Ear Bliss heads to Mississippi this week with a mix of big barn pop and gospel. Based out of Water Valley, Water Liars piqued ears a year ago with its heavy duty debut. The mere twosome created lots of ear-friendly noise. Just under a year later, they are back with round two which shows growth in all facets. On the gospel front, we present the debut release from a cappella trio The Como Mamas. Let’s get to it.
Big Legal Mess Records
A duo configuration of just guitar and drums, Mississippi-based Water Liars made a high holy racket of beautiful cacophony on its 2012 debut “Phantom Limb” (Misra Records). Not even a year later, the band is back with its sophomore outing called “Wyoming” and with a new suitor in Big Legal Mess Records. Water Liars is singer/guitarist Justin Kinkel-Schuster and drummer/vocalist Andrew Bryant. Call them a Black Keys Jr., but with a more potent vocal attack than the Keys. For “Wyoming,” Water Liars tame the free-form clang and clutter of “Phantom Limb” for an album more in a pop direction with emphasis on the singing and the songs, vignettes that showcase Kinkel-Schuster’s clear plaintive yelp that packs as much heartache as it does soul. Bryant’s equally tuneful harmonizing helps take the songs to another level. Heavenly harmonies and riffy guitar distortion, not to mention a well-placed mash of feedback lay the groundwork for the ultra-catchy opening track “Sucker.” It’s a regular Joe kind of heart song that tugs at the emotions in a back-to-basics kind of way. The band goes bare bones on the segueing track “Fake Heat”, a twisted love tale with another potent harmony punch to the ears, before the all out beauty of “Linens” which is about as pretty a love song as these ears have heard this year. With “Wyoming,” Water Liars strike a chord with an alluring sound all unto themselves taking us from the bluesy sway of “Backbone” to the bliss of the aforementioned “Linens” to the drenched in feedback closer “Fire” which sends the album out in a roar. Highly recommended. Visit the label’s website at www.biglegalmessrecords.com .
“Get an Understanding”
The seeds were sown for the new release “Get an Understanding” by the Como Mamas back in 2005 when a young filmmaker named Michael Reilly and two of his partners headed to the South intending to make a documentary about local musicians. The threesome would find their way to Como, Mississippi and the home of Angela Taylor, one third of the local female a cappella gospel trio The Como Mamas. Reilly left Como with a single recording of the trio, but was intent on returning with proper equipment to record the ladies. Enter the label Daptone Records which is home to the likes of soul artists such as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley. A year later, Daptone placed a small ad in a local Como area newspaper inviting local singers to come down to the Mount Mariah Church to record their songs and tasked Reilly to helm the session. Located in Panola County, Como is a small rural town where the church and gospel music are a large part of life. The end result of that “Como Idol” type gathering was the album “Como Now” released in 2008, a rich and inspiring set of both original and traditional gospel songs done in a cappella style by local Panola County residents. Taylor, along with her two partners Ester Rae Smith and Della Daniels, who dub themselves the Como Mamas, were part of the original proceedings and their contributions to the collection was arguably the high point of it all. Now five years later, they are back with their very own proper release appropriately titled “Get an Understanding.” Again set in a cappella setting with nary an instrument to be heard, this trio of local Como church ladies deliver a stirring and at times jaw-dropping collection of gospel tunes. Each has her role in this three-pronged vocal feast, Smith with her hearty rasp, Taylor with her deep and oh-so-soothing voice, and Daniels with her high energy style. The power in the presentation is undeniable and almost rock & roll like in its intensity on certain selections. Amen. Visit the label’s website at www.daptonerecords.com .
Warm Soda are out on the road in support of their debut LP entitled “Someone For You” and they’re playing at Firehouse 13 (41 Central St., Providence) on Friday. On it you’ll find a tempting mix of sugary power pop, glam, and punk, and all delivered with a decidedly confident stride. They are part of a terrific quadruple bill that features the primitive sounds of the Chicago-based brother/sister rock ‘n’ roll duo White Mystery (who blew this writer away at SXSW) in the headlining role along with two excellent local squads in Galvanize and Olneyville Sound System leading the night off. Music gets going at 9 p.m.
One-man band Zach Deputy is described as a powerhouse of performance and technical chops. He blew them away last time he appeared at The Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck). He makes a return visit to the seaside venue on Friday night and no doubt the results will be the same. Music begins at 9 p.m.
Sundays mean acoustic music, oft-times of the bluegrass variety, at The Wood River Inn (1193 Main St., Richmond) and the fun gets going about 6 p.m.
(Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.)