On and Off the Record
By Chris Jay and Michel Cicero 06/28/2012
50 Sticks of Dynamite
50 Sticks of Dynamite
50 Sticks of Dynamite is the self-titled, debut release from the banjo-fueled blues band that has been featured regularly at local events over the past two years. The record’s raw feel and sound can be attributed to the impressive fact that the entire effort was recorded live in one room in one afternoon. Chief songwriter Ian McFadyen covers the standard blues topics like hearts, trains and women while the band, which includes Chris Jensen, who has long been one of the scene’s better drummers, provides solid backing. It’s a satisfying release for fans of the blues and Americana genres, but as their fiery live shows have proven recently, their debut is just a glimpse of the great band they’ve become since its release last year.
— Chris Jay
Available on iTunes.
A standout from Zoey’s Ones to Watch Singer Songwriter series, the college-aged Ferrari is one of the county’s most promising and popular young songwriters. Though Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz instantly come to mind, Ferrari does manage to put his own stamp on the effort. “Fire” is borderline soul and “Under The Covers” has the kind of sexual innuendo often found on a Maroon 5 record. Ferrari’s lyrics are simple and to the point, and they work best on the record’s ballads, like the gorgeous “All The Way Back.” Produced by Todd Hannigan, it’s a complete and well-polished debut that’s already made fans of celebrities such as Rob Lowe, who tweeted about the release to his thousands of followers. While Lowe may be the first of Ferrari’s fans in high places, he certainly won’t be the last.
— Chris Jay
Available on iTunes. Tony Ferrari will perform at Zoey’s on Saturday, June 30.
Sunday Morning Murder Songs
It’s been a common practice of late for singer-songwriters to give voice to all their musical personalities on one recording. Whether paying homage to their heroes, attempting to be eclectic or expressing the full scope of their talent, this approach runs the risk of leaving artists without a solid identity, and listeners scratching their heads. On Sunday Morning Murder Songs, Aaron Orbit unabashedly offers a patchwork of inspirations — ’80s-era Michael Jackson, early Elton John, Bowie, Elliot Smith, (Pink Floyd?) held together by a thread of musical theater waxed with cynical humor — and somehow it all works. As a songwriter, Orbit is the perfect ratio of John to Paul. His range and energy as a vocalist bring to mind a seasoned stage performer, and I can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t really belong on Broadway. Though not outshone by the high gloss production on some of the songs, Orbit is at his best when the accompaniment is sparse and the emotion raw. The record is like a sampler of local talent, featuring cameos by a who’s who of the area’s best players. Notable tracks: “Screenplay,” “Prove Me Wrong,” “Waiting for Signs” and “Camelot.” — Michel Cicero
Available on iTunes and www.aaronorbit.com.Aaron Orbit will perform at the Scheideck Music Festival this weekend.
An integral part of Ventura’s underground folk revival scene, Deepakalypse (aka Deepak Super) delivers his first record in nine years — it was worth the wait. Clever as the summer days are long, his lyrics are wry, intelligent, smile-provoking and (graciously) available on his bandcamp page. Tasteful horns (Brandon Burns), charming harmonies (by Sydni Skorich on the song’s title track) and Deepak’s own perfect placement of electric nuance along with Trevor Beld-Jimenez’s (Tall Tales and the Silver Lining) skillful production combine to take Magnetic Love beyond the folk singer-songerwriter arena. Devendra Banhart, Beck and Modest Mouse all come to mind but Deepak is most definitely an original. There are those who are caught up in the all too pervasive pre-apocalyptic minutiae of the moment, and there are those who refuse to let it fuck with their happiness. This is for them. — Michel Cicero
Available at www.deepakalypse.bandcamp.com.
If ever there were two voices meant to sing together, they are B Willing James’ and Justine Bennett’s. The gorgeous duet — each already successful as a solo artist — began flirting with their possibilities during the Rubicon Theatre musical production of Lonesome Traveler. Willing portrayed various folk heroes, including Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, while Bennett played an uncanny Joan Baez. The magic was evident to everyone lucky enough to be in their presence, and eventually they decided to immortalize it. The first Phantom Tortoise EP (there’d better be a future full-length) is a simple offering: Five soulful songs with delicious harmonies and pretty melodies for all the gentle people. She and Him: step aside. — Michel Cicero
Available on iTunes and at www.phantomtortoise.bandcamp.com. Phantom Tortoise will perform at Zoey’s on Sunday, July 1.