Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 23

This week for Album Review Saturdays 2023 we had all kinds of cool choices, so we tried to mix it up, but go a bit out of the mainstream flow of things with artists/bands that have all kinds of mainstream appeal, when you really get down to listening to them.  In one instance, we’re talking about an absolute stunner in production and vocal from an artist that’s really been doing fantastic organically fused, genre-pushing, folk-americana for decades now!  We’ve been feeling this southern-rock band thing for a few weeks now, so we decided to stay in that realm to check out a relatively unknown to us her at Beyond Your Radio southern-rock and blues band that had a catchy-name and found out how easily mainstream this band could be.  Finally, we revisit an oddly named band out of Canada (no surprise right, considering our attachment to that scene) and their latest release that had us realizing and reminiscing on their sound and delivery.  Let’s dive into this week’s Album Review Saturdays’ picks!

 

You Tube Channel Link to Video of this Album Review Saturdays with two additional reviews!

 

Robert Jon & the Wreck – Ride Into the Light

Now, this is what we’re talkin’ about when we say Southern that rocks!  When Robert Jon Burrison has put together a tremendous album here that has one of the tightest quintets (including him) in the genre.  You know the minute this record starts that, not only does his easily accessible vocals make you feel at home, but the accompaniment of guitars, jumpin’ keyboard/piano, slick and slide guitar works, and drivin’ n’ thumpin’ drums, you’re being sucked into a farther electrifying southern-blues-rock experience than you’re expecting!  The production is spot on in every tempo they choose, and your foot tapping and butt wigglin’ will be prime evidence of that.  The record starts off with that blues and riff with southern tint in ‘Pain No More’, and you should be immediately wowed as to, “Why don’t I know about these guys?!” The songwriting and vocal delivery is the most evident in ‘Come At Me’ with a playful yet tough lyrics against the pure southern guitar slides and solos and the band’s harmonic delivery of the refrain!  And it doesn’t stop there, going right into ‘One of A Kind’ keeping pace with soaring guitar and vocal and such memorable choruses.

Is this something new?  No. However, the familiarity, the flavor and the dynamic production truly gives your ears all kinds of delights!  You want slide guitar with the space and lyric drops like John Lee Hooker meets Joe Bonamassa?  It’s there!  You want some soft harmonies and chorus after some heavy riff or blues-rock ballad?  There’s even a little country ballad, ‘West Coast Eyes’ for you looking for a softer side from these Californians!  Oh, “Ride Into the Light” has that and a whole lot more!  Remember how cool Bad Company, The Call and Big Country used to be (oops maybe some of you aren’t in our age bracket)?!  How about some Jason Isbell with Robert Randolph and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats thrown down on some Southern California garbage plate (you still don’t have an idea of what I’m talking about, but it’s fun for me)!?  Oh, just go pick this up! Whatever you do — #GetWrecked as they!  Thirty-one pleasurable minutes – I assure!

The Band

  • Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals, guitar)
  • Andrew Espantman (drums, background vocals)
  • Henry James Schneekluth (lead guitar, background vocals)
  • Warren Murrel (bass)
  • Jake Abernathie (keyboards)

Ride Into the Light Tracklisting

  1. Pain No More
  2. Why Can’t You Love
  3. Come At Me
  4. One of A Kind
  5. Bring Me Back Home Again
  6. West Coast Eyes
  7. Don’t Look Down
  8. Ride Into the Light

 

Odds – Crash the Time Machine

When the title track kicks us off to Odds seventh studio album, “Crash the Time Machine,” the band from Vancouver, that started back in the hay-day of the Canadian Invasion (known to us in Upstate New York), we immediately identify the power-pop and alternative delivery that we’ve known for three decades.  They still have that alternative pop-mix, that lyrical quirk, and flare to bounce in and out of each song as if they’re holding your ear’s hand on the journey.  This album, if I am remembering all of them as well as I believe, has the most production and layering that I recall, which is what makes this a very fun entanglement between the always engaging song-writing and the music surrounding it all.  From cool bass lines, simple chords, to odd noises and electronic keyboard synth tricks (hint of psyche in ‘The Traveling Light’) the band holds absolutely nothing back.

After listening to this several times, I started to pick up on a feeling that I’d felt this kind of delivery, before an obvious vocal tone that could be compared to Elvis Costello-like.  What was that? I really felt like the flow and lyrics had a very Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers set up.  No, it doesn’t “sound” like them, but in some spaces and harmonies, like that of the cleverly told and bridged, ‘Fall Guy’ it hit me a bit harder, and at that moment I started really sinking my ears into this record.  It has such dynamic sound layering, touches of genius genre additions, all of this while maintaining their signature without falling too far outside themselves.  A truly cool, professional, old Canadian favorite really came through!  If this is how time has affected them — I’m up for the next crash, and you should be, too!  And yes, they certainly deserve to be on “That’s Your Band Name” one of these episodes.

The Band

  • Craig Northey (vocals, guitars)
  • Doug Elliott (bassist, background vocals)
  • Pat Steward (drums, background vocals)
  • Murray Atkinson (guitars, background vocals)

Crash the Time Machine Tracklisting

  1. Crash the Time Machine
  2. Unlikely Saviour
  3. Fall Guy
  4. The Traveling Light
  5. My Mind’s On Other Things
  6. Fairytale of Heaven
  7. Walk Among the Stars
  8. Staring At a Blank Page
  9. Dark Rainbow
  10. Revolution Singing
  11. 25 Words
  12. Winning Is Everything
  13. Somehow In a Dream

 

Rhiannon Giddens – You’re the One

The gifted and talented, mesmerizing musicianship of Rhiannon Giddens is known in passionate, award winning circles.  She has some of the most honest, deserved, accolades and respect in the music industry, and with it all kinds of music freedom in her gorgeous folk-fusion, ever-expanding fiddle-house (see, I didn’t do wheelhouse there).  Her new album release was immediately on our list, as she is always an uplifting, soaring, and fearless vocalist and musical inspiration.  What was even cooler, was our panelist, the Grateful Dude, out of the blue said, “Can I do Album Review Saturdays video this weekend?  There’s an album I want to talk about.”  It was so refreshing that he was going into the new releases, exploring, and what a fantastic record for him to find!  This is why we do the shows, and why we have the articles!

“You’re the One” is an all out grand slam in the catalog!  There, I said it!  This is like her moving from the music hall to the symphony to the stadium.  The sound here goes beyond the usual acoustic flares and old school microphones into electric and big, big sounds and gorgeous layerings of instruments.  Her splendid, calculated genre bending is on full tilt from big band to jazz to Cajun Americana to soul stealing blues, and even a lick that has us thinking, “Is she doing the theme to the next bond film?”  She should be, as ‘Another Wasted Life’ has us shivering in anticipation of a darker Giddens.  Oh, how wicked and ravenous she would, could be!  I’m certain of it!  Oh, but don’t think she’s traveling too far off the reservation, as she takes on that pump-organ and fiddle on ‘Louisiana Man’ but just amps up the volume with the horn sections that are on this album!  It’s just such a amazing sound ride!

We’re gushing. Yes!  This is easily on the best albums of 2023, and right now, as I listen to this album for the fifth time, it’s now at number one, and will be extremely hard to replace!  Production is flawless.  The vocal performance amongst all recordings so far this year is by far and away the best.  This is a nearly perfect album from start to finish (yes, there’s one track that’s well performed but a hint too savory for me), but I can’t hold that against her greatness and all that this album is.  We invite Ms. Giddens to cook in our musical kitchen anytime!  This one is just real-special (add Cajun accent here)!  A “Meal to Music” maybe?!  There’s no doubt in our mind.  Now, if we could just get her and the band to come and play at the house that night…

The Band

  • Rhiannon Giddens (vocals, banjo, fiddle, viola)
  • Francesco Turrisi (multi-instrumentalists)
  • Dirk Powell (multi-instrumentalist)
  • Jason Sypher (bass)
  • Niwel Tsumbu (Congolese guitarist)
  • Miami Horn Section (unknown at time of press)
  • Western String Section (unknown at time of press)
  • Special Guest – Jason Isbell

You’re the One Tracklisting

  1. Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad
  2. You’re the One
  3. Yet to Be (feat. Jason Isbell)
  4. Wrong Kind of Right
  5. Another Wasted Life
  6. You Louisiana Man
  7. If You Don’t Know How Sweet It Is
  8. Hen in the Foxhouse
  9. Who Are You Dreaming Of
  10. You Put the Sugar in My Bowl
  11. Way Over Yonder
  12. Good Ol’ Cider
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