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The University of Hartford

Dr. Longhair’s Mysterious Scribblings!
By Kevin Lamkins

Well, it's been awhile since I've written something. It's a fitting time because I would like to officially announce the new day that my show airs: Wednesday nights at midnight, right after Maurice Robertson's "Accent on Jazz." So, after hearing the cutting edge of jazz music, push the limits of your musical palette with the best in local, independent artists from the tri-state area. Also, I'm happy to announce that this summer represents the 2nd Anniversary of my career here at WWUH. In commemoration, I've decided to introduce some new features to the show in order to better serve your listening needs:
1. Weekly independent/local band website reviews. 2. WWUH on assignment - periodic journeys to other independent music scenes, or order to share and compare, like an indie-music exchange program. What more can you ask for? Got any ideas? Let me know: Dr_Longhair@hotpop.com.
In the spirit of continuing to spread the love that is our local music scene, I decided to review an album that I've been playing now nearly non-stop since it came out in April: The Screwdrivers' self titled debut. It's a collection representative of this versatile band; capable of penning a good solid rock song and delivering catchy pop numbers. A four piece of two guitars, bass and drums, this northern CT band is anything but the typical rock band. Its depth comes through especially in the vocals. Many of the songs feature three part harmonies, lush rich harmonies - a signature of the Screwdrivers' sound. It's a characteristic often lacking in modern rock music. The vocals are smooth, never whiny or contrived, never forced or aggressive. Lead vocalist Nate Harris delivers effortless melodies that are clear and seem to float over the music. In them I hear shades of Tom Yorke (Radiohead) and Jacob Dylan (Wallflowers). And to make them better, the lyrics are curiously poetic, slipping in fresh metaphors, and at times gritty.
If there's such a thing as "chemistry" in musical ensembles, the Screwdrivers have it. The best way I can tell to measure chemistry is the way the players in the band coalesce to create something greater than the sum of its parts. To start, the bass, played by Mose Snyder, glides almost randomly between playing in unison with the guitars and in harmony or the occasional walking line behind the lead instruments. The effect is a unique layered sound that is found throughout the album and is the ear-catching motif of the standout, opening track "The Internationale." Another example of this layered sound is between the two guitars. The lead guitar provides complementary guitar lines, rather than succumbing to the temptation to just play power chords in rhythm all the time. Particularly inventive is the use of feedback looming over several of the songs - as if it was its own instrument. Check out the angry ending of the rocker "Me on Top" or the extended finale of "I Could Make You Wild."
Perhaps the most intriguing song of the album is the subtle, almost dreamy journey with "The Asthmatic Tourist." Laid upon a bed of a faint organ sound, the song builds with an ascending clean rhythm guitar, under the near breathy vocals of Harris. The drumming is equally understated, chiming in the occasional light symbol crash, in keeping the beautiful vocal melodies at the forefront, in a spacious song that could easily be perverted by an over zealous kit player. Eventually an eerie reverb slide guitar enters and provides an almost Pink Floyd like ambience. Overall the song brings out a bit of the Radiohead influence from the band.
Other standout tracks for me include "I Don't Want to Love You," with its retro Elvis-eske vocals and Smithereens feel. A haunting guitar arpeggio introduces the album's longest song "Together." And, "Easter Island" shows more diversity with a slight southern tinge.
The Screwdrivers' debut full-length album is a must have for anyone frustrated with top 40 radio. You don't have to sacrifice musical diversity to get catchy melodic tunes. Check out www.thescrewdrivers.com for tour dates or to sample the music yourself.
Don't forget: tune into me every Wednesday night at midnight for the best new independent music around.

Copyright©WWUH: July/August Program Guide, 2002

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