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Ned Evett’s Treehouse

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Ned Evett’s Treehouse is like following a cross-country trek of reckless abandon, each song punctuating truck stops, saloons, and the interstate like a big red dot on a map that you can point to and remember the story that went with the place.

Evett balances thunderous country rock, folk, talking blues, and ballads with hooks that sink in and don’t let go. The material here is varied and rich and the fretless guitar work is a real star here, supporting Evett’s vocals with its own story to tell. Lyrics and melodies float into a stunning coalescence as Evett proves himself a vocal chameleon track by track.

Treehouse is bookended with strong rock songs, burning and unrelenting. The bookends work on a dual level; “Pure Evil” opens the album with a fierce rasp and jaunty guitar, followed by the distorted vocals and syncopated rockabilly of “Falling in Line.” “Dead on a Saturday Night” is the penultimate track and mirror reflection of “Evil,” but ups the ante with its dark twist on 50’s-style rock and roll. Evett closes with the feverish “Don’t Despair,” the guitar leading the other instrumentals on a musical rampage.

“Sayanora Serande” has a lilting psychedelic melody and is unforgettable, the refrain being one of the catchiest earworms in existence. “Mars River Delta 2128” comes with a long opener before segueing into a hunted-man tale. “Mars” leads to two of Treehouse’s most tender tracks, the head-bobbing “Bend Me” and the lush title track.

“Say Goodbye for Both of Us,” is a haunting break-up tune, inflected with organs and a bridge with sonic texturing to the vocals that is like an out-of-body experience. Paired with “Just About Over This Time,” the other lithe and swaying end-of-relationship track, break-up songs on Treehouse are almost transcendental and heavy all at once. “Getting Over Someone Too” is a gorgeous cowboy ballad, with Evett dealing out deep vocals a la Tex Ritter and helps form a relationship narrative trifecta.

Evett’s trick here is lulling the listener in with his seemingly light lyrics before knocking them on their feet at the bridge or end of a track; “Why Can’t I Believe,” “Break My Fall,” and “Nightmare and a Dream Come True” and many other songs pull you in before opening up into fun, unexpected surprises.

Armed with his gorgeous glass fretless, Ned Evett’s Treehouse is drenched with multi-faceted country sounds, different stories all a part of this generous 14 track helping. Raw, radiant, and an incredible technical feat, Treehouse is a striking effort that lingers well after you’ve listened.

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Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP

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Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.

Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.

Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.

Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.

Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.

The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.

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Muse “Drones” Review

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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”

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Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.

Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”

Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.

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