Eric Sorensen's JANGLE ON for March 2009!!!
By Eric Sorensen, written exclusively for NOT LAME
It has been a slow winter in terms of “new” jangly music. There have been some recent notable exceptions, so here are a few new discs that fellow fans of jangly music ought to seek out:
Jim Hitchcock - GRATEFUL
I did a “Rickenbacker 12-string” search on CD Baby, and – voila! – this excellent 2008 disc appeared. The opening track, “She Came Alone,” sounds similar to the Roger McGuinn/Tom Petty radio friendly tunes of the early 90s. Hitchcock’s Rickenbacker chimes, rings and jangles on other tracks – like “The Love For The Game,” “I Gotta Get Away” and “Pacific Coast Highway.” The liner notes state: “This CD is dedicated to the 60s and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds for his chiming Rickenbacker guitar sound, to the 70s vocal harmony of the Eagles and finally to the melodic digital beauty of U2’s the Edge.” For this, we are grateful to you Jim!
Hey, fans of female vocals and chiming Rickenbacker guitars! Be sure to pick up a copy of the new Jenny Wolfe album AFTER SCHOOL that was just released on the Steady Boy Records label. Ms. Wolfe made quite a splash with her debut disc Jenny Wolfe And The Pack, and now that she is a sophomore in high school, her sophomore disc showcases her growth as a vocalist, songwriter and musician. Mentor Freddie Steady Krc has the 16 year-old Jenny leaving American Idol wannabes eating her dust on 14 tracks of classic rock covers, Explosives covers and original tunes. Jenny’s pipes and chops draw easy comparisons with the Spector girl group sound, the torch-rock repertoire of Linda Ronstadt and the straight-ahead rock’n’roll of Joan Jett. Jenny’s maturing talent is further seasoned with Krc’s steady production skills and a fine handful of studio sidemen that give her big voice a 21st century wall of sound. Jangleholics will be pleased to note that Krc’s bandmate and pal Cam King does the honors on Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, and Ms. Wolfe is pictured in the jewel case with a jetglow Rickenbacker. My favorite tracks: “After School” and “Twisted Smile,” co-written by Jenny and Freddie, and her cover of the Beau Brummels’ mid-60s gem “Just A Little.” Move over Maura Kennedy, Penny Davis, Mary Lou Lord et al - there’s a new girl moving up the jangly charts!
In my last column, I mentioned multi-track artist David Heselden’s self-produced disc, BYRDMAN OF BEARWOOD. David has recorded a number of other jangly tracks on his follow-on compilation disc, HEAR AGAIN! This second disc features more crisp, chiming Rickenbacker riffs on Beatles, Searchers and Byrds covers … as well as some original material. Standout cover tunes include: “When You Walk In The Room,” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” “All I Really Want To Do,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby.” David’s material is not available commercially, but you can contact him at his email address – email@example.com - and mention that you read about him here. He might be willing to share some of his excellent home-recorded music with you. Many thanks to David for keeping the jangly pop-rock of the 60s alive in this millennium, and thanks again to my pal Ray Verno for discovering David’s music via his online searches.
Ray also tipped me off to some new releases involving singer/songwriter and Rickenbacker 12-string guitarist extraordinaire Tony Poole. Tony has released START THE COUNTDOWN, a compilation of material that Tony recorded with the group The Sun in the early 80s, on his own Aurora label. In addition, the Broadside label is releasing a single CD Hits compilation of songs by Tony’s best-known band Starry Eyed & Laughing. Hits will include the band’s superb version of “Chimes Of Freedom” and two previously unreleased live recordings of “He Was A Friend Of Mine” and “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”
“Song of the Month” honors go to Tony Poole for the awesome tune “Stranger In My Time” - which could easily be mistaken for a McGuinn solo track by diehard Byrds fans! Tony also teams up with Sid Griffin (Long Ryders, Coal Porters, Western Electric) on a live version of Sid’s “I Tell Her All The Time.” Fans of the Rickenbacker 12-string sound must have been quite pleased to be in that concert audience. One final note regarding Tony Poole: you can hear Tony’s chiming 12-string guitar on Katie Humble’s disc TRUE TO YOUR SOUL. Katie’s album features a number of cover songs, and Tony’s Rickenbacker is quite pronounced on “Rain” and “Kiss From A Rose.” Long may you run, Sir Tony...and please cross the pond and play a couple of gigs on this side of the Atlantic!
Although the “Godfather of Desert Rock” – Rich Hopkins (Sidewinders, Sand Rubies and Luminarios) – is best known for his snarling Neil Young-inspired “wall of guitars” sound, Rich has given several nods to melodic pop music over the years. His latest disc – LOVELAND – is a collaboration with Lisa Novak, and two of the duo’s songs, “Lucky Guy” and “Matthew Sweet,” are power pop gems...with some Rickenbacker riffs thrown in for good measure. I have said this many times before, but it bears repeating - long may you run, Sir Rich!
A RIVER SO WIDE by Tiller’s Folly
I have CD Baby to thank for finding this excellent disc by a very talented trio that crosses a number of musical genres – pop, rock, country, folk, celtic and bluegrass. While I enjoy the entire album (which features some nifty vocal harmonies reminiscent of Poco), the standout track is “The Things I Haven’t Done” – which is a very radio-friendly song that reminds me of Blue Rodeo.
In the “blast from the past” category comes a handful of groups and artists who all crossed paths in the greater New York City area back in the 80s and 90s. Lauren Agnelli, Dave Rave, Gary “Pig” Gold, Shane Faubert, Tony Low, Buddy Woodward and Mick Hargreaves collectively had a hand in forming the Washington Squares, Agnelli and Rave, the Cheepskates and the Ghost Rockets. While the Cheepskates’ albums featured the most jangly tracks of all of these artists, each of these artists/groups released some excellent melodic pop music that has stood the test of time. What a blast it was to see the Ghost Rockets perform twice in the Washington, D.C. area – and I’ll never forget how enthused Buddy Woodward was to show off his “Nudie” suit when the band played at IOTA.
A similar cluster of talented pop artists crossed paths with one another in the NYC area in the mid-70s. Imagine what it was like to hang out with BEATLEMANIA cast members David Grahame (Paul McCartney), Marshall Crenshaw (John Lennon) and Les Fradkin (George Harrison)...who, while developing their own solo material, admired the home-recorded material by wunderkind indie artist Mark Johnson. Crossing paths in today’s NYC pop scene are, among others, members of the Grip Weeds, the Smithereens, Richard Heyman (once a bandmate of Tommy Keene in the D.C. power pop band the Rave), George Usher, Ed Rogers and the Kennedys. If only I lived closer to Manhattan!
Until next month, jangle on!