Noah Roth – Abandoned Properties

Noah Roth – Abandoned Properties
SONG OF THE DAY

Noah Roth’s “Abandoned Properties” speaks to anyone who is lucky enough to have experienced the fraying and inevitable rending of a relationship. Lucky, because you can cross that one off your bucket list and move on with your life. It’s okay to look back and attempt to make sense of things. “Abandoned Properties” takes that last glance back over the shoulder – don’t turn around, just keep walking – and frames the epilogue in a letter that will never be sent.

“Abandoned Properties” has a simple but compelling arrangement, beginning with folky rocky chords and building tension by layering on more instruments, all played by Noah, and a nice display of altered dynamics. The real hero is the lyric sheet, bearing words that address the Human Condition with a maturity that gives one pause, considering that Noah Roth is somewhere south of two decades on the planet.

And I’m counting seconds on the clock
Drilling holes in your head each time we talk
And I’m still waiting
To get through
And when he wakes up
Will he remember you?
And all the abandoned properties
That the two of you broke into?

“Abandoned Properties” is from Noah Roth’s new 11-song album, Whatever You Do, Don’t, released on Sematary Records. We previously featured “800 Miles” and “Only a Phone Call Away” from Noah’s 2016 album, Eyes Wide Open, Staring at the Sun. “Abandoned Properties” is melodically similar to “800 Miles,” but represents a stylistic and musical step forward. It’s now safe to say that Noah Roth is the Real Deal. He’s edging into Kevin Devine territory here, with many miles of open road ahead.

You can support deserving musicians like Noah Roth by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to the songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. In addition to “Abandoned Properties,” I recommend “A Good Start” and “If I Talk Too Loud.” And be sure to follow Noah Roth on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

And don’t forget to check out more releases from Sematary Records on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

FreeThinker – Chris(mas) Song

FreeThinker – Chris(mas) Song
SONG OF THE DAY

FreeThinker’s “Chris(mas) Song” is the soundtrack to everyone’s favorite movie, that rom-com set in the Midwest with that really good actress, you know, the one in that jewel thief movie. A quick flashback to a meet-cute at a small college before the opening credits roll and “Chris(mas) Song” plays while we track a car driving from the past into the present day. Or something like that.

This should be a one-sentence review. I should just write Molly Giessing is a seriously good singer and you should listen to “Chris(mas) Song” because she sounds fantastic. But of course I can’t stop there because I need to fill up the page. “Chris(mas) Song” is a gently swinging, almost retro track that rocks in a sneaky way and features a sweet cloud of background voices. There’s a uniquely powerful quality in Molly Giessing’s voice. She could sing the Pro Tools instruction manual and make it compelling. Full disclosure: I’ve never read the Pro Tools instruction manual because I’m pretty sure it would not be compelling.

One of our time-honored page-fillers is the Obscure Reference, in which I pull a worn chestnut from the memory bank in order to display my Encyclopedic Knowledge of Popular Music. This one was easy: the opening chords of “Chris(mas) Song” summon the ghost of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” But if we need to crank the Obscurity Pot up to 11, we can say that there’s a strong undercurrent of Ex Cop’s “Spring Break (Birthday Song).” Maybe it’s all in the parentheses.

FreeThinker, based in St. Louis, is Molly Giessing (vocals, guitar), Cody Diehl (drums), Elijah Burns-Wilton (bass), and Chris Murphy (guitar). “Chris(mas) Song” is the closing track on their new album, Nothing Better To Do. Most of the album rocks a bit harder than “Chris(mas) Song,” giving the last song the feel of a coda, or perhaps the music to play over the closing credits of our favorite movie, rather than the opening.

You can support deserving independent musicians like FreeThinker by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. Be sure to visit FreeThinker’s web site, and follow the band on SoundcloudFacebookYouTubeInstagram, and Twitter.

Bonus Track: Every Song of the Day is my favorite song for, well, for at least one day. But FreeThinker’s “Pineapple Sticknpoke” has been at the top of my playlist since I featured it back in March. This is a good one. Enjoy!

Minor Nelson – Stay Awake

Minor Nelson – Stay Awake
SONG OF THE DAY

When I initiated this blog many eons ago, my intention was to dispense with the James Joyce-ian prosal flourishes and the Obscure References and just say, “Here’s a good song. Listen to it.” Of course that did not transpire since the entire purpose of writing a music blog is to A) Display your Encyclopedic Knowledge of Popular Music and B) Let the world know how well you can write. Those who can’t play a guitar or sing write about those who can. It somehow justifies all those hours spent air-guitaring in my bedroom. Now if I had only replaced that badminton racquet with an actual guitar, I might not be sitting here trying to figure out the embed code for a Facebook video. Which brings us to “Stay Awake” by Minor Nelson…

If any track deserves to be described by Hemingway rather than Joyce it’s this one. It’s two-minutes-eight-seconds of pure energy. Four smacks on the cymbal and the wall of sound smacks you in the face. What sets “Stay Awake” apart from every other song in the Punk genre is the undercurrent of Pop, just enough melody in the vocal and guitar lines to make the whole mess stick in your head. And at the end of the day (God I hate it when people say “At the end of the day”) the Ramones were a pop band with short life expectancies who had to hurry up and get all the notes in before they croaked.

Minor Nelson self-identifies as “Punk Rock from New Jersey” which is a better description than I could ever provide. “Stay Awake” is from their new four-song EP, 2018. The band members are Shawn (vocals, guitar), Tom (vocals, lead guitar), Connor (vocals, bass), and Lucas (drums). Maybe they all have the last name of Nelson. No word on whether their mother lives in a bottle and is named Jeannie.

Minor Nelson’s Facebook page features a video of a live performance of “Stay Awake.” Looks like we have a Fender bass, an SG, and a Les Paul with P-90 pickups maybe? That pretty much tells you everything you need to know. You can leave the sound on mute and still know what this band sounds like. I love that the drummer is positioned behind the amps (Marshall’s, of course).

And because I never could figure out that Facebook embed code, you’re probably seeing a big gap of empty space below the video. Eat me, Mark Zuckerberg.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Minor Nelson by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Minor Nelson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Earthset – Flush (Studio Session)

Earthset – Flush (Studio Session)
SONG OF THE DAY

Earthset, an alt-rock band based in Bologna, Italy, spins jangly veils of sound and light over a solid rhythm and shot through with vocals voicing pain and paranoia. On “Flush (Studio Session)” all elements mesh to spin an engaging web connecting the corners of pop and art.

Recorded live, “Flush (Studio Session)” is more mini-suite than standard song, flowing through multiple movements with a dramatic arc that eventually resolves into an extended coda. The strength of the track is the vocal of Ezio Romano, whose voice could carry a track in any genre. Lyrically, “Flush” is a bit of a cipher to me as I am more Pnin and less Invitation to a Beheading. So I will allow the band to provide the Sparknotes: “The lyrics tell of a circumstance where the protagonist discovers and accepts, by breaking his/her routine, a hidden, and to a certain extent disowned, part of herself.” 

Delve into the core of my musical brain and you will unearth a basic pop fan: just give me a guitar riff, a chorus, and a pile of harmonies and I’m happy. Too many steps beyond those parameters and I’m out of my comfort zone and over my head. But “Flush” challenges while remaining accessible. The inevitable comparison to The Cure falls short, as Earthset creates a more interesting soundscape of dynamic spans and tempo shifts.

Earthset is Luigi Varanese (bass), Costantino Mazzoccoli (guitars), Emanuele Orsini (drums), and Ezio Romano (voice and guitars). “Flush” originally appeared on their 2017 album, POPISM. Today’s version was recorded live at Fonoprint Studios and filmed by Frameless (aka Luca Rubertà). I prefer the live version to the original. The live variant is airier; the guitars ring and the drumming feels natural. If “Flush (Studio Session)” is an indicator, then Earthset may be an amazing band to catch live.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Earthset by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Earthset on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Uncle Uncle – Island 73

Uncle Uncle – Island 73
SONG OF THE DAY

Uncle Uncle’s “Island 73” is a beautifully simple song, the kind you hear and think you can write yourself. But you can’t and that’s okay because you can listen to this one, with its soft layers of easy guitars swirling gently beneath a timeless voice. Listen to “Island 73” in the evening as the sprinkler casts artificial rain over the pepper plants and the cicadas shake their maracas in the shadowy branches of the crepe myrtles.

“Island 73” casts a soft veil of intertwined guitars, including a rhythmic line of muted strings and a slide with an airiness that enhances rather than bites. The track may be an outstanding refutation of the theory that neck pickups are for wimps. The North Star of “Island 73” is the vocal, a voice with an instinctive feel for dynamics and just enough grit to cut through the summer haze.

As a Certified Music Journalist, I’m required to insert at least one Obscure Reference into each post. If I don’t, the union will page that hipster who weaves around you on his longboard every time you walk your dog and send him to my house to rip the coveted Music Press card from the hatband of my Fedora. So the Obscure Reference for today: the vocals on “Island 73” recall those on New Madrid’s “Country Moon Part I.” The tempos are completely different, but the feel and semi-shouted lines are similar. Full disclosure: this is probably the third time that I’ve used “Country Moon Part I” as the Obscure Reference. I just like the song and I want everyone to know that I was listening to New Madrid before they were semi-famous. Maybe Uncle Uncle will be semi-famous one day and I can use them as the Obscure Reference when I review New Madrid.

Uncle Uncle is Kevin Cappon (guitar, vocals, songwriting), Christian Edstrom (guitar, slide guitar), and Dominick Burnham (drums, bass, synthesizer, backing vocals). “Island 73” is from their new three-song EP, Say It, which was produced and mastered by Dominick. The band self-identifies as “a folk rock band putting sounds and words to observations on everyday existence.” Say It is their first release. Judging from their social media feeds, it looks like the band has played some live shows in the Santa Barbara area with a guitar/guitar/drums lineup. Shades of Hound Dog Taylor. I’ll bet these guys sound great out in the open with a cool beer in your hand.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Uncle Uncle by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. There’s only three of them, so you might as well buy the whole lot (they’re all good). And be sure to follow Uncle Uncle on Facebook and Instagram.

The Green Mushroom Band – Don’t Disappear

The Green Mushroom Band – Don’t Disappear
SONG OF THE DAY

“Don’t Disappear,” by The Green Mushroom Band of Rueglio, Italy, features an element rarely seen or heard in today’s polyphonic world: horns. Not the synthesized mutation, but the actual blow-into-this-end-and-sound-comes-out-the-other-end variety. Our last Song of the Day that was enhanced by a horn section was probably “Je t’aime aujourd’hui,” from Belgium’s Mademoiselle Nineteen, so maybe it’s a European Thing. If so, then sono una ciambella gelatina.

“Don’t Disappear” is extraordinarily easy on the ears, the perfect song to soothe one’s soul even if one’s soul doesn’t require soothing. The aforementioned horns play over folky jazzy guitars, and beautifully expressive vocals by Riccardo Stura and Chiara Cortese attempt to reconnect a relationship that has veered inexplicably off the rails.

As a Certified Music Journalist, I am inherently compelled to provide at least one Obscure Reference in each review. The comparison to early Chicago, before Peter Cetera got a makeover, is too obvious. I’ll reach deeper into the fictitious plastic crate that holds my record collection and pull out “So Very Hard to Go” by Tower of Power. Full disclosure: “So Very Hard to Go” sounds only peripherally similar to “Don’t Disappear,” but I like the song and I want everyone to know that I remember it.

The Green Mushroom Band is Riccardo Stura (acoustic guitar and vocals), Silvano Ganio Mego (bass), Emmanuele Pella (drums and percussion), Igor Vigna (trumpet and flugelhorn), Sebastian Loyola Castillo (sax), and Chiara Cortese (vocals). “Don’t Disappear” is from their recently-released 10-song album, Low. I don’t know much about this group, except that Riccardo Stura had an issue with a road closure. But they are a cut above most of the bands that appear in these virtual pages. As my awesome wife put it, “They sound like a real put-together band.”

You can support deserving independent musicians like The Green Mushroom Band by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. In addition to “Don’t Disappear,” I recommend “Before I Sell My Soul to You” and “Next to a Simple Rhyme,” though I’m sure no one will complain if you buy the entire album. And be sure to follow The Green Mushroom Band on Facebook.