Wednesday, August 6, 2008

August 2008 CD reviews

Here's the reviews you'll find in the August 2008 issue of Playgrounds Magazine:


TybeeDawg’s Pick of the Litter
August 2008

S’ac Passé?
Sidewards Records

Their name is Swampadelica, and on their new release S’ac Passé? the New Jersey-based roots band unexpectedly whips up a cultural stew that includes the jamband influences of Deep Banana Blackout and Donna The Buffalo, but also ventures farther afield, dropping into ports of call like New Orleans, the Caribbean, San Francisco and Africa.

Lead vocalist Nadine LaFond, guitarist Brian Herkert, founding member Damian Calcagne on keyboards, bassist Paul Kuzik, and Bill Rust on drums unfailingly lock into the groove, whether it’s the sinewy rhythm of “Blueberry Street,” the languid sway of “Cloth of Time” or the bouncy title track. Recorded at Phish’s Trey Anastasio’s Vermont studio, the Barn, S’ac Passé? features twelve tracks that weave through soul, rock, funk and Cajun while maintaining an internal cohesiveness that is more difficult to achieve than you’d think, and it’s a compliment to the band’s talent that they do it so seamlessly.

The CD’s title is a Haitian Kreyol phrase that means “What’s going on?” and the response is “N’ap Boule!,” which means “Our fire is burning,” and in the case of Swampadelica, it couldn’t be more true.

This is a new feature, one designed to highlight the music that touched the Dawg in a special way…finding the spot that makes his hind leg start kicking and scratching behind his ear uncontrollably.

Dan Adams Band
The Hard Way

In 1999, Dan Adams fronted a band called 1401 and in a review of their second release, Bittersweet Voyage, I described their music as “alternative…acoustic pop/rock.” Who knew that nine years later much the same style would be considered modern country music? That’s not to say that Adams has been recycling the same material. With the release of The Hard Way, Adams has only sharpened his skill, painting his character-driven songs with a finely bristled brush, and the tunes bear a more finely-honed edge because of it.

Most of the ten tracks here were written or co-written by Adams, who also produced the last six tunes. Whether it’s the rear-view philosophy of “One Too Many Times” or the outlaw imagery of “That’s How I’m Going Out” or the even the faded Naugahyde of the rockin’ “Green Couch”, Adams rolls through the songs effortlessly, recalling at times Edwin McCain, Shawn Mullins or Reckless Kelly. The single, “Drinkin Out Loud,” is a standout track and deserves a listen (Radio station programmers, are you paying attention?).

The Hard Way is available on iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and eMusic.



Lauderdale hails from the musically fertile Muscle Shoals, Alabama area, a name that brings its own set of memories and influences, a melting pot that holds rock, R&B and country comfortably. And true to their roots, so do Lauderdale.

The band serves up fourteen muscular but tasty tracks on their self-titled debut, large helpings of well-marbled rock and roll mixed with country, blues and pop influences. The young band, vocalist/guitarist Niles Lee, drummer Patrick McDonald, Corey Hannah on bass and lead guitarist Daniel Stoddard, is flush with heart and talent, and could easily mature into an outstanding rock-n-roll outfit. Favorite tracks are “Take Me Home,” “Falling,” and “Wasted Life.” Fans of the Drive-By Truckers, the Drams and Jason Isbell already know who these guys are and with friends like that, what else do you need to know?

Grab some Lauderdale and dig in.


Jason Beckham
Union Park and Magnolia Street

Sometimes you can’t define what makes a good rock n roll record, but I think we can all agree on some of the ingredients: It needs heart and soul in large quantities, as well as brains and balls, and Athens, Georgia-based singer/songwriter Jason Beckham has them all in just the right proportion on his first release Union Park and Magnolia Street.

Musically, Beckham works off from a blues/roots-rock base, combining insightful, Southern-tinged songwriting and humid vocals along with fine, expressive guitar work to pull it all together on ten tracks recorded at Pigpen Studios in Athens with Five-Eight’s Patrick Ferguson on drums. Think Shawn Mullins with a chip on his shoulder.

Union Park and Magnolia Street may be a fictitious intersection, but to me, it looks like a pretty good neighborhood. This is one of those records that you want to recommend to friends, and after a listen, I’ll bet you’ll feel the same way.

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