Grousing The Aisles: Under The Radar

Railroad Earth 07/13/2007 DAUD (FLAC):

Photo by Mike Davis

It’s been a few months since we’ve talked about Railroad Earth, but they continue to play their unique engaging brand of music at gigs across the country. This past Friday night Railroad Earth played at the historic Sellersville Theater 1894 in Sellersville, PA. The audience recording of this show is one of the best RRE audience recordings I’ve ever heard, which is terrific because the last three I’ve downloaded sound like shit.

The band starts strong with a Drag Him Down/Brown County Breakdown opener that shows off the talents of fiddle player Tim Carbone and mandolin player John Skehan. Throughout the night the energy level stays high with terrific versions of Loving You, Fiddlee and Like A Buddha. Singer/songwriter Todd Sheaffer is in great voice throughout the night, and even strapped on a banjo for a sizzling version of Daddy-O. Railroad Earth has plenty of tour dates scheduled for the next few months, so do yourself a favor and check them out.

Toad The Wet Sprocket 8/14/2006 DAUD (FLAC, MP3, STREAM):

Toad The Wet Sprocket is one of my favorite bands of all-time, and I’ve ignored them in this column because I’ve always had a hard time describing their music. As I was putting together this week’s Under the Radar edition of GTA, I saw that one of their reunion shows from last summer had been uploaded to the Live Music Archive. After listening to the show, I just knew it was time to give Santa Barbara’s finest some love.

I guess the best way to describe Toad’s music briefly is folk-pop with a splash of alternative rock. Singer/Songwriter Glen Phillips crafts melodic pop tunes that gain so much energy and verve from guitarist Todd Nichols’ soaring leads. Check out Brother and Fall Down for examples of how Toad makes Phillips’ simple folk tunes into triumphant rock anthems.

Toad achieved quite a bit of success before breaking up in 1998. They played all their big hits on the reunion tour, including All I Want, Somethings Always Wrong and Walk On The Ocean. All of those songs got a great reaction from the crowd, prompting the band to stretch them out a little bit. I was really hoping the reunion tour will lead to them recording some new material, but so far that has yet to happen. Toad The Wet Sprocket is scheduled to appear on January’s Rock Boat cruise, which is certainly a positive sign for the band’s future.

Lima Charlie 06/28/2007 DSBD (FLAC, MP3, STREAM):

Lima Charlie is a multi-dimensional band from Connecticut that is really making a name for themselves with their dynamic live shows. Recently the band played a gig in the hipster capital of Williamsburg, and a soundboard recording of the show has been uploaded to the Live Music Archive.

Lima Charlie’s music is all over the place, in a good way. The first tune, cleverly titled Menopause Graduate, is a funky rave-up featuring some fine clavinet playing by Jim O’Mahony. After hearing the first tune, you might think Lima Charlie is just another jamband. Bazooka, the second tune, shows where these guys differ from the norm. Pete Van Leeuwen’s vocals in the song are more Johnny Rotten than Bill Nershi.

Lima Charlie can play songs with ‘tude better than many other bands in the scene. Other standout tunes from this set include Sorry Sarah and Creepy. Sorry Sarah is an incredible tune that features a nice mix of beautiful melodies and bold lyrics. If you are looking for a band with a new sound, be sure to download some Lima Charlie.

What have you been listening to this week? Fill us in by leaving a comment…

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