Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CD Review: Songwriting Legend Jackie DeShannon Returns "In The Room"

Hall of fame songwriter Jackie DeShannon is revisiting some of her biggest hit singles on her new album entitled "When You Walk In The Room." Armed with an acoustic guitar, Jackie strips down these songs to their core in order to really focus on the song's meanings.

As soon as you hear Jackie's voice on the opening track "When You Walk In The Room," you instantly feel the comfort that her songs have portrayed over the decades. She sticks close to the tempo of the original of her Top 10 hit of "Put A Little Love In Your Heart," while "Bette Davis Eyes" gets slowed down. Her voice still soothes as in "Heart In Hand" and "Don't Doubt Yourself Babe." Her new version of the classic "Needles And Pins" adds another dimension to the song's timeless message of love. The stripped down version of "What The World Needs Now Is Love" benefits the most as the powerful lyrics are the main focus for everyone to hear.

Jackie DeShannon's new album will be released on September 27 through RockBeat Records. For more information, please visit her website jackiedeshannon.com.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CD Review: Boy & Bear's "Moonfire" Debut

Australian band Boy & Bear released their debut album "Moonfire" on August 9 through Universal Republic. The album was produced by Joe Chiccarelli (My Morning Jacket, The Strokes, The Shins) and is already receiving some buzz on their home shore. Boy & Bear also recently performed at this year's Lollapalooza festival.

The album's first single "Feeding Line" is a great introduction to this band. The well-crafted lyrics fit perfectly within the band's alternative rock sound. The band continues on this winning trend with "Milk & Sticks" before adding a mellow, country-flavor to "Part Time Believer." Boy & Bear return to the country on the up-tempo, stomper "Golden Jubilee." It's hard to say if their passion is in alternative rock or country-folk rock. At times, their music reminds me of the alt-country group Whiskeytown, especially on "House & Farm." The album finishes with the folk-storytelling masterpiece "Big Man."

Boy & Bear are beginning to make a name for themselves in the music community and in no-time they will be mentioned with the likes of The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. For more information, please check out their Facebook page, facebook.com/boyandbear.

CD Review: The Dirty Heads Ride "The Storm"

Last year The Dirty Heads were considered one of the "best new bands of 2010" by Rolling Stone magazine. This year, they are continuing their success with a special edition release of their 2008 debut album "Any Port In A Storm." The album hit #55 on the Billboard album charts and garnished a #1 single on both the US Alternative charts and the US Rock charts with the song "Lay Me Down."

For those who don't know who The Dirty Heads are, they are a reggae, rap, rock group from Southern California. Their music draws strong similarities to early Sublime with traces of 311 and Eminem. The album's first single, "Stand Tall" carries a strong reggae vibe. The new special edition also has an acoustic version that feels more laid back as you really hear the harmonizing between the band members. The album switches back and forth between the tropical sounds of songs like "Driftin'" and the hip-hop attack of songs like "Check The Level" and "Hip Hop Misfits." The song "Believe" is great fun to listen to as the group throws in tributes to many of their heroes. The album's second single "Lay Me Down" features Rome Ramirez from Sublime With Rome on vocals and gives off a great vibe. With 23 songs on their debut album, The Dirty Heads lay it all out as to who they are.

The Dirty Heads are heading out on tour with Gym Class Heroes. For a complete list of dates, please visit the band website at dirtyheads.com.

Monday, August 29, 2011

CD Review: Heatherlyn Is "Storydwelling" On New Release

Coming September 13 is the newest release from Heatherlyn and her band The Storydwellers. The album entitled "Storydwelling" is the sophomore effort from this roots, rock, soul singer. In 2010, she was awarded the Midwest "People's Choice" Winner of NPR's Mountain Stage Performance Contest and her live performances lend to her newest studio release.

The album is made up of 12 tracks ranging from passionate covers like "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Jack Riddle" to wonderfully inspired originals like "Be The Love" and "Put On Your Climbing Shoes." The latter song is one of the most up-beat songs on the album as Heatherlyn stresses the importance of racial unity. Her folk storytelling shines through on "Home With You Continues" and "Peace On Earth." Heatherlyn adds a little reggae groove to "We Have A Dream" and balances that with the bluesy feel of "You've Gotta Move." Heatherlyn has her hand in many different musical genres and the one important constant is her smooth, sultry, powerful voice as displayed in the closing song "You'll Never Know."

Heatherlyn is busy for the next couple months in her home state of Minnesota. If you are in the area, be sure to check her out. For a complete list of tour dates and locations, please visit heatherlynmusic.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Concert Review: ZZ Tops Rocks The Blues At The MGM Grand Theater

The years have been kind to ZZ Top. Their beards, their cars, their videos and their songs are some of the most iconic in music history. They have not released an album of new music in eight years and they still continue to sell-out theaters and arenas around the world. So, what’s their secret? Well, it’s quite simple…great music. That is exactly what they displayed last Friday evening at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods.

The trio of Billy Gibbons on guitar, Dusty Hill on bass and Frank Beard on drums has been a winning combination for the better part of forty years. The way the three of them get along together on stage is magical and it shows in their music. Gibbons’ extended guitar solos on “Got Me Under Pressure” and “My Head’s In Mississippi” are just jaw dropping. Dusty Hill got his moment to shine on “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide.” Their choreographed movements from their music videos showed up on stage during “Jesus Left Chicago” and “Cheap Sunglasses.” Gibbons was very talkative with the audience, making sure everyone was having a good time. He proceeded to mention that after forty years together, ZZ Top “hit the big time” by playing in casinos to which he and the band were very excited about. After putting on his “blues” hat, Gibbons, Hill and Beard dove into a couple of cover songs by Willie Brown (“Future Blues”) and Jimi Hendrix (“Hey Joe”). The trio showed their diversity on the California surf-style “Party On The Patio” before returning to the blues on “Just Got Paid.”

Chants of “Z-Z-TOP” echoed through the theater as the band brought the audience to their feet with their famous music video trilogy, beginning with “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” They proceeded with “Sharp Dressed Man,” before bringing out their signature furry guitars for the set closer, “Legs.” Their encore was the perfect one, two punch of “La Grange” and “Tush” that were energized by the drumming of Frank Beard. Ninety minutes is all that was needed to showcase one of the true classic American rock ‘n’ roll bands still at the top of their game.

Setlist:
Got Me Under Pressure
Waitin’ For The Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Pincushion
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
Future Blues
Cheap Sunglasses
My Head’s In Mississippi
Hey Joe
Brown Sugar
Party On The Patio
Just Got Paid
Gimmie All Your Lovin’
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs

Encore:
La Grange/Sloppy Drunk
Tush

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vinyl Review: Prog-Rockers Umbra & The Volcan Siege Find "The End"

Chicago prog-rockers Umbra and the Volcan Siege have recently release a new album entitled "The End of the Beginning." The album was released on vinyl and the band also a shot a documentary that includes interviews with band members and live footage of the band performing at the Volcan Gallery.

The album begins with "Dumb Numb," a psychedelic rock song that Syd Barrett would have been proud to hear. The lyrics are so simple that you unintentionally concentrate more on the music being performed. The same can be said for "Somebody," which becomes more of a psychotic rocker with its screams of the song's title. The instrumental "The March" sounds strait from the sixties with its guitar, keyboard interchange, easily mistaken for an Iron Butterfly outtake. Umbra and the Volcan Siege channel their inner Pink Floyd with the subtle use of sound as in "The Ups and Downs" and on the instrumental album closer "Do do do do..."

For more information on this new release as well as the documentary, please visit the band's facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Umbra-and-The-Volcan-Siege/194783437206661.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CD Review: My Pet Dragon Overtakes "Mountains and Cities"

Out of New York comes My Pet Dragon with their new release "Mountains and Cities." My Pet Dragon was the brainchild of Todd Michaelson with help from Reena Shah. The band's new album was produced by former Ministry drummer Stephen George and includes contributions from Gov't Mule, Mercury Rev, Hurricane Bells and others.

The album begins with a great pop rock sound that is missing from today's rock radio. The song "Majestic Lovers" introduces us to lead singer Todd Michaelson's wonderful lyrics and his smooth tenor voice. The up-tempo "Moonshine" walks that fine line between rock music and dance-hall pop. The flow of the album does switch between dance beats ("Lighting Inside") and rock pop energy ("Songbird"). The first single, "Flow" captures the energy of a dance club with great lyrics about just letting go and feeling free. My Pet Dragon show us a softer side with the acoustic based "Siren." The album's second single, "Lover In Hiding" is the most mainstream song on the album that would sound right at home on today's radio. The way Todd structures the song's lyrics keeps it interesting without losing the listeners' attention.

My Pet Dragon have a few shows lined-up in the New York area. Check out the band's website (mypetdragon.net) for more information as well as song samples from the new album "Mountains and Cities."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CD Review: Slaid Cleaves Returns To The Horseshoe Lounge

Country artist Slaid Cleaves is ready to release his first live album "Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge." The double-disc set will be available on September 6 through Music Road Records. After twenty years in the business, this release is a good retrospective of his entire career. The album is full of stories and songs that will make any listener a fan of his music.

Slaid's singing and stories put you right in the audience at the Horseshoe Lounge. The local fans love the song about their own watering hole as the song "Horseshoe Lounge" receives a grand applause. Slaid also takes requast for old favorites like "Below" and "Broke Down." He brings out the country-blues on "Sinner's Pray" which delights audience members. Slaid's folk-storytelling on "New Year's Day" draws up memories of Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan. Slaid pays tribute to his late yodeling master Don Walser with a couple of covers, "Texas Top Hand" and "Rolling Stone From Texas." Then, Cleaves returns with a 7-minute version of his most requested song "Breakfast In Hell." Slaid Cleaves finishes with the "feel good" song of hope, "Go For The Gold."

Slaid Cleaves will be on tour out on the west coast at the beginning of September before heading over to Europe. But look for Cleaves to return to the US in October performing along the east coast. For tour dates and information, please visit slaid.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CD Review: Andrew Adkins' "Troublesome" Debut

From Nashville comes one of America's newest singer/songwriters Andrew Adkins. His debut album will be released on September 6 and is titled "Troublesome, My Love." Andrew found success as one half of the rock-duo Mellow Down Easy before branching out on his own.

The album's lead-single "A Little Bit Of Mercy" is a great addition to the southern rock genre. His lyrics are very accessable and easy to relate to as his voice fits with the music perfectly. You hear an edginess in his vocals on the acoustic strumming of "We Knew It All Along" as he tells us stories of past experiences. His music is so easy to get wrapped up in as you follow his lyrics to the song's build-up as in "Flesh, Blood & Bone." The album carries a very mellow folk-rock vibe and all you need to do is sit back, listen and enjoy. All the elements come together in the gentle ballad "Estrelita..More of Less."

Do yourself a favor and check out Andrew's website (andrewadkinsonline.com) for song samples, and in no time, you'll be hooked.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cassette Review: Geoff Geis Goes Solo For A "Princess"

Los Angeles musician Geoff Geis is a member of the underground band Big Whup and Pizza!, but he decided to try his hand at a solo project he calls "Princess." You have to appreciate the simplicity of this recording as most songs feature Geoff armed with only a keyboard. The music on this release is all over the place. Geoff shows his pop side on the up-tempo "Suberbowl B4 De-lete," while "Where Have You Been (All My Life)?" has potential as it is presented here in a very basic form. "Airplane Jam" is a keyboard instrumental that seems to go nowhere, but he counters that with the country sounding "The Lonesome Part" which is the most complete song on this release. At least, Geoff seems to have fun experimenting with his music and lyrics.

Geoff Geis had an album release party at the beginning of the month and has one other date scheduled for the 1st of September. For more information, visit Geoff's website, geoffgeis.com.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

CD Review: Hawthorne Heights Finds Freedom With "Hate"

American rock band Hawthorne Heights released a greatest hits compilation last year, capping off their first 10 years of existence. Now they return to begin the next decade with a new EP entitled "Hate." The album will be the first release on the the band's own record label, Cardboard Empire.

The album begins with a short rap that sets up the subject matter for the rest of the EP, which deals with hate, anger and solitude. The band combines their aggressive vocal attack along with some nice harmonies to portray the feelings of disarray. Their energetic assault begins to come out on "Divided" and "Wasted In NYC," while the lyrics of "Hate" deal with feelings that everyone has felt at one time or another. The big drums of "Oceans" carry a large arena rock sound that the band will capital on in a live setting. The shout out loud lyrics of "Four White Walls" sounds like a battle cry for today's youth, while "Passengers" closes the album with one of the more mainstream alternative songs that is sure to find a home with fans.

The new album will be released on August 23, and pre-order packages are already available on the band's website, hawthorneheights.com. The band will be performing August 24 at the Wolf's Den at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. They have dates scheduled through the end of October so check the website for more information.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

CD Review: Eric Contractor Performs His "Night Escape"

Singer/songwriter Eric Contractor recently released his debut album entitled "Night Escape." The sound in this album is very cinematic. Eric captures the mood in the opening track with his strong, almost hypnotic voice, while his music swirls in the background. Eric's deep, baritone vocals bring up comparisons to Johnny Cash on the country sounds of "Never, Never." Eric puts on his seductive suit with his suave vocals on "Driving Down The Coast." He then comes back with the up-tempo, Talking Heads sounding "Ain't No Love." His voice fits perfectly in the ballad "Prince of the Shadows" as his vocals never overpowers the song. The album finishes with his strongest effort in "Visions of Aphrodite."

The album was self-released back in April and is available on iTunes and CDBaby. For more information, please visit Eric's website ericcontractor.com.

Friday, August 19, 2011

CD Review: From England Comes Spring Offensive With US Debut

From Oxford, England comes alternative rockers Spring Offensive with their US debut album, "Pull Us Apart." The album features the same songs as on their UK release, but with one bonus song, "The First of Many Dreams About Monsters" which plays out over 13 minutes.

The band's sound on the opener, "I Found Myself Smiling" is very stark, as the song builds with intensity. The passion that Spring Offensive have is shown in the song "Every Coin" as the energy is felt pouring through the speakers. The gentle beginning of "The Cable Routine" shows another dimension to this group's talent for song-writing. Their mainstream sound is found in the song "Slow Division" as the band plays it safe with its instrumentation and mellow lyrics. The mellowness continues into "Little Evening" before the album closes with the new epic, concept song "The First of Many Dream About Monsters."

The band is heading over to Germany for some shows in October, but keep checking their myspace page (myspace.com/springoffensive) for new dates to be announced.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CD Review: Spin Doctors Remaster "Kryptonite" For 20th Anniversary

The Spin Doctors hit it big in 1991 with their debut album "Pocket Full of Kryptonite." Their brand of alternative rock was much different than the Seattle-grunge that was taken over rock radio. The Spin Doctors combined elements of jazz and funk into their rock roots and the result was something different that millions of fans appreciated.

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of that landmark album and to celebrate, the Spin Doctors are rereleasing it with a bonus disc with loads of demos and live songs. Not only that, but the Spin Doctors are also touring to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band. The tour will be making two stops in Connecticut before the year is out. First, they will be appearing at Foxwoods on August 23, then they will return to the state on October 22nd to perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse.

In the meantime, Sony Records will be releasing a remastered 20th anniversary edition of their debut album on August 30th. The clarity on this new release allows you to hear every instrument to the fullest. Some longtime fans will be hearing this album again for the first time in all its glory. The guitar pop of "Jimmy Olsen's Blues," the heavier "Refrigerator Car," and the full-out funk of "Big Fat Funky Booty" will take you back to 1991. But that's not all, a second CD is included that contains the band's first two demo EPs as well as some outstanding live songs like the 12-minute "Shinbone Alley/Hard To Exist." The disc also has some songs that did not make the final album like "House" and "Rosetta Stone." The bonus disc finishes with a very rough sounding live version of the band's first hit single "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."

While 20 years have passed, their music sounds as fresh and new today as it was back in 1991. For more information on this new release and tour dates, check out the band's facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Spin-Doctors/112304700178).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CD Review: Theory Of A Deadman Come Out With "The Truth"

Canadian rockers Theory Of A Deadman are celebrating 10 years together as a band by releasing a new album. The album is called "The Truth Is..." and came out July 12 on Roadrunner Records. The album entered the Billboard Album Charts at #8, selling over 38,000 copies in its first week of release.

The band gets their point across on the album's first two songs, "Lowlife" which is the perfect anthem for people that just don't fit in with normal society. The song's appeal is in its simple, sing-along lyrics, but seems a bit more mainstream pop than some of Theory's past hits. They get a little edgier on "Bitch Came Back," but it still seems to be missing the hard rock edge that the band is known for. The album's third single "Out Of My Head" is perfect for power, pop rock radio. Then the band gets down and dirty with "Love Is Hell," while that old Theory sound comes through in "Drag Me To Hell." I wish more of the album was as heavy as this song. The album then goes soft with the ballads "What Was I Thinking" and "Easy To Love You" before closing with the powerful dedication of "We Were Men."

Check out Theory Of A Deadman on the road now in the US until mid-September. There is also a deluxe edition of the album that includes six bonus tracks and expanded packaging. For more information, check out theoryofadeadman.com.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CD Review: Tommy Keene Comes Out From "Behind The Parade"

Singer Tommy Keene is not new to the music industry, in fact he has been involved with music for the better part of 30 years. Tommy received a positive outlook early in his career with albums on the CMJ and Billboard charts but, he never received the recognition he deserved. After releasing a retrospective collection last year, Tommy is ready to begin again with his new album "Behind The Parade."

The rawness of the guitar on the opener "Deep Six Saturday" accents Tommy's voice perfectly as the pop lyrics and steady rock beat give the song an upbeat beginning to the album. He continues along the same lines with "Already Made Up Your Mind" and "Nowhere Drag" before switching gears on "La Castana." The moody instrumental breaks up the album nicely without losing the momentum. The second half of the album is made up of short stories like in "Running For Your Life" and "His Mother's Son." The album closes with the gritty rocker "Lies In My Heart."

Tommy Keene's new album "Behind The Parade" will be released on August 30 and will be followed by an eight-date tour. For more information, please check out Tommy Keene's website, tommykeene.com.

Monday, August 15, 2011

CD Review: Global Noize Says "A Prayer For The Planet"

The combination of jazz, funk, rock, r&b, and other worldly sounds is what makes up Global Noize. The trio of Jason Miles (keyboards, bass, programming), DJ Logic (Turntables, beats, EFX), and Falu (Vocals) are releasing their second album as Global Noize.

The new album, "A Prayer For The Planet" is their way of getting the word out that we need help to save Mother Earth. The trio also receive help from many artists including Karl Denson, who adds vocals to the 70's-style soul, funk sound of "21st Century Preacherman." Saxophonist Jeff Coffin adds highlights to the beat heavy "Rios (A Riot In Outer Space)." Falu's vocals on the opening track "A Prayer For The Planet" and on "Wanna Be With You" give the songs an added dimension. Andy Snitzer's soprano sax and Jerry Brooks' bass groove give "Toyko Sunrise" a modern jazz sound to this instrumental. The album closes with the mellow "Cosmic Hug" that gets just enough of a touch of horns from Ron Holloway to give the song life.

"A Prayer For The Planet" will be released on August 23 through Lightyear/EMI records. For more information on this release, please visit the Global Noize facebook page. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Noize/196336634200)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

CD Review: 2CELLOS Are Better Than One On Debut Album

YouTube sensation 2CELLOS have just released their debut album on Sony Music Entertainment. 2CELLOS is the combined effort of Luka Sulic & Stjepan Hauser. They became a huge internet attraction with their self-made video performance of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." They've become so popular that musical legend Elton John personally invited them to join him on his summer European tour.

The album contains twelve covers of some of the biggest songs of all time. While the music the duo make is exceptional, some of the songs on this album work better than others. Some of the more outstanding tracks is their rendition of "Misirlou," "Hurt," "Welcome To The Jungle," and of course the one that started it all "Smooth Criminal." The ones that just miss the mark are the album opening song, U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" and Sting's well-known ballad "Fragile." It seems like the faster the song, the more intense the music is. The one thing that is missing that made them such big stars on YouTube is the ability to see them perform. I hope that their next release is a live CD/DVD combo, in order to be able to see these wonderful performances.

2CELLOS have just finished up a tour of Europe and have more dates lined-up in the U.S. Then they will be spending the month of October at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas opening for Elton John. If you have a chance, be sure to check them out. For more information, please visit their website at 2cellos.com.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

CD Review: Queensryche Celebrates 30 Years With "Chaos"

Progressive hard rockers Queensryche are celebrating their 30th anniversary of existence as a band in 2011 with a world tour and a new album. The tour has been selling very well and the new album entitled "Dedicated To Chaos" entered the Billboard Album charts at #70.

The new album was released at the end of June and it is the band's first release on Roadrunner Records. The band tries to tackle too many topics on this new release. Instead to reminding fans why they were once one of the biggest names in heavy metal in the 1980's, they try to update their sound and make it more pop friendly.

Beginning with the appropriately titled, "Get Started", Queensryche seem to begin were they left off with an arena rocker that has a simple, sing-along chorus. Things start to fall apart on "Got It Bad" where lead singer Geoff Tate sounds like David Bowie on this over-polished pop rock song. The band continues along the mainstream with "Higher" adding horns to the band's sound. Queensryche does manage to capture some of that lost rock power on "At The Edge" and "I Take You" as the band shows us and edgier side to their new updated sound. With songs like "Retail Therapy" and "The Lie" the future looks bright for Queensryche's next album.

The band's 30th anniversary tour continues into November. Be sure to catch them live and witness how good this band has been over the course of thirty years. For more information on their new album as well as tour dates, check out queensryche.com.

CD Review: Barry Brings On A New "Dawnin'"

New York folk rock band Barry released their debut album back in May entitled "Yawnin' in the Dawnin'." Barry consists of three brothers (Patrick, Benjamin, and Bradford) and they do everything from recording, producing to all their own press work. They also have their own studio in western New York, along with their own record label called 100% Records.

The album begins with a short sing-along introduction before diving into "For Your Own Good." The song is an up-tempo, country stomper with a chorus that's easy to follow. The band's song-writing shines on the song "Three Years in Carolina" while "Drink One More" shows us the complete package this band has to offer. Folk rock cannot get any truer than what Barry has to offer, especially in the album closer "Great Unknown."

The band Barry have a show scheduled for August 14th in Charlotte, NC at Snug Harbor. Do yourself a favor and check them out if you are in the area. For more information on folk rock's newest band, please visit barryband.com.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

CD Review: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Enter The "Corporate World"

From Detroit comes the duo of Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein, better known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Their full-length debut, "It's A Corporate World" was released through Warner Bros. Records at the beginning of June and has received numerous positive reviews because of it's simple, but well-crafted songs.

The album begins with their first single "Morning Thought." The song contains everything, from exceptional harmonies to grunge guitars to a Beck-style keyboard driven beat. Diving further into this album, you start to witness how experimentally simple some of these songs are, while you try to dissect their sound. The song "Skeletons" takes advantage of the off-beat while you find yourself concentrating on the lyrics. The group hops back to the eighties with a generic dance beat on "An Ugly Person On A Movie Screen" as obscure sounds and voices swirl around in your head. The band seems to embody the experimental sounds of the sixties in "If It Wasn't You..." then jumps to the seventies with disco beat of "Vocal Chords." The duo rock on "We Almost Lost Detroit" before finishing with the acoustic, country sound of "The Fisherman." Don't let the name of this band fool you, the music is top notch and definitely worth your attention.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be on tour in the US through the month of September. Be sure to check out their live show as they have been known to perform in NASCAR gear, which is how they got their name. For more information on this new band, check out their website, daleearnhardtjrjr.com.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

CD Review: Death Cab For Cutie Performs In The Perfect "Key"

Alternative rockers Death Cab For Cutie recently released their seventh album entitled "Codes and Keys." The new album was recorded in eight different studios, but upon listening to it, you can hardly notice. Plus, the band decided to try something different by abandoning the use of guitars and made this a keyboard-heavy album. The results have been positive as the album entered the Billboard Album charts at #3.

The band reinvented themselves on this new release, relying on their vocals and harmonies as the centerpiece of the songs "Home Is A Fire" and "St. Peter's Cathedral." The boys still show they can rock on the bass driven "Doors Unlocked And Open" and on one of the few guitar tracks "You Are A Tourist." Their new love of the piano is displayed nicely on the ballad "Unobstructed Views." Lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard seems to throughly enjoy singing the lyrics to "Portable Television," while their message of unity is clearly presented on "Underneath the Sycamore." The album closes with the band having fun performing the gentle, acoustic "Stay Young, Go Dancing."

Death Cab For Cutie set out on their US tour last month and will be continuing through the month of August. For a complete list of tour dates, twitter information, facebook updates and more, please visit the band's website deathcabforcutie.com.

Friday, August 5, 2011

CD Review: David Berkeley's New Music Is The "Cure"

Singer/songwriter David Berkeley has released his fourth studio album entitled "Some Kind Of Cure." Yahoo! Music has praised the album as one of the ten albums of 2011 that should be in every home. After hearing the album, I tend to agree and so will you upon listening.

His earthy voice and gentle acoustics make the perfect sense. The song "Independence" sounds like it came from Cat Stevens songbook as David handles the vocals with ease. David paints such a picture with his lyrics like in "Parachute" that you can't help but get wrapped up in David' music. The closest he comes to a mainstream pop song is the up-tempo acoustic rocker "Hope For Better Days." While his version of the folk classic "Shenandoah" is amazing, David straps on an electric guitar for his solo on "Soldier's Song." He counters that with the simple acoustics of "Homesick" and "Marie" before finishing with the country sounds of "All Those Ashes" and the slow build-up of "Winter Winds."

David Berkeley has a tour dates starting at the end of August. He will be making his way east, performing at the Holcomb Farm - Concert in the Loft in Granby, CT on October 14. For a complete list of tour dates and song samples, please visit his website, davidberkeley.com.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CD Review: Scars On 45 Give Us "Something"

Music is found in the most unlikely places. Scars on 45 co-founder Danny Bemrose was never planning on becoming a musician, but after he broke his foot as a professional soccer player over in England, he decided to borrow his father’s guitar. As they say, the rest is history as Scars on 45 was born in Leeds, England. The band’s first EP ”Give Me Something” was released early in 2011, but has started to find a home on radio and television. Songs from the band’s catalog found their way onto the A&E series “The Cleaner” as well as on “CSI: New York.” Along with that, the band has been touring extensively throughout the U.S.

The EP begins with the title track which carries a very simple, acoustic rock sound with some great lyrics about finding love. The band sticks close to this formula hitting their pop stride on “The Way That We Are.” The album closes with a nice, quiet acoustic song called “Don’t Say” that nicely highlights Bemrose’s vocals.

The band is currently on tour in the U.S. and will be performing at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT on September 29. For a complete list of tour dates as well as more information on this new rising band, please visit their website, scarson45.com.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CD Review: The Wagons Move With A "Rumble, Shake and Tumble"

From Australia comes the Wagons with their U.S. debut album "Rumble, Shake and Tumble". Their country, folk, rock-style music sounds like it came straight out of Nashville. The way this group captured the essence of American roots music is uncanny.

The album's lead single "Downlow" carries a Tom Petty swagger with some great pop lyrics that are very addicting. The band moves on to the classic country sounds of "I Blew It" and "Moon Into The Sun". The Wagons pay homage country legend Willie Nelson with an acoustic rocker by the same name as its subject. The band adds a bit of funk to their country flow on"Love Is Burning" before returning with the acoustic ballad "My Daydreams". The song "Follow The Leader" has the band plugging in their guitars to rock as lead singer Henry Wagons goes into Tom Waits-mode. The album closes with "Life's Too Short" which should catch the attention of country radio and the Nick Cave sounding story of "Mary Lou".

The Wagons new album "Rumble, Shake and Tumble" will be released on August 16 through Spunk Records. Also check out the Wagons' new video for their single "I Blew It." For more information on this Australian band, please visit their website, wagonsmusic.com.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CD Review: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Brings Back The Blues

Blues prodigy Kenny Wayne Shepherd began his career when he was 18 years old, gathering accolades from fellow blues musicians. He holds the record for the longest running album on the Billboard Blues Chart with his sophomore release "Trouble Is..." Now he is 34, and is considered one of the best modern blues guitarist around. He also has a new album out on August 2 entitled "Here I Go" which is sure to continue his streak of blues albums to reach #1 on the Billboard Blues Album chart.

Kenny makes his presence known right from the opener "Never Lookin' Back." The winning combination of Shepherd's guitar and Noah Hunt's vocals give the originals like "Come On Over" and "Show Me The Way Back Home" a freshness that modern rock is looking for. Shepherd and Hunt stick close to the original on their cover of The Beatles' "Yer Blues," but open the floodgates on Bessie Smith's cover "Backwater Blues." The band try their hand at a southern rocker with the song "Cold," but Shepherd's guitar only shows up in the solo. One of the highlights of this album is the pure blues of "Dark Side Of Love" as Shepherd and Hunt play off each others talents. The band rocks on "The Wire" before slowing down for the acoustic sing-along "Who's Gonna Catch You Now." The album closes with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd instrumental "Strut" which shows off the unity of the band behind Shepherd's outstanding solo.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band are currently on the road promoting the new album. Look for them to visit the New England area at the end of August. For a complete list of tour dates and more information on this new album, please visit his website, kennywayneshepherd.net.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CD Review: Paul McCartney's Solo Albums Get Cleaned Up For New Release

The Concord Music Group along with MPL Communications have just recently released the definitive versions of two of Paul McCartney’s solo albums. Originally released at the beginning of a new decade, “McCartney” was Paul’s first solo album post-Beatles. Many of the songs contained on this album could have very well been written for the next Beatles album, if one was to exist. But Paul keeps some of his best music for himself. Paul proceeds to play every instrument on his first solo outing and it pays off as the album carries a very simple, laid-back vibe. Songs like “Every Night” and “Man We Was Lonely” sound as fresh now as when they were recorded over 40 years ago.


Paul McCartney would go on to head another successful band with Wings during the seventies. Just like with “McCartney”, Paul would release another completely solo album at the beginning of the next decade simply titled McCartney II.” Paul McCartney would once again perform all the instruments himself, but his second solo outing would carry a much more electric, keyboard-friendly feel to the album. Paul was definitely experimenting more with electronic sounds and beats as found in “Temporary Secretary” and “Front Parlour.” But the good thing is it gives you an insight into what he was doing at the beginning of his second go-around of creative freedom.

The care that was put into remastering both of these albums shines through as every instrument is heard with such clarity. While I feel that “McCartney” benefited more from the remastering, both albums have never sounded better. These two new releases also come with a bonus disc of demos, outtakes and live songs. The “McCartney” bonus disc contains the long, sought-after song “Suicide” along with 3 songs recorded live at Glasgow in 1979, plus another outtake called “Don’t Cry Baby” and a demo, “Women Kind.” The bonus disc for “McCartney II” is like a whole second album itself. It contains a live version of “Coming Up” prior to its official release, as well as the 10-plus minute full length version of “Secret Friend.” Plus, each release contains a full-color booklet containing song lyrics and beautiful photographs taken by Linda McCartney during the recording of each album.

Even if you’ve had both of these CDs in your collection for years, these albums are worth re-buying. You will not be disappointed with the sound and you may even notice some new things that you haven’t heard before. There is also a deluxe version of these releases that include a bonus DVD containing rare unseen footage. For more information on these releases as well as the next batch of Paul McCartney remasters coming soon visit the Concord Music Group website, concordmusicgroup.com.