Monday, November 30, 2015

CD Review: Great New Jazz And Instrumental Music From The U.K. And Australia

London-based jazz band, The Orient House Ensemble recently released their eighth studio album "The Whistle Blower," to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Lead by saxophonist Gilad Atzmon (Pink Floyd, The Blockheads), who takes his inspiration for the classic, nostalgic side of jazz from greats like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. The new eight-song album shows Atzman and The Orient House Ensemble stretching their boundaries as drummer Chris Higginbottom gets things started with the up-tempo rhythm of "Gaza Mon Amour." They slow things down for the tender feel of "Forever," before hitting the high point of the album with the eleven-minute adventure of "Let Us Pray" as tempo changes and solos highlight the song. The Orient House Ensemble brings in some of the European sounds of Italy in "The Song" and the smooth jazz flow of "For Moana," before closing with the steady bass line of "The Whistle Blower" provided by Yaron Stavi. To find out more about Gilad Atzmon and The Orient House Ensemble, please visit gilad.co.uk/the-orient-house-ensemble.

U.K. guitar duo Pete Oxley & Nicolas Meier recently collaborated on a new album entitled "Chasing Tales" through MGP Records. They combine their talents on a dozen exceptional of mind-relaxing, string-plucking instrumentals. Beginning with "The Followers," you can't help buy get lost in their sound as the duo play off each others strengths, knowing who should take the lead on the song. The wonderfully intricate delivery of "Tales" and the fun, finger-picking of "Chasing Kites" has you following along to every note. The laid-back tone of "Riversides" and the slightly funky "Breezin On" show the duo expanding upon their sound, before closing the album with the international sounds of "Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayim." To find out more about this latest release from Pete Oxley & Nicolas Meier, please visit mgprecords.com.

From Australia comes the latest release, "Teddy Bear's Picnic" from big jazz band for kids, Kinderjazz. The band was started back in 1997 by the husband and wife duo of Christobel and David Llewellyn as a way for kids to learn about the instruments in a jazz orchestra. After performing in schools and small clubs, in 2008 they were booked to perform 30 shows at the Sydney Opera House, which broke the band worldwide and got them to release this album, their first in seven-years. The new eleven-song release begins with the fun, up-tempo sounds of "Arabella" as the scat singing steals the show. They keep the energy going with "Teddy Bear's Picnic" and the dance-able "Razzmatazz." They slow down for every kid's nightmare of the "Homework Blues," but pick your spirits back up with "You Can't Stop The Music." The album closes with talking stories of the forgotten "Potato Salad" and the ten-minute out-of-this-world adventure of "Signals From Outer Space." To find out more about Kinderjazz and their new release "Teddy Bear's Picnic," please visit kinderjazz.com.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

DVD Review: Frankie Banali Keeps The Spirit Of Quiet Riot Alive With New Documentary

Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali had a dream since 1983 to make the ultimate Quiet Riot documentary. He did not know when he was going make this film, but circumstances over the past decade have forced him to make the award winning documentary "QUIET RIOT: Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back." It is a love letter to his band, Quiet Riot and what they accomplished in heavy metal music, becoming the first heavy metal band to have a #1 album.

The film begins with the early days of the band when Kevin Dubrow was the ultimate frontman and Randy Rhodes was this young guitar virtuoso to a band that was this rising west coast underground metal band. Fellow rockers and fans of the band like Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Eddie Trunk (That Metal Show) and Stephen Adler (Guns N Roses) praise the band's tenacity for success. The friendship between drummer Frankie Banali and singer Kevin Dubrow was the foundation of was was to come from this band ready to take over. From the US Festival in 1983 to 1988, five short years, life was great for Quiet Riot at the top of the charts, but their excess of alcohol, drugs and sex were to the extreme. Director Regina Russell delicately touches upon the death of Kevin Dubrow in 2007 and the effect it had on his family and friends. The amazing thing is how grounded Frankie Banali has become as a person after his life in Quiet Riot. Whether its the love of his daughter or his hobby of collecting Japanese artifacts, Frankie Banali is a complete person and at peace with his rock 'n' roll lifestyle past and uncertain rock 'n' roll future.

A great piece of this movie is the reconstruction of Quiet Riot since the death of Dubrow. Finding new lead singer Mark Huff in 2010, Banali had high hopes for the band, but the Las Vegas show the following year was the last straw for that current line-up. It's a touching moment when Frankie Banali visits the gravesite of Kevin Dubrow and as luck would have it, Quiet Riot finds their new lead singer with Scott Vokoun and all was good again, until he was also replaced by singer Jizzy Pearl. As they say, the story continues. To find out more about this award winning documentary, please visit quietriotmovie.com.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

CD Review: Adele Looks To Break Records With New Album

How do you follow up one of the biggest selling albums of the last decade? Of course, by producing an even bigger selling album and there are only a handful of artists that have that capability. One such artist is Adele, who's album "21" has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, and won seven Grammy Awards, including "Album Of The Year." After taking most of the last two years off from being in the spotlight, Adele has returned with a brand-new album "25." The titled refers to her age at the beginning of recording the album (she is currently only 27 years old).

The new album was released on November 20th through XL Recordings in association with Columbia Records and has recently broke the record for sales in a single week with over 3 million copies sold in the U.S. along. The new eleven-song release is lead by the #1 single, "Hello" that has everyone from Miss Piggy to Matthew McConaughey performing a spoof of the now famous video. As you dive deeper into the album, you realize that Adele is just as great a songwriter as she is a singer, with her up-beat revenge song "Send My Love (To You New Lover)" and the empowering "Water Under The Bridge." She can still grab hold of your heart with the piano ballad "Remedy" and take you to the church of love with the gospel driven "River Lea." The album finishes with the amazingly heartfelt vocals of the folk appeal of "Million Years Ago" and the big sounding, rock ballad "Sweetest Devotion." To find out more about Adele and her new album "25," please visit adele.com.

Friday, November 27, 2015

CD Review: Legacy Recordings Releases Two Live Album From The Man In Black

What better way to celebrate "Black Friday," then with two new albums from the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. Legacy Recordings, in association with Columbia Records will be releasing two brand new live albums from Johnny Cash. First up, on December 4th we get the debut CD and digital download release of the "Man In Black: Live In Denmark 1971." It features Cash with his touring companions, Carl Perkins, The Statler Brothers, The Carter Family and of course June Carter Cash. The concert is more like the Johnny Cash variety hour than a Johnny Cash show. He only sings on about half of the 19-songs that make up the disc, but on the flipside, you get great performances like Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" and The Statler Brothers "Flowers On The Wall." When Johnny and June team up for "Darlin' Companion" and "If I Were A Carpenter" you can feel the fire burning between the two as each of them made the other that much better a performer and singer. You get the Johnny Cash live staples "I Walk The Line" and "Folsom Prison Blues," but its the between song banter that highlights these songs. The hour-long CD closes with everyone joining in for the sing-along of the gospel song "Children Go Where I Send Thee."
 
The second new live album from Johnny Cash will be released on February 5, 2016, three weeks shy of what would have been his 89th birthday. The new release is titled "Koncert V Praze (In Prague Live)" and features Johnny Cash at his best. This live show was previously released as part of the "Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection" box set, but will finally become a stand-alone CD for the first time. The quick 45-minute set is filled with Cash's great tunes including "Ring Of Fire," "Big River" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down," but there are just as many rarities included. Cash mixes together "I Ride An Old Paint" and "Streets Of Loredo" for the "Cowboy Medley" and delivers a stirring rendition of "City Of New Orleans." Johnny Cash sold-out all four shows in Prague in only two days and became one of the first American popular artists to perform there and the audience is very welcoming to his performances. The disc closes with The Carter Family leading the way for the sing-along of "Wabash Cannonball." To find out more about these great new live albums from Johnny Cash, please visit legacyrecordings.com.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Holiday Gifts For The Music Fan In Your Life

This holiday season is definitely the year of the box set and as they say, “the bigger, the better.” What used to be the time of year to release “best of” compilations from established music artists has grown into releasing elaborate sets that include beautiful designed books and artwork to accompany the wonderful music within. Because music isn’t only about sound anymore, visuals have become as much a standard release in order to help enjoy the music. This year’s top releases aim at the classic rock fan, especially ones with deep pockets as everything is presented for their full enjoyment.

With names like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Kurt Cobain, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles releasing new box sets, it could also be the makings of music’s Mount Rushmore. Many of these music labels have done their best to provide you with the perfect gifts to grab your attention and it continues to amaze me that The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Nirvana continue to roll out new items, despite not releasing any new music in over a decade.

The Beatles greatest hits CD titled “1” is considered one of the best-selling album of all-time, but Apple Corps Ltd. in association with the Universal Music Group decided to bulk up their greatest hits set “1” by adding a Blu-ray or DVD of music videos. The videos presented in this new release have been cleaned and polished to look their very best. The colors are vibrant and the music was remixed and remastered by Giles Martin (son of George Martin) and Sam Okell. There is also a deluxe version of this release titled “1+” that included a second DVD or Blu-ray of another 23 music videos, some being released in it full-form for the first time. The deluxe version is also presented in hardcover book form that includes 124-full color pages describing the filming of the videos. Beatles fans need this in their collections.

The immortal Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 years young on December 12th. To celebrate, Legacy Recordings has gathered together over 100 rare performances of Frank Sinatra when he became the golden voice of radio. Presented on four CDs, this box set titled “Frank Sinatra: A Voice On Air (1935-1955)” includes 91 previously unreleased live performances as Frank duets with many classic artists like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Dean Martin among others. This set also features rare radio commercials that starred Frank Sinatra as well as comedy skits and tribute to the soldiers in World War II. Listening to this set will bring you back to a simpler time when a magic voice on the radio would be your night’s entertainment.

Earlier this year, HBO premiered the documentary “Montage Of Heck,” about the life and times of Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist for the band Nirvana. It opened up fans eyes as to the struggles and desires that Cobain dealt with when superstardom overtook his life. Universal Music Group is releasing this documentary in a Super Deluxe box set which includes a Blu-ray and a DVD of the documentary with over 45 minutes of bonus interviews. Also included in this set is the much sought after soundtrack, which features 31 home recordings and demos that Cobain made on his own, including demos of “Been A Son” and “Something In The Way,” as well as a rare cover of The Beatles “And I Love Her.” The soundtrack comes along on CD and cassette with a 160-page hardcover book that contains extended interviews with some of Cobain’s never-before seen drawings and photographs.

The cream of the crop this holiday season has to be the ultra-deluxe box set of the latest installment in Bob Dylan’s “Bootleg Series.” Volume 12, “The Cutting Edge,” features Dylan’s magical recording period between 1965-1966, in which he produced three albums (“Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde”) that would change the history of rock music forever. Legacy Recordings has gathered together over 100 tracks that spread across six discs for the deluxe edition of this new release. One entire CD in this set is dedicated to the development of his most iconic song “Like A Rolling Stone” as you follow it from its infancy through fifteen takes, which puts the listener in the studio with Dylan and his band. But, if you want more than just the 6CD box set, there is an ultra-deluxe box set that includes 18-discs, nine mono 45 RPM singles, a 170-page hardcover book and a certificate of authenticity. It has been limited to only 5,000 units worldwide and will cost you only $600, but it includes every note of every recording that Bob Dylan made in the studio during those 14 magical months.

Now, if you are looking for something a little less extreme, there are a couple of live box set that should be on every music fan’s list. The first “must have” is from the classic rock band Rush who toured the U.S. and Canada this past summer to celebrate their 40th anniversary together with their long-term line-up of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. Rounder, in association with the Concord Music Group recently released the complete live album, “RUSH R40 LIVE,” which captures the band performing in front of their hometown of Toronto during this past tour. The show was filmed with over 14 high-definition cameras and captures the true essence of their performance, as if you were on stage and in the front row watching them perform. This set was released in many different formats including a 3CD/1 Blu-ray set, a 3CD/1 DVD set, as only a 3CD set and as a stand-along Blu-ray and DVD.

Another live box set that is a sure please long-time music fans for the holidays is the 4CD box set from jazz fusion legends Weather Report. The new box set titled “The Legendary Live Tapes” covers their performing period between 1978 to 1981 and includes 28 never before released songs, including a live version of their crossover hit “Birdland.” This was their most prolific time as members of the band included bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius and Miles Davis sidemen Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. All of the songs in this set are “completely, totally, unapologetically and insanely live” as this new box set covers the band’s most important period in their career.

While these are just some of the amazing new box sets available this holiday season, let’s not forget about some just as wonderful books that have been recently published that showcases the visual history of such acts at The Who, Garth Brooks and Bob Dylan. The first book from Voyageur Press is titled “Dylan: Disc By Disc,” which showcases author Jon Bream gathering together music authors, teachers, editors, and fellow musicians to discuss every single Bob Dylan studio album. Bream pairs them up into groups of two and begins a round table discussion with questions supplied by Bream as to the importance and impact these albums have had on the lives of these individuals involved in the discussion.

 Another great, exciting release from Race Point Publishing is “The Who: 50 Years Of My Generation.” It explores the history of the band as author Mat Snow gathers together many unheard stories from friends of The Who and fellow musicians. To highlight these stories on the history of the band are over 100 unpublished photos on over 240 full color pages that easily follows the career of The Who. A similar book was recently published by Sterling on the history of country superstar Garth Brooks titled “Garth Brooks: The Illustrated Story.” It closely follows the early days of Brooks’ career in country music as he became friends with some of country music’s elite performers in order to ultimately become one the biggest name in the genre. These amazing new releases are only just a glimpse into what is being offered to music fans this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CD Review: "Montage Of Heck" Soundtrack Delivers Kurt Cobain's Home Recordings

Earlier this year, HBO premiered the documentary “Montage Of Heck,” about the life and times of Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist for the band Nirvana. Director Brett Morgan opened up fans eyes as to the struggles and desires that Cobain dealt with when superstardom overtook his life. The film, based on home movies and interviews with family and friends allowed you see how Cobain's life transitioned from rock fan to rock god.

Universal Music Group is releasing this documentary in a Super Deluxe box set which includes a Blu-ray and a DVD of the documentary with over 45 minutes of bonus interviews. Also included in this set is the much sought after soundtrack, which features 31 home recordings and demos that Cobain made on his own, including demos of “Been A Son” and “Something In The Way,” as well as a rare cover of The Beatles “And I Love Her.” The soundtrack comes along on CD and cassette with a 160-page hardcover book that contains extended interviews with some of Cobain’s never-before seen drawings and photographs.

The soundtrack begins with Cobain messing around with a tape recorder as he creates "The Yodel Song" from an acoustic guitar jam that may have become a piece of Nirvana magic. Kurt was always experimenting with his music to create a new sound as he displays in the "Reverb Experiment." You can hear Cobain at his rawest with the wonderful songwriting of "Desire" and "Sappy," which would evolve to become the Nirvana blast "Verse Chorus Verse." The 31-song deluxe edition of the soundtrack closes with the dark tone of "Poison's Gone" and ten minutes of the tape recorder running for Cobain to capture his song experiments during "Do Re Mi - Medley." To find out more about the many different releases for "Montage Of Heck," please visit universalmusicenterprises.com.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CD Review: A Tribe Called Quest Celebrates 25 Years Of "People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm"

Back in 1990, a hip-hop group came onto the music scene and would forever change the way beats and rhythms are combined to make something special. The group was A Tribe Called Quest, which consisted of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaeed Muhammad and Jarobi (who would leave the group after their debut album). These four individuals would create some of the most memorable rhymes and blaze a trail in the hip-hop genre that many would follow. Their debut album "People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm" was a breath of fresh air when it was originally released. The music would combine elements of jazz, rock and funk to give their songs a smooth, laid back appeal to a wider audience.
 
Beginning the album with "Push It Along," the Tribe sound instantly grabs hold of you. Their lyrics were simple stories that were easy enough for anyone to follow as they hid different elements of inspiration within their songs. The horns of "Luck Of Lucien" brought seventies funk into the nineties and "I Left My Wallet In El Segundo" was a folk-tellers story laid upon up-tempo beats highlighted by shots of an acoustic guitar. The combination of Q-Tip and Phife on vocals was the perfect contrast in styles as each brought out the strength of the other. The highest charting single from the album was "Bonita Applebum," another great lyrical story that has you locked into the song's undeniable rhythm. Their music was always inviting you to sing along as with the playful "Ham 'N' Eggs," but the closer, "Description Of A Fool" was the hidden gem on this release as it finished the album with the classic disco vibe that showcased the talents of DJ Ali Shaeed Muhammad.
 
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of this album, Legacy Recordings released a newly remastered edition of the album with three bonus new remixes. Grammy award winning engineer Bob Power went back to the original tapes to remaster the album. The clarity that is delivered on this new release is amazing as this album has never sounded better as 25 years of technology was put to good use in bringing out the best in the music produced on this album. Included with the original songs are three new bonus remixes done by some of today's biggest names in hip-hop/pop music today. CeeLo Green takes on "Footprints," giving it smoother backdrop while the energetic rhyming of Q-Tip gets highlighted. Hot producer Pharrell Williams gives "Bonita Applebaum" a facelift as the beats have a modern spacey flavor and J Cole adds his special touch to "Can I Kick It?" To find out more about the new anniversary release of "People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm," please visit atribecalledquest.com/atcq25.

Monday, November 23, 2015

CD Review: New Anticipated Releases From Rocker Jeff Lynne's ELO And Producer Extraordinare BOOTS

British rock band Electric Light Orchestra began back in 1970 by musicians Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood. Their music combined pop rock anthems with classical overtures to create a truly unique sound. They had multiple top ten albums in the U.S. during the seventies as Lynne became the lead singer and primary songwriter of the band. After a brief reunion in 2001, ELO has been out of commission for over ten years, until Lynne and long-time keyboardist Richard Tandy teamed up for a couple of live shows. These shows led to Jeff Lynne entering the studio for a brand new ELO album that was released on November 13th through Columbia Records. The new album titled "Alone In The Universe" begins with the lead single "When I Was A Boy," which finds Lynne being influenced by all his recent production efforts with former members of The Beatles and Tom Petty. Lynne handles most of the music on the album as he showcases his blues guitar chops on "Love And Rain" and brings back that classic ELO seventies sound in "Dirty To The Bone." The harmonizing on "All My Life" is amazing and gives more emotion to the song's meaning, before closing the album with the rock ballad "Alone In The Universe" as Jeff Lynne's ELO is the perfect link to band's classic sound. To find out more about the new album "Alone In The Universe," please visit jefflynneselo.com.
 
American producer, singer, songwriter, musician, rapper Jordan Asher recently released his debut solo album for Columbia Records under the pseudonym BOOTS. The new album titled "AQUARIA" follows quickly on the heels of his 2015 film "Motorcycle Jesus," which was written, directed and scored by BOOTS. The new eleven-song album begins with electronic thumps of "Brooklyn Gamma" as BOOTS flexes his songwriting muscle to create some unique textures. The beats are big on "Oraclies" as BOOTS shows us his singing voice, while "Bombs Away" has a dark tone that allows him to experiment with his sounds. He modernizes the funk in "I Run Roulette," then brings in a stripped down feel to "Aquaria," like an electronic Jack White. The album finishes with the rhythm heavy thunder of "Earthquake" and the atmospheric soundscape of "Still." To find out more about Boots and his new album "AQUARIA," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/BOOTS.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

CD Review: New Live Jazz Albums From Jazz Greats Art Pepper And Wes Montgomery

Jazz great Art Pepper is considered by many to be one of the best musicians to ever play the alto sax. His career as a band leader lasted over 30 years, before his death in 1982 at the age of 56. At the beginning of this year, Omnivore Recordings released a three individual CD set of live recordings from Art Pepper titled "Neon Art." Now Art Pepper's music returns to close out the year, as it began it, with another new, unreleased live show from Art Pepper titled "Live At Fat Tuesday's." It was released on October 30th through Elemental Music and was recorded in New York on April 15, 1981 and features one of Pepper's most exciting Quartets that included Milcho Leviev on piano, George Mraz on bass and Al Foster on drums. The new five-song set begins with the up-tempo pairing of "Rhythm-A-Ning" and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" as Pepper blazes a trail with his sax playing. It's wonderful to hear the in-between talk banter from Pepper as he describes his song choices, continuing with the mellowness of "Goodbye" and the eighteen-minute funky jam of "Make A List, Make A Wish." The disc closes with his classic up-beat tempo of "Red Car." You really get to hear the Art Pepper Quartet at their best in this live setting as this new CD pushes past the 70-minute mark. To find out more about the Art Pepper and the new live release "Live At Fat Tuesday's," please visit elemental-music.com.

Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery was one of the iconic jazz musicians of the sixties, performing alongside fellow greats like Lionel Hampton, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane, who once asked him to join his band. At the beginning of this year, Resonance Records released "In The Beginning," a two-disc set of newly discovered recordings from Montgomery (review: jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com). On January 15th of 2016, Resonance Records returns with only the fourth live album from Wes Montgomery titled "One Night In Indy" and it also features The Eddie Higgins Trio. It was recorded on January 18, 1959 and showcases how amazing Montgomery performed live. Beginning with the exciting "Give Me The Simple Life," Wes' guitar definitely becomes the star of the stage. The Eddie Higgins trio gets more involved in the mellow sounds of "Prelude To A Kiss," before the tempo picks back up with the seven-minute romp of "Stompin' At The Savoy." Eddie Higgins and Wes Montgomery make beautiful music together performing the Thelonious Monk original "Ruby, My Dear," before closing with the quick-step of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To." To find out more about "One Night In Indy" from Wes Montgomery and The Eddie Higgins Trio, please visit resonancerecords.org.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

CD Review: Legacy Recordings Boxes Up "Legendary Live Tapes" From Weather Report

American jazz fusion band Weather Report are considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the genre. Started by fellow musicians Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, both from Miles Davis' band, the two decided they wanted to add more layers to their jazz sound by incorporating elements of rock, funk, R&B and Latin rhythms into their music. Weather Report would last for 16 years, releasing 13 studio albums and 3 live album during their time together. They were always a great live band as their music expanded past the  barriers of jazz while on stage.

On November 20th, Legacy Recordings dug through the vaults to release "Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981." This period is considered by many to be their best, as it featured the classic line-up of Zawinul, Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine and Robert Thomas Jr. This line-up also produced their crossover hit single, "Birdland" in 1977. The new 4-disc set jumps around a bit, with the first disc mainly focusing on their 1980 tour of Japan with a couple tracks from the Hammersmith Odeon and Eastman Theater in New York. The set begins with the chaotic masterpiece "Sightseeing" and the gentler touch of "Forlorn" and "Three Views Of a Secret." It also contains solo pieces by Wayne Shorter on sax and Jaco Pastorious on bass.

The wonderful piano work of Joe Zawinul begins the second disc with "Joe And Wayne Duet," before continuing into the well-known "Birdland." The second disc focuses on their 1978 tour as they stretch their legs with the twelve-minute, slow-build up of the funky "Continuum/River People" and the twenty-one minute jazz/rock jam of "Gibraltar." Disc three fast forwards to mainly focusing on a specific show from November 1980 at the Hammersmith Odeon. This disc, and show, were highlighted by the rhythm heavy "Madagascar" and the up-tempo run of "Night Passage." The twelve-minute "Port Of Entry" showcases the band working together in a free-form live setting as they feel their way through the song. The fourth disc centers around their 1978 tour of Japan, beginning with the Wayne Shorter original "Elegant People," which captures that seventies sound. The keyboard work of Zawinul is exceptional in "Scarlet Women" and "Black Market." After a short drum solo from Peter Erskine, the disc closes with the exciting, exploratory jazz of "Directions."

The set features 28 songs in all, with no repeats, which equals to over four hours of great jazz fusion from one of the most legendary bands in the genre. To find out more about "Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981," please visit legacyrecordings.com

Friday, November 20, 2015

CD/DVD Review: Rush Goes Back In Time With New "R40 Live" Release

This summer, Canadian rock band Rush celebrated their 40th anniversary by embarking on what may be considered their final full-fledged tour. Without a new album to promote, Rush were able to open up the set list for these shows to whatever they felt comfortable with. As their shows approach almost three hours long, Rush made the most of their time on stage, beginning with songs from their most current album "Clockwork Angels" and going back in time, finishing with their break-through single "Working Man." Ask any Rush fan and they will name their favorite moment from every Rush concert they ever attended. Also, Rush has had a tendency of releasing a live album from their most recent tour. So, on November 20th, Rounder Records in association with Concord Music Group is releasing "Rush R40 Live" on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
 
The show was captured from their two-night stand in their hometown of Toronto, right in the middle of their 35-date North American tour. The visuals of the show are stunning as 14 high-definition cameras were used to capture everything from Neal Peart's amazing drumming to Geddy Lee's and Alex Lifeson's solos. You can almost feel the explosions of fire during "Far Cry" and have a stage side seat for the rare performance of "Losing It" featuring Ben Mink, who was the original violinist on the studio version of the song from the "Signals" album. Rush closes the first set with the ever-popular concert staple "Subdivisions."
 
The second set begins with one of Rush's famous video montages that has become almost as much of a highlight of their shows as the music itself. The music starts up again with their iconic single, "Tom Sawyer," the second set is a Rush fan's dream. They take on the epic pieces of "Cygnus X-1" and "Xanadu" with ease. Watching the video, you can see when Alex and Geddy lock in a groove that could go on for hours. The two also bring out a smile or two from The Professor as he leads the way on the set closer "2112."Actor Eugene Levy lends a hand, introducing the band before their encore as if it was the early days when Rush was an opening act. The songs "Lakeside Park/Anthem" and "What You're Doing/Working Man" rocked harder than any of the other songs as Rush rediscover their heavier, progressive metal side on these concert closers.
 
Rush fans will also appreciate the addition of the bonus songs "One Little Victory," "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Barchetta" performed from the other night. On the 3CD set, you get those three bonus songs, plus four others from the tour, including violinist Jonathan Dinklage from the Clockwork Angels Orchestra performing on a version of "Losing It." This release will definitely please fans as some of the songs are getting their debut live release. This is a solid release for those who may have missed this tour as well as fans who were lucky enough to see their idols, hopefully not for the last time. To find out more about "Rush R40 Live," please visit rush.com.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

CD Review: Grateful Dead Comrades Spin Circles Around The Sun During "Interludes"

Guitarist Neal Casal (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood) was asked by filmmaker Justin Kreutzman, son of Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann to create five hours of music to play during the intermission of the final farewell shows of the Grateful Dead this past summer. So Casal, along with fellow musicians Adam MacDougall, Dan Horne and Mark Levy accomplished the task with a two-day jam session in the studio, which was recorded live by engineer J.P. Hesser.
 
With so much success from the Grateful Dead's "Fare They Well" concerts, attendees blew up the online forums, asking about the music performed during the intermission of the shows. Due to high demand, the band known as Circles Around The Sun will release a double-album titled " Interlude For The Dead" on November 27th through Rhino Records. The new release features over two hours of highlights from those recordings, beginning with the twenty minute mild-groove of "Hallucinate A Solution" sparked by some spacey guitar from Casel. They bring in the funk to "Gilbert's Groove," which contains some elements of late-seventies Grateful Dead vibes, while "Kasey's Bones" is a light-hearted, up-tempo piece to enjoy. Circles Around The Sun lock in together right away for "Ginger Says" and have fun exploring their sound with the twenty-five minute "Farewell Franklin." The ten track album closes with the familiar, mellow walk of "Hat And Cane" and the gentle acoustic touch of "Mountains Of The Moon." To find out more about this amazing new release from Circles Around The Sun, please visit rhino.com.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CD Review: Metal Blade Records Rolls Out A Trio Of New Releases From Revocation, Mirror And Culture Killer

Boston thrash metal band Revocation is looking to build upon the success of their 2014 album "Deathless" with the long awaited re-release of the band's debut album "Empire Of The Obscene," which was originally released in 2008. The band handed over the task of remixing and remastering the album to Pete Rutcho and they have also added three bonues tracks from their 2006 demo. The album is a blast of energy right from the opening screams of "Unattained" and guitar shredding of "Tail From The Crypt." They bring their best work to the classic metal appeal of "Fields Of Predation," then mix in their aggressive side with the creative side on the tempo changes of "Suffer These Words." They touch upon the acoustics of "Stilness," before finishing the album with the neck-breaking speed of "Empire Of The Obscene." The three demo tracks ("Summon The Spawn," "Unattained" and "Suffer These Wounds") sound very close to the originals and are a great added bonus to this new re-release. To find out more about Revocation, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Revocation.
Next we have the self-titled debut album from Mirror. This five-piece band bring back the mystical imagery of heavy metal, naming bands like Rainbow and Angel Witch as their influence for this album. The new nine-song release begins with the title-song as the musicianship is outstanding, led by the high vocals of Jimmy Mavromatis. The slow metal grind of "Year Of The Red Moon" and the Deep Purple-like feel of "Heavy King" shows Mirror firing on all cylinders as they will definitely grab your attention. Mirror brings together a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal sound on "Cloak Of A Thousand Secrets," before closing with the seven-minute dark, adventurous tale of "Elysian." To find out more about Mirror and their debut album, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/mirrorheavymetal.
Finally we get to the full-length Metal Blade Records debut album from hardcore death metal band Culture Killer. Their new album "Throes Of Mankind" are ten hard-hitting tracks with a "take no prisoners" delivery. Beginning with the aggressive attack of "Blindfolded Death," Culture Killer are ready to become the kings of the underground international death metal scene. The guitars comes blazing through the two-minute instrumental "Throes," which leads into the bashing growl of "Justice Through Retaliation." The album finishes with the energetic blast of "Flesh Empire" and thumping rhythm of the nearly seven-minute "Inhuman Nature." To find out more about Culture Killer and their new album "Throes Of Mankind," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/culturekiller.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

CD Review: New Hardcore Heavy Metal Releases From Bastard Grave, Pessimist, Sarcafago, Otargos

If you are looking for some new hardcore death metal, then you've come to the right place. First up we have the debut album from the Swedish band Bastard Grave titled "What Lies Beyond." Their music has been compared to fellow Swedes, Entombed, as you are in for a hellacious ride. The new ten-song album begins with the six-minute blast of "From The Depths" as you are blown away by the sheer force of the band's delivery. Pounding drums and screaming vocals surround you in "Doomed To Stay" as the band continues their assault on your ears. Guitars come out blazing as Bastard Grave quicken the pace as they rip a "Path To Extinction." They finish the new album with the slower, heavier rhythmic metal of "River Of Death," the thrash metal speed of "Misery" and the outstanding musicianship of "Profana Vesperam." To find out more about Bastard Grave and their new album "What Lies Beyond," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/BastardGrave.

Continuing with more hardcore death metal, we get a new re-released from Pessimist. Their 2000 album "Slaughtering The Faithful" was a break-through for the band, so to celebrate its 15th anniversary, Pessimist have re-released the original nine-song album with seven bonus tracks, including a live show from WNYU. Their music hits you like a ton of bricks as you instantly are blown back by sheer force of the band's delivery of "Slaughtering The Faithful" and "Resurrected Torment." The engine runs on overdrive as they continue to bash away at lighting speed for "Baptized In Blasphemy" and "Stripped Of Immortality." The bonus tracks include a demo version of "Summoned To Suffer," which may be faster and more destructive that the original. Then we get to the best part of the this new re-release, the live tracks as you listen in amazement at how they continue to bring on the same power and energy as the studio tracks. To find out more about Pessimist and the new re-release of "Slaughtering The Faithful," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/pessimist.metal.

If you're looking for something just as fast and powerful, with a little less aggression, then you need to check out the new release from the Brazilian extreme metal band Sarcofago. On December 11th, Greyhaze Records with release "Die...Hard" which collects 20 of the band's demos from all of their albums, including their original demo that go them signed to a record deal. The album begins with the quick, hard-hitting raw delivery of "Satanas" and the seven-minute prog-metal "Nightmare." They dig deep into the classic thrash metal groove of the rough sounding "Secrets Of A Window" and the album closer "Satanic Lust." To find out more about Sarcofago and their latest release "Die...Hard," please visit greyhazerecords.com/artists/sarcofago.

Last, but not least, we arrive at the latest release from the extreme metal band Otargos titled "Xeno Kaos." Their new eight-song album begins with the head-banging rhythm and tortured screaming vocals of "Dominatrix" and "The Ruinous Powers" as the sophisticated musicianship makes their music stand out. The progressive nature of "Dark Mechanicus" and the machine-gun speed of "Phase Shifters" showcases why this band is one of the top underground extreme death metal bands in France. To find out more about Otargos and their latest release "Xeno Kaos," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/OTARGOSband.

Monday, November 16, 2015

CD Review: Victory Records Rolls Out Some Of Their Last New Releases Of The Year

Hard rock and heavy metal have made a comeback this year thanks to many underground record labels. One such label, Victory Records, blazed a new path, being one of the sponsors of this year's successful Mayhem Festival and standing up to the streaming service Spotify, demanding more returns for their artists. They will close out the year with a few new releases from Foreveratlast, Continents and Erimha.

From the Crossroads of America comes the female fronted hardcore rock band Foreveratlast with their Victory Records debut album "Ghosts Again." The new eleven-song release begins with the pulse-pounding, energy-fueled "Shoreline" as the music is just as powerful as lead singer's Brittany Paris' vocals. They add a punk-like element to the arena rockers "Machines" and "Bad Blood." Foreveratlast capture the mainstream metal appeal with "One In The Same," then come roaring back with the hardcore attack of "The Observatory." The album closes with the hard rock hooks of "The Cardboard Rule." To find out more about Foreveratlast and their latest release "Ghosts Again," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/foreveratlast.

Next up from the U.K. is the sophomore release from the hardcore thrash metal band Continents. The new album titled "Reprisal" is filled with eleven-tracks of hard-hitting, take no prisoners, head-banging metal that will certainly get your blood pumping. Beginning with the screams of "Drowned In Hate," the music bombards you as you try to come up for air, they hit you again with the aggressive sounds of "Scorn" and "The Stand." Vocalist Philip Cross pours all his energy into the powerful delivery of "Reprisal" and "Awakening" and the band motors through to the energetic closers, "The Defeatist" and "Alone." To find out more about Continents and their latest release "Reprisal," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Continentsband.

Finally we get to the latest release from Canadian death metal band Erimha titled "Thesis Ov Warfare." The new ten-song release begins with the dark, seven-minute adventure of the "Battle For The Concealed Star" as the music set the stage for the screaming vocals of Gore. They follow that up with the ten-minute guitar-fueled "The Process Of Reversal," before exploding with "Fragmented Existence." The machine-gun drumming of "The First Law" and the progressive metal appeal of "War Within" showcases the diversity with in the band. They close the album with the quick-hitting "Imperative Circles" and the eight-minute addictive heavy metal screams of "Transcendental Inception." To find out more about Erimha and their latest release "Thesis Ov Warfare," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Erimha.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Collects Buck Owens Best For "Buck'em! Volume 2"

Country singer Buck Owens had a successful career in music and television that lasted over 40 years. He notched 21 #1 singles on the Billboard Country singles chart, he was a co-host of the TV show "Hee Haw" and is member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Omnivore Recordings have been gathering together many of his best songs for an anthology of his catalog. Omnivore released volume 1 back in 2013 and on November 13th, they released volume 2, "Buck'em! The Music Of Buck Owens (1967-1975)." The new 2CD set gathers together 50 of his hits, including the #1 singles "Who Will Mow Your Grass" and "Made In Japan." 

The first disc begins with the up-tempo 1967 single "Happy Times Are Here Again" as Owens seems very comfortable as a country solo artist, also performing alongside his band The Buckaroos. This disc features a previously unreleased alternative version of "Darlin', You Can Depend On Me" and an unreleased outtake of Buck Owens with Bettye Swann singing "Today I Started Loving You Today." Also sprinkled through the first disc are half a dozen live songs as Owens was a huge concert draw in the late-sixties. One of the highlights of the first disc is Owens top ten cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

The second disc of classics begins with the country swing of "Arms Full Of Empty" from the 1973 album of the same name. Buck Owens teams up again with Susan Raye on a sweet duet of "The Good Days (Are Here Again)." A string of live songs covers the meat of the this disc as Owens traveled to Japan, Australia and New Zealand to record live albums in the mid-seventies. The treasure on the second disc are the two outtakes "He Ain't Been Out Bowling With The Boys" and "A Different Kind Of Sad," before closing with a cover of the country twang of Jimmy Driftwood's "The Battle Of New Orleans" and the gentler delivery of "Country Singer's Prayer." To find out more about this latest installment in the "Buck'em!" series, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Review: Catch Up On "50 Years Of My Generation" With New Book About The Who

For the past two years, the legendary British rock band The Who have been celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band. With only two surviving original members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend set out on a world tour that has received rave reviews for the band. But how about their past, well Race Point Publishing has just released the perfect book to help you catch up with The Who.

The book's title, "The Who: 50 Years of My Generation" is exactly the book you need. It goes through the early days of The Who, when they were known as The High Numbers as author Mat Snow tells the tale of these four lads from London. Their local rise to fame came swift as they became THE band for the London Mod scene. The thing that took The Who into superstardom, besides the music, was their unpredictability on stage. Mat Snow does an excellent job covering The Who's chart success and Pete Townshend's competitive spirit during the sixties, along with a touch of their private lives.

The book dives into the depths of their 1969 monumental release "Tommy" and their appearance at the Woodstock Festival. Graced along the stories are over 250 color and B&W photos that are simple stunning. Most of the photos have never been published before as they help tell the story of The Who's massive success. As each chapter dives deeper into the lives and history of the band, Snow comes across some of the difficult times they've encountered with an unbiased outlook as things became harder for The Who in late-seventies because of the drug and alcohol abuse by drummer Keith Moon.

The book quickly glances over the untimely death of Moon and the disbandment of The Who after a couple more studio albums with replacement drummer Kenny Jones. Snow touches upon the eighties with a flurry of solo albums by band members, before the reconstruction of The Who in 1996 for the anniversary tour of the highly successful rock opera "Quadrophenia." That tour signaled a comeback for the band as they have consistently toured since then.

On the eve of The Who's 2002 tour, bassist John Entwhistle was found dead in his Las Vegas hotel room of a drug overdose. Instead of remaining band members Daltrey and Townshend calling it quits, the band raged on knowing that life was short and they still had more to say to all their fans.

While the book does not go into great depths of each of The Who's albums and does not cause any alarm for controversy, it does allow the reader to discover the super highs and lows of this amazing band. As The Who continue to celebrate this milestone in music, "The Who: 50 Years of My Generation" needs to be the new starting point of every discussion of the band. To find out more about this amazing new book, please visit quartoknows.com.

Friday, November 13, 2015

CD Review: New Live Albums From John Wetton, Johnny Thunders, Aqua Nebula and Marcus Singletary

The universally talented John Wetton is releasing his second live album this year entitled "Live Via Satellite," which will only be available through his website. This latest release finds Wetton performing his songs in an acoustic setting and explaining the meaning behind them. This two-disc set captures a couple of sessions which were originally broadcasted on XM radio in 1998 (Stockholm, Sweden) and 2001 (Washington, D.C.). The first disc begins with the well-known Asia hit single "Heat Of The Moment," which actually plays perfectly in this setting. Wetton get intellectual with the King Crimson originals "Book Of Saturday" and "Easy Money" that make you examine the lyrics further in this acoustic setting. He excels during the amazingly touching "Emma" and "Hold Me Now," before finishing with a couple of Crimson classics "The Night Watch" and "Starless." The second disc begins with overwhelming instrumental introduction of "The Circle Of St. Giles," which leads into the gentle delivery of "Heat Of The Moment." Wetton keeps the setlists similar, but mixes up the order of the songs with "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" and "30 Years" moved up higher in the set. One of the songs that only appears on the second disc is the well-known Asia hit single "Sole Survivor." The disc is highlighted by the beautiful "Rendezvous 6:02" and Wetton's rendition of the traditional folk song "The Water Is Wide." The disc closes with "Battle Lines" from Wetton's 1994 album "Voice Mail" and the 92-second instrumental "The Celtic Cross." To find out more about John Wetton and his latest release "Live Via Satellite," please visit his website at johnwetton.com.
 
American punk rock musician Johnny Thunders rose to fame as a member of the iconic hard rock band the New York Dolls. After leaving the band in 1977, Johnny Thunders continued as a solo artist, along with his backing band The Heartbreakers. They recorded shows from their first tour together and until now these shows have sat in a vault, ready to be rediscovered. On October 16th, Cleopatra Records released "L.A.M.F. Live At The Village Gate 1977." A blast of thirteen energetic songs that flow through like a blur as Johnny and the Heartbreakers played with a recklessness that attracts you to the song's simple appeal. He begins with a tribute to The Ramones with his performance of "Chinese Rock," before settling down into a string of originals including "Pirate Love" and "Let Go." Thunders seems to be enjoying this new sense of freedom of being a solo artist. His music should definitely be in the same conversation as The Ramones and the Sex Pistols when talking about inspirational punk bands. His delivery of "Chatterbox" is pure New York style, while his cover of "Boppin' The Blues" is rockabilly gold. The disc closes with his version of "Do You Love Me" in overdrive and the Thunders original "I Wanna Be Loved." To find out more about this new live album from Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, please visit cleorecs.com.
 
French occult rock band Aqua Nebula Oscillator have gained strength as one of the premier underground European rock bands. They have shared the stage with bands like The Cult and The Dead Weather and just released their first live album back in October titled "Friday The 13th." It was recorded at The Underground club in France back in 2014 and sounds as if you stepped into a psychedelic trip to the darkside of the force. The new thirteen-song release begins with "Spiritus Mundi," which is your dissention down the rabbit hole as you are introduced to the experimental appeal of Aqua Nebula Oscillator's music. They turn on their dark heavy metal charm with the Black Sabbath-like feel of "Riot," then pick-up the energy with the seventies underground metal sound of "Human Toad." They try to add a pop element to their sound with a cover of "It's Now Or Never," which leads into the air raid horns of the Pink Floydian, dark toned, experimental "Up To The Sky." The album closes with the guitar fueled feedback of the punk-like energetic "Ready To Fly." To find out more about Aqua Nebula Oscillator and their new live album "Friday The 13th," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/aquanebulaoscillator.
 
Guitar wizard Marcus Singletary has continued to amaze his fans and admirers with his talents for adapting to any musical genre. He has ventured in country, jazz, and funk; but his first love has to be rock music. His guitar playing is extraordinary, especially when he gets lost in a song and blazes a way out with his shredding. His latest release is his first official live album titled simply "Marcus Singletary Live." It is a short nine-song, thirty-minute set that finds Marcus in a close, club-like setting. He plays it save on the first tune of the set "Beggar's Anthem," before experimenting with his sound in "Hallelujah," which ends way too soon. He picks up the tempo with the garage rock appeal of "On The Silver Screen," then locks into the light, airy instrumental "Science." Marcus finally opens up his sound on the six-plus minute, adventurous "Cartwheel And Comet," before heading into a grunge-like cover of Jim Croce's "Don't Mess Around With Jim." To find out more about Marcus Singletary and his new live album, please visit marcussingletary.com.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

CD Review: Celebrating Frank Sinatra's 100th Birthday With Radio's Golden Voice

The immortal Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 years old this year on December 12th. To celebrate that milestone, Legacy Recordings is releasing a new 4-CD box set titled "Frank Sinatra: A Voice On Air (1935-1955)," which covers Sinatra's early brush with fame as the voice of the radio airwaves. This new box set will be released on November 20th and features over 100 rare Sinatra recordings, including 91 previously unreleased live performances that defined the "Golden Age" of radio.
 
The tin, scratchy sounds of the opening songs "S-H-I-N-E" and "Exactly Like You" allows the first disc to set the stage for what is guaranteed to be a step back in time. As Sinatra was starting out in the business, you can hear the tenderness in his voice as he performs the standards "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and "That Old Black Magic" live on the radio. He plays around with the radio host during "It's De-Lovely," showcasing his showmanship as he still gives a professional performance. Some of the undiscovered gems of this box set is Frank Sinatra being featured in radio commercials for Vimms Vitamins and Nature's Remedy and also his response to World War 2 as he dedicates "America The Beautiful" and "I'll Be Seeing You" to the troops in the war.
 
The second disc shows Sinatra being more comfortable in the sound booth as he gives stellar performances of "It Had To Be You" and "Long Ago And Far Away." A 30th birthday greeting for Frank Sinatra is a nice touch as this box celebrates his 100th birthday, but it is his radio banter and comedy sketches that will keep a smile on the face of listeners. The third disc is filled with one-of-kind duets as Sinatra sings "You Are My Sunshine" with Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis, "Exactly Like You" with Nat "King" Cole, "Ac-Cen-Tchu-Ate The Positive" with Johnny Mercer and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" with Doris Day.
 
The fourth disc is highlighted by Dean Martin's introduction of Frank Sinatra to sing "I've Got A Crush On You." This is a friendship that will last a lifetime as the two begin the wheels turning as their group of friends will become known as The Rat Pack. You also get over half-a-dozen tunes from two of Frank Sinatra's highly successful radio shows ("Perfectly Frank" and "The Frank Sinatra Show"). The set closes with "Sam's Song (A Happy Tune)" a duet with Gary Crosby (son of Bing Crosby) and "Half As Lovely (Twice As True)," before fitting in two more rare commercials for Lucky Strike Cigarettes and White Rain shampoo. The box set is packed with over four hours of classic radio staring the one and only Frank Sinatra. Along with the 4CDs is a 60-page book that gives more insight into the recordings and how Frank Sinatra was such a pivotal role in the growth of radio. To find out more about "Frank Sinatra: A Voice On Air (1935-1955)," please visit wearesonylegacy.com.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CD Review: New Indie-Music Releases From HUGElarge, A Fragile Tomorrow, The Pressure Kids, Random Huiak Band And Ben Hemming

The duo of Robert Malta (vocals, guitar) and Matt Norelli (drums) have joined forces as the raw, indie-rock band HUGElarge. They recently released their self-titled debut album through HWY 61 Records and it features garage rock renditions of some underground classics from The Kinks, The Stooges, T. Rex and others. The new 16-song release begins with 69-seconds of the power punk pop delivery of "Sorry ( I Ran All The Way Home)" that is guarantee to get your heart pumping. They add some grunge sound to the album with the original instrumentals "D.O.G." and "Have Love Will Travel." HUGElarge bring us back to the sixties with "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White," then they discover the raw power of The Kinks with "Who'll Be The Next In Line" and bring out the essence of T-Rex's grit in "Motivator." The energy these two musicians put out is felt in the punk rock appeal of "New York" and the guitar buzz of "96 Tears." To find out more about HUGElarge and their debut album, please visit hugelarge.com.

From South Carolina comes the latest release from the alternative pop band A Fragile Tomorrow titled "Make Me Over." Since starting out in 2003, the band has been an underground sensation that has found a following among fellow musicians like the Indigo Girls, The Bangles and Matthew Sweet just to name a few. Their new album begins with the power rocker "Make Me Over (Noddy Holder)" as the band comes through with a chip on their shoulder. The big arena sound of "Billion" and the light-hearted pop of "Kissing Games," show that A Fragile Tomorrow are ready to become a mainstay on the radio. Their song "Tell Me How To Feel" sounds as if it came from the Elvis Costello songbook, while "Hit Parade" shows the band having fun experimenting with their sound. The new thirteen-song release closes with the up-tempo power pop of "Can't You Hear Me?" and the country/folk rock of "One Way Ticket," which features help from Joan Baez and the Indigo Girls. To find out more about A Fragile Tomorrow, please visit afragiletomorrow.com.

One of America's newest alternative rock bands is The Pressure Kids with their latest three-song EP titled, "Tiger." It was mixed and produced by Brian Herman (Vampire Weekend) and showcases the band's love for music as they explore the different aspect of pop, punk and alternative rock. The opener, "Big Sky" has a youthful energy with a smooth rock tone that is sure to draw in that younger audience of fans that the The Pressure Kids are looking for. The vibe for "Consequences" has a mature appeal, while "For Kim" has more pop aspects as they continue to grow and find their direction. To find out more about The Pressure Kids, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/thepressurekids.

The Random Hubiak Band are definitely keeping themselves busy. They released an EP of new songs at the beginning of the year and then, they are capping off 2015 with another full-length album, before heading back into the studio to work on their first double-album in 2016. The new album titled "The Bleached Bones Of Titans" begins with the uptempo pop tunes "Why Did You Leave Me Along On Christmas" and "Affected Disaffection." Singer/songwriter Rand Hubiak stated that this album was heavily influenced by epic seventies rock albums by Genesis, Yes and Elton John. The three-part musical odyssey "Jaffa" has that classic progressive-rock story appeal, before heading into the Meatloaf-like delivery of "I Really, Really Dugg'er." This new eleven-song release closes with the heartfelt piano ballad "Long May You Run," which showcases Hubiak's true talents. To find out more about The Random Hubiak Band and their latest release "The Bleached Bones Of Titans," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TheRandomHubiak.

From across the pond comes the latest release from London-based singer/songwriter Ben Hemming titled "Broken Man." His sound have a big blues influence as two songs from the new album were featured in the latest issue of "The Blues Magazine" as Ben was name one of the "artists to watch." The new thirteen-song release begins with the quick strumming of "Black Heart" as the stomp-rhythm helps keep the pace. His simplistic experimental side reminds me of a cross between Jack White and Neil Young with songs like "What I Once Had" and "I Make A Living," having a different vibe coming from Ben's acoustic guitar. His song "Cigarette Blues" has that great classic Robert Johnson feel, while "Found My Way" has an alternative/grunge vibe. The album closes with the dirty blues of "The Road" and a great crackle sounding recording of "The Old Country" made at Jack White's Third Man Records Recording Booth. To find out more about Ben Hemming and his latest release "Broken Man," please visit hist Facebook page at facebook.com/benhemmingmusic.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

CD Review: New Music Imports Feature Returns From Cutting Crew, Thor and Saber Tiger

English rockers Cutting Crew were a big hit on the music scene with their 1986 debut album "Broadcast" and top-selling single "(I Just) Died In Your Arms." Since then, the band has not been able to capture that same success and they ended up disbanding in 1993. After finding out their music has a nostalgic appeal that fans of the eighties have been in love with, Cutting Crew reunited in 2005 for a successful tour and new album. Now, ten years later, Cutting Crew are releasing their first album of new material in ten years. The new album titled "Add To Favourites," was released at the beginning of October through Cherry Red Records. The album's lead single "Til The Money Run$ Out" has that classic eighties pop appeal that fans will instantly grab hold of as it signals a return to greatness for Cutting Crew. The strength of their songwriting comes through on the pop ballad "Berlin In Winter" and they bring in the blues for the heartfelt delivery of "Keep On Lovin' You." They stick to the slow, gentle sway of "Already Gone" and "As Far As I Can See," before returning to the fun, pop of "Biggest Mistake Of My Life" and the acoustic love letter "(She Just Happened To Be) Beautiful." To find out more about Cutting Crew and their new album "Add To Favourites," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/CuttingCrewMusic.

From north of the border comes the latest release from Canadian hard rock superhero Thor titled "Metal Avenger." It was released on October 30th through Deadline Music in association with Cleopatra Records and features some guest appearances from fellow head-bangers. This new album caps off a return to glory from Thor as a deluxe reissue of the album "Unchained" was released earlier this year and a new documentary titled "I Am Thor" received rave reviews. The new fifteen-song release begins with "Out Of Control" as each song is a chapter in the story of Thor defeating the overlords of the planet Psykon. The music gets heavier with the help of Fast Eddie Clarke (Motorhead) on lead guitar for the title-song "Metal Avenger" as lead singer Jon Mikl settles into his role. Vocalist Henry Rollins lends his talents to "Master Of Revenge" as Rollins and Mikl trade verses on this hard-hitting tune, while Brian Forsythe (Kix) helps turning "Destruct" into an arena rocker. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French electrifies with the heavy riffs of "The Hammer" and Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys) delivers a reckless punk feel to "Drive." The album closes with the mystical approach to the theme song of "Atomic Man" and the power ballad "Law Of The Universe." To find out more about Thor and the new album "Metal Avenger," please visit cleorecs.com.

Japanese heavy metal band Saber Tiger will be celebrating their 35th anniversary next year and in honor of that accomplishment, Deadline Records in association with Cleopatra Records will release the band's first greatest hits set. They broke onto the heavy metal scene with their 1997 major label debut album "Project One" and have never looked back. The band has had over 30 different members with Akihito Kinoshita leading the way on guitar. The new album features a dozen songs taken from the band's three most successful albums ("Messiah Complex," "Decisive" and "Paragraph IV"). Beginning with the song "Messiah Complex," Saber Tiger arrived with a chip on their shoulder as the songs from this album showcased a heavier thrash metal sound. Half of the songs on this "greatest hits" compilation are taken from the "Decisive" album as their songs begin to take on a more progressive metal sound as with "At The Front" and "Reminiscence." The last three songs on this release are from their 2011 album, "Paragraph IV" and have the most mainstream metal appeal as Saber Tiger look to continue strong right up until their 40th anniversary. To find out more about "The Best Of Saber Tiger," please visit cleorecs.com.