There are some bands that just couldn't have been born anywhere but right here in good ol' fashioned Glossy Brochure Central Oregon - where pines, mountains and streams meet junipers and jackrabbits. Local acoustic trio Coyo is one such entity.
Flute player Ron Laws, drummer/percussionist Dale Largent, and guitarist Tim Moore's sound seems like it came straight from a campfire deep in the woods, where amplifiers and microphones seem about as out of place as neckties, BMWs and those dudes who stand on street corners wearing "Big Furniture Sale!" signs.
Yes, the tools of the Coyo trade are unabashedly wooden and earthy, and their instruments echo the birds and the wind more than they relate to anything you'll find on Bend's fancy-pants Wall Street. (or even Galveston Ave!)
The trio follows up 2003's Listen to the Wind with The West, another full-length exercise in Native American-inspired world music, blended with jazz, blues and more.
At first crack, The West may sound like anything you might hear in any crystals and incense shop from here to the coast. Digging a little deeper, though, the mournful and/or reflective sounds of caves, rainstorms and yes - actual birds - are pretty well balanced with other things you can feel even without escaping modern civilization. The best track is probably "Indigenous Blues," which mates Moore's reverberating guitar with guest violin from Julie Southwell. At 6 and a half minutes, it makes time for instrumental jaunts for those two as well as Laws and Largent, and the overall effect is subtly western - it wouldn't sound out of place on the soundtrack for 3:10 to Yuma.
Things sound a little self-indulgent and a little less than watertight on tracks like "Cojam," where extra players tote dununba, snare drum and didgeridoo to the drum circle. Still, the intentions are pure, and it's kinda cool to watch what happens when urban funk gets mixed with pine needle aesthetics. It's all good, friend.
A penchant for rhythmic propulsion and musical multiculturalism, somewhat akin to the Coyo manifesto, fuels the debut record from California-Bend transplant Shireen Amini.
One difference here is that there's less apparent fear of electrons and layered tracks, so the sound is often more dense - there's a lot going on in the speakers at any given time.
Justifying her solo billing, Amini takes the reins with vocals, guitars, drums, percussion and various keyboards throughout the album. Guest players fill things out nicely, most notably with Flamenco guitar and horns.
Amini keeps things engaging throughout all seven songs on the EP, though a somewhat nasally vocal tone and an overabundance of interpersonal sentiment are sometimes distracting. "Coffee Shop Blues" has the warm soul of a Stevie Wonder song, but the face of a yawny adult contempo riff. Purer successes include "Even When," a slow piano song that showcases Amini's considerable vocal potential; "Ladies," an ode to individual beauty and dignity, and the volatile Latin romp "Baila Conmigo."