-play kind of guy (excluding the whole Spector wall of sound stuff). This noise makes me think it is right that they come from the city of the Indy Speedway. Oh, and in direct response to their stuff, let me add, “bleep ork crack smash toot toot whaaaaaa.”

For his seventh release, “Get Back to the Land” (, TED RUSSELL KAMP stretches the format for his music, yet manages to stay with in the country genre, which is best suited for his prominent near-slur drawl. For example, there’s a bit of mainstream C&W with “If I Had a Dollar” and “Georgia Blue.” On “Lonelytown,” however, the musical syntax is reminiscent of some teen idols like Frankie Avalon that may have been released in the barely new ‘60s. “Aces & Eights” has a bit of brogue infused, giving it a Jim Croce vibe. “Time is a Joker,” lyrically strong, is also a powerful slow burner that builds. “Get Back to the Land” is more traditional C&W in a ‘70s way. Well, you get the idea. The CD is broken into “Side 1” and “Side 2,” the first being more musically light in tone if not subject, whereas the second is darker, with use of more dissonance, but also leaning toward more traditional C&W. TRK is known for his way with a phrase, and he shows why here as well, with one of my fave lines being “Her hair as black as the coffee we drank all night," from “(Down at the) 7th Heaven”.

Though usually associated with is early prog band Hawkwind, guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton has fronted his own band, the LLOYD-LANGTON GROUP (usually listed as just LLG), even longer. Rallying from a series of illnesses since the start of the millennium, he’s bounced back enough to release his latest, “Hard Graft” ( Huw brings a lot of his life into his songs, with topics about missing both friends (“Hallo Friend”) and his mother (“Hey Mama”), lamenting over the lack of funding for cancer treatment (“PDT – Photo Dynamic Therapy”), and more than one song about the destruction of the planet by human hands. And Huw does here what he does best, which is prog. His guitar and vocals are echoic and processed, and part of his band (which varies mostly between a trio and a quad) is a synth (played by the late Tim Rice Williams). The instruments and vocals are almost melded together through the prog process, giving it a heavy (not in a metal sense), almost sopping feel. Only the voice and guitar stand out. Perhaps it’s because I was never a drug user that prog passed me by (or the other way around) and I found myself in the more sparse punk scene (which was also drug laden, ironically, but I felt an affinity with the music). The songs average about 6 minutes each, and there’s an hour’s worth here. They are not as turgid as most prog (also, Hawkwind was better than most in this way), but this still feels weighty and gravity-less at the same time. Yes, it’s a true oxymoron because it fits for how it feels to me. At the end are three “bonus” blues tracks that are my favorite pieces on here. In pure delta style with a Son House twang, these instrumentals are Huw by himself. Yes, the same echoic sound is used, but with just the one instrument, it feels more intimate than with a group.

By the dark of night, in the studio and clubs, LANA LOVELAND is the (not so) mild mannered vox organist and back-up vocalist for the Fuzztones, but she indeed has a (not so) secret life, revealed in her new CD, “Order to Love” ( While still holding firm to her garage sensibilities, there is some occasional expansion into a harder sound that is more guitar based (Lenny Svilar, who is also in the ‘Tones) and not nearly as dark, but still playing with the temptations of the soul. Lana definitely proves she has what it takes to be right up front in a band, never letting go of the reins. There are a lot of really fun guitar and organ focused rhythms that grind, dance, and murmur with a fuzz beat. Every cut is a cut above, especially “Missing Link” and the finale, “Constant Furs.”

Though JD MALONE & THE EXPERTS have just released their freshman record, “Avalon” (, these are not some just-outta-da-water musicians. Their – er – expertise is obvious. They call themselves country rock, but they’re more electrified country. While residing in Pennsylvania, they sound like they could be from Nashville, stepping of the stage of the Grand Ol’ Opry (they let in electric gee-tars these days, don’t they?). While following somewhat in the C&W formula, the band stretches that as far as they can, so the sound is identifiable, yet they don’t appear cliché. They start off strong with “Silver From,” and end on a ballad with “Emmit Meets a Demon” (the CD has 5 more songs than the online download, but more on that later. Much of the music concerns a man’s relationship with a woman, both in the height of passion and the “remember when” stage. There’s no cheatin’ or lyin’ or other country chestnuts, just the natural progression of a twosome, which is refreshing in itself for the genre. There’s a couple of lyrical gender traps Malone (the writer) gets caught in, especially with “She Likes Me” (“And / She’s like me / She’s my girl / She’s my baby”), which is actually a good, catchy melody, just a bit treacle at times. Mostly, however, he uses lyrics well, such as in “Sweet Evil Things” (“You believe what you wanna believe / But I know of / Sweet evil things”), “Just Like New” (“Hey the city lights don’t make a great skyline”), or “Do What You Can Do” (“I hope that when you think of me / You smile unmistakenly / And I will try to do the same for you”). There are some really great songs here as well, such as the last one I mentioned and the title track. It is true that there are a couple of songs that definitely would fall into the country rock category (see, I told ya I’d get to it), both of them the only covers: one is a countrified “I Should Have Known It,” done originally as a rocker by Tom Petty, and a very loyal homage to CCR’s “Fortunate Son.” Also included with the CD is a 37-minute DVD of their rehearsals, which includes a few full songs. This may be their first, but hopefully they will release more material into the world.

More wonderful jazz, this time by KENNETH NASH. His “Mama Blue Shoes” ( has a rich palate of flavors, many of them with Latin rhythms. Filled with originals, drummer / percussionist Nash is joined with various other artists to present an hour of originals, either written or co-written by him. The tunes are sparkly and use a wide variety of instrumentation, including the occasional synth (moderately, I’m happy to say). Sometimes there are even vocals by the likes of Clairdee, the Sovereign Ensemble, and once even Nash himself. I played this while I was cleaning up the house, and it helped kept the chore lively and happy.

Okies OTHER LIVES are yet another band that rely strongly on effects, with a touch of reverb (on instrument and voice) smudging Jesse Tabish’s vocals, with electronica sounds that produce as much a soundscape as a song. On “Tamer Animals” (, some pieces are more successful than others, such as the Celtic feel of “As I Lay My Head Down,” “Dust Bowl III” (which has a spaghetti Western/Ennio Morricone vibe; sidebar: hah, just saw that they made the same reference in their press release!), “Desert,” and “Weather” (employs a Beatesque harmony style, though there’s that drum machine sound…). The basic problem is that the clatter becomes overwhelming after a while, with vowels and melodies drawn out and stretched behind the effects. There is a bit of a psych feel, but it mostly gets lost in the production. Tabish states in the PR that ““Every sound has a purpose without being too indulgent. There’s nothing like, ‘Hey, let’s rock out on this!’ For better or for worse, it’s all our sound.” They’ve been on some major tours, with bands like the Decemberists and the National, so perhaps you shouldn’t rely on my opinion, coz that’s all it is.

ROSALEE PEPPARD is a folk singer from eastern Canada with a traditional twist. On “Voices” (, she presents not only her own material, but uses the chance to present the oral tradition, hence the name of the collection. Rosalee’s voice has a soaring and endearing quality, emphasized by her guitar or dulcimer. She is also joined by others who add the likes of piano, accordion, cello, fiddle and percussion. Rosalee has a message and a mission, to bring positivity and enlightenment to her audience. She finds imaginative ways to turn a negative to a plus in non-subtle, but hardly preachy ways. For example, she takes the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun” and puts the words to “Amazing Grace” to it, renaming the piece “The House of Amazing Grace”; and it works. She also does a Beatles mix-em-up called “Blackbird Medley.” In another mix-and-match, “Voice of Nova Scotia,” she sings in Mi’kmaq, Arcadian, Celtic, Germanic, African, and English. She is certainly proud of the Maritimes, with tunes like “The Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Blues,” but my favorite ones are when she tells stories or people who mean a lot to her, such as writers Joyce Barkhouse and Elizabeth Bishop, and of Helene Boulle, wife of the man (“Samuel”) who founded parts of Nova Scotia and Quebec. There are also memories of childhood (such as “On a Chair”) and a nod to her partner (“Mon Amour”). The two more standard covers are Neil Young’s “Play Me” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Pussywillows, Cattails,” but I’d rather hear her original songs and inventive takes of others’ work, such as both the short and extended versions of her own “Breathing,” both of which are presented here (the longer as a “bonus” track). She has two previous albums which I intend to
enjoy, as well.

While RACHEL PLATTEN may originate from Boston and now reside in New York City, her sounds are more approached from a further range. With her debut release, “Be Here” (, she presents light and bubbly vocals, showing the influences of Latin and Caribbean rhythms (among others) that prove well suited for her voice. Backed mostly by either a piano or organ, she writes songs that are touching and joyful, with the occasional stronger emotion, yet most are catchy and the melodies remain with the listener past the playing. Some of the stand outs are “Nothing Ever Happens,” “Don’t Care What Time It Is,” “Takes These Things Away,” “You Don’t Have to Go,” and “All I Seem to Do.” There is a bit of overproduction (so common these days) and reliance on organ quirky sounds, but honestly, it takes away very little from this. Go ahead and enjoy this, and later I’ll say I told you so.

Coming back with their sixth album, “Who’s Got Mine” (, RHINO BUCKET has a proven formula that’s actually a conglomeration of many other styles. There’s the hair band guitar and vocals (especially Guns N’ Roses), New York Dolls influx of planned sloppiness and the punk attitude, and then there is the grunge…, well, grunge. But - and this is the crux of the matter - they not only make it work, the band takes on a synergistic style of their own. It’s not hard to imagine their mindset, with songs like “Drive Thru Liquor,” “Chase the Case,” and “Hollywood and Wine,” but there are a lot of other hints of nihilism abundant with “Message in My Bottle” (“I ain’t your friend / I ain’t your brother”), “Lifeline” (“I got scars on my scars”), “Her Way” (She went straight to hell and then she called it home”), and “Rare Beauty,” which posits the joys of BBW (“She came in at a quarter of a ton”), reminiscent of Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom.” There are lots of anthemic melodies with sing-alongs, as the band harmonizes as they sing/shout the catchy choruses. Hell, this is a lot of fun.

If you’ve never heard of RIVER ROUGE before, there are aspects of its leader, Andre Comeau you may likely have some familiarity. For example, he was one of the original “Real World” reality stars (never watched the show, nor it’s equally who-cares cousin, “Big Brother”). He later was in a band called Reigndance (nope, never heard them either), with Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita. After three albums on Glen Frey’s label (no, I’m not an Eagles fan), they broke up and after discovering bluegrass and singer-songwriter style, Comeau formed this dynamic band (named after a suburb in Detroit). There is a bluegrass thing happening throughout “Not All There Anymore” (, with the use of banjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, violin, sax, and the like, but understand that this is solid bar band rock. Mind you, it is top notch, but they lean more towards that sound with inflections of ‘grass. The songs are really good in the bar band genre, and they could give just about any fan of that style a reason to stick around and hear them out. Fave cut is “No Good For Nothing,” recorded live, and not just because it was recorded at the Rockwood Music Hall, one of my fave places to see bands.

I’ve been enjoying STACIE ROSE releases for a while now. Her newest, “Alter-Ego” ( is in two parts in a set of discs. One section is titled “Means to an End,” and it is full of some excellent sounds. Her pop rock sound is sharp (possibly the best I’ve heard her yet, and that’s saying a lot), backed by the likes of the Bongos’ James Mastro and Steve Conte, who is currently filling the Thunders’ role in the New York Dolls. All six songs are bluesy and pop at the same time, and truly top-notch. It’s actually hard to pick a fave, but “Maybe Tonight,” “Raw Sugar,” “Means to an End”… nah, can’t pick. The second disk is called “Raw Sugar,” which is both new songs and some remixes of cuts from the other disk. Now, I love Stacie, but I found this nearly unlistenable. Between the auto-tune, the nearly techno beats and rap (from Garrison Hawk in one case), it was everything one can find on Top-10 radio, which is where this truly deserves to be. There are some imaginative sub-names to this side (Captain Danger mix, Allergic to Gravity mix, Caffeinated-Procrastination mix), and I wish I could say I loved it as much as the other disc, but there is nothing I want to hear again. Even Stacie’s voice is so flattened through the auto-tune, it could be anyone. Get this for the “Means to an End Disk,” and give the other one to your tween cousin: everyone can be happy.

As DAVID SERBY shows with “Poor Man’s Poem” (, sometimes the way forward is to go backwards. Or, perhaps a better way to put it is “retro.” Serby’s previous releases were more honky tonk country, but for this, he’s singing cowboy songs reminiscent of Marty Robbins’s “El Paso,” or saddle versions of, say, Nanci Griffith or Rachel Harrington’s revision of the depression period. He sings sad and lonely songs about being on the prairie and missing loved ones, saloons, suicide, and working on building the railroad. The impetus of this look at desperation of Serby’s was his noticing the new depression fostered by the economy (I’ll take it a step further and say the Bush spending that the government is now trying to rectify – and getting blamed for, ridiculously enough; but I digress…). Despite the throwback of material style, Serby sings the songs plainly and with a lonesomeness in his voice sans twang, just a sound of despair that is actually quite compelling. His back-up musicians help without overwhelming, which truly is necessarily in this story-telling style. Whether the listener likes tales of cowboys, Wild West shows, social pressures, or enjoys depression era music with weepy fiddles and steel pedal, this is a sure bet, especially tunes like “Off the Caroliners,” which successfully borders both.

Referring to SPYRO GYRA’s latest release in a long history of recordings, “A Foreign Affair,” band member / leader / saxist Jay Beckenstein stated about the worldwide feel of this newbie: “It’s more Spyro Gyra being influenced by the world…mainly we’re flavoring our music with these influences.” That’s pretty accurate, as they lend their jazz towards rhythms that include India (one song is sung in Hindi, sort of Bollywood lite), Trinidad, reggae, and mostly those from South America. Now for those who are familiar with their umpteen records, there’s no need to explain their version of jazz, and for those who aren’t acquainted, this is surefire material for the lite jazz stations. Well played by the five musicians that make up SG, of course, it sounds great and clear, though it’s surely learning more towards the supermarket PA than, say, bop. This is quintessential jazz that you’ll hear in the dentist office or while being put on hold. Nothing offensive, nothing “out there,” just some well played instrumentation with strong flavors. No, I’m not putting it down; as I said, the musicianship is wünderbar; I’m just doing my job of trying to explain what I am hearing.

From Edmonton, Alberta, NATHANIEL SUTTON presents the listener with somber, basic, down to earth singer-songwriter material on his self-titled release ( / With its accompaniment and harmonies, the collection still comes down to basically the song, the singer and – in this case – his guitar. The production is never overdone and keeps the integrity of the sound, including “Come Back Home,” one of the heavier-produced tunes, but is still one of the bet cuts among many good ones. Another one that I found impressive is “Nickel or Dime,” which has lots of musical sharp edges. The tunes lean towards the ineffectualness of relationships and life in general, but manages not to be depressing, thankful to some quality songwriting and emotional vocals. His deep voice resonates, even where not pitch-perfect. Then, out of nowhere, comes “Zombies Are Everywhere,” meant literally rather than figuratively (in the media; he is apparently a fan of the television show, “The Walking Dead”). A pretty successful release.

SARABETH TUCEK recorded the entire “Get Well Soon” ( album in her Brooklyn apartment. She has become a hipster goddess through not only her associations with Smog and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, but mostly by her excellent work, such as this, her second release (about to be re-released as a double album as most copies were destroyed in a fire). This collection is quite moving and mostly ballads, as it was a response to the passing of her father, but it is hardly morose in any way. It is, however, quite emotional and close to the heart. Songs like “The Wound and the Brain” and “Smile For No One” sounds very intimate, almost like she’s singing directly into your ear. Kudos to both Sarabeth and her producer, Luther Russell, for not needing to add the kitchen sink, but keeping it simple while still employing flourishes wisely for enhancement rather than drowning. I only have a digital copy of this so I’m a bit short on info, like who played what on what, but I certainly know that, backed by songs like “The Doctor” and “Exit Ghost,” I easily can recommend this.

Gotta say, UP FOR NOTHING remains one of my favorite high-energy hardcore pop bands. From the first time I saw them – their first gig, in fact – at Bensonhurst’s Punk Temple, I knew they had something. And after a few years and recordings, they just get more solid. As shown by their latest, “Twelve Stories Down” (, Justin Conigliaro has become an ever stronger melodic songwriter without losing any of the punch. Songs change up in the middle, from a drive to a jackhammer to a sledgehammer. You’d never know it was a power trio rather than a foursome or more (and this is true live, as well) from the chants and harmonies. Every song is chock full of energy and just flies. Justin’s vocals have gotten better as well, and the production here is top notch. Just the right of gloss without the phoniness. Man, this is a delightful record. Usually at this point of the review, odds are I’d start saying “my fave cuts are…” but screw that, because it’s impossible to pick one; they’re all great. NYHC legend Ernie Parada (Grey Area, Token Entry, etc.) joins in on the excitement on two cuts. And remember, UFN = FUN.

“Boston Cream” (Endora’s Box, c/o myspace.thevarmintsboston) is the latest release by THE VARMINTS, hailing from the Boston area. Actually, they’re more than just “based” there, as vocalist and guitarist is none other than Billy Borgioli, ex- of both the Real Kids and Classic Ruins, who were part of that parallel period of explosion that changed the face of music in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. While harder than the Real Kids and softer than, say, Aerosmith, the Varmints are a solid outfit of rock with some pop leaning, with lots of guitar. As I said, the Boston sound. The all-original 22 minute opus starts off strong with a bit of sex rockers (think J. Geils Band’s “Hot For Teacher,” Willie Alexander’s “Hit Her Wid de Axe,” Aerosmith’s, well, everything) “Boston Cream” and “Baby’s Off Her Rocker” (not to be confused with the Waldo’s “Crazy Little Baby”… okay that was sort of a nod to the label’s owner), they flow into some good rock sounds with just the right flair of pop thrown in to keep the melody flowing. The guitar solos are there, but never intrusive or overstaying their welcome. Borgioli’s vox is gravely and keeps up with the music which enhances the songs ever that much further. All these songs are sing-along-able (is that even English?). The closer, “Rosalita,” which was co-written with Borgioli with the late Alpo Paulino of the Real Kids, is heavy and based on the I-IV-V. Like I might have said: wicked Boston sound.

With the 1980s just around the corner, and having recently come out of rehab after years as a rock god, JOHNNY WINTER made a firm statement in 1979 that he was moving back to his first love, the blues. On “Live at Rockpalast” (, the German television show, his trio with whom he’d previously rocked out support him through some solid electric versions of the delta sound. Also out as a longer DVD, this collection just wails. It starts off powerfully with the likes of “Hideaway,” “Messin’ With the Kid,” “Walking’ By Myself,” and “Divin’ Duck,” each one a gem of screaming and stretched guitar strings. Simply a joy, each song is long and rambling, but never losing home. The last three cuts, however, is where this gets muddied. Bassist Jon Paris takes over the lead for “I’m Ready” and “Rockabilly Boogie,” before Winter concedes his rock and roll lineage and out-plays Keith Richards on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Now, there were a number of other songs that were left off due to time constraints, but why cut out Winter’s material for those of Paris? While Paris is no slouch himself, he is not “the man.” However, even if you just play the first four cuts and leave it at that, it’s still longer than most records, and worth finding.

Lancaster, PA resident DENISON WITMER is a prolific singer-songwriter in the folk-pop genre. His 13th album in 15 years, “The Ones Who Wait” (, shows that his consistency of quality makes him worth the listen, even after all that material. Song titles like “Brooklyn With Your Highest Wall,” “Life Before Aesthetics,” “I Live in Your Ghost ” and one of my fave cuts, “Two and a Glass Rose,” belay that there is some deep thought involved. Witmer’s plush voice is soft, gentle, and full of emotion, which works well with his introspective look at love and life. He uses a varied array of instrumentation to back him up (not sure which is him and which is guest as I have a digi copy, though I know he’s an accomplished guitar picker), from banjo, guitar and synth, all to good effect. There seems to be a strong ‘60s ballad influence running through his material, which suits his voice (think Scott McKenzie). is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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