Phase IV | Released by the Project Seven | with Blisters Grow and Athame | at Champions, in Biddeford | June 13 |myspace.com/theprojectseven
You're definitely a garage-rock band if you record your debut album in your garage and it sounds about right. Though their self-titled disc is the definition of rough-around-the-edges, Tony Smokes and the Ladykillers wear it well. Sounding like everything might be funneled through a single mic hanging from the ceiling, the drums are thin, the bass is way forward, and the vocals echo with reverb, but damn it's a lot of fun. Owen Keiter's ape of David Byrne in the delightfully silly "Total Disco!" is alone worth the investment in the album. But there are also power-rock ballads, thrash-punk chaos, and even a Jimmy Buffett-like acoustic number to keep you on your toes.
To call this a demo does a disservice to most demos nowadays, but there's a ton of charm in these 11 tracks, including a reminder of why some of us went to all those grange hall gigs in the first place.
Tony Smokes and the Ladykillers | Released by Tony Smokes and the Ladykillers | with Lady Lamb the Beekeeper + Feel it Robot | at the Empire, in Portland | June 11 | myspace.com/tonysmokesmusic
The Here and Now
Looking for the roots equivalent of a hip-hop mixtape? Look no further than Billy Carroll's new Now. Here. This., a collection of 19 brief songs and good ideas, many of them under two minutes, just one of them over three. Percussion is often a foot stomping or a hand slapping a knee. The vocals are often early-Dylan, but can veer into Louis Armstrong two octaves higher or Leon Redbone. Recordings might be live from Carroll's weekly sessions at Blue or 2 am bedroom takes.
If you don't like silly in your music, stay away, as there's plenty of irony, foolishness, and plain old gag writing here. Songs like "Restraining Order" or "Chicken" are pretty much one-trick ponies. There's a track in the middle with a NYC-accented gangster voice imploring you to take a break (a piss, say) before you enter into side B. The second half's more rockin' than the first, but just as ridiculous: "I got sunshine grass in my all-night pants." There's a song called "The End" (which is nothing but applause) that's not the end.
What did I say about Tony Smokes and demos? Hell, this makes Tony Smokes's album look like it was produced by Phil Specter. But, again, there are kernels of interesting stuff here. Willing to sift through the chaff to find the wheat? Have at it.
Now. Here. This. | Released by Billy Carroll | at Blue, in Portland | June 18 | myspace.com/blindbillyblake