To You, the debut CD from Amy Martin, likewise finds the acoustic singer/songwriter/guitarist almost uncannily at home with the high-tech, black-box digital wizardry of the modern studio. It’s doubly commendable that a relative recording novice like Martin (I think) would make such an extroverted debut, and one that fully makes good on the personal interest implied by the title. My first couple spins through To You were charged personal experiences because they made me realize that, not yet out of my 20s, a steady diet of punk rock has rather illogically made me a little terrified of infectious enthusiasm and complete honesty without a few prophylactic layers of tongue-in-cheek humor. To You is just incredibly honest and open, to the point where you either have to believe or resign yourself to the most wretched kind of defensive cynicism. I love it, but the curmudgeon in me still feels slightly embarrassed, like I’ve dropped by someone’s house unannounced and caught them singing in the shower with all the gusto they can muster.
KBGA: Live in Missoula, Copper Wire
Speaking of mustering: It took them a little too long to stay ahead of the breakup curve, but KBGA finally coughed up the Live In Missoula goods with Copper Wire, the anxiously-awaited compilation of local and visiting bands who performed on the popular Wednesday night live showcase. A whole stylistic rainbow of selections here, running the gamut from ska (Bim Skala Bim) to hip-hop (erstwhile locals 9Eleven) to the Indigo-tinted acoustics of Raised by Wolves, and all of it as crisp and clear as if the bands were playing in your living room. There’s a clinker or two (the Dexter Grove track is nothing short of dreadful) and Watsonville Patio’s Janice Grube hits a couple of rank notes on “Lavender,” but the right-on tracks, especially Tarkio’s otherwise unreleased “Slow Down” and the completely hysterical Robbie Fulks tune “Eggs Are Good” (also exclusive to Copper Wire) make it well worth the price of admission.
Volumen: How do you spell...?
All in all, a fine crop of local releases for late summer/early fall. But with the possible exception of the 9 Pound Hammer CD (the Tom Kelley-penned “The Key to Your Heart” just kills me every time), no local release has been haunting my deck with the frequency of the latest Volumen release. Pure genius. Shane Hickey and Doug Smith are the attic twins with their own made-up language, and the permanent addition of rock-solid drummer Bob Marshall and Chris Bacon on keyboards has put Volumen miles ahead of the game on How Do You Spell…?. Can you pick a favorite song? Doubtful. I’ve already been around the bush a few times with one person who likes “Why Are There So Many People in Here?” not only because it’s a great song, but also because it’s the most unassuming one on a CD littered with theme songs and songs about being in Volumen and simulated Scotch-Gard anthems (“Mighty Dwarves” is kind of the fume-huffing How Do You Spell…? equivalent of “Battle of Evermore”), and so stands out for its special plainness. Kind of like an Amish runway model. While it might not be the most erudite selection on the CD, the track that always sticks with me is the contagious “Something for the Monkey.” A few days of that stuck in my head, I start getting funny ideas around the power drill.
Paul Bunyan Band
One last quickie: Run, don’t walk, to the record store and pick up a copy of the Volumen-recorded Paul Bunyan Band CD. The Paul Bunyan Band play “vintage video game themes interpreted and arranged” by Louis Gobeo (on drums) and Chris Pickolick (on everything else). More brilliance. Oh, and guess what? Louis just left for college. The classic Missoula story.