Saturday, February 28, 2015

CD Review: Supertramp's Carl Verheyen Plays It "Alone" On His New Release

American guitarist Carl Verheyen recently released only his second acoustic solo album entitled simply "Alone." Carl is currently the guitarist for the rock band Supertramp and has been a part of the band since the mid-eighties. He is also an instructor for the Thorton School of Music of the University of Southern California. His last album "Mustang Run" (review here jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com) was a reminder of how good of guitarist Verheyen is and how he is able to support his own music with his incredible skills.

This latest release features fourteen instrumentals including cover songs mixed with originals as Carl explained how many of these songs came from improving on the acoustic guitar. The album begins with the warm inviting tones of "Last Train Home" as Carl's playing keeps you focused on his performance. The gentleness of "Mercy Street" and the pure blues of "Good Morning Judge" shows the diversity in his skills, while keeping a common bond between the songs. He performs his trilogy of Beatles' tunes ("All You Need Is Love," "Norwegian Wood" and "In My Life") with "In My Life" the most recognizable as he changes tempos and chords on the other two, in order to show a different side to the songs. His beautiful rendition of "Going Home (Theme of the Local Hero)" is an easy flow in order to let your emotions get lost in it, while "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Over The Rainbow" are finally tied together in the perfect way.

Carl Verheyen has a handful of dates in California, before heading over to Europe in July with live dates. To find out more about Carl Verheyen and his latest album, "Alone," please visit carlverheyen.com.

Friday, February 27, 2015

CD Review: Marcus Singletary Explores "Science" And The Holy Gasp Is Part Of "The Last Generation Of Love"

Singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Marcus Singletary returns with a new album of brand new material entitled "Defiance Science." The album will not be released until May, but the new songs are already creating a buzz. All of the music and singing is handled by Marcus using a load of musical gadgets in order to capture his sonic space trip. The new nine-song release begins with the introductory instrumental "Science" as Marcus gives off a futuristic musical piece. He adds a pop/dance beat to "Party Like A Star" as the chorus looks to hook you in with its infectious groove. The psychedelic tone of "Shangri-Rock" and the harder delivery of "Genovia," shows that Marcus' songwriting spreads across many different genres. Marcus saves his best for last with the outstanding guitar work on "Young Lady Of Royalty" and the up-tempo rocker "Tomorrow No." To find out more about Marcus Singletary and his latest release "Defiance Science," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/MarcusSingletaryMusic.

From Canada comes the latest release, "The Last Generation Of Love" from the bossa-nova rock band The Holy Gasp. Since forming in 2011, The Holy Gasp have been trying to reinvent surf-rock by blurring the lines between jazz and punk music. The new eight-song release begins with the quick two-minute blast of energy known as "The Man Ain't Groovy." They get their mambo groove shakin' with "The Last Generation Of Love," before moving on to the aggressive jazz attack of "Bedbugs." The album finishes up with the thunderous, rhythm-heavy sound of "How I Get Down" and the quick, punk-like shuffle of "All The Animals," that explodes during the chorus.To find out more about The Holy Gasp and their latest release "The Last Generation Of Love," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TheHolyGasp.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

CD Review: Columbia Records Releases The Soundtrack To The Final Season Of "Sons Of Anarchy"

One of the more successful series recently appearing on cable television, FX's "Sons Of Anarchy" has decided to call it quits after seven seasons. Almost as successful as the television show was the soundtrack which is known to take well-known rock classics and put a different spin on them, which helps make the music more memorable during the past season of the show. Columbia Records along with FX and Twentieth Century Fox have teamed up to deliver "Songs Of Anarchy: Volume 4," which was released on February 24th.
 
The new twelve-track release begins with the angelic voices of children singing the opening verses of Queen's "Bohemian Rhopsody." The Forest Rangers take over the song giving it the true feeling of regret as the melodic changes are still present, but with a bit of a country twang. The duo of Audra Mae and Billy Valentine take on The Association's "Never My Love," slowing the tempo down of the original and injecting true emotion into the lyrics. The gentle feel of "Greensleeves" showcases the amazing vocal talents of Katey Sagal, while guest artist Ed Sheeran creates some of his most passionate and darkest music of his career with his cover of Foy Vance's "Make It Rain." One song that was overdue to appear on a "Sons Of Anarchy" soundtrack was "Baby, Please Don't Go," which was popularized by the Irish rockers, Them back in the sixties and has been resurrected wonderfully by Franky Perez & The Forest Rogers for this release. Singer/songwriter Amos Lee lends his talents and his soul to the Bob Dylan classic "Boots Of Spanish Leather," before the album closes with The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers teaming up for the acoustic strumming sing-along of "Come Join The Murder."
 
To find out more about "Songs Of Anarchy: Volume 4," please visit shop.fxnetworks.com.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

CD Review: Classical Composer Michael Vincent Waller Visits "The South Shore" And The Daniel Bennett Group Takes Us To "Clown Castle"

American composer Michael VIncentWaller will be releasing his full-length debut album "The South Shore" on March 8th. It is a two-disc set which features over two hours of contemporary classical music. The 31-track set begins with a handful of recordings that Waller has made over the course of the last three years, including one of his most recent compositions, the beautifully elegant "Anthems." The gentle touch of "Profondo Rosso" and "Pasticcio per meno e piu" shows the delicacy that Waller creates his music with. The highlights of this set are two, four-part cello pieces of the darker toned "Pupazzo di Neve Partitas" and the sweet sounds of "Y For Henry Flint." The set is wonderfully decorated with photos by Phil Niblock and is released through his own label. To find out more about Michael Vincent Waller and his new album "The South Shore," please visit michaelvincentwaller.com.
 
New York City jazz band The Daniel Bennett Group recently released their sixth album entitled "The Mystery At Clown Castle." The new eleven-song release begins with the wildly energetic feel of "The Clown Chemist" as Bennett's horns lead the way. The energy stays high with the light, playfulness of "Paul Platypus," before turning darker with the avant garde poetry reading by Brett Milewski during "Minor League." The mood turns light once again with the wonderful flute work of Danial Bennett in "Nine Piglets" and "Flow." The album finishes up with the addition of Jason Yeager on piano, which gives an added dimension to their sound in "Uncle Muskrat," before closing with the experimental fumbling of "Outside The Inside Outro." To find out more about The Daniel Bennett Group and the latest release "The Mystery At Clown Castle," please visit danielbennettgroup.com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CD Review: New Releases From Singer/Songwriters Carl Finlay And Angela McKenzie Touch The Heart

Irish singer/songwriter Carl Finlay will be releasing his debut album on March 30th entitled "Follow The Moon." The new ten song release begins with the light, airy, playful sound of "Lean Back" as his brand of pop/folk looks to win you over. The album's current single, "Message To The Dreamer" is an up tempo, acoustic strumming Americana/folk song that showcases Finlay's accent as the music seems to need more instrumentation added to it. The gentle movement of "Alabama Rabbit" is where Finlay's songwriting shines as he adds a slight pop rhythm to it. He lays it all out there on "Another Heartache" as the touch of horns makes a beautiful accent to the song and gives it another dimension. The album closes with the first single, the thick Irish accented "So Hard To Be Happy," which mixes together folk, pop and hip-hop topped with an island vibe to help make his music stand out as you try to dissect it upon every listen. To find out more about Carl Finlay and his debut album "Follow The Moon," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/carlfinlaymusic.


Singer/songwriter Angela McKenzie recently released her latest album entitled "Renaissance Gal INK." The new five-song EP deals with McKenzie's experiences with a person fighting cancer in their final stages. Beginning with "I Got Secrets 2," McKenzie reads through a conversation before hitting the enlightening chorus that eases the mood of the song. She adds a little R&B flavor to "Ladies!" and gets her hip-hop groove going on "Right Now!," which has the most mainstream potential. The album closes with the slow beats of "Waves" as Angela McKenzie talks her way through the song's lyrics. To find out more about her newest release "Renaissance Gal INK," please visit angela-mckenzie-blog.tumblr.com.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review - Genesis' Guitarist Mike Rutherford Tells His Story Through "The Living Years"

English guitarist Mike Rutherford has lived a full life. He was one of the founding members of the hall of fame rock band Genesis and also a founding member of the successful pop/rock super group Mike & The Mechanics. He is also one of the main songwriters of Genesis, penning some of their biggest hits and he has now written his memoir entitled "The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir." It was published on February 10th through Thomas Dunne Books and describes Rutherford's upbringing, the formation of Genesis and how his love of music led his life in many positive directions.
 
Beginning with his birth in 1950, Mike describes his upbringing in a military family. His early introduction to music through the radio show "Pick of the Pops" and his first concert by Cliff Richard and the Shadows at the Apollo in Manchester. Its great to read about how the stars aligned and the members of Genesis came together from different local bands and released their first single "The Silent Sun" in 1968. The book gives you insight into the recording sessions of each album and how Peter Gabriel's costume antics helped the band stand out in the early days. Mike dedicates one whole chapter to the iconic "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" album and tour before glancing over Peter Gabriel's departure from the band and the transition of Phil Collins taking on the lead vocals and bringing Genesis to superstardom. Mike also dives into the formation and success of his second band Mike & The Mechanics and how a gap in the workings of Genesis lead to Mike Rutherford being rediscovered as a premier songwriter, guitarist and bandleader. The book closes with Genesis' 2007  "Turn It On Again" tour and how standing on stage in front of half-a-million people put everything in perspective.
 
Since this memoir was written, the original band mates of Genesis got together for the documentary "Sum Of The Parts," explaining the history of the band. Mike Rutherford is currently on tour with Mike & The Mechanics to promote the 30th anniversary of the band and also to promote the deluxe edition re-release of their best selling album "Living Years." To find out more about Mike's new memoir, "The Living Years," please visit macmillan.com.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

CD Review: Guitarist Salute The Legendary Ace Frehley With A "Spacewalk"

One of the most influential guitarist in rock music has been the wizardry of the spaceman Ace Frehley. As a member of KISS, Frehley gave them a hard rock edge in the mid-seventies and then showcased his singing and songwriting talents on his best-selling 1978 solo album, before leaving the band in the early eighties. When the next crop of hard rock bands were asked who their influences were, one name appeared on everyone's list, Ace Frehley.

A tribute album entitled "Spacewalk: A Salute To Ace Frehley" was originally released back in 1996, but has become out of print. Now, Deadline Music will be re-releasing the album on February 2nd. If features many of today's hard rock guitarists paying tribute to the make-up faced guitar god, performing the songs he written and performed while in KISS.

The ten-song release begins with Marty Friedman (Megadeth) performing a spot-on rendition of one of Frehley's earliest written songs, "Deuce." Guitarist/singer Gilby Clarke (Guns N Roses) gives new energy to "Shock Me," while Scott Ian and his bandmates from Anthrax lend a hand on the explosive "Rip It Out." Die-hard KISS fans Dave "Snake" Sabo (Skid Row) and Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) give adorned respect to Frehley with "Snowblind" and "Rock Bottom" respectively. Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns) makes "Parasite" sound a little dirtier, bringing his style into the song. The album closes with one of the most moving tributes performed, Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, along with his brother Vinnie Paul pulling off an amazing rendition of the Ace Frehley instrumental "Fractured Mirror." To find out more about this great salute to the guitar god Ace Frehley, please visit cleorecs.com.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

CD Review: Folk Icon Tom Paxton Travels Down "Redemption Road" For Latest Album

American folk music icon Tom Paxton will be releasing his sixty-second (or so) album on March 10th, entitled "Redemption Road." The new release only solidifies how amazing talented a songwriter and performer Tom has been for over fifty years. Everyone from Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan to John Denver has recorded his songs and Paxton has become one of the foundation stones of contemporary folk music.

His new fourteen-song album may be one of his last, but it could also be considered one of his best. Paxton mentions that the songs are more about the past than the present or future, because at seventy-seven, he has more past experiences to inspire his songwriting. Beginning with "Virginia Morning," Paxton pays tribute to his current home with this country-folk shuffle. The light-hearted feel of "Susie Most Of All" reflects the classic early era of folk music when the words painted a perfect picture in your mind of playful youth. Fellow iconic artist John Prine helps out on the fun flow of "Skeeters'll Gitcha," before slowing down for the gentle Celtic-folk of "Ireland." He visits the blues on the dark tones of "If The Poor Don't Matter," then picks up the tempo for the confrontation of the century with his storied words of "The Battle Of The Sexes." Another folk icon, Janis Ian harmonizes beautifully along with Paxton on "Redemption Road," before the album closes with the Celtic prayer of "The Parting Glass."

Tom Paxton will be hitting the road with Janis Ian in March for a two-month U.S. tour. To find out more about his new album "Redemption Road," please visit tompaxton.com.

Friday, February 20, 2015

CD Review: Heavy Metal Supergroup Motor Sister Looks To Take You On A "Ride"

What started off as a birthday present has turned into a new album and tour from the latest heavy metal super group Motor Sister. Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian wanted one thing for his 50th birthday and that was to play a live show with former Mother Superior singer/guitarist Jim Wilson. Ian described that playing with Wilson would be like recording "all my favorite KISS songs with Gene and Paul." So, Ian's wife Pearl Aday made the call that set the stage for this live performance at their house which also included Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint) and John Tempesta (White Zombie, The Cult). The show was so much fun and successful that the band decided to take their energy into the studio and create an album which will be released on March 10th through Metal Blade Records entitled "Ride."

The new twelve song release revisits Mother Superior classics with a new energy as Wilson was excited to perform these songs again with a second guitarist. Beginning with the energy fueled "A Hole," Wilson and Ian show off their electrifying guitar skills. The blues/metal groove of "This Song Reminds Me Of You" sounds like early Led Zeppelin mixed with Bad Company to create metal/rock radio gold. Some of Ian's Anthrax-sound seeps into "Beg Borrow Steal," giving it a heavier feel, while the rhythm section of Tempesta and Vera motor through "Get That Girl." Pearl helps out on the vocals, harmonizing with Wilson on "Head Hanging Low," before banging your head to the latest single for the album "Fork In The Road." The album finishes up with the classic hard rock appeal of "Doghouse" and Scott Ian's favorite Mother Superior track, the darkness of "Devil Wind."

The band has two shows scheduled out in California following the release of the album. To find out more about Motor Sister and their debut album "Ride," please visit their Facebook page facebook.com/motorsister.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

CD Review: A Couple Of Singer/Songwriters From New England Make Beautiful New Music

From Newport RI, comes the latest solo album from singer/songwriter Ry Smith entitled "Rexroth." Since his band Eastern Phoebes disbanded, Smith has been very busy cranking out new music on short EPs with his main focus now being this latest release. The new thirteen-song album begins with the stripped sound of "It's Easy," as Smith handles all the vocals and instruments on this release. The double-harmonizing vocals of "Marz" sounds like a sixties, west coast pop song that still needs a little more work. His vocals grab your attention with the "J.K. Rowling Blues" and works with his Randy Newman-like sound on "Tree Swallow." His songwriting shines on the "Ballad For Benjamin Church" as his sound continues to carries a sixties pop vibe. The album closes with the airy sound of "I Gots To Roll Along." To find out more about Ry Smith and his latest release "Rexroth," please visit februaryrecords.com.

Brooklyn singer/songwriter Salina Sias recently released her latest album "New Day Comin'." It is her first release of new material in four years as she keeps the spirit of seventies folk music alive. The new six-song release begins with the Joni Mitchell-sounding "Home" as Salina's voice comforts your mind. She opens up on "Meet Me In The Sun" and lets her angelic voice soar over the classical backdrop, while she gets a little jazzy on "Too Many Songs Ago." The album closes with the acoustic folk/pop feel of the title song. Salina Sias will be touring around the New York area this fall. To find out more about her new album "New Day Comin'," please visit salinasias.com.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CD Review: Amazing Guitarists From Around The World Celebrate New Releases

A couple of new releases from Moonjune Records look to blur the lines between progressive rock and jazz. Both albums were released on February 17th and are highlighted by the wonderful musicians involved in these recordings. First up is the latest release from guitarist Dewa Budjana entitled "Hasta Karma." This six-song release begins with the up-tempo, avant-garde jazz/rock feel of "Saniscara." The slow build-up of "Desember" pays off with some amazing guitar work from Budjana as he can easily rank with some of the best guitarist in the world. The twelve-minute "Ruang Dialisis" floats on by as the song's flow allows the other musicians to take flight. The album closes with the gentle airiness of "Payogan Rain" as Budjana showcases his jazz side on this song. To find out more about Dewa Budjana and his latest album "Hasta Karma," please visit dewabudjana.com.
 
We also get the latest release from jazz guitarist Mark Wingfield entitled "Proof Of Light." It is first solo album in almost nine years as he invites drummer Asaf Sirkis and bassist Yaron Stavi to help out. The new nine song release begins with "Mars Saffron" as Sirkis and Stavi make their presence known. Wingfield works the guitar's fret board on "Restless Mountains," before moving into a more improvisation jazz fusion piece with "The Way To Eretat." The band continues down the jazz avenue with "A Thousand Faces" as the music seems like a "spur of the moment" recording. The eight-minute "Voltaic" has King Crimson-type feel to the music, while "Proof of Light" closes the album with Wingfield showing us why he is considered one of the best "avant garde" jazz guitarist in the business. To find out more about his latest album "Proof Of Light," please visit markwingfield.com.
 
Turkish classical guitarist Burak Kaya recently released his latest album "Climate Change." It was recorded in Istanbul as a trio along with Ozan Musluoglu on double bass and Yinon Muallem on percussion and combines the melodic sounds of classical guitar along with Latin and Middle Eastern rhythms. The new nine-song release begins with the finger-picking tempo of "Activists" as all of the songs deal with the global climate change through music. Burak breaks up the melody of "Gezi Park" into three sections, each one giving the music a different tone. The romantic mood of "Emek Movie Theater" just floats along, while "HES Off" has a straight forward approach, running rapidly along like the rivers it is describing. The highlight of the album is the title-song, "Climate Change," which has a dark, bluesy feel to reflect the song's message of how badly our planet has been damaged by big companies. To find out more about Burak Kaya and his latest album "Climate Change," please visit burakkaya.com.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

CD Review: English Supergroup Mike & The Mechanics Revists The "Living Years" With New Deluxe Edition

One of the most proficient side projects in rock music history was the formation of Mike & The Mechanics. The band featured Genesis' guitarist Mike Rutherford, singer Paul Carrack (Ace, Squeeze) and singer Paul Young (Marillion) alongside keyboardist Adrian Lee and drummer Peter Van Hooke. The band released six albums before disbanding after fourteen years together. Their most successful album was their sophomore release, 1988's "Living Years." It spawned five singles, including the chart topper "The Living Years." To honor the band's 30th anniversary, Rhino is releasing a 2-disc "deluxe edition" of that album to co-inside with the band's first U.S. tour in twenty-five years.
 
The new 2CD set was released on February 10th and features the original album, which contains the hits "The Living Years," "Nobody's Perfect" and "Seeing Is Believing." Fans will be salivating for the second disc which contains ten live songs from 1988 and a newly recorded version of "The Living Years." The song features the current touring version of Mike & The Mechanics with Andrew Roachford on vocals along with the South African Isango Choir. The song's meaning is still strong, Roachford's vocals fit the song perfectly and the chorus on this new version is even more powerful with the adult choir. The fun begins with the live songs, including "Silent Running" and "Par Avion" from Mike & The Mechanics' debut self-titled album. The band jams on a six-minute version of "A Call To Arms," before finishing the second disc with a blazing version of "Hanging By A Thread" led by Mike Rutherford's guitar solo.
 
Mike & The Mechanics will be hitting the road in support of the the band's 30th anniversary, including a shows this summer in Atlantic City, Boston and Hartford. For a complete list of tour dates and to find out more about this outstanding new "deluxe edition" of the "Living Years" album, please visit mikeandthemechanics.com.

Monday, February 16, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Combs The Vaults For Unreleased Music From Art Pepper

Legendary American alto saxophonist Art Pepper released over fifty album during his recording career, not to mention his work with Chet Baker, Buddy Rich and others. In 2012, Omnivore Recordings issued some of Pepper's unreleased recordings on colored vinyl and are looking to capture the same magic of those releases with a new CD series entitled "Neon Art." Volume One was released on February 7th in conjunction with Widow's Taste Music and features two songs recorded live at Parnell's in Seattle, WA in 1981.

The energy of the seventeen-minute jam of "Red Car" is highlighted by the amazing piano work of Milcho Leviev. The rhythm section of David Williams on bass and Carl Burnett on drums keeps the song motoring along with an almost "punk-like" speed. Pepper's sax solo shows a resurgence of life as he playfully moves along to the song's rhythm. The other song featured on this release is the slightly slower swing of "Blues For Blanche." With a more controlled melody to the song, Art Pepper is extra focused through this eighteen-minute adventure.

Volumes two and three of this set will follow in the coming months. To find out more about this latest batch of jazz releases from Art Pepper, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

CD Review: Camper Van Beethoven Revists "New Roman Times" Through Omnivore Recordings

Omnivore Recordings has taken on the task of giving new life to albums that have a cult-type following. Around the same time last year, Omnivore Recordings remastered two of the late eighties albums from alternative rockers Camper Van Beethoven. This time around, they look to expand upon the band's 2004 reunion album "New Roman Times." Due to tension within the band, Camper Van Beethoven called it quits in 1990 following the tour behind their most successful album "Key Lime Pie." In 2002, the band reunited for a tour and an album called "Tusk," in which the band re-recorded the classic Fleetwood Mac album. Their first proper release of brand new material since getting back together came in the form of "New Roman Times."

The album contains the concept of the U.S. being split into two separate countries of right-wing Christians and left-wing utopians. The original twenty song release sees its first release on vinyl and gets expanded on CD with four bonus tracks from the recording sessions for the album. It seemed that the band tackled this album with a new sense of purpose as the music still resonates with today's modern rockers. Camper Van Beethoven wastes no time bringing their worldly sound into play with the opening instrumental "Sons Of The New Golden West." The band still show their teeth on the guitar driven rocker "White Fluffy Clouds," before the story gets laid out with Latin flavor of "Might Makes Right" and the fun country jaunt of "Militia Song." The music jumps through many different genres like the European feel of "R'n'R Uzbekistan," the experimental sound piece "I Hate This Part Of Texas" and electronic dance rock of "Discotheque CVB."

The bonus tracks are a welcome addition as they continue to show the wide range of Camper Van Beethoven's songwriting ability with the surf-guitar, punk-like feel of "It's Gonna Rain" and reggae tone of "Might Makes Right Dub" remix. To find out more about this latest release from Omnivore Recordings, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Blu-ray Review: Newly Released Version Of The Movie "Syncopation" Reminds Us About Jazz And Love

The Cohen Media Group is bringing to life rediscovered classic films on Blu-ray and DVD. One such film that has been overlooked for far too long is the 1942 musical "Syncopation." While the film takes place between the turn of the century and World War II, the main focus of this film is the music. The movie features music from many jazz greats including Benny Goodman, Harry James and Gene Krupa, all of whom make appearances in the movie. It also stars a young Jackie Cooper and Bonita Granville in a love story that perfect for Valentine's Day.

The original black & white film was restored in 2K from the 35mm film grain master which sat in the Library of Congress. On Blu-ray, the film looks as good and any modern release. Its great to flash back to a time when different forms of jazz were beginning to branch out from the different territories, specifically the Dixieland of New Orleans and the bluesy jazz of Chicago. The story follows the life of Kit (Bonita Granville) as she grows up with a love for all forms of jazz music, but the best parts are when Cooper's character sits in with the Dixieland bands and learns how to be a true trumpet player. Not only is the music wonderful, the way director William Dieterle captures the times during "the great war" and the differences between the north and south states.

The Blu-ray is a must to own just for the bonus features alone. Along with the 89-minute version of the movie, you also get nine short jazz films from the likes of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong just to name some of the great that appear on this release. The total run time of these films clocks in at over 90 minutes and showcases some of the best classic jazz in music history. Any true jazz fan, or music fan for that matter, will appreciate this latest release from the Cohen Film Collection. To find out more about the new release of "Syncopation" on Blu-ray and DVD, please visit cohenmedia.net.

Friday, February 13, 2015

CD Review: A Couple New Releases Looking To Carve A Path Into Their Genres

Local Connecticut metal band Stikpin have reformed after ten years to release their full-length debut album entitled "Funeral For The Sun." The album begins the grunge-like metal of "As It Burns" as their influences of Godsmack and Rob Zombie shine through. They continue with the hard rock groove of "Dead Sky," before finding a more steady Sabbath-type rhythm with "Starting To Drown." They slow the tempo down for the dark, doom metal of "War In My Head," before turning the volume up for the screams of "Hidden" and the aggressive closer "Lost Profits." Stikpin have a couple local dates booked at the moment, but look for more shows soon. To find out more about the band and their new release "Funeral For Sun," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/stikpinband.
 
From Chicago comes the latest release from Fletcher Rockwell entitled "Urban Heartland." It was released back in November 2014 and continues to shine a light on the ever-growing Americana scene in the Chicago area. The new eleven-song album begins with the slow-building stomp of "Too Much To Drink." The album continues with the steady-moving country jaunt of "High And Low" before turning it up a notch with the energetic, acoustic strumming of "Loving You" and southern rocker "Dirty Blonde." Fletcher Rockwell keeps the country rock around with "Pouring Reign," before slowing down for gentle touch of "Change Everything," that brings up memories of The Black Crowes. The album closes with the sweet, electrifying blues of "Scorpion Woman." To find out more about Fletcher Rockwell and their latest release "Urban Heartland," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/FletcherRockwell.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

CD Review: Ophelia Syndrome Bring Us To The "North Sea" With New Release

Canadian alternative rock band Ophelia Syndrome recently released their latest album "North Sea" last month. The band was looking to balance the depressing themes of loss and failure with the enjoyment of making great music together with friends who enjoy each others company.
 
The new ten-song release begins with slow jaunt of "Magnets" as lead singer Deanna Wells slathers her vocals all over the music's building rhythm. The passion the band pours into "Love Me Right" as almost unmatched by today's indie-bands, while the up-tempo grunge/punk feel of "Can't Be Saved" is an exciting rocker that I hope would catch the attention of the mainstream. Ophelia Syndrome become more playful with the jazz/ska rhythm of "Wayne," before closing with gentle flow of "Not Tonight." To find out more about Ophelia Syndrome and their latest release "North Sea," please visit their website at opheliasyndrome.com.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CD Review: New Live Albums From Renaissance Relive Seventies Career High

U.K. progressive rock band Renaissance have finally opened their vault, allowing Cleopatra Records to release two live recordings from the height of the band's popularity. First up is their 1973 "live-in-the-studio" recording at DeLane Lea Studios in Paris. The studio is famous for being used by some of the greatest artists in music including The Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd and others. The new release entitled "DeLane Lea Studios 1973" showcases Renaissance in their prime, just prior to their top 10 U.K hit "Northern Lights."
 
The new seven-song release begins with the ten-minute adventure of "Can You Understand?" which is an amazing live performance as lead singer Annie Haslam never sounded better. Her voice sounds angelic during their performance of "Let It Grow," before the band revisits the classic prog-rock of "Sounds Of The Sea," one of only two songs on this release from their prior 1972 album "Prologue." All of the other songs appeared on their, then current album, "Ashes Are Burning" as the twelve-minute title song features guests appearance by folk singer Al Stewart and Wishbone Ash guitarist Andy Powell. The song is electrifying as the instrumentation of the band is just outstanding. The album closes with the seven-minute rocking instrumental "Prologue." To find out more about one of the latest releases from Cleopatra Records, "Renaissance - DeLane Lea Studios 1973," please visit cleorecs.com
 
Also, coming out soon is the ultimate live release from Renaissance entitled "Academy of Music 1974." It will be released through Cleopatra Records on March 31st and features the band during the height of their popularity. The band performed the show alongside a 24-piece orchestra that fills the recording nicely and gives an incredible feel to the show. This two-disc set is a compliment to the "DeLane Lea Studios 1973" release and sounds amazing, making you wonder why this was never released sooner.
 
The new nine-song album begins with the amazing instrumentation of "Can You Understand," which became an opening staple for the band as they introduce you to their brand of progressive rock music. Lead singer Annie Haslem's angelic voice shines amongst the acoustic folk backdrop of "Black Flame" and their heavier rock sound is displayed on ten-minute "Things I Don't Understand," which wasn't released until their next album along with the piano-driven "Running Hard."
 
The second disc continues the show with an eighteen-minute version of "Ashes Are Burning" which features Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash on guitar and Howard Stein on piano. This version of the song is the pinnacle of the show and possibly the height of their live repertoire during this tour as it takes you on a journey between soft and hard rock. The show closes, similar to their other newly released live album, with the mostly instrumental "Prologue" as Renaissance showcase their unique progressive folk/rock sound one last time for the listening audience. To find out more about this great new discovery and release from Cleopatra Records, please visit cleorecs.com.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

CD Review: Southpaw Steel 'n' Twang And The Tim Lee 3 Deliver New Music

With a name like Southpaw Steel 'n' Twang, you'd think this was a great new independent country band from Nashville, TN. While you would not be that far off with the band's sound, this trio actually hails from Finland. Lead by the amazing lap/pedal steel guitar of Ville Leppanen, Southpaw Steel 'n' Twang recently released their latest album entitled "Hale's Pleasure Railway." It was recorded live in the studio with Ville handling the guitars, JP Monkkonen on bass and Tero Mikkonen on drums. The new eleven-song release begins with the rockabilly instrumental "Open Field" as Ville works the fretboard of his lap/pedal steel guitar. The band gets funky down on the "Bayou," before turning their attention towards the Hawaiian feel of "Secret Sunset." The wonderful jazzy guitar work of "Butterscotch" and the slow blues of "Red" bookend "Steel 'n' Twang," one of the only songs on the album with lyrics. The album closes with the up-lifting sound of "Feather Wheather" and the slow-moving scales of "Still." To find out more about this great new trio, Southpaw Steel 'N' Twang, and their new release "Hale's Pleasure Railway," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com.
 
A band that does come from Knoxville, TN is the Tim Lee 3 with their latest album entitled "33 1/3," which is actually the rpm of a vinyl record. Coincidentially, singer/guitarist Tim Lee and his wife, and fellow bandmate Susan Bauer Lee will celebrate their 33 1/3 wedding anniversary on the release date of the album, March 6th. The new eleven-song release begins with the steady rocker "Baby Caught Fire," which allows Lee to showcase some of his guitar skills on the closing solo. They harmonize  wonderfully on "Photo Booth" as Susan's vocals become the main focus. The guitar-pop of "Magnolia Plates" sounds as if The Pretenders and R.E.M. were mixed together in a cocktail and this song is your reward. The Tim Lee 3 pick-up the tempo on the country rocker "Shut Up And Kiss Me" and the western steel-guitar driven "Daddy's Girl." The album finishes with the southern stomp of "(Let's Do) Something Stupid" and the energetic rock of "Night Takes Legs" as drummer Chris Bratta motors the songs upbeat rhythm. To find out more about Tim Lee 3 and their latest release "33 1/3," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TimLeeThree.

Monday, February 9, 2015

CD Review: New Music From Underground Artists Piqued Jacks And Jumpship Astronaut

Italian alternative rockers Piqued Jacks had a very exciting year in 2014. They toured throughout Texas, performing fifty shows at forty different venues, including a performance at the SXSW Festival. They also released a "double-single" which caught the ear of CMJ Network, which featured their music on their website homepage for two weeks. This year, Piqued Jacks are releasing their debut full-length album "Climb Like Ivy Does." The new eight song release begins with the thunderous symphonic rhythm of "Reign In Clouds" as their sound could easily catch the mainstream attention it deserves. Their passion for performing pours out during the screaming chorus of "Romantic Soldier," while "Moooody" has a hypnotic beat that grabs your attention and never lets go. Piqued Jacks rock hard on the "Gift Handed Down For Generations," before closing with the slow build-up of the atmospheric "Beehive." To find out more about Piqued Jacks, please visit piquedjacks.com.
Next, from Oklahoma City comes the latest release from the electronic rock band Jumpship Astronaut entitled "Humans." The six-song EP beings with the collaboration of dance beats and big arena sound of "Alive" as they follow the blueprint laid down by Coldplay. Their sound becomes more dance/pop oriented during "Change" and they begin to quicken the pace on the electronic feel of "Fascination." They finish with the steady pop/rock rhythm of "Our Best Days" as the music moves you along to the close of the album. To find out more about Jumpship Astronauts and their latest release "Humans," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/JumpshipAstronaut.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac Continue "On With The Show" At The Mohegan Sun Arena

It's been couple years since the iconic rock band Fleetwood Mac last visited the Mohegan Sun arena, but even longer since all five members performed together in Connecticut. When they made their appearance in 2009 and in 2013, one crucial part was missing from the band, which could turn a good show into an incredible show and that would be the inclusion of Christine McVie. This time, when Fleetwood Mac played the Mohegan Sun arena Saturday night, they made sure that the entire band was present.

As the lights went out, the sound of crickets filled the arena. That was until the thunderous beat of the opener "The Chain" kicked off over 2 1/2 hours of classic rock music that helped shape rock radio over the course of three decades. Christine McVie drew a huge applause as she took on the vocals of the 1977 single "You Make Loving Fun." At center stage stood the immortal Stevie Nicks, dressed all in black and complete with her black scarves and shawl, as she belted out the lyrics to "Rhiannon." The steady rhythm section of John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums made their presence known, keeping the pace of songs like "I Know I'm Not Wrong" and the tribal rhythm of "Tusk." The audience was up dancing to the classics "Say You Love Me" and "Seven Wonders," before it was time for the acoustic section of the show. Guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham took the spotlight for a solo acoustic rendition of the 1987 single, "Big Love." Then Stevie Nicks joined him onstage for an emotional delivery of "Landslide," before closing this portion of the show with "Never Going Back Again."

The entire Fleetwood Mac band would reconvene for the band's first single from 1975, "Over My Head." Nicks would once again become the main focus as she donned a gold-colored shawl and seemed to become possessed by the "Gold Dust Women" as she frantically dance to the song's mystical rhythm. Lindsey Buckingham would blow the audience away with his amazing guitar skills during the solo of "I'm So Afraid," which set up the set closer "Go Your Own Way," which was one of the songs of the evening that brought the sold-out arena to its feet.

After a short wait, the encore began with one of Fleetwood Mac's lesser known songs, "World Turning," which featured an energetic, crowd pleasing drum solo from Mick Fleetwood. The song "Don't Stop" become one huge sing-along with the audience before slowing down for "Silver Springs." The band would exit one more time, with only Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham returning to the stage for the piano ballad "Songbird." As the final note rang through the speakers, the rest of the band would rejoin center stage to a roaring applause from the audience. Before leaving for the final time, Stevie Nicks shared the story of how Christine McVie came to rejoin the band after 16 years. The final signal to the end of the night came from Mick Fleetwood who shouted in the microphone "The Mac, most definitely, is back," before finally exiting the stage as all in attendance would undoubtedly agree with that statement.

Setlist: The Chain, You Make Loving Fun, Dreams, Second Hand News, Rhiannon, Everywhere, I Know I'm Not Wrong, Tusk, Sisters Of The Moon, Say You Love Me, Seven Wonders, Big Love, Landslide, Never Going Back Again, Over My Head, Gypsy, Little Lies, Gold Dust Woman, I'm So Afraid, Go Your Own Way
Encore: World Turning, Don't Stop, Silver Springs, Songbird

Saturday, February 7, 2015

CD Review: Chip Z'nuff Finds A "Strange Time" To Release A New Album

Eighties glam metal band Enuff Z'nuff hit it big with their self-titled debut album back in 1989, which perfectly captured the California metal sound of that era. Since then, they have never been able to duplicate that magic of the first album in the U.S., but band leader Chip Z'nuff has been hard at work over the last few years putting together his debut solo release "Strange Time." The album was released on February 3rd and features a load of special guests including Slash, Steven Adler, Robin Zander, Dale Bozzio and more. The album is also a departure from the "pop rock" of Enuff Z'uff as Chip brings in a heavier guitar sound with some psychedelic elements to the songs. The new ten-song release also includes a bonus five-song EP that was recorded as between Steven Adler and Chip Z'nuff.

The new album begins with the rays of "Sunshine" as Chip Z'nuff stays in familiar territory on this acoustic pop/rock number. He begins his journey in the psychedelic rock of "Rockstar," which features Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler's son, Biff on vocals. The six-minute adventure of "Strange Time" (co-written with Trent Reznor) is the perfect escape for Chip Z'nuff to take from his other band as the song carries a more alternative feel to his music. He pulls in the influence of the classic Electric Light Orchestra sound on "Still Love Your Face" and turns a country song "Strike Three" into a dark rocker. The album closes with a quick, crazy metal cover of The Kinks' "All Day And All Of The Night."

The five song EP that is tacked on to the end of the album rocks harder than the original album as Steven Adler's drumming motors the opener "My Town." Slash adds some guitar to the classic Sunset Strip feel of "Tonight We Met," before finishing with the magical Beatles' influenced "The Pain Is All On You," which features a writing credit to Paul McCartney. To find out more about Chip Z'nuff's debut solo release, please visit cleorecs.com.

Friday, February 6, 2015

CD Review: In Honor Of Bob Marley's 70th Birthday, Universal Music Wants Everyone To Join In Some "Easy Skanking"

Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley was born 70 years ago on February 6th. To honor him and his music, Universal Music will be rolling out new releases throughout the year, beginning with a rare, unreleased concert from 1978. The new release entitled "Easy Skanking In Boston '78" will be available in a number of formats including CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
 
In 1978, Bob Marley was touring behind one of his most successful albums "Kaya" and performed at Boston's Music Hall on June 8th of that year. The concert has sat in the vault until the technology was available to clean-up the recording and the film footage which was shot on a hand-held camera by a fan at the front of the stage. Also, for the first time, the family is incorporating technology which allows animation to be placed between gaps in the video due to tape rolls having to be changed during the show.
 
The thirteen-song set list fills a CD to the brim with over 75-minutes of music, beginning with the steady groove of "Slave Driver." The sound of this recording is very clean and professional and is a much welcome addition to the Bob Marley catalog. Marley's interplay with the i-Threes on "Them Bully Full" is great as the band jams along behind them, while the music of "Rebel Music" just pulsates with some improv vocals. Bob Marley does seem a little tired of singing "I Shot The Sheriff," but the passion of the seven-minute "No Woman No Cry" more than makes up for it. One of the highlights is an epic ten-minute energetic performance of "Jamming." Marley and his band deliver a demanding rendition of "Get Up Stand Up," which leads into the stamping closer "Exodus."
 
In honor of Bob Marley's 70th birthday, Universal Music Group in association with the Marley family will continue rolling out new unreleased material throughout the year. If this first release is any indication of what's to come, then I, for one, cannot wait. To find out more about Bob Marley's "Easy Skanking In Boston '78." please visit bobmarley.com.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

CD Review: Singer/Guitarist Richie Kotzen Finds Time To Release The "Cannibals"

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Richie Kotzen has been a busy man, first touring and creating a new album with his current band, The Winery Dogs and also touring to promote his recent greatest hits collection "The Essential Richie Kotzen" (review jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com). On January 8th, he released his 20th solo album, "Cannibals" which quickly shot to #1 on Amazon's New Rock Releases chart.
 
Kotzen explains that some of songs on this new release were written as far back as ten years ago. The newest track on the album is the title song which has a rock/pop vibe built for mainstream radio. Kotzen adds a little soul to his singing of "In An Instant" and gets funky with his songwriting on "Shake It Off," adding some keyboards and horns to his sound. Kotzen invites King's X lead singer Doug Pinnick to duet with on the bass-lead rhythm of "I'm All In" as their voices work together perfectly. The classic sound of Kotzen shines through on "Stand Tall," but not before he returns to the gospel soul appeal of "Up (You Turn Me)." The album finishes with the piano ballads "You," which was written with his daughter and "Time For Payment," which highlights his vocals that sometimes get lost amongst the heavier songs in his repertoire.
 
Richie Kotzen just wrapped up a string of live dates in Japan and will be planning on recording the next Winery Dogs' album later this year. To find out more about Kotzen's new album "Cannibals," please visit richiekotzen.com.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CD Review: Metal Blade Records Rolls Out New Releases For Your Valentine

While the heart of winter may be upon us in the Northeast, Metal Blade Records continues to roll out amazing metal records from other parts of the world. This February we get new music from Swedish metal band Gehennah and Finnish folk-metal band Ensiferum.
 
The hardcore metal of Gehennah returns with their first full-length album in almost two decades. The new release entitled "Metal Police" will be released on February 9th. The new twelve song release begins with the early thrash music of the title song "Metal Thrash" and fast-pace of "Four Knuckle Facelift." The most mainstream metal track on this new release has to be the aggressive feel of "Black Jack Loser" as Gehannah sounds like an underground version of AC/DC. They pick of the pace for the hardcore bashing of "Decibel Rebel," before finish up with the thunderous rhythm of "Six-Pack Queen" and the adrenaline fueled closer "Piss Off, I'm Drinking." To find out more about Gehennah and their new album "Metal Police," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com.
 
Next comes the new album from Ensiferum entitled "One Man Army." It will be released on February 24th and is the band's first release on Metal Blade Records. The new eleven song release begins with the 90-second "March Of War" as the band prepares you for an attack on your sense of hearing. The "Axe Of Judgement" comes down hard and swift on this blazing piece of metal music. The "Army" comes to life on the chanting chorus of "Heathen Horde," then their music becomes even more epic during "Warrior Without A War" as their metal sound mixes with a grand orchestra. The album closes with an eleven-minute journey that builds up during "Decadence, Defiance, Domination" and the spaghetti western feel of "Neito Pohjolan." To find out more about Ensiferum and their latest release "One Man Army," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CD Review: Bob Dylan's New Album Draws In "Shadows" Of Sinatra

First off, forget all you know about Bob Dylan over the last two decades. His new studio album (his 36th) is a set of American Songbook standards made famous by Frank Sinatra. Not one of ten songs that appear on the album was written by Dylan, but the way Dylan approached the song's arrangements, has turned these old-fashion gems into Bob Dylan classics. Every song was recorded live, with the band together in only one or two takes with no overdubbing. This is also the best that Dylan's voice has sounded on a studio album in almost 25 years.
 
The new release entitled "Shadows In The Night" begins with gentle flow of the mysterious "I'm A Fool To Want You" as you instantly feel the passion in Dylan's vocals as he can't hide behind a 30-piece orchestra on these recordings. As if there was more reason to consider him the greatest performer of all-time, Dylan's rendition of "The Night We Called It A Day" is pure magic as his band follows his lead perfectly. The album never strays from the subtle delivery of these songs, including the mellow "Autumn Leaves" and "Why Try To Change Me Now," but Dylan seems to enjoy this new avenue as displayed in his delivery of "Some Enchanted Evening." The album finishes with the slow jaunt of "What'll I Do" and "That Lucky Old Sun," the one song that was (written by Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie) tailor-made for Dylan to perform at least once in his lifetime.
 
Bob Dylan's new studio album "Shadows In The Night" is to be released on February 3rd. To find out more about this new release, please visit bobdylan.com.

Monday, February 2, 2015

CD Review: Guitarist Chris Spedding Invites His Friends To Join Him In "Joyland"

Hello and welcome to "Joyland!" The newest album from U.K. guitar legend Chris Spedding. Spedding is one of the top sessions guitarists of all time. He has worked with such artists as Paul McCartney, Elton John and Harry Nilsson just to name a few. He recently released his 13th studio album entitled "Joyland" on January 20th through Cleopatra Records. It features a boatload of special guests that bring to life eleven brand new compositions.
 
The album starts off with Spedding holding a steady guitar groove while actor Ian McShane (HBO's "Deadwood) sets the stage with the spoken lyrics of "Joyland." The "God of Hellfire" Arthur Brown sounds timeless on the hard rocker "Now You See It" as Spedding begins to let loose on his guitar. Roxy Music frontman Brian Ferry works his magic on the dark tones of "Gun Shaft City" as Spedding sets the perfect tone for this quick two-minute tale. The spaghetti western feel that Chris Spedding lays down for "Heisenburg" is highlighted by Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr adding his own special touch to the music. Even rockabilly crooner Robert Gordon gets in on the act as he slathers his style all over the soul-fueled "I Still Love You." Spedding teams up with a couple of his former bandmates from the 1972 group Sharks as Steve Parsons ("Go Down South") and Andy Fraser ("Shock Treatment") gives the music a jolt of classic rock energy that still rocks. The album closer "Boom Shakka Boom" features Spedding on guitar and vocals and the repetitive chorus continues in your head long after you finished listening to the album.
 
Chris Spedding will be performing a couple of gigs with Robert Gordon in Canada in mid-February before heading home for a show with Charlotte Glasson. To find out more about Spedding's new album "Joyride," please visit cleorecs.com.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

CD Review: Cleopatra Records Lets "The Snake" Out Of The New Harvey Mandel Box Set

Legendary American blues guitarist Harvey Mandel has had a resurgence in popularity since returning to the music scene in 2006 with his most recently studio album "Harvey Mandel And The Snake Crew." He also reunited with his band Canned Heat in 2009 for some shows to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their appearance at Woodstock. Since then, Mandel has been a proud warrior in his fight against cancer.

Harvey Mandel's career has brought him everywhere, beginning with Charlie Musselwhite's Southside Band then performing alongside Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop and even auditioning as a guitarist for The Rolling Stones. Mandel is probably best known for being the guitarist in Canned Heat during their run of highlights, including their performance at Woodstock.

During the late-sixties/early seventies Harvey Mandel began his solo career with a string of instrumental albums that flew below the radar, but definitely caught the attention of fellow musicians. On January 20th, Cleopatra Records gathered Mandel's first five solo albums together for the "Snake Box." This limited edition box set contains the albums "Cristo Redentor" (1968), "Rightous" (1969), "Games Guitars Play" (1970), "Baby Batter" (1971) and "The Snake" (1972). Each disc comes in a cardboard sleeve that replicates the album's original artwork. From Mandel's psychedelic blues of the late-sixties through the funk-fueled blues of his early seventies albums, Mandel was always in charge and he was the engine that drove his bands, whether it was with Canned Heat, The Rolling Stones, John Mayall and even Bob Dylan.

The real treasure of this six-disc set is the sixth disc, a live recording of Harvey Mandel performing with Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller, Mickey Hart and John Chambers at The Matrix in San Francisco, CA in 1968. The four song CD just explodes right from the beginning with a 36-minute jam that is just mind-blowing to hear. The classic blues guitar of "3 O'clock In The Morning" lets you know that this is something special. While the recording of this show may not be up to today's standards, it is certainly a welcome addition to this set. To find out more about this amazing new set of classic blues from Harvey Mandel, please visit cleorecs.com