Two rock releases with punning titles caught our ears this past week, Cameron Mitchell’s EP Chelsea No Evil and Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates’ album Curisinterruptedus.
Cameron Mitchell, Chelsea No Evil
Cameron Mitchell’s six-song EP blasts off with the old-school rock and roll thumper “Good Morning Heartbreak” and doesn’t let up through the multiple-guitar attack of the singalong “Woman in Love,” which puts me in mind of the Georgia Satellites. But Mitchell’s hoarse heartland-rock vocals betray a cool sensitivity in the well-crafted melody of the somber ballad “Sometimes Things Just Fade,” and carry the slow country waltz “Maybe I Was Looking for You” beyond the cliché its twangy guitar and pedal steel could have made it.
Mitchell is a crafty lyricist too. “I’m a bad guy, I’m a liar/I can be what you require/I can grow a tree and chop it down,” admits the rueful narrator of “Just Before” as he backs out of his wedding at the last second. He closes the EP by evoking the timeless guitar riff from “All Right Now” as he continues the theme of relationship caution with the mid-tempo rocker “Darlin’ Let Me Warn You.” His narrators may be bad news for their girlfriends, but his EP leaves you wanting more.
Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates, Curtisinterruptedus
Speaking of heartland rock, there’s a lot of it in Curtisinterruptedus, the new album from Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates. These 14 songs fit into a mere 38 minutes. Do the math and it’s clear these are short-and-sweet songs, each making its statement and getting out of the way, like in the early days of pop music.
Leading off with the catchy rocker “Jan. 13” the disc rolls through a variety of flavors, the Springsteen-esque “Beaten Up Blue,” a delicate duet with singer Rachel Roberts (“Paramours”), and the elemental “The Beekeeper,” a top track that combines a Mellancamp-like passion with a loose trippiness and a hint of The Who. The piano ballad “Born on Needles and Pins” is a miniature winner at only a minute and a half.
Latinate and abstract words like “attorney” and “normalcy” can feel a little out of place amid Lisik’s heart-on-sleeve rock sound, but those are only occasional moments. Meanwhile the guitar and keyboard work and the musicianship in general are consistently good.
Lisik is at his most poetic in the sad ballad “About Me Back Home,” whose murderous narrator reflects ruefully on the reputation he’s surely developed back home and the shame his father must feel. “Tattered & Broken” has the feel of a Celtic folk song, Lisik’s tenor getting scratchy like Shane McGowan’s, and the disc ends with some unexpected poetry over a musical throwaway by Lisik’s musical collaborator Steve Norgrove: “Swagger and sway turns to stumble and fall.” Grounded firmly in the traditions of 20th century guitar rock and pop, their album has no need to swagger; it sways gently when the lyrics call for it; and it rarely stumbles and never falls.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00VXU4P7A]