Friday Morning Music (Non-Shuffle) – No Barcodes Mix

Today, we are trying something new.  It’s partially out of necessity, but I’m pretty psyched about it.  At Ear 2 the Ground, we usually focus on the Morning Shuffle which allows us to bring you a good cross-section of our eclectic musical tastes.  We will continue to do that.  Recently, however, I have been reminded of an e-mail conversation I had with a few friends who are more knowledgeable about music than I am (but they don’t write music blogs – so there).  But anyway, this was a few years ago, just before all of us were on Facebook, so we mainly had these discussions over e-mail (we are spread across the country). We were talking about the rise of the MP3 Player/iPod or whatever.  On the plus side, it sure makes it convenient to have at least a large chunk of my music collection at my fingertips, but I wondered if somehow, the concept of a record album might be lost.  In the end, I concluded that art is enduring and adapts to whatever changes in medium come along.  But, I still believe in the power of the album as a cohesive form of expression.  So, we do the shuffle, but I always like to point you, dear reader, to the source album, in the hopes (unspoken usually) that if you hear something you like you will check out the album as a whole. 
It is on rare occasions when we do a full-fledged record review, and of late, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I have been unable to doing many posts outside of our daily shuffle. So, when I was recently asked to write about a new record, I was excited, but the current state of my life and technology and time made it difficult to do what I so wanted to… That’s when I came up with this idea.  With my extended listening time in the morning, I usually end up with between 7-10 songs in the morning shuffle.  Coincidentally, that is the approximate length of many albums.  So, I pulled up the record I wanted to review, turned off the shuffle function (so I could hear the record in the order intended) and voila. We have the first ever Morning (Non-Shuffle) Album review, and it’s a great one… keep reading after the jump:

So today, we begin a new chapter in the Ear to the Ground saga by presenting the final chapter of another story.  Accomplices III: No Barcodes by Brooklyn’s The Gypsy West.  This is the final part of the rock trilogy about a modern revolution.
 from the band’s Bandcamp page:

“Accomplices is a modern musical trilogy.

It is told in 3 EPs that can be listened to separately or together in sequence.

This is the first part of the story.

The story focuses on personal liberation through public rebellion. It begins as an abstract narrative, weaving through different perspectives and characters. The prism of the Accomplices story is Phoenix. Articulate yet speechless, inspired yet immobile, Phoenix represents the common person and their potential.

The story follows Phoenix to and through a revolution, its many shapes and forms, and the many friends and foes along the way.”

This will be a review of the final EP of the trilogy which is being released today.  

Overall,  Accomplices III is a powerful musical statement.  At times epic and majestic , at other times vulnerable and tender. I make no bones about the fact that I am a non-musician – so my reviews are more about emotional responses, but I will say that from an untrained ear, this record sounds incredible. 

An interesting side note is between the release of the first Accomplices EP and this final EP, something called the Occupy movement occurred. The themes of the trilogy predate and anticipate the themes present in the Occupy movement.

Track 1: Changing  – As the record opens, there is a sense of urgency.  The lyrics “No longer waiting I’m no longer waiting for the changing of the guards or the unknown” are backed by a prog-rock influenced sound and soaring and glorious vocals.  “we’re coming for you now we will not be soothed we will not be owned we will not be sold”

Track 2: On the Watch (parts I-IV) is an instrumental track. Insistant and persistent. This track progresses rapidly through the four parts. Utilizing machine gun like drumming, real honest to goodness horns and some amazing sounding guitar and bass work, this track progresses the story forward without words.

Track 3: On the Watch (parts V-XII) continues this piece of the record adding words to the mix: all instinct I feel like gasoline I can stop and start the machine it runs on me” wherein the power of the people is claimed. I was struck by the many musical moods of this track. Even as a non-musician, I can hear and sense the eight different parts to this track.  
“you can’t buy your way out.”

Track 4: Accomplices  is another instrumental piece which begins with an extended bit of distortion, adds some ominous string to create a gorgeously noisy wall of sound. The track shifts gears at 1:40 with haunting more muted sounding guitar work. In this part of the track, the string add a touch of delicate beauty. The horns return in an elegiac fanfare that builds into into a majestic and epic crescendo??? (again not a musician) before slipping back into more distortion and chaos. 

Track 5: There are Rules .   “I’m the only thing stopping the Wolves from chewing on your bones” and “the man is talking do not disrupt for there are rules rules for swine” Musically progressive and lyrically challenging, this penultimate track of the record and the trilogy seems to me to represent the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end of a brutal and capitalistic power structure. 

Track 6: The Witching Hour is a contemplative and achingly beautiful song that brings the storyline and the record to an end.   

“in the dark so opaque the witching hour has passed it’s past me now it has let me go but tonight, tonight like always the hour never fades this aching quiet it sees me it never leaves”

There seems to be a sense of looking back, not without regret. 

The Gypsy West a great band. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s up next for them.  If you’ve been following this band and have already picked up the first parts of the Accomplices trilogy, I think you will be pleased with how the story concludes. If you are just now finding about The Gypsy West, do yourself a huge favor and get on board.  You can go back and begin with Accomplices and Accomplices II: You Might Get Caught before leaping into this final part of the whole, or you can listen to and appreciate Accomplices III: No Barcodes as an excellent stand-alone record, and then go back and see what you’ve missed.

Here is the widget to download the new record:

 Get the first two parts of the trilogy here:

If you happen to be kicking around Brooklyn (or if you are anywhere in the general area), stop by The Trash Bar tonight (1/25/2013) – Here is a link to the event. The first ten people are going to get a free CD. 

Get your warpaint on, and prepare to be loud as the band will be recording the show.

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South of Ramona – Step Inside EP (An Ear to the Ground Review)


Add the date above to your calendar of choice and set an alarm.  I’ll tell you why…

Step Inside is an invitation fraught with danger and mystery and wonder and unimaginable pleasure.  It also happens to the title of the forthcoming EP from Salt Lake City band South of Ramona, and the title fits this remarkable record.

South of Ramona was our Band of the Month for May.  They were also our last ever Band of the Week before we moved to the current Featured Artist format.  They did all this on the basis of a 5 song Demo they they released through the fine folks at Noisetrade. 

You have to understand that I loved the Demo.  I mean, I named them Band of the Week off of that set. Having said that, Step Inside is a gigantic step forward.  The band expands on their signature use of folk instrumentation playing rock leads with a confidence and a delicious taste of a sinister circus on the edge of the dusty plain they crossed on their Demo. 

More than once, I was reminded of Ear to the Ground favorite Don Ryan. 

Step Inside opens with a carny’s enticing come-on.  Ladies and Gentleman is a :25 second pitch which sets the tone for this tight, cohesive set. 

Carnival Court (Step Inside) is a dark, sideshow tent filled with those enticing hints while delivering with the band’s trademark attention to song and melody.  

Night descends on Purple Sky which starts with a chill-inducing intro before kicking into a creepy groove.  

The Lonesome Soul has a gypsy-like lilt, a persistent melody and a haunting vocal.

I, Narcissus starts with a nifty rock riff and breaks into a foot-stomping rave up with dark undertones.  Love this song!

The EP closes with Shangri-la which opens with plaintive whistling followed by a surf-guitar ready riff and more gypsyesque melodies which will have you dancing ’round the dying embers of the campfire as the last sparks float up into the air above the tents and wagons.

So yeah, back to the date at the beginning of this post.  Step Inside drops on August 1 which is just a few days off… so start saving your pennies and be the first on your block to own this record.  And spread the word.  Right now you can get a taste by downloading The Lonesome Soul using the widget below.  And then, when that alarm you set goes off next Wednesday you can go get the whole album.

The band will celebrate the release of the EP with an international tour (note the Vancouver date) – if you are in one of these cities go see them do there thing live.

8.3  Las Vegas @ Yayo Taco
8.4  Santa Monica @ TRiP
8.6  Fresno @ Babylon Club
8.7  San Francisco @ Grant & Green Saloon
8.8  Portland @ Mississippi Pizza Pub
8.9  Seattle @ El Corazon
8.10 Seattle @ The Triple Door
8.11 Seattle @ 2bit Saloon
8.12 Seattle @ Blue Moon Tavern
8.13 Vancouver @ The Cobalt
8.14 Spokane @ The Baby Bar
8.16 Boise @ The Crux
8.17 Salt Lake City @ The Woodshed

I will leave you now with South of Ramona’s take on the Jefferson Airplane classic Somebody to Love.  Enjoy!