ALBUM REVIEW: Joretta Oaks – “Ichirus Falls”

IchirusFallsCoverFINALArtist: Joretta Oaks
Album: Ichirus Falls

The new album by Joretta Oaks is an introspective exploration of the soul, from the mind of Josh & Wes VanAntwerp.

The album peels into some acoustic/electric Americana rock with “Green Banana”. Then it takes it up a notch with back to back rockers of “High School” and “Poor Little Me”. The album shifts gears into high octane rock and roll, with crunchy guitars, feedback, and stadium-sized drums.

The album then takes a hard u-turn back to the acoustic/electric vibe that started the album, with the song, “Let it All Out”. It continues the journey with, “Withdraw”, which hearkens back to yesteryear grooves, but has an eye to the future. The album then closes with the somber, ethereal acoustic ballad, “Being Unhappy”.

Be sure to check out all of Joretta Oaks releases along with the other albums on Speak Up Records.


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TRACK REVIEW: Jake Book – “Lean On”

LeanOnCover2Artist: Jake Book
Song: Lean On

Whether young or old, hard decisions never get easier. We want to do this magical thing that is creating music, but at what cost? The struggle for balance between music and having a family is a tricky one. The pleading lyrical refrain of, “Please don’t leave me”, could refer to God, family, the ability to make music; that inspiration, or all of the above. As musicians we struggle with doubt, wondering if what we are doing is right. What sacrifices do we make in the name of our passion? Can we balance the many responsibilities that are involved? Jake Book tackles all of these thoughts and questions in this introspective new song.


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ALBUM REVIEW: X-Ray Mary – “Electroshock Therapy”

Artist: X-Ray MaryImprimir
Album: Electroshock Therapy

X-Ray Mary struts and swaggers with the opening salvo of “Devil in Boots”; and lets us know that we are in for a good time, as we travel through the weird and wild adventure of Electroshock Therapy.

That next trip takes up back the sound of New Wave on, “Guns Don’t Kill”. With an infectious groove and lyrical madness, X-Ray Mary paints a picture of insanity.

And if the New Wave vibe lulled you into what you thought this album was going to be like, then the hard left of, “Amputee”, should wake you up. This hard-charging punker swerves into psycho-surf like a drunken motorist only to find its way back to the center lane and end with a pounding crescendo.

Speaking of Surf, X-Ray Mary off the deep end of the genre with, “Wanda and the Creature”. A simple love song, as viewed through the hazy glaucoma eyes of the band.

It wouldn’t be an X-Ray Mary album without B-Movie Sci-Fi themes. We get them aplenty in, “Zombies from Outer Space.” Just a day in the life of an attack from these invaders from the outer limits. What will the outcome be? You’ll just have to listen and find out.

What goes better with Cigarettes? If you said, “Coffee”, you’re wrong. Why would you even say that? Everyone knows it is sex, and so does X-Ray Mary. So, let them school you in it on the track, “Cigarettes and Sex”. I mean, c’mon, it’s in the title, for crying out loud. Jeez! That’s it! I’m out of here! You can finish the review on your own!

(Loud footsteps sound out and slowly become quieter. In the distance, a door slams shut. A car starts and revs its engine. It revs a few more times. Indistinct swearing is heard. A car turns off. In the distance, a door opens. Quiet footsteps become increasingly louder.)

The album ends with the rockers, “Eat at Joe’s” and “Nurse Diesel”. “Eat at Joe’s” seems to be rolling along like normal until…is that a Theremin? Yes, yes, it is. That’s right boys and girls, a Theremin solo in the middle of a punk song.

To cap off the album they close with, “Nurse Diesel”. Not only do we get our title for the record, but we get a fuzzed-out octave up solo at the end. If you open with swagger, you might as well end with some.

Electroshock Therapy is not your average punk rock album. It takes many twists and turns and in the end, is a worthwhile sonic trip. So, check it out before you check-in.


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ALBUM REVIEW: Nalani Proctor – “If Only It Were That Easy”

Nalani Proctor - If Only It Were That Easy

Artist: Nalani Proctor

Album: If Only it Were That Easy

The loud/soft dynamic of the Pixies, Nirvana, et al , is alive and well in this album my Nalani Proctor. Dynamics that can change on a dime, reflect the roller-coaster of emotions we go through when we fall in and out of love. She use it to great effect in the title track, “Vegamaniac”, and others. The album runs the gamut of emotions, and turns a sharp eye toward the good and bad of relationships.

The album by Nalani Proctor opens up with the call and response of “Good Fine Lovin’.” It’s spare but direct to the point urgency calls out for the love and respect that we deserve from our partners. The love that makes us equal and whole. The album rolls on with the drum thumping next track, “Ignorance is Not an Excuse.” With its surging bass and drum lead rhythms, Nalani leads the way with her powerful vocals and hammers the point home in another powerful track.

Stylistically, Nalani brings it all together in a powerful album. Do you want accordions and fuzz bass? Check out, “Worth.” Do you want some funk and Faith No More style vocal breakdowns along with clean to dirty rhythms? Then check out, “If it Were Only That Easy.”

The gut wrenching, “Dysmehorrea”, is a standout track for the heart broken ones among us.

The albums penultimate track with gives us a “get out of my life!” statement in “Laundry Day”. We reach a point where we’ve had enough of the BS and want that person out of our lives, and “Laundry Day”, expresses that succinctly.

Check out this very relatable collection of songs that give voice to the feelings and emotions that run through our lives when we let another person into our heart.


ALBUM REVIEW: Jake Book – “Self-Titled EP”

JakeBook5Artist: Jake Book
Album: Self-Titled EP

Jake Book triumphantly returns with another collection of story songs woven from the fabric of rural America. With his salt of the earth vocals being accompanied by his Guthrie-esque acoustic guitar playing, Jake has brought forth the echoes of the past into the present. His new self-titled EP tells the tales of a vagabond for whom we all can relate to.

The album starts off with, “The Home Place”, a story of longing to return a place called “home”. Everyone wants to go back if only to reminisce and savor the memories until we realize that we have to move on if we want to grow physically and emotionally. One way for us to grow mentally is by having goals in our life. Whether they are lofty or mundane, the point is to have them and to strive toward them. We may fail, but we can learn from those failures and, “Whale” best describes a man’s journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. The next song, is “Dirty Old Town”, a place where we can all relate to the trials and tribulations of city life. “Summertime”, has the first appearance of a locomotive like kick drum, that carries this old hobo, on the train of discovery through the light of the summer sun. We find our protagonist wishing to hunt with the Tiger Cat, in the aforementioned song, and to be one with nature in this vast wilderness. The album ends with “How Long”. The question we are all asking is, how long will we have to wait until the next collection of tales from Jake Book. In the meantime, enjoy these six songs from one of America’s finest storytellers. ~Elgn Arney

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ALBUM REVIEW: Joretta Oaks – “UpDownLeftRight”

UpDownLeftRight-4-FINALArtist: Joretta Oaks
Album: UpDownLeftRight

The new record by Joretta Oaks is the brainchild of the one and only Wes Van Antwerp. He recorded, produced, mixed and mastered the entire musical journey that everyone should embark upon. The album starts with 4 supremely good cuts of rock. “California” and “Rope” showcase some straight up rock and roll, while “A Good Death is Hard to Find”, has a more punk rock flair. After experiencing these 4 raucous songs it is good to take a breather and we get one in “Save Face”, before getting your blues on with, “Trailer Queen”. Then we have possibly the saddest heartbreaking song yet in “Come Away”, but within it is a always hope. Then we once again ramp up the intensity with the next two songs starting slowly with, “You” and then back to full-blown rock with, “Lovely Story”. Ending the album are two slower songs that wrench every last drop of emotion from the listener. “Withdraw” leans on The Band to ask why you would withdraw your love. Ending the album is, “Crowded Streets”, which lulls you into a peaceful trance until it shakes you loose with an erratic inspiring solo. This album will take anyone up, down, left, and right with its musical diversity. And you will be the better because of it.
~Elgn Arney

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ALBUM REVIEW: High 5 Don’t Die (Self-Titled EP)

High 5 Don't DieArtist: High 5 Don’t Die
Album: High 5 Don’t Die

From the basement of an undisclosed location comes the sound and fury of High 5 Don’t Die. No vocals, no bass, just drums, guitar and the power of rock! The six songs, recorded 15 years ago, were recently unearthed while looking for lost treasures deep in the catacombs of a bygone era.

The album starts off with ‘Number 1’, a jangly, alt-rocker vibe that carries a loud/quiet dynamic within its bones. Then they move on to ‘Number 2’, an urgent rocker with a contemplative middle section, that ramps back up to its former self. They slow down a bit with ‘Number 3’, a mid-tempo blast from college radio’s past. Next, they play a standout track called ‘Woo!’. This hook-heavy alt-rocker is the perfect amalgamation of their influences. After, that they get heavy on ‘Number 5’, with a driving beat and crunchy guitars. This song would not be out of place in any punk rockers set. They close the album with ‘Number 6’, another aggressive punk rock track. Any fans of chimey, alt-rock, punk will love this newly found gem from the dusty basement of an abandoned college radio station. Give yourself a high five and check out his album. ~Elgn Arney

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ALBUM REVIEW: TV Cop – “Sports Team EP”

TV-COP-resizeArtist: TV Cop
Album: “Sports Team EP

Hard driving drums, dual guitar interplay, solid bass lines, pop-punk vocals, and trombone? Yes! TV Cop is here to arrest your eardrums with their brand new EP: Sports Team. This four-song EP will delight fans of pop-ska-punk-garage rock! The EP starts off with ‘Candy’, and it’s opening bass line sets the tone and tells us what we are in for; a catchy song with discordant solos and a hint of trombone. They then transition into ‘Eleven’, another uptempo foot-stomper, with traces of shoegazery noise and melodic leads throughout; and once again, trombone. It slows down a bit with a looping, rumbling drumbeat in ‘Horndog’. Once again the trombone makes an appearance to add a forlorn longing to this standout track. TV Cop ends the set with ‘The Ballad of Spaghetti Legs’. This is another rocking tune with rapid fire drum breaks, trombone and guitar call and responses, and impassioned vocals. These four songs give the listener a brief glimpse into the mind of TV Cop, and leave you wanting more. So put out an APB for the Sports Team EP, you’ll be glad that TV Cop read you your rights to rock! ~Elgn Arney

ALBUM REVIEW: X-Ray Mary – “Basement Tapes Vol. 6(66)”

Artist: X-Ray MaryBasement Tapes 6(66)b
Album: Basement Tapes Vol. 6(66)

He knew the path would be long and arduous, but in the end, it would be worth all of the pain and suffering that he must endure to retrieve the sacred songs from the depths of the underworld. And so he set out, not knowing if he would ever return. The road to hell and back would take all of his strength and courage. Recovering the lost tales of X-Ray Mary had been his sole focus for the last 5 years. He was obsessed with it, he lived and breathed it. His single-minded pursuit of it nearly drove him mad. He had lost everything to it. His family, his friends, his job; everything. He knew that if he could only reclaim these twisted melodies, then all would be right in the universe.

He set off, not knowing if he would return and if he would ever see the things he once loved. There was talk of an ancient portal in a small, rural town in Central America. That is where he would need to go to enter into the underworld and find his treasure and possibly his sanity. The town was deserted and eerily quiet. Window shutters randomly shut, banging against their frames, and reverberating throughout the street. He walked cautiously through the town until finally coming upon what looked like an abandoned mine. This was no mine. That became abundantly clear when the three-headed dog emerged protecting the opening. How must one pass by this demonic creature? From behind his back, he retrieved his trusty guitar, and with a few soothing chords, the beast fell into a deep slumber.

Through the portal, he went. Down, down, down the long and dimly lit and musky path he traversed until finally, he spotted a faintly lit figure. It was the boatman. He was there to carry any soul across the river to their final resting place. He searched in his pockets to find the coins to pay the boatman and took his seat at the front. He caught himself almost drifting to sleep from the gentle sound of the waves hitting the boat. But he knew that if he fell asleep here, he would never wake up.

He was now near the end of his journey. Once he crossed to the other side of the river, he only had one more obstacle to overcome. Prying the songs loose from the master of this domain. He saw him there sitting on his throne of rotting flesh and bones, listening to the tales and adventures of X-Ray Mary. How could this devil keep these songs to himself when the world needed to hear the rocking grooves of X-Ray Mary! The years of frustration and anger rose inside of him as he rushed to the demon’s throne. Take this you hellspawn, as he thrust the neck of his guitar into the devil’s body, piercing his heart and destroying the evil within. Finally, it was over. As he reached for the sacred scrolls of X-Ray Mary, he was transported back to his home within seconds of the blinding light that engulfed him. Now the world can finally hear the glorious sounds of X-Ray Mary!

ALBUM REVIEW: North to the Future – “As Good As It Gets”

As Good As It GetsArtist: North to the Future
Album: As Good as it Gets

Wearing their nineties influences on their sleeves, North to the Future, opens with “Fast Fast Girl”, a slice of grungy rock straight from the great Northwest. They then segue way into the Weezer-ish, “Blue and Red Ribbons”, and follow that with the Sublime-esque, “On the Ground”. They then change the pace and throw in some bittersweet acoustic number with, “Home” and “As Good as it Gets” Then, back to the rock with some trashy punk in the form of, “Tornado” and finishes off the record with some classic pop-punk amalgamation of the Cars and Blink 182.

The band comprising of Wes Van Antwerp on lead vocals and guitar is paired well with Nate Rudd on second guitar. The twin guitar attack fills out and drives these songs while the rhythm section of Troy Morgan on bass and Tate Avery on drums ably complements the guitars of the other members.

So if you are looking to travel back and experience the music of the nineties, put down that screwdriver and wrench; you’ll never going to finish that time machine anyway. So get out of you parent’s garage and toss that extra plutonium you’re not going to use anyway in the river and go check out As Good as it Gets, because really, it is, as good as it gets.

-Elgn Arney