Showing posts with label Indie Music Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indie Music Reviews. Show all posts

10/06/2022

Cinematic Instrumental Review: Christopher Caouette-Tale of the Oakenwish

Label: Independent

Release Date: October 18, 2022

Website 

If you have an imagination that is an open door, and all you need is the right music to set it free, I have the correct medicine for you to take. Tale of the Oakenwish from Christopher Caouette is the creator of this magical journey of sound and color.

My introduction to Christopher was this Did you know you’d be going to a movie theater today? No? Yes, yes, you are. Get ready to feel like you’ve fallen into the middle of a movie like Lord of the Rings or a show like Vikings! 

Well, it could not have been more accurate; this is like a soundtrack for a movie, perhaps the one already in your mind, just waiting to be animated by the right sounds. Or is it for a film you saw that you could never forget? It could be either of those or something entirely different; whatever it may be that you have trapped inside your mind or deep in your soul, this music will draw it out.

There is only one vocal on this recording featuring Lindsay Schoolcraft; all the other tracks are epic instrumentals. Although the basic tenets of the new age mindset may have been a foundation, I would define it as cinematic instrumental. Nor is this meditation music; it is much too exciting to fall into that category. 

The first nine tracks bring you to another world, a time a place only found in ancient tales, deep in the forest where the sprites and fairies hide where nobody can see them or discover them. It is the excitement of a journey into a lost civilization where all the secrets of humanity are waiting, with all the keyboards and wordless vocals pushing the music to the highest heights imaginable. 

Christopher is the magical wizard that pulls you into his storybook set to music. The production values are very high; hence, the sound will immerse you into the world found in the music. If you feel you need a getaway of fantasy to a place far away, then a Tale of the Oakenwish will get you there in a matter of minutes. It was one of the most entertaining listens I have had this year. By the time it is released, the special Holidays will be underway in a matter of weeks, and it will get you in the right mindset to pull away from this world into another.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder

October 3, 2022

Tracks:

01. Flight Of Cedarsong

02. Forest Of Wishes

03. Oakenwish

04. Forest Of Mist

05. The Fae's Gift

06. Kisyra's Dream

07. I May Be One (Album Version Feat. Lindsay Schoolcraft)

08. Valor

09. Lament Of Cedarsong

10. Tale Of The Oakenwish Continuous Mix


4/29/2022

Pop Rock Review: Jeff Fowler-Live At The Mint

Release Date: April 29, 2022

Label:  Get It! Records, LLC

Website

Any artist that has success has a solid core group behind them. Rick Wakeman said when he met David Bowie, the best advice he could have given him was that you get musicians that believe in what you are doing. I think in the case of Jeff he was able to do that on Live At The Mint.

The voice and music need to mesh and have excellent production values to be fully realized when recorded then released to the public. Ok so another box is ticked, the production is very good and and nice and clear.


Jeff has a very smooth delivery, perfect for covering pop-rock tunes of his own and some covers with a tasty encore medley with many fan favorites. His vocal approach is very comforting and it suits the tracks he performs.

Tracks like “Firefly” provide a good example of that particular sound. Think of the soft touch of a Christopher Cross at his peak or hints of Sinatra in his delivery. Frank was one of the greatest and his range was limited, he did not belt out a song, he was smooth and purposeful. That is how I would look at the way he makes a song come alive on stage. Even when he raises the bar towards the end of “Goldfish Girl” he gets to a certain point, lets it go, then moves to the next phrasing.

The audience interaction is always a key component in any live performance and then if it’s recorded to be released as a live album, even more so. You can tell without being there that Jeff has the attention of his audience and is really enjoying mixing it up with them.

I have to hand it to the supporting band with the way the music is behind Jeff when he sang, it did not drown him out nor did he have to compete with an instrument hitting the needle in the red on VU meter. That is very important for the singer and obviously the person running the mixing board for sound had their act together.


When “True” started it brought back memories of the 80s. What a great tune that is and album. Spandau Ballet was a unique name for a band. I remember I had that album on cassette. The background vocals on this were excellent by Sharon Youngblood. It is was very well done and the musicianship was spot on. So, kudos for covering a classic track with proper representation. It makes me wonder now what it would sound like on vinyl. It takes some wherewithal to cover Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” I was surprised how well it was done.

My favorite track was “So Far,” the only rocker on the entire set. With such a fully capable band I think it would make sense to do more tracks like that. Just my thoughts and opinion of course.

Live At The Mint was team effort and that is why I felt it necessary to list all the contributors. Jeff Fowler is the not kind of artist that is going to rock the house but if you are in the mood for an evening of fun and some easy listening with pop and rock elements you will enjoy his music.

On a side note…Jeff since you are a lawyer how about doing a parody on a fictional court case with members of the circus as your jury and you sing your defense case to them? If anything, it would make a very entertaining video!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
April 29, 2022

Credits:
Jeff Fowler: vocals, keys
Wes Styles: guitars, music director
Eli Hludzik: drums, percussion
Jesse Stern: bass
Ryan Brown: percussion, glockenspiel
Brad Snow: additional keys, guitars
Dennis Clark, Kitten Kuroi,
Sharon Youngblood: background vocals
Kitten Kuroi: background vocals

Tracks:
01. The “Fowler Vibrations”
02. I’ll Try
03. Intro – Shout out to yogis!
04. Here’s to You
05. Intro – The Englebert-Humperdink jacket move
06. Firefly
07. Goldfish Girl
08. Intro –Mr. Mason Man
09. Mr. Mason Man
10. You Have a Way
11. True
12. Intro
13. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
14. Intro
15. So Far
16. Encore Medley:
Turn It On Again
Is She Really Going Out with Him?
I’d Do Anything for Yo
Encore Medley Genesis, Joe Jackson, Rick Springfield (Live)


12/10/2021

Featured Track-Sample The Cat-The Weather

Sample The Cat is a 3-piece American band from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, featuring the powerful soul vocalist Kendrah Bellevue, melodic rock guitarist Steve Dalton at lead and the prodigious Bryan Brophy on keys. Their latest release is a hauntingly beautiful track titled "The Weather." 


The music is a step away from the fusion of jazz, funk, and soul that they perform so well. They are gradually getting enough tracks together, all original, to release a full album.


The timing of this release is perfect for those feeling "The Weather." Not everyone is jolly this time of year, and the last two years have been challenging. The music speaks the truth and lifts your soul.


"The Weather" is a beautiful tapestry of sound and voice to bring the message home with conviction. Sample The Cat wants those suffering to know they are not alone. Music like this soothes you and gives you inner peace and a reprieve from the crazy world around us. As Kendrah sings from her heart and feels the song, her voice's strength and emotion permeate the equally outstanding music accompanying her.


So stop for a few minutes, listen to the words and music, and give in the spirit of humanity to help others less fortunate.


The track speaks volumes for those suffering from depression and the "Winter Blues." They ask you to donate anything you can here in support of mental health.

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck 

December 10, 2021

Visit the Sample The Cat Website now. 

Hyper Follow The Band!

Learn More About The Band

 



10/25/2021

Track Review: Richard Spasoff-Spirit of Truth

Richard Spasoff feels and intimates his own "Spirit of Truth." The track is different than any contemporary or easy listening that you would hear.

I would call it avant-garde; there is no other explanation other than undefinable.

From my view and my listening pleasure, undefinable is a welcome challenge. It is a fascinating piece that will require more than one listen.

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck 

October 26, 2021 

 

 

About Richard Spasoff:

Website: https://richardspasoff.com

Richard Spasoff is an internationally renowned modern day psychic, medium,and Stand Up Comedian, motivational speaker, and radio/television personality for over 25 years. He has given accurate and insightful psychic readings to clients ranging from everyday citizens to celebrities, people in law enforcement, clergy, judges, attorneys and business CEOs... READ MORE

9/28/2021

Contemporary Instrumental - Jazz Review: The Christopher James Project-Better Days

Release Date: September 17, 2021

Label: Val Gardena Music

Website

Contemporary instrumental and jazz make for a great partnership on the first solo album for Christopher James. 


The Christopher James Project is titled for a good reason. Project-based recording usually entails many different artists, and Better Days is precisely that.

It makes for an excellent listen, featuring an All-Star lineup comprised of Ben Butler, Taylor Eigsti, John Patitucci, Nate Smith, David Torn, and Doug Yowell. Those listeners who enjoy instrumental works with a piano leading the way with plenty of rhythm and jazz flavors will find great joy in each track.

Some good examples of all the colors, textures, and melding of sounds are "Pear Blossom' and "Anna," which were consecutive tracks of absolute pleasure. The album's flow is perfect as one track introduces the next. The musicianship is exemplary, as one would expect with this lineup. I always notice an intrinsic rhythm in this type of music, and it is the core that everything else is built upon. This is from my listening perspective, and others will likely hear it differently.

That is the freedom and beauty of a great musical recording, and it allows your mind and spirit to take flight. In that context, "Bated Breath" is very progressive and goes through several changes over 4:03 minutes. I found it breathtaking and could feel the immense energy that went into that track. It provides the excitement and wonder of a great jazz improvisational number.

Christopher James is an accomplished classical pianist taking his skills to different and new heights with help from his friends. I have been listening to some tremendous smooth jazz lately from a station out of Istanbul, Turkey. That has engaged me and put me in the right mood and frame of mind for music like this.

Yes, indeed, let's all hang on to that though now, Better Days are ahead, and performing artists such as Christopher James are leading the way.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
September 23, 2021

Tracks:
01. Beyond the Sunrise
02. The Dunes
03. Better Days
04. Blue Mountains
05. Pear Blossom
06. Anna
07. Don't Let It Slip Away
08. Bated Breath
09. A Previous Thought
10. Beyond the Sunrise (alternate)

8/20/2021

Contemporary Instrumental (Piano) Review: Robin Spielberg-Give My Regards To Broadway

Release Date: August, 20, 2021

Label: playMountain Music

Website

How can one woman and one piano capture an audience? Ask Robin Spielberg she has been doing it for years. I think it is safe to say that the legacy of this fine artist is in place and will continue to grow with the passing years. Robin has been very busy over the last two years. It seems it was a short time ago I covered RE-INVENTIONS, which came out last November. Now we are more than halfway into this year.

With Give My Regards To Broadway, her 21st proper studio album, due out next month, Robin takes her Steinway to the land of dreams and legends. The music that you will hear is timeless and memorable. The best thing for every listener is the recognition you will receive while listening. You do not have to be a music expert to find commonality. So, for her twentieth album, you get 20 classic tracks done the only way Robin knows how, with respect, care, love, and just enough innovative twist to make each track her own. For my ears and senses, this is the main attraction of what Robin so seamlessly accomplishes on her recordings.

The anticipation I feel with each of her releases is always a jolt of energy before I even hear the first track. Not every artist can pull that off as consistently as Robin does. I count on it, and I am never disappointed. I can understand a potential listener looking at the track list feeling it may seem like a lot of music, and it is however they run 3 plus minutes to 4 plus minutes. Keeping each track within a reasonable time span like the originals, and offering her indelible mark with that magnificent Steinway is once again, and as always, is masterful.

Instrumental piano music as a standalone form of audible entertainment has every opportunity to be boring and uneventful. The selections Robin chooses never allow that kind of atmosphere to set in. It is all quite elegant, uplifting, and relaxing. And at the same time, it can energize, be meditative, and above all nostalgic. It will have some listeners reaching back into a time and place they may have forgotten. Moments of our lives can be good, bad, or indifferent, then go by in our mind’s eye like the flickering of the film from a projector at the movies. After all, it has been said, all the worlds a stage, and we are merely actors and portrayers. If that is the case, my music-loving friends, then there is nobody better than Robin Spielberg to set that camera in motion and tell the tales that all of these 20 tracks can aspire to hold for us all.

As Ms. Spielberg tips her cap to Broadway and to you the audience (whom she suggests to give yourself a hand in the inner sleeve of the CD), I give my regards to her and all the amazing talent she brings forth through her fingers to those ivory keys. I thank her for the music I have been gifted dating back to 2015. Keep it coming my friend, it is a blessing I will always treasure once it is received. There is a large audience out there that will appreciate Give My Regards To Broadway for many reasons, but mostly because it is Robin and her piano providing all of the interpretations of these legendary compositions.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder
August 20, 2021

Tracks:
01. The Impossible Dream        
02. Maria        
03. I Don't Know How to Love Him        
04. Give My Regards to Broadway        
05. I'd Do Anything        
06.  Dulcinea        
07. Far From the Home I Love        
08. Where Is Love        
09. Happiness        
10. They Say It's Wonderful        
11. Ten Minutes Ago        
12. I'll Know        
13. I Have Dreamed        
14. If I Loved You        
15. Heart        
16. Can't Help Lovin Dat Man        
17. If I Were a Bell        
18. Tomorrow        
19. Somewhere        
20. My Best Girl  
    


8/15/2021

Instrumental Movie Music Review: Stephen Edwards-Piano Music-From Movies You've Probably Never Seen

Release Date: August 10, 2021

Label:  ‎Sixfeetfive Music

Website

Stephen Edwards is renowned for his soundtrack film and television work. His compositions can be heard on television series such as Two and a Half Men, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mad Men, The Blacklist, ER, Transparent, and over 50 other series. That is just a sample of his reach into the world of music and multimedia entertainment.

With the release of Piano Music-From Movies You've Probably Never Seen, you will hear 19 tracks of eclectic solo piano music. The most interesting fact with this release of course, is the title. For most fans of all-around entertainment, it is certain to arouse your curiosity in a variety of ways. If you are so inclined, you can open the CD booklet and take a look at each track and its origins. This is a very helpful guide and a quintessential completion piece to this group of tracks.

Most all of the tracks you can dub as singles or made for a spin on a 45 (7” vinyl) as we would say back in 60s and 70s. This of course reaches back the vinyl days of singles. You will hear so many things with this music that includes elegance, beauty, pensiveness, anticipation, haunting, echoing, spacey, happy, sad, energetic, and more. The delicate playing can be very soft and it forces you to listen closely and imagine a scene in the movie his paying tribute to. Other tracks are more robust and higher in volume.

It all has to be visionary if its short instrumentals, even more so because of the length of the tracks. Stephen is triumphant at every turn, convincing his audience that there is indeed a movie playing and it is entirely up to each listener to become part of the scenery or absorb the audio delights for the sheer joy and relaxation of it.  

When the disc stops spinning it clocks in just under 50 minutes. It may seem like the fastest 50 minutes you may experience and the reason for that is one, the songs are short lived, and secondly, each one stands alone as a separate piece of art performed with a different twist than the last one you heard. They are all meant to be a tribute to specific film (see the track list).

After listening to Piano Music-From Movies You've Probably Never Seen, it was obvious why this talented gentleman has been so successful and in demand. So, to all of the instrumental music lovers out there, set your expectations high because you will not be disappointed.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder
August 9, 2021

Tracks:    
01. Midnight Fear “Bed to Hayknife”(1991)
02. Midnight Fear “Jen’s Theme”(1991)
03. Waltzing On The Promenade from “Titanica” (1992)
04. The Minister’s Wife (1993)
05. Armed and Deadly(1994)
06. Illegal In Blue (1995)
07. Man With A Gun (1995)
08. Conspiracy of Fear ((1995)
09. Project Shadowchaser 3 (1995)
10. Heaven or Vegas (1998)
11. Nocturne By The Sea from “Alias” (2003)
12. Piano and Innocence from “Today You Die” (2005)
13. Theme from “Rome & Jewel” (2008)
14. Intervention Main Title (2009)
15. Schubert Eb Piano Trio from “Mechanic” (2011)
16. Requiem for My Mother Stride Piano (2017)
17. Requiem for My Mother “Agnus Dei” (2017)
18. Syndrome K Main Title (2019)
19. Death Link (2021)



8/12/2021

World Review: Ciro Hurtado-Luna

Release Date: August 12, 2021

Label: Independent

Website

 

A lot can happen when one man picks up an acoustic guitar with a world of creativity and ideas flowing through his mind. Ciro Hurtado is one of those talented individuals that make things happen intuitively with his instrument of choice. 


Ciro Hurtado has released nine albums under his name including In My Mind, Tales From Home, The Magic Hour, Guitarra, Echoes of the Andes, Guitarrista, Los Angeles Blues, Ayahuasca Dreams, Selva, and Altiplano. Now we have Luna.

Knowing this before the beginning of the first track, created a lot of expectations for me. This is the kind of energy and excitement that comes from knowing what you are about to hear is from a polished professional. I was not disappointed for one second while listening to my maiden voyage with Ciro.

“Luna,” the title track, is a magnificent track with exceptional instrumentation from the guitar and accentuated with the grace of the flute. Those two instruments are very complimentary in an acoustic setting such as this.

“Rimac” is a wonderful display of virtuosity. It is so awe-inspiring to hear, it sounds like more than one person playing. That kind of sound just blows me away in every instance. And with that, I become very aware I am hearing something very special, that is not an everyday occurrence. Although I have had the blessings of listening to such talent for many years, my wonder and appreciation continue to grow.

“Amor en Pandemia” is very special, translated to English it is “Love in Pandemic.” The vocals are provided by the lovely vocalist Milena Salamanca while Ciro keeps the steady flow and beat of the song. This is a river of emotion and a beautiful depiction of our times set to music. There are few albums I have heard this year that have not dedicated a track or two to what we have gone through. This is all about our healing globally and the one thing that has no borders or lines in the sand, is music! Without exception, it should be all-inclusive because essentially, we are all the same desiring the same things. Music such as this helps to open the door to a clearer view of the world. That of course is my belief and other listeners will hear and feel entirely different things. This is what makes the world go round, our diversity yet a universal need for love and acceptance.

“Andean Celtic” was yet another gorgeous track with flute as the guitar’s partner. The movement of the piece is energizing and inspiring. Ciro’s playing is exceptionally fluid and elegant. He has the knack of introducing his guitar to your senses in a very inviting way. He eases you into the song as he becomes one with his instrument and the overall presentation. It is a beautiful thing to hear, feel, and absorb.

With each passing track, you feel like you are taking a journey of exploration and “Amanecer” creates that atmosphere and as you become eager to hear more, the excitement of the track builds. It is a soundtrack to whatever trip your mind, body, and spirit decide to go on. Once again, the beauty of the song and your listening experience is your choice and the music leads the way seamlessly. Every track does just that for you.

For another vocal track “Luna Llena,” which is “Full Moon” translated, is like a sweet lullaby with some great picking, and the organ is introduced here for a nice effect and backdrop. Then of course the amazing vocalizations of Milena to make it all complete.

With Luna (or the moon) as the main subject depicted on the cover art, it gives a lot of meaning to everything you will hear on this marvelous, primarily world-new age instrumental recording. As the people of the earth see the moon from where we stand, the music can bring us new perceptions and closer together because we are so interconnected wi
th the realizations that we do orbit around each other’s lives.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
August 12, 2021

 

Tracks:
1. Camino (4:05)
2. Luna (4:58)
3. Rimac (4:58)
4. Amor en Pandemia (5:23)
5. Andean Celtic (4:07)
6. Amanecer (5:16)
7. Luna Llena (5:04)
8. Taruka (3:43)
9. Del Norte Soy (4:32)

 



6/26/2021

Featured Track: Dominic Augustin-On The Rise

Dominic Augustin is "On The Rise." His new track and video will surely capture listener's attention and imagination.

Dominic has a very pleasant vocal delivery tailor made for R&B and Pop. His range and expressiveness bring home the track with impact.

When Dominic sings "I'm a rising star," it does not take long to agree with that summation. 

"On The Rise" features a futuristic sci-fi video that will have music and game enthusiast clamoring for more. The quality of the video is superb as well as the production values.

I would not be surprised to hear more about this up an coming artist very soon, rising star indeed...

 Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck



More About Dominic Augustin: Website

Comments From The Artist...

For as long as I could remember I have always been around music. From when I was young I loved all genres ranging from pop to r&b, gospel to hip hop, country to electronic, you name it! I found my voice in the jr. choir which I’m ever so grateful for. The church is where I first discovered my voice. Attending Howard University then led somewhere different, It is where I found my passion for the world of fashion. Anticipating the important connection between my two favorite things I was soon blessed with an opportunity to work at VOGUE. Eventually I was able to walk the runways as a model for Calvin Klein, Prada, Alexander McQueen and more. I am now happy to now introduce my self as a brand new artist who is just a singer from Brooklyn.

 Artist Bio:

Dominic Augustin, is the founder and CEO of Nickoli August, he is a Content Curator that specializes in photography ranging from Castings and Street style to fashion still life and editorials. Through his parents who emigrated from Haiti in the early 80’s he experienced the world through a unique point of view. Dominic believes that because he was able to grow up learning different cultures, this allowed him to see how people can possess different qualities. Like this, he wants to combine fashion digital world with his favorite forms of art. Being inspired by music, Television and Film allows him to tap into many different emotions incorporating them into is brand and in his designs.

Dominic has a rising experience within the fashion industry; he enjoys fashion design, styling, and photography. Over the past year, Dominic has immersed himself within the fashion industry working with the top production, fashion and PR companies quickly gaining the experience needed to be well rounded in all aspects of the industry. Dominic has assisted some of the biggest brands such as Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Tory Burch, Coach and many more during each season of NYFW shows. He believes as a visionary it is imperative that you understand different individual styles and trends throughout the seasons. He is a determined individual that stands for everything and falls for nothing.

Featured Track: Dominic Augustin-On The Rise

Dominic Augustin is "On The Rise." His new track and video will surely capture listener's attention and imagination.

Dominic has a very pleasant vocal delivery tailor made for R&B and Pop. His range and expressiveness bring home the track with impact.

When Dominic sings "I'm a rising star," it does not take long to agree with that summation. 

"On The Rise" features a futuristic sci-fi video that will have music and game enthusiast clamoring for more. The quality of the video is superb as well as the production values.

I would not be surprised to hear more about this up an coming artist very soon, rising star indeed...

 Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck 

More About Dominic Augustin: Website

Comments From The Artist...

For as long as I could remember I have always been around music. From when I was young I loved all genres ranging from pop to r&b, gospel to hip hop, country to electronic, you name it! I found my voice in the jr. choir which I’m ever so grateful for. The church is where I first discovered my voice. Attending Howard University then led somewhere different, It is where I found my passion for the world of fashion. Anticipating the important connection between my two favorite things I was soon blessed with an opportunity to work at VOGUE. Eventually I was able to walk the runways as a model for Calvin Klein, Prada, Alexander McQueen and more. I am now happy to now introduce my self as a brand new artist who is just a singer from Brooklyn.

 Artist Bio:

Dominic Augustin, is the founder and CEO of Nickoli August, he is a Content Curator that specializes in photography ranging from Castings and Street style to fashion still life and editorials. Through his parents who emigrated from Haiti in the early 80’s he experienced the world through a unique point of view. Dominic believes that because he was able to grow up learning different cultures, this allowed him to see how people can possess different qualities. Like this, he wants to combine fashion digital world with his favorite forms of art. Being inspired by music, Television and Film allows him to tap into many different emotions incorporating them into is brand and in his designs.

Dominic has a rising experience within the fashion industry; he enjoys fashion design, styling, and photography. Over the past year, Dominic has immersed himself within the fashion industry working with the top production, fashion and PR companies quickly gaining the experience needed to be well rounded in all aspects of the industry. Dominic has assisted some of the biggest brands such as Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Tory Burch, Coach and many more during each season of NYFW shows. He believes as a visionary it is imperative that you understand different individual styles and trends throughout the seasons. He is a determined individual that stands for everything and falls for nothing.

5/16/2021

Rock Review: Arielle-Analog Girl In a Digital World

Release Date: May 7, 2021

Label: Independent

Website

A New Jersey native woman (even if only briefly), gone West Coast, takes listeners through a time-traveling experience. Arielle found herself a spot to shine in the indie-rock. Discovered in 2010, the singer spent the next ten years building up her reputation as a guitar ‘prodigy’ in her own right…even if she didn’t feel affection for the title and prestige the term held. Unfortunately, her rapid ascent amongst the best of best came with early on challenges due to sexism. From not being allowed to sell guitars (instead, watering the plants in the store at 16) to giving all of her-SELF away for what she believed she had to do to get further ahead…due to a dark side to the music and entertainment industry; Arielle spent many years suffering personally and physically because of it.

Finally leaving her label behind, she was free to be an independent artist. Her debut album The Whale washed up onto music platforms in 2015. Arielle then followed it with two EPs in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Here, she is at the height of her career, she is now free to create as she pleases. And with her new Analog Girl In a Digital World fresh out into the airwaves, the world is at her fingertips.

Analog Girl In a Digital World is a call-out to the “good old days.” Frankly, I’ve never heard an album say exactly what I have been thinking for years. It tells of someone living in a modern world such as ours, and they just want to go back to simpler times because simpler times meant less stress and more human interaction. The initial track “Dialup” is a cool old-fashioned set of dial tones and a signal of all systems crashing.


“Digital World” is that single song that cries out for a way of life before we became too focused on the newest upgrade of a device or phone, digitizing every aspect of our daily lives, and how many ‘likes’ or ‘reactions’ we got on our latest social media post. The singer remembers a not-too-distant past of manual operation, physically interactive lifestyle, rather than everything being at the click or touch of a button.

“Peace of Mind” is acknowledging a roaming desire for internal peace and contentment from within. But, in this modern world, there’s always something to be done nowadays. Our minds are never truly settled with every option at our fingertips. With a “tight noose around you,” the person feels stuck in a routine, struggling to get out. “This is Our Intervention” is a short declaration song in which two individuals deem today, they will be taking their lives back and taking control of their surroundings instead of being told they will not reach what they wish and hope to achieve.

“Still A Man” pokes fun at a man in a partnership/relationship aspect, speaking of his best efforts to keep to what he says he will do for his significant other. Being “Still a Man,” he falls short of his promises and the singer looks to be understanding in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. “Inside & Outside” is a mellow, classic-rock-sounding tune. The song basks in the glow of a newfound realization that the relationship she is in is ideal for her. She loves everything “inside and out” about her partner and further recognizes what many fail to inside ourselves. We all “have a dark side, searching for the light” yet, we blame the darkness many times solely on bad intentions or character; when sometimes, the darkness is just a battle route to get to a better place.

“I’d Rather Be In England” is just a fun simple tune where the singer longs to be with her friend or partner across the seas. She loves the culture and nature of England and so she daydreams of being there. It combines some rock with the singer-songwriter/indie personal style she conveys through the album. “Living In a Fortress” speaks of the singer’s mind being a bunker to keep out other’s opinions and decisions. She views the world and the people amongst her everyday public life as too involved in one another’s business. She would rather do things the way she sees fit and the rest of us can move on.

Finally, “Reimagine” is more along the lines of an ending piece to settle the listener’s ear. With angelic echoing to begin, then drifting into a rocker’s lullaby. The song is bright and enjoyable, and as such, the album looks to have touched upon an array of emotion and topics for such a young and still-developing artist. Arielle’s vocals, her guitar prowess, and her willingness to keep on pushing for her personal artistry to be known and heard are what make her a triple threat and an upcoming indie-rock sensation.

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
May 12, 2021

Track Listing:
1. Dialup
2. Digital World
3. Peace of Mind
4. This Is Our Intervention
5. Still a Man
6. Inside & Outside
7. I’d Rather Be in England
8. Living in a Fortress
9. Reimagine


4/29/2021

Instrumental Rock Review: Marty Freidman-Tokyo Jukebox 3

Release Date: April 16, 2021
Label: 2021 Mascot Label Group / The Players Club  
Website

Hot off the presses of his latest installment, now a trilogy of his Tokyo Jukebox collection, Marty Freidman kicks it into high gear with Tokyo Jukebox 3. The album is Friedman’s take on many J-Pop hits that burst at the seams with his guitar shredding skills emboldening with his traditional techniques. Marty even went as far as to go all-out traditional stylings for the album artwork. Dressed in a kimono and kabuki make-up, the guitarist finds himself exploring every possible facet of Japanese culture in the making and styling of this record.
 
Now to the music. As the lead guitarist for one of rock and metal’s most notable and revolutionary band, Megadeath, Marty Friedman contributed to much of the success of the group at the height of their career for 10 years; until eventually leaving the band in 2000. To this day, Friedman resides in Tokyo, Japan where he has become a household name, and dabbled in Japanese government affairs, all while maintaining several album releases and touring multiple times since his move overseas.

Tokyo Jukebox 3
stands alone from traditional heavy metal music. Oftentimes, at least from my experience, thrash-metal/speed-metal bands and their albums tend to have a feature of identical sound where, if there is no lengthy pause between tracks, it remains unknown to the listener that a new song has begun. Friedman, being the aficionado that he is with his guitar, combines his skill and precision of thrash-metal with J-Pop melodies to create something truly unique. His capability not only to make every track sound different and leave a little wonder in each track is stunning.

“Makenaide” starts mainly as traditional Friedman’s work would show, with a consistent powerhouse guitar playing just with some J-Pop melody thrown in. On “Senbonzakura,” you get your first dose of change-ups and nuances. As the song plays, it feels like a crescendo with a sudden brief lull, only to pick right back up again and burst around the four-minute mark. The short and mystifying release of a lighter guitar-playing shocks the listener to engage in amazement. “Gurenge” while not a personal stand-out track, plays well to keep the listener’s interest and sensation going, especially as Freidman goes full-on beast-mode throughout.


“Kaze Ga Fuiteiru” sounds like a combination of a sing-song poem, rock concert, and cartoon series theme song all blended into one. Marty told of one of one of his near and dear friend’s opinions of the track, calling it…rightly, ‘grand and elegant.’ It’s almost as if the piece is written into three different stages. “Echo” is a breakaway from the chaotic thrashing in the beginning, with an intriguing static radio-play. As it plays through, it’s a cool back-and-forth between traditional thrashing and easier mellow strumming; once again, built back up to powerful chords to end out the song.

“The Perfect World, featuring Alfakyun” is the only vocal track but very captivating in dreaming of one day finding the perfection they are longing for. It’s a piece that could strike at the heart of any listener not only for the purpose of love but, perfection overall; particularly in the times that we had been facing this past year with the pandemic. “U.S.A.,” rightly titled, is an epic story-teller piece that hits every high note imaginable along with the 4-minute tune while engaging the listener for more.

“Shukumei” pairs well with “Gurenge” while it offers quite a few different opportunities for more somber or dramatic moments. “Shukumei” has several different tones to it whereas, “Gurenge” is more neutral sounding. ”Ikuze Kaitou-Shoujo” is possibly the heaviest-loaded track on the album. Not only would it appeal to the J-Pop fan base and thrash-metal crew alike, but it strikes a chord with the heaviest of rockers and metal-enthusiasts too.

Things begin winding down on “Sazanka,” or at least as the song begins. It has a little aggressiveness to its sound but, not nearly what the rest of the album entails. It is a very soothing record on the album with the keyboard as its supporter to the guitar match-up. “Time Goes By” keeps with the more steady and mellowed tonality. However, it seems to be more somber with points of crescendos and climaxes to build up intensity and excitement for the track. All the while, the ending becomes a surprise fade-out which separates the song from the rest of the record. The last song, “Japan Heritage Official Theme Song,” is a lighter, airy, and free-sounding lead-out track. The strings to this record give it a balanced and unique twist that actually compliments the rest of the record quite nicely.

Tokyo Jukebox 3 is one of those records where initially you may not think there is a spot in YOUR ear for this album, yet there is truly something for a wide variety of listeners. Marty Freidman remains on top of his game when completing this trio of ‘jukebox’ jams.

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
April 26, 2021

Track Listing:
01. Makenaide
02. Senbonzakura
03. Gurenge
04. Kaze Ga Fuiteiru
05. Echo
06. The Perfect World (feat. ALfakyun)
07. U.S.A.
08. Shukumei
09. Ikuze Kaitou-Shoujo
10. Sazanka
11. Time Goes By
12. Japan Heritage Official Theme Song

4/28/2021

Crossover Prog Review: Downes Braide Association-Halcyon Hymns

Release Date: Feb 5 (Dig), Feb 12 (CD/DVD) and April 2 (Vinyl) All 2021

Label: DBA Records

Website

The Downes Braide Association is a studio-based project by Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Chris Braide (singer/songwriter), both of whom have a rich musical heritage.

Geoff has been a member of The Buggles, Yes and Asia, while Chris has written and produced music for film scores, advertising campaigns and worked with Lana Del Ray, Beyonce, Paloma Faith, David Guetta and co-wrote the music for Seven Worlds One Planet (A David Attenborough BBC TV series) together with Hans Zimmer and Sia.

The debut album from the Downes Braide Association was issued in 2012 and titled Pictures of You, followed 3 years later by Suburban Ghosts and then in 2017 by album No 3, Skyscraper Souls. A live album from the band was also issued in 2019, DBA Live In England.

Under review is the fourth, and latest, album from Downes Braid Association, entitled Halcyon Hymns. This is a 12 track album with a total playing time of around 64 minutes (63:37), with tracks 11 (Remembrance), and 10 (Late Summer) being the longest at 11:44 minutes and the shortest at 2:24 minutes respectively.

The opening track, “Love Among The Ruins” (6:24) starts with a short spoken section before a gentle acoustic before the vocals of Chris Braide appear. The guitar of guest musician, Dave Bainbridge (Iona/Strawbs) soon soars over the track and adds an interesting dimension, as the track repeats the previous themes leading to another guitar section. A pleasant enough entry into the album, but not one that made this listener too optimistic about what was to come, and my overall impression was that the opening track overstayed its welcome and detracted from the effect “Love Among The Ruins” had.

Track No 2, “King Of The Sunset” (6:37) features additional vocals by David Longdon (Big Big Train) and more superb guitar work from Dave Bainbridge. This track is a definite grower and initially boosted my interest after the opener. The sound drops away around two minutes from the end of the track to leave an instrumental fade out featuring mandolin and guitar which was a bit unexpected. The thought that floated across my mind was that the ending section was not necessary.

As you progress through the tracks, there are some excellent passages, melodies that penetrate deep into your mind and will not go away, stunning vocals and guitar playing, and as the long track (second last on the album) approached, I was beginning to look forward to what the band could do on a 10 minute plus excursion.

The long track, “Remembrance” (11:44) starts off with piano, some spoken word By Barney Ashton Bullock before the acoustic backing starts to build courtesy of the mandolin. Excellent lyrics carry the track along and the listener eases into the journey that is unfolding. The narrative short interludes work very well but there seemed to be a fair repetition of some lyrics which, to my mind interrupted the journey. By the halfway point, the track was beginning to pull the listener back but the disappointment was that the track then seemed to retread the music that had already gone and appeared to lose its way. I think that this was another example of a track running out of ideas.

Halcyon Hymns
has its moments, but the band seem unable to maintain those high points or to use them as jumping-off points. While I was not blown away by Halcyon Hymns, that is my personal opinion, and I would suggest, as always, that you should give this album a listen and see what you think. I will go check out the earlier albums and perhaps find the spark I seemed to miss from album No 4.


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson – Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
April 21, 2021
 

Tracks:
01. Love Among The Ruins (6:24)
02. King Of The Sunset (6:37)
03. Your Heart Will Find The Way (5:20)
04. Holding The Heavens (7:54)
05. Beachcombers (3:31)
06. Warm Summer Sun (4:43)
07. Today (6:59)
08. Hymn to Darkness (2:59
09. She’ll Be Riding Horses (4:35)
10. Late Summer (2:24)
11. Remembrance (11:44)
12. Epilogue (0:36)

 

4/23/2021

Fusion/Contemporary Jazz Review: Michael Whalen-Future Shock

Release Date:
April 23, 2021

Label: Michael Whalen Music

Website

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Videos:
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I have covered my share of Michael Whalen’s work but I was in no way prepared to hear Future Shock. This is because everything I have heard to date was new age flavored instrumental music. I took one look at the lineup on this recording and I knew it was going to be entirely different. It is the rhythm section that told the tale, Tony Levin (electric & upright basses, Chapman stick) and Simon Phillips (drums & additional percussion). This is a combination that stands with any of the best in the world. Then you have Bob Magnuson (saxophones, flute & shehnai) for that jazz fusion touch and of course Michael leading the way with a multitude of synthesizers, keyboards, electronic percussion & programming. I have to give the nod to Tom Eaton for another brilliant job with the mastering. What do you have at the end without that meticulous mastering process to show the music in its proper light to be enjoyed fully by a listening audience? That is the final touch that is always needed to solidify the tracks and make the flow cohesive, crisp, and perfect on the EQ.

The title track kicks things into high gear right out of the gate with Michael coming at you full blast and some high-energy gyrations on the keys. It is the perfect way to open the album and sets a high standard moving forward, which by the way I had all the confidence the excellence would continue.

“La Hermosa Noche” is a Latin-flavored track that gave me some memories of Chick Corea (who passed recently) and Al DiMeola’s earlier solo work. That is the highest compliment I could give to Michael. This is jazz fusion at its very best and I loved it. I especially appreciate the Latin influence that gives the number some extra spice and flavor which in turn gets smoothed out with some nice flute from Magnuson. All of it intermingles for an eclectic mix of stylings and it is all done very tastefully.

That track gets your juices and energy flowing as your invited to slip into the easy chair of some smooth jazz on “Lights Of Home.” This is the quiet storm that soothes the soul where you can find all kinds of gems all over the track. Short interjections of synths, smooth as silk sax, and an in-sync rhythm section that sets the foundation so all of it can just glide seamlessly over the top and evolve as the track continues. It’s time to indulge in the sounds like you would savor a delicious piece of chocolate you have been craving all day. It does the trick, sets you straight, and gets you primed for the next track.

“Memories Of You” gives more of a role to the sax and yet another nice lead-in. It picks up the groove and ebbs and tides like the seas that surround our lands. It can be the nature of flowing waters or the human condition that it pays homage to. Whatever and wherever it fits, this music can mold and shape your feelings and thoughts as you jump in and go for a ride into some more contemporary sounds with Levin’s bass laying down a funky groove for all to follow. The track does go through several changes and that is what makes it so good, with all its various colors and energies coalescing into one functional breathing musical being. Did hear some David Sanborn or Tom Scott on that sax in the back of my mind? So again, I get some great memories of the jazz giants at work shaping my tastes and opening my musical vistas back in the 80s. It’s always fun when you have those triggers deeply embedded in your soul and great music flips that switch and makes you smile inside.

Now for another complete step away from the last track comes “Poly Jam.” It starts like a real prog rocker, something that Rick Wakeman or Jordan Rudess would come up with. The keyboards are magnificent on this piece. I know Keith Emerson is smiling in heaven now after hearing this. There are some slower interludes where the rhythm section is clear and crisp and the sax gets introduced once again. Altogether this was a jazz-rock-fusion home run from start to finish. Similarly, “Wanderlust” rocks with some outstanding keyboards and overall contributions of sounds and textures. Those are my two favorite tracks. While they are all good, I found my senses aroused and my energy restored to the level I am accustomed to after hearing those two tracks.

Those kinds of changes and different styles, paces, and approaches are commonplace amongst the ten tracks offered on Future Shock. After grooving to all the music, you are left with some of the cover art and the title of the album. You go from smooth jazz, fusion, rock, Latin, or all of the above coming together in one track. The creativity is at a very high level on every track and Michael composed arranged produced and mixed it all. I love the originality and energy that went into this project and he could not have chosen better partners to compliment all of his songs.

Michael Whalen has created an excellent album and it will come as no shock (no pun intended) to his listeners that Future Shock will be one of the best releases you hear in 2021. This is our healing year people and music will once again lead the way and bring some normalcy back into our lives.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder

April 23, 2021

Tracks:

01. Future Shock
02. Hop, Skip And Jump
03. La Hermosa Noche
04. Lights Of Home
05. Memories Of You
06. Poly Jam
07. MIracle Mile
08. Morning Song
09. Wanderlust
10. Your Eyes, Your Touch, Your Kiss

4/21/2021

Rock Review: Sweet-Isolation Boulevard

Release Date: December 18, 2020
Label:
2020 Andy Scott exclusive / Aviator Entertainment
Website 

If you venture through the ‘80s there’s no telling the endless possibilities of pop, rock, and other music stylings that will take hold of your ear and have you looking like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. The Sweet (then morphed into Sweet)  burst onto the scene from London, England in 1968 but, officially became a recognizable and formidable contender in the music world in 1974 with the release of Desolation Boulevard. Much of that initial record has now been revived into a newly mastered album closely aligned in the title as Isolation Boulevard. It’s the band’s walk down memory lane, combined with their introduction to new, upcoming, rock connoisseurs.

Starting off Isolation Boulevard is the band’s first and most notable hit “Fox On the Run.” The song’s catchy chorus gives the listener a burst of excitement as they chant back at or with the band, especially when performing live. This is the type of song that sticks in your brain for days once you’ve heard it for the first time. “Still Got the Rock” follows as a new song to add to the band’s repertoire. The Sweet is back with vengeance to proclaim they still got the power and the rock that they garnered over the course of their near 50-year career. Meanwhile, “Action” sounds like a track you’d hear during a climax/post-climax or event-type of a scene in a movie or cartoon (i.e. – the chase scenes between the “monster” and the Mystery Inc. gang on Scooby-Doo). Nevertheless, it remains a cool bridge track.

Continuing with “Love Is Like Oxygen,” the song gives off an anthem-like theme, it isn’t too overpowered, and it gives off a more mellow vibe while keeping the listener with build-up and dips of excitement through the song. “Hellraiser” ignites a fire once again as the song clearly hints. With synthesizer effects, thrashing guitar strings, and somewhat storytelling tonality to the song; the song is like the last anticipated second before the fuse lights the dynamite followed by its explosion.

“The Six Teens” is a lyrical mind-game, yet it’s interesting tale of young love gone wrong has a certain appeal to it as well. “Blockbuster” is a secret-to-revelation, mystery track. Much like “Action,” it gives off a film scene imagery. “Set Me Free” is a wild and dark, tongue-in-cheek song that is an enticing song of how loathsome a pairing can become. Yet, all the while, the emotions are high and aggressive as can be almost as if it’s love-to-hate gameplay.

The song “Teenage Rampage” track is a rebellion song if ever there was one to be written. “Come and join the revolution. Get yourself a constitution. And join the revolution now. And recognize your age, it’s a teenage rampage.” This is all about how a clash of the ages and ‘the way it’s been’ vs. ‘change’ is perceived and played out. It also shows that history does, in fact, repeat itself. “Turn It Down” slides in with a jam session that will just keep cranking it up instead as the band moves through the song. The last two tracks offer nothing but pure excitement. “New York Groove” may attract some of the younger viewership with a familiar part of the track being off of Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind Pt. 2.” And lastly, if you’ve never lent your ears to “Ballroom Blitz,” then you just don’t know rock and roll. “Ballroom Blitz” is one of those songs that will forever go down in rock history as a frenzy-driven song that is just pure adrenaline.

Sweet remaster all of these hits to capture their best moments once again. The band, while having their share of rotations through the years in members and labels, along with epically tragic events like losing key members like Brian Connolly, Mick Tucker, and Steve Priest; seem to still rise above and come out on top. Though they may feel like they are in a sort of isolation with such loss. The big gain Isolation Boulevard pulls off for them is that of memories, thrill, and a sort of rebirth of the band.

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
April 14, 2021


Track Listing:

01. Fox on the Run
02. Still Got the Rock
03. Action
04. Love is Like Oxygen
05. Hellraiser
06. The Six Teens
07. Blockbuster
08. Set Me Free
09. Teenage Rampage
10. Turn It Down
11. New York Groove
12. Ballroom Blitz