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Various Artists: IAC Artists Sampler 2018

I must admit that IAC Records have so far slipped under my radar, so this 18 track, seven artist sampler is a good opportunity to get acquainted. The label’s self stated remit is to bring national and international exposure to talented Northern and Central Californian musicians and as such the label is set to re-release nine titles late in 2018 from Dirk Hamilton, Eric Westphal, Willie Hines, Napa Valley Duo, Nathan Ignacio, Andrew Durr and James Blonde. Unsurprisingly the 18 tracks included here gather together two each from the nine albums due for re-release.

First up is the Live At The Palms album from Dirk Hamilton, “Searchin’ For The Heart Of Soul” and “Alias I” revealing a countrified Americana stance and a Springsteen like voice, especially in the first of the two. The latter is much more country based and also a little ‘preachy’ in its message, but both are intriguing introductions. Hence the energetic strum and holler of “Footsteps” is something of a shock as it bursts into a heavy rock setting that verges into blues. Eric Westphal is your man here and boy can he sing as he tears a strip from his fretboard. With a soulful, brass filled bent to “Stop And Smell The Roses”, neither is he a one trick pony.

Proving that the first change of pace was no one off, Napa Valley Duo aren’t here to serve you the latest vinos, instead this cello/piano twosome are considered, enigmatic and reserved. And yet, with the likes of “Hotel”, “See Me Feel Me/I Will Fight And Never Slack”, “Chimera” and “Claire De Lune” coming from the pair of their albums to be reissued, we travel from Gershwin like outbursts to laments, while also incorporating a cover of The Who, this is no one dimensional two-piece. I can’t say they’d be my usual listening fare, but nonetheless, you can’t argue with the class on show.

And again, the sharp biting guitars of the upbeat Americana from ex-Jet Red front man Willie Hines leaves little doubt of the variety IAC are keen to offer up.“Let’s Not Waste Time” is catchy as hell and equally memorable, although “On Fire” takes a more observational stance, while still retaining its instant hook. From the seven artists included here, Hines has my attention! Although the blistering riff of “Eldorado” from James Blonde comes a close second, the Tyketto-lite like lilt most welcome. Just as “New Wave” adds a hit of… well… new wave to proceedings in quite some style! We’re in the land of power pop and the other JB duo of “Marie” and “Money” seal the deal with an almost punkish push!

“Broken Hands” prefers to play it cool, a languid rustic Americana vibe running deep in the delivery of Nathan Ignacio, his lived in style also perfect for the more folk finessed “She Never Knew”. Leaving Andrew Durr to walk a line between out and out Native American enhanced rock and folk-country on the echoing “Pastures A Plenty” and “The Way You Look Tonight”, which are both positively powered by authentic atmosphere.

Nine albums, seven artists and one record label are represented by this sampler and it has to be said, that while personal preferences will always come into the equation, it’s an impressive presentation. As a way of setting their stall out - and available at a budget price - this comes highly recommended. In an extremely crowded market place IAC are still undoubtedly worthy of your attention.

Track Listing
1. Searchin' for the Heart of Soul (Live) - Dirk Hamilton Band
2. Alias I (Live) - Dirk Hamilton Band
3. Footsteps - Eric Westphal
4. Stop and Smell the Roses - Eric Westphal
5. Hotel - Napa Valley Duo
6. See Me Feel Me - I Will Fight and Never Slack - Napa Valley Duo
7. Let's Not Waste Time - Willie Hines
8. On Fire - Willie Hines
9. El Dorado - James Blonde
10. New Wave - James Blonde
11. Pastures a Plenty - Andrew Durr
12. The Way You Look Tonight - Andrew Durr
13. Broken Hands - Nathan Ignacio
14. She Never Knew - Nathan Ignacio
15. Chimera - Napa Valley Duo
16. Claire De Lune - Napa Valley Duo
17. Marie - James Blonde
18. Money - James Blonde

Added: March 25th 2019
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: IAC Sampler
Hits: 961
Language: english

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Various Artists: IAC Artists Sampler 2018
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-03-26 04:33:53
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IAC Records (Independent Artists Collective) is a newly formed record label with the focus on musicians in central and northern California. The label was formed in early 2018 by engineer/producer Don Setaro and musician/producer Eric Westphal.

On this sampler there are a total of seven artists all with new music in 2018. For an example of what you will find here the first couple of tracks are taken from Dirk Hamilton’s album Live at the Palms. Hamilton has been around since the early ‘70s but for some reason never really caught on and that is a shame as these two tracks, “Heart Of Soul” and “Alias I” are nice acoustic led numbers influenced by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger and perhaps Bob Dylan. It’s quite folky with a bit of country and Hamilton’s voice has a pleasing earthy tone. On “Alias I” the supporting electric guitar is laid down with expert care. Next are two tracks taken from Eric Westphal’s Alice Street Sessions; “Footsteps” and “Stop And Smell The Roses”. The former is a catchy slice of Americana style rock with excellent guitar while the latter is a melodic mid-tempo number with hints of Steely Dan and includes sublime female backing vocals. On a different note, Nappa Valley Duo add a completely different flavour with just piano and cello. “Hotel” is a very slow moving and somber track followed by “See Me Feel Me/I Will Fight And Never Slack”, and yes, the first half is classic Who with the cello replacing the vocals quite effectively. The tempo shifts into higher gear with the jaunty “I Will Fight And Never Slack” before returning to the Who. Willie Hines is another artist that has that ‘California sound’ particularly with the catchy AOR track “Let’s Not Waste Time” followed by the equally melodic “On Fire”.

Although this is more mainstream than what I am used to I have to admit I had no problems listening to this easy flowing disc. For fans of radio friendly rock music in the singer/songwriter style.

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