By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Futuremuzik argues persuasively that Thomas deserves a place in the instrumental-music pantheon. His work deftly melts cheese into jazz, a giggle to a chill up the spine. It can function as a perky accompaniment to household chores or stand up to the rigors of active listening. (104 W. 29th St., New York, NY 10001)
Cocaine, an old nightclub, a rockin' band -- any of these images might flash through the mind of a frequent Miami clubgoer upon hearing the name ButterClub. The picture this South Beach sextet's name paints will likely depend on being familiar with the local live-music scene, long-closed Miami Beach hotspots -- there used to be one with the same moniker -- or street-wise drug lingo (butter being street parlance for cocaine).
According to the press release that accompanied the group's latest CD, the six-piece jam band gets its name from the melting together of its members' varied musical influences. Sounds reasonable, but with the lines "Drunk since commune/Drowning on Valium" from "Sugar," and "Junk, junk, junk in my brain/Quitting smack cold turkey/Gonna stick to cocaine" from "The Thing with Miguel," more sinister connotations seem equally plausible. Not every track on The ButterClub is cut with dark references of drug lore, though. On "No Remorse" lead vocalist and lyricist Rhett O'Neil muses on the complexities of his existence, while on "Nothing Ever" he sings a tale of disillusioned love.
The ButterClub includes examples of the mellow ditties that flavored its moody 1996 debut, Junkies ("Ordinary People" and "No Remorse" are most reminiscent of that album). It also benefits from several upbeat songs that round out the band's sound, capturing some of their gritty, Black Crowes style.
Vocalist O'Neil's raspy renderings of the album's rockers and smooth balladry during the disc's quieter moments are the focal point of the recording. He readily jumps from the wailing chorus of "Sugar" and the subtle shakes of "Hush Child" to the shrieks of "Mama, I'm Willing," showcasing impressive vocal delivery and range and a taste for memorable melodies. O'Neil's vocal acrobatics are spotted by the steady guitar grind laid down by six-stringers Gabriel Loor and Franky Stone and by the slithery groove supplied by bassist JC, drummer Roly "Tymes" Lugo, and percussionist Tony Suarez.
Heavier and truer to the band's nature than Junkies, The ButterClub definitively displays the vocal harmonies, musicianship, and energy seen in the ButterClub's live shows. A solid second effort by a local club attraction. (25 East Ninth Ct., Miami, FL 33010)