“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 onguitar and pedal steel.
Vintage Guitar 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
“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
“✰✰✰✰ — 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.”
McKeesport Daily News
“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.”
“Lots of variety, eclectic, really good pop/rock.
The Planet Weekly, Alabama
“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.”
“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.
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
“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’ is a solid entry that tells you enough about the band to make you interested in what they'll do next.”
“We absolutely love the title of this CD and the photo of a young lady laying on the floor with a ‘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 to the follow up. Their intent was to create music that didn't fit into any specific genre. According to 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”
“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’.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.