The Real Picture
Jam bands aren’t known for brevity, and fans of Shaky Feelin’ will happily feast on this bountiful collection of its best songs, the longest of which is just under 10 minutes. While repetition can be the genre’s Achille’s heel, Shaky Feelin’ doesn’t waste precious time on cheap filler. Thoughtfully arranged with ample time allotted to trading solos, The Real Picture is an outstanding effort from start to finish. Standard jam fare is punctuated with ska, calypso, bluegrass and Latin accents for a sound that should appeal to a broad audience. A solid rhythm section (big ups to the drummers — yes, plural — for spot-on, complex grooves that never sound too busy) provides the backbone of that feeling the band is named for, but it’s all a lovely, gilded frame for Mark Masson’s virtuosity. Inspired, emotional guitar solos are the hallmark of the jam, and Masson’s are celestial. No doubt the quality of the record has something to do with Jon Debaun’s involvement, but Masson and company have also done their homework.
— Michel Miller
Available on Amazon, Spotify, Rdio and at Salzer’s Records.
It wasn’t crack musicians and a pastoral landscape that earned Ventura the nickname Ventucky, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to Dan Grimm. As a loyal lover does his beloved, Grimm is able to forgive the town its warts, even celebrate them, while somehow managing to capture the zeitgeist of the region in a few pretty little country numbers. It’s his ability to so sublimely transmute local culture into melody and verse that has earned Grimm comparisons to the late great Jimmy Adams. It’s only fitting that Ojai’s Jonathan McEuen and Jesse Siebenberg would add some finger-picking heart to Grimm’s strumming soul — the lap and pedal steel guitar parts are absolutely sumptuous. Grimm’s plan to continue to release smaller packages of music more frequently, seems like a good plan. Take Ventucky to the beach and let it be your soundtrack for the end to another perfectly imperfect day in Bakersfield by the Sea.
— Michel Miller
Available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.
This early sampling of one of Ventura’s more promising rock bands is but a taste of what’s to come on the full-length that’s set for release in early 2013. Classic rock with psychedelic overtones à la Cream and Deep Purple, these three songs trace the dreamy meanderings of fantasy rock. Though the aesthetic is a bit Spiders from Mars, the sound isn’t glam; enchanted forests seem a better fit. (While listening, I kept seeing mushrooms and mischievous gnomes.) Rubberneck Lions do their fair share of tripping the light fantastic, especially on “Cosmic Being” but they also, mercifully, get heavy in all the right places. Comparisons to the oft maligned but highly underrated band Wolfmother seem inevitable — and that’s not a bad thing. Can’t wait to hear what’s next.
— Michel Miller
Available at www.reverbnation.com/rubbernecklions. Rubberneck Lions will perform at Bombay Bar and Grill on Friday, Nov. 16, for the RAWwards semifinals.