Here's a roundup of recent picks as written by Ryan Duffy and Lee Taylor.
Ten Dollar Outfit
The Show Low Sessions
Phoenix-based Ten Dollar Outfit features western MA’s own Brian Chartrand on vocals and guitar. Their recent E.P., The Show Low Sessions, has his trio navigating a light and funky pop terrain inhabited by bouncy vocals, bright guitars, some brass and percussion.
To my ears, this doesn’t particularly stick out much from the world of contemporary jazzy/funky/jammy/coffeehouse music that fills many a college dorm room, but the group was voted as the best jam group of 2008 by the Phoenix New Times, so I suppose people are listening. I’ll resort to the cheap naming game and say that Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and John Mayer fans may feel sated by this brief disc.
--by Ryan Duffy
Daniel Hales & The Frost Heaves
Daniel Hales and his backing band offer up this 14 song full-length, which is fresh from the plant. This disc takes on country, folk, and rock—I even hear an Indian raga influence in a song or two. Bolstered by warm production, the album twinkles, shuffles, howls, plods and dances. The ethereal vocals are soothing, relaxing and inviting and the instrumentation always fits each song like a glove. The songs are performed by a collective, though there is always a finely-tuned cohesion present.
The album’s strengths are its subtlety and its concision. Hales knows exactly when to reel it in and when to let it loose. The group is able to channel its disparate influences into a familiar sound that stands on its own two feet.
by Ryan Duffy
Local acoustic picker Justin Pigott’s self-titled CD is in for this week’s local spin. First impression became irrelevant as the strummer’s sweet harmonics and strange melody turned a corner to a mean slide guitar. What is this? His bearded and flannel appearance in picture readied me for the standard singer-songwriter heart-tug-attempt, but Pigott’s skill and understanding of song structure stretches far behind that of the open mic crowd.
“Freezing Rain Falls Over Otis” puts a folk twist on dissonance and metal. “Corn Whiskey When I Am Dry” uses an alternate tuning for a punchy bass line like Piedmont blues without the syncopated lead- Piedmont punk, perhaps? Alt-Piedmont, maybe?
Pigott appears to be the guitar player who is beyond the drowned out sound of a half stack in a VFW hall and ready to really be heard, and that’s all right. This album has a surprising payoff along the lines of Jim O’Rourke’s “Bad Timing.”
By Lee Taylor