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Mark Cutler – Dreamland (75orLess Records)
After recently quitting his day job to be a full time musician, Mark Cutler hunkered down to record Dreamland, a decidedly more quiet and intimate album compared to his recent releases Sweet Pain and Red (both on 75orLess Records). Cutler tells me he recorded the album in his house and mostly by himself with cameos from his always formidable Men of Great Courage band. One doesn’t have to wait long to see the new direction: the first tune, “Doing Things That We Like To Do” has a lazy, peaceful strumming guitar around a campfire kind of feel. “Tankful of Gas” has a decidedly acoustic blues meets folk feel, with buzzing slide guitars. “Circle To a Square” reminds me of the 60’s folk of early Donovan, before he started singing about important stuff… you know, like the hurdy-gurdy man and witching season. The title track is my favorite on the record with a great melody that I can hum all day. “Too Much Fun” is a more upbeat rocker, while retaining the stripped down feel of the rest of the rest of Dreamland. “We Don’t Do That Stuff No More” has the feel of Tom Petty blues ballad. The theme of nostalgia runs through much of Dreamland, but probably never more than on the closing, “I’ll Play For You,” where Cutler weaves his tale of days past over a simple beat. It works. Dreamland may not be your typical get ready to rage on a Saturday night record, but it sure sounds great on a Sunday afternoon!
Junior Varsity Arson – Self Titled EP (75orLess Records)
Every now and again I get a new biscuit and look at it and say what the hell is this? Case in point, when something called Junior Varsity Arson came in. So I checked out their one sheet that describes the band as “Lonely Guy Rock.” They go on to describe themselves as a soundtrack for men who are banned from certain establishments, with endless theories and endless amounts of time to explain those theories. Okay, maybe I’ll actually like this.
Truth is, Junior Varsity Arson is a local super group of sorts, composed of Guy Benoit (Thee Hydrogen Terrors), Don Sanders (Medicine Ball, The Masons), Dave Narcizo (Throwing Muses), and Kraig Jordan (The Masons). Junior Varsity Arson is a little twisted in a fun indie rock way. The EP kicks off with “Her Parents Love Me,” chock full of lyrical gems like, “Her parents love me, I’m such a big improvement over the white supremacist.” Indie rock is a genre chock full of people that take themselves too seriously. That’s why it’s refreshing to come across something like Junior Varsity Arson, that’s lighthearted and still rocks. “Brown Jacket and Purple Keds” reminds me a little of the Dead Milkman as it chronicles the lonely man that Junior Varsity Arson proclaims to be the soundtrack for. “Hippy Dippy Milk Man” has an anthem, ‘60s spy feel with the keyboards. “Skull Collection” has an ‘80s alternative rock feel, while the song chronicles getting broken into and having one’s skull collection stolen. “I’m Hooked” is Junior Varsity Arson’s alternative dance number, that has a little bit of a psychedelic feel. What I like about Junior Varsity Arson most is they have personality both lyrically and musically, that makes each song memorable. – See more at: http://motifri.com/mark-cutler-dreams-junior-varsity-arson-burns-it-up/#sthash.dshz02O3.dpuf