Music Review: Wes Kirkpatrick – Naps & Nightmares

Hi again!

Discovering new artists is part of what makes my life interesting. And discovering new folk/rock artists like Wes Kirkpatrick with a Colorado connection just adds icing to the cake. I find it amusing however that it was an album he’s released after leaving Colorado that caught my attention.

Though he performed with his brother Ryan and their band The Kirkpatrick Project for several years in Colorado, Wes just released his solo debut – Naps and Nightmares – and evidently it’s true that change can be a good thing sometimes. The album explores the emotional ups and downs of leaving everything behind and starting fresh, but even with a few slower tracks it’s not all doom and gloom.

You can tell he’s been performing for a while and is comfortable with his own styles of voice and guitar. The music effortlessly drifts between blues, folk, and rock while giving it his own spin. It doesn’t hurt that backing him up is a great set of performers – Dustin Christensen (keyboards/melodic kalimba/celeste/backing vocals), Eric Ellsworth (electric guitar), Chris Hepola (drums/percussion/melodica/piano), Josh Granowski (stand-up & electric bass), Ross Nueske (electric bass), Cory Mon (backing vocals/wooden frog), Stephanie Mabey (backing vocals), Chris Becknell (violin), and Mark Smith (cello).

The album starts strong with “Vertigo,” blending some amazing bass lines behind a driving guitar melody. Nothing like the U2 song of the same name, this one talks about the feelings left after loss and the after-effects. Talking about the past and not wanting to let things go… “It’s been 9 years since I called again / now I’m still trying just to stomach it / it’s a long long ride / no end in sight…” The song builds and builds and then fades away like there’s a fight brewing and then they just walk away.

“Away From You” offers a very different feel. Less about loss and more about a romantic notion of love. This one seems like narrating a movie scene about two people on opposite schedules trying to make things work. Each time they’re together they’re learning how to love each other again ending in the same place… “I don’t want to wake up again / away from you…” Hopefully it’s less “two ships passing in the night” and more “coming together” however!

Later in the album you hear “Better Than Today,” about a relationship at the end. It’s time to move on. “I don’t care if you like what I say… / ’cause when I leave, you’re still here / the same old place year after year / I want to see the smiles of different faces / I want to see the stars from different places / and it will do no good to stay / it’ll never be better than today…” That need for change when one person doesn’t want to is tough. And living in the past gets old fast. It’s an emotional goodbye, but goodbye nonetheless.

And “Karma” ends the album with a blues song talking about a cheating woman. It’s a simple blues beat, but damn if it doesn’t work well. I absolutely love the groove, right down to slapping the keys like a wagging finger in the background behind the guitar and drums… “The crying starts and the pleading begins / how could you have done this again? / sure you were just friends…”

If you’re looking for some new music and like your folk blended with rock and blues, I’d strongly encourage you to check out Naps and Nightmares from Wes Kirkpatrick. I’m sorry he’s left Colorado, but our loss is Chicago‘s gain and I’m sure he’ll be back this way again. Check it out at Amazon and iTunes as MP3s. For more details about Wes, the album, and his tour, be sure to check out his website WesKirkpatrick.com!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Trailer Time: Source Code

Hey all…

I’ve been avoiding watching any trailers for Source Code starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who wakes up in the body of a guy on a train about to explode in Chicago. Now, the fact that it’s directed by Duncan Jones, the same director of the cool and twisted movie Moon, had me excited for a while. But now that I’ve seen the trailer, it looks like more of a Groundhog Day spinoff.

The film also stars Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga, but I’m left scratching my head a bit. Unfortunately, I’ll probably skip this one and wait until I see a few more reviews. It hits theaters on April 1, 2011.

Question: What do you think of the trailer? Is this Groundhog Day all over again?

–Fitz

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Music News: The Valley by Ashton Nyte

Hi there!

New to U.S. shores, South African singer/songwriter Ashton Nyte’s baritone voice seems poised to be ready to make an impression. Often compared to David Bowie or Johnny Cash, voices this deep are not heard often in our current Top 40 landscape.

The Valley is Nyte’s fifth solo album and has been quite active in South African music circles for more than a decade – first as the front man, writer, and producer for the band The Awakening and later as a solo act. Mixing genres from across the board, his musical skills combine acoustic sensibilities, a gift for ballads, and a talent for the dramatic.

He’s definitely a prolific artist, with a catalog of more than 180 original songs, dozens of top ten national singles, and videos played on MTV Europe. Ashton headlined several festivals of 30,000+ fans, so hopefully now that he’s in the USA he won’t forget them as he gains a few in our country!

Here’s a video for a single off The Valley for a taste of his style and sound. I definitely hear the David Bowie influences in this one.

For more information and to hear more of his music, check out his website at AshtonNyte.com.

Here are a few of his upcoming tour dates if you want to catch him live in your neck of the woods:

  • June 29 Fontana’s New York, NY
  • July 1 Firebird St. Louis, MO
  • July 2 Night Lite Café Chicago, IL
  • July 3 The Roots Room Chicago, IL
  • July 5 Acadia Café Minneapolis, MN
  • July 8 Mars Café Des Moines, IA
  • July 10 Kick Butt Austin, TX
  • July 11 Headhunters Austin, TX
  • July 12 Avant Garden Houston, TX
  • July 15 Checkpoint Charlie’s New Orleans, LA
  • July 18 Highlands Taproom Louisville, KY
  • July 24 Spellbound @ Recessions Washington, DC

–Fitz

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