Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil “Cycle”
Steve Robinson, a transplanted Englishman (ex-Roger McGuinn, and the folk band The Headlights) teamed up with Ed Woltil of The Ditchflowers for the soulful Cycle. Add Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks and guitarist Dave Gregory (XTC) amongst the guests here and you’ve got the makings of a stellar album. The catchy “Love Somebody” is an optimistic gem with violin accents added to the combination of electric guitars and acoustic strumming.
You hear some of Gregory’s influence in the pastoral “Wake Up Dreaming” and “Boy From Down The Hill.” The smart composition “Elastic Man” is a lush bit of psyche-pop, and “Godspeed” follows the joyful lyric “the sun will rise, you’ll open your eyes.” There is enough of a folk flavoring injected the songs to keep them grounded, and not too polished. “Wintersleeping” is an especially good mix of melodic chords and poetic lyrics. Woltil’s “Who You Are” and Robinson’s “Butterflies” both slow the tempo to acoustic lullabies. No filler to be found here, overall its like a musical shot of happiness with the overall theme “Seize The Day”. Simply beautiful and very highly recommended.
The Webstirs “Now You’ve Really Done It”
Chicago’s Webstirs have returned after a long pause, and again they still hit all the right notes. Preston Pisellini (guitars/vocals) and Mark Winkler (keyboards/vocals) are joined by longtime collaborator Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio).
Still catchy and upbeat, the songs have a darker edge than previous albums. “Saving The World” is a heroic theme about weekend warriors (armed with Mexican guns) saving the world. “Farther You Can Fall” is another terrific arrangement with a call and response chorus. “Answers” is a dramatic gem that layers guitars across the piano melody. The sobering “Easier By Now” fits into the theme of “live for today” being cold advice to ease life’s pain and its the centerpiece of the album, with a blistering guitar break between the main chorus.
“Ghosts” is a lushly produced piano-guitar combo that sounds like a mix of Billy Joel and The Barenaked Ladies. The band also addresses local history with “Haymarket Riot.” Finally “Chasing the Sound” is a grand tribute to the band’s longtime engineer Gary Rogers, who passed away in 2009. Overall a great album that deserves to be heard and proof that The Webstirs talent continues to thrive. Highly Recommended.