Monthly Archives: September 2009

Rose Melberg – Homemade Ship

January 01, 1970

(K Records)

 

www.krecs.com

 

Armed with
nothing more than an acoustic guitar and her pillowy-soft voice, Rose Melberg
returns with her 3rd solo record (the first two were on the Double
Agent label) and it’s just about the most gentle thing you’ll hear all year. Homemade Ship very nearly makes a Nick
Drake record sound like Motorhead and Melberg continues to hone her craft and
make her hushed songs all the more engaging.

 

Opening cut
“Things That We Do” offers hope through lyrics like “Don’t you remember the
good times? How much we made each other smile” while on “Look Skyward” she’s
searching for a long, lost friend.  On
the title track she is joined by P:ano’s Larissa Loyva and the two sound just
about perfect. The record was recorded in the winter in her adopted home of British Columbia and it
feels like a wintry record. One perfect to curl up by the fireplace when it’s
below zero outside and all you want to do it forget about the stresses of the
day and sink into your favorite couch.

 

Recommended Tracks: “Look Skyward”, “Moon Singer”, “Homemade
Ship”, “Outlaws” TIM HINELY

 

Mason Jennings – Blood of Man

January 01, 1970

(Brushfire)

 

www.brushfirerecords.com

 

You’ve heard this story before: a folk singer from Minnesota
goes electric. Over the years Mason Jennings certainly has mastered his droning
Dylanesque intonations (Listen to his take on “Hattie Carroll” from the I’m Not There soundtrack for absolute
proof.) and poetically complex musings on life, death, and love. He still uses
them here-most poignantly on the bone-chilling anti-war song “The Field” and
the haunting tale of loss “Black Wind Blowing.”

 

But on Blood of Man Jennings also takes an opportunity to tone down the verbosity, dabble in some
studio experimentation, and, at times, just plain rock. Fortunately his fans
have no reason to cry “Judas!” The sonic somersault helps extract some of
Jennings’ genuine emotion, and to longtime listeners that will be obvious.
“Ain’t No Friend of Mine” is raucous new school industrial blues that would
sound right at home on a Black Keys’ record, while “City of Ghosts” meshes
simple garage chords with soaring reverb-drenched vocals. “Sing Out” then
features some mellow falsetto floating above some steady cosmic keyboards. This
may not be the most thought-provoking album Jennings ever produces, but so far
it’s the most enjoyable to listen to from start to finish.

 

Standout Tracks: “The Field,” “Ain’t No Friend of Mine” JEDD FERRIS

 

 

 

Fresh & Onlys – Grey-Eyed Girls

January 01, 1970

(Woodsist)

 

www.woodsist.com

 

The Fresh & Onlys’ self-titled debut earlier this year
established the SF garage psych outfit as one of the best new bands of 2009. This
second full-length, just a couple of months later, intensifies the sound,
pushes it into slightly darker, more echoey corners, and, overall, strengthens
the case. The songwriting has gotten stronger, spookier, funnier (the album’s
first line observes, “You don’t have to pray/for beautiful skin/when you
live/in a black coffin”) and the band has improved noticeably with practice. There’s
nothing radically different about Grey-Eyed Girls, as compared to the
first record, just a sense that everything has been nailed down a little harder.
   

 

If you’re just getting to the Fresh & Onlys, here’s the
lowdown. Sometime in the mid-‘00s, Black Fiction songwriter Tim Cohen hooked up
musically with Shayde Sartin, a Bay Area go-to guy who has worked with Skygreen
Leopards, Kelley Stoltz, Citay and the Papercuts. Cohen’s background had been
in hip hop. Sartin was into punk and psychedelia. The two started writing songs
together, eventually accumulating boxes and boxes of tapes. Wymond Miles came
in to play guitar. Kyle Gibson joined as drummer. Heidi Alexander sings. Their
first album was loosely structured, rough and charming, all handclapped,
jangly-strummed enthusiasm and Barrett-esque whimsy.

 

Now, a summer later, we come to Grey-Eyed Girls. It
is by no means immaculate – you can hear a dog barking pretty clearly in one
track and people in the band talking in others – but still considerably more
cohesive and well-put-together than the first. As before, there’s a pronounced
1960s vibe to the Fresh & Onlys sound, a paisley swirl in their slouching
guitar lines and rickety rhythms. This time, though, it’s a bit more ominous
than before, pointing to the out-there art-garage of bands like the Creation rather
than the tailored pop of the Beatles/Kinks/Zombies.  Cohen’s voice is enveloped in a cave of spooky
reverb throughout, lending a macabre edge to “Black Coffin” and “Invisible
Forces,” and a Britpop romanticism to “No Second Guessing.” Yet while the
vocals billow and expand, the band has turned tight, tight, tight underneath.  There’s a hard headlong rush to rockers like
“D.Y.” and a tensile strength even to tea-time fantasies like “What’s His
Shadow Still Doing Here?” The guitars, hard-scrubbed and urgent, push forward
in even the most fey and delicate songs. Bite in expecting clouds of whimsy,
and you could break a tooth on the hard musical core.

 

Grey-Eyed Girls works better as a straight-through
listen than its predecessor, suggesting that not only is the band getting
better at writing and playing – they’re also figuring out an overarching
aesthetic. Last time out, there were some very good songs, some duller ones,
and a lot of fluctuation in style and mood between tracks. This time, every
song seems like an integral part of the album, leading one to the next in a
streamlined procession. All of which means that this unusually productive band
is very good now and likely to improve. Better keep an eye out for the next
album in, oh, maybe a month or two.

 

Standout Tracks: “D.Y.”, “Invisible Forces” “Black Coffin” JENNIFER KELLY

 

 

Buffy Sainte-Marie – Running for the Drum

January 01, 1970

(Appleseed)

 

www.appleseedmusic.com

 

The best thing about a unique voice – and Buffy
Sainte-Marie’s fierce, proud vibrato certainly qualifies as one – is that it
defies age. It’s neither a voice of youth nor of middle age; it belongs to an
individual and is always as fresh as a fingerprint. On “Running for the Drum,”
her first recording in 13 years, when Sainte-Marie lets that voice soar
unrepressed, as she does on “No No Keshagesh,” “I Bet My Heart On You” and
“Working for the Government,” she really rocks! Yoko Ono’s got nothing on her.

 

That’s maybe an odd thing to say – the 68-year-old
singer-songwriter of American Indian ancestry is mostly known for 1960s-era
folk-protest songs, some related to her ethnicity, and later for the
Oscar-winning pop ballad “Up Where We Belong,” which she co-wrote. But when she
sings those fast songs, you can hear how much she loved rockabilly as a kid and
has retained its spirit. She even pays respect to Elvis with “Blue Sunday,”
which borrows a beat and an attitude from “Heartbreak Hotel.” She has always
had political bite, best shown here by an effective remake of her eerie and
still-relevant “Little Wheel Spin and Spin.” Sainte-Marie also still writes
ballads of the “Up”-lift variety – “Too Much Is Never Enough — which are nice
as far as they go, since her plaintive voice usually helps them avoid
sentimentality, although an update of “America the Beautiful” (with some new
words honoring Indian tribes) can’t surmount the treacly arrangement.

 

Working with producer Chris Birkett, Sainte-Marie gets an
interesting effect on some of the faster songs, conjuring both tribal drums and
dance-club abandon.  Overall, this is an
album, and a career, with a lot of vibrancy. To paraphrase the title of one of
her best-known compositions, it’s not time for her to go yet. Not by a long
show.

 

Standout Tracks: “No No Keshagesh,” “I Bet My Heart on You” 
STEVEN ROSEN

 

Panther – Entropy

January 01, 1970

(Kill Rock Stars)

 

www.killrockstars.com

 

In physics Entropy measures disintegration and
disorder, the continual process of things falling apart. That’s a fitting name
for Panther’s latest work, where pop forms are unceasingly put together, pulled
apart and reassembled. Here rhythms, melodies and harmonies rub together in a humming
friction of point, counterpoint and chaos.

 

Panther started out as Charlie Salas-Humara’s one-man
electro-pop band, a project he began after The Planet The folded in 2005. The
outfit became a duo when drummer Joe Kelly (from 31 Knots) joined for 14 Kt
God
. Entropy  is the third
Panther album, and the second with Kelly, full of complicated pop songs,
chopped into irregular bits and rearranged at random. With two players, Panther
can now take a more organic sound than on the earlier albums, using live drums,
guitar, bass and piano in addition to synths and samples. That combination — of
live and robot sounds, of melody and stuttery blitz, of old-school piano runs
and fractured post-punk beats – is the engine that drives these tunes,
sometimes right off the edge of the table.

 

All these songs are grounded thoroughly in four-four – held
down hard by the thump of drums, the banging of piano chords – yet they are so
full of irregular phrases and stop-starts as to seem free of time signature.  A jittery energy percolates through the whole
of Entropy, a sugar-rush sense of fun that is manic without being the least bit
anxious, multifaceted without being schizophrenic.  

 

What separates Entropy from the typical fritzed-out,
chop-and-dice pop album (see Kelly’s old outfit, 31 Knots, Menomena and others)
is, perhaps, the melodic quality of the vocals, the almost prog-like complexity
of these multi-part songs. “Love Is Sold,” the single, starts with a hard,
earnest beat, a splatter of piano chords, a spoke-sung cadence of words. Yet
very soon, it is taken up into a flurry of ornate vocal counterpoints, a
Yes-like complexity filtering into its bracing punk energy. “Oh Doctor”
alternates between spiky rhythms and soaring, slo-mo choruses, like a radio
switching between Fugazi and Sugar. There’s a heedless physical energy to these
songs, a surface-y fascination with the way things sound, rather than what they
mean. “Séance” plays with the way that two words – “Séance” and “Patience” –
have a similar sound.

 

Three remixes close the album, two of them emphasizing the
glitchy electro-pop from which Panther comes, a middle one of “Love Is Sold”
(credited to Lips and Ribs) adding even more organic sounds to the mix. Here
jungle-y top beats and squealing organ trills push Panther’s slice-and-dice pop
into pure jam. But in a way, the remixes are just another iteration of
Salas-Humara’s process, which disassembles songs into chaotic bits, then rolls  them around in a box and stops when they an
intriguing pattern.

 

Consumer note: Entropy is available from Kill Rock Stars as a limited edition (500 copies) LP that
includes a download of the album plus eight digital bonus tracks.

 

Standout tracks: “Love Is Sold,” “Birds that Move,”
“Séance” JENNIFER KELLY

 

 

 

MEW – No More Stories…

January 01, 1970

(Columbia)

 

www.columbiarecords.com

 

Somewhere
between Asia and King Crimson circa Larks’
Tongues in Aspic
exists No More
Stories / Are Told Today / I’m Sorry / They Washed Away / No More Stories / The
World Is Grey / I’m Tired / Let’s Wash Away
  by Mew, the
celebrated Danish art rockers whose fifth album not only is the group’s most
accessible work to date, but also apparently in the running for the silver cup
in the “Longest Album Title Ever” category (Fiona Apple still holds the gold
for When The Pawn…).  

 

Yes,
they are actual lyrics, culled from interlude “Hawaii Dream” off this album,
one which finds the group, now pared down to a trio upon the departure of
bassist Jonas Wohlert, exploring the rich, bloated sounds of progressive rock’s
narcissistic late ‘70s/early ‘80s period and turning them inside out.
 Certain times the album does stray a little too deep into glossy
territory, coming off dangerously close to Union-era
Yes, particularly on tracks like “Beach” and “Silas the Magic Car” (definitely
NOT a good thing).  However, when Mew contorts the realms of this
hyperslick sound beyond the breaking point, the innovation that follows is
purely outstanding. Tracks like “Introducing Palace Players” and “Vaccine”
sound like Animal Collective remixed by Robert Fripp, literally, while the
crystalline, seven minute epic “Cartoons and Macramé Wounds” could be how the
Mars Volta would roll if they embraced the Cocteau Twins instead of all that
wankery.

 

No More Stories might throw fans of the
group’s darker material like 2005’s stunning And the Glass Handed Kites off upon first listen. But give this
beauty a chance to grow on you and there might be some difficulty coaxing it
from your rotation. Well, at least the tracks that don’t seem like they should
come with a complementary Zildjan jacket and a signed photo of Rick Wakeman.

 

Standout Tracks: “Introducing Palace
Players”, “Cartoons and Macramé Wounds”, “Vaccine”, “Reprise” RON HART

 

 

Heroes Season 3

January 01, 1970

(NBC; 1073 minutes)

www.nbc.com/Heroes/

BY CHRIS ZIMMERMAN

 

Heroes has
been a show that has had its fair share of fans and detractors. After a
brilliant first season that was widely received as an excellent piece of
television, the writers had quite the task of continuing the trend and keeping
viewers interest. Unfortunately they couldn’t and what resulted was a less than
stellar followup that caused the show to suffer from lackluster plots and
little to no character development. Season three was the chance they needed to
once again aim high and finish strong. Did the show return to the glory
established in its first season? Or did it flounder and continue its downward
trend into mediocrity? Yes and no.

 

Season three started with yet another alternate future that
threatened to become reality should the heroes fail in whatever struggle the
writers set up for them later down the line. This in itself is one of the
problems the show has had to face. Every season, there has been a different
future and every season, the heroes had to try to prevent that future from
taking place. Sure, every future was different, but the basic plot was the
same: an evil emerged and its actions threatened to bring about the end of the
world; throughout the season, the heroes would endeavor to prevent the evil
from achieving its goals, thus preventing the future that could have been.

 

Season three’s future had nothing to do with the plot of
season three. In this future, heroes were evil, villains were good, and
civilians had powers – but nowhere in the season did these plot points even
threaten to take place. It was like the writers knew we would be expecting them
to follow up on it and instead took us in a completely different direction. I
assume everyone reading this review knows the characters and their stories so I
will be referring to them by name without explaining who they are.

 

This season also introduced so many new faces that it was
impossible to keep track of them all, let alone care. They were basically
walking plot devices, powers with faces to associate them with. Not only did
they introduce well over ten characters in the first half of the season, it
killed off the majority of them before transitioning into a new volume (the show
is separated into “volumes,” not seasons).

 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, characters acted the complete
opposite of what had previously been established in the first two seasons. Why
exactly did Sylar want to be a hero after pretty much stating in season one
that he wanted enough power to destroy everything? The writers tried to explain
it off as his powers involved something known as the “hunger” within him
telling him to feed on other being’s powers, and if he learned to control it,
he was really just a misunderstood guy. Well unfortunately, season two showed
him without powers and he was possibly even more devious, and no, the “hunger”
was never once brought up. This led to the show’s audience who had previously
thought of Sylar as one of the best new villains on TV, turning on him and
begging for the writers to put him out of his misery. This is the most extreme
example of the bipolar nature of the characters this season, but there were
others. Why was Mohinder, the smartest character on the show, suddenly such an
idiot? How did Angela Petrelli turn from a futurist into someone who probably
couldn’t even tell me the meaning of the word?

 

Let’s go back for a minute to the introduction of new
characters, of which the one that made the most impact was the “evil” for the
first half of the season, Arthur Petrelli (or as fans like to refer to him,
Papa Petrelli). Arthur had previously been thought to be dead; little was known
about him except that he belonged to the previous generation’s heroes. I will
give the writers credit for initially making this character seem like the compelling
force they probably expected him to be. What better way to establish a new
villain than having him destroy the one from the previous season with relative
ease, while at the same time giving him a group of dangerous new villains to
challenge our heroes with.

 

Unfortunately his charm wore off the moment his plans
started taking shape. Why? Because for the life of me, I couldn’t tell what his
plan was. We saw snippets of it; Returning Nathan to a seat of power within the
government, stealing as many powers as he could, messing with Sylar’s head (and
ours as well). If his plan was to keep the audience guessing, then mission
accomplished because the writers chose to kill him off in an attempt to salvage
Sylar and return him to his former glory.

 

Let’s move on to the second half of the season before I turn
you away from the show completely (if the writers didn’t do it already). Known
as “Volume 4”, the second half of season three was an improvement over what
came before, but is that really saying much? Volume 4 was a new chance to start
over. The executive producer and part time writer Jeph Loeb were taken off the
show and it was given a new direction.

 

With the fallout from Volume 3, Nathan decides someone has
to take charge of the growing population of super powered beings, with his
solution being – lock them up and worry about what to do with them later! A new
character named Danko is introduced as a hunter of the heroes. Without any
powers, it would seem like a waste. After all, how could a powerless human pose
a threat to beings with god-like abilities? Luckily the writers learned from
their earlier mistakes and decided to make the character believable rather than
a villain taken out of a Saturday morning cartoon. With a shoot-first/ask-questions-later
mentality and the US
government backing him up, Danko’s threat to the heroes was kept realistic and
enticed viewers into wanting to see how much further he could push the main
characters.

 

Of course, Sylar was still searching for who he was but
rather than trying to be a hero, he was searching for closure to what was
plaguing him in the form of his true father’s identity. Not a great arc but
still better than flip flopping between good and evil.

 

Volume 4 was full of revelations and betrayals as a key
character was laid to rest, a family was torn asunder, and another was
reunited. However, it was not without its flaws. The introduction of new characters
who got discarded a few episodes later remained an issue. This happened twice
in Sylar’s arc alone, with his father and his apprentice both adding little to
the overall plot. Even with the brilliant John Glover portraying him, Sylar’s
father is mainly forgettable due to little explanation of who he is and what
his goals truly are.

 

However if there is a selling point to Heroes, it’s the special effects which go above and beyond standard
television; how ironic, that in a show that seems to be driven by such, the
breakout character and arguably the best reason to watch is someone that
requires none. The character of Noah Bennet was, for the bulk of the show, the
lone human in a sea of titans, using only his intelligence and natural talents
to get by. The season saw him continue to grow from a man trying desperately to
maintain order, to losing everything he ever fought to protect, coming out of
the season darker than ever.

 

With season four looming, Heroes is in a position to start from a clean slate, with a villain
who appears to have been pulled straight from “Carnivale,” a new set of power
players calling the shots, and the main cast determined to live ordinary lives.
Will the show survive its slumping ratings? Hopefully.

 

As I have stated, it is far from perfect, but if you turn
your brain off for an hour, you may be surprised. It is a soap opera for comic
book readers and sci-fi fans alike. For better or for worse, I would recommend
the show to anyone looking for a bit of escapism and nonsensical drama.

 

Special
Features:
The super powers of Heroes;
deleted scenes; completing the scene Genetics of a scene; the writers’ forum; alternate
stories; Pinehearst commercial; the prop box; Time Sale gallery of screen art; audio
commentaries with cast & crew.

 

Harmonia & Eno ’76 – Tracks and Traces reissue

January 01, 1970

(Grönland)

 

www.groenland.com  

 

Ed. note: read BLURT’s
massive Michael Rother interview, conducted by Wilson Neate, elsewhere on this
website
.

 

In September 1976, Brian Eno knocked at the door of
Harmonia’s studio in Forst. He was rather late. Two years had elapsed since
he’d agreed to collaborate with Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Michael Rother and
Dieter Moebius, and by the time he arrived (in the interim having publicly
lauded them as “the world’s most important rock group”), Harmonia had
actually split up. Notwithstanding Eno’s enthusiasm, their two albums had met
with critical indifference and commercial disaster, and the bandmembers had
already moved on to individual projects. Nevertheless, they spent ten or so
days with Eno, experimenting and committing the results to tape. Plans to
reconvene later didn’t work out, but a document of their brief encounter was
released in 1997 as Tracks and Traces — an album put together by Roedelius, who, two decades after the fact, had
unearthed one of the tapes made at the session.

 

The present re-release came about when Michael Rother found
another tape, one containing Harmonia/Eno material that Roedelius hadn’t used
for the first version of the album. Convinced of the newly discovered music’s
strength, Rother set about incorporating it in a way that departed from the standard
reissue modus operandi of simply adding “bonus tracks” as
non-essential extras that are clearly separate from the original work. Rother
elected to place two new pieces at the beginning and another at the end of the
existing track sequence, establishing a frame of sorts: instead of intruding on
and disrupting the album’s already complete musical picture, his frame
preserves it intact; but crucially, the new frame also changes the listener’s
experience.

 

Some might disagree with artists revisiting and revising
their work after so long. It could be argued, though, that Roedelius’ 1997
version of Tracks and Traces was
never the definitive, finished article since it was compiled by him alone:
without consulting the others and without their creative input, he selected the
materials, mixed them and decided the order of the tracks. In that sense,
Rother’s return to the album is entirely legitimate, while it also accentuates
the potential of any work as a work-in-progress,
open to remaking and remodeling. And as it turns out, Rother’s inventive
reimagining of Tracks and Traces is,
in fact, a welcome one. It wasn’t that the quality of the material assembled by
Roedelius was deficient; rather, his presentation of that material felt
somewhat uneven, the track sequence vaguely unsatisfying. By reframing the
work, Rother highlights that unevenness but also, more importantly, remedies
it.

 

Roedelius’ Tracks and
Traces
began with a sonic journey already underway, the bright, jittery
locomotive chug of “Vamos Compañeros” eventually depositing listeners
in the album’s darker, more abstract heartland: the core suite of “By the
Riverside,” “Luneburg Heath,” “Sometimes in Autumn”
and “Weird Dream.” On Rother’s reframed version, listeners are now
greeted by “Welcome,” a tranquil, beatless salutation threaded with
simple melodic guitar lines; then, on “Atmosphere,” shuffling beats,
subtle drones and shimmering melodies set things in motion, forming a seamless
segue into the driving, rhythmic pulse of Roedelius’s 1997 opener. These new
tracks establish a well-paced build, which, in turn, softens the sudden mood
change after “Vamos
Compañeros,” as listeners encounter the record’s quieter, contemplative
interior. Here, pastoral-industrial soundscapes conjure up natural environments
in keeping with their titles: for instance, the organic and metallic “By
the Riverside” blends faint birdcalls with Rother’s harsh, processed
guitar textures; throughout the eerie “Luneburg Heath,” a spooky Eno
wanders in and out of the drifting synthesized mist, counseling, “Don’t
get lost on Luneburg Heath.”

 

Just as the new opening pieces evoke the start of a voyage,
which then unfolds over the course of the record, the new final track,
“Aubade,” suggests the completion of a journey, with an arrival or perhaps
a cyclical sense of return. While, originally, the record’s austere middle
passage began to yield with the melodic idyll, “Almost,” and the
slide-guitar infused carousel ride of “Les Demoiselles,” that
progression was ultimately undermined: the closing sketch, “Trace,”
sounded incomplete, finishing the album on an open-ended, unfulfilling note
that also reprised the darker, more restive tone. Now, “Aubade”
offers a more satisfying, restful conclusion and gives the album a greater
feeling of unity and symmetry. As its title’s allusion to the medieval literary
tradition of the dawn song implies, the track itself consummates the passage
from the record’s darker interior into the light, with Rother’s bittersweet
valedictory guitar bringing things full circle and emphasizing closure.

 

Although a potentially risky endeavor, Rother’s reimagining
of Tracks and Traces is wholly
successful. Without intervening directly in the structure of the existing work
but by instead reframing that work, he offers listeners a fresh appreciation of
it and a far more rewarding aural experience.

 

Standout Tracks:
“Atmosphere,” “Vamos Compañeros,” “By the Riverside,”
“Trace,” “Aubade” WILSON NEATE

 

 

 

Hallelujah the Hills – Colonial Drones

January 01, 1970

(Misra)

 

www.misrarecords.com

 

Hallelujah the Hills, out of Boston, build rough symphonies out of
homespun materials and  shouted choruses out
of existential crisis. With their battered orchestra pit of brass and strings,
slightly unstrung sincerity, and way with an unstoppable melody, they are,
perhaps, the best  latter day heir to Neutral
Milk Hotel. 

 

This is Hallelujah the Hills’ second album, following 2007’s
Collective Psychosis Begone, as well
as songwriter Ryan Walsh’s work with the underrated Stairs. Like the debut, Colonial Drones includes literate
ballads, hoarse throated shouters and songs that bridge the two. Lyrics are
good enough to jot down in notebooks, the best coming from “Station”: “I would
feel much better if this day had narration/but we’re living out some archetype
clear and blue/there are moments here that don’t come from this station/there
are lifetimes here repeated until they’re true.” There are guests — Cassie
Berman from Silver Jews joins on “Classic Tapes” and Titus Andronicus’ Patrick
Stickles on “You Better Hope You Die (Before Me)” — but mostly it’s Walsh and
his compadres conjuring a rough-hewn classic out of homey materials. Great stuff. 

 

Standout
tracks
: “Allied Lions”, “A Guide to the Worlds”, “Station” JENNIFER KELLY

 

Mark Stuart And The Bastard Sons – Bend in the Road

January 01, 1970

(Texicali Records)

 

www.BSOJC.com

 

If putting his name at the top of the marquee shows Mark
Stuart wants to separate himself from the rest of his irrepressible outfit —
The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, as they previously went by — suffice it to
say this album doesn’t exactly affirm a divide. 
Even with subtle change in their handle, the musical M.O. remains
precisely the same, reflecting no differential in terms of attitude, outlook or
tattered sentiment.

 

That’s a good thing, by the way. Stuart continues to pursue
the Bastard Sons’ gruff alt-country regimen, bearing homage to their former Man
in Black namesake and rugged, rootsy renegades like Waylon, Willie, Steve Earle,
Bare Jr. and other squinty-eyed, square-jawed outlaws.  For much of the album, Stuart and company opt
for an assertive journeyman stance, tearing up the asphalt while flashing an
unapologetic middle finger to those that have scorned and abused them along the
proverbial heartland highway.  Stuart
exhibits the grit and the spit to keep the act convincing, and with rousing,
rollicking barnburners like “Restless Ramblin’ Man,” “When Love Comes A
Callin'” and “Gone Like a Raven” providing the fodder, their unflinching blue
collar credo gets full venting. 

 

Yes, this Bend in the
Road
connects with a trail well traveled, but Stuart and Sons clearly know
every mile marker along the way.

Standout tracks: Restless Ramblin’
Man,” “When Love Comes A Callin’,” “Gone Like a Raven” LEE ZIMMERMAN