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

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

4/23/2021

Fusion/Contemporary Jazz Review: Michael Whalen-Future Shock

Release Date:
April 23, 2021

Label: Michael Whalen Music

Website

Facebook Event: Streaming, Videos and Interviews

Videos:
“Future Shock” / “Memories of You"


Streaming Fan Link

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


4/08/2021

Track Feature: The Song Gardeners-Reveal

 

I have been listening to the Song Gardeners music from track to track since last year. Every time I hear a song from these wonderful artists it just melts the day away. All I hear is great music and the most pleasing and soothing voices you can imagine. 

"Reveal" is their latest offering. So far this is my favorite. Everything about it just soothed my soul. These two ladies have it together. What was once a trio is now a duo. It looks like they have carried on without missing a step with their presentation and sound.

I also appreciate the gorgeous cover art. The message I get from that colorful cover is that nature and humans are interlocked, we are one. And that my music loving friends is a fact, and the reason we need to take better care of Mother Earth.

One listen to this track will have you hooked because it is a true to life "Reveal" of music and lyrics with tremendous power and meaning. If you are looking for one thing today to make you smile and give you a universal feeling of hope, then listen now!

 Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck


"Reveal" (Official Lyric Video) from Mary Gospe on Vimeo

The Song Gardener's Media Page:https://ffm.to/o1bwj7y

Visit The Song Gardener's Website: https://www.thesonggardeners.com


The Song Gardeners is a musical duo from the San Francisco Bay Area featuring singer/songwriter Corrie Dunn (vocals, piano, guitar), singer/songwriter Mary Gospe (vocals, guitar, percussion).

Their original songs are filled with positive, empowering messages and beautiful harmonies.

 

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


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