(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Site review - The Voice Project

I got turned on to the Voice Project when I heard about Peter Gabriel covering Tom Waits' In The Neighborhood.

It's a fairly straightforward interpretation. Gabriel doesn't have the world weary rasp that Waits brings to this song, but I really appreciate his conversational intro to the piece. He gives an elegant explanation of what the Voice Project is all about.
A lot of the ways that people communicate are cerebral, they go through the head. And one of the interesting things about music is it seems to plug directly into the emotion. So, I wasn't at all surprised when I heard that these Ugandan mothers couldn't get to their sons in normal ways, but when they started singing music, it somehow touched them in a place that nothing else could reach. Music can do that and if we can make the chain and make the link here, I'm sure we can help to make a difference.
Gabriel goes on to set up the song. His appreciation for the words comes through in his phrasing as he emphasizes his take on the hymn-like nature of the song.

Peter Gabriel » Tom Waits from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

The point of the Voice Project is a response to a grassroots effort in Uganda. Child soldiers, refugees, a land torn by war -- these are all things that are far removed from our more privileged lives. The idea of mothers trying to sing their children back home from their exile with a message of forgiveness is a powerful idea. The site hosts videos of numerous artists covering songs by other artists as a way to raise money to support these Ugandan women with sustainability grants, educational programs and rehabilitation programs.

At its root, though, the Voice Project is also a cool musical idea. There are some great musical selections and interesting combinations. Mike Mills from R.E.M. covers Billy Bragg's Sing Their Souls Back Home, Har Mar Superstar plays Out of the Blue by Julien Casablancas (the Strokes), and Steel Train has a couple of false starts before getting through Bulletproof by La Roux. This last is quite a contrast to the original.

The site also includes some of the Ugandan women singing. The front page includes them singing Western songs, like their short version of Joe Purdy's Suitcase. They also have a touching page of Ugandan songs like Akello Miriam's simple song that focuses on healing the community and the Youth Forgiveness Song. These all end in a high pitched ululation that seems to punctuate the hopefulness of the songs. The thing that I really like here is that there is a sense of the universality of music. They use music to reach out, to communicate, and to initiate an exchange with the wider world.

Whatever you drink, raise a toast to this worthy cause. Visit the site and check out the covers. If you find any you like, donate a bit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

CD review - The Aliens, Luna (2008)

Somehow, the Aliens never found their way onto my radar. Out of the blue, I heard about the new special limited edition release of Luna, which comes with a book, chock full of pictures, poetry, etc. The hype included some samples of their music and I was hooked.

Luna is an engaging hour or so of early style, epic psychedelia. It's wonderful, showing similarities to Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, and It's A Beautiful Day. I can even catch a little Jefferson Airplane, too. There's enough electronic details lurking around to add a modern feel, though. The closest contemporary counterpart might be the Flaming Lips, but the Aliens sound more innocent and focused on the pure head experience.

Luna rolls out with a full trip journey that lasts more than 10 minutes. Bobby's Song strolls through a series of sections. The core starting melody is a little like the Dead's Mason's Children. It has the requisite heavy stereo effects, a throbbing bass, and slick harmonized vocals. There are tons of busy little details that evoke early Zappa and Pink Floyd. It's refreshing to hear a band give a song this kind of room to develop without turning into an easily dismissed example of random jam band excess. The song slows down and collapses to set up the next song, Amen, which closes it out with a bit of spacey ecstasy. The theme of Bobby's Song is reprised in the closing track Blue Mantle, as a mild gesture towards the ideal of a concept album.

Still trippy, but more pop oriented, Theremin sets up a lush world of sparkly chiming keys, Beach Boys' harmonies, and an R&B pop vibe. The aura of club-style electronica keyboard becomes dominant as the song shifts into meta-mode: the song fades down as the recording walks out to a car and gets ready to leave. The song comes back as a plodding jazz pop piece in the car's audio cassette, while the traffic zips past. The effortless flow of the meta story and pop appeal of the base song make this a catchy track.

Their video single, Magic Man, is another fine mix between old and new. The start sets up an electronic rhythm while the rest of the song layers on a Robyn Hitchcock pop/psychedelic feel. The video is a nice bit of eye candy from the OK Go school.

Enjoy a Maudite strong dark Belgian ale along with the sunny retro head music of Luna. If you can't afford the new special release, track down the regular CD.

Friday, June 25, 2010

CD review - Matt Stevens, Ghost (2010)

Experimental acoustic guitar. It conjures up images of foaming potions, electrical cables, and challenging music. My first impression of Matt Stevens' Ghost was that it seemed too satisfied with its own experimental nature. Fortunately, I gave it a second listen. Maybe the moon was in the right phase, but this time, the experiment was a success.

Ghost is full of atmospheric sonic poems that often veer towards a kind of soundtrack-like programmatic music. Stevens assembles his compositions with acoustic guitar parts (often looped) and minimal touches of bass, percussion, and keyboard. Each song has its own unique melodic elements -- stuttering rhythms, odd tonalities, and intriguing harmonies. At the same time, most of these songs are very evocative, pulling up moods and images. Musically, there are elements of jazz, folk, rock, and progressive rock, but Stevens isn't too worried about genre: a single song may shift from jazz to prog rock and back.

As a guitarist, Stevens has a wonderful touch. The playing varies from brilliantly crisp notes to looser glissando notes to a tightly controlled vibrato. In every case, Stevens achieves the effect the song calls for.

It's hard to reduce the review to a small handful of songs. There are many nice moments here.

Eleven sets up a relentless arpeggio as a foundation for a simple repetitive finger picking line. A smooth lead lies like over the top like a coverlet. Small chimes accentuate the guitar. The song is thoughtful, but there's a satisfying tension between the arpeggio and the finger picking.

My favorite track is Burnt Out Car, which balances an upbeat major 7th groove with a darker, more pensive section. The cheery part has a Pink Floyd vibe and an open, golden meadow feel. Some passes, it has a jaunty angular flow over the top. The contrasting part is like stepping into the shadows, where there's a slightly threatening feel. The song whipsaws these shifting moods, but the changes are smooth.

Both Lake Man and Ghost are more introspective and fitful, but in different ways. Lake Man is stripped down and spooky. The beat and growling bass lay out a techno feel under the classical lead line. Ghost, on the other hand, sets up a lurching rhythm and swells of sound to create a slightly mournful mood. It's busier, with more moving parts. One thing these two songs share, though, is a sense of breath...a taste of chaotic life.

This feel is pervasive throughout Ghost. The writing and execution stand up well with each other. I'll suggest Russian River's Pliny the Younger as a nice pairing.

Ghost is available on Matt Stevens' site, where you can stream it or download it and name your own price. Give it a couple of listens and, if you like it, support a great musician.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CD review - Sia, We Are Born (2010)

Sia has an instinctive sense of pop. Her voice shifts from bubbly sweetness to streetwise experience, from assertive feminism to darker anguish. While you can hear bits of other pop singers - Cher, Tori Amos, and Pink, to name a few -- she has her own sense and timing.

We Are Born is a long way from her simpler contributions to Zero Seven. The music here is more varied and she slides comfortably down into each song, taking decisive ownership. The arrangements are interesting and full of tight little gems of detail.

It's hard to pick a favorite. The Co-Dependent reflects XTC's Mayor of Simpleton. Aside from the melodic reference, it has the same layering of synths behind the other instruments. Big Girl, Little Girl starts off Tori Amos, but the music fuses '80s synth pop with a modern pop feel. The keyboards are retro, but the drum work is clearly contemporary. Sia's voice is the fusion point. The lead guitar (another retro point) takes a simple melodic approach. Then the synth collapses, leaving an unadorned piano and vocal, which brings the circle back to Tori Amos:
You know with every cruel word that you utter
That you bury yourself even deeper everyday
Oh, little girl, there's enough love in this circle
You can shackle yourself or be free from this pain.
The second half of this disc is consistently better than the first half. Songs like Bring Night and Never Gonna Leave Me emphasize the pop side, with all the satisfying hooks anyone could ask for. But they still have enough interesting structure to stand up to repeated listens. Compared to the stronger songs, the disco of You've Changed or dragging R&B of Be Good To Me don't come off as well, but they still round out the mix for We Are Born.

Mix up a Kir Royale and enjoy several of the songs from We Are Born here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

CD review - Rooney, Eureka (2010)

To listen to Rooney's latest CD, Eureka, you'd think they were genetically engineered for pop success. The production is slick, the songs are reasonably catchy and they've got a smooth, radio friendly sound that should appeal to everyone from pop-hungry teens to indie hipsters.

Frontman Robert Schwartzman is Jason Schwartzman's younger brother and an actor himself (The Princess Diaries). Rooney has worked with names like Ric Ocasek and Jimmy Iovine in the past, not to mention successful tours with Ok Go, the Jonas Brothers, and playing Lalapalooza (2003).

But true pop stardom has proven elusive. Perhaps Eureka and their summer tour dates with Hanson will take them to the next level. The songs sound incredible and they've got good power pop appeal. There's a retro sensibility, back to a kind of smooth '70s pop, that recalls Harry Nilsson. This is particularly strong on Only Friend and Don't Look At Me.

Still, it's the perfect flow of Into the Blue that clicks for me. A reflective start with a stripped down, descending piano tune gradually builds. Each detail is tastefully pulled in, from the gloss accent of the slide guitar to the chorused backup vocals. "Out of my head and into the blue, my Baby Blue". This transcends the Nilsson influences to be the gem of a great pop album.

Expanding the retro feel, Stars and Stripes starts with a Stevie Wonder piano chord change. This moves into a '70s radio lite R&B groove. All the supporting elements -- the harmonies, the bass and piano work, the instrument mix -- hearken back to a time where it wasn't about attitudes and posing. The unity politics message of the lyrics echo old Sly and the Family Stone. The tagged-on reprise even copies the times when the "album" version had the same kind of artistic extension of the radio edit version.

Rooney has had a lot of support and attention to get to this point. Whether Eureka proves to be their breakout move or not, it's a fine pop album. Open a Pyramid Wheat Ale and tap your feet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

CD review - Cloudland Canyon, Fin Eaves (2010)

Like a Polaroid picture slowly developing, Cloudland Canyon's Fin Eaves coalesces grudgingly from a white (noise) palette. It starts off in a thickly shimmering haze. A fog of sound, where shapes begin to emerge, then recede, only half recognized. The tracks slowly become more song-like, taking on some of the outlines of more structured music, but even that fades back down.

No One Else Around begins hesitantly, then becomes a dreamy wall of guitar and vocal echo. There's a pop underpinning. It's like standing outside the club smoking a cigarette, ears ringing from the big indie/prog rock band still playing inside. Or maybe a bit like forcing yourself to stay awake after taking an Ambien, as your surroundings become more dreamlike and incomprehensible.

Pinklike sounds a bit like the David Bowie/Brian Eno work on Low (Warszawa, maybe), but it's really truer to the older krautrock band, Can. Atmospheric noise and simple, repetitive chords abound. Electronic elements contribute a crystalline under-texture until, about 2/3 through, the song seems to complete and shift to a slightly cleaner electronica groove. Then the two parts meld together to wrap it up.

This is drifty music, where one songs melts into another. The vocals are all sleeptalking sound, wordless and hard to pin down, buried in the mix. Cloudland Canyon has created a Rorschach album: each song means whatever a listener wants and reveals some hidden truth. Sip some absinthe and take the test. Fin Eaves is due out on July 29.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CD review - Solex vs Cristina Martinez + Jon Spencer, Amsterdown Throwdown, King Street Showdown! (2010)

"Love is never equal" - Jill Sobule has it right. In every partnership, one side is usually dominant, even if the players take turns in that role. In the unlikely collaboration between the Boss Hogs' Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer and Dutch electronic artist, Solex, Jon Spencer stands out by virtue of his odd vocals and Brillo pad guitar tone. On first listen, I scored the partnership all towards Boss Hog, mostly because I wasn't that familiar with Solex.

Martinez and Spencer have a good formula in Boss Hog: driving hard rock that hints at a punk edge and a twangy discordant blues. The key to their sound really comes from the vocal interactions between spouses Martinez and Spencer, which creates a strong chemistry.

Solex (Elisabeth Esselink), on the other hand, produces a poppy electronic style of music. She tends to have a heavily processed and echoed Suzanne Vega type of vocal and her production favors a slightly low fi, scratchy, retro tone that contrasts well with the electronic elements.

On Amsterdam Throwdown, King Street Showdown!, the Spencer and Martinez lay out a blues funk vibe and Spencer's retro blues voice for much of the music, but Solex's production aesthetic and instinctive pop sense dominates the mix and feel. So, it's a more even collaboration than it appeared at first.

The album kicks off with Bon Bon, which takes a Boss Hog feel and adds a laid back funk groove. Spencer's guitar offers both a ripsaw lead tone and a crunchy rhythm and the synth strings offer some balancing velvet. There's a nice contrast between Solex's light harmonized pop backup vocals and Spencer's blues growl, which lies somewhere between John Lee Hooker, Wolfman Jack, and Captain Beefheart.

The best track, The Uppercut, leans the other way. The driving club beat builds a delicious tension. Cristina's rawer vocals are a warm spark against the coolness of electronic groove and Solex's light backup vocals. The guitar takes a welcome step back, offering accenting fills, which give the song a little more room to develop.

Don't Hold Back is another strong track, giving Boss Hog the Solex treatment. Martinez's sultry vocals are pushed to the background, creating a dialog with Spencer's forward mixed comments. Spencers bluesy guitar work is cooking. Solex contributes a retro tone mix, background vocals, and smooth accent sounds. The total package is seductive and vaguely threatening.

There are plenty of other interesting moments, like the Captain Beefheart sound of Dog Hit, Spencer's Tourette vocals on Galaxy Man (against a richly layered electronic coolness), and the retro Euro-pop feel of Too Much, Too Fast.

Pour a nice tart Kriek (wild fermented Belgian cherry beer) and enjoy Amsterdam Throwdown, King Street Showdown!.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CD review - Joemca, 16 Devils (2010)

At some point, categories break down. On 16 Devils, Joemca (pronounced "jum-ka") has drawn a clear line of self expression, where his voice and his words are paramount. At the same time, the music transcends genre, building an edifice with elements of pop, soul, soundtrack, and electronica without really leaning towards any of them.

Fundamentally, this is singer/songwriter material with none of the folk or indie rock that usually implies. The instruments are all secondary to Joemca's voice, which has a lot of Bono -- sometimes theatrical, sometimes husky, but often proclamatory. There's a lushness that also recalls David Bowie (Diamond Dogs/Young Americans era) and Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry. Every word is clearly enunciated, which is fitting because his lyrics are fairly polished. The music is often brooding, serious, and a little world weary.

Big Dreams serves as a good example of the music. The instruments are all pushed back, although the drums are relatively forward. Like many of the other songs, some of the instruments are intentionally low-fi take (in this case, it's the guitars), while other elements are cleanly layered in. The lyrics are very personal and anecdotal:
I was walking through the neighborhood
I had a picture of my big dream
You came wandering across the street
You were the only one in red shoes
And you said, "hello, isn't this a strange time?
All the neighbors have locked their window and closed their blinds
Shouldn't we run down to the station and catch the next train
Should we head down to the next town and find our big dreams"
While they look prosaic in print, Joemca's voice imbues them with a more symbolic depth.

Later, Down Down Devil offers up the album title in its lyrics. Brooding, bluesy, with a contrasting electronic element, it starts out bassy and dirty. Great imagery:
She's like a comet in your eye
16 devils to take down
Your jewels don't sparkle anymore
16 devils arrive
We go dreaming in the fire
launch our missiles in the night
Save me mama, oh oh oh
16 devils by my side
Then you go down down down...
It's a little haunting and raw. Still, every word stands out.

This is followed by Ancient History, which takes a taste of David Bowie's voice from Heroes (and a fair amount of Bono) and mixes it with sound of the Church's keyboard layering from Under the Milky Way. Its wistful and moody feel forge a connection with me somehow.

16 Devils is rich and interesting like Moroccan spiced coffee (cinnamon, cardamom, and a touch of black pepper). Savor all of the impressions. 16 Devils is due out June 22.

Friday, June 11, 2010

CD review - Fight Fair, California Kicks (2010)

Snotty boys with guitars never seem to go out of fashion. They often hover close to punk, like the Ramones or, more recently, Green Day. Or they can play straighter rock style like the Refreshments or Lit. They even come in foreign languages, like Die Ärzte. One of my faves from the last several years is Bowling For Soup.

Southern California party band Fight Fair treads similar ground. Their first full length album, California Kicks, is due out at the end of June. It has the right pop punk vibe, simple songs, and even a touch of surf guitar. They aren't trying to be that clever and their attitude is a bit weak for the genre. Still, I don't think they're quite aiming for "snotty boys with guitars". Rather, they're shooting for a rocking beach party scene and Fun, Fun, Fun.

The songs all feature some great Beach Boys style harmonies. Vocal arrangements are definitely their strong point. The lead off song, California Girls, is dead simple, with tight riffs and a perfect guitar sound. The pop style backup vocals get your head bopping along. The only weak moment is the somewhat forced chanting section. It's the kind of thing that probably works well live, but it doesn't translate here.

I've Got a Secret really draws the comparison to Bowling For Soup -- they throw in the same kind of tossed off comments between lines that BFS uses all the time. It's more pop than punk and it's catchy as hell. California Kicks and Going Nowhere cover some of the same ground and these songs are the closest to capturing that snotty sound.

Backseat Bingo hits the surf theme hot and heavy. The Big Bopper style intro is a little cheesy, but the Beach Boys surf drive is satisfying. It's an early '60s retro surf classic in the making. The lyrics are a modern touch (you'd never hear Mike Love singing, "So let's make out at your Mama's house/We're all loaded, gettin' going, why don't you take off that blouse..."). Plenty of innuendo, but they clearly love the old school music.

California Kicks is a fun listen. Sip something rummy with an umbrella in it while you enjoy the jams.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

CD review - Gasoline Silver, Gasoline Silver (2010)

From the opening notes of Indianapolis, I was home. With a trans-punk sound that calls both Patti Smith and the Stooges to mind, Gasoline Silver lays out a perfect driving punk feel. Their low-fi vibe finds its own voice by adding in a bit of retro synth and drums that sound more machine than man. Then they finish out the first chorus and pull out a harmonica. Okay, so it's not really traditional. My foot is tapping along and doesn't care.

They mix it up more, throwing in a few bluesy folk rock pieces, like the Dylanesque The Wild Farewell. This one's got a little When I Paint My Masterpiece kind of feel. This time, the harmonica is no surprise at all. It flows out smoothly, with the expected metaphor laden lyrics.

Band leader Ron Franklin has a strong sense of the sound he wants, sometimes shifting genres, but always staying true to an uncomplicated structure and presentation for the songs.

Still, the post punk drive is what grabs my ear. It's All Over But the Cryin' crosses Roky Erikson with the Cramps. Simple choppy guitars, reverb soaked vocals, and absolutely no frills. Miss Cape Canaveral has a stripped down feel that sounds a little like Romeo Void.

Gasoline Silver is due out August 10. Until then, you can hear a few of their tracks on their site and cleanse your aural palate. While you're at it, find yourself an unassuming amber ale (Odell's Levity comes to mind).

Monday, June 7, 2010

CD review - The Wailing Wall, The Low Hanging Fruit (2010)

Biblical and philosophical themes suffuse The Low Hanging Fruit, the latest album from the Wailing Wall (AKA Jesse Rifkin). Rifkin brings a Dylanesque voice (both in singing and writing), a Camper Van Beethoven world-folk musical aesthetic, and his own mystical and spiritual mindset.

The songs cross-reference one another in numerous ways: a bit of repeated lyric here, a musical element there. The Low Hanging Fruit shows Rifkin's obsession with detail. Every phrases seems tuned and polished, which contrasts well with his rougher, reedy voice. Nowhere does he sound more like Dylan than on Song, which has musical elements of Lily, Rosemay, and the Jack of Hearts and Girl From the North Country. The lyrics are an allegorical love song.

Dandelion has a Grateful Dead feel, with a touch of Camper Van Beethoven. The twinned guitars harmonize sweetly, creating a retro folk-rock groove. There are some biblical references, but it's essentially a love song:
So, how am I doing? I'm happy I guess,
See my head is brighter and my hair's a mess
And happiness is your soft summer dress
Your belly and breasts...
The lyrical delivery is casual, but each phrase fits together just so.

This flows into Lame Situation, which breaks down the Fall from the Garden of Eden. The music starts with a drone hum and whistle, with a soundscape feel. It's a simple song, with banjo and bass backing the vocal, but it builds nicely. There's some interesting use of static and noise that seems to represent the Fall itself. Rifkin's take is perhaps heretical, but clearly humanist:
I've considered His judgment
And it don't make much sense
This is awfully harsh treatment for a first time offense
Only two people damaged
Only one broken rule
This is awfully cruel
There are plenty of other great songs on The Low Hanging Fruit. The debut single, Bones Become Rainbows, is worth a listen - celebratory and trippy, it's another spiritual piece of the Wailing Wall's theme here.

A nice, lighter wine, like a Régnié Beaujolais (not Nouveau) would pair nicely.

Friday, June 4, 2010

CD review - Beatallica, Masterful Mystery Tour (2009)

Better late than never. Somehow, I missed the first album from Beatallica, Sgt. Hetfield's Motorbreath Pub Band. Fortunately, I recently crossed paths with their latest release, Masterful Mystery Tour.

Beatallica lies somewhere between the straight-on mash ups of the Kleptones (Down on Bennies from 24) and the humorous genre blending of Dread Zepplin (Immigrant Song). They perform original mashups that mix Beatles melodic elements with a Metallica musical approach, while the lyrics come from both bands. The cover of Masterful Mystery Tour references Master of Puppets and Magical Mystery Tour.

It's campy fun, but it's also good music. Maybe the joke is wearing thin for everyone who's already heard it too often, but Masterful Mystery Tour has some brilliant moments. The opening notes of Everybody's Got a Ticket to Ride Except For Me and My Lightning echo Metallica's Ride the Lightning before sliding into a reworking of the Beatles' Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey. Later, the melody slides over into Ticket to Ride, while the lyrics refer to Ride the Lightning. It's an odd combo, but it still rocks.

Throughout Masterful Mystery Tour, the energy is high. Beatallica captures a lot of the Metallica sound, from James Hetfield's vocal style to Lars Ulrich's frantic kick drum work.

The Thing That Should Not Let It Be starts off with a riff similar to Metallica's One (thanks, Eric for pointing that out) before sliding into the music from Let It Be. Lyrically, it works through chunks of The Thing That Should Not Be, which mesh nicely from the opening lines:
When I find myself in tidal trouble
Hybrid children come for me
Pray for father roaming, roaming free

A final favorite track is I Want to Choke Your Band, which sets an anti-glam metal manifesto to the tune of I Want to Hold Your Hand. With this, Beatallica steps more firmly into parody music, but it's all pretty entertaining.

This isn't the greatest album of 2009, but despite being a one-joke concept, it holds up to repeated listenings. I'll raise a glass of Duvel, a deceptively strong Belgian golden ale. The name even fits ("devil").

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

CD review - Pete Francis, The Movie We Are In (2010)

There is power in collaboration -- Singer/songwriter Pete Francis (ex of Dispatch) has taken a new approach on his latest album, The Movie We Are In. He's surrendered some of the production duties, which led to working with a more varied set of musicians. Left to his own devices, he has a simpler sound that works well for his material, but this album has a richer feel than his self produced material. Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow and others) brought a different sensibility that expanded the musical possibilities.

Songs like the album opener, Glue, showcase the change. It starts out with a wash of electronica behind the jazzy acoustic guitar. Layers of additional parts slowly develop through the course of the song, while still maintaining a dreamy quality. As a contrast, check out this solo version. It's not bad, but the album version is much more interesting.

Francis maintains a poetic flow of slightly obtuse lyrics throughout much of the album. The songs are catchy enough that it doesn't distract too much, though. Without being derivative, Francis evokes other singer songwriters, like the Bruce Cockburn sound of Light Years, the Willie Nile groove of Good Man, or the laid back ballad, Greg Brown feel of Light Up My Day. This last song is finely crafted. Stripped down to its essence, it's moving and catchy. But the album version has perfect dynamics and some great accents, from the horn punches to the subliminal organ work. Even the guitar tone adds an element of depth to the song.

I'll close this with the first official single, Love Shakes You Down. It's a simple retro rocker, with bell chimes out of 1963. The vocals and sound structure remind me of John Wesley Harding or Billy Bragg. It's a memorable tune. Pete Francis is a fine songwriter and The Movie We Are In is a good vehicle to show off his songs in an interesting context.

A bottle of my homebrewed vanilla-cardamom mead would fit Francis' music: unexpected and intriguing.