Monday, February 15, 2010

Austin Collins - Wrong Control

Austin Collins is an artist on the rise. His previous release Roses are Black received a lot of critical praise. With the release of Wrong Control on March 2nd, music fans will no doubt take notice. Along with his band the Rainbirds, Collins is delivering a more rocking twist to accompany his excellent songwriting.

The album begins with the broken love of "Just the Same." On this song Collins declares "A rose by any other name is just a flower in the rain. She was born to hold your dreams back by strain." On the title cut we get a glimpse of what he feels gets in the way of Love's happiness, "you always said that choice was a device in a disguise. Place you bets and leave because the heartache's in the details." It seems we can reinvent what is good about a relationship into something entirely different. Then there is "The Island," which uses seemingly incongruent metaphors to bring it all together in a hopeful way.

All of these conceptual twists and turns have an underlying edgy beat that moves them along. The groove is consistent among the songs, but it is not monotonous. There is an undertone to the music that makes it one of those albums you can play over and over again. Give it a try. I bet you'll listen more than once.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elliot Randall & The Deadmen - Caffeine and Gasoline

Elliot Randall, along with his band The Deadmen, has released his sophomore album Caffeine and Gasoline. It is a decidedly more Country affair than his previous effort. What hasn’t changed is the depth of the songwriting. A full band, The Deadmen, have a lot to do with the diversity of styles. However, the main influence is producer David Simon-Baker, who has worked with Jackie Greene and The Mother Hips. There is a blend of Country, Rock and troubadour songwriting that reflect Randall’s influences and South Carolina upbringing. He may be based in San Francisco but his influences range from coast to coast. Common themes are love on the mend and love gone wrong.

The way Randall pours out the soul of his protagonists is a manner exhibited by more seasoned songwriters. Randall will no doubt go from a popular regional Northern California artist to a true touring songwriter. He has recently opened for Junior Brown, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Hayes Carll and The Steve Miller Band. The diversity of this album should firmly establish him in the Americana landscape. There is no sophomore slump. In fact, it appears there are even better things to come.