CLEARING OUT THE 2009 CLOSET: SOME QUICK HITS: PETE BERNHARD, BETTY SOO, DIANE BIRCH, CAM PENNER, SEVEN MARY THREE & CAROLYN MARK W/NQ ARBUCKLE

Much like Kasey’s two sentence reviews, I thought I’d bang out a couple of pieces that have been floating around in my Google Docs account in various forms of incompletion and combine them into one post instead of just deleting them. Sometimes it’s hard to find something to say about every. single. cd you like, but I’ll usually at least give it a shot. These are those shots:

PETE BERNHARD – STRAIGHT LINE

Pete Bernhard is one third of the phenomenal ‘country meets punk in a ragtime bar’ trio, The Devil Makes Three. While the lineup is a little different, more of a traditional arrangement, the sound is pretty much the same. This begs the question: Why do this outside of the DM3 umbrella? Apparently Pete feels that these songs don’t fit with the DM3 sound/feel but I don’t hear why. That said, the cd (like the entire Devil Makes Three discography) is fantastic.

Pete Bernhard – Straight Line

BETTY SOO – HEAT SIN WATER SKIN

Coming out of Austin (and to my attention, thanks to A Truer Sound) this singer made what could have easily been the follow-up to Edie Brickell’s Picture Perfect Morning. The album was produced by Gurf Morlix and if that ain’t a seal of approval, then I don’t know what is.

Betty Soo – Never Knew No Love

DIANE BIRCH – BIBLE BELT

Her voice sounds like something my mother would like. Her music sounds like Carly Simon or something. This album is a rarity in that the more the role of “background” music it plays in my day, the more I like it so I’m unable to just discard the album all together. Perhaps it’s one of those cds that has to bounce in and out of your consciousness for a year or so before you decide you like it. Time will tell. I suppose.

Diane Birch – Don’t Wait Up

SEVEN MARY THREE – BACKBOOTH

Seven Mary Three is a largely forgotten (and unfortunately labeled) band from the late 90’s grunge era. Backbooth is a little venue in the band’s hometown of Orlando, Florida and Backbooth is a recording of an acoustic show the band did at the club. It serves as a fine companion to Day&NightDriving, but I would advise getting the latter first.

Seven Mary Three – Upside Down

CAM PENNER – TROUBLE AND MERCY

Cam Penner came out of Calgary to take the americana blogging community by storm last month. I had intended to be a part of said storm but managed to miss it all together. Cam wrote Trouble and Mercy while on the road searching through the underbelly of the American dream for something shiny. The process birthed two of my favorite songs of 2009, “13” and “Tired of This Town”. Please don’t let my failure to feature this album on ninebullets act as a commentary on it’s quality, ’cause I can assure you it’s about to pop up on my year end list.

Cam Penner – Tired Of This Town

CAROLYN MARK & NQ ARBUCKLE – LET’S JUST STAY HERE

Put two solo artists that I love together and the sum will be greater than the parts….right? With Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle’s collaboration Let’s Just Stay Here, the answer at least for me is: not really. It’s a good cd mind you, but ultimately listening to it too closely just makes me wanna listen to their solo discs. That said, there are moments of sheer magic on this album that have never allowed me to just scratch it off my “to write about” list.

Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle – All Time Low

NQ ARBUCKLE – XOK

The NQ in NQ Arbuckle stands for lead singer Neville Quinlan. Who knows where the Arbukle comes from but the remaining members of the band are Mark Kesper (drums), Peter Kesper (lead guitar) and John Dinsmore (bass). They come outta Toronto (that’s in Canada for all you W. Virginian folk) and XOK is their third effort. Admittedly, until this album landed on my desk I’d never heard of the band and on first listen I didn’t exactly notice the album but the moment it ended I knew I wanted to listen to it again. So I did. This scene played out about 5 times till I realized I was subconsciously in love with the album despite the fact that I hadn’t really heard it. So I did the only thing I could. I tossed it on the Shuffle, walked up to the corner bait store, bought some shrimp and took the album wade fishing.

I didn’t manage to catch anything that I could keep so far as seafood went, I did find an album that I am pretty much in love with. I recommend XOK to any fan of Willard Grant Conspiracy. Personally, I love the pent up tension in the songs.

NQ Arbuckle – Mincing Words
NQ Arbuckle – Ontario, Michigan
NQ Arbuckle – Marco Polo

NQ Arbuckle’s Official Site, NQ Arbuckle on myspace, Buy XOK