Authors Posts by Austin Sorette

Austin Sorette

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The Feel Goods
Left to right, Nick Murray, Nick Minicucci, Billy Kottage, and Andrew Riordan of The Feel Goods. Brett Witten Photography

During Billy Kottage’s travels as the trombone player for Southern California-based ska band Reel Big Fish, he often performed with another legendary ska-punk band: Less Than Jake. Kottage built a friendship with Less Than Jake’s bassist, Roger Lima, and when Lima heard that Kottage’s Dover-based side project, The Feel Goods, was recording an album, he jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

“(Lima) pestered me for months to put it out, but I never did because of the lack of resources, really,” Kottage said. “Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to put it out himself on his own label.”

That label, Moathouse Records, released The Feel Goods’ debut album, “Running Out of Time,” on April 7.

Feel Goods Running Out of Time album art

The songs on the album came from several years of occasional band practices and rough ideas that were eventually developed into concrete tunes. The band members’ busy schedules made it a slow process. In addition to Kottage being on the road fulltime with Reel Big Fish, bassist Nick Minicucci and saxophonist Andrew Riordan are consistently on tour with Roots of Creation, singer and guitarist Nick Murray plays trumpet for hometown heroes Harsh Armadillo, and there is a “rumor” that drummer Alex Brander is going to start playing shows with Boston-based ska-punk band Big D and the Kids Table, Kottage said.

“This is definitely a side project. All of us are wicked involved with a lot of other things that occupy most of our time,” said Kottage. “The funniest part about this band being a side project is that we started and have had this band longer than anyone has been in anything else.”

Originally known as the All Good :: Feel Good Collective, the band spent several years experimenting with slower, more carefully-paced reggae and rocksteady music, which they recorded on the album “Don’t Shoot the Messenger.” But, after a few personnel changes, the band realized that faster, dance-friendly ska music felt more true to their identity.

“We started to feel a disconnect with some of the songs on ‘Don’t Shoot the Messenger’ and wanted to change our message as a band,” said Minicucci. “We started to see a clearer and more rewarding progression forward within the ska scene. Not only did we change personnel, we changed songwriters, which brought forth a lot of new musical influences.”

The Feel Goods
Left to right, Andrew Riordan, Nick Murray, Alex Brander, Billy Kottage, and Nick Minicucci of The Feel Goods. courtesy photo

For The Feel Goods’ debut, the band members spent time reworking early songs, such as “Rules of Revolution,” and building upon fractured ideas they had been playing for years during their live shows, tweaking tempos and working in melodies for different instruments. The result is a collection of 11 airtight ska arrangements with the precise songwriting of trained musicians. The album leads off with the eponymous track, a move that Minicucci said best represents the band’s rebirth.

“‘Running Out of Time’ was the first song I brought to the table for The Feel Goods,” said Minicucci. “I think, in a lot of ways, it marks our shift in style and message. Ever since then, I feel like it has held a special place within our repertoire. I also really believe it is one of (the strongest), if not our strongest arrangement. It was a natural choice to name the album after that track.”

The Feel Goods have clear influences from ska legends like The Specials and Hepcat, but their ear for melody and talent for harmony draws from many different artists. “Can’t Break The Ice” has the party-friendly, skank-worthy energy of a Toasters deep cut. “Jillian” employs the sweet vocal interplay of Sam Cooke classics. The deep grooves and soulful singing of The Slackers comes out in songs like “Cold Runs Deep.”

Lyrically, the album is across the board. Though ska tends to boast an upbeat, bright sound, the words and stories that frame those anthemic choruses are often close to the darker edge. Songs like “Shoes” and “French Girl” touch on relationship insecurities, while the title track, according to Minicucci, is about “breaking out into a world full of people who seemingly want to bring you down.”

“As long as you truly feel that it’s a story worth telling, you should tell it how you want.” — Nick Minicucci

“I strongly believe in authenticity when writing songs,” he said. “If you are able to deeply explore actual feelings, opinions, and events happening around you, then combine that with a style that feels right or good — no pun intended — you can create amazing music.”

“As long as you truly feel that it’s a story worth telling,” he continued, “you should tell it how you want.”

The band recorded most of the album at 1130 ft studio in Rollinsford. Kottage and Riordan produced the album, while the latter served as the engineer, which gave them more time to craft the sound they wanted. Kottage and keyboardist Tal Pearson tracked the organ and clavinet at the 9b Studio in Milford, Mass., with the help of “the beautiful human that is Toft Willingham of Spiritual Rez,” said guitarist and singer Murray.

After the album was finished, Lima mixed and mastered the record with some outside help, fronting the cost of the remastering.

“This speaks volumes of the kind of guy he is,” said Kottage. “No ego, always seeking the best result.”

Though still a side project, The Feel Goods are making waves on the Seacoast. They’ll host an album release party on Friday, May 5, at Fury’s Publick House in their hometown of Dover.

The Feel Goods have also already written another album. According to Kottage, Lima was very happy with “Running Out of Time” and feels connected to it, and he is planning to record the next album at his studio in Gainesville, Fla.

The Feel Goods will play a CD release show for “Running Out of Time” at Fury’s Publick House in Dover on Friday, May 5.

Now Hear This April

“Somniloquy EP” by Samuel E. Carpenter
self-released

Somniloquy EP by Samuel Carpenter

Dover singer-songwriter Samuel E. Carpenter has released his debut EP “Somniloquy,” a six-song selection of quintessential coffeehouse jams. The album clocks in at barely 15 minutes, almost enough time for a nap. And the tenderness of Carpenter’s songs, from the folk-country twang of “Black Eyed Suzy” to the cautiously optimistic acoustic pop of “Broken Parts,” offers total relaxation. You’d think he’d been singing these lyrics in his sleep.

Shortly after dropping out of the University of New Hampshire’s Fine Arts program, Carpenter retreated to his grandfather’s attic, where he wrote, recorded, and produced “Somniloquy EP” over six months. Through the gentle melodies, there is a context of uncertainty. But the tempo of the songs, along with Carpenter’s confident vocal clarity, give the album a mood that isn’t exactly moody.

Start to finish, each song has a foundation built on Carpenter’s soft finger-style guitar playing and his soothing folk-pop singing. Lo-fi elements like the subtle hissing of the tape are sometimes present. Seeping through the songs like a fog are ambient sounds like backmasking and chant-like backing vocals, giving the songs an ethereal atmosphere.

As the album art suggests, the doors to a calmer mood are before you. If you’re curious enough to enter, you’re sure to stay a while. Give it a listen here.

“Birdhouse” by Waco Sparkler
Are You Kidding Me? Tapes

Birdhouse by Waco Sparkler

Waco Sparkler’s debut album “Birdhouse” feels like the audio equivalent of Rubin’s vase. Hearing the ambient soundscapes and pop juxtaposed in these songs is just as psychologically potent as the ambiguity of seeing two faces or one vase in the same image.

On the opening track, “Be Mad,” for instance, the slow waltz of the drums and guitar lay the foundation, while the stuttering, shimmering keyboard notes create an abstract layer, pulling the mind away from the comfort of the pop undertones and into a free-form soundscape.

The band’s sole member, Jack Reynolds, also constructs his vocals in a bi-stable way to balance the pop with the ambient. Some songs feature catchy, memorable melodies (“Grenadine,” “Surprise”). Others utilize a more stoic, eerily calm preaching, like that of a cult leader (“Birdhouse,” “Rebranded”). Reynolds’ crooning vocals, just a notch above baritone, echo the voice of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis but with a more optimistic outlook.

The band’s true colors come out in the heart of the album. “Epicurious,” the band’s only spoken-word piece, is an attention-grabber at the first strike of the bell. A voice recites words about empowerment, transcendentalism, and metaphysics while string arrangements and a triumphant chord progression shoot across the song like meteorites, bringing you to another world of consciousness.

In other words, “Birdhouse” is a trip. Whether or not your ear catches the ambient soundscapes or the pop structures first, repeated listens entice the mind to bounce back and forth between the two. Hear a sample of the tracks here.

“Slow Coyote” by Slow Coyote
self-released

Slow Coyote

The marriage of hard rock and folk is not new, but Slow Coyote’s musical versatility casts a net to capture listeners of all interests. Juggling sludgy, fuzzy garage rock and psychedelic freak folk, Slow Coyote employs the techniques of the early ’90s Sub Pop groups that molded a mask of loud, sloppy grunge over the tender face of folk.

“Slow Coyote” is the Portsmouth-based trio’s pseudo-sophomore album. Their debut album, “End of the Highway,” which we reviewed around this time last year, features a handful of the same songs found on this self-titled record. Songs like “Freak Show Peep Stare,” “American Cream,” and “On The Road Again” have been reworked with slicker production, while “We Could Talk a Lot” and “You Never Call Me” add new tunes to the Slow Coyote catalog.

The songwriting on the new album parallels the bedroom-tape folk stylings of “End of the Highway.” Guitarist and singer Lucas Heyoka delivers on the sneers, snarls, and droning vocals as he waxes poetic about life, relationships, and society.

But with bassist Justin Uhlig — who also produced and engineered the album — and drummer Jim Hurley contributing a supportive rhythm section, “Slow Coyote” generates more power than the previous album. Uhlig and Hurley push the band to the next level, allowing more room for the type of experimentation and psychedelia the band was born and bred to nurture. Check it out here.

Flying Vipers
Left to right, Marc Beaudette, Zack Brines, and John Beaudette of Flying Vipers. courtesy photo

According to their most literal definitions, “lo-fi” and “dub” seem completely antithetical. The first evokes the sense of a no-name singer-songwriter recording demos in his basement, a la Elliott Smith, waiting for that special person to hear the genius buried beneath the hiss of the rolling tape. The other elicits a genre of music created solely on sound effects generated by foot pedals.

What’s incredible about the Flying Vipers is that the band seeks to completely destroy those stereotypes, to deconstruct the inner workings of lo-fi and dub and build them together into music that is as simple as it is intricate.

The band’s latest release, “The Copper Tape,” is the second volume of this unique project. The trio is comprised of twin brothers John and Marc Beaudette, of Boston-based projects Destroy Babylon and The Macrotones (among others), and Zack Brines of Pressure Cooker and The Kings of Nuthin’. In addition to the core guitar-bass-drums lineup, the boys pepper in other instruments such as melodica, organ, and clavinet.

The Flying Vipers’ not-so-secret weapon is the live mixing run by Jay Champany. Using an eight-track recorder, Champany manually mixes the songs as the band records them on a Tascam 488 MK II. The band records and mixes the songs direct to cassette, creating a completely clean, coherent sound with the authenticity of a true-to-life throwback item. Ironically enough, amidst a renewed interest in cassette tapes, the sound quality of “The Copper Tape” surpasses most others, despite recording the album in the most lo-fi way possible.

The Vipers’ music harkens back to the kings of 1970s dub, such as King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Deep grooves carry the songs, fused with pulsing bass lines and, of course, the best psychedelia in town. Songs like “Mighty Mezz” and “Return of the Living Zero” feature bubbling guitar riffs and organ chords that appear out of nowhere, shimmer beautifully in the lingering air, and then disappear as the bass and drums keep walking along the tape reel. The tape even features a dubbed-out version of the D&D classic “Warriors of the Eternal Sun” for all of us gaming nerds out there.

Whether you need a bit of summery music to escape your winter blues, or you’ve got some “strong coffee and even stronger herb” waiting for you this weekend, “The Copper Tape” showcases badass reggae tunes in the coolest vehicle available.

In advance of their show at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club on Friday, The Sound caught up with the brothers Beaudette, New Hampshire natives who can often be found in Rye. They talked about their new tape, their psychedelic approach to songwriting, and what 2017 has in store for the Flying Vipers.

Flying Vipers Cassette

Tell me a little bit about how “The Copper Tape” came to be. Last time we spoke, Flying Vipers seemed like more of a conceptual side project, but now you guys are opening for Big D & The Kids Table.

John Beaudette: The Vipers are still a side thing, but we’re trying to make the live version happen. The biggest hurdle is always finding the time.

Marc Beaudette: Destroy Babylon has always been about pushing ourselves musically, and we tend to relish in the early experimental stage of writing. It’s been nice to balance that with a project that focuses strictly on one sound. We can start and finish songs in a night. The live aspect is a new goal, now that we’ve got the material.

Describe the writing process for this album. How do you guys write for the Flying Vipers differently than for Destroy Babylon or your other projects?

JB: (Destroy Babylon) is a larger group effort where all members contribute song ideas and lyrics, and there are few boundaries, style-wise. While we all love Jamaican music, that is only one piece of the puzzle. I’d say that band is more post-punk-influenced than anything.

MB: We’re restless, musically. We called our label Music ADD knowing we’d probably end up in a few different genre bins. Vipers has been a welcome exercise in restraint.

JB: (Flying Vipers) is a trio, so working out material is much quicker. It’s all about writing a rhythm for bass and drums. Everything starts there, then we build the chord changes — all two of them — and melodies off of that. Jay adds valuable input and guidance while engineering, as well.

How much did the songwriting process change between “The Green Tape” and “The Copper Tape”?

JB: Both sessions were similar in how we approached the writing and recording, but we wanted this one a little more stripped down and dubbed out.

MB: I think we locked in on grooves a bit more this time around, knowing we’d have more fun with post-production effects.

How long had you guys been working on these songs before you started tracking them?

JB: Not long at all. We had maybe two brief rehearsals before tracking everything.

MB: Yeah, we did two this time. One more than the first tape.

Flying Vipers Copper Tape

Recording direct to cassette must make you a little nervous. Because you’re recording all your tracks on one master tape, does that limit the amount of takes you can do?

JB: The amount of takes are only limited by the amount of blank tapes we have. We don’t get nervous, but it does help keep us focused more since we don’t want to waste tape.

MB: We typically don’t go more than a couple takes. Our limits are in the tracks. There are only so many inputs to work with since all the mixing is also done on the tape machine.

The songs on “The Copper Tape” come across as a little more atmospheric and psychedelic than the straight-forward, lo-fi sound of “The Green Tape.” Did you feel Jay was experimenting more this time and taking bigger risks when mixing the album live?

JB: In addition to the RE-201 and Tapco reverb, Jay used a Mu-tron Phasor II on a handful of tracks and, in general, made everything a bit more spaced out. “The Green Tape” was done on a Tascam 488, but “The Copper Tape” was actually done on the mark 2 version, which adds some more EQ options, so Jay was able to add in some high- and low-pass filter effects. Far from sounding like King Tubby’s desk, but definitely more out there than the last one.

You guys sent the tape to Kevin Metcalfe in London to be mastered. Why did you choose to have Kevin master the tape, considering the distance between you guys?

JB: When Jay mixes a final cut, we have the output from the portastudio going into a digital recorder, so the mixes are printed as WAVs (waveform audio files). We sent the files to Metcalfe through the wonders of the interwebs and let him work his magic. We toyed with the idea of mixing the final versions direct to another tape machine, but we weren’t about to send off an actual tape to get mastered, knowing that we needed digital versions anyway.

You guys have been performing sporadically as Flying Vipers. How do you translate the songs to a live atmosphere? Is there a way for you guys to mix the sound live?

JB: The songs are more straight ahead when we play live, but we’re working with an engineer that knows the arrangements and can apply the right effects at the right time. We’re not trying to recreate the mixes, but certainly use them as a reference.

What’s next for the Flying Vipers in 2017?

MB: We recently had the opportunity to work with reggae legend Johnny Clarke on a track, and we plan to release our first 45 this summer.

JB: And more tapes.

The Flying Vipers are playing with Big D & The Kids Table and the Stray Bullets at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on Friday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15, available here.

Now Hear This January

“Apology Plant” by Lilith
Disposable America

Apology Plant by Lilith

Lilith’s newest EP, “Apology Plant,” is as close to dreamy as you can get without actually being asleep. The ethereal, earthy tones that wash over this five-song album roll along like fog over a lake. The chill atmosphere of the songwriting creates a cool, nighttime feel for both the mellow and the melancholic.

Guitarist and vocalist Hannah Liuzzo, bassist Kelsey Francis, and drummer Alex Bourne return to the scene with their first album for the Boston-based record label Disposable America. The band’s signature indie-rock riffage and swinging rhythms harken back to alt-rock legends like Liz Phair and The Breeders. Liuzzo’s breathy, almost too-cool-for-school singing style shares the genetic trait so inherent in the DNA of Kim Deal.

This three-piece band has the ability to create songs that generate much more electricity than the standard “power trio” format. While “Apology Plant” shares aesthetic elements of the lo-fi recording style, the songwriting is lofty and complex in a way that’s almost deceiving if you don’t listen closely. Liuzzo’s guitar playing builds a strong foundation for the superb contributions of Bourne and Francis, carrying the rhythm, melodies, and chords to create a music all its own.

Starting with “Loaded,” “Apology Plant” has the superficial appearance of three-chord-style pop, snuggly fit for mainstream radio. But that’s why the album deserves to be played at high volume. Once you hear all the moving parts (such as fingers moving up and down the frets), you can understand the complexities of the songwriting. Bourne and Francis deliver hip-swinging swagger, whitewashing their pop sensibilities with cymbals and distortion. Meanwhile, Liuzzo’s guitar goes into full effect with tiny licks, huge riffs, and solos that are as expressively emotional as they are coolly reserved.

The album comes out in February; get a preview here.

“Make Mine Tuesday” by Rick Rude
Sophomore Lounge Records and Tiny Radars

Make Mine Tuesday by Rick Rude

Of all the bands on the Seacoast, nobody does music like Rick Rude. Right up to their newest release, “Make Mine Tuesday,” the band has perfected a cocktail blend of avant and pop that’s both arty and accessible. In the vein of alt-rock’s coolest weirdos, like Pavement, Built To Spill, and Guided By Voices, Rick Rude presents an abstract vision of the world through the vehicle of quirky, catchy rock and roll.

Released less than a year after Rick Rude’s soon-to-be-classic EP “Mind Cook,” “Make Mine Tuesday” is the band’s first full-length LP since 2011’s “Heavyweights.” While the songs are still very much in the distinct Rick Rude style, there is a cohesiveness to the songs that helps the album really flow like a singular unit. In contrast to “Mind Cook,” which felt more like five “best of” singles stitched together in one EP, “Make Mine Tuesday” is a structure built of 12 songs all molded from the same clay.

The album is a perfect Rick Rude sandwich, starting with the bread and butter of “Bald & Fat in Houston TX,” which features lackadaisical twang crescendoing into noise-fueled explosion, and the low-fi home recording of “Brain Emblem.” Each track features the vital elements that make up Rick Rude, like the limbs Voltron: the dueling guitar riffs and hollering, sometimes haunting vocals of Ben Troy and Noah Lefebvre; the riff-heavy bass and soothing songs of Jordan Holtz; and Ryan Harrison’s jazz-influenced drumming warped by mania.

If you’re curiosity has been piqued by the album’s title, you’re not alone. Rick Rude’s ability to write clever, yet cryptic lyrics makes for great sing-alongs. “Bald & Fat in Houston TX,” sung confidently by Troy, is abstract alliteration that still manages to tell a story. “Sunhead,” on its surface, is a catchy single tucked in the college radio sphere, but upon closer examination is a song about how the song is … a song. And “Mauve Song,” one of the band’s first singles circulating around the music blogosphere, is four lines of lyrics “Make way Monday / Take Tuesday back again / Make mine Tuesday / Find friends for fond of play.”

Rick Rude puts on some of the most compelling live shows in the area, and you’re guaranteed to be whistling one of their tunes after the last note has been plucked on this album. Don’t miss these guys when they play on a stage or in a basement near you.

Listen to the new album here.

“Death of the Moth” by Blacklake
self-released

Death of the Moth by Blacklake

Underneath the dark demeanor of “Death of the Moth” lies fragile beauty. From the stark transitions of the opening riff’s twee sensibilities to the hyper-overdriven thrashing of the vocals, Blacklake’s one and only album reflects the art of pure expression.

The project, bred from the brain of the late Matt Aspinwall and released late last year, presents a band fueled by raw emotion. Aspinwall’s steady melodies collide with his howling throat, belting out touching poetry followed by poignant, melodic transitions to grip your heart, like a hand holding you through the intensity of the album.

Aspinwall’s lyrics create a narrative complete with themes, concise descriptions, alliteration, and, most importantly, language that is simply poetic. On the surface, the singer is mourning his inability to save a moth before it got stuck “in between the glass and screen / Rotting silently,” and grappling with the guilt that lingers over a series of days and nights.

But, placed against the backdrop of Aspinwall’s “moody pop,” the album’s theme becomes more grandiose, as though putting the singer-songwriter’s hidden feelings under a microscope. Sometimes even the most fragile, weightless tragedies can send us into an emotional spiral for days. When the album’s final track, “The Deer Go Back to the Woods,” explodes out of your speakers, Aspinwall yells into an overly distorted mic, “Nothing left worth saying.” He tries slowly, hesitantly, to move beyond his past and never look back.

This album is not for purists of sound engineering; you won’t hear a perfect mix. But these 14 recordings capture a real performance, the type of set you’d hear in an artspace with high ceilings and thin walls, or in a basement where the excess sound has nowhere else to go but circle around the room and fold back into itself. Or in the performer’s bedroom, where he’d allow you to listen in even before the work was fully finished. “Death of the Moth” captures the heart of a true artist who we tragically lost too soon.

Give it a listen here.

tip five albums 2016

This top-five list is an opportunity to direct listeners to some of the best albums this community has to offer. The music does not belong to one particular genre, scene, or audience, and these albums aren’t just songs. They’re personal stories, they’re unique visions, and they seem to service the artists as much as the audience. Amid the spectrum of incredible music that has come out this year, these are some of the albums that stood above — at least to this writer.

With the next RPM Challenge right around the corner, I couldn’t be more excited for 2017. Despite all the turmoil in the world, we can trust that artists will continue to make music, and that we can all continue to seek therapy in it.

“Mind Cook EP” by Rick Rude
Salty Speakers/Cat Dead, Details Later

Mind Cook by Rick Rude

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Rick Rude’s energetic, mind-cooking album-release show happened a full nine months ago. The band performed at the top of its game, bringing an enormous crowd out to the Wrong Brain art space and destroying the room (figuratively, of course). At the center of it all were some brand new songs from the “Mind Cook EP.”

In just five songs, the Dover quartet created one of the most definitive works of art in the area. The band’s earlier recordings featured more lo-fi songs; a demo version of the EP’s first track, “Sap,” was recorded on a cell phone. But with “Mind Cook,” Rick Rude pulled it together and showed that underneath the low-tech recordings was a talented, unrivaled band.

The EP’s A side features a more conventional, accessible sound. “Sap” and “54 TLOC” play like radio-friendly singles, with catchy vocals, welcoming riffs, and a hybrid strain of power-pop. On the B side, by contrast, the band shows its ability to blur genre lines while creating memorable songs. “Stromboli,” a quasi-metal rocker, sounds nothing like the surf-influenced punk of the album’s title track, which sounds nothing like the album’s closer, “Little Boy,” a folk number worthy of a campfire sing-along.

Honestly, an EP can be a finicky purchase, especially when you’re buying vinyl. But since this album dropped in March, I’ve run through both sides at least three times whenever I put the record on (which has been often this year). The album showcases the band’s impeccable ability to balance between the fun and the fastidious. It’s a fascinating record full of goofiness and poetry and goofy poetry that makes Rick Rude one of the most exciting bands to see on the Seacoast.

Their next album, “Make Mine Tuesday,” is coming out soon, with a release show scheduled for Jan. 7 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. Listen to “Mind Cook” first to get in the proper mindset. Check it out here.

“It Calls On Me” by Doug Tuttle
Trouble in Mind Records

It Calls On Me by Doug Tuttle

When I spoke to Doug Tuttle about this record back in February, he didn’t have much to say about it. And, without the lyrics in front of you, it’s difficult to even hear what he’s saying on the record. But Tuttle’s sophomore album, “It Calls On Me,” speaks volumes, bolstering an aesthetic similar to artists like Kurt Vile or J Mascis. The expression of the self can be found in the music.

The nine tracks on the album are like the plants in a botanical garden: the individual make-up of each differs, but collected together, they create a fascinating display of unity. The Byrds-esque bop of “A Place For You” twists differently than the R.E.M.-style jangle of the title track, which flows separately from the Neil Young-ish qualities of “Painted Eye.”

Though the album is deeply influenced by the soft rock of the ’70s, Tuttle’s innovative vision features both haziness and clarity. The rubbery bass textures, the drums at a volume careful not to wake the neighbors, and Tuttle’s guitar wizardry make the songs sparkle like a river at high noon.

One of the best things about this record is that its hazy psychedelia provides the perfect soundtrack to a walk around town in every season — another “acid test” for best-of albums. Tuttle’s masterful, psychedelic work evokes bliss and contentedness, offering another damn good record to spin whenever the mood strikes. To get a copy, click here.

“The Lesser-Known Tristan Omand” by Tristan Omand
self-released

The Lesser Known Tristan Omand

As outlined in a story for The Sound back in April, this album almost didn’t happen. Struggles with funding could have very easily made it a dead leaf in the wind.

Instead, after a boost from local production company Bright & Lyon made it a reality, parts of Omand’s fourth record have lingered with me since its release in the spring. Riffs such as “Thirty Days of Darkness” and “A Letter Home” inspired me to introduce the album to friends who are fans of folk and Americana.

What really drives the spirit is Omand’s brilliance as a lyricist, with lyrics like, “I bet all the sand in Hampton Beach / that the life you wanted is within reach,” and, “If livin’ was so damn easy / you’d get to heaven doing half the work.” The words bring clarity to relatable, sorrowful moments, like the sun peeking from behind cloud cover.

Omand comes from the school of folk singer-songwriters who believe the stories told are just as important as the music. Artists like Bill Morrissey, Hank Williams Sr., and Tom Waits shine through in Omand’s songs. Themes of downtrodden loneliness are balanced by the admirable ability to find hope. Songs like “Welcome to the Lonely Lanes” and “Night Time, East Side” give you the feeling of trying in vain to start a beat-up old pickup truck, while in tracks like “Old Straight Six” and “A Letter Home,” the engine roars to life, though uncertainty still looms.

This is Omand’s most intimate album to date (hence, the title). While his previous album, “Eleven Dark Horses,” demonstrated his ability to create tall tales, “The Lesser-Known Tristan Omand” feels more personal. But, in turning inward toward himself, Omand makes his music even more relatable to others. Listening might help you learn a little more about the lesser-known you, as well. Have a listen here.

“Groove Lounge (feat. Bria Ansara)” by Groove Lounge
TVP Records

Groove Lounge

It’s no secret that funk thrives in the Seacoast music scene. I went into the University of New Hampshire as a punk-rock fan, but changed my tune after hearing local bands like Harsh Armadillo and the Feel Goods, and hanging out at places like The Stone Church in Newmarket, The Press Room in Portsmouth, and Fury’s Publick House in Dover. There’s something to see every night of the week that’ll get you in the mood to groove into the wee hours.

One of the best and most interesting records that came out this year built an orchestra of danceable, funky tunes with one producer. “Groove Lounge” has the kind of groove and swing that is the perfect fix for the “Saturday Night Fever” crowd, and yet the album is suitable for times of relaxation as well. The downtempo flavor of the music would work well in a weekend party atmosphere or a laidback lounge at cocktail hour.

Extracting elements of pure acid jazz from the likes of the Brooklyn Funk Essentials and Thievery Corporation and melting it into a pot of trip-hop built from the Nightmares on Wax sound, Groove Lounge bumps the beat for the head as much as the feet. From smooth psychedelia (“Intro”) to soft bossanova (“Keep Up”) to full-on funk (“S.N.L”), “Groove Lounge feat. Bria Ansara” is the go-to soundtrack for those late-night hours.

The album is also exciting because it serves as a gateway into exploring the Seacoast DJ scene, which, according to fans, has been kept underground far too long. Find it on Spotify or iTunes.

“The Smallest, Darkest Things” by Guy Capecelatro III
Burst & Bloom Records

The Smallest Darkest Things by Guy Capecelatro III

Guy Capecelatro III is a master of sorrowful folk, and his latest release lingers with an even heavier heart than usual. The album is a touching tribute to the late Dave Lamb of Brown Bird, and Lamb’s influence is heard all over the record; Capecelatro even covered one of Lamb’s songs on the album.

But “The Smallest, Darkest Things” touches on a grander theme, the constant push and pull of life and death. Each song is like a short story, written in a blue mood, about coping with the struggle of life. The beautiful, mournful music hangs like an overcast sky throughout the album. But there’s also diversity: From the sexy swagger of the guitar riff on “Late of Day” to the haunting melodies of “How to Begin (for Dave),” the album incorporates alternative rock, downtempo folk, and even a bit of jazz.

The sadness and sorrow of this November release draws up powerful emotion at first listen. I spun this record at least 10 times in the first week after I acquired it. The collection adds to Capecelatro’s already ridiculously impressive catalog of music. But this album stands out because of its raw emotion, which is often the best thing to get you through the creeping crawl of the dark winter months. More info here.

Now Hear This Flynn Capecelatro Superdude

“The Smallest Darkest Things” by Guy Capecelatro III
Burst & Bloom Records

The Smallest Darkest Things by Guy Capecelatro III

It takes a special type of sound to accurately capture the mood of a time period. Guy Capecelatro III’s latest album, “The Smallest Darkest Things,” is a soundtrack for those hours between dusk and the last few minutes before sunrise. The nocturnal vibe of each track on the seven-song album creates a solemnity and sorrow that make it GCIII’s most melancholic effort to date.

Capecelatro sings like a tamer Ben Gibbard, a beautiful melodist with far more reserved annunciations. His touching tales of nighttime scenes carry along the sorrowful melodies, like Raymond Carver short stories set to indie-rock music. “February Rain” follows his narration through a damp journey back to an empty apartment where a lover has moved out and he has no idea why. The fourth track, the poignant “Holloway,” sketches the tragic story of a boy the narrator used to know, and the struggle we feel when we want to help people who have it worse than us whenever we are at our most vulnerable.

The final track, a tearjerker titled “How To Begin (for Dave Lamb),” is an ode to a friend who has passed away. Lamb’s presence is felt throughout the album; Capecelatro covers “This Mountain Road,“ by Lamb’s former band Brown Bird, and he is thanked in the liner notes. But the most fitting tribute is the album’s closer, a subtle yet powerfully emotional tune. Layered with both mournfulness and hope, “How To Begin” closes this masterful album with the lyrics, “shine the light on the smallest darkest things / with your voice, with words, and with strings / I’ve got to learn how to begin”.

This touching tribute — and the last line especially — is immortalized in the way that only universal truths can be. In dark times like these, it’s a line you can sing to yourself and relate to its sadness, and remind yourself that the smallest, darkest things always see the light, in time.

For more on the album, click here.

“Supermoon” by Superdude
self-released

Supermoon by Superdude

For those looking for something a little more high energy (but still pretty emotional), direct your attention toward the post-punk torchbearers Superdude. The duo released their debut album, “Supermoon,” two years after it was all recorded, although nothing about this record sounds discounted or phoned in. Jackson Waldron and Andrew Paolini have joined forces to harness the power of hometown math-rock heros Comma in a more lofty post-hardcore group that fuses highbrow progressive rock with lowbrow punk.

The band’s sound strives to create its identity solely through its instrumentation. Even without words and lyrics, the band’s ability to generate emotion through chord progressions is unmatched by most other local groups, as demonstrated clearly on songs like “King Tide” and “Dragonlady.” The album also comes with its fair share of sonic diversity. “Big Blue” has the dancy, post-punk feel of the Minutemen if they ever decided to use a distortion pedal. “Scripture” bursts with the funky evil of alternative metal, and the album’s title track harnesses ambitious indie rock with just a teardrop of emo.

As the foggy, mysterious cover art suggests, Superdude consistently presents itself as an enigma. Their breakneck time signature flips and broad spectrum of genres blend together to create their unique sound. With any luck, we won’t have to wait until the next supermoon before we get to hear the sequel to “Supermoon.”

Give it a listen here.

“Good Hands” by Mara Flynn
Burst & Bloom Records

By now, whichever side of this warped political spectrum you’re on, odds are you’re sick of talking about the recent election. Regardless, the turn of every election season is ripe for a new crop of protest songs. Generally, when one thinks of protest songs, genres like punk, folk, and country come to mind. But Mara Flynn’s vehicle for social commentary hides beneath a soft, singer-songwriter vibe, like something you would play on a first date.

Flynn’s third album, “Good Hands,” is a river of smooth, comfortable, indie folk carrying a powerful message: Life is hard. This message lives in songs like the title track, which begs listeners to “open (their) hearts / even when it’s broke,” as well as the album’s top highlight, “Half Mast,” which reports on the difficulty of escaping a modern world that seems to offer nothing but bad news.

Although the album touches on what seems like ubiquitous negativity surrounding our society, it’s delivered with music that inspires hope. Flynn conveys her message with a warm, catchy accessibility like that of Norah Jones. While some songs, like “Mother’s Day,” come across as emotionally intense, Flynn creates a great balance with fun, folky songs like “Granny Smith,” probably the first apple pie recipe written to a tune.

Flynn’s folkiness toes the line of country, which seems fitting. The album plays as a whole, heavy heart. This could be therapy. We all need it sometimes, after all.

Check out “Good Hands” here.

Now Hear This November 2016

“Better Off Dead” by Cold Engines
self-released

Better Off Dead by Cold Engines

It takes a certain type of musical talent to construct loose, dance-inducing grooves with the tightest musicianship possible. But Cold Engines pulls it off, exploring their funk-jam/alt-country fusion on their newest album, “Better Off Dead.”

The quintet’s third album is more jam- and groove-inspired than previous efforts, detouring away from the band’s signature alternative-country sound. The album’s first three tracks — “Show You Crazy,” “Waterfall,” and “Better Off Dead” — showcase the band’s festival-friendly sound, influenced by acts like The Nth Power, Twiddle, and Gary Clark Jr.

Guitarist David Drouin’s soulful vocals mingle with Casey Herlihy’s screaming guitar licks and bluesy solos, along with hip-swinging rhythms driven by bassist Eric Reingold and percussionists Aaron Zaroulis and Geoff Pilkington. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the band features members of jam favorites like The Brew, moe., Jamantics, and Soul Rebel Project.

Despite the change in direction toward funky grooves, the guys haven’t abandoned their alt-country roots. The new album is spiced with jaunty country tunes (“Sing To Me”), country-road ballads (“Still Falls”), and ethereal slow jams (“Blue Sunday”) that would give Whiskeytown and Wilco a run for their money.

Though the genres of progressive rock and alternative country may seem like opposites, Cold Engines packages everything together nicely, flowing as smoothly as the cursive on their album covers. Even with the abstract vignettes “Crawling,” “Walking,” and “Running” thrown into the mix, the album boasts a feeling of completeness. On “Better Off Dead,” the Cold Engines machine works at a white-hot pace.

Check out the album here.

“Groove Lounge (feat. Bria Ansara)” by Groove Lounge
TVP Records

Groove Lounge

Like DJ Shadow with a gentler touch, or Thievery Corporation with a more domesticated vibe, the TVP Records crew’s newest release, “Groove Lounge,” is a manifestation of the fun, funky music of the ’70s, with drops of acid jazz, R&B, and electronica.

Bria Ansara’s sultry voice gives the songs their life. Her vocalizations carry the message of love that has become such a staple of traditional funk music. Producer Scott Ruffner’s eclectic beats are complemented by plenty of other Groove Lounge players, like Seth Weete, Greg Rothwell, and many more.

Yet arguably the MVP of the record is Andrew Fogliano. With the huge rise in electronic music in the 21st century, it can be hard to differentiate DJs. But Fogliano’s snippets of tasteful jazz flute and unique sax fills protrude over the melody and demand the ear’s attention.

The album calls to mind a quote from Daddy G of Massive Attack, describing the original band’s sound while creating “Blue Lines” 25 years ago. “What we were trying to do was create dance music for the head, rather than the feet,” he said.

The beauty of “Groove Lounge” is that they’ve found a way to appeal to both the head and the feet. Sure, it’s great background music to throw on at a party and loosen up the guests, but the repetitious beats also evoke a trance-like state that brings focus to the music. From the opening “Intro” through all nine tracks, the rhythms and melodies are so addictive and fulfilling that you’ll want to listen over and over again.

Check out the album here.

Cold Engines and Groove Lounge will take part in Arts.Sustain.Ability at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth on Wednesday, Nov. 16, hosted by the Arts Industry Alliance and the Green Alliance. Cold Engines will perform live, while the “Groove Lounge” album will be spun in full. The event is from 6-9 p.m.; learn more here.

“Pyre” by Green Bastard
Midnight Werewolf Records

Pyre by Green Bastard

The shortest song on this album is about 14 minutes long. Let that sink in for a moment. Or you can let the songs pound it into your head for you.

The sonic assault of Green Bastard’s debut, “Pyre,” is divided into just three songs: “Thoros,” “Cyclopean Walls,” and “Green Dream.” Each track is more than just a song; rather, it is an epic. The relentless blows of Ethan Fortin’s snare and the crushing pulse of Spencer Benson’s bass grow more intense as the band shifts between relatively up-tempo stoner metal and torturously slow, pure doom.

Despite the intimidating track times, there’s a beauty in letting the creeping crawl of Green Bastard’s rhythms flow over you. The trio brings new life to each of the album’s three acts as it progresses. Benson’s blood-curdling hollers and raucous singing don’t enter until six minutes into “Cyclopean Walls,” giving new reason to keep listening.

All this is driven by the buzz-saw guitar work of Max Arbuckle. Influenced by the thick, sludgy textures of California’s Sleep and Japan’s Boris, Arbuckle’s guitar playing ranges from thick chords played in an unfathomably low key (he says the guitars are tuned to B flat) to disjointed riffage slung high over the muddy textures of Benson’s bass.

Though the Green Bastard boys have been around for a while, this explosive and unorthodox debut should propel them to the forefront of the Seacoast’s alternative rock scene. For some, the album could even serve as a doom-and-gloom soundtrack to the next few months before Donald Trump gets sworn into office.

Check out the album here.

Green Bastard will host an album release party at MOVE, located in the Salmon Falls Mills in Rollinsford, on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 8 pm. Learn more about the show here.

Now Hear This November 2016

“Personal Beehive” by Badfellows
self-released

"Personal Beehive" by Badfellows

I usually refrain from using buzzwords in music reviews, but as a sucker for the slacker-pop sound from my infant era, sometimes the term “90s revival” is all it takes.

On the surface, the sound of Manchester-based band Badfellows draws memories of Pavement’s three S’s (sarcasm, self-deprecation, and surrealism), inflated with the heart and blood of late-’90s, emo-inspired, indie rock. But it’s the sincerity of the songs — not just in the lyrics, but in the sound — that gives Badfellows its modernity. The music is cool and alternative, but it’s still got plenty of heart.

With songs like “Ugly Sons with Perfect Smiles” and “Awful Anxious,” listeners get a sense of what they’re getting into. Vocalist Evan Benoit plays the self-deprecation beautifully, paying tribute to the lackadaisical power pop of the ’90s by confessing his insecurities while simultaneously shrugging them off.

The band’s true influence comes from Badfellows’ brother band Pleasure Gap. While the same members make up both bands, Badfellows takes Pleasure Gap’s abstract pop and turns it into something more accessible. The songs are built with weird chords, angular guitar riffs, and vocals that waver in and out of key, shooting up to a falsetto and crashing back down. But Badfellows’ music is garnished with enough pop to draw comparisons to the Breeders, who similarly took the bizarre elements of their sister band, the Pixies, and worked them into more relatable pop-rock tunes.

Badfellows is playing at the Shaskeen Pub in Manchester on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 9 p.m., with The Grebes, New English, and Wedding Camp. For more on the show, click here. To listen to “Personal Beehive,” click here.

“Order of Thieves” by Order of Thieves
self-released

Order of Thieves

Order of Thieves drummer Rick Habib said of this self-titled album, “We like to describe the sound as progressive, math, chimp/chicken rock. I’m not totally sure what that means, but somehow I think it might make some sense if one listens to the album.”

I still have no idea how to define the qualities of “chimp/chicken rock,” but judging by the CD, I can only assume that it’s a type of music with a sound so catchy and uniquely rhythmic that it inspires such dances as “The Monkey” and “The Chicken.”

The classic-rock genre has an unfortunate reputation. Combining the words “classic” and “rock” evokes the perception of a style that has been preserved in amber from a previous era. But for anyone who feels that rock just isn’t the same as it was when Aerosmith, Yes, and other riff-heavy bands reigned supreme, pick up this album immediately.

With familiar local rockers Bob Lord on bass and Jon McCormack on guitar, the trio brings progressive rock back to the forefront, harkening to the smooth, mathy melodies and crunchy textures of Rush and Frank Zappa. While the band shares the tight cohesiveness that the core trio of Rush pioneered, Order of Thieves also exhibits the tongue-in-cheek humor of Zappa. The catchy song titles include the instrumental rocker “Recreational Viagra,” which opens the album, and “Drunkenmonkeyknifefight,” which, according to the band, was set to be released as a single around the time that a Fox News story involving the same subject stole the show.

Humor aside, the band carries the torch of good old-fashion hard rock. Foghat fans and REO Speedwagon freaks will rejoice at rocking tunes like “Tollbooth Goddess,” “Rhinestone Halo,” and “Town & Oates,” which appear in succession like a 1-2-3 punch to the gut. Simply put, the album just plain rocks.

For a sample from the album, click here. If any listener wants to debate “chimp/chicken rock,” tweet me at @agsorette. I would love to hear another take on this new genre.

“Two Days from Monday” by Two Days from Monday
self-released

Two Days from Monday

Two Days from Monday combines the yearning sentimentality of jangle pop with enough swagger for an arena. From the trenches of the Seacoast’s open-mic scene, the band’s sound harnesses the intimacy of a coffeehouse setting, but with tunes meant for the main stage.

Guitarist Chris Torrey and bassist Meg Oolders intertwine vocal melodies with the smoothness of seasoned veterans. Lyrically, the band is poignant. The opening track, “Secondhand Smile,” confesses to feelings of alienation and insecurity about one’s personal presentation to the outside world, while “The Songwriter” describes Torrey’s desperate desire for his music to touch others, as the music of his idols touches him.

The album comes to a perfect climax with “Danceaway.” Oolders sings sensitively about self-reflection and assessment in this beautiful ballad stitched together with soft melodies. “Awaken to the rise of dawn / Don’t turn around, for last night’s gone,” she sings.

The idea that everything will be all right in the end is a much-needed reminder in the turbulent social atmosphere of 2016. In these times, we need more introspection and self-assurance, and Two Days From Monday delivers.

To listen to the album, click here.

Now Hear This Oct. 21

“Darlings of the Soil” by Jim Rioux
Burst and Bloom Records

Darlings of the Soil by Jim Rioux

One need only listen to the first track, “End of a Story,” to know that Jim Rioux is a poet. His stories, told in his crooning baritone voice, recall the type of hard-luck tales with which Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard tugged on the heartstrings of America 60 years ago. Like those outlaw country singers, there are rarely any heroes in Rioux’s stories; these songs feature not “the less fortunate,” but those completely without fortune.

Rioux not only brings his lyrics to life through masterful narration, but also uses his music and sounds to enhance the mental picture. In “Tombs,” the band uses a hollow clopping percussion to emulate the “hooves hollow gavels on the stones,” as Balaam’s mule ascends the Moriah’s high hills. The use of tremolo to open “Ahab’s Ghost” kick-starts an eerie, dreamy effect for a tale of a friend who was too smart for his own good, relaying philosophical wisdom right up until his sudden suicide.

Rioux couples all of these stories with melancholic, moody music to capture the heart of his stories. The tempos move like molasses, with hushed percussion allowing the bellow of Rioux’s voice to encompass the sonic atmosphere. With multi-instrumentalists Guy Capecelatro III and Marc McElroy handling the melodies, and Rioux’s father Jerry on drums, “Darlings of the Soil” serves as a soundtrack for those downtrodden days when hope isn’t in plain sight.

Elements of the album, like the lap steel on “Mr. Whisper” and the banjo on the album’s star track “Rocketship,” give it a country tinge. But, like the dizzying number of instruments credited in the album’s insert, “Darlings of the Soil” touches lightly on a vast number of different genres. Elements of rock and folk pervade, hints at psychedelia are peppered in, and the music even features some electronica. It’s hard to categorize Rioux’s music as definitive “country” or “folk”; instead, it’s an experimental hybrid.

Regardless of genre, it seems clear that “Darlings of the Soil” is less about the songs and more about accenting Rioux’s poetry, the kind that shines a spotlight on characters overlooked by history.

Learn more here.

“Change My Mind EP” by Notches
Dead Broke Rekerds

Change My Mind by Notches

Notches receives much acclaim and attention in the underground punk scene, but the band is growing out of the youthful stranglehold that is unfairly associated with “punk rock.” A different side of the band started to bud in “High Speed Crimes,” a full-length album released earlier this year. Now, on the five-song EP “Change My Mind,” Notches makes the daring leap from the fast-loud rules of punk to more melodically constructed alternative rock — a leap made previously by such bands as The Replacements, Superchunk, and The Lemonheads.

Of course, the punk numbers are still there. “Smoking Stem,” hidden in the middle of the track list, is a minefield of energy set to an explosive tempo. And “Don’t Speak” brilliantly ends the EP with intensity, leaving the listener craving more. But “Word,” and the EP’s opening track, “Generic Sad Person,” are slower and more danceable. The music is still well suited for pogoing and head banging, but less appropriate for moshing and thrashing.

Bassist Zac Mayeux and guitarist Ezra Cohen share vocals, each with his own distinctive style. Yet both sing with emotion generated right from the bleeding gut, with the same infectious major-key mope as pop-punk heroes like The Ergs. Any of the choruses could be the band’s next classic anthem.

While the band’s songwriting is catchy and worthy of several listens, the real hero is drummer Dante Guzzardi. Guzzardi showcases an amazing ability to execute light-speed fills without missing a beat, and then continue washing the whole production of the songs with sound. The mixing and mastering might have something to do with it, but the percussiveness of Notches’ melodies presents an interesting task for any drummer, and Guzzardi tackles it with the deft fluidity.

“Change My Mind” is a great next step for this punk trio, proving that though they may be sad, the guys in Notches are far from generic.

Find the album here.

“Von Berwick” by Von Berwick
self-released

Von Berwick

Everything about this project merits the label “experimental.” Esteemed local trumpeter Chris Klaxton conceived the idea at the First Parish Federated Church in South Berwick, Maine, where he is the choir director. Saxophonist Mark Small and keyboardist Mike Effenberger join Klaxton in Von Berwick, and the trio has recorded 24 songs in the purest tradition of jazz: completely free.

Some of the songs, like “Viriditas” and “Persephone” credit composers. But, according to Klaxton, even the songs that are “composed” follow only a fraction of an idea, “a couple bars of melody and chords.” The rest of the album hinges on total improvisation, or, as Klaxton puts it, “free music … just take a breath and start playing.”

Like most free jazz, chances are slim that you’ll understand it at first listen. American listeners tend to search for traditional song structure. With Von Berwick, no such structure exists. There’s no intro riff, no chorus or verses, sometimes there isn’t even a beat.

What instead fills the album is a series of melodies in suspended animation. Rather than following a path they’ve prearranged, the musicians find their direction as they play, calling and responding to each other like they’re lost in darkness and guiding each other to the light.

Von Berwick’s songs are available online as singles, each with its own artwork. Some feature other musicians outside of the core three, including Sunniva Brynnel on accordion, Eric Von Oeyen on drums, and Klaxton’s brother Eric on soprano sax.

Each tune evokes a vivid mental picture. “Lead Me,” for example, recalls memories of church music. With its choral chants and melancholic melody, it’s almost as though you’re being swept down the aisles, half expecting to hear a priest at the end saying, “Please be seated.” “Spanx,” on the other hand, calls to mind a smoky underground jazz club, where the band is just warming up for a long night of funk-tinged jams.

Though the music is “free,” the album does have an overarching feel or theme. The band creates a balance between grandiose melodies with dramatic church tones (“Liber Vitae”) and manic, nightclub-style jazz (“Ladders and Chutes”). Von Berwick’s ability to marry such differing vibes into one project speaks volumes about the richness of the Seacoast’s jazz scene. Whether you’re at a club on a Saturday night or in a pew on Sunday morning, the music, when played by these musicians, is always appropriate.

Check out Von Berwick’s music here.

Trichomes Almanac Mountain Heavy Pockets

“Frank’s Dank Super No.1 Hits” by The Trichomes
self-released

Trichomes Frank's Dank Super NO. 1

Under what is arguably one of the coolest titles ever conceived, The Trichomes’ debut album lives up to its name. These “dank, super, number 1 hits” could easily place on the popular rock charts, and across other genre charts as well.

Each of the 10 songs on this collection has its own flavor of boogie. The Newmarket-based quartet harnesses the eclecticism of their jam-influenced idols, like Lettuce, Soulive, and Consider the Source, showcasing funk, jazz, blues, hip-hop, and even gypsy music.

Whether they’re pointing their fingers at social injustice (“American Dream,” “In My Head”) or constructing party-ready anthems (“Smoothe Tigre”), The Trichomes craft hip-swinging tunes with melodies and harmonies that weave through one another, one riff fading out as another takes its place.

Guitarist/keyboardist Stefan Trogisch and drummer Shane Devanney split most of the vocal tracks, both crafting substantial lyrics with anthemic choruses that would satisfy a club full of jam fans. For Eric Kehoe, each song is a new equation for guitar pedals, effects, and psychedelic riffs that will give guitar nuts something to talk about. And the rhythm section laid down by Devanney and bassist Ian Smith is tight, keeping the tunes grounded so that listeners don’t completely lose their grip on the trippy soundscapes and mind-bending melodies.

While “jam bands” are infamously better as live acts, The Trichomes’ first album holds up as a stand-alone piece. Sure, an exhausting track like the 11-plus-minute “Giraffe Milk” is probably more geared toward live improvisation, but the light really shines on tracks with definable genres, like “Blues for Breakfast” and the curveball, gypsy-jam number “Where Will You Run?”

For more on The Trichomes, click here.

“Cryptoseismology” by Almanac Mountain
self-released

Cryptoseismology Almanac Mountain

Multi-instrumentalist and classically trained composer Chris Cote is twisting minds with his avant-pop project Almanac Mountain. The one-man band’s latest album, “Cryptoseismology,” combines Cote’s deadpan singing style and far-out lyrics with soaring, yearning melodies.

Cote’s bizarre poetry is a perfect complement to the nerdy undertones of Almanac Mountains nu-’80s style. With clever song titles like “My Favorite Day (Is Someday)” and “One Weird Trick (Receding Care Line),” Almanac balances blind optimism with sarcastic satire. As Cote describes the project’s content, “Previous themes, centered around a meditative human connection to the natural world, give way to the more critical voice of a generation disillusioned by the false promises, misuse, and exploitation of the economic, informational, and technological hopes of the 1980s.”

Speaking of that decade, the album’s electronic, new-wave sound echoes early Reagan-era darlings like New Order, Devo, and others of the same class. The jerky dance rhythms will bring you right back to the times of Jerry curls, neon clothes, and plaid jackets with flairs.

But Almanac Mountain does reference modern times, too. Be sure to check out the heartbreak ballad “Lilac,” which features a humorous skit involving someone calling in to a radio show. If nothing else, the tune will leave you with some great advice, even if Almanac Mountain’s unique brand of electronica and surrealist lyrics are not your cup of tea. Fellas, if you break up with a girl… just give her a call.

Almanac Mountain plays a CD release show on Thursday, Oct. 20, at Millspace in Newmarket. Learn more about the band here.

“Mopeless” by Heavy Pockets
Reflective Tapes, Cat Dead Details Later, Dead Broke Rekerds

Mopeless Heavy Pockets

“When will my skin feel like mine?” The opening line to the first song on Heavy Pockets’ second album poses a question that is a traveling theme with the band. Unlike most ’90s-era alternative-rock bands, who dolled out their heartbreak with an eye roll, singer Shayla Riggs carries her poetic confessionals a little more seriously. In other words, she’s really looking for answers.

But, while her lyrics strike the listener like journal entries, Heavy Pockets’ music pays homage to the loud-quiet-loud dynamic of those beloved ’90s bands. With bassist Zac Mayeux and drummer Nate Rubin generating the power to accompany Riggs’ pop vocals, Heavy Pockets mirrors bands like That Dog., Liz Phair, and the Lemonheads, just to name a few.

Heavy Pockets has sanded down the rough edges of the punkier sound featured on their debut album,“Bite Because You Like It,” favoring melodic indie rock over their earlier bubblegum thrash. But, while the tempos aren’t as urgent, the band hasn’t lost its edge. Songs like “Expat” and “(Don’t Wanna Be) One of the Boys” still carry the aggressiveness of the band’s punk roots. But, this time around, Riggs has sweetened up her vocals to ride the band’s melodies a little more smoothly.

Heavy Pockets has a release show at Wrong Brain headquarters in Dover on Sunday, Oct. 16. To learn more about the band, click here.