Noise 

Jay Nash
A Stream Up North
Sly Stackhouse Music

Jay Nash is an acclaimed 28-year-old singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. His tender voice and rich-sounding acoustic guitar fills the room with blissful, introspective and timeless goodness. If you have ever spent time along a river with a summer lover, this record just might bring back those mushy memories.

“Labor Day Blues” has the reflective and melodic qualities to make it onto the soundtrack of a feel-good movie: “Here today, gone tomorrow, that’s how the river rolls.”

Along with a couple of friends, instruments, microphones and recording gear, Nash spent five days in an island cottage on the St. Lawrence River recording A Stream Up North. The results are sparse, real and personal.

The unobtrusive tremolo of a Fender Telecaster is dispensed as a backdrop on tracks such as “Wasted” and “Everything,” adding a dreamy quality. “River Siren” stands out as a raw down-home ditty on which Nash’s nylon strung guitar is accompanied by a scraggly tenor saxophone and the percussive rattle of what sounds like pots and pans. “Sail Away” closes out the disc in both studio and live versions. The only complaint is that the disc is a wee bit short, clocking in at less than 29 minutes. (Eric Segalstad)

Jay Nash and Paper Sun play two shows at the Elbow Room at 9:30 PM, March 4 and 5.

The Hot Buttered Rum String Band
In These Parts
self-released

“It’s hard to get drunk on three point two.” So goes the chorus on the opening track. Yes, indeed—expensive too. According to band lore, somebody was making hot buttered rum in the kitchen when the casual pickers decided to bond as a band—and the name stuck. While the California-based bluegrass pickers have toured the country in their bio-diesel bus for a few years now, In These Parts is their first studio album. The mixes on the 10-track disc are balanced and the instruments sound soft and clear. Then again, it was recorded in the personal studio of Decibel Dave Dennison—a trusted recording engineer for numerous David Grisman and Jerry Garcia sessions.

Collectively, the four members pick guitar, banjo, mandolin, upright bass, fiddle, flute and accordion. The interplay between the flute and guitar further elevates what the band describes as high-altitude bluegrass. Vocally, the voices blend in unison like the barbershop quartets of yesteryear. Where Yonder Mountain String Band is famous for high-octane agro-grass, the Hot Buttered Rum String Band advocates the merger pretty bluegrass and political country-folk of the coffee shop variety. An example of the latter is “Reckless Tex”—a (barely) shrouded commentary on present American leadership: “Out on the plains of Texas, where the cactus grows and the oil flows, a village has lost an idiot who fancies himself a cowboy.” (Eric Segalstad)

The Hot Buttered Rum String Band kicks it off at 10 PM Friday, March 4, at The Other Side.

Lee Zimmerman
Parallel Cats
self-released

To say that Lee Zimmerman’s use of the cello is interesting would be an understatement. His new album is called Parallel Cats, and its sounds consist of only Zimmerman’s voice and his cello. Don’t let the curt credits fool you, though—through the magic of overdubs and the intrinsic beauty of the instrument, Lee’s cello provides a musical tapestry as rich as one might expect from a small orchestra.

This recording brings 11 tunes to the table, each a bit different from the last, including two originals. Zimmerman glides through many styles, from the bluesy “Gracie Lives” (penned by Zimmerman himself) to the neo-classical feel of “Sothisis.” Unfortunately, Zimmerman’s voice pales in comparison to his string pyrotechnics, with his cello playing the part of soloist, ensemble member and even bass as he plucks pizzicato lines under the jazzier tunes.

This album captures raw performances of Zimmerman doing what it sounds like he was made to do: play interesting arrangements of songs spanning many genres while displaying an impressive agility on the fingerboard of the cello. If you like classical, folk or even jazz music and want to support local artists (and who doesn’t?), be sure to check out this record. (John Totten)

Lee Zimmerman and Radoslav Lorkovic perform together at a double CD release party and benefit Saturday, March 5, at the United Methodist Church. 8 PM, $10.

Radoslav Lorkovic
Blue Parade
Shed Records

There is a whole host of singer-songwriters who have influenced countless others with the help of only their pianos and their voices: Nat Cole, Elton John, Billy Joel, Randy Newman and Ben Folds. Local artist Radoslav Lorkovic is…not one of those artists, but dammit, he’s giving it a fine shot with his new album Blue Parade. With much delicacy, he tickles the ivories through 11 songs that barely peek their heads out of ballad territory.

With the help of Lee Zimmerman on cello, Blue Parade presents minimalist arrangements derivative of Randy Newman’s classic 1973 record Sail Away. In fact, Blue Parade’s highlight is track five, a cover of Newman’s title track, an über-cynical take on American history. Lorkovic’s voice lacks the experience of Newman’s, but the effect is the same. Blue Parade sometimes seems to reach for that jadedness but falls short in its own benign amiability.

Amiability is its own good thing, though, and Lorkovic does amiability well. If you want local music to accompany you on a nice Sunday afternoon read or drive through the countryside, than Blue Parade might hold your answer. (John Totten)

Lee Zimmerman and Radoslav Lorkovic perform together at a double CD release party and benefit Saturday, March 5, at the United Methodist Church. 8 PM, $10.

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