Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Album Review: "Tobacco Town" by Caleb Caudle

Tobacco Town was released on October 22, 2012
Caudle will be performing in Raleigh at The Pour House
on Saturday, November 24 w/ Wylie Hunter,
Onward, Soldiers and Old Quarter
Tobacco Town marks the first solo album from The Bayonets' lead singer Caleb Caudle, and the release is a step in a far different direction than that of the rambling rock n' roll tunes of his full time band.  Trading in electric guitars for acoustics, banjos and fiddles, Caudle steps into a folkier direction that allows his sincere lyrics to take the forefront while soothing instrumentation allows the listener to glide through an album thats remarkably easy to listen through.  Think of it as Petty trading in the Heartbreakers' rockin' status for a more low-key and personal "Wildflowers", while the album isn't nearly as monumental as the aforementioned, it makes the same transitional steps that allow the songwriter to focus more on personalized lyrics and speak on topics that may be strayed away from in a bar friendly band like The Bayonets.

Tobacco Town starts out strong with a hopeful yet somber tune, "Blue or Gray" but picks up steam with one of the album's highlights, "Hesitate".  While Caudle's lyricism is definitely a strong suit, his talent lies mostly in his ability to craft addicting melodies out of these meaningful tunes.  "Hesitate" is one of the poppier tracks on the album, standing tall with a catchy chorus to counteract its jangly verses.    But for every track like "Hesitate" comes ones like "Midnight Beauty" or "Little Reminders", while they have some memorable lyrics that can strike up vivid images like, "Little reminders of you in the pockets of my jeans/Your hair on the pillow, the vinyl still out of the sleeves", they can tend to drag on with melodies that feel a bit too static.  However, while these tracks may not pop as much as others, each one has stellar composition that pays off greatly with stellar vocal harmonies and violin parts from guests like Caitlin Cary and Haley Dreis.  While the opening tracks feel hit or miss, Tobacco Town finds its stride towards the second half of the album with a cohesive and seamlessly flowing string of songs that give us a peek into Caudle's psyche.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Album Review: "Overgrown" by Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine

Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine released
Overgrown on October 30, 2012
Overgrown is the debut album from Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine, and the band has leapt into the proverbial deep end with this dense and boisterous release.  With a massive presence and cacophonous yet focused sound, The Swimming Machine has burst upon the scene with a stellar debut that ranges from carnival-esque madness to gypsy folk punk at the drop of a dime.  Their self proclaimed orchestral gutter folk is a truly unique sound that is unparalleled by their peers, while they pack a heavy Americana tinged punch that feels reminiscent of fellow Wilmington band Onward, Soldiers , Justin Lacy and The Swimming Machine have built their own niche and filled it with fantastic and triumphant anthems.

Overgrown takes the listener on an aural journey that boats nightmarishly dark overtones juxtaposed with bright brass lines and dance invoking swing.  Album opener "In Cold Blood" introduces Lacy's jaunting melodies accompanied by a powerful orchestral presence that sets the tone for the rest of the album.  The Swimming Machine can simultaneously invigorate the listener with their energy that seems to pour from the speakers and captivate them with their seamlessly woven layers of fuzzed out guitar, upright bass, brass, and woodwind.  Tracks like "Cellophane" are perfect representations of this feat, this song is bursting with life and bouncing melodies that perfectly counteract the abrasive grit of Lacy's vocals.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Album Review: "Wyatt" by T0W3RS

T0W3RS plays at Kings Barcade on Saturday
November 3 for DiggUp Tapes Monthly Show Series
with Alpha Cop and Zack Mexico
T0W3RS have been swiftly building momentum throughout the past year, through dazzling sets around the state and a massive full-length that was released back in April, If All We Have Is Time the band has been building a heavily devoted fan base.  Until now the band's output was primarily from the groups brainchild, Derek Torres, but with their latest EP the group has approached writing with a bit more collaborative of an effort.  Wyatt was initially released at Hopscotch through a scavenger hunt for the 5 cassingles that were hidden throughout downtown Raleigh, but last week the band celebrated the official release of their latest EP.  Wyatt is a perfect representation of the gradual growth and exploration that the band is doing, they're still drawing heavily upon their influences but are equally stepping out of their comfort zone to define a niche of their own.

Wyatt begins with "Mobius Strip", a track that kicks off with a fuzzed out guitar and Torres clever wordplay giving us just enough personal insight to be able to feel like we're truly looking into the songwriters life while remaining instantly relatable.  "So I know what I say/That doesn't mean that I like what I say", Torres keeps his vocals relaxed but with enough of a bounce to perfectly counteract the continuous chugging of the distorted guitar for the verses.  "Mobius Strip" boasts an anthemic chorus, one of many that can be found throughout this EP which will surely make for some fantastic live moments.  It's clear that Jacki Huntington's influence made a difference in this EP, high pitched whirs and harmonies give the album far more depth than If All We Have Is Time, the band is beginning to stray from the path with wonderful results.