Bottomfeeder (Gaslight Anthem)- The Farewell Drifters- Richard Swift


Human Blood Records
10" 45-RPM Colored vinyl EP

If you like melodic hardcore you'll love this brief Bottomfeeder debut. The group consists of luminaries from the Jersey scene---Benny Horowitz of the Gaslight Anthem, singer Derek Reilly of Jaguar Shark and members of Gates and Let Me Run---and they clearly know what they're doing here as they rip and romp through four songs informed by the melodic hardcore of the '90s. Reilly for the most part screams out his vocals, enough to convey the amount of angst required for songs that lyrically (and true to the punk ethos) reflect a messed-up present and an uncertain future. Reilly never goes into out-of-control rage mode though; most of the tunes reflect, albeit only slightly, a hope for better days. This collectible package (the disc is pressed on clear vinyl with a multi-color splatter) contains a lyric sheet but the message here is more about turning it up loud and having fun than it is about hanging on every word and being inspired to change the world. This introductory offering from Bottomfeeder teasingly only has four cuts, all of which are well-performed, so be prepared to wear it out until the band doles out more.

The Farewell Drifters
Echo Boom

Heart Squeeze Records
12" LP

This five-piece Americana band calls their latest album Echo Boom because the band members are all sons of Baby Boom-era parents and their music echoes that of the folk, country and bluegrass mιlange that came to prominence during that demographic's heyday. That means you can expect the low end to come from upright bass while plenty of sparkle rings out from banjo and mandolin; what you can't expect is old-timey mimicry. Yes you can reference acts like early Gram Parsons-outfit the International Submarine Band in songs like "We Go Together" or even John Denver in "I've Had Enough" but listeners familiar with modern releases are more apt to point to groups like the Fleet Foxes. Lead singer Zach Bevill has a voice that's clear as a bell and very well-suited to this set of songs that give a gentle tug on the heartstrings without ever getting syrupy.

Richard Swift
Walt Wolfman

Secretly Canadian
12" 45-RPM EP

Swift smashed one of his fingers in 2010 and the injury left his future as a guitar player and pianist in question. The seven songs of Walt Wolfman allay those fears quite nicely although there's not much delicate picking or tickling to songs like "MG 333," a tune that sounds like the basic track from a '60s girl group hit mashed up with jazzy mod beats and with Swift's falsetto replacing the girly vocals. "Laugh it Up" falls into a similar groove but with a heavier Motown feel while standout track "Out and About" is a slinky garage freak-out that calls Willy DeVille to mind.

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