Music review: A slew of solo singers

Sticky Steve and Joe Bartel may go it alone, but they’re gaining followers


Never turning down the solo artists, What’s Spinning looks at two talented singer-songwriters this week who might spark several guitars to be picked up around Taos.

No 40’s in Florida

Sticky Steve

“Nothing really matters. We are young. We’ll be all right,” Sticky Steve cries out as he slams passionately on his acoustic guitar. In the low-fi tradition of bands like The Moldy Peaches or Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains, “No 40’s in Florida” could easily become a cult classic, must-have in days to come.

These five songs are highly entertaining and easy to put on repeat and listen to several times over.

The album starts with “Cathedrals,” which begins with a “welcome to my life.” It’s a note to get things started on, a sort of window into Steve’s mind. This Florida singer knows how to tell a story and have a good time and declares he will keep playing those bars and keep having a great time. This intro is a great way to start the album and lets the listener know exactly the ride they are in for.

When “Drip” comes on, the relatively simple guitar intro grabs the listener immediately and is reminiscent of a 2000s pop-punk riff that gets people dancing. After a closer listen, the track is actually an instant hit on the album. “Drip” is a millennial anthem that we have all sung at one point or another in life whether it be the dealings of getting older, or just having to tell yourself that everything is going to be all right. It’s a story of a person trying to make it through life and also a nod to the “re-ups that come in the middle of the night.” Oh, and let’s not forget about the girls that move to Florida for the sunshine.

It’s always great when an artist laments about the lack of 40-ounce beers being sold in a state and when that takes the focus of an album and a song. “Tallahassee” is another great example of storytelling from the mouth of a punk who decided to pick up an acoustic guitar. “No 40’s in Florida” is a must for the anti-folk or folk-punk fan.

Check out “No 40’s in Florida” at

Are You Even Nice

Joe Bartel

Tired of your job? Tired of your dreams falling short? Want a relief or some music to help cope with the pain? Look no further.

Joe Bartel brings the empathy with “Are You Even Nice,” a record that is there to comfort in times of despair or hardship.

“Are You Even Nice” begins with “Why Am I Like This,” which gathers the listener’s attention right away by touching on topics every musician has had to deal with. Busy, busy, busy are the lives of those chasing their dreams, which are sometimes cut short because of a job or other obligation. It’s a fun song to start the album and introduces the audience to the overall feel of this artist.

“Vampyre” is another notable song on the album, pulling from the want and need to go outside and interact with the world, but at the same time being crippled by anxiety or some other factor. The electric guitar solo adds to the feel of the song and keeps the cheeriness of the music against the reality of the lyrics. It’s a good pairing that makes for an incredibly interesting song.

Every now and then, an artist gives the truth in a certain manner that is almost like reading a newspaper. “Good News” is a song with little emotion and rather creative displays of fact. “You’ll never go more than a day with real hunger. You’ll never have a warlord conquer your whole neighborhood,” is a reminder to those of us who live in the first world that life could seriously get worse. No matter the situation, there is always a more severe situation. Despite that, the song’s real emotion is displayed in the frustration emanating from the vocals in the chorus.

In all, this record is a fun listen and high up on the recommendation scale. Bartel brings a different approach to telling a story, but accomplishes the task well in this album. The songs are full of subject matter perfect for a “folk-punk tribute” to a “quarter-life crisis” and can even be enjoyed by those outside the genre. The instrumentation throughout helps the lyrics along and ensures that the listener will not get too caught up on one or the other. The spontaneous drum track or guitar solo helps to piece the album together with the lyrics, which are well-crafted and well thought out.

Check out “Are You Even Nice” at