The music industry is focused on youth. I see it all the time. And while I’m not in the super active arena of many of the players out there today, I can still see and relate to the quandary of struggling older artists surrounded by the 20-somethings in the music scene today. But maturity is the most important part of anything we do. Without it, there can be no advancement or true style or life story. Without the experience of actually growing older, there is no substance to support the icing on the cake.
But in this game of games, sometimes an artist has to be brave enough to stand out and tell it like it is. Jo Wymer does so on her brand new CD, Living With Scars. Jo doesn’t hold back when it comes to her personal experiences, and she’s earned every one of them. Open and raw, the emotional release on Living With Scars comes out strong in songs that are a springboard for heartache, lust, sin, romance, loss and joy. And with a capable singer like Wymer, I guarantee that listening audiences will feel each emotion as if it were their very own.
Yet another Jon Liedersdorrf (Lakehouse Music) produced platter, Living With Scars comes out of the chute with “I Can Tell,” a bucking Americana-driven Bronco in the vein of artists like Tom Petty or John Mellencamp. Whirling organs spin orbital dervishes up, down and all around some down and dirty electric guitar chunks. There isn’t anything fancy here, folks, it’s just four on the floor, viciously vamped rock and roll wrapped around the steamy, in your face attack of Wymer’s hot voice and it’s a great opener.
“Dirty Secrets” has some unique possibilities with its slick, in and out feel. I love it when musicians have the brains to match the muscle, bowing to allow interactive dynamics throughout a tune. Teamwork is evident here as tempos change and choruses go huge without making this sound like four folks in four different dub rooms. Loud, live and growling, “Dirty Secret” is a cool crossover tune that should be whispered about all over town. Think what might happen if Shania Twain merged with Soul Asylum and you would be in the money here.
The group steps deeper into the primordial rock ooze with “That Kiss,” a song that starts out with reverbed pianos and building bass and drum stomps as Wymer and crew mount up, building into the biggest rock and roll chorus this side of The Pretenders. This explosive chorus stuck with me for days and is a great contender for a hit. Wymer has totally dodged right here, fooling anyone that thinks she’s just a one trick blues pony. Great melodic guitar lines along the lines of Mike Campbell are tasty and form-fitted. I love this song enough to want to play along on my guitar, and I’m pretty goddamned lazy.
“Stay Away” is another smoky, attention grabber. Pushing Wymer’s sultry mid-range into the forefront, the band boils just under the lid. Guitars chug and bend underneath B3 beds and pocket tight rhythms. I love the words here too. Simmering lyrical warnings from a woman who promises nothing but emotional pain. Watch out fellas, she’s talking to you.
“Memories” brings you Chris Isaak meets Pink Floyd dreamscaped twang straight off of Nashville row. The chorus is a heart-pulling winner and makes this song my disc favorite. Wymer is never dull or predictable and her choice of hooks and emotion pull you right into the heart of this countrified rocker.
“Real Man” is a hot and nasty rocker that chugs and grinds between the throaty, whispered verses that make Wymer an attention grabber. Utilizing intimate lyrics that had me wiping my forehead, Wymer kicks into the candied choruses with the snarl and bite that Alanis Morrisette wishes she had half of. The bridge here shifts into position with the ease of a ‘67 Cobra stick, adding lots of old school muscle while never overstating the song. Held in check “Real Man” is set free to ride out the honky tonk slide work all over the end of this confessional gem.
These are just a few of the 10 songs on the disc that I have space to mention but it’s a good selection for you to see where she is going. Jo Wymer has really switched things up since her early offerings of a straight-up blues singer. Trading the conventional boogie-woogie feel for straight up rock and roll is a good move for this multi-talented vocalist and writer. Don’t get me wrong, she can hold her own against any blues queen out there with her power and soul, but Living With Scars shows a side I never knew about, and it’s impressive. The fact that she is smart enough to step out of the pigeonhole that so many others roost in makes Living With Scars a project you want to applaud. Jo Wymer’s CD release will be held at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey on Saturday, June 25. Doors are at 7:30. Check it out at: jowymer.com.
June 4, 2011
NEW YORK, NY—If there is one band that I can say delivers a full hotshot of rock and roll from start to finish its The Energy. Perhaps the name actually has generator-based powers, perhaps these guys just love what they do to the point of dumping hipster pretense and putting the genuine appeal of fun back into a performance. Either way, their recent show at the Highline Ballroom was a wild romp through addictive compositions and wardrobe changes of the most hilarious type. Yep, this tongue-in-cheek four-piece got off the leash and came out like Revenge Of The Nerds on steroids.
Donning bad ties and horrendous jackets in honor of their just previewed video of “Go To Girl,” the Cheap Trick-vibed hit off their latest CD, Streets Of In-Between, the dorky look didn’t fool anyone who knows the capabilities of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. The plaid-panted rockers blasted through a half set of fast-paced action that featured songs like “Triple Ex,” “Until I Fall,” “Better Way,” “Lights” and “Mr. Brightside” before introducing a special guest to keep the crowd calm while they left the stage to… change clothes.
This is one instance where the costume thing was funny, quick and not beaten to death with serious drama. Rebecca Perl came out in-between to hold the rowdy rock crowd with a couple of acoustic numbers. She pumped out an original tune, titled “Far From Where You Stand,” before breaking into a sing-along version of “Free Falling” by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. She held her own in a room full of people in the midst of a retentive, full band feeding frenzy, and that’s a big accomplishment for anyone.
The Energy was back in street clothes to perform “Hanging On” and several other songs before getting not one, but two encore back pats in the way of “Go To Girl” and “Bookends.” “Go To Girl” is the hilarious story of four dorks trying to get three hot broads, and to tell you how they do without getting you to go see it would be too easy. If you’re looking for music to really become involved with, The Energy is a true electric experience that will charge your musical sensibilities here in the Empire State, the Garden State and beyond.
The Energy is Adam Wolfsdorf, Ian Vandermeulin, James Clifford and Zaachery Thomas. Check them out over at myspace.com/theenergyband to get more Rebecca Perl, see her at myspace.com/rebeccaperl.