Heard Lately

Rock

In Heard Lately. More on Medium.

Haiku of contrition:

Brandon Santini
And Jeff Jensen. Together.
Lived up to my dreams.

Artist: Tennessee Redemption
Album: Tennessee Redemption
Release date: September 2019

Cover of Tennessee Redemption album.
Cover of Tennessee Redemption album.

The deal. Albums can break your heart. Even ones you haven’t heard yet. Sometimes you want so much from a new release — you’re just so excited — that it’s tough for the artist to deliver on the expectations. …


Haiku of contrition:

Blues. Rock. Grunge. New Wave. Tokyo Tramps have it all. Except Reggaeton.

Artist: Tokyo Tramps
Album: If I Die Tomorrow
Release date: October 15, 2018

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The deal. It might be hyperbolic to say that one song can make an album, but a good opening track can certainly suck the listener in. So while I’m a fan of Tokyo Tramps’ If I Die Tomorrow, and enjoyed the entire record, “Flowing Water,” its first track, is what grabbed my attention and drove this review.

Tokyo Tramps are a Boston-based husband and wife grungy rock band. There’s lots of Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar riffs (courtesy of singer/guitarist/husband Satoru Nakagawa) and Mitch Mitchell-inspired drum rolls — the kind that go on so long, you almost feel yourself beginning to lose your balance (courtesy of Tim Carman). The band hits a very specific sweet spot in the overlap between 1990s grunge and 1970s blues rock. What keeps things from degenerating into fuzz is the group’s strong sense of song, and the all-too-occasional vocal contributions from singer/bassist/keyboardist/wife Yukiko Fujii. …


Haiku of contrition:

American sound.
Relaxing as a long drive.
Windmill hole-in-one.

Artist: Have Gun, Will Travel
Album: Strange Chemistry
Release date: July 12, 2019

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The deal. Workaholics, a guilty television pleasure of mine, once had a funny throwaway scene, the setup of which probably never mattered, featuring the three leads in a bald eagle-painted convertible, top down, Seven Mary Three blasting from the speakers, all drumming along to the tugboat of a song. …


Haiku of contrition:

Churning energy.
Vandoliers always striving.
Perpetual rock.

Artist: Vandoliers
Album: Forever
Release date: February 22, 2019

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The deal. I love so much about The Replacements but my favorite thing is how hard they tried. …


Haiku of contrition:

The Fringe observers.
Always present at key points.
Disc is important.

Artist: Bloodest Saxophone
Album: Texas Queens 5
Release date: February 7, 2019

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The deal. I hate to say it, but I’m a bit of a sucker for high-concept albums. Not necessarily musically high-concept (sorry, Queensrÿche) but more an album with a hook. …


Haiku of contrition:

More than noodling.
Ally Venable has taste.
Mmmm. Tasty noodles.

Artist: Ally Venable Band
Album: Texas Honey
Release date: March 22, 2019

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The deal. I try not to read the promotional materials that come along with albums so I don’t have any preconceived notions about a record or an artist. …


So much amazing music comes out all of the time. I review what I can as quickly as I can, working my physical and digital piles as efficiently as possible, but things fall between the cracks. Rather than giving up on things that are a little past their prime, contemporary-review-standards-wise, I’m going back for the overflow that deserves to be heard — even if it’s a little late.

Haiku of contrition:

Brandon Santini.
He has a strong sense of self.

Longshot is true north.

Artist: Brandon Santini
Album: The Longshot
Release date: March 15, 2019

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The deal. Blues rock is a tougher genre than it might seem. There’s a sweet-spot that allows the music to rock, while also sounding familiarly bluesy. If an album drifts too far into one of those genres, the entire enterprise collapses. Or at least it’s less of an enjoyable listen. Singer/harmonica player Brandon Santini’s The Longshot perfectly walks that highwire of a blues rock line. The album rocks, but there are also some nice, authentic blues touches. …

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