Paris France “Wild Honey”
A former GIT student, Turlo traverses the stereotypical jazz-funk groove often favored by those who attend such schools. But what snatches the track out of the ho-hum is his dancing, delightfully convulsive phrasing that ultimately sets up swift barrages of melodic mayhem. And his stinging tone is part Beck, part King.
Lahaina, Maui “Black Orpheus”
Toscano is living in paradise playing hotel jazz, so this backing track has the cheesy and unobtrusive arrangement you’d expect to hear at, well, the Hyatt Pool Bar in Maui. Toscano, however, totally rules with his smooth touch, dynamic and vocallike phrasing, and a lyrical melodic sensibility. Pass that Mai Tai!
El Paso, Texas “18 Miles”
Spewing grit and grease as if it were some lost track from the mid ’70s, “18 Miles” struts a mean riff, some evil slide, a bluesy vocal, and a stark, slightly stoned solo. If only the recording quality was better, this would sound fabulous blasting from a ’68 convertible Camaro.
Oakland, Maryland “City Night”
Hinebaugh’s intro tone is frighteningly huge, frayed, and buzzy, but he quickly shifts to a smooth, fat, and liquid sound to play some stunning, beautifully phrased melodic lines. He inserts a mean, bluesy section at 2:00 that rocks, but doesn’t have the impact of his slower, soaring lines.
Tlalnepantia, Mexico “Frecuencia R”
The sirens that start this tune are fair warning to the bedlam that follows. Camilo’s steely tone and speedy, articulate riffs wail over a relentless explosion of surfmetal that might just melt your face. At 2:20, he offers a melodic—and merciful—breakdown, but it’s the aggro bits that are true bliss.
The John Rainey Project
Deland, Florida “She’s a Rocker”
Wow. Forty-nine-year-old Rainey plays every instrument—and does all the vocals— on this near-perfect homage to screaming, crazy, riff-heavy ’70s blues and heavy-metal styles. It’s intense—kind of like AC/DC teams up with Led Zeppelin to battle a mutant two-headed Ronnie James Dio/Rob Halford clone. What fun!
Eustis, Florida “Repeat O’Fender”
Rodgers—who received an honorable mention in GP’s “4th Annual Soundpage Competition” in 1991 (remember those?)—serves up a clean-toned, celebratory romp of the Telecaster’s tonal and stylistic milieu, complete with chicken pickin’, country cascades, pedal-steel-like bends, and jazzy interludes. Some sections are a tad sleepy, but the Tele shines throughout.
Maple Grove, Minnesota “Troll”
I love Celtic-flavored stuff, and this is an interesting take. The arrangement is frenetic (as if the band was simultaneously drunk on whiskey and energy drinks), and the keyboard tone is laughably awful, but Zissos’ ballsy guitar harmonies are tough enough to take all comers in a bar brawl.