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Verdugo ParkToday we visit some new material by SKOM favorite Brandon Schott. Brandon’s new EP “Verdugo Park” is just three songs. The opener, the titular “Verdugo Park”, is an amalgam of Schott’s influences and is catchy as hell. Seriously, I’ve had it stuck in my head since I first listened to it. I want to go to Verduga Park. I want to get on the merry-go-round and sing this song. You will too. Then we head into the psychedelia wonderland that is the instrumental “Lapiz Lazuli”. This song is 2 minutes of pure 1960’s freakout. Talk about atmosphere, these two minutes have it. The instrumentation on “Lapiz Lazuli” and “Verdugo Park” is lush and complex. I kept hearing something new with each listen. And trust me, you will want to keep listening.

The third song, a cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “Castaway” from the movie ‘In Search Of The Castaways‘, stands in stark contrast to the other two songs. It is a simple and straight forward arrangement. It is just as atmospheric as the other two songs, but on the other side of the scale.

And then you are done. That’s it. And you are sitting there wondering “Where’s the rest?” “Why don’t I have a WHOLE ALBUM full of this?” And then you go to pre-order the EP here and you read

“VERDUGO PARK” is the 2nd single (following last winter’s “HENRY”) from Brandon’s upcoming 5th full length album, “Crayons & Angels”

And you breathe a sigh of relief. And you realize “life can’t be that hard in Verdugo Park.” Some day you will have a WHOLE ALBUM! In the meantime pre-order the EP at the link above and then watch the video for “Verdugo Park” below.

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GR-Album-1400x1400I was overjoyed when Scott Woeckel of Gentleman Road reached out to me and asked if I wanted to hear an advanced copy of their soon to be released EP. I’m not a huge fan of country in general, though that’s been changing recently, but I am a huge fan of Gentleman Road. They are, for me, Alt Country without the Alt. I know, weird way to describe it, but it is what it is. I always get a little early 90’s alt-vibe from these guys and yet, there is not an alternative riff to be heard.

Fireflies & Gasoline is 5 songs of grade A material. From track 1, “Love About Music”, to track 5, “The Trucker”, I was thoroughly entertained and felt as if I was really picking up what these guys were putting down. The musicianship is there and Gentleman Road is a tight outfit. The lyrics were imminently relatable and I could grasp were the band was coming from. Let’s jump in and get a little more in depth. 

Love About Music jumps right in with a quick intro and then is down to business. It has a great beat and a great hook in the chorus. I feel like I’m in a honky tonk listening to a band. I can picture the wooden support posts, the dance floor, and the audience dancing and having a good time. It also features some amazing pedal steel work by Charlie Peterson.

Buick Century keeps the groove moving and I can still see people dancing to it, but it has a more sentimental and nostalgic feel. Gentleman Road really evoke days of a recent past.

Moonshine seems primed for audience sing along with it’s longer flowing chorus. It’s the kind of song that makes me want to sit on my porch with a beer in the sun and just soak it in.

Fireflies & Gasoline slows things down a bit, but fret not. It’s a good time to just groove and enjoy the pedal steel created mood and listen to a beautiful turn of phrase. This song highlights one of the things I also like about Gentleman Road; inventive phrase that immediately evoke an image and a feeling.

The Trucker drives it all home and drives us to the end of the EP. I love the drum beat on this one. It’s more of a classic country boogie vibe than some of the other songs. Also, any song that features the words “18 wheeler” is golden. That’s a scientific fact.

This is a great EP with just the best songs on it. There is no filler. I was left wanting though as I would love to have a full album by these guys. I can only hope that they have enough success to fund a larger project. To that end I highly recommend throwing your money at them, or at least purchase this EP when it’s available. BTW it will be available on VINYL. That’s right. Great songs AND vinyl. You can’t lose.

Give Moonshine a listen here: https://gentlemanroad.bandcamp.com/track/moonshine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gentleman Road is: Scott Woeckel, Charlie Peterson, Moose McMains, Michael Kaufman

Linkage:

https://www.facebook.com/Gentlemanroad

http://www.gentleman-road.com/

https://twitter.com/GentlemanRoad

Gentleman Road was formerly Everyday Ghost. I interviewed Scott from them here.

 

 

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beta_lion_written_in_sandBeta Lion’s Written In Sand invites the listener to be a part of an audience. The first sounds are those of a small crowd in a venue. Big organ sounds and anthemic, militaristic drums follow. The first track, $15 Ladies, seems to depart from the organ intro and yet some of the same drum and organ elements do appear in the song. From the very beginning Written In Sand feels like a larger effort than it’s five tracks would seem to imply. Beta Lion are creating an experience that feels like a mini concept album. Each song is linked to the other and carries the listener throughout.

Written In Sand is reminiscent of many of the great alternative albums of the 80’s. When alternative music was still just labelled “college radio.” The album, however, does not sound like a band wearing its influences on its sleeve. This is not an homage to great music of the past. Beta Lion are extremely authentic in their song writing. The EP is sort of like all the best scenes from the best 80’s teen movies. Everything that needed to be resolved has been resolved, the camera holds on one of the main characters as he/she looks on with an expression of compassion, acceptance, and wisdom. The journey has been worth it. Friendships have been lost, new friendships have been made, and the characters are stronger, wiser, and better for all the hardships and good times experienced in their coming of age story. And so are we, the listeners, better off for having listened to Written In Sand.

Even though this EP is a collection of songs written over a period of years it feels like a complete album. I don’t really want to give you a track by track rundown because this does feel like something that should be experienced as a whole. But, I will give you this quote from Mark Fulinara of Beta Lion that adds incredible perspective to the project:

 The fifth and title track of the EP, “Written In Sand,” is a newer song about how we never released an entire catalogue of old songs; and it’s lyrics are made of up lyrics from some of our more ‘popular’ old songs.  It’s like an easter egg hunt for the people who have followed us for so long.  I consider this EP to be the prequel to our 2012 demo “I Believe In Beta Lion.”  With this EP completed, we’re ready to keep the momentum going with a full length album of our latest and greatest material.

Keep your eye on these guys and if you are lucky enough to see them live do it!

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