Category Archives: Notable Review

Anna Tivel Tells Stories from Life on the Road

Photo credit: Jeffrey Martin

Anna Tivel is for the careful listener who appreciates lyrics and is intrigued by a well-crafted story. Her songs and style match the light of Sunday mornings in winter. The minimal production of her new album, Small Believer, preserves the quiet sensitivity of Tivel’s voice. The music is haunting and provocative, with lyrics describing melancholic stories that reminisce of the truck stops, trailer parks, and ghost towns that we only see when we set out on the open road, which is where Tivel wrote most of the tracks on her new album.

Tivel released the first track, All the Way from Illinois, as a single recently, and the entire album will be available on September 29, on Fluff and Gravy Records.

“Evershine” by Rocket 3 releases today – Inspired Rock!

Since the release of Rocket 3’s last album BURN in 2014, Ramune Nagisetty and her band have not stopped writing new music. The band also has not stopped thinking about how to grow and change. Today, Rocket 3 released their first single since BURN. The song is called “Evershine”, and I think you’re going to love it! “Evershine” is the first single to be released from a full length album that is well underway.  We can expect to enjoy the entire full length album early next year, according to Nagisetty.

ROCKET 3’s modus operandi: “Bash the eardrum, touch the heart, and give the frontal lobes a bit to savor—the way the best rock & roll is and always has been.” “Evershine” is a beauty of a song, with the elated psychedelic instrumentals and convincing lyrics and warm harmonies that we’ve come to expect and love from this band. Have a listen and see if you don’t fall in love with this sound! Some changes in the band are highlighted with the upcoming album’s first release: this is the first recording to feature one of Ken Foust’s (bass player) tunes. The new song also features Gavin Duffy on saxophone.

All proceeds of this track and the entire Rocket 3 discography will be donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research through the end of the year.  Parkinson’s has affected Nagisetty’s family (her dad)  and drummer Drew’s family (Drew’s late father, mother-in-law, and aunt). Music can be found on Bandcamp. Take a moment, listen to “Evershine”, and then reflect for a while. Rocket 3’s songs always challenge me to step outside of my plans and lists…just to relax and get carried away by music. It’s a pretty good feeling!

Super Beautiful Magic Says It All (King Black Acid Album Review)

King Black Acid is for music fans who think that great bands and great recordings are a thing of the past. These types of listeners will be happily proven wrong. King Black Acid’s latest full length album, Super Beautiful Magic, is a medium tempo many layered cinematic journey and a high quality production. The band is often compared to Pink Floyd, though any similarity is purely coincidental. Daniel John Riddle, who goes by the pseudonym King Black Acid, cites some of his influences as Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Fiona Apple, George Harrison, and Neil Young. The influence of Bowie is also evident, especially in the third and fourth tracks, “Sing About Love” and “Big Gummo.”

Daniel says the band “creates a unique listening experience by dreaming deep into each piece of music.” The first song on the album, “Welcome Home down the Rabbit Hole”, starts the psychedelic journey, which is punctuated by excellent drumming, guitar solos, and dreamy ethereal soundscapes that build in intensity and anticipation. In a very smooth maneuver, “The Good Life” continues, without pause, directly into “Spirit” with gorgeous horns and vocals. “Breathe the Light” is another outstanding track among many.

Riddle recorded and produced the entire album in his home studio, Mazinga Studio, where he records and produces albums for his label, Mazinga Records. Over the years, Riddle has recorded and produced five King Black Acid studio albums, two EPs, a multitude of singles and original musical scores for productions such as The Mothman Prophecies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and CSI. The band is being inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame on October 14th.

KBA recently released a music video for the second song on the album, “The Best Lies”. However, to do the album justice, it needs to be heard in its 13 track entirety. Check out Super Beautiful Magic wherever you listen to music- iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube, etc. And catch the band live in Seattle on October 14th or in Salem on Nov 18th.

Link to video

Tumbledown Sounds Fresh, yet Familiar (album review) – A.K.A. The Trimet Connection

Tumbledown’s latest release In Between kicks off with a song called Friend in Texas that immediately conjures up an image that suits this 5 piece band. This is Americana that will have you humming and tapping your foot within minutes, if not seconds. The opening tune includes a harmonica jam that pretty much settles any questions about what this band is about. Even if you don’t have a friend in Texas, you’ll find yourself singing along.

Tumbledown has two lead singers, Tyler South and Scott Robertson, collaboratively songwriting, and swapping lead and harmony singing. Drummer, John Markealli, lays down a solid beat for the rest of the band to build upon, creating catchy dynamics that are fresh, yet immediately familiar. Bass player, Brian Panulla, adds a third harmony and occasional lap steel guitar.

Fun fact: this band has a deep TriMet connection. Brian joined in 2014 after seeing them play at a TriMet function. Keyboard player Dave Whipple, who works at TriMet, joined in 2015 after seeing them play at a TriMet function. Scott also works at TriMet. It seems like TriMet functions are a great place to meet friendly musicians!

It’s clearly evident that the band takes inspiration from Tom Petty, Neil Young, and other icons of the songwriting craft. While the band has over 30 songs, they chose to focus on producing what they felt were their best 7 songs for this debut EP, which explains why it is so strong from start to finish.

Tumbledown also sounds great in person. Catch them live on Saturday, September 9, at Skyline Tavern or on Tuesday, September 19, at McMenamin’s White Eagle.

In Between” was released on Feb 17, 2017.

Leona, unusually beautiful poetry in song

Leona announced her full length solo album, 2:11, on Feb 11, 2017 with this post “please talk to me about these songs, they were all made in the last 2 months and 11 days and in response to the situation of the world”.

The 11 songs on this album are spare of instrumentation, with only a minimal bass or piano as a backdrop for her delicate airy voice. Ghost-like falsetto backing vocals are distorted and distant, evoking nostalgia for an era gone by, like an old transistor radio. The lyrics might be the inner voices echoing in her head, exposed and provocative.

In the first track, Blood, Leona sings “I am a story wrapped up in skin. I’m ready… to begin.” My favorite song might be kingbabybrave (listen below), whose words “I want to be brave like a white boy” trigger questions about social forces and insecurities. The album leads the listener along an engaging path towards the uplifting harmonies in destiny beckons where the lyrics “if you take me I won’t pretend I don’t want to go” are characteristically bare and honest. The closing song, night thoughts, neatly wraps up this masterpiece with the words “you say tomorrow like it’s a guarantee”.

There are some open questions-for example, recording and production credits are missing, and the third track ends with a 90 second silence that isn’t obviously deliberate. Even so, 2:11, unusual in its raw beauty, is what art is to me.