by TOM HALLETT
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I can tell whether a person can play just by the way he stands." – Miles Davis
SONG OF THE WEEK: “One Last Time” – Frog Holler
Hidey-ho, ‘Dial-heads! No hemmin’, hawin’, or any other kind of jabber-jawin’ this time out, just a few reviews you may find useful, or at the very least, mildly entertaining. Either way, here’s the scoop—put the kettle on to boil, plug in yer favorite headphones, an’ give the ol’ dial a spin ...
The Way You Shine
Transit Of Venus
OK, here’s the short version—Marah singer/songwriter Dave Bielanko
and Philly-based chanteuse Eden Daniels started this project a few years back
when they were involved in a torrid rock ‘n’ roll love affair. Things
went haywire, the two split up, and the project was relegated to the back burner
for the past several moons. Fast forward to 2005-6, the first blush is offa
Dave’s band (I’m still waiting for the real follow up to Kids
In Philly, boys), he and Eden are back on speaking terms, and producer Chris
Unrath talks the pair, plus some special guests that just happen to include
a few members of Dave’s band, into finishing the whole shebang.
So whattaya got at the end of the day? Just under a dozen tracks, some of which
were written in a different time, place and heart-space, some of which were
recorded earlier, and all of which feature the emotion-wracked vocal stylings
of Ms. Daniels. Don’t worry: in this case, it’s a good thing. Granted,
none of these cuts jump right out and smack your ears around like Marah’s
“Catfisherman” or Lone Justice’s “Ways To Be Wicked”
(Eden’s staunch, bluesy pipes recall a less rural Maria McKee at times),
but after a few spins these melancholy, meandering anti-ballads start to worm
their sugary little ways under your skin just as effectively.
Dave B.’s presence is most noticeable on the dreamy, easy pickin’
layering the majority of these tracks; there’s little of the barely-restrained
youthful raunch so prevalent in his work with Marah on display here, and Unrath
wisely lets the pair forge their own careless, love-weary ways through each
number. Album opener “The Letter” takes a few listens to grow on
you, then transforms into a cloudy-day anthem you’ll not soon forget,
“Sun Goes Down” eases out on a broken wing and a moody sigh, Daniels
nailing the gist of the album in one line: “... it took ten years to fade
/ The fear she shows / When she goes home, and the falling sound of it coming
down / It pulls her inside so deep ...” This cut is a great showcase for
the gorgeous harmonies, soul-stirring musical camaraderie and undeniable talent
of the players here—a list which includes Marah drummer Ronnie Vance and
(on other tracks) Dave’s brother/bandmate Serge on harmonica and beer—I’m
not kidding—and top-notch sessioneers Bruce Langfeld on lap steel, violinist
Jonathon Segel and multi-instrumentalist Mike Brenner.
Other stand-outs include the ringing, punch-drunk country nugget “My Whole
Life,” the devastating, love-lorn chuff of “All My Days” (producer
Unrath contributes a nifty axe solo here, as well as contributing six-string
assistance on several other notable numbers), a half-serious reading of the
traditional “Train, Train” (nope, not the Blackfoot song), and the
holiday dazzler/album closer “Coal.”
All in all, a decent collection, and an aurally-pleasing—if rather belated
and somewhat bittersweet —collaboration betwixt a pair of talented and
interesting singer / songwriters with able assistance from a merry band of musical
marauders. If you’re a Marah nut, you already know about this one; if
ya just dig good old-fashioned singing, writin’, pickin’, an’
rockin’, give this one a whirl. Check it out at myspace.com/shimmersmusic.
A Burn Or A Shiver
Though their press kit doesn’t do them any favors (I refer specifically
to this moronic quote: “[Edison Glass are] making rock music for the kids.
Music for the kids with short attention spans as well as the vinyl and mix-tape
graduates ...” and the ridiculous explanation of the band’s moniker:
“The hypothetical collaboration of Thomas Alva Edison and composer Philip
Glass ...”), and their sound doesn’t really break any ground that
Sunny Day Real Estate, Echo And The Bunnymen or early U2 haven’t already,
I still managed to find a few gems sprinkled across this 13-track collection.
True, scoring producer Brad Wood (Sunny Day Real Estate, Smashing Pumpkins)
didn’t hurt this Long Island, New York, group’s already glistening,
axe-heavy groove at all, but the energy, honest lyricism, and genuinely angst-y
vocals here suggest an outfit that’s well on its way to having put in
the requisite time on the road and on crappy, beer-soaked stages in dives from
coast to coast. Helmed by singer/songwriter/guitarist Joshua Silverberg, the
skittery quartet really does capture the nervous rattle of SDRE’s finer
work, as well as tossing in their own inimitable, New York-inflected rawk yawp.
A passable handful of layered, intense indie wamma-jamma from an up-and-coming
outfit with the potential for future greatness. Check ‘em out at edisonglass.com.
To The Cause
When I caught this fiery, Kenai Peninsula-based indie/punk quartet live at
an outdoor festival a few months back, I was immediately taken by their devil-may-care,
full-force axe assault and their obvious love for live giggin’. Unlike
the majority of maddeningly unplugged, guitar-wielding Dylan / John Denver-hybrid
clones mucking up the stages, festivals and dives of Alaska’s few viable
live venues, these high school kids (singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Ethan Martin,
drummer Haven Multz-Matthews, bassist Dan
McCallum and keyboardist/vocalist Miro Schaad) weren’t afraid to plug
in, crank ‘er up to eleven, and rip off the knob.
this mini-disc (recorded, if I have my facts straight, in L.A. recently) kicks
off with a rather hippie-fied introduction by way of album opener “Brothers
And Sisters” (I’m assuming it’s either something in the water
here or the readily-available herbal party favors that evokes this undying,
rather irritating “peace-and-love” fixation so many of my fellow
North-landers are possessed by, but the fact that it took four high school kids
to blow the goddamned cobwebs outta my ears proves that too many old duffers
up here have forgotten what it means to R-O-C-fuckin’-K, fer cryin’
out loud!), the double body-slam of the remaining cuts showcase each member’s
particular talents as well as the band’s already-honed, palpable sense
“On Fire With Desire” beats, pounds, chunks and chokes on rock fury,
Martin sounding like a cross between the modern-day soul-brother of a fully-punked
up Tommy Bolin and a decidedly less nihilistic Darby Crash, while “New
World Prophets” is a funky, needling blast of white-boy soul-punk that
works equally well as a fist-pumpin’ anthem or a booty-bumpin’ dance
floor attraction. On the basis of their live performance as well as their undeniable
studio potential, I’d say these four stage-stompers from the Land Of The
Midnight Sun are well worth watching out for.
That’s all we’ve got this time out, gang—tune in again next
week, same time, same page, for more o’ the same. Until we meet again—make
yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/CDs you’d like to see listed, drop me
a line at Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com.