Search for the Hidden Gem (2012 – vol# 8)

Written by on July 26, 2012 in July 26, 2012, Music Reviews - Comments Off on Search for the Hidden Gem (2012 – vol# 8)

Search For The Hidden GemCamping Rule # 42:  Camping is so much more exciting when the bears come around at 2AM looking for the chocolate cookies and marshmallow s’mores.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

“Leaving Eden”

Style (Folk)

I came across this while in a book store / art gallery on the square in downtown Healdsburg in Sonoma County and fell in love with the old style photos immediately.  Like a perfectly worn leather sofa and a familiar adult beverage, there’s a comfort quality in hearing young accomplished musicians playing original songs in a Southern folk style and doing it exceptionally well.  I love these songs and how the musicians incorporated a banjo (4 & 5 string), a fiddle, a mandolin, a jug (yes, that old fashioned wine jug), excellent vocals and a rhythm and spirit that are captivating and created 15 tracks that are incredible.  The energy and emotion in each of these tracks is honest and pure and conjures up ghostly spirits from those of the 20’s and 30’s who created this brand of folk music.  I’m also so impressed with the top notch musicianship and the amazing production, which was done by Nashville legend Buddy Miller.  An excellent example of how incredible music can be when the right producer is behind the board.  According to the discology this is the band’s fourth CD and playing through this it’s easy to hear why Carolina Chocolate Drops won a Grammy in 2010 for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Rating 4 ½ (Hidden Gem!)

Russ Hewitt

“Alma Viega”
Style (Nuevo Flamenco / Contemporary Jazz)

I’m a firm believer that certain styles of music are best enjoyed under the right conditions.  For me this CD from Hewitt plays wonderfully with a sunny late spring early summer afternoon in a Sonoma County vineyard with a light lunch enjoying the company of a lovely member of the opposite sex (my beautiful wife).  With Nuevo Flamenco influences Hewitt’s new CD flows easily along exhibiting a contemporary sound that’s a little more jazz oriented.  I like what I’m hearing from Hewitt in this CD although I would have liked a bit more flamenco in the songs to give them just a little more flavor.  But that’s my only negative with the CD.  The tempo is perfect making the songs both energizing and relaxing, and Hewitt’s guitar playing is effortlessly fluid.  Also catching my ear is the musicianship from the other players accompanying Hewitt on this musical journey.

Rating 4 (well done!)

Chron Goblin

“One Million From The Top”
Style (Punk / Rock)

To put it simply, I like!  Musically the songs are energetic up-tempo with a nice grungy guitar, a well suited mid-tone vocal, and a caged animal bass and drum backbone that’s on the verge of pouncing.  There’s something about these 9 tracks that harkens back to those backyard / backwoods keg parties of my youth in southern Maryland.  Something else that stands out is how I’m hearing four college friends playing music that sounds like it was written by young adults pushing through the immense musical labyrinth with a sound that’s unique and interesting, and is music they truly love playing.  This is a breath of fresh air in a mainstream catacomb of washed out blandness.  The energy throughout the whole CD leads me to believe live is where these four dudes take it to another level.  Website only listed gigs in Canada (where they’re from) but I hope they decide to venture south to play SoCal sometime in the future.

Rating 4

Red Herring

“Chasing Windmills”
Style (Indie Rock)

What on earth is this?  I agree with the bio description of this CD being a drive down a dark street searching for meaning because playing through this has me searching for reasoning in my decision to torture my CD player and my ears with this stinker.  I should have paid attention to the band name more closely: stay away, nothing musical to hear here.  It’s like the coyote masqueraded as a cactus in a futile effort to get closer to the road runner – “beep, beep!”   The songs are horribly written by musicians without song writing ability and even worse musicianship.  The production quality is so far in the mud I’m wondering if this might have been a student final project released on a whim.  If this was a student final project I hope it got an ‘F’ because, to put it mildly, it sucks.

Rating 0 (summer school awaits)