Catching up with Eric French, Kayla Ringelheim, and 75orLess

Digging in the crates
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 29, 2012

'Tis the season to scour the crates and catch up on a handful of '12 releases worthy of a shout here, as another year is about to pass (holy shit). Here's a salute to four more local discs worth looking up. There literally aren't enough weeks in the year to squeeze in a shout for all of the quality releases that come down the pipe here year-round, and our forthcoming Best of '12 column will be jam-packed for sure.


ALL PISS AND VINEGAR

My bad, Good Time Charlie — we hardly knew you. Emerson and Nathan Torrey hopped off the Mustache Ride bus and reconvened with GTC in 2010. Earlier this year, the quintet dropped its official debut, Old Wine New Vinegar ($7 at 75orlessrecords.com). Spiked with Emerson's raspy vocals and Nathan's rumbling kit, GTC serves up spirited hooks caked onto greasy punk numbers, including a mean cover of the Murder City Devils' "Serves You Right." The Torrey Bros. have already moved on to a new band called Hurricane Me (hey, it's tough to keep pace with the good stuff 75orLess Records pumps out all year long), playing out with labelmates like Six star General and Coma Coma at homebase East Bay dive bars JR Bean's and the Common Pub.


GROUNDHAWGS TAKE FLIGHT

75orLess also delivered the reemergence of the Groundhawgs earlier this year (originally formed in '87), who came out of hibernation with a vengeance in 2012 behind War Birds, the band's first recording since the mid-'90s alt-rock salad days. Local music vets Ray Memery and Bill Cole (voted Best Singer-Songwriter in our 2011 music poll) lead the charge on an album full of guitar-driven gems; it's all beers and crocodile tears on the opening "Tops," the standout cut "Annie" could have been plucked from Buffalo Tom's Birdbrain, and the charred riffs on the title track let the Groundhawgs run loose. Pick up the album and keep up with show listings at 75orlessrecords.com.

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A TRIPLE DOSE OF BLUES

Eric French released a new album this year in three segments, and the eight tracks that comprise Old City Blues (named for French's second home of Boston) hits paydirt with various styles of rhythm and blues, from the polished dance floor thumper "Baby Where Ya Been?" to the traditional dirty blues of the title track and "Poison In Mah Pie," one of the best moments yet from Eric French and friends. He was voted Best Blues Act in the 2011 Best Music Poll following his ambitious double-disc Eric French & Mr. Hyde and continues to perform around the region, with an official Old City Blues album release party slated for us RIers at the Spot in March. Visit ericfrench.com for the albums and tour dates.

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LOVING THE BIGGEST LITTLE

Singer-songwriter and pianist Kayla Ringelheim has a crush on you, Rhode Island. The Boston native now calls Providence home, and her adoration adorns her excellent new release, Wandering Feet ($10 at kaylaringelheim.bandcamp.com), a late entry on the ever-growing year-end best list (due in our 12.28 issue). Ringelheim played her first open mic at age 13 at Club Passim in Harvard Square, and her sharpened skill set elevates the album right from the start on "Smiles and Polaroids." On "Juliette" she sings, "Maybe it's time we let go" over slide guitar, in what turns out to be one of my favorite local songs of the year ("Nobody Knows" is pretty damn special, too). The hook on "Corner and Stone" is FM-ready, and Ringelheim declared "Magic Here" as "basically a love song to Rhode Island," when we recently spoke.

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