There has been one hell of a lot of good tunes being released this year making the Pick Six a lot harder to assemble. That my friends is one heck of a problem to have if you ask me. So after filtering through a ton of music I present to you July’s Pick Six. Enjoy.
The Benchmarks – American Night
Dropping the eponymous band name Todd Farrell Jr. and crew rechristened themselves the Benchmarks and delivered a six song record loaded with catchy lyrics, jangly guitar riffs and pop infused melodies while keeping a Southern flavor. The EP starts with the short and sweet “Roman Candles”. The diminutive track is an introduction into the song “April Fire”. Possessing a Tom Petty vibe the rocking tune about being older and everything is different yet quite similar. The song “Paper Napkins” is a slower tune about life as a musician. While others are enjoying time with family and friends they are spending on the road in airports, vans and music venues. The title track – “American Night” – is a kick ass rocker that is connected to the opening tune – “Roman Candles” – by its chorus and may be the best song on the record. Using Southern imagery Farrell sings about escaping a small town for something bigger and more exciting. The album is rounded out with the punk infused “Liner Notes” which gets better with each listen and the laid back “Just Fine” built around Farrell’s voice, an acoustic guitar and a taste of piano. American Night is a fun listen from start to finish as the Benchmarks show listeners what they are capable of. If you dig a good rock album then this is what you need to listen to.
Seminole Strut – Clatter and Howl
If you want to listen to something different yet still has a familiar feel then go listen to the debut LP from Seminole Strut, Clatter and Howl. The Huntsville, AL collective emerged from a jam session between friends to become something bigger. Based on a Southern sound they have created a sound that is undefined. Twangy guitars lean towards Southern rock, soulful rhythms take things in a different direction, pop and jazz undertones float through the ears while a gospel vibe keeps a steady presence. With each track a Seminole Strut leads listeners in a different direction. The epic “Cimmaron” is a psychedelic tune loaded with chunky guitar riffs and hazy vocals. The track “Hank” is a balls to the wall Southern rocker that could have found its way on many an Allman Brothers album. “A jaunty jam, “Possumhaw” would be just another song if not for the soulful keyboard that makes it something special. Clatter and Howl is a record that grows on the listener. Each spin opens up multiple layers of Seminole Strut’s music making it that much better. This is the kind of record you crank up and kick back with a cold beer and enjoy.
Aaron Lee Tasjan – Telling Stories To The Wall
Aaron Lee Tasjan once again has given music lovers an album they can sink their teeth into with his latest EP Telling Stories To The Wall. Tasjan has mastered the art of getting important points across using lighthearted and humorous lyrics. The four songs have been staples of his live shows and he has captured the same feel on this EP. The track “American Tan” is a sardonic look at society’s ills like the growing divide between rich and poor, racism and elitism. On “Madonna’s From America” he speaks his mind about Madge’s career while treating listeners to his incredible guitar skills. “Not Punk” sees him delve into the spoken word format. On the “poem/history of a beginning” Tasjan details why punk is so effin’ great and what being punk is not. Finally there is one of Tasjan’s overall best songs – “Living Proof” – a somber song about telling the truth. While only four tracks Telling Stories To The Wall is one of the best records of 2015. Aaron Lee Tasjan’s songwriting is brilliant with lyrics that will stick with listeners long after they have listened to the songs. Give it a listen and then tell me if I am wrong.
Blue Blood – This Is The Life
The debut record from Athens, GA’s Blue Blood is a satisfying romp through a lush musical landscape. Spacey melodies lead listeners through layer upon layer of musical goodness on this psychedelic tinged album. Songs like “This is the Life”, “Money to Lose” and “All the Lies” are tied together with catchy pop melodies reminding listeners of everything from the Beatles to Roxy Music to Pink Floyd. The brooding electronic undertones on “Every Day is Like Yesterday” shows Blue Blood’s abilities to switch things up and “Helping Hands” possess some epic guitar work throughout the song. What may be the best track on the record has to be “We Could Never Be Friends”. A slow and somber beginning opens up to an incredible soundscape that before disappearing into fuzziness. This Is the Life is a timeless album that gets better with each listen. Blue Blood has created a sound with so many layers you discover something new on each spin. Give Blue Blood a listen and support local music.
Heathen Sons – Through the Eyes of a Lion
Through the Eyes of a Lion, the new record from Nashville’s Heathen Sons, is one of those albums that grows on you. From first play you get the impression the band is just another generic rock band but upon further review you will hear that is far from the truth. The guitar laden EP is everything you could ask for in a rock album. Songs like “Futures” and “Lions” possess a raw sound similar to early Kings of Leon or Band of Heathens while “On the Wall” mixes in a Pettyesque jangle. The catchy “Temporary Queen” fully embraces Southern rock with vicious guitar riffs that would make Gary Rossington and Dickey Betts proud. Lyrically the EP is equally as tasty with the band’s words sticking in your brain long after the music has ended. The songs are about the sacrifices made in wooing and hanging onto a woman something many of us can relate to. The Heathen Sons debut album is nice listen I look forward seeing where they go from here.
Book Club – One Way Moon
Atlanta’s own Book Club is a collection of local musicians that offer up tunes built around Rachel Buckley’s and Robbie Horlick’s vocal harmonies, soft melodies and a folksy sound that reminds one of the past. One Way Moon is the band’s latest release and after letting it roll through my ears a few dozen times it by far is the best. Opening with the jangly “I Don’t Need To Travel” banjos and acoustic guitars tickle the auditory senses in the anti-road trip tune about living life the way you want. Pictures, videos and imagination can be just as rewarding as actually travelling to places. The storytelling on “September New York 1973” is brilliant and the vocals on “You Say It So Glacial” merge to create a unified haunting voice. Buckley’s sultry voice carries the beautiful “Fallen Leaves” slinking its way through the many musical layers. The best track on the record has to be “Boomerangs and Bedroom Eyes”, a classic Country duet. Warbling on about half truths, perceived deceptions and wrongful accusations Buckley and Horlick show why their voices work so well together. Book Club is one damn talented entity. The songs are well written and loaded with catchy hooks. If you can’t enjoy One Way Moon then you need to re-examine your musical tastes.
There you go folks, six more albums to go explore. Be sure you keep an eye out for August’s Pick Six it will be here sooner than you think.
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