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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews


Samuel James goes back to the delta

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If you like delta blues and some sick slide guitar you will like Portland , Maine bluesaltman Samuel James’ new CD “For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen,” which takes the listener back to the delta, back in the day. It has some dark, disturbing and somewhat wry lyrics especially on the first track, ‘Big, Black Ben’ which is the story of a black man getting lynched by the members of the KKK, except their rope is too long.
James has an impressive  and almost menacing New Orleans drawling baritone which is reminiscent of  Dr. John’s. He also sounds like Todd Snider in places as well.
The CD moves along at a consistent clip. All of the songs feature  some sick slide and some pretty fingerpicking in slower numbers like “Rosa’s Sweet Little Love Song.”
‘Miss Noreen’ has some impressive banjo playing. There is some impressive guitar  picking on “Trouble on Congress Street Road.”
It is all acoustic, but is is enrapturing just the same, enveloping the listener.“Wooden Tombstone” is a really cool acappella  number. Basically if you like delta blues, you’ll enjoy  this CD
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

CD: Samuel James
Title: For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen
Genre: blues
Label: Northern Blues

Govt. Mule still rules

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I like the new Govt. Mule CD , ‘By A Thread,’ more every time I listen to it.

It’s actually made the Top 30 at Megatunes in Calgary, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it’s about time people discovered the beauty of the Mule, but bad because now they’re not my favourite little secret  any more. I and several hundred thousand others in the know now have to share them with the masses.

altIt helps that ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons trades solos with Warren Haynes on the scorching first track, ‘Broke Down on the The Brazos’ it also helps that Haynes has one heck of a powerful voice, can lay down some big southern rock guitar riffs, add a bit of reggae and a mess of other influences. He can belt out a nine minute blues tune like ‘Inside Outside Woman Blues #3’ as well as he can croon a disturbing ballad like ‘World Wake Up.’ He touches on a variety of lyrical themes from raving against the Patriot Act” to tender love.

He uses a lot of electric 12 string which has some delay and a bit of chorus added to it to add to the ominous though still rocking feel of the frighteningly good “Railroad Boy.” The lyrical delivery will chill you to the bone. I love the frenetic organ solo on this track as well.

I also love the big Wild T and the Spirit style riff on “Any Open Window,” in which Haynes and the band adds a little funk.
Govt. Mule covers all bases on “By A Thread,” and there are some massive jams, ‘Monday Mourning Meltdown’ clocks in at a mellow eight minutes. “Inside Outside Woman Blues #3” is nine minutes of wah wah drenched psychedelic rock. And ‘Scenes From A Troubled Mind’ is disturbing seven minutes plus. ‘By A Thread’ is a thing of beauty.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: By A Thread
Band: Govt. Mule
Genre: jam rock/southern rock
Record label: Evil Teen Records

Velvety tones on Kall’s Notes In Neon

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If you like the likes of Jack Johnson and John Mayer’s blues tinged acoustic pop, you will like Montreal singer songwriter Arthur Kall.
His debut Cd, ‘Notes In Neon’ features some catchy hooks and his pleasantly soulful poppy  pleasant, velvety voice which remains in the vein of McMaster and James.alt
 I like “Grow Up” quite a bit as well as the first track.. The Cd starts uptempo for the first three tracks, then he turns it right down, but displays some pretty  arpeggios playing on the acoustic guitar. ‘Jealousy’ has the Beatles’  ‘Blackbird’ feel to it.
 there is some serious guitar playing happening in the background, but that is relegated to the background  so as to not take away from the songs. While a lot of it is slower tempo then I usually like, it is a nice, relaxing mellow listen, to plug in on those stormy, chilly, miserable days when you’d rather just stay inside.
At the end he does something weird — combines folk, electric guitar rock and hip hop courtesy of  the Underground Realroad on “Can’t Stop,” which does feature a  few bad words. It makes that track, one of my favourites, stand out from the rest. It works really well.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Notes in Neon
Artist: Arthur Kall
Genre: pop
record label: independent

Girls, Girls, Girls are cool, cool, cool

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Girls, Girls, Girls doesn’t have a one girl in the band and no, they aren’t a Motley Crue tribute band. Instead they are a talented trio from London, altEngland who  incorporate a lot of 90s Brit rock influences like Blur into their new CD, ‘Songs for Grilly.’  They also show off a little bit of Beatles influence on ‘A Lover’s Portrait’ in which piano is incorporated into the drums/bass/ guitar mix which even includes a blues tinged riff.
 The best track on the CD s “American Girlfriend,” which sounds like Blur playing uptempo jazzy blues mixed with early Genesis. ‘The Boys’ is excellent, reflecting some early 80s British punk. They actually play a waltz, french cabaret style on ‘Old Amsterdam Waltz.’
And ‘Transplant’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Damned album.
 And just to  do something different, like ‘Songs for Grilly ’ isn’t different enough, it ends with an ancient gypsy sounding song. “Sad Sea Shanty for Igor Kornelyuk.”
Girls, Girls, Girls are cool, cool,  cool — and diverse.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
CD: Songs for Grilly
 Band: Girls, Girls, Girls
Genre: unusual rock

Reverend Horton Heat will make you cry with laughter

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Texas Rockabilly revivalists Reverend Horton Heat deliver exactly what you expect on their  new CD “Laughin’ and Cryin’.”  There’s lots of scorching, twanging Gretsch powered guitar mayhem, lots of  train track stand up bass slapping and popping, the Reverend’s quirky  sense of humour we all know and love,  and an unstoppable drummer who takes you back to the dark side of 1955— leather jackets, greased back hair, hot rods,  racing for pink slips, beer and cigarettes. There is even an accordion on ‘Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas’ for that Tex-Mex feel.
Whether  they’re singing about , alcohol, crazy ex-boyfriReverend Horton Heat Coverends, hot rods, death metal guys or the Rural Point of View, there is enough  great guitar, balls to the wall riffs, weird humour and alcohol to go around. Which makes them  top notch in my books.
Some highlights include “Death Metal Guys’ which compares the lives of rockabilly cats and death metal guys, and the ear bleeding solo of “River Ran Dry.”
The humour comes out on  a jazz tinged ‘Please Don’t Take the Baby to the Liquor Store’ and ‘Rural Point of View’ which takes some thinly veiled shots at city folks and their point of view. ‘Oh God Doesn’t  in Vegas’ is an entertaining rockabilly romp about gambling addictions. As usual, “Laughin’ and Cryin’’ has an instrumental— a Hawaiian slide flavoured  slower number called ‘Spacewalk.”
The old school country influence comes out on “Beer Holder.”
He ends with another humourous number “Just Let Me Hold my Paycheque.” before concluding with another tasty spaghetti western style  original.
—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Laughin’ and Cryin’
band: Reverend Horton Heat
Genre: rockabilly
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