Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
“Plankton Comes Alive”
Bizarro jazz is not a genre that typically populates my iPod, but I do love being surprised, and Eagles pulls off some truly startling and fascinating mojo shifts on this track. Even more impressive, he shanks, shreds, and sizzles without letting the heady stuff overwhelm the tune’s butt-nasty groove.
New York, New York
Guitarist Alberto Diaz uncorks some Zeppelin-worthy rhythm licks against his band’s Afro-Cuban percussion, and then goes ’60s San Francisco psychedelic with his fits-and-starts solo. It’s kinda wrong in parts, but wrong in a cool way that takes you on a wonderfully demented journey. myspace.com/soulsa
Los Angeles, California
DeAscentis’ sultry, sophisticated, and pristine nylon-string lines evoke classical, gypsy, flamenco, and Charlie Byrd-like moods. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before, but DeAscentis’ technique is noteworthy, and any song that makes me feel as if I’m sipping tea while gazing out at the Mediterranean is a winner in my book.
The drum programming on “Hourglass” is embarrassingly stiff, but try to get past it, because Carter’s slinky chords and achingly languid melodies are the stuff that dreams are made of. Nothing is hurried. Nothing is showy. And yet, the song commands interest by setting a tranquil mood, and then keeping you blissfully in its clutches.
“The Right Man”
Reminiscent of Robin Trower’s funk-rock phase—albeit with a little less tonal mystery and a bit more fire and drive—“The Right Man” is the right song for anyone pining for old-school FM rock. It’s well produced, too, with percolating guitars and keys, vibrant background vocals, and searing solos that heat up the action.
Dana Point, California
“Never Been So High”
Hmm. This starts out all sludge-y, sloppy, and evil like the indie 45s I dug in my late-’70s punk days, and then it finishes with a surprising barrage of solo shards—blistering wah punctuations, shred licks, blues-rock lines, and some clean-toned jazzbo-isms. It’s sick. It’s weird. It’s fun. myspace.com/brettecklund
Christian plays 7-, 8-, and 9-string guitars—somehow he scored GP columnist Rusty Cooley’s 9-string model—and he shreds like a demon with a battalion of fire ants in its underpants. It’s almost exhausting to listen to this track, because no amount of sonic space is left unmolested. Charge!
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
“Love Never Fails”
“Love Never Fails” is quite simply a beautiful song. Puckett’s acoustic tones are lovely, his phrasing is impassioned yet restrained, and nothing he does compromises the sanctity of the melody. This is a fabulous lesson on what to do when a killer song drops into your hands—you just thank your lucky stars and stay out of its way.