Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CD Review: A Couple Of Great New Independent Releases To Close Out The Year

Ever since the untimely death of Amy Winehouse, there has been a void to fill in the music industry. While Winehouse's jazzy pop was nothing new, her attitude in her delivery made her a star diva. Since then, music fans have been looking for the second coming of Amy Winehouse. Well, their search is over with the debut album of Canadian singer Laura Cole. Her new release entitled "Dirty Cheat" was produced by Grammy winner Steve Bigas (Taj Mahal) and executive producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan) and draws upon her influences of Billy Holiday and Etta James. The new nine-song release begins with her sultry vocals on the 50's-swing of "Sweet Escape" as the ghost of Amy Winehouse has taken form in this twenty-something diva. She draws from inspiration of Tom Waits on the dark tone of "Death Row" then dances with her flirtatious vocals in "Unworthy." She slinks her way around the jazzy rhythm of "Week There One Day," before closing with the seductive revenge of "Dirty Cheat." To find out more about Laura Cole and her latest release "Dirty Cheat," please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/lauracolemusic.

From Ohio comes the latest EP from blues rockers Scarlet & The Harlots entitled "We Can't Seem To Get Enough." Right from the beginning of "There Once Was A Girl," you instantly get swept away from the vocals of Scarlet as she takes control of the music. The uptempo rocker "Moonshine Ghost" is a shot of adrenaline as the music will definitely move you. The British blues riff of "What To Do" along with the aggressive rock and soul of "We Are In Control" shows a strong foundation in their music. To find out more about Scarlet & The Harlots and their latest release "We Can't Seem To Get Enough," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Scarlet-The-Harlots.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CD Review: Dave Kerzner Discovers A "New World" With Debut Solo Album

Progressive-Rock singer/keyboardist/producer Dave Kerzner recently release his debut solo album "New World" earlier this month. Kerzner has worked alongside a number of prog-rock legends, including Steve Hackett, Keith Emerson and Genesis to name a few. He was a founding member of the award-winning band, Sound of Contact and is also the founder/CEO of the sound development company "Sonic Realty."
 
His new eleven-song release begins and ends with two epic ten-plus minute numbers that showcases his musical songwriting talents. He starts out with the classic Yes-type feel of "Stranded (Parts 1-5)" as the music and lyrics become a beautiful marriage of words and sound. He uses his influences for the space-rock of "Into The Sun," which sounds like early Pink Floyd along with the song "Solitude." He does update his sound with a more modern hard rock feel with the instrumental "Crossing Of Fates" and "Nothing," before closing with the seventeen-minute prog-rock epic "Redemption (Stranded Parts 6-10)."  To find out more about Dave Kerzner's latest release "New World," please visit davekerzner.com.

Monday, December 29, 2014

CD Review: The Mangoes Rev Things Up With Their Self-Titled Release

California rock band The Mangoes is the brainchild of Bret Bingham and Tim Morse. Bingham's music has appeared on MTV, E's "True Hollywood Story" and "Access Hollywood," while Tim released a couple independent progressive rock albums and became a writer for "Guitar World" and "Vintage Guitar" magazines.
 
The album was released in November and tells the story of Billy and Candy's adventures with the music business and with each other. The nineteen songs are short and concise pop gems, except for "Mango Overture/Over" which feel like a flashback to the "summer of love" with its flowing melody and gentle vocals. The songs have a light, fun feel to them as with the Latin flair of the instrumental "Samba Mambo" and jazzy rhythm of "The Future (Will Be Yours)." The Mangoes bring back the eighties with the electronic beats of "Stupid Chorus," then wear their emotions on their sleeves with the wonderful ballad "Headed For A Fall," which is one of the highlights of the album. They show a harder edge to their sound with the aggressive rocker "The Future (Will Be Ours)" and "Dirty Love," before hitting the mainstream with the pop/rock feel of "Disguise." The album closes with the grand orchestrated rock sound of "Broken Soul" and the quick punk-like fury of "The Mangoes Theme." To find out more about The Mangoes new album, please visit their Facebook page facebook.com.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

CD Review: Prog-Rock Singer John Wetton Joins District 97 In Chicago For "One More Red Night"

"The best young progressive band around right now" is how King Crimson/Asia vocalist John Wetton described the American rock band District 97. Since their conception in 2006, the band has released two studio albums and their first live album, the recently released "One More Red Night: Live In Chicago." The album features District 97 performing King Crimson classics with vocalist John Wetton recorded live at the Music Joint in Chicago, IL on October 17, 2013.

The main focus of the album is King Crimson's classic album "Red" which has inspired many musicians, including Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. Three of the album's original five songs appear on this live release, along with other King Crimson classics like "Lament" and "21st Century Schizoid Man." The music performed by District 97 sounds timeless as Wetton's vocals place you back in 1974 with "One More Red Nightmare" and "Fallen Angel." My only fault with this release is that all of the songs are concise without the band stretching out with any jams or adding a little of their own style to the music. The album is a great reminder as to how amazingly good King Crimson was in their first five years of existence, but it does little to show how good of a band District 97 is live. Check out the band's other live recordings from their website (district97.net) to see how good District 97 is with their own original material. To find out more about this release, please visit district97.net/store.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

CD Review: Martin Turner Invites Friends To "The Garden Party" To Celebrate Wishbone Ash

British rock band Wishbone Ash began in 1969 and rose to commercial success three years later with their album "Argus," which hit #3 on the U.K. charts. They were one of the pioneers of using two guitarists in the band and continued to be a top band in rock until the early eighties when it became a revolving door for band members. After finding his role in the band reduced to only playing bass, founding member Martin Turner left the band he created in 1980 to pursue a solo career.

In 2005, Turner renamed his solo band "Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash," but due to legal actions, he changed it to "Martin Turner Plays The Music Of Wishbone Ash." In 2012, Martin Turner decided to record a live album of classic Wishbone Ash songs with his current band along with founding member Ted Turner and guitarist Laurie Wisefield. The new release entitled "The Garden Party: A Celebration of Wishbone Ash Music, Private Recording" was released back in October and features Martin Turner & Friends recorded live at Liscombe Park in Buckinghamshire, England on August 31st, 2012. The two disc set features seventeen Wishbone Ash classics performed live (some for the first time) by Martin Turner and sound as if no time had past since the original studio recordings.

The first disc begins with the Ash's concert staple "Standing In The Rain" as Martin and his band give new life to many of these classic songs. The progressive-rock feel of "Lady Jay" and "The Pilgrim" still showcase the importance the music of Wishbone Ash made within the musical community through the seventies. The duel guitars of "The Way Of The World" has a modern appeal as Danny Wilson and Ray Hatfield stay true to the original. The disc closes with the seventies rocker "No Easy Road," which instantly transports you to Ash's heyday.

Original Wishbone Ash guitarist Ted Turner joins the fun, beginning with the 1971 song "Valediction," as Ash were still searching for their sound. They follow with "The King Will Come" from their most successful album "Argus" as the band radiates the enjoyment of performing together onstage through the music being played. The song's harmony is still some of the best in classic rock. Martin Turner & Friends spring ahead with the 1988 single "In The Skin" as Ted Turner lets loose on his guitar solos. The shows closes with guitarist Laurie Wisefield joining them for the 1980 single "Living Proof" and a jamming eight-plus minute version of "Jailbait" as four guitars are better than two as solos fly and the band rock on to a roaring close. To find out more about this latest release from Martin Turner, please visit cherryred.co.uk

Friday, December 26, 2014

CD Review: Billy Dee Williams Releases Long Lost Album Of Broadway Musicals

Acclaimed actor Billy Dee Williams is best known for his roles as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars and Harvey Dent in Batman, but two decades before that, Williams was hoping for a promising career in music. He recorded and released his only album "Let's Misbehave" back in 1961 and it has long been out of print, until this approved re-release on CD through Explore Multimedia. The ten song release features many Broadway numbers, but begins with Williams adding the first vocals to the original instrumental, "A Taste Of Honey" before The Beatles popularized it two years later. The title song showcases Williams as a Sinatra clone on this Cole Porter original. The swing of "Life's A Holiday" shows Williams having fun with this recording, while "Warm Tonight" slows down the tempo in order for Williams to croon. The album closes with "House Of Flowers" and "Red Sun Blues" which shows Williams' vocal talents as he lays it all out on these last two tracks.

Ten years after the original release of this album, Billy Dee Williams' career took off with his co-starring roll in the 1971 movie "Brian's Song" and as they say, the rest is history. To find out more about his album "Let's Misbehave," please visit cherryred.co.uk.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CD Review: Country Artist Anne McCue Got Us "Blue Sky Thinkin'" With Her New Album

From Nashville, TN comes the Australian-born country/blues artist Anne McCue with her first new album in four years entitled "Blue Sky Thinkin'." After releasing a few cover song singles, McCue entered the studio with a load of original material that took her music in different direction. The musical theme of her latest release has an early-jazz/pre-rock feel, beginning with the up-tempo swing of "Dig Two Graves." The bluesy feel of "Things You Left Out In The Rain" displays a different style to McCue's music as she channels Billie Holiday and Etta James on these early era sounding pop tunes. McCue imports some of Cab Calloway's vocal styling on "Devil In The Middle" (which includes Dave Alvin on vocals), while she picks up the tempo on the rockabilly feel of "Little White Cat." Her song writing excels on the lounge-type jazz of "Uncanny Moon," before closing with the title song that pays tribute to the great jazz guitarist Charlie Christian as McCue brings some of her country aspects into the song. To find out more about Anne McCue and her latest album "Blue Sky Thinkin'," please visit annemccue.com.

Monday, December 22, 2014

CD Review: Singer/Songwriters Quinn Tsan And Nan Roy Debut New Music Along With Jazzy Renditions From Elaine Dame

From Chicago comes singer/songwriter Quinn Tsan with her debut EP "Good Winter." The six-song release begins with the gentle story of "Sadie" as the music builds in the background to give it a 10,000 Maniacs feel. Quinn's voice is so playful during the two-plus minutes of "Good Winter," before getting deeper with the acoustic folk styling's of "Bedrooms III." The album closes with the single "Love Of A Painter," which was released earlier this year and Quinn's voice has a Jewel-like quality to it. To find out more about Quinn Tsan, please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/quinntsanmusic.

Also from Chicago comes the jazzy/cabaret feel of Elaine Dame's latest release "You're My Thrill." The album was released on December 2nd and features Elaine's renditions of pop and show tunes done in her style, lead by her warm, sultry vocals. The twelve song release begins with the title song that fully captures the mood of the album with it's quiet moments and big finishes. She looks to channel Ethel Merman with the gentle feel of "They Say It's Wonderful" from the musical "Annie Get Your Gun." Elaine Dame picks up the jazzy tempo with a cover of Barbara Streisand's "I'm All Smiles," while the five minute "Sugar" is highlighted by the saxophone solo from Chris Madsen. Pianist Dennis Luxion tickles the keys on "All I Want" as Elaine's scat vocals are a welcome inclusion. The album closes with the Richard Thompson-penned blues of "The Dimming Of The Day" that welcomes vocalist Paul Marinaro on harmonies during the chorus as Elaine's vocals soar. To find out more about Elaine Dame and her new album "You're My Thrill," please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/elainedameyouremythrill.

Connecticut native Nan Roy recently release her fist solo project entitled "Tiny Tigers." Nan handles the guitars, keyboards and vocals on this new four song album and receives help on percussion from Dan Mitchell. The album leads off with "I'm Alive" about abandonment and survival as Nan's vocal delivery reflects the mood of the lyrics. Her voice sounds so pure and innocent in "Dewy," before closing with the folk/pop strumming of "In The Window" as Nan Roy will continue to grow as an artist. To find out more about Nan Roy, please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/nanroymusic.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

CD Review: Collin Raye Wants Your Love To Live On Through "Everlasting"

American country artist Collin Raye began his solo career in 1991 (after being a member of The Wrays) and topped the country singles chart with his song "Love Me." He has released twelve albums (five consecutive platinum selling albums) and has become an icon of country music with his tender voice and good looks. Collin Raye recently released his thirteenth album, "Everlasting," a covers album of love songs that Raye puts his special touch on to make even more enjoyable.

The album begins with Raye's version of the modern country love song "Divine Everlasting Love," originally recorded by Dave Pahanish. He dives into the classic appeal of the Bee Gee's "How Deep Is Your Love," adding a country flair to the original. One of the surprises of the album is Raye's take on Annie Lennox's "Love Song For A Vampire" as his warm voice gives new life to the song since its original release in 1993. He brings together three piano men with the heartfelt renditions of Rany Newman's "Marie," Billy Joel's "She Got A Way" and Elton John's "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Words." The album closes with Raye's tribute to the late Dan Fogelberg with an amazing rendition of "Same Old Lang Syne," which sticks close to the original. To find out more about Collin Raye's latest album, "Everlasting," please visit cleorecs.com.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Remind Us Of Trip Shakespeare With New Releases

Underground, alternative rock band Trip Shakespeare never found the success in music sales that their record labels had hoped for, but a cult following developed since their break-up in 1992. A revival for the band began in 2013 when they reunited for the first time in 20 years for a holiday show in December of that year. Omnivore Recordings is continuing the revival by releasing the band's first two albums ("Applehead Man" and "Are You Shakespearienced?") on CD and vinyl. The new re-issues became available on December 16th and each album features bonus tracks from the same era the albums were recorded.

Trip Shakespeare's debut album "Applehead Man" was originally released in 1986 and follows the vein of other new wave bands R.E.M. and The Smiths. Their sound held on to the electronic pop of eighties, but added some post-punk flair to their music as in "Fangs" and "Applehead Man." The funky bass groove of "Highway In The Sun" and pre-grunge feel of "Beatle" shows a band still searching for their sound. The original ten-song album gets an additional seven bonus tracks, consisting of outtakes that were recorded during the same sessions, but never made the final album. The songs "Freedom Bird" and "Fool Of The Wicked Kind" are the most welcome additions to this release as they expand upon the band's modern rock sound.

The band's second album, "Are You Shakespearienced?" was record live in the studio with everyone playing together and in turn, helped them get a record deal with A&M Records. The looseness of the album is felt in the jam of "Swing" as they dropped most of the electronic feel of their first album to develop a more rock-based sound as in "Two Wheeler, Four Wheeler." The hardness of "Toolmaster Of Brainerd" shows another side to Trip Shakespeare's songwriting as their songwriting became more developed. The original nine song album gets expanded with nine bonus tracks, including early versions of the songs "Bachelorette" and "Snow Days," which would appear on later albums. To find out more about these latest re-issues from Trip Shakespeare, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Friday, December 19, 2014

CD Review: Tom Dyer Brings Us Xmas Memories "In The Making"

Seattle's underground music label Green Monkey Records has been producing some of the Northwest's most unappreciated rock music for over thirty years. Started by Tom Dyer, the label has maintained a steady fan base and artist list as band's are allowed to create some truly unique pieces of music. One of the label's most recent releases is Tom's own Christmas album entitled "Xmas - 30 Years In The Making." The music sticks true to its title as Tom would record a Christmas song here and there and thought that eventually he would have enough for an album. That time had finally arrived in 2014 as Tom put together fifteen of his best songs for this new set of underground holiday standards.
 
Beginning with the two-minute "It's Christmas (And I'm Jolly)," Dyer gets you in the mood with his type of a gospel choir, belting out "Ho, Ho, Ho" and "Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas." The album's first single, "No Lou This Christmas" is a tribute to the late-Lou Reed as Dyer plugs in for this rocker. Dyer adds a nice, loose rhythm to "Jingle Bells Ska," and turns "Peace On Earth" into a spaghetti western, before bringing out the kid in all of us with the fun vibe of "Hot Dog! It's Christmas!" A great piece of holiday folk music is "Snowing In Seattle," which sounds as if it was recorded right on the spot, in one take as Dyer was looking out the window. The album closes with a couple of traditional Christmas songs ("God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Angels We Have Heard On High") not exactly done in the traditional way, but very much a welcome addition to your holiday festivities. To find out more about Tom Dyer's Christmas album "Xmas - 30 Years In The Making," please visit greenmonkeyrecords.com.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CD Review: New Rock Music Imported From Italy And Australia

Italian metal band Schysma recently released their full-length debut album entitled "Idiosyncrasy" through Revalve Records. The band came together in early 2012 to record their EP "Imperfect Dichotomy," which received rave reviews from around the world. The band quickly reconvened in the studio to record their follow-up which plays out as a concept album based on the human soul. The new ten-song release begins with "Lost In The Maze," which has a hard rock edge with dashes of power metal. The combination of founding member Martina Bellini's keyboards and the amazing guitar work of Vladimiro Sala gives "The Noise Of Silence" a classic progressive rock feel, which carries over to "Heremetic." The band brings in elements of classical music to give their sound a more mature and eclectic feel as in "Migdal" and "Invictus." The album closes with the album's first single "Time Man" that captures the band's sound perfectly with its soaring vocals and aggressive heavy metal appeal. To find out more about Schysma and their latest album "Idiosyncrasy," please visit schysma.com.

From Sydney, Australia comes the debut album, "Wave Rider Blues" from indie-alternative rockers Draw. The new four song release begins with the jazzy-rock of "I'll Save You" that has more lounge appeal than arena rock. They slink their way through "Ish," which has a retro-rock feel, while the acoustic strumming of "Sweet Mary" gives off a southern rock vibe. The short EP closes with the slow, Seattle-grunge of the title song "Wave Rider Blues." To find out more about Draw, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/drawband

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CD Review: New Independent Electronica Music Simmers Up From Underground Artists Doktor Hyde And Space Adapt

Electronic/dance artist Doktor Hyde recently released his latest independent album "Mercury." The new 5-track EP begins with the ambient feel of the eight-minute title song. The album takes its time building up from piano chords, adding beats that provide the song's smoothness without oversaturating it. The rhythm of "From The Ether" seems a little too redundant, but the energy picks up with "Night Train," before closing with the light airy feel of "I Heard You Called." To find out more about Doktor Hyde and his latest release "Mercury," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com.

From Switzerland comes the latest electronic dance music from Marc Huerlimann, AKA Space Adept. His beats are silky smooth on the song "Renaissance Man" as he sticks close to what he does best. The club beats of "Vice Summer" could just go on for hours, while "Rosie's Adventure" has more interesting things go on with the song. To find out more about Space Adept, please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/spaceadept.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CD Review: The Great Affairs "Dream" Big With New Album

After a brief hiatus, The Great Affairs have returned with their fifth album in as many years. The new release entitled "Dream In Stereo" was released today and continues to showcase Denny Smith as one of the top independent singer/songwriters in music. Since the last album, The Great Affairs have also acquired a new rhythm section which included vocalist Kenny Wright to help out on harmonies. The new thirteen song release shows diversity in the music beginning with blazing blues/rock of "Left Of Me," before moving on to the country rock of "The Next Three Minutes" and "California." They rock hard with the big guitar riffs of "Secret's A Secret," before returning with the country power ballad "I Can't Sleep Alone." The album closes with the gentle acoustics of "The Highway" and a cover of Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree," which highlights the band's wonderful harmonizing. To find out more about The Great Affairs and their latest album "Dream In Stereo," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/thegreataffairs.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CD Review: She & Him Bring Back The "Classics" On Their Latest Release

The American indie pop duo She & Him released their fifth studio album on December 2nd through Columbia Records. The duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel have become one of pop music's most welcoming couple as they interpret American Standards with a loving passion for these songs. Their albums have grown in popularity since they formed in 2008 and anticipation for a new She & Him album is always high.

Their latest album "Classics" was recorded live with a 20-piece orchestra as Deschanel channels Ella Fitzgerald on the gentle opener "Stars Fell On Alabama." They get their smooth folk rock groove going with the Carole King original "Oh No, Not My Baby" and then bring on the jazz with Dusty Springfield's "Stay Awake." Listening to this album just melts away the troubles of the world as you are calmed by Deschanel's vocals and Ward's subtle song structure and accent vocals as in "Time After Time." The most heart wrenching song on the album is She & Him's somber delivery of The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" before Deschanel struts her stuff on the old-fashion country feel of "I'll Never Be Free." The album closes with the appropriately titled "We'll Meet Again" as we look forward to their next new album of classics. To find out more about She & Him's latest release, please visit sheandhim.com.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

CD Review: Newcomers Brian Mackey And Vintage Suns Release New Albums

When one thinks of New York City, country music does not normally come to mind. Country music tends to come from Nashville, TN or maybe even Austin, TX, but newcomer Brian Mackey will change your perspective. His latest album "Broken Heartstrings" has been two years in the making and has become a way of him dealing with recent personal losses that he has recently suffered. The new nine-song release begins with the folk/rock of "Captain Of The Moon" as his vocal styling evokes a young Neil Diamond as he hooks you in with his warm tones. The album's first single "America" is a traveling country song that is just inspiring to listen to with its acoustic strumming and banjo highlights. He finally plugs in for the country rocker "Philadelphia" and faces some demons in "The Day," before closing with the personal piano ballad "Are You Listening," which questions why things happen the way they do. To find out more about Brian Mackey and his new album "Broken Heartstrings," please visit brianmackeymusic.com.

Next, from San Francisco, CA comes the debut EP from the exciting new rock band Vintage Suns. The five song EP brings back that classic hard rock sound of the seventies with a modern, sunshine California vibe. Beginning with the edginess of "No Matter" and the guitar riffs of "Garbage" you get a sense that Vintage Suns are the link between modern hard rock and the sunset strip metal of the late eighties. The band excels with the addictive chorus of "Poison," before closing the album with the mellow, acoustic "unplugged" sounding "Sun Shines." To find out more about Vintage Suns and their debut EP, please visit vintagesuns.com.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

CD Review: Dark Horse Flyer Members Find Redemption With "Breakaway" Debut

This review is a story of redemption. Back in the 1970s, friends Don Mularz and Scott Lane thought their music dreams were answered when they created the rock band, Breeze. Unfortunately, mismanaged business practices imploded the band before they were even able to released their fist album. Not until four decades later have the two friends reconvened to create a new band entitled Dark Horse Flyer.

The title suits the band very well as you would not expect this kind of polished, southern blues/rock music to come from a debut album. The new release, "Breakaway" features nine, well-constructed anthems that instantly makes you stand up and take notice. The instrumental opener "Hurricane" gives you just enough of a hint as what's to come during the next forty minutes of guitar driven southern rock. The title song "Breakaway" has that 70's classic rock vibe, but with a modern blues appeal. The driving guitars of "You've Got Your Reasons" and "Evil Women" showcase the power and maturity of the band as they pull you in with their addictive rock groove. The seven-minute slow blues of "Since You Been Gone" is one of the highlights of the album as the song carries a timeless quality. They close with the Allman Brothers Band-shuffle of "No Good" as Mularz and Lane can finally be proud of what they've been aiming for after all these years. To find out more about Dark Horse Flyer and their debut album "Breakaway," please visit darkhorseflyer.com.

Friday, December 12, 2014

CD Review: Alarm Clock Conspiracy Brings Together Their Influences On "Harlequin"

From North Carolina comes the sophomore album from indie-pop rockers Alarm Clock Conspiracy. The name of the album is "Harlequin" and it was self-released early this year. The members of the band have almost 100 years combined of music experience and it shows on this latest release. The band also invited Randall Bramblett (Traffic, Gregg Allman, Widespread Panic) to join in on keys and producer John Keane (Widespread Panic, Warren Zevon) even stepped in on guitar and percussion when the song called for it. The new thirteen-song release begins with the uptempo rocker "Skygazer" as you instantly notice a maturity in the band's delivery. The driving guitars of "Got My Mind Made Up" and contemporary pop feel of "To My Lost Friends" grows on you without notice. The songs on this album sound familiar, without never hearing them before. The ballads "Too Much" and "Hard Driving Wheel" are where their songwriting excels, but the country rock of "Sly Simmons" and electric "Reginald Day Is Here" are just fun to listen too and never get old. The album closes with the smooth acoustic sounds of "You've Been Content" and the bluesy six-minute "Something Tells Me." Alarm Clock Conspiracy are beginning the new year with a handful of shows in the North Carolina area. To find out more about their new album "Harlequin," please visit alarmclockconspiracy.com.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

CD Review: New Music From Australia's Own Lachlan Bryan And From The Red Paintings Along With Mishka Shubaly

First up from Australia comes the Americana/country artist Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes with their latest album "Black Coffee." The album has won numerous awards in his home country and looks to gather new fans of Bryan's music. The album starts off with the storied rocker "309" as the song builds with intensity. His voice is warm and tender on the acoustic "Big Fish," before things pick up for the honky-tonk guitar slinger "You, Me And The Blues." He brings a little gospel into his Americana world with "Dragging My Chain," while "The CEO Must Die" has you following Bryan's story with his comforting vocals as The Wildes lay the perfect backdrop of music. The album closes with the country blues of "Forty Days And Nights" as Bryan begins to draw similarities to Shawn Mullins. To find out more about Lachlan Bryan And The Wildes, please visit lachlanbryan.com.
 
Also coming from Australia is the debut album from alternative rockers The Red Paintings. The new release is titled "The Revolution Is Never Coming" and features the five-piece band joined by a 35-piece orchestra and a 22-piece choir to create a massive feel to their music. The thirteen-song album begins with the airy, ambient feel of "Vampires Are Chasing Me," before things pick up for the perfect classical/rock music combination of "Dead Children." The album takes you on a journey as The Red Paintings combine many different musical genres including the grunge of "Wasps" and the experimental heavy metal/classical music clash of "You're Not One Of Them." The highlights of the album is the nine-minute epic rocker "The Fall Of Rome" and the mainstream appeal of "Walls" combines the delicacy of Coldplay with the energy of Foo Fighters into a great piece of music. The album closes with the heavy drumming and progressive metal appeal of "The Revolution Is Never Coming." To find out more about The Red Paintings, please visit theredpaintings.com.
 
Now, if you're looking for a country rebel, look no further then the latest album from Mishka Shubaly entitled "Coward's Path." His singing is a cross between Mojo Nixon and Tom Waits as he pulls no punches singing and writing about drugs, hookers and the blues of it all. The simplicity of "Your Stupid Dream" allows you to sing along to the depressive subject while drinking beer after beer. His song "Frankenstein Heart" is the very definition of "grunge" as the guitar just buzzes and bleeds along to the song's rhythm. He brings things together for the mainstream rocker "I Can't Remember When You Were Mine." He faces his demons with the poor man's blues of "Alcoholison," before closing with the final regrets of "Your Plus One At My Funeral." To find out more about Mishka Shubaly and his new album "Coward's Path," please visit mishkashubaly.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CD Review: Rare Noise Records Releases New Imported Progressive Rock/Jazz Albums

Italian music label Rare Noise Records recently released two amazing instrumental albums that you would probably never knew existed. The first one is entitled "JÜ Meets Møster" and it features the Budapest-based rock trio JÜ collaborating with the Norwegian Sax icon Kjetil Møster. The music they create together feels like an eruption of King Crimson, John Coltrane and Mastadon all rolled into one. They nearly blow-out your speakers on the intense build-up of the opener "Dear Johann." Their sound is deep and dark on the low bass tones of "Bhajan" before the band locks into a progressive rock groove that allows Møster to dance all over with his boisterous jazz sounds. They look to overpower your senses with the heavy pounding of "Hassassin," before closing with the adventurous epic, "One."
 
Also new from Rare Noise Records is the experimental jazz-fusion trio Mole's second album entitled "RGB." It features nine songs beginning with the highly addictive "Sub-All" as pianist Mark Aanderud leads the way as bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Hernan Hecht keep pace. Things begin to get a little funky with the exciting bass groove of "Reasons," before going off the deep end with the jam session feel of "Trichromatic." The nine-minute, up-tempo movement of "Winip" is a welcome addition to this album as they keep things light and airy. The subtle, quietness of "T.Overlap" continues to build but never seems fully complete. The album closes with the very definition of jazz-fusion as the piano keys wipe your troubles away amongst an R&B back-drop of rhythm. To find out more about these two album and other from Rare Noise Records, please visit rarenoiserecords.com.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Vinyl Review: Special 50th Edition Vinyl Brings Out The Best Of Trini Lopez

Texas native Trini Lopez released his first album in 1963 entitled "At PJ's." Since then, he became one of the biggest voices in folk music with hit versions of "If I Had A Hammer" and "La Bamba." He has had a successful career in music that has lasted over fifty years, and to honor his breakthrough release, Exhibit Records re-released his debut album "At P.J's" on 200 gram limited edition vinyl. It features the original album with all the original artwork, foil-stamped with its unique release number.
 
The album features many well-known folk standards, including "This Land Is Your Land," "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "If I Had A Hammer," which reached #3 on the U.S. singles charts. The crowd really gives this album its energy as the floor was mic'd during the show in order for the audience to really be heard. Trini Lopez gives the performance of a lifetime at just the right moment as the album perfectly captures the energy of the nightclub. His medley of  songs "Gotta Travel On/Down By The Riverside/Marianne/When The Saints Go Marching In/Volare" is definitely the highlight of this release, as Lopez has the audience eating right out of his hands. He brings in some of his Latin influences with "Cielito Lindo," "Granada" and "La Bamba," which also became a hit for Lopez.
 
The high quality of standards of Exhibit Records has certainly shown through this release. To find out more about their latest catalog release, please visit exhibitrecords.com.

Monday, December 8, 2014

CD Review: Bloodshot Records Celebrates 20 Years With New Compilation

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the Chicago based record label Bloodshot Records. To celebrate, the label is releasing a limited edition 2CD or 3LP set of covers performed by some of the biggest underground artists in music. Many of the 38 songs contained in this set were originally recorded by Bloodshot Records' artists, beginning with Blitzen Trapper performing a countrified version of Ryan Adams' "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)." Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes) takes on Justin Townes Earle's "Look The Other Way" with ease as he step out of his comfort zone with this rendition. Newcomers Into It. Over It. tackles the subtlety of Neko Case's "Deep River Bells," while Limbeck picks up the tempo with the alternative country feel of Old 97's "Sound Of Running." The "supergroup" Minus 5 turn "Cherokee Grove" into one of their own as guitarist Peter Buck (R.E.M.) adds dashes of familiarity to the song's upbeat feel. The first disc closes with a spot on cover of Murder By Death's "I Came Around" from Possessed By Paul James as his vocals draws similarities to a younger Ryan Adams.
 
The second disc starts out with violinist Andrew Bird and Nora O'Connor breathing new life into the Americana single "I'll Trade You Money For Wine" originally written by Robbie Fulks. Singer/songwriter Ben Kweller feels right at home performing The Meat Purveyors' "2:00 AM," while the alternative rock band Superchunk turns Ryan Adams' "Come Pick Me Up" into a fun pop/punk anthem. The legendary Make Watt (The Minutemen, The Stooges) takes on The Sadies' "Up To My Neck In This" with an edginess only he can delivery, while the warm comfort of Nicki Bluhm's vocals bring through the meaning of Ryan Adams' "Oh My Sweet Carolina." Two Gallants gets things rocking with a punk-like version of Scott H. Biram's "Truck Driver" and Diarrhea Planet joins the fun with a destructive version of the Waco Brothers' "Dry Land." The second disc wraps up with the ambient feel of Charlie Pickett's "Like It A Lot," performed by Interpol's Samuel Fogarino. To find out more about this wonderful set that celebrates what Bloodshot Records is all about, then please visit bloodshotrecords.com.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

CD Review: Cleopatra Records Collects 28 Of Judy Collins' Best For "Both Sides Now"

Iconic folk singer Judy Collins played a pivotal part in healing the nation though music in the '70s. Her angelic voice is timeless and her gentle approach to her songs only makes her music even more unforgettable. On November 4th, Cleopatra Records released a brand new career retrospective entitled "Both Sides Now," bringing together some of her greatest songs on this 2CD, 28-song set. The first disc features Collins' collaborations with fellow folk icons Joan Baez on Baez's own "Diamonds And Rust" and Stephen Stills on "Last Thing On My Mind." Her version of the Broadway classic "Send In The Clowns" and the acapella rendition of "Amazing Grace" are just two prime examples of Collins' voice rendering a mood with her amazing vocal ability. She takes on the folk/rock classics "Morning Has Broken" (Cat Stevens) and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Simon & Garfunkel) with ease and grace, making the originals like a blueprint for her to follow.

The second disc begins with only her voice and a piano on the loving 1968 piece "My Father" and her rendition of the timeless classic "Over The Rainbow" as her voice just soars. The disc also features three live cover songs, "Cat's In The Cradle" (Harry Chapin), "Mr. Tambourine Man" (Bob Dylan) and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" (The Carter Family). The newest song in the set features a Rachael Sage and Judy Collins duet on Neil Young's "Helpless," which was originally released on Sage's latest album. One of Collins's amazing talents is turning such well known songs as "Pure Imagination" and "The Rose" into gems that could stand the test of time. To find out more about this new retrospective set of Judy Collins, please visit cleorecs.com.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Concert Review: Slipknot And Korn Unleash Hell At Mohegan Sun

The southeast corner of the state was rocked last Friday night when Nu-metal pioneers Korn and masked metal giants Slipknot invaded the Mohegan Sun arena. Their appearance in Connecticut fell almost exactly in the middle of their "Prepare For Hell" tour so any kinks the show may have had earlier in the tour have been worked out as both bands ran through their sets like well-oiled machines. The night began with a short set from newcomers King 810, whose growling vocals were difficult to understand, but their sound definitely set the stage for a night of head-banging metal.

Korn entered the stage to a thunderous introduction before diving into their catalog of hits with crowd favorites "Here To Stay" and "Right Now." Lead singer Jonathon Davis moved along the stage, keeping the activity going on the general admission floor as mosh pits broke out during the frenzy of "Falling Away From Me." Davis brought out his bagpipes for the beginning of the Korn-themed nursery rhyme "Shoots And Ladders," which finished with an explosive version of Metallica's "One." Their 50-minute set closed with "Blind," from Korn's self-titled debut album, which turned the floor into an unsettled sea of people banging their heads in unison to the energetic, adrenalized music.

Now, if you've never seen the band Slipknot perform live, then you are in for one hell of a show. After a short introduction, which mirrors the beginning of their latest album ".5 The Grey Chapter," the curtain raised and the stage came to life, turning the 9-piece band into a carnival ride from hell. The night was filled with flames and hydraulics, fist pumps, crowd surfing and of course, mosh pits. After the first song, "Sarcastrophe," the masks that the band wears seemed normal and actually added to the atmosphere of this uniquely engaging metal show. New songs, "The Devil And I" and "The Negative One" fit perfectly alongside fan favorites "Duality" and "Spit It Out." Lead singer Corey Taylor  told the audience, that "this is a long way from the Webster Theatre," where the band used to perform in the early days and the audience showed their appreciated of the band with screams and applause that matched the music's intensity. They closed their set with "Custer," also from the band's latest album and nobody was ready to surrender and exit the arena without leaving all their energy on the floor.

The band returned for the quick, two-song encore, which got the crowd singing along to their concert staple "People=Sh*t" and raised their middle fingers in unison for the Slipknot national anthem "Surfacing." As a recording of the band's song "Til We Die" played over the speakers, fans found themselves physically drained, but emotional high as heavy metal ruled once again at Mohegan Sun.

Korn Setlist: Twist, Here To Stay, Right Now, Love & Meth, Falling Away From Me, Good God, Haters, Shoots And Ladders, Got The Life, Freak On A Leash, Blind

Slipknot Setlist: Sarcastrophe, The Heretic Anthem, My Plague, The Devil And I, Psychosocial, The Negative One, Disasterpiece, Opium Of The People, Dead Memories, Before I Forget, Duality, The Blister Exists, Spit It Out, Cluster, People=Sh*t, Surfacing

Friday, December 5, 2014

CD Review: The Appice Brothers Battle During "Drum Wars" And Wallner & Vain Look To Bring Back Classic Metal

No two brothers have helped shape the world of heavy metal like Carmine and Vinny Appice. Carmine struck first with stints with Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart. Vinny soon followed, becoming the steady drive of Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven & Hell. For the first time, the two have come together for a one-of-a-kind live show entitled "Drum Wars Live." It plots brother against brother in a battle of skins that is a dream come true for hard rock fans. If you couldn't make it out to one of the shows, Rocker Records/Deadline Music recently released a live CD that was recorded at a show this past June in New York. The disc begins with the announcement of a heavyweight title fight as each brother is introduced before diving into the Black Sabbath/Dio hits "Mob Rules" and "Holy Diver." Sandwiched between the songs is one of half-a-dozen drum solos that just rocks your speakers. Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark At The Moon" fits perfectly into the setlist, while Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" seems out of place, but does allow the audience to get involved in the show. The disc closes with a version of "Crazy Train" that focuses more on the duel drumming thatn the guitars as it gives a more thunderous appeal to the song. To find out more about this great new release, please visit drumwars.com.

From Los Angeles, CA comes the latest album from guitarist Will Wallner and vocalist Vivien Vain entitled "The Battle Of Clyst Heath." The new eight-song release begins with the classical/rock guitar-driven instrumental "Blade Runner" that draws strong similarities to Pink Floyd. The album quickly changes gears as they bring in a classic British metal sound on "The Wars Of The Roses" as we are introduced to Vain's vocals. The album also features some guest spots, beginning with Vinny Appice on the drums, motoring through the quick pace of "Eye Of The Storm," while Wallner's guitar solo steals the show. Next, Carmine Appice sits down behind the skins and Tony Franklin lends a hand on bass for the classic eighties hard rock feel of "Black Moon." The album closes with a tribute to legendary blues/rock guitarist Gary Moore with "The Loner" as Wallner adds a little blues guitar of his own as he is joined on this instrumental by Vinny Appice on drums, Neil Murray on bass and Don Airey on keyboards. To find out more about this latest album "The Battle Of Clyst Heath," please visit wallnervain.com.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

CD Review: Dylan Howe Revisits Bowie's "Berlin" Era, While The Peter Banks Empire Discovers "Mars"

British guitarist Peter Banks was one of the original members of the progressive rock bands Yes and Flash. His musicianship helped define the genre, before being replaced in Yes by Steve Howe. Following his dismissal from the band, he decided to form Flash as another outlet for his music. After only three albums, Banks moved on to other projects, one of them being Empire. The band released three albums, but this time, his band was fronted by female singer Sydney Foxx and also featured Genesis' Phil Collins on a number of songs. Empire entered Mars Studios in the summer of 1979 to record songs for the band's next album. The sessions have sat in the vault for 35 years until its recent release through Gonzo Multimedia. The new 2CD set entitled "The Mars Tapes" features songs that have been released on some of the band's earlier albums, as well as some songs that have not appeared on any Empire album. The set opens and closes with a couple of songs from the band's first album, "Mark 1." While "Out Of Our Hands" feels like a sixties psychedelic rocker, "Sky At Night" is a slow-building, gentle flight that features Phil Collins on drums. Sandwiched between these two tracks are ten epic pieces of music, including the 18-minute "Medley" and the unreleased 17-minute instrumental version "Something's Coming" from West Side Story. The band really excels during the masterful nine-minute instrumental performance of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill," while "Dancing Man" shows disco's influence in rock music. The short instrumentals "The Fall Of The Empire" and "When The Banks Overflow" sound like music pieces of a bigger project that never happened. The album was released in October. To find out more about "The Mars Tapes," please visit gonzomultimedia.com.

English drummer Dylan Howe has had a steady, but quiet music career. He began his career in 1989, performing regularly at clubs, before his big break in 1997 when he joined Ian Dury & The Blockheads. Following Dury's death in 2000, Howe joined his father, Steve Howe on his solo albums and played drums in the Wilko Johnson Band. Howe also lead his own jazz band, the Dylan Howe Quintet and in 2007, he formed Dylan Howe and the Subterraneans which performed David Bowie music in a jazz format. His latest album entitled "Subterranean" has Howe performing jazz renditions of Bowie's "Berlin" era. The new nine-song release begins with the slow, subtle build-up of the title song as Ross Stanley's piano weaves in and out of the smooth tenor sax highlights. Dylan Howe finally makes his presence known in the latter half of "Weeping Wall," before diving into the quick pace of the eleven-minute "All Saints." The deep dark depressing tone of "Warszawa" is handled perfectly with the almost playfulness between the piano and drums. The album closes with the gentle, magical feeling of Bowie's "Moss Garden." Dylan Howe just wrapped up a European tour of the album in October, but has a few dates scheduled in 2015. To find out more about his new album "Subterranean," please visit dylanhowe.bandcamp.com.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blu-ray/DVD Review: Billy Joel And An All-Star Cast Make "The Last Play At Shea" Memorable

If you're a lover of music, sports and New York, then I have the perfect movie for you, "The Last Play At Shea." Released by Virgil Films on November 18th, it takes three New York icons and interweaves their stories into the final days of the legendary Shea Stadium. This documentary is like three in one as it follows the history of this historic landmark, as well as the amazing rise of the 1969 Mets baseball team and the career of the piano man, Billy Joel.
 
The 95-minute documentary begins with the final event presented at Shea Stadium, an amazingly timeless concert by Billy Joel. He explains how much this stadium has meant to him and to the thousands of New Yorkers. His performances that evening are interwoven with historic clips of the construction of Shea Stadium, as well as the "worst to first" rise of the Mets' baseball teams of the sixties. The main focus, besides the concert, is the background information on the career of Billy Joel, beginning with his early bands, The Hassles and Attila. As with the Mets, the documentary follows the rise and fall and reemergence of Billy Joel's music throughout music history.
 
The documentary is narrated by fellow New Yorker Alec Baldwin as his passion of the Shea Stadium landmark comes across through in his storytelling. Billy Joel turns this final 2008 concert at the stadium into an all-star music extravaganza. The documentary shows his performances with Tony Bennett during "New York State Of Mind," Roger Daltrey during "My Generation" and Sir Paul McCartney during a roaring performance of "I Saw Her Standing There." The irony of McCartney's performance is that The Beatles were the first band to perform at Shea Stadium back in 1965 and he closed the show on July 18, 2008 with a heartfelt performance of "Let It Be." Once you see this documentary, you will also want to seek out the complete concert which was released in 2011, "Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert." To find out more about this must have for music fans, especially fans of Billy Joel, please visit billyjoel.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CD Review: Universal Music Group Expands The Self-Titled Third Album From The Velvet Underground

Back in 1969, The Velvet Underground were the ultimate cult band. They released their debut album in 1967 featuring artwork by "Pop Art" leader Andy Warhol and suddenly became the coolest, psychedelic band in the U.S. Their songs dealt with drugs and prostitution that didn't really convert to chart success. The Velvet Underground would change up their sound on their third self-titled album, looking for more of that commercial success with an album filled with straight-up rock songs and ballads. The Velvet Underground would never find the success they were hoping for and would eventually break-up following the release of their 1973 album "Squeeze." On November 24th, Universal Music Group unveiled a massive 65-track, 6CD box set celebrating the band's iconic third album. The new release contains three different versions of the album, along with a never-before-released fourth album that The Velvet Underground recorded in order to get the band out of its contract with MGM. The real gems are the last two discs in the set which features eighteen songs performed by the band live in 1969 at The Matrix in San Francisco.
 
The first disc features the stereo mix of the album done by MGM's house engineer Luis Pastor "Val" Valentin, without the knowledge of the band and has become the version that fans have come to know on CD. The second disc contains "The Closet Mix" which was made by the band and was the original version of the album that was released on vinyl in 1969. It also contains an alternate version of the song "Beginning To See The Light." The third disc features the mono version of the album along with two bonus tracks, the mono single of "What Goes On" along with it's flip-side "Jesus." Disc four is the "buried treasure," containing the original rough mixes to an album that was never released. Song like the country feel of "One Of These Days," carnival-like sound of "I'm Sticking With You" and the bluesy "I'm Gonna Move Right In" has The Velvet Underground performing like another band entirely as they continued to throw out different ideas to see how far they can push their music. Six of the songs on this disc are brand-new mixes including the repetitive "Lisa Says" and garage-rocker "I Can't Stand It." The final two discs of this set were recorded on November 26 and 27 in 1969 and features songs from the newly released third album as well as songs from their forth-coming album "Loaded" album. Songs like "Rock & Roll" and "Sweet Jane" are early favorites that the band worked on during their most recent  studio sessions. The highlights of the two live discs has to be the 37-minute jam of "Sister Ray" as the band lets loose on their jam before locking into a rhythm and becoming one powerful unit of music, which is also shown in the eight-minute electric version of "White Light, White Heat."
 
This super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground's third album was released on November 24th. It was also released as a remastered single-disc and a two-CD deluxe edition. To find out more about this amazing new release, please visit velvetundergroundmusic.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

CD Review: New Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Music From Around The Globe

Kaotoxin Records is looking to start the new year off with some new heavy metal music, but instead they released the latest album from 6:33 entitled "Deadly Scenes." The album is described as a "bad LSD trip while listening to Devin Townsend and watching Tim Burton." The Paris-based band begins the album with the "rock opera" show tune "Hellalujah" as they turn on their charm of storytelling. The rhythm-heavy backdrop of "The Walking Fred" feels like a modern day horror story as Rorschach's vocals look to get the heart pumping. 6:33 finally brings out their symphonic heavy metal sound in the slightly comical feel of "I'm A Nerd" and then take on the hard rock waltz of "Modus Operandi." They also give us the spaghetti western instrumental "Last Bullet For A Good Rattle," before closing with the aggressive "Lazy Boy" and the thirteen-minute adventurous sounds of "Deadly Scenes." To find out more about this exciting, experimental rock band, please visit 633theband.com.
 
Next, from Israel comes the debut album from the female-fronted metal band Shiran. Their new self-released EP entitled "Warm Wintery Day" begins with electrifying vocals of Shiran Avayou taking hold of your attention on the mainstream metal of "Remain." The music of "The Child" showcases the band's heavier rock sound, before closing with the progressive power metal sound of "Burden's Off." To find out more about Shiran and their debut album "Warm Wintery Day," please visit shiranproject.com.
 
Polish metal band Sailor's Grave recently released their latest album "Hopeless Path" back in May and are looking to invade U.S. shores with their brand of hardcore metal. The new twelve-song release begins with the slow 90-second build-up of "Letters (Intro)," before diving head first into the hard-hitting attack of "Fire Of Justice." The band flexes their muscle on "Thin Line," which has a thunderous rhythm and screaming vocals that demand your attention. Their musicianship on "Guardians" is exceptional and shows that Sailor's Grave isn't only about forcing the music in your face. The passion in their performances comes through on the dark tone of "Unveiling The Omega" with its howling vocals and tempo changes. The album closes with the aggressive nature of "Vultures" and a re-recorded version of "Breath" from the band's 2011 demo. To find out more about Sailor's Gave and the latest release "Hopeless Path," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/sailorsgraveband.
 
Traveling over to the U.K. comes the self-titled debut release from progressive metal band Arcade Messiah. The new band is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/producer John Bassett of the U.K. Prog-Rock band King Bathmat. The new seven-song release displays the wonderful talents of Bassett as he keeps you interested, beginning with the quick-pace of "Sun Exile." The tempo slows down for the more melodic feel of "You Best Line Of Defense Is Obscurity" as he then looks to simplify his overall sound on the three-minute "Aftermath." The epic eight-minute "Everybody Eating Everyone Else" has a more aggressive, hard rock tone, before closing the album with slow rise of "Roman Resolution." To find out more about the latest release from Arcade Messiah, please visit arcademessiah.com.
 
Finally, from Toronto, Canada comes the latest EP from Christian Punk Band, led by frontman Christian Turner. The new four-song EP showcases Turner's twenty-plus years of experience in music, beginning with the high-energy "Bang Bang." The first single from the album is "Superdown," a simmering rocker that puts more focus on the vocals that the music, which never seems takes off. The grunge-like sound of "Revampires" and the fast-paced punk rhythm of "Taki" are the highlights of the album that leave you wanting to hear more from this band. To find out about the latest from Christian Punk Band, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/christianpunkband.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

CD Review: Hot New Releases From Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records finishes up November with some exciting new releases, including the first ever complete retrospective of King Diamond. Also coming out at the end of the month was the latest albums from the prog-metal band Primordial, German hardcore masters Cripper and heavy metal keyboardist Thomas Giles.

The new King Diamond set is entitled "Dreams Of Horror" and it divides the two-disc set between his Roadrunner Records and Metal Blade Records releases. The first disc features his early recordings, beginning with the haunting sounds of "The Candle" and "The Family Ghost." His band in the early days, which consisted of Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) on drums and Andy LaRocque on guitar laid the perfect backdrop for King Diamond's high vocal range. Songs like the eight-minute "Black Horsemen" and the nine-minute adventure of "At The Gates" is where the band would strive as you felt trapped inside a horror story with an amazing soundtrack. After five years between albums (1990-1995) King Diamond released his sixth album "The Spider's Lullabye" through his new record label, Metal Blade. The second disc begins with "Dreams" which shows a harder edge to King Diamond's mystical metal sound, while "Waiting" is a straight-up metal rocker. The title-track of his 1998 concept album "Voodoo" shows King Diamond more involved in the album's story, than the song's impact. He returns to the dark creepy metal of "Spirits" as he sounded rejuvenated with "The Puppet Master." The double disk set closes with "Never Ending Hill" and "Shapes Of Black" from his last studio album, 2007's "Give Me Your Soul...Please." This set should serve as a reminder of how good of a performer, singer, songwriter and metal legend King Diamond was. To find out more about this new release, please visit metalblade.com/kingdiamond.

European metal is alive and well according to the latest releases from Primordial and Cripper. Both bands are building upon past career topping albums as Primordial look to push their sound to a more heavier, live feel.  Their new album "Where Greater Men Have Fallen" are eight songs that are great epic numbers, beginning with the eight-minute title-song. The shortest song "The Seeds Of Tyrants" clocks in at five-and-a-half minutes and comes at you at blistering speed that just looks to overpower you, while the nine-minute "Born To Night" takes its time building with intensity and strength. To find out more about the new album from Primordial, please visit primordialweb.com. Now, Cripper has been finding new fans everywhere they have been heard since their debut in 2007. Their latest release "Hyena" is a power blast of guitar riffs, energetic drum fills and growling vocals. The new eleven-song release is German hardcore metal at its best. The youthful grasp of "Tourniquet" and "7 inch" shows a band looking to conquer the European metal market, then the world. The hardcore sound of "The Origin" and adrenaline-fueled drumming and electrifying solo of "Patterns In The Sky" make Cripper stand-out amongst other hardcore metal bands. To find out more about their latest release "Hyena," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Cripper.

To change gears, we get the latest solo release from Between The Buried And Me's keyboardist and vocalist Tommy Giles Rogers entitled "Modern Noise." This follows his Metal Blade Records 2011 debut "Pulse" and establishes Rogers as one of the great young talents of progressive rock music. The new twelve-song release ventures further away from the long, extended jams and features a more concise and direct approach to his music as shown in "Mutilated World and "Siphon The Bad Blood." He begins to jam a little on "I Appear Disappear" and experiments with the rhythm of "We Wander Lonely," before returning to the straight up hard rock of "M3." He displays his keyboard skills in the quietness of "Noise Upon," before closing with the electronic rock of "Modern Noise." To find out more about Tommy Giles Rogers and his latest release, please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/thomasgilesmusic.