The ever-populist New London music scene has compiled itself again. The scene is as well known for the compilation albums it produces as for any single band the city has produced. Of course this is the home of the Reducers, Rivergods, Weird Beards and many other worthies, but the home city of Riverfest and the Hygienic is justly renowned for its community-spirited generosity and arts-gathering tendencies.
Latest evidence of New London bands proving that the whole can be greater than a sum of its parts: the new anthology album Good Sponge Sampler II. The vast majority of the 18 bands on the disk will celebrate its release Friday, March 29 with a live show 7 p.m. at New London’s Bulkeley House (111 Bank Street, New London. 860-444-7753). More info about the CD, and about Good Sponge Records in general, is at.
Here’s a rundown of live line-up scheduled for Friday, augmented with comments about which song each band does on the album:
7 p.m.: Dogbite. “Coyote,” an old-fashioned instrumental that blends a Country & Western twang with a Ventures stomp.
7:20 p.m.: Dirt Road Radio. Not on the record, though the band’s guitarist/vocalist Dennis Walley provides the Americana lament “Cold-Hearted Man.”
7:35 p.m.: Nancy Parent: the Rivergods co-vocalist and lap steel player has a new solo album out. “Ten Thousand Things” is a gentle yet powerful statement about the comforts of love and friendship when facing uncertainty or adversity.
7:50 p.m.: Vince Tuckwood. There’s a ‘70s dark-strum Bowie aspect to this otherwise folksy singer-songwriter, as shown on “2 Pieces.”
8:05 p.m.: Josi Davis. The soul-filled tour-de-force “Ivy Grows” demonstrates this bluesy vocalists power, as well as her emotional vulnerability.
8:25 p.m.: The Rivergods. The veteran local Americana act recalls “When Times Were Good,” with jaunty irony. “It was tennis skirts and truffles, when times were good” gives way to “It’s not that lonely at the bottom.”
8:40 p.m.: Carl Franklin. The man who sound-mastered this whole album gives his own cut “Boogie Groove, not to mention his call-and-response jazz collaboration with Doug Woolverton “Ernest Street” elsewhere on the anthology a distinct ‘70s pop feel, a la Steely Dan or Boz Scaggs.
At this point the acoustically inclined “dinner set” concludes and there’s a break before the more plugged-in “dessert set.”
9 p.m.: Black Marmot. “The Lesson” is a hopeful and heartfelt attempt at reconciling with a demanding lover. “I can only hope you’re learning too,” goes the lyric, which then smartly soars into a neat guitar solo.
9:25 p.m.: Chris MacKay & The Toneshifters. 2013 New England Music Awards nominee blend bar band fervor with some cool percussion tricks.
9:50 p.m.: Amalgamated Muck. “Down Down Down” is a solid introduction to this eclectic folk/pop/blues ensemble. It’s frisky and friendly and front-porch folksy. Amalgamated Muck member Laura Agnelli also provides a more modern though no less amiable solo track, “If You Ever Choose,” to the Good Sponge comp.
10:15 p.m.: Ken Atkins & the Honkytonk Kind. “New Pair of Shoes” is the kind of honkytonk that’s practically 19th century, a delirious shuffle of a parlor song.
10:40 p.m.: Sue Menhart Band. “Sunrise City Café” The café appears to be somewhere in the fun-lovin’ South. Menhart’s singing is punctuated by a lively brass section.
11:05 p.m.: Matt Gouette. “Nobody Calls.” Evokes the sort of punk-tinged heavy metal sound reminiscent of the late ‘70s, when those genres were still working themselves out.
11:30 p.m.: Burnouts from Space. Outer Space does a ‘70s New Wave synthesizer, dance-throb thing.
As for the bands who are on the disk but apparently can’t make the live gig, Dave Rave’s “Solutions” indulges in simple and infectious psychedelia, while Hannah Fair’s disarmingly low-key and eerie “Hell Tonight” turns love feelings into a morass of anxiety into which the endearing Fair appears to be plummeting.
Just like last year’s first volume, this new round-up of New London local talent impresses not just with its confident performances but with articulate words and well-played melodies. It’s an affecting portrait of the here-and-now in a historic city that embraces the there-and-then.