CD Reviews – October 2023


Formed in 2016, Johnstown-based foursome The Platelets has been steadily building a fan base with their fresh and eclectic sound. That sound is demonstrated on the ten songs of the group’s first full-length album, Steelworker’s Soul. Singer and guitarist Clint Sparling, lead guitarist Nate Jackson, bassist Ron Jezeskie and drummer Dylan Jackson merge elements of rock, funk, jazz, reggae, Americana, blues and more into a captivating, freewheeling musical stew. Each song occupies a unique musical space, yet this set gels together as a cohesive whole. The Platelets set the table with the funk-edged leadoff track “The Cliff,” showcasing Nate’s edgy, Grateful Dead-edged guitar work. Ron’s bass then sets the ground rules for the rumbler “F.A.H. – Special Version,” before “Beach Girls” embarks on an upbeat, ska-informed journey. The group delves into a raucous honky-tonk stomp with “Big Ol’ Roy’s,” dabbles in jazzy territory with “Money Jazz” and pounds out grungy funk on “Blue Light.” Perhaps the album’s most shining highlight is the infectious title track “Steelworker’s Soul,” weaving a blue-collar folk-rock ode to the loss of steelworking jobs and the ensuing impact on local lives and hopes. All four band members show impressive skill and versatility through the wide range of flavors offered here; the rhythms are prominent and punchy, the guitar riffs and solos sound sharp, and Clint’s vocals show steadiness and consistency throughout. The mix sounds balanced and the overall production is full and crisp. Steelworker’s Soul provides a stirring and fun listen, as The Platelets establish their wide-ranging musical playground and joyfully explore its expanse. A strong debut. (The album can be accessed through various online streaming platforms.)


A founding member and bass player of long-running Pittston-based Christian-themed heavy rock and metal band X-Terra, Anne Kachline has gathered nine of her original songs outside the musical scope of X-Terra into Winter, an album under the heading of her studio side project Town Cryer. Anne’s X-Terra bandmates, lead singer and guitarist Bill Hunt and drummer and backing vocalist Bob Kachline, along with Faithful Messenger’s Lorrie Raemsch on backing vocals, comprise the remainder of Town Cryer. The album’s prominent flavor is classic-styled hard rock and metal, peppered with a few variations along the way; Anne and Bill split lead singing duties. Winter follows a general overall theme, the title itself a metaphor for impending troubles for the world; the general tone of the album is dark and foreboding, with lyrical words of grasping threads of hope and salvation in a world seemingly going to hell in a handbasket. Easing into the album, the leadoff track “Forewarned is Forearmed” suggests that getting good with one’s Bible might not be a bad idea. Along a driving rhythm, “He Who Has Ears Let Him Hear” ties present-day global problems with Biblical prophecy. “Flight Is Not in Winter” warns that there is no escape from mankind’s impending storms, which are then described on both “The Storm” and “Firestorm.” The slower-paced “Iniquity Abounds” describes how human values have deteriorated in the modern age. “Save Us Lord” is a hard-rocking prayer for sanctuary from the world’s darkness, while the mild-toned “Ark of Safety” professes faith as the sanctuary from evil. The instrumental performances are solid overall, as the X-Terra hard-rocking backbone drives these songs with passion and purpose. Produced by Anne, recorded at SI Studios in Old Forge and engineered by Tom Borthwick, the overall mix sounds balanced and gives the songs ample muscle. As a whole, Winter presents stern rock with a stern message. (The album can be obtained and accessed through various online digital music and streaming platforms.)