Mountain Jack

Hans Rotenberry /Brad Jones
Mountain Jack
November 16, 2010 iTunes, Amazon , etc…Worldwide


3.5 stars out of 5 (if you need a ranking system…)

by Clay Howard

Sometimes you set out to review a record armed with a bunch of preconceived comparisons- you know: “Brings to mind a melding of the sonic qualities of the White Album with the intricate textures of Quadrophenia…”  This was to be one of those reviews., but something happened as I started to type- I hit play again on Mountain Jack, the new CD from Hans Rotenberry and Brad Jones.

Hans Rotenberry is leader and Alpha Male of Tennessee rock heroes, the Shazam. Over the course of 4 cds and one EP, Hans and company have presented the world with  a tasty plate of songs heavy on the hook. Three of these four albums were produced by Brad Jones, a power player in the world of Nashville recording.  Mr. Jones is also a renowned singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist himself.

In what seems to be a gimme- these two titans of Tennessee have merged forces and recorded a tour-de-force of hook laden, americana -pop, for lack of a better term.

Everything that is good about the work of Hans in the Shazam is present here- great hooks and harmonies- they are just toned down a bit. Acoustic guitars and clean electrics allow the perfectly matched vocals of Rotenberry and Jones to shine. The song writing sensibilities of both men are in top shape-need a sample before buying?  try the ultra-groovy, “Next to You, ” or drinking sing-along of “Puttin’ on Airs tonight.” Adding to the mix is drummer extraordinaire, Keith Brogdon, whose playing is a perfect complement to the songs here- nothing flashy- just steady and right.

I could compare these tunes to a great number of other artists, however , to do so would take away from what is really here- ten real songs played effortlessly and presented to us, the lucky recipients with one guarantee: the need to hit rewind to hear it all again.


Grace Potter & the Nocturnals- cd review

 I have been a fan of music for over forty years, a consumer of music for 30, and an active performer for over twenty and I have reached an age where there is not much room for something new.  My music purchases have slowed, and I catch myself returning to the records I bought twenty years ago over and over.

They are few and far between… those disks that just grab you, the ones that make you hit play again and again immediately upon the fading of the last note. “Grace Potter & the Nocturnals,” the third and self titled disk by the band from Vermont, fits into this category and strikes the notion that rock is dying from my vocabulary. It will also fall into my long term listening pile.

A veteran of the music scene at the ripe young age of 27, Grace Potter has dropped the gauntlet, or just downright stepped on and over, the over-produced tripe that fills today’s airwaves, with this collection of immediately satisfying well- written organic rock. By organic, I mean music played by the musicians on the record cover, not studio musicians or, I shudder to speak it aloud- samples.

Stand- out tracks are tough to single out, as this record hits me as a cohesive collection, meant to be played in it’s entirety… If pushed, highlights could be, “Medicine,” with it’s immediate sense of urgency and twisting guitars or first single, “Tiny Light,” which begins as a soulful plea and evolves into a tour de force for all players.

Before this review glows too far, I do have one complaint- the inclusion of a re-recorded version of the opening track- “Paris(Ooh La la)” which was released previously as a bonus track to the band’s last cd.

With the addition of bassist, Catherine Popper, a North Carolina native, and second guitarist, Benny Yurco, “Grace Potter & the Nocturnals” delivers on all the promise shown on earlier releases. Buy it, but be ready to hit play- again and again.