Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Summertime Kids - Table Manners

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Artist Website: Summertime Kids
Netlabel Website: N/A

Track list:

1 - JV
2 - Know
3 - Storm the Station
4 - August
5 - Rain on My Parade
6 - Bed Time

Download links: [Bandcamp]

Gainesville native Nick Roberts (aka Summertime Kids) is the perfect example to show that expensive recording equipment and record label deals are not required to make great music. Recorded over the span of six months, Table Manners is a wonderfully written, relaxing and enjoyable album to listen to.

Every track on the album has a wonderfully calm feel to it. Right from the opening chords of JV, I felt like I was lounging outside on a warm sunny day, or driving through the countryside with the top down. The second track, Know, added even more to the mix, with Roberts' soothing vocals, slightly reminiscent of John Mayer minus the undeserved self-importance. Every track is beautifully written, and considering it was self-recorded, the quality of sound is quite impressive. Despite the album having such a chill, relaxed feel to it, the music still has enough drive behind it to keep it interesting and keep you listening to the end.

Stand-out tracks on this album for me were the opening two, JV and Know. My least favorite would probably be the closer, Bed Time. I wouldn't say it's a bad song, it just didn't keep my attention like the other songs did. One of my only gripes with Table Manners is that it is over far too quickly, clocking in at just under 20 minutes total.

I love finding new bedroom musicians who are not only technically competent, but also fun to listen to, and Summertime Kids is definitely one that I'll be adding to that list. I sincerely hope that this is not the last we hear from Mr. Roberts.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Invaluable - Searching, Waiting

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Artist Website: Bandcamp
Netlabel Website: N/A

Track list:

1 - Atencion!
2 - Kyle Goodwin
3 - Depth
4- 2003
5 - Nationalistic Ties
6 - Capital Log

Download links: [Bandcamp]

I'm not sure why, but it seems that for many punk musicians, the progression to folk/acoustic music is a natural choice. Greg Graffin, Nikola Sarcevic and Frank Turner have all released fantastic solo folk albums, even though they've built their careers on the punk bands that they perform with. Whatever the reason, acoustic punk is something I always enjoy listening to, and Searching, Waiting by Invaluable is no exception.

On Invaluable's bandcamp page, frontman (and only man) Keith Baillargeon warns listeners that there is "no polish here folks, this is about as rough as they get." Personally, I've heard far rougher demos with much less polish. Even though the solo acoustic guitar and voice seem to leave the overall sound slightly anemic at times, Keith's playing is highly proficient for the style of music, and his voice was instantly reminiscent to me of such great punk vocalists as Jeff Rosenstock, Tomas Kalnoky, and Brian Fallon. The solid, slightly rough tone of his voice lends itself perfectly to his music, especially the more up-tempo tunes.

While there were a couple of tunes that didn't really do much for me (specifically Depth and Capitol Log), I enjoyed listening to the EP. The song 2003 was by far my favorite track of the bunch, and I couldn't help but imagine what the song would sound like with a full band to flesh out the sound a bit. Overall, Searching, Waiting is quite a solid demo/EP, and Invaluable shows quite a bit of promise as a solo musician. I only hope that Keith gets the chance at some point to record some of these songs with a few more instruments added into the mix.