Saturday, October 17, 2015
Fourplay : Ken Francis Wenzel , Charley and Jesi , Tim Houlihan , Gypsy Lumberjacks
"Beneath Potomac Skies" is the first full length album from Ken Francis Wenzel, but it´s not his first release. Ken debuted with his band Cross Kentucky and the "This Is Cross Kentucky" EP in 2010 and he spent over ten years as a touring saxophonist, backing up artists such as Carlos Santana and Frankie Avalon.
His latest album is a full-band collection of moments and memories culled from time spent in Washington DC, featuring several guest appearances from some of the DC´s areas finest musicians.
The 12 songs on "Beneath Potomac Skies" comes the real things in life, your mom´s sunday stew, the coffee break at the local factory and friends you haven´t seen in years but think about from time to time.
Definitely a must buy if you´re a fan of Americana and roots rock in the same vein as Shawn Mullins, Counting Crows and The National.
Highlights : "Landing lights", "Red letter days"
Imagine sitting in the hotelbar where a band is playing quite harmless and real discreetly, you hear them but you hardly pay any attention. I´m afraid the Los Angeles pop rock duo Charley and Jesi gives you that feeling on their 4th album "With love".
There´s a bit of Fleetwood Mac in their sound but also Hall and Oates, I can´t say this duo belong in the same division because the songs on "With love" are hardly memorable.
But if you want your music to be smooth and an easy listening affair, then Charley and Jesi do a decent job at it. The song "Lunar dream" could in fact be something Sade had recorded.
The opening track "Hurry up and take your time" bring thoughts to The Beatles and it´s also the best song of the album. The rest of the album is a bit shattered with the reggae flirt in "No reply" to the 70´s disco in "Just wanna dance", thumbs up for the gospel ending in "Love-in" though. I liked that part.
I bet they do a great job as a covers band performing pop hits from the 70´s.
At first I thought this album felt a bit mediocre but after a few spins, the music grows and I find myself humming along to songs like "Wisdom tree" and "Thinking about you".
So who is Tim Houlihan? Well, he was born in Missouri but now resides in Minneapolis. Since this album "Anthems" was released a couple of years ago, he is actually wrapping up a new album right now.
Tim is influenced by iconic artists like Stephen Stills, James Taylor and Jackson Browne so it´s not so hard to understand that we´re dealing with singer / songwriter rock here but with traces of 70´s album rock and even blues in some moments.
The album´s got a warm sound and the music feels a bit laid back but I like it, the best track is "Midnight out here" that sounds like an unreleased song by Mark Spiro.
Recommendable if you like Nils Lofgren, Fathom Lane, America.
Feel like jammin´? Well, the Minneapolis based trio Gypsy Lumberjacks sure do feel like it.
I really enjoyed their previous effort "Pulling upon a strap" from 2014 which is a good album and their 3rd release "Giants of America" kinda continue where the latest album left off.
Their music would do just fine for a bunch of squaredancers in Alabama as it would at a Wedding party in Peru. This is world music my friends.
We get flamenco, jazz, jam rock and acoustic pop in a big soup but it works.
Leif Magnusson - Vocals/Guitar, Pete Verdin - Bass and Benj Karon - Percussion knows what they´re doing, anything can happen here.
They pull off a Grateful Dead cover with "Friend of the devil", knocks on the door to Sting-pop-land in the lovely "Bad boy" and even pay a visit in French traditional music in "Kill a man".
Phish meets Al Di Meola in the groovy instrumental "Hurry up" while they go flirting with Janis Joplin in the gospel rock of "Love her in the morning", anything can happen like I said.