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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

The Pack A.D. show another side on latest CD

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The Pack AD are back with their new CD “Do Not  Engage.”
 While not as bluesy as their earlier works or as ferocious as their most recent works, their latest splits the difference yet also has a softer sound, though no less menacing.Click here to hear the Pack A.D.
 The Vancouver based duo of drummer Maya Miller and guitarist  / vocalist Becky Black provide a lot of tortured melodies and grinding guitar riffs on songs like “Animal.” and  the highlight “the Water.”
 They have a Pixieish feel on several tracks of noisy, grinding rock music.
They don’t play fast , but they play powerfully, making every chord count on tracks like the first single  “Battering Ram,” and “Stalking is Normal.“
One of the more catchy numbers “ Big Shot” which sounds like it stepped right out of the early ’90s, would be a hit for them in a different world.
 “Creeping Jenny” is another grinding highlight.
 They slow down a little on “the spooky  “ the Flight,” on which they added  a lot of echo to Becky Black’s voice backed by a menacing guitar rhythm and martial drum beats.
 They show a more sensitive, yet still spooky sound on “Loser”  as  Black mourns “ Let the solitude swallow me” which also has a lot of echo on her voice.
 It is another grunge  era influenced song   which is reminiscent of Radiohead’s first big hit “Creep.”
 There are a lot of slower songs on this CD including “Needle.” and the mid tempo rocker “Rocket,” which allows Black to show off her strong voice.
 I always enjoy the more rockier tracks, but “Do Not Engage,“ shows off another, perhaps more introspective side of  the Pack‘s personality.
The Pack A.D. continue to grow.
—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Do Not Engage
Band: The Pack A.D.
Genre: Alternative rock

Little Miss Higgins and The F-Holes make beautiful jazzy music together

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Little Miss Higgins and the Winnipeg Five’s new CD   ‘Bison Ranch Recording Sessions’ combines the efforts of  two of my favourite prairie musicians, — Nokomis, Saskatchewan’s jazzy, folk singer  Little Miss Higgins and Winnipeg based crazy folk-roots group the F- Holes.Click Here to hear Little Miss Higgins and the Winnipeg Five
 They make a perfect match on a CD full of music combining Little Miss Higgins’ ’20s rural jazz sensibilities with the killer musicianship of the F- Holes.

 H Jolene Higgins aka Little Miss Higgins, has a sexy jazz cabaret voice which is almost more at home in the 1920s than it is today, yet is still timeless. Together they sound like they have been playing together for years.
They play a variety of music including  tender ballads like ‘ The Barns we Used to Dance In.”  and  the sultry ‘Restless Heart’  and  the sultry ‘ I Want to Go to Your House Tonight.’

They also play several toe tapping rockabilly numbers like ‘Chateau Poulet,’ which is sung  in French.
Throughout the band combines renditions of earnest jazz like their cover of jazz standard ‘Keep a Song in your Soul,’ with Higgins’ quirky humour  on ‘ I Was at An Auction’ which combines her wit with her love for traditional old time music.

‘Dead Cow Hill combines a bit of history with a lot of jazz and folk music.
 One of the many beautiful things about the F-Holes is their use of horns. Jimmie James McKee uses his trumpet and Euphonium with great taste which enhances the jazzy feel of the Bison Recording Sessions.’
 The music will take you back to a more innocent time and in the process get those toes a tapping.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD:  Bison Ranch Recording Sessions
Artists: Little Miss Higgins and the Winnipeg Five
Genre: jazz/ roots/ blues

Paper Kite make music to mellow out to

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If you want to have some music to just chill out to, check out Melbourne, Australia band, the Paper Kites’ new CD ‘States.’

 Click here to hear the Paper KitesIt is a very, very, mellow effort marked by ethereal, spooky, calmingly whispered  vocals  from Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy, who take turns singing lead vocals over delicate layers of instrumentation including guitars, steel guitars,piano, horns a variety of strings like cello, violin and viola and other instruments
 Noe of them really stand out as they all have a very similar sound.

 The ethereal vocals, while pleasant, give the CD complete consistency, with little deviation.

 ‘In Reverie’ is a sweet, more upbeat, ambient number though and “Never Heard A Sound’ is  a nicely arpeggiated blend of Paul Simon and the Shins.
“Tenenbaum’ is another very pretty number.
But while it is very similar sounding, The Paper Kites’ ‘States is a good CD to put on after a long day, maybe take a batch to, and just relax.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: States
Band: The Paper Kites
Genre: indie pop

Ben Sures combines the blues with unusual lyrics and lots of influences

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Ben Sures is lovably quirky, but he shows he is also a mighty fine bluesman on his new CD  ‘Son of Trouble.’
 it is unusual to see this bluesy side of him as his previous CDs have been more along the lines of world music or standard singer-songwriter music with those lovably unusual lyrics. The blues fits him like a well tailored suit, though given how strange the lyrics are the suit would have to be fluorescent green with purple polka dots.

He comes into his own as a bluesman and it doesn’t hurt that he has Paul Reddick on board to add hot harp solos right from the beginning of ‘Dig That Thing.’Click here to hear Ben Sures

 It is not all  about the blues though. ‘Son of Trouble’ features a touch of reggae, a little bit of jazz and even some rockabilly/ Sun Studios country music.

‘Eat, Drink and Make Babies, is definitely my favourite song which combines his quirky sense of humour with the great blues groove thanks to Ken Whiteley’s piano groove.

“I want to eat, drink, and make babies, and maybe when it’s over take a nap,’ Sures deadpans, which summarizes his irreverent attitude towards lyrics.

 In a similar vein Sures sings ‘Love Will Kick your Ass’ also features some cool Paul Reddick harp solos and very tasteful guitar solo.
 When he’s not being quirky, he focuses on women past and present like on the slower blues ‘Pamela, Pamela’ and on the introspective, nostalgic ‘Where Are They Now.’ He shows off how tastefully he can play on ‘Pamela, Pamela.’ Where Are they Now’ has a cool acoustic fingerpicked guitar lick that comes straight out of  the Chet Atkins’ playbook, with just a touch of Caribbean melody.

He also shows how well he can play on the cool, ’60s style instrumental ‘Big Blue Box.’
He goes country/rockabilly on another unusual song ‘Saggy, Baggy Faces.’ which could be an unusual outtake from a 1950’s Sun Studios sessions
 He makes his rambling stream of consciousness rhyme every time. Some of the rhymes on songs like ‘I Could Be Your Man’ are just off the wall  — ‘I’m a  troubadour with a pompadour’ or I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger with a calculator, a relationship terminator’ and there is something about Darth Vader in there too.

 They don’t make any sense at all, but they Sures are fun. He gets serious on a couple tracks like the tender French ballad ‘Je Chanterai Pour Toi’ and on a solid cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson blues classic ‘See that My Grave is Kept Clean.’ He begins it a cappella, with just a single drum and is later joined by bass, cascading cymbal crash and then guitar right out of the Delta.
 ‘La Luna En Tu Mirada’ opens with some sinister sounding saw playing, followed by Sures crooning in Spanish.
He flirts with reggae and gets political on ‘The 99’  as he sings ‘Occupy my shoes  and see how I feel,’ but fits in a line about about Wayne Gretzky as well.

 He has an appealing, real, earnest, tender voice that comes across as a weirder Paul Simon.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Son of Trouble
Artist: Ben Sures
Genre: Blues
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