CD Reviews – August – 2007

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David Gans
Twisted Love Songs
Perfectible Recordings
3.5 out of 5 stars
If you haven’t heard of David Gans yet, either you’re not a Dead fan or you were still in diapers while Gans was interviewing stars like Phil Lesh, Pat Benetar and Rod Stewart. Best known as the host for the radio show “The Grateful Dead Hour,” Gans has tested his 30-plus years of experience with music to his own most recent album, Twisted Love Songs.

The album is a varied collection of Gans’ own songs, with the exception of the Grateful Dead’s “Cassidy’s Cat,” a version of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” and a few others, with Gans on vocals and acoustic guitar using a loop station to bring it all together. The album begins lighthearted with an old country feel, using the music to tell a story rather than sing one. But Gans more than redeems himself when his roots with the Dead really start to show on track 5, “Prophet and Loss,” an instrumental piece where his vocals don’t get in the way of his dynamic musicianship. Gans has sat in with musicians like Phil Lesh, Railroad Earth, Donna the Buffalo, and String Cheese Incident — and it shows in his guitar work. The music switches throughout the album, from almost cheesy Hank Williams-style country to insanely great jam pieces, so if you hate one song you might love the next.
— Heather Jarvis

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Sweet Sunny South
Showtime
Two Dolla Reccas
4 out of 5 stars
Paonia, Colo.-based bluegrass band Sweet Sunny South has released a new album every year since 2004, and this year is no different with its latest offering, Showtime.
From slower, easy waltz songs to slap your boots and dance fast jams, the album is a diverse collection of catchy, old-time music. With mandolin and fiddle parts really standing out as an imperative and distinct part of the album, along with the acoustic band’s catchy, simple lyrics, the band’s head songwriter Bill Powers emcee’s Showtime, taking listeners on scenic journeys into dusty old American music.
The album was produced by Aaron Youngberg from Hit and Run Bluegrass, who even offers his own pedal steel and banjo licks on a couple of tunes on the album.
While Sweet Sunny South is mostly a traditional bluegrass band, they’re not stodgy traditional. The group showcases playful banter at the end of the disc, even throwing in a Borat quote that sums up the playful and fun elements that the album and the recording process created.
— Heather Jarvis

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Patrick Park
Everyone’s In Everyone
Curb Appeal Records
4 out of 5 stars
Colorado native, L.A. transplant Patrick Park is positioning himself as someone who can hang with the ultimate songwriters of our day with Everyone’s In Everyone, his newest attempt after his 2003 debut, Loneliness Knows My Name. The singer/guitarist has produced a passionate effort to voice his opinion of “Don’t shove your ideology down my throat.” “Life Is A Song” is the first track on the album and the last song heard on Fox’s “The OC,” but this shouldn’t deter listeners, because the music supervisor of the show certainly knew what he was doing. — Heather Jarvis
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Straylight Run
The Needles The Space
Universal Republic Records
3 out of 5 stars
Original is an overused word in this day and age where everything artistic has been done and then done again. But the Long Island, N.Y. four-piece Straylight Run has to at least be given credit for their creativity in their new album, The Needles The Space. Enhanced with piano and organ bits, the album has a unique and interesting spin. The male and female vocals are refreshing, with Michelle DaRosa’s sensual voice completing the album as an eccentric follow-up to their self-titled debut album, which sold over 200,000 copies.
— Heather Jarvis
QUICK SPINS

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Joe Satriani
Surfing with the Alien
Song Legacy Recordings
On this classic instrumental album, Satriani shows that the guitar is an extremely versatile instrument in the right hands. This deluxe re-issue features a live DVD from 1988 and re-mastered sound.
3 out of 5 stars

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S.O.D.
Rise of the Infidels
Megaforce Records
Containing four new songs and a live show from Seattle, this disc is worth hearing for the onstage shenanigans of singer Billy Milano and Anthrax’s Scott Ian alone. Classics from Speak English or Die also shine.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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Waking Up Dead (DVD)
MVD Visual
A truly moving film about the dark side of the music biz. The movie follows former Skid Row and Saigon Kick drummer Phil Varone as he reflects on the fact that being a rock star is not all fun and games.
4 out of 5 stars

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