This week: three artists who sound just right for summer. Then some pontificating, followed by some gallivanting.
Jason Reischel, Brown Bridge & Green Bridge
Reviewers are imperfect creatures. How we hear and react to something can vary with circumstances. When I first listened to this CD a couple of weeks ago it barely registered on my consciousness. Then I listened to it while slogging through a smelly, 100-degree New York City heat wave, and it was positively refreshing even through crappy speakers. "A Lullaby" and "Roses" set the folky tone with Reischel's gentle Paul Simonlike vocals and dexterous acoustic guitar work. The feel is Elliot Smith meets Tim Buckley, but there is also an outsider quality to the loose, almost sloppy way in which the instrumental tracks are put together. Reischel's voice is so wrong for bluesy songs like "Down & Out," "Torn in Two" and "Acres of Diamonds" that he casts a skewed little spell, while gloomier tracks like the haunting "Locked Door" and the spare "Where Are You Tonight?" are heirs to Townes Van Zandt's sad songs. Reischel's pretty melodies do not aim for hookiness, but the CD works as irony-free parlor music.
The Weary Boys, Jumpin' Jolie
The Weary Boys' fifth CD, in as many years, shows the hardworking guitar-and-fiddle roots band in fine form. Though based in Austin TX, they sound much more like backwoods stompers than Austin-Americana scenesters. Thirteen mostly jolly two-and-three chord folk songs, some written by the band members, driven by full-on harmonies, fiddle, and Telecaster, should be enough to bring anyone out of a funk. There's a variety of styles on display, from love songs ("Your the One I Care For") and country-bluegrass dances, "Hoot Owl". From Chuck Berry rock and roll ("Baby's Got a Hold On Me") to Hank Williams-style Western soul ("California Sunset"). Plus local color via straightforward versions of "Jambalaya" and "Vaya Con Dios" - but every song sounds like the Weary Boys, and that's fine by me. They know how to write 'em and they know how to pick 'em. The energy is a wee bit more laid-back than you might expect from a band with two guitars, bass, drums and violin, but they are called weary after all. Just remember your bug spray, and you'll like cooling off with the Weary Boys' latest.