Review: Boeldt explores his experimental side on 'Weird Work'
Benny Boeldt, the man behind Adventure, managed to keep me engaged throughout his first two albums — not an easy task for an electronic artist — so I was optimistic when third release “Weird Work” came across my desk last month. But where 2011's “Lesser Known” adhered more to traditional structures, this nine-track effort finds Boeldt indulging his experimental side. Some of the tracks (“Days Off,” “Nervous,” “Flower,” “Happiness”) work, but others (“Laser Blast,” “Alone,” “Constantly”) are just plain weird. Adventure has a proven track record, so perhaps “Weird Work” is a minor bump in the road.
Rollin Hunt (Moniker)
An underground sensation in England and Canada, self-professed “cosmic pop singer” Rollin Hunt looks to capture the fancy of American audiences with his “The Phoney” debut. I wasn't impressed the first couple times I listened to the 11-track release. There's a lot of things going on, and not many of them were appealing to me, but “The Phoney” grew on me enough to merit a qualified thumbs up. Bear with somnambulant opener “Beautiful Park” because there are some nuggets to be found. “In the Window” is my favorite track, and Hunt impresses on “You,” “Shooter” and “Husband.” Though not for all tastes, “The Phoney” merits some attention.
Midnight Oil (Columbia Legacy)
Many American listeners hadn't heard of Australian rockers Midnight Oil prior to the band's 1987 global hit single “Beds Are Burning,” but the politically- and socially-conscious band had been around since the mid-1970s. Midnight Oil faded away in the minds of those same U.S. audiences after “Beds,” but for those wondering what other songs are worth listening to I recommended “Essential Oils.” This two-disc, 38-track set encompasses their entire 40-year career and features at least one song from every album. “Beds Are Burning” remains my favorite Midnight Oil track, but the lads also score with “Cold Cold Change,” “Armistice Day,” “Power and the Passion,” “Kosciuko,” “Dreamworld,” “Blue Sky Mine” and “Truganini.” All career overviews should be this comprehensive.
‘You'll Never Walk Alone'
Burnt Ones (Burger)
San Francisco garage/punk trio Burnt Ones have expanded their sound on sophomore full-length “You'll Never Walk Alone.” More polished than 2010's “Black Teeth & Golden Tongues” debut (albeit only slightly), this 11-track release adds some psyche-rock and a touch of glam to the noise pop that dominated their first record. It makes “You'll Never Walk Alone” slightly more accessible, though their music remains decidedly non-mainstream. Included among the highlights of the 33-minute slab are “Glitter Death,” “Freak in the Fog,” “Vision Forever,” “Cloak” and “Getting Brighter Blues.” Burnt Ones are a band on the rise.
King Tuff (Burger)
Looking to capitalize on the success of last year's stellar self-titled sophomore release, Burger Records has reissued King Tuff's 2008 debut “Was Dead.” The foundation is evident for the Kyle Thomas one-man band on a 13-track album that didn't make much of an impact during its initial release. And though I prefer the 2012 record, songs like “Dancing on You,” “Connection,” “Sun Medallion,” “Lazerbeam,” “Just Strut” and “Stone Fox” are flat-out terrific. Can't wait for a third full-length from King Tuff.
‘The Anchor & the Sail'
Jessica Campbell (self-released)
North Carolina native Jessica Campbell has been singing since she was a little girl. Whether it be gospel, country, pop or show tunes, Campbell cut her teeth on whatever stages she could find. On her latest full-length, the talented singer/songwriter serves up her most rewarding record to date in “The Anchor & the Sail.” The 10-track release showcases her ear-pleasing vocals and first-rate writing skills that earned her songs placement in a host of television shows in recent years. “Time” is the perfect opener, and Campbell continues to impress with “Gone,” the title track, “Mississippi” (with pal Dave Barnes), “Be You” and “Doors.” The sky's the limit for this talented young lady.
Youngblood Hawke (Republic)
If you've worn out your copies of the latest albums by fun. and Imagine Dragons, might I suggest giving the full-length debut from indie pop outfit Youngblood Hawke a spin. With a catchy-as-hell single in “We Come Running” and a profile-raising performance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” things are looking up for this sunny fivesome. The 11 songs that make up “Wake Up” are particularly deep, but I defy you to resist tapping your toes to killer tracks “We Come Running,” “Dreams,” “Stars (Hold On),” “Say Say” and “Forever.” A perfect album to listen to with the windows down this summer.
A couple years ago, I was turned on to U.K. punks Sharks with the release of “The Joys of Living,” an album that compiled songs from their first two EPs and a couple new tunes. It was a powerful introduction to a band that seemed poised to conquer America. The lads took a minor step back last year with “No Gods,” a so-so CD that didn't build on the early promise. The guys rediscover their groove on new release “Selfhood,” and again seem on the path to stardom. These 11 high-octane songs are loads of fun, with Sharks showing bite on keepers “Bloody Wings,” “Portland,” “More You Ask,” “22” and “Gold.” Welcome back, fellas.
‘Have Harmony, Will Travel'
Carla Olson (Busted Flat)
Over the course of a career that dates back to the early 1980s, rootsy singer/songwriter Carla Olson has a handful of first-rate albums to her credit and has deservedly earned the respect and admiration of her peers. She enlists said peers for “Have Harmony, Will Travel,” an enjoyable gathering of duet covers featuring Juice Newton, Rob Waller, Peter Case and John York. Olson and Newton launch the set with the Radney Foster-penned “You Can Come Cryin' to Me” and later score together with “Stringin' Me On.” Waller joins her for a pair of keepers in renditions of the Pozo Seco Singers' “Look What You've Done” and “‘Til the Rivers All Run Dry,” while Case and Olson make sweet music on Del Shannon's “Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)” and Moby Grape's “8:05.”
Mark Newton & Steve Thomas (Pinecastle)
With a handful of Grammy, Country Music Awards and International Bluegrass Music Association nominations and wins to their credit as individual performers, it seems natural for guitar player Mark Newton and mandolin wizard Steve Thomas to join forces for “Reborn.” This is a must-have for fans of bluegrass, as these genre veterans strut their stuff over 12 twangtastic tracks. Sharing vocals throughout, Newton & Thomas soar highest on “Old McDonald,” “Painted Lady,” “Pineywood Hills,” “Far Far Cry,” “The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee” and “Nobody's Business.” Enjoy, y'all.
‘Small Town Talk'
Shannon McNally (self-released)
Louisiana musical icon and swamp-pop pioneer Bobby Charles died in 2010, one month before his 72nd birthday. Shannon McNally, an acclaimed singer/songwriter in her own right, is helping to preserve Charles' legacy with “Small Town Talk.” The 14 tracks included on the album were hand-picked by McNally, producer Dr. John and Charles before he passed away. The results are spectacular, as McNally shines bright on “Street People,” “String of Hearts,” “I Spent All My Money,” “Homemade Songs,” the title track, “Save Me Jesus” and “I Must Be in a Good Place Now.” A fitting tribute to one of the greats.
‘More Strange News From Another Star'
James Wallace and the Naked Light (Dialog)
“More Strange News From Another Star,” the debut album from James Wallace and the Naked Light, was recorded three years ago but is just now seeing the light of day courtesy of Dialog Records. It's an eclectic gathering of indie pop/rock anchored throughout by Wallace's quirky falsetto. Lead single “Colored Lights” is insanely catchy and I found myself humming the tune for several days after. Additional standouts include “To the River,” “He'd Like to Hear It Once Again,” “The Wire Reprise/Kicked Down the Road” and “The Coming (Shark's Song).” Glad to see Wallace's music finally has a chance to be heard.
Ten Foot Polecats (Hillgrass Bluebilly)
With a bluesy sound that's sure to appeal to old-school fans of George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Boston-based trio Ten Foot Polecats pull out all the stops on third release “Undertow.” With frontman Jay Scheffler holding down the fort on vocals and a blistering harmonica, Ten Foot Polecats stomp their way through 11 blues-drenched tunes. The one-two opening punch of “Do That Thing” and “Lost at Sea” are the highlights, but the band also scores with “Worried Sick,” the title track, “Moonshine and Mud” and “Shibble.”
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-6649161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.