The Happiness Struggle (Leftfield)
It's been a long six years since the Coccaro brothers have inflicted the local scene with their Anglophile musings and quite frankly, I'm extremely pleased with the time taken. Music journalism can veer (re: careen out of control) into some real douche-y environs and while their take on music has not always been my proverbial cup of Earl Grey with a splat of cream, I can recognize that they are serious about their craft. And honesty shines above all. Even if it seems like a "contrived" effort to sound British, I can't dump on the dudes; I used to be in a power-violence/thrash grindcore act in the mid 90's that emulated a whole bunch of bands you've never heard of. Spazz? Agathocles? Apt. 213? Noothgrush? Anyone? Here's the deal, Nothing Rhymes With Orange has come a real long way since one of them dude's girlfriend gave me a copy of 2004's Polite Gothic at a Starbuck's in Kendall and invited me to a show at the Titanic Bar.
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And that was an enjoyable record. Full of promise and over the years I heard that they embarked on a UK tour which made sense and then nil. Until I got contacted by their handlers with the new record while I was actually thinking about what a bunch of swell of dudes they were when they performed at the Vagabond, a joint I stinted at. So fair is fair, Carl (vocals) and Rich Coccaro (guitars/keys) have evolved significantly with the addition of the Dereks, Cruz on bass and Sexton on drums with added key work by Ryan Sambrook. Not that it ends there. This eleven tracker features a full-fledged choir courtesy of God's Appointed on "The Night Clouds" to great soul effect and a small ad hoc army of other players who do the studio thing right: assisting. While the album might not be balanced for certain ears, it certainly does play on the notion of having solid rockers alongside acoustic compositions. The title track will satisfy any fan of mid-to-late 90's Brit rock while "Escaping Hell" will do the same for fans of indie/alternative rock.
Rista World (GR Komplete)
This was another one of those discs that sat beneath my pile of booze and IOU's for too long and I'm kinda glad I discovered finally. Let's face it, Goran Rista, whatever post-Iron Wall reality he escaped from is a nut delved sick into the worlds of electro-hippie-jazz-funk with acidic pangs of World sounds and who knows what, everything goes into the pot and tastes good. Even the freaking cover looks like a deleted scene from Pee Wee's Playhouse. Is that a fucking smiling drum kit? Geez, I hope the environmentally-friendly packaging (complete with veggie inks) comes double-dipped in lysergics... but other than that, there's a lot of New Age-y stuff to be found here which is kinda weird cuz he looks so young, but even young men do not err when employing the "encantos" of Elastic Bond's Sofy Encanto to vocalize a track, the delish and Middle Eastern-quirky "Have We Met Before?" And then he goes on to get good sappy with a fitting tribute to his father titled "Spanija" with Earth, Wind and Fire horns and Carlos Santana guitars guiding it along. Good job. Let's hope the kid doesn't lose steam.