Americana-Na

Americana-Na
© 2015

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

americana-naWelcome to the debut release by Wichita, KS based folk/rock/garage/americana/tejano/cowpunk act, Americana-Na. The self-titled debut brings about an intriguing blend of musical genres. The songs are uptempo and of short duration in the vein of punk rock, but with less vitriol and intensity that is often associated with the aforementioned genre. The prior has been replaced with tongue-in-cheek (I assume) storytelling about American flag t-shirts ala the opener, “American” and what seems to be the Spanglish, or maybe it’s Gringlish stylings of “Eclipse”. Musically, the songs are simple chord driven 4/4 numbers with a “kick/snare, kick/snare, kick/snare, fill” cowboy/country rhythm.

The overall vibe comes across as slightly less than serious. This isn’t a bad thing mind you, so much as something to note. Vocally, the tunes sound a bit tortured, as though someone was trying to wring a note out of a old worn boot. I think that, in significant part, helps with the less-than-serious overtone. The songs are raw and rough around the edges. I think the mutli-colored duct tape cover provides a nice visual compliment to the tracks being haphazardly held together, perhaps by the very mystical properties of duct tape itself.

I’d be hard pressed to list all of the influences that are melded into the sound, but there’s a little band that I’m reminded of continually as I listen to this: Awesome and the Ass-kickers. … If you haven’t heard them, look them up.

At the end of it, the debut release by Americana-Na is 8 short, fun tracks and one track that is about double the length of the others. … that’s like getting ten tracks I’d say. Good deal!

If you’re in the Midwest and/or upper-ish Midwest, word on the street is the the boys are doing a mini-tour coming up soon. Have some fun. Check them out.

Cheers,
Jerry Actually

Softie

© 2012 SoftieRockMusic
Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I’m rocking out to the new release by Wichita’s own Softie. The self-titled release jam packs 15 tracks of guitar/drum duo garage-core onto a single compact disc. The tracks are diverse in their individual manner of rocking, but all are heavy on the rock and roll and to that end, the sum becomes greater than the combined parts. And folks, you just don’t always get that kind of synergy in a duo.

At any rate, Softie has been an on again, off again band in the Wichita scene for around a decade now and while I don’t have a lot of knowledge of their earlier work, I’m digging into what they are dishing up nowadays. I also am fully aware that some of the newly recorded tracks are, in fact, old tracks.

If I had to categorize, which I often do, I’d go ahead and call the band and raw blend of metal rock with a bit of punk edge, some cattle-core and a smattering of comedy. Honestly, I could do without the latter. It feels like the comedy is thrown in as a compensation measure and frankly it is unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, some of the songs have a comedic base and that is fine, it is the little end thought false settle that seem out of place.

Jaded perspective aside, the songs do still rock. I had the CD in my car for a few trips to work and back and I didn’t opt for another disc, nor did I switch it over to NPR, so that’s a good indicator of my true feeling. Though I may have a slight bias as I know half the band, I’d still listen to this and stop in for a live show or two if I didn’t. My arbitrary points scale may not reflect it though. I’m not a math guy though. You run the numbers.

Bottom line is a fun disc with a rocking core. Go support your local bands and buy a copy, see a show, get some merch. Hell, do it all. http://www.reverbnation.com/softie

–Jerry Actually