The Austin Jones Band – Chasing The Wind

The Austin Jones Band – Chasing The Wind
With their sophomore effort, this indie rock act from the Houston area shows an increased depth of songwriting prowess, proving that their ear-opening debut “On Sin And Cynicism” was just the beginning of something special. The opening track “Living It Out” is a masterful but subtle weaving of hooks and edginess, invoking bands such as Taking Back Sunday, but also a bit Foo Fighter-ish as they effortlessly flow from melodic mellow vibes to snarling intensity. “A Darkness” has a sort of ambient vibe that accentuates  Austin’s emotive vocal intensity, reaching deep from his soul to touch yours with his thought-provoking words. The title track has a brooding fervency, reminiscent of some of Live’s later music, while “You And Me” balances dramatic balladic passages with driving grooves that really highlight the musicianship of the players involved here. This is only a five song EP that is sort of the musical equivalent of eating fantastic Chinese food: it leaves you heartily satisfied, but hungry for more. With the talent and passion practically bursting from this twenty some minutes of wonderful music, you just know that Austin and his musical cohorts have a lot more great things to come. And the more people that hear this music, those great things may very well be reciprocal as well. – MW


Seahorse – The FIre’s Heart

Seahorse – The FIre’s Heart
Ravens Flight Records
While everyone thinks of Seattle when the music scene of the Pacific Northwest is mentioned, Rich Swanger is making sure Salem, Oregon is on their musical map, too. A winemaker as well as a musician, Rich knows a few things about creating fine vintages, and his take on mellow but fragrant flavors permeates his musical creation Seahorse as well. Delectable Americana with kisses of smooth jazz and aromas of alt-folk make for something that any music  “sommelier” would highly recommend. “Nightingale” launches the CD with a subtly throbbing grove, showcasing the depths of Rich’s vocal work from breathless emotive croon to untamed soul-bearing. “Tyndall Rose” has a snappy folk groove – the kind that can make you both tap your feet while the thoughtful lyrics tap into your heart. “Mansion” is a passionate ballad that is both heart-rending and infectious while “Carry The Fire” has an edgy drive as it keeps the folksy aspect intact. You can feel Rich has influences as diverse as Jim Croce to Chris Isaak, U2 to Band of Horses, but maybe the real reason his music is enjoyable is because he has an eclectic song-writing soul and it serves well to create music with a robust listenability palate. I have not tried his wine yet, but his music surely can be savored at any time. – MW


Nekozuraski – Ahostractions

Nekozuraski – Ahostractions
OK, I admit it first threw me a bit off hearing music with the lyrics in a foreign tongue – Japanese in the case of this band from Osaka. But in the words of Mac Davis, “Music is the universal language and love is the key.” This band obviously loves making music and even if you do not understand the words, if you like music that fuses jazz, rock, R&B, and other stylings, you don’t have to be fluent in any other language except music. After all, many American bands have had huge popularity in the Orient, and this band seems to have influences from Zappa and the Red Hot Chili Pepper to the Four Tops and P-Funk. There is some extremely solid instrumentation here and the vocals can portray the emotions present without the help of a translator. While I highly recommend this to our friends over in Japan, there are people worldwide who respect musical innovation and talent that will enjoy this no matter what language it is in.  – MW


Pi Jacobs- Hi Rise Ranch

Pi Jacobs- Hi Rise Ranch
That Crazy Chick Music – TCCMD005
A veteran L.A. based musician and songwriter, Pi Jacob’s sixth release makes me wonder why there has not been more widespread acclaim for this talented lady. With tendrils of hippie rock, folk and American, the music is both mesmerizing and catchy, brimming with life but with subtle complexities. The lead track “Want To Want To” kicks into a groove that feels like a Texan hanging out in San Francisco during the Summer of Love. “Icy Road” weaves a feel good vibe with Pi’s harmonic vocal warble enticing you to experience a heartfelt story. “The Train” is a potent country blues ballad that drips emotion like droplets from a steam engines’ whistle, simple but powerful. She also does a stunning, alt-folk version of Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Her voice is the true star throughout the six tracks, from soaring harmonies to gritty pain, from lonesome croon to bluesy wail. The backing band whose resumes include working with Kayne West, Brandy, the Beastie Boys, and Francis Dunnery adds further spice to the songs. If you have not checked out Pi’s music yet, this is a great one to start with. Although it is only six songs, it definitely showcases the varied depth of her songwriting, musical, and vocal talents. – MW


Andrew D. Huber – Mercury Gets a Moon

Andrew D. Huber – Mercury Gets a Moon
The Midwest has always been a hotbed of talented songwriters, despite cities like L.A., NYC, Austin and Nashville always getting credit. Illinois’ Andrew D. Huber graces us with his forth release which explores further depths of his songwriting while keeping the alt-Heartland folk-rock vibe intact. His wonderful vocal work is obvious right out of the gate on the title track with subtle power in bare bones passages sandwiched by hard edged folk rock grooves. “Scarlett Kissed a Sailor” “ and “Two Drink Charlie” have Celtic story telling vibes with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a toe-tapping rock backdrop. “Gabriel and the Sparrow” shows a mellower side graced by violins and honest, sweetly emotive vocal work. “San Antonio Greyhound” is a meaty but still folk-edged Heartland rocker. Andrew breaches both extremes of the spiritual with the wicked pounding Irish folk of “Tell The Devil” followed by the lush, soulful ballad of “God Will Bring a Better Day.” Andrew has an extraordinary depth to his songwriting pool, but does not mind avoiding a true comfort zone by swimming in the eddies and rip currents. His obvious talent for playing and singing makes a combination that can really get its hooks into you.  – MW


Axle Creek – The Journey Home

Axle Creek – The Journey Home
Sometimes it is refreshing to hear bands who just like to play rock and roll, and not spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. Axle Creek is one of those bands, and while they are not necessarily carving out any new musical ground, what they do in their own niche of blues and country-fueled rock and roll is crafted very well. “Figure It Out” crunches out of the speaker with growling riffs, dusky vocals and stomping rhythms like a somewhat countrified AC/DC. “Soldier Sacrifice” has s more balladic feel, but is powerful with its poignant message and subtle musical potency. “Changing Course” and “All I’ve Got” are the kind of Americana-edged power rockers that Steve Earle has made popular. “Saved My Life” shows a more acoustic side, no less powerful with the emotive vocals. Unafraid to tackle timely subject matter with their vocals, this band is very adept at just making good time music that makes you think, but also makes you sit back and really enjoy what is happening. – MW