CDs and new releases

various artists

Dry County Drifters Broken Hearts and Second Chances
This band is polished and has the clean sound of a seasoned country act. At first I thought they might be alt-country rock, but no, this is the real thing. It’s mighty country. I have to admit, by way of full disclosure, dear readers, that I do have a soft spot for country. I like the sad, sweet lyrics and the twangy guitar. I like the way it’s makes a grown man practically cry on stage about a woman that’s left him for someone better, cooler, richer, and who loves her more even though the singer is professing his undying devotion to her and begging for that second chance that will never come. I’ve just always liked country to some extent, and I was a suburban kid from San Diego. How is that? Did I get too much daytime westerns on TV growing up? Do I secretly want to be a cowboy? I don’t know. But judging from the popularity of bands like 70’s giants The Eagles and Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers as well as the Greatful Dead, and many others who it can be argued have strong country influences, there’s a lot of secret country fans in rock out there. Admit it, dear reader. You’re a hidden country fan. You like songs about drinking and fighting and divorce. While the Dry County Drifters seldom tour outside of their native Amarillo, TX, if you saw them I bet you’d get your head bobbing too and be grabbing the nearest cowgirl to dance with. There are huge swaths of middle America that thrive on music like this and that’s the reason for it. It’s not called “Country” music because it’s only popular in the rural zip codes; there are people everywhere that like its themes. I didn’t hear references to God or the bible in this CD, so don’t get your anti bible belt dander up, you city slickers. But everything else is there except the yee-haws. You can download this strong shot of tequila in a dusty glass online. ( ~BY

Tasso Gower
Cat Tasso is female singer/songwriter of Italian descent originally from Santiago, Chile, who came to us by way of San Fransisco, CA, where she formerly was a part of The May Fire. She now lives in LA, in ultra-cool Silverlake, and this CD is a 7-track collection of spunky songs about dreams and nightmares, what makes life interesting and sexuality without the cumbersome baggage of emotion, that is named after the Hollywood street where she lived when she first arrived in the city of angels. Her scorching guitar in her primarily two-piece band is anchored by the drums of Franky Martinez. kathy Yersin, Dani Tasso and Yani Lahr also provide backing vocals. (, ~RR

Tigger Clarkson The Balance EP
Very catchy and poppy, this 5-song starts abruptly fast with “Get Back To Me” as Tigger sings about the confusing signals sent by a girl who it sounds like she’s blowing off her man. It’s a place every guy’s been but Tigger pens these autobiographical jazzy rock love tunes about it with special flair. Track two starts out with a guitar riff mildly reminiscent of a Jimi Hendrix track. “Lies And Confessions (Carolina Sunset Mix)” is insanely toe tappy with its nearly gospelish handclapping-sounding percussion. Autokinesis, track four, is a mellow composition that soothes and basks the listener is a sea of musical warmth. The EP ends with “Your Shoes” which asks the musical question ‘What are you going to do tonight?’ The lyrics as well as the tune uplifts and emboldens listeners to walk in your shoes along the life path of adversity that everyone encounters from time to time. (, RR

Johnny, Mark, and the Ricks By The Lights Of The Pike
(Myspace tracks review) I started with “Won’t Fall Down”, and the intro built a house made of real, roots, rock and roll. The line “Rome wasn’t burnt in a day/week/year” reoccurs throughout and deservedly so between piano licks with Jerry Lee Louis’ influence painted on in wide strokes. The next song, “Loose Lips”, comes on, and I hear the sounds of years passing and rock & roll getting grittier, with razor sharp, bluesy distortion and driving, straight forward beats. Sit back and enjoy both of the guitar showcases on this song. With a blues inspired simplicity, the lyrics don’t try to say anything more than what’s necessary. If you’re looking for deeper meanings and hidden messages, find them on your own. I hear nothing but straight talk from Johnny, Mark, and the Rick (who sings). “Living With the Devil” sports a notable croon, heavy in the introductory vocals and sprinkled throughout, giving this band more depth than I expected upon first listen. Musically, my favorite has to be “Deserves”, touting framework with etchings of American ‘70s era stadium rock. As the rhythm guitar walks us slowly down the steps, the lead rips right through with screeching highs. This Anaheim neo-classic rock outfit delivers variety and can be caught at DiPiazza’s in Long Beach on July 9th. ( MK

Holding Air Hostage
[CD:S/T] (Myspace tracks review) I can’t honestly say this is my thing, but I can say this band has a good chemistry on record. They can hang with pop radio mainstays, but offer me little meat in my choice of musical burrito. The recordings are top notch, with tasteful nuggets of over production and dense layering. Drums cut through with a pleasantly flat-tuned snare. The acoustic guitar is subtle but present, while the electric cuts through clean and sharp. The intro of “Blackened Brew” reminds me of a certain Jack Johnson single, and I hear shades of O.A.R. and The Dispatch throughout they’re recordings, especially on “Standing On the Edge”. On “Electric Insomniac” there is a great warm bass track, adding bounce to an already bouncy-bounce-fest, vaguely reminiscent of Blues Traveler until they breakdown into guitar solo that sounds a shade darker. I found the vocals to be solid but bland throughout with a hint of desperation and expectedly simple lyrics,mostly dealing in terms of relationships, though the vocal melodies toward the end of “Call Your Bluff” shine a bit brighter than the rest. fEvery track has it’s redeeming qualities on top of the pop radio gloss applied to the “singer-songwriter get’s a full band” formula. I wouldn’t recommend to my friends, but my friends religiously listen to Kidcrash and Cap’n Jazz. It’s a definite must for fans of O.A.R., Jack Johnson, and Jason Mraz. ( MK

Pinata Protest Plethora
This appears to be the first full length CD by this South Texas band and it’s pretty rad, actually. At times it sounds like a combination of The Dropkick Murphys and a Mexican mariachi band, at other times I think I hear the elements that reflect Klezmer punk in it. This music is full of so much of the heart and soul of modern North American/Mexican latin influenced culture. These guys are clearly having a full-on party here! Along with the Spanish lyrics that start off the CD there’s the horns and mariachi accordian and a scorching electric guitar. The words change to English a bit later and again I swear I hear the swagger of Irish/Brit punk in there. It’s refreshing to say the least, a very fun CD. The title is reminiscent of the Ramones’ Beat Up The Brat… And pinatas, seriously, what a grim way to teach the little ones to take out their aggression. Punk rawk!!! (, RR

Service Industry Calm Down

This Austin, TX, band rocks hard for many reasons, namely the catchy riffs and the male/female vocals that play off each other so well. It’s a bit poppy at times, often, actually, but that’s a sunny day compared to other poppy bands that try to pretend to be something they’re not. Music is a distraction from our boring workaday drudgery read between the lines lives. The cover pic on this CD shows a pair of cadaver feet with a toe tag on one and that could mean the death of the music industry that we used to know. Calm down, it’s just music and life. Let’s get rid of the pretentiousness because we’re all just trying our best… Ya know, it’s like when people rag on things that I like and I know they’ve got some ulterior motive for it that they’re not talking about. One example is the few people I hear that say they hated the movie Tropic Thunder because it wasn’t funny when the real reason is that they’re jealous of Hollywood kid Ben Stiller’s advantages. I fucking LOVED that movie, you know? I sweartoghod I almost died laughing the first time I saw that comedic masterpiece in the theater. There are so many great jokes in that movie: like having Jack Black play an out-of-control heroin addict when his co-star Robert Downey Jr is in the scene only a few feet away from him. I mean COME ON, that kills! Why would anyone not like that movie?! By the same reasoning, people who sneer at working artists who also hold down straight jobs totally suck ass. They suck suck suck suck. 4 times over. And not in that good way, ya perv-o. So you say you attend a university and are working towards your masters degree but you tell people that you’re an “artist.” Is that what you do, really? You’re not an artist, you hipster student doosh. You don’t “do art,” you “attend class” and turn in “assignements” to maintain your “grade.” And good fucking luck making a living as an artist when you get out in this economy especially if you have student loans to pay off. Hi, future burden on the taxpayers. Haha. Oh, maybe I should be more deferential to academia (right, you say?) when I write on the side for a music and entertainment journal. Please, hell, I just do this for fun, as a hobby. My real job is at the zoo shoveling piles of dung in the elephant enclosure. Sure it’s dangerous at times, aromatic even, the sun gets hot and the work can be tough with all that heavy lifting but the money’s good and every pile of dung is different and new. Maybe I should just be more cavalier and frantically fuck every stripper bitch that hops with her hot ass off a plane from Vegas, would that make me more real for you? Haha, when you say you’re a model and whatever, when the way you really makes money is stripping and doing “private dances” behind closed doors, in the VIP lounge… for $150 a “pop” and feeding info and pillowtalk to your handlers. Hahaha. Yeah, you’re a real artist/model/dancer alright honey. You betcha. Nudge, wink. Do I sound bitter? I’m just trying to service you with the truth better, dear reader. Calm Down is an awesome CD for all the silent army of proud working artists with straight jobs out there that serve our food and drink. Accept these Tyler Durdens and maybe they won’t piss in your buffet. (,, ~RP

review writers:
RR = Reviewer Rob
KM = Kent Manthie
RP = Rumple Phoreskin

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