Former Neurotica guitarist Shawn Bowen's metallic, atmospheric trip-scape trio Bald Daisy offers plenty of amorphous style. Vocalist "Erigeron Ganymede" contributes perfectly lingering, classically trained female vocals. Percussionist/drummer "Ecco" lends just enough tight groovecore weight. And as "Calvus," Bowen pulls double duty as guitarist and programmer for a sound that might be described as Evanescence having a dream about chilling out, firing their DJ and running nowhere in slow motion. Sound effects approach only to flit away into mist, anchored by live drums and Bowen's refusal to give up on the chunky riff completely. The group's ethereal approach keeps them from sounding like the aforementioned Linkin-Park-with-a-chick product; there's a sort of "trademark sound" at work here that puts them closer to the industrial/Goth milieu than to cinematic nu-metal. Still, the overall effect is slightly generic, crawling and a bit banal, gazing at the horizon without actually trying to chase it down. Once they do, they could be unstoppable. (www.balddaisy.com)
Tomorrow Can Wait
My reaction to the couple of times I've so far seen Soulfound live has been the impression that their energy and presence were top-notch, but the material was a little weak. Listening to their full-length, oddly, gives the opposite feeling: the songs are better than I thought, but Tomorrow Can Wait lacks a bit of the oomph I saw in the set. Of course, that can be said of about 90 percent of self-produced releases, right? Here, standard alt-rock hallmarks benefit from just enough muscle, inventive elements (off-kilter time signatures, harmony guitar lines) and earnest self-investment to rise above the same ol', same ol'. Textured hints of New Wave/'80s pop-rock influence shine through the manly hooks, adding substance to a sound that, at first listen, might be dismissed as a fratty FM take on the last Jimmy Eat World release. Highlights include opener "Now Is Yours," the swinging "So Long Pretender," and "Repair." Were this a "Most Likely To Succeed" competition, they'd win. As it is, this is better-than-average melodic rock from guys who know how to do it well. (www.soulfound.com) 1/2
The Standing Shadows
The Standing Shadows
C'mon, seriously. This is the same band that I saw shambling through a bunch of tunes at the Emerald, songs that had a lot of potential, yeah, but were wholly unrealized at the time. Where'd they freakin' record, Wizard of Oz Studios? There's no arguing the rudimentary, derivative nature of these six songs. At the same time, there's no denying the fact that this is a superlative collection of rock 'n' roll that transcends "garage," "retro," "blues-punk," or whatever else you want to call dirty two-chord riffs and libido that owe more to The Stones than anybody else. Great sounds, great hooks, great everything. A minute ago, I was writing about how most unsigned bands sound infinitely better live than they do on self-financed recordings. Well, never mind. This disc is cool. It's trendy. It's almost hyperbolic in its borrowing. It sounds like a million other bands. It's also great.
Rich Whiteley Band
This full-length from songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Rich Whiteley and band showcases an outfit more adept at plying roots-pop gems than scrunching all of their elements together in drawn-out jams. The tunes could all fall under the aegis of the post-Gram Parsons fuck-with-country mentality, were one willing to sprinkle a little granola on the whole thing. The title track recalls a more laid-back James Gang; everywhere else, the band imbues roots-rock with varying degrees of blues, psychedelia, porch-country and an only moderately energetic brand of Crescent City R&B. To call 'em a jam band is, ultimately, a misnomer. These are finely crafted twang-blues tracks that never get more than slightly excited, instead riding infectious, laid-back grooves whose engaging outdoor-bar vibe almost compensates for their innate, you know, white guy-ness. (www.richwhiteleyband.com)
Peace on Earth
While Ocala songwriter Jason Lundock's seven-track home-recorded effort showcases some solid alt-rock songwriting ideas ("Fool's Gold," "Ilium," "Ziggurats"), the shaky execution robs what strong concepts are present of most of their listenability. Yes, four-track recordings are supposed to be raw and expressive. But multi-instrumentalist Lundock's vocal and drum performances, by and large, just aren't up to par, production quality notwithstanding. The punky, repetitive "Fool's Gold" provides Peace on Earth's one shining moment, largely because Lundock abandons any attempt at melody in favor of a compelling, visceral scream. Everywhere else, what might be commendable, workable riffs and arrangements suffer from the distraction of sketchy, sophomoric drum takes and off-key vocals. (www.jasonlundock.com) 1/2
Contact Music Critic Scott Harrell at [email protected], or 813-248-8888, ext. 109.