A lot of CDs have been piling up on my desk or stereo system. Last weekend, just over 30 inches of snow fell on my backyard and there was not much else to do but plow through some of the CDs. There were a number of artists I was hearing for the first time, but it proved that you don’t have to be famous to produce some good music.
First up is Stumble Into Tomorrow by Preston Cochran. Cochran has released a couple of albums with the band The Moores, but now steps out on his own with his first solo album. He is a singer-songwriter from the Boston area who plays acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, and even the xylophone. He is accompanied by a rhythm section of drummer Michael Urbiztonto and bassist Stewart Meyers, plus guitarist, banjo player, and pedal steel player Alan Weatherhead. The music runs the gamut from the beautiful harmonies and incisive lyrics of relationship problems in “Plain to See,” to the organ driven rock of “Made of Two,” to the catchy mainstream sound of “Summer Flings.” “Remain” and "Lovely” find him stripping his sound to basics with some gentle acoustic work. All in all, it’s an interesting mix that explores a number of musical styles.
The "Rock Doc" is back with her second album, Woman. Karen Nielsen is a doctor who moonlights as a working physician, or possibly vice versa if her music career takes off. Her lyrics explore the dark side of life from a woman’s perspective. Each of the 11 titles is only one word. “Sin,” “Gun,” “Crime,” “Truth,” “Winter,” and others are the titles of her stark and raw stories. She is a rocker and her music channels such artists as Kate Bush and Patti Smith. It all adds up to an interesting, if at times painful, mix.
Unit 1 consists of bassist Mark Egan, drummer Karl Latham, and guitarist John Hart. They can be best described as a jazz/funk power trio. Their self-titled debut release was recorded live over the course of three performances at the Bula Club in Newtown, New Jersey. They are basically an improvisational group and here they cover a number of jazz standards such as Miles Davis’ “Evil,” Tony Williams’ “Lifetime,” Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” and Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing.” Possibly the best track is their performance of “Willow Weep for Me.” While many music fans will associate the song with Chad and Jeremy’s pop version, they reach back to the original intent of Ann Ronnell’s jazz standard. It is Egan’s fretless bass style that gives their music a unique sound. They are a work in process and if these live tracks are any indication, it will be interesting to hear them in the studio.