Reviews of new albums by The Green Bullets, Skee, and Wellfleet
“The Green Bullets” by The Green Bullets
The term “lo-fi” gets tossed around a lot to describe new releases. But you never know how low the “fi” can go. The Green Bullets represent the lowest fi you’ll hear on the Seacoast.
The Dover-based duo, comprised of Harry Griffin and J.W. Ayer, rented a house in Deerfield to record their new album from February to December of last year. With Ayer’s younger brother Thomas also contributing, the band utilizes a merry-go-round technique where each member plays different instruments on different tracks.
At first listen, The Green Bullets’ self-titled release sounds a little like a bedroom tape: the vocals masked in reverb, the scratch of the guitar pick against the strings, the chaotic ringing of the cymbals. But it’s a step up in production value compared to the band’s previous releases, some of which rank right up there with “Wavvves” and “Horn the Unicorn” in terms of garage-rock-fueled static noise.
Yet despite the band’s obvious ties to lo-fi indie rock, the instrumentation makes the music feel closer to the pop rock of the 1950s. The Green Bullets are one “shoobie doo-wop” away from The Platters and Dion.
Lyrically, the band emulates garage-rock acts like Ty Segall and The Black Lips. Each of the stories relayed in the songs are so lyrically sparse that they’re almost pushed into absurdism. The flash is stripped away, condensing the words into mostly filler with catchy alliteration. “I love you so / but it’s all I know,” they sing on the opening track, “Spooky One.”
Overall, The Green Bullets are moving in the right direction. If they continue to “stay away from troubles” and “try (their) best with words,” as they sing on the new album, they’ll be on the verge of a major splash with their next release.
Check out “The Green Bullets” here.
“Life On The(se) Line(s)” by Skee
Middle-school math teacher and MC Aaron Ward, aka Skee, is back with his microphone mathematics in his latest album, “Life On The(se) Line(s).”
A teacher of both mathematics and conscientious hip-hop, Skee’s flow shows he’s a student of Hova himself. In a genre where the quality of your lyrics can make or break you, Skee stands out as someone who not only gives a shit about his writing, but is good at it too.
Flashes of genius come out in songs such as “More Than Music,” where Skee debates himself on philosophical quandries such as the necessity of music. “Music saves lives but it didn’t save mine / Before I started with this I was fine / Actually go back rewind that line / maybe I’m lyin’ / Didn’t literally save me, but it saved my mind,” he raps.
The biggest showcase of Skee’s internal turmoil emerges in “Start Now.” The song plays out like an anxiety attack, exploring the push and pull of basic moral functions, like wanting to “come across selfless / but I’m selfish like you can’t help it.”
He later raps, “My eyes open, but I don’t see it / or maybe I see it but I just delete it / or I meet it with indifference ’cause I think that I don’t need it / used to think anything I wanted, I could be it.” Skee puts his fingers on the pulse of basic human tension, which is a breath of fresh air from the grandiose, luxury-themed drek that comes out of the mainstream nowadays.
The beats on the new disc are definitely a step forward from his previous release. While the first few songs start off a little dry, the “back nine” is where the album really starts to flow. The ballad-esque “Start Now” bleeds into the R&B melodies of “More Than Music.” The orchestral crescendo of “Pace Tracks” passes cleanly into the jazz-hop-influenced “My Life.”
From there, Skee locks into a groove, and the rest of the album flies in a fury of razor-sharp rhymes cutting through thick, rich beats.
Listen to the album here.
“From the Garage” by Wellfleet
Looking for a soundtrack for your summer? Wellfleet’s debut album has all the nostalgic charm of crushing beers with your friends in a remote field, “Dazed And Confused” style.
It is always encouraging to hear a new take on “classic” rock. In many ways, the genre has been beaten to death, with the same handful of singles pervading sporting events, office park cafes, restaurant bathrooms, and everywhere in between.
But the boys in Wellfleet create a “classic” rock sound that’s as refreshing as a cold beer after an intolerably hot July day. The sweet intertwining melodies and harmonies, broken only by a shrilling harmonica, give the music a kind of Blues Traveler vibe that transcends multiple generations. Patrick Curry’s unique vocal style is distinguishable, and Craig Roy’s harmonies have the precision of a well-oiled machine.
Curry has moments of sharp poetry in his lyrics. In “Buyers Remorse,” the singer muses about a failing relationship that has him “call you on the phone / with a voice that’s drunk and dripping with denial.”
Roy takes his turn in the spotlight with the song “Final Stand,” penning a tune about fighting against the grain. He sings, “When sometimes it seems that life has got another plan / I always make the most of mine until I take the final stand,” blending aspiration with inspiration as he wails on the harmonica in the vein of true outlaw country.
“From the Garage” is certainly a good choice for blues-rock fans looking for some feel-good tracks to sing along to.
Give it a listen here.