Thursday, January 03, 2008

Top 10 Local (Orange County area) of 2007 named

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band released the sterling debut “First You Live” in October 2007.

Photo credit: Brent Murrell

With 2008 officially here, it’s time to rate and highlight my favorite local releases of 2007.

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band “First You Live” (SideOneDummy Records) – If members of the Band and progressive rock’s Yes had decided to fuse their distinct styles, it might sound a bit like Dusty Rhodes and the River Band. From the country-western shout along “Keys to the Truck” and the 1970s-styled prog rocker “Street Fighter” to the shimmering alt country gem “Goodnight, Moonshine,” “First You Live” is a wonderful debut.
You might like if you enjoy: Arcade Fire, Neil Young, the Band.

Michael Ubaldini “Storybook” (Blackwater Records) – Michael Ubaldini is likely Orange County’s most prolific recording artist, issuing a winning album every year. “Storybook” finds the Fountain Valley artist exploring themes such as life, death, love and war set against timeless American landscapes. “Apricot Wind” looks at the Civil War and is a standout, and other gems focus on graveyards, riverboats and other images that fit nicely into his Americana sound.
You might like if you enjoy: John Fogerty, Johnny Cash, Neil Young.

Fletcher Harrington “Under the Shadow of the San Gabriel” (Lopie Records) –Fletcher Harrington’s “Under the Shadow of the San Gabriel” marks another leap forward for the Tustin resident, with indie rockers (“Clean Desire,” “Who Won?”), beautiful acoustic ballads (“If I Could Say Where to Begin”) and authentic alt country (“Let’s Get Liquored Up,” “Sweet Jezebel”) that explore the vast stretches of Harrington’s creative range.
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons, Neil Young.

The Attraction “The Attraction Presents…” (Econo Records) – The release of the Attraction’s sophomore release just weeks before the death of 36-year-old frontman Lance “Romance” Faulk, “The Attraction Presents…” serves as a touching and lasting memorial to the lead singer and his wonderful band.
The Attraction’s modern rock approach is wide enough to include melodic 80s-tinged tunes (“Home Again”), reggae (“Cruisin’”), Irish-flavored pub rock (“Happi”) and forceful punk (“Can’t Wait,” “Steps of the Dakota”).

Limbeck “Limbeck” (Doghouse Records) – The ghost of Gram Parsons may haunt Joshua Tree in the Mohave Desert, but his musical offspring are alive and well thanks to modern-day proponents such as Limbeck. The band’s 2007 release is a wonderful 11-song set highlighted by the Tom Petty-styled “Keepin’ Busy” and glorious “Let Me Come Home.”
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons, Wilco, Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings.

Cowboy Buddha “Just Enough To…” (Lopie Records) –Fans of Cowboy Buddha were introduced to the alt country outfit courtesy of the band’s first two discs (1999’s “Guns Ammo Bait Film Gifts Snacks Maps” and 2000’s “Cement Pond”), but likely had given up on the troupe releasing any new music in the wake of frontman Fletcher Harrington’s recent solo career.
However, based on the strength of 2007’s “Just Enough To…,” it was well worth the wait to hear tracks such as the evocative “Sweetheart Smile,” Neil Young-styled country rocker “Crying Shame” and shining “Big Dixie Rain.”
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons, Limbeck, Son Volt.

The Dear & Departed “Something Quite Peculiar” (Science Records) – The Dear & Departed play ‘80s-tinged rock that recalls the best of the Cure and the Church courtesy of original tracks such as the melodic “I Will Love Again” and propulsive “Fly Me Away.” Singer Dan Under has a voice that brings strength to all of the material.
You might like if you enjoy: the Cure, the Church, early U2.

Micah Dahlberg “Matter of Time” (independent) – Fans of 1970s-influenced melodic songwriting will be thrilled by the strong acoustic folk rock delivered by Macah Dahlberg on “Matter of Time.” From the sensitive “Poetry in Sand” and upbeat “What Am I” (both co-penned with Tyrone Wells) to the breezy title track, Dahlberg’s wonderful tenor and emotive songs make “Matter of Time” a collection that deserves airplay at home or on the road.

Loose Logic “Before the Storm” (Passion Play Productions) – Writing songs centered on personal experiences is a winning formula for Loose Logic, the moniker for Dana Point-based hip-hop artist Ian Westbrook. Romance (“Love You”), faith (“Take ‘Em to Church”) and death (“R.I.P.”) are among the many weighty areas he tackles with a mix of rap and modern R&B.
The disc’s crown is the haunting “This Dream,” which effectively finds the young singer rapping about social and economic injustice against a lush musical landscape as noteworthy for lush keyboards as the intoxicating rhythm.
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You might like if you enjoy: Dr. Dre, Loose Logic’s first two releases.

Bayadera “Rotation of the Earth” (Bitemark) – There is a joyful spirit on Bayadera’s latest release, with world music, outstanding performances and strong songwriting all playing major roles on the 13-song disc.

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