Friday, February 17, 2017

No Extra Words / Ravings Double Team

Hi y'all!
We've got a little surprise for you. Hint hint:

What does this photo mean?? Wait and see... (c) Matthew Keefer

The No Extra Words podcast is running a cool little series call "Writer Spaces" wherein previously published authors (such as yours truly) describe their writing spaces in audio-form.

Here's the next few scheduled posts:

-Episode 75, Feb. 17 (later today!!)
-Episode 77, Mar. 17
-Episode 78, Mar. 31 - OUR AUDIO ESSAY FEATURED HERE!!
-Episode 81, May 12

So yes. Check out No Extra Words on their site, or iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts (or all of the above).

And be sure to stop by here on March 31st to snag our little contribution to this cool little series.

Y'all enjoy now!

PS - We mentioned we were previously published on N.E.W. right??? Once or twice, maaaaaybe...

Monday, February 13, 2017

No Hot Air - Our Take on Dutch Uncles' "Big Balloon"

Dutch Uncles - Big Balloon
Memphis Industries
- out Feb. 17
4 / 5

We're going to try a different approach for Manchester, England based quartet Dutch Uncles here. Their latest full-length, Big Balloon, is number five in their full-length discography. We've covered #3 - 2013's Out of Touch in the Wild - which you can read right here. We also had to follow up with them in 2015 on their fourth full-length O Shudder (also read our review right here). If there's something you, our readers, might have noticed about our reviews of Dutch Uncles' last three albums, they're all good, solid albums, at 4 / 5. (Four of five whats? Ponies, oz. of honey, orangutans? Just 4 / 5, accept it for what it is.)

In any case, yes, Big Balloon is another 4 / 5. These last three albums, Dutch Uncles have delivered, have been dynamic enough not to repeat themselves, but not quite inventive enough to really - we mean REALLY - knock it out. Big Balloon is by no means a disappointment, gosh no, and it's certainly worth your money. But we strongly suspect that within the next two albums after Big Balloon, they're really REALLY going to knock it out.

Right now, Dutch Uncles have proven to us they know their method, they know the studio. Currently, they've only really toured England extensively. What we're hoping for from the Uncles is an album, a truly great one, that hits 4.5 / 5 or better, one that'll give them a real crossover boost into the US market. And do we think it's possible? Yes, absolutely. Our Vegas (or really, RMMM) odds? About 80% chance in the next two albums.

So what exactly are we saying here? If you're that hipster douchebag who always needs to be on the ground floor of a "new indie band," here's your shot. Brush up on these guys, you'll enjoy, and in a couple albums, when everyone's talking about them, you can flood the streets with your excessive douchiness and mention their back catalog and how you "knew these guys were gonna hit it." You're welcome. Send a check our way (or just donate on the Paypal button on the right side here).

Big Balloon = recommended. And absolutely, keep an eye on these guys for the next album or two.

Start buying their merch on their official site right here, ya monstrous indie douchebag.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Soul Sick" Missing Sallie Ford's Spirit

Sallie Ford - Soul Sick
Vanguard Records
- out tomorrow
3 / 5

We love Sallie Ford and her Sound Outside's 2013 release Untamed Beast. It's buoyant, joyous, fun, and all-around a great album. It's a rocker, and it knows it.

Fast-foward to 2016: Sallie Ford releases her second official solo, sans-Sound Outside. We'll be honest, Ms. Ford is a hit-or-miss kind of artist. In 2013, she hit. But 2016, on Soul Sick, she missed. This is why.

We've got to bring it back to what made Untamed Beast so good. Ford and her Sound Outside had just hit their stride musically: they felt spontaneous, they gelled, they rocked it out of the park. Here, Ford's backup doesn't feel like they quite gel. Their guitar licks are passable (which, in this day and age of Karen O among others, is sub-par), and Ford's rhythm section never quite hits a toe-tapping groove. It feels like they play because of obligation, not from joy of the material.

Song-wise, the writing is still above-par for Ford. There are good twists, good lyrical depth, but again, without the right kind of execution, it falls so so flat. While Untamed Beast was something of Ford putting on a Beyonce pro-sexual stance, Soul Sick tries to tackle deeper topics here. We'd definitely argue these songs are written better than Untamed Beast's - topic, construction, etc. - but again, sometimes it's more "how" than "what," and this is one of those unfortunate cases.

Simply put, Soul Sick is good material, but it doesn't quite pick off the runway. We just don't find ourselves wanting to put it on again and again; take a pass. And do pick up Untamed Beast instead.

Check out Ford's website right here for to stream.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kyle Morton @ Cafe 939 - Jan 21, 2017

One man, one guitar (oh and one wifey). Photo (c) Matthew Keefer

Morton opened set with "Poor Bastard" off his 2016 solo debut, What Will Destroy You, and delivered to the hungry audience a few more songs off the album. I have never heard an audience so quiet during a show. Morton's songs always have a tragic feel to them, but stripped bare of the dense instrumentation, with just his voice and minimal guitar, I was not the only one in the audience mesmerized. When Morton suddenly broke into Typhoon favorite "Belly of the Cavern" (2010 EP Hunger and Thirst), there were smiles in every direction as people slowly starting to sing along.

Morton is a small man - literally. So small, in fact, that it was difficult to see him on the stage; but he has an emotive power to his voice. Imagine if Kermit the Frog and a baby angel procreated (okay, don't imagine it, that's gross) [ed's note: it certainly is; apologies to our readers!] but somehow that strikes close to the sound of Kyle Morton's singing voice. You likely think that sounds horrible, tragically horrible, but I can assure you that unique, gut-wrenching emotion behind his words make his voice quite beautiful.

Morton sprinkled other Typhoon songs throughout his set including my personal favorites, "Prosthetic Love" and "Common Sentiments" - the latter of which was one of the best sing-a-longs I have ever experienced. The entire audience acted as his backing track and even sang harmonies along with him. The room - Cafe 939 - felt alive with love, not only for the music, but for life itself.

Morton closed the show by allowing the audience to give him an "encore" ovation without, as he said, having to "leave the stage and stand around awkwardly for a minute." His wife, Danielle Sullivan of the band Wild Ones, joined him for the last few songs of the night, one of which was a sneak peek off of Typhoon's third full-length album (due later this year, title TBD). The cute duo also did a cover of John Prine's "In Spite of Ourselves," and while there isn't a video from Cafe 939, you can shut off the lights, bring 40-50 people into your living room, and play this Youtube link to get something close to the experience.

Of course, Morton invited fans to visit him at the merch table, and took time to chat with each of them and sign copies of his records. [ed's note: and take photos, 'natch] In short: great guy, great show.

Keep with with Typhoon's and Kyle Morton's upcoming releases (and shows!) at their site: