Robert LaRoche

CDRobert LaRoche CD cover by David Nichols
Robert LaRoche
Patient Man
Bandolera Records

Country music can do a lot. There aren’t right or wrong ways of playing a genre so versatile, and if there were, Robert LaRoche certainly wouldn’t be doing it wrong. As a composer and a performer, his stamp is at once individual and familiar, something like an old friend at the bar with a new story to tell.

On the release Patient Man, LaRoche crafts a sweet, warm sound whose wistful tone nonetheless packs force and muscle. As guitars soar and jangle in a manner reminiscent of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the driving rhythms and punchy drums give vivid shape to the fluid melodies. The songs’ summery grace combines introspection and viscera, percussive stamina and daydream listlessness.

These songs make excellent use of spare arrangements, setting rhythm guitars and pianos to the task of evoking barroom melancholy and late nights, memories of old girlfriends who matter more than another shot of bourbon could ever equal. The songs suggest a fragile heart and a probing mind, but even as he wobbles through predawn hours pacing the kitchen because of sour memories too sweet to let him sleep, Robert keeps his focus in country music.

by Omar Geith

Tongues in Trees

Tongues in Trees
Sleeping Giant

Indie-pop group, Tongues in Trees has released their debut album, Parallel. The record is a mix of eclectic rhythms and unique vocals. The bond between the band’s three members is apparent in their music. Each member’s sound can be distinctly heard in every song, and the sounds work together in a way that is like the reunion of old friends.

The album begins with “Move,” which slowly acquaints the listener with Tongues in Trees’ style. The band also presents “Love Letter,” which is a soft and tender piece than the others on Parallel. The seventh track, “Hurricane,” is where the group comes alive and showcases their unique style which mixes intense instrumentals with flowing vocals to form a hurricane like creative sound in the music.

Parallel is heavily influenced by Indian rhythms, and links elements that are familiar in Western culture. The band seems to know how to combine melodies on their first release, and their passion and energy will help them more forward.

by Caroline LaMotta

The Bottle Rockets

The Bottle Rockets
South Broadway Athletic
Bloodshot Records

The music from South Broadway Athletic evokes a feeling like a persistent memory of an old girlfriend on a humid day, when one’s very pores feel heavy with life’s burdens, when everything is a visceral reminder of past joys and the weight of their absence. If one ever has been left in the lurch by the sheer passage of time, then “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)” has something to say musically.

It’s not that The Bottle Rockets’ latest album mopes or whines. Far from morose, “Big Fat Nuthin” take an impish pleasure in being “too tired to eat, too tired to eat, too tired to sleep.” And “Dog” is an entirely convening celebration of the bond between people and their pets. The melodies do soar and flutter, but the speaker of every song stands at a distance from the happy elements of the tone and catches just enough of their savor to feel how far away they are.

That’s a complex psychological portrait, full of humor and wistfulness, wide-eyed and world-weary at once. This release is brimming with life, as in the explosive instrumental climax of “Building Chryslers,” but it’s also an album sweltering in the heat of rejection, back-breaking work, the day-today unkindness of humankind, and sour recollection. This platter of songs is muscular, rollicking country-rock and carries on with force and energy through the pleasant and the painful.

by Omar Geith