From reverb junkies to wildcats
If you’re looking for new sounds, Sheryl has some suggestions
It’s harvest time and here at Sounds Local that means catching up on the fine crop of new music that has been released over the past few months.
The Reverb Junkie e_SFlb‘All I Want’ (Independent)
The Reverb Junkie is Michelle Chamuel, the Amherst resident who was recently the runner up on season four of the popular television show“The Voice.” While that show was all about over-the-top pop singing, for her first release after “The Voice,” Chamuel has gone in an entirely different direction, releasing a disc of electronic indie pop/rock songs. Chamuel clearly wanted to prove that she is more than just a voice. So, she wrote, recorded, arranged, produced and even did the artwork for this disc. “All I Want” features some great melodies, but this is mostly electronic dance music, so expect lots of electronic effects, heavy beats and, of course, reverb. Chamuel downplays her powerhouse voice and even runs it through a format shifter. On a number of tracks, such as “Everything,” her voice is nearly unrecognizable. This may not be the disc that “The Voice” fans have been waiting for, but those open to exploring a more comprehensive side of Chamuel’s talent won’t be disappointed.
Pale Cowboy is a five-piece band that formed at Hampshire College and is now based in Northampton. “Shelter,” the band’s second EP, finds the group moving forward with a more fleshed out, fully produced sound. “Shelter” opens with “Life on the River” a Beatles-esque tune in which singers Karl Helander and Phoebe Berkel share vocals to create pure pop perfection. That said, Pale Cowboy really isn’t a pop band. Its songs, like the unconventional title track, are more adventurous than pop would imply. “Water” has strong traces of country, while “Don’t Wanna Discuss” features some rocking guitar. All five songs here showcase the band’s beautiful harmonies and its ability to craft memorable melodies making it an inspiring release from one of the strongest new bands on the local scene.
Pale Cowboy will perform at the Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St. in Northampton on Friday, Nov. 8, at 10 p.m. Admission is $10 in advance and $13 at the door.
And The Kids
And the Kids consist of Hannah Mohan (lead vocals, electric ukulele and guitar), Rebecca Lasaponaro (vocals, drums, bells) and Megan Miller (vocals, synth, glockenspiel and woodblock). The trio’s new four-song EP was recorded at the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, which is where band members Mohan and Lasaponaro initially met Miller. “Maybe we’re not crazy / we just have lots of ideas,” sings Mohan on “The Victory,” a song that sums up the band’s approach to music making. And The Kids is a creative and original group that certainly isn’t lacking for ideas as it serves up a one-of-a-kind indie rock stew. Listening to “Neighbors” is like being showered with confetti and trying to catch the brightly colored pieces in your hand. A song like “Cats Were Born” is weird, catchy, fun and kind of eerie, all at once. The band has a charismatic front woman in Mohan, who has a bold expressive voice that’s part Sinead O’Connor and part Yoko Ono. This is a must-see live band.
And the Kids will perform at Bishop’s Lounge, 41 Strong Ave., Northampton, on Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door.
Siblings Matt and Kate Lorenz and Zak Trojano, better known as Rusty Belle, create a distinct sound that incorporates all their wide-ranging influences, from country, rock, folk and old-timey sounds. “Common Courtesy” is the band’s sixth album and it continues to take listeners on a satisfying sonic ride. The band utilizes guitar and various drum kits (some homemade) to create music that refuses to be pigeonholed.
The disc opens with the dreamy “Sad Little Boys,” with Lorenz singing in a soft, breathy voice about “giving all her loving to a bad, bad man.” While Rusty Belle excels at this quiet, moodier material, it is when it plugs in that the disc really gets interesting. There’s the terrific, “Change My Heart,” with its poppy chorus and the “The Devil in Your Smile,” a song complete with sludgy guitar and some great screaming vocals form Lorenz. This may not be what one expects from Rusty Belle, but there is nothing predictable about this band and “Common Courtesy” is proof of that.
Rusty Belle will hold a CD release party at the Parlor Room, 32 Masonic St., Northampton, on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. Admission is $12. Tickets available at www.parlorroommusic.com. Rusty Belle will also appear at Popolo, 36 the Square in Bellows Falls, Vt., on Sunday, Nov. 3, from noon to 2:30 p.m. (A brunch show.) For more information, www.popolomeanspeople.com
‘Still Playin’ That Damn Guitar’ (Dove’s Nest)
If you are looking to immerse yourself in the blues, you don’t have to look much further than O’Halleran and his blue outfit. He has been a major fixture on the local scene for over 25 years and he shows no sign of slowing down. This disc, recorded at a show earlier this year, captures the raw energy of one of Wildcat’s live shows, complete with hoots and hollers from the crowd. “Still Playin’ That Damn Guitar” is a mix of originals like “If God Can Make That, No Wonder He’s in Charge,” to covers, like crowd-favorite “Wooly Bully.” O’Halloran’s raspy voice growls through these twelve tracks, but this disc is really about the guitar as it is packed with scorching and wailing solos that guitar geeks will go crazy over.
This is the perfect disc to slap on at a house party or if you are simply in the mood to dance in the living room.
The Wildcat O’ Halloran Band will perform at the Riverside Blues and Barbeque Festival at Beacon Field in Greenfield on Saturday, Oct. 12. The band will appear at 12:30 p.m. Admission is $5.
The Lonesome Brothers
‘Check Engine’ (Captivating Music)
The Lonesome Brothers — bassist Ray Mason, guitarist Jim Armenti and drummer Tom Shea — have been together for over 25 years, so it is no wonder that there is such a familiar and comfortable feel to their music. “Check Engine,” the band’s eighth CD, marks the first time that they are not working with producer Jim Weeks. They instead produced the project themselves with Armenti also serving as engineer. The Lonesomes continue to benefit from the song-writing talents of both Armenti and Mason, who contribute equally to the musical offerings. Armenti’s material leans more toward country (“Wild and Wayward”), while Mason demonstrates his soft spot for NRBQ-flavored pop (“Twelve Pieces of Paper.”) The band brings in a few guests this time around; on Mason’s “Devastated,” he’s accompanied by a horn section arranged by Tom Mahnken of Trailer Park, while Phillips Saylor (“Stripmall Ballads”) plays banjo on Armenti’s “Watch Over Me.” Just when you think the Lonesome Brothers couldn’t get any better, they do.
The Lonesome Brothers will perform At Mocha Maya’s, 47 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls, on Friday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org