Turtle Bangs: ‘Mountain’

Unsuspecting listeners who aren’t familiar with Turtle Bangs’ music might get the impression they are a country act upon first glance at the cover art of their new album Mountain. However, that notion quickly disintegrates as the ear-splitting fuzz of electric guitar rips into the heavy rock sound of the opening track, “Desert Stone,” which continues relentlessly throughout the set’s entire duration.

Guitarist and vocalist Greg Stephen and drummer Casey Carter formed Turtle Bangs in the fall of 2008 while both were residents at Murfreesboro’s notorious Country House. The local duo released their second full-length recording earlier this year, which is a follow-up to their debut, Give Me Your Daughter.

Co-produced with Hank Parker Pruett, the album incorporates a profusion of post-grunge, alternative and garage rock elements slightly tempered with hints of punk to create a powerful and beautifully chaotic musical statement. Stephen’s raw and gritty vocal style is at times reminiscent of Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, as he delivers each song with reckless abandon that never eases up during the 12 tracks.

“Lost in West Virginia/roaming in the cold/mountains overwhelming/waiting for the calm to come,” Stephen intimately reveals in the closing track “Mountain Song.” However, listeners should be forewarned that calm is not something easily heard anywhere on this strikingly frenzied indie rock release.

While plenty of passion is evident, these songs are presented in a rough and unpolished, almost demo-like quality that at times becomes monotonous. This fact could hinder some listeners from completing the entire musical journey the duo may have ultimately envisioned. Also, the somewhat less-than-spectacular songwriting contained here only hints at the duo’s promise that is anticipated after hearing the initial tracks.

Although Turtle Bangs’ sound may be an acquired taste, the band certainly deserves credit for creating a bold and aggressive album, which is sure to permeate astute rock fans’ ears and give them something to sink their teeth into.

Copyright ©2010 The Murfreesboro Pulse

The Great Affairs: ‘Ricky Took the Wheels’

Ricky Took The Wheels..

Nashville based pop/rock band The Great Affairs’ latest album, Ricky took the wheels.., is a great affair indeed. This newly released collection of well-crafted songs picks up where their 2009 eponymous debut left off, yet raises the musical bar significantly.

Lead vocalist Denny Smith penned all 12 tracks contained in this instantly likeable and highly memorable piece of musical ear candy, which was produced by the band and recorded by Michael Saint-Leon at his Antioch recording studio The Switchyard. The album sounds instantaneously fresh and familiar, as it includes ever-so-subtle hints of Tom Petty and Bon Jovi, which are most apparent in the songs, “Bastard Son” and “Last Good Memory.”

The first track, “Feels Like Home,” instantly demands the audience’s attention with its highly addictive chorus, slide guitar, exquisite background harmonies and catchy melody. This is a perfect choice to open with, as it sets the mood for the rest of the album and gives the listener fair warning that great things lie ahead. “In this moment/we’re as young as we’ll ever be/and this feels like home to me,” sings Smith, which sounds as if he is welcoming new and returning fans alike to this musical jaunt.

The amps are cranked up on the outstanding “Inside Your Head,” which sums up this album perfectly as it slowly works its magic inside the listener’s head before transitioning to the stripped down “My Apologies.” This somber yet beautiful ballad’s acoustic-based delivery suits Smith’s delicate and heartfelt lyrics perfectly, without becoming overly sentimental, and sits nicely between two rockers. This balance of hard and soft continues throughout this set’s fine assortment of songs.

The appropriately titled final track, “Last Good Memory,” provides the perfect ending as the pace alternates between fast and slow, which allows the intensity to build throughout its five-minute duration. “Everything makes me anxious in this dead end town/sometimes I wish the kids would burn it down/I can watch my last good memory fade/and leave me here with just this mess we made,” confesses Smith before bringing the album to a fitting close.

Ultimately, it’s the sum of all the parts that make this highly enjoyable album a success. From the inspired lyrics to the excellent guitar work, Ricky took the wheels.. is guaranteed to leave listeners satisfied and anticipating what’s to come from this highly promising band. This praiseworthy recording sounds like a major label deal should be waiting just around the corner. If this album isn’t perfect, then it’s damn close.

Recommended tracks to download: all of them.

Copyright ©2010 The Murfreesboro Pulse

Keith Urban: ‘Get Closer’

Keith Urban has certainly managed to carve a niche for himself in today’s current country music climate with his own brand of country music. On his latest release, Get Closer, he continues to solidify his foothold and remains firmly ensconced in the contemporary country-pop genre.

This latest offering, co-produced by Dan Huff and Urban himself, picks up right where his 2009 release, Defying Gravity, left off. Listeners will already be familiar with the album’s first track and lead-off single, “Put You In A Song,” as it has been a staple on country radio since September. The hit song was co-penned by Urban, Sarah Buxton and fellow Aussie Jedd Hughes. This bouncy summertime romp stills sounds fresh and inviting even in the sub-freezing temperatures of winter, which is a testament to the craftsmanship of Urban’s consistently solid songwriting.

Perfectly following the first hit is the radio friendly, “You Gonna Fly,” which continues in the same vein of the up-tempo, feel good tunes Urban is well known for serving up. Although this is one of the few titles presented here not written by Urban himself, with lyrics such as “hop in this truck and run through the red lights/roll down the windows with the radio loud/come on turn it up yeah,” it sounds as if he could have.

The energetic “Long Hot Summer,” written by Urban with Richard Marx, makes a great companion piece to the two tracks previously mentioned and easily ranks right up there with some of Urban’s best hits. This song sounds as if it can barely wait to burn up the airwaves next summer.

This album also has some stellar ballads, such as “All For You,” and the gorgeous “Right On Back To You,” which includes thunderstorm sound effects that add the perfect touch to this first rate, cozy sounding love song.

Get Closer is another solid and winning collection that Keith Urban fans are sure to find highly enjoyable. The only downside to the set is its shortness in length. Clocking in at just over 33 minutes with only eight tracks, it seems slightly unfinished. Although brief, the excellent quality of the material included here more than makes up for the short playing time. For listeners who are disturbed by this fact, it is highly recommended to seek out the deluxe version, which contains three bonus tracks and four live recordings, and is readily available exclusively at Target stores.

Flea Market Hustlers: ‘Free Demo For Sale’

Flea Market Hustlers has been sharing its brand of country-flavored bluegrass with Murfreesboro audiences and satisfying their fans’ musical fix with their weekly shows for the past four years. By playing local venues such as The Blue Rooster and Mellow Mushroom, the band has built a local following with their unique and inventive interpretations of cover songs as well as their own originals.

The five-piece group delivers a brief but accurate sample of what they have to offer during their live performances on their seven-track EP, Free Demo For Sale. This self-produced mini-album was recorded at The Chicken Ranch in Bradyville and features three of the band’s originals along with four diverse cover tunes, which are all delivered in its distinctive jam-grass style.

The group slams through the brief set beginning with “Drive,” which was written by lead singer David Preston. This standout track includes an incredibly catchy chorus that seeps into the listener’s long-term memory and refuses to let go. The collection also includes such interesting choices as Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” which includes a very nice saxophone solo, and late country-folk artist Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die.”

The Hustlers are even bold enough to attempt a remake of Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” with mixed success. While the song choice would seem to be a likely fit, the chorus suffers from the rapid-fire tempo, although the excellent harmonica playing included here works brilliantly.

Throughout this oddly eclectic and disparate mix of material, band member John Furbush’s exquisite mandolin playing is especially noteworthy. Even if country or bluegrass is not your usual cup of tea, this collection is worth checking out for the highly enjoyable take on Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Whether consciously deciding to save this pure delight for last was intentional or not, Flea Market Hustlers deserve a big “two thumbs up” for choosing to include this number. Their excellent reworking and masterful delivery of this familiar rock song was nothing short of genius.

Copyright ©2010 The Murfreesboro Pulse

Coach-A-Palooza Rocks The ‘Boro

The third annual Coach-A-Palooza was held at Coach’s Grill on Saturday, Oct. 2. The eight-hour musical event was an all-ages, family friendly show that began outside at 6 p.m. and lasted until 2 a.m. With an admission price of only $7 per person, this live music extravaganza is a great and inexpensive way to spend an evening.

The live festivities kicked off with the country-rock stylings of the Barefoot Renegades, whose repertoire included songs from Alabama to Georgia Satellites and Luke Bryan. The hour-long set also included a smattering of the band’s own originals delivered with bravado from barefooted lead singer Wes Cook. The small but intimate crowd seemed to enjoy the band’s sound, which could be described as a combination of the Zac Brown Band and Hootie and the Blowfish. The band’s playful onstage antics included comical banter about out-of-tune guitars and vocals due to the weather, before stating they had to head out of town for another gig.

Barefoot (1)

(The Barefoot Renegades)

After a brief stage re-set, the evening continued with a strong set of rocking cover tunes provided by Octane Jane. “Let’s get ready to party,” exclaimed lead singer Angel Nash before breaking into their brand of high energy rock. Nash’s powerful lead vocals ripped through such favorites as Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” as well as newer songs by Kings of Leon and Maroon 5. The band switched things up a bit when their lead guitarist delivered a rousing version of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” complete with powerfully aggressive vocals of which Rivers Cuomo himself would be envious. Octane Jane’s set ended with AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” which kept the audience on its feet and singing along.

The music-filled night progressed with another local favorite, The Compromise. The band’s set was comprised of a mix of original and cover songs, which bring to mind a harder edged Gin Blossoms. “Rock ‘n’ roll is what we’re playing,” declared lead singer Brandon Bell before tearing into Foo Fighter’s “Learning to Fly.” By the time The Compromise took the stage, the crowd had been well primed for good music, and judging from their response, the audience was thoroughly enjoying what they were hearing.

Compromise (1)

(The Compromise)

Upon completion of The Compromise’s performance, the event moved inside Coach’s Grill for the final band of the night, JT and the Funky Bunch. The funky band’s party music provided the perfect ending for the show. The audience responded enthusiastically to their funked-up white soul, as well as their talent to blend humor and music. JT and his band’s smooth groovin’ style seemed as if it had been handpicked to bring the evening full of music and fun to a close.

Coach-A-Palooza took place on a crisp, cool, breezy night, and all in attendance seemed to have a lot of fun. The crown ranged in age from late teens to late 50-somethings. The event had the feel of an old-fashioned block party combined with a giant karaoke sing-a-long. Audience member, Tina Vaughn from Smyrna, said she heard about the event from a friend on Facebook. A self-proclaimed music lover, Vaughn confessed, “I love music. I came to hear all of the bands.” When asked if she planned to attend next year, Vaughn responded, “Absolutely. This is awesome. I’m going to make this an annual thing.” Coach’s Grill is located at 127 S.E. Broad St.

Copyright ©2010 The Murfreesboro Pulse

Tetsuo: ‘These Crystals Don’t Burn’

These Crystals Don't Burn

Hardcore rockers Tetsuo announce their arrival into the music scene loud and proud on their debut album These Crystals Don’t Burn. The post-punk psychedelic sounds of the local 4-piece band slam through 13 tracks with fierce and reckless abandon akin to the Beastie Boys possessed by the Sex Pistols. Listeners should be forewarned: this is not an album for the faint at heart. It is a jarring, rough and raucous ride that starts with the opening track and doesn’t ease up until the final note of the closing instrumental.

Kicking things off is the frantic thrashing of “Banshee Mansion,” which cuts through the musical landscape like a sharp, jagged knife complete with angry lyrics and crunchy power chords. Tetsuo seem to subscribe to the do-it-yourself aesthetic of punk rock combined with a generous helping of drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll included in the mix to create a style of their own.

“I don’t give a damn about this life/I ain’t no Kurt Cobain/but I can’t complain,” the lead singer proclaims in the set’s most hook laden, accessible track, “Smoking Cigarettes with Famous People.”

They also include plenty of local shout outs in “Approaching Nashville,” which contains such lyrics such as “she puts out for the Christiana/Antioch/Harding Place boys . . . she’s too busy in Smyrna, Tennessee,” making sure the listener is well aware of the band’s regional locality.

Two of the more notable and interesting selections found here are “Horse Girl” and “God’s Announcement.” The almost danceable “Horse Girl” clocks in at just over six minutes during its multiple tempo changes and is quite possibly the most original and inventive of the songs presented here. The latter, “God’s Announcement,” includes an infectious chant-like chorus that is repeated just enough times to ensure the listener has no other choice but to surrender and shout out “guard your heart” again and again.

Although this is clearly an album aimed at a specific audience with a taste for aggressive, hard rock, it is truly a bombastic aural assault that will satiate fans of that genre. What the band members may lack in musicianship, they more than make up for with plenty of attitude and swagger, not to mention an ample amount of explicit, riotous lyrics and out-of-tune guitars thrown in just for good measure.

Copyright ©2010 The Murfreesboro Pulse

Darius Rucker: ‘Charleston, SC 1966’

Darius Rucker certainly had the odds stacked against him when beginning the recording process for his second country album, Charleston, SC 1966. The follow-up to his platinum country debut, 2008’s Learn To Live, had a lot to live up to. After amassing four hit singles, three of which went all the way to number one, pulling off another successful country album may have seemed daunting to most artists. Fortunately, it seems Rucker has managed to do just that by capturing lightning in a bottle for the second time.

The new album, which is aptly named in the same fashion as Rucker’s musical idol Radney Foster’s Del Rio, TX 1959, more than lives up to its predecessor’s accomplishments. Beginning with the lead off track, “This,” Rucker sings about how all the events of his life, no matter how big or small, have played a significant role in where his life has taken him. The song is indicative of the album’s 13 songs, which includes great lyrics underscored with healthy doses of mandolin, banjo, fiddle and steel guitar.

Included here is the current hit, “Come Back Song,” a country radio staple during the summer, in which he sings, “I’m the backside of a mule.” Although Rucker has never kept his love of country music a secret, he seems more than comfortable in the genre with this release. The aforementioned tune is followed by the upbeat and catchy, “Might Get Lucky,” which talks about a husband and wife trying to find a way to spend some ‘special alone time together’ and sounds as if it is ready to leap off the record and onto country radio playlists.

“Whiskey and You,” is not just another drinking song, but instead it is a beautiful and heartfelt ballad. “I keep coming back to whiskey and you,” Rucker admits in this album highlight, which is every bit as good if not better than anything included on his previous album.

One of the particularly striking standouts included here is, “Southern State of Mind,” which fits perfectly with the album’s theme. “No changing who I am / No matter what state I’m in / I’m in a southern state of mind / Back home in Carolina,” Rucker confesses.

“The sky starts spinning when our heads get above the clouds,” Rucker sings in “We All Fall Down.” This track is sure to be a treat for longtime fans of the artist, since it bares the most resemblance to one of Hootie and the Blowfish’s best ballads.

Additional album highlights are “I Don’t Care” and “She’s Beautiful.” The former is a humorous duet with label mate Brad Paisley and is delivered in Paisley’s often playful lyrical style. This upbeat tune about late night partying will surely be in heavy rotation in the not so distant future in country bars and radio alike. Followed by the mid-tempo, “She’s Beautiful,” which may be Rucker’s best vocal performance to date, this song has hit written all over it. Even with lyrics such as, “I’ll love her ‘til the day I die / I’m one lucky man,” Rucker manages to pull this modern love song off successfully, without sounding sappy.

The album closes with the fitting, “In A Big Way,” which returns to the album’s hometown theme. “I need some front porch rocking / Back road walking / Some biscuits cooking in the oven,” sings Rucker gleefully. He continues on to say, “I need some hanging ‘round my little town in a big way,” which ends things on a perfect note.

Charleston, SC 1966 is full of potential hits that will more than satisfy old and new fans alike. It seems his entire career has led up to the making of this album. Frank Rogers’ winning production style more than suits the material presented here, all of which was co-written by Rucker, along with some of the best writers Nashville has to offer. This is more than just a solid effort, it truly is a great country record.