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

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ALBUM REVIEW – X-Ray Mary “Basement Tapes Vol. 5: Skull Smoocher”

BT5coverArtist: X-Ray Mary
Album: Basement Tapes Vol. 5: Skull Smoocher

Come check out this newly unearthed collection of songs from the eclectic mind of Jimmie Dalton. Following in the similar vein of Astral TV Dinner, Skull Smoocher presents another array of atmospheric alt-folk tales of love and heartbreak.

The acoustic guitar is the main backbone for these stories, but the ever present farfisa organ intertwines many songs and permeates them to the deepest parts of the marrow. With enough reverb to rattle your bones, each song is an ode to mid-sixties underground experimental, trippy folk-rock. And like the sixties love reigns supreme as the ultimate muse for “Sunshine Lady”, My Wife and Me”, “Oh So Lonely (for you love)”, Eyes of a Stranger”, and “Flower of the Night”.

The Blues, as only Jimmie could play it, also makes an appearance in “Lost Soldier”, as it should when talking about heartbreak. It also closes the album with the appropriately titled, “So Long Good-Bye”.

This newest collection from the mind-skull of Jimmie will have you searching through your vinyl collection, swearing up and down that you’ve heard these songs before; until you eventually curse to yourself and realize that they aren’t, and that you should really just sit back and relax.

-Elgn Arney

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X-Ray Mary – New Album & Review

BT4coverAlright boys and girls, are ready for another heaping helping of surreal rock and roll? If so, then open your mouth and say ahh, for a steaming, hot new release by X-Ray Mary. Fresh from the mind-oven of Jimmie Dalton, comes Astral TV Dinner. Sink your teeth into juicy tones of, “My Own Man”, “Pours Me Tea”, “Flesh Eating Bananas”, and many more. Not only are there Beatle influenced psychedelic/garage rockers, but also Post-Beatle-Lennon-esque acoustic gems. These sonic nuggets, “Gathering Stones”, “Growing in My Yard”, “Werewolf Girl”, and “April’s Song”, have been prepared for your listening enjoyment. But don’t eat them up too quickly, kiddies, savour them one bite at a time, your mind-belly will thank you. When I listen to an album, I think to myself, “Self, why aren’t there anymore waltzes on record anymore?” Well, you’re in luck, “Heaven Sent Girl”, will satiate that unquenchable need. So peel back the tinfoil on your Astral TV Dinner and shape it into a hat. You’ll need it after listening to, “Gone Crazy”, “Fungus of the Mind”, and “3rd Planet”. So be sure to eat all the veggies and pea on your plate, otherwise, X-Ray Mary will haunt you in your kitchen. ~Elgn Arney

Listen/buy/share Basement Tapes Vol. 4: Astral TV Dinner here: https://speakuprecords.bandcamp.com/album/basement-tapes-vol-4-astral-tv-dinner

Dog of Panic – New Album & Review

Dog-of-Panic-album-cover-ALT-9A couple weeks ago, we released the new album “…of all ambition” by Dog of Panic. They’ve been friends for years and we’re proud to be a part of their new release.

Come check out the newest offering by Dog of Panic, and you will be treated with a wide range of musical tonal hues, from straight-ahead rock to ambient dance, to multi-layered epic rock opuses. The album literally ‘kicks’ of with the track “Moosekick”. If being kicked in the head my a moose is anything like this song, then sign me up. It’s a rocking groove with no-nonsense vocals by Dan Rohde. Then takes a breath with “Break the Circle”, an instrumental with a dancey vibe that leaves the listener wanting more. The band, with Jesse Miller on drums and Josie Lowder on bass, then segues into “Linnear”, which brings to mind Beardfish and Umphrey’s McGee, with its multi-parts and multi-rhythms. It goes from clean arpeggiated lines to full on raging distortion along with melodic bass lines from Lowder, and killer drum fills by Miller. After the tour-de-force of “Linnear”, is a great Pink Floydish interlude, “Crawl Before You..”, with multiple recorded speaking parts and fuzzed out synth lines surrounding delicate acoustic chords. Which then segues into “Running Free”. Another song that demonstrates what Dog of Panic do best, multi-rhythms and tempos and genres with loud/soft dynamics that bring about the best of the nineties. This is followed by “Learning to Overcome” and “A Sharp One”, that follow in the musical footsteps of both “Linnear” and “Running Free”, with their multiple tones, rhythms, and tempos that never feel forced but have an organic evolution to their structure. ~Elgn Arney

Listen/share/buy their album here: https://speakuprecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-all-ambition

ALBUM REVIEW: Jake Book – “1919”

1919Artist: Jake Book
Album: 1919

The high lonesome voice of Jake Book resounds through the plains and fields of Americana music. His voice and lyrics fit perfectly with the intimate sounds of his strummed acoustic guitar. Let Jake Book take you on a journey through the past and present with his direct to the soul lyrics and crisp acoustic attack.

The album opens with “1919” an ode to that year in America’s history, and sets the tone for the stylistic cues that would continue through the rest of the songs. It’s easy to picture Jake Book as a dust bowl troubadour, hitching his way across America telling tales of sorrow and despair. It is followed by two down tempo songs, “Lead On” and “A Lullaby”. This is followed by the stark and vulnerable interpretation of the song, “Sing to Me”. Next, is the biting reality of, “A Bit of Clarity.” This song could be the unifying motif that sums up the whole album. He writes some, “songs of joy and happiness”, and “sorrow and utter hopelessness”. It’s all to, “better help him understand himself”, which is really what we all want in our lives, a better understanding of who we are and what our purpose is in life. Because in the end, we are “trying to find a happy place”, and “a bit of clarity.”

-Elgn Arney

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ALBUM REVIEW: The PBJs – “I Wonder If This Is How Dogs Feel”

IWITIHDFcoverArtist: The PBJs
Album: I Wonder If This Is How Dogs Feel

The PBJs, the dynamic duo of Nalani Proctor on acoustic guitar/vocals and Jason Bolinger on drums/backing vocals, are bringing a fresh take on the singer-songwriter format. The songs on “I Wonder If This Is How Dogs Feel” range from the introspective to the whimsical. From upbeat numbers like, “Dreaming of Summer” and “2049”, to forlorn songs like, “Horror Love” and “Light”. From gentle finger picking to assured strumming, The PBJs take us on a voyage of emotions. The twenty song album is a plethora of riches, and it is up to the listener to mine its vast resources for the plentiful sonic nuggets.

I walk into a smoky coffee house and order the blackest cup of joe they have. I light a cigarette and take a long drag. My coffee is served and the roasted taste of my brew mixed with the smokiness makes all of my cares melt away. The voice of Nalani is that addictive smokiness that combines with Jason’s caffeinated and focused drumming. And as the waitress asks if I want I refill, I say, “Yes, I would like another cup of the PBJs to make my every day a better day.”

-Elgn Arney

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Album Review: Nik Sorak – “Change Your Heart”

Change Your HeartArtist: Nik Sorak
Album: Change Your Heart

“Change Your Heart” is warm like a breeze caressing your hair, and as tender as the gentle lapping of the ocean. The poignant lyrics and humble arrangements make us remember days long ago, when we would gather round with family and friends and sing the songs of our ancestors.

If it’s possible to bottle up heartache and longing, then Nik Sorak has done just that with “Change Your Heart”. The crisp acoustic guitar playing gives these songs an intimate, vulnerable closeness. Sorak’s vocals lend themselves well to the overarching theme of love and redemption, while the added touches of melancholic violin bring it all together to make a lasting impression on the listener.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Muldoon’s Clever Girls – “We Spared No Expense”

Cover-WeSparedNoExpenseArtist: Muldoon’s Clever Girls
Album: We Spared No Expense

Fuzz bass, punk attitudes, and hard driving vocals are what to expect from Muldoon’s Clever Girls. These songs should instigate any self-respecting punker to start throwing punches and piercing a strangers noses. Let’s all shout along and head bang to the new age punk meets old school thrash punk. MCG goes from 0 to 60, and never lets up, burning the tires off your Mom’s Taurus station wagon after knocking over a liquor store.

If the Ramones had a secret love child with the Dead Kennedy’s then it would want to be friends with Muldoon’s Clever Girls. The in–your-face vocals of Jamie Mason, invite you to simultaneously sing along and punch him in the throat, while the distorted bass of Alex Crist punches through the eardrum of your Grandma’s cat. All the while, Royce Kurth’s four on the floor drumming, propels the songs into the murky nether regions of your soul.

So if you are in the mood to shake yourself into a psychotic fit give, ‘We Spared No Expense” by Muldoon’s Clever Girls a spin. You won’t be disappointed.

-Elgn Arney

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Perfect For Ham: The Real Story

Perfect For HamI’ve known Insane Mike Saunders for many many years now. He’s always been known as a filmmaker, but what most people don’t know is that I think he really wants to be a rock star too. We’ve always talked about recording projects. We may have started a comedy album once. We may have even started a full on rock band once that specialized in improv, but I can’t remember their name. 😉

Back in 2007 when we were living together, the perfect storm of free time and boredom came together and we broke out the 4-track. Insane Mike has always had a love and a knack for writing goofy comedy songs so this came very naturally. I can’t remember too much other than it came together pretty quickly. I made up some riffs. He made up some lyrics. We recorded it and that was that.

I think for a long time it just sat on the shelf because we had hopes of recording more than these 5 songs. We eventually gave up and decided to release it as an EP so we could at lease share it with our friends.

Believe me, if you see Insane Mike on the street, he would love it if you asked him for an autograph. At least you could ask him why he came up with the name for the band.

You can listen to and download the Perfect For Ham album here: https://speakuprecords.bandcamp.com/album/perfect-for-ham

Enjoy!

The Ever Busy and Productive Jake Book


Watch Jake Book live at the Foundry Hall in South Haven MI. Playing the tune “Hoop Snake”.

Jake also has a new project called the South Fork Boys. This is a video of their song “Policeman”.

I don’t think there is a dull moment for Jake. He’s always playing music somewhere somehow. Seriously. Check out his label Historic Records if you don’t believe me. Tons of great music at https://historicrecords.bandcamp.com/

And lots of things to look forward to I’m sure. Like a possible new album on Speak Up Records. Stay tuned to this guy!