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Sam Chase Olio - Music Connection

LIVE REVIEWS

Sam Chase

Toad

Cambridge, MA

Contact: sam@samchasemusic.com

Web: http://samchasemusic.com

The Players: Sam Chase, guitar, vocals; Greg

Settino, drums; Tim Paul Weiner, bass; Ed

Ricco, lead guitar.

Username: samchasemusic

Material: The eponymous Sam Chase Band

offer a staid helping of adult contemporary

musings for wistful 30-somethings, their saving

grace being a palpable soulfulness. Inspired

by artists like James Taylor, Allman Brothers

and Willie Nelson, the silky smooth quartet

playfully draw from their idols’ legendary idioms,

plundering folk, Southern rock and a dash of

C&W to positive effect.

Musicianship: The group’s greatest strength

is their shining competency. While Chase is

effective on guitar, his true abilities lay with

his classic, soft-rock voice and considerable

songwriting skills. Lead guitarist Ed Ricco, who

makes his debut performance, blends stunningly

with his deep, blues-inflected riffs that place a

premium on feeling over flashy nonsense. The

rumble of Tim Weiner’s bass is soul-cleansing,

as is Greg Settino’s simple, effective drums,

which he often graces with the soft swish of

brushes. Every note meshes magically like the

threads of a magnificent tapestry.

Sam Chase Band: Adult contemporary musings for wistful 30-somethings.

Performance: For the first of two sets, the

band played for an hour. Launching straight

into a slew of originals, Chase introduced each

song. Besides spotlighting his backing brothersin-arms,

the troubadour didn’t relate much to

the audience and the crowd reciprocated. The

music, nonetheless, was spit-polished, including

their most country-tinged tune, “Nebraska.”

Things ended with an exceptional version of

Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

Summary: Chase and company are serious

musicians that seem primed for adult contemporary

radio. Unfortunately, they lack a

special twist that will aid them in breaking out

of the coffeehouse circuit. More stylistic variety

will help keep each song from blending with the

next. As his band’s leader, Chase needs to better

engage his audience in order to prevent his facile

yet mature, poppy hooks from becoming mere

audio wallpaper in a crowded cafe.

——Andy Kaufmann

ANDY KAUFMANN

Olio

The House of Blues

Anaheim, CA

Contact: Arif Hodzic, arifhodzic@mac.com,

323-816-8775

Web: http://oliomusic.com

The Players: Arif Hodzic, guitar, vocals;

DeHaven Carrington, drums, vocals; Kelley Hill,

bass, vocals.

Username: olio

Material: Olio's music is a neatly packaged

combination of pop, funk, rock and hip-hop with

a fun attitude. The sound hits closely to Living

Colour and Red Hot Chili Peppers, showing a

good deal of harmonic sophistication while keeping

the hooks simple and shiny. Both melody

and rhythmic verse are covered nicely between

two distinctly different lead singers: drummer

DeHaven Carrington, and guitarist Arif Hodzic.

The vocal melodies and harmonies prove

inspiration from icons like the Beatles in “Bring

Baby Home.” Overall, the material is “feel-good”

pop music that breeds pure positivity.

Musicianship: All three members help to earn

the distinction of “power trio” by creating a full

and powerful sound. Melodic funk music requires

every instrument to be a lead at some point, and

each member is fully capable of doing so when

the time is right. Guitarist-vocalist Arif Hodzic

is polished and precise on both instruments,

showing a great deal of experience and skill.

The bass playing of Kelley Hill is locked in when

it needs to be and impressively melodic when

set free. Drummer-vocalist Carrington brings

out some Rick James in “Idi IT Girl” but can be

Olio: Fun, feel-good power-trio providing sophisticated melodies and pop sensibility.

difficult to understand in songs when he carries

the lead. While it’s tempting to blame the sound

engineer for the lack of clarity, Carrington can

likely improve matters with better diction and pitch

control. His drums, however, beg comparisons

to the likes of John Blackwell (Prince) and Will

Calhoun (Living Colour).

Performance: Olio brought a great deal of

energy and showmanship to the large, exciting

House of Blues stage. Hodzic and Hill used the

large space well, moving around with ease and

comfort. Hill was particularly impressive with his

ability to dance while rocking the kinetic bass

lines, and all three members looked very much in

their element on stage. It was clear that Olio have

had experience with large stages and they were

able to work a packed crowd. Although audience

communication was quality, the quantity of

breaks in between songs seemed to affect the

“flow” a bit. A little conversation would go a long

way.

Summary: Olio is a fun, “feel-good” power-trio

that provides both sophisticated melody and pop

sensibility. The music keeps the people moving

and musicianship is unmistakable. For those who

like to dance and enjoy melodic pop music, Olio

fits the bill.

––Tim Reid, Jr.

TIM REID, JR.

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52 February 2012 www.musicconnection.com


LIVE REVIEWS

The Watanabes

Moon Romantic Aoyama

Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan

Contact: +81-80-3925-5868,

thewatanabes@gmail.com

Web: http://thewatanabes.com,

thewatanabes.bandcamp.com

The Players: Duncan Walsh, lead vocals, guitar;

Selwyn Walsh, lead guitar, backup vocals;

Ashley Davies, bass; Stefan Samuelsson, keys;

Tadashi Yoshikawa, drums.

Username: favouritetree

Material: The Watanabes play obsessively unobtrusive

indie rock, but with skills and hooks

that make you want to listen closer. Many of their

compositions cast a mood similar to that of Neil

Finn and Crowded House, or the gentle side of

John Lennon, while their lyrics focus on the poetic

side of everyday domestic scenes, à la Death Cab

for Cutie. Slow tracks come across as the folky

equivalent of shoegazer; deeply introspective

without being depressive. Standouts include

their upbeat country-rocker "Ice Age," the deep

and dark "Whales Can Sing" and the anthemic

"Rooftops."

Musicianship: Duncan delivers exceptionally

consistent vocals with a storytelling style as he

presents the framework of each song with his

acoustic guitar. Selwyn complements his brother

Duncan's contributions with deft Stratocaster

licks and befitting backup vocals. Ashley Davies

provides a competent low end on his jazz bass,

while Stefan Samuelsson beefs up the mix

with ambient keys. Drummer Tadashi executes

his duties professionally as well, although he

sometimes plays a bit ahead of the band, as if he

cares more for his own playing than the material

he is supporting.

The Boxing Lesson

Swan Dive

Austin, TX

Contact: spaceboxer@gmail.com

Web: http://fb.com/theboxinglesson,

http://theboxinglesson.bandcamp.com

The Players: Paul Waclawsky: vocals, guitars,

triwave; Jaylinn Davidson, synth, vocals; Matt

Bongirno, drums.

Username: theboxinglesson

Material: Deep Moog space rock succinctly describes

the organic, evolving, original sounds of

the Boxing Lesson. Epic synth vs. indie tunes

take the listener on a morphing psychedelic

journey across alien soundscapes, guided by

upbeat guitar riffs and driving, minimal drums.

Waclawsky’s vocals swim in reverb and new

wave overtones, reminiscent of Dave Gahan’s

hazy industrial crooning. Davidson’s backing

vocals are sparse, merely adding punch to

choruses. Bongirno seems content to keep

complications to a minimum, laying solid and

simple grooves. Waclawsky’s trance-inducing

lead lines, often echoed or joined in unison by

the Moog, and dream-pop vocals are the main

course. The selection “Muerta” seems directly

derived from Radiohead’s “Exit Music,” while

“Better Daze” could be a Pink-Floyd-meets-the-

White-Stripes session.

Musicianship: The Boxing Lesson features deliberately

misty, obscured changes and lyrics;

therefore, exact and accurate musicianship is not

required. However, the band does not allow for

sloppy solos or missed notes. Instead, the group

slides through the songs, reshaping timing and

The Watanabes: Skills and hooks that make you want to listen closer.

Performance: Their drummer and keyboardist,

in particular, spent most of the show facing their

instruments. This may have suited the mood of

the music, or cheated the band of a broader appeal.

The set list was peppered with a few wellselected

guest stars who enhanced the flow of

the show. The band scored extra points for not

being distracted by recurrent technical difficulties.

Before launching into "Ice Age," bassist Davies

informed the audience that they would be filming

the next song for a music video. While being filmed,

the band displayed more stage presence than

they had before, but the change was appropriate

given that this song was the liveliest of their set.

Being enthusiastically cheered on to an encore,

the band delivered the fan-pleasing "Katsudon,"

and closed it with a tight ending, garnished with

a bit of faked sloppiness while smiling at the

audience before the lights went out.

Summary: The Watanabes are well suited

to Japanese audiences, especially given the

unobtrusive nature of their music, and the introspective

tendency of their lyrics. The main

question is, "Does the lack of movement on the

behalf of some of their members serve the mood

of their songs, or would they achieve even greater

success if their passion were conveyed more

externally?"

——Laurier Tiernan

The Boxing Lesson: Organic, evolving, original sounds that can only be described as deep Moog space rock.

pitch to fit the theme of each selection. Davidson

is focused, yet she uses simple melodic lines

due to the nature of the Moog’s watery sound.

Waclawsky’s vocals occasionally slip pitch, and

Davidson also misses the mark slightly on the first

notes of her harmonies, but most occurrences

of off-pitch vocals are masked by the washes

of thick ambient effects and heavy reverb and

chorus layered over everything.

Performance: While Bongirno imitated his drum

lines and faded into the background, Davidson

and Waclawsky put on a show. The synth rocked

back and forth as Davidson stepped and tapped

in time to the beat, her hair swinging and her

occasional vocals fervent. If listeners hadn’t already

been in a shoegazing, swaying trance,

Waclawsky’s animated performance gave them

an eyeful. Impassioned facial expressions and

emotional thrashings marked his theatrics as he

poured energy and enthusiasm into the crowd.

Summary: The Boxing Lesson will transport

listeners into another world with original psychrock

ambience. If you aren’t high when they start

playing, you’ll feel like it when they’re done.

––Sarah Whited

SARAH WHITED EIKO

February 2012 www.musicconnection.com 53


LIVE REVIEWS

Jennifer Westwood Band

UDetroit Café

Detroit, MI

Contact: westwoodjennifer@ymail.com

Web: http://jenniferwestwood.bandcamp.com

The Players: Jennifer Westwood, lead vocals;

Tommy Furbacher, guitar, backup vocals; John

Ronchetto, guitar; Jeff Whittle, bass, backup vocals;

Ken Kudsin, drums; special guest Dylan

Dunbar, backup vocals, acoustic guitar.

Username: jenniwest

Material: The first 45 minutes of this band's set

are originals penned by Westwood herself. With

modern rock and country elements that flow

through the music, “Dishwater Blonde” kicks off

the night and seems to have a Tanya Tucker

or Reba McIntyre meets Melissa Etheridge

grittiness. “Good Life” follows and extols the

virtues of staying true to your roots set to a bluesy

southern rock beat. Other tunes like “Natural

Disaster” hit you with a wall of sound, blending

a pseudo-metallic crunch with memorable hooks

and a superb chorus. Westwood also reaches

further into her musical trick bag for a duet

segment with acoustic finger style guitarist-vocalist

Dylan Dunbar on inspired tunes from Dolly

Parton, the Allman Brothers and Bill Withers.

Musicianship: Westwood is an incendiary and

dynamic lead singer. She proves to be an above

average tunesmith as well. The band interprets

the material and brings it to life, with a balanced

but somewhat heavy guitar approach. Furbacher

and Ronchetto trade solos well and never get

in each other’s way. They both employ tasteful

textures and some slide techniques where

appropriate. Whittle and Kudsin have a palpable

WarDog

The Mint

Los Angeles, CA

Jennifer Westwood Band: An incendiary and dynamic lead singer backed by a solid band.

kinship as a rhythm section, adding some funky

flair from time to time.

Performance: Although the vivacious blonde had

her name on the marquee, this was a collective

band in every sense of the word. They each interacted

and played like a fine timepiece in kind to

Westwood’s every move. There was nothing overtly

flashy or over the top. But the music was solid

and drenched with copious amounts of sweat,

soul, precision and a sublime pop sensibility.

Summary: The Jennifer Westwood Band have

a classic sound in the way they package their

music and unleash that energy on the audience.

Westwood has a great look, maintains a strong

rapport with the crowd and can belt it out with the

best of them. There is a no nonsense earnestness

to their approach and, assuredly, this group

have monster potential in a variety of venues and

markets.

––Eric A. Harabadian

ERIC A. HARABADIAN

Contact: wardogmusic@aol.com,

818-522-3621

Web: http://reverbnation.com/wardogmusic,

http://soundcloud.com/war-dog-1

The Players: Josh Tripp, vocals; Brent J. Miller,

guitar; Dan Bartlett, bass; Brian “Bam Bam”

Jones, drums.

Username: wardog

Material: This act takes no prisoners in its sonic

assault. Indeed, WarDog is one badass band.

Hard edge and hard driving, the music is so

ruthless it rattles neurons. Combining rock, metal,

blues and funk, these guys get off on a diabolical

display of raging testosterone. Reminiscent of

the dark, sinister style forged by Alice in Chains,

WarDog’s material has a visceral quality that’s

hard to shake. The songs drench listeners in a

profound gloom so deep and troubled it could

cause Pollyanna to swallow razor blades.

Musicianship: In fact, that intensity seems to

feed these players. The harder it gets, the harder

they play. The rhythm section of Barlett and

Jones packs a powerful punch, strong enough

to make shot glasses tremble. Tripp’s vocals,

swirling with angst and dripping in bile, make the

audience visibly shutter. However, what truly sets

this act apart is Miller’s guitar work. His lead-riffs

are so snarly and nasty he makes Slash sound

like a choirboy. This is a band that plays the way

rock bands used to play… when they had some

street cred.

Performance: This was one of those performances

that teetered on the edge. Raw and

WarDog: Creating a sense of danger so palpable it permeates the air.

unpolished, it seemed a step away from imploding.

That aspect, though, gave the show a

unique characteristic not often seen in bands

today—a sense of danger so palpable it permeated

the air. Struck by its uncompromising

volatility, the audience appeared shell-shocked

and sat stone still, almost as if they were glued

to their seats.

Summary: WarDog bring something old but

new to the present rock scene: a savage sense

of danger that’s been missing for a while. It’s

been ages since an act projected such a threat.

Their music won’t elicit smiles or make you hum

on the way home, and their show may result in

post-traumatic stress syndrome. But that doesn’t

really matter. Love them or hate them, you won’t

forget them. You just have to experience WarDog

at your own peril.

––Bernard Baur

BERNARD BAUR

54 February 2012 www.musicconnection.com


LIVE REVIEWS

Dead Horses

The Pig N’ Whistle

Hollywood, CA

Contact: tsteven_taylor@yahoo.com,

323-377-1695

Web: http://deadhorses-tst.blogspot.com

The Players: Todd Taylor, guitar vocals; Vince

LaBauve, guitar, vocals.

Username: tstaylor

Material: This duo is a throwback to the days when

real songwriters, rather than pop producers, ruled

the charts. Listening to Dead Horses conjures up

memories of Neil Young, the Band, Van Morrison

and even Bob Dylan when they were at the top

of their game. It’s heady stuff, for sure, but this is

the kind of material that wears well, especially in

a music scene that could use a little substance.

Moreover, this act has accomplished a slick trick:

the songs sound current and commercial, even

though they harbor a retro reverence, much like

the Black Keys.

Musicianship: These guys are pro all the way.

Watching them play is like attending a workshop

given by a couple virtuosos. Taylor is so smooth

and laidback he makes everything look easy.

His voice can be gruff or sweet, depending on

the song, and his emotional connection with the

material is breath taking. LaBauve, meanwhile, is

simply a monster player, who exhibits proficiency

with a slew of styles from blues to jazz to rock.

He’s logged time with superstars like Barry White

and the Chamber Brothers, among others, and it

shows.

Performance: If you're a fellow musician, these

two cats will slay you. In fact, there were musicians

in the audience and they were spell-bound by

Revolving One

Kenny’s Castaways

New York, NY

Contact: revolvingone@gmail.com

Web: http://revolvingone.com

The Players: Julio, bass, keys; Deb,

vocals, guitar; Mario, guitar; Manny,

drums.

Username: revolvingone

Material: Their roots are Latin, but this quartet

play alternative rock. With half of this act born

and raised in Ecuador and the other half from

the N.Y.C. Metropolitan area, finding one another

seemed like destiny. A '90s sensibility permeates

the band’s music, mixing with their own brand of

melodic angst.

“Lonely Man” begins with a compelling guitar

riff serving as the central motif for the song. In

“Our Days,” the arpeggiated solo guitar intro

immediately invokes a reverent mood and offers

vocalist Deb a chance to sing in the clear before

the band kicks in. The song continues to build

compositionally well to a harmonically surprising

and memorable chorus showcasing strong marketing

potential.

There are many highlights in their material,

some of which could be tightened up lyrically. The

band also performs a song in Spanish, which is a

nice nod to their heritage.

Musicianship: There is no doubt that the members

of Revolving One have music in their soul.

Deb’s voice has a warm and smooth tone which

at times is reminiscent of Madonna’s in timbre.

Mario plays a sweet guitar with some tasty licks

and Julio and Manny keep the groove on solid

ground.

Dead Horses: A virtuosic duo who perform commercial tunes with a retro reverence.

the performance. This gig was stripped down to

its essence; the songs were the focal point. That

worked out well in this venue, a small singersongwriter

room with an intimate feel that provided

a great connection with the audience. But, a few

songs cried out for additional instrumentation.

A full band would have added another level of

pleasure, and given the performance even more

gravitas.

Revolving One: Latin roots and melodic angst mixed with a '90s sensibility.

Performance: Enthusiasm and band connectivity

are cornerstones of a good performance and this

band had no shortage of either. They projected

an endearing and familial feeling which was

understandable since Deb and Mario are brother

and sister. Julio and Manny seemed like a natural

extension of the family. Julio established the

pace and mood of the set; chatty and engaging

but at times a bit over solicitous of the audience’s

approval. Overall, it was uplifting to see a band

fully enjoying their moment on stage.

Wth perfunctory sound checks becoming

the norm for many New York City clubs (as

bands change every hour on the hour), it leaves

Summary: Dead Horses would be the perfect

support act for the Black Keys. Their material,

a form of retro-influenced alt rock, is solid in a

contemporary way, while their musicianship is

without peer. That’s a great combination for any

act. But this duo also brings something else—an

authenticity that makes them the real deal.

––Bernard Baur

little room for fine tuning. This caused some

pitch challenges for Deb (erring on the sharper

side), which were technical in nature and easily

remedied if she could hear herself better.

Summary: Revolving One are a hard working

and high spirited band with innate musicality.

Their tireless appetite for gigging will give them

the experience and perspective they need to

further polish their act. Attention to sound balance

will also help better focus the show. They have

recently completed their EP, Love or Another

Kind of Hunger, which is currently getting some

independent airplay. ––Ellen Woloshin

MARK SHIWOLICH BERNARD BAUR

February 2012 www.musicconnection.com 55

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