McRiprock’s Lonestar Six Pack Project

Admittedly, it’s been a while. The back log is pretty huge– so the format is going to change a bit in order to get everybody some sandbox time. And there are a lot of them. It’s a long list this time. Gone are the more lengthy reviews. Hello to the shorter cuts. Just for now, kids. Just for now while we get all caught up.

An American ChineseUtopian Tree: Bottled up and ready for a Wes Anderson film, it’s an odd listen with a breezy melt-in-your mouth center. Lots of psycho pop pulling from the band’s punkish rock influences. Sample tastes: “No, No Like That” and “Metropolitan.”
5.0 McRiprocks
Aaron Calhoun (Insect’s of the Underground’s)– Mind Matter-The voice of the lead singer reminds me of a guy who used to be in a hair band, but has backed away from the genre. Light rock pervades with some sort of hint of Copa Cabana in between.
3.0 McRiprock’s
Thrift Store CowboysLight Fighter: Noted as their post-arson period after a stranger torched the Cowboys gear and merchandise trailer, this album takes flight with bits of indie rock intermingled with ambient and Gothic western music touching on the biggie topics of loss, fear, death, redemption, West TX ghost stories and the Spanish Civil War. It’s got a desolate feel and a western rock base which holds the album tight throughout. The range of topics though are a pretty wide girth for the Lubbock-based sextet, but not a bad way to head back to a place of beginnings.
4.0 McRiprock’s
Brent Amaker and The RodeoPlease Stand By: Rebellious, gritty, broken-hearted country music full of life and love. They cover everything from putting a broken heart back together to skipping town after a showdown. They promote themselves as all country with a little Johnny Cash in between.
4.0 McRiprock’s
Russell K ShoresL.S 5: Seven songs in a flurry of jazz, funk, soul and blues tows up this album. Written for his wife, Lola, it’s compilation of old favorites and new compositions that are both uplifting and refreshing. His peers call him “Thor” or “Thunder baby” for his thunderous grooves– and the reason why is reflected quite nicely on this release.
4.5 McRiprock’s
Dexter FreebishShine On: Dexter. Freebish. They are a band. Actually a quartet who took their name from a Houston roller coaster (no longer around). Shine On is the first full length album for the group in over six years and explores sonic territory and builds on hooks from previous releases. It goes from dance, to heavy beats to rock anthems.
4.5 McRiprock’s
General Bye ByeGirouette: So… the press release sent was in French. The lyrics, however, are in English. Upon trying to find some research regarding this band, most was in French or there was none at all, so I can’t share much with you about their background. I can tell you that this CD is unimpressive at best. The lead singer provides lyrics in a weak tone and the lyrics don’t astound. The CD overall sounds the same. One song not much different than the rest–with a jangly pop/electronic background.
3.0 McRiprock’s
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The Bright Light Social HourSelf-Titled: Born out of an art-rock collective in Austin, the group pulls up a good heaping spoonful of rock and roll with a little funk and soul. Voted “Best Indie Band” at the 2010 Austin Music Awards and playing “gigs” like 2009’s ACL, they have grown their sound and fan base widely. Track “Shanty” kicks off with Southern Rock meets hard disco with slide guitar licks. “Bare Hands Bare Feet” stomps and a psychedelic-funk plays out on “La Piedra De La Iguana.
5.5 McRiprock’s
Kito PetersHigh Road: Compared to Leonard Cohen and Harry Chapin, Peters chooses lyrics that are simple, but draw the listener in effectively. Slow, drifting songs are the underlying theme throughout each track and he does it using a nostalgic background and rhythmic lyrics.
4.0 McRiprock’s
The Beatin’sA Little Give and Take: Musically collaborative with Stewart Lupton and Carole Wagner Greenwood, The Beatin’s use a variety of sounds using the marimba, xylophone, autoharp, upright bass and banjon in combination with the typical indie-rock sounds. Lupton? Lupton? Where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah, he fronted Jonathan Fire *Eater (later reforming to become the Walkman). Just a little historical side note that takes you on a tour of the duo’s past. Check out “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Well, Well).”
5.0 McRiprock’s
Natasha Borzilova--Balancing Act: Moving from Russia to Nashville as the lead singer and acoustic guitarist of the band Bering Straight in the 1980s (the band was composed of classically trained child prodigies). Their two CD releases got a Grammy nomination for country instrumental of the year in 2002. Not too shabby. Borzilova and the rest of the band went their separate ways and she has since settled on a solo career. This album is an acoustic production in which she plays nearly all of the records acoustic guitar parts. In addition, Billy Panda brings in his arsenal to add the recording: mandocello, high string, national and bottleneck, electric guitar, mandolin, baritone acoustic and gut string.  All the while adding some percussion to the group with cajon and drums.
4.5 McRiprock’s
The BeaumontsGet Ready for the Beaumonts: Raw, real country music defines this group. Their compositions are simple and promote the working man. The group tends to refer to their music as “outlaw country” in describing their style and sound with lyrics akin to David Allen Coe or Ray Wylie Hubbard. Racous honky-tonkers got a peek of the band’s album at their debut at legendary Hole In The Wall. Every song on the album is full of vulgarity and not at all appropriate for radio play! Hurrah!
5.0 McRiprock’s
Aaron EnglishAmerican(Fever) Dream: Vocals that are deep and raspy work sarcastically with his lyrics. English creates the experience of this album as pianist, arranger and vocalist. Opener, “Believe” is catchy and provides the path for the next sound “Doves” with a more mellow vibe. He pulls from rootsy Americana to mid-tempo ballads and even a reggae influence on “God Bless You and Your Man.”
4.5 McRiprock’s
CEOs--Looking for Investors: A mix of great melodies recalling hope with a rock n’ roll driven chaos is what this album is chasing. Their album, “marks the rediscovery of what rock and roll should be: a message to shake the establishment, make the audience question the status quo and entertain everyone in between.” Established in Austin, they are best known for their sociopolitical lyrics and their powerful live rock shows.
4.5 McRiprock’s
Paul MarkMirage Cartography: Best known for his work in electric blues with vocals realm, this album (his eighth) features Mark pouring himself into a more acoustic and instrumental guitar forefront. This release is soulful and his only solo works without his band (Paul Mark & the Van Dornes).
5.0 McRiprock’s
The NailsHotel For Women: You might recall The Nails from their hit in the New Wave 1980s “88 Lines About 44 Women.” This is a re-release and re-mastering of their classic EP that includes 10 bonus tracks. Their hit track has been used in pop culture from everything like Showtime’s Dexter to a comical parody “88 Lines About 44 Simpsons” to the educational “88 Lines About 42 Presidents.”
4.0 McRiprock’s
Sean SullivanSquare One: Sullivan’s influences includes a variety of sources such as creole, tin-pan alley, blues and more. Vocally, old-school jazzy with an overlay of folksiness is his best descriptor. Those vocals, draped over some very delicate and intricate guitar work show that Sullivan is a rising star in the jazz scene… even being called, “the next Harry Connick,” in the NY Post. To Sullivan’s credit he has won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest twice.
5.0 McRiprock’s
Ghost Box OrchestraThe Only Light On: Music meets meditation in this debut release. Influences range from Mogqai to Spacemen 3 to Black Moth Super Rainbow. Recorded in a Freemasons Lodge in MA, it was the appropriate recording venue for an album that speaks eerie. The album is full of sounds of the psychedelia and post-rock folks that came before them while adding their own twist to the mix.
5.0 McRiprock’s
DeadmanLive At The Saxon Pub: The Pub seemed to be the anchor of the band’s rebuilding period. Musical souls found their way to healing, stories of faith were shared and the belief of music was resurrected for this band. The band resurrected after a powerful rise and a seemingly painful fall amidst it all. And then there was silence. When front man Steve Collins returned to the band with the support of his band mates, the band was rebuilt. The inclusion of playing at the Saxon Pub just reinforced the band’s ability to regain their following and get back out on the stage. For now, we have the live performance on tap, but a new studio album is in the works shortly.
4.5 McRiprock’s
Oh! PearsFill Your Lungs: There are a lot of folks involved in Oh! Pears. The man at the forefront, however, is Corey Duncan who has turned the project into somewhat of a an experimental orchestra. Influences garnish the band such as Grizzly Bear, Beirut and the Dirty Projectors. The release is full of melodic richness with a layering of strings, guitars, drums and vocals.
4.5 McRiprock’s
The Cedarsqueezers--El Chupacabra: The band includes Lloyd Maines (Grammy Award winner and producer of the Dixie Chicks). This is the band’s second CD release and it features a nice mix of four singers and songwriters, the fiddle and a wall’in steel guitar. This band has Americana written all over them.
4.0 McRiprock’s
Gwil OwenAhab’s Birthday: Here’s a little background on Gwil. On Toni Price’s debut album, Swim Away, she used some of Gwil’s songs… and since has recorded over 30 more of his tracks. When Gwil Owen paired with Kevin Gorden to collaborate on “Deuce and a Quarter” it was later recorded by Keith Richards and Levon Helm on “All the King’s Men.” Songs from that collaboration have also been cut by Irma Thomas and Sonny Burgess. In short. Gwil Owen can write the hell out of a song. And this release proves it time and time again throughout the folksy nine tracks that chug along with little bits of infusion from the organ, guitar, etc.
5.5 McRiprock’s
Hollywood GossipDear As Diamonds: Sugary, pop beats and lyrical magic that call out all sorts of fun envelopes this album in its surest sense. Front man/singer Tyler Womack has an eerily similar vocal impress to a favorite Morrissey. Not that it hasn’t been said beforeFormed in 2007, this is the first full-length release for the band that are quickly becoming the sugar daddies/mamas in the Austin local indie pop scene. It’s an impressive debut with track after track packed with lyrical goodness and music that backs it up well. Goodness gracious ya’ll, play it again!
5.5 McRiprock’s

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