Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CD Review: New Music Releases From Rising Indie-Artists

From New York comes the latest release from punk band, Bad Mary titled "We Could Have Saved The World." The short six-song EP is a blast of energy, lead by the amazing vocals of Amanda Mac as she brings in elements of Gwen Stefani with more of a Joan Jett edge. The album begins with the adrenaline fueled "Creeper" and the striking guitar riffs of "Marz Attaqx" as Bad Mary have a great modern punk sound. The band slows down the tempo for the classic Ramones feel of "Cloud 9," before picking things back up with the quick-hitting "Meanwhile" and the revengeful "When You Think Of Me." To find out more about Bad Mary and their latest release, "We Could Have Saved The World," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/badmaryband.

From Chicago comes the latest release from indie-rocker Jesse W. Johnson titled "Primal Scream." This album is a change of direction of his 2013 acoustic based EP "Cannon Rows" as five raw, hook-driven songs make up his latest EP. Beginning with the titled song, "Primal Scream" has a rockabilly boogie rhythm with loud blazing guitars motoring the song. He changes directions with the light, airy, pop of "Why Aren't We In LA?," before closing with the big arena rock sound of "Springfield Supportive Living" and the quiet acoustic, folk build-up of "Expecting To Fall." To find out more about Jesse W. Johnson and his latest release "Primal Scream," please visit jessewjohnson.com.

From New York comes the sophomore release from The Morning Sea titled "Mal De Mer." The album titled means "seasickness" in French, but their sound will enlighten you as the vibes are bright and airy as in "Don't Be Moronic, Merriam." They continue with the high-energetic impact of "Alexandra" and "Backburner Baby." Sandwiched between these rockers is the heartfelt ballad "Lonely Hearts In The Cosmos," which returns again for the wonderfully gentle delivery of the acoustic album closer "The Cold & The Quiet." To find out more about The Morning Sea and their latest release "Mal De Mar," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/themorningsea.

From Chicago comes the new release from Nice Motor titled "Seminary St." It features four songs of alternative country that would make Ryan Adams and Wilco proud. The new EP begins with the the twangy guitar of the retro sounding "All The Neighbors" and continues with the contagious steady rhythm of "Turn To Stone" as Nice Motor play it cool with their delivery. Their new short release closes with some funk added to their alt-country sound with "Thick In The Head." To find out more about Nice Motor, please visit nicemotorband.com.

Connecticut singer/songwriter Mark Daniel recently released his latest 4-song EP titled "Repair To New." He is a former student of Berklee College of Music and has toured along side such well-known acts as Living Colour, Steve Vai and Everclear just to name a few. The new release begins with the country/rock swing of "Vacant Beauty" as his voice just soars. The strong rhythm of "The Breakdown" gives Mark's music that harder rock edge, while the wonderful songwriting of "Fall Behind" shows the complete talents of Mark Daniel. To find out more about Mark and his new release "Repair To New," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/mdanielmusic.

From Los Angles comes the self-titled, debut album from rock and soul band Sugar Fly. It features amazing soulful vocals from Tia Simone, backed by a strong hard rock groove that works so well with each other. Their new five-song EP begins with the thunderous delivery of "Heartbreak City" as your pulse quickens with each verse. The lead single from the album is the grunge-like guitar driven hook of "Blind" as Tia vocals steal the show. The album continues with the bluesy feel of "Speak To Me," before closing with the rip-roaring rocker "Dig." To find out more about Sugar Fly, please visit sugarflyband.com.

From Chicago comes the third EP from funk/rock band Freaks For Geeks titled "TIN." It features four songs that combines elements of rock, funk and rap to give their songs a wider audience. Beginning with "Sleep, M.D." the music has a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe, but with a hip-hop style delivery to the lyrics. Freaks For Geeks hone their sound with the lighter, ska/funk feel of "What Might Get Out," then bring in a 311 influence to "Settle The Score," before closing with the spinning rhymes of "Jakfox." To find out more about Freaks For Geeks and their latest release "TIN," please visit freaksforgeeks.com.

The songwriting duo of Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) and John L. Richardson (Gin Blossoms) recently released their debut album as The Small Square. It features some guests from such bands as Badfinger, Ryan Adams and Matthew Sweet to name a few. The new eleven-song release is folk/rock gold, beginning with the acoustic strumming of "So Low" as their warming vocals and laid back vibe puts your nerves at ease. They pick the tempo up, but only slightly for the more rock oriented "Dream Faker (Open Your Heart)," but find the perfect balance with the smooth harmonizing of "Enough To Know." The Small Square have a hit single with "Otherwhile," which has a great classic sound that is highly addictive. The album closes with the quick-paced, up-beat rocker "Wild Chump" and the experimental, country-rock vibe of "The Trip." To find out more about The Small Square and their self-titled debut release, please visit smallsquaremusic.com.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Video Review: American Masters Presents The True Story Of "The Life Of Riley"

The award-winning documentary series "American Masters" just entered its 30th anniversary season and to kick things off is a stunning hour-long documentary on the life of blues singer/guitarist B.B. King titled "The Life Of Riley." It features interviews with many of his fellow bluesmen, collaborators and students of the genre as well as hearing from the man, himself revealing his life story. You can fill a whole hour up with just hearing how much of an influence B.B. King had on the lives of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Derek Trucks, U2 and others.
 
In this documentary, B.B. King tells us about his childhood in Mississippi and moving to Memphis to become an entertainer. He would take side jobs as a disc jockey where he developed the nickname "blues boy," which would eventually be shorten to B.B. He glowed when he talks about learning to play guitar from his cousin Bukka White and watching T-Bone Walker and Django Reinhardt perform, but he would also become sadden at the failure of his marriages because of his intense touring schedule. They say he holds the record for touring 365-days of the year, but as he got older, he was very much in demand as the film shows him rehearsing with U2 for their hit single "When Love Comes To Town" and with Eric Clapton on his "Riding With The King" album. 
 
The documentary closes with his passing as it ended a chapter in modern blues music as a golden casket would be the only fitting resting place for this blues legend. This latest installment of the "American Masters" series will premiere on February 12th and will give you an eye-opening insight into the early days of B.B. King and how he has grown to become a larger than life icon in the world of music. To find out more about "B.B.King: The Life of Riley," please visit pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters.

Monday, February 8, 2016

CD Review: New Album Releases From Rising Stars St. Lucia, Chairlift And Wet

At the end of January, Columbia Records rolled out new releases from St. Lucia, Chairlift and newcomers Wet. St. Lucia return with their sophomore follow-up "Matter" as bandleader Jean-Philip Grobler again works with Chris Zane (Passion Pit) on this latest eleven-song release. Beginning with the addictive pop beats of "Do You Remember" and "Dancing On Glass," St. Lucia knows how to lift your spirits and get the energy flowing. They incorporate the iconic eighties synthesizer into "Physical" as the chorus is undeniable. The seductive plea of "Love Somebody" gives emotion to the manufactured/electronic music, before returning to the club beats of "Rescue Me." The new album finishes with the marriage of synthesizers and a rock groove on "Always." To find out more about St. Lucia and their new release "Matter," please visit stlucianewyork.com.
 
From New York comes the third album from the synth-pop duo Chairlift titled "Moth." Their music has been featured in Apple commercials and they've also collaborated with Beyonce on her 2013 single "No Angel." This latest release features ten breakthrough dance/pop anthems that should draw in a bigger audience for Chairlift. Beginning with the slow build-up of "Look-Up," you don't get the full effect of what Chairlift have to offer until the funk-fueled follow-up "Polymorphing." The album's latest single "Romeo" is up-tempo, dance/pop with addictive beats and soulful vocals. They deliver the smooth grooves of "Ch-Ching" and the wonderful vocals of Caroline Polachek soar during "Crying In Public." The album finishes with the quieter approach to "Unfinished Business" and the six-plus minute dancebeat journey of "No Such Thing As Illusion." To find out more about Chairlift and their latest album "Moth," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/chairlift.
 
Also from New York comes the debut album from Wet titled "Don't You." Their quiet signature sound has helped them sell out their first U.S. headlining tour which runs until February 16th. Their new eleven-song release will not over power you, but slowly find its way to your heart with the angelic vocals of "Deadwater" and the smooth beats of "Don't Wanna Be Your Girl." Wet brings together the intimacy of their vocals with the light touch of music on "Islands" to create a song that is too good for modern pop radio, while the pop beats of "All The Ways" should grab the attention of radio listeners. The album finishes with the R&B flavor of "Body," which features some exceptional harmonizing and the wonderful recollection of "These Days." To find out more about Wet and their newly released album "Don't You," please visit facebook.com/wet.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Expands Two Classic JD Souther Solo Albums

In mid-January, Omnivore Records began the campaign of re-issuing JD Souther's solo albums by releasing his debut solo album "John David Souther," which was expanded with seven bonus tracks. Now Omnivore continues with the February 12th release of JD Souther's second solo album "Black Rose" and his only '80's album "Home By Dawn." Both of these new releases were remastered and also expanded with bonus tracks.

Beginning with "Black Rose," JD Souther invited a whole bunch of guests to perform and sing on this album, including David Crosby, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt and Glenn Frey. The albums contains the best collection of Souther's signature sound with up-beat pop gems like "Banging My Head Against The Moon," the mellow ballads like "If You Have Crying Eyes" and "Faithless Love," along with the country-blues of "Baby Come Home." This new version of the album includes seven bonus tracks including live and solo demo versions of the songs featured on the album. The live version of "Faithless Love" sounds so intimate as Souther performs it solo, which fits perfectly alongside an acoustic demo of the unreleased song "Can Almost See It" and raw acoustic demos of "Border Town" and "Songs Of Love."

After recording one album for Columbia Records, JD Souther returned in 1984 with his Warner Bros. debut album "Home By Dawn." It was a musical resurgence for Souther as he helped with the rise of the new wave of country music in the mid-eighties. The nine-songs that make up the album sure have that modern country feel as with the slow-moving "Go Ahead And Rain" and also have an all-star quality as Linda Ronstadt sings vocals on "Say You Will" and Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles lends a hand on the classic west coast rock of "Bad News Travels Fast." The four bonus tracks that help make up this new reissue features the Souther/Ronstadt duet "Hearts Against The World," which was featured on the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack. Also included is a solo piano demo of "I'll Take Care Of You" and the outtakes "Little Girl Blue" and "Girls All Over The World." To find out more about these two latest reissues from JD Souther, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

CD Review: Indie-Rock Artists Give A "Stoned Salute" To Led Zeppelin

One of the most influential bands of the hard rock music genre is Led Zeppelin. With their big guitar riffs, thunderous drumming, moody keyboards and screaming vocals, Led Zeppelin have laid down the blueprint for bands to follow. On this latest release from Cleopatra Records titled "Dazed & Confused: A Stoned-Out Salute To Led Zeppelin," 14 underground rock bands pour their all into these renditions of some of Zeppelin classic, by adding their own spin to them.

Beginning with Siena Root, this Swedish rock band adds some spacey guitar to "Whole Lotta Love," while Fireball Ministry gives "The Rover" some raw, west-coast flair. The Cult Of Dom Keller turns "Dazed And Confused" into a trip down the rabbit hole as your mind gets lost into this musical journey. The honorable band Mothership owe it all to Led Zeppelin as they display a killer version of "Heartbreaker" with its big guitar riffs. American stoner band Dead Meadow lay down the perfect groundwork for the atmospheric "No Quarter" and Electric Eye expands "Immigrant Song" past the six-minute mark by stretching out beyond the song's boundaries. This new 14-song release finishes up with the psychedelic rock of "Nobody's Fault But Mine" by The Machine, the almost unrecognizable "Kashmir" from Indian Jewelry and the enjoyable heavy rock approach to "Thank You" by The Black Moods. To find out more about the newly "Dazed & Confused: A Stoned-Out Salute To Led Zeppelin," please visit cleorecs.com.