Chris Ayer: Don’t Go Back to Sleep

In the grand scheme of the music industry in 2009, you might ask the question, “Who needs another Teddy Geiger/Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson hybrid?” But singer/songwriter Chris Ayer, though he might fit that exact model of hybrid, is not just another one of them trying to rise above the pack. His latest, Don’t Go Back to Sleep, is Ayer’s sixth album since 2003. Sure, it’s jangly and sure, it sounds like amped-up coffeehouse fare much of the time, but here is something Ayer has that allow us to mention him in the same breath as those guys above without flinching—really good songs. And it’s those songs that will keep you listening to this album and keep you tapping your feet and bopping in your chair like a kid who ate too much candy. It’s also ironic that the Brooklyn-based Ayer recorded this album in Nashville, a city that claims to be about the song but churns out way too much crap—and many of these tunes are better than the bulk of Music City’s collective output. Much of Don’t Go Back to Sleep is similar in tone and tempo, but there really are no clunkers on here. The best of the bunch, though, are the uber-catchy “Lost & Found” and “Pretty Poison,” but don’t overlook the beautiful guitar/vocal gem, “In the Silence.” (LABEL: Another Record Company)

Chris Ayer MySpace Page

  

Donavon Frankenreiter: Pass It Around

If Joe Cocker had a little brother who was raised by England Dan and John Ford Coley, and he grew up to be a musician, he might sound something like Donavon Frankenreiter. Part of the Jack Johnson school of guitar-toting pro surfers, Frankenreiter has more of a fondness for things like melody and rhythm than some of his more famous peers (most notably Johnson himself); his last album, 2006’s Move by Yourself, was even something close to muscular in spots – in the context of the genre, anyway. In comparison, Pass It Around is more subdued; Frankenreiter is enough of a craftsman to flesh out his arrangements and make room for something more than his sandy vocals and acoustic guitar, and even if the vibe never wavers from “good ‘n’ mellow,” you at least get the feeling he’s trying to entertain someone other than himself. He doesn’t always succeed, mind you – Frankenreiter is still much more distinctive as a vocalist than a songwriter – but on the surf-rock continuum, Pass It Around is far closer to boss than bammerwee. (Lost Highway 2008)

Donavon Frankenreiter MySpace page

  

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