New and upcoming local music releases
By Christie MathernePosted Apr 25, 2012
Deep & Shallow
Hazy Ray, April 14, 2012
Hazy Ray is not easy to categorize, but not because they don’t know who they are. Hazy Ray knows exactly who they are, and that’s precisely what makes them hard to describe.
While listening to Deep & Shallow, I was afflicted with a serious case of the “that’s-gonna-bother-me-all-day” virus – where you get annoyed with yourself because you cannot recall some bit of common information that you know you know. In the case of Hazy Ray, I couldn’t pull up specific bands that they reminded me of, though I was absolutely sure the names were somewhere.
I have to admit, I’ve never been affected by a band in that way, and it drove me nuts during the show – to the point where I was deconstructing rhythm and chord progressions in an attempt to narrow it down.
I am sorry, but here are the words I came up with.
Hazy Ray is…
-Sublime playing a Self-Titled-era beach show, sober, on the fictional day Jack Johnson got raging drunk angry and broke someone’s face in a bar fight.
-A tastefully less-dramatic, mid-career Michael Jackson collaborating with 311’s chord progressions (not the band itself).
-Streetlight Manifesto, chopped and screwed, with the vocals of…Nick Hexum’s one night stand with…Jack Johnson? I don’t know, this is hard.
For one, the stand-up bass is played by a guy with a degree in musical composition, which partly explains the band’s chameleon transition from easy-going rock to impeccable jazz. The ball is passed to the trombone with precision, and it folds in with zero margin of error. For all the genres they invoke but don’t fit into, Hazy Ray’s vocal department should not compliment any of them…but it does.
I can’t explain it, nor can I explain why I like something that reminds me of Jack Johnson.
One solo is classic rock, the next riff comes from a trombone, Jack Johnson makes a three-second cameo…and the next track’s feature is a moody bass line with occasional guitar licks.
Deconstructing Hazy Ray could end up a full-time job, but fortunately, they’re extremely good at what they do. Resist the urge to figure out where you “know that style” from, and enjoy the intricacy of what’s happening on Deep & Shallow.
Liam Catchings, April 14, 2012
Secular Music is a collection of one billion clever lines floating down a river of silly and incredible instrumentation. Oh, what a great time this album is. I’m pretty sure my cat could get eaten by bears and this album would cheer me up.
Not kidding about the “silly and incredible” part, either – you can hear the talent dripping from every inch of that glockenspiel.
And it’s secular, all right. Some of the elements he’s dancing with here suggest parts of music that enraged major religious groups throughout the twentieth century – early rock-n-roll, White Album-era Beatles experimentation, and blues – and his lyrics don’t exactly leave room for speculation on his religious views.
These secular lyrics deserve their own paragraph. Liam delivers gem after gem of faithless heathenry, and miraculously dodges the lameness of taking himself too seriously…and for the amount of ungodly sarcasm packed into 13 tracks, somehow he managed not to be redundant at all.
Some of them are loud and bold – “We all want to be Bob Dylan/See our name on a TV screen/We all want to be John the Baptist/In the back of a limousine/Count the cash with me now.”
Yet, others might fly right over some heads with their subtlety: “Think I heard church bells ringin’ behind me/So I hit the ground to pray/The cold blows on and rivers flow away.”
All in all, this album is worth whatever he’s charging for it. Probably more.
Look Liam up on Facebook by searching for his band, Liam Catchings and the Jolly Racket.
To submit your band’s new single, EP, or full-length release for review, send high-resolution album art with links and/or audio files to Entertainment@DigBatonRouge.com, with release date, band name, album title, and dates of upcoming shows. If your band’s music cannot be contained with computer speakers, mail a hard copy to:
5261 Highland Rd. Ste. 167
Baton Rouge, La., 70808