Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CD Review: New Music From Independent Folk Artists Diamondwolf and Laura Joy

Seattle-duo Alicia Dara and Glen Cooper have rejoined as Diamondwolf to release their sophomore effort entitled "Your Time Has Come." The new album was released back in March and showcases the growth in their songwriting and allows each member to excel. The new ten song release begins with the Americana stomp rhythm of "When I Rise" as the duo stick close to each other vocally. Alicia looks to take the lead on the folk-rock appeal of "Crasher" and the soothing, gentleness of "Swan Song," which features the duo's amazing harmonies. Diamondwolf find a great folk-blues groove in "Burn Him Down," before closing with the fragile delivery of "Across The Water" and classic folk delivery of "Mantra," which allows Glen to finally step to the mic for the lead vocals. To find out more about Diamondwolf and their latest release "You Time Has Come," please visit diamondwolfmusic.com.

Also released in March was the latest EP from folk artist Laura Joy entitled "Between Our Words." Her voice reflects a younger Joni Mitchell at times while the lighter feel of the opener "Takes A While" makes her music very attractive and accommodating. Her songwriting shines on the uptempo folk/pop of "Moving On" as Laura Joy has her sights set on the mainstream of adult contemporary music. To find out more about Laura Joy and her latest release "Between Our Words," please visit laurajoymusic.com.

Monday, April 20, 2015

CD Review: New Music From Rising Indie-Artists Matthew K, Sun Soul Orchestra And Jus

Vocal sensation Matthew K will be releasing his debut album on May 5th through the Rough And Tumble label. The album was recorded and mixed, pretty much all over the world (U.S., U.K. and Australia) and mixes pop ballads with an International feel. Matthews' voice is strong and timeless and demands your full attention as in the opener "Home." The comforting feel of "I Love These Days," combines Beach Boys type harmonies amongst a country backdrop, while "Half Life" has that timeless quality that Matthew's vocals deliver. His voice carries you through the lush orchestration of "Story Of Love," before showcasing his full vocal ability with the European flavor of "Cuento Del Amor." The album finishes with a wonderful, heartfelt rendition of the timeless prayer "Ave Maria." To find out more about Matthew K and his new album, please visit matthewk.co.

From California comes the full-length debut album from Sun Soul Orchestra entitled "What Matters Most." It has been five years in the making and showcases their love for soul music. The new eleven-song release is a mix of cover songs and originals, done with a twist, in order to put their mark on them. The album begins with the seventies soul style of "Can't Deny It" as singer Stevo Theard lays his gospel down. The first of back-to-back covers is a spot-on replication of Mary Jane Girls' "In My House," while Sun Soul Orchestra's take on The Rolling Stones' "Waiting On A Friend" has an island flavor added to the pop lyrics. After the classical sounds of "Gingerly," their cover of Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vein" continues in the classical scope without really making the impact of the original recording. They find more success on their smooth rendition of "Zoom," originally performed by The Commodores, before closing with the quick funk/souled retro feel of "Keep Talkin'." To find out more about Sun Soul Orchestra and their latest release "What Matters Most," please visit sunsoulorchestra.com.

NY music producer Justin Naundros is ready to release his debut EP under the name Jus entitled "Obsession." The new album was be available on April 21st through his own newly launched label Zenith Point Records. He also calls upon some of his friends to help out on this latest short, six-song release. Beginning with "Legacy," the beats are huge as BMG artist Bobby Dub and Chicago rapper Add-2 help out on this future mainstream hip-hop staple. The addition of Maryann's sultry pop vocals on "Made" along with bi-lingual rapper Freddy Flopez gives "Made" an added dimension. Freddy also appears on the title track "Obsession" as him and Jus flow so well together. The album finishes with Add-2 returning along with Niko Ellison for the smooth R&B flavor of "Love Songs." To find out more about Jus and his latest release "Obsession," please visit thisisjus.bandcamp.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Gives You A History Lession With "Beale Street" And Live Album From Art Pepper

In 1978, an album entitled "Beale Street Saturday Night" was released to remind people about how important the early music scene of this particular Memphis, TN street was to birth of rock 'n' roll. The album was produced by James Luther Dickinson, who worked with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Flamin' Groovies amongst others and features musicians like Sid Selvidge, Sleepy John Estes, Furry Lewis and Teenie Hodges. It was recorded live at Ardent Studios, at the Orpheum Theater and at the artists' homes. The album became a cult classic in the Memphis area, but now Omnivore Recordings is releasing a remastered version of the album for the first time on CD.

The fourteen songs that make up this release is a history lesson and jam session all in one. Beginning with Sid Selvidge on piano for the original "Walkin' Down Beale Street," which is a lost folk/blues/gospel gem that gets the lesson started on high note. Grandma Dixie Davis places you back in time with her classy jazzy delivery of "Beale Street Blues," while Sleepy John Estes gives you your first account of the times on Beale Street during it's heyday with "Big Fat Mama/Liquor Store." The classic acoustic blues of "Furry's Blues" by Furry Lewis reminds us of an earlier time when songs were all about the stories as the music laid the backdrop for these tales. The Mud Boys & The Neutrons' "On The Road Again" comes straight from Bob Dylan & The Band's "Basement Tapes" as the feeling mirror each other. You only wish you were there to experience it in person. The album closes with Grandma Dixie Davis returning with the playful piano tune "Roll On, Mississippi." To find out more about this wonderful release, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Omnivore Recordings closes out the new Art Pepper trilogy with "Neon Art: Volume Three," which includes three songs recorded live during his 1981 tour of Japan. The "Neon Art" trilogy began back in February and focused on his live recordings from his 1981 world tour. Volume three continues with the inspiring 24-minute smoothness of "Make A List (Make A Wish)" as Pepper is in complete command of this performance. He goes off slightly with some impulse ramp-ups, but the rhythmic flow of the song keeps the melody going. The slow, mellowness of "Everything Happens To Me" showcases the full emotion that Art Pepper and his band place into their performances as you just melt your troubles away listening to this great piece of music. The album closes with the funky rhythm of "Arthur's Blues" as the band and audience enjoy the performance very much. To find out more about this latest volume of "Neon Art" and the other volumes, please visit omnivorerecordings.com

Saturday, April 18, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Releases Rare Live Show From Dion

Singer/songwriter Dion DiMucci, better known simply as Dion, was a huge influence on modern music, first as a leader of The Belmonts in the 50's and then his solo work in the sixties. Now for the first time, Omnivore Recordings is releasing a rare live acoustic show from 1971 recorded at the Bitter End. His voice is still strong and soothing and the songs are short, concise and showcase his love for folk music.

The new 17-song release begins with Bob Dylan's "Mama, You've Been On My Mind," which Dion slows down to give a more meaningful delivery than the original. He opens up to the audience, talking a little bit about his latest touring group before adding his own brand to Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business." Dion tends to stay away from his own catalogue until the end, instead performing his renditions of The Beatles' "Blackbird" and Leonard Cohen's "Sisters Of Mercy." He mixes in a blues cover of "Don't Start Me Talking" between a couple of his own numbers, "Your Own Backyard" and "Sunshine Lady." His singing seems more comfortable with his own songs as with "Sunniland" and "Willigo," before bringing out his hits to close the show. "The Wanderer" takes on a bluesier tone in this acoustic setting, while "Ruby Baby" is still fun to hear even stripped down to the core. He finishes with the slow, meaningful delivery of "Harmony Sound" which is showcased in the perfect setting.

Dion "Recorded Live At The Bitter End August 1971" was released on April 7th. To find out more about it, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Friday, April 17, 2015

CD Review: The Best Of Audio Fidelity's SACD Comes From The Guess Who

The Audio Fidelity label does not take on too many "greatest hits" albums in order to perfect the sound. The reason for this could be that the songs are so well known that cleaning up the audio would not matter to fans or that a band's "greatest hits" set is usually an album that was put together by the label for sales purposes. There is one such "greatest hits" album that Audio Fidelity sought out to make one of their latest Hybrid Multichannel SACD releases and it is from the seventies rock band, The Guess Who.
 
"The Best of The Guess Who" was originally released back in 1971 and has remained the same quality, until now. Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering mastered the dual Channel SACD from all the original masters and gave new life to some of the greatest rock songs of the sixties and seventies. The keyboards, bass, strings and horns of "These Eyes" simply jump from your speakers as the instruments are allowed to breathe on this new release from Audio Fidelity. The smooth jazzy delivery of "Undun" and the grunge-like guitars of "American Woman" have you listening to these songs again for the first time, discovering little things that have been overlooked in past releases of these songs. The unsung highlight of the album is the forgotten gem "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" that is more than just a folk song with a pulse. This remastered edition showcases the passion in Burton Cummings vocals, while the closing song "Hang On To Your Life" is a hard rocking anthem that achieves the band message of getting off drugs and enjoying the music.
 
This set also includes a miniature version of the original psychedelic poster  that was contained with the 1971 vinyl album. To find out more about the Hybird Multichannel SACD release of "The Best Of The Guess Who," please visit audiofidelity.net.