Zach Williams And The Reformation - A Southern Offering

Zach Williams And The Reformation - A Southern Offering
2011, Zach Williams And The Reformation

Zach Williams And The Reformation proves that growth is a good thing on their impressive sophomore album, A Southern Offering.  The band's previous effort, Electric Revival, was written solely by Williams.  This time out, Williams brings lyrics and his soulful rock voice and the rest of the band crafts the music.  The result is a stunning ode to the history of southern rock n roll, displaying the influence of bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet and the Black Crowes.  In the process, Zach Williams And The Reformation has created a vibrant and modern album.  Producer Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Stevie Wonder, Elton John) helps capture the dynamic sound of ZWR with a live energy and a sense of polish that brings out the rough beauty of the music.

A Southern Offering opens with the vibrant southern friend rock n roll of "Gravy Train", a joyous number full of all the panache of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special.  "Mason Jar" is a solid piece of songwriting with a mildly soulful vocal from Williams.  "Fool's Moon" plays like it could be a Bob Seger outtake, and has a melody that will stay with you.  "Picture Perfect" is a mellow rock ballad that makes the most of Williams' soulful voice against a blues backdrop that does the title justice.  "The Fix" opens with a guitar riff that sounds like something cooked up by ZZ Top, and blows up into a full rock sound on the chorus that's infectious.

"Motels And Highways" is a world-weary lament of a man who makes his living on the road.  ZWR picks up steam on "Rock N Roll Me", a blues rocker that sounds like a southern fried Zeppelin tune if David Coverdale were sitting in for Robert Plant.  There's real energy in this tune, which is among the best on the album.  "PO Box And A Postcard" is a speculative number building off the ideas in "Motels And Highways".  ZWR sounds a lot like the Black Crowes here, as Williams ruminates on love lost.  "Wishing Well" and “Sky Full Of Treasure” close things out in consistent yet unsurprising style.

Zach Williams And The Reformation impress on A Southern Offering.  With a sound steeped in classic southern rock yet updated with a modern edge, ZWR stands to capture the attention of several generations of classic and southern rock fans.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Zach Williams And The Reformation at or  A Southern Offering is available digitally from and iTunes.

Can A Ship Builder Use Patented U.S. Technology?

Dear Rich: I am the builder of a ship. Can I sell the ship with a patented technology to someone else although I am not the owner of the patent? We're assuming you're asking about U.S. patents (and that's all we can speak about, anyway), so here goes: A U.S. patent owner can bring a patent infringement action (lawsuit) against you if you make, use, or sell the ship (incorporating the invention) in the U.S. without permission. Your email indicates you are from Malaysia. A U.S. patent owner cannot stop the manufacture, use, or sale of the technology or device (used in the ship) in Malaysia unless the owner has patented the invention in Malaysia. However it would be an infringement of a U.S. patent to import the ship into the United States, or for you to create all of the parts of the patented invention in the United States and send those parts to Malaysia with instructions for assembly. (Here is some basic information on foreign patent treaty rules.)
What if the boat docks in the U.S.? What if the boat isn't sold or imported into the U.S. but docks occasionally at a U.S. port? Patent law has an exception (the temporary presence exception) that permits ship and aircraft owners (with otherwise infringing technology) to dock here without being sued provided: (1) the ship or aircraft enters the U.S. on a temporary or accidental basis, and (2) the patented technology or device is used exclusively for the needs of the ship or aircraft.

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me
2011, Brother Lou

Brother Lou (AKA Luis Dominguez), is a Vienna, Virgina-based singer/songwriter, but his colorful history has seen him in bands all along the east coast.  Settling into the Washington, D.C. scene, Brother Lou has quietly become one of the better Indie songwriters on the east coast, earning awards from the VH-1 Song Of The Year contest, the Great American Song Contest (2011 finalist) and American Songwriter magazine.  2011 finds Brother Lou at it again with the release of The Devil In Me, his follow-up to 2008’s As Good As You Want.  The Devil In Me is a fun mix of blues, folk and Americana that’s part Leon Redbone and part Big Rude Jake.

Brother Lou opens with the title track, a tasty bit of vaudevillian hobo blues.  Imagine Big Rude Jake in a stripped down setting.  "The Devil In Me" is a prayer of thanks that's counterintuitive but fun.  "Can't Make You Shine Anymore" is a fun little number covering the war of love, the love of war, and all the amazing things that happen in the space between.  The song is offered here in a wonderfully stripped down blues arrangement that is appealing to the ears.  "Through The Wind" is a mellow ballad praising the important things in life (love, happiness, peace, friendship).  The song gets points for intent and for Brother Lou's clear, steady voice. 

"I Go Down" is a solid autobiographical number from a man who struggles against his own inner demons to hold up his end of a relationship.  He consistently falls away, and this is one more time he's coming back seeking forgiveness.  "The Hungry Girl" is an amusing blues/folk exposition on an overly dependent upstairs neighbor.  Brother Lou goes for big entertainment value, but borders on mean-spirited humor at times here.  "Don't Want To Hide Anymore" is a pensive, run-on ballad that's highly emotive.  Centered in loneliness, the song is a strong Adult Contemporary entry, but does drag a bit.

"This Song" is a half-glass full song written from the perspective of a songwriter who lost a relationship but gained a song.  Mild wit and a health get-on-with-life attitude pervade here in a catchy but reserved arrangement.  Brother Lou missteps a bit with "When You Lose At Love", a melancholy ballad with a pitchy lead vocal that distracts from a fairly decent melody.  He recovers well on "Dancin' Shoes", a song of simple temptation and everlasting consequence that's catchy and more fun than it should be.  "I'm Gonna Rise Again" is awash in human imperfection and unreasonable optimism, opening with a promise and closing on the loneliness that comes when such are unfulfilled.  Brother Lou closes with "Bad Gravity", an offbeat song of excuses and misdirection.  The music is melancholy, but the vocal line is vibrant; the dichotomy is a bit jarring, and makes for an almost uncomfortable close.

Brother Lou sets an ambitious course with The Devil In Me, covering vast stylistic ground while trying to build a cohesive album that flows.  The effort is generally a success, although there isn't really a breakout moment on the album.  It's more of a slow-and-steady wins the race approach, with Brother Lou traversing love, loss and the many ways that people try to understand the world around them.  Accordingly, The Devil In Me ranges widely, but Brother Lou manages to tie it all together in a fashion that, while not storybook, works.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Brother Lou at  The Devil In Me is available via as a CD or Download.  The album is also available through iTunes.

Morning Fame - A Lasting Place

Morning Fame - A Lasting Place
2011, Morning Fame

Toronto’s Morning Fame is a quartet playing in a bout of pre-Grunge rock pique, incorporating solid melodies into tried and true arrangements and styles.  Comprised of vocalist Vik Kapur, drummer Alan Dennis, bassist Donald Colaco and guitarist Joe Liranzo, Morning Fame has carved out a niche in the vibrant Indie music scene of Toronto.  Morning Fame recently finished recording their debut EP, A Lasting Place.  Due for release September 1, 2011, A Lasting Place has good intentions, but often gets lost on the way.

A Lasting Place kicks off with Morning Fame's first single, "Long Time Waiting".  The song is a languid ballad with a Gin Blossoms feel; a song about waiting forever for the right one to come along and finally finding her.  Unfortunately the enthusiasm you might expect from the revelation never materializes, defaulting into a bland melancholy that's musically solid but ultimately unsatisfying.  "Something On Mind" continues in a similar vein; solid but unremarkable.  Morning Fame maintains the same level through "Stranger" and "Time", finally breaking out on the EP's final track, "Blinded".  All of the energy and inspiration listeners have been waiting for finally explodes in a pique of pure pop joy.  The song does nothing to shake Morning Fame's sound-a-like status with regard to the Gin Blossoms, but does show an ability to craft a catchy pop song you'll want to listen to more than once.

A Lasting Place suffers from a general lack of energy and showmanship.  Vocalist Vik Kapur is solid but unsure of himself at times.  Morning Fame does pull it together at the last minute, showing flashes of the band they might well become.  A Lasting Place is an important first step; hopefully Morning Fame can build on the EP's closing moments.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about Morning Fame at or, where you can stream many of Morning Fame's songs.  A Lasting Place is due for release on September 1, 2011.  Keep checking Morning Fame's website for details.

Tom Goss - Turn It Around

Tom Goss - Turn It Around
2011, Tom Goss

Washington, D.C. singer-songwriter Tom Goss is having a pretty good year.  Recently married to his partner of five years, Goss released a new album, Turn It Around in 2011 inspired by romance and nostalgia.  In the process he had one of his songs, "All I Wanted", featured in the May 25, 2011 season finale of the show Cougar Town.  The Wisconsin native and one time Catholic seminarian explores politics, romance and issues of faith in an intriguing and surprisingly upbeat effort.

Turn It Around opens with "It's All Over", a solid, guitar-driven rocker that's decent enough but kicks things off on a somewhat slow note.  "Shady Dell" is a likeable piece of angular pop that captures the speed of change in the lives of children.  It's an intriguing and insightful number; intelligent but with a distinctive pop appeal.  "Spaces Unseen" is a pensive ballad that flows better musically than it does lyrically.  Goss' subtle arrangement and guitar work impress.

"Turn It Around" might be one of the catchiest songs we've heard thus far in 2011, and comes with a positive message.  You'll find yourself wanting to get up and dance, and humming along while you do.  "Is It Too Early?" is a well-intended love song exploring how early is too early to say those three words.  Unfortunately the song falls a bit flat, playing more like the hopeless perseveration of a lovelorn teenager than an attempt to understand love.  Stewart Lewis helps out on vocals this time around.  "Make Believe" is an infectious invitation to a future of romance and adventure; solid and appealing but perhaps lacking a vibrant sense that would make it more convincing.

""Two Steps From You" is a somewhat bland love ballad that just doesn't soar.  This trend is evident more and more throughout Turn It Around; with Goss struggling on the ballads to maintain the same sense of edge and energy that he does on the more upbeat material.  "All I Ever Wanted is a catchy pop gem about the power of hope and the changeability of circumstance; an appealing listen that may well become a fan favorite.  Goss closes out with a trio of solid, yet unremarkable tracks in "You Came Along", "Seems Like Yesterday" and "You Know That I Love You". 

It's obvious that ballads aren't going to have the same external energy as rockers; however the energy that goes into the song should not change.  Goss manages to infuse the upbeat tracks on Turn It Around with an infectious energy that engages listeners.  Unfortunately the ballads seemingly find Goss in his own reverie, and the connection gets lost along the way.  Turn It Around is obviously inspired by romantic love, which is never a bad thing.  But Goss gets caught up in his emotion the way a kid in a diary might; and his commitment and passion the ballads can become lost on listeners, just as the circular ruminations of the young in love might in a diary.  The words are there, but the passion simply doesn't translate in palpable terms.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Tom Goss at or  Turn It Around is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Compulsory Notice Questions for Ballet CD

Dear Rich: My boyfriend and I have recorded about 30 tracks to make a ballet class CD (my boyfriend is a pianist at the city ballet). All songs on the CD are movie songs and have been previously released to the public on a sound recording such as a CD or record. He initially learned the basic melodies from sheet music, then over the years enhanced the songs with his own progressions, harmonies, may have added a little jazz improv in some of them. Since the CD is for a ballet class, he adapted the length (shortened or extended) and tempo to fit ballet class exercises. My first question is: Based on what I described above, can I take the Notice of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License route? My second question is: In three of the tracks, my boyfriend did something unconventional -- for example, in one of the three tracks, he played 16 measures of the theme from Charade, then he played 16 measures of Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins. then he ended the track by playing the same 16 measures of Charade. Would these types of formats not meet the requirements for a compulsory license? My last question is: some of these songs were from musicals, but films of these musicals were made. Should I be concerned about the songs not meeting the "non-dramatic musical work" requirement? Sorry, your reference to Charade made us search our iTunes database for our Henry Mancini tracks. What a great movie composer. We have a friend who gives us obscure Henry Mancini recordings and as much as we love Pink Panther and stuff like that, he's is so much more than that -- for example, the tracks from the Peter Gunn TV show equaled and excelled the more well known theme music.
Right, you had a question(s). Yes, you can use the compulsory notice for music that includes some improv and personal progressions. It's true that major revisions to a song require permission, but practically, publishers don't really care about what you do between the grooves provided you pay the toll (9.1 cents per track).
As for your second question. If you're using two tunes on one track, you have a few choices: you can pay both publishers 9.1 cents (again, they won't care what you're doing); you can pay only for the dominant/primary tune that you're using and hope that the other publisher doesn't hear (or care) about your "quoting" of the melody. (The other publisher is unlikely to learn of it unless the title is included in the CD notes -- for example, "Track 5: Charade/Chim-Chim-cher-ee.") And finally, you can try to negotiate with both publishers for a lower rate (probably a waste of time unless you're a major label.) We think you're probably fine with the second choice.
And your third question. The compulsory license is for nondramatic uses so your use on a CD would qualify. A dramatic use would be if you wanted a license to perform the music publicly as part of a show.

The Von Ehrics - Two Foot Stomp

The Von Ehrics - Two Foot Stomp
2011, Lucky Buck Records

Dallas punktry band The Von Ehrics, named after the prominent ECW wrestling family, are back with their fourth album, Two Foot Stomp.  With an irrepressible sound and a can-do attitude, The Von Ehrics took seven months to write and rehearse Two Foot Stomp before stepping into a studio with producer Dave Willingham (Polyphonic Spree, Earl Harvin Trio).  The result is a blend of punk and country displaying the melodic sensibility of Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar). Suffice it to say The Von Ehrics will grab your attention quickly and simply won't let go.

Two Foot Stomp opens with a working class hero anthem entitled "Last Of The Working Slobs".  Set in a society that has moved on and forgotten the working class that built it, the song is full of great energy and unfettered angst, and houses a chorus you won't be able to get out of your head.  "Gone" is a catchy outsider's anthem that sounds like a cross between the Gin Blossoms and The Refreshments with a bit of outlaw country thrown into the mix.  It's an intriguing blend that you'll keep coming back to.  "Smokewagon" is a high energy tribute to the band's touring van, likely to target them for being pulled over in most states. 

"Lord, I Pray" is an entertaining blend of punkabilly and gospel that's unforgettable.  The Von Ehrics obviously had fun in recording this number, as it oozes from every pore of the song.  "Rock And Roll" is a catchy song, written for those times when nothing less than rock n roll will do.  In spite of the low-fi approach, The Von Ehrics prove to be very musically competent, a fact that is highlighted here.  The effort to capture a classic country motif on "Goodbye/The Ride" falls flat, however.  It is a sign of things to come, as Two Foot Stomp levels off into solid but unremarkable songs for the rest of the trip.  The closing track, "Texas (When I Die)" shows a brief revival of the energy and chutzpah of the first half of the album, but can't save the second half of the album from a somewhat ho-hum assessment in light of what it followed.

The Von Ehrics turn a brilliant and essential 6-song EP into a solid 12-song album with distinctive highlights on Two Foot Stomp.  Considering a lot of what is put on the market these days, that's not a knock on the band.  It's simply that the first half of the album is so good that the second half stands little chance.  There's really not a bad song on the album, which might aptly be called "The Two Sides of The Von Ehrics", but don't be surprised if the first half of the album gets significantly more spins than the second.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Von Ehrics at or  Two Foot Stomp is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand
2011, Sheri Miller

Sheri Miller made an impact quickly.  Her 2008 debut album, Mantra, spawned an underground hit in "Right Here, Right Now", and earned her recognition as one of Music Connection's 'Hot 100 Unsigned Artists'.  An invitation to join a group called The Delilahs resulted in a major label contract and opportunities to write songs with the likes of J.D. Souther, Jill Sobule, Shawn Mullins and Al Anderson (NRBQ).  Unfortunately the band fell apart, and Miller found herself on her own again.  She did the only thing a songwriter could do; she kept writing and performing.  The result is Miller's sophomore EP, Winning Hand, featuring a top-notch band with members who have played with the likes of Paul Simon, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Suzanne Vega.  Winning Hand was produced by Kevin Killern (U2, Peter Gabriel), and represents significant growth on the excellent start Miller got off to with Mantra

Winning Hand sets sails with an Americana/pop love song in the form of "Spoons".  It's a brilliant low-key pop tune featuring gorgeous harmonies and a memorable chorus.  This could be a bonafide hit for Miller, and will likely be a winner in the licensing world as well.  "Winning Hand" is a languorous Americana ballad about taking the chance to fall in love.  Miller's melody is winsome, but the overall effect is a touch bland.  "Satellite" has an acoustic southern rock feel that's appealing.  A quiet anthem screaming to have big guitar sound pumped in, the song remains an enjoyable listen even in this stripped down form.  "Everybody Feels This Way Sometimes" seems a bit out of place here.  It's a decent enough tune, but doesn't have the same energy or sense of personality as the other tracks presented here.  Winning Hand winds up with "Hungry For The Truth", a dark rocker about figuring out the meaning of life, no matter the cost.  The song is quietly impressive, sneaking up on you and growing in estimation with each successive listen.  It's probably the most impressive piece of songwriting Sheri Miller has unveiled thus far; showing a much more complex and intricate side to her songwriting psyche than one might expect.

Sheri Miller continues to impress, showing more levels and layers to her lyrics and composition than on the formidable Mantra EP.  The best way to describe Sheri Miller is to say she's a star in waiting.  In the days of major label dominance, Sheri Miller would already have a major record deal, and would be in demand as both a songwriter and performer.  Life is both easier and harder in the post-label era, but Miller's progression as a songwriter in the last three years speaks of wonderful things to come down the road.  Winning Hand has its rough spots, but when Miller is on her game there are few better.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Sheri Miller at or 

Little Flowers

My jewelry style doesn't usually go beyond Tiffany & Co. silver studs and Alexis Bittar gunmetal hoops—simple, understated, etc. The craziest I get is stacking a tiny diamond ring with a very fake Chanel ring that I once discovered behind a drawer. These shots, though, have me pining for embellishment. Flower details are oversized and quirky, striking a sweet balance between ladies-who-lunch and straight-up gaudy. I could most definitely use a gem-studded cuff paired with... wait, are those zippered tweed gloves?

Things you don't need but really want and are probably going to hunt down anyway, no. 578: zippered tweed gloves.

[photo cred here and here]

Can I Expose Exxon in My Documentary?

Dear Rich: I am making an independent film about life on our ranch with ExxonMobil. I had a blog for a few years and youtube page. For three years, I filmed lots of Exxon activities on the land that is owned by my husband. About a six months into my blog writing, ExxonMobil sued me for tortious interference saying "my shenanigans raised their operating costs" because they had increased inspections from regulators. So, I am aware of how they can be big bullies with their lawyers. However, when I was not intimidated, they just backed off and I kept filming and writing. I never got any releases from Exxon workers or subcontractors but I have the permission of the land owner (my family). Of course, everything has Exxon stickers, etc. I even interview the people working there. Exxon's partners (El Paso Corp) sued me for tortious interference and exposing trade secrets on my blog. But, we made an agreed judgement where those claims were dismissed with prejudice. I am planning to make my movie free and put it on iTunes and the Internet. I have this idea that free speech is more protected than commercial speech. But, I don't know if that is true and where I got this idea. I also think that people are less likely to sue me if they think there is no money in sales to fight over. What do you think? We admire anyone who has something to say and doesn't let other people stop them from saying it. But we're also protective of anyone who calls themselves a Dear Rich reader, so we'll provide the legal rules with a caveat that you're already probably aware of --  free speech will protect your rights, but proving you have those rights may prove to be a burden. There is some recent good news for you. Last month, Texas passed its version of an anti-SLAPP law (as explained here). Anti-Slapp laws even the playing field by stopping lawsuits that are used to censor speech. That law could prove helpful if the claims brought against you are trivial or have no legal basis. Anyway, here are the legal rules.
  • Copyright - Because you did all the filming, we don't see much of an issue with copyright. If you are quoting from Exxon's written materials, using their photos, or video, that's an infringement but we think you have a strong fair use claim. However, as we always note, fair use can only ultimately be excused by a court which means you're spending money on lawyers.
  • Trademarks - We don't see much in the way of trademark issues. The reproduction of trademarks in an informational film about Exxon is permitted under first amendment principles and we discussed those issues here. These rules regarding informational uses would protect you against claims for trademark infringement and trademark dilution. Our only suggestion would be to avoid modifying the logos.
  • Privacy/Publicity Rights - Because your film is a documentary (and it's not a commercial endeavor), you may be able get away without releases as you are skirting right of publicity issues. However, without a release, the people portrayed in your film can possibly argue the film violates their right to privacy, or alternatively, it defames them. These aren't likely claims if you make a fair factual film, but as you know, employees who are concerned about retaining employment may regret their statements or wish to recant them. In your defense, you may be able to claim that their permission is implied by the fact that they talked to you and were aware of who you were, and that the material was being filmed. (In the future, you should consider getting a video release. While the camera is rolling, explain what you're doing and what the video will be used for and ask for authorization to use the material in your film. We explain more of these releases in our Getting Permission book.)
  • Trade Secrets - You're familiar with this one. When you disclose confidential business information that you acquired by an unlawful means, a company can claim that you stole their trade secrets. So, if someone has stolen trade secrets from Exxon and they give them to you and you publish them, you could be enjoined (stopped) from distributing them. As you know, this is a gray area encouraging litigation because only a court can ultimately sort out what qualifies as a trade secret
  • Contract Claims - You're already familiar with tortious interference -- when you're accused of coming between two parties to a contract to undermine their dealings with each other -- another gray area of law in which a he said/she said battle can drag on in the courts. Your settlement agreements may also establish some contractual limitations on your future behavior (although it doesn't sound like it from your description).
  • Defamation/Trade Libel -- If you include untrue statements that cause harm to Exxon's business reputation (or to any of their executives or employees), you may expose yourself to defamation claims.
  • Likelihood of Being Sued When There are No Profits -- You asked if you were a likely target if you had no profits. Profits probably only matter when discussing copyright, trademark and contract claims. And Exxon may not care about your profits, anyway. They may be more concerned about stopping the film (getting an injunction). You could be personally liable for defamation, right of publicity or other tort claims. Some people who make documentary films attempt to shield their personal assets by creating an LLC or corporation to produce, own, and distribute the film. 

Bowling For Soup - Fishin' For Woos

Bowling For Soup - Fishin' For Woos
2011, Que-So Records/Brando Records

Texas rockers Bowling For Soup return in 2011 with their eleventh album, Fishin’ For Woos, an intriguing collection of twelve songs that capture the irreverent air of classic Bowling For Soup material but also show a growing maturity as songwriters and performers.  Co-produced by front man Jaret Reddick and Jarinus (Linus of Hollywood), Fishin’ For Woos will remind longtime fans of the sound Bowling For Soup propagated on 2002’ Drunk Enough To Dance.

Fishin' For Woos opens with the muscular guitar-pop of "Let's Pretend We're Not In Love".  With a memorable chorus and bridge, Bowling For Soup pursues a counter-intuitive request for another chance, dolled up in solid vocal harmonies and an arrangement that moves.  "Girls In America" could be a pan-geographic update of "California Girls" for a global culture.  Bowling For Soup doesn’t go in for the Wilsonian harmonies you'd expect on a Beach Boys tune, although there is a brief homage wove into the arrangement.  It's a fun and entertaining number that seems fitting for the next installment in the American Pie series.  "S-S-S-Saturday" is a pure celebration of the weekend; mindless and fun.  It's a great piece of alterna-pop.  Bowling For Soup gets melancholy on "What About Us", employing a solid pop sensibility and plus melody in a number questioning the future of a relationship. 

Practically every songwriter who has ever lived has written a song about important people in their lives.  The rest get bugged about it until they do, or until they jettison the complaining friend/family member/significant other.  Bowling Soup responds to this hypothetical in pure smart-alec style with "Here's Your Freakin' Song"; a ballad dripping with sarcastic honesty.  "This Ain't My Day" is an anthem for the complainers out there; built on great pop hook with big rock sound.  Don't be surprised if this is the song you're still humming the day after you first hear Fishin' For Woos

"Smiley Face (It's All Good)" gets back to what rock n roll is all about.  You're left with the distinctive impression here (and through much of the album, really) that Bowling For Soup flat out had fun making this album.  "I've Never Done Anything Like This" is straight out of a movie, or at least it should be.  Anyone who's ever done the walk of shame has heard, though or said this at least once.  Guest vocalist Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo, Palmdale) is a real treat here.  "Friends Chicks Guitars" is a fun number that essentially sums up why a lot of bands started playing together in the first place.  There's a simple, uncomplicated joy here that is catchy.  "Guard My Heart" is a solid album track, and leads into the closer, "Graduation Trip".  You might call "Graduation Trip" something of an alternative "Time Of Your Life" (Green Day).  It starts out awkwardly and is a bit sophomoric in nature, but the song has a good heart, a solid melody and something thoughtful and poignant to say.

Bowling Soup has developed a fairly devoted following over the years, and it's easy to see why.  Maturity has perhaps mellowed the sound and approach of the band just a tad, but beneath the sheen of jocularity and machismo the band once carried beat the heart of a band with real pop sensibility and an ability to craft catchy, memorable songs that stick with you.  Fishin' For Woos manages to be the most accomplished effort to date from Bowling For Soup, without giving up the irreverent heart and the knowing smirk that has made them so fun to listen to over the years.  Fishin' For Woos is a pleasant surprise.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bowling For Soup at or  Fishin' For Woos is available from as a CD, on Vinyl and as a Download.  The album is also available digitally via iTunes.

Skirting Around

It's been so hot around here that I've completely abandoned pants for skirts. I'm obsessed with really breezy, feminine numbers as of late—chiffon and leather with pleats and tucks. I'm currently pining after this Robert Rodriguez crinkled chiffon skirt (does it ever get better than crinkled chiffon?) though my wallet isn't.

I spent my weekend curled up with my AC unit and occasionally wandering out at night to explore the Lower East Side. How are you beating heat? I would do terrible things to have access to a pool right now..

[photo cred to 1 and 2]

Leah Lou And The Two Left Shoes - This Music Belongs To You

Leah Lou And The Two Left Shoes - This Music Belongs To You
2011, Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes

Leah Lou, Daniel Lee and a kick drum made from a garbage can comprise Cleveland, Ohio's Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes.  Originally a trio, the band lost their drummer a week before a performance and had to improvise.  Their unusual stage presence combined with Leah Lou's distinctive voice and songwriting style will take you by surprise.  Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes' debut EP, The Music Belongs To You, is a memorable effort that will leave you clamoring for more.

Leah Lou opens with "Clean Apartment", a snappy bit of folk/pop featuring Leah Lou's distinctively world-wise little girl voice.  Everything clicks here in an offbeat reminiscence, of sorts, about a relationship past.  "Donnie" is a bouncy little tune detailing the decline, fall and collateral damage of a family man succumbing to drug addiction.  The melody and tone of the song is in such stark contrast to the lyrics it's almost comical; you won't be able to get this tune out of your head.  "Donnie" might be one of the most infectious tunes of the year thus far, and seems ripe for movie licensing.

The dysfunction continues to flow on "Drunk Stupid & Used", where Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes continue to juxtapose a display of personal demons alongside bouncy alterna-folk arrangements with supreme pop sensibility.  The gem of the EP just might be "Green Like Me", a brilliant recounting of insecurity and envy that's wonderfully upbeat and awash in neuroses.  This time the bounce is in the words and the vocal line, played against a plaintive, tick-tock style arrangement that marks the passage of time.  "Rain, They Say" is an apologist take on moodiness and its effects on those around us; an entertaining ditty with a memorable melody.  The EP closes quietly with the existential "Stop & Go", a treatise on traffic jams and the way they bring us together and pull us apart.  The mundane approach and gentle arrangement suggest a deeper parallel that's intriguing.

Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes make a fine impression on This Music Belongs To You, the sort that will have listeners scouring the internet for unreleased tracks and waiting impatiently for their next album or EP.  Leah Lou's distinctive sound makes her instantly recognizable, and Daniel Lee helps to fill out the arrangements in distinctive style.  This Music Belongs To You is one EP not to miss.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes on MySpace or Facebook.  This Music Belongs To You is available for download from Bandcamp

Gory Bateson - Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?

Gory Bateson - Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?
2011, Ethnog Records

Gory Bateson has lived a charmed life.  As primary songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist for 1960's rockers The Ethnogs; Bateson has a handful of top-ten singles to his name.  In spite of a host of well-documented personal struggles, Bateson's popularity has remained relatively unscathed over the years.  While legal troubles are rumored to have curtailed touring plans of The Ethnogs during the 1970's and 1980's, the band did manage to put on a handful of "hit and run" shows stateside, while maintaining their reputation as a world class touring act.  Bateson dropped out of sight for most of two decades, playing in Ethnog cover bands and even doing a brief stint a spokesman for Viagra.  But music never stopped calling, and Bateson needed the money.  The upshot of this mutual need is Bateson's first solo album in almost a decade, Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?  Bateson embraces technology this time around, using modern recording techniques and computer effects to complete his most compelling work since his 1960's heyday.

Bateson kicks things off with "She's Got The Booty For It", a hippy-hop/pop blend that marches up the borders of family propriety and sticks around for a good, long, uncomfortable look.  It's a well-written tune with a chorus that will stick in your head; you'll be cursing Bateson for days.  "Don't Be A Drag, Man" could be called a treatise in blues, and probably explains the outlook that has allowed Bateson to escape the ups and downs of his life without getting roughed up in the process.  "Delta Breezes" is a mellow-yet-catchy classic rock number with hints of Jimmy Buffet in its lineage.  The choice of clarinet for the big instrumental solo is a bit unusual, but works out particularly well.  The song definitely sounds like something you could dance to on a Saturday night. 

"My Baby's Thong" will leave listeners scratching their heads.  You'll find yourself hoping this one is a joke, but given Bateson's reputation you can never be sure.  Nevertheless, it's a disturbing song full of imagery those weak of constitution might want to avoid.  Bateson pulls himself into the 21st century with "Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?” a semi-comic response to a new dating pitfall for the digital age.  Bateson even uses a Vocoder to make the point; an artful touch to top off a catchy arrangement.  Bateson's stab at 1960's-style Latin pop, "Guanajuato", doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the album, but it is a pleasant little diversion along the way.

Bateson daydreams about driving fancy cars in "Valet In L.A.", a cute and catchy bit of fluff that leads into the low-brau rocker "Road Rage".  Bateson's chorus is catchy enough you'll carry it with you, and will recur the next time you're cut off in traffic or have to wait for the person in front of you at the stop light to finish their call before they realize it's turned green.  "West Hollywood Blues" finds Bateson crossing economic, social and sexual tracks in a well-intended but ham-handed attempt at humor (we think).  Once again, it's hard to know for sure, as Bateson tends to have no filters, and no apparent understanding of one might look like in the first place.  Bateson offers a quick goodbye in the form of "Happy Birthday Buddy", an abrupt birthday greeting for a friend whose demise has been greatly exaggerated. 

Gory Bateson isn't impossible, but he's highly improbable.  With a schizophonic sound that shifts as quickly as his moods, Bateson is literally all over the map on Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?  Gory Bateson is an artist with a good heart and a skewed perspective on life.  He's also quite generous; his constant emails, impromptu songs left on our answering machine, digital pictures of his belly button lint collection and bundles of homegrown oregano (we think) have certainly brightened the office here at Wildy's World.  The music will brighten your day as well.  Grant, some of the lyrics are downright disturbing or funny, depending upon your proclivities, but Gory is always entertaining.  The answer is Yes, Gory, I believe it is.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gory Bateson on Facebook or on Twitter.  Is Tha Viral Enuf 4 U? is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via and iTunes.

Have an adventurous weekend!

Oooh, I could buy everything in this French shop!

P.S. Alex is also going to teach me how to play guitar. I want to be like this banjo-playing mama. :)

what a STUNNING indian wedding. the details are mindblowing.
For some reason, I thought you might like this video--it's of my now husband proposing to me. We were dating for four years and had just moved to Oregon (our favorite place) after spending 3 years at film school in Chicago. We drove out to take pictures in my favorite giant field, and he spontaneously asked me at sunset. He didn't have a ring or anything--he just told me he felt like it was the right time and place, and didn't plan it at all. It's not the most glamorous proposal, but it was so perfect and heartfelt and I couldn't imagine a sweeter way he could have done it. We got married three months later in the city where we first met.

amazon for sure

need new glasses, thinking these...or these (shopbop clear)

under the sea.

link to shopbop OR do a whole post on shopbop:
sexy man's watch
cutest boyfriends jeans


pinhole press new stationery

The case for men's pajamas.

this tumblr made me laugh: reasons i'm not a vegetarian.

cute round-up:

What pretty earrings + engagement ring.

What a rad sweatshirt (yes, sweatshirt).

cutest sandals! (maybe a post)

What a gorgeous one-piece suit!

What a bath.

I wish this sailor dress came in adult sizes.

This made me laugh.

polka dot tights--found!

Great cake.

This vegetable cookbook looks gorgeous.

A cookbook devoted to milk and cookies.


This would make a beautiful summer wedding dress! (I love all of Shopbop's white dresses)

Vacation photos: Cornwall, England

My darlings, I'd love to share a few photos from our vacation in England, if you'd like to see...
Our grandmother lives in a teeny tiny fishing village called Polruan. Our first evening there, we had a drinks party on her terrace. She invited her friends of all ages, and we ate smoked salmon and potato chips.
Toby loves a good party...
We toasted my cousin and her husband, who were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. (Aren't they cute?)
And this is the view! Crikey! It was so much fun.
During this trip, Toby met his new "cousins" (they are my cousins' daughters) for the first time ever. It was ridiculously endearing to see them all play together. My British aunts referred to them as "the littles," which I loved.
One particularly sunny afternoon, we took a spectacular boat ride to Lantic Bay, a beach nearby. (That's when we took this family photo, too.)
My cousin's husband Nick brought along a bottle of Cornish scrumpy, which is a strong alcoholic cider that tastes just like apple juice.
Toby drank too much and passed out. (Kidding.)
The English ocean water was freeeeezing but my cousins are brave.
One day, we all hiked to visit my grandfather's grave, which is in a lovely countryside church overlooking fields of sheep. My grandmother always brings whiskey (his favorite) to sprinkle over his grave.
My awesome sister carried Toby all the way (uphill). Yay for aunts!
Have you ever had a Cornish pasty? It's dough filled with beef, potatoes, carrots, onions and lots of pepper, and you can eat them with one hand. (Originally, they were developed for miners and sailors.) Delish...
As with all great vacations, we ate way too much.
One day, we took a walk through the village before dinner. The slanted light was gorgeous, and we stopped to chat with sweet old ladies on the street.
At the end of each day, we'd just hang out, cook dinner, gossip, play games and drink gin & tonics. I remember how my grandfather used to sometimes call out, in his booming British voice, "Noise level too high!"
One evening, my brother made the mistake of dozing off in a chair, so naturally we decided to see how many items we could stack on him before he woke up. (I thought the bottle on his head was especially impressive:)
Our final morning, we got up early to leave. We were sad to go but the bright side was seeing the view from the terrace. The morning fog looked foggy and magical--right out of Peter Pan. Polruan, we miss you already! Thank you for having us, Milly! xoxo

P.S. English wedding hats, and ten tips for traveling with a baby...