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Motif Alternative Album Nominees

albumSick Pills — Sickening

Earlier today I was blasting the new CD Sickening from the New Bedford-based band Sick Pills. With all that ground thumping new wave goodness pouring from my open window, my normally bucolic, suburban street was transformed into what the Bowery must have sounded like some 40 years ago when Television or Blondie were booked at CBGBs. Led by Chris Guaraldi (former of Blood Moons and Chris Evil & The Taints), these guys have used that late ’70s / early ’80s punk sound as merely the foundation for a vibrant, relevant and thoroughly modern sound. Standout examples include “Wormfood,” a classic middle finger to the religious establishment, inevitably proclaiming: “I don’t pray for what I want, or the loved ones that are gone….Because we all become wormfood in the end.”

DirtyDurdie — Group Therapy


Dirty Ice  and Durdie Furby, aka DirtyDurdie, bring a cohesive, masterfully mixed compilation to the table with their latest album release, Group Therapy. Their fourth project gives life to the duo’s laid-back style and no-shits-given attitude, self-described as, “controversial, conscience and comical.” They take this lyrical style into the “group therapy” theme of the album, bringing issues like Oxycodone addictions and evil yet addictive women to the table. What is most striking about the flow of the tracks is that it keeps a strong cohesion while presenting an array of stylized beats, undoubtedly a result of working with nine different producers in their 16 tracks. They do this through a thematic use of classic and oriental instrumentals paired with vocal samples reminiscent of Gang Starr, MF Doom, Dr. Octagon and Wu-Tang Clan. Halfway through, the album mellows out with an easy-riding beat,  in “Running,” and picks back up with “Han Jamboree,” skillfully looping a cut time flute riff under the beat. They again alter the pace a few tracks later with “Zero Gravity,” easing into a ¾ waltz-style time signature.

Hope Anchor — Never Gonna Let You Go

Hope Anchor has released arguably one of the finest albums to come from the biggest little state in 2013, the highly eclectic Never Gonna Let You Go. Each of the disc’s nine tracks illustrate the band’s diverse sources of inspiration, ranging in styles from ’80s pop-tinged melodic rock, to the post-punk / new-wave sounds of the Psychedelic Furs, with even some Beach Boys-influenced harmonies thrown in the mix. To underscore this diversity, the disc opens with “Get Away Blues,” a heavy-driving, blues rock number that immediately declares these guys are loaded for bear. Throughout, Pip plays some relentless electric harmonica, with a confidence usually reserved for lead guitar slingers. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I’d slipped in a Young Neal & The Vipers disc by mistake! Read the full review here: QRCODE

Torn Shorts — Through the Mill

With the album’s opening track “Brow St,” Josh Grabert demonstrates an ability to engage the listener with radio-friendly, hook-laden rock & roll. Delivered with a voice reminiscent of Albert Hammond combined with a bit of a New Morning-era Bob Dylan, he establishes himself as a virile songwriter. This fact is underscored all the more by his creative use of space within the verses, an underused yet potent technique, not only with writers, but soloists as well. “’Drink that scotch’ she says before the bad news – that’s why I keep crying The Nice Guy Blues – I was never ready for the big show – the older I get the less I grow.”As lofty as much of the lyrical content is throughout Through The Mill, great musicianship is at the forefront of the album. The groove-drenched instrumental “Bob’s House” and the hypnotic “Whiskey Song” are standout examples of that tuneful proficiency. Quite cleverly, the latter employs a very cool technique of using what I presume was a mono demo as a looped backing track, and then overdubbing vocals and band on top of it. Read the full review here: QRCODE
Six Star General — Hair Supply
Whether consciously or not, one band that seems to have garnered influence from and possesses many of the same prodigious qualities as musical pioneer Lou Reed is Providence’s Six Star General. Their latest CD offering, Hair Supply, is a concrete example of this trio’s ability to move effortlessly from post-psychedelic trippiness to hard metal authority, yet all the while remaining just esoteric enough to leave the listener intrigued.  The band is made up of Kyle Jackson on guitar, Mark MacDougall on bass and vocals, and drummer  Dan Ulmschneider. Though each of these gentlemen have incurred some health issues over the past year, which merely delayed the process of promoting Hair Supply, these generals are back in service and ready for action. Read the full review here: QRCODE