Friday, April 18, 2014

CD Review: Sevendust Return With The Lighter Sounds Of "Time Travelers & Bonfires"

Atlanta metal band Sevendust are following up their #1 album "Black Out The Sun" with the unconventional, mostly acoustic release entitled "Time Travelers & Bonfires." The album was released on April 15 through 7brothers Records and matches six new songs along with six re-recorded past songs in an acoustic setting.

The album starts out with the six new songs, beginning with "Come Down," which sounds as if the music is being held back by the acoustic aspects and at any moment can open up and rock. The band adds some extra energy with the guitar solo of "Under It All," but quickly returns to the unplugged setting of "The Wait." The real excitement is on the second half of this release with the re-workings of some of Sevendust's most well known songs like "Denial" and "Crucified." The band also takes on the lesser known gems like the uptempo rocker "Gone" and the deep passion of "Trust." The album closes with the first album released single "Black," which still carries the band's edgy rock feel with the volume lowered.

Sevendust are currently on a U.S. tour that will run until August. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their new album "Time Travelers & Bonfires," please visit sevendust.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

CD Review: New Death Metal Concept Album Comes From Hell

One of the latest heavy metal supergroups is From Hell, and it features members from Slayer, Death Angel and Testament.  Their debut album "Ascent From Hell" is the first death metal concept album of 2014 and is not for the weak. Lead singer George Anderson is the narrator of this horror story as he draws upon the early influences of King Diamond.

The 10-song release is seventy-minutes of hard hitting death metal beginning with the dark, hellish instrumental introduction "Standing At The Mouth Of Hell," which leads into the motoring rhythm of "The Walking Dead." The album really takes off with the ringing guitars of the eight-and-a-half minute "Psycho Killer" as the vocals and drums seem to make your speakers bleed. The epic sounding "Eyes Of My Dead" puts you in the middle of the story as the characters clash in this great metal piece. From Hell change tempos with "The Church" as you feel like you are asending with the chorus. The album (and story) close with the crunching guitars of "Ascent From Hell" as the band looks to motor to the finish line with the evilness of "The Sleep."

The album was released on April 8th through Scourge Records and the band is currently setting up dates for their summer/fall tour. To find out more about From Hell and the new album "Ascent From Hell," please visit fromhell.net/.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DVD Review: Kathleen Hanna Gives Her Life Story To The Newly Released "Punk Singer"

New from IFC Films comes the documentary, "Punk Singer" about the life and career of Kathleen Hanna. She was one of the leaders of the feminist punk rock movement in the late eighties and early nineties with her band Bikini Kill. Her views of women's power spread like wildfire throughout the music community and this film follows her from the formation of her first band to the tribute concert in her honor over twenty years after. This film also touches upon her illness that brought an abrupt end to her most popular band Le Tigre and almost her entire singing career.

Director Sini Anderson does a masterful job mixing in home videos and film clips from Hanna's past live performances along with recent interviews with fellow bandmates. Anderson also interviews other female rock icons Joan Jett and Kim Gordon on how much Kathleen Hanna and her music made an impact on how women were viewed in music. Kathleen proudly talks about how her band Bikini Kill befriended Nirvana before the rise of grunge music and her impact with the feminist magazine Riot Grrl.

One of the most shocking things about Kathleen's story is when her illness affected her life and her music. Also her husband, Beastie Boys Adam Horowitz gives input into her personal life and how their relationship flourished and how he has helped Kathleen get back into music with her latest band The Julie Ruin.

The film premiered at 2013's SXSW festival and still has showings in theaters around the U.S. The film won the "Women in Cinema Lena Sharpe Award" for director Sini Anderson and was also nominated for the "Best Documentary" at Chlotrudis Awards. "The Punk Singer" was recently released on DVD on March 25th. To find out more, please visit www.thepunksinger.com/.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CD Review: Audio Fidelity Contines To Impress With New Releases From Heart, Barry White And Peter, Paul & Mary

The highly collectible music label Audio Fidelity is ready to roll out some new titles to add to their ever-growing database. It's hard to question their selections, when the music sounds so great, but this time around Audio Fidelity picks Heart's "Magazine" and Peter, Paul and Mary's self-titled debut album. Two albums that became early benchmarks in the long career's of each of these bands. Also new from Audio Fidelity is the sweet virgin vinyl release of Barry White's landmark album "Can't Get Enough."

There is some controversy that surrounds Heart's album, "Magazine." It was originally released as the band's second album, without their consent. The record company got a hold of some of the demos and outtakes from the sessions and complied an album for release in 1977. It was later pulled and reworked by the band and re-released again (properly) in 1978, which followed their break-through album "Little Queenie." This album showed a bluesier, harder rocking side to the band's sound, beginning with the sharp, revenge song "Heartless." While lead singer Ann Wilson and sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson were always in the forefront of the songs, with this new SACD remaster, you can fully appreciate the musicians surrounding them. The pounding drums of Michael DeRosier gives "Devil Delight" a Zeppleinesque feel, while the string section on "Just The Wine," brings out the best in the Wilson sisters' songwriting. The two live songs that are featured on this album, "Mother Earth Blues" and "I've Got The Music In Me," I feel benefit the most from this new SACD release. Listening to these two songs through a pair of good headphones make you feel like you are in the audience for these performances. The album was mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering.

The debut album from Peter, Paul & Mary, also mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering, allows the mastering of the Audio Fidelity CD to perfectly hear the harmonizing between their voices. The album uses minimal instrumentation as the occasional acoustic guitar appears to keep rhythm, but their voices on gentle feel of "Sorrow" gives that warm feel from your speakers. The quick strumming of the storied lyrics of "If I Had My Way" shows Peter, Paul & Mary's gospel/folk/rock qualities as they are preaching from the mountain. The album's two singles, "Lemon Tree" and "If I Had A Hammer" never sounded better as each vocal is heard in it's own space without the distortion of instrumentation.

Barry White's album, "Can't Get Enough" is filled to the brim with "love." Four of the five full-length songs, with vocals, feature the word "love" in its title and Barry's voice is undeniable when the mood is right. Audio Fidelity took this album, which was last remastered almost 20 years ago and turned it into one of the "must have" records on vinyl. White's orchestra on "I Can't Believe You Love Me" sounds so warm and smooth that you may never go back to your CD version again. White's deep vocals on "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe" shake the speakers and still sounds as genuine as the day they were recorded. To also help on the sound is the fact that this album was pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl and Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.

To find out more about these outstanding new releases from Audio Fidelity, please visit www.audiofidelity.net/.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CD Review: British Band Auburn Returns With Sounds Of "Nashville"

From the U.K. comes the latest album from the newly reformed British Americana band Auburn. The band is celebrating their 40th anniversary after being apart for almost a decade and have recently toured with the legendary Jefferson Starship on their most recent U.K. tour.

The new 12-song album begins with the smoky, jazz feel of "Sitia Bay" as you can instantly recognize the truly original tone of lead singer Liz Lenten's voice. Her vocals on "Hurting" sounds so pure and gentle that you feel a sort of comfort in the music being projected from your speakers. They pick up the tempo for the country sounding "Crazy People," before reverting back to the smooth, mellow touch of "Pride Is A Theif." The groove of "Full To The Brim" is so attractive and Liz's vocals put it over the top as the must hear song of the album. Auburn finish up with the acoustic, heartfelt caress of "Leaving Day" and the slow country-jaunt of "I'm Lost."

The album was released back in January and hit #1 on the U.K. Americana chart and #7 on the Global Americana chart. To find out more about Auburn and the new album, "Nashville," please visit www.auburn.org.uk/.