"Life with the Machines" CD
Genre: singer / songwriter, pop /
rock, folk rock
From the bland town of Waterloo, Ontario comes
Johnny Charmer's Red Orkestra, a singer/songwriter project recalling the likes of The Smiths, Steve Wynn,
and others. From the title to the lyrics to the copyright license involved
in its release, Life with the Machines is a fairly political
affair, which is interestingly coupled with Steve Payne's
studio gloss and a conservatively melodic sound. While at times I find
this record trailing on blasť melodrama ("Devil and the Deep Blue
Sea," "A Far Cry from the Truth"), many of the songs are quite strong.
"Ten Thousand Miles" is an immediately infectious pop nugget, and
uplifting "One By One" features a positive melody and Charmer's
pleasant falsetto. One complaint I have is that all of the songs
have a sort of coffee shop folk-pop feel to them, which could bode
well for the next Starbucks sampler but speaks for Charmer's
clean-cut approach, which could benefit from being a bit rougher
around the edges. Still, as far as well-produced, well-written pop
songs go, you could do a lot worse than Life with the Machines.
mp3s (from redorkestra.com):
one by one
red orkestra's live acoustic version of "fools rush in"
Fun Fact: Red
Orkestra's debut, After the Wars, was the first physical CD
to be released under the
Creative Commons license.
[Vitals: 11 tracks,
released Jul 21 2006]