May 15, 2008
Search for the Hidden Gem (vol# 18)
Fishing season in the Eastern Sierras has opened and it’s time to head for the alpine lakes to try my hand at landing a trophy rainbow or brown. But before I tie off that first improved clinch knot here are some gems to either take home or toss back in the lake.
Style (Instrumental / Spanish guitar)
I fell in love with masterfully played romantic Spanish guitar from the first moment I heard Armik, and now Lawson Rollins delivers a new CD within the same genre for me to praise. Rollins guitar playing is outstanding and the song collaborations with internationally recognized musicians is phenomenal. I’m so overwhelmed by the musicianship of this CD I find myself somewhat speechless, a rarity indeed. And for my male readers, guys, if you want to make points with your lady, spending a romantic afternoon or evening putting together a Spanish influenced lunch or dinner (one where you my brother do all the prep and cooking), complete with a fine margarita or choice bottle of wine, this CD will absolutely set the mood and earn you killer points.
Rating 4 ½ (Hidden Gem) - listening to the CD the love of my life confirmed the mood factor.
The black and white cover image on the CD is vintage old school rock and roll photography of a guitar player all sweaty with a low slung Gibson (one hand on the neck and one arm raised with passion, energy and personality) and Japanese sleeves adorning both arms. Peeling off the cellophane, mindful of the parental advisory stamp because I just got my learners permit, I hit play with a little trepidation, having been snake bitten before by great cover art, and to my surprise Morrison’s look and sound are exactly as a perceived - gritty, sweaty, crunchy guitar rock and roll, mixed in with some updated filter effects. The kind of rock and roll sound I dig hearing walking up stairs into the main room of the Viper Room holding a three finger deep tequila shot. Reading the “thank you” credits within the CD, Morrison apparently knows some important and well established musicians within the biz, and to me this type of fluff is swamp boot deep, but this player delivers the goods with an awesome groove so the boots can stay put in the closet.
Style (Transcendental Hip Hop)
This CD took me by surprise, trips me out, and I like it! If you can imagine, because I definitely couldn’t, a musical mix of meditative yoga, hip-hop vocals, and lyrics keeping with the peaceful nature of meditative trance sound waves, then you’ll have found Govinda Sky. It’s not often you come across an artist or group that is able to successfully blend two oil and water contrasting factors into a cohesive coagulation of art that makes sense. Adding to the oil and water metaphor is the group three shot with one guy dressed in a yoga shirt, one guy in a typical black t-shirt, and the third, the young hip-hopper, wearing an unoriginal large gold chain. I definitely didn’t expect to like this CD but I’m drawn to the alchemy oddity. Not to mention the upshot of this CD is being able to light up some Japanese sandalwood incense and wear my new Ed Hardy bling.
Style (Rock / Indie)
With the first song (“She’s Airborne”) I had the idea that McCann’s influences and sound would be presented as Indie songwriter blended with medium to low grade commercialized punk. However, as the CD played through, and I became more aware of the lyrics, all I could hear was an indie songwriter whining about getting or losing a girl. Granted, lots of songs are written about the chase between members of the opposite sex, and McCann’s song writing sure doesn’t break new ground as it fits this mold to a “T”, but his voice, only six octaves shy of perfection, after a while is flat out annoying. As the CD played through I also found the music lying there desperately needing an infusion of passion. The commercials say Red Bull gives you wings, so there’s got to be more. And come on, the title of your CD is “Live Loud”. How on earth can I get into something titled “Live Loud” when while listening to it all I want to do is turn it off and quietly scold myself for not buying that case of Red Bull on sale.
“Steal My Horses and Run”
Style (Indie / Alternative)
Opening the CD I’m thrilled by the creative artwork this band from Stockholm has put together. The cover image is a city street at night and the inside band photos are blended multiple shots into separate single images which are exceptionally artistic and look great. Listening to the CD I find myself wandering into an underground night club entranced by the flashing lasers only to awaken standing in the middle of a lush green forest feeling the wind pass through the branches encompassing my body and spirit in a chilled but warm enlightening embrace. The songs Blackstrap has created have that “something” hook which makes them both unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time,and the production to bring the mix together is superbly done.