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

4/06/2021

Blues-Rock Review: Ten Years After-A Sting in the Tale (Deluxe Edition)

Release Date: March 19, 2021

Label: 2021 Deko Entertainment / Ten Years After

Website

From across the waters in Nottingham, England, arises a band that’s name derived from the period that saw a boom of rock & roll exhilaration after Elvis Presley broke through the doors of the genre. The band was launched officially in 1967 but, Ten Years After spent the first six years solidifying their group members and working out the band’s kinks. Heavy touring through the first 5 years was the first lead to their growing success. And, though the band suffered splits, and a less-than-stellar album, Ten Years After ultimately resurrected themselves within a new rise to success even 40+ years later.
 
The album A Sting in the Tale has now been re-released with live tracks to bring the band’s power to life in full force. “Land of the Vandals” starts the album out with a rising tide intro that for a rock record, keeps a soothing but steady-handed tone throughout. “Iron Horse” describes someone with the capacity to outperform those around them with every move he makes. Then, we arrive at “Miss Constable” where he sings of a blood-sucking woman who Is not only seemingly abusive but too, is never happy with how things are around her and the person that stands beside her. The guitar solo in this track offers a sense of levity to how dark the song is overall.

“Up In Smoke” really blows a hole in the listener’s heart. If you could look the definition of blues up in the dictionary, this song would be sitting right underneath. The singer speaks of how it’s too late to save him from the woes that have allowed him to arrive at this point in his life. It is overly apologetic but, sadly he knows that there is still no one listening, even at the very end. “Retired Hurt” is kind of somber like the prior track however, with a constant beat behind it and the fact that it sounds like the first-step process of life admissions, the song does not depress listeners entirely. Rather, it is a song of acknowledgment, even if the singer is still questioning what to do next.

“Suranne Suranne” is love slipped away. Although, with the subject matter being should’ve, would’ve, could’ve, it is a fun changeup from the album so far. If only the woman knew who the singer was, would things have been different? “Stoned Alone” is a cool piece, that depicts a relationship starting and ending all within the same breath and now the singer is left in his emotions (now heightened) alone. “Two Lost Souls” is the most fun and free-spirited track on A Sting in the Tale. Its up-tempo, action-movie-car-chase-styled tone brings levity and funk to the rest of the blues-smothered tracks.

“Diamond Girl” is a reminiscent song of this girl who is ideal perfection that sadly either does not stick around or slips out of the singer’s sights and life completely. It sings of this ideal perfection of a person that many dream up but few, if any, could ever find in life; especially since we are all flawed, to begin with. “Last Night of the Bottle,” “Guitar Hero,” and “Silverspoon Lady” all keep a constant pace to end out the record. “Silverspoon Lady” is a strong way to complete the album as the singer announces that this overly entitled-minded woman will not take advantage of this man and “will not get the best of him.”

So, to include the four live tracks, one of the tracks being a lead hit single that blasted the band to top success off of the album A Space in Time. As stated through one of the band’s press releases, it’s certainly true that “you put it on…you can’t just listen once.”


Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
April 1, 2021 

Tracks:
01. Land of the Vandals
02. Iron Horse
03. Miss Constable
04. Up in Smoke
05. Retired Hurt
06. Suranne Suranne
07. Stoned Alone
08. Two Lost Souls
09. Diamond Girl
10. Last Night of the Bottle
11. Guitar Hero
12. Silverspoon Lady
13. Land of the Vandals (Live)
14. I’d Love to Change the World (Live)
15. Silverspoon Lady (Live)
16. Last Night of the Bottle (Live)

4/03/2021

Various Artists Review: Morning Café

Release Date: May 21, 2021

Label: Domo Records

Website

 

If you take a look at the cover of Domo Records' upcoming release Morning Café, one may say it “Looks Like Heaven.” And it does if you enjoy a nice latte and some kickback music to chill and start your day. That is the title of one of many tracks to take a deep dive into. In actuality this is music for any time, it is all very flexible and worthy of a listen to enliven your spirit.

If variety is truly the spice of life then this compilation defines that very meaning of spice and diversity on one recording. If you are a listener that likes the expectation of something new and different coming with each track then you will love this! Also, if you happen to enjoy being totally immersed in the sounds, this is the kind of varietal selection that will get you on that course rather quickly.

The previously mentioned track “Looks Like Heaven” inspired me. There can be heaven right here on earth. We don’t have to wait until we die to experience that.  

Luis Villegas starts off your first sip with “Noches Guitanas.” The worldly beats and Latino guitar expressions are colorful and vibrant, full of the life that another country or culture can bring to a listener. I thought it was an excellent way to start things off. Personally, I love instrumental music, particularly on guitar with a Latin spark to get your inner spirit aroused and the blood pumping into your veins for a shot of energy. Later into this compilation, you get much of the same with Benedetti & Svoboda on their tasteful flight “Moresca.”

Prior to all of that entertainment, there is so much variety and styles that you are bound to find some things you like. I found I enjoyed every track with varying degrees of interest. I appreciated each one as standalone work of art, as one should on such an impressive gathering of talent on one recording. The idea here is to take an adventure into the label to see all the work by each artist.

Dave Eggar’s “Follow Me To The Sun” is about as different as things can get on one compilation, with a funky beat and a little bit of new-age rap if you will. The bass is particularly good on the track. “Low Pass Dub” by Peas is quite unusual as well, I liked it quite a bit. It is original with a great mixture of sounds and a steady irresistible beat. It is hard to classify or put into a box, which makes it that much more engaging from where I sit. Lots of funky bass lines again lead the way into several transitions to enlighten the soul.

Dino Malito continues your travels with “Tienshan.” This is guitar-based with a bottom layer of steady playing with some beautiful lines on top of it to draw you in. It is mesmerizing, like a walk along the shoreline at around sunset and the feeling of peace and absolute serenity the sound of the waves can give you. This is a form of beauty set to music that will bring lovely visions of solace to your mind with very little effort. You can relax and let the music lead you into the story in your mind’s eye. The sound of the guitar has a surf music tone to it so that is why my vision came to life while listening.

Morning Café
is eleven tracks of instrumental bliss for the listeners with a diverse palette ready to get a taste of everything on the menu. And of course, the latte is pertinent to get you in the right frame of mind to discover all the enjoyment and the fragrances and tastes it has to offer. So, are you ready to place your order while you enjoy your morning or evening cup of instrumental bliss?


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net
March 30, 2021 


Tracks:

01. Luis Villegas - Noches Guitanas
02. Dave Eggar - Earth's Paradise
03. Peas - Looks Like Heaven
04. Luna - Alone In Kyoto
05. Dave Eggar - Follow Me To The Sun
06. Tao Of Sound - The Field
07. Benedetti & Svoboda – Moresca
08. Luna - Back To You
09. Peas - Low Pass Dub
10. Dino Malito – Tienshan
11. Steve Anderson - Beau Soir, L. 6


3/30/2021

Rock-Blues Review: Cactus-Tightrope

Release Date: April 02, 2021

Label: 2021 Purple Pyramid Records / Cleopatra Records

Website

It’s like old-time classic rock, progressive rock, the ‘60s, and the blues all got together and came up with Tightrope. The album has the perfect blend of contemporary progressive and classic rock sound with a blast from the past. Carmine Appice has now rejoined in attempts to “re-energize the band”. The band has had quite the rollercoaster from the 1970s to now. Truth be told I had never recognized them in my father’s record collection, but, after listening to this record I’m sad that its taken me this long to discover them.

From booming successful beginnings to the death of their original frontman Rusty Day in 1982, to having a revolving door of sorts of members due to varying individual reasons. That is until once again, the band began to see a rebirth of their notoriety and success in 2006. Only, this time Appice is the main driver behind the band’s reformation and a rocket towards hits on the charts once more.

Tightrope’s title track begins the entire record with a crash of the drum that fuels the record and has just enough thrill in the song to come away at the same time as a mellow rock introduction. Then we get into their version of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Now, I may be a bit biased because this is already my favorite song of all time. However, the way they’ve re-done the hit song is completely badass and incorporates an even stronger blues element, fused with rock n’ roll power throughout.

“All Shook Up” follows suit in a foot-stomping good time with an extensive guitar and drum combination solo that marries together the thrashing feeling of the message of the song is “all shook up” while also pumping an adrenaline rush into the track. Then, slowing down with “Poison in Paradise,” the torn-up emotional blues song, causes the singer an internal struggle of what had just transpired in his personal life. “Third Time Gone” is a fun write-off-themed song, showing how the third time is not always the charm.

“Shake That Thing” offers a slowed-down break from the peddle-to-the-metal, headstrong rock show so far. It is quite possibly the most blues-driven track on the album. Afterward, “Primitive Touch” rushes back into a frenzy of high-fueled guitar and harmonica blends. All he wants here is just one thing, of which he can’t escape until he gets what he desires.

We reach “Preaching Woman Man Blues” which expels obvious worldly truth in the beginning, “you’ve got to put in your time, you’ve got to pay your dues.” And then, soon the song progresses to much of an instrumental piece with its heavily guitar-laden work to deviate from the rest of the album. “Elevation” gives off a Led Zeppelin vibe that makes it the highlight track of the entire record. “Suite 1 & 2: Everlong, All the Madmen” is a hauntingly, captivating song that sets the listener halfway in a trance then sings of an aftermath of sorts.

As we round out Tightrope, “Headed for a Fall” finds itself reviving some pop-rock energy that is just pure power and excitement. “Wear It Out” is a great song to come to a middle-of-the-road point. The song isn’t overdone or extremely heavy in its rock roots and yet, it maintains enough composure of energy to wind out the album and leave the listener wanting more.


Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
March 24, 2021
 

Track Listing:
01. Tightrope
02. Papa Was a Rolling Stone
03. All Shook Up
04. Poison in Paradise
05. Third Time Gone
06. Shake That Thing
07. Primitive Touch
08. Preaching Woman Blues
09. Elevation
10. Suite 1 & 2: Everlong, All the Madmen
11. Headed for a Fall
12. Wear it Out
 

3/24/2021

Rock-Blues Review: Steve Cropper-Fire It Up

Release Date: April 23, 2021

Label: Provogue

Website

 

If you have any familiarity with Booker T. and the MG’s or all the music coming out of the legendary Stax label, then you know the name, Steve Cropper. All that music I have always appreciated and the craft of Cropper on the six-string leading the way. You won’t hear his name mentioned amongst the greats such as Clapton, Beck, and of course Hendrix. My thought is that he was recognized in his genre and all his contributions to countless recordings including his solo recordings. He played at a very high level and continues to do so as the new release Fire It Up will attest. He is right up there on the list with the big boys as far as I am concerned.

Fire It Up features Cropper at his level best with Nioshi Jackson (drums), Roger C. Reale (vocals), and Jon Tiven (bass, sax, keys, harmonica, background vocals, with shared production duties with Cropper). Some other names contributed that you will recognize as well are Felix Cavaliere, Anton Fig, Simon Kirke, the list is extensive. All of that fine talent coming together to lend a hand gives Fire It Up some flow and cohesiveness that adds to the spark of that amazing guitar playing on display from start to finish.

There are thirteen cuts on the album. After listening to all of them I felt as though there was nothing that seemed out of sync or so different that it stood out as the one track that would be left in the can for future consideration. This is quality rock and blues with a strong underpinning of soul that comes through the vocals nicely.

I think the versatility that Cropper offers on this release is exceptional. “Bush Hog, Pt. 1” is a snappy instrumental to kick things off. The title track is a funky bluesy burner with Reale on vocals to complete the song. As things move along you hear will so many of those sweet crisp licks from Cropper. My favorite amongst many was “Heartbreak Street” and “She’s So Fine,” which sounded like a good choice for a single release to create a buzz about the album.

Cropper is 79 years young and he still has that fire burning in his belly. He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee (thanks for that line Muhammad Ali) on this recording. The band he pulled together to support him certainly does Fire It Up at every turn making this a classic offering that stands as one of the best releases I have heard this year.


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder
March 22, 2021
 

Tracks:

01. Bush Hog, Pt. 1    
02. Fire It Up        
03. One Good Turn        
04. I'm Not Havin' It        
05. Out of Love        
06. Far Away     
07. Say You Don't Know Me        
08. She's So Fine        
09. Two Wrongs        
10. Heartbreak Street        
11. The Go-Getter Is Gone        
12. Bush Hog, Pt. 2        
13. Bush Hog


3/16/2021

Rock Review: The Dead Daises-Holy Ground

Release Date: January 22, 2021

Label: The Dead Daises Pty Limited

Website

The Dead Daisies hold so much street credit both past and present since their breakout in 2012, the revolving door keeps spinning with great music throughout. The current line-up: Dough Aldrich (Whitesnake/Dio), Deen Castronovo (Journey), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), and David Lowry (Red Phoenix) came together to offer us, Holy Ground coming from rock legends. Some prior members included: John Corabi (Motley Crue), Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones), and John Tempesta (The Cult/Rob Zombie). As you can see, the band is a collage of rock and roll greatness.

Listening to Holy Ground, it feels like real music has found its way back to the airwaves and speakers. Having this band rise over the years means not only, that there are people that still crave the realness of music and true musicianship, but more than just machinery and auto-tuned pop or techno beats. The strength and power behind Hughes’ vocals represent just what love and dedication to a musician’s life can showcase grand results.

The album itself is a pure adrenaline rush. The intro and also title track “Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)” is an earthquake of head-banging thrill. Fittingly, “Like No Other (Bassline)” is very much focused on the bass. “Come Alive, “Bustle and Flow,” (one of the main focal tracks), and “My Fate” are all songs that maintain a battle and struggle theme or anthem throughout. The way the album is set up, “Bustle and Flow” is one of the breaks in the album where there is a bit more levity and a slight pop sound to attract a wide audience rather than them sticking to one set group of people. It sets up this back and forth between a darker or more serious tonality like “My Fate” and “Come Alive” and a pure foot-stomping, sing-along-styled “Bustle and Flow” and “Chosen and Justified.” The single “Chosen and Justified” follows as a strong continuation of the prior three tracks, yet this packs a powerful punch to keep the momentum going.

There are cracks within “Saving Grace” but, in a good manner of speaking. The cracks are where the singer proclaims that his other half is the symbol for everything that frees him of the chains that bind him to the world. Not to mention, a guitar solo finds its way to blend into the message of the song to entice the listener to more. “Unspoken” feels like it belongs inside an action movie during a battle scene. Then to follow, “30 Days in the Hole” harkens right back to that ‘80s hair-band feel. It’s the most ‘fun’ track on the whole record, as far as radio-friendly (pop-rock) is concerned. But, songs like this, “Righteous” find hints of Guns N’ Roses blasting through.

While “Far Away” ends the album on a more melancholy note, the concept of calling out to someone during the chorus is exciting on its own; enough to not have it be your typical last track lead-out song. However, taking a look after this album is complete, Holy Ground certainly has the listener feeling like they are reliving the glory days of rock n’ roll once again. Truth be told, I had never heard of The Dead Daises up until this point, and thought very much so, that they would be a Grateful Dead Tribute band. Oh boy, was I in for a much-welcomed surprise. Thankfully, after hearing The Dead Daises the first time around, I cannot wait to go back and listen to their other four records that are bound to send me or any listener on yet another time warp.


Key Tracks: “Holy Ground (Shake the Memory,” “Chosen and Justified,” “30 Days in the Hole.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
March 12, 2021 

Track Listing:
01. Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)
02. Like No Other (Bassline)
03. Come Alive
04. Bustle and Flow
05. My Fate
06. Chosen and Justified
07. Saving Grace
08. Unspoken
09. 30 Days in the Hole
10. Righteous Days
11. Far Away


2/23/2021

Rock Review: Age of Aquarius-Out There

Release Date: March 3, 2021

Label: 2020 Age of Aquarius

Website


After their seismic debut Dawn of the Age of Aquarius, the band of the same title – Age of Aquarius is back, this time, with an intergalactic sound. Out There, unveils a unique outer space saga that brings about everyday questions of what more could lie beyond this world. What really might lie….out there in the great beyond? The band’s addition of Nakoma Z gives the album an elegant tonality to the record and touches of pop to the progressive-rock base and foundation of the album.

“Anyone out There” starts off the record by playing into the overall theme of extraterrestrial life but, at the same time asks a more direct question pertaining to her own life. Feeling alone, she craves companionship and repeats the question throughout the song, longing for completion. On the intro of “Face of the Unknown,” there is a tinge of bluegrass/country that quickly graduates into a song of pure rock of this image or creature we cannot quite make out but, we are so curious to find and identify. This alludes itself more to the serious note of worldly wonders.

“Mysterious Light Being” is almost like a part 2 to track two. A duet that is a double entendre of sorts, where both individuals are curious of this light being. Yet, the male counterpart  - Peter Cox, could also identify as the mystery being himself. It’s a beautiful expression of longing and attempting to make the best out of the unknown and the longing to know for certain what is real and what is imaginative.

Asking the longing, never-ending questions, “Alone In the Universe” is a more serious-mannered song, tending to the nature of human beings versus other walks of life… or if there should be any at all. The echoed quality of the production, along with the deeper male voice offers a more reflective view of the song’s message. It also goes a little deeper, turning the tables back on our own human ways – asking “What if”?... of a utopian way of life. The effectiveness of this piece has much to do with the melancholy nature of the ballad.

“Fifth Dimension” acts as the bridge of the album in many ways. Not only is it a strict instrumental piece, it too does not vary much in the structure of the song. Although, the song does have a slight roller-coaster feel to it. as the beginning starts slow with a piano note and fading sound, it builds gradually to a guitar solo that plays throughout. Meanwhile, “Non Carbon Life Form” is a blend of keyboard synthesizer and brief spoken-word curiosity of the appearance of a certain specimen, as the guitar glides on through.

“The Men in Black” shifts back to Nakoma Z. She eerily sings of how someone stumbles across what they are not supposed to know. Now, ‘the men in black’ must take care of the individual if he or she should speak a word of what they’ve seen. But, the light piano along the track is slightly misleading distracting from the tone of how she is ordering the person to be assured not to speak or risk serious consequences of the ‘men in black’.

“Atomic Eight” is a twist in the album that still alludes to the spacetime theme of the record, with ever-so-slight feedback vocals, but, there is a harmonious blend too between the progressive-rock sound of the guitar and a jazz-like feel to the track as well. It is a soothing instrumental piece that calms the listener’s mind. “First Contact” is based on the amazing energy of the ‘first contact’ with a supposed alien and then that said ‘alien’ starts explaining the reasons behind her extreme exhilaration of those feelings. All this while the start and finish of the song’s sound, sounds much like a slot machine reel at each end of this rock n’ roll record.

The finale piece, “We Come in Peace,” is probably the most tongue-in-cheek and contradicting piece of the album. “We come in peace. We come to rule your world. Just get down on your knees.” So goes the line in the song, so is the assumption of what a higher intelligent life form might practice on us, should that kind of day ever rear its disturbing head. But, it also does speak to the ease, willingness, and gullibility of many persons in the modern world as well. We are often so easily influenced and convinced of what we are read, told, and ‘suggested’ to do at times; that it could very well be speaking to us in a contemporary light.

Out There offers a combination of action-packed, comic book imagery, along with surprise hints of pop-up styles inside the effects of progressive-rock. “Atomic Eight’s” sparks of jazz horns act almost a reprieve from the interstellar adventure the listener is sent on. “The Men in Black” meanwhile offer a theatrical pop perspective with notes of singer-songwriter/Americana vibes.


Key tracks: “Anyone out There,” “Fifth Dimension,” “Atomic Eight,” “The Men in Black.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
February 22, 2021


Track Listing:

01. Anyone out There?
02. Face of the Unknown
03. Mysterious Light Being
04. Alone in the Universe
05. Fifth Dimension
06. Non Carbon Life Form
07. The Men in Black
08. Atomic Eight
09. First Contact
10. We Come in Peace


2/15/2021

Rock Review: Tim Morse-The Archaeology Project

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Label: 2020 Tim Morse 

Website

Typically, I see the word ‘compilation’ in music and I overlook every part of it, often because it signifies “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of.” And as a writer, I usually want more than just the hits of someone because the hidden gems are found outside of the singles. Plus, if you find a song apart from the singles, you don’t grow tired of it as quickly because it does not frequent the radio as promotional singles do. In this case, the compilation of The Archaeology Project by Tim Morse is excellent in presenting a timeline of his work.

With no definitive reason for releasing this record, Morse says,” It seemed like a good time to reflect on the last fifteen years of being a recording artist.” Reflection can be a good way to spark that new creative edge. “Guitar Etude 1” roots from his very first song so, it seems fitting that the bit piece starts off the record. 


“Apocalyptic Visions” is a three-part song that is his longest piece to date. AV is a blend where the keyboard sounds much like an intergalactic travel scene, followed by what could sound like a take from a 90’s Alternative group like Good Charlotte blending with a speed-metal song cut, and ending with a mix of peaceful chime and keyboard but also going back to the powerhouse guitar playing. “Adrift” is a self-reflective journey piece that initially was just an instrumental work for the longest while.

“Rome” contains a Shakespearean-type of imagery that plays to the advantage of the artist and genre quite well. It is the epitome of an epic tale. “The sky is burning. Nero plays on….” Is the perfect symbolism for today’s pop culture/political chaos while giving a temporary historical lesson too. “Voyager,” according to Morse, was “inspired by the Berg and his book on the Lindbergh historic flight.” It is a mainly wondrous instrumental track that takes to new heights.

“Window” winds the first half of the record down with this soothing guitar piece that was thought of as a segue for his prior album Faithscience. The short track calms the listener’s ear down and prepares them, for more to come. “Afterword” keeps with the more melancholy tone but, not for the reasons you may think. Instead of saying goodbye to a love or a relationship of sorts, it’s the foundation for new beginnings moving forward and a reflection of events gone by.

“200 Yards” is a funny ‘crush-gone-wrong’ song that Morse says is the first-time-ever collaboration between him and Bret Bingham on Mangoes. The very tongue-in-cheek, watcher song, is a fun session Morse and Bingham created to simply make music. “My Ally” talks of a friendship that has lasted through the ages. I think it’s THE song I or anyone could connect with so deeply because, as an overly open and friendly person, to begin with, I love the multitude of reasons certain people come into your lives. Friendship is so much more than just a bond, it’s an experience like none other.

“Inertia” is a funky psychedelic feeling song that as the song plays out, causes an expansion of sorts. It crescendos into a musical spacetime continuum. “The Mary Celeste” speaks of the sudden loss all of us experience at one point or another. The hurt is so grand, and sometimes it is impossible to deal with moving forward, we remain still for a while, “lost at sea.”

“The Marquis” is the sign we all read in our own minds in one form or another. We over-analyze our certain actions to which we question if it could’ve been worked out differently, or if it was the correct plan of action in the first place. But the marquis is always hovering above our mind trying to intimidate us to keep on questioning ourselves. 

Originally done by Pink Floyd, “Dogs” was a long desired song to cover for Morse and by molding the song to his artistry, he molds it into more of a singer-songwriter style than its original predecessor. In finalizing the record, “The Corners” is a cleverly-placed track to end out The Archaeology Project. It is a beautifully orchestrated piece representing the excitement to see what lies beyond our lives here on earth.

Key Tracks: “My Ally,” “Rome,” “Dogs,” and “Afterword”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
February 14, 2021


Track Listing:
01. Guitar Etude 1 Dec. 1970
02. Apocalyptic Visions
03. Adrift
04. Rome
05. Voyager
06. Window
07. Afterword
08. 200 Yards
09. My Ally
10. Inertia
11. Mary Celeste
12. The Marquis
13. Dogs
14. The Corners


2/11/2021

Blues Review: Robin Trower, Livingstone Brown, & Maxi Priest-United State of Mind

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Label: 2020 Manhaton Records  

Website

The ultimate trio – Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, and Livingstone Brown, teams up to bring forth United State of Mind. The album projects a blend of Reggae and Blues that emboldens the title of the record as “United.” Having worked with Maxi Priest and Robin Trower both on an individual basis, Livingstone Brown finally brought the trio together to create this 9-track masterpiece. Browne provided the studio space and engineering skills, as well as some of the instrumentation. Meanwhile, Maxi Priest lent his vocals as Trower plays through with his sleek, smooth stylings.

The album begins with the title track, “United State of Mind,” which separates itself from much of the rest of the record. The premier track, maintains a more upbeat, faster sound, with melodramatic lyrics whereas the rest of the tracks, apart from “On Fire Like Zsa Zsa,” carry the opposite effect. The sound and tempo are distinguishingly slower and more relaxed, while the lyrics often offer an introspective feel and message or a positive outlook. Regardless of the concept surrounding each track, it is far from your typical Blues record. The fusion of two genres appeals to the typical Blues connoisseur’s yearning for a new and different sound.

“Are We Just People” is the most thought-provoking piece of the album. It asks the age-old questions we as humans often wonder but, we cannot begin to comprehend what the answers could honestly entail. “Should we just keep pushing? I’m thinking I should take some time…begs the continuum question, how far, is too far? And what is it, that we ultimately want to uncover? On the flipside, “ Hand to the Sky” lights up United State of Mind as it speaks of rejuvenation, rebirth; and lifting the spirit of the audience.

The continuation of newness and rebirth continues on “Good Day.” And you might think to yourself…”I thought this was ‘Blues’?” Well, yes it is, however, Blues can also paint pictures and tell stories rather than just concentrate on the negative and sadness of a life or situation. This song, expresses just how much 24 hours can change a man and his mindset. Following up, “On Fire Like Zsa Zsa” is a cool track with a wicked game to play. This woman ‘Zsa Zsa’ will wrap you up in her clutches if you don’t know how to play her game to your advantage.

We come back down from our feel-good, jam tracks, to discover “Bring It All Back to You.” This piece yearns to make things right with a former lover and even the attempt to talk things out seems to slip the singer up. Combine the struggling lyricism with the emphasis on Trower’s gliding staccato-like guitar structure, you get a soothing but heart-aching composition. “Walking Wounded” follows suit in its painful emotion. If the title wasn’t enough to show you, how quickly on a dime, emotions can flip. Sit and listen to how he comes to an understanding that some situations just cannot be fixed.

On the final two tracks, “Sunrise Revolution” is all about being on this quest for answers and truth. And the singer’s answer is in-fact a ‘sunrise revolution’, to shine a light on deceit and the right and clear intentions of so many in our lives; both of powerful and common-man. Then, rounding out the album, “Where Our Love Came From,” is a short mission to get back to a place of stability and order from the singer’s point-of-view in a relationship of his. Whether it is past or present is unclear, but the track does well in not saying too much and leading out with a cool, tender guitar solo that gradually decrescendos in the listener’s ear.


Key Tracks include: “Are We Just People,” “Good Day,” “On Fire Like Zsa Zsa” and “United State of Mind.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
February 5, 2021
 

Track Listing:

01. United State of Mind
02. Are We Just People
03. Hand to the Sky
04. Good Day
05. On Fire Like Zsa Zsa
06. Bring it All Back to You
07. Walking Wounded
08. Sunrise Revolution
09. Where Our Love Came From

 

2/03/2021

Rock Review: Albert Bouchard- Re Imaginos

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: 2020 RockHeart Records / Deko

Website


Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Frontman Albert Bouchard for the legendary rock band Blue Oyster Cult returns to the spotlight on his own to share a record of his solo ventures. Re Imaginos puts to work an element of the band combined with original soothing guitar riffs and piano melodies that provide a unique twist on the Blue Oyster Cult sound but, allow Bouchard to shine on his own. This comes as Albert and his brother Joe Bouchard, release the record through his new imprint label, RockHeart Records / Deko Entertainment. The album is Albert’s reimagining of the 1988 Blue Öyster Cult release, Imaginos, which was originally intended as Albert’s solo album.

Re Imaginos starts with the alluring and outright obvious signaling of “I Am the One You Warned Me Of.” The song’s initial lead-in gets the listener in a head-bobbing, rhythmic good mood. That is, even if the song is hinting that the person is hinting at a hidden agenda or personality that was previously unsuspected. “Del Rio Song” is the main song that harkens back to the former Blue Oyster Cult classic sound. The song mirrors the sound of the classic “Burning for You,” sending the listener into a frenzy of nostalgia and enjoyment of the cool, smoothness of the track overall.

We venture into more melodramatic territory on “In the Presence of Another World.” The song avails to the strong piano-structured intro, into a powerful but constant guitar pattern that is borderline repetitious as it moves forward. While the sound is calming and enjoyable, it does begin to seem prolonged and invariable, once the mid-point second verse concludes. Venturing forward, track four, is a curious track that gives off a storybook, fable-themed sound. From the title of the track to the frequent religious references, it acts as a wonderful mystical piece for the listener to get lost within.

The wild-wild-west comes through upon “Girl That Love Made Blind.” As Bouchard recounts of a far-off, distant memory of Christmas, the girl is the center of the holiday season where he danced his heart away that night. As this soft, light song plays out, the reminiscence of him longing for that same companionship further on. The following number, “Astronomy,” makes the midpoint of the record and a re-recording of Blue Oyster Cult’s single on the Secret Treaties album. It is an illustrative tale of the wonders of space mixed with a wish of one last venture with this girl Susie who is on her way to starting her life on her own, married and complete.

The title track “Imaginos” is a continuation of Bouchard’s mysticism. The themes of ever changing life and decay, as well as, nomadic-like movement are are ways of imagining the touch-and-go-sense of nature and the human world. “Gil Blanco County,” tells of this wondrous place that nature is vast and there is a sense of openness that the typical city-life does not contain. “Blue Oyster Cult” is a funky jam tune to pay homage to the group that made Bouchard the musical phenomenon he is today. “The Oyster boys are swimming now,” make it sound as though there is this revival in the work of sorts, of which listeners can interpret to their pleasure. This is followed by a powerful guitar riff which blasts the song and audience into a midpoint rock n’ roll frenzy.

Closing out the album, “Black Telescope” is a grand wordplay trickery song. As though a sailor is making up a voyager’s song, it tells of the many ways and types of visions differing creatures may take up the sight of their world around them. “Magna of Illusion” is a tale of what could be an event in a time of victorian-era happenings. Whether it be of travel and discovery, or a battle to come, the tune ends with revealing that not all is what it seems; leaving the listener in awe. Finally, “Les Invisibles” is a medieval song that sings of a setup and celebration is put on in this particular story that looks as though, the death of an individual is celebrated.

Key Tracks: “I Am the One You Warned Me Of,” “Girl That Love Made Blind,” “Blue Oyster Cult,” “Black Telescope”


Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 28, 2021

 

Track Listing:
01. I Am the One You Warned Me Of
02. Del Rio Song
03. In the Presence of Another World
04. Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria
05. Girl That Love Blind
06. Astronomy
07. Imaginos
08. Gil Blanco County
09. Blue Oyster Cult
10. Black Telescope
11. Magna of Illusion
12. Les Invisibles

1/26/2021

Contemporary Instrumental (Solo Piano) - Paz Del Castillo-TRES best of…

Release Date: March 21, 2020

Label: Noise of Dreams

Website

Paz Del Castillo is a pianist that records solo instrumental contemporary new age music. Essentially it is a contemporary instrumental collection however it so relaxing and beautiful that a listener can use it for meditation as well. Once you start listening you will understand why.


Her most recent release is titled TRES best of… which consists of thirteen tracks of her solo piano work. What I discovered while listening was how full-bodied and rhythmic each track was. The consistent flow of each track is a strong representation of solo piano work and how authoritative and effective that one instrument can be with the right hands, turning music into magic.
This is excellent solo piano music with three new tracks included.


One of the best examples of that strength is “Cuevas Del Mar” which translates to “my beach-at the north coast-in Asturias.” The track is full of anticipation, excitement, and above all, catchy rhythms that hold your interest from start to finish. That is but one example, and within every track, some or all of those elements will arise to grab your attention.

Paz creates her music working from the solid ground of classical then transforming the compositions to forge ahead and translate to contemporary instrumental which then crosses over to the sub-genre of new age. I hold firm my belief that most of this type of music blossoms from the classic world of instrumentation. It is not hard to recognize if you listen to this type of music all the time.

Besides this compilation Paz Del Castillo makes a triumphant return to her recording career with the newly released single "I Fight." The word fight can have strong implications both negative and positive, my feeling and thoughts after listening, is that the message was very positive and the music says that loud and clear.

The album closes out with “Lo Quo Se De MI CD-S4QT,” translated it means “What I know about myself,” which serves as an introspective track.

TRES best of…  will deliver the message the artist is conveying and allow each listener to attain a level of peace and relaxation, or meditation if needed. This is music that has many uses and I think it could easily serve as soundtrack music for video and or films. The fact that there are no words gives it a distinct advantage over music with lyrics to think about.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-MuzikMan.net Founder
January 24, 2021

Tracks:

01. Bolinas (“Moods for Piano”) 02.42 ( A little village at San Francisco California, where I recorded my 1st Album
02. Latiendo (“Eleven Drops”) 04.48 (a heart beat-that keeps beating after difficulties)
03. El abrazo del mar (“Eleven Drops”) 04.07 (the embrace of the sea)
04. Improvisación sobre las aguas tranquilas (“Eleven Drops”) 04.29 Improvisation about calm river)
05. Sobre el Cabo de Mar ( “Now” ) 2.40 (About a beautiful Cape over the cliffs in the north coast of Spain)
06. Unchain me ( “Now” )  04.16
07. Cuevas del Mar (“Moods for Piano”) 04.14 ( my beach-At the north coast-In Asturias)
08. Mother ( “Now” ) 06.05 (for my mother, my essence)
09 Tom ( “Now” ) 03.14
10. Hymn ( “Now” ) 04.28
11. Erase una vez una doncella…. (new) 03.17 (once upon a Maiden, about a medieval history)
12 Vals for the Good people 03.13
13. Lo que se de mí ( new) 06.36 ( What I know about myself, and introspective track)


1/22/2021

Rock Review: The Catholic Girls-Rock N’ Roll School For Girls

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: JSP Records

Website

Hailing from my home state of New Jersey, The Catholic Girls burst onto the rock n’ roll scene in the early ‘80s. Causing all kinds of controversy and uproar in their music, the group never really gained national momentum. However, they were able to garner enough attention along the coast and turn heads. Even the catholic church within Rhode Island decided to ban them from performing at several functions. Rock n’ Roll School For Girls finds root in the modern era that could prepare this band for an epic revitalization of their lifetime.

The Catholic Girls pack a wild punch in this remastered collection of provocative hits. They return more than 15 years later from their last release, to reintroduce themselves to the masses that the world was possibly not ready for. In a not-so-politically-correct, modern world; the band may have more success amongst varying age groups who align with angst-like, rebellion rock. On this two-disc album, essentially many of the songs represent a topic to which is breaking stereotype concepts or causing mayhem.

The consistent theme throughout the album is front-woman Gail Petersen’s distinct style. She makes her mark by emoting her voice in such a manner that gives off much of the same mystique as Stevie Nicks. Starting off the album, disc one is loaded with demo records that made their way into the group’s mainstay discography. Then, disc 2 offers a slew of remixed editions of the prior disc. Both track listings also incorporate a number of new music singles.

See, this band knows how to play up satirical themes, from the threat of schooling that plagued the singer’s home life growing up, to failed relationships and just being flat out wild and reckless. Songs like
“Grounded” and “Grand Theft Auto” are two examples of the bombastic flare that play through much of the first set of the tracklisting. As both of the discs play through, the latter half of the music, a more solemn tone is felt within the album. Emotions rise on tracks such as, “You Let Me Down” and “Should’ve Been Mine” offers a difference in mellow manners. One song is more powerful and utilizes Petersen’s vocal style to her advantage while the latter is a more lyrically somber and plainer sound that shows less is indeed more.

Showcasing their broad discography, this album acts as a reintroduction to a three decade’s worth of bad timing but, amazing talent. These girls know how to mix the flare of rock n’ roll with humor and contradiction to the normal ways of thinking on a particular subject. It seems that traveling through time, forty years down the line just might have its advantages when it comes to The Catholic Girls re-emergence.

Key tracks include: “Grounded,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “God Made You for Me,” and “Down At the Shore.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 21, 2021

 
Track Listing
Disc 1:
01. Private School (1981)
02. Grounded (1980)
03. Summer Boy (1980)
04. Dancing on the 44 (1980)
05. Rock’n Roll School for Girls (1980)
06. Somebody in the USA (1980)
07. Grand Theft Auto (1979)
08. Young Boys (1980)
09. Where Did I Go Wrong (1981)
10. Boys Can Cry (1981)
11. Broken Record (1981)
12. You Let Me Down (1981)
13. C’est Impossible (1981)
14. Someone New (1981)
15. Rock’n America (1983)
16. If No One Fell in Love (2000)
17. It Doesn’t Become You (1984)
18. No One Like You (1983)
19. I Was A Lady (2001)
20. Night Shift (The New Jersey Song) [Alternate 2003]
21. Just Before Nightfall (Live at President’s Palace, 1979)

Disc 2:
01. Someone New
02. C’est Impossible
03. A Boy for Me
04. Where Did I Go Wrong
05. You Let Me Down
06. Private School
07. Boys Can Cry
08. God Made You for Me
09. The Only One
10. Make Me Believe
11. Niagara Falls
12. Should Have Been Mine
13. If I Hadn’t Loved You
14. Some Boys
15. Manderlay
16. Shame On You
17. Kiss Me One More Time
18. Down at the Shore
19. Without a Country
20. Somebody Better Get a Room

1/14/2021

Blues Review: Junior Wells-Blues Brothers

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: 2020 Cleopatra Blues

Website

The blues is quite possibly THE genre that is one-hundred percent raw emotion. Given its title, not only is it a solemn color, but it also represents intensity and how the artist might harness that intensity to symbolize their hurt or sorrow. Junior Wells, a pioneer in his time, spent over 40 years crafting his style and paving the way with a “blues-harp” style. This newly remastered collection of Wells’ recordings along with some of the greatest blues guitarists of our current generation. Blues Brothers is a grand ode to the talent and legacy that sadly Junior Wells left for us in 1998.

“Blues Hit Big Town” is a calm introduction that allows the listener to sway into the beat of the music and get them acquainted with the vocal stylings of Mr. Wells. It sets the table for what awaits the listener throughout the record. Sliding into the next track, the fun commences with a jive-sounding, tongue-in-cheek, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” which is a funky bass-induced piece.

“Messin’ With the Kid” sounds like old times, trying to tune radios to the right station to avoid the most static. But, that static and raspiness is what brings the element of flashback and former city-street vibe of jazz and big-band, bluesy culture. “Scratch My Back” starts off sounding very much like the wild-wild-west but, then progresses into a lively and exciting dialogue, while at the same time keeping steady with a mid-tempo vibe to try to entice his love interest in a little bit of a rendezvous of sorts.

We come back down as listeners a bit, as “Worried Life Blues” acts as the bridge between the first and second half of the album. Wells is clearly swooning over someone either he had or someone of whom has since departed from his life in some capacity. Picking up the rear of track five, “When the Cat’s Gone” is a slick, short,  fun song that brings up the imagery… at least to me, of Tom and Jerry. “Lovey Dovey” is a pure, feel-good moment in the record that reminds us that the blues, while often dealing with sorrow or hurt, has its moments of complete opposite effect in positivity. Rather, it just utilizes the same technique as it’s somber counterparts.

“You Got to Love Her with a Feeling” might be the lowest point of the record as it seems to be the most traditional style of blues rhythm and overall tone. “Two-Headed Woman” is a rush of questioning the singer questioning the woman in his life because of her split personality but, he puts up with it because to him “there’s nothing we can do about it. “Snatch It Back” is a snappy jive that sounds much like a 60s dance move or that of which the song might be a dance number through the entire song.

Upon the end of the album, “You Don’t Care” is a dismissive song of used-to-be friends or partners of what sounds to be like a disagreement or cheating scandal between them gone wrong. With both parties telling each other off, adhering to their motives and feelings alone, they “don’t care” how the other person now is dealing with the aftermath. “It’s a Man Down There” is alluding to how the singer perceives that another man might be living amongst the underworld because of a nefarious deed. But, he just doesn’t know for certain if it is.

“Hoodoo Man Blues” is a nice wind-down song to end out the album. It is an overall instrumental piece that soothes the listener’s ear. The track’s sudden divergent rifts within points of the song provide a little jolt of excitement within the overall relaxation of the piece.

Key Tracks include: “Two Headed Woman,”Messin’ With the Kid,” “It’s A Man Down There.”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 12, 2021

Track Listing:

01. Blues Hit Big Town (feat. Colin James)
02. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (feat. Pat Travers)
03. Messin’ With the Kid (feat. Tyler Bryant)
04. Scratch My Back (feat. Albert Castiglia)
05. Worried Life Blues (feat. Mike Zito & James Montgomery)
06. When the Cat’s Gone (feat. Harvey Mandel)
07. Lovey Dovey (feat. Eric Gales)
08. You Gotta Love Her with a Feeling (feat. Kirk Fletcher)
09. Two Headed Woman (feat.Guitar Shorty)
10. Snatch It Back and Hold (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
11. You Don’t Care (feat. Popa Chubby)
12. It’s A Man Down There (feat. Bernard Allison)
13. Hoodoo Man Blues (feat. Joe Louis Walker)

1/06/2021

Instrumental Progressive Ambient Review: Green Isac Orchestra-b a r (140 gram vinyl LP)

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Label: Spotted Peccary

Website

 

My only regret after hearing the most recent Green Isac Orchestra’s release b a r, is that I did not discover them years ago! This is some of the most creative and color progressive instrumental ambient music I have heard in some time. I had the pleasure of hearing it for the first time on 140 gram vinyl.

Morten Lund and Andreas Eriksen were together know as Green Isac for 25 years as a duo only, until the Green Isac collaboration expanded to a five member ensemble and rechristened themselves Green Isac Orchestra in 2015. bar is their second release as a quintet.

There is never a dull moment on b a r, in fact, this is full of brilliantly executed compositions. The operative words here is “creative” and “expansive.”

“Volcanic” starts things off and the title is very descriptive of what you will hear to get your heart pumping and your imagination kicked into high gear. It comes in just shy of a healthy 8 minutes of instrumental bliss starting off with ambient texture and building into a volcanic eruption of sounds. The track ebbs and flows between power and softer moments provided by the cello then it switches back to that colorful blasts of passion and sound. I do not think there could have been a better track on the album to get things started. When you look and see six tracks your first impression may be that is not many however you can take my word for it, it more than fills both side of the 140 gram vinyl.

“Le Grand Sportif” is 7+ minutes and it begins with a spacey intro into nice keyboard work allowing for a minimalist approach to introduce the cello. The track engages you and is in a continual evolving cycle that can be fascinating. Some good percussive sounds push it to another level as it moves closer to the end before closing out.

“With Hat” is shorter journey at 3:25 with orchestral sounds of the cello leading the way then a heavy drone like sound comes in sounding like a powerful but suggestive hammer then the gentler part of song is ushered in with an emphasis on the synths. The track has some very strong progressive movements that would please any instrumental music listener.

Side B opens with “Don Progini” (note the last name) letting us all know if we already didn’t that this is definitely progressive music! There are some interesting changes going on in this track and so many sounds converging into a blossoming full sound taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal, the band makes sure you are still paying attention. The keyboards reminded me of Tubular Bells.

“Aarwaaken” comes in over 6 minutes and starts with a spacey/spooky synth with a world edge provided by the percussive elements then it morphs for a very short period over to classical path. Mind melting synths arrive to give it that sci-fi feel as well to keep things interesting. The only way to describe this masterful composition is to call it acoustic-progressive-ambient with a classical underpinning.

“Without Hat” closes the curtain on this aural journey starting with a guitar, which was different in comparison to all the other tracks. Various synths are the building blocks of the track and it provides excitement and leads the listener to a colorful ending to close out the album.

Why stay the same is the mantra for b a r and that works very well for this excellent recording. They never do the same thing twice and that is what makes b a r  so enjoyable and something you will want to hear more than once.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder

January 3, 2021

Track List:

Side A:
1. Volcanic
2. Le Grand Sportif
3. With Hat

Side B:
4. Don Progini
5. Aarwaaken
6. Without Hat




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