Saturday, December 31, 2016

CD Review: Ian Hunter Gets "Stranded In Reality" With New Career-Spanning Box Set

English musician/singer Ian Hunter is closing in on almost 60 years in the music industry. He may be best known as the founding member of the band, Mott The Hoople, who's hits included "All The Young Dudes" and "All The Way From Memphis." After leaving Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter had a very successful solo career, playing along side such great artists as Ringo Starr, John Cale and Mick Jones to name only a few. To celebrate his solo accomplishments, Proper Records gathered together his albums with a boatload of unreleased music for the massive 30-disc box set "Stranded In Realty." The set has been limited to only 2,500 copies worldwide.
 
This new box set features each of his 17 solo albums, spread across 19-discs featuring over 400 songs. The set adds another 9-discs of unreleased live and studio recordings along with 2-DVDs worth of live footage from throughout Hunter's career that has never been properly released before on video. Also included in the set is a beautiful, hardcover coffee table book that gives fans a history of Ian Hunter's solo career as well as a personally autographed picture and a specifically made newspaper highlighting Hunter's accomplishments in the press.
 
Even though Ian Hunter was in the center of the glam movement of the seventies, Hunter always keep the music first, as heard in his early solo albums. The live disc "Acoustic Shadows" is especially great and was recorded during a 2008 show in England. It features many of his songs, stripped down to show the purity in Hunter's songwriting. Long-time fans will especially enjoy finally having an official version of "If You Wait Long Enough For Anything, You Can Get It On Sale," which features one of Ian Hunter's best live performances, recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1979.
 
The question fans have asked is why should I re-buy the albums I already own, but all of Hunter's solo albums included in this set have been remastered and features bonus tracks available here for the first time. To find out more about the new Ian Hunter box set titled "Stranded In Reality," please visit propermusic.com.

Friday, December 30, 2016

CD Review: The Duo Of Arduini/Balich Deliver A New Album For The "Dawn Of Ages"

Two giants of the progressive heavy metal scene have teamed up for their debut album. Victor Arduini (Fates Warning) and Brian "Butch" Balich (Argus) are joining forces for "Dawn of Ages," which will be released on February 27, 2017 through Cruz Del Sur Music.

The new nine-song release begins with the ten-minute build-up of "The Fallen." The song begins with more intricacy in their performance than what fans may be used to, before the music picks up the tempo with heavy metal energy. They continue with the attack of "Forever Fade" and the classic heavy metal chords of "Into Exile" as it pushes toward the 12-minute mark.

Arduini/Balich slow the tempo down for the doom metal feel of "The Wraith," then begin their epic journey with the chugging guitars of "Beyond The Barricade." The album closes with three cover songs. First is a perfect copy of Uriah Heep's "Sunrise," next up is a dark version of the less popular Beau Brummels' song "Wold Of Velvet Fortune," before finishing with Black Sabbath's "After All/The Dead." To find out more about Arduini/Balich and their latest release "Dawn of Ages," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/arduinibalich.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

CD Review: New Music Joey Stuckey, Alzara & Brother Spellbinder, Scott Smith, Coral Creek and KP Wolfe

Blind guitarist Joey Stuckey recently released his new album "Six String Soldier" which brings together elements of rock, blues and Americana music. His new seven-song release begins with the big vocals of "Blind Man Drivin'," as his exciting guitar solo steals the show. He continues with the more pop oriented tones of "10,000 Miles" as Joey Stuckey delivers another timeless classic. The blues come pouring through on the newly remastered version of "Runnin'," before Stuckey finishes his new album with the driving rhythm of "Lover's Ride" and the emotional, power ballad "Mr. Mooney." To find out more about Joey Stuckey and his latest new release "Six String Soldier," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/joeystuckey.

The cabaret folk group Alzara & Brother Spellbinder recently released their sophomore effort titled "When The Earth Was Still Flat." It features the wonderful vocals of Alzara Getz on the album's opening track "Speed Of Sound" as the Brother Spellbinder band introduce you to their unique sound. Her voice soars amongst the subtle backdrop of "Follow Me" and the wonderful Americana/folk strumming of "Babel." The song gives off a brighter feel with its ukulele-driven melody that lightens the album's overall dark tone. The short seven-song release finishes with the aggressive, tempo-changing "Madame" that gives their sound the cabaret feel, before closing with the wonderful light-hearted delivery of "Josephine." To find out more about Alzara & Brother Spellbinder and their latest release "When The Earth Was Still Flat," please visit brotherspellbinder.com.

Singer/songwriter Scott Smith returns with his new album titled "Down To Memphis." It features five tracks that help solidify Scott's status as one of country music's fasting rising stars. His new album begins with the title-song "Down To Memphis" as he delivers a steady classic rhythm that allows his lyrics and guitar to deliver the message. He gets a bluesier, country rock groove flowing for "Just Another Saturday" as his music becomes addictive. Legendary mandolinist David Grisman lends a hand on the Americana tone of "Skeleton And Roses," which sounds like an outtake of the Grateful Dead's seventies heyday. The album closes with the nostalgic, California rock sound of "Top Of The World" as Scott Smith continues his climb into the country limelight. To find out more about Scott Smith and his latest release "Down To Memphis," please visit scottsmithband.com.

From Colorado comes the new self-titled album from Americana/Jamband Coral Creek. Their new ten-song release begins with the laid-back, Jimmy Buffet sound of "Way Back" and the guitar-driven, country rocker "Mountain High." They follow the Grateful Dead recipe for the blues-rock of "Cryin' Bout My Baby" and "Cage Without A Key," before slowing down for the exploratory ballad "Rosster & Dawg." The album closes with a more up-tempo, bluegrass cover of Neil Young's "Comes A Time." To find out more about Coral Creek and their latest new release, please visit coralcreek.net.

Theatrical performer KP Wolfe recently released her debut album titled "Exodus." After landing major roles in the NOFX punk rock musical "Home Street Home," her music follows along the same lines of rebellion as she leads off with the rock/pop energy of "Exodus." She adds a dance beat to her punk-like vocals in "Icarus" and in "Louder" as she demands your full attention. She places more emotion into her delivery of "Take Back The Ring," before closing her new seven-song release with up-roar of the pop beats of "Until You Wake Up." To find out more about KP Wolfe and her latest release "Exodus," please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/KPWolfemusic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CD Review: Rick Cutler Gives Us "Daydreams" And Donnie Biggins Debuts His Solo "Profiles"

Multi-instrumentalist and composer Rick Cutler will be releasing his brand new studio album titled "Daydreams (Probably)," on February 10th. It will be his first album to feature songs other than his own. The new 21-song collection begins with with the gentle striking of cymbals, before leading into the classical piano solo "Overalls." Cutler performs all of the instruments himself on this new release and only invites a guest to join him on vocals for two of the album's three cover songs. Singer Branice McKenzie lends her talents to Stevie Wonder's "Black Orchid" as the song delivers its universal message. The other cover song with vocals, features Charlotte Durkee turning Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" into an innocent prayer. The third cover song to appear on Cutler's new release is Wayne Shorter's "Sanctuary," in which Cutler cuts the song's length in half, only performing the beginning of this jazz classic. Cutler's wonderful solo piano pieces keeps the music at a relaxed tone that flows throughout the entire album. To find out more about Rick Cutler and his latest release "Daydreams (Probably)," please visit humanrick.com.

From Chicago comes the solo debut album, "Profiles" from the leader of The Shams Band, Donnie Biggins. His new 11-song release features a nostalgic, sixties rock/pop sound, beginning with the album's lead single "Lula." While the song has a slow swinging groove, it features Donnie's knack for writing catchy lyrics and memorable melodies. He follows that up with the more up-tempo surf-rock of "Closer To You" and the folk delivery of "People Killing People." He showcases his country side with "Yes, It's Hard" and "Twenty Eight Years Old," before returning to the song-writing adventures of "No New Names" and "A Mind That's Been Lost." To find out more about Donnie Biggins and his latest release "Profiles," please visit donniebiggins.com.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

CD Review: New Custom Made Music Debut Albums From You People And Hook Turns

First up from Boston, MA comes the full-length debut album from the alternative, post-punk band You People. The new album titled "Dropouts" was released in December on CD, LP & cassette. It features ten energetic tracks, beginning with "Deliver Me Home," which kicks thing off with its high-energy sound. The album continues with the grunge-like, rawness of "Jokes" and the punk-energy of "You People's Court." They deliver a heavy metal like sound with "Billy Joel (Audience On Fire)," before returning to their punk roots on "Walkin' Home." The album closes with the high-powered rocker "Space Is Free." To find out more about You People and their latest release "Dropouts," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/youpeopleandyourmusic.

Next up is the debut album from the Australian duo of Andrew Bonnici and Andrew Alves, better known as Hook Turns. Their latest release titled "Night Shift" was released back in October and delivers the charm of being finessed by the wonderful song-writing of Bonnici. The new ten-song release begins with the relaxed opener "First Sun" as the music and melody are a breeze to follow. They slow the tempo down gracefully on "Same Old Mess" and "Not A Sound" as their sound bringing together elements of folk, country and soft rock music. The quiet acoustics of "If I Can Make It Home" keep you on their deep sonic journey, before finishing the album with the gentle folk delivery of "Better Days" and the six-minute plus journey of "Las Manos," which features some truly amazing songwriting. To find out more about Hook Turns and their latest release "Night Shift," please visit hookturns.bandcamp.com.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Review: Find Out "What Evil Lurks" With The New Complete History Of Black Sabbath

The end of an era is arriving in early 2017, when one of the founding bands of heavy metal, Black Sabbath will be calling it quits. Original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler will finish their nearly 50 year career with their final show on February 4 in Birmingham, England, where it all began. With all the mayhem and line-up changes within the band, it may have been hard to keep track of the band's history. Well, a newly published book titled "What Evil Lurks: The Complete History of Black Sabbath" will definitely help. This new 224-page hardcover book follows Black Sabbath from their early days as the band Earth right up until their final American tour. Author Joel McIver does an amazing job telling the history of the band as he uses excerpts from interviews to give authenticy to the early days. The book does a nice job following the idea of the band's name "Black Sabbath" and to what many consider the beginning of heavy metal music.


This new book is loaded with many unpublished color and black & white photos to go along with the story. Each of the band's albums are covered within each chapter, from their self-titled debut album through their 19th studio album "13." McIver follows both the career of Black Sabbath, post Ozzy, and also Ozzy Osbourne's solo career as the two paralleled each other for over 20 years.


The center of the book contains a four-page, full color fold-out to help understand the Black Sabbath family tree. The 1980's featured a decade of highs for Ozzy Osbourne's solo career, Black Sabbath was heading into obscurity following the departure of their second and third lead singers. Also at this time, many new heavy metal bands were on the rise, naming Black Sabbath as one of their biggest influences. Author Joel McIver handles the confrontations within the band with class and grace, by not saying that one side was more correct than the other in their decisions. The book also briefly covers many of the original band's latter solo projects like G/Z/R, Iommi and The Bill Ward Band. Then, all the planets alined for Black Sabbath's 1997 reunion, featuring the four original members of the band, but it would soon be short lived.


The book finishes with some great photos from their 2016 show at New York's Madison Square Garden, which was one of the final North American shows of Black Sabbath's career. It also discusses the untimely death of fan favorite singer, Ronnie James Dio, who gave Black Sabbath new life numerous times throughout their career. The final section of the book has McIver looking back with the members of the band as Black Sabbath comes to "The End." The book also features a great forward by Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn as he tells us what Black Sabbath has meant to him and his career in music. To find out more about the newly published "What Evil Lurks: The Complete History of Black Sabbath," please visit quartoknows.com

Saturday, December 24, 2016

CD Review: Musicians Pay Tribute To Tony Bennett For His 90th Birthday

The ageless wonder, Tony Bennett turned 90 years old in August. To celebrate, NBC featured a prime-time special event that featured Bennett along with other musical greats like Andrea Bocelli, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel to pay homage to voice that has entertained over three generations of music fans. As a companion piece to the television special, Columbia Records released "Tony Bennett Celebrates 90" on December 16th.
 
The show was filmed on September 15th at Radio City Music Hall and begins with Bennett's most recent musical partner Lady Gaga performing a swinging version of "The Lady Is A Tramp." Gaga has no problem taking control of the song and kicking off the evening with a bang. Michael Buble follows with "The Good Life," before Andrea Bocelli lifts the spirits in the audience with an amazing rendition of "Ave Maria." Tony Bennett joins his fellow New Yorker, Billy Joel, for a stunning duet of Joel's "New York State Of Mind." Stevie Wonder pays homage to Bennett with his ballad "Visions" and Elton John keeps the emotions flowing with "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." Then Mr. Bennet takes the floor, beginning with "Who Cares?" and "The Best Is Yet To Come." His voice is still smooth and powerful, especially during his iconic song "I Left My Heart In San Francisco."
 
The event closes with Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga leading the group of performers in a jazzed-up, sing-along version of "Happy Birthday." A 3CD deluxe edition was also released exclusively through Amazon that includes the same songs in the standard set along with 2 bonus discs worth of previously unreleased live and studio outtakes from throughout Tony Bennett's career. To find out more about the newly released "Tony Bennett Celebrates 90," please visit tonybennett.com.

Friday, December 23, 2016

CD/DVD Review: Uli Jon Roth Revisits "Tokyo Tapes" With New Live Release

German guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth returns to the exact location that he made famous 36 years ago as a member of the hard rock band The Scorpions. The Scorpions released their first live album titled "Tokyo Tapes" in 1978. It would be Uli Jon Roth's last live performances with the band. Roth has since gone on to become one of the earliest contributors of the neoclassical metal movement. On December 16th, UDR released a brand new live recording from Uli Jon Roth titled "Tokyo Tapes Revisited: Live In Japan" on CD/DVD and Blu-Ray. This new live release celebrates Roth's past contributions to The Scorpions as he and his band perform many of the classic songs from that original live release.
 
Uli Jon Roth begins the show the same way as The Scorpions did with the electrifying guitar performance of "All Night Long." He adds the rarely played "Longing For Fire" from The Scorpions' 1975 album "In Trance," then takes the audience on a sonic journey with the ten-minute version of "The Sails Of Charon" that features some of Roth's most exciting guitar playing. He speeds up the tempo with the heavy metal tones of "Virgin Killer," before reproducing his cover of the delicate Japanese song "Kojo No Tsuki." Watching Uli Jon Roth perform live is a thing of beauty, as his fingers glide up and down the fretboard with ease. Singer Nathan James keeps the energy alive in his live performance, whenever he is in the spotlight. Roth has backed himself with a very professional band that delivers Uli Jon Roth's message of music that has a timeless metal sound.
 
The combination of "Rainbow Dream Prelude" and "Fly To The Rainbow" showcase the jaw-dropping talent that Roth portrays in his music. Roth and his band deliver great renditions of Scorpion fan favorites "Top Of The Bill" and "Polar Nights," before pushing "Dark Lady" up to the 15-minute mark as the band motors through his progressive metal masterpiece. Roth and his band close the show with a couple of cover songs made famous by the late-great Jimi Hendrix, "All Along The Watchtower" and "Little Wing." To find out more about Uli Jon Roth and his latest release "Tokyo Tapes Revisited: Live In Japan," please visit ulijonroth.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

LP/CD Review: New Music From Rock Legends Ministry Along With Cloak & Dagger And The Velvet Ants

Industrial rock legends Ministry recently released their long-awaited, double-album collection of early rare tracks titled "Trax! Rarities." It was released on December 9th through Cleopatra Records and covers Ministry's Wax Trax! era of songs. The new double, four-sided LP begins with a four-song live set from July 1982 as you get a feel for the foundation that Ministry had to build before venturing into more industrial rock territory. Songs like "Love Change" and "America" have a sythesizer-driven, new wave sound in this live setting. The next set of songs are from Ministry's 1982/83 demo, beginning with the eighties, keyboard-filled "Same Old Madness" and the up-beat tones of "Let's Be Happy." The second LP in the set features eight more tracks from Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen's bands Revolting Cocks, PTP, Pailhead and 1000 Homo DJs. The two remaining Ministry songs "I See Red" and "Self Annoyed" will sound more familiar to Ministry fans as they showcase their development into their iconic industrial rock sound. To find out more about the latest release from Ministry titled "Trax! Rarities," please visit ministryband.bandcamp.com.

From Perth comes the sophomore release from the hardcore metal band Cloak & Dagger." There new EP was released on December 2nd through their new record label, Imminence Records. It features six tracks, beginning with the classical instrumentation of "Snowfall" as the screaming vocals give the song its aggressive edge. The intensity of the music picks-up with "Balance" and "Ruin," before quickly finishing the album with the speedy energy of "Dead To The World" and the explosive screams of "Graveyard." To find out more about Cloak & Dagger and their latest release "Balance," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/cloakanddaggerband.

From Boston, MA comes the latest release titled "Blacklight Press" from the alternative rock band The Velvet Ants. Some of the songs on this new album date back over 15 years as the band gathered their ten favorite tracks for this release. It begins with up-tempo, alternative pop tones of "Prop Me Up," before getting more aggressive with the punk-like guitar fury of "Nothing." They slow down for the melodic ballad "Two Sox," before returning back to the guitar riff driven "Kitsch." The album finishes with the grunge-like, Nirvana-feel of "Dead Rose" and the addictive pop tones of "Vapor Street." To find out more about The Velvet Ants and their latest release "Blacklight Press," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/velvetants.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

CD Review: New Releases From John Legend, The Chainsmokers, Grace Vanderwaal & James Arthur

Rhythm & blues singer/songwriter/musician John Legend returns with his new studio album "Darkness & Light." It it his fifth studio album and his first in three years. It features guest appearances from Chance The Rapper on the funky bass line of "Penthouse Floor" and Brittany Howard on explosive blues of "Darkness And Light." Then Miguel joins Legend on the quiet duet of "Overload" as the beats just float on by in the background. The album's first single "Love Me Now" is an addictive, pop-infused gospel sing-along, while "Right By You (For Luna)" is a lullaby for his newly-born daughter. The new 12-track release closes with the emotional ballad "Same Old Story" as Legend's vocals take the spotlight along with the dance beats of "Marching Into The Dark." John Legend's new album "Darkness & Light" was released on December 2nd through Columbia Records. To find out more, please visit johnlegend.com.


The American DJ duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall came onto the music scene in 2014 as The Chainsmokers. They have released two EPs in two years, their most recent "Collage" hit #6 on the Billboard album chart. It was released back in November and all five of the album's songs have been released as singles, the most popular being "Closer," which features Halsey on vocals and topped the singles chart. The album mixes together dance beats with addictive melodies to create pop gold as in "All We Know" and "Don't Let Me Down." To find out more about The Chainsmokers and their latest release "Collage," please visit thechainsmokers.com.

Twelve-year-old Grace VanderWaal recently released her first album titled "Perfectly Imperfect." Grace was the season 11 winner of NBC's "America's Got Talent" and four of the album's five songs were performed during the competition. The innocence in her voice and the strumming of a simple ukulele is all that is needed in the opener "I Don't Know My Name" to fall in love with this new artist. Her vocals soar during "Clay" and she is having fun with the more upbeat rhythm of "Light The Sky." Her short new release closes with the pop tones of "Gossip Girl." To find out more about Grace VanderWaal and her latest release "Perfectly Imperfect," please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/GraceVanderWaalMusic.

British singer/songwriter James Arthur recently released his second album titled "Back From The Edge." Arthur was the season nine winner of the British singing talent show "The X Factor." His self-titled debut album reached #2 on the U.K. charts and his new Columbia Records release topped the U.K. charts and broke into the U.S. album charts. His new thirteen-song release begins with the title-song that showcases Arthur's R&B/pop vibe. The album's latest single "Say You Won't Let Go" has a modern-crooner feel as Arthur's vocals grab hold your heart. The music builds in "I Am" as James Arthur pours all his energy into his delivery of the song's chorus. He delivers the seventies, dance-funk of "Sober," before finishing with the gospel-like ballad "Let Me Love The Lonely" and the up-lifting build-up of "Finally." To find out more about James Arthur and his latest release "Back From The Edge," please visit jamesarthurofficial.com.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

CD Review: New Children's Music Arriving From "Junie B. Jones The Musical" & Rolie Polie Guacamole

Barbara Park is the best-selling author of the "Junie B. Jones" series that has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. Her books were developed into the hugely successful theater production "Junie B. Jones The Musical." It was led by the song-writing team of Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler and adapted from four books in the "Junie B. Jones" series. Now on January 13th, Next Decade Entertainment will release the first ever "Junie B. Jones The Musical Cast Album." It was recorded in Nashville under the direction of Grammy and Academy-award winning producer Dan Rudin.
 
The new fifteen-song release begins with the up-tempo, fun delivery "Top Secret Personal Beeswax," that sets the stage for the rest of the story. The music is very heart-warming in "You Can Be My Friend" as the innocence of childhood is perfectly portrayed in the singing of the performers. There are some quick numbers like "Show & Tell" and "Lunch Box" to boost the energy through the roof. The whole production gets involved in the "Kickball Tournament," while "When Life Gives You Lemons" tris to teach you life lessons. The album closes with "Writing Down The Story Of My Life," which sums up the entire musical perfectly as Junie B. Jones tells the tales of all she has learned. To find out more about the new "Junie B. Jones The Musical Cast Album," please visit facebook.com/JunieBJonesAlbum.
 
Arriving 2 days before Christmas is the latest release from the Brooklyn duo, Rollie Polie Guacamole. Their new album titled "Live On The Fourth Of July" is guaranteed to brighten your day as they turn classic children's songs into their own special performances. Their new fourteen-song release begins with the morning awaking of "Mr. Sun" as you will find yourself singing along. They pick the tempo up on "Subway Train" and have fun with "Row Row Row Your Boat" as they mix tempos between the big and little boats. Rolie Polie Guacamole tell the tale of the "Muffin Man" and the "Pizza Man," before mixing up the pace of the playful "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star/ABC/Ba Ba" medley. The album finishes with the folk gem "This Little Light Of Mine" and the quick strumming of "Bye Bye." To find out more about Rollie Polie Guacamole and their latest release "Live On The Fourth Of July," please visit roliepolieguacamole.com.

Monday, December 19, 2016

DVD Review: Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of The Australian Made Festival With New DVD

During the summer of 1986, the Australian Made festival took place in six different cities and the bands INXS, Jimmy Barnes, Divinyls, Models, The Saints, The Triffids and I'm Talking performed for over a 140,000 fans. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the festival, Sony Music Australia is releasing the film "Australian Made: 30th Anniversary Edition" on Blu-ray and DVD. It features the original 85 minute film along with over 30 minutes of bonus material.

The film gives you an inside look backstage during the festivals, as well as a what it was like to be a fan at these shows. Performances by INXS, Jimmy Barnes and The Divinyls highlight the film. It's great to see these bands just prior to their popularity in the U.S. blowing up to where they would be heading their own arena shows around the world. Just seeing Michael Hutchence of INXS having a great time backstage is worth the price of this video. It is also great to see interviewer Troy Davies interact with the performers as well as the audience in order to get the full vibes from these shows. Director Richard Lowenstein does a masterful job keeping the energy flowing between artists' performances and the fans watching.

Local favorites The Divinyls and the Models receive such a positive reactions from fans for their performances as shown in the film. In just 3 years, The Divinyls would have the #1 single in Australia and a top five seller in the U.S. The style of clothes and hair in the eighties may have been over-the-top, but it's the live performances of all the bands that put everything into perspective as to how big this festival was in Australia. The closing song of "Good Times," performed by INXS and Jimmy Barnes summed up the attitude of the eighties as the future of all these bands would go in different directions. This film is the perfect snapshot of a moment in time that would be the center of the music universe. To find out more about the new 30th anniversary edition of the "Australian Made" film, please visit facebook.com/AustMade30.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

CD Review: Pharrell Williams Adds Pop Flavor To "Hidden Figures" Soundtrack

After the first of the new year, Fox 2000 Pictures will release one of the top movie contenders for an Academy Award. The comedy-drama "Hidden Figures" is about the African American physicist, space scientist, and mathematician, who calculated flight trajectories for the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon. On December 9th, Columbia Records released the soundtrack to the movie, lead by the musical chameleon, Pharrell Williams.
 
The new ten-song release begins with the modernized, sixties-style pop swing of "Runnin'" and the addictive dance rhythm of "Crave" as you find yourself letting loose to the song's beat. Singers Lalah Hathaway and Mary J. Blige lend their talents to the soundtrack as Pharrell is uncanny for bringing out the best of every performer. Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys duet on the smooth R&B delivery of "Apple" and Janelle Monae is silky smooth with her lead vocals on "Isn't This The World." The album finishes with Kim Burrell mixing together her gospel tones with Pharrell's pop beats to create an amazing, modern pop masterpiece with "I See A Victory." To find out more about the "Hidden Figures" movie and soundtrack, please visit foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

CD Review: Audio Fidelity Revives Jazz Classics From Weather Report & Return To Forever

Two new recent releases from the Audio Fidelity catalog feature albums from jazz-fusion greats Weather Report and Return To Forever.  Return To Forever was led by the legendary pianist Chick Corea. They released seven albums in five years, their last album "Musicmagic" was a top five hit on the Billboard album chart in 1977 and is the subject of one of Audio Fidelity's latest releases.
 
The six-songs that make up "Musicmagic" are adventurous as Return To Forever continued to push the boundaries of jazz, incorporating elements of R&B. The funky bass line of "The Musician" is felt on this new remastered version of the album. Kevin Gray from Cohearent Audio did another amazing job with the audio on this release as the vocals of "Hello Again" just float above the horns. The subtle differences in clarity will have you listening to "Musicmagic" in a whole new light. The Broadway-like delivery of "Do You Ever" and the electronic jazz/funk of "The Endless Night" sound bright and exciting, as if you were in the studio during the recording of the album.
 
Another 70's milestone in world of jazz fusion was the 1975 release of Weather Report's fifth studio album "Tale Spinnin'." It is the only album from Weather Report to feature Leon "Ndugu" Chancler on drums. This new remastered version of the album gives his drums a fuller sound that makes more of an impact in the songs "Lusitanos" and "Freezing Fire." The funky bass groove of "Between The Thighs" will have your speakers shaking, while the subtle of "Badia" will sound refreshing to your ears. The piano/horn interlude of "Five Short Stories" sounds amazing on this new Audio Fidelity release. To find out more about these two new releases from Audio Fidelity, please visit audiofidelity.net.

Friday, December 16, 2016

CD Review: Singer Al Atkins Returns "Reloaded" & The Electric Hellfire Club Delivery "Necessary Evils"

English singer Al Atkins recently released his new solo album titled "Reloaded." Atkins is best known as the original lead singer of Judas Priest before Rob Halford took over the vocal duties. Atkins new album was released on the Gonzo Multimedia label and features eleven re-recorded tracks from throughout Atkins 40 year career. The new album also features Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill who performed with Atkins in the early days of Judas Priest. 
 
The new album begins with the heavy metal groove of "Winter" from Atkins fourth solo album, "Victim Of Changes." The song originally appeared on Judas Priest debut album with Halford on lead vocals, but was written by Atkins along with Ian Hill and KK Downing. Next up is the exciting guitar-driven melody of "Mind Conception," which appeared on Judas Priest's 1971 demo. Atkins returns to his 1994 album "Heavy Thoughts" to bring out "A Void To Avoid" as he pushes the song close to the ten-minute mark with electrifying solos from Tsuyoshi Ikedo and Stu Marshall. You can hear Atkins influence on early Judas Priest albums with the chugging hard rock of "Never Satisfied" and "Victim Of Changes," which includes Ralf Scheepers on vocals along with Roy Ramirez and Paul May guitar solos. The hidden gem on this new release is the addition of "Mind Conception" from Judas Priest's original 1971 demo. The recording is a little rough, but is definitely a welcome addition to this release. To find out more about Al Atkins and his new album "Reloaded," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/ALATKINSOFFICIAL. 
 
The Electric Hellfire Club started out over 25 years ago by former My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult member, Thomas Thorn. The band has become a cult act as their underground popularity grew with each album and show. Their last studio album was released back in 2002 and Cleopatra Records has gathered sixteen of the best songs for The Electric Hellfire Club's first ever "best of" collection. The new release titled "Necessary Evils," features songs from each of the band's seven albums and all of the songs were picked by Thorn to be on this release. 
 
Beginning with "Incubus," you dive right into their dark industrial metal sound, highlighted by samples and grinding chords. Next, they introduce you to their psychedelic metal of "Black Bus" and the straight up aggressive attack of "Book Of Lies." They deliver the sample filled rhythm of "Mr. 44," then take you on a sonic journey with the eight-minute psychedelic metal of "Night Of The Buck Knives." The new compilation wraps up with the battle cry of "Unholy Roller" and the band's theme song "Age Of Fire" as they pay homage to Satan. To find out more about The Electric Hellfire Club and their latest release "Necessary Evils," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/ehc44.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Bob Beland, Jordan Hurwitz And J French

From Los Angeles, CA comes the latest release from singer/songwriter Bob Beland titled "Left Of Center." The new album contains nine new recordings and one song from 1983 titled "It's Alright With Me Mr. Bob." The song features Bob's recording partner, David Beebe on drums who passed away prior to the release of this album. The new release continues with the pop tones of "Off The Handle" and the classic, Tom Petty like rocker "The Lost Highway." Bob Beland has fun with the lyrics of the love story "It'll Take Overtime" and works the blues into the unforgettable chorus of "Sloppy Joe." The album finishes with the quiet acoustics of "Who'll Save The World?" and the sweet innocence of "One Bright Burning." To find out more about Bob Beland and his latest release "Left Of Center," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/bbeland.

From San Francisco comes the fourth release from singer/songwriter Jordan Hurwitz titled "Lovesick." It was produced by 3-time Grammy winner Narada Michael Walden and features six tracks that capture the young artists' addictive R&B/pop sounds. The new album begins with the up-tempo, jazz infused swing of "I Love Your Abs" and the up-lifting spirit of "Power." The short twenty-seven minute album finishes with the wonderful vocals of Jordan Hurwitz on the R&B flavor of "Riverbank" and "Hurricane," before closing with the dance/pop beats of "Lovesick." To find out more about Jordan Hurwitz and her latest release "Lovesick," please visit jordansmusic.com.

From Oklahoma City comes the debut album from rapper/producer J French with "Jaguar Jesus." J French is the son of Grammy-winning reggae artist Brother Num of Burning Spear and has been introduced to the music industry when he was 12 years old. His new 12-song release begins with the addictive sounds of "X-Ray Vision," featuring Ivy Whitten on back-up vocals. He delivers the strong beats of "Electric Paris" and brings Nicole Alyse aboard to help on the chorus of "Unsatisfied" as J French just rolls out the rhymes. The beats are big on "Check," while "Reign Fly" has a jazzy backdrop that smooths out the song's lyrics. The album finishes with sweet seventies style beats of "Such An Art" and smooth flow of rhymes in "Clouds." To find out more about J French and his latest release "Jaguar Jesus," please visit jfrench.bandcamp.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CD Review: New Music From Independent Artists Scott Taylor, Les Bohem & Sweet Soubrette

From Washington, DC comes the latest release from blues artist Scott Taylor. His new album titled "Blues Kitchen" features eleven-tracks that dig back into the pure guitar blues sound. The album begins with "Painting The Town" as Taylor shows off his chops on the guitar with a smooth-style guitar solo. The album's first single, "Tennessee" is a slow-blues as you can feel the emotion in Taylor's performance. He slips in some funk for the storied lyrics of "Sweet Daddy Brown" and delivers a steady rhythm during "Alabama Babe" as the harmonica solo highlights the song. The album closes with the classic electrifying blues romp of "Earthquake" and the quiet piano-led "I Wasn't In My Right Mind." To find out more about Scott Taylor and his latest release "Blues Kitchen," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/Scott-Taylor.

LA folk artist Les Bohem recently release his debut solo album titled "Moved To Duarte." His music has been covered by Emmylou Harris and Randy Travis and his new 22-song release displays his wonderful songwriting. The album begins with the quiet, acoustic strumming of "The Moral Premise" as Bohem delivers what's on his mind through his weathered vocals. His lyrics for "Put A Band-Aid On My Life" are a spoken truth and "Just Before It Gets Dark" is a slow, meaningful blues tune. He switches gears to a more country-friendly acoustic piece with "Oh, The Stars Shine Bright" and "Fancy Footwork." He continues with the dark tones of "Alhambra" and the brilliant poetry of "When We Used To Get High." The album wraps up with Bohem giving us more insight into his perspective  of "Everything From A To Z" and how he depressed he feels "If I Lose My Cat." To find out more about Les Bohem and his latest release "Moved To Duarte," please visit lesbohemswonderfulworldoflesbohem.com.

Brooklyn-based band, Sweet Soubrette recently released their fourth studio album "Big Celebrity." It features 11-tracks, beginning with the sweeping sounds of "Ghost Ship" as you instantly fall in love with Ellia Bisker's vocals. The large ensemble included in "Big Celebrity" adds a cabaret feel to their overall sound, while "Night Owls" is a sweet, lush ballad that will ease your worries away. The softness of "Oahu" and the pop-tones of "Settle For Less" showcase the diversity in the band's sound, before closing with the storied folk strumming of "Take It Easy" and "Robber's Daughter." To find out more about Sweet Soubrette and their latest release "Big Celebrity," please visit sweetsoubrette.com.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

CD Review: Brigitte DeMeyer & Will Kimbrough Team Up For "Mockingbird Soul" And Lori Cullen Covers Ron Sexsmith & Kurt Swinghammer

Nashville-based artists Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have finally released their first official, full-length collaboration titled "Mockingbird Soul." It will be available at the end of January and features collaborations with The Wood Brothers. Brigitte and Will have worked together before on a number of songs for each others albums, but this is the first complete work by these two amazing folk artists.
 
The new album features a dozen tracks, beginning with the wonderful harmonizing of "Everything" among the gentle acoustic backdrop. Kimbrough takes the lead on the Americana tone of "Broken Fences" and DeMeyer delivers the perfect blues-tone for "The Juke." Chris Wood of The Wood Brothers plays bass on the countrified-funk rhythm of "Rainy Day" as you can easily find the song's swinging groove. DeMeyer and Kimbrough bring their voices together once again for the acoustic ballad "Little Easy" and the more up-tempo strumming of "I Can Hear Your Voice." The wonderful tale of "Carpet Bagger's Lullaby" features Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers on vocals, before closing the album with their cover of the Incredible String Band's "October Song," which reaches up to the six-minute mark. To find out more about Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough's new release "Mockingbird Soul," please visit conqueroo.com/demeyer.
 
Canadian singer/songwriter Lori Cullen recently released her new album titled "Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs." If features her versions of songs composed by Ron Sexsmith and Kurt Swinghammer, which also feature her special style of combining elements of jazz, pop, folk and chamber music. The new twelve-song release begins with the smooth, fun sounds of "Face Of Emily" as her voice captures your heart, especially during the jazzy-pop of "Miracle Home." Her voice and the music opens up on "New Love" as she begins to draw similarities to the early days of Norah Jones. The quietness of "This Morning" and "Some Part Of Me" reflect the gentleness in her voice, while "True" closes the album with a relaxing, rainy-day jazz backdrop. To find out more about Lori Cullen and her latest release "Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs," please visit loricullen.com.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Review: Author Donald Brackett Gives New Insight Into Amy Winehouse's Album "Back To Black"

Vocalist Amy Winehouse created one of the best album's of the century. The release of "Back To Black" kicked off a revolution of jazz-induced female vocals that hasn't controlled the airwaves since the girl groups of the sixties. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of her album, author Donald Brackett digs into the recording of this monumental album in his new book "Back To Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece."

The first few chapters lay the ground work for Winehouse's success as her debut solo album "Frank" only made a blimp on the U.K. music scene. The book helps explain how inspirational Sharon Jones and her sound was to what would be Amy Winehouse's sophomore album. Winehouse and producer Mark Ronson aimed to re-create Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" as sixties diva Ronnie Spector saw a younger version of herself in Winehouse. The use of The Dap Kings as Amy's backing band was key to the sound of the "Back To Black" album.

The book explains how Ronson would take Amy's lyrics and turn them into retro masterpieces. Brackett uses the example of her hit single "Rehab," as it took Winehouse about five minutes to write the lyrics as a sort of joke song and Mark Ronson about five months to give the song it's style and addictiveness. As the success of the album grew around the world, Winehouse tried to prepare for what was to come in the form of tours, but she never expected and onslaught of scheduling she had to conquer.

Her image was just as important as her sound, but critics were quick to discourage her reputation as shows would be cancelled due to exhaustion When she did perform, she looked frail on stage, but she always delivered one of the best shows, as her voice and ability to win the crowd over would trump everything else.

One entire chapter covers the music videos created for seven of the album's eleven tracks as Amy was a natural in front of the camera. Another chapter discusses the recordings of each of the songs from the album. It also includes the outtakes that did not make the final cut of the album, but has since been released as B-sides and on a deluxe version of the album. Each song lists its credits, along with its legacy as how the song has lived on past it's containment on the "Back To Black" album.

The book closes with the question of whether or not Winehouse should be considered a musical legend as she was on the verge of leading the new vocal revolution. Author Donald Brackett has dug deeper than anybody else into the hectic life during the recording and promoting of one of the most important, iconic albums in music history. To find out more about his new book "Back To Black: Amy Winehouse's Only Masterpiece," please visit facebook.com/backtoblackbook.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

CD Review: The Buckaroos Back Don Rich And Buck Owens On New Releases While Whitney Rose Brings Us Down To "South Texas"

Omnivore Recordings continues to roll out classic music from Buck Owens and Don Rich as they've both led The Buckaroos between 1957 to 1970. The newly released 2CD set "The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966" focuses on 56 A-sides and B-Sides released by Buck Owens and The Buckaroos. Some of these songs have been featured in other Buck Owens' compilations, but this is the first set to collect them all in one complete set. All of the songs have been newly remastered from the original mono single reels and have never sounded better as every instrument is clear and the vocal sound pure.



The set features many of Buck Owens well-known singles like "Above And Beyond," "Foolin' Around" and "Act Naturally" that has helped shape the landscape of country music. All of the information on each single and B-side featured in this set is located in the accompanying 20-page booklet. Buck Owens and The Buckaroos turn any cover song into one of their own as with "Save The Last Dance For Me" and "Kickin' Our Hearts Around." They also have fun with songs like "I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" and "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy," then add a Beatles-type sound to the instrumental "Buckaroo." Each disc is packed with 28-tracks that cover the heyday of Buck Owens and The Buckaroos.


During this period, Don Rich was the lead guitarist of The Buckaroos and when Buck Owens wasn't using them for his backing band, Don Rich would take every opportunity to get them into the studio. A new 18-song compilation titled "Guitar Pickin' Man" features tracks from ten of The Buckaroo's albums, which feature Don Rich on lead vocals and Buck Owens on guitar along with Rich. The set leads off with the previously unreleased Hee Haw version of "Guitar Pickin' Man" as Rich feels right at home behind the microphone. The compilation mixes together instrumentals like "Bossa Nova Buckaroo Style" and "Chicken Picken'" with country/pop hits like "Hello California" and "Number One Heel." This set of songs showcases how innovative Don Rich was as a musician and a singer.

 These two sets of songs give insight into the journey of Buck Owens and Don Rich as they became the kings of country music during the sixties. Their music has become influential to many of today's artists as we need to listen to these reminders of how good classic country music was. To find out more about Buck Owens and The Buckaroo's "The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966," please visit omnivorerecordings.com and to find out more about Don Rich and The Buckaroos "Guitar Pickin' Man," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

From Austin, TX comes the latest album from country sweetheart Whitney Rose. She will be releasing "South Texas Suite" on January 27th and it features only six songs that carry a rich, country sound. Beginning with the slow waltz of "Three Minute Love Affair," you will begin to fall in love with her vocals all over again. The sultriness of "Analog" and the country swing of "My Boots" are the perfect setting for her flawless vocal delivery. Her new short release finishes with "Lookin' Back On Luckenbach," as her emotions are delivered wonderfully in her songwriting and the up-tempo instrumental romp of "How 'Bout A Hand For The Band." To find out more about Whitney Rose and her latest release "South Texas Suite," please visit whitneyrosemusic.com.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

CD Review: UB40 Revisits Their Hits "Unplugged"


British band, UB40 conquered the U.S. and U.K. charts throughout the eighties, culminating in 1993 with their #1 charting album "Promises And Lies." UB40's biggest selling singles were cover songs as they added a reggae vibe to Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine" and Elvis Presley's "(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You." They released their last full-length album in 2014 and are ready to remind fans of their music with a newly recorded compilation of their hits titled "Unplugged." The new album was released on December 2nd through Universal Music and features the founding members of UB40 converting many of their classic tunes into a quieter acoustic setting.

The new 16-song release begins with a couple of well-known covers including Lord Creator's "Kingston Town" and "Red Red Wine," which features more island flair. Lead singer Ali Campbell pours his emotions into "Many Rivers To Cross" and fellow British artist Pato Banton lends a hand to the new groove of "Baby Come Back." UB40 pay tribute to Prince with a ska-version of "Purple Rain" and Campbell's daughter helps him out on the duet of "I Got You Babe." Some other great covers that appear on this new release are the Chi-Lites' "Homely Girl," Winton Groovy's "Please Don't Make Me Cry" and Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby." The album finishes with the re-recording of "Tyler" from the band's first album and the uplifting reggae groove of "That's Supposed To Hurt." To find out more about UB40 and their latest release "Unplugged," please visit ub40.org.

Friday, December 9, 2016

CD Review: A Look Back At Uriah Heep With "Your Turn To Remember" Anthology

Music label BMG have recently announced a new extensive reissue program for the British hard rock band, Uriah Heep. The first release is a 31-track 2CD set titled "Your Turn To Remember: The Definitive Anthology 1970-1990." Uriah Heep was praised along with Led Zeppelin as the early torchbearers of heavy metal music and this set will help solidify that claim.
 
Beginning with the hard rock guitar blazing, drum-pounding of "Gypsy" from the band's debut album "...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble," Uriah Heep lay down the blueprint for British heavy metal. They switch gears with the quieter, mystical appeal of "Come Away Melinda" and "Lady In Black" as their songwriting and music took on a more progressive feel. Songs like "Look At Yourself" and "Easy Livin," began the comparisons between Uriah Heep and Deep Purple as both features exciting, memorable guitar riffs and electrifying keyboard solos.
 
The popularity of "Sweet Lorraine" and "Stealin'"grew the band's notoriety in the U.S. as their heavy metal sound reached a mainstream level with the Billboard top 100 album "Sweet Freedom." The addition of John Wetton on bass in 1975 gave their sound a more experimental, progressive rock appeal on the songs "Return To Fantasy" and "Weep In Silence." Uriah Heep closed out the seventies with the hard rock romp of "Free 'n' Easy" and the quick-rhythm of "Woman Of The Night."
 
As the band approached the 1980's, their sound contained more synthesizers and a more mainstream pop/rock tone as with "It Ain't Easy" and "Chasing Shadows." Their sound fit perfectly alongside the guitar solo driven, melodic hair metal of the eighties with songs like "The Other Side Of Midnight" and "Voice On My TV Box." The new anthology covers sixteen of Uriah Heep's albums, leaving out their 1985 album "Equator." To find out more about Uriah Heep and their latest release "Your Turn To Remember: The Definitive Anthology 1970-1990," please visit uriah-heep.com.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

CD Review: The Outlaws Cover Their Entire Career With New "Legacy Live" Release

The history of southern/country rock band The Outlaws goes back almost five decades as they topped the country music charts in 1975 with their single "There Goes Another Love Song." The band is also well-known for their nearly ten-minute rocker "Green Grass And High Tides," which was also featured in the video game "Rock Band." Their latest release is the 2CD live album titled "Legacy Live" and became available on November 18th through the Steamhammer/SPV label.

The new twenty-song release touches upon every aspect of their storied career, beginning with the ever-popular "There Goes Another Love Song" and the electrifying rocker "Hurry Sundown." Their voices are strong and memorable on the up-tempo harmonies of "Hidin' Out In Tennessee" and they bring together the classic country sway of "Girl From Ohio" as their sound is as timeless as ever. The Outlaws can still jam as they push "Grey Ghost" past the 11-minute mark, showcasing the amazing musicianship in the band. The progressive build-up of "So Long" and the southern blues/rock flair of "Prisoner" have The Outlaws covering every aspect of the country/rock genre. They also deliver music from their most recent studio album in the form of "It's About Pride," before finishing the show with a fourteen-minute jam of "Green Grass And High Tides" and their masterful delivery of "(Ghost) Riders In The Sky."

The Outlaws still perform over a 150 shows a year, with a couple more lined-up in Florida to close out the year. To find out more about their new live album "Legacy Live," please visit outlawsmusic.com.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CD Review: New Heavy Metal Music From Entrapment, Gravebreaker & Workhorse III

Death Metal band Entrapment recently released their new album titled "Through Realms Unseen." It features eleven, hard-hitting, aggressive tunes, lead by the group's mastermind Michel Jonker. What began as a one-person recording project has grown into this Swedish death metal juggernaut. Beginning with the solid metal groove of "Omission," the growling vocals of Jonker sets the tone for the rest of the album. The energy remains high on "The Seeker" and "Ruination" as Entrapment motors through the songs driving rhythm. The screaming vocals of "Withering Souls" and the thunderous rhythm of "Isolated Condemnation" will certainly have you banging your head and and fists in praise to this latest release from Entrapment. To find out more about their new album, "Through The Realms Unseen," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/entrapment.
 
Also from Sweden is the debut album, "Sacrifice" from old-school style, heavy metal band, Gravebreaker. The sound on this new ten-song release has a nostalgic feel as it brings you back to the early days of the genre. Gravebreaker brings together elements of Motorhead and Dio in the opener, "Overdrive" as their music contains all the elements that make heavy metal music great. They turn up the energy on the Judas Priest-like sound of "Gravebreaker," then show off their musicianship with "At The Gates Of Hell." Their song "Kill And Kill Again" seem like it came straight from the Megadeth songbook, while the energy of "Pray For Death" gives their music a youthful, hungry sound. To find out more about Gravebreaker and their latest release "Sacrifice," please visit gravebreaker.bandcamp.com. 
 
Arriving December 9th is the third self-released album from Philadelphia rock band Workhorse III. The new album titled "Closer To Relevance" continues to deliver a classic, guitar-driven, riff-fueled, high energy sound on their new set of twelve tracks. Beginning with the quick-hitting "War Torn City," their sound crosses the barriers of thrash and punk as they perform a raw, kick-ass version of Def Leppard's song, "Wasted." A blazing, electrifying guitar riff leads Workhorse III through "Holly Roller" and the punk-like energy of "What's The Point" has a great, addictive sound. The album wraps up with the thunderous power of "Life Of Crime" and the acoustic strumming, sing-along chorus of "I Can't Forget." To find out more about Workhorse III and their latest release "Closer To Relevance," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/THE-WORKHORSE-III.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Gramps The Vamp, The Vaudevileins & Peter Joly

From Chicago comes the latest release from Gramps The Vamp. Their new album titled "The Cave Of 10,000 Eyes," combines elements of funk, jazz and psych-rock to create the perfect horror film-type soundtrack. The new ten-song release begins with the horn-infused mystery of "Bats!" and the use of radio airwaves and sonic guitar strums gives the song "The Incident" a jazzy, spooky, hip groove. Their sound becomes huge on the build up of "Krampusnacht," before rocking to the guitar frenzy of "Labyrinth." Gramps The Vamp delivery an eerie lounge vibe with "Shadow Puppets," before closing the album with the wonderful horns of "Pyramid Level." To find out more about Gramps The Vamp and their latest release "The Cave Of 10,000 Eyes," please visit grampsthevamp.com.

Another Chicago band, The Vaudevileins are releasing their second full-length album titled "Magician." It features ten, energetic indie-rock tracks, beginning with the power chords of "Sea Anemone" and the buzzing rock groove of "Sticky." They deliver their youthful post-punk, garage-rock energy in "Chasing Time," before slowing down for the sweeping melody of "Hell Jazz." The album finishes with the guitar-driven rhythm of "Fake Cigarette," the grunge-rock of "Prove It" and the epic, tempo changes of "Devils." To find out more about The Vaudevileins and their latest release "Magician," please visit vaudevileins.com.

Chicago-based singer/songwriter Peter Joly recently released his self-titled debut album. It features members of Iron & Wine, The Hoyle Brother and Ryley Walker helping Joly achieve the Americana sound he desired to deliver on this release. It begins with the build-up of "Heart Of Stone" as the soft, solo acoustics grow to into its full-band sing-along. His music settles down for the emotional ballads "Your Hand In Mine" and "God In Love In June" before delivering the classic waltz of "Lighthouse." Peter wraps up his new 11-song release with the sweet sounds of "Love" and quiet acoustic folk-style of "Secret." To find out more about Peter Joly and his latest release, please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/peterjjoly.

Monday, December 5, 2016

CD Review: New Music From U.K. Classic Rock Bands, Curved Air And Lucifer's Friend

British progressive rock band Curved Air continue their "Rarities" series with the release of volume 2. It features two discs worth of fifteen new instrumentals that the band has recorded in the studio. The new set titled "Curved Space & Infinity" begins with the launch of "Towards Tomorrow" as the band work together to find the right groove during their jam session. Their sound gets more ambient with "Sea Of Tranquility," before taking you on the intense, 14-minute musical journey of "Baghdad Café/Return To Calvary/Towards Infinity." The tracks are in no need of words as the music becomes so intricate and solo heavy that you find yourself digging deeper into the music. The first disc closes with the exciting guitar driven "Rose."
 
The second disc begins with the 15-minute, up-lifting, solo filled "Elevation." The disc features a different line-up from the first disc, with only Florian Pilkington-Miksa behind the drum kit. The use of keyboards is heard throughout the songs as they carry a different, more experimental tone as in the soft-melody of "Labyrinth" and the space-like journey of "Expansions." The set finishes with exciting, free-form playing of "Megalith" and the 16-minute sonic landscape of "Celestial Dance." To find out more about Curved Air and "Curved Space & Infinity," their latest release in their rarities series, please visit curvedair.com.
 
U.K. rock legends Lucifer's Friend have returned with a brand new studio album "Too Late To Hate," their first in 35 years. After reforming in 2015, Lucifer's Friend received such positive feedback performing as the Sweden Rock Festival, the Rock Of Ages Festival and Loreley Festival, that they decided to enter the studio. Along with core original members John Lawton, Peter Hesslein and Dieter Horns, they were joined by long term members Jogi Wichmann and Stephen Eggert.
 
The new twelve-track album begins with the renewed energy of "Demolition Man" as they pick-up right were they left off in 1981. They continue with the classic heavy metal groove of "Jokers And Fools," before delivering their progressive rock piece, "When Children Cry." They keep the energy flowing with the guitar driven rocker "Tell Me Why" and the slow blues of "This Time." The album finishes with the radio-friendly tones of "Tears" and chugging hard rock rhythm of "Brothers Without A Name." To find out more about Lucifer's Friend and their latest release "Too Late To Hate," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/LucifersFriendOfficial.
 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

CD Review: John Wetton Releases First Volume Of His "Official Bootleg Archive"

English singer/songwriter/bassist John Wetton has had a very successful solo career, as well as careers in the bands King Crimson and Asia. His latest is a live set released through Cherry Red Records of three shows titled "The Official Bootleg Archive, Vol. 1." The new six-disc set features three separate shows from John Wetton's late-nineties solo tours.

The first show is taken live from Argentina in 1996 during the final months of his tour supporting his album "Voice Mail." The new 17-song set spans Wetton's entire career up to that point. He delivers Asia classics like "Only Time Will Tell" and "Sole Survivor," mixed with songs from his first two solo albums. The sound on this first concert is exceptional as it seems professionally recorded. John Wetton's vocals are clear and up front, especially during the acoustic "Book Of Saturday." The audience is barely audible, but it does not take away from the overall experience of the show. Wetton includes only two songs off his latest solo studio album, "Battle Lines" and "Hold Me Now," and does not shy away from his King Crimson days with the performances of "Easy Money" and "Starless" to the delight of the audience. He closes the show with the chart topping Asia single "Don't Stop."

The second show in this set is from his 1997 appearance in Osaka, Japan. The tour was in support of his third solo album, "Arkangel" as Wetton begins the show with "The Last Thing On My Mind." Again, his vocals and the music sound great and very professional. He performs five new songs during this show, while also keeping his famous hits from Asia in the line-up. Some of the subtle differences in this show is the inclusion of new keyboardist John Young's classical solo and the addition of "In The Dead Of Night" from his supergroup, U.K. A different live album was released from John Wetton's performance in Tokyo, Japan three days later, but this is the first official release of this show and the other two in this set.

The third show included in this set is from Tokyo, Japan in 1999. John Wetton returned to Japan only two years later, but with a brand new band to support him. The set list was very similar with some minor adjustments, moving songs around and bringing back the King Crimson classic "Book Of Saturday" along with Asia's "Time Again." The sound of this show is the worst of the three, but it is still very good and very much deserves this official release. Wetton's band is full of energy as the addition of guitarist David Kilminster gives Wetton's music a harder, more electrifying sound. This show finishes with back-to-back Asia hits "Heat Of The Moment" and "Don't Cry," which has become the recipe for closing Wetton's shows for the next decade or so. With over six hours of music, this set is a must have for fans and should keep them busy, until volume two gets released. To find out more about John Wetton's new live release "The Official Bootleg Archive, Vol. 1," please visit cherryred.co.uk.