For the next few weeks we catch up on some 2006 releases which caught the ear of this cat, but time did not permit a timely review. As usual, independent releases continue to rule these pages and what they all share is the Compact Capsules guarantee to not disappoint. Let’s get to it.
Ray Mason Band
Don’t Mess With Our Routine
Pop smarts are all over three-minute rock and roll drills that comprise the latest release called Don’t Mess With Our Routine from the Ray Mason Band. In other words, joy to the ears musically speaking and clever as heck on the lyrical front, and all at the same time. Hailing from the Northampton area where he’s been a part of the music scene going back to the mid-1960s, Mason comes from the NRBQ school of rock and roll. That being hooks, humor and smarts with a most definite pulse. One of the tightest four-piece outfits on the New England scene, Don’t Mess With Our Routine is 11 tracks worth of Mason and his trusty band – Stephen Desaulniers on bass, Frank Marsh on Drums, and Tom Shea on guitar – laying it down in precise and ear-winning fashion. The songs range from the ultra-catchy stomper “Don’t Mess With My Routine” which salutes a rut-like existence to the nostalgic “They Don’t Make Records Like That Anymore” which ought to ring true with anyone who still owns a turntable out there to the nifty “English Leather” inspired by the circa-1960s Boston-based combo The Ramrods who in addition to rockin’ and rollin’ mighty fine also smelled pretty darn good thanks to, you guessed it, that famous cologne. His eleventh release (and second this year following the summertime solo album A Man & His Silvertone), the prolific Mason remains at the top of his game on Don’t Mess With Our Routine. Recommended. (For info on Don’t Mess With Our Routine, check out www.hi-n-dry.com or Ray’s own web site at www.raymason.com.)
Put the Hammer Down
Lakeside Lounge Records LL004
Unflinching, balls to the wall rock and roll from a likeminded foursome of road-tested fortysomethings is the M.O. when it comes to The Yayhoos. Put the Hammer Down is the second release from this all-star band whose members include Eric Ambel (Del Lords, Joan Jett’s Blackhearts, Steve Earle), Dan Baird (Georgia Satellites), Terry Anderson, and Keith Christopher (Georgia Satellites, Shaver, Kenny Wayne Shepherd). It picks up right where 2001’s cruncher Fear Not the Obvious (Bloodshot Records) left off. It’s an album equal parts loud, fun, and not always politically correct. In other words, if you like your music on the serious side, keep out of Yayhoos-ville. On the flip, if you like a little raunch and a laugh or too with your roll, Put the Hammer Down washes down like an ice cold one at the favorite watering hole. It all begins with the monster-size grooves and big-ass guitars of the “Where’s Your Boyfriend At” and the hammer doesn’t get put down until the bombast of the over-the-top closer, coincidentally titled “Over the Top”. In between the listener is treated to the wonderfully rude “Getting’ Drunk”, the big pop purity of Ambel’s “Hurtin’ Thing”, “Anything/Everything” which grabs the prize for band theme song of the year, and a freewheeling cover of the O’Jays’ “Love Train”. What’s not to like about any of that?! (For information on The Yayhoos, check out the band’s web site at www.yayhoos.com.)
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at email@example.com.)