James Keyes’ Devil Take the Hindmost
By Jennifer Russo
Let me begin by admitting that I don’t listen to blues half as often as I should. It’s an amazing form of music that blurs the line between country and rock and is historically responsible for 90% of what I do listen to ~ and listening to James Keyes reminded me of this fact.
Bringing the singer-songwriter genre to an entirely different plane, Keyes’ loner-with-a-guitar style of lyrical poetry takes it up a notch by delivering a sound that is entirely down-home rugged ~ with a sincerity behind it that leads me to believe he’d be just as happy sitting in a rocking chair playing out on the porch as he would be in an arena in front of thousands of people.
I sensed a strong Johnny Cash influence throughout the tracks, but the CD as a whole had a bit more of a soulful vibe, with great tempo changes and a magnetic rasp to Keyes’ vocals. I envisioned a Sons of Anarchy scene in my head with a pride of purring Harleys prowling an open highway, wind blowing the scent of leather and hardship back into the desert behind them. Behind the wrenching ache that the songs convey, there is a feeling of freedom embedded in this music.
Equally impressive as his lyrical ability and vocal talent is the way Keyes stays true to the traditional style of blues. He doesn’t try to change or stray away from the roots that have defined the genre. The music doesn’t hide behind an ego; rather, the truth in it is laid straight out at the listeners’ feet. From there, they can take it and run with it, relating to its joys and pains while delving into the heart of bare bones music as it was meant to be heard.
James will be performing on March 9th at the Grey Hound Pub in Worcester and on March 10th at the Dark Horse Tavern in Southbridge.
For more info on shows or to find out more about James Keyes, visit his official website at www.jameskeyes.com.
The Sunshine Factory’s Sugar
By Katey Khaos
The Sunshine Factory combines two unique genres, psychedelia and shoegaze, which together create a mellow sound that is Sugar. If those two genres aren’t ringing a bell, let’s put it in perspective ~ does My Blood Valentine sound familiar? Yeah, kinda like that.
Sugar is a beautiful album that sounds oddly familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on why. For example, when the chorus in “My Sugar Cane” hits, you can’t help but feel a wave of nostalgia, even if it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Meanwhile, the upbeat sound on other tracks like “Domino” and “Smile” are great pick-me-up songs that will have you tapping along to the beat, even if you’re in the worst of moods.
The album ends the listeners’ musical journey with a track entitled “Head Becomes the Tomb.” The calming, trance-like guitar and vocals on this track make it the perfect way to end the album. The relaxing sound also makes this tune a great one to turn on after a long day when you need to unwind.
Sugar is a wonderful collection of melodic sounds, each track with a unique sound and feel. There’s a little something for every mood (which is super rare), making it a must-have for any music collection. With that being said, Sugar is a definite for this summer ~ whether you’re taking a road trip, just joy riding, or lazing around with friends on a hot afternoon.
Lamb of God’s Resolution
By Katey Khaos
With more and more metal bands popping up in the scene, it can become difficult to decide what’s actually worth tossing into your CD player anymore. Lamb of God’s latest album, Resolution, gets, like its predecessors, my seal of approval ~ it is without question worth listening to…again and again. To put it simply, there are no gimmicks, and it’s not sold with a pretty little bow on top ~ Resolution is straight up, pure metal.
The first track off the album, “Straight for the Sun,” opens with a deep inhale, followed by the most brutal scream that will ever make its way through your speakers and deep into your brain. Is there any better way to kick off a metal album? I didn’t think so.
Other tracks from the album, including the lead single “Ghost Walking” and “King Me,” the final track, take a completely different approach ~ with soft, technical guitar riffs. Don’t be fooled, though, the tracks quickly change pace and become fully mosh-worthy.
The songs off this album are sure to disrupt and destroy your musical landscape with heavy riffs and double bass, finely crafted to wage war on your eardrums. However, if you’re a metalhead, you’ll gladly take the abuse and even ask for seconds.
Resolution should without a doubt be a staple album in anyone’s metal collection. Whether you’re a long time metal fan or just falling into the genre, Resolution is chock full of everything a good metal album should have ~ killer vocals, awesome riffs, and, of course, double bass.