Thursday, July 31, 2014

CD Review: New Independent Music From Across North America

From Mexico comes the punk band Los Seis Pistos with their latest release "Punk Will Never Die." The album is a collection of the band performing English and Spanish punk songs. The band claims that they were as much influenced by Elvis Presley, as they were by Pedro Infante and they just wanted to add a pulse to their music. Their new eleven-song release begins with the garage-rocker, adrenaline-fueled title song, "Punk Will Never Die" as they keep things simple without the need anything extra to take away from the song's message. They capture a more classic punk sound with "So Done," before slowing the tempo down for the raw, mainstream rock of "Have a Nice Day." The five Spanish sung tunes have a more violent sound, like with the battle cry of "La Vida Facil" ("The Easy Life") and the shout along chorus of "No Puede Ser" ("Cannot Be"). The album closes with the most attractive song that deserves your attention, the alternative rocker "El Combino" ("The Way"). To find out more about Los Seis Pistos and their latest album "Punk Will Never Die," please visit seispistos.com.mx.
 
Next, from Portland, OR comes the country/folk band Hearts Of Oak with their first full-length, nationally distributed album "New England." The band is fronted by singer/songwriter Nate Wallace backed by a "druggy, psychedelic" band that look to break down the barriers between Americana and country music. If Bob Dylan never plugged in at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, this may have been the sound of his next album as Wallace's vocal delivery mirrors a younger Dylan on the opening track "Used To It Now." By the second song "Goldmine," Hearts Of Oak have your full attention as their music eases your mind as Wallace continues to lead the psychedelic Americana movement. While the band plugs in for "Trouble In Mind," it's hard not to picture this song on Dylan's "Time Out Of Mind" album. The trio of the songs "New England," "Wants You Close" and "Tunnels" displays the band's feel for combining the buzz of electric with the purity of acoustic in creating that wonderful roots sound. To find out more about Hearts of Oak, please visit the band's Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Hearts-of-Oak.
 
Lastly, from Canada comes the four-piece indie "math-pop" band Tommy Alto with their latest EP "Atlas//Patterson." The new seven song release begins with the jamband feel of "Mountain Top" as their sound is very contagious. They mix up the tempo on "Doria" to display their creativity, before continuing with the straight-forward indie-rock of "Birds." They add a boost of punk energy into "Beneath The Rain On A Strange Rooftop," before closing with the Crash Test Dummies sound-alike "Driftwood." Tommy Alto will spend August along the west coast on a 17-date tour. To find out more about the new album, please visit tommyalto.com.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CD Review: New Music From Metal Blade Records Breathes New Life Into Metal Music.

From the ashes of the multi-million album selling juggernaut band, As I Lay Dying comes the new metal band Wovenwar featuring current and former members of As I Lay Dying. The band will be releasing their self-titled debut album on August 5 and it features fifteen hard-hitting songs that the band has been working on for the past two years with producer Bill Stevenson (Decendents, Black Flag). The band dives right into the attack of "Death To Rights" as their sound perfectly fits into the metal mainstream. The quick pace of "Tempest" and the dark tone of "The Mason" shows new, energetic life for these musicians. They slow the tempo down for only a moment for the beginning of "Father/Son," before kicking things into high gear with the screams of "Profane" and "Archers." The album closes with the aggressive undertaking of "Matter Of Time" and the solid metal appeal of "Prophets." Wovenwar are currently on tour with Kyng and Black Label Society before heading over to Europe in mid-August. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about the new album, please visit wovenwar.com.
 
Next up is the new album, "Maximum Overload" from the power metal band DragonForce which will be released on August 19th. It is the band's sixth album and features ten songs of non-stop metal energy, beginning with sheer force and speed of "The Game." There sound on this album has matured since becoming known in the mainstream as having the impossible final song from "Guitar Hero." Instead of trying to overpower you with how fast they can play, DragonForce have crafted songs for metal fans to really grab a hold of and enjoy. With only one song surpassing the six-minute mark, the songs on this album are concise as they get down to business on "No More." The rhythm goes into overdrive for "Symphony Of The Night," which feels like Mozart on Speed following by a six-pack of energy drinks, but it suits DragonForce's power metal sound perfectly. The band delivers one final blast of energy with "City Of Gold" and a cover of Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire" as you have never heard before. Metal Blade Records will also be releasing a "Special Edition" of the album that includes five bonus tracks and a DVD that documents the making of the album. To find out more about the new album "Maximum Overdrive," please visit dragonforce.com.

 
One more final album coming from Metal Blade Records is the sophomore follow-up from Trioscapes entitled "Digital Dream Sequence." Their debut release "Separate Realities" broke into the top ten on Billboard's Traditional Jazz album chart and hit #2 on the iTunes Jazz album chart. Their follow-up was written more for the live setting as the album begins with the adventurous sounds of the title-song. The music gets a little funkier with the  Zappa-vibe of "Stab Wounds," before exploring the atmospheric sound of "From The Earth To The Moon." The five-song album closes with the 15-minute clash of bebop jazz and hard rock appeal of "The Jungle." To find out more about Trioscapes, please visit metalblade.com/trioscapes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CD Review: New Independent Releases Blur The Lines Between Jazz Fusion And Prog-Rock

Two great, new exciting instrumental albums to be released on RareNoise Records come from the rock trio Interstatic and the four-piece jazz fusion band Indigo Mist. The new Interstatic album "Arise" carries nine songs with a very spacy-rock vibe, similar to recent day King Crimson, especially on the rhythm-heavy "Caerbannog." They get a little jazzier with the smooth guitar strumming of Jacob Young battling the Hammond organ solo of Roy Powell on "Alpha Dog," before going full-out rock on "Frank'll Fix It" featuring drummer Jarle Vespestad. The band plays around with tempos on "Wonderfall," before closing with experimental sound of the Pink Floydian "Doozy (reprise)." Interstatic will be releasing their new album "Arise" on August 4th. To find out more, please visit rarenoiserecords.com/interstatic.

Next up is the new album from Indigo Mist entitled "That The Days Go By And Never Come Again," which will also be released on August 4th. The ten-song release begins with the rhythm heavy drum session "L'Heure Bleue," which leads into the nine-minute slow build-up of "Indigo Mist." The piano piece "Billy" allows for Richard Karpen to put his talents on display, while trumpeter Coung Vu takes control of the classic jazz sound of "In A Sentimental Mood." The crashing instrumentation of "The Electric Mist" leads to the quiet experimentation of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." To find out more about the new album from Indigo Mist, please visit rarenoiserecords.com/indigo-mist.

Finally, we get the new self-titled debut album from the electronic jazz fusion band Helio Parallax. The band is lead by the trio Takuya Nakamura (Quincy Jones), Josh Werner (Wu Tang, Lee "Scratch" Perry) and Marihito Ayabe (Dub Nomads). For this release, they decided to invite some special guest to perform on the album, beginning with the vocals of Louque on the club beat appeal of "Strange Dream." The dub step sound of "Kilgore Trout Dub" and the electronic beats of "Speed Of Life" along with the vocals of Major Lazer's Jahden Blakkamore gives the song a pulse that just rings through speakers and into your mind. They bring some jazziness into their sound with "Nocturne For Secret Planets" and "City Of Glass," before closing with the funky beats of "New Planet, Old Sun." To find out more about this new underground band, please visit mod-technologies.com/helioparallax.

Monday, July 28, 2014

CD Review: Queen Esther Visits "The Other Side," While Marcus Singletary Is Looking For "Some Lovin'"

From New York comes the southern soul singer/songwriter Queen Esther with her latest release "The Other Side." The album was self-produced and was self-released back in May. Queen Esther taps into a new musical genre, "Black Americana" as she mixes together pieces of folk with country, blues, jazz and soul to create some wonderful new sounds. The new thirteen-song release begins with the southern rock groove of "Sunnyland," before heading out to the country for the acoustic strumming of "I've Come Undone Again." She turns Steve Miller Band's "Jet Airliner" into soul/blues rock as the guitars are dirty, while her voice is so clean and pure. Her sound on this album floats between the classic country twang of "Sadness Everlasting" and the soulful rock of "Somebody Else's Baby," before settling on the beautiful folk tale of "Love Is A Wrecking Ball" and the emotional piano ballad "I Feel Like Going Home."

Queen Esther will be touring throughout New York during the month of August. To find out more about this amazing underground artist, please visit queen-esther.com.
 
 
The latest release from singer/songwriter/guitarist Marcus Singletary is a collection of rarities entitled "Gimme Some Lovin'" that was released by Aviation Records on July 15th. The album brings together some of Singletary's songs that date back as far a 2002 with the laid back, "mosey-on" melody of "Old Time Feeling." The beginning of the compilation is a great one-two punch of the classic guitar riffs with the original "(You Bring Out The) Best In Me" and the cover of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin." He concentrates more on the lyrics of "Shame," while "Come On Over To My Side, Baby" is all about the guitar solo. The ten-song album finishes up with sexual tension of "Can't Ask For More" as Marcus finds the perfect groove for the song's theme.

To find out more about Marcus Singletary and his latest release "Gimme Some Lovin," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/MarcusSingletaryMusic.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Concert Review: Lionel Richie Performs The Hits "All Night Long" At Mohegan Sun

For over 45 years, Lionel Richie has been cranking out pop hits, first as a member of The Commodores then as a solo artist. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is considered one of the best selling music artists of all-time. Without a new album to promote, fans of Lionel Richie were in for a treat when he visited the Mohegan Sun arena Saturday night to perform a two-hour packed show of many of his biggest hit songs.

The night began promptly at 7:30 with opening act CeeLo Green performing a 45 minute set of originals and cover songs. He mixed in a few songs from his 2010 album "The Lady Killer" amongst cover songs by Sister Sledge, Rod Stewart and even the Violent Femmes. His opening set closed with his transformation into Gnarls Barkley for the song "Crazy" and then got everyone on their feet, singing the chorus of his biggest hit single "Forget You."

As the delay of headliner Lionel Richie taking the stage passed one hour, the crowd began to get restless, that was until Richie appeared center stage, then all was forgiven. He began the night with "All Around The World," the only song of the evening that was originally released after 1986. The rest of the night was a flashback to the seventies and eighties as Lionel Richie was one of the main performers of the soundtrack to these decades. Richie described the night as "karaoke on steroids" as every single person in the audience would sing along to their favorite hits, including the early upbeat songs "You Are" and "Running With The Night."

Lionel Richie was very personable with the audience, explaining the three different groups of "Lionel Richie fans." The ones that were there from the beginning as a fan of The Commodores, ones that became fans of his hit solo albums and the ones that just don't get why his music is so memorable. He broke-down the meaning behind the songs "Still," "Oh No" and "Stuck On You" to bring his three groups of fans closer together before getting everyone "Dancing On The Ceiling."

The night continued with a dip back to his seventies heyday with the Commodores' hits "Sail On," "Fancy Dancer," "Sweet Lady" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)," which got all of the females on their feet dancing. The main set closed with the audience grooving to "Brick House" and singing along to "Hello," before letting their cares go for the huge eighties #1 single "All Night Long (All Night)."

With a roaring applause, Lionel Richie returned to the stage to perform a song he had written with the late Michael Jackson, explaining that it is still the perfect message for today. He began to sing "We Are The World" and is wasn't long before the entire audience joined in to sing the chorus as he closed the evening with a sincere "thank you" and left the stage to another standing ovation.

Lionel Richie's music has become so timeless that as long as their is love and heartache in the world, his music will have a significant meaning in our lives.

Setlist: All Around The World, Penny Lover, Easy, Ballerina Girl, You Are, Truly, Running With The Night, Still, Oh No, Stuck On You, Dancing On The Ceiling, Three Times A Lady, Sail On, Fancy Dancer, Sweet Love, Lady (You Bring Me Up), Just To Be Close To You, Endless Love, Say You Say Me, Brick House/Fire, Hello, All Night Long (All Night)
Encore: We Are The World

Saturday, July 26, 2014

CD Review: Nils Lofgren Has To "Face The Music" With Career Spanning Box Set

One of the unsung heroes of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band is guitarist Nils Lofgren. He has been a part of that band for the last thirty years, but prior to that job, he was a founding member of the band Grin and had a successful solo career, which continues to this day. On August 5th, Fantasy Records along with the Concord Music Group will release a 10-disc (9CDs/1DVD) retrospective of the recent Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nils Lofgren. This box set contains 169 tracks, dating back to 1968 and 40 of those tracks have never been previously released. The set mainly focuses on Nils' solo releases, but does feature collaborations with Neil Young, Lou Reed, Del Shannon,Bruce Springsteen and many more.


The first disc covers the three years that Nils was a member of the band, Grin. The 21-songs featured on this disc were compiled from the band's four albums. Grin's seventies rock sound fits perfectly alongside the hits of The Eagles and Jackson Browne, with the highlights being "Everybody's Missin' The Sun," "If I Were A Song," "White Lies," "Hi, Hello Home" (featuring Graham Nash) and "Begger's Day (Eulogy To Danny Whitten)." Disc two's nineteen songs make up most of Nils' seventies solo output, extensively covering his two "top 40" albums "Cry Tough" and "I Came To Dance." This was the height of Nils Lofgren's popularity as a singer/songwriter/guitarist. The disc closes with three live songs from his 1977 double-album "Night After Night," which showcases how well of a performer Nils is on stage. Disc three continues his solo career, beginning with his 1979 collaborations with Dick Wagner, Lou Reed and Bob Ezrin on the album "Nils." His last album to crack the top 100 on the album chart, "Night Fades Away," features the popular Del Shannon cover "I Go To Pieces." This disc ends with the song "Everybody Wants," just prior to Nils joining the E Street Band and taking a two year break from his solo career.


Nils would return with a new album in 1985 ("Flip") which carried a different sound for Nils Lofgren, but fit in with the synthesizer-filled music of the mid-1980's. Disc four features songs like "Girl In Motion," "Valentine" and "Shot At You" showing a softer side to Nils' songwriting, while the bluesy feel of "Trouble's Back" and East Coast rock of "New Kind Of Freedom" displays some of the sound that rubbed off from working with Bruce Springsteen.  Disc Five contains the majority of Nils' recordings from the nineties self-released albums. His guitar playing and songwriting seems to get a little darker and bluesier during this period in his career, but it was a welcome change for his sound. He would also abandon the idea of a hit single with songs reaching the eight-minute mark ("Tender Love" and "Out Of The Grave") and containing a story that makes you pay attention to the lyrics as in "Life" and "Little On Up."

During the time period of 1996 to 2001, Nils Lofgren did not make a studio album, just one live album. Disc six covers this period of Nils experimenting with his sound and songwriting. He still has his knack for writing acoustic pop tunes with "Puttin' Out Fires" and "Love A Child" and also tries his hand at jazz with the piano ballad "Heaven's Answer To Blue." The acoustic folk style of "Open Road" and country strumming of "Tears On Ice" perfectly suites his latest songwriting style. Disc Seven, which is my personal favorite of the set, features his most recent solo original and cover songs, beginning with a live mellow versions of "Live Rain" and an acoustic, but powerful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." The disc also features three covers of the Neil Young classics "I Am A Child," "Mr. Soul" and "World On A String." The disc also features some of Nils most rocking songs in decades like "Old School" and "Ain't Too Many Of Us Left" and closes with his rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Wreck On The Highway." Discs 8 & 9 of the set include 40 unreleased and rarity songs that are all compiled together in one place for fans to enjoy. It features the early Grin song "Keith Don't Go" with Neil Young on backing vocals and the honky-tonk feel of "Sweet Four Wings." The funkiness of "Stay Hungry" and the progressive rock of the eleven-minute "Message," shows the diversity in Nils' songwriting. He hits 80's rock gold with an alternate version of "Beauty And The Beast" and closes with his soft, emotional take of "O Holy Night."

This box set also contains a DVD featuring 20 video clips, a 136-page booklet with track-by-track commentary and personal reflections of touring with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Ringo Starr. This massive undertaking has been delayed once to get thing perfect and will finally be released on August 5th. To find out more about this release, please visit nilslofgren.com.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: A Must Read Book For Metal Music Fans Summer Reading List

Here is one book that needs to be on every classic heavy metal music fan's list is "The Big Book Of Hair Metal - The Illustrated Oral History Of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade." It tells the complete story of this sub-category of metal music, straight from the mouths of the artists that lived it.

The book could be read two different ways, one way is to read the timeline facts, beginning in 1951 with the release of "Rocket 88," the first unofficial rock 'n' roll song recorded. Then continuing through the sixties and seventies until Quiet Riot's "Metal Health" tops the album charts in November 1983, becoming the first "metal" album to do so. It highlights the major album and single releases that made an effect on this musical genre and why some of them are significant to the development of "hair metal." The other way the book could be read is reading the thousands of quotes that author Martin Popoff has gathered together to help explain the history of this music phenomenon. It's great to hear early insight from Dave Davies (The Kinks) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) as to what was happening in the sixties and seventies to help develop this brand of music. The greatest quotes come from right in the heart of the book, when members of Motley Crue and Poison and Twisted Sister and tons more talk about their albums, tours or even clothing and make-up.

If that doesn't keep you coming back for more, then the tons of memorabilia pictures, album covers and photos will. Just flipping through the pages brought back so many memories of that era of music that I could not stop examining every little thing. With over 200 pages of information, this book could be considered the encyclopedia of "hair metal." As with all good things, they must come to an end as this era of metal music did with the September 1991 release of Nirvana's blockbuster "Nevermind" album.

To find out more about this great "must have" book, please visit qbookshop.com.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

CD Review: World Reknown Guitarists Carl Verheyen And Peppino D'Agostino Release New Music

Former Supertramp guitarist Carl Verheyen released his thirteenth solo album entitled "Mustang Run" last year and is promoting it with a world tour that will bring him to Europe this fall. The eleven-song release is almost entirely instrumental, except for his cover of Supertramp's "Bloody Well Right." Carl mixes genres, beginning with the rockabilly feel of "Taylor's Blues," which allows him to get things rocking right from the start.  He explores his progressive rock side with the six-minute, guitar-fueled tempo of "Fusioneers Disease," then heads to the more mainstream "Amandola," which sounds like a hit single that is missing the vocals. The tempo picks up with the quick-pace of "Riding The Bean," before closing with the funkiness of "Fourth Door On The Right" and the laid back blues of "Spirit Of Julia."

The Carl Verheyen Band have a few shows out along the west coast, before heading to Europe at the end of September. To find out more about Carl and his latest album "Mustang Run," please visit carlverheyen.com.
 
World famous Italian guitar virtuoso Peppino D'Agostino will be releasing is new instrumental studio album "Penumbra" this fall. Since arriving in the U.S. over 25 years ago, D'Agostino has been hailed by his peers as one of the best guitar composers in the trade. His new twelve-song album is a collection of originals and compositions of some of his favorite guitar composers, including two songs written specifically for him by Latin Grammy award-winner Sergio Assad. Beginning with the titled-song, D'Agostino slowly feels his way around, plucking the strings until reaching the rhythm heavy second half of the song. The two-minute "Peppino Sotto Portico" puts D'Agostino's skills to the test on this wonderful piece, while his rendition of Roland Dyens' "Valse des Anges" captures your attention with its exciting chord changes and unspoken story. The heavy strumming of "Irican" and the gentle plucking of "Incantation" shows the diversity in D'Agostino's magically instrumental appeal. He portrays his emotions through his guitar with the bright, energetic sound of "MB Love" and the dark, stern feel of "Sergio." The album finishes with D'Agostino painting a clear picture in your mind with the melody of "The Blue Ocean."

Peppino D'Agostino will begin his tour over in Europe this month, before coming to the U.S. in mid-August. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about his new album "Penumbra," please visit peppinodagostino.com.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CD Review: A Wide Range Of Independent Releases From The Assist, Poker Man And Ivar Pall Jonsson

From the U.K. comes the debut release from the indie rock band The Assist. The new EP is entitled "Speak It Aloud" and features four songs filled with raw, youthful energy, but has an attractive modern alternative rock sound. Beginning with the title-song, you'd think this band has been around for a few decades as the music reflects a time when alternative rock was an underground phenomenon. They show some of their youthfulness with the post-punk rhythm of "The Rave" and also on "Control." To find out more about The Assist, please check them out on Soundcloud (soundcloud.com/the-assist).

Next, from Hollywood, CA comes the latest release from indie-pop artist Poker Man entitled "Psychedelia." All of the music, lyrics, singing and producing of the album was done by Poker Man and showcases his influences of pop icons Michael Jackson, Madonna and Donna Summer. His beats are addictive as with the club rhythm of "Moonshine" and "Turn Me On," while the lyrical hip-hop of "Take It Back" is where you really discover Poker Man's talents. He looks to break into the mainstream with the single "I Can't Be With You," which is the strongest pop piece on this release. He finishes the album with his return to the club with the beats of "Cannabis." To find out more about Poker Man, please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/PokerManMusic.

Lastly, from Iceland comes singer/songwriter Ivar Pall Jonsson with his latest release "Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter," featuring the Revolutionary Cellular Orchestra. The new nineteen-song set was released on July 15 and tells the story in the same vein as The Who's "Tommy," mixing in rock singles with conceptual pieces of music. Beginning with "The Legacy Of Elbowville," Jonsson lays the groundwork with the build-up of rhythm and the amazing vocals of Soffia Bjorg. The tempo really gets going with the alternative rock appeal of "We Play The Game," which reflects the early days of Coldplay's career. The album mixes in the pop sound of "Don't Miss The Boat" and the grand orchestration of "All We Need Is Confidence" and "No Plan B." The album's first single, "Alone" is a great introduction into the complexity of Jonsson's songwriting, filled with tempo changes and drifting between rock and operatic pop. The album finishes with the lovely duet of "I'd Have Told You The Truth" and the grand build-up of "Our Revolution." To find out more about Ivar Pall Jonsson and his latest release "Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter," please visit facebook.com/elbowville.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

CD Review: Magic Man's Debut Album Comes "Before The Waves"

From Boston, MA comes the full-length debut album from electronic rock band Magic Man entitled "Before The Waves." It was released through Columbia Records on July 8th and features four songs from their "You Are Here" EP, which caught the attention of many music critics. The new twelve-song album begins with the dance-club feel of "Texas," then moves on to the funkier beats of the album single "Paris." The band comes together for the up-tempo, exciting sound of "Chicagoland" and the mainstream dance/pop of "Every Day." The single "Out Of Mind" has the rhythm to attract listeners of all ages, while the unforgettable chorus replays in your head. The album closes with the album's latest single, "It All Starts Here," which is the perfect recipe for a radio hit.
 
Magic Man are current on their U.S. tour which runs to the beginning of August. To find out more about their latest release "Before The Waves," please visit magicmanmusic.com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

CD Review: Slow Burn Inject A Raw, Hard Rock Sound Into Their Covers

Connecticut native band Slow Burn has been performing on the local indie-rock circuit for the better part of five years. They perform everything from covers to a few originals, putting their hard rock stamp on many well-known classics. Their latest self-titled EP features five cover songs and the originally penned "Take Me Home." They turn Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" and Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" into metal magic with the heavy driving guitar of Billy Francis and vocalist Mike Thiede nostalgic sounding vocals. The rhythm section of Justin Piccirillo on drums and Bob Nich on bass motors Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times," but their sound matches perfectly to their cover of Alice In Chains' "Them Bones." The one original song "Take Me Home," carries a southern rock vibe with a slight country feel and a stomp beat that should get you to stand up and take notice.
 
Slow Burn have an upcoming show on July 25 at the courthouse green in downtown Meriden, CT. They will be on full display, performing classic covers with an original or two thrown in. To find out more about the band, and to hear some of their music, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/SLOW-BURN-band.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Concert Review: Adam Lambert Breathes New Life Into Queen Classics At Mohegan Sun

Since the 1991 death of Queen front-man Freddie Mercury,  and the retirement of bassist John Deacon, the remaining members (Brian May and Roger Taylor) of Queen have always pondered at the thought of whether or not to continue as a band. In 2005, they first attempted to create something new and magical with the music of Queen with Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company) filling in the lead vocalist roll. After a tour and an album, the band parted ways with Rodgers in 2009. Still on the search, Brian May and Roger Taylor may have found the right fit for the band with former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert as the two joined forces Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun arena.

With an entire catalogue of Queen music at their disposal, the set list was geared perfectly for the casual fan as they put together twenty-one of Queen's most well-known classics. The night began with Brian May's signature guitar intro to "Now I'm Here" as Adam Lambert appeared at the top tier of the stage dressed from head to toe in leather. While his vocal range may not have matched that of the late Freddie Mercury, Lambert certainly made up for it with hand and body gestures during "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Fat Bottom Girls." A lavish couch was placed on a small round stage located at the end of the catwalk for Lambert to "stretch-out along" during his performance of "Killer Queen," the band was all business during a rocking version of "I Want It All."

Since Queen guitarist Brian May was celebrating a birthday, Lambert enticed the audience to sing "Happy Birthday," just prior to May's solo acoustic sing-along "Love Of My Life." A three-piece band assembled behind May for the folk-rock feel of the 1975 classic "'39," before drummer Roger Taylor took the lead vocals for "These Are The Days Of Our Lives," as old videos of the band played on the giant back screen. Lambert received a huge applause when he returned to the stage for a duet with Taylor during "Under Pressure" and the newly reworked Freddie Mercury solo "Love Kills." His voice finally soared during the performance of "Who Wants To Live Forever" and he conducted the audience during an improvisational sing-along before everyone came together to perform in unison for "Radio Ga Ga." An extended rockabilly version of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and the fan-favorite "Bohemian Rhapsody" closed out the main set.

The encore began with Roger Taylor sitting at his drum kit, pounding out the stomp-clamp rhythm of the arena anthem "We Will Rock You," quickly followed by the audience participation sing-along of "We Are The Champions." As the members of the band stood arm in arm and bowed to the standing applause, "God Save The Queen" rang from the speakers, signaling the end of another magical night from Queen.

Setlist: Now I'm Here, Stone Cold Crazy, Another One Bites The Dust, Fat Bottom Girls, In The Lap Of The Gods... Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Killer Queen, Somebody To Love, I Want It All, Love Of My Life, '39, These Are The Days Of Our Lives, Under Pressure, Love Kills, Who Wants To Live Forever, Last Horizon/Brighton Rock, Tie Your Mother Down, Radio Ga Ga, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, The Show Must Go On, Bohemian Rhapsody
Encore: We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen

Saturday, July 19, 2014

CD Review: Country Artist Katie Garibaldi Continues To Follow Her Heart, While The Morning Birds Remix "Bloom"

From San Francisco, CA comes the seventh album from indie-country star Katie Garibaldi entitled "Follow Your Heart." It is her first album of new material since her 2009 award-winning album "Next Ride Out" and this is also one her most personal albums to date. The new twelve-song release begins with the title song as the slow gallop rhythm fits perfectly with Katie's amazing vocals. She picks up the tempo for the acoustic rocker "Make Them Go Away" and "Lock The Door, Lose The Key" as she is sure to have another award winner as she proudly carries that classic country sound. The power of "Whispers & Rumors" has a darker tone then the rest of the songs, but shows Katie in the brightest light as her performance makes the song unforgettable. The album finishes with the "feel-good" acoustic strumming of "You Saved The Best For Last" as Katie's vocals soar along with the build-up of instruments to create the perfect close to the album. Katie Garibaldi has a string of dates in California over the course of the next couple months. Her new album "Follow Your Heart" is available now. For more information, please visit katiegaribaldi.com.

It has been a few years since we last heard from the duo of Jennifer Thorington and Samuel Markus, known as The Morning Birds. They return on August 12 with a new EP entitled "Bloom." It features six remixes of the song with different electronic beats and jazzy rhythms that relax more that entice the need for movement. Beginning with "Bloom (Root Mix)," you are swept up by the harmonizing vocals and steady backbeat highlighted by the horns of Dan Gonda. While "Indian Summer Bloom (Dimond Saints Remix)" has a more club beat, it looks to allow your mind to melt your troubles away as you get lost in the music. The most upbeat tempo comes with "Winter Bloom (Invisibles Saves Her Soul Remix)" as the rhythm rings like a heartbeat pumping through your system. The electronics overtake "Summer Bloom (OPTIX Night Breeze Remix)," while the closer "Fall Bloom (Prizm Prime White Light Remix)" has that jazziness that perfectly matches the ambient feel of the vocals. To find out more about The Morning Birds and their new release "Bloom," please visit themorningbirds.com.

Friday, July 18, 2014

CD Review: After 50 Years, Chris Smither Is "Still On The Levee"

Iconic singer/songwriter Chris Smither is looking back a 50 years of making music with a new two-CD release entitled "Still On The Levee." It features Smither revisiting 25 of his favorite songs, re-recording them for this timeless new album. Joining him on this latest adventure is Rusty Belle, Allen Toussaint, Louden Wainewright III, Catherine Norr and members of the band Morphine. His voice may be weathered on the acoustic blues opener "Devil Got Your Man," but his words are amazing. The recording feels so loose that you just place yourself in the studio with Smither as he masters the campfire, acoustics of "No More Cane On The Brazos." Smither seems possessed by the spirits of Lightin' Hopkins and Robert Johnson during the backwoods blues of "Love Like A Man" and "Another Way To Find You." His best moments are when the songs get locked into you mind like the storied lyrics of "Train Home" and "Leave The Light On." All that is only from the first disc, while the second disc begins with the stomping blues of "Hold On."

The inclusion the Ever-Expanding Waste Band (EEWB), featuring members of Morphine, gives "Shillin' For The Blues" the prefect backdrop for Smither's gruff vocals. Allen Toussaint's piano on "No Love Today," turns the song into jazzy, New Orleans gem, while Loudon Wainwright III helps out on the folk appeal of "What To Say." The raw, loose blues of "Call Time" gives us a pure feel of how Chris Smither's music attracted many musicians to cover his songs. The EEWB return for the mellow acoustic wonder of "Small Revelations," before the second disc closes with the hard-rocking, Springsteen-like "Winsome Smile" and the duet of Smither and Catherine Norr on the traveling ballad "Leave The Light On."

This new double-CD retrospective also features a full-color, 60-page book that contains a new write-up by his co-manager Charlie Hunter and producer David Goodrich. Also included in the book are the lyrics to every song in this collection. Also, to celebrate Chris Smither's 50 years in the music industry, is a new book titled "Chris Smither Lyrics 1966-2012" and a new tribute album "Link Of Chain," featuring recordings by Bonnie Raitt, Dave Alvin, Patty Larkin, Josh Ritter, Peter Case, Tim O'Brien and others.

To find out more about Chris Smither's "Still On The Levee: A 50 Year Retrospective," please visit smither.com.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CD Review: New Independent Music From Artists Who Touch Upon Every Musical Genre

First, from Chicago comes the debut album, "Gathering Days" from the Americana/folk/country trio, Charming Axe. It was released back in June and mixes in some originals with some of the band's favorite songs that they like to cover when performing live. The fifteen-song release begins with the harmonizing of James Taylor's "Close Your Eyes" as Charming Axe eases you into their musical world. The first of four originals that appear on this album is a mellow country ballad entitled "Beyond The Blue," while "Supper Song" is an up-tempo, acoustic two-step that is sure to get you out of your seat to enjoy. They wear their hearts on their sleeves for the version of "All Through The Night," made popular by Cyndi Lauper. The original song "Come On Honey (Say I Do)" could be the band's breakthrough song with it's catchy chorus and warm melodies. The album finishes with the gentle cover of "We Walk The Same Line" and flowing vocals of "One Bright Star." The Charming Axe have a couple of shows lined-up in August. To find out more about their debut album "Gathering Days," please visit charmingaxe.com.


Next, from New York comes the latest, rising pop diva that will certainly grab your attention with her music as well as her sense for fashion. Her name is Madison and she just released her new 4-song EP entitled "In The Bright Light." The single "Give Me Your Oh" is featured in the latest Victoria Secret's commercial and Glamour.com called the song "peppy music to make summer pop." The song features a very catchy "stomp-beat" and sultry vocals that are easy to get attracted to. The other song that is a sure-fire hit is "Start A Fire" with its club like atmosphere and arena shaking chorus. To find out more about Madison and her latest EP, please visit noiseofmadison.com.


Now, from Nashville, TN comes singer/songwriter Andrew Adkins, who goes by the stage name The Colored Parade. His debut album, "...And The Walls Of The City Will Shake" was released in May and mixes styles and textures to create some unique music. The new 13-song release begins with the foundation of a stomp-beat that gets layered with horns, guitars and keyboards to give the music a fuller sound. He gets into a more pop-oriented beat with "When The World's Against Me," then pulls out his folk-side with the acoustic, protest-sounding story of "A Tiny Spark (In This Great Machine)." The mellowness of "Bullets & Arrows" and the electronics of "Too Much Out Of Line," shows the diversity in The Colored Parade's musical repertoire. The album closes with the slow and slithery feel of "Out Of The Ether." To find out more about this unique brand of music from The Colored Parade, please visit thecoloredparade.com.


Lastly, independent folk singer/songwriter Brandon Reeves is releasing his latest album, a 5-song EP entitled "Secondhand." The album shows Reeves at his most vulnerable as it features just him and his acoustic guitar. He begins with the backwater blues of "Deep River Blues" and continues with the gentle, gospel-like ballad "Don't You Hear My Savior Calling." Reeves gets his boogie on with the attractive rhythm of "Nine Pound Hammer," before closing with a return to the blues with "Shake Em On Down." Brandon Reeves has shows scheduled every weekend in July along the southern east coast. To find out more about Brandon and his new album "Secondhand," please visit brandonreevesmusic.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CD Review: Hot Summer Days Needs Hot New Heavy Metal Music

With summer finally heating up, so is the new release schedule for metal heads. Here is some new music hitting the sales bins this month from Terminal Death, Zone Zero and Steel Prophet. First from Steel Prophet is the band's first album of new material in over ten years. The new album is called "Omniscient" and was released on July 8th through Cruz del Sur Music. The fourteen song release tells an original story created by founding member, guitarist Steve Kachinsky Blakmoor, beginning with the power metal attack of "Chariots Of The Gods." They continue with the hard-hitting thrash metal of "When I Remake The World (A Key Flaw)," before heading into prog-metal territory with the six-minute steady rhythm of "911." The music begins to stretch out and explore new territories during the mainstream metal appeal of "Through Time And Space." Their sound on "666 Is Everywhere (The Heavy Metal Blues)" harks back to the days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal with this Iron Maiden sound alike. They stick with the British theme with their cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and tackle the difficult song with grace, doing the original song proud. The album closes with the quick, two-minute assault of "1984 (George Orwell Is Rolling In His Grave)" and their signature power metal sound of "Transformation Staircase." To find out more about Steel Prophet, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/SteelProphet.


Next up, we get the career retrospective release from Zone Zero. This Swedish metal band only released one official single in the early eighties, but found a cult following with fans hearing their demo tapes. Their sound draws their influences from the likes of Judas Priest and Heavy Load as they have a very guitar heavy sound. The new release entitled "The Lost Legacy" was released on July 8th through Shadow Kingdom Records. It collects five live recordings from the band's 1981 show in Borlange, Sweden as well as a number of demos that were recorded for the band's debut album, which never came to be. This release also contains three brand-new songs from when the band reunited in 2008. The live songs in this collection show that metal energy that was pulsating through Europe in the eighties with the songs like "Judgement Day" and "Magic Woman." The 1982 single "Win or Die," instantly brings you back to a time when the heavy metal genre was just finding its way into the mainstream. Their sound did get heavier the following year as displayed in the 1983 song "Innocent." The three songs recorded during the band's 2008 studio sessions, has a fresh metal sound with touches of the classic eighties metal as showcased in "Chasing Victory" and "Twilight Of The Gods." To find out more about this new release from the band Zone Zero, please visit shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com.


Finally we get to the new release from Terminal Death, a band that never received the recognition they deserved because of being in the wrong era for their brand of heavy metal music. This self-titled release from Shadow Kingdom Records brings together the band's 1985 demo and rehearsals to create a death metal album that would be welcomed in today's metal market. The heavy pounding of "Judge Death" and the neck-breaking speed of "Day After The End" easily could have laid the groundwork for today's death metal bands. The 1985/1986 rehearsal songs are made from a very raw recordings of the band preparing for live shows. The energy that they put in their songs like "Brain Tumor" and "The Day After The End" show a band, in their prime, looking for chance to give the metal world what is was waiting for. To find out more about this latest release from Terminal Death, please visit shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CD Review: New East Coast Hardcore/Thrash Metal From Within The Ruins And Overkill

From Massachusetts comes the quickly released new album "Phenomena" from hardcore metal band Within The Ruins. Last year, the band released their first album with eOne Music entitled "Elite," which hit #2 on the Billboard Heatseekers album chart. Instead of taking their time to let that album simmer as they hit the road, Within The Ruins entered the studio right away to record this follow-up album which will be released on July 22nd through eOne Music. If you thought that all their energy and aggressive force was used up on their last album, then you'd be mistaken. They come out with guns ablazin' on "God Amongst Men" and "Clockwork" as guitarist Joe Cocchi skillfully picks his moments to open up his solos. The band mixes tempos on "Dark Monarch," before continuing the onslaught with the sheer force of "Sentinel." Within The Ruins showcase their amazing musicianship with the instrumentals "Ataxia III," and "Enigma" before closing with the howling vocals of "Ronin" and the powerful blast of "Calling Card."
 
Check out Within The Ruins this summer as part of The Summer Slaughter Tour. To find out more about the band and their new album "Phenomena," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/withintheruins.
 
New Jersey metal band Overkill also show no signs of slowing down. The band will be releasing their seventeenth studio album entitled "White Devil Armory" on July 22nd through eOne Music. The band cracked the top 100 of the Billboard Album charts with their 2012 release "The Electric Age" and look to build upon that success with this latest release. Although if you ask founding member Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, he will tell you "We do this because we like it, first and foremost. We're not sitting there thinking about what's popular." The new eleven song album starts out with a short introduction piece before the furry of Overkill hits you like a ton of bricks with "Armorist." They continue to turn out great thrash metal music as with "Down To The Bone" and "Bitter Pill," while not straying to far into the mainstream of metal. This album does not disappoint with the perfect mix of hardcore metal ("Another Day To Die") and classic thrash ("In The Name") to please their fans.

Overkill will be heading out on their world tour in September. For a complete list of live dates and to find out more about their new album "White Devil Armory," please visit wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/.

Monday, July 14, 2014

CD Review: New Must-Hear Metal Music From Landmarq, Machinergy, Islander And Madball

British Progressive-Rock legends Landmarq are celebrating their 25th anniversary with the release of their first ever anthology entitled "Origins: A Landmarg Anthology 1992-2014." The album is a two-disc set which features the work of both of band's award-winning vocalists, Tracy Hitchings and Damian Wilson. Disc one features a mix of studio and live recordings with current lead singer Tracy Hitchings. Epic songs like the eleven-minute "Lighthouse" and twelve-plus minute "Turbulence (Paradigm Shift)" show a band still at the top of their game, performing some of the best music of their career. The live version of "Tailspin (Let Go The Line)" shows the band's mainstream rock appeal as Tracy's vocals are front and center on the piano ballad "After I Died Somewhere." The disc also includes a brand-new song, "Origins" which supplies a heaviness to their prog-rock sound through this eleven-minute epic.

The second disc brings together some of the best songs from Landmarq's first three albums with singer Damian Wilson. It begins with the keyboard driven "Killing Fields" as their early days have them sounding like a heavier version of the band Styx. The acoustic-pop of "Borders" shows a different side to the band's normal experimental rock side which is showcased on the sixteen-minute journey of "Ta Jiang." Landmarq's hard rock sound shines from "Pinewood Avenue" as all their talents come together in unison for this breakthrough song. The disc closes with slow-build up of the masterpiece, "Bed Of Nails." To find out more about this latest release from Landmarq, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/landmarqtheband.


Next, from Portugal comes the latest release from heavy metal band Machinergy entitled "Sounds Evolution." The album was released in June through Metal Soldiers Records and this new batch of ten-songs shows the strength this trio of musicians display in their performances. The trash-like speed of their music and the growling vocals of the title track open the album with a blast of metal music energy. They look to overpower you with the neck-breaking speed of "Furia" and show glimpses of brilliance with the early Metallica-feel of "Antagonista." The album finishes with Machinergy bringing down the "Hammer," a quick, but powerful instrumental and the final heavy hitting blow of "Paraphernalia." To find out more about Machinergy and their new album "Sounds Evolution," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/machinergy.


The newest addition to the Victory Records roster is the nu-metal band Islander with their latest release "Violence & Destruction." Hailing from South Carolina, Islander has found support from bands like Bad Brains and P.O.D. This summer, they are featured on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and their brand new studio album was only released last week. Wasting no time, Islander jump right into the fire with the adrenaline pumping attack of "Counteract." At times, their music sounds like a modernized Rage Against The Machine, but with influences from Linkin Park and the Deftones thrown in. The song "Coconut Dracula" shows a maturity in the band's songwriting as they look to break-through on modern rock radio. Their music gets heavier again with screams of "Pain" and the "Side Effect Of Youth." Sunny Sandoval (P.O.D.) lends his vocals to the heavy-hitting, hip-hop metal of "Criminals," before the album closes with the quick-paced rhythm of "Violence And Destruction." Watch for Islander on this summer's Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival which will be hitting the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, CT on July 27. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their latest album "Violence & Destruction," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/weareislander.


Finally, from NYC comes the latest release from underground hardcore metal legends Madball entitled "Hardcore Lives." The album features an all-star metal roster, including members of Wall Of Jericho, Terror, H20, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed and Unearth, who helped record, master and assemble this latest release. The album kicks off with the 70-second "Intro" that immediately gets taken over by the vocal attack of "Hardcore Lives." The quick-hitting, three minute songs are a burst of energy that gets the heart pumping, as with the "Doc Martin Stomp." The guitars come out blazing during "DNA," before Scott Vogel (Terror) steps in to lend a hand on vocals for machine-furry of "True School." The war cry of "Born Strong" features Candace Puopolo (Wall Of Jericho) on the album's adreneline-fueled lead single. The drumming on "Mi Palabra" and "NBNC" are guaranteed to rattle you brain as you get swept up by the shear force of the music. Madball are currently on tour in Europe, but will hitting the East Coast in August. To find out more about Madball and their latest release "Hardcore Lives, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/madballNYC.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

CD/Vinyl Review: Audio Fidelity Brings Together Some Of The Best Classic Rock And Makes Sade Even "Stronger"

For the first time in the short history of Audio Fidelity they have joined with Time Life to create two brand new compilation albums to be released on Hybrid SACD. One is titled "Crank It Up!" and it features 17 songs from the late-sixties and seventies that have helped define FM rock radio. The other compilation is "Get It On!" and it also features 17 songs, but these ones have a little more guitar and rhythm that rocks a bit harder. Both albums have been remastered for the first time by Steve Hoffman, specifically for Audio Fidelity.

The "LEGENDS: Get It On!" compilation contains many of the "must have" classic rock guitar driven hits like Deep Purple's  "Smoke On The Water" and Foghat's "Slow Ride." Many of these hit songs have never been released in this high of quality. You can almost feel the grungy guitar intro to The Troggs' "Wild Thing" rattle your bones and to hear The Doors' Ray Manzarek pressing down on the keys for "Light My Fire." While you may have heard these songs a thousand times before, now you finally listen for the little things that were otherwise insignificant on prior releases.

The other compilation "LEGENDS: Crank It Up!" contains some of the more gentle, laid-back classic songs that the "Baby Boomer" generation has grown up with. The acoustic strumming of the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" and Elton John's "Daniel" are warm and inviting to just relax and let the music ease your mind. As with Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know" and Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken," the remastering allows each instrument to breathe in its own space, without overcrowding the sound. Even the album closer, "Nights In White Satin" has never sounded so full and alive as the music jumps from your speakers. Both compilations were released on July 1st and are currently available to order through audiofidelity.net.

Also new from Audio Fidelity is the newly remastered vinyl version of Sade's "Stronger Than Pride." It was the band's third album and was originally released in 1988 and hit #3 on the U.K. album chart and #7 on U.S. album chart. Sade made their presence known in the early 80's with hit singles "Smooth Operator" and "The Sweetest Taboo," but created their most complete work of art with "Stronger Than Pride." The mostly acoustic based music on this album really benefits from the time and effort put into to mastering the music to the highest possible quality and then releasing it on 180 gram virgin vinyl. The rhythm of "Nothing Can Come Between Us" and "Turn My Back On You" could be felt as they give your speakers a workout, while the smooth vocals of Sade Adu sound as if you're in the recording studio with her. The wonderful acoustics of "Haunt Me" and the Brazilian mambo of "Give It Up" are two perfect examples of the reasoning behind choosing this album to be released in this format with this precisely executed sound. The pop/jazz feel the music could be played at any time to put you in a nice, relaxed mood. To find out more about this latest vinyl release from Audio Fidelity, please visit audiofidelity.net/content/sade-sronger-pride.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

CD Review: Jazz Guitarists Steve Khan, Mitch Haupers and Gary Schwartz Release New Music


Jazz guitarist Steve Khan released his latest batch of compositions entitled "Subtext" on June 24. Named as one of the 22 greatest jazz guitarists of all-time by Japan's "Jazz Life" magazine, Khan has always assemble the best studio musicians to create his unique sound that is very appealing to jazz fans. The new nine-song release pays tribute to some of his favorite jazz musicians as he covers songs by Ornette Coleman, Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk. The album carries a Latin-flair as Khan takes on Coleman's "Bird Food," which allows guest artist Randy Brecker to lead the way with his horn solo. Khan steps to the plate with the original "Blue Subtext" as his fingers stretch out along the guitar's fret board on this up-tempo jazz number. The rhythm section of Dennis Chambers (drums), Marc Quinoes (bongo, percussion) and Bobby Allende give the Freddie Hubbard song "Baraka Sasa" its Latin flavor. Khan's guitar soars amongst the clouds in the mellowness of "Never Let Me Go," then they all come together to support the Spanish vocals of Mariana Gold on "Cada Gota De Mar." The album closes with wonderful jazz fusion, Santana-like feel of "Bait And Switch." To find out more about Steve Khan and his new album "Subtext," please visit stevekhan.com.


Esteemed Berklee College of Music faculty member Mitch Haupers makes his studio debut album, "Invisible Cities" a special one. Haupers invited top jazz musicians Alan Pasqua, Derek Oles, Peter Erskne and Bob Mintzer along for the ride. The album was produced by Yellowjackets co-founder Jimmy Haslip and was released on July 8th through Liquid Harmony Music. All of the music on this eleven-song set is original and features outstanding performances from this collaborative band of musicians. The gentle solos of "Downtime" gives the song its magical appeal, while the up-tempo rhythm of "Invisible Cities" showcases some of Haupers' best guitar work on the album. The highlight of this release is the "Four Minor Love Songs Suite," which takes you on a warm heartfelt journey, beginning with the gentle sway of the orchestrated "Take Comfort (In Rose's Garden)." Part four of the suite, "Beacon Street," allows members of Haupers' band to display their talents in this wonderful jazz piece. The album finishes with the quick, two-minute "P.S. Vita (Reprise)," which features guest Mike Miller on Brazilian guitar. To find out more about the recording debut of Mitch Haupers, please visit mitchhaupers.com.


Canadian jazz guitarist Gary Schwartz recently released his latest album entitled "Lettingo Live: The Music And Influence Of Ornette Coleman." It was recorded on January 18, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec at the La Sasa Rosa and features Schwartz' band of a dozen musicians including himself. The seven-song release begins with the fifteen-plus minute jam on the Ornette Coleman song "Lonely Woman" as almost every member finds a spot to take their lead solo. Schwartz follows that song with the slightly chaotic feel of one of his original compositions "Whatd'yasay?," before slowing the tempo for the gentle flow of "Broken Shadows" as Schwartz' guitar keeps the song's rhythm. The song "Law Years" has a classic jazz appeal, while "Hivemind" showcases keyboardist David Ryshpan on the jazz/rock infused original. The album closes with the nicely textured, warm sound of the band coming together for the finale "Between The Lines." The album "Lettingo Live: The Music And Influence Of Ornette Coleman" is available now through CDBaby and on iTunes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Gun N' Roses Find Their "Appetite" At The Hard Rock In Las Vegas

Since the release of the long, awaited Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy," fans have flocked to see this latest version of the band live. While they can never live up to the legendary original version of the band, the most recent roster may be a better, tighter unit than the original. To prove that fact, Gun N' Roses released their first concert video in more that two decades. They recorded a string of 2012 shows that the band performed at The Joint at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and put together a 3D concert entitled "Appetite For Democracy." The shows celebrated the 25th anniversary of GNR's debut album "Appetite For Destruction" and also the 4th anniversary of "Chinese Democracy." The Blu-ray/DVD was released on July 1st through Universal Music Enterprise.
 
The nearly three hour concert was filmed with the highest definition cameras and was mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound. The video is stunning, feeling as if you are on stage with the band as they try an capture every member in the perfect light. The stars of the show are guitarist DJ Ashba, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and Richard Fortus as they keep the excitement going during each song. Their solos are just amazing to watch, while Axl Rose is the glue, keeping the band on track and giving authenticity to the music. Axl stays hidden under a hat with sunglasses on for most of the show, changing jackets occasionally. The classic original songs like "It's So Easy" and "Rocket Queen" are given new life with this latest version of the band, while newer songs jump out of the speakers like "Cather In The Rye" and "Better." The epic "November Rain" explodes with fireworks as Axl performs on a piano which gets lifted over the audience. The show also incorporates a few unexpected covers from The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, before the night closes with the energy fueled "Paradise City." A song that has been closing Gun N' Roses concerts for over 25 years. Bonus footage includes interviews with members of the band and a slideshow of concert moments.
 
"Appetite For Democracy" is a must have for Gun N' Roses fans, especially on Blu-ray as they will enjoy the 3D trickery and just love hearing the songs that they have grown up with for the last 25 years. To find out more about this new release, please visit gnr3dmovie.com.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

CD Review: "Spain" Brings Out Some Of The Best Music By Steve Wynn

American singer/songwriter Steve Wynn finally released his Spanish recording sessions as "Sketches In Spain" on July 1st through Omnivore Recordings. Wynn was the front man for eighties rock band The Dream Syndicate, before going solo in 1990. The story of this album begins back in 1998 when Wynn met producer Paco Loco and they recorded an album with the band Australian Bond back in 2000. He enjoyed the atmosphere so much that Wynn invited his wife Linda Pitmon and Loco to record an album together under the name Smack Dab. Now with this new release, we get 19-songs from the best of those sessions for those two albums.
 
The new release begins with the rocking one-two punch of "I'm Not Listening" and "Quarantine" as Wynn sounds like he is at the top of his game with these newly discovered rock gems. The music has a bit of a grunge feel with the rhythm heavy "Kickstart My Jackknife," but Wynn and the band seem to enjoy covering Three Dog Night's "Never Been To Spain." The eight-minute "Lavender Foam" sounds like it is still in the development stage as Wynn is still feeling his way around the song. The atmosphere changes for the second half of the disc as it features Wynn performing along with Australian Bond. The music has a more mainstream sound as displayed with "Suddenly" and "On The Town." They cover Los Bravos' "Black Is Black," slowing it down to feature a New Orleans-style big band. The album closes with the alternative-country appeal of "Sometime Before I Die."
 
Steve Wynn is currently on tour, performing all around New England during the month of July, including a show on July 22nd at New London, CT's Hygenic Arts Park. To find out more about Wynn's latest release "Sketches In Spain," please visit stevewynn.net.