Here are some short reviews of some February releases.
'Hi-Fi D.I.Y. EP,' Brett Newski (Self-Released, HHHH 1/2)
This five-track CD/EP was received early last month ahead of South By Southwest shows in March. It was produced by Violent Femmes co-founder Victor DeLorenzo. The nomadic Brett sings and adds some guitar, but credits besides songwriting are vague. Alex Bunke drums, Myles Coyne plays bass with guitarists/backing singers featured.
I enjoy all songs, but my favorites are "Black Taxi Car" and the live "D.I.Y. (Live From Dan's House)."
This is a very cool recording, and a full-length album is scheduled for later 2016.
'Light It Up,' The Haymarket Squares (Self-Released, HHHH)
This February CD presents "punkgrass for the people" from a band that has been bringing four-part harmonies, fast tempos, acoustic instruments and rebellious lyrics to audiences since 2009. This review necessarily leaves out "who plays what," but it was produced by Bob Hoag.
Mark Sunman, Marc Oxborrow, John Luther Norris, Mark Allred and Jayson James create a superb mostly acoustic instrumental bed for songs such as their cover of "Fortunate Son" and originals such as "Working Reward," "Jump the Border" and the apocalyptic "Goodbye."
This is an excellent album if the rabble-rousing doesn't put listeners off.
'Someday Dreams Of You,' Johnny Boyd (Cliffdive Records, HHHHH)
This Feb. 12 CD comes from a guy about whom NPR says, "If Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash had a love child, it would be Johnny Boyd."
I don't hear Cash, but Boyd's delivery recalls Sinatra and other classic crooners. He's aided by co-producing vet Oz Boyd and many other talented, tasteful musicians.
I enjoy the beautiful title song, "Where the Real Love Grows," "You Found a Way (To Rescue Me) . all Boyd co-writes; and several well-done classics.
Fans of American songbook music will enjoy welcoming Johnny Boyd!
'Alex Dezen,' Alex Dezen (Rock Ridge Music, HHHH)
This Feb. 12 CD (probably available in other formats) is the first solo set from Dezen, the front man, main songwriter and founder of The Damnwells, who were among my Top 10 Plus favorites last year. He sings and plays almost every instrument on the album recorded early 2015. Some songs recall the mellower moments of 1960s British-invasion pop/rock.
My favorites include "Ode To Ex-Girlfriends," "This is the Last Song (I'll Ever Write on This Guitar)," "Elephant," "Into the Hands of Hazelden" and "Reluctant Love Song."
Fans of witty wordplay will find lots to enjoy here.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.