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Tommy Keene
Crashing The Ether
Eleven Thirty Records

If you can imagine a contemporary sounding John Lennon, you can picture what Tommy Keene sounds like. His coffeehouse style pop/rock ambiences give folk tunes an electrical upsurge. The songs fluctuate in tempo from even steady flows to cruising speeds, upbeat and voluminous. His vocal textures and melody bodices have strappings similar to songwriters like Elvis Costello, Morrissey, and Simple Minds. The Bethesda, Maryland born musician/songwriter was last seen with an album in 2002 when he put out The Merry-Go-Round Broke. The latest release Crashing the Ether with executive producer Kevin Lane Keller is his eleventh full length album. The album encompasses multiple production techniques for layering instrument levels, dotting melodies with individual tweaks, and placing vocals between the mounting levels.

The album starts off with "Black & White New York" a mid-tempo degree with scintillating crystal-toned shakers ornamented by quivering guitar undertones and pop/rock shades. Each number is uniquely defined. "Warren In The '60s" emits country pop hues with tambourine quavers, pockets of steady drum craters, and a harmonica interlude. "Quit That Scene" offers springy beats touched up by sets of radiant chord ellipses. "Driving Down The Road In My Mind" totters hand in hand with the vocals and melodic fills adding a voluptuous guitar solo lining the outro. "Wishing" is a folk rock tune with billowing drum intervals and iridescent streaming guitar parts.

There really is no way to generalize Tommy Keene's songs other than that they all fall into the pop/rock mode. Each song has its own intricate fastenings and individuality. "Lives Become Lies" is an even steady piece with fundamental melodic structures and mild movements. "Eyes Of Youth" promulgates upbeat surges in the guitar and drum parts, accessorized by flapping cymbal streaks. "I've Heard That Wind Blow Before" has rock rooted guitar vibrations and palpating drum strikes. "Alta Loma" has a cruising speed with clusters of crisp guitar segments and mild grooves permeating the low-pitched bass slopes. The final track "Texas Tower #4" resonates with shimmering guitar fills and the slapping motions of cymbals amassing to a heightened volume that peaks and then deflates through the outro.

Tommy Keene works with multiple degrees of movements, varying chord structures, and the placement of the instrumental parts. His songs are a picture of finely tuned songwriting. He has been writing original material since 1982 when he released his debut LP Strange Alliance. Twenty-four years later he is still writing his own original material. He has out lasted many of the record labels which have released his albums and he will probably continue to do so in the next twenty-four years. His sound is contemporary and based in fundamental song structures. His songs show a passion for the relationship which the instruments and vocals have and brings out a harmony that makes all things possible.

-Susan Frances

1. Black & White New York
2. Warren In The '60s
3. Quit That Scene
4. Driving Down The Road In My Mind
5. Wishing
6. Lives Become Lies
7. Eyes Of Youth
8. I've Heard That Wind Blow Before
9. Alta Loma
10 Texas Tower #4

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