March 12, 2009
SOUND BITES ~ little nibbles of recent releases
including: Brooke Trout, Static X, Kelly's Lot
By Rob Swick
Networth ~ by: Brooke Trout
Here she comes again, swimming into our speakers with a quirky perk that defies strict categorization, but does invite attention and thought. Not one to stick with just one school of thought, Brooke worked with two different bands on this disk: The Treble Hooks and The Anchor Men. Many have noted that Brooke has affection for a ska-ish tempo, and this affinity comes through right from the start in "Compartmentalized Life," which is accented by her trademark vocal antics, including squeaks, chirps and trills -- but pay her heed, and she will also give you smooth intonation, when she chooses. In the title track, Brooke channels a taste of Alanis Morissette with her biting lyrics, but the voice is all her own.You feel her gutsy fervor in "Mine" and "Groundhogs," for instance – and you get some trippy avante-garde guitar overlays, cool. "Get Lucky" busts out Dave Perea's harmonica for a vintage vibe, and "Hide" has an intriguing synth-sounding rhythm. And as for her overall aquatic-themed approach – goodness-gracious, how many liquid metaphors and piscatorial puns can one woman haul on board? Brooke Trout will make you chuckle while you ponder and appreciate her wit and insight. And in the end, if a track like “Get Lucky" is tongue-in-cheek fun, then the closing cut, "Truly," is a sweet love song from an inimitable singer-composer, brought forth from a sincere and happy heart. See her at: brooketrout.com.
Cult of Static ~ by: Static-X
Hitting the stands and streets right around Saint Patrick’s Day is another studio disk from this often-angry-sounding band from Los Angeles. But despite your humble reviewer's preference for peace and goodwill, it was found that the insistent songs found on this package are curiously engaging. First of all, let the record show that the vocals are consistently raspy and perturbed-sounding throughout -- but in an honest way, confident and consistent. The first track, "Lunatic," has the obligatory reference to self-destructive tendencies, kicking off with drums, and containing a rather tasty lead-break. The next track, “Z28,” is fast and furious, naturally! Conversely, “Terminal” starts with a minor-key guitar that will surely remind some of "Hell's Bells," but the bulk of the song goes in a faster direction, even containing a moment or two of twin guitar. Static-X is so good at what they do. Without looking at someone else's designations, this listener observes that yes, it's metal, but it's not "speed" or "death" or "nu," it's just Static-X. Note the under-layer of keys on Isolaytore, and then the heavily-distorted axe that opens Nocturnally -- the band hits with a punch that makes fists clench and heads bang, and these guys deserve major props for their success at achieving the desired effect.
The Light ~ by: Kelly's Lot
Promoting themselves as "Rockin' Roadhouse Blues," and rightly so, Kelly's Lot has delivered a disk that also confirms the group's solid status as straight-ahead rockers. Fronted by the energetic Kelly Zirbes, who also writes most of the songs, the band features not only guitarists Rob Zucca and Perry Robertson, plus bass and drums by Mark Drews and Sebastian Sheehan, but also an awesome wind player named Bill Johnston, who handles both sax and clarinet, and who wails just as well as any lead guitarist. (And make no mistake, Rob and Perry are great on this disk!) Kelly herself has one of those gritty voices that goes so well with the hard-luck expressions of the blues, right up there with Bonnie Raitt or Melissa Etheridge. So when she comes out from the gate with "Drive," the blues-based opening track, you feel the drive from her soul, and again, on the slowed-down electric blues of "Tired," she gets that down-home feel from the fields, with hot sauce on it. One note, though: Kelly couldn't keep herself from rhyming "girl" and "world" on three different songs, but hey, if it works for Robert Plant or Madonna, then let Kelly make it so as well! Let it be known: Kelly's Lot is a big supporter of Hepatitis-C awareness and research -- heck, they're doing another benefit this very Saturday, March 14, down at Java Joe’s in Yorba Linda. And because of the great spirit and good contained in work like that, it's really fitting that the Kelly's Lot CD closes with a song that's not too blue at all, "Say Yes To Life" -- positive vibrations from a bluesgirl with a big heart! Check her website: kellyslot.com.