Monday, November 20, 2017

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Gathers Together Early Demos For America

The trio of Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek became one of the most famous folk/rock bands in the seventies, when they were known simply as America. They topped the charts numerous times with the songs "A Horse With No Name" and "Sister Golden Hair" and released 18 studio albums between 1971-2015. The band's latest release comes from Omnivore Recordings and is titled "Heritage: Home Recordings/Demos 1970-1973." It features 15 studio recordings and eventually some would appear on one of America's first three albums. Ten of the new releases fifteen tracks have never been previously released in this form and will certainly give the listener some insight into how great these songs were formed in the studio.

The new set starts out with the wonderful harmonies of "Riverside" as the song carries a more upbeat feel than some of their other earlier tracks like "Here" and Rainy Day." The short, but sweet a capella delivery of "When I Was Five" is a real treat, while the trio's songwriting grew in the songs "Goodbye" and "Ventura Highway." The new release wraps up with the guys discussing the recording of "Rainbow Song" and a beautiful hidden bonus track, an a capella version of there hit single "A Horse With No Name." To find out more about America's latest release "Heritage: Home Recordings/Demos 1970-1973," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

CD Review: Newly Discovered Live Tim Buckley Music Gets "Venice Mating Call" Release

American singer/songwriter Tim Buckley was one of the pioneers of folk music in the late-sixties. His sound would evolve over the course of his ten-year musical career. His songs would take on a more avant-garde style, adding a more psychedelic/jazz sound to his work. Buckley's life would be cut short due to a heroin overdose in 1975. Since then, multiple compilations and live albums have been released posthumous, including the fan favorite "Live At The Troubadour 1969."

Some new, unreleased music from his shows at the Troubadour in 1969 have been unearthed and have made their way onto the latest live album from Tim Buckley titled "Venice Mating Call." It is a new 2CD set that features some different versions of songs that appeared on his "Live At The Troubadour" album and some that have never been previously released. The set begins with the upbeat, acoustic folk strumming of "Buzzin' Fly" and the quieter "Blues Melody." The album begins to showcase Buckley's creativity during the jazzy instrumental "Venice Mating Call, which leads into the thirteen-plus minute jam "Gypsy Woman."

The second disc kicks off with the gentle, acoustic blues of "Drifitin'" as Buckley's voice is in fine form. He picks up the tempo for the sixties groove of "(I Wanna) Testify" as you can almost see Buckley preaching from the stage to his choir of fans. His sound gets more experimental on the 11-minute journey of "Lorca," before closing this new set with the full-on rock assault of "Nobody Walkin'." Also being released is a 2-LP set titled "Greetings From West Hollywood," which features nine more tracks (only 2 are similar to the 2CD set) that have recently been uncovered. To find out more about these two new live releases from Tim Buckley, please visit timbuckley.com.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

CD/DVD Review: Volume 13 Of "The Bootleg Series" Showcases Bob Dylan's Religous Years

On November 3rd, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings released the latest volume in the ongoing "Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series." This years marks volume 13 of the series and centers around Bob Dylan's most controversial era of his career. The new volume titled "Trouble No More" covers Bob Dylan's live and studio output from 1979 to 1981 and during that period, Bob Dylan became a born-again Christian. He released three studio albums during that period ("Slow Train Coming," "Saved" and "Shot Of Love"). Looking back, many fans feel that this is his strongest, most personal trilogy of albums to date and they contain some of the most poetic lyrics of Dylan's entire career.

In order to dig deeper into this three year time period of Dylan's career, "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13" contains the most massive deluxe box set to date (beside the exclusive " Vol. 12: Collector's Edition" which contained 18 discs). It features 8 CDs of unreleased live material and studio outtakes and for the first time in the series, a full-length DVD is also included in the deluxe box set. 

The first two discs of the set contain random live performances of his newly penned songs that center around Christianity. You will instantly notice how strong Dylan's vocals are in these performances and also how well these songs have been recorded. Up until this release, Dylan fans would only have access to bootleg recordings of shows from this era and many of them did not sound that great. The clarity and power of these live recordings are felt on the 30 songs that make up these first couple CDs.

Discs three and four contain over 30 studio recordings of outtakes and rehearsals that will give die-hard fans insight into Dylan's state-of-mind creating those three iconic albums. Almost half of the songs featured on these CDs are of unreleased songs that have never appeared on a Bob Dylan album, which just goes to show that amount of material that Dylan was recording during these three years of inspiration.

One song that kicks off each of the first four discs is "Solid Rock" as you hear the differences in each recording of the song, whether being performed live on stage or in the recording studio. The final four CDs in the set feature Bob Dylan live in Toronto in 1980 and his full performance of him at Earl's Court, London in June 1981. The two Toronto discs contain the best performance of his three shows there, while his Earl's Court show features one of the last shows of the tour as Dylan was beginning to incorporate some of his older songs back into his setlist like "Maggie's Farm," "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Blowin' In The Wind."

The DVD contains a newly created musical film titled "Trouble No More," which features concert footage interwoven with a newly filmed sermon preaching the word of Christianity. The hour-long film contains some outstanding footage of Dylan live in concert as you can see the enjoyment in his face, leading his amazing live band and back-up singers through his new compositions. You will also be able to re-watch the concert footage without the preaching as part of the DVD extras, along with a rare performance of "Shot Of Love" from his 1981 show in Avignon.

Included with this deluxe box set is a 120-page hardcover book of photos and artwork during the Bob Dylan era of 1979-1981. Another great addition is the 50-pages of information about each song that appears on this set, explaining what and why these recordings were picked for this latest addition of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series." Also released on the same day was a consolidated 2CD set that includes the first two live discs from the box set. To find out more about volume 13 of the "Bob Dylan Bootleg Series," please visit bobdylan.com.

Friday, November 17, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Iconic Artists Boubacar Traore, Lorenzo Feliciati & Roswell Rudd

African bluesman, Boubacar Traore will be releasing his new album "Dounia Tabolo" on November 17th. He is a self-taught guitarist who came into prominence in the early 1960s. As quickly as he entered the music scene, he vanished for nearly 20 years before releasing his first album of new material in 1990. Now, Traore continues to carry on the Kassonke tradition with his new 13-song album, which begins with the swampy, New Orleans blues inspired "Dounia Tabolo." While you may not recognize the words, you can surely appreciate the music and the feeling it delivers to your soul. The backporch, acoustic blues of "Ben De Kadi" does contain some English, but's is the combination of African and American blues that is what captures your attention. The 7-minute songs, "Kanou"  and "Dis Lui Que Je L'Aime Comme Mon Pays" will have you appreciate Boubacar's songwriting ability as he combines different aspects of his influences to create these memorable works of art. Boubacar Traore finishes up his new album with the steady, repetitive chorus of "Macire," before returning back to the swamp blues of "Askia Mohamed." To find out more about Boubacar Traore and his latest release "Dounia Tabolo," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/boubacar.traore.music.

Italian bassist and composer Lorenzo Feliciati will be releasing his new studio album "Elevator Man" on November 17th, through RareNoise Records. It continues his work of combining the elements of jazz and rock as he associates with musicians from all over the world to achieve this goal. His new 10-song release begins with the atmospheric, keyboard driven sound of the title song, "Elevator Man" and the more aggressive, rock approach of "The Brick." The adventure continues with the wonderful horns of "14 Stones" and the quieter jazz appeal of "Black Book, Red Letters." He stretches out his sound with the progressive rock assault of "Unchained Houdini," before he lets up on his progressive rock assault to just let the music float on by "The Third Door." Lorenzo Feliciati finishes up his new album with the steady pace of "Thief Like Me," which allows the band to deliver some stellar solos and the mellow, drifting sound of "U Turn In Falmouth." To find out more about Lorenzo Feliciati and his latest release "Elevator Man," please visit rarenoiserecords.com.

Legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd will also be releasing his new album titled  "Embrace" on November 17th, through RareNoise Records. It features eight standards that Rudd has performed from time to time throughout his illustrious career. Vocalist Fay Victor lends her beautiful voice to Duke Ellington's "Something To Live For," before she skats her way through Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Rudd makes his presence known, providing a lift to the songs erratic rhythm. The band is rounded out with pianist Lafayette Harris and bassist Ken Filiano as they work wonderfully with Rudd on the mellow, 11-plus minute jazz/blues of "Too Late Now." The new release wraps up with the eight-minute, dark emotional embrace of "House Of The Rising Sun" and the gentle sway of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica." To find out more about Roswell Rudd and his latest album "Embrace," please visit rarenoiserecords.com.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Rising Artists Jamison Ross, Rachel Platten & Grace Vanderwaal

Grammy-nominated artist Jamison Ross is preparing to release his sophomore album titled "All For One" on January 26th, through the Concord Music Group. After receiving so much accolade for his debut album "Jamison," he continues to build upon that strong foundation with this new album. The new 13-track release begins with the up-beat, New Orleans jazz style of "A Mellow Good Time," originally written by the late, great Allen Toussaint. Jamison Ross follows that up with the mellow R&B groove of "Unspoken" and the classic ballad "Don't Go To Strangers," made famous by Etta James. Pianist Chris Pattishall showcases his talents on the keys on the smooth cover of Mose Allison's "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy," then Ross settles in to the bossa nova rhythm of "Tears And Questions." He wraps up his new album with the Big Easy-based title song "All For One" and the stripped-down, stark version of Fats Waller's "Let's Sing Again." To find out more about Jamison Ross and his new album "All For One," please visit jamisonrossmusic.com.

American pop singer/songwriter Rachel Platten recently released her new album titled "Waves." It became available on October 27th through Columbia Records and features 13-tracks that continue Platten's rise to superstardom. The new album begins with the addictive beats and chorus of "Perfect For You" and "Whole Heart" as Rachel allows her voice to soar. The album's lead single "Broken Glass" already cracked the "Top 20" singles chart since being released in August. The song's deep R&B groove will have you hooked as Platten pulls off her greatest pop endeavor. She pours her emotions into "Loose Ends" and works the rhythm of "Loveback," before finishing up her new album with the up-lifting tone of "Fooling You" and the powerful ballad of "Grace." To find out more about Rachel Platten and her latest release "Waves," please visit rachelplatten.com.

Rising artist Grace Vanderwaal has been going non-stop since winning NBC's "America's Got Talent" competition in 2016 at the age of 12. She performed at the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Special Olympics Winter Games, won "Best New Artist" for Radio Disney and the Teen Choice Awards and is releasing her full-length debut solo album titled "Just The Beginning" on November 3rd through Columbia Records. Her new 12-song release continues to include her sweet vocals and ukulele as she begins her journey into pop super-stardom with the dance beats of "Moonlight." Her music portrays a fun, light-hearted atmosphere as in "Sick Of Being Told" and "Escape My Mind" as fans will enjoy her innocence. The energy in her songs are just so positive it becomes addicting as in "Florets" and "A Better Life." She wraps up her new release with the quiet, acoustics of "Darkness Keeps Chasing Me," which allows you to focus on Grace's beautiful vocals. Grace Vanderwaal has show dates lined-up in November and February that have all been sold out for months. To find out more about her new album "Just The Beginning," please visit gracevanderwaal.com.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CD Review: New Heavy Metal Releases From Tyfon's Doom, Lady Beast, Iron Griffin, Thantifaxath & Starsoup

There is a trio of new heavy metal releases arriving in mid-November that you need to know about. First up is the full-length debut release titled "Emperor's Path" from the Finish heavy metal Tyfon's Doom. It features 11-tracks of classic, NWOBHM-type anthems that will make you an instant fan. The chugging guitar riffs of "The Hidden Hand" and the exciting, head-banging rhythm of "Sea Of Life" showcase that Tyfon's Doom have done their homework, studying the music of Motorhead and Saxon. The album's driving force is heard in the intensity of "Moonlight" and the musicianship during the 6-minute progressive metal sounding "Rising Earth." To find out more about Tyfon's Doom and their latest release "Emperor's Path," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/tyfonsdoom.

Also arriving on November 17th is the latest release from Lady Beast titled "Vicious Breed." This new 8-song energy blast is the band's latest on Cruz Del Sur Music and should grab the attention of the underground metal world. The album begins with a gentle guitar instrumental that gets pumped up with the adrenaline of "Seal The Hex." Lead singer Deborah Levine will easily draw you in with her charismatic, timeless vocals as in "The Way," while the band's classic thrash metal sound as in "Get Out" will keep you wanting more from Lady Beast. They wrap up their new album with the melodic tones of "Sky Graves" and the final heavy metal attack from the "Vicious Breed." To find out more about Lady Beast and their latest release "Vicious Breed," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/ladybeastofficial.

Another mid-November release comes from the side project of Mausoleum Gate drummer Oskeri Razanez. His new one-man band, Iron Griffin will release their debut EP on the 17th. The self-titled album features 5-tracks that tell the tale of "Iron Griffin," beginning with the atmospheric keyboard "Intro." The intensity picks-up with the quick-steady pace of "Message From Beyond" and continues with the chugging rhythm of "Metal Conquest." His new short release finishes up with the six-plus minute epic sounding adventure of "Lord Inquistor" as Razanez finally comes into his own as artist. To find out more about Iron Griffin and his new self-titled EP, please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/irongriffinmetal.

The next week brings us the new release titled "Void Masquerading As Matter" from the Canadian death-metal band, Thantifaxath. Their new 4-song release begins with the aggressive sonic blast of "Ocean Of Screaming Spheres." With 3 of the albums 4 songs clocking in past the nine-minute mark, you will easily find yourself lost within the songs.  The pounding rhythm of "Self-Devouring Womb" opens up to the gentle violin strings, which lead straight into the intense build-up of "Cursed Numbers." Thantiaxath have abandoned the blueprint of creating songs and have instead led you down to a completely different musical experience. To find out more about Thantifaxath and their latest release "Void Masquerading As Matter," please visit facebook.com/DarkDescentRecords.

Two weeks later, on December 1st we will see the new release from Starsoup titled "Castles Of Sand." After four years of waiting, fans will be able to immerse themselves back into the progressive rock world of Starsoup. Their new 12-song release begins with quick tempo changes and pounding rhythm of "The Catcher In The Lie" as your excitement builds with each song. The band demonstrates their soft rock sound with "Into The Woods," before returning with the Metallica-like appeal of "Brother's Plea." The acoustics of "Rumors Of Better Love" showcase the band's wonderful songwriting, while the hardcore metal feel of "Escapist" displays Starsoup's diversity in their music. They wrap up their new album with the epic prog-rock of "Castle" and the piano ballad instrumental piece "Moon On The Shore." To find out more about Starsoup and their latest release "Castles Of Sand," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/Starsoup.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Metal Blade Records Artists RAM, Cannibal Corpse And Batushka

Metal Blade Records rolled out some new releases from established heavy metal bands RAM, Cannibal Corpse and Batushka. Then, on Black Friday, we get the sequel to 2006's "Dimevision, Vol. 1" with a more in-depth look at the life of guitarist Dimebag Darrell with "Dimevision, Vol. 2: Roll With It or Get Rolled Over." First up, is the new album from RAM titled "Rod." It is the band's 5th full-length studio album since their conception in 1999 and features the six-part story of "Ramrod the Destroyer." They begin with the seven-plus minute prog-metal piece "Declaration Of Independence" as RAM deliver a nostalgic heavy metal sound to open their new album. They pick the tempo up for the quick pace of "On The Wings Of No Return" and "A Throne At Midnight," before reaching the "side 2" concept story. The epic piece "Ignitor" gets the energy flowing, while "The Cease To Be" and "Ashes" are more concerned with the idea of the concept story than keeping up the heavy metal attack. To find out more about RAM and their latest release "Rod," please visit ram-metal.com.

Death metal icons Cannibal Corpse returned on November 3rd with a brand new studio album titled "Red Before Black." It features a dozen hardcore death metal anthems. Even 30 years into their career, this band shows no signs of slowing down. Drummer Paul Mazurkiewcz mentioned in an interview that the band spent more time "crafting these songs and getting them where we wanted to be more so than on any of our previous albums." Cannibal Corpse come blasting out of the gate with the intense destruction of "Only One Will Die" as you will instantly be drawn in to this new album. It seems like they try to speed things up even more on "Red Before Black," before they get more melodic in the delivery of "Shedding My Human Skin" as the chugging guitar riffs motor through the song. As they continue to bash away on "Remaimed," Cannibal Corpse increase the tempo of "Corpus Delicti" and "Destroyed Without A Trace," before closing their new album with the outstanding musicianship of "Hideous Ichor." To find out more about Cannibal Corpse and their latest release "Red Before Black," please visit cannibalcorpse.net.

Next we get the eight-piece concept album "Litourgiya" from the Polish metal band Batushka. While the identities of the band members remains unknown, their music features a combination of hardcore death metal music and Gregorian chants as displayed in the opening track "Yekteniya I - Ochishcheniye." The album continues with the intense, chaotic blast of "Yekteniva II - Blagosloveniye" and the screaming vocals of the epic, 6-minute heavy metal attack of "Yekteniva V - Svyatyy Vkhod." Batushka wrap up their new album with the grand heavy metal appeal of "Yekteniva VI - Upovanie" and slow, doom metal feel of "Yekteniva VIII - Spasenie." To find out more about Batushka and their latest release "Litourgiya," please visit batushkaofficial.com.

Finally we arrive at the November 24th release of "Dimevision Vol. 2: Roll With It Or Get Rolled Over." It continues to tell the story of the life and times of Pantera/Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was taken from us way too soon. Everywhere Dimebag went, his video camera followed and captured the footage that would give us insight into his everyday life. There is rumored to be over 40 hours of footage still available to make more volumes of "Dimevision." To find out more, please visit metalblade.com/dimevision.

Monday, November 13, 2017

CD Review: New Releases From American Standards, La Fin Absolute Du Monde And Satanic

From Phoenix, AZ comes the latest release titled "Anti-Melody" from the hardcore punk band American Standards. The band has gone through multiple line-up changes and dabbled with record labels throughout their short career, before deciding on the best route for the band would be to remain independent.  This new release is the band's fifth album and it contains 8-songs that wastes no time blasting their energy straight into your face. The lead-off track, "Writers Block" is an intense, quick-pace song that lays it all out as to what to expect from American Standards. The energy and screams continue with "Carpe Diem, Tomorrow," before pulling back the reigns for the more radio-friendly feel of "Bartenders Without Wings." Their new 30-minute release wraps up with the guitar frenzy of "Cancer Eater" and alternative buzz of "Chicago Overcoat." To find out more about American Standards and their latest release "Anti-Melody," please visit their Facebook page facebook.com/AmericanStandards.

What began as a love of industrial metal music has now reached its course as Oakland, CA industrial metal band, La Fin Absolute Du Monde have released their final studio album titled "Killing The Host." The husband and wife duo of Jason Myles and Cyndy Melanio met in 2009 and joined their music forces to create La Fin Absolute Du Monde. They released their debut studio album in January 2016 and have since parted ways. Their latest 14-song release "Killing The Host" is a socially conscious album, which begins with the raw, industrial rumble of the title-song. The duo work with the different tempos of "Dismal Dawn Horrid Horizons," before delivering the hardcore metal assault of "The Cleansing." The epic pieces "They Divide" and "Black Prophetic Fire" allows you get lost in their music, before they wrap up their new studio album with the experimental, grunge-like build up of "Savages" and the more melodic feel of "Dark Days." To find out more about La Fin Absoulte Du Monde and their latest release "Killing The Host," please visit their Facebook page facebook.com/lafinabsolutedumonde.

With a band name like Satanic, you know that these are not happy songs that appear on the band's new release titled "Architecture Of Chaos." This Canadian death metal band has gathered their influence of old school metal to unleash their hardcore sound on their debut album. It begins with the swift attack of "Mephistophelian" as the band keeps the energy on high through this 6-minute opener. Next comes the quick chugging rhythm of "World Of Chaos" and the aggressive "Processing The Undead" as Santanic are living up to their intense name. The band finishes up their new 8-song release with the epic, hardcore death metal jaunt through "Armageddon" and the nearly 9-minute recollection of "Tchernobyl 86." To find out more about Satanic and their latest release "Architecture Of Chaos," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/SATANICthrashmetaltroisrivieres.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

DVD Review: The Life Of Mick Ronson Finally Gets Told In New "Beside Bowie" Documentary

English guitarist/songwriter/producer Mick Ronson left us way too soon when he died of cancer at the ripe young age of 46. He helped develop the sound of David Bowie in the seventies, worked on iconic albums by Lou Reed, Mott The Hoople and Bob Dylan and also created a couple of successful solo albums. To remember the life and times of Mick Ronson, director/producer Jon Brewer gathered many of his friends and colleges to help tell the story of Mick Ronson's success in the new documentary "Beside Bowie." 

The great thing about this film is the voice overs from David Bowie telling the story of how he and Mick Ronson came to work together on some of Bowie's classic albums like "Honky Dory" and "Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars." The documentary also contains historic footage of Ronson discussing the outlandish style portrayed by Bowie in the seventies. The film also goes on to depth, discussing his amazing songwriting ability as colleges like Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople) and Rick Wakeman (Yes) talk about how Ronson came up with certain pieces of songs that would make them iconic pieces in rock history.

The appearance of Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) helps see the impact Mick Ronson had to the careers of David Bowie, Ian Hunter, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan from a fans perspective. The way the late-Lou Reed discusses Ronson's contributions to his "Transformers" album sounds as if Reed had become an instant fan of Ronson's song compositions. Everyone interviewed for this film showcases their love and admiration for the talents of Mick Ronson and how he impacted the sound of music in the seventies especially his help establishing the early career of David Bowie.

The highlight of the film is Mick Ronson's appearance at the "Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert" in 1992. Ronson performed alongside Bowie and the members of Queen one last time in front of one of the largest television audiences of all time, even though he was dealing with terminal liver cancer. Ronson spent the final months of his life working on one final solo album that would include contributions from his friends and colleges like David Bowie, Ian Hunter and Joe Elliott to just name a few. This new documentary does an outstanding job giving fans and admirers insight into the life of one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Mick Ronson. To find out more about the newly released "Beside Bowie" documentary, please visit mvdb2b.com.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

CD Review: Elton John Celebrates His "Diamond" Anniversary With New Greatest Hits Release

Legendary artist Elton John has had no less than eight greatest hits compilations released in the last 40-plus years. So, why would we need another one? Well, the reason being is that "Diamonds" is the most complete "greatest hits" collection to date, covering Elton John's entire career, from his first hit single "Your Song" right up until his latest 2016 album "Wonderful Crazy Night." This release is also a celebration of 50 years for Elton John in the music industry. Plus Elton had a hand in selecting the tracks and this new set which features over 50 songs on an exclusive 3CD deluxe set, the most of any Elton John greatest hits albums.

Universal Music, in association with Rocket Entertainment, will release "Diamonds" on November 10th in a number of different formats, including one, two and three CD sets along with vinyl and digital formats. The deluxe 3CD set features the same 34-tracks on the 2CD set, along with 3rd disc of 17-more tracks that were hand-picked by Elton as some of his personal favorites. The double-gatefold vinyl only features 21-tracks, while the single disc includes 17 of his biggest hits from this set.

This new release demonstrates how timeless his music still is, as songs like "Tiny Dancer," "Honky Cat," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie And The Jets" help to define the sound of the seventies. He hit is pop stride in eighties with songs like "Blue Eyes," "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" and "Nikita." The Disney movie, "The Lion King" breathed new life into his music during the nineties as "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "Circle Of Life" will live on forever in Disney legacy. Elton John released only five albums over the course of the last 20 years and a handful of songs from those releases round out this new "Diamonds" collection. To find out more about this new release from Elton John, please visit eltonjohn.com.

Friday, November 10, 2017

CD Review: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Choose Red Rocks For Debut Live Album

Rising rock & soul band, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats headlined their first tour in 2016 and to capture that feat, the band recorded their show at the famed Red Rocks for a new release. The band's debut live album "Live At Red Rocks" features 18-tracks, packed with enough soul that you will easily find yourself grooving along to these songs. The band's self-titled debut album topped the U.S. folk album chart back in 2015 and 3 of albums' singles cracked the top five on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart. All, but one of the songs in the band's setlist is an original, expect for a rousing rendition of the closing track, Sam Cooke's "Having A Party."
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats invited the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band to join them for the first few songs of the show, including the instrumental march, "Failing Dirge" and the swift, rocking pace of "I've Been Failing." They slow the tempo down slightly for a swinging rendition of "Howling At Nothing" and "Mellow Out." Nathaniel Rateliff goes back in time to his 2011 debut solo album for the quiet, emotional delivery of "You Should've Seen The Other Guy," before the party anthem "I Need Never Get Old." Rateliff & The Night Sweats jam on the 8-minute "Shake" and find the perfect balance of rock and soul to groove on "Thank You." Their new live release closes with the fan favorite "S.O.B.," which firmly puts Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats on the map as one of the rising bands of modern rock/soul music. To find out more about Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and their new live album "Live At Red Rocks," please visit nathanielrateliff.com.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Drive On Mak, Diving Rod, Resilient & Randy Steele

Austin-based rock band Drive On Mak recently released their follow-up album "Babylon" to their 2014 debut album "Weapon." Their new 6-song EP begins with the title song "Babylon" as the song's steady, addictive groove follows the lyrics based on Biblical stories and also inspired by the movie "A Knight's Tale." The album continues with the stories of King David in the bluesy delivery of "Kiss They Hand," before the tempo finally picks up with the classic rockabilly/punk sounding "Outlaw." Drive On Mak finish up their latest album with the light-hearted folk/rock of "When I'm Gone." To find out more about Drive On Mak and their latest release "Babylon," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/driveonmak.

From Brooklyn, NY comes the latest 2-song release from the country/rock duo Diving Rod. The main single, titled "Hemlock Blues" features the iconic vocals of Hawaiian-born, multi-instrumentalist Miyuki Futado, while the sweet guitar work of Patrick Harmon closes the song with an amazing solo. The flipside of the double-single release is the steady pace of "Love Come Tumbling" as Futado's vocals lead the way. The two tracks are from the forthcoming album from Diving Rod titled "Return To Crystal Cove." To find out more about Diving Rod and their latest release "Hemlock Blues/Love Comes Tumbling," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/diviningrod.

From Philadelphia comes the alternative/grunge band Resilient with their new album, "How To Peach." Their new 10-song release begins with the guitar-driven, "Crickets" and the slow-pace of "Ceiling" as you get drawn in to the band's post-punk sound and vocals of Erin Fox. Resilient showcase their nineties influence on "Medication," while "Comin Yer Way" carries a funky groove. They finish up their new release with the quieter delivery of "The Duchess Act" and the raw, punk approach of "How To Preach." To find out more about Resilient and their latest release "How To Peach," please visit resilienttheband.com.

Bluegrass frontman Randy Steele breaks away from his band, Slim Pickins to release his debut solo album "Songs From The Suck." This new 12-song release begins with the nostalgic feel of "Northbound 29" as you'd thing that Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs made a record together. Randy showcases his skills on the banjo with the instrumental "Shove The Pig's Foot A Little Closer To The Fire," before the beautiful bluegrass ballad "Mobile Soon." The pace songs quickens for "Eliza Mae" and "1983,"  while he hits his folk stride with the acoustic, storied lyrics of "Visitation Day." Randy Steele finishes up his new album with the quick, punk-like speed of "One Man Stringer" and the short blues of "...To The New Perspective." To find out more about Randy Steele and his latest release "Songs From The Suck," please visit randysteelemusic.com.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Indie-Artists Keith Harkin, Michael Tracy And Ragged Union

Irish singer/songwriter Keith Harkin will be releasing a brand new live, acoustic album titled "In The Round" on December 8th. Harkin, who is a member of the popular Irish music group, Celtic Thunder, released his first solo album in 2012 and his popularity just continues to grow. The show featured within this new release took place last summer at Venice Beach, CA, to which Harkin now calls home. The new 14-song set begins with the heartfelt ballad "Lauren & I," then he picks the tempo up with the quick pace of "I Remember It All." You can certainly hear his Irish accent as he describes the ballad "Take Me Down," before he performs a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey In The Jar." Harkin struts through "Mercy" as the crowd helps him keep the rhythm of this protest-style anthem. His songwriting really shines on the strength of "Care Free Heart," before wrapping up the show with the surf-inspired "September Sessions" and beautiful singing of "Wait On Me." To find out more about Keith Harkin and his new live album "In The Round," please visit keithharkin.com.

Arriving on November 17th, is the fourth studio album titled "Still Got Soul" from American rock 'n' roller Michael Tracy. It will be the debut release on Tracy's own label, TW Music Group and was produced by Bob Marlette (Alice Cooper) and Sahaj Tictin (Ra). Tracy has also recently opened shows for Bon Jovi, Poison and Dokken to name a few. His new 10-song release kicks off with the up-tempo, guitar driven "Laughter." He lets up on the gas a bit for the more pop-oriented "My Lisa," before heading into the blues of the title song, "Still Got Soul." Michael Tracy finds the perfect balance with the exciting delivery of "Call Me Wild" and the country rocker "Sweet Smile." He finishes up his new studio album with the addictive, funky bass groove of "Shake It" and the built-up power ballad "Raven." Tracy also tacks on an original holiday bonus track he recorded back in 2016, titled "Poinsettia Red." To find out more about Michael Tracy and his latest release "Still Got Soul," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/MichaelTracySongwriter.

From Colorado comes the latest release from the bluegrass/country/folk band Ragged Union. Their new album titled "Time Captain" was released back in October and features 11-tracks of down-home, feel-good music. They begin with the swift pace of "Leaving Louisville" as husband and wife duo, Geoff and Christina Union showcase their wonderful harmonies. Christina takes the vocal spotlight on the storied lyrics of "Time Captain," before the tempo picks up for the spirited bluegrass of "If You Don't Love Me." The album continues with the instrumental piece "Cross Country Chimes," featuring the award-winning performers Jordan Ramsey and Chris Elliott along with musicians Justin Hoffenberg and David Richey. Ragged Union's music carries a nostalgic feel as in "Bridge On Fire" and "Moonshine Boogie," before finishing up their new album with the quick story of "Diamond Joe." To find out more about Ragged Union and their latest release "Time Captain," please visitraggedunionbluegrass.com.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CD Review: New Prog-Rock Releases From King Crimson, Simon Phillips & Wingfield Reuter Sirkis

English rock band King Crimson has been a constant touring force since their conception in 1969. While the band's line-up may have changed over the course of the last 40-plus years, their music has always been the pinnacle of progressive rock. The band recently released a new live album titled "Official Bootleg: Live In Chicago, June 28th, 2017." It showcases the band's most current line-up, which is cemented by the band's only remaining original member Robert Fripp.
 
The new 2-disc set begins with a quick tune-up, which leads into the 9-plus minute instrumental piece "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part One." King Crimson cover all parts of their long career, including songs from their eighties ("Neurotica" and "Indiscipline") and 2000 ("The ConstruKction Of Light" and "Level Five") albums. The magic of King Crimson is how well they recreate their classic songs like "The Lizard Suite" and "Islands" in this live setting. This set is filled with epic songs (10-minute "Pictures Of A City" & 14-minute "Starless") that allows you to get lost in the moment of theseperformances . The two-and-a-half hour set concludes with a live version of David Bowie's "Heroes," which was released on it's own EP earlier this year, and a magnificent 15-minute version of their classic "21st Century Schizoid Man." To find out more about this new live release from King Crimson, please visit dgmlive.com.
 
English rock/jazz drummer Simon Phillips recently released his new solo album titled "Protocol 4." Phillips may be best known as the drummer of Toto during the nineties, but Phillips also worked with The Who, Jeff Beck and even Judas Priest. His new album teams him up with legendary guitarist Greg Howe, Keyboardist Dennis Hamm and bassist Ernest Tibbs. The new 9-song release kicks off with the nearly 9-minute progressive rock piece "Nimbus" that keeps the energy flowing with its mid-song tempo changes. The jazz fusion of "Pentangle" and the funky groove of "Solitaire" showcase the diversity of the band's sound with Phillips' drumming keeping pace. The hour-long album wraps up with the guitar blues of "Phantom Voyage" and the more energetic run of "Azorez." Simon Phillips and his touring band are currently on the road for a 2-month world tour that concludes in California in mid-December. For a complete list of dates and to find out more about his new album "Protocol 4," please visit simon-phillips.com.
 
The trio of Mark Wingfield (guitar), Marus Reuter (guitar) and Asaf Sirkis (drums) return with a new rock/jazz fusion album titled "Lighthouse." It features 7-tracks of jamming, progressive music that look to push out the boundaries of rock. All of the songs were recorded live during the studio sessions with very little, to no overdubs. The album begins with the song "Zinc" as Sirkis' drum work keeps things steady, while Mark Wingfield sparks up the song's intensity. Markus Reuter leads the way with his AU8 touch guitar on the spacey jam of "Derecho." Then, the album takes you on a journey with the back-to-back epic pieces "Ghost Light" and "Magnetic," before finishing up with the wildly energetic "A Hand In The Dark" and the steady riff driven "Surge." To find out more about Wingfield Reuter Sirkis and their latest release "Lighthouse," please visit markwingfield-moonjune.bandcamp.com.

Monday, November 6, 2017

CD/DVD Review: Culture Club Celebrates Their 35th Anniversary With New Live Release

The multi-platinum selling group, Culture Club gathered together all of the original members and went on a 40-date world tour in 2016. Their show at England's Wembley Arena was captured for the band's newest release "Culture Club Live At Wembley." The first thing you notice is how timeless the quality of their music is. Culture Club had two Top 20 albums in the U.S. and four in the U.K. during the eighties and their songs were everywhere on radio and television.
 
Now, to celebrate the band's 35th anniversary they recorded their amazingly, energetic live show for this new Blu-ray, DVD, CD, vinyl release. The band's 80-minute performance covers all of their hits, including "It's A Miracle," "I Tumble For Ya" and "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me." They also throw in a couple cover songs, like a reggae version of Bread's " I Would Give Anything I Own" and the rocking show closer T. Rex's "Bang A Gong (Get It On)."
 
It's great to see Boy George interact with the audience and with the band, especially during the R&B ballad "Black Money" and the funky "Like I Used To." Culture Club get serious and invite the audience to sing-along during the chorus of "The War Song," before turning up the party lights for their biggest hit single "Karma Chameleon." Watching the video, you see how each member enjoys being on stage with the band that made them into rock stars. To find out more about "Culture Club Live At Wembley," please visit cultureclub.co.uk.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

CD Review: New Deluxe Editions Of Debut Albums From The Yeah Yeah Yeahs & Carmaig de Forest

American indie-rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs have dominated college radio for the better part of the last decade. After a brief hiatus, which began in 2014, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are ready to return to their fans. Leading the way is a new deluxe remaster of their debut album "Fever To Tell." The album will be celebrating it's 15th anniversary in 2018 and was a major success for the band, selling over a million copies worldwide. This new deluxe release features the original album remastered on 180-gram vinyl, plus unreleased demos, B-sides and other rarities. Also included in the set is a 164-page hardcover book with Nick Zinner's personal photos and pages from lead singer Karen O's notebook. One of the great ideas that is part of this set is a champagne cork looking USB stick that includes all of the 29 audio tracks and over 90 minutes of video.

The original album sounds better now than when it was released in 2003. The rawness of their sound and the stellar vocals of Karen O is just as relevant as when they were leading the underground rock revolution in the early 2000's. Fans will want to dive into the bonus tracks that consist of the band's four-track demo, which includes the experimental "Shot Down" and "Ooh Ooh Ooh." The flip side of the second LP features the previously unreleased tracks "Shake It" and "Boogers" along with the B-sides to their early singles. To find out more about this new deluxe release from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, please visit yeahyeahyeahs.com.

California-based singer/songwriter Carmaig de Forest was once the warm-up artist for bands like the Ramones and the Violet Femmes and he also had his debut album produced by Big Star's Alex Chilton. That album was originally released in 1987 and titled "I Shall Be Released." Now, Omnivore Recordings is re-issuing the album for it's 30th anniversary and adding 10 bonus tracks to the original 15-song set. The sound that Forest captured on his debut album fits perfectly alongside early albums by the Violet Femmes and the Dead Milkmen. His songs have a rockabilly/punk energy as in the songs "Los Angeles" and "I'd Be Delighted." His cover of "Secret Agent Man" is pure fun as he sticks close to the original, before his original album wraps up with the slow-sway of "I'll Be Your Angel."

The ten bonus tracks consist of of his live EP and five previously unreleased songs from the original album sessions. Forest's cover of "Banks Of The Ohio" sounds as if Lou Reed performed this country/folk standard and his live performances have a more alternative-rocking approach as with "One More Time" and "Dark Place." The new re-issue closes with the punk-like speed of "Long Distance" and the rockabilly swing of "Dayenu." To find out more about this new re-issue of Carmaig de Forest titled "I Shall Be Re-Released," please visit omnivorerecordings.com.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

CD Review: "Excalibur" Composer Alan Simon Releases New "Songwriter" Compilation

On November 3rd, Cherry Red Records is releasing a new 2CD, 40-song compilation from French musician/composer Alan Simon. The set includes a load of special guests, including members of the band Supertramp, Midnight Oil, as well as Alan Parsons, Jon Anderson, John Wetton and Mick Fleetwood, just to name some of the contributors. The new release titled "Songwriter" showcases the beautiful talents of Alan Simon as his music will take you on a wondrous journey.

The first disc begins with the Irish heritage of "Celtic Ring" and the moving score of "Les Cavaliers Du Vent." European singer Brankica Vasic lends her vocal talents to the atmospheric sounds of "World," while Carlos Nunez adds his special touch on flute to the classical piece "Ad Libitum." British folk/rock band Fairport Convention turn up the volume on the more up-tempo rhythms of "Beltaine" and "Castle Rock." The iconic vocals of John Wetton fit perfectly on the mellow acoustic rock of "The Vision," before the disc closes with the emotional ballad "I'm Not The Only One" featuring Jesse Sienbenberg and John Helliwell.

Disc two starts out with the most pop-oriented track in the set as Midnight Oil works with Simon on "No Man's Land." Simon continues his rock approach with Yes' Jon Anderson leading the way on "Circle Of Life" and Heather Small on the soulfulness of "Peace On Earth." The late-Billy Preston is the driving force on the inspirational gospel tone of "Where Is The Way" and Cesaris Evora adds a Latin-flair to the acoustics of "Jangadero." The album finishes with the folk storytelling of "Motherland" with Jimmy O'Neill and the bright, beautiful vocals of Siobhan Owen on the ballad "A Prayer For My Lover." To find out more about this new compilation from Alan Simon, please visit
cherryred.co.uk.

Friday, November 3, 2017

CD/DVD Review: New "Live From Austin, TX" Sets Roll Out From New West Records

New West Records is preparing to roll out their next wave of their "Live From Austin, TX" series. The three new releases consist of Widespread Panic, Eric Johnson and Guided By Voices. Guided By Voices performed live at "Austin City Limits" back in 2004. The band was in the midst of wrapping up the their final tour before their extended hiatus. They were touring behind a new album at the time, 2004's "Half Smiles Of The Decomposed." Their new "Live In Austin, TX" 2CD/DVD set consists of the band's entire 30-song/97-minute set and their fans were certainly in attendance for this performance. Guided By Voices covered their entire career up to that point, performing songs like "Murder Charge" and "Navigating Flood Regions" from their late-eighties/early-nineties albums. One of the band's main focus during this show was their 1994 album "Bee Thousand," which was celebrating it's 10th anniversary at the time. The show is filmed exactly as if you were watching the famous "Austin City Limits" show, with very little views of the audience, concentrating entirely on the band.
 
New West Records digs deeper into their vault for the Eric Johnson performance from 1988. Johnson who was a native of Austin, TX delivers an amazing performance of originals and covers during his hour-long set. The trio of Johnson (guitars, vocals), Kyle Brock (bass) and Tommy Taylor (drums) deliver whatever the songs call for. Whether its the blues/rock of "Trail Of Tears" or the rockabilly swing of "Steve's Boogie," Eric Johnson and his band show their love of Jimi Hendrix with covers of "Love Or Confusion" and "Are You Experienced?" While the clothes and the hairstyle may be outdated, the music is timeless on this new CD/DVD release of Eric Johnson "Live From Austin, TX." To find out more about this next wave of live releases from New West Records, please visit livefromaustintx.com.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

CD Review: Newcomers Greta Van Fleet & Fragile Mortals Deliver New Music, While Spock's Beard Releases "Snow Live"

Since releasing their debut EP "Black Smoke Rising" back in May, Greta Van Fleet have developed a fan base that most bands would dream of. Their music has been compare to the early days of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and their latest tour is a complete sell out. Now, they return once again with a new "double" EP titled "From The Fires." It will be released on November 10 and includes the four songs from their first EP and four brand new recordings.
 
They kick off their new album with pounding rhythm of "Safari Song," before reaching the first new song of the release, "Edge Of Darkness," which carries a bluesy vibe driven by the song's sweet guitar riff. The set continues with the more laid-back, acoustic rock of "Flower Power" as the melody will surely stick in your brain. The first cover song of the set is an emotional version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," which shows how much the band has matured in the delivery of their music. After their break-through single, "Highway Tune," the album's second cover song is Fairport Convention's "Meet On The Ledge" as Greta Van Fleet show their love of the classics. Their new 8-song release wraps up with another new original song "Talk On The Street," which is oozing with soul and "Black Smoke Rising" from their earlier EP of the same name. Greta Van Fleet have shows sold out through to the end of the year. To find out more about their new "double" EP "From The Fires," please visit gretavanfleet.com.
 
Progressive rock band, Spock's Beard released 12 studio albums between 1995-2016. Founding member Neal Morse (Transatlantic) left the band in 2002 to pursue other avenues of music and his final album with the band was a double-concept album titled "Snow." Now every year, Neal Morse puts on a weekend of music called "Morsefest," which allows him to perform with his many different bands, including the Neal Morse Band, Transatlantic and in 2016 he reunited with Spock's Beard. During that reunion, the original band performed the entire concept album "Snow" for the first time live.
 
To capture that moment, the show was filmed in high-definition and recorded live and will be released on November 10th in multiple formats like a 2CD/2DVD digipak, 3LP vinyl set or as a 2 disc Blu-ray. There is also a deluxe version that includes 2CD/2DVD/2 Blu-ray, a 48-page artbook, poster and postcards. The cameras captured every angle possible, whether it was on stage or from the front row, you feel like an intricate part of the music. It's great to see the interaction between the members of the band, some of whom have not played together for almost 15 years. Witnessing the audience singing along to every word during the encore is simply magical for this band's extensive legacy. Also included in this set is an hour long documentary showing the "behind the scenes" of Spock's Beard performing "Snow" live complete for the first time. Neal Morse stated that this was "one of the finest live concert packages of which I have ever been involved." To find out more about the new live release from Spock's Beard, please visit radiantrecords.com.

Arriving October 13th was the debut album titled "The Dark Project" from the heavy metal/hip-hop band Fragile Mortals. It features the dual vocal attack of Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC) and Rob Dukes (Generation Kills, Exodus) along with a core band that injects the music with power and energy. Their new 9-song release begins with the nearly 8-minute romp of "Whispers Of Death" as McDaniels leads the way on this opening track, before Dukes hardcore vocals brings the song to the darkside. The mix of hip-hop and metal work perfectly on the epic doom of "Suicide," before Fragile Morgals pick-up the tempo for the hard-hitting arena rocker of "Fired Up." They wrap up their new album with the hard rock blast of the Rolling Stones' cover "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)." To find out more about Fragile Mortals and their latest release "The Dark Project," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/FragileMortals.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

CD Review: Newly Released Live Albums From John Wetton And From The Warlocks

British singer/bassist John Wetton was a pinnacle part to bands like King Crimson and Asia, while also touring and recording on his own music for over 30 years. Sadly, on January 31st, Wetton lost his battle with cancer, but before his passing, he approved selections from his back catalogue to be re-issued in the near future. One of these new re-issues is his 1996 live album "Akustika: Live In Amerika." It featured Wetton on an acoustic tour, performing songs from his solo catalog, as well as songs from Asia and King Crimson. This new release titled "Akustika: Live In Amerika & Akustika II: Return To Amerika" is a 2CD set that includes a remastered version of his 1996 "Akustika" and along with an unreleased acoustic shows from 2005.
 
Both sets contain the well-known Wetton anthems like "Heat Of The Moment," "Voice Of America" and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes." In this acoustic setting, you can fully appreciate clarity in Wetton's vocals and how beautiful his songwriting is. The new live addition from 2005 sounds more intimate as it may have been recorded in a smaller theater setting. Wetton also tells some tales about the songs he is performing and seems to really enjoy this acoustic setting. This new release is a great testament to the artist and performer that John Wetton was. To find out more about his new re-issue "Akustika: Live In Amerika & Amerika II: Return To Amerika," please visit cherryred.co.uk.
 
Los Angeles psych-rock band The Warlocks recently release their first ever live album titled "Vevey!" It features 16-tracks from through out the band's 17-year career and was recorded live at Rocking Chair in Vevey, Swizerland last year. The album starts off with the band's signature drone rock sound on "Red Camera" and the steady guitar-infused trip-out of "Isolation." The band only touches upon their latest studio album "Songs From The Pale Eclipse" with two songs, the buzzing grunge-feel of "Only You" and the more laid back alt-rock of "Lonesome Bulldog." The Warlocks finish off their new live release with the punk-like energy of "Caveman Rocks" and the rhythm-fueled set closer "Zombie Like Lovers." To find out more about The Warlocks and their new live album "Vevey!," please visit thewarlocks.cleorecs.com.