Tuesday, May 24, 2016

CD Review: New Music From Sometimes Julie, Athena, Ray Goren And The Bruce Mountain Band

First from San Diego, CA comes the latest release from Sometimes Julie. Their new six-song EP titled "Bright Side Of The Line" features the powerful vocals of Monica Sorenson along with the experienced songwriting of Rick Walker. The two have grown from an acoustic bar band in 2012 into a new indie-rock force that sounds polished beyond their years together. Beginning with "Emily" and "Bright Side Of The Line," Sometimes Julie deliver a powerful set of rockers that incorporate elements of funks, blues and country. Their new short release finishes with the intense, guitar driven "Another World" and Americana/pop of "When The Sun Ain't Shining." To find out more about Sometimes Julie and their latest release "Bright Side Of The Line," please visit sometimesjulie.com.
Next comes the latest release from singer/songwriter Athena titled "Ready For The Sun - Part 1." It features five-songs that will introduce you to this indie-artist that is already enjoying success overseas. Beginning with the bright, up-beat pop tone of "You Bring Me Luck" and the softer, emotional "Everything To Me," you will instantly fall in love with Athena's voice. Her new short release wraps up with the up-tempo, mainstream appeal of "Autopilot" and the gentle piano ballad "All Of You." To find out more about Athena and her new release "Ready For The Sun - Part 1," please visit athenaandreadis.com. 
We also have the arrival of the debut release from 16-year old blues prodigy Ray Goren. The new six-song EP titled "Save My Soul" will have your jaw drop to the floor right from the first notes of opener "Save My Soul." At thirteen years old, he opened for the legendary B.B. King and has honed his skills for the last few years for his first studio release. His guitar skills are just exceptional as displayed in "Stop" and "Rise Together." The album closes with an older version of the title-song as you find yourself wanting more from this young musician. To find out more about Ray Goren and his latest release "Save My Soul," please visit raygoren.com. 
Finally from Southern California comes the debut album from veteran rockers Bruce Mountain Band. Their new release titled "Another Day Lost" has been building over the last two years as seasoned session musician Tyson Bruce invited his friends to join him in the studio to create this new 16-song, spaced-out album. Beginning with "Shine On," you get transported back a few decades as the band's sound gives off a seventies rock vibe. The rawness of "Feel It Too" and the soulful rock ballad "Thank You" showcases the combined experience this band placed on their debut release. The energy picks up with the intensity of "Living Without You" and "Fireball" while the progressive rock feel of "Woman" fully engulfs you in their classic sound. The album finishes with the big drums and guitar riffs of "Crooked Leg," the British rock feel of "Broken Wing," along with the acoustic blues of "Long Way Home. To find out more about the Bruce Mountain Band and their latest release "Another Day Lost," please visit brucemountainband.com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

CD Review: Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia Visit The Dark Side And Jon Davis Has His Band

The experimental jazz trio of Boris Savoldelli, Raffaele Casarano and Marco Bardoscia took on the task of re-creating one of the most iconic albums in music history. Their version of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" was recorded back in 2013 and finally released this past February as "The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky." The album starts out similar to the original with a heartbeat and random voices, before diving into the quiet, stark delivery of "Breathe" as Savoldelli's vocals and Casarano's sax give the song any type of emotion. The programming imagery portrayed by "On The Run," leads us to a psychedelic version of "Time" and a modern, electronic disruption of "Money." The highlight of the album is the fourteen minute version of "Us And Them" that allows the trio to let loose and incorporate their influence on this classic album. The album closers "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse" are experimental pieces that will have you digging deeper into the recreation of this album as you begin to notice things the second time around. To find out more about "The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky," please visit moonjune.com/The-Great-Jazz-Gig-In-The-Sky.

Next we come to the American progressive rock band Zhongyu (which mean "finally" in Chinese). They recently released their self-titled debut album which features a dozen worldly jazz/rock instrumentals that add a Far Eastern tone to the overall music of the album. Beginning with the slow awakening of "Apple Of My Mind's Eye 2" and "Torture Chamber Of Commerce," the elements of King Crimson shine through on these early tracks. The eight-minute "Hydraulic Fracas" continues to build upon it's Africian rhythms with each instrument getting a lead part. Their influence of Miles Davis comes through on the jazz fusion of "Tunnel At The End Of The Light" and "Sleepwalking The Dog." The relaxing tone of "Wanderland Wanderlust" is nice welcome among these complicated instrumentals, before the album finishes with the atmospheric progressive rock feel of "All Food Comes From China." To find out more about Zhongyu and their new self-titled release, please visit moonjune.com/ZHONGYU_Zhongyu.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

CD Review: The Beach Boys Celebrate 50 Years Of "Pet Sounds" With New Box Set

Last Monday, May 16th marked the 50th anniversary of the original release of the monumental album "Pet Sounds" from The Beach Boys. This album featured a small glimpse into the mind of the musical genius Brian Wilson and it has inspired countless musicians, including Paul McCartney and John Lennon. But fans already know the history of the album and its recording process. To celebrate this great album, Capitol/UMe will be releasing a 5-disc box titled simply "The Beach Boys Pet Sounds 50th" on June 10th. It features 4 CDs full of studio outtakes and one Blu-ray audio that collectors have been waiting for.

The first disc consists of the mono and stereo versions of the album along with four bonus tracks that consist of two promotional spots for the song "Caroline No" which was originally a Brian Wilson solo single. The other two bonus songs consist of unused vocals for the song "Don't Talk" and an alternate mix of "Hang On To Your Ego," which became the song "I Know There's An Answer."

The second and third discs are where fans get to dissect of every song on the original album, beginning with highlights and backing tracks from "Sloop John B" and the unreleased "Trombone Dixie." On these discs you will hear Brian Wilson conducting the orchestra and even The Beach Boys to delivery the sounds he has in his head as multiple takes of songs are included in this set. While not every take is included, you get a sense of what the atmosphere may have been like on any given day in the studio trying to create this musical masterpiece. Highlights include the sweet backing vocals for "Wouldn't It Be Nice," a nine-minute vocal session for "I Know There's An Answer," highlights from the amazingly timeless "God Only Knows" and, of course session and vocal takes of "Good Vibrations," which ended up being left off the album.

The fourth disc in this set consists of previously unreleased live recordings of songs from the "Pet Sounds" album throughout the remainder of The Beach Boys career, up until 1993. Included are live versions of "God Only Knows" from The Jamaican World Music Festival in 1982 and "Sloop John B" recorded live at Universal Studio in 1989, along with excerpts from shows in 1966 and 1967. The second half of the fourth disc consists of the "Stack-O-Vocals" version of "Pet Sounds" as you truly hear the purity of their voices harmonizing as one.

The treasure of this box set consist of the Blu-ray Audio Disc, which features the mono and stereo version of the album in 5.1 Surround Sound. There are also six bonus tracks added that consists of sessions highlights of the singles "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows." Also included in this box set is a 52-page, fully color booklet that consists of a new essay from David Fricke, song lyrics and a sessionography. Sprinkled throughout the book are photographs of The Beach Boys in the studio and outtakes of their photo session for the album cover.

While diehard fans may have most of this material, in bootleg form, I can assure you that it has never sounded better and gives a great overview of the recording of this timeless album. To find out more about "The Beach Boys Pet Sounds 50th," please visit petsounds.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

CD Review: The Muffs Get Re-Release Of 2nd Album And The Posies Come Together With "Solid States"

On May 27, Omnivore Recordings will re-release the second album from California alternative rock band The Muffs. Their debut album was re-released last August (review: jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com) and this new release follows suit, gathering seven bonus tracks to add to The Muffs original album "Blonder And Blonder." Now as a three-piece band, the music has a raw, punk-like sound as delivered in "Agony" and "Oh Nina." They had a hit single with the alternative-rock/pop feel of "Sad Tomorrow" as lead singer/guitarist Kim Shattuck steals the show with her energy and passion. Kim gives us her best Joan Jett impression with "Red Eyed Troll," while songs like "I Need A Face" and "Ethyl My Love" have The Muffs sounding like a mixture of early Green Day and Nirvana.

The bonus tracks consist of the two U.K. B-sides, beginning with the quick-pace and growling vocals of "Goodnight Now" and the post-punk guitar riffs of "Become Undone." The other five songs are demo recordings of the songs "Born Today," "Look At Me," "Pennywhore," "Red Eyed Troll" and "Won't Come Out To Play" as Kim is still working up the songs final version. To find out more about the new release from The Muffs titled "Blonder And Blonder," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

American alternative rock band The Posies return with their first new release in almost six years. The new album titled "Solid States" was released back in April and is the first album since the death of drummer Darius Minwalla and bassist Joe Skyward. The new album features a dozen tracks beginning with the up-tempo, punk-like rhythm of "We R Power!" as original members Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow continue to grow as artists. They slow down for the psychedelic feel of "Scattered" and find the perfect blend of rock and soul for the addictive "Titanic." The Posies bring back the wonderful harmonies of their heyday with "Squirrel vs. Snake," while "The Definition" expands their sound into more electronic territory. The album finishes with the piano ballad "The Sound Of Clouds" and the uplifting pop-feel of "Radiance." The Posies are currently touring the U.S. until the end of the May. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about their new album "Solid States," please visit theposies.net.

Friday, May 20, 2016

CD Review: Robert Glasper Finds "Everything's Beautiful" With Miles Davis' Music

If jazz legend Miles Davis was still with us today, this latest release titled "Everything's Beautiful" is exactly what he may have produced. Davis always wanted to be on the cutting edge of music, combining genres and pushing the boundaries of what jazz music had to offer. Now, with the help of jazz pianist/producer Robert Glasper along with John Scofield, Stevie Wonder and many more artists, the work of Miles Davis get "re-imagined." Glasper takes some obscure outtakes from Davis' catalog and adds a modern flair to enhance and re-develop what Davis may have had in his mind when thinking of what the future may hold.
This new eleven-song release begins with Miles Davis chatting in the studio. His smokey voice get backed by a smooth hip-hop beat, highlighted with piano on the opener "Talking Shit." Then, the real amazement happens as soul singer Bilal lends his talents to the R&B/funk beat of "Ghetto Walkin'." Erykah Badu's smooth, sultry vocals relaxes your nerves on the seven-minute bossa nova feel of "Maiysha (So Long)," before hip-hop artist Phonte modernizes Miles Davis' music with "Violets." British soul singer Laura Mvula works with the beats and subtle jazz backdrop of "Silence In The Way," while Georgia Ann Muldrow's vocals highlights the modern take of Davis' classic "Milestones." The album finishes with the funk of "I'm Leaving You" provided by John Scofield along with singer Ledisi and the stellar work of Stevie Wonder on the harp for "Right On Brotha." 
"Miles Davis - Everything's Beautiful" will be released on May 27th through Sony Legacy, the day after what would have been Davis' 90th birthday. To find out more about this new release, please visit legacyrecordings.com.