RedOak – ReDesign

RedOak – ReDesign
It’s not often that you hear of an alt rock band emanating from of all places Israel. RedOak is working hard and rocking hard to change that perception at least in their case. You can feel heavy influences from bands like Tool, Pantera, and maybe just the barest waft of Saliva for a subtle pop edge hanging mostly in the backdrop of the fiery musical machinery. The vocal work has an intriguing quality; both haunting and strangely harmonically twisted, conveying powerful emotion. “Hole” launches the disk with a touch of radio hookiness and a lot of intensity, hitting you like a nuclear-powered sledgehammer. “Dogs Of Tears” is one of those songs that tears deeply into you with sonic riffs and thundering rhythms fueling words that scream into your soul. There is a sort of rawness to their musical approach here, but it is not for lack of talent, as you can hear enough songwriting intricacies and musical chops to realize these guys know what they are about. It is just another facet of a band that is more than capable of opening some ears with this thundering first effort. – MW


Michael-Ann – Heavy Load

Michael-Ann – “Heavy Load”
If Nashville is going to wake up and step further away from the generic pop country of too many recent years, Michael-Ann could be someone who helps them take those steps. This L.A. based lady who grew up in Kansas City has a very solid grasp of her roots, channeling some of the bluesy influences of the “great ladies” to give you an idea she really feels what she is thinking. “Any Day” has a rocking bluegrassy edge that while hooky has an edgy intensity that keeps it from being typified. “Heavy Load” is a Americana ballad where her vocal timbre, power and emotion all shine brightly. “Nevermind” has a gritty western edge, feeling like something the cowboys of old may like to hear in a saloon after a tough day at the ranch. Michael-Ann is a thought-provoking lyricist, something often lacking in modern country, but she manages to make her words heartfelt and homey, both comforting and poignant in their delivery. She has a top notch band of players backing her and the music is a perfect accompaniment to her vocal talents. If she can navigate the miasma of the current country music scene uncompromised, she has the capability of being one of country’s hot rising stars. – MW


Hard Swimmin’ Fish – One Step Forward

Hard Swimmin’ Fish – One Step Forward
If you are going to do blues these days, you have to either come up with someway to be innovative or do the old rootsy stuff really well. With their fourth effort, Hard Swimmin’ Fish nails both of those elements. They have the uncanny knack of hooking you right off the bat with the down and dirty boogie of “Put Me Down” and never disappointing your expectations the rest of the way. The music is like a roadmap of the blues – zigzagging from Bourbon Street ramble to west Texas squonk to smoky Chicago juke joint, sliding down to a Mississippi porch sweating over a bottle of cheap gin. From the full throttle shuffle of “One Step Forward” to the heart rending croon of “Blind Love”, these guys really yank at your soul. When a wonderful mix of gritty too-many-smokes-and-heartbreaks vocals, sweet guitar licks, driving boogie rhythms, and some mean harp blowing meets some deeply personal songwriting capabilities, look out! – MW


Hyperbubble – Attack Of The Titans

Hyperbubble – Attack Of The Titans
Pure Pop For Now People – FOR05
Avante garde may be too light of a description here. A lot of strangeness is to be expected as this is the fifth effort by the Texas-based innovative futuristic electro-pop duo Hyperbubble. If you put the B-52’s, Kraftwerk, and maybe The Postal Service in a blender, you get the idea of the throbbing intensity happening here. This is the actual soundtrack for a mini movie, so it is mostly instrumental although there is some narration as well as the robotic vocal enhancement in “Sky Smasher,” one of the best tracks with a solid amount of hookiness and subtly bizarre twists to really catch the listener. Pulsing rhythmic soundscapes like the Terminator-esque “Pure Panic” and the spacey groove of “Photographic Evidence” are further examples that these guys are really talented and can stretch the envelope enough to breath serious life into a genre that can often seem too cold and calculated. Since this is a soundtrack to a short movie, the CD itself is pretty brief, but Hyperbubble crams a ton of enjoyment into these twenty-two odd minutes, catching your ears enough to entice you to check out the rest of their catalogue. – MW