All Around Records

Sunday, July 14, 2024


Retro Metro

Think Like A Key Music

The new album from one man band Paul “Trip” Ryan AKA SUPER 8 is sunshine pop in the style of mid 60s British Invasion rock, mostly the Beatles. It's very good--light without being lightweight, fun, with good beats, and yes, you can dance to it.

Lyrically it’s mostly romantic ups and downs, except for the instant classics “Just A Song,” which is about good music, and the Byrdsy stomp of “Almost Anything,” about unrequited love.

All the albums and singles I’ve heard from SUPER 8 have been great, fun, and yes, retro, but in a really good way, one that looks to the past to inform the present and never in a way that seems reactionary. This one’s not to be missed, so pick it up.

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

 Rome 56

Paradise Is Free

Think Like A Key Music

Arthur Lamonica, frontman for the 70s punk/new wave/CBGB’s band The Shirts, collaborated with his wife Kathleen Lamonica on this new album, and it's great.

They combine roots rock, power pop, and melodic rock. It's enjoyable, but somewhat dark, like the album opener, “The Man Behind the Man With a Gun,” yet it never gets that disturbing. This isn’t a horror movie.

Disquieting, but in a good way, these songs will make you think, like “Hustle of the Crowd,” a political song. And they don't forget to rock out. If that sounds like a good album to you, and it does to me, then you will like this, a lot. Maybe even love it.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, June 21, 2024

 I’d seen the name Hungrytown before, and always meant to follow up, as the name sounded interesting. Now I finally have, and I'm glad I did. It’s always great to hear cool folk, and this certainly is.

Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, who are Hungrytown, were kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know who you are, could you give a short history of Hungrytown?

Rebecca Hall: I started singing semi-professionally while living in New York, doing mostly old jazz and blues standards. Ken has been a drummer since he was a teenager, performing in many numerous bands, and always with a strong 1960s feel. In 1997 a mutual friend was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, gave us her nylon-stringed guitar and asked that I sing at her memorial, which I did. One Christmas, Ken gave me the Sounds of the South CD collection, which contained a wealth of folk songs collected by Alan Lomax. I started picking at that guitar and before too long started writing my own songs that reminded me of some of those old traditionals. I started performing at open mics and eventually gathered a band which we called Rebecca Hall and the Falling Stars. Ken would usually sing harmony and play a little harmonica. We did various shows around NYC and also a couple in London. As happens so often, the band became difficult to manage (I'm not a leader type) and Ken and I started performing more as a duo. Over the next few years, Ken learned bass, then guitar, then mandolin and banjo! We made a couple of early albums under my name, called Rebecca Hall Sings! (2000) and Sunday Afternoon (2002). Ken performed on those recordings, but I felt bad that only my name was credited. In 2005 we were recording our next album, mostly in the hills of Virginia, with several superb bluegrass and old-time country musicians. They have awesome place and road names down there and one that we noticed was Hungrytown Road. I wrote a song with that name, and after a while we thought that it would make a good band name. We Googled it and saw that it hadn't yet been used, so that became the eponymous name of the first Hungrytown album--plus it saved on typesetting fees!

Ken Anderson: Yeah--what Rebecca said.

AW: Who are your influences?

Rebecca: Way too many to list here. The first handful that come to mind are Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Tia Blake, Anne Briggs, Syd Barrett, Vashti Bunyan, Pentangle, Gene Clark, Karen Carpenter, the Kinks, Bridget St. John, Emitt Rhodes, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Cat Stevens, Heron, and the entire Fading Yellow compilation series.

Ken: All of the above plus Phil Spector, the Pebbles collection, the Nuggets collection, Jackson C. Frank, the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Honeybus, the Zombies, and everything on early Motown and Stax Records.

AW: I hear folk, folk/rock, and baroque pop in your music, and I like the combination. Which one would you say there is more of in your music?

Ken: It's all there, and the combination depends on the song, our mood and the time of day.

AW: Which genre do you feel your band fits into best?

Rebecca: All of the above!

Ken: None of the above!

AW: These songs seem suited for mornings, like "Morning Brings Peace Of Mind," or even twilight. Would you say your songs have more morning or evening moods?

Rebecca: I tend to get up late, so I'm going with evening.

Ken: I tend to get up early, so I'm going with morning.

AW: I know some of these songs, like "Feel Like Falling," deal with the pandemic. How did the pandemic affect you, and did that experience make it into the songs?

Rebecca: Definitely! It was a very scary time for us. We were hearing reports of old people dying from COVID from being in senior living centers, so we rushed to get Ken's elderly mom from Boston, and we took care of her at our rural home in Vermont for about a year. Of course, nearly all of our shows were canceled for two years. So this was an abrupt and wholly different way of life for us, and generally stressful. But we had the backhanded gift of time, which I used for walking through the hills and meadows, and just sitting and observing nature and the beauty around me. I think that period comes out most obviously in "Feel Like Falling," "Trillium and Columbine," and "Late New England (Afternoon in June)," but I think you can detect the sense of foreboding of that time in every song.

AW: Some of these songs seem so sad. Would you say it's easier to write sad songs or something happier?

Rebecca: As I mentioned above, it was a sad time, but I never set out to write sad songs. That said, I don't really trust happy songs--they often don't feel honest to me. Maybe that's a reason we seem to get on pretty well in the British Isles--I would say that a sense of melancholy permeates your music more than it does ours.

AW: Is there any chance of a tour, or just shows here and there?

Rebecca: We book shows here and there, and at some point we call it a tour!

Here is a link to upcoming Hungrytown shows dates.


Circus For Sale

Big Stir Records

This delightful folk/folk rock/baroque pop album, which also is tough in a very subtle way, is perfect for quiet times, mornings, and twilight. The Vermont duo of Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson recorded the album in their barn, including vintage instruments in their arrangements, and with help from UK violist Rachael Birkin and New Hampshire’s Aliento Chamber Players.

The lyrics are subtly dark, with songs about the pandemic, struggling through life, and even a murder ballad, “Man Of Poor Fortune.” “Green Grow the Laurels” is traditional folk given a modern spin, and a good one. I was already familiar with this song, but their version makes it sound new.

Folk music, in any form, will always survive and thrive, because people are constantly reinventing it. Hungrytown is the latest, and they stand out for their willingness to blend in other types of music. There are even hints of power pop. It's all very appealing, always interesting, and always good. Recommended for those who know folk, and those who don’t. Let this be an introduction to folk music, and you can take it from there.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, June 16, 2024

 Nick Piunti and The Complicated Men

Bottle It (Single)

Jem Records

Nick and the Men return with a new single that takes aim at the mundanity of culture, the net, and the radio. There are too many distractions on the net. The radio plays the same boring songs over and over. Media culture reduces people's choices and tries to normalize ideas by repeating them, all to make us conform. The singer also complains he has too much time on his hands, which makes him mull all of this over, then tells us to just be ourselves. All of this sounds like a great Fountains Of Wayne song Adam Schlesinger never got to write, but it's all Nick’s own, and wonderful, particularly what he sings about the radio. So if you want a good way to cure frustration, this song is it.

Andrea Weiss

Saturday, June 8, 2024

 The Armoires

We Absolutely Mean It (Official Music Video)

Big Stir Records

This delightful video, directed and animated by Brent Seavers, is like the ultimate adult coloring book come to life, with lyrics that pound the table as a statement of purpose.

I asked Rex Broome how the video was created, and if AI was involved. Here's what he had to say: "The 'in-betweening' of the frames was done by AI in a very directed way by Brent Seavers (the animator and visual artist). He did something like 1200 hand drawn frames and AI filled in the frames between them (and he had to give it multiple rounds of instructions to get it right). He also integrated our live action segments from hours of green screen footage we shot -- so in short, AI is involved, but a lot of human drawing, effort, and decision making were the primary creative process. Brent was great, a lot of the imagery was pulled from our lyrics (for the whole album that nobody has heard yet!) and the artwork my daughter Ridley has been doing for the singles, the album, and the whole project, so it's a very special video!"

This is folkish college rock you can dance to, which means it has a great beat. Spotlight on Larysa Bulbenko's elegant viola playing, but the whole band shines. They are Christina Bulbenko on vocals and keys, Rex Broome on vocals and guitar, Clifford Ulrich on vocals and bass, and John M. Borack on drums. In short, this is one great clip, a feast for the ears and eyes every time it’s played.

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, June 6, 2024

 The Chris Vandalay Project

Better Than Before


With mysterious lyrics that are all his own, that sound like no one else's, set to music that could have come from The New Pornographers' In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights, this is good synth pop with a good dose of guitars keeping it firmly planted in rock. It's nice, fun, but somewhat dark. As the title hints, there is hope. If you like TNP, you’ll like this. If you're a fan of synth pop or synth rock, you’ll love it.

Andreea Weiss


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