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peter lawless

Album review: The B'Dinas - Fruitcakes

(Photo by Brandon Forrest Frederick)
The B’Dinas’ Fruitcakes is a creative juggernaut of hopeful turmoil; heavy groove and sexy vocal driven filled longing. It is an instant local classic. 
“Fated,” the opening track, is an up-tempo rocker with a blazing guitar. It has a retro psychedelic keyboard reminiscent of the ‘60s San Francisco scene—a great way to kick off a record.
“Pretty Neat (Candy Store)” is the album’s second track, with some of my favorite lyrics on the entire collection. I love profanity in rock ‘n’ roll but it’s very rarely done with power and grace. Roger Waters may be the best at it, and while there are other singers with clever filthy mouths, The B’dinas has one for the books with the line, “All your promises don’t mean shit if I can’t hold the value in my hand.” True enough, it seems to be. I’ve been walking around for days singing this line. It’s tough but tender because it’s delivered by Katelyn Jamison’s forgiving voice.
“Nuts and Bolts” is one of the shortest tracks on the record. This is a tough tune that makes me want to walk down the street with a switchblade in one hand and a flower in another.
The tune “Crystal Ball” opens with lovers in the sack. The heroine is just lying there when she turns over to glare out the window at a blackbird. The song is a mid-tempo funky thing with an Edgar Allen Poe twist. This song moves from blues to ‘50s vocal pop into a light prog rock ending.
“Two Doves” is a gem, a mix of Little Feat and Marshall Tucker. It’s almost jam band in a retro Van Morrison way. The B’Dinas have two doves in their mind so it must be very peaceful there. They sing of doing “it” all night and everyone loves that idea… everyone! The guitar is terrific and the solo is so sleepy, soulful, and cold-blooded I’ve had to rewind it several times. The B’Dinas should shop this tune to Widespread Panic. It’s an absolute classic.
“Bread and Butter” conjures up a 90’s SoCal vibe mixed with a little Go-Gos meets Carole King. This one has a serious groove and great drums. “Can’t Shake It” has serious saxophone hooks and dark lyrics. Katy Guillen sings of wearing gray and having an unbearable burden baring down upon her chest she cannot shake. This one hints a bit of the Neville Brothers Yellow Moon era.
Goddamned” is another beautiful example how to use profanity the right way. “I see you got your eyes wide… you better hold on to your hi-fi,” and “I’ll be goddamned.” This one is going straight to the top of the list of songs to play and sing when things aren’t going my way.
The records closing track, “Answer Me,” is a dark soul tune with a guitar solo that probably peeled paint off the walls of the studio. It is the perfect way to say goodbye. 
The B’dinas Fruitcakes is worth it. It is obvious they have expended a tremendous amount of effort, musicianship, and creative songwriting talent into these eleven tracks. It has an intensely serious musical vibe with lighthearted narrative. It’s fun and it grooves. My only criticism so far of this record is I’m not listening to it on vinyl.
The B’Dinas are:
Katy Guillen – guitars/vocals/harmonica
Katelyn Jamison – keys/vocals/bass
Peter Lawless – bass/vocals/saxophone
Tess Jehle-Ray – drums/vocals
Fruitcakes was recorded by Jerod Rivers at Sangha Studios, and mastered by Bruce Barkelew at Mansion Studio.
-AJ Rider
AJ Rider was born in in the town where Jesse James died to a soldier and playboy bunny. His mother has let it slip on many drunken nights that he was conceived at the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair 1. He is a child of the sixties, has seen the grateful dead 126 times, and has a soft spot for the schoolteacher type.
Join The B’Dinas tonight at Coda, where they will be sharing the stage with Morningglories. Doors at 9:00 p.m. Facebook event page.

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