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7/7/2005

EAR PLUGS
I spent half the weekend sitting in the river drinking and relaxing while SW stayed home and recovered from a whirlwind business jaunt to NYC. By the time I got home, sore and hungover, neither of us were motivated to get out much. We didn't even see any fireworks for the fourth. When Tuesday rolled around SW had friends from Texas playing at Smith's so we skipped the weekly trip to the drive in and paid too much for drinks at one of Midtown's first yuppie establishments. We skipped the opening act to get a bite, then headed up and got a seat right up front for Fluffer's Union, SW's friends. They do an eclectic sort of Americana with quirky lyrics and interesting melodies, not unlike Sun Volt or SW's other friends from Texas, The Gourds. They're a bit more guitar-intensive than the usual Americana stuff but even with the triple guitar attack it doesn't rock hard like hard rock. It's still low key and downbeat for the most part. I enjoyed it a lot more than many of the other Americana shows and CD's SW brings into my life.

Next up, Casting Couch, on tour with Fluffer's Union, featuring a former Atlantan. They were even more eclectic in sound, switching backing instruments from xylophone to accordion to tuba to bells, making things sound unusual. They held our attention for most of the set, but eventually we went downstairs to plan a trip to Clermont Lounge, something we seem to do every time we have out of town guests.
It was karaoke night, adding yet another layer of strangeness to Atlanta's strangest club. The ragged strippers of Clermont Lounge each took turns at the mike, mixed in with random people from the crowd. Even our Texas friends were cajoled into a few numbers. We split sometime after 1:30, making what should've been a short week at work seem awfully long.
Damn, I'm getting old!

We've got a stack of CD's to review, some stuff that arrived from labels wanting our opinion, other stuff I bought with my hard-earned dollars.
First up, a Kate Campbell's CD Blues and Lamentations. For some reason I've been getting a lot of acoustic, singer/songwriter stuff from labels lately despite my repeated reviews that state this ain't my cup of tea. I suspect the folks that send the stuff don't actually READ my reviews, which is fine with me 'cause they'll keep sending free stuff and once in a while there's something good.
Kate Campbell does acoustic blues with a heavy southern accent. Combined with a few more instruments than you'd normally associate in a mix of acoustic blues, this gives the disc a very country music sound. I was reminded of gospel, even before she started singing about Moses. Her voice reminds me of classic country crooners, from Loretta to Dolly, and her light guitar picking lacks the slide and chords I usually expect in something labeled "blues." It's closer to bluegrass. But these aren't bad things, just different. If the disc had been titled or labeled as country/bluegrass or singer/songwriter stuff I wouldn't have gone into it expecting Lightnin' Hopkins. In fact, this could probably play on modern country stations that play softer and pop-flavored country.
Kate's voice may be a bit too clean for the material. Again, maybe it's my expectations, but when I think blues I think gravely voices that speak of their pain in their sound alone. Kate can sing, has a good range, and the CD is well mixed so it comes through clean. But even when there are horns added to the New Orleans flavored tune New Blues, I can't help but feel like something is missing. It lacks the upbeat moments that give light to counter the darkness in bluegrass. It lacks the edge and beat that do the same for the blues. Instead, it has that honesty and clarity of folk/singer/songwriter music that keeps me away from venues like Eddie's Attic. But if you're a fan of acoustic music this might be your new favorite CD.

Next up, Matt Sery's CD A More Perfect Union. This reminds me of a lot of late 90's rock music I didn't like. The band "Live" comes to mind, as well as Creed. But hell, I shouldn't review this at all. He ain't from around here and we don't usually review stuff from yankees. It's not that we think the South is all that great, it's just that there's too much music to cover in our own back yard as it is, never mind the rest of the planet. I got 4 tracks into this disc and ejected it. It's well produced and there's some skilled singing and playing, I just don't like what he's singing and playing. Ugh. Let's move on, shall we?

I picked up an EP from Dave Railey, Corndogorama organizer and lead singer of Day Mars Ray. The disc is a sampler from an upcoming full length Day Mars Ray record and if it's representative of the album in-process I'm looking forward to it. It's got sort of an 80's sound in jangly guitar work, but there's more to it than that. There's a layered richness I like without getting into overproduced mush. Some tunes have sort of a rootsy Americana feel, yet melded with spacey, trippy rock. Good stuff. The fact that he's a super nice guy (and nice looking, according to SW), is only icing on the cake.

Speaking of Corndogorama, one of my favorite acts of said festival was Jet By Day. I hopped over to the merch table after their set and was confounded by a selection of CD's from them. How the heck am I supposed to chose from 5 or 6 titles based on a kick ass 45 minute set? So I picked up The Vulture because I remembered them doing that tune in their set and the cover art looked cool. Crap, remember twenty years ago when you'd buy records just because the cover art was so fuckin' cool? I must have half a dozen ELO records just because of that damn flying saucer on the cover.
I don't seem to be able to write a review this week without rambling off into other subjects. What the hell?
Jet By Day's CD The Vulture starts off with some very ELO keyboards. Maybe that's why I'm distracted and tripping back to regrettable childhood record purchases. But after the spacey instrumental intro it comes crashing back to earthy rock, heavy, often angry stuff with soaring, growling, groaning vocals sort of reminiscent of Soundgarden. It shares some of the dark qualities of Soundgarden too, making me wish they'd lighten up for a minute a la AC/DC, but I suppose we don't really need any more hard rock party bands, do we? No, this is serious stuff, speeding up to leg-shaking, head-bopping intensity from time to time. Damn, I love me some electric guitar and this disc delivers!


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