Boston's Brother & Co.'s debut impressive
Brother & Co. (Seaewe)
Boston-based folk/pop/rock outfit Brother & Co. is the brainchild of twins Josh and John Pritchard and “Unknow You” is an impressive debut. The band is rounded out by a rotating group of Beantown musicians and the 11-track release impresses at every turn. Opener “Anti-” sets the tone and the Pritchards impress on “Lila,” “I Ain't Understanding It,” “Drawing Board,” “When I Lived Out West,” “Husband Hill” and “Seasons of the Dark.” Keep an eye on these guys.
‘No Country for Old Musicians'
Reggie & the Full Effect (Pure Noise)
James Dewees has crafted an intriguing series of records with Reggie & the Full Effect. The rock-solid “No Country for Old Musicians” is their first album in five years and proves worth the wait with standouts “Super Croc vs. Mega Doosh,” “37,” “Gimme Back My Leg” and “Disregard.” There are too many comedy bits sprinkled into the mix for my liking, but it doesn't take away from the overall effectiveness.
Matt Pryor (Equal Vision)
Burnt out after 17 years, Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor was set to give up music for good in early 2012. He took several months off to recharge his batteries and returns in a big way with third solo effort “Wrist Slitter.” Despite its morbid title, the 12-track release finds Pryor getting back in touch with what made him love music in the first place. Highlights include “Kinda Go to Pieces,” the title track, “As Perfect as We'll Ever Be” and “Won't Speak to Me.”
‘Death on Two Wheels'
Death on Two Wheels (The Ghost Umbrella)
Atlanta based rocker Death on Two Wheels has a reputation as a scintillating live act and it brings that energy to the studio on its new album. The raucous, self-titled gem is filled with bluesy riffs, pounding drums and swaggering lead vocals from frontman Trae Vedder, who sounds an awful lot like Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. The one-two punch of “Look at the Sound” and “Hey Amariah” is terrific, and Death on Two Wheels scores with “Burn Loretta,” “Swamp,” “13 Words,” “Blew It Out” and “Children.”
‘Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me'
Big Star (Magnolia)
That Big Star never soared to the top of the charts remains a mystery to me. The power-pop outfit fronted by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell called it quits in 1975 after three near-perfect records, but its legacy endures as one of the greatest cult bands of all time. Its story is told in the engrossing new documentary “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” a fascinating look at the band from its early days through the deaths of Bell in 1978 and Chilton in 2010. There is plenty of archival footage and interviews from the band members and those who knew them best. Essential viewing for rock fans.
After 2011's “Break the Spell” became the band's first album not to go platinum, melodic post-grunge rocker Daughtry decided to tinker with its sound a bit on fourth full-length “Baptized.” Frontman and former “American Idol” hopeful Chris Daughtry shows a lighter side, relatively speaking, and not taking things so seriously boosts keepers “Waiting for Superman,” “Battleships,” “Wild Heart” and “Long Live Rock & Roll.”
Pierce Edens & the Dirty Work (self-released)
North Carolina roots rock treasure Pierce Edens & the Dirty Work make their bid for the national spotlight with “Live,” a rollicking concert album recorded in their hometown of Asheville. You might not know Edens & the Dirty Work going in, but after hearing “Jailhouse,” “Montana,” “Good Man,” “Creeping Vines,” “Money” and “Ghost on the Radio,” I'm guessing you'll be clamoring for more.
‘We All Grow Toward the Sea'
Snowflake (The Satellite Union)
D. James Goodwin is a go-to producer who's worked with artists such as Kaki King, Murder By Death, Norah Jones and the Bravery. He focuses on his own music with “We All Grow Toward the Sea,” his debut full-length under the Snowflake moniker. There's a proggy, art-rock feel to the nine-track release that's highlighted by keepers “Hurricane,” “Black Stars,” “Initials” and “Snakes and Spiders.”
Xiu Xiu (Graveface)
As a big fan of Jamie Stewart's experimental Xiu Xiu and jazz great Nina Simone, I had high hopes for “Nina.” Xiu Xiu put its stamp on 11 Simone classics, but the results aren't as impressive as I'd hoped. A few really hit the mark — notably “Don't Smoke in Bed,” “Don't Explain,” “See Line Woman” and “Four Women” — but there are too many misfires for my liking.
Danielle Bradbery (Big Machine)
Danielle Bradbery won Season 4 of NBC's “The Voice” and the 17-year-old builds on that promise with a solid full-length debut. These 11 contemporary country tunes should appeal to fans of Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler, and Bradbery soars highest on “Wild Boy,” “The Heart of Dixie,” “Endless Summer,” “Never Like This” and “Dance Hall.”
LA Font (New Professor)
Los Angeles garage rocker LA Font shows why it is a fixture on the SoCal music scene with the release of sophomore full-length “Diving Man.” The band draws inspiration from the likes of Pavement, Built to Spill and the Black Lips, and it has crafted a terrific 12-track release. Standout tunes include “Pretty in Love,” “Sharks,” “Collect the Dust” and “Apollo 10.”
‘Songs for Slim: Rockin' Here Tonight'
Various Artists (New West)
Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap suffered a debilitating stroke last year and his friends rallied to his side with the “Songs for Slim” project to raise money for his ongoing medical care with a series of 7-inch covers of Dunlap tunes. Those records have been compiled for the two-disc, 28-track “Rockin' Here Tonight,” which features stellar entries from the Replacements (“Busted Up”), Steve Earle (“Times Like This”), Lucinda Williams (“Partners in Crime”), Joe Henry (“Taken on the Chin”), Patterson Hood (“Hate This Town”), Jeff Tweedy (“The Ballad of the Opening Band”) Soul Asylum (“Little Shiva's Song”). To date, the project has raised more than $200,000 for Dunlap. Kudos to everyone involved.
Midnight Reruns (Goodland)
If you're a fan of infectious power pop, I urge you to check out the debut long player from Milwaukee four-piece Midnight Reruns. This self-titled gem grabs you with pitch-perfect opening tandem “Going Nowhere” and “King of Pop” and doesn't let go for the duration of the 11-track release. Other keepers include “Stop Lyin' Down,” “Summer Smoker” and “Basement Guy.”
‘Shaver's Jewels (The Best of Shaver)'
Shaver (New West)
Billy Joe Shaver is an outlaw country icon and he did some of the best work of his career in Shaver, the mid-1990s band he formed with son Eddy. Shaver's five studio albums are terrific and there's no telling how high they'd have soared had Eddy not suffered a fatal overdose on Dec. 31, 2000. “Shaver's Jewels” is a 17-track delight, with the band scorching the earth on keepers “Georgia on a Fast Train,” “Tramp on Your Street,” “You Can't Beat Jesus Christ,” “Live Forever,” “Thunderbird,” “Heart to Heart” and “The Earth Rolls On.”
Richard X. Heyman (Turn-Up)
Richard X. Heyman is one of the pioneers of power pop yet he's never become a household name. Aptly titled 10th album “X” is rock solid, as Heyman shows he still knows his away around a guitar-driven pop tune. “When Danny Dropped Out of the Scene” is a stellar launch to the slightly overstuffed 15-track release, and Heyman scores with “Be the One,” “Compass,” “Counting Up the Days,” “House of Cards” and “Hangman Smiles.”
The Grahams (12 South)
Husband-and-wife duo Alyssa and Doug Graham recently traveled the Great River Road along the banks of the Mississippi River and the 12-track “Riverman's Daughter” was inspired by the people they met and sights they saw along the way. The Grahams have a musical chemistry that breathes life into these Americana tunes, highlighted by the title track, “Carrying the Torch,” “The Piney River” and “Jericho.” Can't wait to hear more.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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