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CD Reviews – June 2013

BORROWED TIME – LOVE IS NOT BLIND (Solo Flight Records) Bedford’s Borrowed Time has evolved their classic rock and blues-rooted sound over the course of three CDs; six, if you count the three that the group’s core – bassist Dave Wagner, guitarists/singers Mike Clapper and Chad Patterson – recorded in their previous incarnation, Kun-Tajus. On their latest, Love Is Not Blind, Borrowed Time shows their widest variety and versatility yet. Their first album since the addition of drummer Gus Robinson, Love Is Not Blind maintains the group’s classic rock and blues foundation, but expands from it to explore a wider variety of flavors over the disc’s dozen tracks. The group taps an Allman Brothers/hippie-rock vibe on the disc-opener “Catch the Groove,” fires along a Bo Diddley beat on “The Old Hand Jive,” and gets funky on the local-flavored “I’m On My Way.” Borrowed Time demonstrates driving rock on the appropriately-titled “A Little Bit of Rock” and “White Collar Blues,” and shows their southern-flavored rock chops on “You Got Me Where You Want Me,” “Black Widow Lady” and the downtrodden closer “Somehow I Always Seem to Lose.” They tap a retro ‘60s-era pop rock vibe on “Who Can Pretend,” and guest Karlee Williams contributes additional vocals on the shadowy ballad “How Can I Just Walk Away.” Borrowed Time keeps improving their knack for simple but catchy melodies, and their expanding range of styles and arrangements keeps things interesting from start to end. Instrumentally, Robinson’s addition gives the group’s sound added punch, and their overall presentation is tighter and more rock solid. Borrowed Time has improved vocally as well; all three singers can carry a tune better with stronger presences and melodies, and their harmonies are more on the money. The group’s production is basic but effective; the mix is balanced and smooth overall. Borrowed Time’s dedication to crafting original rock pays off more with each subsequent recording; and Love Is Not Blind is their strongest outing thus far. (The CD can be obtained through the group’s website, www.myborrowedtime.com.)

 

STERLING KOCH – LET IT SLIDE (Full Force Music) Slide guitar meister Sterling Koch can’t make a bad album. The proof is in the pudding on his latest set of sounds, Let It Slide. After Koch collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaughan bassist Tommy Shannon and former Doobie Brothers drummer Chet McCracken on his last album, Slide Ruler, Koch recorded Let It Slide with his current live band associates Gene Babula on bass and John Goba on drums. The sound is again strong, driving electric blues, with Koch’s slide guitar and gritty vocals front and center; with his rhythm section propelling things forward with a convincing wallop. Koch and his bandmates mix up the blues flavors throughout the disc. A swamp blues intro sets listeners up for a boisterous update of Doyle Bramhall’s “Shape I’m In,” setting the tone for the rest of the album. Koch depresses the accelerator several times, including his original boogies “Wrong Side of the Blues” and “I Don’t Know Why,” his rip-roaring blues rocker “I Wanna Be Your Driver” and the disc-ending shuffle “Working Man’s Blues.” The album stomps along vibrantly with updates of K.C. Douglas’ “Mercury Blues” and Rick Vito’s “My Baby’s Hot,” and another Koch original, “Blow My Mind.” And Koch slows it down a few times as well, notably on Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too,” his slide guitar instrumental ballad “Lonely Avenue” and his love ode “I Only Want to Be With You.” Koch’s slide guitar work shines throughout the album; he speaks through the instrument, emoting and expressing himself through each solo display. His voice displays appropriate grit and soulfulness to seal the deal and sell this set. Produced by Koch, his wife Mary and the Badlees’ Bret Alexander, Let It Slide sounds rock solid and consistent, and flows along smoothly from start to end. Sterling Koch solidifies his stature as ‘slide ruler’ with Let It Slide, yet another rousing set of passionate blues rock that will easily get toes tapping and heads bobbing. This is well worth sliding into your CD player. (The CD can be obtained through Koch’s website, www.sterlingkoch.com.)

 

COASTAL REMEDY – COASTAL REMEDY(no label) Formed in 2011, Indiana, PA’s Coastal Remedy introduces a fresh, alternative pop/rock sound on their self-titled debut CD. Comprised of singer/rhythm guitarist Max Bizousky, lead guitarist Adam Hess, bassist Matt Snyder and drummer Matt Magill; Coastal Remedy crafts catchy but intricate alternative pop/rock ear candy over eleven tracks, with infectious hooks, clever and varying arrangements, strong vocals and harmonies, and more. The base sound suggests the pop sensibilities of Coldplay or Kings Of Leon, but with a more adventurous and innovative edge hinting Incubus or even Porcupine Tree. The group mixes up tempos, guitar tones, textures and effects; and guest keyboard player Luke Stultz adds further depth to their presentation. Each song hits at a different angle, keeping the disc fresh throughout. Relationship dynamics, ups and downs comprise much of the lyrical content of the disc, providing the launching pad for Bizousky’s sandy and soulful vocal performances. The opening trio of tracks – “Self Improvement,” “Memories” and the harder-driving “Never Ending Game” set the album’s tone and define what Coastal Remedy’s primary angle of attack is about. The group elaborates from there by exploring different tempos and textures; “Broken Pieces” shows some angst, while “Way Far Off” is slower and soulful. “Sinking Ships” is a melancholy yet dreamy ballad, and “Lost and Found” shows a more ambient, spacey tone. The riff on “What a Friend” instantly jumps out and snags the listener in, while “Save Yourself” demonstrates Coastal Remedy’s experimental side with tricky time signatures and a winding melody that delivers a payoff chorus. Produced, recorded and mixed by Klint Macro at Cobblesound Recording Company in New Kensington, Coastal Remedy’s debut sounds tight, bright and polished. The guitars and their effects ring out clearly, the mix is balanced, and the vocals are clean and distinct. Coastal Remedy yields an impressive debut; an innovative, catchy set of sounds that establishes this band as a creative force on the western PA music scene. (The CD can be obtained through the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ExperienceCoastalRemedy.)

 

MYCENEA WORLEY – SIREN (no label) Her ability to pour out heart and soul through her voice and music made Mycenea Worley’s first recording, the 2009 EP Love, a strong and memorable debut that commanded attention and expanded her fan base. That fan base helped bring The Harrisburg singer/songwriter’s newest offering, Siren, to life via the public funding campaign Kickstarter; and Worley devotes the disc’s liner notes to thanking all those who pledged their support. On the disc itself, she proceeds to reward those fans and new listeners with a heartfelt, half-dozen song set. Folk, country and blues remain the key ingredients of Worley’s sound, and provide the foundation from which she explores and incorporates new elements into that sound. Her voice remains hearty and heartfelt, packed with surging passion and emotion as she sells her lyrical themes of creation, hope and despair. Assisting her in the journey are Badlees multi-instrumentalist Bret Alexander (who also recorded and produced the disc) and drummer Ron Simasek, drummer A.J. Jump and violinist Nyke Van Wyk. This musical cast enables Worley to bring her song creations to full fruition, providing the additional color and depth to propel these songs to ultimate heights. Van Wyk’s violin underscores and helps build “9 Lives” to a powerful, full-bodied crescendo; while Alexander’s slide guitar work gives a greasy, delta-bluesy tone to “That Is All (The Leaf Song).” The title track, Siren,” is an uplifting and escalating ode to Worley’s inspirational muse and what makes her create. “Locks” generates a tear-in-beer country ballad mood, and Worley revisits and re-wrenches her heart and soul on an update of “Low” from the first EP. For the finale, Worley strips her sound to the bare basics of voice and guitar for the sullen closer “You Don’t Know Me Now,” about the expanding gaps in relationships and communication over the passage of time. While her support cast’s arrangements help elevate the songs to exhilarating highs, Worley’s expressive voice and gift of songcraft remain front and center throughout, and the strength of her song creations and performance ultimately win the day. Siren serves further notice to the beauty and artistry of Mycenea Worley and her music; this siren again proves that she knows how to touch and move souls. (The CD can be obtained through Mycenea Worley’s website,www.myceneaworley.com.)

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