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.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

CD/Blu-Ray Review: Concord Bicycle Music Celebrates 25 Years Of "Out Of Time" From R.E.M.

From Athens, GA in 1980 came this underground rock band that would end up helping shape the worlds of alternative rock and pop rock music. R.E.M. were considered one of the first "alternative" rock bands, producing music that was different from the normal radio-friendly hits of the eighties. Their sound began to get noticed at college campuses around the U.S., until 1991 when R.E.M. released the album "Out Of Time."
 
After growing their fanbase with their first six albums, their seventh album, "Out Of Time" would send the band into superstardom as it topped the U.S. and U.K. album charts. It has since gone on to sell over 12 million copies and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this landmark album, Concord Bicycle is releasing a 3CD/Blu-ray super deluxe edition of the album.
 
The original 11-track album was remastered as songs like "Low" and "Half A World Away" sound strikingly strong. The album was led by the hit singles "Losing My Religon" and "Shiny Happy People," but R.E.M. kept some of their underground, alternative sound alive in the tracks "Texarkana" and "Belong." They even expanded their sound with the deep acoustic, meaningful lyrics of "Country Feedback" and the uplifting pop tones of "Me In Honey."
 
Fans will fall in love with the second and third discs in this set which features demos and live versions of almost every song on the album. The 19-track second disc begins with an instrumental version of "Losing My Religion," which sets the stage and gives the listener a tiny insight into the creative process these songs took. Songs like "Radio" and "Texarkana" appear multiple times, in different forms which helped shaped the final product. The disc also carries a guitar instrumental "Untitled Demo," a lovely short acoustic song titled "40 Sec." and the quiet, monotone delivery of "Fretless."
 
Disc three contains R.E.M.'s performance at Mountain Stage in 1991. It contains the band's entire 15 song set and it was rare that the band performed live as they did not promote the album with a tour. The Blu-ray contains the "Out Of Time" album in 5.1 surround sound as well as eight music videos and an additional promotional video titled "Time Piece," which gives fans an in-studio look and exclusive performances of songs from the album.
 
This new 25th anniversary of R.E.M.'s "Out Of Time album is also available on a 3LP vinyl set and as 2CD "Deluxe Edition," which contains the newly remastered album and the full disc of demos. To find out more about this great release of this truly iconic album, please visit remhq.com.

Friday, December 2, 2016

CD Review: The Human League Cover Their Entire Career With "A Very British Synthesizer Group"

The English New Wave band The Human League formed almost 40 years ago in Sheffield. They released their first album "Reproduction" in 1979 and captured the U.S. with their hit singles "Don't You Want Me" and "Human." To celebrate the band's success, Universal Music recently released a 2CD anthology of the band titled "A Very British Synthesizer Group." It contains 30 of the group's songs from throughout their career, including 7 previously unreleased DJ mixes.

The tracks on this new release are laid out in chronological order, beginning with the electronic beats of "Being Boiled (Fast Version)" and the keyboard-led instrumental "The Dignity Of Labour (Part 3)." The Human League's first single to chart in the U.K. was the addictive rhythm of "Empire State Human," before breaking into the U.K. top ten with the dance beats of "Love Action (I Believe In Love)."

The average listener will enjoy hearing their nostalgic hit singles "Don't You Want Me" and "(Keep Feeling) Fascination," while long-time fans will be happy with the inclusion of the rare seven-inch single version of "The Lebanon" and the unreleased DJ edit of "Louise." English musician William Orbit remixes Human League's 1990 hit single "Heart Like A Wheel" and the compilation wraps up with the radio edits of their more recent electronic singles "Night People" and "Sky." To find out more about The Human League's newly released anthology, "A Very British Synthesizer Group," please visit thehumanleague.co.uk.