1Lee Koch
Same As Blood

Lee Koch crash-landed onto the local scene last year and has been making an impact ever since. His first CD debuted earlier this year with one of the bigger local shows in recent memory. The disc is 10 tracks that showcase Koch’s blues-rock-meets acoustic coffeehouse songs. Koch has a unique voice (think James Blunt or Paulo Nutini) and it shines on the record’s best cut, “Trials and Tears,“ which sounds like a Jason Mraz hit waiting to happen. The bluesier numbers slow down the set slightly, but Koch’s tasteful harmonica playing adds a nice touch. Overall, the record is a solid and energetic debut that shows an artist with immense promise. See for yourself every Wednesday night, when Koch hosts a songwriter showcase at Zoey’s in Ventura.

Available for purchase on iTunes,  www.myspace.com/leekoch or at live shows.

— Chris Jay

2The Situation
The Situation

The Situation clearly wears its influences on its sleeve, and for chief songwriter Mark Masson, that inspiration is, without a doubt, Phish. Tracks like “Look At Your Life” and “Get Well” could fit on any of the famed Vermont jam band’s records, and that will probably be the deciding factor as to whether the listener will be a fan. If random lyrics mixed with groove-laden guitar theatrics are your cup of tea, then meet your new favorite band. Yes, The Situation is a jam band but it is by no means a boring one. Tracks like “Hide Myself” almost have a 311 vibe, and “Ring” is a downright amazingly radio-ready track. For the right audience, especially the college market, this is a record that could take off. You can catch the Camarillo-based jammers nearly every week at local clubs.

Available for listening at  www.myspace.com/thesituation2, for purchase at live shows.

— Chris Jay

3The All Seeing Eyes
The All Seeing Eyes

To evoke a musical era without coming off as derivative, or even comical, is no easy feat. Thanks to Armand John Anthony’s inspired and masterful production of front-man Zachary James’ and bassist Dylan Ade’s original songs, the All Seeing Eyes succeed where many have failed. James clearly has a heart-on for the ’70s, but what sets the band apart, are the unexpected nods to early blues along with liberal use of piano, sweet harmonies and soulful backing vocals that are folded into shiny pre-punk glam. The result is thoroughly infectious, refreshingly optimistic, good time rock’n’roll. The riffs are recognizable but fresh. At times, James seems to channel Joey Ramone, but his guitar work conveys a raunchy Keith Richards/Johnny Thunders aesthetic, and the entire record screams Alice Cooper, albeit a kinder, gentler one. Released last week on vinyl with a CD inside.

Available at live shows, Toxic and most Ventura record stores or www.myspace.com/zachary jamesband.

— Michel Cicero