New albums from Jeff Norwood, The Whisperjets & Tex! 

In the Jukebox

Jeff Norwood
Awendaw
(Awendaw Green)

"Black Dark"Audio File

From the crickets that harmonize with Jeff Norwood on "Horny Road" (recorded from the Awendaw Green studio's porch) to the backwoods throw-down described in "Bad Ass Boogie," Awendaw sounds appropriately like the place it came from. In this stripped-down solo release, Norwood is equally authentic in his Delta-style delivery of the blues. Over raw, repetitive slide licks, Norwood paints the images of his own wandering and soul-searching, and the scenes, happy and forlorn, that he witnesses along the way. "See the town shut down/When the mill left town/Ain't gonna find mom and pop anywhere left around," he sings in "Black Dark." "The Devil" opens with a dirty slide-laden warning about Norwood's own struggle with "evil running through my veins." "Horny Road" and "Shake" are both clever pleas toward women, before "Save My Wicked Soul," a concise and rocking gospel tune, closes the album on an uplifting note. Norwood's genuine in his take on the blues, melding the best of life's lows and highs into both his words and finger work. (www.myspace.com/jeffnorwoodblues) —Stratton Lawrence

Norwood performs at the soon-to-be-open Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ on Sullivan's Island on Fri. May 15.

The Whisperjets
Midnight Shift
(Awendaw Green)

"Song for No One in Mind"Audio File

The young local pop-rock quintet comes off like poetic, slightly-heartbroken veterans on this impressive five-song debut. Recorded at the home studio at bassist Clay White's pad — with assistance from engineers Nat Mundy, Jeff Leonard, Travis Banks, Dan Maher, and Hootie guitarist Mark Bryan — Midnight Shift aims for something higher than a simple demo. Opening track "Here Lies the Truth" and "Just What You Did" are textured with acoustic and electric guitars, strange-sounding keyboards, and smooth-toned trumpets and trombones, thanks to Ben Donner and Daniel Imbol. Singer/guitarist Corey Bargeloh's affected singing seems derived more from the recent British folk-pop genre than from anything in the domestic modern rock world. The up-tempo title track balances ska energy and brassiness with clean, minor-key Britpop (a la the Housemartins, Waterboys, and Paul Weller). Strummy power ballad "Rob Zombie" could become a live show favorite soon, too (the gooney fade-out here is hilarious). We look forward to more from this clever bunch. (www.myspace.com/thewhisperjets) —T. Ballard Lesemann

The Whisperjets perform on Fri. May 15th as part of Wando High School's fund-raising "Original Music Showcase."

Tex!
"Back to the Farm"
(independent single)

Early-morning work is hard for Iowan farmer-turned-synth-pop champ Tex, but he don't care — he's got a feeling every day and he got you on his mind! Convincingly sung in multiple vocal tracks over a snappy disco beat, this character transcends stereotypical U.S. grainbelt culture and style and bounces into Eurodance land on "Back to the Farm." The impossibly upbeat debut single actually comes from longtime Charleston musician Paolo Licciardi, a skilled and versatile rock drummer known in the scene for his sturdy work with a variety of metal, power-pop, and alternative-rock bands over the last 20 years (Children's Choir, the Fire Apes, etc.).

"In the '80s, he fell in love with the synth-pop of the day," reads the Tex bio page. "Erasure, Ultravox, O.M.D., and Pet Shop Boys were among his favorites. He bought his first synthesizer (the Roland Juno 60) second-hand in the early '90s and began copying the sounds of his idols."

As this peculiar, cowboy-hatted alter-ego character, Licciardi embraces the electro-powered keyboard sounds and the hyperactive kid-angst of the Nickelodeon shows of the '80s. And it works. He's the emcee, the game show host, the main dude at the goofy dude ranch — all at once. "Back to the Farm" is instantly danceable. It's a cure for the drabs. It's also a bit like the Mael brothers of Sparks headlining an episode of Hee Haw. (www.texfromiowa.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann

Tex! opens for Dante's Camaro at the Tin Roof on Fri. May 8.


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