Cold Stares, Eyelids, Dust Bowl Faeries and Juniper

RockPile unearths new releases from the Cold Stares, Eyelids, Dust Bowl Faeries and Juniper.

The Cold Stares - Voices

These heartland blues rockers come out swinging hard with Voices opening cut "Nothing But the Blues," an angry recital about being mired in the daily woes that affect so many; loss of a car means loss of a job, money lost on gambling and of course the loss of a lover. Frontman Chris Tapp, who also shines on guitar, has the perfect voice for such emotional lyrics. On the slow "The Joy" Tapp sings about getting a respite from world weariness and the saving grace of finding contentment in a love relationship. "Lights Out" buzzes with Delta blues influence while "Got No Right" hints at a fondness for '60s heavy rock. The title cut is a testament of infatuation with a particular lover set to a funky beat with plenty of hot guitar that sometimes veers in psychedelia. Listeners will hear influences such as Southern rock, Jack White, Joe Bonamassa and 70s blues rocking legacy groups here but Tapp, who also wrote all the songs keeps it fresh. Blues rock fans will be doing themselves a favor to listen to these Voices.

Eyelids - A Colossal Waste of Light

The jangly pop of "Crawling off Your Pages" and the shimmering and sophisticated college rock of "Only So Much" will lead to Eyelids being compared to R.E.M., a nice compliment indeed. Part of that sound may come from the fact that the album is produced by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. The forth full-length album for Eyelids also features new bassist Victor Krummenacher of Camper Van Beethoven fame, Chris Slusarenko, Jonathan Drews and John Moen all on vocals and guitar and Paulie Pulvirenti on drums. So it's no surprise that the title cut is a sublime charmer and that the guys sound fantastic when they put the electric guitars down for the gentle "Misuse," a requiem for a long gone relationship, and on the gauzy rock of "Pink Chair." These guys have been around for quite a while, still they're currently ones to watch.

Dust Bowl Faeries - Carnival Dust

Singer and accordion player Ryder Cooley is the front person for this awesome quintet who perform music as eccentric as their name. Playing a cabaret-influenced, rollicking type of folk rock, the band will win hearts and new fans from the get-go here with the endearing "Cuckoo," an accordion-fueled Eastern European dance number where Cooley sings an amusing earworm, "We're going cuckoo, a little cuckoo." There's someone simulating a cuckoo clock cuckoo call too and the fast song is just so much fun you'll want to play it on repeat. On "The Changeling" Cooley sings about a woman who is like "a cat with an extra thumb;" whatever this mysterious creature is she's surrounded by magic and really, the mesmerizing song is too. "Medicine Show" completely lives up to its name as the band conjure musically and lyrically some type of old-days carnival side show, complete with kazoo playing adding to the weird aura. Cooley's elfin vocals, accordion playing and occasional Theremin-sounding saw playing add up to a very unique sound here and fans shouldn't be surprised if they come out of a listen with a new favorite band. Carnival Dust is short at just six songs but that's plenty of time to fall in love with these very talented oddballs.

Juniper - She Steals Candy

Barely out of high school, Juniper clearly knows her way around a good pop song. She's not a songwriter but here she's chosen a nice set of covers to interpret and in most cases keeps the running time at two and a half minutes or less. The effort begins with Michael Gagliano's (the Sails) bubblegum charmer "Bang" followed up by the Bangles jangler "James." The title cut is written by Michael Shelley who is Juniper's dad and he also plays bass and guitar throughout; the fun pop rocker shows that talent runs in the family. Other songwriters favored here are Delbert McClinton (three times!), light rock master David Gates (Bread), KISS bass man Gene Simmons and Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go's. Juniper plays organ on the Latin-flavored "Taste the Soup," a cut co-authored by Kim Shattuck of the Muffs, but otherwise she just sings in a crystal clear voice that conveys innocence. As to the Simmons number, it's probably not what you'd expect. Originally appearing on Simmons' solo album, the song is mellow and non KISS-like and Juniper makes it even mellower. A fine collection that bodes well for things to come.

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