Monday, December 17, 2012

Garrett Pierce's City of Sand not enough to stand on

Garrett Pierce - City of Sand
Narnack Records
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3 / 5

There is some heartfelt, dust-blown balladry on Garrett Pierce's latest effort. The L.A.-native singer-songwriter employs his gentle yet firm vocals throughout, hitting the nail on the head with the opener "Everybody Breaks" and the title track. These and others are tracks for the more discerning and somber listener: spare, backed simply, and striking the same soft mood as might a light autumn drizzle bring. But for all the reach Pierce's record has, his voice comes up half a foot short from grabbing our heart. For as simple as the songs are, Pierce needs an exceptionally supple and deep voice to pull off such a difficult album, and it's that vocal depth that this material lacks. To compare to James Taylor and others of that golden era, Taylor and Co. could handle a wide range of moods, from subdued to effervescent to farcical. Pierce's album follows the one formula, withdrawn and wistful, and on the one track that attempts to rock out ("The Golden Horse"), his voice is simply not up to the task. It is a pleasant trip to the City here, but not one that we'd imagine you'd be making again and again. Take a pass.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bottlecap needs a bit more fizz

Bottlecap - Bottlecap
Muther Music
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3 / 5

It's loud. It's blasting. It's a screaming, Swedish garage rock debut from a trio well-versed in guitar hooks and basslines. Right from the get-go, these three get down and dirty into it, with "Set Me On Fire" starting it off right. And as well that things should burn. But their execution is spotty, with their ambitious "Carry Me All the Way" feeling weak and thin, mostly in the vocal department. We love garage rock, but the problem with a lot of it is that it's easy to make it good, and really hard to make it great. What would make Bottlecap here great? We're going to say the biggest problem is their forgettable song lyrics: they just don't set a scene different from any other rock we've come across. We want something that hasn't been said before; party-down guitars with party-down lyrics do get old, and there just aren't any new places these songs are going. Which is a shame, because the songs they have here are well-constructed and well-performed - that extra attention to story is what makes a good musical framework stick. Number two are the vocals: they are passable, but not extraordinary and/or atypical. The result here is a good debut, but there are so many fantastic rock and garage rock acts out there that it makes it hard to recommend a merely decent effort. We appreciate their attempt here and that poofy thing on the cover, but we're going to suggest you guys pass on this one.

Check out their website should you so desire.