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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jamie Block

Whitecaps on the Hudson

Review by Gary Hill

This is an intriguing disc that’s packed with variety. The musical genres that are touched on here range from folk music, to something akin to Lou Reed, to Jefferson Airplane to alternative rock and lots more. While not everything is completely effective, there is plenty here to like. Besides that, nothing really fails. This is a solid album that’s well worth checking out for yourself.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Black Eyed Susan

While the overall approach is slow moving, down home folk music, there are some hints of jazz in some of the chordings. Additionally, some of the overlayers pull this more into the range of alternative rock or pop.

Henry
This falls more into the energized alternative rock with a lot of folk leanings category. It’s a good tune. I think I would have actually opened with this one instead because it seems a better choice to get the listener charged up and ready to go.
Kate
Percussion starts this one off and the cut has a tempo closer to the opener. Overall the basic premise of rather folky alternative pop music is still intact. This, though, is arguably more like singer/songwriter music. The vocal performance here, along with some of the musical bits, is among the most evocative and effective of the set. I love the slide guitar that swims around the mix.
B.A. Man
Here we get the most rocking tune we’ve heard. The folk elements are pretty much gone. In some ways this reminds me of Lou Reed. Most of that comes from the spoken vocal delivery. This thing just plain rocks and is one of the highlights of the set.
Somebody Beat the Wiz
Somehow, the musical backdrop on this makes me think of early Jefferson Airplane. The vocals are purely spoken, though. As this continues, the music keeps climbing in volume and intensity. That Jefferson Airplane vibe kind of fades away, but this is still highly creative and original. This is definitely one of the best cuts of the whole set. It gets a bit dissonant later and this actual leans towards progressive rock.
Can't Sleep
More alternative rock meets folk music and singer songwriter stylings, this is mellow, yet it has a pretty active rhythmic element. It’s quite a pretty tune that’s deceptively complex. This is an intriguing tune. It gets a bit ominous in tone at times.
Whitecaps On the Hudson
The title track really feels like a Lou Reed song. It’s not like it seems to copy any specific Reed tune, but it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to imagine Reed doing this tune. It has that singer songwriter meets folk rock approach and builds out gradually. It rocks out fairly well later.
Sam Patch
The rhythm section opens this. It turns out to some rather weird alternative rock. I’m reminded a bit of King Missile. This is noisy and strange, but also quite cool.
I'll Keep It With Mine
Now, with this one, Block brings it back to purely folk territory. It’s a nice change. While some of the music here sounds like Lou Reed, this one makes me think of Arlo Guthrie.
Show You Mine
Here we get more of that folk meets alternative rock and singer/songwriter music vibe.
1993
A shuffling kind of rhythmic pattern opens this and a cool mellow musical motif creates the backdrop. The vocals bring back that Lou Reed vibe.
My Head
This is a fairly short cut. It falls into the free-form, weird but cool kind of department. It compares to “Sam Patch” in that regard. Strange as it is, it’s also very effective.
Far Away
For the closing number, Block brings it back to the same kind of musical territory he explored on the first piece. This is actually one of the most mellow cuts on the disc. It’s also great.
 
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