Monday, May 31, 2010

DVD Review: Chickenfoot’s Live “Buzz”

The super-group Chickenfoot (Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Joe Satrini & Chad Smith) isn’t done just yet. Their debut album has already sold over 750,000 copies and their live shows have sold-out nationwide. Now, Chickenfoot is giving fans a reminder of how much fun their live shows were in their new DVD called “Get Your Buzz On: Live.”

The show was recorded at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix, AZ on September 23, 2009. Director Daniel E. Catullo III (Rush, Creed, Godsmack) did an amazing job capturing the group at their finest hour. The cameras capture the perfect moments between the musicians just having a great time performing. The real gem of the live show is the up-close views of guitarist Joe Satrini. Just watching him perform his solos is worth the price of admission. You get the full 97 minute concert in widescreen format with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, so crank up the speakers to get the full experience.

But that’s not all that’s included on this DVD; you also get a great 60 minute documentary. It includes tons of backstage footage as well as guest appearances from Adam Carolla and Bob Weir. It also shows footage from their shows in Europe and shows Chad Smith asking the public if they’ve ever heard of Chickenfoot. The documentary and photo gallery are great additions to this DVD.

Chickenfoot “Get Your Buzz On: Live” is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray. Check out this band so the next time they’re on tour you’ll make sure not to miss them live.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Concerts In Connecticut

As the temperature gauge starts to heat up, so does the concert scene in Connecticut. Music fans of every age and genre will have their fill of live shows this summer. Whether you're looking for an outdoor amphitheatre or a small intimate show, Connecticut venues have something for everyone.

The Comcast Music Theatre in Hartford has a good mix of rock and country artists visiting the area this season. Summer concert regulars the Dave Matthews Band, Phish and Lynyrd Skynyrd are making return visits and the venue will also see the return of metal rockers Limp Bizkit and the Lilith Fair. Many newcomers like Jack Johnson, Kings of Leon and the Jonas Brothers will make their debuts this summer at the theater. If you want to rock even harder, you have three festivals making a stop at the theatre (Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Ozzfest). Let's not forget that country music is also making an appearance with Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and the Zac Brown Band.

If a smaller venue is what you're looking for... then the Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theatre is just right for you. Their summer schedule has a mix of hip-hop (50 Cent), alternative (Honda Civic Tour featuring Paramore, Tegan & Sara and New Found Glory), heavy metal (American Carnage Tour featuring Slayer, Megadeth and Testament) and adult contemporary artists Tony Bennett and Jackson Browne.

Now if a night out with dinner and a show and maybe some slots sounds good, then you can't go wrong with the casinos in Connecticut. The Mohegan Sun Arena gets things underway with a visit from James Taylor & Carole King. Classic rock artists from the '70s are all over this summer's schedule with appearances from Yes, Peter Frampton, Styx, Foreigner, Kansas, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, The Doobie Brothers and Chicago. R&B Superstars Maxwell and Jill Scott heat up the arena in June before megastars Michael Buble and Sting carry the heat into July. July will also see the return of Meatloaf and Rush along with hall of famers Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood and Simon & Garfunkel. Mohegan Sun will finish the summer with rockers, Maroon 5, Creed, Shinedown and the recently announced return of Kiss. For a complete list of shows, please visit mohegansun.com.

Across the way at MGM Grand at Foxwoods, the summer starts off with rock gods, Jeff Back, Jethro Tull and the Steve Miller Band. Lionel Richie makes a return visit with a two-night stand in June. Also appearing are legends Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, the Beach Boys and Bobby Vinton. For more information on these shows and more, please visit mgmgrandatfoxwoods.com.

If you hate dealing with the crowds, then check some great bands (Los Straitjackets, Social Distortion, Ted Nugent) making appearances local smaller venues throughout Connecticut. Go see a show and make your own summer soundtrack this season.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CD Review: Big Science Return With "Skyscraper Sound"

The Chicago band, Big Science just released their second EP entitled “Skyscraper Sound” on May 25th on AEMMP Records. The band has a very raw sound with a hunger for appreciation, similar to a young version of U2 early in their career. Songs like “Stairs Up Stairs Down” and “Basement Lights” are pure modern rockers, while “1000 Years” is a more experimental display of their talents. The song “Flags” tries to draw comparisons to the political “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” but the drums overpower the song’s strong vocals. Big Science saved their best for last with the song “Burn All Night,” a slow burner with a chorus you can’t forget. Their new EP “Skyscraper Sound” is available now. Visit bigscienceband.com for more information.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

CD Review: Newcomers The Great Affairs' Hot Debut

The Great Affairs hail from Nashville, TN and prove why Nashville is one of the hotbeds of the nation for new talent. Their sound is simple, but effective and draws you into what they’re saying. Pop, Folk, Rock, Americana; The Great Affairs cover them all.

Right from the album’s lead-off song “Dodge,” The Great Affairs draw strong references to the band Wilco. Denny Smith’s straining vocals play perfectly to the band’s Americana Pop sound. The music of “Dear John” and “Undertow” sound like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers outtakes. The acoustics of “Break Me Down” and “Isn’t She Gold” helps you concentrate on the song’s strong lyrics. The music of the album flows so smoothly that you keep wanting more and more as each song is as well-written as the one before.

The Great Affairs self-titled debut is available now and the band will be making appearances in June and August. Check out myspace.com/thegreataffairs for tour dates, music samples and more from The Great Affairs.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Introducing Country's Newest Star, Lee Allen

Lee Allen’s sound is pure country. His single “Settle Down” has reached over one million ears on myspace. It’s the combination of his modern sounding voice with classic country sounds that makes his music feel so comfortable. “Perfect Combination For The Blues” is a front porch swinging song with some fine slide guitar. Lee Allen knows how to heat things up with the country rocker “Hot Country Nights.” Lee Allen grew up on the music of George Jones and displays it proudly in the song “Superman To Me” and pays tribute to his idols in “Hall of Fame.” His songwriting in “You And Me, Dad” is simple, but heartfelt.

Lee Allen finished his National Radio Tour in February and is on the verge of breaking through to the mainstream. Visit leeallenmusic.com for music samples, information on upcoming shows and to find out when his album will be released.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

CD Review: Gary Bloom's "Lighting The Dark"

Gary Bloom’s album “Lighting the Dark” draws two conclusions. One is that his songwriting comes from the heart and secondly, his talents lie strongly in his guitar playing. The guitar solos in “Added Impulse”, "Blue Eyed Baby” and "Soul Splice” seem like a tease of what Bloom’s talents are capable of. He slows down the tempo with the addition of an acoustic guitar in “Diamond Mine” and continues with the heartbreaking “For One Smile”. The album’s highlights are the playful “Hailey Girl” written for his little cousin and “Dream Girl” which shows off Bloom’s complete songwriting coming together with an exceptional guitar solo.

Gary Bloom performs weekly shows in Middletown, NY. Watch his live performance at http://youtube.com/testingchester. He is also planning a second album of acoustic tracks. Look for Gary Bloom’s album “Lighting the Dark” available on iTunes and at CDBaby.com. For more information on Gary Bloom, please visit his myspace page at www.myspace.com/garybloommusic.

Friday, May 21, 2010

CD Review:Natalie Merchant's Tales of "Sleep"

It has been seven years since we last heard from the former 10,000 Maniacs lead singer, Natalie Merchant. Her new album entitled “Leave Your Sleep” seemed like an odd concept at first. The album brings to life children’s fairy tales from 19th and 20th century English and American authors such as Charles Causley, Edward Lead and Mother Goose, but, a children’s album this is not.

There are two versions of this release, one is a 26-song double album and the other is comprised of only 16 of those songs. While the storytelling is wonderful, it’s Merchant voice that becomes the focus of the songs like the folk sounds of “Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience” and “Calico Pie”. Over one hundred musicians were brought into the making of this intriguing album. Natalie Merchant swings between the waltzes of “The Man in the Wilderness” and ”The Dancing Bear”, the jazzy “The Janitor’s Boy” and the reggae-taste of “Topsysurvey-World”. While all of these songs will not appeal to the pop radio audience, Natalie Merchant makes these song fun and more interesting with every listen. Her wordplay in “Bleezer’s Ice Cream” is wonderful and the way she tells a story as in “Adventures of Isabel” keeps you interested. Her voice shines the brightest on the songs with the least amount of instruments like in the songs “If No One Marries Me” and “Maggie and Milly and Molly and May”.

The album was released in April and debuted at # 17 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and #1 on the Billboard Folk Albums Chart. Natalie Merchant is currently on tour in Europe. She will be performing in the U.S. at the beginning of July. For tour dates and album information, visit www.nataliemerchant.com.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CD Review: Snow & Voices Gives Us "Anything That Moves"

Snow & Voices are releasing their 3rd album entitled "Anything That Moves" on Elastic Ruby Records. Capturing you right from the start is the voice of Lauri Kranz. The way she makes the lyrics float over the music in "Maybe Finland" and "The Letting Go" are captivating. The second half of this duo is multi-instrumentalist Jebin Bruni, who sound creates the landscape on the blank canvases for the vocals to take flight. The song "Blue" is a spotlight for the gentleness this duo can provide. The album's first single "I Am A Storm" is a "made for radio" song with its pop-friendly sound and repetitive chorus. The songs "Swallow Me" and "Please Be My Lover" are also strong contenders as break-out hits.

"Anything That Moves" was produced by Jebin Bruni and Darrell Thorp (Radiohead, Beck). The album includes appearances by a number of guest artists that have also performed with R.E.M., K.D. Lang, Ray Lamontagne, Damien Rice, Gnarls Barkley, Sheryl Crow and others. The group has made appearances at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, CA over the past month and the audience has consisted of the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Jason Patric and Thandie Newton. For more information on Snow & Voices new album, please visit their website snowandvoices.com.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Singer/Songwriter Daria Musk Needs Your Help!

The website Our Stage is holding a contest called the Lilith Local Talent Search. Emerging Connecticut artist Daria Musk is one of the finalist competing for the opening slot on this summer's Lilith Fair stop at the Comcast Music Theatre in Hartford, CT. All you need to do is follow the steps below and you can help Daria Musk achieve one of her dreams. Also, if you vote for Daria Musk's song "Ghost", you'll have an exclusive chance to hear her brand new song before its summer release. Voting ends on Monday, May 24, so hurry up and help this local musician perform live in front of 20,000 fans and her idols.

Step #1: Visit http://www.ourstage.com

Step #2: Sign up as a fan

Step #3: Favorite Daria by clicking "Make This My Favorite Artist" to guarantee that her song comes up often while your voting

Step #4: Go to http://bit.ly/cA41HK (Hartford Section of the contest)

Step #5: Listen to (at least 15 secs) of the songs that come up and when Daria's new song "Ghost" pops up, vote it #1!

Step #6: Rinse and repeat until MAY 24th!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

CD Review: Sara Jackson-Holman Wants You To "Dream"

Newcomer Sara Jackson-Holman has garnished comparisons to the likes of Norah Jones, Adele and Feist, but this 21 year old singer/songwriter wants to be known for more than just another female pop singer. Her album only came to be by chance. She attended a concert one night for the band Blind Pilot. The next day she left a message on their myspace page and their record label spotted her, heard some of her music and the rest is brief history.

Sara Jackson-Holman’s debut album will be released on May 25th on Expunged Records. The album carries an array of musical styles ranging from Americana, “Come Back To Me” to the dance pop sounds of “Cellophane.” The album’s title song “When You Dream” and “California Gold Rush” have Sara exploring the studio with a simple subtle beats, highlighted by the striking of piano keys. Her classical piano training can be heard throughout the album and becomes the main focus of the songs “Red Ink” and “Maybe Something’s Wrong.” Her voice just wraps around the tempo of song and portrays a picture in your mind as to what the song’s lyrics mean.

Sara Jackson-Holman could be the next face of modern pop music. Her sound can be described as Lady Gaga simplified. She lets her voice and piano carrying the song’s mood and lyrics without adding any more unneeded music. Visit Sara Jackson-Holman’s myspace page to sample some of her songs and to find out how to obtain a copy of her new album.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Concert Review: Pearl Jam Bring ‘Something Special’ To the XL Center

The words outstanding, amazing and awesome come to mind, but seem to fall short in describing the scene Saturday night at the XL Center in Hartford. The energy that the five members of Pearl Jam displayed could only be matched by the 16,000 plus sold out arena. For two hours and twenty minutes, Eddie Vedder and the boys made everything feel right in the music world.

Just before 9PM, a piano instrumental played through the speakers. As the lights went out, the place erupted with a welcoming applause. Pearl Jam wasted no time diving into their latest release “Backspacer” starting the evening off with “Unthought Known.” The band went on to play eight of the album’s eleven tracks throughout the evening. Pearl Jam pushed the energy in the arena to its limits with “Corduroy,” “Do the Evolution,” and fan favorite “Even Flow” all-powered by the drumming of Matt Cameron. The momentum slowed for only a moment during “Nothingman” which found Jeff Ament performing on his stand-up bass. “Jeremy” found the audience in full-participation, singing and hand-gesturing the lyrics. The stage turned red as the band kicked into high-gear with “Satan’s Bed” and “Lukin” (that Eddie referred to as “Satan’s Kitchen”) before finishing the main set with “Gonna See My Friends” from the band’s new album.

Eddie Vedder was in a very giving mood, dedicating two of the first encore’s five songs. Beginning with the acoustic “Just Breathe”, which was dedicated to Connecticut cartoonist Dan Perkin (Tom Tomorrow) & his family. Sticking with the acoustic guitar, they continued with the rarely played “Speed of Sound,” which Eddie stated they’ve only performed twice. Then the band picked-up the pace with their classic non-album song “State of Love & Trust”. Pearl Jam dedicated the next song to the UConn Women’s Basketball team as they tore through an electrifying cover of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Guitarist Mike McCready performed his best Eddie Van Halen impression during the solo. Eddie’s mic stand paid the toll, as the first encore closed with an energetic version of “Porch”.

Pearl Jam returned once again for a second encore with one of their new songs “The Fixer”, which was dedicated to Jennifer Jaff (Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness). Keyboardist Boom Gaspar and Mike McCready brought the rare gem “Crazy Mary” to life with a jamming solo, which set the stage for an audience rendition of “Alive.” Before the band lead into a jazzy version of “Indifference,” Eddie took a moment to discuss all the hard work that Sean Penn is doing in Haiti and how to contribute to the rebuilding process. With the house lights on, Pearl Jam invited Band of Horses lead singer Ben Bridwell to close out the evening with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”

After twenty years together, Pearl Jam has arguable become one of the top live acts of all-time and their most recent appearance in Connecticut only proves that argument to be correct. Band of Horses began the evening with a 45-minute set that included new songs from their new release “Infinite Arms.”

Set List:
Unthought Known
Corduroy
Do The Evolution
Got Some
Severed Hand
Dissident
Low Light
Amongst The Waves
Even Flow
Nothingman
Johnny Guitar
I Got Shit,
Jeremy
Daughter/WMA
Satan's Bed
Lukin
Gonna See My Friend

1st Encore:
Just Breathe
Speed of Sound
State of Love and Trust
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (Van Halen)
Porch

2nd Encore:
The Fixer
Crazy Mary
Alive
Indifference
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

CD Review: Jason Castro Pops On To The Music Scene

American Idol finalist Jason Castro was a pop sensation ready to explode onto the music scene. His signature dreadlocks and icy blue eyes caught the attention of female fans both young and old and his newly released self-titled album plays perfectly to his fans. The theme of love is spread throughout the 30 minute album with the songs “Let’s Just Fall In Love Again”, “That’s What I’m Here For” and “Love Uncompromised”. Jason Castro tugs on the heartstrings with the acoustic song “You Can Always Come Home” which features backup harmonies by fellow Atlantic recording artist Serena Ryder. With its pop friendly hooks and acoustic guitar, these songs were written for the radio. One of the highlights on the album is a newly recorded cover version of “Hallelujah” which he performed live on American Idol.

Jason Castro will be touring mostly on the east coast through the month of May. His new album is out now on Atlantic Records. For more information on this rising star, please visit his website www.jasoncastromusic.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

CD Review: "Love Is Gone" For Dommin Debut

Earlier this year, Goth-rockers Dommin released “Love Is Gone”, their first full-length album on Roadrunner Records. The band is finding success with the album’s lead-off single “My Heart, Your Hands” with its hard rock sound and deep lyrics. Six of the album's fifteen songs were taken from the band’s independent debut “Mend Your Misery.” Songs like “Tonight, “Without End” and “One Feeling” benefited from being remixed or re-recorded for the new album. The song “Dark Holiday” shows off the band’s playful side with a cabaret-type piano leading up to a pounding chorus and screaming vocals. Lead singer and songwriter Kristofer Dommin shows his pain in the songs “Closure” and “Making The Most.” The album closes with the powerful ballad “Remember” produced and mixed by Dutch DJ Junkie XL

Dommin are currently on tour in the northeast in support of H.I.M. They will head over to Europe at the beginning of June to perform at the Rock Am Ring and the Download Festival. Their new album “Love Is Gone” is available now. For more information, please visit the band’s website www.dommin.com and their record label’s site www.roadrunnerrecords.com.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

CD Review: The Slants Provide "Chinatown Dance Rock"

The Slants have gained notoriety along the west coast with their brand of music described as “Chinatown Dance Rock”. The band’s name came from their Asian American heritage, but their sound came from the modern rock of 70’s & 80’s.

Their new album entitled “The Pageantry” starts with one of the group’s edgiest rockers “Every Chance I Get”. The buzzing guitars, pounding drums and shout out loud lyrics draw references to punk rockers Green Day, but that’s where the similarities end. The rest of the album dives back to the band’s comfort zone of “dance hall rock.” The pulsating bass and drums of “You Make Me Alive” and “Who Shot The Radio?” are and invitation to remix the songs for a club atmosphere. The songwriting has improved as their rock sound became simplified as on “Astoria” and “How The Wicked Live.” The album’s grittier, darker lyrics show another side to The Slants’ synthesizer songs of the past.

The Slants currently have some live dates lined up along the west coast. Their new album is available now, for more information on this Oregon-based band, check out www.theslants.com.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

CD Review: Take A Trip Back To Pandora

The biggest box office hit of all-time is finally released on Blu-ray and DVD, but that’s not all, don’t forget the music that helps bring this movie to life. The soundtrack to the movie Avatar is like being sent once again to the world of Pandora. Composer James Horner, who also worked with director James Cameron on the blockbuster Titanic, beautifully brings the sounds of Avatar to life. His craftsmanship begins as Jake enters the world of Pandora with subtle horns on “Pure spirits of the forest.” Horner makes you feel the excitement of “Jake’s first flight” and the sad “destruction of Hometree.” The epic sounds of “War” will shake your speakers with the pounding of drums. One thing that James Horner does masterfully on this soundtrack is the use of voices as an instrument. Leona Lewis lends her voice to the theme song “I See You (Theme from Avatar).” The song is a great addition to this mostly instrumental soundtrack.

If you can’t get enough of Avatar or just feel like revisiting the world of Pandora, put this soundtrack on with a pair of headphones and escape. The soundtrack to Avatar is available on Atlantic Records. For more information, please visit www.avatarmovie.com.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CD Review: Babylon Saints Have The Perfect Summer Recipe

Don't judge a book (or CD) by its cover. Upon first view of the band, Babylon Saints, I did not expect this type of music to come from these four guys. Their self-titled album is available now on Citation Records and is one of the perfect summer albums to have on-hand.

The singles "Day To Day" and "Burn On" are unstoppable after one listen. The band's reggae/rock beat and catchy chorus takes the listener on a trip to the tropics and leaves them there for the next hour. The music of "Buck Up" and "Can't Ever Tell" put a positive spin on some difficult lyrics. The beat slows down in the song "Follow", but only for a moment as the album closes with a cover of Bob Marley's "Positive Vibration".

Babylon Saints will be performing shows in California over the next few months, but check back to the band's Myspace page (www.myspace.com/babylonsaints) for more dates. Their album is available through the Citation Records website - www.citationrecords.com and look for their new album to arrive soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

CD Review: Horse Feathers Stir Up Sounds Of "Spring"

With two solid albums under his belt, Justin Ringle knew he had his band Horse Feathers heading in the right direction and their latest release, “Thistled Spring” is a sure sign of it.

Right from the opening piano chords, “Thistled Spring” is a new beginning for the band. The gentleness felt at the beginning of the album is like a breath of fresh spring air. The album’s unorthodox instrumentation is what makes this album so interesting. The combination of violins, tambourines and banjos in “Starving Robins” keeps the listener guessing what Horse Feathers has to offer. Singer/songwriter Justin Ringle displays is harmonizing proudly on the track “Belly of June”. The dark lyrics to some of the songs gets heightened by the eerie sounds pouring from an array of instruments as shown in the song “Cascades”. The album reaches a pinnacle with the song “This Bed” highlighted by swaying violins and banjo strumming. Ringle finds the strength in his voice to belt out feelings to the lyrics of the song “The Drought”. Horse Feathers brings out the blues in the song “As A Ghost” with searing violins and piano keys filling the empty spaces. The album closes with the grim, but powerful “Heaven’s No Place”.

“Thistled Spring” was released in April on Kill Rock Records. Horse Feathers are just wrapping up the eastern part of their latest tour before heading out west. Their tour concludes at the Hillside Festival in Canada on July 23rd, 24th and 25th. For more information on this new release and tour dates, please visit www.myspace.com/horsefeathersmusic.