Flounders Without Eyes—What’s the Rush: Flounders has six singers and songwriters who contribute to the album and take it far past its jam band genre. This is a band with multiple musical colors that has been rocking Texas since 1992. The album boasts strong songwriting skills, group harmonies and the soulful vocals of Jenny Mier. This, their fourth album release, is arguably the best to date because it was recorded live and in the studio. The album was produced by Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chics, Uncle Tupelo, Robert Earl Keen). The Flounders are known for their lengthy shows playing up to four sets without repeating songs in true jam band fashion— doing 50/50 covers and originals. Maines led them through the recording process and it feels different from what has been done in past albums. It’s an evolution where the songs are more enjoyable to play and lend themselves to better live play. Maines says, “ I saw something new, so producing a talented multi-genre jam-band like the Flounders seemed a natural fit. I like music outside the box and they do just that. They play a lot of genres of music and are a fun band. Their writing is smart and original and they can just jam out if they feel like it.” The album is a hybrid of natural modern American roots music melding bluegrass, folk and country with big, bluesy rock grooves and irresistible choruses. There’s some pep in “Run Dog,” but then sails effortlessly into the soul crushing power of “Drift Away” to the bright-eyed bluegrass of “Hills of Carolina” and moving along to the folksy rock of “Set A Place.” Headlining a gig at the Jerry Garcia Bash in August 2008 was perhaps the biggest moment in the history of the host venue, Ruta Maya Café. They will be on the road playing shows and festivals and bringing lots of jam to come. 4.5 McRiprock’s.
Fredy Argir—Last Time Around: Suggesting an air of finality with the title, this album perhaps represents the end of an era. The ten songs on this CD run far against the grain of what one might at first expect from the CD’s title and Argir’s previous recordings. The style is fresh and has an energy that evokes anything but an air of conclusive music. The music’s totality, song building on song proceeds like a meditation on where Argir has been and where he’s headed next with his music. The tenth and last song (and title track) was written in the 1970’s and became a folk classic with other bands playing it live. As in previous efforts, Argir wrote, produced and engineered his album at his own recording studio on lead vocals, all guitar leads and dulcimer. In addition, he co-designed the albums CD package and did some of its photography. The album showcases savvy electric guitars, melodic bass, drums and smooth sax and clarinet along with some keyboard wizardry. 4.0 McRiprock’s.
The Upper Crust—Revenge for Imagined Slights: The Upper Crust is not just a band; they are performance art on stage. Self-described as a fully realized piece of performance art they parody the rich and ridiculous life of rock n’ roll stars. Wearing powdered wigs, regal 18th century wardrobe and dirty rock riffs their shows are a full-on character performance complete with up-turned noses and often belittling of crowds. The spectacle is infectious and it’s all the work of Lord Bendover (guitar, vocals), Count Bassie (bass, vocals), Doc d’Istortion (guitars, vocals) and Jackie Kickassis (drums). Not only are they impressive musicians, but also they take the idea of sarcasm and parody to a whole different level appearing on Conan O’Brien and the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.Their latest release is only available through digital download and the band’s website. Considered “Roque and Roll” it’s full-on tongue in cheek stadium anthems and songs like, “Class Up Your Ass, “ and “(You’re So) Rocco,” There are also some rare moments of heavy reverb psychedelic and a drip of heavy shedding throughout. 4.5 McRiprock’s