Album Review: Cosmo Sheldrake – Pelicans We EP

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

by Joe Szilvagyi, Contributing Blogger

EP Review of Cosmo Sheldrake: Pelicans We

Cosmo Sheldrake - Pelican We album cover

image courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Cosmo Sheldrake takes his inspiration from the world around him, pulling rhythm from a sheet of slate sliding down a hill or waves lapping at the side of a boat. Building on whichever pattern has inspired him, he combines sampled sounds with a wide assortment of instruments including (and certainly not limited to) banjo, piano, penny whistle, and accordion to craft a richly textured world of sound easy to get lost in. Once the world has been established, he sings the nonsensical stories of that place sparking the listener’s imagination.

The record crashes into life with the “Tardigrade Song,” dreaming of living the life of one of the most durable organisms on the planet. There are hints of old sea shanties with a mellow dance groove wrapped around it. The song ends being content with life and all the comforts of home.

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Then a cat’s purr introduces a stumbling, whimsical song titled “The Fly.” This is a musical recital of William Blake’s classic poem with the same title. Rather than focusing on the annoying drone of a fly, this song feels like it follows a fly’s irregular path through the air, halting and pausing at moments but finally resolving, “Then am I/A happy fly/If I live/Or if I die.”

Flipping the record brings a chorus of oboe, flute, and little percussive flourishes recounting Edward Lear’s silly limerick “Pelicans We.” Somehow the music is simultaneously halting yet maintains a smooth flow. As with the previous song, lyrics from the nineteenth century are perfectly matched with music that could only be created with modern technology.

Cosmo Sheldrake

photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Wrapping up the album is the most pop friendly tune of the four, “Rich,” written and sung by Anndreyah Vargas (spelled three different ways between the record, video and MP3 files). It keeps the common theme of the EP, dreaming of what life could be. Anndreyah’s childlike voice is ideal for fantasies of having a perfect body while the multi-layered humming and looping chimes and guitars maintain the world initially introduced in the first track.

Cosmo’s first release was a two-song 45 with “The Moss” on one side and another Blake tune, “Solar,” on the flip side. These four songs have doubled the amount of enjoyment I get playing records by having twice as much music. There are rumours that a full-length album is coming later this year to continue this exponential growth of my Cosmo Sheldrake library.

Upcoming Gigs

The “shows” page of Cosmo’s website lists upcoming gigs this summer, many of them festival dates, in the UK, Germany, France, and Bulgaria.

Album Review: Katrina Stone – Never Wanna Grow Up

Katrina Stone – Never Wanna Grow Up

Album Review of Katrina Stone: Never Wanna Grow Up

blank CD

Blank CD; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Energetic, cheerful, catchy pop music. Katrina Stone has a fun voice, broad range, and songwriting skill that results in a cheerful disc of enjoyable pop melodies, fast and slow, that perhaps reminds me best of Lisa Miskovsky… but with a faster median tempo.

On her fifth full-length album, Never Wanna Grow Up, Katrina kicks things off with “Hands & Hearts,” an infectiously hooky number that is the musical equivalent of skipping down the street. She stretches out the occasional note to show her vocal chops, but this is all about getting a smile upon her listener’s face at the pace of a brisk walk.

A similarly fun uptempo number, title track “Never Wanna Grow Up” builds as it adds instruments while never letting go of its happy energy, while “Your Favorite Song” is another memorably uptempo, cheery tune whose sometimes lush music bed and incessantly optimistic nature are terminally smile-inducing.

On the softer side, the album’s second track “Forever Be (My Always)” is a sweet, romantic number whose singalong chorus embeds itself easily into the listener’s memory. And Katrina’s duet with Benj Heard, “Together Forever,” is a smooth and light sway-along crooner, like a romantic sunset at the beach.

Also notable, though I can’t place the element that makes it so memorable, mid-tempo “Little White House” is a perfect blend of tempo, upward-rising musical runs, and jazzy delivery that work well together.

Such a deep bench on this album, there are several more tracks that grab my attention. I love the sweet, soaring, emotional vocals in “Bombs Away,” the edgy-yet-playful overtones in “Siren,” and the return-to-trademark, uptempo, energetic, poppiness of “Beautiful Things.”

The whole disc shows off Katrina’s sweet, strong, powerful vocals and pop sensibility. There are potential hits galore, and it’s a great glimpse into a talented singer who’s just waiting for the right song to catch the right radio programmer/soundtrack-compiler/music industry executive at the right time. In the interim, she’s producing catchy, fun, tightly-performed songs we can all enjoy.

As I finish this review, I see the album is not currently available as a name-your-price download at NoiseTrade, and I can’t find another location where you can purchase it at the moment. But keep your eyes open for it (perhaps its availability will reappear), and check out some of Katrina’s other music. But definitely keep an eye out for Never Wanna Grow Up; if you can get your hands on a copy and you enjoy pop music, it’s sure to become a staple on your playlist.

Album Review: Sultans of String with Anwar Khurshid – Subcontinental Drift

Sultans of String

photo by Kevin Kelly; photo courtesy of LW Communications

by James Morris, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Sultans of String with Anwar Khurshid: Subcontinental Drift

Subcontinental Drift is the 5th album from Sultans of String who were formed 8 years ago through the unique musical relationship between violinist Chris McKhool and guitarist Kevin Laliberte. The band’s signature sound was cemented by the joining of three additional members: bass player Drew Birston, a veteran of Chantal Kreviazuk’s band, Cuban percussionist Rosendo Chendy Leon, who’d previously played with Parachute Club, and guitarist Eddie Paton, who’d worked with flamenco star Robert Michaels.

Sultans of String - Subcontinental Drift

image courtesy of LW Communications

In their illustrious career, the band have enjoyed success in the Canadian national radio charts, received the Sirius XM Independent Music Award as well as other multiple awards and accolades including two JUNO nominations and two Canadian Folk Music Awards. They have mixed with renowned artists, including Paddy Moloney and the Chieftains and for this new album are joined by special guest, sitar master, Anwar Khurshid.

Anwar’s music has previously appeared in the Oscar winning films Life of PiKama Sutra, and Love Guru, and his contribution to this album certainly adds colours and rhythms that are both exotic and cinematic in scope.

There is a genuinely uplifting feeling about the whole thing, and at times it put me in mind of the spirit captured by Mark Knopfler in his soundtrack to Local Hero. Sure the styles are worlds apart, but they both share an inexplicable ability to transport you and release your imagination through mesmeric musical imagery.

Sultans of String

photo by Kevin Kelly; photo courtesy of LW Communications

Chris McKhool is unsurprisingly excited about the collaboration with Anwar Khurshid: “There is something magical about joining the world music rhythms we play, with pop sensibilities and blending that with the music of the East.”

He is not wrong, and I have to say how much I enjoyed the album. It seemed to pull on so many of the musical influences of my past but in a fresh, out of left field, kind of way.

Memories were stirred of early Rod Stewart, “Mandolin Wind” and “Maggie May” on the opening track “Enter The Gate,” with the folksy intertwining guitar and violin. This also led me to remember the fiddle playing on “Don’t Pass Me By” on The Beatles’ White Album. Of course when you start thinking Beatles, there is the Harrison factor when listening to the combination of sitar mixing and swirling with the rest of the band. The whole talented, textured performance drips passion and pleasure.

Sultans of String

photo by Kevin Kelly; photo courtesy of LW Communications

This is, no doubt, why the whole thing sparks a real joie de vivre for the soul. The mix of traditional folk instruments and sitar work sublimely. Inspired really.

It’s this happiness to mix things up that makes the second track “Rakes of Mallow/ Rouge River Valley” so upbeat and uplifting. A foot tapping jig with a wonderful twist.

More links to my musical favourites were highlighted by the bold cover of Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind.” It’s one of those songs that maybe you don’t do, too familiar, too cliche? But I was blown away by this distinct and imaginative adaptation. I’m pretty sure Dylan, who is no stranger to taking his tunes and changing arrangements, would be really happy to hear how this reggae/bhangra/folk fusion turned out.

The only slight disappointment on the album for me was “A Place To Call Home”; with its country-style vocal, it seemed a bit out of place. It is a lovely song but somehow less exotic than the rest of the album.

It was a brief dip on what is otherwise an exceptional album, and I was soon on my magical journey again. After being swept along by the hypnotic “Snake Charmer,” I was delighted by the beautiful voice of another guest performer, Shweta Subram on “Parchan Shaal Panhwar.”

Sultans of String

photo by Kevin Kelly; photo courtesy of LW Communications

So many great songs on this album make it hard not to try and detail each one’s benefits. “Journey To Freedom” was the next track, and it slipped like silk across a musical landscape so simple that it’s gentle footsteps made all the more impact. The song, jointly written by the band and Anwar Khurshid, traces Anwar’s journey from Pakistan to his new home in Canada.

Before rounding things off, I want to also mention the lovely fat bass lines on title track “Subcontinental Drift” and then the delicate, almost Paul Simon like calmness of final track, “A Heart Does What It Does.” A beautiful end to a classy album.

I’d not listened to Sultans of String before and the strength of this new album made me go and check out their previous releases. I was not disappointed and can easily see why they enjoy the award-winning success they have had.

Inviting Anwar Khurshid to collaborate on this album was a stroke of genius and has created an album of sunshine, happiness and positivity like a meditative soundtrack for your soul.

On the Road

According to the tour calendar page on the Sultans of String’s website, the bandhas two remaining gigs in May – the first, tomorrow night, May 22nd, at Cafe Nine in New Haven, Connecticut; then April 26th at a conference at Humber College in Toronto. Beyond that, upcoming concerts include a June 3 Kerrville Folk Festival date, a June-July 2016 tour of the UK and Ireland, and dozens of dates booked across Canada and in the U.S. throughout 2016 and into 2017. Check to band’s website to see when the group will be performing near you.

Geoff’s Night Out: The DuPont Brothers at The Backyard

The DuPont Brothers

The Backyard, Brighton, MA

May 14, 2016

The DuPont Brothers at The Backyard

photo by Geoff Wilbur

One of the local house concert venues I like to attend whenever possible, The Backyard is a great venue for live music, especially on a nice late spring evening like Saturday night.

Sean Peters and Erica Leigh at The Backyard

Sean Peters and Erica Leigh; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Opening Act: Sean Peters and Erica Leigh

After the usual potluck, mingling, and settling into place, the musical portion of the evening began with two songs each from Sean Peters and Erica Leigh. Sean exhibited his soaring vocals on both tunes and did a heck of a job on a sad song. He also joined Erica on the first of her two songs on which her delivery was a sweet, storytelling style with sweet, folky vocals. On her second song, she kicked it up a notch, showing she has more vocal punch when it’s called for. A late addition to the evening’s program, Sean and Erica were fitting, enjoyable, talented openers for the night’s main event.

The DuPont Brothers at The Backyard

The DuPont Brothers; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Headliner: The DuPont Brothers

Hailing from Vermont and on the verge of releasing a new album, The DuPont Brothers delivered a fun, energetic, long set of folk/Americana, delivering it in an exceptionally crowd-pleasing style. The brothers, Zack and Sam, emerged to perform a couple numbers as a duo before being joined onstage by violist Laurence Scudder.

The DuPont Brothers at The Backyard

The DuPont Brothers; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Set-opener “Stay Put” kicked things off with a bang, showcasing The DuPont Brothers’ picking, slide guitar, and harmonies. Then, on “Empty Cases,” the brothers mixed a little Western flavor with their folk.

Other songs worth noting were “Seven Days,” which was punctuated with vocal wails and some well-placed viola-work and “Attention Spans,” a great strumming song with a strong fiddle line and forceful-yet-folky vocals.

The DuPont Brothers showed additional range within the folk/Americana umbrella, with one song featuring a kind of ’70s folk feel with a hint of Simon & Garfunkel; a couple others showcasing a somewhat haunted vocal edge. And, of course, late in their set the guys unleashed a very folky, fun cover of Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” Yes, really.

Throughout, the evening had a fun vibe, with the good-natured humor of the headliners helping things along. With the usual relaxed, friendly vibe of The Backyard and the always-talented performers who are booked there, it’s hard to go wrong; this particular evening, indeed, went exceedingly right.

The DuPont Brothers at The Backyard

The DuPont Brothers; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Looking Ahead

The DuPont Brothers will be performing exhaustively through the end of July. The “tour dates” page of the band’s website lists a May 20th date in Montpelier, Vermont; then a June 2nd show in Nashua, NH, kicks off a busy month of June that will also take the brothers to Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee; the July dates, so far, are limited to New England. Be sure to check out the website for live dates near you as the guys hit the road.

Album Review: Persona – Elusive Reflections

Persona

photo courtesy of Persona

Persona – Elusive Reflections

Album Review of Persona: Elusive Reflections

This is an exceptional progressive rock/metal album from talented, Tunis-based ensemble Persona. Founded in 2012, by lead guitarist Melik Melek Khelifa and singer/pianist Jelena Dobric, the band’s line-up also includes Yosri Ouada (rhythm guitarist), Youssef Aouadi (drums), Walid Bessadok (keyboard), and Nesrine Mahbouli (bass).

Persona - Elusive Reflections album cover

image courtesy of Persona

The overarching style on Elusive Reflections is orchestral progressive rock, but other rock/metal influences are evident, as well. Melik’s axework ranges from soaring progressive to straightforward hard rock to even a little thrash. Jelena’s vocals also soar on some songs but more often act as an additional instrument, with tempo and phrasing changing along with each passage as required by each of Persona’s songs. And Youssef’s drumming can range from soft to thrashing, sometimes keeping tempo and at others embellishing with attention-grabbing runs. As with so many of the bands I choose to review, the variance on the album, thanks to the skill of the band’s members, provides an enjoyable full-album listen; the songs are bound together by Persona’s identifiable sound but varied enough to keep things interesting from beginning to end.

A good example of the Persona’s in-song versatility is “Ageless,” which kicks off with engaging synth work, joined by blistering guitar, adding soaring vocals, before combining those elements with a thrashing rhythm. It deftly moves back and forth between ethereal and heavy rock mode. And oh, the guitar solos! Music like this is meant to be heard on headphones… or in an arena.

Persona

photo courtesy of Persona

The track that I think best showcases the use of vocals almost purely as an instrument, though the lyrics are still clearly sung and easily understood, is “Monsters.” It also includes some of my favorite frenetic drumming on the album. And it’s the song that utilizes (in an appropriate spot) a death metal near-growl.

As each layer of the onion is peeled back, almost an endless array of details, subtle and otherwise, emerge. And not just on the songs already mentioned; it can be heard throughout the disc. That’s what makes a great progressive rock album such an interesting listen. Yet I haven’t even delved into my favorite songs on Elusive Reflections.

The record’s opening track, “Somebody Else,” opens with a musical arrangement and rhythm that does seem to be a subtle nod to a traditional North African sound, recurring throughout the song. Hard-rocking rhythms and soaring, theatrical interludes combine with the usual well-placed guitar run to add texture to this tune, which serves as a fitting introduction to the band.

Persona

photo courtesy of Persona

My favorite song on the album, “Blinded,” follows. It surges and pulses, with dancing guitarwork, relentless drum rhythms, and soaring symphonic-progressive vocals. The rhythm and vocals climb musical hills, pause and soar, sometimes gliding down a bit before surging forward and soaring again.

Persona’s songs typically and effectively begin with musical and drum openings that lead to the vocals – guitar and drums on “Forgotten”; drums and keys on “Halley.” Different instrumental combinations are found throughout.

Persona shows it can slow things down a bit on “Torn.” Or, rather, since the pace on most tracks isn’t blazing, I suppose it would be more correct to say the band softens things a bit on “Torn.” And this is a powerful, heartfelt ballad of longing, carried by the vocals and supported by the light instrumental touch. It’s an exceptional change of pace that fits well in its album placement.

Persona

photo courtesy of Persona

“He Kills Me More” is worth noting for the haunting soft-opening that leads first to a rhythmic war-beat of drums and then a hint of sixties flavor in the first soaring guitar riffs before eventually giving way to a more haunting, plaintive vocal. But it’s that rhythm that carries through the song, tying it together and carrying the listener along on its journey as classic rock guitar (within the fabric of the song and as a blistering solo) and vocals each have their featured moments, as does a spoken-word segment. All of the band’s songs carry a strong, well-constructed structure, but the various parts on “He Kills Me More” are more identifiable and it’s relatively easier to see how they interact than elsewhere on the album.

As the band closes the disc strong, I particularly enjoy the guitar solo and the sweet vocals late in the song on “Persona,” while “The Sea of Fallen Stars” provides a soft landing at the end of the Elusive Reflections, with the vocals soaring a bit more and the intricate axework paced just a touch slower. It’s a fitting closing number for this collection.

From beginning to end, it’s clear Persona could capture the imagination of audiences of any size, from a cozy club to a large arena, as the music and performance would be well-placed alongside an arena-caliber light show. If you’re at all a fan of progressive or symphonic rock – or, for that matter, a classic rock fan who appreciates musicianship – you owe it to yourself to give Persona a listen.

Album Review: Jimmy Lee Morris – Wilderness Wood

Jimmy Lee Morris

photo courtesy of Jimmy Lee Morris

Jimmy Lee Morris – Wilderness Wood

Backstory

There’s a little backstory, as this album was produced by Simon Scardanelli, whose music I’ve reviewed as long ago as the mid-1990s and whose latest release I reviewed here.

Jimmy Lee Morris has a significant musical backstory of his own. He started writing and recording in the 1980s. I won’t run through his entire background, but he has done solo work, and bands in his past include A La Tienne, Mojo Filter, and the Collaborators. The album Wilderness Wood was released on April 1st, 2016 on Automix Records and published by Musica Scardanelli.

Album Review of Jimmy Lee Morris: Wilderness Wood

If I had to describe Jimmy Lee Morris’ Wilderness Wood in just a single phrase using way-too-many hyphenated adjectives, I’d describe it as a full-sounding, folk-influenced, singer-songwriter-styled, song-driven recording. But it’s more than that, and you can identify specific other genres influencing some individual tracks on the LP. Beyond folk, you’ll hear some Americana, a hint of blues, and a little jazzy flair.

Jimmy Lee Morris - Wilderness Wood

image courtesy of Jimmy Lee Morris

Disc-opener “Give Me All Your Love” has a folk base, but the full orchestration is rather soft-poppy, and the guitar picking suggests Americana/Western. I’d call it eclectic, but that might suggest inaccessibility; in the end, it’s a singer/songwriter type of tune that significantly carries the aforementioned influences. And therein lies the difficulty in describing Jimmy Lee Morris’ music – while much of it defies categorization, it always sounds familiar.

Jimmy possesses a high, strong, rich voice. The songs on Wilderness Wood are well-written. And the production and instrumentation is full and lush, except where a light touch called for. But it’s interesting to run through the songs focusing on the edges, where the songs differ from each other rather than how they’re so cohesive and similar, so with that in mind…

Probably the best pure folk song is the traipsing-through-the-woods-ish song about a trip – technically, I suppose it’s a song about a driving trip, with its title a dead giveaway on that point – “Campervan Song.” This one will have you swaying left and right, perhaps flashing a peace sign, and most likely wanting to sing along once you learn enough of the words to make it worthwhile. Meanwhile, the catchiest pop-folk song of the collection may well be “Sunshine,” with its happy whistle and light, enthusiastic tone. It’s a musical tonic for shaking the blues.

Speaking of blues, the award for best blues edge on Wilderness Wood clearly belongs to “On the Outside.” Great bluesy guitar riff. And a classic recurring blues line in”Nice of you to tell me to my face…” Yeah, it’s blues-folk; heckuva job on this mild genre-bender.

Continuing in the genre-combo theme, do you like a dash of polka seasoning in your folk? The next song, “Home From Home,” achieves just such a convergence. Sure, it’s mostly folk, but it’s just another example of how this disc, while maintaining its folk center and featuring Jimmy’s emotive, identifiable vocals, explores additional influences to juice up individual tracks.

The external influences keep coming. Prefer a little jazz with your folk? There are a couple spots you’ll find it in Wilderness Wood, but “Don’t Fear the Night”‘s sax intro isn’t just a tease; yeah, you’ll find jazz in spades throughout. Daddy-o. If there were such a thing as hipster jazz-folk, this would be it.

Also worth mentioning are “Nothing to Fear,” with its ’70s soft rock/lounge flavor (and sleek, cool sax line); lullaby-esque ballad “Sleep in the Morning”; and “It’s You That I Love,” which has a similar lullaby flavor but tends a bit toward a slow dance song, something you might expect at a ’50s high school sock hop.

Jimmy Lee Morris

photo courtesy of Jimmy Lee Morris

Finally, my favorite track (the one you’ll find on my personal smartphone playlist, in fact) is “This is the Life That You Chose,” which sports a twangy, Western folk-Americana feel. And, of course, in my mind at least, its title phrase can be a bit snarky.

Throughout the album, you can tell Jimmy Lee Morris knows his way around a song and is well-skilled with his instrument and his voice. And the album’s lush, full production is rich enough to fill a room. If your musical tastes include folk-Americana music that incorporates other influences, you’re likely to really dig Wilderness Wood. Despite the variety of influences – well, actually, because of them as a 13-song disc of pure folk would get somewhat redundant for anyone but the most hardcore folk aficionado – it’s a cohesive collection that takes its listener on a pleasant journey.

On the Road

Jimmy just kicked off a tour of radio appearances and live gigs. I’ll list them below, but you can also find them on Jimmy’s website.

You can hear Jimmy on the radio May 8th in Seaford on Seahaven FM; May 25th in Uckfield on Uckfield FM Folk Is Not A Rude Word; and May 30th in Brighton on Reverb Radio.

You can see Jimmy perform live on May 26th in Uckfield at Folk & Blues Club Ringles Cross; on May 27th in Hastings at Gecko Bar; on May 31st in Lewes at The Lamb; on June 1st in Lymington at Folk Club the Thomas Tripp; on June 4th in Lingfield at The Star; on June 11th in Mayfield at Rose & Crown; on June 18th in Eastbourne at the Pentacle Drummers Solstice Festival; and on June 19th in Battle at Crowhurst Park.

Be sure to check Jimmy’s website for any additions or updates.

Album Review: Rusty G’s – Low

Rusty G’s – Low

Rusty G's

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Backstory

I first became aware of Rusty G’s when I saw them perform live in London on Halloween night. They were the opening act for guitar god Bernie Tormé, and the show was the fifth entry in my “Five Nights in London” series of live reviews. I arrived at the concert in time to catch the opening act, which was Rusty G’s, and it turned out to be an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. Raw, raucous, rough and ready. And way too much sound to be coming from a two-piece band! Now, several months later, I have the privilege of reviewing the band’s debut album, Low.

Album Review of Rusty G’s: Low

Rusty G's - Low

image courtesy of Rusty G’s

Doing power trios one better, Rusty G’s is a rare “power duo.” If it were easy, bass players could soon find themselves made redundant, but these guys have achieved a rare feat: They’ve constructed a complete sound as a two-piece. Slated for a May 9th release, Rusty G’s debut full-length album Low confirms the “power duo.” designation. Singer/guitarist James Finch and drummer Dan Lopez deliver a raucous disc of heavy metal that garnishes its lush power rock sound with a stripped-down edge.

Opening track “Oh Yeah” kicks things off in a blaze of guitar before settling into a junkyard dog-esque, bare-bones, raw rock style. On this cut, I’m especially fond of the bluesy guitar riff that wails late in the song as it’s winding down, providing the only hint to the track’s impending conclusion since the drums never let up. The vocals on “Oh Yeah” (and the rest of the disc) are of the old-school, early metal, “sing loudly, as near the edge of the vocalist’s range as possible while still being gravelly but tuneful” variety. Exactly as you’d expect to appropriately accompany the music.

Rusty G's

photo courtesy of Rusty G’s

“Crawl” follows with a killer riff providing a monster hook to the otherwise pulsing, relentlessly plodding steamroller of a rhythm.

A raw guitar hook that embeds itself into my brain for days at a time – not surprisingly, perhaps, punctuating what has become my initial favorite track on the disc – is featured front and center in “I Don’t Want This.” And it’s not just the monster guitar hook; the “ooh, I don’t want this” line is an earworm, too.

One of the more jangly, raucous tracks on Low is “Don’t Belong.” Its melody suggests this may translate exceptionally well to other musical styles; it ain’t necessarily just a metal number. The verses hint at a blues-punk-metal hybrid, while the fog of heaviness in the bridges suggests a rougher-edged version of Metallica-era Metallica.

Rusty G's

photo courtesy of Rusty G’s

Later in the collection, there’s an impressive stop-start rhythm and heavy, metal-bluesy, growling guitar hook in “Waiting” that’s augmented by some nice, true-to-the-song drum runs, sometimes expressive, other times seemingly in anger.

Though not the only place on Low this occurs, “Static” is notable as primarily a drum-driven selection, with the vocals and guitar (aside perhaps from a late solo) playing supporting roles to the drums’ rhythm and short runs. Not a showy song; just real damn solid. And a strong showcase of how a two-piece metal band can be versatile without going mellow.

And if you want an example of prog-influenced heavy rock, you’ll find it at the end of Low. “Losing You” has the fast, slow, experimental, soft-and-heavy elements that could easily be prog-rock influenced. It’s a great way to round out the album, with this six-minute opus extending to the final curtain.

Heavy and cohesive throughout yet with enough variance to stay fresh from song to song, Low makes a good beginning-to-end listen. My personal standout tracks likely differ from yours, but they all maintain a raw power, rhythm, and broad rock appeal that encompass Rusty G’s trademark sound. Yes, power duos are a thing now.

Rusty G's

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Upcoming Gigs

I’ve seen Rusty G’s live, and I can confirm they put on one heck of a show. This is a great live band, so get out to a gig if you can.

According to Rusty G’s website, you can catch the band live at a variety of venues in the coming months: on Friday, May 6th at Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes; on Wednesday, May 18th at The Dublin Castle in London; on Friday, May 20th at Maida Vale in Sheffield; on Tuesday, May 31st, supporting Cold in Berlin at Gullivers in Manchester; on Wednesday, June 1st, supporting Cold in Berlin at Bannermans in Edinburgh; on Friday, June 10th at the Willow Festival in Northampton; on Saturday, July 2nd at Cranfest in Cranfield; on Friday, August 19th at Tribfest in Yorkshire; on Saturday, August 27th at Bridgnorth Festival; and on Saturday, September 3rd, supporting Eat This at The Castle in Wellingborough. Obviously, check the band’s website for additional bookings, details, and changes.