Reviews of CDs by Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, Sparechange00, and The Ivory Coast.
Now Hear This
Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers, "Sinner Street," (Blind Pig) I've followed Thackery's journey through the music business with interest since the first time I heard him tear the roof off a bar with the Nighthawks in 1980. He's had some ups and downs, but he's hitting his stride these days with the release of "Sinner Street." Full of Thackery's typically tough, crisp guitar runs, this set rocks. His vocal growl is in soulful shape, and stylistically he switches easily from powerful bar-band blooze rock to a '60s surf instrumental vibe. The bandleader also reveals a quieter side, closing with a tasty and reflective "Blues 'Fore Dawn." With this version of the Drivers, Thackery has also found a great band. Mark Stutso anchors on rock-steady drums and adds the occasional vocals, former Luther Allison band member Ken Faltinson plays bass and keys, and the incredible Jimmy Carpenter shines with some down-and-dirty sax. Some will remember Carpenter from local shows in the '80s and '90s as a member of the Alkaphonics, and Charlie Pastorfield and the Believers. Carpenter gives Thackery fine horn support the guitarist hasn't enjoyed since he fronted the Assassins in the early '90s. Some may consider Thackery's style too flashy, but on "Street" he plays with restraint and a crunching tone that translates to me as pure gut-level blues rock. Ames Arnold Sparechange00, "... At First Sight" (Grilled Cheese Records/Cargo Music) The Canton, Ohio-based band Sparechange00 plays pop-inspired punk rock, plain and simple. While that might not be too out of the ordinary, what's different is that the songs they write sound as if someone put some thought into their creation. Where there is nothing original about pop punk bands such as MXPX, Sparechange00's "... At First Sight" demonstrates that although they share the similar traits of catchy choruses and generally upbeat tempos with lesser groups of the same genre, Sparechange00 is something different entirely. The lyrics are surprisingly forlorn-hearted for pop punk. They're delivered by singer/guitarist Ryan Watts who can really carry a tune. He even reminds me a little of the vocalist from All. The music itself is atmospheric without ever becoming dreary or laggard. The standout tracks on "... At First Sight" are numerous, but my favorite song on the album would have to be "The One." That particular track sounds a bit like the band Sponge, although probably unintentionally, as do a few of the other songs on the album. I hope Sparechange00 is able to ride out the popularity of the formulaic, three-member pop-punk neo-boy band because they have a lot more to offer their listeners than just ear-candy. Angelo DeFranzo "The Rush of Oncoming Traffic," The Ivory Coast (Big Wheel Records) Melodic and witty indie rock. Sensitive with a smirk and disjointed in the right places. this CD has never bored me although I have listened to it many times. The record entertains because members of Boston's The Ivory Coast are ready and eager to subvert expectations. They do it at every opportunity. It works when they change the rhythm or completely break into a new song in the middle of a note. It works when they tweak the guitar solos to make them sound like they came from an Apple II. And it works when they have the mere cleverness to rearrange the traditional song structure even something simple like putting a solo at the end of a song instead of in the middle. They're also not afraid to break out the synthesizer. People should be warned that this is a band that abruptly terminates the best song on its album two-thirds of the way through the tune. But unconventional twists like that make things interesting and make a great record. Wayne Melton