Buster Blue: Sleep Less Where the Heart Is

Favorite Songs: Intruders, Visions of Laredo, Sleeplessness, Take Montanta With You, Good Old Days

Social Media: bandcamp, Facebook, Reverbnation

Buster Blue is bittersweet and serene. Their album, Sleep Less Where the Heart Is has a great combination of light vocals with a slight raspy sound to it with folk and country undertones. I’m not sure of the members names as the description simply lists them as, “the goombas,” but the album has piano, cello, violin, backing vocals, drums,

Each of their songs have their own unique quality to them, despite being folk. For instance, the song, Hallucinations in C# minor, has a baroque feel to it, with a nice addition of piano that’s almost like a slow and eerie ragtime. It has a similarity to the music of Tom Waits. The violins and Cello add much tranquility to the tail end of the song, Sleeplessness. There are also brief songs like Take Montana with you that has some quirky lyrics to it like, “cover me in kerosene and I will always keep a light for the people and what they like to burn.”

One of their most yearning songs, Good Old Days has a quaint nostalgic feel as the singer talks about how time is slowing ticking away and how he’s been afraid to dance with a girl that he’s been wanting to for years. The song is accompanied by a sentimental sounding violin and a banjo that plucks away in the reminiscing.

Leave me in Coeur D’Alene is more orchestrated with clarinets and drums that build and crescendo. The album ends with a piano ballad in which the singer reminisces on an old house as he narrates moving away from it. The song is a good closer to this very peaceful album.

Ghost Friends LTD: Acoustic Demos

Social Media: Facebook, bandcamp, soundcloud

Favorite Songs: Loser (demo), BUMMER (demo), Something About A Bear (demo), Back In Your Head (Demo (Cover)), Muscles the Ghost

Ghost Friends LTD have been around for almost a year now. They are a two piece comprised of Chris Monzon on guitar and vocals and Masie Allen on Drums and vocals. They do a lot of local shows around Reno at places like Holland Project. Their demo album are all acoustic (hence the name) while their live performances are accompanied by electric guitars with distortion effects and drums.

Although the songs are the same live as they are in the acoustic demos, the translation into electric music adds a ferocity to it while the acoustic demos are peaceful yet sullen. The listener may view the songs as a reflection of their own uncertainty. For example, on the song, Bummer, Chris sings about death being a bummer and how he is equally a bummer. Many times, our confidence lowers while our inhibitions get the better of us and we find ourselves making foolish mistakes. This is especially present in the opening lyrics to the lyrics to the track, “didn’t think I had the strength to dig my own grave.”

This album definitely has its happy moments like on the song Muscles the Holy Ghost. Before beginning the song, Chris and Masie are laughing together about narwhals and the song is very folky and sincere, talking about how you only need one important friend in your life. I look forward to future recordings from this band.

Bat Country: All Talk

Social Media: bandcamp, Facebook, soundcloud,

Favorite Songs: Contradictions, Marathon, Mac Dre, Oakland, Two Long Years, Vandalove

Bat Country has been around for a couple of years now. It is comprised of former Don’t Panic Members Shane Heimesinger/guitarist Shane Heimerdinger on guitar and vocals, Patrick Kelley on Ukelele, Mandolin, and Banjo, Jared on acoustic bass and trumpet whose last name I’m not familiar with. Other members include Jace on lead guitar and production and Cactus Head on drums.

This album has the peacefulness and elegance of folk music, but the gritty and abrasive undertones of post hardcore punk. In his songwriting, Shane channels the music of his hero, Pat the Bunny of Ramshackle Glory and Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains fame as well as Andrew Jackson Jihad. Bat Country even debuted this album while opening for Andrew Jackson Jihad in a show.

The songs tend to be about a dissatisfaction with the state of things whether it be loneliness in Tribute To Traina or the opposite in Contradictions, living in Reno with the song Oakland, uncertainty of self worth in the song Two Long Years, and attention whores in the song free hugs. It’s a unapologetic personal album that’s great for locals with mentions of smoking weed down by Wingfield Park and other places and instances that may seem familiar to the inhabitants of this town.

All the songs are composed well with Patrick adding nice fills on banjo, ukulele, and Mandolin, and Jared and Cactus Head providing a folk rhythm section that isn’t too heavy handed to drown out the lyrics and giving this album a full sound.

On the whole, this album reminds me of people’s attitudes toward living in Reno. Sure, it may be a let down, but its a let down we’re proud to call our own.

Six Mile Station: Audiobiography

Social Media: Website, facebook, reverbnation, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram

Favorite Tracks: Hey There Kid, Pray Like Hell, Nothing Better to Do, Visions of Eternity, Heavy, Gasoline

Six Mile Station is powerful bluegrass band here in Reno Nevada. There sound is rich with instrumentation and the embodiment of the working class America. No seriously, when listening to their music, I just want to grab a pick axe and start building a house with it. A pick axe may not be the right tool at the beginning stages, but once I get Six Mile Station’s new album into my walkman, I’ll know it feels right.

The band consists of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, Spike McGuire, bassist and backing vocalist, Tyson Schroeder, multi-instrumentalist, John Underwood, and drummer Jeffrey Knight of Handsome Vultures notoriety. Their first album is very well produced with a wide variety of sounds thanks to John Underwood who plays the banjo, trumpet, trombone, and the 12 string guitar.

This album also contains an accordion on the track, “Dreamcatcher” which also contains a tangible 3/4 time signature. The song “Nothing Better To Do” also includes one of the most illustrious instruments known to man. I am of course talking about the singing saw! There are also chains rattling throughout the song and a vibraslap which sounds like a rattlesnake. It’s got a nice heavy beat.

Speaking of heavy, their song “Heavy” is a powerful song also with accordion instrumentation and a vibraslap and some sick drum fills. The song is also in reference to the idiom, “heavy lies the crown.”

There is a ton going on in this album and a lot of fun little sounds to catch on your second or third time through each track like the swinging slide guitar in “Hey There Kid,” giving Audiobiography a strong replay value and worth careful contemplation, or as accompaniment to building a house.

Handsome Vultures: Scraps EP

Social Media: bandcamp, facebook, Reverbnation, Tumblr

Favorite songs: All of them.

Handsome Vultures was the perfect combination of all the trending genres that have appeared in Reno thus far. Their sound combined the ferocity of punk and metal music along with folk and rock. Under their artist page on bandcamp, they considered themselves death folk which sums up the strength of their sound pretty well.

There was a lot of talent going into the collaborative works of Handsome Vultures with a couple members coming from preceding bands in Reno. On this recording, the members consisted of Skye Evans of Last to Leave and Jeffrey Knight is the drummer of Six Mile Station. The other members are Chris Stehman and Fil Xeno of Xenophobes and Jason Ricketts who was in Buster Blue. Finally, there was Ally Reith was in Avian Orphans and Lauren Baker.

Each of their songs has its own uniqueness to it. “High Tide” starts fast and goes into a heavy half time break. It has pirate feel to it that makes you want to drink and flail around the concert house when you hear it. “Broken Record” sounds like a hangover song because too much partying commenced during “High Tide.” Its’ sloshy and groany but has some very peaceful banjo and violin accompaniments. Jeffrey Knight delivers a heavy crashing beat on “Ishua,” which ends with a pounding violin and mandolin outro. This is where the drinking starts again. The final song, “We Wait, We Drop,” is in reference to their band name as they describes themselves as vultures dropping to pick off the dead.

Handsome Vultures was a great band for people who enjoy the local band Actors Killed Lincoln or more popular bands like Tom Waits or Mountain Goats, which they have actually done covers of. Just be sure you aren’t a recovering alcoholic when you listen to them and you should be good.

The Bonfire Set: On The Road

Social Media: YouTube, Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, Instagram, Reverbnation, bandcamp

Favorite Tracks: Red Rose, Few Years, City Lights, Nuclear Love

The Bonfire band is eloquent alternative band from Reno. This debut album of theirs combines the soulful indie sparks you’d get from bands like ‘The Lumineers’ with heavy guitar riffs reminiscent of classic rock bands like ‘The Cars’ and and psychedelic bands like ‘The Guess Who.’ A good example of that would be on the song, “Nuclear Love” where they sing about that perfect moment between two lovebirds forever frozen in time where everything about their lives is explosive and perfect. The song ends with a kickass guitar solo. This album of theirs is loaded with plenty of those, which I absolutely love. Another great example of a song of theirs with a guitar solo packing heat would be “City Lights” which is packed with a grandiose amount of that early psychedelia flair with just a hint of pop. That’s not to say that their guitar riffs are all that is to be enjoyed by this band.

They have three lead singers, two male and one female that harmonize beautifully together. There are also two interchangeable lead guitarists, one acoustic guitarist, a bassist, a keyboardist, and a drummer. Altogether there are seven members and although I’m not sure who plays what, I can tell you that their names, which are are Jamil Apostol, Kirsten Crom, Casey Frasca, Luke Fuller, Denise Julian, Ryan Widmer, Patrick Zbella. Give them a listen and see what you think!

 What does everyone think of the blog so far? Let me know and share one of my blog posts on facebook if you like the local band I reviewed.

Last to Leave: Fare Thee Well

Social Media: Facebook, Reverbnation, bandcamp

Favorite Songs: Go, Anasazi, One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs, Never Say Goodbye

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Last to Leave has been playing in Reno for about 8 years now, and their  music resembles the feel of this town very well. There music is a combination of folk, country, Americana, and punk music.

Knowing about the players backgrounds, I approached their music with a bit of wonderment and many a-ha moments where their musical and lyrical choices made much sense. Their saxophone player, Dalton Cason, adds a tranquil, if not almost anthemy vibe to their music, especially in the song, “One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs.” It reminded me a bit of the music of the ska band, Streetlight Manifesto, which me and Patrick used to listen to back in high school.

Their Accordion Player, Melissa McMorran helps to add to the earthy vibe of their tracks, especially in the song, “Go.” Her whole notes help to ground the often fast paced chords of Skye Evans’ guitar strumming and Patrick Kelley banjo plucking. Luke Knudsen is their drummer, whose reserved drumming style and use of brush sticks complements their style very well. He also briefly opens their last song, “Never Say Goodbye,” on his recorder with the melody of “The Shire Song” from the movie, “Lord of the Rings.”

Visceral, driven, and relenting; the soothing melodies of this vagabond band will surely resonate through Reno for many more years to come.