taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

THE LOWBOTS — The Lowbots

It might seem as though Tony Low has been making pure-hearted power pop too long for any album to count as a first, but the long-awaited release of the Lowbots’ self-titled debut album concretely heralds his return to his roots at the helm of his own band. The Lowbots is part Mod Revivalist and partly an updated return to the bristling Triad pop scene of the ’60s and ’70s without so much of the jangle. It’s filled with charmingly simply and often wry songs without a unifying undercurrent, but all sharing in common themes of romance, friendship and ambition. Low delivers “Beware,” a sweetly na’ve recount of a fly-by-night love immune to the charms of a musician, with the earnest croon of Nick Lowe, but “Been Here Waiting” flips the script into a ditty of a lecherous philanderer coyly looking to break the object of his desire from an unhappy relationship. It’s not overtly funny, but Low’s deadpan delivery will wring out a smile whether you realize it or not. Sonically, the album is clean and well-derived from a variety of influences; “Like A Dream” bears them anthemic qualities of early Romantics and “Tell Me” emphatically recalls Badfinger. Mod pop might never mount a full comeback, but fans will always have a steady stream of work to count on thanks to dedicated artists like Tony Low.

75/100 -RS

The Lowbots will perform the album’s release party at the Green Bean on Saturday with the Raving Knaves in support.

MOUNTAIN JACK — Hans Rotenberry /Brad Jones

Sometimes you set out to review a record armed with a bunch of preconceived comparisons — you know: “Brings to mind a melding of the sonic qualities of the White Album with the intricate textures of Quadrophenia….” This was to be one of those reviews, but something happened as I started to type: I hit play again on Mountain Jack, the new CD from Hans Rotenberry and Brad Jones. Hans Rotenberry is leader and Alpha Male of Tennessee rock heroes the Shazam. Over the course of four CDs and one EP, Hans and company have presented the world with a tasty plate of songs heavy on the hook. Three of these four albums were produced by Brad Jones, a power player in the world of Nashville recording. Jones is also a renowned singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist himself. In what seems to be a gimme, these two titans of Tennessee have merged forces and recorded a tour de force of hook-laden Americana pop, for lack of a better term. Everything that is good about the work of Hans in the Shazam is present here: great hooks and harmonies, just toned down a bit. Acoustic guitars and clean electrics allow the perfectly matched vocals of Rotenberry and Jones to shine. The songwriting sensibilities of both men are in top shape. Need a sample before buying? Yry the ultra-groovy “Next to You” or the drinking sing-along of “Puttin’ on Airs Tonight.” I could compare these tunes to a great number of other artists, however to do so would take away from what is really here: 10 real songs played effortlessly and presented to us, the lucky recipients, with one guarantee: the need to hit rewind to hear it all again.

90/100 -CH

November 16, 2010 iTunes, Amazon , etc…Worldwide