July is always one of the best months of the year around here. You are deep into the heart of summer yet still far enough from it being over to have any real concern with all that. Adding in multiple significant birthday and holiday celebrations all combine to make it arguably the top 31 day stretch of the entire calendar year. With that comes this month's DaveCromwellWrites Review featuring new and returning artists, all with brand new or recently released recordings. Dig in and expand your horizons with this eclectic collection of new music.
Perennial CromwellWrites faves GIFTSHOP are back with not one but two brand new tunes. Scheduled to hit the airwaves on July 26th, advanced previews affords the opportunity for a careful listen and comprehensive review.
First up is the freshly written “More Than That,” which packs more into it's barely over two minute frame than most of the repetitious, overlong excess churned out on a daily basis. Giftshop has mastered the art of the precision pop song. Opening with a Matt Santoro chunky guitar riff straddling the line in tone and delivery between classic-era GNR (“Sweet Child/Jungle”) and Bryan Adams (“Summer of 69”) sets an instant rock and roll attitude. That's quickly joined by Damian Eckstein's two-part ascending bassline and Jordan Kramer's tom-tom percussion before consummate belter Meghan Taylor begins the (Damian penned) lyrical tale. Current zeitgeist topics referencing “big pharma” and “gun control” appear to have everyone on edge as we go about our daily “modern living.” While Meghan delivers these lines with urgency over three-piece throttling rock rhythms, pathos comes via a harmonized bridge hook and title line payoff. “Mental illness is gonna kill us, yeah” is how the Meghan and Damian harmony goes, while the dynamic lead vocalist starkly states “And still I want more - Than that.” Not content to stop there, a dramatic third section pulls out the stops with explosive power chords, sugary “ah ah ah” background vocals and Meghan's passionate lyrical delivery “I'd stop the pain, I'd stop the tears, of wasted time and wasted years.”
The second new track “Kewl With Me” is actually a song that's been around for a number of years but never quite found it's way into the studio for a proper recording. Rectifying that oversight now is the right move, allowing for a fresh listen to this classic material. Once again opening with a dominant, resonating guitar riff, percussion works it's way in through cymbals this time before forceful toms go beat-for-beat with Meghan's vocal recitation. “You lift me up - And I know where I am - You put me down - And I know where I stand” come traded off between powerful rhythm-section and vocal accents alternated between guitar only chugging like some kinda Greta Van Led Zep “Black Dog” groove. It all comes together in bold stroke unison on the solid chorus “I don't mind when you come to me, I don't care you're still cool with me"(with tasty harmonies on “come to me” and “cool with me”). With guitar chugging forward, special mention goes to the syncopated snare-drum shots and precision-point bass notes creating a rhythmic pulse underneath. As Meghan emotes the intro verse and chorus once again, additionally offering to “help you find the thing you seek,” a tension-filled guitar line breaks out over that syncopated rhythm with tambourine rattle added on top.
Get your first listen to these tracks direct from Damian and Meghan live on The Rodent Hour.
Then pick up your own copy via all the usual places we now acquire music from.
* * * * *
Making their way onto this websites radar are Brooklyn-based neo noire rock'n'rollers Toshio Band. Finding inspiration from a variety of film makers (Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch), poets (William Blake), jazz innovators (Charles Mingus) as well as literary rockers (Iggy Pop, Tom Waits) serves as a wide and disparate pool to draw from. Lead singer and bassist Tim Lavigne pilots the project through songwriting and sound design bringing all these influences together in a modern rock and roll format. Their recently self-released EP “Lock Your Doors” is a five song concept EP that explores themes of madness and melancholy in an unforgiving world.
Opening track “Cassandra” builds off of distorted guitar progression that is quickly joined by bass and drums in a busy, forward-moving progression. Vocals lines “maybe it's all – in my head,” “we're thrown into this world all alone,” and “so beautiful – must fall apart” all speak to the overall motif of post-apocalyptic isolation and demise. Rhythmically quick, bouncy and cool, the tracks overall sound softens those otherwise harsher lyrical themes. Follow-up track “Scorpion” is a loud, over-driven stomper, combining smoother reverbed vocals with needle-to-the-red level instrumentation. With the author pointing to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as a lyrical touchstone, the lines “I'm the scorpion / the false champion,” and “I address myself and amass my wealth / I'm so innocent, a flowered serpent” echo the bards poetic style. Seeking power for it's own sake so often leads to damaging psychological effects. The eventual vocal hook, however is a much simpler repeated line “I found a reason.” Seemingly pulling from a number of source points, references to “heaven's gate” and “end of days” can also be heard. A particularly tasty lead guitar solo turns up a minute-and-a-half in to this overall concise barely two-and-a-half minute song.