by Andrew Elias
THREE OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA'S most popular musicians and bands have recently released outstanding new CDs, two recorded and mixed locally.
Tommy Lee Cook
Two Mules Records
Tommy Lee Cook has been a fixture on the Fort Myers music scene for a very long time. His Buckingham Blues Bar is home to the best live blues music for miles and miles, and his records this is his fifth have been widely acclaimed in blues circles around the country.
His new record, Mailbox Money, finds Cook rejoining Danny Shepard for another CD of rocking and rollicking Texas-styled blues. Cook and Shepard co-wrote all the songs on the CD, a compilation of catchy songs flavored with wit and burning with red hot guitar. Song titles like Take It Up With Her Mama, Me and Russell Crowe and Mailbox Money give a good indication of their sense of humor while others with titles like Life Is A Puzzle, Human Nature and the soulful Certified Fool (my favorite track) offer an insight into a slightly more serious side.
Mailbox Money is another outstanding record of straight ahead and swampy Southern blues rock by Tommy Lee Cook and Danny Shepard, preeminent bluesmen of Fort Myers.
Heather Brooks has been performing with Darrell Nutt for several years, with Nutt drumming in a variety of band configurations with her. Brooks is one of the most popular singer/songwriters in the area, previously releasing an acclaimed album, Turn It Over, in 2006.
Dayslide began as a musical experiment of sorts. Nutt had written and recorded a number of ideas and then Heather wrote lyrics and added her sultry vocals to create a compilation of infectious jazzy pop songs.
Brooks has a knack for writing catchy songs in a variety of styles, from the funky folk of Rickie Lee Jones to the soulful soft-rock of Norah Jones to the smooth jazz of Madeleine Peyroux. She even raps her way through Hey Mr. Prez a light-hearted ode in support of President Obama. In a more perfect world Say What You Mean and Sugar Mama would be big hits.
Nutt not only composed and arranged all the music but also engineered, mixed and mastered the CD, in addition to playing all the instruments. Hes achieved a sparkling clean sound that never detracts from the warmth of Brooks soulful vocals.
Dayslide is an unqualified success easy listening yet danceable pop music.
Love in War
Love in War Media
Founder and driving force behind the band, Kate Flanigan writes songs about unrequited love and restless relationships, but with the strength of a survivor, not a victim. On Love in Wars debut recording her dramatic songs inhabit a soundscape of industrial rock and gothic blues, although she displays a touching sensitivity on songs like What Does it Mean, which showcases her formidable vocal and writing talents, and Safe Distance, reminiscent of Madonna, one of her acknowledged influences.
Both are standouts on an album of primarily harder electronic rock influenced more by another of her favorites, Nine Inch Nails.
But the real hits on this record are Your Gravity, Stray Bullets and Cold all with instantly memorable hooks, captivating choruses and smart lyrics.
Flanigans keyboard and programming is supported by Matt Russos tasteful guitar playing and the precision rhythm section of Mike Calavano on bass and Adam Canute on drums.
Love in War play music of the 21st Century rock & roll full of electronic textures and rebel angst.
Whether your tastes in music favor swampy blues, jazzy pop or industrial rock, one of these records should surely find its way onto your playlist this summer.
Love in Wars CD is as dark and dangerous as Heather Brooks is cool and comfortable. And Tommy Lee Cooks CD is just plain ol fun.
All three CDs are available from the musicians websites as well as from most online music sales websites.