Sado Domestics do things their own special way on Hey, Oaxaca
By Bill Copeland / Bill Copeland Music News
October 22, 2020
Boston- based Sado Domestics have a new CD called Hey, Oaxaca, and it thrives and flourishes on the strength of a number nice touches, interesting contrasts, and some fine harmony.
Opening track “Across” delivers an old-fashioned, jaunty folk feel in its brisk chord progression and in its lilting groove. Chris Gleason and Lucy Martinez follow that lilting groove with their upbeat duet. Their voices charm with warmth as Jimmy Ryan’s snappy mandolin, and Bruce Bartone’s organ line give lovely bits of sweet ear candy. This is a tune that just has to be liked for its tight gathering of tasty bits.
“Chemical” finds Martinez applying her sweet vocal in small waves of loveliness. Beneath her voice Gleason offers a likable banjo line. It skips along to the merriment in Martinez shiny voice. The contrast between the song’s traveling groove and the bits of sweet acoustic notes make this a tune of substance as well as it keeps it entertaining in its gleeful movements.
More rocking, the mid-tempo “Best Thing And The Worst” glides by on the strength of Gleason’s lead guitar and his duet with Martinez. Not only does this song have its cool lead guitar line, it also features a Jimmy Ryan mandolin line that can’t be beat. This tune just eases on its way with a confection of sweet acoustic notes dotting the gentle movements in each measure.
A somewhat darker tune, the haunting “Morpho” lets Martinez suggest its forlorn emotion with a touch of mystery in her timbre. Singing over Jeff Alison’s percussive groove, she makes the most of a tribal vibe popping just below her vocal.
“Can’t Unring That Bell” feels like this album’s hit single for local radio stations. It’s loaded with emotive suggestion and its duet style feels epic. The lead guitar’s rangy ride as well as the rhythm section’s muscular, motion filled groove remind of late 1970s Fleetwood Mac. Catchy, engaging, and inviting, it also has a mandolin line that beautifully expands what this song is all about.
“Stardust” combines a swaggering rock and roll groove with some moody organ and guitar. Martinez uses this platform well, letting her perfectly down tempo vocal sway around the swagger with a much softer hit. The instruments and vocal in this one keep hitting everything just right, leaving the listener with a pleasant confection.
“Civil War In Your Mind” delves further into pop-rock. A weepy, lilting lead guitar line wafts along to two raspy lead vocals. The song also makes a perfect climb into more emotive territory. It tells a story through the emotions involved and the delivery of voice and instrumentation are perfectly matched to the song’s thematic dilemma.
“Helicopter” has a bursting electric guitar chord progression that reminds Of R.E.M.’s “Bang And Blame.” Martinez sings this one with a sweet indictment of a partner that seeks too much control. She keeps the delivery light while singing about serious matters. The contrast makes the song palatable and accessible. Her voice slides like a silk glove over the engaging guitar riff and smooth boas. It’s a song that makes you feel it taking you to a place of salvation.
A 1960s vibe lives inside the sweeping organ work from Bruce Bartone on “Noise Floor Delirium.” This duet feels like it takes place in its own time and space. Martinez and Gleason have a fine harmony yet also manage to sound forlorn, haunting, a duet that hovers above its early music period trappings. The rush of organ and the hovering vocals create a perfect balance that keeps this tune anchored in that slight otherworld existence.
“Tunnels” gets an edge from a ringing lead guitar line and brisk rhythm guitar. The rhythm section gives it a slow, pushy ride forward as Martinez sings mellow, sounding content. There is a contrast between the urgent tones in the electric guitars and the smooth, considerate pace of her lead vocal. It works to make us better feel the importance of her lyrics as the song moves toward its final destination.
Wound up in tight rocker trappings, “Instant Lo-Fi Junky” races forward on a galloping beat. Bits of electric guitar, flinty mandolin, and acoustic six string spread out, making a wide platform for Gleason’s plaintive vocal and a chorus duet. There are so many fine touches racing over that speedy beat that this song becomes a whirling dervish of driven fun.
Down tempo march “Downtown Underground” closes out this disc with a quiet drone. That drone finds Martinez singing out heartily, lofty vocal highs, filling in the sparse song with anthem like assertions. It leaves the listener on a high note, a good feeling that says farewell for now.
Sado Domestics have outdone themselves on this sophomore album Hey, Oaxaca. The talents of the two singer-songwriters, Gleason and Martinez, combine with mando man Jimmy Ryan, keyboardist Bruce Bartone, drummer Jeff Alison, and bass player Jeff St. Pierre to create a gem of originality. Recorded mostly at Noise Floor Delirium in Roslindale, Massachusetts with some additional work at 37 Foot Productions in Rockland, Massachusetts, this Sado Domestics disc rocks out with all sorts of special touches.
Roots Music Report: Album Review of Sado-Domestics, HEY, OAXACA:
Rating: 5 Stars
There is plenty of cool jug band music meets alt-country style folk-rock sounds on Hey, Oaxaca the third release from Boston-based musos Sado-Domestics. With 12 original tracks, clocking in at just over 41 minutes, their Hey, Oaxaca album shines a light on the musical team of Chris Gleason (vocals, guitars, banjo, mellotron, percussion) and Lucy Martinez (vocals, rhythm guitar, kalimba). There’s an earthy, upbeat, low-fi vibe inside the Sado-Domestics sound, and some of it rocks harder than other tracks. Both Chris and Lucy have fine singing voices and to top off their low-key, yet totally enjoyable album, and they are joined by a number of musicians including Bruce Bartone (keys, electric guitars), a pair of fine drummers, and a range of other players. The CD is neatly packaged, with artwork that quite effectively enhances the image of the band. This album won’t blow you away with heavy jamming and hard rock sounds, but still the Sado-Domestics' skillful musicianship readily makes Hey, Oaxaca a fun-filled experience.
Written by Robert Silverstein
October 7, 2020
Two-Egg Scrambler Album Review by Off-Center Views:
The Sado-Domestics titled their debut release Two-Egg Scrambler, but by my reckoning they broke considerably more eggs and raided the nests of a variety of chickens to make this tasty musical dish. The fourteen tracks are cleverly divided into a "Side A" and "Side B" with the recorded drop of an old-style record changer appearing between tracks seven and eight. This is more than a device–the first seven tracks are more acoustic based and the remaining seven edgier and more electric.
The Sado-Domestics are built around the singer/songwriter partnership of Chris Gleason and Lucy Martinez, both of whom also perform as solo acts and with other bands. The ensemble is fleshed out by other veteran Boston musicians, including Bruce Bartone, Shamus Feeney, and Paul Stewart from Gleason's roots band Los Goutos. "Mule in a Swamp" sets the tone for Side A in that many of the tracks are soaked in a Southern brine that's part swamp water, part skillet-licking Appalachia, part acoustic country blues, part folk, and part traditional. Martinez has a voice that impresses by both its power and its sweetness. Her "Dragonfly" is bluegrass influenced, but more fragile, and "Weeds" evokes the reflective melancholia of a Mary Chapin-Carpenter offering. Gleason is a more ironic songwriter. If you can imagine a snarkier version of Steve Goodman, Gleason's "Badly Paid"
fits those parameters. "Dahlia," a musing upon the gruesome 1947 Elizabeth Smart murder, is a dark country blues offering in keeping with Gleason's tendency to opt for realism over metaphors.
Side B plugs in. Gleason's "Waiting" reminded me of one of the lush songs Tim Buckley used to write, but with the studio string enhancements stripped out and replaced by Bartone's crystalline electric guitar atmospherics. Gleason seems to delight in messing with our perceptions. His "January" rocks, but in a nostalgic, bright way that defies the way most of us think about that month. Similarly, "Together in You" is the only time I've heard the following mentioned in the same song: Skip James, Kurt Cobain, Emmylou Harris, Husker Du, Tom Verlaine, and Richard Nixon. Speaking of Verlaine (Television), Martinez airs her punk sensibilities on Side B. On "Tainted Windows" she juxtaposes bouncy vocals with crunchy power chords, fuzzy feedback, and energetic percussion. Then she goes new wave Devo-like on us on "Bull in a Cage." Think you've got these guys figured out? Uh huh. Listen to Gleason's "At Night We Fall" and get back to me. The tune riffs off of The Beatles' "Let it Be," but the material is country western confessional, including the line, "the road to redemption/Is paved with the best intentions." I can't say whether these folks are as badly housebroken as the band name implies, but I sure can recommend you invite them to your musical table.—Rob Weir
Our new album, Two-Egg Scrambler, was recently reviewed by The Alternate Root. You can read the review here:
"The album title works but a Two-Egg Scrambler is not big enough to offer space to all the sound styles that Sado-Domestics had packed for the album. The static waves clear when the band dials in album opener “Mule in a Swamp”. The tune is a kitchen sink of percussion, scratchy fiddle, plucked banjo and slowly creeping bass notes. The notes swirl like swamp mist giving the joined vocals of Chris Gleason and Lucy Martinez as haunted feel. Mood and music share the song cycles throughout Two Egg Scrambler. Bookending the street corner jumble of the opening track is the arena-sized electric attack of Stooges-like “Bull in a Cage”. Bordering the album sound with extremes allows for lots of room for Sado-Domestics to dance a slow reel (“Lady in Blue”), drift with fresh air folk (“Weeds”) and tame acoustic rhythm and psychedelic electric feedback into form (“Waiting”). The hurried folk telling of Hollywood history of with “Dahlia”, the telegraphed tapped notes and rhythms that circle “The Moon” like satellites, the front porch breeze that lifts up “Dragonfly” and he sunshine folk-rock simple promises of “Together in You” all fit into the Sado-Domestic jukebox of Two-Egg Scrambler."