The Barenaked Ladies were always a band I was a little weary of because my sister always liked them and she really wasn’t a go to person for music with her library of Christian and country music. But those crazy Canadians won me over with their heavy dose of geek rock. The Ladies seemed to lose some steam in recent years but are now back releasing their music independently with the release of Barenaked Ladies Are Me.
The sound on the album is much more mature than previous outings as they have morphed into a folksy band with no pseudo-rapping in site. Even the more humorous song, Bank Job, is a laid back ditty. But that doesn’t mean the ladies haven’t given up rocking as heard on the closing track Wind it Up which also features the band’s best lyric since name dropping the Smoking Man with, “I was a baby when I learned to suck, but you have raised it to an art form.” Ouch. Unfortunately that intensity is lost on the rest of the album asides from the enjoyable tale from Bank Job.
Barenaked Ladies Are Me gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.
It may not be the best idea to get music suggestions from Kelly Clarkson, but after hearing her perform Shelter, I just had to find out more Ray LaMontagne, the guy who wrote the song. Then throw in his contribution to Zach Braff’s latest mixtape aka the soundtrack to The Last Kiss, just made me even more intrigued. So there were high hopes going into his sophomore album Till the Sun Turns Black. The album doesn’t have anything to instantly attach to like Shelter or Hold You in Your Arms, but the earthy songs on the set are each enduring in their own ways. For most of the album, it sounds as if Cat Stevens had grown up in the American wilderness giving him more of a raspy voice and Ray knows just when the right time to add some strings or horns for the best effect.
The album starts off with the sparse and airy Be Here Now where Ray barely lifts his voice above a whisper the whole song. Empty picks things up, but just a little as the acoustic guitar drives the song more. The funk starts with Three More Days as you can feel through the speakers just how much Ray wants to get back to his lady. You Can Bring Me Flowers continues along that line but with the bass guitar as the star of the song making more dirty than all the other songs here. Gone Away From Me feels like an old folk song that could have fit in with anything Pete Seeger did. The combination of the title track bleeding into Without Out is a great epilogue to the album with the latter having the simple lyrics of, “War is not the answer, the answer is within you.”
Till the Sun Turns Black gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.
Warren Haynes may be best know as a replacement guitarist for southern rock legends The Allman Brothers Band, but when he’s not cashing in on the old timer circuit or jumping onstage with the Dave Matthews Band, he has a little side project that is pumping out music as good and sometimes better than his day job did in their heyday. His other band Gov’t Mule has pumping out straight ahead rock for over a decade and continued to do so even after the death of original bassist Allen Woody. Their new album High & Mighty is more of the same, but the guitar solos, riffs, and extended songs seem crisper then ever and can only be enhanced under the stars and the band stretches the songs even longer. The album is highlighted by the first track, Mr. High & Mighty which is the best straight ahead rock song in a long time.
High & Mighty gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.