Showing posts with label Rock Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rock Reviews. Show all posts

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


4/21/2021

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


4/16/2021

Rock Review And Interview: American Tears-Free Angel Express

Release Date: October 23, 2020

Label: 2020 Deko Music

Website


Making their debut in the early ‘70s, American Tears saw low to moderate success with a triple album set through that time period. While Powerhouse became their third and final attempt for some time as a collective band, leader and singer Mark Mangold, went off to explore trying his own musical path with a solo career. Spawning two albums, Mirror Image and Lift respectively, writing a book, and working on various other soundtracks as The Sign, Drive, She Said and one with Aldo Nova of Canada; Mark saw a blossoming period of growth and popularity. In 2019, the band reformed and reorganized to create White Flags, though there seemed to be no signs of surrender from this group in the near future. Now with Free Angel Express, Mark and American Tears are ready to rumble.

“Sledgehammered” is a great introductory recording. The build-up of the keyboard combined with the chanting vocals is thrilling to the listener as the ‘sledgehammer’ waits in mid-air limbo anticipating a sudden drop. The song instead, remains fluid and consistent tricking the ear and mind. “Set It On Fire” begins as a hunt-and-attack-themed piece. Yet, as it plays out the melodic keyboard and vocals reveal a dream sequence. Approaching the midway of the song, the drums play well into the initial beats of the song. It does very well in keeping the listener in a trance.

“Free Angel Express/Resist/Outta-Here” is a 10-minute instrumental track that is soothing, and offers itself up as a bridge between tracks. With the ‘Resist’ part of the track being the driving force, vocally of the track; the title track delivers the impression of an express railroad that the listener is joyriding on. “Not For Nothing” comes through with a different take of heavy rock blended with blues lyrics and melodies. A surprise to the system, “Not For Nothing” becomes a key track without question.

“Glass” projects itself as a contrast to its song title name. As it can be clear and put together, it can also shatter and crumble. Listening, to the ‘perfect storm,’ it’s as though the shattered pieces are blowing against the singer’s face as he battles on to find a resolution. “Everything You Take” finds itself in the aftermath of “Glass,” literally. The two songs marry together so well that the singer feels like he lost this battle either within himself or with someone close to him. “Roll the Stone” is like the perfect resolution of a trilogy, coming to an epic way of understanding of just picking up what remains, and moving on.

“Blue Rondo” plays on as the most interesting and fun pieces on the album. Its clash of organ versus drum is a surprisingly pleasant sound. All the while the combo gives off a jazz/rock/speed-metal triple-blasted sound to spice up and change up some of the energy of the record. “Can’t Get Satisfied” is a blaring, classic-mid- ‘70s-‘80s track that consists of a strong pop element which allows it to act as the album’s presumable single. “Woke” is an organ-dominated track that has both somber and perseverance concepts to it.

“Shadows Aching Karma” starts off exciting with a “Take On Me” keyboard-pop idea. As the song progresses, the synthesizer effects on this track make it a fun and interactive song that is not-so-much an earworm tune but, it does give off an animated cartoon or videogame soundtrack vibe while it plays through. “So Glow” finds itself in a seemingly positive-reinforcement bright song. Although, this song plays out more as a one-liner repetitive instrumental piece that’s massively appealing to the ear (minus a couple crashes in the middle). Finally, “Rise to the Light” begins just as the title might give way to, in a church-type setting. With the organ beaming loud, Mangold’s voice is bold and largely singled-out apart from the supported instrumentation. It is a refreshing and cool way to end an album that energizes and has the listener’s ear busy from start to finish.


Free Angel Express expels a great deal of energy and vibrato to capture its audience in a melodic, keyboard-rock rush. While few tracks fall slightly short of keeping the momentum booming (i.e. – “Roll the Stone” and “So Glow”), the album shines with genre experimentation and blending. Furthermore, the band’s revival might just land them on solid ground throughout the 2021 new year, should this album get the recognition and consumption it deserves by rock, pop, and metal enthusiasts alike.


Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
April 15, 2021

Track Listing:
01. Sledgehammered
02. Set It On Fire
03. Free Angel Express/Resist/Outta Here
04. Not For Nothing
05. Glass
06. Everything You Take
07. Roll the Stone
08. Blue Rondo
09. Can’t Get Satisfied
10. Woke
11. Shadows Aching Karma
12. So Glow
13. Rise to the Light




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


2/15/2021

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


2/03/2021

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

1/22/2021

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

7/22/2020

Rock Review: Mandoki Soulmates-Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures

Release Date: June 19, 2020

Label: 2020 Purple Pyramid Records

Website 

Mandoki Soulmates debuted in 1991. The band consists of many members but, the founding three are Ian Anderson, Jack Bruce, and Al Di Meola; along with Leslie Mandoki. Often coined as a ‘supergroup,’ Soulmates present themselves as a unified front. They direct the band as one whole unit, rather than several different bodies and voices just up on a stage. While most artists and bands either remain on one side or the other of the political aisle or keep their personal politics out of their artistry, Mandoki Soulmates lightly sprinkles political undertones throughout their music, especially on the newest released album Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures.

Now let’s get down to the business of the music. “Living in the Gap” starts the album with a big-band/jazz, funk-fusion that is quite fitting for such a time as this. The group sings of unity and bridging the ‘gap’ to where we separate from others intentionally on almost every subject nowadays. It also hints of a thought that there is no “right and wrong” rather, it’s a matter of collective agreement or disagreement.

“Young Rebels” is a shout to how all different young individuals, each with varying backgrounds and experiences are trying to get through each day of this world and possible change in a peaceful but ever-so-nonchalant manner. In the same way, they cannot decide whether they are trying to bring about some old ideals as a youth, or much older but with youth mindsets and hopes. “Turn the Wind” takes a bluegrass-like spin in the record. It comes down to simply a relaxed tune, but, it does beg the question within, “can we stop anything, anymore, at all?” Or, is it a lost cause in trying to make a big change? “Where We Belong” sings of this back and forth between feel-good moments and some that dig in a little deeper in pain or sorrow.

What I might call the ‘anthem song,’ “Let the Music Show You the Way” is a bright and uplifting tune to bring anyone out of their funk. Completely void of any particular signaling or message, it simply enlightens the listener that music is the universal peacekeeper as it allows us to align our feelings to any song we choose. “Too Much Pride” belts out a trumpeted jazz message of an overwhelming sense of pride, unable to move out of our own way to see more clearly, other individuals and how they see and feel through life.

“Old Rebels” is a continuation of “Young Rebels” but, carries the same message from before with a wiser, somewhat opposing perspective. “Welcome to Real Life” eerily fits well with today’s political and human climate. Between the unrest of all of us being quarantined and innocent individuals dying all across the country, the lyrics ring too true, wherever your viewpoints may fall. “Hottest Queen of Cool” invokes a sexy, sleek, jazzy number to a woman who absolutely dominates what seems to be the entertainment lifestyle, almost emulating a Hollywood starlet, turning everything before her, about her.

“Wake Up” is a call-out type of song to all who will listen to change the things we see going on in the world before it might be too late, according to the band at least. Singing of “dark hearts and free minds,” one can imagine, the song is to be about making the world as bright and light as can be. “Mother Europe” follows with a song seemingly of a love of the European continent as though they are defending the nation. “I’m Not Your Enemy” begins with a 2-minute and fifty-second instrumental, cool and mellow guitar-turned-keyboard-turned trumpet solo. Afterward, the singer comes in calm and peacefully proclaiming how she and another do not have the same mindset of anger and resentment. Instead, she speaks of how she will always remain by the other’s side. Another minute and a half instrumental solo takes place before the chorus chimes back in.

A stroke of a piano keyboard twinkles the next song, “Sessions in the Village.” While the singer sings of what sounds to be a very poetically structured verse, the song then cuts from her to a synthesizer party, including a trumpet at times;  making waves in this piece to make it seem like it is a village celebration. “Utopia for Realists” brings back a male vocalist to explain how the band sees modern awareness of the world’s happenings as a glimpse of the utopia beyond. “Transylvanian Dances” is a piece of periodic verses and an overall somber tone. At the 12:22 mark, it begins to speed up for about a minute and eight minutes, turning into an all-out rock fest. Then, ending it out, it slows back down to a man singing of his son being pointed towards open roads.

“You’ll Find Me in the Mirror” is the singer looking back and reflecting on what might have been of him and now he longs for that same trust and security back that he once had. Then comes in “Return to Budapest,” and it’s exactly what you’d expect from that title. It’s a soothing, alluring song of tradition and simplicity. “Barbaro” does give off the initial impression of barbarianism with its rush of drums. When the trumpet kicks in, it turns into more of a jam session of beautifully blending instrumental families. With the piano, it kind of throws a bit of a side curveball but keeps the dramatization of the piece going, sounding like the song is growing faster and faster; thus, more exciting. Ending out the entire album, “The Torch” sings of empowerment and strength to those who come after the singers, in relaxed, chant-like fashion.

Key Tracks include: “Living in the Gap,” “Too Much Pride,” Barbaro,” and “I’m Not Your Enemy”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
July 15, 2020

Track Listing:
01.   Living in the Gap
02.   Young Rebels
03.   Turn the Wind
04.   Where We Belong
05.   Let the Music Show You the Way
06.   Too Much Pride
07.   Old Rebels
08.   Welcome to Real Life
09.   Hottest Queen of Cool
10.   Wake Up
11.   Mother Europe
12.   I’m Not Your Enemy
13.   Sessions in the Village
14.   Utopia for Realists
15.   Transylvanian Dances
16.   You’ll Find Me in Your Mirror
17.   Return to Budapest
18.   Barbaro
19.   The Torch


5/09/2020

Rock Review: Eric Burdon & The Animals-When I Was Young – The MGM Recordings 1967-1968

Release Date: February 28, 2020
Label: Esoteric

When I Was Young – The MGM Recordings 1967-1968 is a 5-disc set covering Eric Burdon & The Animals. Each of these discs shows a pattern. As you stream through the music, the tone and themes overall go from disc one, and five shapes themselves up to be more of a darker sound than that of the other three discs. In ascending order, discs two through four increasingly become a bit lighter with the themes surrounding them. Minus a few extra tracks and one being formatted in stereo and one for mono, the two bookend discs play out similarly. It’s well worth playing on a day of reminiscing or if you might have a grey feeling throughout your day.

Eric Burdon & The Animals came about in 1966 when the actual band The Animals abruptly parted ways, he formed a similar but newer version of the group. It took hold of a Psychedelic rock type of influence rather than that of its former R&B stylings. He possessed a particular skill few in the Rock world could bring to life and not have the message and sound overdone or duplicated.

Disc two still carries a bit of a darker undertone but, generally, The Twain Shall Meet is an album of eventfulness and storytelling. You can feel a sense of wonder and awe in songs like “All Is One,” and “Just The Thought.” The album is rightly titled because it comes off very poetically. However, it also speaks to songs of war and unfortunate sorrow in the song “Sky Pilot.” You get an action-packed album amid this packaged deal.

Everyone Of Us is a blend of items. It contains an instrumental piece, “Serenade to A Sweet Lady,” along with a spoken-word track of “The Immigrant Lad.” It also includes a short story-styled song of “New York 1963 – America 1968.” You can tell by the titles of the tracks, that a lot of historical context surrounds the entirety of this album, and while it may be for a select group of ears (as many may not find the album impactful), it does carry an impressive framework about it.

Think of disc four as the icing on the cake, or the joy and celebration of light after a series of unfortunate events. There’s a common theme of love and its lasting effects both good and bad. “River Deep, Mountain High,” is that excitement burst of how much intensity one’s love could be another while, “Ring Of Fire,” represents how much power and heat can be put into love itself and loving someone, who may or may not return the same feeling.

This album certainly has an eclectic sense of emotion and lessons to be learned. Moreover, it is a great representation of laid back, mellow vibes to give younger listeners a sense of how music can captivate both a message and create an endless earworm to soothe the mind after an eventful day or stimulate the mind to think more introspectively.

Key Tracks: “Monterey,” “A Girl Named Sandoz,” “Year of the Guru,” “Gemini,” “Ring of Fire.”

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
May 8, 2020

Reviews Provided By:


Track Listing:
 
Disc One: Winds Of Change (Re-Mastered Stereo Mix)


01.    Winds Of Change
02.    Poem By The Sea
03.    Paint It Black
04.    The Black Plague
05.    Yes, I Am Experienced
06.    San Franciscan Nights
07.    Man – Woman
08.    Hotel Hell
09.    Good Times
10.    Anything
11.    It’s All Meat
12.    When I Was Young
13.    A Girl Named Sandoz
14.    Ain’t That So
15.    Gratefully Dead
16.    Anything (Single Version)

Disc Two: The Twain Shall Meet


01.    Monterey
02.    Just The Thought
03.    Closer to The Truth
04.    No Self Pity
05.    Orange and Red Beams
06.    Sky Pilot
07.    We Love You Lil
08.    All Is One
09.    Sky Pilot (Part One) (Mono Single)
10.    Sky Pilot (Part Two) (Mono Single)
11.    Monterey (Mono Single Version)

Disc Three: Everyone Of Us


01.    White Houses
02.    Uppers and Downers
03.    Serenade to a Sweet Lady
04.    The Immigrant Lad
05.    Year of the Guru
06.    St. James Infirmary
07.    New York 1963 – America 1968
08.    White Houses (Single Version)

Disc Four: Love Is


01.    River Deep, Mountain High
02.    I’m An Animal
03.    I’m Dying, or Am I?
04.    Ring Of Fire
05.    Coloured Rain
06.    To Love Somebody
07.    As The Years Go Passing By
08.    Gemini
09.    The Madman (Running Through the Fields)
10.    River Deep, Mountain High (Single Version)

Disc Five: Winds Of Change (Re-Mastered Mono Mix)


01.    Winds of Change
02.    Poem By the Sea
03.    Paint It Black
04.    The Black Plague
05.    Yes, I Am Experienced
06.    San Franciscan Nights
07.    Man – Woman
08.    Hotel Hell
09.    Good Times
10.    Anything
11.    It’s All Meat
 

4/30/2020

Rock-Americana-Progressive Review: Euphoria-The Reverie Suite

Release Date: September 17, 2019
Label: Independent

Euphoria’s second release titled The Reverie Suite was released in September 2019. This is the kind of music that can be hard to put into a corner and stick a label on. For my ears, that is a fine start knowing that I was in for a lot of diversity and surprises.

I would call it Rock-Americana with a Progressive twist, just as the band describes it. What is initially indicative of the progressive leanings is the length of the tracks.

The band explains the album like this: It is a concept album based on the life of vocalist Saskia who delivers her story with an earnest passion that’s hauntingly beautiful. Its theme is centered around childhood and musically presented with a sound that evokes America in all its beauty – whether it be folk, rock, jazz, or Native purple mountains majesty with progressive tinges.

I think that statement puts it all into a proper perspective for potential listeners. It serves as a looking glass into what you can expect. It is everything and more than one would expect actually. Saskia has a rich powerful voice that pulls you right into the story and holds you. The music is all very tasteful and well suited to the lyrics and vocal style of Saskia. Every track is a musical carpet ride that will capture your imagination. In a word, it is all quite cinematic. Choosing the recording to be a concept album worked well.

Hoyt Binder’s guitar is fantastic. He can be powerful with some meaty chords or tone it down to sound quieter and more textured. He also utilizes a banjo and mandolin to get that Americana element in place sandwiched in between his power strokes. I most certainly appreciate all of his work with the stringed instruments. His multitude of talent leads the way, inviting Saskia’s inviting vocals to come out and play with the music making it a complete experience for a listener. Her vocals were giving me goosebumps.

The Reverie Suite is engaging, precise, diversified, exciting, and filled with the many colors of the world and cultures. I sincerely appreciate that kind of take on a recording, it is always impressive and something you cannot forget. The musicianship is stellar. Ronald Van Deurzen adds the quintessential keyboard element while The Americana Daydream Revival Orchestra delivers background harmonies, flute, percussion, harmonica, bass, and strings, which in turn gives their sound a layered effect that makes each track a real musical journey. (I have included a list of all contributors below)

Their magnum opus is ”Paradise Road,” which clocks in at a hefty 9:42. With this one track, you get the whole package and stylings that this band commands in one track. It is quite impressive to sit back and hear everything going on. I loved every minute of it. The long instrumental breaks are a testament to this band’s all-around talent. This is the one track I would call definitively progressive. The way it ends so suddenly with Saskia singing “And paradise is her name,” puts the final touch on the elements of prog as the door shuts and you get ready for the next track (or another one opens).

Then you get the full instrumental track “Remind Me.” It is a delight, bringing a distinct Americana/Celtic flair to your senses, transporting the listener to a world stage. Getting the full instrumental treatment of their sounds encourages you to paint your personal picture on the canvas of their music.

The Reverie Suite
may take a few listens to get it all into perspective, but I believe that any listener that has an appreciation for rock, prog, Americana, folk, or any combination thereof, will find great value in this album.

LINE-UP:
Saskia Binder - Vocals
Hoyt Binder - Guitars, banjo, mandolin, background harmonies
Ronald Van Deurzen - Piano, organ
Trevor Lloyd - Strings
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Rebecca Kleinmann - Flute
Paulo Gustavo - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Mike Disarro - Background harmonies
Bobby Albright – Percussion

Mixed by Smiley Sean
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 28, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Track List: 
01. Prelude/ She's Calling 04:54
02. Reverie 07:12
03. On My Way 07:31  
04. Heartbeat 04:53
05. Bridge of Dreams 04:38
06. Queen of Hearts 04:47
07. Paradise Road 09:42
08. Move On 05:21
09. Seasons 07:00  
10. Reprise 03:24
11. Remind Me 05:44
12. Content 05:57

Rock-Americana-Progressive Review: Euphoria-The Reverie Suite

Release Date: September 17, 2019
Label: Independent

Euphoria’s second release titled The Reverie Suite was released in September 2019. This is the kind of music that can be hard to put into a corner and stick a label on. For my ears, that is a fine start knowing that I was in for a lot of diversity and surprises.

I would call it Rock-Americana with a Progressive twist, just as the band describes it. What is initially indicative of the progressive leanings is the length of the tracks.

The band explains the album like this: It is a concept album based on the life of vocalist Saskia who delivers her story with an earnest passion that’s hauntingly beautiful. Its theme is centered around childhood and musically presented with a sound that evokes America in all its beauty – whether it be folk, rock, jazz, or Native purple mountains majesty with progressive tinges.

I think that statement puts it all into a proper perspective for potential listeners. It serves as a looking glass into what you can expect. It is everything and more than one would expect actually. Saskia has a rich powerful voice that pulls you right into the story and holds you. The music is all very tasteful and well suited to the lyrics and vocal style of Saskia. Every track is a musical carpet ride that will capture your imagination. In a word, it is all quite cinematic. Choosing the recording to be a concept album worked well.

Hoyt Binder’s guitar is fantastic. He can be powerful with some meaty chords or tone it down to sound quieter and more textured. He also utilizes a banjo and mandolin to get that Americana element in place sandwiched in between his power strokes. I most certainly appreciate all of his work with the stringed instruments. His multitude of talent leads the way, inviting Saskia’s inviting vocals to come out and play with the music making it a complete experience for a listener. Her vocals were giving me goosebumps.

The Reverie Suite is engaging, precise, diversified, exciting, and filled with the many colors of the world and cultures. I sincerely appreciate that kind of take on a recording, it is always impressive and something you cannot forget. The musicianship is stellar. Ronald Van Deurzen adds the quintessential keyboard element while The Americana Daydream Revival Orchestra delivers background harmonies, flute, percussion, harmonica, bass, and strings, which in turn gives their sound a layered effect that makes each track a real musical journey. (I have included a list of all contributors below)

Their magnum opus is ”Paradise Road,” which clocks in at a hefty 9:42. With this one track, you get the whole package and stylings that this band commands in one track. It is quite impressive to sit back and hear everything going on. I loved every minute of it. The long instrumental breaks are a testament to this band’s all-around talent. This is the one track I would call definitively progressive. The way it ends so suddenly with Saskia singing “And paradise is her name,” puts the final touch on the elements of prog as the door shuts and you get ready for the next track (or another one opens).

Then you get the full instrumental track “Remind Me.” It is a delight, bringing a distinct Americana/Celtic flair to your senses, transporting the listener to a world stage. Getting the full instrumental treatment of their sounds encourages you to paint your personal picture on the canvas of their music.

The Reverie Suite
may take a few listens to get it all into perspective, but I believe that any listener that has an appreciation for rock, prog, Americana, folk, or any combination thereof, will find great value in this album.

LINE-UP:
Saskia Binder - Vocals
Hoyt Binder - Guitars, banjo, mandolin, background harmonies
Ronald Van Deurzen - Piano, organ
Trevor Lloyd - Strings
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Rebecca Kleinmann - Flute
Paulo Gustavo - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Mike Disarro - Background harmonies
Bobby Albright – Percussion

Mixed by Smiley Sean
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 28, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Track List: 
01. Prelude/ She's Calling 04:54
02. Reverie 07:12
03. On My Way 07:31  
04. Heartbeat 04:53
05. Bridge of Dreams 04:38
06. Queen of Hearts 04:47
07. Paradise Road 09:42
08. Move On 05:21
09. Seasons 07:00  
10. Reprise 03:24
11. Remind Me 05:44
12. Content 05:57

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