Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Juice- Juice

Available at Barnes & Noble Summit Location

Recorded at After Digital Studios

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Juice in person. To clarify, it wasn’t after a show or just a random encounter on the street. I got to see these guys practice. And, for anyone who’s been in a band or been close to one, a good practice time is the artistic equivalent of talking to your significant other at three in the morning, telling them “no YOU hang up first…” It’s intimate, it’s real, it’s raw. And even though mistakes are made, they also make you stronger.

This simple fact might make me a bit biased towards Juice in my reviewing of their self-titled album, but so be it. I count myself lucky. But, to be as fair as possible, I’m going to try to remove myself from the experience of watching these guys sharpen their edge.

Anywho. Juice are about as authentic a band as you could ask for from the youth today. Actually, they’re more; they impress me: a jaded old listener of rock in all its various forms. To count them out simply because of their age (which won’t be mentioned too much further after this point), is only doing yourself a disservice. You’re missing out on the budding of a camaraderie amongst like-minded musicians who have a nice, round sound with electrifying edges. They love music, and they seem to love each other. When I listened to this album, I got the vision of laying on the back of a car with a friend or lover, looking up at the stars and hearing the band playing from inside the car. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and the sound is all that’s going on.

Juice’s debut, self-titled album is a small wonder. It’s seven songs long and is seven songs strong. The opening track, Get It Together is saying everyone’s crazy, but some are less crazy than others and the music reflects the frustration of this predicament. The second track, Tuscan Kiss is a finger-snapper of a track and harkens back to the earlier, stronger sound of David Byrne. Nine and Three Quarters is essentially the center piece of the album and a dreamy tribute to being in the band itself. At least that’s what I get out of it. If it’s not that, then it’s certainly no harm in thinking it’s so. Velcro Sweetheart is the track you listen to driving down a long stretch of road with the windows down and there’s no landmarks in sight. El-Gato De Inciendo reminds me of the sound of a band that might open for The Mars Volta, a Spanish summer song with a little bit of melancholy. Jazzy Jam (the first song I heard the guys play when practicing) is exactly as its name states. It’s also a perfect showcase of the individual members’ talents. And finally, Yitzi, a song that shares it’s name with the drummer of the band. And if by the end of the album you don’t understand all that implies, you’ve probably not been listening at all.

The members themselves are decent fellas, but here I want to focus on their actual ability to bring to the table what makes the music strong. Brent McCollough is the keyboardist and, surprisingly is a great companion piece to basist Aaron Shapiro, and instead isn’t the soundscapist that most keyboard players are. That duty falls to Michael Harp, one of the two guitarists. The other being David Brockington, who plays lead. But the one-two punch of all things groovy about Juice are the bassist, of course, and Yitzi Peetluk, the drummer. What makes Yitzi perfect for this band is that he clearly knows drums, but he also clearly loves drums. Which means that he plays from the gut. And with this he adds to the layers of talent that makes Juice stand out amongst so many throw-away bands playing the scene today. They do it because they love it. And when you play music because you love it, the charm that exudes from that passion takes over and the listeners are treated to something unique even if it’s not necessarily their thing. Juice are a band that are not only sure to do great things, they’re sure to do them for a long, long time. And here’s hoping the best for them!
Visit their Facebook for more info and show dates www.facebook.com/juiceband
Reviews by Paul. If you would like to have your album featured, email paul@bhamrocks.com

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Beitthemeans- Crude Alabama Storytellers

Click Here to Buy


Their debut album, “Crude Alabama Storytellers” should win an award for Most Honest Album Title of The Year. Each song is a tightly wrapped story told from some dark recesses of singer/guitarist Josh Jones’s mind. I can only wonder where the ideas came from, but I ask the same thing about my favorite horror movies, yet this doesn’t limit the thrill presented by either Beitthemeans or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

What’s most difficult to understand is how this three-piece can sound like five members strong at least. Each artist brings a weight to the songs that’s as dense as a dying star. Of course Josh Jones can sing from the pits up to the rafters, but he knows when and where to pause to give way to the other “voices” in the band. Bassist Casey Wilson brings quite a bit of funk to the table, but also complimentary melody and emotion (listen to End of Time). And not to be overshadowed at all, drummer Nathan Kelley’s playing is wide and heavy. You can tell he likes a live sound, and that suits this band especially well. There’s something more impacting by the rawness each member creates that would be dulled if everything were shiny and over-produced.

Which brings me to a point of interest: this band pulls no tricks when playing live; if you like the sound of the album, that’s what you’re going to get live. I’m of the impression that this was intentional. The same captivating charm of the direct sound of the album is recreated live, and the courtship from the band to the listeners is strengthened by doing so.

Please support these guys if you like Gov’t Mule, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. But also lend an ear if you like dark and deep storytelling. These guys are unstable dynamite and might blow up when you least expect it. Trust me, you want to be there when they do!

Reviews by Paul. If you would like to have your album featured, email paul@bhamrocks.com



Friday, January 21, 2011

Bearhead- Bearhead

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Bearhead is what happens when you take the remains of a band like Alice in Chains and reanimate the corpse with pieces of Deftones, Helmet, and old school (read: good) Metallica. And what surprises me most about listening to them is that I have to strain to hear the influences. They stand on their own that well. I could ramble on about how the drums stand as the backbone for the groove-laden songs like Feed Your Army (there are some very, very metal surprises in that one). I could tell you all about how the bass seems to fit right between the clean and/or distorted sounds of the guitar in tracks like The God Breeze or how it seems to carry the weight of the entire song Carry On. And I could tell you how the singer never, ever tries to overshadow the rest of the band but rather harmonizes with them as though his voice itself were an instrument. But you’ll get all these impressions upon listening to their self-titled album. And you might find even more than you were looking for.

To summarize, Bearhead might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but one sip and you’ll discover that they’re as strong as espresso. They’re certainly not trying to be anything they’re not. And that’s a clich├ęd line to say when reviewing a band. It’s sort of like saying that “even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny the talent.” And that’s exactly what I’m saying. Not only that, but I’d go so far as to say that it’s a trait that cannot be utilized proficiently by too many bands. Because of the formula, as it were, punching you in the face with some good, old fashioned rock and roll is as effective if Bruce Lee joined The Dillinger Escape Plan and just kicked random people in the face instead of playing an instrument. It’s as though they all got together and said to each other “we could all go all crazy, all the time. But where would that get us?” You’d get bored quick. I’ve run the gamut of albums that have blown me away upon first listen, and then gotten old real quick because it just turned into an indecipherable blur. The songs on this album are distinct, listenable, as classic as classic rock, and that’s exactly what Bearhead seem to want. And, in short, it’s good. Really good.

Try ‘em if you like the heyday of alternative, strong groove-metal, and just good rock. 

Reviews by Paul. If you would like to have your album featured, email paul@bhamrocks.com


 
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