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Eric Sorensen:
December,
2004

Further Observations of a Jangly Music Fan

It's hard to believe, but it is December again. Each year seems to pass by a little more quickly than the last. The month of November was filled with excellent live music … and plenty of new discs worthy of mention in this column. On successive Saturday evenings, we were able to see Tish Hinojosa (her first area performance in several years) and the Kennedys (their first area performance after the National elections; they opened with "Chimes Of Freedom," flashed "peace" signs, and shared some political sentiments with the mostly "blue" Fairfax County audience) at the smoke-free, 110-seat Jammin' Java in Vienna, Virginia.

Less than a week after the Kennedys show, we saw Lowen & Navarro at the smoke-free, 350-seat Barns of Wolf Trap. Eric Lowen was recently diagnosed with ALS, so it was a bittersweet event. Eric walked on stage with the aid of a cane, and he remained seated throughout the performance - with the exception of the trademark Lowen & Navarro unplugged encore. Throughout the full band show, Eric and Dan's vocal unison and guitar unison were spot-on. They expressed a strong affection for this wonderful music venue, and it was evident in their performance.

Here is a brief summary of the new discs and tunes that have caught my ear this past month:

The new self-titled disc by the Melroys - a roots-rock band that hails from St. Louis. I played this disc for a friend, who thought they sounded a bit like Steady Freddie Krc's Austin band, the Shakin' Apostles. I hear similarities to the Phantom Limbs, the Volebeats, the V-Roys and Walter Egan. The Melroys should appeal to fans of jangle'n'twang country/pop/rock. Their jangling guitars are most prevalent on "Top Of My World" and "Not That Kind Of Guy." There are some big old classic 60s country guitar riffs on "I Can't Forget" and "Where The Highway Meets The Sky" that should also capture listener interest. "Where The Good Ones Go" opens with a lead guitar riff that is very reminiscent of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." From start to finish, this is one fine debut disc!

Secrets About The Stars - by Seven Color Sky. Strummy, jangly tracks abound on this disc by a Pittsburgh area pop/rock quartet. The opening track has a heavy, alt-rock feel to it, but most of the band's original tunes favor a mainstream jangly pop quality - as evidenced by ""Gone," "The Earnest Teen" and "Anywhere You Fall." This is another debut disc that is solid throughout its ten tracks.

Evolver - by the Thanes. A pop music fan could collect this Scottish band's extensive back catalog, or glady settle for this 27-song retrospective. I choose the latter, since half of the material features chiming, ringing guitars … and the entire disc showcases this band's ability to recreate the garage-rock of the mid-60s. On a contemporary basis, think Chesterfield Kings and Fortune & Maltese; on a more dated basis, think Paul Revere & the Raiders, Love, the Shadows of Knight, the Standells and a host of other garage bands. My favorite two jangly tracks are "Lost Or Found" and "Never Make Me Blue." You'll dig the whole contents and agree with me that these guys know how to make the most of a 74-minute CD!

Paisley Pop presents A Mess Of Favorites, Volume 3. Jim Huie at Portland's Paisley Pop label is still laboring away to bring primo indie pop to an appreciative audience of listeners. Volume 3 in this series of FREE samplers features 16 tracks by Paisley Pop artists. It should not surprise readers of this column that tracks by Bobby Sutliff, the Trolleyvox, Milkshake Jones and the Kingburys sparkle with jangly guitars!

Who We Are Instead - by Jars of Clay. Jars of Clay may fall into the "inspirational pop" genre of music, but their tight, melodic pop/rock has always caught my attention - regardless of the lyrical content. Their latest album should be competing for Top Forty airwave attention, but it will probably suffer the fate share by other very talented indie artists and go unheralded in the mainstream music community. Thank goodness these guys are committed to their art! Tucked into the original material on this album is a very fine strummy, jangly version of America's "Lonely People" - with wonderful vocals and mandolin flourishes. Well done, guys!

Songs About You - by Language Of Flowers. Hummingbird fans, take heed! There may be a bit of fuzz to this band's sound, but Tara Simpson's lead vocals and the band's penchant for jangly guitars begs comparison to the 80s band from down under. "Who You're With" is a chiming track that will compete for "Song Of The Month" honors this month. "She's Gone Away," "Summer's Been And Gone" and "Botanic Gardens" aren't too far behind.

Two other bands that feature guitar-driven pop and female vocals are Poor Valentino and the Trouble Dolls. The former band's self-titled disc features some notable jangly tracks - "Caroline" and "Wait." The Trouble Dolls' Sticky album features a nice chiming track, "I Don't Know Anything At All."

Switching from music to prose, musician Sam Broussard (introduced to me by mutual friends Pete and Maura Kennedy) has penned the following ode that sums up his sentiments regarding our favorite instrument - the Rickenbacker 12-string electric guitar. Here is Sam's poem:

Rickenbacker 12-String - Sam Broussard

In the eighth grade in '65

I always wanted to be in a cool band
with a Rickenbacker 12-string in my hand
and shape a thunder I could understand
this fine blond thing on my hip
strapped onto me with a leather strap

A confusion boat sailed in my blood

At my touch she`d chime a tone
like bells heard through ocean shells
and my heart would swell with devotion

They rowed to tambourines

With half of her obscured
there, the form of a ship in harbor
the sixties' dream of the future
or a fine close-up
of a hip cocked up
as the girl in the tub
tortures
me

I drew her curve in blackboard chalk

and this fine streamlined
f-hole design
not a hole not a hole
it was a comet etched in coal

I awoke twice

She was German she was blond
with curves that made 8th grade too long
She was there with the radio on
Dylan's mistress in Roger's hands
McGuinn when he was Jim

She`d play if you breathed on her neck
and whispered her name and number
She would rest against my chest
and music would come from her
Drops of glass shaped like tears
fell from liquid chandeliers
a spray of diamonds a midnight fountain
twelve half moons above six horizons
my hand curving into her waist
the arc of contact
the metallic taste
of tambourines

and haven't slept
yet

Amen to that, Sam!

Until next month, enjoy the holiday season in safety and in the company of loved ones - and jangle on!

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