Notable Features & Playlists:
* 'The Mikecast' - Somer Valley Radio (Somerset, England) (12/15)
* WIRR (Richmond, Virginia) (5/13)
* London, England DJ, Dee Chapman's Show, 'Radio Gets Wild' (8/11)
* WXRY (South Carolina) (5/11)
* Alternate Root Magazine 2011 Valentine's Day Sampler
* Alternate Root Magazine featured Artist of Month (1/11)
* No Depression Magazine featured ‘Last Dance Mine’ on home page music player (1/11)
* Americana Rock Mix Podcast featured ‘Close’ & ‘Together’ (10/10)
* Freight Train Boogie Podcast featured ‘Walk Under Ladders’ (8/10)
Effortlessly Cool Rootsy Americana.
New York’s The Problems aren’t the most prolific of recording artists as they formed and released their debut album in 2001 and here we are, 10 years later with the follow up!
Was it worth the wait? Yes, it was.
I know nothing about their first album but POWDER BLUE BONE is really, really good and covers the bases very well as Band Leader Frank Caiafa effortlessly moves the band across musical genres like desert wind.
The album opens with June; a neat scratchy, acetate like solo acoustic country Blues that owes nothing to anything else on the album apart from closing track Claudine, which is similar in character but features a sparkling duet between Caiafa and Charlene McPherson. For future reference a whole album like this wouldn’t go amiss.
In between; The Problems delve into the rootsier end of Alt-Country and come out unscathed, with Walk Under Ladders and Last Dance, Mine being particularly memorable.
Just as the listener gets comfortable with the Alt-tempo beat Caiafa throws an almighty curve ball with the Tex-Mex flavoured Roses which is so good it wouldn’t be out of place on a Calexico or Tom Russell album; then it’s back to good old fashioned Roots-Rock.
The eclectic mix of styles was confusing at first but I soon got my head around it and grew to like POWDER BLUE BONE a lot and will look forward to their third album in 2021!
Maverick Magazine, October 2011
Founded in 2001, the New York band, The Problems, consists of singer, guitarist and songwriter Frank Caiafa, banjo, keyboard player Eddy Goldberg and ladies Barbara Corless on drums and kate kilbane on bass. For their second album "Powder Blue Bone”, nine years after their self-titled debut album hit the market, they called for help from many fellow musicians for the studio recordings. Singer Charlene McPherson, Rich Hinman (pedal steel, guitarist) and mandolin player Rick Rivera, bear their part in the musicality of the 14 songs on this record.
The baritone voice of Frank Caiafa dominates the songs. They range from quiet country ballads like "June", "When We Met" and "Ran", solid rock songs like "Shipbuilding, Again", "Damage Done" and "Walk Under Ladders" (with 'Dire Straits' guitar playing tribute) to modern Americana tunes like "Close", "The Other One" and "Together".
The Calexico-like "Roses" which jumps, is one of the best songs on this CD, which was originally developed as a fully fledged rock album, but ultimately - and happily also - was made into a more country, roots-rock effort.
Whether we’ll have to wait nine years for a successor for this second album is doubtful, but then if the quality of the songs will be comparable to "Powder Blue Bone”, it may be best to wait and see what singer-songwriter Frank Caiafa and his "problems" still have in store.
Roots Time (Belgium)
Frank Caiafa’s voice dials in a vocal atop a plucked blues guitar riff on The Problems album opener, “June”. The audio distortion works well with both voice and instrumentation. As the organ comes in with its stadium speaker crackle, the mood is set and the keys seal the deal. It is a late night radio track, coming in as the lonely road disappears in the dark you left behind. The Problems’ album, ‘Powder Blue Bone’, gains clearer sound qualities but the bands dedication to organic sounds stays true. Riding comfortably between and electric, rock and country, The Problems showcase grit and heart in equal measures. (Featured Artist Of The Month, Jan. 2011)
The Alternate Root Magazine
I wondered whatever happened to this New York-based roots-rock band, after digging their 2001 self-titled debut. After spending time scoring film soundtracks, and breaking in new members Kate Kilbane and Eddy Goldberg, singer/guitarist Frank Caiafa and drummer Barbara Corless finally return with their long-awaited follow-up. Thankfully, this is no Stone Roses sophomore slump — it’s even better than their first!
Outside of three scratchy (yet pretty) acetate-like tunes that bookend the LP, the production is rich and speakers-filling. Meanwhile, carefully-crafted songs such as “Last Dance Mine,” “Together,” and “Ran” are gorgeous and vibrant, each sporting expert arrangements. Caiafa’s gravelly, Southern-flecked voice still sounds comforting and friendly, and lovely co-vocalist Charlene McPherson (from Spanking Charlene) helps offset the loss of departing first LP singer Caroline Heldman.
An album with 14 wonderful songs? No “problems” with that.
The Big Takeover Magazine #67
The Big Apple seems to be able to produce these amazing blends of musical styles just as all the different kinds of people there mingle and blend into the pulsating mass of life packed into that Atlantic corner. The same thing is happening in a microcosm on ‘Powder Blue Bone’. Speaking blues, old punk, traditional country and somehow, British invasion rock, all work their ways into the album, sometimes all at once in a song.
The result is delightful, as the two guys, two gals and handful of guests make their electro-acoustic dreams come true. The highlights are the interplay between the banjo and electric guitar solos, the times when female vocals join the male lead singer’s, the surprise visits by accordion and other surprising instruments and the interest held in the candidly sensual lyrics.
John Shelton Ivany, Top 21
The modernistic cover art for this excellent album does not lead one to expect the New York country/funk/rock/roots/punk within. No matter. Guitarist/singer Frank Caiafa's band may be all over the map, but they're engagingly original.
Rich Hinman is a standout on guitar and pedal steel."
Vintage Guitar Magazine
After their 2001 self-titled debut album received great praise from the critics, for all all intents and purposes, they vanished from the music scene. Though they kept busy landing cuts with other artists and scoring movies, it isn’t until now with ‘Powder Blue Bone’ that The Problems have officially released their sophomore album, but was it worth the wait?
The album opens with the singer/songwriter vibe on “June,” which also fuses in a bluesy roots feel as well. A good introduction to the new material and from here it continues to climb up hill. Catchy tunes like the pop based “Roses” and “Together” will have you tapping along with them as the lyrical content is surrounded in love. With the statement of “we hate being pigeonholed” made by lead singer Frank Caiafa he seems to entertain the idea to never stay within’ one genre throughout this release.
Bouncing between bluesy roots music, pop, and country adds a flavor and uniqueness to this album that helps to separate the band from others, but at the same time leaves some people wanting more of one style or another. No matter what the case may be, the album is indeed all over the map but The Problems are able to pull off the variety with relative ease and no matter what genre they are tackling, the songwriting is solid.
Today’s Country Magazine
✰✰✰✰ — After a single spin of the “Powder Blue Bone,” the Problems’ first release since 2001, I had only one question: What have you guys been doing for the past decade? This 14-track delight incorporates elements of roots rock, country and even punk for an eclectic (if slightly overstuffed) collection of first-rate tunes. After a so-so start to the proceedings with “June,” Frank Caiafa and his mates hit their stride with keepers “Close,” “Last Dance Mine,” “The Other One,” “Walk Under Ladders,” “Damage Done” and my personal favorite, the hauntingly lovely closer “Claudine.”
I’m hoping we’ll hear more music from The Problems very soon.
Jeffrey Sisk, McKeesport Daily News
Urban folk-rock meets rootsy Americana on The Problems' fine new disc, with Frank Caiafa's gravelly grey baritone vocals floating over beds of steady drums (courtesy of the excellent Barbara Corless), plinking banjo, guitars, and sundries. A variety of feels, including driving rock ("Damage Done"), are tied together by an the overall easygoing attitude established by Caiafa's laid-back singing, even on more energetic tracks like "The Other One" and "Together." The latter songs feel a bit like Steve Earle in one of his happy moods, or maybe John Prine on speed. And then there's the uncharacteristically dramatic, Dire Straits-like "Walk Under Ladders." On some songs you have to lean in if you want to make out the lyrics, but that's quite all right—the mixture of grit and sweetness is what sets The Problems apart.
Jon Sobel, BlogCritics.org
The Problems are a four piece from New York. The band released an album back in 2001 and then took a hiatus concentrating on writing for film scores and other artists. ‘Powder Blue Bone’ is the come back; a fine, fourteen track, eclectic collection of roots inflected pop-rock.
The Problems play a very down-home form of country-tinged rock n roll. I think the appropriate term for it is “Americana”. What sets The Problems apart from other Americana artists is that for the majority of the songs, they have a very strong classic rock base and vibe, but bits of country are thrown into parts of the songs. You might get a banjo solo in the middle of a rockin’ tune or some harmonica spicing up a track. There’s also a twangy country swagger to be found on some of the mellower tracks.
Through it all, the band feels very at home with their mashed up sound and they obviously appreciate the myriad of rock, pop, and country influences that can be heard throughout ‘Powder Blue Bone’.
Rick Gebhardt, DecoyMusic.com
We absolutely love the title of this CD and the accompanying photo of a young lady laying on the floor with a large ‘Powder Blue Bone’ clutched in her hand. We were instantly very curious about The Problems. The band released their debut album in 2001 but took their time getting around to writing and recording the follow up. The folks in the band spent about three years writing and recording the material included on ‘Powder Blue Bone’. Their intent was to create music that didn't fit into any specific genre.
According to the band's main songwriter, Frank Caiafa, the members "...hate being pigeonholed into one category." That is, perhaps, what makes this album such a strangely compelling spin. The songs truly do not fall within the strict confines of a specific type, or style of music. But regardless of what genre they delve into, these folks seem to have the ability to make things work.
Frank has a cool, resonant voice that is the perfect centerpiece for these intelligent compositions. The more familiar these songs become, the more resilient they seem. Fourteen smart cuts here, including "June," "The Other One," "Damage Done," and "Schoolyard Steps."
New York City's The Problems have done a lot of work below the radar since their critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 2001. While accolades piled up, The Problems moved into scoring films and writing for other artists. In 2007 the band decided to pursue the writing and release of a rock record, but it wasn't meant to be. The effort wasn't in vain, however. After meeting Eddy Goldberg (banjo, harmonica, keys, accordion, vox) and Kate Kilbane (bass), founding members Frank Caiafa and Barbara Corless reworked the album and re-imagined their sound. The resulting album, ‘Powder Blue Bone’, sets fans expectations on their ears, and is bound to raise the expectations bar the next time around.
‘Powder Blue Bone’ opens with "June", a stripped-down singer/songwriter tune with elements of blues and roots guitar work in the seams. It's a nice, low-key arrangement that adds in some interesting synth work to flesh out the sound. "Roses" is catchy and smarmy without trying to be, like Ronnie Hawkins jamming with Moxy Fruvous in a song about falling love with someone who appreciates the simple things. It's the first of several love songs on Powder Blue Bone, which turns out to be the antithesis of a breakup album. "Last Dance Mine" is a simple request made without inhibition or fear, out of hope and little else. "The Other One" is a love song written from the third party trying to cut in. It's upbeat and charmingly well-written, like the modern version of an old MGM-movie love song of similar ilk.
"Together" finds the narrator viewing a relationship with the future in mind. This upbeat and happy tune isn't quite a marriage proposal in song, but hints at all a proposal might bring. "When We Met" looks back on the roots of love in a sweet duet that's laid back and very much at peace. "Ran" starts out with Mark Knopfler-style guitar work and songwriting but fades a bit into a solid country/rock/roots arrangement. The approach again is low-key, and it works well with this song. The Problems stay on the same trajectory throughout the final four songs, but never entirely losing the rootsy energy that drives ‘Powder Blue Bone’.
‘Powder Blue Bone’ is a solid entry that tells you enough about the band to make you interested in what they'll do next.
Principal songwriter Caiafa has had many of his songs used on TV and in indie films. Here, it’s a hodgepodge of styles that still manages to add up to a satisfying album. He’s unique in that his sometimes-quirky wordplay doesn’t get cloying or precious – and the band as a whole might be the rootsiest original act in New York at present.
Good Times Music Newspaper, Long Island
I've never heard their first CD (self-titled and released in 2001), but their sophomore effort "Powder Blue Bone" has put The Problems right in the middle of my radar screen. This New York-based band is the brainchild of lead singer/rhythm guitarist/songwriter Frank Caiafa. The 14-track, 50-minute-long album features the additional talents of co-founding member Barbara Corless (drums, vocals) and newcomers Eddy Goldberg (banjo, harmonica, keyboards, vocals) and Kate Kilbane (bass).
What awaits you on this eclectic collection is a heady melange of country, alternative, roots rock, pop and a punk-ish spirit that propels this Americana band into the stratosphere with a sense of purpose, confidence and an easy-going style that only binds all the elements into a seamless whole.
There's a tightness and cohesion that sounds delightfully loose and free-wheeling. I know, a contradiction if there ever was one, but this music works. Caiafa's lead vocals kind of remind me of Tom Petty-meets-Mark Knopfler are the focal point that brings it all together. There is not a throw-away song on this CD which makes for a wonderful listening experience.
Kennebec Journal, Maine
With vocals that often sound like the Eels' Mark Oliver Everett (though less gruff), ‘Powder Blue Bone’ is a panoramic set that touches the bases of anger, tenderness, love, and regret. The cover art features attractive street scenes by photographer Ilona Lieberman with model Carina Kutternig handling the titular item.
Lots of variety, eclectic, really good pop/rock.
Jerry W. Henry - The Planet Weekly, Alabama
The Problems successfully mate the folk music tradition of such luminaries as Woody Guthrie, Mississippi Fred McDowell, etc., with highly melodic pop, country, and a little rock. With anxious lyrics about modern-day pressures like “Shipbuilding Again,” “Walk Under Ladders,” or “View of the World,” they weave personal stories with provocative insights.
The band creates a panoramic sound of big-league, soulful tunes, with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humor. Their folk harmonies are delivered with taut, electric echoes of the Hollies, and Searchers- that cool 60’s British Invasion vibe. The skilled mixture of pop allure and rock sturdiness, and to their credit, they never employ any contemporary dance beats here- they make good use of melodic rhythm to better use.
The 14 songs on ‘Powder Blue Bone’ are nearly perfect vignettes of anger, tenderness, love, and regret, performed with casual ingenuousness.
Phil Rainone - JerseyBeat.com
The band has such a mishmash of different musical stylings that it is really hard to fit them into one specific genre. Are they country? A tiny bit. Or folk? Somewhat. Pop or rock? Not necessarily either one but a possible sliver of both. You see, even I can’t quite figure out how to describe them. Let’s just say that The Problems definitely are different.
As you might have figured out, I had a hard time deciding how to describe some of the songs on the album. Most of them don’t fit into a particular box, so comparing the styling is kind of tough. But that’s what makes this band unique; their music doesn’t follow the cookie cutter format of any particular genre. The Problems are definitely a band to consider.
Bruce Von Stiers - BVSReviews.com
Opening tune “June” and the closing tunes “Schoolyard Steps” and “Claudine” are three songs that somehow are different from all the rest of the songs. It is without doubt the genre or the style used to perform them that identifies them from the rest, but still they are hard to compare with the other tunes on this album. “Roses” is the fourth song on this album but the first one that really stands out! It is without doubt the combination of the accordion and guitar together with a dash of Spanish influences that makes this song worthwhile but whatever it is, it is one of those tunes that makes a difference. With “The Other One”, we come across another tune that strikes my attention! Much more edgier then the rest, this tune clearly contains some of the previous mentioned alternative and punk influences. “Walk Under Ladders” opens with a guitar sound compared to that of the Dire Straits while “Damage Done” turns totally it’s back to the hi-fi sound and throws in a big amount of lo-fidelity.
Mr. Blue Boogie, www.billybop.be
After listening to The Problems CD in my car, I had to play these infectious songs on my morning show. The audience liked them too, they were calling in asking to hear more. This band has a fresh sound, yet familiar; they're a group that you would expect to hear at the Woodstock Fests! I think nothing but good things are in store for The Problems.
Brother Wease, Morning Show Host & Woodstock MC
The CD from 'The Problems' is full of really accessible, catchy rock & roll. The songs are very well crafted and performed with passion. These guys know how to do it.
Dave Kane, WCMF - FM 96.5 Music Director, Midday Host
Listening to The Problems, it's hard to believe they hail from New York. Their blend of jangly, rootsy rock/pop suggest a more rural U.S. home base. The LP gets off to a strong start, with three of the albums best songs: "This Town", "Ain't Over Yet", and the standout "Still". The album doesn't let up after that, with one catchy, head-bopping tune after another, and a few quieter, heartfelt ballads thrown in for good measure. Perhaps the bands biggest "problem" will be to get enough people in our big city to take notice!
The Big Takeover #49
Think Dave Matthews with a "Big Daddy" era Mellencamp fixation or Rockpile if Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds had studied Ralph Stanley instead of Chuck Berry. Either way, great stuff, original songs that showcase some great heartland rock and killer melodies that add a pop edge.
Freight Train Boogie.com
There's some great arrangements and hook filled tunes to hear, and they're all kept short and tight with minimal fuss. The lyrics are also intelligent and not your normal 'in one ear and out the other' fodder that a lot of bands end up with. Out of the 17 cuts on the album, there's really not a clunker in the bunch, a rare feat indeed.
As the singer/songwriter/poet style has resurrected with the Dylan-esque sounds of Ryan Adams, Pete Yorn and Wilco, comes New York based band The Problems, with their impressive debut record. The band confirms they can rock with the best of them on "In For Me" with an X-like vocal ambiance coupled with a Chuck Berry infused guitar solo. There are no problems with The Problems first appearence and in fact if there were a problem, it would be a lack of a recording contract. This group of musicians successfully blend musical genres without confusing the listener. The first outing for The Problems is fun, fresh, energetic, quirky, and poignant collection of very well crafted original songs.
Crud Music Magazine