Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CD Review: Pete Droge Wants You To Know That He Is "A Lot Like You"

Alternative folk musician and former member of The Thorns, Pete Droge, written and recorded the soundtrack to the documentary film "A Lot Like You". Pete also become part of the creative team on the movie, getting credit as the film's producer. Pete performs all the instruments himself, except for the accordion on "Dinner" which was supplied by Nova Karin Devone.

The songs on this album are a gentle flow of string instruments as Pete tries to set the tone for the movie's soundtrack. His performance will be familiar to fans of his music, while new fans will enjoy the subtle instrumentation he adds in his music. Most of the songs on the soundtrack are short snippets of music that grab your ear for a moment before passing it on to the next song. Pete does not supply any vocals on this album as his music sets the mood for him. Also included are songs from his 2006 album, "Under The Waves". Those songs were reworked and re-recorded for this soundtrack.

The album was released on May 24 through Puzzle Tree Records and is available through Pete Droge's website puzzletreemusic.com.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Concert Review: Paul Simon Makes His Songs Sound "So Beautiful" At Foxwoods

There are certain artists that defy generations. Their music and lyrics appeal to fans of all ages. One such artist is Hall of Famer Paul Simon. His “So Beautiful or So What” tour stopped at the MGM Grand Theater Sunday night for a taste of his musical legacy.

With such a vast catalogue spanning over 40 years, it’s tough to get all your hits into a two hour show, especially when you are also promoting a new album. Paul Simon handled the task with ease, making new songs (“Dazzling Blue”, “Rewrite”) sound like they belonged with his past hits. Simon drew some of the biggest applause early on with fan favorites from the 70s, including “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” and “Slip Slidin’ Away”. His cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Vietnam” led right into a reggae-spiced version of “Mother And Child Reunion” which was inspired by the former cover song. Paul Simon brought the sounds of New Orleans to the north with his new song “So Beautiful or So What” and “That Was Your Mother” which inspired some to get up and dance.

Paul Simon tried to hold out as long as he could, before performing the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Only Living Boy In New York”, receiving a grand applause. He touched the hearts of many with the rarely performed “Father & Daughter” before bringing many of the audience to their feet with “Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes”. Five female family members danced at the front of the stage to Simon’s delight as the crowd grew with the set’s closing song “Gumboots”.

Paul Simon returned solo to the stage for an acoustic version of Simon & Garfunkel’s hit “Sound Of Silence” that found many singing along. He got the audience up once again dancing, clapping and singing along to some of his solo classics “Kodachrome”, “Gone At Last”, and “Late In The Evening”. A surprise acoustic cover of “Here Comes The Sun”, which he performed with George Harrison on Saturday Night Live back in 1976, brought a smile to many faces. Simon seemed overwhelmed by the applause as he shook hands and bowed before exiting the stage.

Simon and his 8-piece band returned again for a second encore, closing the night with “Still Crazy After All These Years”. It seemed like the 69 year old Simon got younger throughout the night as his music transformed many in the audience back to a simpler time in their lives.

The Boy In The Bubble
Dazzling Blue
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
So Beautiful Or So What
Mother And Child Reunion
That Was Your Mother
Hearts And Bones
Mystery Train/Wheels
Slip Slidin' Away
Peace Like A River
The Obvious Child
The Only Living Boy In New York
Love Is Eternal Sacred Light
Father & Daughter
Diamond On The Soles Of Her Shoes

Sound Of Silence
Gone At Last
Here Comes The Sun
Late In The Evening
Still Crazy After All These Years

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Little Light Summer Reading Part 2

New from Voyager Press comes the essential book of Rockabilly music. This new hardcover book entitled “Rockabilly: The Twang Hear ‘Round the World” was released on May 15. It contains 232 pages of full color and black & white photos of some of the most famous musicians of Rockabilly music.

After you get over the wonderful pictures and illustrations, you then can begin to discover the history of rockabilly music. Although many know about the Rockabilly roots of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, the book goes more in-depth to discuss the beginnings of unsung heroes like Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, and Wanda Jackson. Along with all the great artists of Rockabilly, the book also talks about the clothing and guitars that were used to create this hot new brand of music. The book is plastered with many great concert posters as well as the singles that made Rockabilly history.

Rockabilly guitarist and writer Michael Dregni pulled together all this history and organized it into this outstanding, must-have hardcover book. Brians Setzer, Scotty Moore, Rev. Horton Heat among others also contributed to this amazing piece of written music history. For more information on this release and other Voyageur Press products please visit voyageurpress.com.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Little Light Summer Reading

It is a great time to be a fan of the rock band Queen. Their entire musical catalogue is getting remastered and re-released with new additional material on bonus discs. Also just released from Voyageur Press is Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. The book is 288 pages full of beautiful full-color and black & white photographs that will be new to many fans of the band.

The book starts with the coming together of the band Queen with a little background history of each member. The book goes on to capture all the extreme highs and lows the band experienced during their entire career. Sprinkled throughout are quotes from some of the biggest names in music professing their love for the band. Other than all of the great pictures, illustrations and paraphernalia, one of my favorite things about this book is the band’s tour itinerary. Every stop that Queen has played is documented within. Also, the recording and the release of every album is discussed in depth that even long-time fans will enjoy reading.

The book was released in paperback on May 15 and retails for $24.99. Author Phil Sutcliffe has been writing about rock music since 1974 and also authored the great illustrated history of AC/DC. So whether you are just discovering Queen or you’re a long-time fan, you will not want to be without this book in your musical library. For more information about this release and other Voyageur Press products, please visit voyageurpress.com.

Friday, May 27, 2011

CD Review: Almost Free Give Us Some "In/Out"

The new EP from Detroit alternative rockers Almost Free will be released on June 7. The trio of Andy Bird (guitar, vocals), Bob Impemba (bass, synth), and Garren Stevens (drums) have found a way to make a big rock sound as in the opening track "Really Don't Know (About You)" from only three members. Their sound crosses the musical boundaries of punk, alternative and pop as in "Times We Used To Have". The band also shows a love for the 80's synth sound by bringing it up-to-date in the song "Don't Bother Me Now".

The EP entitled "In/Out" was recorded in the legendary Rock City Studio which was also used by musical greats Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Parliament Funkadelic. Hopefully we will see more from this latest rock band from Detroit. For more information and song samples, please visit their myspace page (myspace.com/almostfreemusic).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CD Review: Red Light Driver Call Out "Celeste Caleste"

From the Midwest comes the new release from Red Light Driver entitled "Celeste Celeste". This EP is the follow-up to their 2010 experimental EP 'UFO Lost". The band took a more alternative, pop rock approach to four of the six songs on their new album.

The raw, almost-punk like sound of lead singer Derek Osgood on the album's opening track is a good introduction to the band. The song sounds like it comes from the streets of British Punk with just a touch of modern rock to smooth their sound. This formula also holds up for "Diamond Rough" before the EP closes with the experimental, atmospheric "Canterbury Tea". The EP also contains two short musical sections, "Enchanting" would maybe be better placed at the end of the album, while "Interlude" is a nice instrumental. I only wish that it was longer than 1 minute. Maybe they are saving that for the next full album.

Red Light Driver are playing a few select shows this summer while preparing for the release of the upcoming full-length album. Visit the band's website (redlightdriver.com) for more information.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CD Review: Paul Brady Returns With "Hooba Dooba"

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Brady returns with his first solo album in 5 years. "Hooba Dooba" brings the music icon back into the limelight he so deserves. Paul Brady has been hailed by many great artists including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt and producer Gary Katz to name only a few. His new album was released on May 24 through Proper Records and features guest appearances from Jerry Douglas and Sarah Siskind.

The new album begins with a couple of pop stand-outs "Cry It Out" and "Rainbow". The latter spotlighting Jerry Douglas on lap steel guitar. The album really takes off with the wonderful song-writing of "The Price Of Fame" as Paul Brady looks back on his career. The fragility in his voice trying to hit the high notes in "On More Today" only adds to the songs overall appeal. Paul Brady steps into the blues on the acoustic, back porch strumming of "Follow That Star". Paul pours his soul into the heartfelt ballad "Mother and Son", then returns with an acoustic folk cover of The Beatles' "You Won't See Me". The album finishes strong with the wonderfully balanced "Living The Mystery".

Paul Brady has some scattered dates this summer all over Europe, mostly performing at festivals. For more information, visit Paul's website, paulbrady.com and make sure to check out his new album.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CD Review: Elvin Bishop Is Here To Raise "Hell"

Blues singer/guitarist Elvin Bishop released a live album on May 17 entitled "Raisin' Hell Revue". The album was recorded on the legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise in 2010 and was released on Delta Groove Records. Elvin Bishop is no stranger to blues fans, performing with the likes of John Lee Hooker, The Allman Brothers Band and Led Zeppelin just to name a few. His band also includes guitarist Kid Anderson, singer Finis Tasby, singer John Nemeth and saxophonist Terry Hanck among others.

Bishop comes right out of the gate with some excellent slide guitar on the opener 'Callin' All Cows" which flows similar to another famous song, "Hand Jive". The album features the smash hit "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" with exceptional vocals by John Nemeth. Bishop takes his turn on vocals with the "What The Hell Is Goin' On" while trading solos with Kid Anderson. The band takes on the Ray Charles classic "The Night Time Is The Right Time" with mixed results before Bishop and friends come firing back on all cylinders in "Rock My Soul". The song "Cryin' Fool" becomes the spotlight for Terry Hanck's sax solo and R&B flavored vocals. The stand-out track for Elvin Bishop is "Dyin' Flu" as he works the crowd with his guitar and storied-vocals. The album finishes with the strong blues numbers "It Hurts Me Too" and "Bye, Bye Baby".

For more information on this and all of Elvin Bishop's other releases, please visit his website elvinbishopmusic.com.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Concert Review: Chris Isaak Previews New Album At Foxwoods

With a musical career spanning over 25 years, Chris Isaak has made a name for himself as one of the ambassadors of early rock 'n' roll. He has been compared to the likes of Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash, but with a Hollywood smile. His latest tour had him promoting his two year old release "Mr. Lucky" as he made his way to the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Sunday night.

As the sound of a train pulling into the station rang from the speakers, Chris Isaak emerged from the side of the stage in a black cowboy suit with white sequins. Isaak and his backing band, Silvertone, dove right into the music beginning with the lesser known "Beautiful Homes", "Dancin'", and "Flying". Isaak was also in very good spirits joking with the audience and even taking a stroll through the crowd during "Don't Leave Me On My Own". He got everyone up on their feet during "All I Want Is Your Love" doing the "forbidden dance of love" as Isaak called it. The band was set on cruise for much of the first half of the show, coasting through the hits "Wicked Game", "Speak Of The Devil", and "Somebody's Crying". Then came the "rock and roll part of the show" that displayed the full power of the band with chorographed moves and solos by guitarist Hershel Yatovitz and pianist Scott Plunkett. A lucky lady from the audience found her way on stage during "Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing" to dance along Isaak as he told the story of a woman falling in love with a musician.

The second half of their set focused on the group's new, yet to be released album that was recorded this past winter at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. Chris Isaak ran through classic covers from Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire), Carl Perkins (Dixie Fried) and Elvis Presley (It's Now or Never). The 75-minute set closed with a roaring version of Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" which included a smoking piano solo from Scott Plunkett. The piano was actually smoking throughout the whole performance of the song as Isaak and his band rocked the theater.

Silvertone returned first to the stage for the encore beginning with a drum solo from Kenney Dale Johnson that lead into a guitar solo once again from Hershel Yatovitz. Isaak came back to the stage wearing his well-known mirror suit and stopped the band from diving into "Blue Hotel". He told the audience to come to the front of the stage as then continued with "Blue Hotel" which lead into the Elvis Presely ballad "Can't Help Falling In Love". A 30 ft. woman became the backdrop for the arousing Roy Orbison cover "Pretty Woman". Isaak finished the night alone onstage performing a heartfelt solo acoustic version of his 1995 song "Forever Blue".

90-minutes of good, old fashion rock and roll is all you can ask for from one of the torch carriers of great classic music. Chris Isaak delivered a well-balanced set of covers and originals while giving his all for his fans. Look for his new album of early rock 'n' roll covers later this year.

Beautiful Homes
Don't Leave Me On My Own
I Want Your Love
San Francisco Days
Wicked Game
Speak Of The Devil
Somebody's Crying
You Don't Cry Like I Do
Go Walkin' Down There
American Boy
Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing
I'll Never Let You Go
Ring Of Fire
Dixie Fried
How's The World Treating You
It's Now Or Never
Ms. Pearl
Great Balls Of Fire

Blue Hotel
Can't Help Falling In Love
Big Wide Wonderful World
Pretty Woman
Forever Blue

Sunday, May 22, 2011

CD Review: The Scala Choir Perform Rock Covers

The combination of the Scala choir and the Kolancy Brothers has produced nine albums featuring their versions of cover songs by some of the biggest rock artists of the last two decades. The all girls choir comes from Belgium and is conducted by Stijn Kolacny with arrangements by his brother Steven Kolacny who also performs piano. Their new release “Scala & Kolancy Brothers” is a sort-of “greatest hits” package including songs from their past albums.

The all-female choir definitely put a different spin on the hard rock ballads “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica) and “Everlong” (Foo Fighters), but these versions never seem to add anything extra to the original songs. It has to be difficult to reinterprete songs that are so well-known and famous that you can’t help but compare them to the original. The Scala choir does show the power in their united voices on Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” by belting out the chorus. The high-point of the album is their rendition of U2’s “With or Without You”. The song fits so perfectly with the choir, that it almost appears to be written for them to perform. The album also carries three original songs and finishes with two live songs that proudly display the talents of these wonderful voices.

After a successful U.S. tour, the Scala choir are finishing up the summer in Germany. They also have a new video out for their cover of the Kings of Leon song “Use Somebody”. To see the video, visit scalachoir.com. You can also check out their tour dates and album information.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CD Review: Wiz Khalifa Shows Us His "Rolling Papers"

Hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa is being hailed as one of the hottest new artists of 2011. His new album “Rolling Papers” is his major label debut and was released at the end of March. The album entered the Billboard 200 Album chart at #2, selling almost 200,000 in its first week. So far, Wiz Khalifa is living up to the hype.

Don’t let the piano intro fool you; Wiz Khalifa is all about big beats and smooth rolling lyrics. The mellowness of “On My Level” lets you absorb his lyrics without overtaking you with the music. His #1 single, “Black and Yellow” best displays the successful formula of Wiz Khalifa with a repetitive chorus that gets drilled into you mind and beats that can’t be denied. His second single “Roll Up” continues along the same lines as his first successful single. The beats and rhymes of “Wake Up” are sure to be another hit single as Wiz gives you his blueprint for success. “No Sleep” was a digital-only released single that reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, but seems too safe and predictable a song for Wiz. The more experimental songs like “Top Floor” and “Fly Solo” allow for Wiz Khalifa to spread his wings and take more chances on his songs.

Wiz Khalifa’s Rolling Papers 2011 tour is currently overseas before returning at the end of May with appearance at the B.O.M.B. festival in Hartford, CT and the Bonnaroo Festival in June. For more information on Wiz Khalifa and his new album, please visit wizkhalifa.com.

Friday, May 20, 2011

CD Review: Australian Duo, Texas Tea Give Us "Junkship Recordings"

Australian duo Texas Tea released their latest album entitled "The Junkship Recordings" on Pulse One Records back in 2008 and is beginning to get noticed here in North America. Their music is not overpowering in any way, shape or form. Their sound is laid-back acoustics and storytelling lyrics.

The duo of Kate Jacobson and Benjamin Doughety share vocal duties throughout the album. Kate's haunting vocals in the opener "Cane Farmers Song" grabs your attention, then leaves you wanting more. "Kiss Me Gently" feels like a country ballad from the sixties with Kate's vocals becoming the main focus of the song. Her sound switches from the whisper of "Don't Believe In Jesus" to belting out the chorus of "Autumn". Her musical partner Benjamin gets his vocal spotlight on "The Ferry Song" and "Down To The Shore" giving the song a Leonard Cohen vocal range. The bright spot on the album is the banjo-strumming, up-tempo "Billy" which finds the perfect backdrop for Kate's country roots. The depressed sounding "Winter" closes the album and has Ben doing his best Lou Reed impression on the vocals.

Texas Tea is heading over to Europe to perform 15 shows during the month of July before heading back home to Australia. For more information on this band visit their myspace page (myspace.com/texastea).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CD Review: The Felice Brothers Welcome You To "Celebration, Florida"

The Felice Brothers have recently released their Fat Possum debut “Celebration, Florida”. The album was recorded in the gymnasium and theater of an old high school in Beacon, NY. The experimentation paid off as The Felice Brothers expand on their Americana, roots sound.

The big, up-tempo sound of the opener “Fire At The Pageant” is a nice contrast to the slow, eerie piano of “Container Ship”. The carnival-like organ beginning of “Honda Civic” gets taken over by rock-like drum beat and the blare of horns. The song “Oliver Stone” seems to drag-on before the waltz-like tempo of “Ponzi” grabs your attention. The simplicity of “Back In The Dancehalls” is a nice touch, showing another side to the band’s song-writing. Singer, guitarist Ian Felice does his best Bob Dylan impression on the folk ballad “Dallas”, then the band returns with the big banging drums of “Cus’s Catskill Gym”. The album closes with the acoustic folk storytelling of “Best I Ever Had” and haunting, preaching of “River Jordan”.

The Felice Brothers are currently on tour, performing at the B.O.M.B. Festival in Hartford, CT on May 28th. They will also me making an appearance at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival in July. Please visit the band’s website, thefelicebrothers.com, to hear a complete stream of the new album and also for videos and tour dates.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CD Review: EMA Brings Up Her "Past Life"

EMA is the new project from ex-Gowns singer/guitarist Erika M. Anderson. Her new album entitled “Past Life Martyred Saints” was released on May 10 through Souterrain Transmissions. EMA is considered by Spin magazine to be one of the best new artists to watch in 2011.

The eerie whisper-like vocals of the albums opening track “The Grey Ship” gets lifted by the just a simple bass line that gives the song life. The vocals in “California” give the song a punk rock attitude with an orchestration of sounds weaving through the lyrics. The music in “Anteroom” mirrors the vocals as the song builds up to its climax. The harmonizing a “Coda” shows us the potential in Erika’s voice before returning back to her whisper-like vocals in “Marked”. EMA gets whipped into a frenzy by attacking the lyrics of “Butterfly Knife” before finishing with the subtle, slow-building song, “Red Star”.

Check out EMA’s website (cameouttanowhere.com) for videos, tour dates and song samples from the new album.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CD Review: Sherman Ewing Releases "Single Room Saloon" With Help From Friends

Singer/songwriter Sherman Ewing released his second solo album earlier this year as a digital-only release. With the album receiving much praise from critics and fellow musicians, a physical copy of the album “Single Room Saloon” will be released this spring. The new album was produced by Godfrey Diamond (Loud Reed, Aerosmith).

The thing that is appealing about Sherman Ewing is not only his wonderful storytelling lyrics as in “Heaven Waits”, but also how he portrays the sound of past folk troubadours like Bob Dylan and John Hiatt. The wonderful rhythm section of George Recile on drums and Tony Guarnier on bass help give Sherman Ewing’s words a distinct path to follow. The airy, open acoustics of “Flatlands” gets help from Widespread Panic’s Jo Jo Hermann on keys. The acoustic gentleness of “Walk On” is highlighted by the sweet harmonies and just a touch of organ from Ivan Neville. Other guests on the album are Phish lyricist Tom Marshall, guitarist Anthony Krizan from the Spin Doctors and trumpeter Michael Ray from Kool and the Gang among some others. Sherman Ewing pours his heart into this album which shows on “Bye, Bye America” and “Marilyn”.

Sherman Ewing has a CD release party scheduled for June 9 at Sullivan Hall in New York City. Do yourself a favor and visit shermanewing.com to hear song samples from the new album “Single Room Saloon”.

Monday, May 16, 2011

CD Review: A Lull Enjoys Debut With "Confetti"

From Chicago comes A Lull with their debut album "Confetti". The album was released back in April through Mush Records. The band strives on layering sounds and vocals to create a musical masterpiece. Their overall sound is hard to describe, but it will definitely catch your attention.

A Lull uses a repetitiveness of vocal sounds to create the background which then gets taken over by the bashing of drums in the album's lead track "Weapons of War". The songs become a sort of game between the band and the listener to try and figure out what is being used to create the music in songs like "Mammals" and "Water & Beasts". A Lull try to simplify their sound in the more gentle sounding "Some Love" and "Sidemen". They try to reach a more mainstream sound on "Dark Stuff", while keeping their originality intact. "Phem" sounds like a lost Peter Gabriel song that was transported into the future. Their sound is definitely one to behold and explore.

A Lull just finished up a tour with Cold War Kids and performed at this year's SXSW festival. They will be performing at the NXNE festival in June before heading back out on the road. Check out the band's website (alull.com) to get a taste of this music for yourself.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CD Review: Karrin Allyson Pays Tribute To Legendary Songwriters

Grammy nominated vocalist Karrin Allyson returns with her new album entitled "'Round Midnight". Released at the beginning of May on the Concord Jazz label, Karrin sets the mood with her sultry vocals while letting the music breathe on its own. This new album is her tribute to some of the greatest songwriters in history.

She begins with a the soft, smooth jazz of "Turn Out The Stars". Her vocal delivery is uncanny on this composition. Karrin does a masterful job taking the Paul Simon penned "April Come She Will" and making it her own while keeping true to the original. Karrin Allyson really shines on the simple, but powerful rendition of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" singing and performing piano on this and all the songs on this album. All of her renditions just keep a gentle flow of music with Karrin's vocals accented by her wonderful backing band.

Karrin Allyson will be featuring performances from her new album at live shows beginning in the Northeast with dates in Boston and Northampton, MA. For a complete list of her tour dates as well as information on her new album, please visit karrin.com.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CD Review: The Wait Is Over For The Bynars

Pop rock takes a shot in the arm with the debut release from The Bynars. Their self-titled album is finally out and is worth the wait. After teasing their fans with singles, we finally get a complete work.

The album shows a band having fun, performing light-hearted sounding pop rock gems. The formula of harmonizing vocals, memorable choruses and just enough rock is one the band has been working on for many months prior to the album's release. Songs like "Steal My Sunshine", "Ba, Ba, Ba" and "Angeline" are just a blast to listen to with its simple sounds and unforgettable lyrics. The Bynars expand their sound slightly with the more up-tempo, keyboard friendly "Haunted House" before returning back to their love of pop sounds in the album closing anthem "Love Explosion".

The Bynars have dates lined up through July in the New England area. Please visit their website (thebynars.com) for song samples, music videos and a complete list of tour dates.

Friday, May 13, 2011

CD Review: The Medics Ride The Boat Of "Love"

Indie rockers, The Medics are a small Australian band with a big sound. The band's latest EP entitled "This Boat We Call Love" draws some strong similarities to fellow alternative rockers Radiohead. Their attitude in their music has a bit more of a punk edge as found in the song "Joseph". The passion this band has for performing is also felt in the song "Sinking Ship" while "Wolves" is an acoustic Alternative pop ballad that's hard to resist.

The Medics won the Australian Deadly Award for the 2010 Band of the Year. Look for some live dates to come soon on the band's Myspace page (myspace.com/themedicsband1).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CD Review: ...music video? Wants To Know "If This TV Could Talk"

From Tucson comes ...music video? with their latest release "If This TV Could Talk". They recently appeared at the SXSW festival and have shared the stage with bands like the Meat Puppets and many others.

The new album opens with a cocktail mixture of electronic, pop, alternative, and rock on "No Things Happen For Reasons". The music featured on the opener is a breath of fresh ideas to the music world. The experiment stops there as ...music video? starts to takes the more pop friendly route. "You're Not In Love" is a very safe, radio-friendly sounding song with too much added to the overall sound. The band  tries traveling back in time, first with the modern beats of "In Case We Catch Fire", then jumping back to the 1980s with "I'm Afraid of Everything" and then back even further with the 70's vibe of "Another Natural Disaster". The album continues on the dance pop track with the electronic/ R&B sounds of "Not Worth Your Time" and the soft, subtleness of "Ballad of Red Klotz". The overall sound of the new album is very fresh and new at times, but it is also deceptive of the type of music genre it follows.

The band is currently booking dates for a summer tour. Please visit their myspace page (myspace.com/musicvideo) for more album information and song samples.

Bon Jovi Honored At Mohegan Sun Last Saturday

Bon Jovi was honored backstage prior to their May 7th show at Mohegan Sun with a delicious gourmet chocolate cake. In the picture from left to right: David Bryan (Keyboard and vocals), (Tribal Chairman) Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, Jon Bon Jovi, (Senior VP of Sports & Entertainment) Tom Cantone, and Ticco Torres.
Photo by (c) 2011 David Bergman / http://www.tourphotographer.com/

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CD Review: The Sewing Circle Has Us Seeing "Stars"

The Sewing Circle have been working on the follow-up to their indie debut since December 2009 and finally on May 10, "I Saw Stars" will be released. Produced by Jonathan James and Ryan Spilken, the band took their time with pre-production to get the songs just right for this release.

The lead vocals of Meghan Blake on the opener "Lead Role" blend well with Andrew Rhodes' buzzing guitars and grunge-like solo. The band moves on from the hard-rocking opener to the angry folk, protest song "So As In Salem", which finds Andrew taking over the reigns on vocals. Their loud, grunge sound returns in "Love Games" which is the perfect combination of vocals and instruments. The band has fun on the laid-back alternative pop sounds of "Five Cigarettes" before closing with the soft-sounding ballad "Until Now" about dealing with loss.

The time spent on their new album was well worth it as The Sewing Circle find the right balance of rock, grunge and pop without losing their edge that makes them unique. The band has live dates lined up into June. For a complete listing, please visit their website, thesewingcircle.net.

Monday, May 9, 2011

CD Review: Come Visit The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library

The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library sound like it belongs in your local neighborhood or could be found at your local school, but actually it is the latest band from the Northeast. Band leader Michael Epstein got the idea for his band name while on a trip in Washington D.C. visiting the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library. The idea for the name just stuck as he was developing this nine-piece folk orchestra. Their debut release, entitled simply "Volume 1" will be available on May 10th.

The music ranges from the Americana sounding "Amylee" to the dark folk storytelling of "The Weeping Song". The Memorial Library tries to add a bit of pop overtones in "Every Time I Visit You, It Rains", but the monotone vocals and mellow instrumentation keeps the mood somber. Even if the song's subject matter isn't always pleasant as in "Lymph Nodes", the up-tempo sound of the music gives the song a light, airy feeling. The band comes together in unison on "Civil Engineering" as the tempo and lyrics mesh well together.

The band have a show scheduled for May 19 in Cambridge, MA. For more information and song samples from the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, please visit michaeljepstein.com.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

CD Review: Stax Remasters Coming From The Concord Music Group

Concord Music Group returns once again, this time launching the Stax Remasters Series. The series begins with three classic soul/R&B albums receiving the remaster treatment with bonus songs added for good measure. The Stax record label was one of the top music labels producing some of the biggest R&B, soul and gospel albums in the 1960s and 1970s. The three albums presented here all have that right combination that made Stax records so popular.

The first album in the series is the 1970 "McLemore Avenue" from Booker T. & the MGs. The album was a tribute to The Beatles album, "Abby Road". Keyboardist Booker T. Jones, explained that it was his "fascination and admiration" for The Beatles that was the premise for this album. The four original tracks produced for the album have been sonically upgraded using 24-bit remastering and the sound is just phenomenal. The R&B spin that Booker T & the MGs put on these Beatles' classic only add to the song's already strong following. This new remastered album also includes six bonus tracks. All of them are Beatles songs performed by Booker T & the MGs at different times in their career. The bonus songs "You Can't Do That" and "Day Tripper", recorded in the mid-1960s , features more of a balance between guitar and keyboards. Other bonus tracks like "Michelle" and "Eleanor Rigby" are heavy on the keyboards and lack the punch of the original album, but definitely deserve to be recognized on this release. The 12-page booklet also features a new write-up from famed music author Ashley Kahn.

The second album in this series is The Staple Singers' "Be Altitude: Respect Yourself". After becoming iconic gospel singers in the 1950s, The Staple Singers turned toward R&B in the 1970s dubbing their sound as "message music". Originally released in 1972, this album became an R&B blueprint for success. The way The Staple Singers take the songs "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" and have made them special all these years is just outstanding. The album sounds great as you hear each of their voices in perfect pitch. The 24-bit remastered album adds two bonus tracks, the previously unreleased "Walking In Water Over Our Head" and an alternate take of "Heavy Makes You Happy". The 12-page booklet includes a recent write-up from the Grammy Award Winning author Rob Bowman.

Last, but not least, the third album in this series is from R&B hit-maker Jonnie Taylor. "Taylored In Silk" was released in 1973 and entered the Billboard album charts at #54 and the Billboard R&B albums chart at #3. The combination of producer Don Davis and Jonnie Taylor helped shape Tayor's career in the early 1970s creating a harder edge, more up-tempo approach to his music. The original eight-song album gets garnished with five additional bonus tracks all released as Stax singles in 1971 and 1972. The 12-page booklet also gets a new write-up from Bill Dahl.

Hopefully this is only the beginning of a wonderful series as each of these new releases show us the highest quality was put into reproducing these classic albums. It's also good that fans will not be disappointed with repurchasing these albums with all these great bonus songs added on. For more information on these new releases, please visit the Concord Music Group website (concordmusicgroup.com).

Saturday, May 7, 2011

CD Review: "Until Then" We Have The Bright White

From Chicago comes The Bright White with their debut EP entitled "Until Then". Their music combines the classic rock sound of the 70's with British Pop lyrics. Loud guitars, pounding drums and strong lyrics is what this band is all about.

The EP starts off with "Red Summer Rose" which lays the groundwork for the proper introduction to this new band. Simply, memorable lyrics get a boost from Matthew Kayser's powerful vocals along with Joe O'Leary's blazing guitar. From the heavy rock of the opener, the band takes a more pop rock approach to "We Are More Than Animals". The song carries a safer tone to reach a more general audience. The song "Upon The Wall" draws up similarities to latter-day Soundgarden, but keeps the more pop rock side to their sound. The Bright White find their edge on the pounding rocker "Refugees" before closing with the acoustic strumming of "She Never Forgets Me".

The Bright White have a show coming up on June 11 in Chicago before heading out on a tour of the Northeast. Please visit the band's website (thebrightwhite.com) for song samples as well as up to date information on this rising band.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CD Review: P.J. Pacifico Gives Us An "Outlet"

Connecticut's own singer/songwriter, P.J. Pacifico, will be releasing his new album on June 7 entitled "Outlet". The album will be on Viper Records and was produced by Grammy Award Winner Dave O'Donnell (James Taylor, John Mayer). P.J. is currently performing in the Connecticut area to promote the new album.

His radio-friendly sound is captured perfectly in the album's first two singles "Fold Up Your Heart" and "Head's Up". P.J. shows a maturity in his song-writing as the songs on this album are more than just another pop song with no meaning. His songs capture a feeling and accurately paint a picture in your mind of the story he's trying to portray to the listener. P.J. invites you into his world in "Home With Me" giving us his story of love for his wife. The song "Lakeshore Drive" displays the gentle, smoothness in P.J. voice as he draws you in with his storytelling lyrics. The simply titled "New Song" shows us the fun and wittiness in P.J.'s song-writing as the sound flows similar to Jason Mraz. The album closes with his tribute to one of his heroes, Buddy Holly, performing the song, "Targets" in a "Peggy Sue" swing-style.

P.J. Pacifico will be performing solo this evening at the Southport Coffee House before continuing on May 7 with his band in Fairfield, CT. P.J. will be returning to the area again at the end of the month performing in Bridgeport. For a complete list of tour dates and album information, please visit pjpacifico.com.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CD Review: Twin Atlantic Comes "Free" From Scotland

Coming from Scotland is one of the hottest new rock bands in the world. Twin Atlantic just released, “Free”, their follow-up to their 2009 critically acclaimed album, “Vivarium”. Produced by Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies), this album uses the band’s signature alternative punk sound as a foundation and just expands from there.

The album leads off with the energy of their first single, “Edit Me”. The sound is just an aggressive attack with Sam McTrusty’s vocals being matched by the lead guitar of Barry McKenna. The song “Time For You To Stand Up” shows us the band’s maturity in their song-writing, while “Dreamemeber” shows us the fun these four have performing together. The album’s second single; “Free” carries a strong, memorable chorus that becomes the battle cry for this generation of fans. Twin Atlantic show off their simple, softer side on the acoustic ballad “Crash Land” before Ross McNae’s bass groove welcomes “Make A Beast of Myself”. The drums of Craig Kneale power the band through “The Ghost of Eddie” leading into the instrumental “Serious Underground Dance Vibes”. The album does lose steam and energy with the pop rock sounding “Wonder Sleeps Here” before trying to capture some of that energy with the closer “We Want Better Man”.

Twin Atlantic is currently on tour in Europe until the beginning of June. The new album was released on May 3rd through Red Bull Records. They currently have a video for the song “Free” which has been on rotation on MTV, Kerrang! TV, and Scuzz TV. For more information on this ever-growing band, please visit their website, twinatlantic.com.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

CD Review: Ravishers Release Their Self-Titled Debut Album

From Portland, Oregon comes the Ravishers with their self-titled, full-length debut album on Timber Carnival Records. The core members of the group, Dominic Castillo and Jonathan Barker, have invited an assorted cast of musicians to help with the album.

The album starts off with the slow build up of "I'm Him", first with low, subtle lyrics before reaching the simple, memorable chorus. Dominic shows off his pop music song-writing skills on the catchy sounds of "Keep You Around". The band plays around to perfection with the music of "The Chase", but seems to try too hard with the fuzz guitars of "Underachievers". The mellowness of "Pinhole" seems like the right combination of Castillo's lyrics/vocals and Barker's subtle guitar. The band tries their hand once again at a more aggressive alternative rock song in "Lesson In Leaving" with more success, but quickly return back to the pop sounds of "How I Feel" and "Nobody Falls In Love Anymore".

The Ravishers are preparing for their summer tour. Check out the band's website (ravisherstheband.com) for updates and album information.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Connecticut's Charles Diamond Preps Debut Album

Connecticut's own independent songwriter Charles Diamond is in the process of putting together his first solo album. Diamond was once a member of the Connecticut punk band Hero's For Hire before the band broke-up in 2010. Diamond is going for a different approach to his new songs with the keyboard heavy "Electric Heat". The lyrics are pop simplicity at its finest and stand out on this rough demo that also includes an actual finger snapping solo. Another song Diamond has put together is "The Heart Remix" which is a bit more complete as far as production. The song is still heavy on the keyboards, but Diamond's passion for his lyrics come shinning through.

For more information on this Connecticut music artist, please visit his myspace page (myspace.com/charlesdiamondmusic).

Monday, May 2, 2011

CD Review: Dredg Return With "Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy"

California rock band Dredg return with the release of "Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy". The band's last album, "The Pariah, the Parrot, The Delusion" brought stardom, entering the Billboard music charts at #71. Dredg hopes to continue with that success, but has decided to put a different spin on their new album.

Right from the opening track "Another Tribe", you notice the band taking a more pop approach to their song-writing on their fifth album. Lead singer Gavin Hayes' vocals stand out above the aggressive drumming and grunge guitars of "Upon Returning". The addition of producer/musician Dan the Automator (Gorillaz) is noticed as Dredg brings more synthesizer into the band's rock sound. Songs like "Somebody Is Laughing" and "The Thought Of Losing You" is sure to catch the attention of alternative rock radio. Dredg digs up a modern Depeche Mode sound on "Down Without A Fight". The acoustics come out for the gentle flow of "Kalathat" before returning to the pop beats of "Sun Goes Down" and "Where I'll End Up".

Dreg's new album will be released on May 3rd which is also the start of their US tour. The band will make their way across the country during the month of May before heading over to Germany at the beginning of June. Visit the band's website (dredg.com) for a complete list of tour dates and album information.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

CD Review: Greg Gibbs Puts On "The Lights"

Chicago songwriter Greg Gibbs released a collection of recordings made in his home studio. The album entitled "The Lights" is Gibbs' third album and his first in two years. The new songs have him reaching new heights in music.

The lonely sound of keyboards start off the album before the nice acoustic strumming chorus fills in, but the song never really takes off. "Wasted Plans" is a great beginning with some fun lyrics, but still lacks that full band feel. His talents finally shine through on "Slow Down" and "What I Had In Mind". The echo in his voice on "Mind" is a nice touch to give the idea of solitude. Gibbs sticks with the acoustics on "I Don't Mind" and "Most Guitars Are Made Of Trees" which become the best background sound for his storytelling pop lyrics.

Greg Gibbs was recently named Soundcloud's "Artist of the Day" in February of this year. For more information on this independent artist, visit his website at gregpoop.com.