If you look at the bottom of the bandcamp page displaying the latest short album/EP/single by Burque rock phenom The Directory (Keith Morris, Clifford Grindstaff, Peri Pakroo and Ryan Sciarrotta)—and this is a wise move; the industry is moving back to short recorded formats akin to the 45s common in the before time—it’s tagged as post-Britpop, which is a difficult shirt for any American band to wear. To my mind that term might encompass everything that happened after Radiohead. But the notion becomes compelling, apt even, when the first strains of “American Pharoah” lift themselves out of the ether on this marvelous two-track record. With the deliberately wan delivery of The Bends and the subtle harmonic gestures of Robyn Hitchcock’s wandering melodicism, here is a totally competent, groovy and deliciously derivative work that’s perfect for repeated listening in the dark of winter or whilst underwater.
Kyle MartinRaunchytonk(Kyle Martin Music)
Over the past few years, New Mexican country rocker Kyle Martin has done a downright amazing job of crafting a sound that’s part West Texas honky tonk, part New Mexican cowboy music and all rock and roll. Martin shows off his acuity, taking it to examples both extreme and sublime on his October 2019 release, Raunchytonk. There’s a grit to the Texas sound and the New Mexican tradition and that crusty dirt is a flavor necessary to good rocking, too. Martin comes outta the chute roaring and rambling about women on the opening track, “Big Boy.” On track 4, “Overtime,” the singer-songwriter takes a super-solid dirty riff and transforms it into a slow burning rocanrol fire replete with a driving rhythm section. My favorite on this album has got to be the dark and deliberately twisting and turning epic closer, “Gila Monster.” Dang, that’s one mean lizard.
Theo RegoGuitar and Piano Works(Self-released)
Theo Rego is a classical guitarist and composer living in Albuquerque, N.M. His work, singularly precise and imaginatively emotive, comes into sharper focus with this collection of compositions for solo piano and solo guitar. Taken separately, each is a resonant voice; as a set, they are a testament to a body of work that is intricately crafted as well as being a pleasurable, transformative listen. “Song For Hesper” uses jazz modalities to communicate the nuances of knowing another being. “Piano Work #3” is more forceful, even tumultuous and stormy with dissonances competing with harmonious suggestion. “Guitar Work #2” starts out subtly, even with fragility, as it builds into a strong statement about the emotional power of Spanish guitar techniques. Perfect for a long drive, after a meal or whenever and wherever sudden sonic transcendence is preferred to the world as it is, Rego’s latest release illuminates.