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Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Music Reviews

The Beat’s Record Roundup - D-Material, Hotel Oscar and More


“Riding in the Spotlight,” etc.


According to Facebook, the Destin rock band is changing its name prior to an Oct. 15 gig at the Lower Alabama Lounge. Good Pearl Jam-meets-P.O.D. vibe throughout. Michael Fisher and company pretend crappy “rock” bands like Creed, Nickelback and Saving Abel never existed. Or maybe they’re performing an exorcism. Either way, we need more stuff like this.

- Christopher C. Manson

Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa

Don’t Explain

J&R Adventures

Two of the world’s most powerful music veterans join forces on a soulful collaboration in which they totally reinvent 10 classic songs made famous by Etta James, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Aretha, etc. My favorite track, “Well, Well,” is a reinterpretation of the southern soul hit written by Delaney Bramlett and features spot-on harmonies and a lot of conviction, not to mention stupefying guitar licks. Another track that I dig, “I’ll Take Care of You,” originally by Brook Benton, conveys Hart’s signature vibrato in a poignant expression of the human condition and our abilities to experience conflicting emotions simultaneously. Why didn’t this collab happened sooner?

- Dannica Lowery

Hotel Oscar

Burgers & Fries


A damn fine rock album by the Emerald Coast’s premier power trio, a mix of Led Zeppelin thunder and The Band storytelling that works in spite of the fact that it was recorded in Hartselle, Alabama and not one of our fine local studios. “Springsteen” recalls Joshua Tree-era U2 more than it does the Boss, and while guitar hero Mose Wilson may be the dominant voice, it’s bassist Joe Bradford’s “Seasons” that’s likely to become Hotel Oscar’s “Stairway” and/or ”Free Bird.”

- Christopher C. Manson



Last Gang Records

When 24-year-old Canadian electro-pop sensation LIGHTS first hit the music scene in 2008, she was just a songwriter with a synth and a dream. Her name may have been pluralized, but Lights Poxleitner was a one-woman gig who played and programmed her own instruments and sang her own lyrics. She always had a cutesy croon—think Jem and the Holograms meets Freezepop. Her new album, with more dubstep influence, has beats that skitter and thud. The electronics fire like decomposing lasers and the analog synths dirty up her trademark pretty melodies, yet it still possesses a dreamy, whimsical echo. I swear I even hear a keytar in my favorite track, “Flux and Flow.” If this new sound doesn’t get you dancing, I don’t know what will. I’d call it dream-step. Or maybe anti-electro. Perhaps grit-pop. Whatevs. Just rest assured that it’s the same bright LIGHTS, she’s just built herself a bigger city.

- Dannica Lowery

Moreland & Arbuckle

Just a Dream


One helluva take on Tom Waits’ “Heart Attack and Vine,” a guest shot by rock ‘n roll legend (and Friend of the Beachcomber) Steve Cropper, and nothing but first-rate blues for the modern age throughout. The duo recently performed at the Shed BBQ & Blues Joint, and now that I’ve gotten to know them, I hope they’ll be back soon.

- Christopher C. Manson

Pistol Annies

Hell on Heels

Sony Nashville

Miranda Lambert’s side project boasts lots of fine twang numbers and at least one truly outstanding track, “Trailer for Rent.” That tune, along with “House for Sale” from Nick Lowe’s new The Old Magic, indicates the market is strong. The song market, not the real estate market.

- Christopher C. Manson

Poncho Sanchez and Terence Blanchard

Chano y Dizzy!

Concord Picante Conguero master Sanchez and trumpeter Blanchard team for a tribute to forefathers Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie. This was my first Sanchez album—not my last—and my first Blanchard since his earnest, occasionally pretentious Choices. Blanchard may have been looking to loosen up, and what’s better for that than Latin jazz? The 11-track album offers pieces written by Pozo and Gillespie (including Dizzy’s swing standard “Groovin’ High” as mambo), and others. Starting with the opening Pozo/Gillespie medley of “Tin Tin Deo,” “Manteca,” and “Guachi Guaro.” the gang moves in quick and gets the job done.

- Bruce Collier

Johnny Winter



Winter pays a visit home to his blues roots, and he brings a carload of big blues names with him as guests. Joining Johnny are brother Edgar, Warren Haynes, John Medeski, John Popper, Vince Gill and Susan Tedeschi. The playlist includes blues essentials—“Bright Lights, Big City,” “Dust My Broom,” and “T-Bone Shuffle,” and bar requests like “Got My Mojo Workin’.” Highlights include Medeski’s formidable keyboard skills on a gospel-inflected “Come Back Baby,” and Popper’s insinuating harmonica accompaniment on “Last Night.” Gill’s participation gives “Maybellene” a touch of quick-step county twang. This is beerpitcher listening at its best.

- Bruce Collier