The latest to hit your local record rack!
“The Blurred Odyssey” – The Sh-Booms
Formed in Orlando in 2011, The Sh-Booms have finally delivered their debut full-length LP, “The Blurred Odyseey,” and it is one hell of a record my friend. Perhaps it was the years of being able to fine tune the songs while consistently performing live in their home state and beyond, but The Sh-Booms have delivered an album full of music which feels like both a breath of fresh air and a timeless classic at the same time.
The band describe themselves as “garage soul,” they have elements of many influences (60s rock, punk, surf), but I really hear that old Motown school, undoubtedly due to the powerful lead vocals of Brenda Radney. Behind her, is an amazing eight-piece band: featuring a tight rhythm section, and horns which unabashedly have that soul feel, but also are reminiscent of some ska punk. The album features short intros and outros, which seem a tad superfluous. In-between them are eight awesome tracks which will are guaranteed to get your party going – even if it’s just you in attendance.
Call it ‘garage soul,’ call it ‘r&b rock,’ call it whatever you want – “The Blurred Odyssey” is a near perfect rock and roll record. Radney belts out vocals throughout which remind us of a young Aretha Franklin, Al Ruiz provides some great background vocals to compliment her well (check out the shared leads on “King & Queen”).
After the 2-minute intro jam which sounds like something the band may have done in practices to warm up, the album really kicks off with “Detox to Retox” and “Leon the Hustler” – both tracks that you can imagine are crowd favorites at their live shows. Radney exposes her raw emotion when the band takes a softer turn in “Audible,” a track that is a love song, but not your typical ballad, it still maintains that groove which this album has from start to finish. “Late Night Lover,” brings the tempo up a bit, but still has that slower feel established by the previous track.
The second half of the album is a roller coaster ride! “Dry Eyes” and “Walk It Off” are songs that just will make you want to get up and dance. Then the band closes out the record the heaviest song on the album, “King & Queen,” and the hip “Drop ‘em Dead,” before they take the one awkward turn on the entire record with the closing instrumental. The opener, I can get behind, but this closer runs way too long and sadly reminds us that this fantastic record is over.
I have been telling everyone I know who loves good music to check out “The Blurred Odyssey,” as it is not only my choice album of the year, but it surely deserves a place on my all-time favorites list.
(This story originally appeared in the October 24th issue of The Smart Reader)
Reviews by Jay Jackson. Jackson is a music junkie and host of Pop History Podcast, a monthly throwback to music and culture of the 1980s, available on Google Play and Apple Podcasts. Like Pop History Podcast on Facebook, email email@example.com
“Beneath the Eyrie” – Pixies
After an 10-year absence, indie rock band Pixies returned in 2004 with a new single and the occasional tour throughout the decade. By the time they were ready to record their first album in over twenty years, bass player and vocalist Kim Deal announced she was out. But the band played on. After the release of two new albums, “Indie Cindy” (2014) and “Head Carrier” (2016), many fans showed their disappointment with their new material. But the band played on.
Now, in 2019, they return with their third album since their reunion, and seventh overall – “Beneath the Eyrie.” At 38 minutes, the album moves along quickly, and kicking off with “In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain,” the band seems to be finding their indie-rock groove which made them so popular in their heyday when alternative rock was so non-mainstream it was known as ‘college rock.’
The band continues to shine throughout the first four tracks of the album, including the two singles from the record: rocker “On Graveyard Hill” and the catchy “Catfish Kate.” On “This is My Fate,” singer Black Francis summons his inner Leonard Cohen in his vocal style as well as the lyrics.
The band begins to stumble with the fifth track, “Ready for Love.” A very typical love song, which is quite atypical of this band. The Pixies have played with the love song concept in the past (“La La Love You” 1989), but “Ready for Love” is missing that sardonic tone the band is known to present so well.
For the remaining six tunes, the band seems to deliver good material, but with each track, they seem to be going in a different directions. In “Long Rider,” new bass player Paz Lenchantin gets to put her vocals to use, albeit backing Francis’ vocals (a vast contrast to the earlier gothic “This is My Fate). Lenchantin takes the lead vocal in the mellow tune “Los Surfers Muertos,” and proves that, despite the muddled second half of this record, she has earned her place in the band. Francis beckons his grunge past when he belts out the surf-punk “St. Nazaire,” before taking a poppy turn with “Bird of Prey” and ending the album with two melancholy tracks “Daniel Boone” and “Death Horizon,” which together brings the album to a stumbling conclusion.
Fans of the band will likely be happy with this record, it is the best they have done this century. Personally, I find it a collection of some decent songs, but as an album, it doesn’t go down as well as I would have liked. A proper argument against this review would be that the band has always tackled every genre they could, leaving listeners disjointed even on their classic, revered albums, I have no argument for that. It is good to hear the band playing on.
(This story originally appeared in the October 5th issue of The Smart Reader)