Tuesday, July 29, 2014

CD Review: New Independent Releases Blur The Lines Between Jazz Fusion And Prog-Rock

Two great, new exciting instrumental albums to be released on RareNoise Records come from the rock trio Interstatic and the four-piece jazz fusion band Indigo Mist. The new Interstatic album "Arise" carries nine songs with a very spacy-rock vibe, similar to recent day King Crimson, especially on the rhythm-heavy "Caerbannog." They get a little jazzier with the smooth guitar strumming of Jacob Young battling the Hammond organ solo of Roy Powell on "Alpha Dog," before going full-out rock on "Frank'll Fix It" featuring drummer Jarle Vespestad. The band plays around with tempos on "Wonderfall," before closing with experimental sound of the Pink Floydian "Doozy (reprise)." Interstatic will be releasing their new album "Arise" on August 4th. To find out more, please visit rarenoiserecords.com/interstatic.

Next up is the new album from Indigo Mist entitled "That The Days Go By And Never Come Again," which will also be released on August 4th. The ten-song release begins with the rhythm heavy drum session "L'Heure Bleue," which leads into the nine-minute slow build-up of "Indigo Mist." The piano piece "Billy" allows for Richard Karpen to put his talents on display, while trumpeter Coung Vu takes control of the classic jazz sound of "In A Sentimental Mood." The crashing instrumentation of "The Electric Mist" leads to the quiet experimentation of Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo." To find out more about the new album from Indigo Mist, please visit rarenoiserecords.com/indigo-mist.

Finally, we get the new self-titled debut album from the electronic jazz fusion band Helio Parallax. The band is lead by the trio Takuya Nakamura (Quincy Jones), Josh Werner (Wu Tang, Lee "Scratch" Perry) and Marihito Ayabe (Dub Nomads). For this release, they decided to invite some special guest to perform on the album, beginning with the vocals of Louque on the club beat appeal of "Strange Dream." The dub step sound of "Kilgore Trout Dub" and the electronic beats of "Speed Of Life" along with the vocals of Major Lazer's Jahden Blakkamore gives the song a pulse that just rings through speakers and into your mind. They bring some jazziness into their sound with "Nocturne For Secret Planets" and "City Of Glass," before closing with the funky beats of "New Planet, Old Sun." To find out more about this new underground band, please visit mod-technologies.com/helioparallax.

Monday, July 28, 2014

CD Review: Queen Esther Visits "The Other Side," While Marcus Singletary Is Looking For "Some Lovin'"

From New York comes the southern soul singer/songwriter Queen Esther with her latest release "The Other Side." The album was self-produced and was self-released back in May. Queen Esther taps into a new musical genre, "Black Americana" as she mixes together pieces of folk with country, blues, jazz and soul to create some wonderful new sounds. The new thirteen-song release begins with the southern rock groove of "Sunnyland," before heading out to the country for the acoustic strumming of "I've Come Undone Again." She turns Steve Miller Band's "Jet Airliner" into soul/blues rock as the guitars are dirty, while her voice is so clean and pure. Her sound on this album floats between the classic country twang of "Sadness Everlasting" and the soulful rock of "Somebody Else's Baby," before settling on the beautiful folk tale of "Love Is A Wrecking Ball" and the emotional piano ballad "I Feel Like Going Home."

Queen Esther will be touring throughout New York during the month of August. To find out more about this amazing underground artist, please visit queen-esther.com.
The latest release from singer/songwriter/guitarist Marcus Singletary is a collection of rarities entitled "Gimme Some Lovin'" that was released by Aviation Records on July 15th. The album brings together some of Singletary's songs that date back as far a 2002 with the laid back, "mosey-on" melody of "Old Time Feeling." The beginning of the compilation is a great one-two punch of the classic guitar riffs with the original "(You Bring Out The) Best In Me" and the cover of the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin." He concentrates more on the lyrics of "Shame," while "Come On Over To My Side, Baby" is all about the guitar solo. The ten-song album finishes up with sexual tension of "Can't Ask For More" as Marcus finds the perfect groove for the song's theme.

To find out more about Marcus Singletary and his latest release "Gimme Some Lovin," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/MarcusSingletaryMusic.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Concert Review: Lionel Richie Performs The Hits "All Night Long" At Mohegan Sun

For over 45 years, Lionel Richie has been cranking out pop hits, first as a member of The Commodores then as a solo artist. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is considered one of the best selling music artists of all-time. Without a new album to promote, fans of Lionel Richie were in for a treat when he visited the Mohegan Sun arena Saturday night to perform a two-hour packed show of many of his biggest hit songs.

The night began promptly at 7:30 with opening act CeeLo Green performing a 45 minute set of originals and cover songs. He mixed in a few songs from his 2010 album "The Lady Killer" amongst cover songs by Sister Sledge, Rod Stewart and even the Violent Femmes. His opening set closed with his transformation into Gnarls Barkley for the song "Crazy" and then got everyone on their feet, singing the chorus of his biggest hit single "Forget You."

As the delay of headliner Lionel Richie taking the stage passed one hour, the crowd began to get restless, that was until Richie appeared center stage, then all was forgiven. He began the night with "All Around The World," the only song of the evening that was originally released after 1986. The rest of the night was a flashback to the seventies and eighties as Lionel Richie was one of the main performers of the soundtrack to these decades. Richie described the night as "karaoke on steroids" as every single person in the audience would sing along to their favorite hits, including the early upbeat songs "You Are" and "Running With The Night."

Lionel Richie was very personable with the audience, explaining the three different groups of "Lionel Richie fans." The ones that were there from the beginning as a fan of The Commodores, ones that became fans of his hit solo albums and the ones that just don't get why his music is so memorable. He broke-down the meaning behind the songs "Still," "Oh No" and "Stuck On You" to bring his three groups of fans closer together before getting everyone "Dancing On The Ceiling."

The night continued with a dip back to his seventies heyday with the Commodores' hits "Sail On," "Fancy Dancer," "Sweet Lady" and "Lady (You Bring Me Up)," which got all of the females on their feet dancing. The main set closed with the audience grooving to "Brick House" and singing along to "Hello," before letting their cares go for the huge eighties #1 single "All Night Long (All Night)."

With a roaring applause, Lionel Richie returned to the stage to perform a song he had written with the late Michael Jackson, explaining that it is still the perfect message for today. He began to sing "We Are The World" and is wasn't long before the entire audience joined in to sing the chorus as he closed the evening with a sincere "thank you" and left the stage to another standing ovation.

Lionel Richie's music has become so timeless that as long as their is love and heartache in the world, his music will have a significant meaning in our lives.

Setlist: All Around The World, Penny Lover, Easy, Ballerina Girl, You Are, Truly, Running With The Night, Still, Oh No, Stuck On You, Dancing On The Ceiling, Three Times A Lady, Sail On, Fancy Dancer, Sweet Love, Lady (You Bring Me Up), Just To Be Close To You, Endless Love, Say You Say Me, Brick House/Fire, Hello, All Night Long (All Night)
Encore: We Are The World

Saturday, July 26, 2014

CD Review: Nils Lofgren Has To "Face The Music" With Career Spanning Box Set

One of the unsung heroes of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band is guitarist Nils Lofgren. He has been a part of that band for the last thirty years, but prior to that job, he was a founding member of the band Grin and had a successful solo career, which continues to this day. On August 5th, Fantasy Records along with the Concord Music Group will release a 10-disc (9CDs/1DVD) retrospective of the recent Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee Nils Lofgren. This box set contains 169 tracks, dating back to 1968 and 40 of those tracks have never been previously released. The set mainly focuses on Nils' solo releases, but does feature collaborations with Neil Young, Lou Reed, Del Shannon,Bruce Springsteen and many more.

The first disc covers the three years that Nils was a member of the band, Grin. The 21-songs featured on this disc were compiled from the band's four albums. Grin's seventies rock sound fits perfectly alongside the hits of The Eagles and Jackson Browne, with the highlights being "Everybody's Missin' The Sun," "If I Were A Song," "White Lies," "Hi, Hello Home" (featuring Graham Nash) and "Begger's Day (Eulogy To Danny Whitten)." Disc two's nineteen songs make up most of Nils' seventies solo output, extensively covering his two "top 40" albums "Cry Tough" and "I Came To Dance." This was the height of Nils Lofgren's popularity as a singer/songwriter/guitarist. The disc closes with three live songs from his 1977 double-album "Night After Night," which showcases how well of a performer Nils is on stage. Disc three continues his solo career, beginning with his 1979 collaborations with Dick Wagner, Lou Reed and Bob Ezrin on the album "Nils." His last album to crack the top 100 on the album chart, "Night Fades Away," features the popular Del Shannon cover "I Go To Pieces." This disc ends with the song "Everybody Wants," just prior to Nils joining the E Street Band and taking a two year break from his solo career.

Nils would return with a new album in 1985 ("Flip") which carried a different sound for Nils Lofgren, but fit in with the synthesizer-filled music of the mid-1980's. Disc four features songs like "Girl In Motion," "Valentine" and "Shot At You" showing a softer side to Nils' songwriting, while the bluesy feel of "Trouble's Back" and East Coast rock of "New Kind Of Freedom" displays some of the sound that rubbed off from working with Bruce Springsteen.  Disc Five contains the majority of Nils' recordings from the nineties self-released albums. His guitar playing and songwriting seems to get a little darker and bluesier during this period in his career, but it was a welcome change for his sound. He would also abandon the idea of a hit single with songs reaching the eight-minute mark ("Tender Love" and "Out Of The Grave") and containing a story that makes you pay attention to the lyrics as in "Life" and "Little On Up."

During the time period of 1996 to 2001, Nils Lofgren did not make a studio album, just one live album. Disc six covers this period of Nils experimenting with his sound and songwriting. He still has his knack for writing acoustic pop tunes with "Puttin' Out Fires" and "Love A Child" and also tries his hand at jazz with the piano ballad "Heaven's Answer To Blue." The acoustic folk style of "Open Road" and country strumming of "Tears On Ice" perfectly suites his latest songwriting style. Disc Seven, which is my personal favorite of the set, features his most recent solo original and cover songs, beginning with a live mellow versions of "Live Rain" and an acoustic, but powerful rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." The disc also features three covers of the Neil Young classics "I Am A Child," "Mr. Soul" and "World On A String." The disc also features some of Nils most rocking songs in decades like "Old School" and "Ain't Too Many Of Us Left" and closes with his rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Wreck On The Highway." Discs 8 & 9 of the set include 40 unreleased and rarity songs that are all compiled together in one place for fans to enjoy. It features the early Grin song "Keith Don't Go" with Neil Young on backing vocals and the honky-tonk feel of "Sweet Four Wings." The funkiness of "Stay Hungry" and the progressive rock of the eleven-minute "Message," shows the diversity in Nils' songwriting. He hits 80's rock gold with an alternate version of "Beauty And The Beast" and closes with his soft, emotional take of "O Holy Night."

This box set also contains a DVD featuring 20 video clips, a 136-page booklet with track-by-track commentary and personal reflections of touring with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Ringo Starr. This massive undertaking has been delayed once to get thing perfect and will finally be released on August 5th. To find out more about this release, please visit nilslofgren.com.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review: A Must Read Book For Metal Music Fans Summer Reading List

Here is one book that needs to be on every classic heavy metal music fan's list is "The Big Book Of Hair Metal - The Illustrated Oral History Of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade." It tells the complete story of this sub-category of metal music, straight from the mouths of the artists that lived it.

The book could be read two different ways, one way is to read the timeline facts, beginning in 1951 with the release of "Rocket 88," the first unofficial rock 'n' roll song recorded. Then continuing through the sixties and seventies until Quiet Riot's "Metal Health" tops the album charts in November 1983, becoming the first "metal" album to do so. It highlights the major album and single releases that made an effect on this musical genre and why some of them are significant to the development of "hair metal." The other way the book could be read is reading the thousands of quotes that author Martin Popoff has gathered together to help explain the history of this music phenomenon. It's great to hear early insight from Dave Davies (The Kinks) and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) as to what was happening in the sixties and seventies to help develop this brand of music. The greatest quotes come from right in the heart of the book, when members of Motley Crue and Poison and Twisted Sister and tons more talk about their albums, tours or even clothing and make-up.

If that doesn't keep you coming back for more, then the tons of memorabilia pictures, album covers and photos will. Just flipping through the pages brought back so many memories of that era of music that I could not stop examining every little thing. With over 200 pages of information, this book could be considered the encyclopedia of "hair metal." As with all good things, they must come to an end as this era of metal music did with the September 1991 release of Nirvana's blockbuster "Nevermind" album.

To find out more about this great "must have" book, please visit qbookshop.com.