With musicians like Albert Lee (Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton) and Garth Hudson (The Band) on the disc, it’s hard to imagine Joe Medwick’s new CD falling flat. True to form, the long list of all-star players lives up to the album’s collective name, creating a disc that’s soulful, funky and brimming with catchy tunes.
Medwick gathered the performers, wrote some of the tracks (proving his talent as a songwriter) and selected the covers, as he successfully creates a playlist that serves as a fantastic sonic journey. “Sweet Soul Music” rips the album open with punching guitar that dips right into a comfortable groove. “Find My Way Back Home” is like a step back in time to music that relies on the players, singers and quality of the song to draw out the emotions of the tune, not cheap effects.
Covers on the disc are top-shelf, coming from artists including Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Dan Penn, and the contributors rank pretty high themselves. Gary Mallaber (Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen), Jennifer Condos (Ray LaMontagne, Boz Scaggs), Joel Savoy (T-Bone Burnett) and others bring the songs to life in ways that only true professionals can.
Although Medwick is a drummer, he’s not listed in the credits as a contributor to the disc’s actual sound. His connection to the artists is also left unexplained, but the result is still powerful. The album is a stunning collection of tunes for music lovers who miss songs that sound like fingers on a fretboard and a voice with human qualities, not pedals and auto-tune.
Memphis to Montreal is a beautiful tribute to songwriters and musicians of the past, but still remains relevant to the present day. For information, visit joemedwick.com.
Undergang. Dirt Nap (independent).
Undergang is back with another six-song EP of tracks that undeniably belong to them. Chock-full of their personality in lyrical content, delivery and musical vibe, their sound is one that’s beyond imitation. Al Smead is a force on vocals, with John Thomas on bass and vocals, Nathan Angell on guitar and vocals, Jim Drago on guitar and Illin on drums all behind him.
Founded in 1996, the band consistently keeps the grunge-metal vibe of years past with a driving rhythm section and searing guitar. “Here Are the Notes” is a pumping instrumental that draws you in and pushes through various themes. “How Do They Live” hits with a scream that keeps up.
And the opening track “Story to Tell” kicks hard off the bat, with guitar hooks and coaxing lyrics that seem timely to our current world: “I am the subject/ won’t you subject me to the honor of your ears/ don’t you subject me to a jury of my peers/ I got a story to tell/ yeah, everyone talks about me/ everybody’s talking about me/ and I’ve got a story to tell.”
The band does what it always does best: By being unapologetically themselves, they serve as a perfect vessel to bring in listeners that might not always gravitate to their slice of music. The songs are catchy, well-executed and addictive.
Engineered and recorded by Angell at Angell Lair Studios and mixed and mastered by Jason “Jocko” Randall at Moresound Studios, Dirt Nap sounds professional enough to land among any major-label giants of the genre. For information, visit facebook.com/undergang13.