Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Under The Radar Releases Worth Discovering

In addition to featuring a number of recent must hear releases, this column marks the debut of a new feature where I will profile a different "Lost Classic" release each week.

Artist: Beth Bombara
Title: Evergreen (All The Right Pills/Lemp Electric)
You might like if you enjoy: Aimee Mann, Phoebe Bridgers
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter Beth Bombara's new album Evergreen (set for release on Aug. 9) finds the songstress tapping into that magical sonic-sphere comprised of equal parts melancholy, melody, literate verse and solid songcraft. The Michigan native who now calls St. Louis home created the 10-song disc while spending time in a remote cabin nestled in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains and the results are glorious. The luxurious opening track "I Only Cry When I'm Alone" recalls some of Aimee Mann's best work; as if that wasn't enough of a recommendation the disc's subsequent cuts offer endless opportunities to hear the power of the singer-guitarist's knack for crafting undeniable material that showcases her emotive soprano and the importance of arrangements that are nuanced and come in the service of the songs. Great songs abound on "Evergreen" as evidenced by the shimmering title track, haunting "Anymore," Americana-tinged "Tenderhearted" and "Does It Echo?," and the melodic rocker "Good News." Information: www.bethbombara.com.

Artist: Radio California
Title: Chewing Gum Kind of Day (Jesse Ojeda)
You might like if you enjoy: Youth Gone Mad, Hüsker Dü
Tell me more: Southern California-based avant-garde prog rockers Radio California are back with another batch of edgy, groundbreaking and original tracks that mix and mash punk, rock, blues and art damage across the involving Chewing Gum Kind of Day. The 10-track album challenges the listener at every turn, with multi-layered tracking of instruments and hypnotic vocals courtesy of leader Jesse Ojeda. Standouts on this album include the wistful "You Can't Go Back," driving "Giant," and haunting "When Love is Gone." The lyrics capture the edginess of modern life to be sure but there is also a hopeful spirit where there is always a promise of something better ahead. An interesting and independent album worth discovering. Information: https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/RadioCalifornia1.

Artist: Blue Moon Marquee
Title: Bare Knuckles & Brawn (Blue Moon Marquee Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Robert Johnson
Tell me more: Listening to Canadian Gypsy blues duo Blue Moon Marquee's Bare Knuckles & Brawn is to be transported back to the early 20th century even while the artful mix-up of genres provides a welcome modern twist. Indeed all 11 tracks on Bare Knuckles & Brawn are original (courtesy of British Columbia's singer-guitarist A.W. Cardinal and bassist-vocalist Jasmine Colette); the duo and a collection of talented guests blend early blues with western swing (just listen to "Smoke Rings For My Rider"!), jazz and New Orleans stylings. The ambitious LP was recorded in a mere three days, an approach that helped yield the authentic and infectious spirit of the album. The arc of the disc can be uptempo and swing with excitement, and quickly journey to introspection. The beautiful jazz-flavored ballad "Hard Times Hit Parade" and apt "As I Lay Dying" showcase the impressive range of Blue Moon Marquee's approach. Information: www.bluemoonmarquee.com.


Artist: Ten Years After
Title: Ssssh (Chrysalis Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Led Zeppelin, Alvin Lee
Tell me more: Those planning to catch the 50th anniversary showing of "Woodstock: The Director's Cut" when it returns to movie theaters on Thursday, August 15 should be sure to catch one of the concert film's key performances - Ten Years After's "I'm Going Home." Recorded two months before that legendary performance and released in August 1969, Ssssh was the British blues rock band's third album and endures as one of the best albums of the genre. Although the album charted at #4 in the United Kingdom and #20 in the U.S. the LP has sadly slipped away from the spotlight over the past 50 years. Listening to the essential 2018 reissue of the disc is to be reminded of the freewheeling approach and virtuoso musicianship of Alvin Lee (guitar, vocals), Leo Lyons (bass), Ric Lee (drums) and Chick Churchill (keyboards). In addition to scorching blues rockers (including "Bad Scene," "Stoned Woman," "I Woke Up This Morning") and acoustic blues nuggets ("Two Time Mama," "If You Should Love Me") penned by Lee, the album also features a fiery take on Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little School Girl." Information: amazon.com.

Robert Kinsler

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