Friday, November 28, 2008

These Green Eyes Gives Us Ghosts

Local band, These Green Eyes (New Haven, CT), are preparing to release their sophomore album, "Relapse To Recovery" in March 2009. They currently have a preview EP available for download at their website www.thesegreeneyes.com. The EP is entitled "Ghosts" and features 4 songs (2 from their upcoming album and 2 from their debut album). The band has a great modern rock sound and they harmonize very well as displayed in the song "Crimson". They also show their softer side at the beginning of "When The Lights Go Out". Then the mellow acoustic guitars and heartfelt singing gives way to a rock assault before returning again. There is also a video for the band's first single "Sucker Punch" on their MySpace page www.myspace.com/thesegreeneyes. They are currently on tour and will be performing at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA on December 13th. Stay tuned for a review of their new album coming soon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Waltz This Thanksgiving

While there isn't that many songs associated with the Thanksgiving holiday aside from Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song", there is one very important concert that took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. It was the "farewell" performance of The Band.

The Band (Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko Levon Helm) started out in 1958 as the backing band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. After five years, they then became the backing band for Bob Dylan on his famous 1965-1966 world tour. By 1968, The Band released their debut album (Music from Big Pink) to critical acclaim. After seven albums and constantly being on the road, The Band decided to call it quits. They would perform one last concert that would feature friends and special guests to perform along side The Band. This concert was filmed and recorded by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsesse as a documentary of The Band's final show.

The show took place on November 25, 1976 (Thanksgiving Day) at 5:00 p.m. 5,000 fans were treated to a turkey dinner and ballroom dancing before The Band took the stage at about 9:00 p.m. They began the evening with one of their most popular songs, "Up On Cripple Creek". Starting with Ronnie Hawkins, friends and fellow musicians, took the stage to share the spotlight with The Band, from blues legend Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton to finally Bob Dylan. The concert finally ended with an encore performance of "Don't Do It" at 2:15 a.m.

While this would be the final performance given by the original members of The Band, they would release 3 more albums made up of different members. This year, 2008, is the 30th Anniversary of the release of this historic film and accompanying soundtrack. The film is hailed as one of the greatest concert films of all-time and the soundtrack isn't too far behind.

So after the Thanksgiving feast has been eaten, the dishes washed, and your just waking up from your nap and realizing that the football game is over, pop in the "Special Edition" DVD of The Last Waltz. Also, don't forget, as the beginning title card says, "This film should be played loud!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Music Exclusives

It seems that the new trend among today's big albums is that only one store can sell them. I always thought that you wanted to get the most exposure possible. Then why are some of the biggest names in rock only selling career defining albums at one specific retail store? The answer is simple: MONEY!

While store exclusives isn't anything new, selling entire albums of brand new material exclusively at one store is becoming a big thing. In 2005, everybody thought Garth Brooks was crazy when he signed an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart. He released a 6-CD box set which contained a disc of unreleased songs. It sold over 500,000 copies on the date it was released and over 1 million copies by the end of 2005. Last year, the Eagles made a similar deal with Wal-Mart, in that it would sell their first CD of brand new material in over 20 years. Since its release last year, it has sold over 5 million copies. Another Wal-Mart example is the band Journey. They released their brand-new album, with new lead singer Arnel Pineda, exclusively through Wal-Mart. It contained 1CD of new material, 1CD of rerecorded classics and 1 live DVD. Revelation sold over 107,000 copies in its first week and debuting at #5 on the Billboard charts. A feat that hasn't been matched by the band since original singer Steve Perry and drummer Steve Smith left the band. The latest supergroup to sign with Wal-Mart was AC/DC. They released their 15th studio album, "Black Ice" exclusively through Wal-Mart. It sold 1,762,000 units in its first week and shipped 5 million copies worldwide. It was the band's biggest new album debut ever.

Wal-Mart is not the only big fish in the pond. Best Buy also has their share of exclusives. Last year, Best Buy exclusively sold the Tom Petty The Heartbreakers documentary "Runnin' Down A Dream", which contained 3DVDs and 1CD. Just this past month, Best Buy has exclusively sold Elton John's "The Red Piano" 2DVD, 2CD set and The Police "Certifiable" 2DVD, 2CD set. But, Best Buy has done what no other retailer could do for the past 15 years and that was to get Axl Rose to release the long-awaited new Gun N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy". This album is one of the most aticapated rock albums of all time and will only be available at Best Buy stores. So, if you want to get your hands (or ears) on a copy of this album on CD (or vinyl), you'll have to make your way to the nearest Best Buy on November 23 or order it online at bestbuy.com.

As I write this, I'm beginning to think that stores having exclusive albums isn't such a bad thing. The artist makes money on the deal, the store makes money on the sales and the consumer buys the album at a resonable price. But, when will this all get out of hand? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Concert Review: Elton John's Epic Performance At Mohegan Sun

Sir Elton John performed one of his final two US shows of the year at the Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night before a sold-out crowd. The 3-hour performance garnished a total of 25 songs primarily made up of his greatest hits.

A standing ovation welcomed Elton John to the stage as the keyboard intro to "Funeral For A Friend" overtook the audience. Dressed in a conservative black coat (with musical notes) and tails, he seemed ready to begin his rock concerto. The hits started right-away with "The Bitch Is Back", before drawing the next three songs from his 1971 album "Madman Across The Water". He performed fan favorites, "Tiny Dancer" and "Levon", but it was the title song that showcased Elton John piano playing with a solo that pushed the song over the ten minute mark. Throughout the night, Elton John made it a point to thank the audience for their overwhelming support. "Believe", from his 1995 Made In England album, was the newest song performed that evening before he dove back in time with a performance of "Take Me To The Pilot". "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Daniel" were both well-received before an epic version of his 1972 hit "Rocket Man" overtook the audience. The hits kept coming with performances of "Honky Cat", "Sacrifice", and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me". The rare gem of the evening came in the form of the song "All The Girls Love Alice" from his 1973 album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".

Elton John proceeded to slow the tempo down with "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Words" and a solo version of "Candle In the Wind". A small crowd had rushed the stage as the band played the opening chords to "Bennie And The Jets". "Sad Songs", "Philadelphia Freedom", "I'm Still Standing" brought the remainder of the audience to their feet to dance to these popular hits. The energy level was raised to the max with the closing songs, "Crocodile Rock" and "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)".

With everyone still on their feet, Elton John returned to the stage to sign about two dozen autographs before taking a seat at his piano for a cover of The Who's "Pinball Wizard". He finished the evening off with one of his earliest hits from 1970, "Your Song". As the clock struck 11, Elton John left the stage to a much deserved standing ovation.

While the high notes are no longer reachable, his voice seemed as strong as ever and his piano playing and backing band is second to none. While expectations (and ticket prices) were high, no one was looking for a refund. I'm sure that every audience member felt they hit the jackpot with his performance that evening. Upcoming shows at Mohegan Sun features the legendary Neil Diamond, Tim McGraw's only New England appearance and Kenny Rogers' Christmas Show.

Friday, November 14, 2008

CD Review: Arden Kaywin's Elephant Sized 2nd Album

Arden Kaywin first came onto the music scene with her critically acclaimed debut album "Quarter Life Crisis". In 2006, she was nominated for Pop Song of the Year for the Independent Music Awards. Her music has been featured in numerous shows on MTV, NBC, ABC and the WB Network. Her latest release entitled "The Elephant In The Room" has her crossing musical boundaries with a Top 40 style to the songs.

The album starts off wonderfully with the song "Let It Go". The first thing the listener will notice is how beautiful her voice sounds in this Norah Jones' type composition. The albums picks up quickly with "Lights Out". The song carries a dance beat which gets highlighted by an acoustic guitar provided by album producer ZIV. Her singing really stands out and shines on the tracks, "The Last Time" and "So Beautiful", in which she lets her voice soar over the music. She plays into the "pop" music spotlight with the songs "Butterflies 2.0", with its unforgettable chorus, "Galileo", with its playful lyrics and the rockin' "Boys & Girls". Arden Kaywin's singing on "Grand Soiree" gives a jazzy, "scat" style to the lyrics. She takes "control" of the "girl power" song, "Girl In A Man's World" in which she displays some her most passionate singing. "Sleepwalking" is a nice song, but feels more like a "filler" track than a "stand-out" performance. The gentleness of the title track "The Elephant In The Room" is the real gem on this album with its Tori Amos song style. The closing track is the most lively song on the album. "The Way I Am" tells her audience that this who she is and she isn't changing for anybody.

"The Elephant In The Room" was released on October 21st and is available in stores and online at itunes and amazon.com. She was currently featured in October issue of Seventeen magazine and has a live show scheduled for December 18th at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles, CA. For more information on Arden Kaywin, please visit her website at www.ardenkaywin.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Last Experience

The last remaining original member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience has passed away. Drummer Mitch Mitchell, 62, was found dead in his hotel room in Portland, Oregon. Early reports say that he died of natural causes. This marks the end to one of the most amazing trios to ever perform. While Jimi Hendrix's guitar style pushed the envelope, Mitch Mitchell's drumming is what gave the songs their energy. Bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell were considered one of the premiere rhythm sections in the sixties. He recently performed on the Experience Hendrix tour, which ended 5 days before his death. He will be deeply missed throughout the music industry.

Monday, November 10, 2008

CD Review: Rusty Truck's Luck An All-Star Event

"Luck's Changing Lanes" is the debut album from country group, Rusty Truck. Rusty Truck is the brainchild of world-reowned photographer Mark Seliger. He's worked with Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and GQ magazine. His work as a photographer in the musical industry has helped him become friends with a lot of musicians, many of which perform along side him on this album.

The albums starts off with the country-rocker "Every Time". It features Jakob Dylan and Rami Jafee of The Wallflowers. The duo also perfom on the songs " Malibu Canyon", which is a country driving song, and "Never Going Back", a mellow acoustic song about always moving forward. While the songs carry a consistancy with Mark's voice, each song has it's own personality brought on by different producer. "Cold Ground", produced by T Bone Burnett features Sheryl Crow and has a "Bayou Country Beat", similar to the Robert Plant/Alison Kraus album which was also produced by T Bone Burnett. Fellow musician Lenny Kravitz lends a hand on the songs "Broken Promises", "Fool' and "Prey". All three songs show off Mark's softer, ballad side.

"1000 Kisses" features country legend Willie Nelson. Both performers play perfectly into each other's strengths. The album's title track "Luck's Changing Lanes" is the highlight of the album. A mellow song that features Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on background vocals and guitar. The other song that features this pair is "Tangled In The Fence" which is a country song with a "back to basics" sound.

The album was originally only available for a limited time, but has since been rereleased with an accompanying DVD that features the album in 5.1 surround sound and five music videos. The album is available at amazon.com and on iTunes. Visit www.rustytruckmusic.com for more information.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

CD Review: The People's Party Become One

The People's Party debut album, "We Am One", offers the listener a variety of musical stylings in one album. Their music is dubbed by the band as "hippie-hop". A cross between jamband music and rap with a funky vibe. It works great on most of the songs, but some songs seem to get lost in the mix.

The opening song, "Sunrise" and "We Am One" have a Dave Matthews Band vibe to them because of the way the lyrics sound with song's complex rhythm. The song "Art of War" has an angry political message that is displayed by the hard funk/r&b/hip-hop song style. "My Friend" also has that same funk/R&B/hip-hop sound in the song. The songs "Chloe" and "Black Widow" seem like the right musical path for the band to travel down. These songs have a funk/jamming feel to them. The horns and the beat give these songs either the ability to dance to them or to just sit back, listen and enjoy. "Seventeen" and "Now" are a couple of songs where the band can pull-off a 20 minute jam when played live. "Divinity" has a nice groove to it. The vocal stylings of Curtis James and Maesyn work so well together. They band also plays some Dixieland Jazz as shown in the song "If. You. See. Kay.". The album ends with the mellow "Fade Away", which hands the spotlight over to the musicians.

With an album like this, full of a variety of musical styles, it's hard to pinpoint or even describe the band's signature sound. This could either help or hurt the band. It puts a lot of pressure on making the lyrics work with the music. On The People's Party album "We Am One", the bands shows their full range and musical capabilities. For more information on The People's Party debut album please visit www.thepeoplespartymusic.com.

Monday, November 3, 2008

CD Review: Damage Gives Us The Truth

Damage, from Orange County, CA, have released their sophomore album, "Truth And Consequence". Their music is modern rock sound with very powerful, mature lyrics. Their songs have the grunginess of Stone Temple Pilots and the complexity of Led Zeppelin along with a style all their own.

"Truth And Consequence" features songs like "God", "Forgive Me" and "Every Single Day" that show off the full force of the band's music with searing guitars and pounding beats. Spencer Wright's bass and GW Pope's drumming give the songs their stability before Tony Buschauer's guitar solos take the songs over. The keyboards featured in "You Seeing Me" and "No-One" help these songs stand out, but take away from the heaviness of the overall sound of the album. Lead singer Michael Neufeld shows his passion for this album's messages in the songs "My Point Of View" and "The Other Side". The backing vocals of Eric Shawn Hawkins help fleshout the chorus as in the song "Don't Wait On Me". But the real gem of the album is the acoustic "Raise The Dead", which shows off the wonderful harmonizing of the group as well as the song's powerful lyrics.

As winners of the 2006 "Best Hard Rock Group" for the Southern California Music Awards, Damage's live shows are not ones to miss. They are currently performing in the Southern California area. Their new album is available on their website www.myspace.com/damage.