Brian Lisik and the Unfortunates bring a new set of guitar-rock tracks with We’re Sorry…. Straight-ahead but rough-edged and with quirky lyrics, the songs are self-aware with a sometimes tongue-in-cheek attitude but nonetheless soaked in real feeling. The artistic voice is consistent even as the style varies, from the garage-punk of “Another Friday Night” and “The Meat Locker” and the wry sexuality of “Bye Bi Love” to the small-town lament of “Hey Zelienople!,” the ’70s-summery sheen of “IDKWTIC,” and “Feudal Nights” with its Jackson Browne/BTO flavor.
Lisik’s voice has taken on even more of his habitual heart-on-sleeve honesty, evoking the early Bruce Springsteen as he piles on the syllables like the sun’s about to go down forever in “Heart a Hand.” Acoustic songs towards the end of the album showcase the more vulnerable side of his sensibility, along with more of the arch humor. A plea, a snarl, the occasional whine, all called forth from a fully seasoned and mastered vocal instrument.
We’re Sorry… is nothing for Lisik to be sorry about, nor for his excellent band of backing musicians, featuring especially inspiring piano work from Tim Longfellow. It’s available online here and here.
Thor Platter‘s spare Americana recalls the rootsy side of country music from before the classification “Americana” existed. Platter’s rough-edged vocals suggest a richer-voiced Willie Nelson, and he writes straightforward uncomplicated songs that feel timeless. His bandmate Paul Kovac contributes excellent banjo accompaniment (listen to him lay onto the strings with especial force on “Gun Shy”) which combines with Platter’s harmonica work to give the songs folk and bluegrass flavors, and with little percussion, Paul Lewis’s fluid electric bass parts – some of the best bass playing I’ve heard on an Americana album in a long time – become key lockdowns.
The hummable songs deal with common themes – love, loss, growing up, growing apart – in lyrics that blend the homespun and the artful. Like the music, they’re quintessentially American, not clinging to the sound of a particular location the way some albums scream Nashville, Austin, Bakersfield, or San Francisco. In an age when even music genres can be politically charged, Take Time reminds us that it doesn’t have to be that way, that at its heart music remains the universal language. It comes out October 27.