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Saturday, June 8th, 2013
Music Reviews

Mary Gauthier, The Helvetica Effect and More... The Beat’s Record Roundup

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Neil Alday & the Further South


Not quite country, not quite straightforward rock ‘n roll, this demo by Alday’s new project features three well crafted tunes. From the driving chug of “Walking Shoes” to the softer “Love One Day,” this band is on the rise with Alday’s warm vocals leading the way.

- Nikki Hedrick

Mary Gauthier

Live at Blue Rock

In the Black

30A Songwriters Festival favorite Gauthier’s studio albums are superb, but this is the record that perfectly captures her strengths as a writer, performer and storyteller. Her best-loved songs are here (“I Drink,” “Drag Queens in Limousines”), but the highlight is “Karla Faye,” which takes on difficult subject matter brilliantly. At her best, she’s more Dylanesque than Bob himself and conveys a connection with her audience that rarely comes across on live recordings.

- Chris Manson

Will Calhoun

Life in This World

Motema Music

Former Living Colour drummer Calhoun comes from a well-mixed musical background that includes both hard rock and jazz. He also has an enviable resume of names he’s worked with, from B.B. King to Lou Reed to Mos Def. Life in This World’s personnel is decidedly jazz-flavored, with Charnett Moffett, Ron Carter and Wallace Roney, among others. The 11-track album offers up works by Monk, Coltrane, Cole Porter, Wayne Shorter and three compositions by Calhoun. Standouts include “Evidence” and “Afrique Kan’e,” the latter featuring some shimmering, ghostly trumpet work from Roney.

- Bruce Collier

Corey Christiansen

Lone Prairie

Origin Records

Jazz guitarist Christiansen returns to his Utah roots and turns out 10 riffs on some Western and Western-themed classics and lesser-known material. All are worth a listen, but several standouts crowd their way to the front. Christiansen manages to make “In the Pines” sound even eerier and more doom-laden than it already does, keening for all he’s worth. I had never thought of “Streets of Laredo” as much more than a quaintly sentimental throwaway; I have abandoned that opinion forever. “Red River Valley”/“Bootyard” conveys melancholy, reflection and menace, all in just over four minutes. Nice to meet you, Corey.

- Bruce Collier

The Helvetica Effect



Beachcomber Music Award nominated rock trio rips through an hour’s worth of strong originals. Like all the StudioAmped shows, this is a high-quality production right down to the sweat-drenched close-ups. We’ve been waiting for these guys to drop their album for ages now, but this should tide over the Effectees until that glorious day arrives.

- Chris Manson

Biscuit Miller and the Mix

Blues with a Smile


Sometimes you run across an album that knows what to call itself. Blues with a Smile is just that—various flavors of blues, funk and rock delivered with pure jubilation. Biscuit’s ode to Willie D. Warren is a great history lesson on an often-overlooked blues great.

- Nikki Hedrick

Iron Mike Norton

Bloody Knuckles

GFO Records

With his trademark gravel voice and blues slide guitar, Iron Mike showcases a more experimental side to the genre he’s dubbed “swamp stomp.” Whether he’s writing about love gone wrong or tossing off an instrumental, he’s all about harnessing unique guitar tones. There simply isn’t enough blues slide guitar in this world, but thanks to artists like Iron Mike, we can hope for a revitalization of the style.

- Nikki Hedrick

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

Mind Control

Rise Above Records

From the realm of stoner rock, with flourishes of English psychedelia, comes the retro-styled gem Mind Control. Highlights include “Devil’s Work,” clocking in at nearly seven minutes of pure sludge bliss. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats are like the abandoned love child of late Beatles and early Black Sabbath.

- Nikki Hedrick