Peter Maybarduk, a human rights lawyer by day and spinner of yarns and dreamer of dreams under cover of night. He released his second studio album, A Ring Around the Atlantic, on December 1, and along the way earned himself a nomination in the Rock/Alternative category of this year's Mid-Atlantic Song Contest for his track "The Great State of Maine".
By turns a world music album, field recording, and power pop showcase, A Ring Around the Atlantic is thoughtfully written and orchestrated and features the standout production value of The Magpie Cage's J. Robbins. Maybarduk's voice, breathy and soft, reminds me of Hey Marseilles' Matt Bishop and Michael Benjamin Lerner of Telekinesis. His songwriting is thought-provoking without being pedantic, helped by the album's relentlessly catchy hooks and strong backing musicians.
This is not an easily digestible album, but one well worth the listenings necessary to appreciate it. The tracks that incorporate field recordings, such as "Very Very Suffer" and "Atlantic in Languages", add a lovely sense of texture to the album, and the seemingly hidden final track "En La Habana" throws a Buena Vista-esque curve ball at listeners. As a second album it is a surprisingly strong effort, and I predict that Peter will be a fixture in local (and perhaps national) awards competitions in the coming years.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Leesburg native Justin Trawick, featured previously on MMS for his work with the Pink Jams! breast cancer non-profit, has released a new album, You & I. Combining the strengths of his deeply personal take on songwriting with the frenetic energy of his live shows, the new album was recorded live in the studio, "Peel Session" style, by producer Jim Ebert at Falls Church's Cue Studios. Ebert employs the "Decca Tree", a spaced three-microphone array first utilized by the British branch of Decca Records in the 1950s, that imparts a wide stereo image on the recording and captures the breadth of Trawick's sound.
Trawick employs a more intimate and stripped-down sound on the new album, playing the acoustic guitar with Josh Himmelsbach backing him up on mandolin, piano and vocals while area rapper Flex Matthews adds freestyle raps to a pair of songs. At 29 Justin is growing into and embracing his idiosyncratic voice, his cadence and delivery mining the territory between G. Love's urban folk and Eef Barzelay's lo-fi folk. You & I imparts new life into old favorites "That Old Forgotten Street" and "To New Hampshire", the minimalist sound emphasizing the plaintive yet cautious optimism of the former and the heartbroken romanticism of the latter. "Someone" is a devastating elegy to the choices not made and chances not taken, a lyrical successor to Colin Hay's "Waiting for my Real Life to Begin" written from the perspective of an 82 year-old Trawick. Standout new tracks include "Back of my Mind", supercharged by Flex Matthews' freestyling, and "The Circus Life", a slow-rolling but catchy coming-of-age tale.
The album's titular "you" is conspicuously absent, the ghosts of lovers who left or were left behind, and Trawick charts that course through early adulthood and young love, in the existential angst of someone who feels his youth slipping away, and speculatively through the eyes of an octogenarian realizing he has squandered his opportunities. Despite this, You & I is not a sad album, but rather an unguarded window into the life of someone who would rather love and lose, a person who would chart a course and then realize he has to change directions. Trawick has not lost any of his trademark vocal swagger; he has simply grown a little older, a little wiser, and his listening audience is the richer for it.
Although the album has been out for a few weeks, Trawick is officially launching You & I this Friday at Artisphere, with special guests Andy Zipf and Amanda Lee supporting him. Doors are at 7:30pm, and tickets are $12.
Monday, December 05, 2011
Hurricane Bells is the new project from Steve Schiltz, the lead vocalist of the on-hiatus New York rock outfit Longwave. After a strong debut album and EP, the band gained significant exposure with the inclusion of a song in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" original soundtrack.
Tides and Tales, the sophomore effort from Hurricane Bells, was released on October 25, brimming with a catchier and more organic sound than Longwave's proggy bombast. Take a look at the video of the first single, "The Ghost of Her", a mid-tempo rocker that's a sonic successor to Roger McGuin's Birds and Alex Chilton's Big Star. Hurricane Bells comes ashore at Vienna's Jammin' Java, with Vince Scheuerman -- of Army of Me and River James fame -- opening. Door are at 8pm, and tickets are $10.
Image courtesy of Mayumi Nashida