The first two album reviews for the upcoming Stephen MacDonald & The Okay Win record We Are Bound are out now!
The first is from the Plymouth, Massachusetts based Take Me To Your Music blog:
“Stephen MacDonald and the Okay Win – We Are Bound (Big Bullet Records)
To those who bemoaned Radiohead’s transition from OK Computer to Kid A and Wilco’s shape-shifting on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, clearly do not like change. Stephen MacDonald went the folk, singer-songwriter solo route for a couple years but now brought in a band and moved to a more of an Americana sound. Together, MacDonald, Matt Jones (drums), Ryan Ward (bass), and JM Craven (guitar/backing vocals), who all met at Westfield State College, have come together as Stephen MacDonald and The Okay Win. A seamless transition from solo to full band, combined with the poetic lyrics that gave MacDonald his own identity, make for an excellent record. We Are Bound begins with the Tom Petty meets Conor Oberst at Asbury Park and runs into Bruce Springsteen roots rocker “Could Gamble.” MacDonald doesn’t completely abandon his early workings, particularly on the acoustic solo track, “Smoke Signal,” where he sings, “Oh, you’ve got to be braver.” Take his advice. Be brave and embrace this album, one that turned into a classic transition from the old to the new.” – Ryan Wood
Rating: 8.6 out of 10
The second comes from IndieShows.net:
“You know that guy Bob Dylan or maybe you know Neil Young? Well, Stephen MacDonald & The Okay Win may not sound exactly like these guys, but that’s because they are the new face of folk indie rock. I’d put it in the same vicinity as these guys but with an updated feel to it. The music is pure, without a lot of effects, and it’s like a breath of fresh air. I picture myself traveling down a highway across country listening to “Gone For Good”. The cool thing about this music is I can listen to it while surfing the web, driving down the highway or while taking a nap. It’s multi-purpose music!
“Gone For Good” is off of the band’s new album called “We Are Bound” and I happen to be listening to it right now. The track after “Gone For Good” is called “In Spit” and it has a few nice parts to it. First the percussion, it starts off with a great drum beat. That beat moves into an uptempo bass line and this bass line and drum beat make the song. But, the lyrics are also good… “You only want what you gotta fix…”, “You only want what you can’t get…”, “You only want it once it’s gone.”
This is an all around solid album. It’s got a few upbeat, more Rock tracks, then the second half of the album is mostly just an acoustic guitar and vocals. My favorite pure acoustic track on the album is called “Smoke Signal”. The melody is great and the lyrics tell a story which I didn’t hear the first time I listened… but it talks about someone calling 911 to report that a man is outside of a neighbor/friend’s house and an argument of some type seems to be going on. That’s at least the first impression I got… maybe if I listen to it a few more times I’d figure out what’s going on… Anyway, there aren’t enough story tellers out there in the music industry today, so this is refreshing.
When you’re in the mood for solid songwriting and laid back music, try Stephen MacDonald & The Okay Win. It’s fresh, smart and eloquent. This is also one of the top albums I’ve heard this year. I don’t do any kind of a “top albums of ‘09″ blog here usually, but if I did, this album would be on my list.”
Don’t forget to catch Stephen MacDonald & The Okay Win on tour this week!
8/18 – Arlene’s Grocery – New York City, NY
8/19 – Isla Nublar – Piscataway, NJ
8/20 – Wilson College (w/ Tucker Riggleman) – Chambersburg, PA*
8/21 – The Blue Moon Cafe – Shepherdstown, WV*
8/22 – Shamrock’s Pub – Huntington, WV
8/23 – Doc Watson’s – Philadelphia, PA
8/25 – Harper’s Ferry (CD RELEASE!) – Allston, MA
* – w/ Greg Loftus