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The Beloved Infidels “Trompe L’ oeil Girl”

17 Aug, 2009 Rhonda Readence

the-beloved-infidels_trompe-l-oeil-girl5The Beloved Infidels album “Trompe L’oeil” begins with the track Suzanne, which is not really a song at all, but a story. Suzanne, poor Suzanne. She was clearly in a bad relationship with a man who was not exactly a nice guy. By the end of the song, I am pulling for Suzanne to move on and get the hell out of that. I’m sure anyone who listens to this song knows a “Suzanne” in their own lives, which makes this song easy to relate to. In addition to some great lyrics, TBI gives us a bouncy beat and a foot tapping rhythm. I imagine walking down the street listening to this and finding that I’ve got a little extra spring in my step despite the serious nature of the lyrics.

Gasoline Can starts with a really cool surfer-esque guitar lick and moves into Jackie singing about various people in different places around the country and what they might do for love. From Grand Rapids to Boston to Seattle, The Beloved Infidels ask, “Would he walk through hell with a gasoline can if he knew you were waiting on the other side….. And if you’d do the same for him, you’d know that it’s right.” It’s a love song with some nice tambourine work and a vaguely 60’s feel with the hands clapping in the background. Gasoline Can is a pretty simple song, which is why I like it. The message I get from this song is to treat others the way you’d like to be treated, and if you do that, love will find you eventually.

The next track, Fallen Angels, makes me think of a cute little surf bar not far from the beach with some tiki torches blazing and surfer guys and girls dancing in the glow of the setting sun. It certainly has a “beachy” feel to it and I’d like to listen to this song in the exact setting that I described above to see if it feels as “beachy” to me as it does right now while I sit here and listen to the melody in my headphones. Jackie’s voice, coupled with the smooth surf guitar, is enough to make this song great, but then The Beloved Infidels give us a surprise towards the end of the song with a totally sweet drum break in there. Up until now, I think I was taking the drums for granted, but this song clearly shows that there is WAY more to TBI than just the lyrics and the guitar.

Trompe L’Oeil Girl, which is the title track, starts off with some guitar work that immediately tugs at the heart, and then a catchy groovy drum rhythm takes over, and then the guitar and the drums become one. And then Jackie starts to sing and this song just gets better. It’s got more of a rock feel to it then the rest of the songs so far, and the lyrics are worth taking a second listen to. The first time around the listener might be too caught up in the melody of the song to pay enough attention to the lyrics, but the second time around, the lyrics really pop. Trompe L’Oeil means “to fool the eye”, and when I listen to the lyrics, it makes perfect sense. We are not always what we seem, are we?

Fishtown is next. I’m a little curious as to why TBI decided to call this song Fishtown. It begins with some simple guitar work and a standard drum beat, and the words are pretty good, but I’m still confused as to why this song is called Fishtown. It’s about two people who are rather young, trying to find themselves and their places in life. It’s about being afraid of being who we are, of opening up to someone else, of being vulnerable. I like the song, but the title still sits funny in my head. Fishtown. It makes me think of men and boys working on a dock, unloading pounds upon pounds of fish into a wheelbarrow or a big truck something like that, and this image does not fit the song at all.

The next track, Hey Romeo, is a very upbeat and bouncy song that makes me want to dance, preferably with a good looking gentleman. As Jackie says, “Forever is a long long time, don’t wanna talk about it now.” This song seems to be mostly about physical attraction. We’ve all been physically attracted to someone, so much so that we don’t care a thing about that person’s past or their future plans or the forever that may or may not come. All we want is to be wrapped up in that person’s arms feeling like everything is perfect and at peace in the world, if only for a short while.

This Time Around might be my personal favorite so far because I can relate so well to it. If Hey Romeo was about physical attraction and a possible one night stand, This Time Around is about a solid relationship that has failed for one reason or another and the people who were in the relationship just can’t let it go. They want to try one more time, despite all the reasons that it failed the first time. It’s sort of a dreamer’s song, though, in the sense that most of the problems in relationships don’t go away. Jackie sings, “Baby let’s leave the world behind… Maybe there’s a way you can disconnect my mind… We’ll start again, free from the past that holds us down… And nothing can stop us this time around.” If only it were that easy. In addition to the lyrics of this song hitting home in so many ways, the musicianship is extraordinary as well. The song takes a drastic change with some bongo drums and a more intense and defined feel about halfway through. All the sudden I felt like I was in Jamaica for a minute. And while I liked that little change up, I think the song would be better without it. All in all, this is the best song on the album so far.

Accessory Doll is a total women’s song. It’s all about men wanting little trophy girlfriends, girls they can show off, girls that are best seen and not heard. And Jackie is having none of it and neither are the other members of The Beloved Infidels. This would be an angry song if it didn’t sound so cheerful, which is the norm for TBI. Even when they are singing about women feeling slighted by men who only care about having a pretty little thing to walk around with and call “their own”. Listening to this song makes me want to stand up and roar, even though it’s an upbeat song. The lyrics really carry this one.

The next track is called She’s Just Too Good For You, and I wonder if it’s going to be like Accessory Doll in the sense that it’s a women’s song. It starts off a little bit punky, slips into a Diana Ross and the Supremes vibe, and then we’re in Jamaica again. And yes, I think it’s another women’s song, which I can really get behind considering that I am a woman of the world. Go Jackie! I like the lyrics very much, but the different styles of music that appear in this song may not mesh very well. It flows decently, but I feel sort of dizzy when it changes up from the reggae vibe to the slightly punk vibe to the 60’s surfer vibe. And while it may not flow as smoothly as some of the other songs on the album, it certainly does highlight the versatility of the band.

The last track of the album is titled Bigger Than Life and it’s all about not letting that special girl go. Or that special guy. This one can go either way, even though the words are sung from a women’s point of view. This is a song about being smart enough to know when you’ve got something good and not letting it go, which is surprisingly hard to do sometimes. The grass is always greener, right? And when we see greener grass over there, we could very possibly walk away from something very special, something that is right here in front of us, something that is Bigger Than Life.

The Beloved Infidels album “Trompe L’Oeil Girl” is a very polished mix of several different musical genres and the artists have done a great job making them come together in a unique and melodic way. I very much enjoyed listening to this CD, although I am confident that it would have sounded all that much better if I could have listened to it in a beach bar surrounded by tiki torches and good people. However, The Beloved Infidels actually took me there for a short while, and for that I say thank you.

Reviewed By Rhonda Readence

Abe’s Logic “Wars Ragin”

17 Aug, 2009 Rhonda Readence

abes-logic_wars-ragin2Wars Ragin by Abe’s Logic packs a punch from the start of the first track, “Chippin Away”. As I was listening to this song, I noticed that my foot was tapping, I was playing the drums on my desk, and before too long, I was bouncing around my apartment like a whirling dervish, which is how I dance. “Chippin Away” has one hell of a beat that really makes the listener want to move. It has a bit of a Dave Matthews groove to it. It’s a feel-good type of song with meaningful lyrics. If you don’t listen closely, you will be too caught up in the happy rhythm to pay enough attention to what Abe has to tell us.

The second song begins with some mellow horns and a slightly melancholy feel. “I Stepped Into the Shade” makes me think of a lonely Sunday afternoon, just hanging out at home, wishing someone would call or come by for a visit, but not really wanting to see anyone, if that makes any sense. It’s a sweetly solitary song, meaning that it’s a good song to listen to when you’re by yourself, feeling a little bit peaceful, a little bit lonely, and in need of a good tune.

“Rusty’s Game” is a funky song, with some catchy drum work that immediately pulls the listener in. This song makes me think of jazz and blues and sitting in a smokey club as the sun goes down and the sky is painted beautiful. Perhaps there’s a glass of wine in hand, maybe a significant other sitting across from you tapping their fingers with the drum beat. This is a classy song that highlights the excellent musicianship that Abe’s Logic. As of now, this song is my favorite.

Track four, “The Prestige”, changes it up a little. In my mind, when I listen to this song, I see people swing dancing, which is something I’ve never tried and can’t do, but find fascinating anyway. Yes, swing dancing, with maybe a little head banging thrown in there and some joyful jumping around with no particular style of dancing in mind, which is pretty much what I did while listening to this song. It’s a high energy song that is guaranteed to get people moving. I’d play this one at a party to get things spiced up a little.

“Wars Ragin”, the album’s title track, is the heart and soul of this album. It is clear by listening to this track that Abe would like us to really listen to his words. There is nothing to distract the listener from the lyrics, and they are indeed exceptional lyrics. Abe is asking us not to forget, even in the midst of every day life, that there are wars ragin. Sitting at home, veggin’ out in front of the tube, not a care in the world…… And meanwhile, there are wars ragin all over the place and people who are living in war zones while we sit in our comfortable homes with our electricity and our water and our heat and AC and TVs. This song is a thinker. It made me question some things about my own life, and I think that was Abe’s goal when he wrote this one.

The sixth song of the album, “Easy Life”, is a softer song that has some pretty deep meaning. It’s about taking the easy way, just sort of drifting along and not doing much to change anything. But the listener may have to ask if that’s necessarily a bad thing. The song has a cheerful undertone, while the lyrics are rather hard to interpret, at least for me. I’m not sure if Abe is saying that it’s GOOD to just go with the flow and just drift along, or if it’s NOT good because, as he says, “If I’m sittin’ back, sittin’ back, doin’ nothing about it myself.” I like the song, despite its ambiguity. Or maybe because of it.

“It’s Not Just Me” starts off with some signature guitar work and has a slight punk undertone. It makes me think of a tropical Bad Religion almost. Abe’s solid voice really comes through in this song, giving the listener a new perspective on the album. Up until now, I don’t think we were truly aware that Abe has a set of pipes on him that rival those of Greg Graffin.

“What We Crave” beings with a pop melody that gets the foot tapping right away. It’s a rather melancholy song that tugs once or twice at the heart and perhaps brings to mind memories of old friends, old lovers, and maybe happier times. Abe’s vocals are a bit hard to understand in this song, and I had to listen to it several times to be sure I was hearing it correctly. There is a lot going on in this song, and I think the vocals get a bit lost in the shuffle.

The ninth track, “That Was Safe”, reminds me a bit of My Morning Jacket, at least at the beginning. But that fades as soon as Abe begins to hit the high notes, and hit them well at that. “As morning dreams still disappear”…… I like that line a lot and might even call this track my favorite so far, aside from “Rusty’s Game” which is still near and dear to my heart. “That Was Safe” is a bouncy tune; a song that you might want to start your day with.

“All of a Sudden” has a pretty cool little guitar hook in there, and that’s what first caught my attention. Aside from that, I find this song rather mundane, and Abe’s lyrics are once again hard to understand. Maybe it’s because I’m listening to the album through laptop speakers, but this song seems to have too many things going on all at once, and Abe’s words get a little muffled, but the guitar hook comes through nice and clear and that’s what kept me listening. That melodic guitar.

The last song of the album is titled “I Want It To Stay”, and it is a good song to end the album on. It’s upbeat and the lyrics are clear and very good. I particularly enjoy Abe’s vocals on this song, as the listener can really get a feel for his vocal range. This too is a dancing song, and overall, I enjoyed this album very much. It gave me an optimistic feeling… A motivated feeling. After listening to Wars Ragin by Abe’s Logic, I had a new energy in me, a feeling that there are things to do and places to go and new things to see and experience. And this is what I like about it; The fact that this music gives me that energized feeling, that feeling of wanting to DO something.

And you know what? I want it to stay. It gets the blood pumping, it gets the heart beating, and it kind of knocks you on your ass for a minute. And we all need to be knocked on our asses for a minute, don’t we? That’s how we get things done, with a little help from some good music. Cheers to Abe’s Logic for being able to motivate me to DO something, even if it was only the dishes I was doing as I listened to the music and danced around my kitchen. Every day chores are so much easier to do when there is some high energy and optimistic music playing to get you moving, and Abe’s Logic came through like a champ in that regard.

Reviewed By Rhonda Readence

Silky Dave “Building A Life”

17 Aug, 2009 Rhonda Readence

silky-dave_building-a-life2Building A Life starts with the track “All the Way Down,” and grabs the listener immediately with a toe tapping beat and a guitar rhythm that makes you want to start dancing. Then Silky Dave begins to sing, and the lyrics are quite simply about getting old. He starts off singing about his Grandma and her ailing body. The song is essentially about aging, and more importantly, feeling it. But there’s a positive side to this song as well, and it can be found in the upbeat rhythm and in the fact that people in life sometimes have to go All the Way Down before getting back up. There are struggles in life that we all face, and we simply have to get up and keep on keepin’ on.

The second track, “Job To Do,” starts off with a hand clapping beat and an rather ominous sounding bass line. I get the feeling that this song is rebellious in a sense. While Silky Dave is singing about wanting a job to do, he is also delving into the darker nature of what people have to do to survive…… The jobs that maybe some people may not WANT to do, but have to do nonetheless. This song will make you think a little.

The title track, “Building A Life,” begins with heart wrenching guitar work and the feeling that a tear or two might leak out at some point while listening to this song. This is a sad song in the sense that it really highlights the struggles of people in general and how hard it can be to build something without having it torn down, either by no fault of your own or because of having done something you wish you hadn’t. There is an edge of self-destructiveness in this song; however, there is optimism here as well, in the sense that the listener feels some hope, especially in the background vocals that seem to swallow you whole and make you feel like you can fly if you tried.

“All Your Stars” is a more upbeat and uplifting tune, with Silky Dave telling us that “the time has come to show what we have learned,” and then going on to make the listener feel like they are part of something, part of some great vibration that is pouring out of the speakers and into our ears. I especially enjoy the violin in this track. The violin really gives it the kick it needs. Plus, there is an added bonus at the end of this one in the form of some truly stellar guitar work.

Track five, “Simple Life,” is the classic American song. I get the feeling of driving out west in some desolate desert town while listening to this. Cowboys abounding, horses silhouetted against the setting sun, the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Don’t let the title deceive you though. The song isn’t about life being simple. It’s about life being hard, which it does tend to be for much of the time.

The song “Middle Class” is just what it seems. It’s about being a middle class man, with a touch of bitterness. Perhaps Silky Dave is getting tired of being Middle Class, kinda like the rest of us, and he doesn’t spare words in this one. It’s slightly depressing, but it’s real life, and there’s no denying it. Silky Dave does assure us though that “It’s really not that bad, don’t look so sad.”

“Pick Your Fights” starts off with some easy and light guitar work that makes me think of walking through a field of timothy, or maybe wheat, perhaps holding the hand of a certain someone who’s caught my eye. This is a cheerful song that pretty much asks, “Why must we fight?” And really, why must we?

Track eight, “This Town is Breaking My Heart,” will make you think, no doubt. It’s about helping your fellow man and trying to work together. It’s about wanting to get away from the places that hurt. It’s about living in beauty and being peaceful and happy. I would almost go so far as to say that this is a love song, but not for a person. It’s a love song for the wide open and gorgeous land of America that the big city people don’t get to enjoy nearly enough.

“Mama Wants to Know” is a song about Moms. And they always want to know, don’t they? They want to know if you’re happy, if you’re hungry, if you’ve got dirty drawers on. (Silky Dave never mentions dirty drawers, but I think he should.) I like this song very much because he’s reassuring his mom that he’s alright, and that’s what moms want to hear, most especially if you’re telling the truth, but we so seldom do. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from, this song will make you think of your Mom, hopefully with love and a smile.

“Nine Out of Ten” starts of with the twangy signature country style guitar that we all seem to associate with Texas for some reason, and the song itself is about thinking of someone you care about deeply. The longing to be with that person, the fact that you can’t stop thinking about that person. It’s a love song and it’s good.

Track eleven, “The Dream,” starts off a little heavier than the others with a solid bass line and the feeling that we don’t know where this song is going to go. It’s got a bit of funk to it. Makes me want to saunter around, feeling like a bad ass while I wear a cowboy hat and some killer boots. It’s a great ending to a great album, and Silky Dave nails this song. He asks, “Is this the end, or is it just the start… When is the dream gonna start…” I especially like the guitar work and the background vocals in this song and the fact that the album ends on such a strong note.

I’ve never been much of a country music fan, and I’m not sure if I’d classify Building A Life as strictly country because there are so many different things happening in this album, but I do have to say, Silky Dave has made me want to see what else is out there along the lines of what he’s doing. I believe that my musical horizons have indeed been broadened with the album Building A Life, and to Silky Dave I say “Thanks.”

Reviewed By Rhonda Readence

Kindred Souls “Social Ninja”

17 Aug, 2009 Rhonda Readence

kindred-souls_social-ninja3The first time I listened to the EP “Social Ninja” by Kindred Souls I had the flu. I was achy, sick, fevered, and flushed. I was in no mood for crappy music and I have to be honest and say that I did not hold much hope for Kindred Souls to make me feel much better.

I am glad to say that I was proven entirely wrong. Listening to Kindred Souls was the equivalent of having chicken soup mainlined directly into my veins. I was completely and thoroughly enthralled with their attention grabbing melodies and soulful lyrics with the first melancholy piano notes of the track “Whatchagonnado.” The song immediately tugs at the heartstrings and makes you take notice not only of the music, but of the feelings that begin to stir within. The line that REALLY tugged at my heart is “Simple dreams collide, so says the tide.” Those words are profound and pure. The rest of the song is just as profound with Kindred Souls asking what we’re gonna do when we come to a fork in the road. We have all come to a fork in the road at some point, and we have all been forced to make life changing decisions, for good or ill. This is a song about life and the choices we must make in order to survive.

“Losing You” begins with hard hitting guitar chords and a foot tapping drum beat. When the vocals kick in, I immediately have the uncontrollable urge to sing along. This is a feel good song, even though the lyrics are about the fear of losing someone you love. It is a song that makes you remember your first love, and your second, and even your third, if you’re lucky enough (or unfortunate enough) to have had three loves. “How many times,” Kindred Souls asks. How many times have I stood in your doorway? The lyrics of this song are not overly complex or complicated, which is probably why I like it. It’s extremely simple. We all fear losing someone we love, and we all ask ourselves how many times we will remember the past and possibly regret something we’ve done or losing someone we wish we hadn’t.

The song “A While” is my personal favorite. It starts off with some incredible guitar work and then the lyrics come forth with the force of being smacked in the heart with a blunt instrument. This song is about life and love and hope and being together. It’s a very warm song, a very peaceful song. This is something that I would like to listen to while sitting on the couch with my love and a glass of wine as a fire blazes in the fireplace and the snow flies outside. Unfortunately I don’t have a fireplace, but I did listen to this while sitting on the couch with my love and a glass of wine as the snow flew outside, and it is what I can only describe as a love song.

The final track of the EP, “High Wire,” is probably my least favorite, only because it reminds me of church. This is not necessarily a bad thing because the REASON it reminds me of church is because of the backing vocals. “We shine shine…… Like the sun.” It’s an extremely uplifting song and once I got over my church phobia, I thoroughly enjoyed it and even found myself belting out the lyrics as I danced around my apartment. This song made me feel GOOD. Did I say this was my least favorite track on the EP? I apologize for that. I think it has just turned into my favorite track. We all need some optimism in our lives, and I think Kindred Souls gives it to us with their EP “Social Ninja.”

After listening to the EP, I told the flu to kiss my ass and I listened to it again. And again. I credit Kindred Souls for my quick recovery from the flu. This EP has the power to make people feel good and to make people take a look around them. This music will make people FEEL. And isn’t that what music is supposed to do? I think so.

Reviewed By Rhonda Readence