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EP REVIEW: The Wandering Bards - Party Hat
By Cyrus Rhodes - 09/16/2012 - 12:37 PM EDT

Artist: The Wandering Bards
Album: Party Hat
Label: Independent Music Promotions
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: Dr. Hook, Lyle Lovett, Dave Matthews Band
Technical Grade: 9/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: All of them
Weakness: EP release – bring on the full length fellas
CD Review:

New York/Metro New Jersey area Gypsy Folk band “The Wandering Bards” just released their latest 4 song EP entitled Party Hat (2012). Band members include Kenny Allen (Vocals, harmonica, jaw harp, accordion, melodica), Ron Baumann (Upright Bass, Background Vocals), Mike Cardone (Cajon, Tambourine, Maracas, Guiro and Cymbals), Ray Fyhr (Violin), Colin McKay (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar).

The EP kicks things off with “Hazy Place” an upbeat intro piece that serves up classic Americana vibe that delivers slamming Harmonica, impressive fiddle, rich harmonies and infectious vocal groove from Allen and company. Track 2 “I Believe in Elvis” shifts gears with its dynamic flowing rhythm, impressive fiddle/harmonica solo tandems and captivating vocal melody. Track 3 keeps things moving in the right direction with the jumping title track “Party Hat” a jumping jack flash ditty that peaks and valleys its way through emotional fruition. This CD makes a solid first impression dishing out 3 amazing tracks in a row. As this EP slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts like Dr. Hook, Dave Mathews Band, Lyle Lovitt The music itself is an amazing blend of modern acoustic Gypsy folk, with Americana roots with an unmistakable fiddle driven vibe. The musicianship of all the players involved is equally as impressive. The fiddle and vocal accents are well placed. The rhythm groove (Bass and Drums) is thick as a brick and quite dynamic timing wise. You will notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere, from impressive solo guitar licks, amazing harmonies, impressive percussive accents, and well placed fiddle accents.  But the most impressive thing about Party Hat is the impressive songwriting and vocal persona from Allen and company. The EP ends with Track 4 “Wild Rovin” Rose the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

It’s hard to find any real weaknesses with this CD. As impressive as this band is - I generally don’t give 10 star ratings out to EP releases. The full length CD is the more complete snapshot to judge an artist.  

From start to finish Party Hat is one impressive “short but sweet” catalog of music. The music is consistent, uplifting, and extremely entertaining. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this EP teaser. The writing and playing abilities of The Wandering Bards is as good as it gets for the genera. The lyrics are catchy, and the melodies are well crafted and very hooky. The songwriting and vocal presence is world-class. All in all - Party Hat is one of the best EP’s that’s come across my desk this year. Bring on the full length fellas!

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