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Six Quick-Hit Reviews of Local Albums

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Published May 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


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Every week, Seven Days gets scores of submissions from Vermont musicians. Music editor Chris Farnsworth listens and gives you the skinny on a wide-ranging selection of eclectic Vermont-made music. Read on for six new albums to check out.

Danny & the Parts, Making Believe

(Self-released, digital)

Danny LeFrancois is a ubiquitous presence in the local music scene. If one is out and about for a night of music on the town, chances are there's a Danny & the Parts gig somewhere. With 2021's Drifting, the band (a rotating cast of local musicians behind LeFrancois) established itself as a top Americana act in Vermont. Making Believe deviates from that sound. The three-song EP finds LeFrancois leaning hard into indie rock and bringing out the electric guitar for some searing solos. It's a good fit for the band, a welcome expansion of its sound. Even on songs such as the title track — which has the bones of an Americana song — LeFrancois sprinkles in programmed beats and Pavement-like vocals to rough up the song gloriously.

Key Track: "Ben" Why: The band goes full shoegaze, with slow, expansive drumming and a killer guitar solo. Where: Spotify

Robin Gottfried, Dreams and Extremes

(Self-released, digital)

Robin Gottfried's 2020 LP, Our Trip Up in Time, was a record of mixed fortunes but loads of promise. Dreams and Extremes doubles down on Gottfried's previous work, showcasing his crystal-clear vocal melodies, jam-rock-flavored guitar and strong, idiosyncratic songwriting. There's a late '70s filter on the album, with one foot in yacht rock and another in blues on songs such as "Take Me to That Place," which could almost be a theme song for a lost sitcom. It's a big album: The Burlington-based Gottfried wrote all 14 songs, which feature some of his best material to date. One gets the impression that Gottfried knew exactly what kind of record he wanted to make — and then made it.

Key Track: "Unseen Marauder" Why: Multi-instrumentalist Gottfried builds a groove on piano and funky guitar runs to create a song that combines yacht rock and a Phish influence. Didn't see that one coming. Where: zoerobin.com

Glenn Weyant, Mud on the Tracks

(Self released, digital)

The ever-prolific Glenn Weyant is back with another record of soundscapes, ambient noise and general weirdness. The East Montpelier musician and sonic mad scientist has released records full of lawn mower symphonies and studies of the sound of air. With Mud on the Tracks, Weyant has made a tribute to every Vermonter's favorite time of year: mud season. On the first track, aptly titled "Mud," you can hear wind blow through the trees and the sound of Weyant's boots trudging through the muck as he announces, "Mud season came early this year." He goes on to narrate his walk through the mud, noting the distant sounds of helicopters and dogs barking. It's essentially a field recording of a hike, but as with much of Weyant's other work, he seems to pull some kind of cosmic meaning out of the most mundane details.

Key Track: "Guitar" Why: There's a fucking instrument on this record? I'm in. Where: sonicanta.bandcamp.com

Michael Gormly, It's Not About You

(Self-released, digital)

Michael Gormly's new record is something of a departure from his earlier sound. On 2019's Tekno, the Burlington musician made a record full of glitchy beats and ambient sounds. It's Not About You is an altogether different proposition. Gormly previously worked with loops and samples, but the new record is full of indie rock and pop sensibilities. On opener "Hello Pt.1," Gormly creates a new wave-influenced sonic palette with suitably pop lyrics, such as "Hello / I think I love you / Hello / Why don't we get in from the rain?" There are also deviations toward harder rock, such as the title track, which shades into '90s melodic rock. Gormly's voice even bears a slight resemblance to Dinosaur Jr. front man J Mascis. It's Not About You is a wildly eclectic record, walking the line between electro-pop and heavier, darker margins.

Key Track: "Can't Believe It This Time" Why: A perfect encapsulation of the album, the track features a monster guitar riff over a programmed beat, and Gormly leaves behind the softer singing for some full-throated screaming. Where: michaelgormly.bandcamp.com

Tyler Mast, In the Company of a Friend

(Self-released, CD, digital)

Tyler Mast has been a mainstay on the local scene for over 15 years. The singer-songwriter and ace Hammond organ player has fronted bands such as Bearquarium and Tyler Mast & Paradise Divide, expertly mixing soul and jazz. With In the Company of a Friend, Mast pushes into folk-rock territory but never really loses his earlier sound. There's a strong jam-rock flavor to the record — hardly surprising, considering Mast has shared stages with the likes of the Trey Anastasio Band, moe. and the Derek Trucks Band. Mast is a skilled composer who exerts complete control over the styles he wields, never letting one overtake another. Soul-folk? Jam-jazz-rock? I don't know, but I know he pulls it off effortlessly.

Key Track: "In the Lupines" Why: Mast launches into a jaunty rocker that gives him an excellent platform for engaging in organ wizardry. Where: tylermastmusic.com

Silence_castor, 98se

(Self-released, CD, digital)

I love a dystopian concept record. With 98se, Silence_castor, aka South Burlington graphic designer Nate Hicks, has delivered a truly bonkers story about societal collapse in an alternate timeline wherein technology progressed slightly quicker in the 1990s. In the narrative, a new operating system called 98se is introduced, allowing the full digitalization of the human brain and giving users the chance to relive their own pasts in real time. Anyone who has ever read sci-fi knows that no good can come from such a thing. And, sure enough, it all goes to shit. The tale is largely told through Hicks' ambient music, with soft synths and sound effects interspersed with dialogue. It's an unnerving yet oddly sonically pleasing record, like a neon-lit sort of gloom-and-doom manual. Spoiler alert: On final track "Y2k: You're Too Kind (feat. Ashen Maw)," the last of the dirty bombs go off and, well, that's all she wrote for humanity.

Key Track: "Digital Nomad (feat. Terminal Floor)" Why: Hicks builds a synth arpeggio over a beat that sounds like it's crumbling in real time. Where: Spotify