Saturday, September 30, 2017

CD Review: Focus Releases Gems From The Vault On New "Family Album"

The Dutch classic rock band Focus did some digging in the vaults to release a new double album titled "The Focus Family Album." The new 20-track, 2CD set features 15 unreleased songs from the band's recording sessions for "Focus X." This set will give you more insight into the process that Focus went through to record some of their most recent albums.

The first disc begins with the gentle flute solo "Nature Is Our Friend," performed by Thijs Van Leer, before heading into the 9-minute guitar blues solo of "Song For Eva." The new set continues with the thunderous drum solo "Riverdance" and the exciting improv studio jam "Mosh Blues." The first disc closes with the classic hard rock driven "The Fifth Man" and the short, atmospheric feel of "Clair-Obscur."

The second disc leads off with Thijs Van Leer once again with his flute on the naturalistic sounds of "Let Us Wander?." One of the more complete songs in this set is "Birds Come Fly Over (Le Tango)" as Focus continue to be one of the pillars of progressive rock. The classic blues sound of "Fine Without You" and "Five Fourth" are stellar standouts on this new release, which closes with the experimental sounds of "Winnie." Focus will be heading to the U.K. in October. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their latest release "The Focus Family Album," please visit focustheband.com.

Friday, September 29, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Historian, Lunar Hand And The Begowatts

Los Angeles native Chris Karman, who fronts the band, Historian is preparing to release their new album titled "Expanse." It features 10-tracks of lush, laid back folk/rock that begins with a "Small Compromise." They easily draw you in with their sound on "My Last Call" and the more up-tempo rock approach of "Here And Then" as Karman's vocals just float across like a lullabye. The string section in "I Need A Future" carries a psychedelic vibe, while "The Truth" carries a more relaxed, atmospheric tone that allows you to fully examine all the instrumentation in the song. The new album finishes up with the pop oriented "Envelope" and the Americana/folk tale of "Thrown On The Road." To find out more about Historian and their latest release "Expanse," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Historiantheband.

Southern California indie-rock trio, Lunar Hand recently released their new album titled "Magic Hour." The new 5-song EP begins with the nostalgic sounding, doo-wop sway of "Smoke And Chandeliers" as their influences range from Arcade Fire to Roy Orbison. They pick the tempo up with the thunderous, garage rock appeal of "Won't You Come Along," before finishing up their short new release with the modern grunge rock flair of "Sand Song" and the addictive bass groove of "Desert Road," that finishes the album with a sonic clash of sound. To find out more about Lunar Hand and their latest release "Magic Hour," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/lunarhand.

From Madison, WI comes the latest release from the modern, post-punk rock band, The Begowatts. Having formed only five years ago, The Begowatts are ready to unload their third album titled "Grand Charade" on September 29th. This new 6-song EP kicks off with the new-wave feel of "Why Don't We Dance," before the delivery of the album's lead single, "Kids On Parole," which carries a cool, raw rock vibe. They continue with the modern pop/rock flair of "The Road," before finishing their latest album with alternative, R.E.M. sound of "Gaslight" and the power pop ballad of "You And I." To find out more about The Begowatts and their latest release "Grand Charade," please visit thebegowatts.com.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Unknown Hero, Bleach Party USA And Cristina Vane

From San Francisco comes the debut album from music producer/graphic artist Unknown Hero. His new album titled "In My Head" combines elements pop and dance music along with a futuristic dystopian storyline that plays into his love of comics and video games. The new 15-song musical soundtrack begins with Kate Wild on vocals for the addictive pop of "Be Alright," before the modern R&B flavor of "Monsters In My Head" takes over. Unknown Hero displays his music skills on the classical/pop instrumental "A Minor 2125," then delivers a more EDM (electronic dance music) beat with "Hero Beware." He combines elements of R&B and electronic soundscapes in "Dance," while "Keep Moving Me" is pure pop power. Unknown Hero wraps up his new album with the big beats of "Hero's Groove" and the smooth vocals of "Close My Door." To find out more about Unknown Hero and his latest release "In My Head," please visit unknownheromusic.com.

Switching gears, we arrive at the debut release from punk band, Bleach Party USA titled "Get Stoked." The band is releasing their new 5-song EP through Mystic Records, which is the same label that first signed punk band, NOFX. They begin their new album with the hardcore energy of "Drink Bleach" as they scream out the chorus. They keep the energy high with the story of "Jeff's Weenie" and the reckless attack of "Turbulent Juice," before wrapping up their short new release with "Party Buster," which has the most potential of drawing in new fans of the band. To find out more about Bleach Party USA and their latest release "Get Stoked," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Bleachpartyusa.

Based in Venice Beach, blues/rock singer Cristina Vane recently released her new album titled "Troubled Sleep." The new 6-song EP showcases Cristina's sound, which has a very mature, country/folk blues appeal. Her new album begins with the title song as the combination of Cristina's vocals and her slide guitar work will certainly draw you in to her brand of music. She swings with the slinky blues guitar shuffle of "Sending All My Love," before delivering the acoustic gem "Orange Grove Blues." She finishes her new release with the slow, strumming ballad of "Sunday Morning" and the swampy blues stomp of "Long Way Home." To find out more about Cristina Vane and her latest release "Troubled Sleep," please visit cristinavane.com. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Metal Artists Left Behind, Kublai Khan, Thousand Below And Stick To Your Guns

From West Virginia comes the latest release from hardcore metal band Left Behind. Their new album titled "Blessed By The Burn" will be released on October 27 on Unbeaten Records and features 10 hard-hitting metal anthems. Their new album begins with "West By God" that invites you into this presentation of burning hell. They continue with the doom metal appeal of "Sweetness Of Nothing," before lifting up the intensity by quickening the pace of "Focus On The Flesh." The screeching guitars of "Blessed By The Burn" and the thunderous rhythm of "Paranoid" will have you banging your head to this ever-rising metal band. To find out more about Left Behind and their latest release "Blessed By The Burn," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/leftbehind.

From Texas comes the latest release from hardcore metal band Kublai Khan. The new album titled "Nomad" is the band's debut release on Rise Records. Kublai Khan are also currently on the road in New England, including a show this evening at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT. Their new 10-song release begins with the thunderous 72-second instrumental opener "Antpile" as you begin to feel the force of Kublai Khan's music. They quickly speed things up with the destructive sounds of "True Fear" and dig in for the dark metalcore groove of "The Hammer." They continue their hard-hitting attack with the quick 2-minute "No Kin" and the aggressively fast "Salt Water." Kublai Khan wrap up their new album with "Split," as a huge wall of sound knocks you back into your seat and the dark, goth-like treading of "River Walker." To find out more about Kublai Khan and their latest release "Nomad," please visit kublaikhantx.com.

From Southern California comes the full-length debut album from the post-hardcore rock band Thousand Below. The new album titled "The Love You Let Too Close" will be released on October 6th through Rise Records. This new 5-piece band brings the energy right away, kicking off their new 11-song release with the screams of "Sinking Me." The album continues with sonic blast of "Tradition" and the fast pace of "Never Here," which should get your blood pumping full of adrenaline. They get even more aggressive on the hardcore heavy metal pounding of "The Love You Let Too Close," before slowing down for the intense build-up of "The Wolf And The Sea." Thousand Below finish up with the album's lead single "No Place Like You," which carries a modern hard rock sound, built for the radio and their atmospheric piece "Into The Grey." To find out more about Thousand Below and their latest release "The Love You Let Too Close," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Thousandbelow.

Southern California hardcore punk band Stick To Your Guns is releasing their Pure Noise Records debut album titled "True View." It features 13-tracks of adrenaline-fueled guitar riffs, pounding rhythms and screaming vocals, beginning with "3 Feet From Peace." They continues with the thunderous beat of "The Sun, The Moon, The Truth" as they will overpower your ears. Stick To Your Guns quickens the pace for the reckless "Married To The Noise" and "Cave Canem," before slowing down for the mainstream alternative hard rock of "56." Their new album finishes with the final blast of energy from "Owned Nothing" and "Through The Chain Link," before hitting the mainstream again with "The Reach For Me." To find out more about Stick To Your Guns and their latest release "True View," please visit sticktoyourguns.net.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Rockers Slaughter And The Dogs, SOiL And Til Death

Legendary punk band, Slaughter And The Dogs recently released their new live album titled "Tokyo Dogs." It is the band's first live album in almost a decade and is the last to feature long-time Slaughter And The Dogs drummer Noel Kay. It was rdistributed on CD and special limited edition colored vinyl. The new live album contains 16-tracks, beginning with the high-powered energy of "I Got Your Number" and their cover of the New York Dolls' "Who Are The Mystery Girls." The set list features many Slaughter And The Dogs' classics like "Hell In New York," "We Don't Care" and "Boston Babies." They also perform two cover songs from one of their favorites bands, The Velvet Underground ("I'm Waiting For My Man" and "White Light White Heat"). They save their classics for the end as they get the crowd riled-up for the raw, punk fury of "Where Have All The Boot Boys Gone?" and "Cranked Up Really High." To find out more about Slaughter And The Dogs and their latest live album "Tokyo Dogs," please visit cleorecs.com.

American heavy metal band SOiL is celebrating the band's 20th anniversary with a new 20-track "best of" release titled "SCREAM: The Essentials." They begin with a brand new recording of the Spencer Davis Band original "Gimmie Some Lovin" as SOiL add their own signature touches to the song to make it fit among the other hard hitting anthems on this release. The set also features the band's first single "Halo," which helped establish SOiL as one of the premier underground hardcore rock acts in America. The set also includes some special additions like an acoustic version of "Can You Heal Me" and an alternate version of "Like It Is." Fellow metal artist Wayne Static (Static-X) lends a hand on the explosive "Give It Up" and the song "Shine On" showcases how the band has grown over the last two decades. SOiL will be hitting the road in another week with dates line-up all the way into February of 2018. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new release "SCREAM: The Essentials," please visit soiltheband.com.

From Los Angeles comes the debut album from the hard rock quartet Til Death. Their new 4-song EP titled "Photographs" is already getting recognition in New Noise Magazine and the band recently performed alongside such acts as Stryper and Unearth. Their new release begins with the simmering track "For The Wolves" as Til Death deliver the perfect chemistry for mainstream success. They continue with the swift pace and more melodic metal of "Ghost In Old Sin City," before closing their new short release with the energetic crunching guitars riffs of "Photographs." To find out more about Til Death and their latest release "For The Wolves," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Tildeathofficial.

Monday, September 25, 2017

RJ Podcast: Ronnie Platt Of Kansas Discusses Current Tour & Recent Studio Album "The Prelude Implicit"

CD Review: Feel The Rush Of Emotions With The Music Of "This Is Us" And The New Release By "Home Free"

NBC found their way into people hearts with the #1 new show "This Is Us." The drama captured over 12 million viewers and is one of the most anticipated shows to return this fall. To help with that anticipation, Universal Music is releasing "This Is Us (Music From The Series)" on September 15th. The soundtrack features 20 tracks, including popular songs by Paul Simon ("Call Me Al"), Stevie Wonder ("Uptight") and Ringo Starr ("Photograph"), mixed with modern folk classics by Wilco, Maria Taylor, Conor Oberst and Sufjan Stevens. Most of the songs are beautiful acoustic, storytelling folk tales that just need to be dusted off and re-introduced to the world as with Cat Stevens' "The Wind" and "Blues Run The Game" by Jackson C Frank." Many classic artists are featured on this soundtrack including Blind Faith ("Can't Find My Way Home"), Gene Clark ("Because Of You") and Badfinger ("Without You"). Not only will these songs invoke your own memories, but were also features in crucial moments during the "This Is Us" series. Also arriving is the complete first season of "This Is Us" on DVD. Look for the season 2 premiere on September 26 on NBC. For more information on "This Is Us (Music From The Series)," please visit universalmusicenterprises.com.

American vocal group Home Free recently released their new studio album titled "Timeless." This 5-piece a cappella group decided to gather some of their favorite songs from the past 4 decades and give them the Home Free vocal treatment. The album also includes 4 original tracks mixes in among the covers. A couple of the more obvious picks for this new release are Tom Cochrane's "Life Is A Highway," Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" along with "Man Of Constant Sorrow." The songs are of course highlighted by the wonderful harmonies between the band members. A couple of surprises that appear on this release is Ed Sheeran's "Castle On The Hill," which is given an upbeat country rhythm, and John Mayer's "In The Blood," which carries a classic Oak Ridge Boys tone. The album closes with a slicked-up pop version of Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" and the upbeat original modern country flavor of "Timeless." Home Free are currently on the road, at the beginning of their 3 month U.S. tour. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their latest release "Timeless," please visit homefreemusic.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Concert Review: The Toyota Oakdale Theatre Brings Back Hall Of Famers YES Featuring ARW

The progressive rock band Yes were recently inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame this past March. All of the band’s surviving members were present and even performed on stage together, but the love would not last. The remaining members ended up splitting the name and going their own ways. Long-time Yes guitarist Steve Howe took his version of the band on the road as the headliners of Yestival tour, while original Yes singer Jon Anderson and long-time keyboardist Rick Wakeman and guitarist Trevor Rabin went back out on the road as Yes featuring Anderson Rabin and Wakeman (ARW).

Saturday night at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre became a nostalgic trip for many in attendance as Yes featuring ARW made a much welcomed return trip to the area. The hour long first set began with the short instrumental “Cinema,” which led into “Perpetual Change,” featuring the amazing guitar work of Trevor Rabin. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman with his shimmering cape, led the way through “Hold On” and “South Side Of The Sky,” which leader singer Jon mentioned it came out before most of the audience was born. After the extended jam of “And You And I,” Yes closed the first set with a couple of fan favorites “Changes” and a rocking version of “Rhythm Of Love.”

The second set only featured four songs, beginning with the melodic tones of "I Am Waiting" from the band's 1994 album "Talk." Then the more epic pieces of the evening brought the audience on a sonic adventure with the deep rock groove of "Heart Of The Sunshine" and the twenty-plus minute "Awaken," highlighted by Wakeman's keyboard solos. Yes featuring ARW finished the set with their most well-known hit single "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." The song's extended jam took Rabin and Wakeman into the audience to perform solos, before reconvening onstage to add a line from Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love."

The evening's two hour-plus performance concluded with the fan favorite "Roundabout" as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman gave their all with a great support team of Lee Pomeroy on bass and Louis Molino III on drums. With a 50th anniversary looming in the near future, fans can certainly expect more for the Yes camp in the next couple years.

Setlist: Cinema, Perpetual Change, Hold On, South Side Of The Sky, And You And I, Changes, Rhythm Of Love, I Am Waiting, Heart Of The Sunshine, Awaken, Owner Of A Lonely Heart Encore: Roundabout

Saturday, September 23, 2017

CD Review: UFO Return With "The Salentino Cuts" & OTIS Aims For "The Sun"

Classic rock band UFO currently have one of their most steady line-ups of their entire 48 year career, having been together now for almost ten years. To celebrate that achievement, the band decided to record some of their favorite c0ver songs for their first every full covers album. The new release titled "The Salentino Cuts" will be released on September 29th on CD and limited edition vinyl.

The new 12-song album begins with the classic sixties sounding "Heartful Of Soul," originally by The Yeardbirds. The band continues with an energized, punk-like version of The Doors' "Break On Through (To The Other Side)," before trying their hand at an odd cover for UFO, Mad Season's "River Of Deceit." The music is almost identical to the original, while lead singer Phil Mogg's vocals gives the song a bluesy vibe. UFO sound renewed during John Mellencamp's "Paper In Fire," while guitarist Vinnie Moore takes over the lead with his solos on Montrose's "Rock Candy" and Robin Trower's "Too Rolling Stoned." They wrap up their new album with a return to the sixties with a hard rocking version of The Animals "It's My Life." UFO are currently on tour, just recently returning to the states for two months of shows. To find out more about their new album "The Salentino Cuts," please visit the band's Facbook page at facebook.com/UFOofficial.

If the loss of the Allman Brothers Band have left a hole in your blues heart, then I have the perfect remedy, shot of OTIS! This south Kentucky band recently released their sophomore album, "Eyes Of The Sun" and have been hailed by legendary blues guitarist Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top). Their new 11-song release begins with "Change," which will bring up memories of Duane Allman's sweet slide guitar work as the band motors through this high-powered rock gem. The album continues with the big blues guitar sound of "Eyes Of The Sun" as lead singer Boone Froggett belts out the vocals with shear force. OTIS also showcase their ZZ Top influence on the guitar-boogie shuffle of "Home," before the back-to-back six minute jams of "Shake You" and "Turn To Stone." They finish up their new album with the swampy acoustic blues instrumental "Relief In C" and the 7-minute, gospel-like blues of "Let Your Love Shine Down." To find out more about OTIS and their latest release "Eyes Of The Sun," please visit theotisband.com.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Concert Review: Katy Perry Makes The 2nd Stop Of Her "Witness: The Tour" At Mohegan Sun

Elite pop artist Katy Perry kicked off her brand new "Witness: The Tour" last Tuesday in Montreal, Canada to stellar reviews. Her first U.S. date on this 5-month tour was Thursday night at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, CT and it went wonderfully, with only a couple of hitches. Walking into the arena, you were greeted by a huge eye-shaped video screen that stood from the ceiling to the stage floor and took up the entire width of the arena. Flowing from the eye was an extended catwalk in the shape of a tear that was used extensively during the evening's performance.
 
The night was broken up into five different acts, each grouped together with songs that carried a common theme. As the lights went out shortly after 8:30 p.m., The huge eye-shaped video screen came alive with a space-like introduction. Each of the night's five segments kicked off with a video introduction, plus each act had it's own set of outfits for Katy Perry and her dancers.
 
As the opening video's journey ended, the screen split in two to reveal Katy Perry on a giant metal star being lowered to the stage as she kicks off her show with one of her new songs, "Witness." The awards show-like production of her concert featured giant dice with dancers coming out of the holes during "Roulette" and even left shark (from her Superbowl halftime performance) made an appearance during "California Gurls."
 
The night became a little more improv and less scripted when she called her mother from the stage to see how she was doing. Her mom asked how Katy was doing, by using her nicknames, "feather" and "turtle" and Katy's mom also told her to try the sky drop (which actually appears at the Foxwoods Resort & Casino).
 
Katy Perry continued to rock the night away with the guitar frenzied monsters of "E.T." and the funky groove of "Bon Appetit," before being eaten by an enlarged venus fly trap. This being only the second show of her extensive tour, she hit some technical difficulties when the planet she was supposed to ride would not drop from the ceiling in order for her to get on. After a short wait, Katy Perry was able to climb aboard her planet which would bring her on a track throughout the arena as she sang one of her favorite songs acoustically, "Thinking Of You."
 
Dressed in a sliver, shimmery costume, Perry would perform one of her new ballads "Save As Draft" from a smaller stage located in the middle of the area, before a laser show signaled the intense drum roll of another one her new songs, "Power." The final act of the evening included a ride on Tron-like motorcycle during "Hey Hey Hey" and a giant basketball shoot-up between Katy Perry and a father from the audience (who made his daughter's day by getting Katy Perry to wish her a happy birthday) during her recent hit single "Swish Swish." She finished her set with a giant lion's head appearing from between the video screens during her performance of her big hit single "Roar." 
 
The encore would feature Katy Perry rising from under the stage at the end of the tear-shaped catwalk. She would appear in the palm of a giant inflatable hand in a perfectly fitting evening gown to perform her hit song "Firework" as every fan in the arena was singing along, almost drowning out the pop star. So even though the beginning of her tour was delayed and she overcame a couple glitches in her performance this evening, Katy Perry made the audience feel extra special that night for being a part of her dreamlike, spectacular concert. 
 
The evening's opening act featured pop singer, Noah Cyrus (daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus), as she performed a short 30 minute set that included a cover of Lady Gaga's "Million Reasons" and her brand new single, "Again." Her performance also featured a quick, 2-song acoustic set, which seemed to fit her country background.
 
Setlist: Witness, Roulette, Dark Horse, Chained To The Rhythm, Teenage Dream, Hot N Cold, Last Friday Night, California Gurls, I Kissed A Girl, Deja Vu, Tsunami, E.T., Bon Appetit, Thinking Of You, Save As Draft, Power, Hey Hey Hey, Part Of Me, Swish Swish, Road Encore: Firework

CD Review: Jazz Singer Diana Panton Revolves Her New Album Around The "Solstice/Equinox"

Award-winning jazz vocalist Diana Panton will be releasing her 8th studio album titled "Solstice/Equinox" on November 3rd. It revolves around the theme of the changing seasons and how they parallel with life and love. Her new 13-song release kicks of with the lighthearted "They Say It's Spring" as you can't help but get wrapped up in Diana's sweet vocals. She gently floats on by with "The Heather On The Hill," before picking the tempo up for the sweet swing of "Up Jumped Spring." Diana adds her own touch to "That Sunday, That Summer" as her backing band lays down the perfect foundation for her vocals. Her voice is just adorable during "Manhattan," before quickening the jazzy pace of the standard "September In The Rain." She finishes her new release with Diana performing a duet with saxophonist Phil Dwyer during the mostly a capella "'Tis Autumn" and closing with the beautiful piano ballad "By The Fireside." To find out more about Diana Panton and her latest release "Solstice/Equinox," please visit dianapanton.com.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

CD Review: New Heavy Metal Music From eOne Artists MyChildren MyBride, Through The Eyes Of The Dead & No Warning

eOne Music is preparing to roll out three new releases on Friday, October 13th from heavy metal newcomers MyChildren MyBride, Through The Eyes Of The Dead and No Warning. MyChildren MyBride features the core duo of Matthew Hasting and Robert Bloomfield and they are preparing to release their eOne Music/Good Fight Music debut, "Vicious World." The new 12-song release begins with the extreme/hardcore metal screams of "XeN0" as the music settles into a grinding metal groove. The album is also broken up into different acts, with the first one "Act 1, Elysium 77" delivering the hardcore assault with its thunderous rhythm and arena-sized chorus. They continue with a more electronic metal sound on the growling attack of "Thorns," before reaching the second act, "Act II, Sonar," which carries a more mainstream metal appeal. The album's other two acts feature the more atmospheric metal appeal of "Act III, Wither" and the dark, epic tones of "Act IV, The Laughing Coffin" as the duo spew lyrics like a heavy metal hip-hop artists. MyChildren MyBride finish up their new album with the electronic beats of "KevlAr" and the NuMetal attack of "Guardian XIII." To find out more about MyChildren MyBride and their latest release "Vicious World," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/mychildrenmybride.
 
Up next is the return of east coast death metal band Through The Eyes Of The Dead with their first album in seven years titled "Disomus." Their new 10-song release comes blasting out of the gate with the intense speed of "Hate The Living" as the growling vocals and evil guitar riffs make for the perfect setting for Friday the 13th. The tempo quickens even more on the attack of "Obitual" as Through The Eyes Of The Dead continue their death metal assault. The heavy metal guitar riffs in "Of Mortals, We Once Were" and the epic delivery of "The Binding Nightmare Hex" showcases the band's excellent heavy metal musicianship. They finish up their new album with the neck-breaking speed of "Teras" and the deep, dark growl of "Dismal." To find out more about Through The Eyes Of The Dead and their latest release "Disomus," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/tteotd.
 
Lastly we arrive at the latest release from Canadian hardcore punk band No Warning. Their new album titled "Torture Culture" features the band's return after nearly ten years away from the music industry. They have not lost a step as their new 12-song album kicks off with the raw, energized attack of "Headless." They continue with the chugging rhythm and intense vocals of "In The City" and "Beyond The Law" as No Warning pour their hearts into this new release. They display a more thrash metal sound with "Like A Rebel" and then slow down for the metal ballad "Sanctuary," before finishing their new album with the punk-like quickness of the title-song "Torture Culture." To find out more about No Warning and their latest release "Torture Culture," please visit facebook.com/nowarning666.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Rock Bands Hot Water Music, Makeout, Blindwish & Sons Of Texas

From Gainesville, FL comes the latest release titled "Light It Up" from the hard rock/punk band Hot Water Music. It was self-produced and released on September 15th through Rise Records and features the band's most complete work of their nearly 25-year career. The new 12-song release begins with the aggressive, hard-hitting song,"Complicated" as Hot Water Music deliver their music with a chip on their shoulder. They quicken their pace with the punk-like fury of the title-song, "Light It Up" and "Never Going Back" as the band continue to showcase their youthful side in their music. They continue their hard rock assault with the big guitar riffs of "Sympathizer" and "Bury Your Idols," before finishing up their new release with the passion of "High Class Catastrophe" and the sing-along chorus of "Take You Away." To find out more about Hot Water Music and their latest release "Light It Up," please visit hotwatermusic.com.

Another new release from Rise Records is the full-length debut album, "The Good Life" from American punk band Makeout. The band won a spot on the Vans Warped Tour and developed quite a following in their home state of Massachusetts. Their new 12-song album kicks off with the high-energy of "Childish" as their music was tailor-made for alternative rock radio. Their music is the perfect soundtrack for high schools with songs like "Crazy" and "Lisa." Makeout build up the intensity of the chorus on "You Can't Blame Me" and "Til We're Gone," before finishing their new album with the acoustic revenge punk ballad "Secrets" and the final "Blast Off" of punk energy. To find out more about Makeout and their latest release "The Good Life," please visit makeoutofficial.com.

On September 1st, we received the debut album from Dallas, TX alternative rock band Blindwish. Their new album titled "Good Excuses" features 1o-tracks of high-energy, beginning with the modern rock of "After Midnight," which combines elements of electronics with hard rock riffs and a youthful energy that will have you stand up and take notice of the rising new band. They continue to blast your ears with the intense rock approach of "Single Word" and the hard rock riffs of "Cold Shoulders." Blindwish take their foot off the gas for the acoustic ballad "Down," before returning to the hard rock of "They're Not Real" and guitar driven "Echo." To find out more about Blindwish and their latest release "Good Excuses," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/blindwishband.

Arriving on September 22nd is the sophomore release titled "Forged By Fortitude" by the Texas heavy metal band Sons Of Texas. Their new 11-song release comes bursting out of the gate with the hardcore metal attack of "Buy In To Sell Out" as the thunderous drum rolls will certainly get your blood pumping. They lock into a modern thrash groove for "Feed The Need," before diving "Down In The Trenches" with the song's big guitar riffs. They find the perfect recipe for hard rock radio success with "Cast In Stone" and showcase their planned attack on your ears with the frenzy of "Expedition To Perdition" and "Jaded Eyes." Sons Of Texas wrap up their new release with a return to their hardcore metal sound in the title song, "Forged By Fortitude" and the hard-edged country rock of "Slam With The Lights On." To find out more about the Sons Of Texas and their latest release "Forged By Fortitude," please visit sonsoftexasmusic.com.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

RJ Podcast: Patrick Mulock From Phear Talks With Us About The Band's Latest Release "The Curse Lives"

CD Review: New Music From Chris Barron, Chip Ratliff, Mike Blakely & Marcus Singletary

The American rock band, the Spin Doctors found success early with their debut album reaching the top 5 in many countries. Their music was iconic, led by the vocals of singer Chris Barron, who had a certain swagger in how he delivered the lyrics. The Spin Doctors released their last album over 4 years ago, but lead singer Barron returns with a new solo album titled "Angels And One-Armed Jugglers." It will be released on October 20th through Chrysanthemum Records and features 11-tracks that will remind you of the early days of the Spin Doctors as the music and vocals are able to breathe on their own. He begins with the grand sounding blues ballad "Angels And One-Armed Jugglers" as Barron's vocals fit perfectly into this musical setting. The tempo picks up with the steady rock rhythm of "April And May," before finding he finds his way into your heart with the acoustic ballad "Gonna (Need Someone)." He has fun with the zombie love story "In A Cold Kind Of Way" and turns on the classic folk charm of "Still A Beautiful World," before wrapping up with the slow, jazzy waltz of "Till The Cows Come Home" and the steady rock of "Too Young To Fade." To find out more about Chris Barron and his latest release "Angels And One-Armed Jugglers," please visit thechrisbarron.com.

From Chicago comes the return of Chip Ratliff (grandson of blues guitarist Herman Ratliff Sr.) with his first album in ten years titled "Resilient." This new funk-fueled 8-song album begins with the spoken-prayer of "Resilient," before Chip gets your body up and moving with the seventies funk of "Dance! Dance! Dance!" He continues with the horn-infused "Back When We Were Funky," then lays down the smooth R&B of "Somewhere Else Not Thinkin' (About You)." Chip Ratliff wraps up his new album with the blues/rock of "WhyDoYouDoWhatchaDo" and the spaced out jazz/funk of "DirtyBlu." To find out more about Chip Ratliff and his latest release "Resilient," please visit chipratliff.net.

Americana singer/songwriter Mike Blakely returns after a six year absence to release his new studio album titled "Keepsake." It will be his 12th album in 25 years and features ten beautifully delivered tunes of love, hope and redemption. He begins with the gentle acoustic love story of "A Town Called Paradise" and continues with the steady pace of the folk story of "My Same Old New Mexican Dream." Mike showcases his country side with the twang of "Easy Ramblin'," then brings in an island vibe with the acoustic strumming "I Am Nobody." He finishes up his new album with the country blues of "Miranda's Warning" and the heartfelt plea of "Don't Send Flowers." To find out more about Mike Blakely and his latest release "Keepsake," please visit mikeblakely.com.

Marcus Singletary, the musical chameleon, returns once again with a new album titled "Daydream Station."  This 14-song, 20 minute comedy album showcases Marcus' more comedic side was these short parodies of interviews ("The I.R.S." and "Attack Of The Record Men"), commercials ("S.P.I.T. 909") and public service announcements. While Marcus does not play any music on this new album, it is worth a listen for the tongue-in-cheek political comedy that we all have come to know in this day-in-age. His new release closes with a great 5-minute stand-up where nobody laughs or even notices his jokes. To find out more about Marcus Singletary and his latest release "Daydream Station," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/MarcusSingletaryMusic.

Monday, September 18, 2017

CD Review: New Live Album From John McLaughlin & The Best "Feeling" From Jack Tempchin

English musician, John McLaughlin has had an amazing 50-plus year career as a solo artists and as a founding member of the jazz-rock fusion band, Mahavishnu Orchestra. He released his last studio album in 2015 ("Black Light") and is preparing to release his new live album titled "Live @ Ronnie Scott's" on September 15th. The show was recorded back in March and McLaughlin brought along his latest band, The 4th Dimension.
 
The new 9-song release tries to cover McLaughlin's entire career as the set begins with "Meeting Of The Spirits," which originally appeared on the debut album from Mahavishnu Orchestra. McLaughlin's guitar work is amazing on this 8-minute opener as the members of The 4th Dimension take the spotlight on the follow-up track "Miles Ahead." One of the epic pieces appearing on this new live release is the spirited, rhythm-fueled, 10-plus minute rock fusion of "Here Come The Jiis" from his most recent solo album "Black Light." He sticks with that album for the swift pace of "El Hombre Que Sabia," before going back to Mahavishnu Orchestra's second album "Birds Of Prey" with the jazzier appeal of "Sanctuary." John McLaughlin wraps up his new live album with the 12-minute jam on his solo piece "Echoes Of Then."
 
John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension will be hitting the road again on November 1st for a string of dates across the U.S. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about his new live album "Live @ Ronnie Scott's," please visit johnmclaughlin.com.
 
The name of one of the great American singer/songwriters may not be known to the common music fan, but Jack Tempchin wrote some of the best songs that country legends have turned into hits. Tempchin's biggest hit was The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling," which became a top 20 hit for the band. He would write a handful more songs for the band, as well as hits for Johnny Rivers, Glenn Frey, George Jones, Glen Campbell and Tanya Tucker. After over 40 years in the music business, Jack Tempchin is releasing his first greatest hits album titled "Peaceful Easy Feeling, The Songs Of Jack Tempchin."
 
This new 10-song set begins with Tempchin's version of "Peaceful Easy Feeling," which is identical to the version performed by The Eagles. He follows that with an acoustic version of "Part Of Me, Part Of You" and a beautiful duet with Rita Coolidge on "Slow Dancing." Country artists Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen lend a hand on another hit that Tempchin wrote for The Eagles, "Already Gone." Tempchin's new greatest hits release wraps up with him rocking out to "Privacy" and "Party Town," before slowing back down for the acoustic country/folk sounds of "It's Your World Now." To find out more about Jack Tempchin and his latest release "Peaceful Easy Feeling, The Songs Of Jack Tempchin," please visit jacktempchin.com.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

CD Review: Singer Linda Perhacs Feels A Resurgence With "Harmony"

American folk singer Linda Perhacs will be releasing only her third studio album in the last 47 years on September 22nd. The new album titled "I'm A Harmony" features a load of special guests including Pat Sansone, Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline from the band Wilco. The inspiration behind this new album came as her 2014 release "Parallelograms" brought a sense of joy back into Linda's life, after not performing for over 4 decades.

Her new 11-song release begins with Nels Cline helping out on guitar for the psychedelic folk-rock of "Winds Of Sky." She continues with the quiet, stirring vocals of "We Will Live" as fellow folk artists Julia Holter and Devendra Banhart help out on the song's vocals. She follows that up with the spacey, 8-minute folk trip, "I'm A Harmony," before returning with the nostalgic, seventies acoustic folk-rock of "Crazy Love" with The Autumn Defense backing up Linda's vocals. Julie Holter returns to lend her vocals to the gentle fray of "Beautiful Play" and the experimental psychedelic trip of "Visions," before finishing the album with "You Wash My Soul In Sound" as Linda delivers another sonic folk gem. To find out more about Linda Perhacs and her latest release on Omnivore Recordings titled "I'm A Harmony," please visit lindaperhacs.com/.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Concert Review: 2Cellos Bring More Than Just The Classics To The Oakdale Theatre

When you hear that the music duo, 2Cellos is coming in concert, you would probably expect a classical ensemble with strings, a horn section and brass. So, when 2Cellos made their way to the Toyota Presents The Oakdale Theatre, one would think that the crowd would consist of men in suits and women in dresses, but the eclectic crowd of both young and old had their rock concert attire flowing. Many of the evening's younger fans may have recognized 2Cellos from their appearance on the hit TV show "Glee," while others know them for their range of performing rock music in a classical setting. Although, Luka Sulic (one of the 2Cellos) made a comment that this was "not a classical concert."

2Cellos are currently on tour, promoting their latest album "The Score," which features popular scores from some of the biggest movies of all time. The duo walked out on stage to a roaring applause and immediately broke down the barrier between artists and the audience by inviting fans to scream and applaud for their favorite songs. The first half of the show consisted of themes from movies like "The Godfather" and "Rain Man," with the biggest applause arriving for "My Heart Will Go On" (from "Titanic).

As the evening slowly built up to the rock portion of the show, Stjepan Hauser (the other member of 2Cellos) mentioned that this first half of the show was "for the ladies" and that these songs from famous movies sound "better on cello than the originals." After the pulsating sonic rhythm of "Mombasa," 2Cellos and their orchestra dove right into the theme from "Game Of Thrones." Then quickly followed that up with a sped up version of their break-through cover of the Michael Jackson single "Smooth Criminal."

With the help of their drummer, Dusan Kranjc and his electrifying drum solo, 2Cellos entered the hard rock portion of their show, getting the audience up on their feet with AC/DC covers "Thunderstruck" and "You Shook Me All Night Long." Fans were encouraged to sing along to the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," before closing their set with another AC/DC standout, "Back In Black."

The encore found the duo combining their love of classical music ("William Tell Overture") with their love of heavy metal (Iron Maiden's "The Trooper). The speed at which these two performers would play at was astonishing. They would also please the young fans in the audience with their covers of modern hits like "Wake Me Up" (Avicii) and "Despacito" (Luis Fonsi), before finishing the night with a lullabye of U2's "With Or Without You." A night with the 2Cellos duo will definitely change your mind about the musical instrument and about classical music in general as they continue their evolution of breaking the barriers between different music genres.

Setlist: Theme From Chariots Of Fire, Love Theme From The Godfather, Moon River, Theme From Rain Man, Love Story, My Heart Will Go On, Now We Are Free, Mombasa, Theme From Game Of Thrones, Smooth Criminal, Thunderstruck, Smells Like Teen Spirit, You Shook Me All Night Long, Highway To Hell, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Back In Black
Encore: The Trooper, Wake Me Up, Despacito, With Or Without You

Friday, September 15, 2017

CD Review: The Steve Miller Band Unleash Their "Ultimate Hits" Collection

Whenever someone releases the "ultimate" edition of anything, whether its an album or a book or a movie, you have a lot of pressure to make this the best collection anyone has ever had. So when Universal Music announced the new "Ultimate Hits" release from the Steve Miller Band I was apprehensive at first. The Steve Miller Band was a music staple on AM and FM radio throughout the seventies and their "Greatest Hits 1974-78" album is one of the best selling albums of all time. So how do you improve on that? 
 
This new "Ultimate Hits" will be released in a number of different formats, including multiple CD and vinyl editions. The single CD release mirrors the 2LP edition and both contain 22 songs, including Les Paul talking to a five-year old Steve Miller on becoming a big star. This release also includes all of the Steve Miller Band's classic hits like "The Joker," "Take The Money And Run" and "Abracadabra." Three previously unreleased tracks round out the single CD release as current live versions of Steve Miller Band classics "Living In The USA" and "Space Cowboy" are proof at how timeless their music is. The treasure on this release is the previously unreleased song "Seasons," which is a heartfelt acoustic piece that showcases Steve Miller's softer side.
 
There is also a deluxe edition which fills up 2CDs or a 4LP vinyl set. This includes 40 songs that dig deeper into the Steve Miller Band catalog with songs like "My Dark Hour," "Journey From Eden" and "Heart Like A Wheel." The beginning of the deluxe edition is great with Steve Miller describing his early days in concert before performing a solo acoustic version of "Gangster Of Love." Not only does it included the unreleased song "Seasons," but it has a second previously unreleased track titled "Baby's Callin' Me Home," which carries a jazzy blues vibe and a third one, which is a studio recording of Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour." Another hidden gem on this deluxe edition is the demo of "Take The Money And Run." The only complaint I have on this "Ultimate Hits" release is that the string of hits ends in 1987 and does not include any songs from his last three studio albums.
 
The Steve Miller Band "Ultimate Hits" is definitely a great addition to anyone's musical library and should re-introduce their brand of blues/rock music to a whole new generation. The Steve Miller Band have about half-a-dozen live shows remaining on their calendar for this year. Please visit stevemillerband.com for more information on the Steve Miller Band's new release "Ultimate Hits."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

CD Review: The Script Releases The "Freedom Child" & LCD Soundsytem Return With The "American Dream"

Irish modern rock band, The Script have continued to grow in popularity in the U.S. since their debut album was released almost 10 years ago. Their latest album titled "Freedom Child" was released on September 1st through Sony Music and features 14 new tracks of modern pop/rock music. They begin with the big dance beats of "No Man Is An Island" as you will find yourself singing along in no time to this song's addictive chorus. They follow that up with the album's led single, "Rain," which carries an up-tempo dance/pop vibe. They keep the energy flowing with the arena ready "Rock The World" and "Divided States Of America." The Script instill a groove into "Eden" that will have you up and moving as you finish up their new release with their return to rock with the title song "Freedom Child." The Script have a 14-date tour on the horizon, beginning on September 28th at The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album "Freedom Child," please visit thescriptmusic.com.

Brooklyn-based dance band, LCD Soundsystem have been climbing up the musical charts since their debut album over a dozen years ago. Their last album was released over seven years ago and LCD Soundsystem are looking to recapture their crown as America's premier dance group with a new album titled "American Dream." It features 10-tracks, beginning with the moderate beats and subtle vocals of "Oh Baby." They dig deep into bass groove of the Talking Heads-sounding "Other Voices," then they deliver the frenzy rock vibe of "Change Yr Mind." Just prior to the album's funky lead single, "Tonite," is a 9-plus minute rhythm heavy epic piece titled "How Do You Sleep?," which will have you fully invested in the LCD Soundsystem. They finish up their new album with the quick-paced rock attach of "Call The Police" and the 12-minute steady pace of the the keyboard beats of "Black Screen." LCD Soundsystem are currently on the opening dates of their 4-month tour with dates sold out in Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and London. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album "American Dream," please visit lcdsoundsystem.com.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Female Songwriters Whitney Rose, Eilen Jewell And Karen Atkins

Rising country artist Whitney Rose is preparing to release her third full-length studio album titled "Rule 62" on October 6 through Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers. The new release features 11-tracks of classic country that will open your eyes and ears to this brand of music. She starts out with the gentle country swing of "I Don't Want Half (I Just Want Out)," which will have you instantly fall in love with Whitney's voice. The tempo picks up with the nostalgic feel of "Arizona" and then brings back the sound of the sixties girl groups with "Better To My Baby." Her vocals are so warm and inviting on the ballad "You Never Cross My Mind" and her stellar band provides the perfect basis for Whitney to shine in the spotlight of "You Don't Scare Me" and "Tied To The Wheel." She finishes her new album with the country blues of "Wake Me In Wyoming" and the electrifying rocker "Time To Cry." Whitney Rose has a line-up of shows around Texas, before heading up to New England in late-October. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about her new album "Rule 62," please visit whitneyrosemusic.com.

American singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell takes a break from songwriting to deliver a blues album for the ages with "Down Hearted Blues." It features a dozen blues treasures from artists like Otis Rush, Howlin' Wolf and Memphis Minnie that Jewell re-creates in her own brand of country/folk blues. She begins her new release with the steady pace of "It's Your Voodoo Working" and the slower, classic blues of "Another Night To Cry" as Eilen's voice fits this genre of music perfectly. She picks the tempo back up with the Willie Dixon jewel "You'll Be Mine" and Betty James' "I'm A Little Mixed Up." Eilen made it a point to feature songs from the women of blues like Memphis Minnie ("Nothing In Rambling") and "Big" Maybelle Smith ("Don't Leave Poor Me") as she reminds us of these buried treasures. She finishes her new album with the jazz tones of "Crazy Mixed Up World" and the acoustic blues of "The Poor Girl's Story." Eilen Jewell is currently touring around New England, before heading over to Europe in November. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about her new album "Down Hearted Blues," please visit eilenjewell.com.

From the San Fransisco Bay area comes the latest release titled "In My Room" from singer/songwriter Karen Atkins. After her rising fame from her health aspects, Karen was constantly asked about her early years as a musician, so she decided to surround herself with some of the finest session musicians and create this new inspirational album. Her new 10-song release begins with the up-tempo, contemporary rock groove of "Love Is Love" and the quieter folk presentation of "Draw The Line." She tells us the story of "Julian," before getting a little funky with the bass groove of "Can't Get." Her new release finishes with the gentle touch of "In My Room" and a beautiful rendition of Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away." To find out more about the musical side of Karen Atkins and her new album, "In My Room," please visit karenatkinsmusic.com.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

RJ Podcast: Killset's Chris Luca Discusses The Band New Album "S.T.F.U." & Possible Tour

CD Review: Roadcase Royale Puts "First Things First" With Debut Album & U.S. Tour

A new rock supergroup is preparing to introduce themselves to the world as Roadcase Royale will roll out a new album and live dates with Bob Seger on his current U.S. tour. The band is made up of Nancy Wilson (Heart), Liv Warfield (New Power Generation), Dan Rothchild (Heart, Beck), Chris Joyner (Jason Mraz, Sheryl Crow), Ben Smith (Heart) and Ryan Waters (Sade). They made their live debut back in March and will be releasing their debut album "First Things First" on September 22nd.
 
Their new 10-song release begins with the album's lead single "Get Loud." It features a modern pop, swinging rhythm, which allows Liv Warfield to wrap you up with her vocals. Nancy Wilson makes her presence known with the raw, bluesy guitar of "Not Giving Up," before delivering a countrified version of Heart's "Even It Up." You feel the full force of the band on the up-tempo rock number "Cover Each Other" as the combination of Liv's vocals and the band honest musicianship give authenticity to the music. Nancy's vocals on "The Dragon" gives the song a hint of Heart, while "Insaniac" is a hard hitting number that will electrify your senses. The album wraps up with a gentle, acoustic sing-along of Heart's "These Dreams" and the Americana stomp/clap rhythm of "Never Say Die."
 
Roadcase Royale will begin their 2-month tour with Bob Seger tonight. For a complete list of live shows, which includes a stop a the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday and to find out more about their new release "First Things First," please visit roadcaseroyale.com.

Monday, September 11, 2017

RJ Podcast: BIg Shot's Mike DelGuidice Talks About Performing Along His Musical Idol Billy Joel

CD Review: Two New Soundtracks For "The Vietnam War" Reminds Us Of Hardships & Protest

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns returns this fall with a new 10-part series surrounding "The Vietnam War." Burns, along with Lynn Novick, will premiere the documentary on September 17th on PBS. Adjoining the documentary is not one, but two soundtracks. The first one features the original score from "The Vietnam War" series provided by Academy Award winners Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross. The 17-song, 2CD set features very atmospheric music that will impact your mood while listening to this subtle, but effective sonic landscapes of experimental sounds. Reznor certainly leaves his iconic stamp on these instrumental pieces of music along with the guidance of Ross. The music will certainly have more of an impact along with the visuals that accompany each of these tracks.
 
The second soundtrack for "The Vietnam War" includes 38 songs that helped define that era in music history. While the documentary film series features over 120 songs, these were picked to be included on this new 2-disc set as they are very effective pieces of music that will remind anyone of that period in time. The set begins with the voice of change throughout the sixties, Bob Dylan with his politically charged "A Hard Rain A-Gonna Fall." Dylan also shows up a couple more times in this compilation with "One Too Many Mornings" and "Don't Think Twice It's Alright." While many of the songs from that era are anti-war anthems like "Eve Of Destruction" by Barry McGuire and "It's My Life" by The Animals as they strike chords of riotous themes, songs like "Hello Vietnam" by Johnnie Wright and The Byrds "Turn! Turn! Turn!" were delivering more peaceful sounding anthems for the youth of that generation.
 
This was also the time when music had its second explosion, with music arriving from new bands like The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Big Brother & The Holding Company. The landscape of music would be forever changed as groups like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Rolling Stones sung about current events as in "Ohio" and "Gimmie Shelter," respectively. There are also the timeless songs from that era ("America The Beautiful," "What's Going On" & "Let It Be") that make you proud to be alive and a lover of patriotism and music. To find out more about these two new amazing releases and about the new 10-part series on "The Vietnam War," please visit facebook.com/TheVietnamWarPBS.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

CD Review: The Action Skulls Deliver What "Angels Hear" On Debut Release

What do you get when you combine The Bangles with The Beach Boys and The Cowsills? Answer is the debut album from Action Skulls. Their new release titled "Angels Hear" features Vicki Peterson (The Bangles), her husband John Cowsill (The Cowsills, The Beach Boys) and Bill Mumy (Barnes & Barnes). It is a full collaborative effort that has been 4 years in the making.

Their new 11-song release begins with the addictive pop/rock of "Mainstream," which feature vocals from every member of the band. Bill Mumy takes the lead on the California rock sound of "In The Future," before Peterson joins him on the bluesy ballad "If I See You In Another World." Peterson goes on solo for the country/folk appeal of "Map Of The World," then everyone joins back in for the sixties-sounding "Standing On A Mountain." The album wraps up with the steady country backdrop of "The Land Of Dreams" as all three vocals mesh together perfectly. To find out more about Action Skulls and their debut release "Angels Hear," please visit billmumy.com/ActionSkulls.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

CD Review: Newly Discoved Album By Country Star Billie Jo Spears Finally Released

Country artist Billie Jo Spears had a musical career that lasted over 60 years. She had a #1 hit single in 1975 with "Blanket On The Ground" and cracked the top ten 4 other times. Spears became even more popular in the U.K. where she was named "Queen Mother Of Country Music." Spears released her last studio album in 1991. She passed away in 2011 from cancer at the age of 74.

A newly discovered, unreleased studio album from Billie Jo Spears was finally released in August. It was recorded in 1982 and was titled after the album's most famous cover song "C'est La Vie." The new release features 13-tracks, beginning with Chuck Berry's "(You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie" and the emotional "Apart At The Dreams." She delivers that classic country sound in "I Can Hear Kentucky Calling Me," then lets her vocals soar on the ballad, "When I Dream." One of the songs on this release was previously recorded in 1975 for her album "Billie Jo" as you can hear the sincerity in her voice for "Everytime Two Fools Collide." The album closes with the nostalgic country twang of "I'm Not Good At Goodbye." To find out more about this newly released Billie Jo Spears album, please visit cleorecs.com.

Friday, September 8, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie Artists Tokyo Rosenthal, Case Carrett And Stoney Spring

Americana artist Tokyo Rosenthal returns with his new album titled "This Minstrel Life." It mixes together new original tunes with a couple of cover tunes and also features a mix of studio and live recordings. He begins his new album with the swift, country shuffle of "Hundred Mile Man" as his words speak truth amongst an honest musical backdrop. Then he showcases his quieter side with the gentle acoustics of "The Seder," before heading back out to the country with the politically charged "Now I Believe There's A Devil." Tokyo turns the words of Moija Saucer into the dark tale of "Wiregrass," then finishes the studio portion of his new album with the island flair of "The Immigrant Revisited." He finishes up his new album with 4 live tracks that were recorded between 2012 and 2015, beginning with a quick strumming cover of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" with The Sap Brothers. He also includes a live version of his controversial, pro-gay marriage song "Love Won Out," performed in the U.K. To find out more about Tokyo Rosenthal and his latest release "This Minstrel Life," please visit tokyorosenthal.com.

Newcomer Case Garrett will be releasing his debut album titled "Aurora" on November 3rd. His new 8-track release features Garrett's brand of alt-country music with his warming, down-home vocals. He begins with the classic twang of "What Can I Say?" and the acoustic ballad "Long Way Down" as his vocals and lyrics sound very genuine. The song "Going Down To Mobile" appears twice on the album, first as a classic, up-tempo country swinging tune and again at the end of the album as a country rock radio gem with a bit more grit added to the song's over vibe. Garrett's new album also includes a countrified version of J.J. Cale's "Call Me The Breeze" and the exciting country sway of "Fill'er Up." To find out more about Case Garrett and his latest release "Aurora," please visit casegarrett.com.

Arriving October 20th is the latest release from psych-folk band Stoney Spring titled "The Natural Sweetness Of Cream." It features 10-tracks, starting off with the acoustic strumming of "I Think I Am A Rasta" as the song continues to build with each verse. The album continues with the the swift-moving, psychedelic/experiential rock of "Kindersound," before moving back to the folk-like, storied tales of "Revisiting The Past." Stoney Spring take you on a sonic trip with the instrumental "Class Of '72," before returning to the psych-folk delivery of "Chasing An Abstract Dream." They finish up their new album with the experimental, atmospheric tones of the spoken words of "Western States Part II" and the Frank Zappa-like instrumental "Black Vernissage." To find out more about Stoney Spring and their latest release "The Natural Sweetness Of Cream," please visit stoneyspring.com.