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Ryan Bundy
Stay the Storm
self-released

Ryan Bundy is nearly unrecognizable on Stay the Storm, at least as compared to his timid 2005 debut. The emerging local singer-songwriter (think David Boone with a little less gloom or a greener Kelly Joe Phelps) is still finding his way, but the strides he makes with his latest—confident bluesy vocals, dexterous fretwork, rich studio production—show him heading in a promising direction.

Stay the Storm starts as if Bundy is trying to prove his improvement all at once: “Alaska Blues” rides a frenzy of finger picking that builds in chaotic fits and then settles every so often to make room for Bundy’s steady, steely baritone. The standout track alone represents a sea change from the campfire feel of his first album, and as his latest stretches into slower, more contemplative fare the songs never lose Bundy’s newfound edge. Favorite moments include the slow build of “Bloomingdale” and the gritty “Ballad of Brown,” as well as the accompaniment throughout from Nate Biehl (mandolin), Matt Cornette (banjo), James Wasem (percussion) and the aforementioned Boone (guitar).

Stay the Storm is the full package, and with it Bundy has begun to pair the perfect sound to his subtle storytelling. (Skylar Browning)

Ryan Bundy plays Liquid Planet Saturday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 PM. Free. A formal CD-release show is slated for next month.

Dreadful Children
Dot to Dot
Street Anthem Records

Punk rockers often rehash the same bland sociopolitical commentary spewed by their punk forefathers, about how distinct they are from the rest of conformed society, and Dreadful Children, with songs like “Dead End Youth” and “Fear the Punks,” is no exception. Still, on their latest the Seattle-based band happens to pull off everything that’s captivating about punk, including raise-your-horns-in-the-air anthems and fast, sweaty oi! numbers. Better still, Dreadful Children mixes it up with burrowing metal riffs, new wave sheen and a few gnarly prog hooks here and there. The song “Elephants” is especially intriguing with its stomping drums and carnival flavor, and “West Side Story” is a catchy romp oozing with heart.

While Stiff Little Fingers (who the band claims as an influence) has a superior command of political storytelling, Dreadful Children is perhaps a little more inventive when it comes to composition, and even more willing to poke fun at themselves. Even with its occasional tributes to gutter punk life (yawn), Dot to Dot is entertaining and, moreover, shrewdly unconventional. (Erika Fredrickson)

Dreadful Children play Feruqi’s Thursday, Feb. 15, at 9 PM. The Hollow Points and Post Boredom Riot open. $7.

Chad Fadely
The Back Room
Animal Town Studios

Once upon a time bands spent weeks in grungy practice spaces rehearsing for albums. Many musicians claim that time spent bonding with their brethren actually contributed more to the cohesiveness of their recording than the actual practice. With current portable recording technology, however, many musicians appear on albums together without ever setting foot in the same zip code. Local mandolinist Chad Fadely’s latest release draws on both the old and new ways.

The Back Room, which consists of swing tunes, funky originals and bluegrass-ified Beatles and Dylan songs, has some of that “once upon a time” feel because a significant chunk of the music is made by a band (Pinegrass) that has spent lots of time in its practice space (Tuesday nights at the Top Hat for the last billion years).

But many contributions come courtesy of nationally renowned musicians (fiddle player Alex Hargreaves, banjoist Wes Corbett) who wouldn’t recognize the Top Hat if a Wasted Wednesdays flier was stuck to their shoe. It’s the caliber of musicianship from all parties (including the spry, precise and never-showy picking from Fadely himself) that ultimately coheres this collection of musicians and songs. (Caroline Keys)

Chad Fadely plays at Montana Coffee Traders in Whitefish Friday, Feb. 9, at 8:30 PM. Free.

Tech N9ne
Everready (The Religion)
Strange Music

Tech N9ne likes his booze hard and his women loose. So much so that he spends an absurd amount of time rapping about these subjects on his latest, Everready (The Religion). These trite and childishly amusing rants are, subject-wise, nothing new for the hard-partying Midwestern rapper, but here they grow stale like an old keg.

Tech has always showcased an array of styles, from Hyphy to Dirty South, and Everready’s as much of a stage as any, but his lack of imaginative lyrics sinks the effort. Take “Flash,” a song detailing his obsession with breasts, wherein he raps: “Life is so grand/When you got your fans/Blasting off their shirts, flashing their Lindsay Lohans/I got a pocket full of Trojans/We can all get nasty if you flash me baby/You know the program.” This is more head-shaker than head-bobber, and best suited for strip clubs or the next Girls Gone Wild installment.

Only when Tech raps about his Kansas City roots do listeners get a sense of the stories he’s capable of telling. “Welcome to the Midwest,” a double-time lyrical workout detailing the harsh realities of life on the streets in his hometown, is the best track on an otherwise forgettable morass of disposable party anthems. (Ira Sather-Olson)

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