DISClaimer Pop/Rock Single Reviews (9/20/10)

It’s high time we checked up on Nashville’s ever-expanding pop/rock community.

There’s a little big of everything to sample, from the hard rock of November to the singer-songwriter vibe of Alyssa Bonagura, from the over-the-top personality of Joanna Cotten to the introspective-and-hooky Dave Barnes, from the soul sisters of Kentucky Thunder to the new-wavey Jeff the Brotherhood.

The Disc of the Day unquestionably belongs to the pounding, mighty American Bang. I’m giving a DisCovery Award to the marvelously melodic Brooke Waggoner.

BROOKE WAGGONER/Go Easy Little Doves, I’ll Be Fine
Writer: Brooke Waggoner; Producer: Brooke Waggoner; Publisher: Swoon Moon/Brooke Waggoner, BMI; BW (track) (www.brookewaggoner.com)
—Last year’s winner of the Next Big Nashville Emerging Artist award at the Nashville Music Awards has a stunning pop collection full of gorgeous string arrangements and sweeping sonic landscapes. On the CD’s title ballad, she layers her soprano vocals and wafts airily amid piano and violin washes. Invite this woman into your life.

Writer: Jaren Johnston/Neil Mason/James Michael; Producer: Bob Rock; Publisher: Sony-ATV Harmony/Texa Rae/Silent Cue/Music of Combustion/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific/Little Big Guy/Warner-Tamerlane, ASCAP/BMI; Reprise (track) (www.americanbang.com)
—I am addicted to this album. American Bang is aiming to join Paramore, Jack White and Kings of Leon as Nashville-based, major-label rock stars. This ultra-catchy, rocking new single has a pile-driving Springsteeny vibe, but with more youthful vocals. Buy American Bang at once. I guarantee you will dig ‘em.

Writer: Jeff the Brotherhood; Producer: Jeff the Brotherhood; Publisher: Jeff the Brotherhood, ASCAP; Infinity Cat (track)
—Jeff the Brotherhood is comprised of Robert Ellis Orrall’s sons Jake and Jamin Orrall. This title tune to their CD begins with bees buzzing over a steady Jamin beat and then romps into a jittery, new-wavey party piece. Quirky and loads of fun.

Writer: Michael Dale; Producer: The One and Onlys; Publisher: none listed; 55BC (track) (www.novembernow.com)
—The title tune to this Nashville rock band’s CD is a mighty slab of sound. If you like it loud and proud and in your face, November is the act for you. This is aggressively hard rocking, screaming-guitars stuff.

Writer: Joanna Cotten/Angie Russell/Daryl Burgess; Producer: Joanna Cotten; Publisher: none listed; JC (track) (www.joannacotten.com)
—Joanna made a marvelous CD for Warners country division, but it never came out. So she turned around and made a pop album for herself. This bopping track bubbles with personality and effervescent attitude. The lyric is all about our celeb/tabloid world. You will smile while you tap your toes.

Writer: J. Hiatt; Producer: Kentucky Thunder; Publisher: Universal, BMI; KT (track) (www.kentuckythundergirls.com)
—For the past 14 years, these four sizzling soul sisters from the Blue Grass State have been burning down Nashville nightclubs. Now, finally, Etta Britt, Vicki Carrico, Sheila Lawrence and Jonell Mosser have recorded a CD. It documents one of their rafter raising performances at 3rd & Lindsley last April and is titled, fittingly, ‘Bout Damn Time. The four come blazing out of the starting gate with this rocking Hiatt number. Other extra hot slabs of soul include Mosser’s “One Thing I Know” and Britt’s “Baton Rouge.” Their a cappella, set-closing quartet harmony vocal on Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home” will leave you with your jaw ajar.

ALYSSA BONAGURA/Leaving This Heartache For A Song
Writer: Alyssa Bonagura; Producer: Alyssa Bonagura; Publisher: Alright Love, ASCAP; AB (track) (www.myspace.com/alyssabonaguramusic)
—Alyssa is the daughter of Kathie Baillie and Michael Bonagura of Baillie & The Boys fame. So you know she’s got singing in her genes. Here’s the rest of it. She got a scholarship to Paul McCartney’s music school in Liverpool. When she played her original songs there, she was told she was already too good to be a songwriting major, so why didn’t she study audio engineering instead? And that’s how she came to create her The English Diaries CD, on which she plays, sings and produces everything. I am particularly taken with this acoustic ballad on it. The thing sounds exactly like a hit.

DAVE BARNES /God Gave Me You
Writer: Dave Barnes; Producer: Ed Cash & Dave Barnes; Publisher: No Gang/Razor & Tie, ASCAP; Razor & Tie (track) (www.davebarnes.com)
—I remain a fan. This single from Dave’s What We Want, What We Get collection manages to be both crunchy and twinkling at the same time. The buzzing guitars in the choruses are cool, too. The brilliant dynamics in this record’s production prove beyond any doubt whatsoever that Nashville is so much more than country music.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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