04.13 On CD: Fireworks, Jeff Givens and Tall Heights

Fireworks: Gospel

By Katey Khaos

It’s awesome when friends pass along lesser-known bands and they become your new favorites. That’s exactly what happened with Fireworks. I’d never heard of them, and a friend of mine suggested I check them out ~ I was pleasantly surprised. My ears were thrilled to find a pop-punk band that was actually relevant to this decade. Fireworks’ latest album, Gospel, had me hooked from beginning to end.

The album opens with the first single, “Arrows.” The song is so upbeat and catchy, it’s sure to lift your mood any day of the week. Now, mix in a chorus that’s explosive with emotion, and you’ve got a song that will frequent the repeat button.

What separates Fireworks from other pop-punk bands is that the entire album isn’t hard and fast. “Teeth” and “I Am The Challenger” are two slower-tempo tracks that still share just as much effort and feeling as the rest of the album, but in a different style.

Of course, like most pop-punk bands, Fireworks is on its A game when it’s at its loudest and most intense, which is why “Life Is Killing Me” is, in my opinion, the best track on the album.

Fireworks’ lyrics are easy to relate to, regardless of your mood, and the music that follows suit ranges from happy and upbeat to slower and sad, making Gospel an album for all days.

Gospel is available now.

For more information, check out facebook.com/WeAreFireworks.

Jeff Givens: Bourbon Cowboy

By Jason Savio

On Bourbon Cowboy, the debut country rock album by the Bourbon Cowboy himself, Jeff Givens, the multi-talented musician and singer/songwriter delivers a surprisingly emotional record.

Givens, who not only sings but also plays guitar and drums, has a subtle, timeworn gravel in his voice that reflects the long travels and experiences he describes in his songs. When he sings “I’m here in Chicago, loading up to leave/I’ve got boots, guitars and whiskey/That’s all I’ll ever need” in the melancholy “Girl In Carolina,” there is a hint of hurt in his voice, as though he doesn’t quite believe what he’s saying. The vulnerable honesty of Givens’ delivery and his words of wisdom and advice are spread throughout Bourbon Cowboy as though we are sitting at the bar with him and listening to what he has to say. Whereas others may stumble with such proclamations as “The more you love, the more you find paradise can’t be found” in the ballad “Paradise Lost,” Givens stays on his feet and keeps his cowboy grit intact, thanks to his confident delivery and sly charm. Nothing on Bourbon Cowboy ~ from a lyrical or musical standpoint ~ is forced, and you get the feeling Givens knows exactly what he’s talking about.
Whether it’s the bourbon talking or not, Givens isn’t afraid to lay it all out. Jeff Givens’ Bourbon Cowboy isn’t a paperweight country cash-in; it’s an album with real heart and soul, sung from the road journal of one man’s travels.

For more information, visit reverbnation.com/jeffgivens.

Tall Heights: The Running of the Bulls

By Jennifer Russo

Having worked in Boston for a number of years, it was the norm for me to wait for a train or lunch in a marketplace while catching the tunes of talented musicians (Berklee students or indie artists trying to make some lunch money, usually) as they played for the public. It always amazed me that the majority of people would just hurry by, maybe throwing a buck or two into the guitar case. Far be it from me to ignore a free live concert ~ much better than the generic loop of music usually played over the speakers.

Though it’s uncommon, sometimes these street acts acquire some acclaim. Even more unusual is when that ladder is climbed quickly. After only a couple of years of playing around Boston, Tall Heights is well on its way to selling out arenas, and for good reason. The band’s unique brand of acoustic sound touches upon both folk and rock. Its flawless harmonies dance upon tightly wound strings, telling stories of life to music that gets into your bloodstream and lingers there.

The Running of the Bulls is a four-song EP, roughly 20 minutes of glory that you will play over and over again, and ~ like with any great story ~ you will hear something new each time.

The songs were written and ironed out over a month and recorded over three afternoons, giving the record a truly live feel.

“We wanted to bottle up some elements of our live show for folks to take home with them. The four songs were chosen because fans were asking for them, and we thought they would render well in the live setting,” band members said.

The band is climbing to tall heights indeed.

Tall Heights will be performing at Club Passim in Cambridge on May 10 and at the Parlor Room in Northampton on May 16. Visit tallheights.com for more information and to download the EP.

Photo by Michael D. Spencer