BLOCK ROCK

I am hardly the biggest fan of single named artists mostly because I can
never figure out if it’s a band or a person trying to sound cooler by
disregarding the necessity of two part names. But in the case of Block,
the name fits the sound rather nicely. With folksy based songs, Block
uses Johnny Cash thumping riffs to that give an energetic rhythm that he
complements with South Park-esque style lyrical commentary. What better
word to describe this experience than simply, Block.
After seeing him entertain in his solo performance at Mo’ Pitkins, his
name turned all the more useful because with an audience to bounce to his
beat and hear his stories, Block rocks. Filling in the bits between
songs with stories from childhood and commentary on the world today,
Block used every avenue to entertain the crowd during his hour long set.
Oh, and the music was pretty darn good too. Block played some hits from
his previous record, Timing is Everything, including the revealing
“Cigarettes, Prozac, & Scotch,” and some great new songs of his just
released album, The Last Single Guy. The best from this latest
collection, “Sweet Potato Pie” has autobiographical hints but are so damn
clever and catchy, “Line em up, big shots, here’s a little blow/ cell
phone call home, jezzing with the wife/ ask about the kids, make sure
they’re all right,” you can’t help but tap your feet. No need for an
elaborate big band feel on this particular night, as Block can certainly
rock enough to carry both a one man show and a one part name.

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Scotty Don’t Music Review

SD

The self-titled debut EP by rock band Scotty Don’t ignites a fire from the
beginning of its six tracks. “Back Porch” starts off with an alluring
pop/rock verse, but picks up speed and intensity. By the time you get to
the chorus, you find yourself completely caught up in what could be the
band’s single, that is, of course, if Scotty Don’t seeks a place in
popular music.

Starting off softly and momentarily reminiscent of the Eagles’ “Hotel
California,” “Everything’s Alright” eventually breaks out into a jam
session with a Caribbean feel once the meat of the song commences. While
hardly reggae (the vocals keep it from that), the soft, summery sound
seems perfect for driving around with the windows down. One thing to note
about the song is it never delivers some unforgettable chorus or a hook of
any kind. Few songs work as brilliantly as this one does without a hook,
and surprisingly after a listen to this track, one can’t help but remember
“Hey, I really liked that,” despite not having a tune to hang on to.

The band occasionally bears resemblance to Sublime, especially on the
latter song and briefly on a track called “When I Say,” which can be found
on the band’s MySpace page, but there’s a good reason for that. Scotty
Don’t was actually formed by veteran members of Badfish: A Tribute to
Sublime. The resemblance is kept to a minimum, and if anything, it seems
to be more about paying homage to a popular band’s style rather than
ripping off a sound that made one band unique.

Perhaps the most stand-out track on Scotty Don’t’s impressive EP is “Punk
Rock Lullaby.” Featuring the band’s best vocals, a Top 40-worthy melody,
and solid acoustic guitar core accompanied by a vocal chant and subtle use
of exotic instruments, the track seems zero parts “punk rock” and all
lullaby. Perhaps, though, the misleading title might only garner them fans
discovering something exciting and new.

Touring in support of Badfish means that fans will get a double dose of
what these rockers-at-heart are capable of. After listening to their EP, I
can assure you I will be attending a Scotty Don’t show in the near future!

Ethan Walker – Tears of Joy

Ethan Walker’s solo debut, Tears of Joy, is a transcendent acoustic rock album with a blending of celestial qualities and a folk twang. Walker, most noted for his work as a percussionist for the Denver-based Fat Sow band, does all the instrumentation for the album – aside from violin, done by Brent Williams. The new project not only captures his love of music, but also serves as a manifestation of his new spiritual path of meditation and devotion.

Roaring violin, sensuous piano, or joyous flute – each diverse track offers a unique complement to Walker’s foundation of drifting acoustic melodies and soothing vocals; this refreshing emphasis on variety seems to be a lost art among other singer/songwriters. Whether it is the psychedelic pink and blue album cover or his various gigs around present-day hippie communes, Walker’s music draws a great deal of inspiration from the counter-culture movement of the 60’s, which has undeniably shaped contemporary folk rock. Tracks like Garden of Our Heart could easily be mistaken for something from CSNY’s Déjà Vu. The harmonized vocalizations that characterize the album seem as if Walker, ever the believer in the spiritual realm, may be channeling Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. The excellent production quality helps minimize the dated feel, as the only negative of the album is that it may be 30 years too late to be truly appreciated. Ethan Walker’s Tears of Joy has a classic folk rock sound and a divine feel, a great first solo release from a tremendously talented musician.

1000 Miles From Home- songs from “Collusion”

 

Collusion

There’s something interesting going on with the handful of songs I
listened to off of 1000 Miles From Home’s debut EP, “Collusion.” With a
familiar garage rock sound, 1000 Miles offer undeniable melodies on their
songs that you can’t help but get into. Still, there’s more to the band
that makes them worthwhile. Their lyrics for the most part seem pretty
dark, and they make noble artistic decisions with their matching of lyrics
and music.

Take for instance “The Man,” s track whose melody could be behind a rock
song about anything. Insert a question mark after your thought of “this is
a love song,” when you hear lines like “Raping your eyes, I’ll keep
laughing loud enough to hear you cry.” If you take the time to listen to
the lyrics, you may be caught off guard by some of them, but the more you
think about them, you realize that nothing could be better for making the
band stand out among others.

In comparison to “The Man,” “Explain the Explanation” sounds slightly
softer in what could be made a big hit by an artist like Foo Fighters.
While not as dark, you have this great hook-infused pop/rock song matched
with lead singer Zac Carrington singing about yearning and crying on the
floor.

Sure, 1000 Miles From Home seems to be taking college radio by storm, but
is there a brighter future for them? With fans that will surely identify
with the sounds and words 1000 Miles presents on “Collusion,” they have
found a likely niche in college students, and there’s nothing wrong with
that; but no doubt, these songs could take them further.

Darrin James Band – Thrones of Gold

Thrones of Gold Cover

As a resident of Brooklyn’s uber-trendy Williamsburg, it might have been quiet easy for Darrin James to get wrapped up in current fads of the music scene. Despite lacking the indie façade or better yet “Arcade Fire-ness” that the pretentiously cultured neo-hipsters wet themselves over, the earthy roots rock that characterizes James’s music has the quality of something real and something tangible.

While the majority of the album is straight roots rock, the title track, Thrones of Gold, blends a little more country and soul. Conjuring the heartland – let’s call it Americana, let’s call it music for the everyday blue-collar man (or woman) – his course vocals and folky twang are a force to be reckoned with.

A few months back, I hopped the L to the Lorimer stop to see the Darrin James Band play at Pete’s Candy Store. I dug the place, as it really agreed with my tastes: reasonably priced beer, a free folk music rag to read while I waited, and none of those thrift store frequenting, one pant leg rolled up posers that infest the rest of Williamsburg Arriving at 10:07 p.m. on a Wednesday and waiting another twenty minutes for the previous act to finish up, Darrin’s crew got the closing slot, following a tremendously talented female singer/songwriter who had the placed overflowing with people. Playing to a mixed bag of late 20 to early 40 year olds, they all have jobs and you could just sense the internal debate: “Man, the train runs so slow after 11, should I get out of here, well, maybe I’ll just hand around for one song.” The venue was very intimate, like a wide hallway with two-chaired tables lining the walls and only a narrow walkway in between. 45 minutes, a couple of refreshing beverages, and a great performance later, almost the entire crowd was intact (with just a few jumping ship). And yeah, getting back on the train took forever, but I’m pretty sure everyone who stuck it out, myself included, thought it was worth it. So, catch Darrin playing in Brooklyn and NYC, as well as select dates throughout the Northeast.

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