Ear to the tracks

New music for the new year

By Justin Kreitzer

Here are three excellent new albums to get your new year started off with a bang!

Ray Tarantino//Good Things Will Happen//Tiny Drum Records 

 Rising singer/songwriter Ray Tarantino will release his third album, Good Things Will Happen, via Tiny Drum Records in May, though it is available to download now. Born in Italy and raised in the U.K., Tarantino calls Nashville his home and has logged over 1,500 shows across the world. He showcases that worldly experience on the album with his relatable lyrics and a warm, organic blend of Slow Train Coming-era Bob Dylan with hints of Ray LaMontagne’s retro-leaning blues-laced folk for a captivating sound all his own.

Standout track “Brand New Day” opens the album with a hopeful message – Ray’s rich voice, soulful female background vocals and jubilant horns from The JunkYard Horns. “The Thing About You” follows with guitars that curl like cursive writing along with Hammond organ and leads into “Empty Hands,” highlighted by funky guitars and bright blasts of Motown-like horns. The intriguing “What You Gonna Do,” is a seven-and-a-half-minute-long fever dream stream of consciousness as Tarantino spiels in a quick, conversational cadence interspersed with spirited female background singers and ends with a rumbling rave-up.

The impressive album features several more standout moments like the heartfelt ballad, “Miss Me Now” with its emotionally charged sentiment – “Go ahead and miss me now/Miss me like you lost the best thing that you ever found” – and the perfectly arranged “Get To Love You Too,” with its interplay between piano, churning cello and stuttering drum beat along with some slinky blues guitar licks that fans of Ben Harper and Gary Clark, Jr. will love.

Additionally, the gorgeous balladesque duet, “Since You Found Your Way” features guest vocals from fellow Nashville musician Phoebe Sharp, whose sweet, breathy voice complements Tarantino’s perfectly. With its tumbling drums and bouncy organ riff, “Guilty No More” is the embodiment of Southern rock swagger and the slick, soft rock vibe of “Who Do You Need Me To Be?” makes even fancy flute solos interesting, proving Tarantino can do no wrong. The album closes out with the spotlight squarely on Tarantino’s graceful vocals for the ballad “You’re Still Free.”

Ray Tarantino’s excellent third album, Good Things Will Happen, should prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Shy Boys//S/T//High Dive Records

Kansas City-based indie pop band Shy Boys are set to release their self-titled debut album via High Dive Records today. Led by Collin Rausch and rounded out by his brother, Kyle, and Konner Ervin – both of label-mates The ACBs – the band plays different instruments than what they are used to, and they recorded live to tape to create a loose and raw brand of surf rock with reverb-rich guitars, propulsive rhythms, infectious ’60s pop melodies and swooning falsetto vocals.

The album opens with rhythmic chugging guitars and a strutting bass line on the standout track, “Is This Who You Are?” The propulsive first single, “Keeps Me On My Toes” follows with jangly guitars, wispy vocals and a sing-along chorus. “Notion” is highlighted by crashing drums and some catchy, Beach Boys-like melodies, and “Bully Fight” was inspired by a school bully made infamous on YouTube. The twitchy “And I Am Nervous,” with its rafters-reaching vocal harmonies, ends with an extended jam. “Heart Is Mine” features all three vocalists combining for a dreamy, ’50s rock and doo wop-inspired standout moment. Next, “Postcard” features shimmering guitars and a loping bass line. The aptly-titled “Submarine” is bolstered by a low, rumbling guitar line contrasted nicely by the weightless vocal harmonies and the pretty guitar flourishes of “Fireworks” will be remembered long after. The cascading guitars and ethereal atmosphere of the last, dance-worthy “Trim” closes out the album, which breezes by in 20 minutes and begs to be repeated.

Shy Boys are scheduled to perform on Monday, Feb. 3 at the Canal Public House in Dayton.

Ryan Barrington Cox//Pool//Self-Released 

Asheville, N.C. based singer-songwriter Ryan Barrington Cox, formerly of the If You Wannas, recently released his latest album, Pool. Cox recorded his ramshackle mid-fi folk/rock tunes at home, wrapping them in a breezy, homespun vibe highlighted by his quirky pop sense and country-leaning instrumentation.

The jaunty “Watched Pot” opens the album with a clever sample before launching into a twinkling piano-assisted duet with his wife Emily Keebler. Standout track and first single, “Get Free(er)” features a poppy and propulsive beat accentuated by rattling percussion, sounding like Elliot Smith fronting early Wilco. The title track is led by hypnotic, cyclical guitars, a pounding, wire brushed rhythm and swirling synth-led psych/pop melodies for another standout moment. Next, “Eyelid Flowers” is bolstered by swaying melodies and some close knit vocal harmonies that sweeten the melancholic lyrics of heartbreak and regret.

A one-two punch comes in the form of the aptly-titled “Energy!” and the funky, percussion-heavy “Riverside Dr” that recalls Beck with its infectious, hip-shaking rhythm. The short and sweet “Take Me Back” makes an aching plea with pedal steel, a shuffling beat and some earthy melodies. An airy minute-long instrumental, “Boy With Red Balloon” follows and blends into “Under A Rock” with its forceful acoustic guitars and marching band beat. Before you are ready, the 10-song album closes out with “Take It Back” and its warped synths and upbeat ’60s pop melodies that are cross-stitched with classic country and western twang.


Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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