On and Off the Record

Releases by Dan Grimm, Bullet Made Statues and Age of Aquarius

By Kelly McCartney 07/17/2014

Dan Grimm

Average Savage
DGSinger-songwriter Dan Grimm’s most recent album boasts some of the best players around — and not just Ventura County around, but the whole of the music business: Dave Palmer (keyboards), Neal Casal (guitar), Bob Glaub (bass), Don Heffington (drums) and Jesse Siebenberg (guitars and more). Pick a legend and one of these guys has probably played with him. Bob Dylan? Check. Fleetwood Mac? Yep. Paul McCartney? Sure. And, now, Dan Grimm. Produced by Siebenberg and engineered by Jason Mariani at Brotheryn Studios in Ojai, Average Savage defies categorization. It’s a little bit country and a little bit rock ’n’ roll, making it an appropriate reflection of the artist himself. For the most part, Grimm sounds a bit like Jack Johnson channeling Ray LaMontagne. It’s an interesting combination — his smooth vocal timbre floating over the rootsy instrumentation. At the helm, Siebenberg does an excellent job of melding those opposing forces with a clean, but never slick approach to the melodies and arrangements. While the title track is also the weakest of the bunch, the rest of the set holds together pretty well with highlights that include“Peachy Keen,” “Seven Up” and “Mirror.” 

— Kelly McCartney.  

Bullet Made Statues

BMSLast year, Bullet Made Statues issued the first two installments in its four seasons of EPs — Autumn in January and Winter in June. Now, it has returned with Spring, leaving only Summer still to come. The Thousand Oaks-based band features Wes Pagano on vocals and acoustic guitar, Tristan Hendy on keyboards, Paul FitzGerald on bass, Mike Georgia on guitar and Rich Agren on drums. The record draws inspiration from and comparisons to the likes of Yeasayer, MGMT and My Morning Jacket. Here, though, perhaps “In Love in Space” best synthesizes the Bullet Made Statues’ sound. Melding a jam band ethos with an R&B vibe, the funky smooth tune manages to simultaneously chug and float — not an easy feat to accomplish. Other cuts take a slightly more straightforward approach, but not excessively so, as Bullet Made Statues never fails to mix it up, using both organic and electronic instrumentation to cook the gumbo of styles. For some bands, all this artistic miscegenation would lead to an identity crisis, but Bullet Made Statues manages to make it work. And, of course, it ends the set in proper rock band style with the full-on throw-down that is “Haze.” 

— Kelly McCartney.

Age of Aquarius

Sight for the Blind
AOADon’t be fooled by the sleepy, surf-town veneer that coastal Ventura County hides behind. The area has an edge. And it’s exactly that edge that created Age of Aquarius (AOA) out of vocalist Brandon Chackel, guitarist/vocalist Charles Robinson, drummer Eddie Carmona, bassist Richard Galigius, and guitarist/vocalist Kai Ellison. The five guys started playing together a couple years ago, and their debut album, Sight for the Blind, rocks. Hard. Literally. This ain’t your mama’s rock ’n’ roll, that’s for sure. This is alternative power-punk done pure and true, replete with manic drum fills, relentless guitar riffs, and a DIY lyrical ethos. Mix equal parts Green Day, Blink 182, and Linkin Park with a splash of the Offspring and a dash of Pennywise, and, well, you get the idea. Sight for the Blind is a head-banging, high-energy good time of a listen — the musical equivalent of extreme sports. Standout cuts include “Free Yourself,” “Don’t Say Goodbye,” “Edge,” and the electronica-tainted “Your Body Underwater.”   

— Kelly McCartney.

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