Taking a Listen
Transportation — Daydreams It’s been 10 years in the making, but Chapel Hill rock band Transportation has finally released their first full-length album. Daydreams comes on the heels of a three-song 7-inch and an 18-track homemade disc called Transportation Hour and exudes the same qualities of its namesake. The songs are sleepy, contemplative works from another time and place that just seem to swing and sway in its own breezy optimism. The album opens with “Rock and Roll Station,” a wistful composition that seems rooted in the lounge experience brought on from listening to Steely Dan. Singer Robert Scruggs espouses his love and longing for the pre-digital era with a sound that seems almost a parody of that time. That’s followed by “Graduation,” a two-for that kicks off with frantic punk pacing before descending into casual, Phishy harmonies with a graduation speech dubbed lightly into the background. References to “answering the bell” and “our friends eight miles down the road” make it fairly simple to guess the locale. There’s also a lot of diversity to be found in this album, particularly in the quality musicianship. Guitarist Stephen Murtaugh shows great range in the soft growl of his solo on “Young Man” to the exceedingly-prog nature of “The Closest Word.” If there is any knock against the album, it’s that it’s almost a little too reminiscent of one of the weakest eras of rock music. See if you can listen to the chorus of “Spacetime” and not find yourself singing Firehouse’s “Love of a Lifetime.” It’s not a perfect work by any means, but there are so few of those to begin with. Just kick back, grab a beer and enjoy your Daydreams. www.myspace.com/transportation
Various Artists — Popskull & High Art Popskull refers to any poorly crafted homemade “likker” that elicits such a sense of misery the day after drinking that ones feels as if their skull will literally pop. It’s said that well-made moonshine, on the other hand, is akin to high art in the distilling cultures. Popskull & High Art is producer, arranger and writers Max Drake and Emily Edwards’ homage to not just the devil drink, but also the mountain culture from whence it sprang. The pair brought together an array of talented Piedmont musicians, the “mash for the still” as the creators put it, to lay down the spirit of this old trade in a distinctly folk format. The result is an intriguing chronicle of legends and tall tales with superb musicianship from all involved. Guitarist Matt Hill provides growling, snarling vocal work in the vein of the great Captain Beefheart on “Uncle Shine,” a warning about a man who’s still spits out the album title’s former. The line “Can take you straight to heaven/But the hangover purely hell” provides ample support for that assertion. Hill displays outstanding vocal range with the soaring gospel intonation of “Oh Shout” and a deft picker’s hand on “Banjo Terror.” Logie Meachum provides great classic blues vocal and guitar accoutrement on the traditional “Ain’t Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “Moonshine is High Art.” It won’t leave you with devastating after-effects of its namesake, but Popskull & High Art will take you to that same special place.
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