The sound of the scene – Local Music Revue is an occasional look at recorded works by area musicians. Some are available for sale at shows; others can be bought on the Internet.
This week, the spotlight’s on a reggae fusion band that’s making a big area splash, demo tracks from a Claremont group’s third album, and a peek into the audio scrapbook of some local rockers who’ve been gigging around town for over 20 years.
Pulse Prophets – Breathe
Though not exactly a local band – they hail from Burlington, but feature Lebanon drummer/vocalist (and VTISTA teacher) Rory Loughran– the Pulse Prophets are building a steady following on the strength of some dance floor-filling sets at Salt Hill Pub and Clear River Tavern.
Their second studio outing matches a steady groove to a topical backbeat. “Right Before Our Eyes” hits at voter apathy with a progression straight out of 10cc’s “Dreadlock Holiday,” while “On and On” laments perpetual war.
Though they wear their political hearts on their sleeves (“Every Day” and “Don’t Look at Me” are two other examples), the record contains enough tender moments to balance things out. The lilting “It Would Be So Easy” is a nice alternative to too many songs about caving into temptation (Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” is probably the most execrable of the bunch).
“Did What I Could” weaves the threads of the band’s many musical influences together – rock steady reggae, New Orleans funk and jam band abandon. It’s the record’s best song.
“Remember” has a smooth beat, but it’s a somewhat conventional song about love lost. The album closes with “Come Your Way,” a soaring, optimistic tune which could fit comfortably in a Phish set.
“Breathe” is a well-rounded, hard-hitting album – a standout effort from a band on the rise (in April, they’re touring Hawaii – nice work if you can get it!)..
Hexerei – Paid in Full
This long-planned, often delayed heavy metal album was originally titled “Pay Your Dues.” But after more than a year of personnel changes and management snafus, the band demands a receipt with the release of this three-song EP.
It’s red meat for the faithful, full of spit, rage and fury. “Irritate” is the most accessible for the casual metal fan, with a nice melodic bridge punctuating a venomous chorus (“you’ll never break me/don’t f***ing underestimate me”).
But “Paid in Full” never loses its edge.
“Supremacy” features the call-and-response pairing of front man Travis Pfenning and backing vocalist Justin Hemingway. In addition to his room-shaking, bullhorn shouting, “Hemi” adds excellent keyboards and sampling at Hexerei’s live shows.
The final track, “Divide,” features staccato guitar from new members Derek Stribling and Ryan Whited, and moves along at a frantic pace.
“Paid in Full” more than whets the appetite for the band’s next complete album. Through a myriad of changes that make their chosen moniker seem more than fitting, Hexerei hasn’t lost a step.
Boomer Sellers Band – “New Hampshire”
Until a few years ago, “Tubestock” was an annual Hanover tradition; it’s also the impetus for this band’s move from Richard “Boomer” Ackerboom’s cellar (though tempting to think so, they didn’t get their name from the baby boom) to the bars. In 1986, at Boomer’s urging, they played the inaugural festival on the Connecticut River.
Since then the Boomer Sellers Band, a working class combo with a rock n’ roll heart, has gigged steadily at area clubs.
This is a preview track from the forthcoming “Listen to the Thunder,” one of several songs front man Donnie Perkins wrote over the years. He went into the studio with Rick Davis (Davis Brothers Garage Band) to make the record, but says the released version of “New Hampshire” is pretty much the original 1995 demo.
This autobiographical song is J.J. Cale turned up a notch. It’s the sound Lynyrd Skynrd captured when they covered “Call Me the Breeze” on their second album – a jumping, rousing ride.
The rest of “Listen to the Thunder” is, according to Perkins, “damn near as catchy” – and producer Davis agrees. Most of the original band are still in the Upper Valley – Jim Liss on bass, keyboard player Bart MacNamee and David Greenfield on guitar – and contributed to the record (and a planned end of year follow-up – “fire all our guns at once,” says Perkins).
The title track is a look back at growing up during the Vietnam era – Donny had two brothers serving overseas, and the war was never far from his mind. “I hid behind my ball and my mitt … getting the blues over the six o’clock news,” he sings.
“If you ever wondered if I listened to the thunder, you never even need to ask” is a sentiment that, sadly, still resonates today.
With the record nearly done, the Boomer Sellers Band plans to end its performing hiatus, and should soon be turning up in places like Salt Hill Pub and the Middle Earth Music Hall.