David Rosenfield’s Son of Ojito will never attract the masses of radio listeners, those who consume catchy chorus lines and synth beats, loud wardrobes and louder personalities. And that is for the best.
The fourteen tracks featured in Son of Ojito, the Seattle native’s first album, contain the essential ingredients of “great” music: for starters, carefully-crafted lyrics that serve as social commentary and an unrelenting flow of passionate vocals matched by a refined guitar sound. Vocally, Rosenfield resembles a faster-paced Bob Dylan and ~ like Dylan ~ is a raw-sounding, philosophical conversationalist. He’s a poetic story-teller, a man with a guitar and musical integrity.
“Fatalist and Optimist,” track three, captures Rosenfield’s lyrical prowess. He sings: “At the ripe old age of twenty-nine / I’m a fatalist and optimist combined / And death is just a factor, / We are alive.” “Fatalist and Optimist” highlights Son of Ojito’s overall commentary on life; life is constant conflict, men are mortal, and death is but a predictable closing bell.
Rosenfield’s lyrics are also witty and fun, complemented by a change of pace between tracks. The blues/rock/pop/poet/Plato that resides in Rosenfield admits that time progresses and lifespans are limited…but why the hell can’t you have fun? Why obsess over aging? Why place wealth on a pedestal? “Because,” track seven, captures Rosnefield’s philosophical wit: “Rat races don’t breed the thinkers we need / Because cogs are meant to turn at one speed / Because minnows will swim at the speed that they’re shown / No one will step up to take on the throne.” In short, be creative: break society’s chains, f**king play!
If Son of Ojito falls short in any arena (and again, SoJ is campfire and coffeehouse, not Madison Square), it’s that Rosenfield may be perceived as depressing and crude. But that’s “great” music: unforgiving, honest, a man and his guitar.
By Josh Lyford
Stars Go Dim have accumulated plenty of badges to shine and wear proudly on their lapels in the short time since their inception. Having already shared the stage with pop all-stars John Mayer, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Jonas Brothers, Justin Bieber and Elton John, the band clearly has the pop credibility to saunter through sugary hooks with the best of them.
If that isn’t enough to get your gold dancing shoes out and ready for the juice, the band also won the Country Music Television and Nashville Songwriter’s Association International Listeners’ Choice Awards. Combine that with some select air time on MTV and a number 1 single in the Philippines for 9 weeks straight and you have a musical monster poised and ready to pounce on international pop-dom with the rabid teeth of a snow leopard in the middle of February.
Vocalist Chris Cleveland, guitarist Joey Avalos, and bassist Michael Wittig have crafted the seven-song opus, Between Here and Now, with R & B gloves and a pop-music hammer. With lyrics like, “How do I learn to fly, when I’m down on my knees/ How can I learn to love when I’m always begging you please?” you know what you’re getting into with this album and if you like your pop like you like your coffee, with more Sweet N Low and cream than coffee bean, then this isn’t a bad thing. Expect uplifting lyrics about moving on, soaring choruses and deeply embedded pads and buried melodies that you’ll enjoy having stuck in your head for days.
If you like your music upbeat and to the point, check out Stars Go Dim’s Between Here and Now or give them a listen online at Facebook.com/Starsgodim.
Emerging out of the stuffy confines of Brooklyn, New York is the sweeping sound of The Veda Rays. On their first full-length album, Gamma Rays Galaxy Rays Veda Rays, the group put together an atmospheric rock piece and established themselves as an experimental and daring act.
The Veda Rays come out with guns blazing. The opener “All Your Pretty Fates” is an immediately catchy number with its sleepy twilight touch and big chorus. “Our Ford” is happily rock-centered, but it is on “Ellipsis” where the band shows their real potential. Large and cinematic in scope, “Ellipsis” is a haunting and mind-bending listen. Singer Jim Stark’s dark lyrics match perfectly with the spacey keyboard effects and brooding guitar work of Jimmy Jenkins when he sings, “I need a witch doctor to take back down through a hole in the ground / So I can find out how my cartoon soul slipped out.”
They miss, however, on “Deleted,” as it starts off acoustically and loses its sincerity when they try to unsuccessfully merge in the theatrics of “Ellipsis,” causing it to fall under its own weight and come off as over-indulgent. Ironically, Starks adds in “Don’t get carried away” ~ but that’s exactly what they proceed to do.
Gamma Rays… is a promising effort that leaves room for improvement by a band with significant potential still learning to hone their sound. Despite some of the bleak landscapes it lives in, Gamma Rays… is oddly accessible and familiar thanks to its underlying pop sensibility.
For more info, visit www.thevedarays.com.
By Matthew Holcomb
The New Paltz, NY native Nelsonvillains have recently released their debut album, Our Evil Inside Joke, following their self-produced single, “Sounds of Summer.” Nelsonvillains newest endeavor offers eleven satisfyingly under-produced indie-rock tracks laced with hefty undertones of pop and garage-rock.
Backed by drummer Alijah Molinari, guitarist Cody Torlincasi, bassist Jimmy Fraser, and the occasional wailing of trumpets from John Morisi, Nelsonvillains’ vocalist-songwriter-guitarist Jake Harms belts out cigarette stained, boozy lyrics of forlorn love and deeply personal woes in sprawling range from gritty mutterings to visceral roars.
The album’s instrumentals share a similar scope, offering minimalist intros that escalate rapidly into absolute fervor. The band skillfully keeps these musical explosions from being overwhelming or cluttered; instead, they arrive as layers of massive sound, one building upon the last, assaulting your ears just frequently enough to keep things interesting.
The basement-produced album neatly balances clarity and integrity of sound without forfeiting the exquisite rawness of a garage produced record. Our Evil Inside Joke is available free-to-stream, or to purchase and download for a paltry five dollars. Check out updates, tour info, and further miscellanea on the band’s website: nelsonvillains.com.