Keep on Moving: Top Musicians Go Solo: Local favorites strike out on their own with new albums

komJohn Faraone – Light Upon

John Faraone, who serves as a distinguished sideman as the drummer for local rock favorites The Quahogs, along with other acts like Ian Fitzgerald, is making his own way as a singer/songwriter. His debut LP, Light Upon, is a mellow, focused album that that doesn’t swing for the fences, but delivers the goods.

Multi-instrumentalist Faraone does much of the the musical heavy lifting, playing drums on the whole album, as well as bass and guitar in some sections. Light Upon’s sound reminds me of Josh Ritter’s unpretentious style mixed with Conor Oberst’s personal, emotional themes.

It’s very crisply produced, and really lets you hear the subtleties in the music. The album was recorded at multiple locales, including Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in Boston and Eyeland Studios at the Columbus Theatre in PVD. The slow waltz of “A Long Night and Slow” pairs well with delicate harmonies by Hayley Jenae Simmons and pedal steel from Liz Lawrence. Another highlight, “Always in Bloom,” sports a catchy, slow groove.

The understated musical performances let the listener focus on the  earnest, evocative lyrics, free of fancy wordplay but occasionally cutting deep, like this devastating line from the title track: “I give into everything/I miss things that I’ve never had…And feeling change without reasons/it doesn’t hurt till it’s bleeding.”

The album’s similar tempos and textures can at times seem to meld into one mega-song, and tracks like “Fading Tide” and “Starlight” murmur a bit too long. Light Upon doesn’t get much edgier than mid-energy Wilco, and it’s easy to get antsy when you’re four-and-a half minutes deep into a track.

Light Upon evokes a mood, rather than being something you’re ravenous to hear 500 times, but it’s definitely a solid debut if you’re willing to take the time.

See Faraone’s thoughtful material in action on Oct 4 at the Pump House in Wakefield. Light Upon can be purchased at: johnfaraone.bandcamp.com/album/light-upon

Columbus Theatre

The Columbus is bringing the heat this month, with a trio of epic Friday nights, beginning with Arc Iris’ album release show on October 12. Four years ago, bandleader Jocie Adams left the brooding folk of the Low Anthem to strike out on her own project, a synthy, experimental psychedelic power trio. Arc’s new album is titled Icon of Ego. The first single, “$ GNMS,” is an awesomely funky reworking of one of the band’s earliest songs, “Money Gnomes,” and the title track is almost prog-rock-like in its huge scope and orchestration. Experience the next chapter for one of RI’s most original acts.

Big Thief, the Brooklyn-based quartet performing on October 19, has been hitting it big on the national stage, and has produced some of the best music of the past few years. To me, their aptly named debut Masterpiece is almost perfect, and the follow-up, Capacity, is a close second. The range of light wilderness from California opens the show.

Closing it out on October 26 will be Robert Ellis, Ian O’Neil and Dennis Ryan. Headliner Ellis is a genre-shifting, vaguely country dude with bluegrass flat-picking cred and the songwriting chops to explore other areas. O’Neil’s and Ryan’s most high profile gig is in Deer Tick, but they also play in local group Happiness.

For ticket information and more show info: columbustheatre.com/events

Autumnfest

Fall in New England is pretty much the bee’s knees, and a classic autumn festival is a great way to celebrate. Woonsocket’s Autumnfest has been providing wholesome fun like rides, a parade and stages packed with music since 1977.

Headlining acts include the Blues Brothers Revue, a celebration of one of the best movies of all time. This is reportedly the “only duo in North America sanctioned by Dan Aykroyd and Judith Belushi to don the official hat and sunglasses and walk in the legendary footsteps of Jake and Elwood Blues.” Notable acts also include “The Voice’s” Emily Luther, Big Nazo, School of Rock and an election season edition of the Ocean State Follies.

Autumnfest happens Fri, Oct 5 – Mon, Oct 8 at World War II Memorial Park on Social Street in Woonsocket.

Courtney Barnett @ The House of Blues

It’s difficult to pin down an exact definition for the nebulous term “indie rock” (though journalists do try), but Courtney Barnett would have be one of the genre’s frontrunners. Her first debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was a breezy, Modern Lovers-like effort that won lots of acclaim. Her last album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, was a straight-up triumph, a rawer album that pushed her sound into more emotional territory. I haven’t seen her live, but I suspect that this one may be worth taking the train.

Courtney Barnett rocks The House of Blues in Boston on Sun, Oct 21.

AJJ

The great folk/punk forefathers formerly known as Andrew Jackson Jihad are coming to FMH. It’s a bold move to change your band name so far into a career, but I suppose it was a bold name to begin with. AJJ has more than a decade of quality output under their belt, and have in recent years expanded their sound to include keyboards and psychedelia. AJJ is teaming up with anti-folk icon Kimya Dawson from the Moldy Peaches as a co-headliner, with two-piece punk act Shellshag supporting.

 AJJ @ FMH happens on Tue, Oct 16. Doors @ 6pm.

And on Thursday, October 11, Dusk presents an eclectic night of music featuring Umbrella Co., Steadystate, Video Shoppe, and Consider Yourself

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