Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Sounds Of The Season

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to get down to some serious shopping for Christmas. Of course, when you're out driving from store to store or even clicking from website to website, you will need some tunes to get you into the holiday spirit. Plus, if you're sick of hearing the same ol'songs year after year, here are some new Christmas albums for you to pick up.

There are two new Christmas albums that have a very similar title, but that's about all they have in common. The first is by American Idol Finalist David Archuleta entitled "Christmas From The Heart". He covers most of the holiday classic and even includes an original song, "Melodies of Christmas". If you're a fan of American Idol then I'm sure you'll love this album. Now, the other album with a similar title is by the one and only Bob Dylan. His first Christmas album is called "Christmas In The Heart". If you're looking for something a little different, then this album is for you. Bob lends his ruff, grizzly voice to some holiday classics, but Bob is also donating all proceeds from the sale of this album to charity. So even if you purchase the album and only play it once, at least you can feel go knowing that the money you spent on it went to a good cause.

The "A Very Special Christmas" series has released volume 7. This volume is loaded with new comers such as Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood and Ashley Tisdale performing updated versions of some old holiday favorites. The proceeds of this album will be going to Special Olympics.

Sugarland, arguable one of the hottest country bands of the last decade, will release their first holiday album entitled "Gold and Green". It showcases Jennifer Nettles' amazing voice on some Christmas classics as well as some originals. But if vocals are your thing, then "Christmas Cheers" by the acapella group Straight No Chaser is what you're looking for. Their newest holiday album features some fun songs like "You're A Mean On Mr. Grinch" and "The Christmas Can-Can" as well as their famous "12 Days of Christmas".

Now, with so many new arrivals on the holiday scene, we can't forget the classic artists that have been here before. First off is a new Christmas album by Neil Diamond entitled "A Cherry Cherry Christmas". It seems that the older he gets, the better his albums get and this is probably his best Christmas album to date. And let's not forget that other showman from the 70's Barry Manilow. He plays it safe on his newest Christmas album, "In The Swing Of Christmas". It features only 12 tracks and most of them are traditional holiday songs.

Two of this year's biggest selling Christmas albums come from an artist who has been around for over three decades and another artist who has arguable one of the best voices in the world. This year is their first attempts at a holiday album. The first one is by the former frontman for The Police and is titled "If On a Winter's Night". Many of the tracks on this album are more traditional "English" holiday songs, then American. But, Sting sings them in such a way that makes you feel like you've heard them all before. The year's other big seller belongs to Andrea Bocelli. His "My Christmas" album has already sold 500,000 copies in only three weeks. The album consists mainly of the traditional Christmas songs sung in English with a few of the songs sung in German and French.

As one who loves Christmas music, I'm glad that there isn't a bunch of rehashed albums that we've heard a thousand times before. So check out some of these new releases as your tooling around from shop to shop or decorating the Christmas tree during this most wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

3rd Annual Blackout At Sunrise Sale!

Starting on Black Friday, Redscroll Records will be holding their third annual "Blackout At Sunrise" sale at their store in Wallingford, CT. The store will open a 6AM on Friday, November 27 in order for you to grab all the great bargains. Redscroll Records will have 25% off everything in the store. All $1 bins will be marked down to only 10 cents and there will also be FREE coffee and vegan chocolate (while supplies last). FREE t-shirts will be given to patrons spending $200 or more and let's not forget a visit by the big guy himself, Santa Claus.

The sale will run all weekend, but go early if you want the good stuff before it's sold out. Please visit www.redscrollrecords.com for more information.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

CD Review: Oh My God Undoes "The Night"

After 10 years, 4 albums and 1 EP, the band Oh My God are hitting their stride. The band performs over 140 shows a year and it shows by how tight the band plays as a unit. Their new album "The Night Undoes The Work Of The Day" was produced by Jim Tullio (John Martyn, Rick Danko, Steve Goodman, Mavis Staples) and was released in September on Split Red Records.

Right from the album's lead off song, "My Prayer", you hear the wonderful harmonizing between the band members. The tempo shift for the chorus of "I Don't Think It's So Funny (How Time Slips Away)" and that is what makes this tune the stand-out song on the album. Oh My God performs an up-tempo, almost punk, cover of The Fixx's "One Thing Leads To Another". They also add some '80s style keyboards for good measure. The band shows their softer, gentler side on the ballad "My Juliet". "My Own Adventure" starts off with a 'Beat It' style drumbeat before lead singer Billy O'Neil's vocals and keyboardist ig makes the song an original. The chorus of "Baby, Dream" catches you off-guard with it's sing-along chorus. The song-writing really shines through on the album's closer "Strangers On A Train".

The band toured heavily in September and October. After a month-long break, the band will be back on the road performing a few dates in December. Their new album is available from itunes and from the band's website. For more information please visit the band's website www.ohmygodmusic.com.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CD Review: Youth Group Makes "The Night" Their Own

Australian band, Youth Group, has been gathering attention since their single "Forever Young" was featured on the hit show, The O.C. Now the band is back with their latest release, "The Night Is Ours". Released on the Australian label Ivy League Records, the album was recorded in a 1920s mess hall in Sydney, Australia. Finally receiving praise in the US from Esquire and Spin magazine as well as MTV.com, Youth Group bring over a sound from "down-under" that is needed in music today.

The overall modern rock sound contains little highlights here and there that makes this album a pleasure for the listener. The piano intro of "Babies In Your Arms" flows wonderfully into Toby Martin's vocals. The horns give a song a fuller sound. The band's song-writing really stands out in the songs "Dying At Your Own Party" and "What Is A Life?". Youth Group rocks on "One For Another" and "Two Sides" bringing the guitar and drums to the spotlight. The song" In My Dreams" has all the elements of a pop hit, great sound, great lyrics and a great chorus. The song "Friedrichstrasse" shows off the band's gentle side before the band picks up the tempo again. The band's pop instincts come through on the songs "A Sign" and "All This Shall Pass". The album closes with the moody "Good Time" that refers to the band's last five years on the road and recording.

The band is currently on a break from recording and touring, but plan to reconvene in 2011 with a new album and tour. Please visit the band's website (www.youthgroup.com.au) for news and information. Youth Group's albums are available on itunes and on www.ivyleague.com.au.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Underground Indie Rock Band Grogan Social Scene

Local CT band, Grogan Social Scene will be appearing Thursday, November 19 at The Space in Hamden as part of the Underground Indie Rock Showcase. They currently have a new digital single available for free at www.grogansocialscene.com.

On a “sampler” of his songs, Thomas Grogan mixes his grunge-style sound with his storytelling lyrics. The music sounds tight on songs like “The Factory” and “Please Don’t Speak My Name”, but the sound is too repetitive. A little more experimentation, could make some of these songs really soar. Thomas’s lyrics seem more at home during the acoustic songs “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up” and “SF Song #2”. “Get Rich Quick Scheme” is a nice collaboration of the full band sound and Thomas’s thought-provoking lyrics.

Sign up for the newsletter at grogansocialscene.com to receive more free music from this local underground band as well as updates on performances in the area.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CD Review: Lissie Starts Off "Runnin'"

Lissie Maurus released her debut EP "Why You Runnin'" on November 10 on Fat Possum Records. She was born and raised along the Mississippi River and it shines through her simple folk performance on this EP.

Right from the opening track, Lissie captures the sound of the deep south. "Little Lovin'" is a folk-gospel clap-along song. Her passion for singing is on display during the chorus. Lissie's voice performs beautifully, harmonizing the lyrics of the Hank Williams cover "Wedding Bells". The simple ballad "Oh Mississippi" is a cry for home, but you would never know it was recorded in London, England. Lissie puts her heart and soul into the slow moving "Everywhere I Go". The a-capella beginning of "Here Before" tells a haunting tale of choices gone bad. The minimal use of music makes Lissie's voice the main focus of album.

Lissie is currently on tour with fellow folkster Ray LaMontagne. For more information on this new artist, go to www.myspace.com/lissiemusic.

Monday, November 9, 2009

CD Review: Fitz & The Tantrums Are Full Of Soul

California band Fitz & The Tantrums have released their debut EP "Songs For A Break-Up Vol. 1". The EP was recorded entirely in a living room with one mic, but the music sounds like it was recorded at a studio at Motown Records. The album was influenced by late 60s/early 70s AM radio and believe me, you won't want to turn the dial.

The EP's opener "Breakin' The Chains of Love" features a funky bass groove that gets highlighted with some sax blasts. The R&B flavored lyrics really shine through. The pulsating keys of "Don't Gotta Work It Out" give way to a 70's style soul chorus. The band slows the tempo down for "Darkest Street". Fitz's voice floats on a bed of R&B horns and soul beats. "Winds of Change" carries a hip-hop drum beat. The chorus gets its power from back-up singer Noelle Scaggs. The church organ sound that begins "We Don't Need Love Songs" carries the song through its depressing lyrics sung beautifully by Fitz.

Fitz & The Tantrums are currently on tour with Maroon 5 and will be in Connecticut on November 12th. They will be at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, tickets are still available. For song samples and tour information, go to the band's website, www.myspace.com/fitzsourmusic.com.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Last Record/CD Riot of 2009!

This Sunday, November 8th, the Cromwell Record/CD Riot! makes it's final showing of 2009. This might be your last chance to pick-up some rare vinyl or some cheap CDs, DVDs, T-shirts and more to keep you busy this winter. The Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, off exit 21 from I-91, and will be packed with vendors selling away their goods to make room for next year. The doors open at 9:30 am and admission is only $3, but if you're an early bird, $10 will get you in the door at 8 am to be the first to grab those deals. Don't forget, Christmas is right around the corner and this might be a good chance to get an early jump on some Christmas presents for that special someone or even for yourself. Also, sign up to the mailing list to receive admission discounts and updates on upcoming shows for 2010.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CD Review: Alan Cohen's "Peace" Train

Alan Cohen is not new to the music scene having been involved for over a decade, but his political lyrics have raised the eyebrows of many in the industry. The video for his single "Elephant" became a You Tube hit and he was also featured on CNN's "The Week In Politics" for his video "The Obama Groove". Alan Cohen writes and records on the spur of the moment, but it is when he records his EPs as the Alan Cohen Experience that his talents really shine through.

The Alan Cohen Experience's latest release is a 6-song EP entitled "Eat The Peace". The first two tracks "Rock Biter" and "Train God" show off Alan Cohen's harder rock side. Alan stresses his feelings to the point of almost shouting the lyrics and the pounding drums provided by Genji Siraisi give these song their edge. "Ranger Stranger" runs along the same vein as Van Morrison's "Moondance". The jazzy feel of this song and backup vocals of Catherine Pierce provide a fuller sound to many of the EP's songs. "Jester" keeps the pace of the album going, but seems to miss any potential the lyrics may have provided. The song "Peace" is what the EP was based on as Alan stresses his ideas about peace. The alternative country ballad "Truck Driver" shows off Alan's song-writing skills describing his experiences on the road as he saved his best for last.

Alan's song-writing and use of musical sounds improves with each release this being his third EP in three years. This newest EP will be released on November 3 and is available on his website www.alancohenexperience.com. Alan is also on a tour of New England, visit his website for more information.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

CD Review: Singer/Songwriter Katie Pearlman Gives Us "This"

Fellow New Englander Katie Pearlman released her new album “We Make This” on November 1st. The songs on this new album have a very airy groove with a vocal style compared to Joss Stone. Her songwriting skills really shine through on the tracks “We Make This” and “Looking For Something“. Katie shows her vocal range with the soothing power ballad “I’ll Be Waiting” and the bluesy “Whenever You Need”. The simplicity of the lyrics of “I Feel “ work to Katie's advantage producing the album’s radio friendly pop song. The electric guitar of Joe Cesare and husband Jeff Pearlman’s keyboards gives the song “You Wrong” a southern rock vibe. The seven minute album closer “Dreaming With You” is a wonderful collaboration between the band and Katie’s singing. A song that can definitely be expanded on when performed live.

“We Make This” is great album for the autumn season, with its flowing lyrics and mellow bluesy sound. Katie Pearlman will be making appearances throughout New England. Visit Katie’s website www.katiepearlman.com for information on shows and music.