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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Alt-512's Monthly Album Reviews & Recommendations

In sharp contrast to the speed that seemed to rush February and March, April has been been moving by a nice leisurely pace and we're just now getting around to writing up James Keyes' Ruminations which we've been listening to for a good chunk of the month.

The first thing that strikes us is Keyes' voice which immediately conjurs recollections of the rasp inherent to the likes of Otis Gibbs and Ryan Bingham coupled with the low wash of fellow New Englanders Slaid Cleaves and/or Rod Picott. The songs themselves fall somewhere in the Ray Wylie Hubbard and Gurf Morlix realm in terms of the sense of spiritualism and stripped down honesty. Sometimes, less is more. And that is definitely the case with Keyes' Ruminations.

Our notes:
-"Chapter Six" is interesting in its use of overdubbed clips from a reading of Genesis Chapter Six. Having spent a lot time in church and Sunday schools studying the bible in a former life, we dig this song. The coolness factor on "Chapter Six" is off the charts - but probably only for us.
-On "Where Have You Been", when Keyes says "the weeds", we swear we can almost definitely hear Tom Waits saying "Louise, Louise."
-None of the songs are really pretentious or full of themselves or, hell, even indulgent really. They all get to the point, make the point and clear the way for the next. Impressive, really. A lesser artist might have strung these songs into something beyond Keyes' easy succinctness but the 44 minutes of Ruminations' 15 songs speed by with effortless ease keeping the listener fully engaged and entertained.
-Our other favorites from this record are the intro "Hardliner", "Work Song", "Black Ceiling", "When Will I Be Free", "Little Lamb" and "SSG".
-All in all seven or eight tracks made it onto the iPod and that's quite a shot better that most.

We're hoping Keyes makes his way to Austin very soon. Until then, we'll be digging this record that's equal parts of a whole lot of the things we love.

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