Friday, May 26, 2017

CD/DVD Review: The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" Turns 50!

Released exactly 50 years ago today (in the U.K.) was an album that would change the course of popular music. The Beatles made magic in the studio with their 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Universal Music in association with Capitol and Apple Corps is releasing a six-disc box set on May 26th. This is the beginning of what fans have been waiting years for. Finally, we get the outtakes, studio chatter and multiple versions of songs that have been examined time and time again for the last 50 years.
 
This new luxurious box set contains 4CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/hardcover book/2 posters/cutouts housed in a sturdy black cardboard box with a slipcover that contains a 3D collage of the original album cover. The posters and the cutouts are a nice touch and the 144-page hardcover book covers everything about the album. Each song has its own detailed write-up as to how it was recorded in the studio as well as historical content from authors, composers, producers and journalists. The book also contains many rare photographs and illustrations that will even surprise the biggest Beatles fans.
 
Now, lets get into the music. The 4 CDs, DVD and Blu-Ray are kept in a replica of the "Sgt. Pepper" vinyl album cover, but when you open it, it contains each disc housed in it's own thin cardboard case with a outtake from the cover photo shoot on the front and the songlist for each disc on the back. The first CD features a brand new stereo mix of the album done by Giles Martin (George Martin's son). He brings the music back to life by lifting the music from the instruments and harmonies that were buried in the original stereo mix. The singing in "She's Leaving Home" has more truth in the vocals, while the music of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!" and "Within You Without You" has room to breathe as you can hear every instrument involved.
 
The exciting part for fans will be CDs 2 & 3, which contain 33 outtakes from the studio sessions. You'll be able to follow the structure of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "A Day In The Life," as they each begin with early acoustic takes. A special treat is when you hear The Beatles talking in the studio, discussing the vocals for "Penny Lane" or ideas behind "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." All of the music that appears on these two discs were placed in the chronological order of when they were recorded in the studio.
 
The 4th CD contains the original mono version of the album with six bonus tracks, including newly discovered mono mixes of "A Day In The Life," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "She's Leaving Home." The Blu-Ray and DVD mirror each other as both contains a newly created 5.1 surround sound mix of "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band." Also included is a newly restored version of the 1992, 25th anniversary documentary "The Making Of Sgt. Pepper," as well as promotional films for "A Day In The Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane." It's nice to relive the making of the album through the eyes of those directly involved with it.
 
This new anniversary edition of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" will also be available as a singe CD (containing the new stereo mix), 2CD set (containing the new stereo mix and a compilation of the outtakes) and deluxe vinyl, 180gram double LP (contains the new stereo mix and compilation of outtakes in the same running order as the album). To find out more about this amazing new release, please visit sgtpepper.thebeatles.com.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

CD Review: New Music Arriving From Calico The Band, Tomten, Project Grand Slam And AV Club

California country founders and leaders Manda Mosher and Kristen Proffit are preparing to release their sophomore effort under the name Calico the band. Their new album titled "Under Blue Skies" will be released on July 21st on the duo's own label, California Country Records LLC. The band has won numerous awards for their debut release as they look to recapture that success with this latest release. Their new 12-song album begins with the steady, country strumming of "Fine Line" as the harmonies will surely capture your attention. They deliver a classic country/bluegrass sound with "Cold Cold Love" and the soulful, inspiration of "The 405." The duo pay homage to their musical influences with a beautiful, country/pop version of the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'." They deliver the sweet, country blues lullaby of "Under Blue Skies," before picking the tempo back up with the country swing of "Fly Me Away." Calico the band finish up their new album with the sweet serenade of "Love Gets In The Way" and the dark, storied lyrics of "Into The Unknown." Calico are currently on the road, along the west coast with dates sprinkled through out May and July. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album "Under Blue Skies," please visit calicotheband.com.
 
Seattle folk/rock trio Tomten are preparing to release their new full-length studio album, "Cremation Songs" on July 7th. The new 13-song album follows the trio as they've grown and developed since the release of their debut album 5 years ago. Their new release begins with the mellow, piano-led, slow pop of "Grand Guignol" and the light, soft rock of "Cloud Man Calling." Tomten's beautiful songwriting is felt in the wonderful presentation of "Laurent's Tomb" and the lush, grand sound of "For The Worse." They experiment with their sound on sixties-inspired "King Of Viridia," before finishing their new album with the quiet, "dream pop" of "Leaving Joyous Gard" and the steady, soft rock tones of "Still Life With Sylvie." To find out more about Tomten and their latest release "Cremation Songs," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/TomtenMusic.
 
American bassist/composer Robert Miller is the brainchild behind Project Grand Slam and the band is preparing to release their 5th album titled "The PGS Experience." The album is a combination of new studio tracks and live performances. The new 9-song release begins with the jazz fusion feel of "Metro Shuffle," which features guest saxophonist Mindi Abair. The album continues with the first of four cover songs, a sweet reworking of Phish's "Free," lead by singer Ziarra Washington. Mindi Abair returns for the smooth, island feel of "Fishin," before taking on Cream's "I'm So Glad." Project Grand Slam kick off the live section of the new release with a Miller original, the steady rock of "Gorilla." They also perform a funky cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and a slinky, swinging version of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." Project Gram Slam have some shows coming up in June, including an appearance at the International Jazz Festival in Kingston, Jamaica. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about Robert Miller and the new release from Project Grand Slam, please visit projectgrandslam.com.
 
From Chicago comes the self-titled, debut album from jazz/funk band AV Club. Their new 8-song album was released back in March and they are led by bassist/composer Andrew Vogt. They begins with the six-plus minute groove of "Stevland," in which everyone gets a chance to shine with their own solo. They quicken the pace for the swinging rhythm of "Grill Sergeant," then lock on to an R&B vibe with "Peachofjax." The AV Club uses elements of "Duck Hunt" to give their sound an electronic sound as the band find their way through the chaos of "Shack Dog." They finish their new release with the spirited delivery of "Yam Of Lotus" and the up-beat, jazz-fusion of "Godfather, Pt. II." To find out more about the AV Club and their debut album, please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/theavclubchicago.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Singer/Songwriters Sarah Lassez, Kylie Odetta And Layla Frankel

French singer/songwriter Sarah Lassez is following in her grandfather's footsteps on her new EP "Paris In Tears." Her grandfather used to compose songs for singer Edith Piaf and Sarah has composed her new 5-track release as a simple, but playful exercise in music. She begins with the slow-waltz of the title song "Paris In Tears" as Sarah's vocals are perfect for this gentle flow of music and words. She adapts beautifully to the jazzy tone of "Mermaid Serenade" and "Ziegfeld Girl" as Sarah's vocals acts out the role delivered in the songs. Her new short release finishes with the smooth, dream-like poetry of "Time Killer." To find out more about Sarah Lassez and her latest release "Paris In Tears," please visit sarahlassez.com.

Indie-singer/songwriter Kylie Odetta recently released her new album titled "Undertow." This 19-year old soul singer displays her maturity on the jazzy opener "Sunny Day" as Kylie's vocals are warm, sultry and sweet as they get wrapped around your head. Her vocals become the main attraction on the slow piano ballad "Undertow," before adding a soulful, R&B sound to "Stress." Kylie wraps up her new short, 7-song release with the up-beat, pop feel of "You Cannot Have Your Way" and the country backdrop of "Battleground." To find out more about Kylie Odetta and her latest release "Undertow," please visit kylieodetta.com.

From Chicago comes the debut EP from singer/songwriter Layla Frankel. Her new release titled "Tame The Fox" features five original tracks and one cover song. She begins with the soulful strumming of "To Disregard" and "Tenderly." She adds a folk/rock vibe to the up-tempo rhythm of "Creature Of Habit," before slowing things back down for the storied lyrics of "Alamosa." She finishes her new album off with a slow, spiritual cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven," To find out more about Layla Frankel and her latest release "Tame The Fox," please visit laylafrankel.com.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Bands Kaleido, Ten Foot Pole, Grands Pricks, Polarnecks, Hot Kids And Dolly Spartans

Detroit hard rockers Kaleido recently released their new debut album "Experience" on May 19th through Luxor Records. The band is also currently on tour, opening for fellow rockers Seether, before joining Rob Zombie in July. This five-piece band is a stadium act ready to unleash their music on the masses. Their new album begins with a fake radio station intro, which leads into the big guitar sound of "Blue Collar Delight" as singer Christina Chriss will have you following her every word with her intense vocals. They continue with the rhythm fueled eruption of "No More Little Miss Nice Bitch" and the battle cry of "Die Tryin'" as Kaleido deliver an experienced rock sound as if they've been around for years. They experiment with their hard rock sound with the island rhythm of "Trouble In Paradise," but come roaring back with the high energy of "Love & War." Kaleido finish their album with the power ballad "All Together" and the slow, steady build-up of "The End." For a complete list of shows and to find out more about their new album "Experience," please visit kaleidoband.com.

From Southern California comes the latest release from pop-punk band Ten Foot Pole. Their new album titled "Setlist," features new recordings of some of the band's previous songs with Dennis Jagard taking over the lead singer role. Their new 13-song release contains 10 of the band's previous songs with a cleaner, more energetic, up-to-date sound; and a couple unreleased songs "Scars" and " I Don't Wanna Go." The final track on the album is an acoustic version of "Old Man." Ten Foot Pole kick things off with the buried treasure "Scars" as they will certainly capture your attention right from the first note. They kick it up a notch with the intense punk-like speed of "My Wall," before delivering the up-beat pop tones of "I Don't Wanna Go." Their music is definitely fun to sing-along to, especially "Kicked Out Of Kindergarten" and "Never Look Back." They finish with the build-up of "Closer To Grey" and the acoustic strumming of "Old Man." To find out more about Ten Foot Pole and their latest release "Setlist," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/tenfootpole.

Arriving July 13th on Gold Mold Records is the split EP titled "PolarPricks." It features the U.K. bands, Grand Pricks and Polarnecks as they each place their best effort on this upcoming release. The first two songs feature Grand Pricks who have an alternative, new wave sound as they look to capture their nineties influences with "En Flique" and "Don't Vote." Polarnecks deliver a raw, grunge-like feel to "Pretty," before the reckless punk attack of "Dogs." To find out more about this unique split-release, please visit the Gold Mold Records Facbook page at facebook.com/GoldMoldRecords.

Canadian trio, HotKid recently released their full-length debut album "Late Night Mornings." It features ten tracks as the band were allowed to experiment more in the studio with this new release. The album begins with the deep bass groove of "Need A Friend" as you are introduced to the wonderful vocals of Shiloh Harrison. They expand upon their sound with the alternative buzz of the title-song "Late Night Mornings" and deliver a raw, new wave sound with "Little Mess." The up-tempo, pop-punk feel of "Caught In The Light" and "Wasting Time" showcase the energy this trio have to deliver to their fans, while they also touch upon the alternative grunge of the 90's in "Jealous." HotKid wrap up their new album with the classic new wave rock sound of "This Time." To find out more about HotKid and their latest release "Late Night Mornings," please visit hotkid.ca.

From New York comes the latest release from alternative rockers the Dolly Spartans. Their new 5-song EP is titled "Time Sides With No One" and features one of the top indie-rock bands of the east coast. They begin their new album with the steady build-up of "When The Wheels Stopped Moving" as their sound contains mature, well-written melodies that definitely has a timeless quality.  They pick the energy up with the up-beat pop/rock of "Hanging Out" and reach their pinnacle on the sing-along chorus of "I Hear The Dead." They finish up their new short release with the youthful, high energy appeal of "Time Sides With No One" as Dolly Spartans leave you wanting more from this band. To find out about the Dolly Spartans and their latest release "Time Sides With No One," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/dollyspartans.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CD Review: New Anticipated Albums From Kwame Binea Shakedown, Tony Natale & John Haesemeyer

Arriving June 16th is the debut album titled "Roots Rock 'N' Universal Love" from soul rocker Kwame Binea and the Kwame Binea Shakedown. He brings together a great soul vibe which is felt through his rock 'n' roll/funk backdrop. His new 10-song release begins with the blues-rock of "Ain't Your Woman" as you are first introduced to the amazing vocals of Kwame Binea. The horns come out blazing for the funk-fueled rhythm of "Far Away," before guest guitarist Vernon Reid (Living Colour) lights up "Love Surreal" with an electrifying guitar solo. Kwame quickens the pace with "In Your Eyes" as he looks to establish his signature sound combining his love for rock music with his outstanding soulful vocals. The album closes with the thunderous funk groove of "John James Poe" and the gospel-like, soulful delivery of Jimmy Cliff's "Universal Love." To find out more about the Kwame Binea Shakedown and their latest release "Roots Rock 'N' Universal Love," please visit kwamebineashakedown.com.

American musician/songwriter Tony Natale recently released his highly anticipated new album titled "The Camden Promise." Natale has worked alongside such great artists as John Fogerty and Jaco Pastorius, and has also shared a stage with bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Violent Femmes. His new 9-song release begins with the up-beat, pop rock of "What If You Did?" as his new album is intended to inspire and enlighten the listener. He delivers a southern rock vibe on "Your Love Takes Me Home," before the grunge-like sound of "Promiseman" with an unforgettable chorus. He works up the Santana-like sound of "3 Days On The Road" as his smooth, classic rock sound becomes very addictive. Tony closes his new album with the guitar-driven hard rock of "Insanity" and the sweet, soft rock, seventies melody of "The Way You Walk." To find out more about Tony Natale and his latest release "The Camden Promise," please visit tonynatale.com.

American singer/songwriter John Haesemeyer recently released his new EP titled "Maybe If I Try." The album was recorded in both California and Buenos Aires, Argentina as Haesemeyer and his recording partner Nauhuel Brozini worked with musicians from the Mar del Plata Philharmonic Orchestra in order to get that authentic, international sound. The new, short five-song EP begins with the steady, Americana rock sound of "Big Balloon." Some of the Argentinian influence is felt in the inspirational rock of "Maybe I Try," before his reverts back to the acoustic-based, Americana sounds of "Room For Two." John closes his new album with the sweet, gentle flow of "Theory" as you fully appreciated his songwriting. To find out more about John Haesemeyer and his latest release "Maybe If I Try," please visit haesemeyer.com.