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Published: Thursday, 6/16/2011

ALBUM REVIEWS

Seether's new album is kind of a downer

BLADE STAFF
'Holding onto Strings Better Left To Fray,' by Seether. 'Holding onto Strings Better Left To Fray,' by Seether.
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HOLDING ONTO STRINGS BETTER LEFT TO FRAY Seether (Wind-Up)

Poor, poor Shaun Morgan.

He's been betrayed, a lot. He's scared of complications. His ship is sinking. Yes, sinking. Those are just a few of his problems and he's willing to bellow them out for everyone to hear ad nauseum.

The Seether front-man and lyricist has plenty to complain about on the South African band's fifth release, "Holding Onto Strings Better to Left to Fray," which is as overwrought as its title. And about as fun too.

Seether's disc debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts a couple of weeks ago, which is a sad testament to the state of rock on the popular charts because this disc is an exceptional bummer, both musically and lyrically.

The latter is basically a litany of Morgan's complaints and it's never quite clear exactly who his targets are, but the man is seriously bummed out. Just one example is "Here and Now," which starts out with "This fear has me chilled down to the bone/And I have been haunted by these things I still have left to say." From there he complains about memories wearing him down and how much he wants somebody or some entity to "guide me home."

Heavy stuff and exceptionally dull. The arrangements range from the Against Me!-lite of "Tonight" to the melodrama of "Here and Now," which sounds like it was written to play in the background of a TV teen soap opera during an especially poignant moment.

While the Brendan O'Brien production is pristine and the songs sound ready for radio with big blustering arrangements, Seether will leave you feeling cold.

-- ROD LOCKWOOD

 

'House of the Rising Sun,' by New Orleans Party Asylum. 'House of the Rising Sun,' by New Orleans Party Asylum.
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HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN New Orleans Party Asylum (Uncle Ezra Records)

This is an album that makes you proud of being from northwest Ohio.

Not just because it's foot-stompin' fun -- as if that's not reason enough in itself to root for Toledo-based talent -- but also because it takes itself seriously enough to help keep the pulse going of an important, early 1900s genre that's slipping away. We're talking Dixieland, that bouncy forerunner of modern jazz that can be imitated to a point but often without the swing, savvy and love it deserves.

I've long thought Cakewalkin' Jass Band, while obviously not steeped in the tradition or history of New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band, has been an under-appreciated treat. Now comes New Orleans Party Asylum, with Cakewalkin' founder and leader clarinetist Ray Heitger, offering a slightly new dimension.

The band is bawdy, campy, and giddy, if not just a tad naughty at times, weaving joyous blues in and out of classics such as the title track, a folk song of unknown origin and New Orleans legend that was popularized by The Animals in 1964. There's also a risky reinterpretation of "Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown," a ditty far from Jim Croce's hit 1973 version. And the group's take on Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" will make you think it always was a Dixieland song.

Besides Heitger, the band features Ohio Northern University music professor Dave Kosmyna on piano, bassist Riley Kloos, and drummer Tad Dickerson, with a couple of guest solos from Ray's daughter, vocalist Nicole Heitger, including one in which she does a song previously recorded by Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin, "Trouble in Mind."

The band will have a CD release party at 8 p.m. Saturday at Claddagh Irish Pub Westfield Franklin Park.

-- TOM HENRY

 

'Girls with Guitars' by Samantha fish, Cassie Taylor, and Dani Wilde. 'Girls with Guitars' by Samantha fish, Cassie Taylor, and Dani Wilde.
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GIRLS WITH GUITARS Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, and Dani Wilde (Ruf Records)

Putting these three talented guitar slingers on one album was a stroke of genius. With substantial blues experience individually, they complement each other's abilities and produce a remarkably cohesive sound both vocally and instrumentally.

Fish brings extensive talents honed on the live music scene in Kansas City and Chicago. Wilde, a native of Brighton, England, already has two European albums to her credit. Taylor, a multi-instrumentalist, appeared on eight albums by her father, blues artist Otis Taylor, and joined him on several world tours.

The depth of background is extensive, and it shows throughout 12 tracks over nearly 45 minutes. The women take turns singing lead and backing vocals, getting in some sizzling guitar licks along the way. The songs are a tasty assortment of covers and originals, ranging from lowdown, soulful laments to spicy, rock-tinged romps.

-- KEN ROSENBAUM



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