22 Cigarette Night
JOHNNY ZOOM CHEERLEAD SQUAD
This latest disc from Tampa's catchiest bar- and garage-rock outfit finds the Squad smoothing out many of its rough edges without sacrificing too much personality. The mid-point of this seven-track EP slows down a surprising amount for the smarmy "Think About It" and "Six Inches Wide." Both tracks feature an only marginally watered-down version of JZCS's trademark caricatured cool, however, and everything else here smokes, especially the opener "Eleven Minute Itch," the slick "Loveshot," and noisy, shuffling closer "Stop Right There, Don't Move." (www.johnnyzoomcheerleadsquad.com) 4 stars.
Live at Fogartyville Cafe
This one should be subtitled: "Venerable local folk artist meets venerable local (Bradenton) folk music venue." The recording is surprisingly clean for a live show, with audience noise only intruding at the end of the tracks. The performances feature Moseley alone, with her voice, her words and her acoustic guitar. They deal primarily with the blue side of love, but end up being hopeful and never despairing. www.jackiemoseley.com. 3 stars.
— COOPER LANE BAKER
When You Get Lost on Those Brick Streets
After a lengthy, pensive solo fuzz-guitar intro, this relatively new trio — which features former members of Brainiac's Daughter and Chalkpeople — delves into an impressive mix of ambitious, emotional indie-pop and proggy rock. It's tough to compare Military Junior to anyone else, and here, that's a good thing; the originality never completely overshadows good arrangements and coherent song structures.
Isolated changes occasionally come off as scattershot ("Authority," "Dwell"), but frontman Jay Schultz's singular, evocative vocal style and the band's general knack for balancing experimentation and chops with compelling hooks usually win the day. Plus, "Communication," "Anodyne" and "Travertine" are damn near unimpeachable. (www.militaryjunior.com) 3.5 stars.
This introduction to reggae/rock/ska/rap-punk quartet Weaksauce is probably old news by now (hey, I'm still getting caught up to stuff I received over the summer), and it trades a bit too much of the group's live chaos for clean production and an apt showcase of its instrumental talents.
But the demo in question definitely displays the goods — when was the last time you listened to three songs more than five minutes long without being acutely aware that the three songs were each over five minutes long? Weaksauce takes what could easily lapse into Sublime parody and makes the style its own via screamy trumpet, tasty atmospheric passages, rock anthemics and an attitude that remembers that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were dangerous. It's not as good as the live set, but it's still quite good. (www.myspace.com/weaksauce) 3.5 stars.
This smattering of upbeat contemporary blues and torch songs features clean production and some tasty slide and acoustic guitar and piano performances. (No information came with the disc, so I don't know if Krieger played them or not.) Unfortunately, it also features a substandard cruise-ship-variety-act version of "My Girl," and Krieger's untrained voice and cliché-riddled lyrics.
That he tries to take on America's obsession with celebrity scandal with the acoustic-blues stomper "Get Your Movie Made" is admirable. But his pen simply isn't up to the task, and his other, more romantically inclined material is swamped with the same hokey sentiments that were done beyond death in the '70s. 1.5 stars.
Weaver's accompanying letter describes Velvet Rain as "soft, original, easy listening piano music," and there is some of that. But there are also plenty of more dynamic, evocative compositions — don't go thinking this release edges up to New Age; it's not really even close. Shades of classical and more contemporary soundtrack artists abound, but Weaver has an enjoyable personal style that nicely balances the slightly heavy-handed and baroque with light, somehow familiar flourishes. "Heather's Song" might be the most instantly gratifying thing here, but it's all good — very good, in fact. Serious classical or avant-composition fans might dismiss it, but I can see this staying in my home player for quite a while. Plus, Weaver's planning to use some of the profits from sales to help fund a nonprofit arts education program for kids. (www.jamesweavermusic.com) 4 stars.
Stone Soup is a funk 'n' strum Sarasota band; Stitch Craft is a side project representing its female side. Heather Normandale plays guitar and mandolin; Anna Perlmutter lays on the fiddle, and both trade lead vocal duties. The album lacks the percussive pulse that makes the pair's full-time group stand out from the folk-rock crowd, but this stuff is admirably adventurous, ignoring verse-chorus-verse conventions. This, of course, can get them in trouble sometimes: A couple tracks are just too long, and with such limited instrumentation, it's hard to whip up sustainable jams. Nevertheless, this is a noteworthy effort. To purchase a copy, contact the band at [email protected]. 3.5 stars.
More Than I Ever Dreamed
It's a 12-track full-length from JoDell Nauert, the gifted Tarpon Springs country singer (and songwriter — she penned five of these tunes). There's nothing seriously original going on here, but JoDell tempers a few creeping modern pop-country tendencies — as on "Unraveling," "Out of Loneliness" and "Are You Forgetting Someone" — with a healthy dose of old-school Barbara Mandrell/Linda-Ronstadt-doing-"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" vibe.
"That's The Way Love's Supposed to Be," "Tomboy" and "Should Have Been You" are standouts, but excepting a couple of too-overwrought ballads toward the end of the disc, pretty much everything here is way above average. (www.jodellsmusic.com) 3.5 stars.