Casual Listening

A review of cool new music

By Jeff Pinzino


June 11, 2010

! Watermelon Slim – Ringers (country)


Honky-tonk guitar players have always been philosophers, but few have had the kind of penetrating wit to bring their ideas to life.   That’s what makes Watermelon Slim one of the most interesting artists around. His is the music of journeys, whether of a beaten war veteran to France, or a rich woman slumming at a country bar.  He ruminates on sin and redemption, loss and a life worth living.  In both country and blues his sound is powerful and spare, whether it’s with a pickup band or a simple slide guitar.  


Listen to Watermelon Slim “If There Is a Heaven

* Gemma Ray – It’s a Shame About Gemma Ray (rock)


Gemma Ray makes even the tamest song sound defiant.  She’s singing all covers, but with the kind of intimacy that you’d expect if she’d wrote them herself.  A reverb-heavy electric slide guitar and ominous vocal harmonies are in many cases the only backing instruments.  She delivers memorable renditions of everything from Mudhoney to Buddy Holly.  


Listen to The Gemma Ray “Everyday


* Against Me — White Crosses (rock)


It’s a delicate balance to write radio-friendly punk pop with uncompromising political messages.  Against Me makes it look easy.  Big, easy hooks that won’t let you stop listening, set against rolling drums and chord-heavy electric guitars.  The band sounds older and wiser without totally letting go of a youthful idealism.


Listen to Against Me “I Was a Teenage Anarchist


Grace Potter & The Nocturnals — Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (rock)


Rock with a sneer.  Heart and Joan Jett are the comparisons that come easily to mind.  Crank this.


Listen to Grace Potter & the Nocturnals “Paris (Ooh La La)


Also good recently: Sergio Mendes, Paul Weller, Nada Surf


 all albums reviewed are recommended

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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