Black Love

1What becomes of the broken-hearted? They start a band, put their misery to music and, eventually,  get over it.  Time may heal all wounds, but loud, plaintive affirmations of deliverance driven by taut, repetitive rhythms work faster. A music project entirely dependent on heartache is a fascinating premise and anyone who knows the feeling will immediately get it — but what happens vis-à-vis the inevitable return of love?  Produced by L.A. punk elder statesman Paul Roessler, the sound is spare,  pre-industrial and percussive à la Joy Division and The Fall, but less melodic and sans guitar. The lyrics vacillate between snarky jabs and self-encouraging, fake-it-till-you-make-it mantras; the broken boy may be whistling in the dark but at least he’s on a solid path and he carries plenty of antiseptic for the journey.  From “Airlessness”: I think about you most of the time, and I wonder if you thought of me when you were mine.  But, no – I’m going to transcend.   I’m going to rise.”  Unlust’s four anthems for the newly lovelorn are the perfect soundtrack to polish your armor to. 

Available through


Alastair Greene

Through the Rain
2In blues circles, his chops precede him, but rock fans have likely never heard Alastair Greene — and they need to. On this, his fourth solo record, Greene ups the ante with head-turning riffs and solos to beckon Dwayne Allman from on high. The gifted guitarist, who plays fulltime for the Alan Parsons Live Project, also has decent pipes that hold their own on grittier fare (“T’ Other Way,” “Through the Rain”)as well as mellower, country-flavored songs and ballads (“Dearly Departed” and “Take Me With You”). Greene has the distinction of being the only unsigned act asked to play the Sonora Blues Festival, yet he can be seen fairly regularly at local venues. Giving him a hand on Through the Rain are two drummers experienced enough to get Greene’s songs where they want to go without exceeding the speed limit:  Tom Lackner (Jeff Bridges) and George Pendergast (Dishwalla). Alastair Greene’s ability to elevate meat-and-potatoes, biker-bar blues to an art form is worth much more than the price of a beer and a shot.

Available at CD Baby and iTunes. Greene will perform at Zoey’s on Saturday, April 7.



3Once upon a time, a band from Ventura made it big — Billboard big, video game big, major-label big. Then, through no fault of its own, things got weird. Try as it did to keep steady when the ground fell out from under the music industry, 8Stops7 lost its footing. That was then and this is now. While it may no longer be cool to listen to ’90s music, especially when it’s being produced in 2012, rocking out will never be passé, and 8Stops7 rocks. To come back as hard as this band has with Fables is not only to believe in yourself but to know who you are, unequivocally. 8Stops7 makes no apology for what it is, instead it revels in it. From the first track to the last, Fables is exactly the kind of post-grunge melodic rock that’s expected of this band, only better.  Inevitable comparisons to Eddie Vedder and his most reviled imitator aside, Evan Sula-Goff’s unwavering, muscular vocals can easily withstand  the force of the guitars that drive this train home. 8Stops7 is unattached and arena-ready. Get it.

Available on iTunes.


Neal Casal

Sweeten the Distance
4INT. LIVING ROOM. EVENING.  Pretty female with disheveled hair and a crocheted shawl, glass of wine in hand, stokes dwindling fire.
EXT.  FRONT PORCH.  EVENING. Handsome male sits on steps strumming guitar, pencil between teeth, notepad at his side.  
INT.  LIVING ROOM. EVENING. Female pulls shawl tighter around her shoulders, rain is seen washing the windows.  She pets her cat.
EXT.FRONT PORCH.EVENING. Male stops strumming, reaches for his cell phone then puts it down.
 INT. BEDROOM. EVENING. Girl is in bed with a book. She periodically glances at the phone, distracted by it.
INT. KITCHEN. EVENING. Male goes to refrigerator, gets beer and opens it. He pulls his phone from his pocket, looks at it, puts it back.
Sweeten the Distance is a yearning for what can’t be, a solo road trip, a coming to terms. It’s the contemplation of a complicated situation. It’s patient reflection. It’s goodbye and hello (by this writer’s estimation.)  A lovely and delicate, poignant and lush record by a prolific songwriter with assistance from a few people you might know.

Available on, iTunes and record stores.