Baseball season is upon us…as No Line North hits a line drive

Baseball-Yankee-Stadium-Final-game (stuffnobodycaresabout.com)

“And it’s a line drive down the first baseline!,” cries seasoned announcer Phil Rizzuto on a hot July afternoon in the Bronx in 1973. The star hitter of the time, probably Thurman Munson or Bobby Murcer, dashes towards the dusty base bag and the awaiting first baseman of the Detroit Tigers or the Baltimore Orioles or whatever team the venerable New York Yankees are taking on.

NoLineNorth-cover (nolinenorth.bandcamp.com)Now in April 2017, from New Haven, Connecticut, comes Jon Schlesinger with his song-sketching, woodshedding combo No Line North and their 5-track Dreams of Trees Part 1. Opener “Line Drive” recalls – in title – any given baseball moment like that one above, and recalls in sound the forward-moving drum dash and dazzling guitar layers of another venerable New York (well, New Jersey) team, The Feelies. The song stands on its own though, thanks to the added ingredient of violin…and during its seven-plus minutes seems to promise more of the same on the remainder of the record.

Those hopes are dashed, however, as “Butterflies” kicks in with a more…comfy rhythm, equally comfy violin, and singer Lys Guillorn’s comfy, Clapton-esque vocals and comfy lyrics about the sun rising, wind blowing, and butterflies floating. We’re talking country-rock now, ok. Then the waltzy “Sky & Sea” skips in – and there’s that violin again, swirling around with the guitars, bass, and voices. Heading down folk-pop street now, are we? Hold it right there, savvy (I don’t know where that phrase originated – not Phil Rizzuto as far as I know – but someone I knew in college always used to say it)…anyway, hold it right there because “Under The Sun” has begun, and it’s hoedown time! After that we’re all plum-tuckered-out so…enter closing track “Sugar Baby” with its ethereal vibraphone and Fleetwood Mac-ish feel.

no-line-north-live-photo (www.courant.com)

No Line North currently consists of Jon Schlesinger (vocals, guitar, banjo), John Gage (drums, vibraphone, percussion), Lys Guillorn (vocals), Mike Kiefer (drums), John Leonard (bass, guitar, vocals, percussion), and Brian Slattery (violin). They play “good music for the people” (according to the band’s website) and have released two albums so far on the Twin Lakes label: Closely Watched Trains in 2009 and Farther Out Beyond Today in 2014. Dreams of Trees Part 1 is the first half of their latest and is due out April 28.

And…holy cow, safe at first!

NoLineNorth-logo (nolinenorth.bandcamp.com)

images courtesy stuffnobodycaresabout.com, nolinenorth.bandcamp.com, courant.com

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Earthy rock for doin’ them chores – it’s Matt North!

Matt North – if you’ve never heard of him you’ve probably seen him. Not only is he a singer/songwriter/session drummer, he’s a TV and movie actor, having appeared in early-mid 2000’s episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Angel, and Heroes, as well as the made-for-television movie Dirty Pictures with James Woods. He’s also done stand-up comedy. In 2017, though, it looks like he’s only in it for the music with the release of his debut album Above Ground Fools.

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A concise little collection of ten songs that channel the Rolling Stones and other earthy rock while remaining firmly planted in their Nashville soil, Above Ground Fools (yeah, a play-on-words of “above ground pools”) is the kind of album that you put on and then go do something real blue-collar-y like re-finish furniture or change a light bulb or mow the lawn…wait, I guess you’d hafta really turn it up full-blast to hear it over a lawnmower. But anyway, that’s the gist of Michigan-born, Nashville-based North’s song-craft (yes, all songs written and produced by Matt North).

Greetings from Nashville, TennesseeOpening track “A Good Day In Nashville” (which naturally starts with – drums) will have you clappin’ and tappin’ while North describes the hijinks of his trashy next-door neighbor, his ex-musician electrician, chiropractor, lawyer, etc. over a country highway of organ chords and good ol’ slide guitar. “No Hard Feelings” continues in a slower, Stones-esque setting with plenty of meaty guitar and North’s wacky wordplay rhymes that at times approach rap, country-boy style.

Matt-North-Above-Ground-Fools-coverGraham Parker sort of comes to mind on “Seventeen Days,” as North relates another nasty Nashville-style saga; things slow down even more on the introspective news-anchor ode “Cronkite and Cosell”; and then it’s time for one of the high points, “Miss Communication,” with its endless supply of “-ation” lines, lovely Leon Russell-like breaks, and piles of wah-wah heaven. “I Sold It All” starts out promising but ends abruptly at 2:16 (the video keeps going with an amusing skit involving the guy in Quebec who North sells his drums to – and the guy’s annoyed girlfriend who steals the show by the way).

The pent-up anger and despair of “Murder Shows” explodes in a nice, ear-splitting debacle of distortion, then that country ‘n’ western swagger returns with “Jesus and Fireworks.” Mick Jagger meets Jonathan Richman (or something) on “Badgering The Witness,” and the album finishes up in fine country-punk style with the rollicking “Come Here Go Away.”

So grab that paint can or that hedge trimmer (or just a beer) and sing-a-long with Mr. Matt North!

lawn-mower-landscape

images courtesy artistdirectinterviews.com, cardcow.com, quickenloans.com