Album Review: Libby Koch “The Shadow of This Town”

It’s only right that true Alt-Country music hails from the South. Carrying the torch is Libby Koch, a Houston, TX singer/songwriter that will draw you in with her country, bluegrass, and folk brand of music. Koch has just released the enchanting album The Shadow of This Town and the Texas staple is finally starting to branch out to the rest of the world.

Starting off the record is the captivating song “Lonesome Bound,” which sets the perfect tone with a harmonica. Already the listener will be drawn in. Koch’s voice isn’t soft as it has a rather raspy tone to it, even while she is hitting high notes. “Walk Away” has a driving beat behind it that you will not be able to resist tapping your foot to. One thing the listener will notice about Koch is her Southern accent. It comes out clear in her vocals and it is charming to say the least. It allows her to put a unique twist into her music that doesn’t tire.

“Texas Saturday” brings a dose of kitsch to the album, and it’s not a bad thing, though it tends not to fit into the album lyrically. The words are playful but come off as a bit childish. Telling the story of a Saturday night in Texas, the song takes the seriousness away from the music on the record in general. Picking it back up is the title track, “Shadow of This Town,” which shows Koch’s ability to write a great song. The slow picking of the guitar and brushes used on the drums set the mood for the track and it must sound even more effective in a live setting.

“Still in Love” is a touching piece that comes right from the heart. Lyrics such as “I got a thousand songs to sing you if you stay” come off as romantic and sincere. This is the standout track on this record as it showcases Koch beautifully both vocally and musically. And yes, there is a hint of banjo in there. “Too Damn Hard,” which is a low tempo song, continues to carry on the audacity of what Koch is trying to do. She doesn’t play by any rules but her own, and that is what makes a successful musician. Though the album rarely deviates from the path it was set on, it not only works, but it works well. “Settle Down” brings the energy back up and carries in with that classic harmonica that the listener will hear throughout the record. The down-down-up-up strokes of the guitar add life into a song that could come off as dull otherwise.

“Starting to See” begins with a slide guitar in a haunting tone. A new twist on the album begins when harmonies enter and the sorrowful song about heartbreak invokes the emotion in Koch’s voice. On the other side of the spectrum is “Here By My Side,” which is the complete opposite of having sadness. The track picks up not only vocally but musically with its fast paced tempo in which Libby doesn’t have a second to catch her breath. “Tonight,” continues on this route and will have the listener out of their chair and dancing in no time. Infused with a great deal of country, it will appeal to everyone no matter what type of music they enjoy. It shows another side that we haven’t seen of Koch before but seemingly it fits.

Closing out the album is “Feelin’ Good Again,” which seems like an homage to her entire piece of work. Ending with the same harmonica that carried the album in, Libby Koch managed to make a record that knows almost no boundaries with The Shadow of This Town. She plays by her own rules, and that is what will set her apart from the others and get her through to the top, where she rightfully belongs.

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The Everyday Visuals Astound with New Album

The Everyday Visuals are more than just a band that hails from Boston, but they can also be viewed as a ‘listening experience’. Recently recieving a copy of their newest self titled record, ‘The Everyday Visuals’,I was immediatly drawn to what they were selling. This album blew away any expectations I had going into it.

The record starts off with ‘Intro (Morning Star)’  which is a nice soft start to what is about to come. It hits you with a ‘bang’ but not in the way you would expect it to. It feels a bit like Fleet Foxes at first, but The Everyday Visuals certainly make this sound their own. Taking it up a notch is ‘Limb From Limb’ that will have listeners out of their seat dancing. ‘ Florence Foster Jensen’ contains the most beautiful harmonies that I’ve heard in quite a long time. They are literally flawless.  The members voices are meant to go together. Its obvious.

 ‘I Can’t Stop You’ is a nice ballad that seems like it would be the perfect Sunday morning song. ‘Heal Me’ which has quickly become my favorite song on the record really brings out the  beauty in singer’s Christoper Pappa’s voice, which adds to the overall depth of the record. ‘I’ll Take it All in Stride’ puts emphasis on everything The Everyday Visuals are about. Amazing vocals and harmonies, infectious guitar sounds and smooth keyboard playing which I wish there was more of in this world.

‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ is a song that will catch your attention immediately. I think the title really explains it all. Mixing indie with folk,this song is perfect. ‘Restless Heart’ reminds me of an old Ryan Adams song which is an extremely good thing to remind someone of.  The overall vibe of the song and  with Pappa’s voice coming in and out is beautiful and well crafted. The same goes for ‘Daydream Ghosts’ which is another song that can only be described as perfect. ‘Driving’ is a lovely soft song that brings out more silky vocals and acoustic guitar picking. ‘Peers’  will have your foot tapping for sure, ‘Its too much to bare’ sings Pappas as his voice fades into the distance. The album ends with ‘It’s All I Can Do’,  a sweet little acoustic song that makes for a brilliant ending to a more than astonishing record. In all honesty, if I put together my ‘Top 10 of 2009’ right now, The Everyday Visuals would be the number 1 spot.  This record is filled with brilliant melodies and catchy tunes that only get better with every listen.

Listen to The Everyday Visuals at their MYSPACE

Watch The Everyday Visuals Video for ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’

Bound Stems, ‘Happens to Us All Otherwise’

In the past 24 hours, I have become completely obsessed with the Chicago five piece called The Bound Stems. A band that I have discovered on an itunes Podcast of all things. Its really easy to become increasingly interested in this band, which I hate to say, broke up last year after their second release ‘The Family Afloat.’ Sad to say the least, but the band played Lollapalooza, Daytrotter, and South by Southwest amongst other things. Disbanded or not, this is a band worth listening to. It reminds me a bit of Conor Oberst if he started writing really happy songs all the time.

Download the Bound Stems ‘Happens to Us All Otherwise’

Check out Bound Stems on their MYSPACE