Artist of the Month

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November 2015
The Old No. 5s
The Old No. 5s’ second album, Steam, is first and foremost a blues record. But it shouldn't be pigeonholed. A self-proclaimed rock/roots trio, members Brock Alexander (guitar/lead vocals), Derek Tucker (bass/vocals), and Aaron Thomas (percussion/vocals) prove they can play the blues with the best of them, but also have the chops to bust out some serious soul, bring the funk, or simply construct a nice power pop song.
The majority of the 11 tracks are fairly straightforward blues rockers, beginning with the album's first song, “Going Nowhere.” A perfect appetizer, it gives listeners a taste of what can be heard throughout the album: solid vocals, nimble guitar, and one of the best rhythm sections you'll find on a local or national release this year. There is an undeniable Stevie Ray Vaughan influence on this and several of the other true blues tunes, including “Starting to Show,” “Easy,” and the harder rocking “Hill Country.” While few guitarists can match his licks, Alexander certainly dials in Vaughan's tone, and has plenty of salty riffs himself.
Alexander's vocal style varies. On “Easy” he is confident and powerful, channeling a cocky Jimi Hendrix. He shows off a deep soul sound during “Keep Lovin' Me Baby.” On “Little Man,” a jazzier number, he is a bit more transparent and vulnerable, much like a young John Mayer. While he is very capable at each, I couldn't help wondering which one is Alexander’s real voice.
The standout track on Steam has to be “Barn Party.” A tightly wound ball of energy, it combines ferocious slide guitar (sounding very similar in this case to a pedal steel), brilliant bass, and a shuffling beat to create foot-stomping fun. Reminiscent of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, it starts uptempo and only gets faster, ending at a blistering pace. Be sure to have your air instruments handy for this one.
The Old No. 5s display a more unique style on the album's final track, “Just the Way I Am.” While remaining true to the band's bluesy vibe, the song has a catchy pop sensibility—with an impressive jam in the middle—and should appeal to a wide audience. The trio seems to find their own identity here, something I hope to hear more of on future recordings. 
Steam is filled with truly fantastic music that taps into several genres. The songwriting and execution is top-notch. The expertise and use of each instrument, tempo changes, and drawn-out solos make it one of the most enjoyable local albums I've heard in some time. As the band continues to mature and distinguish itself, The Old No. 5s should become a force to be reckoned with—both locally and beyond.

--Brad Scott 

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Album review: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

Album review: Clairaudients - I'm A Loudmouth, You're A Puppet (EP)

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
Speaking personally, I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been on my list of most anticipated local albums for 2013. I’ve been a fervent fan of Clairaudients since their days under the moniker The Atlantic. I’ve seen the band add members to their lineup (Chase Horseman joined at the beginning of 2013), perform numerous times at numerous venues, and now I’ll see them through their first album release.
I’m a Loudmouth, You’re a Puppet has been in the works for quite some time. And after listening to the album several times, it’s easy to say that the wait was well worth it. The album has so many subtle intricacies and deep meanings that anyone can tell it wasn’t recorded on the fly—a lot of thought and heart went into the album.
Clairaudients introduces itself with a nearly four-minute song simply entitled “Intro,” a chilling, soothing number which serves its purpose well as a lead-off track. With nothing but harmonized vocals and twinkling guitars, you’ll get lost in the ambiance.
Keeping in style, the first track fades out and another calming track slide into slot two. “Like a Song” is full of metaphors, which in my case, are up for interpretation. It’s the kind of song that you can listen to to find meaning, or a song that you can just jam to.
The album picks up halfway through with “Cellar.” This song easily takes the cake for heaviest track on the album. Vocalist Patrick Robinson definitely brings out his angry voice here. Deep, gravely, and abrasive sounds pour out of his mouth as the rest of the band falls in suit, striking heavy chords and pounding big drums. 
And again, before you know it, the tempo slows back down with “Broken Mend,” a solemn track full of heart-melting lyrics. The last track opens up with a strong organ chord, and is quickly followed by a jaunty guitar tune. “Back to the Sun” is a seven-minute anthem, and seems to carry a much lighter attitude than that of the other four. It appears to be more laid back and cheerful due in part to the upbeat, intricate mesh of instrumentals.
As I’ve mentioned already, I’m a Loudmouth is a great piece of work. There is so much content and impact stuffed into a small five-song album. The incredible musical accompaniment that is created by this sextet is something to be in awe of in itself, with the added element of Robinson’s lyrics.
I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet was recorded and produced at Massive Sound Studios by Jeff Pickman.
Tonight is the long-awaited release party for I’m A Loudmouth, You’re A Puppet. Clairaudients will be celebrating at Davey’s Uptown this evening with special guests Not A Planet and we are voices. Doors open at 8, show at 9. This is an 18+ show; $12 if under 21, $10 for 21+. All attending ticket holders will receive a digital download of the album. Facebook event page.
--Steven Ervay 

Steven Ervay is super rad. 

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