29 March 2007

Hill Briggs-Solo Album

Artist: Hill Briggs
Title: Solo Album
Genre: Jazz-Rock-Fusion-Instrumental
Label: Blue Pie Records
Website


Hill Briggs is a one man show on his simply and fittingly titled Solo Album. I find it difficult to begin to articulate all the feelings and complete satisfaction I felt listening to this music. Briggs is an outstanding musician. He spent two years putting this amazing project together. What I find astonishing is the fact that Hill composed all 16 tracks and then played all the instruments, live off the floor, except the saxophone on “Jez G.” He is currently rehearsing a band to play the project live. Too bad I am not in UK to see this event unfold, I would find it very interesting after listening to this CD several times, knowing that he played everything himself except one sax part. It is hard for me to fathom this but every time I hear it, it becomes more real and that much more incredible.

Briggs walks you through his worlds of music one track at a time effortlessly like the polished pro that he is. Someone that can paint such a textured palette of colors and grace as this must be totally in touch with his innermost feelings. I may be getting a little too deep here but I tend to enjoy music totally in every way. I process everything I am hearing on a personal level, which actually feels like another plane of existence entirely from my everyday life. Tracks like “Latino Dance” take me to that special place in seconds, with its soothing rhythms and gentle overtones that seem to blow right through you like the warmth of a July breeze.

I have said this frequently but could never stress it enough…instrumental music offers something entirely different than music with lyrics; you have the opportunity to create your own story, which is why I have had this love affair that continues to this day with music like this. Jazz, rock, world, and fusion are a great combination that can take you places you have never been before and Briggs has that ability to do that without difficulty. Within his eclectic mix of genres all molded into one final sound, I consistently found gratification. I heard modern and contemporary jazz, rocking guitar licks, smooth and inviting layers of keyboards, and the essential foundation that drives it all along steadily, bass and drums.

I could go on forever and break down every track but that would be too long and boring, and it would be also an unfair assessment of an album that was too good to discuss just a few tracks, so to give it justice I would have to say I enjoyed in its entirety. Every track gave me something to enjoy in a different way and that is the beauty of this recording. You can tell that Briggs was meticulous about his choice of tracks and they way it was produced. All of the effort paid off in a big way as Solo Album has the kind of music you are bound to be hearing all over internet radio stations where you tune into jazz, smooth jazz, and fusion. Too bad the brick and mortar stations will never hear this. We are the lucky ones that get to enjoy it, knowing that the mainstream big label backed music is for those that don’t want to dig down deep and get something more than just a tune playing in the background that brings about nothing more than superficial feelings.

March 29, 2007-Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Tracks:
01. Yes Please (3:50)
02. Bristol Bay (4:02)
03. Dawn Til Dusk (4.52)
04. Latino Dance (4:44)
05. Ballardos (4:48)
06. Crusin (4:22)
07. Who And When (5:24)
08. Jez G (5:16)
09. No Way Out (3:40)
10. Lazy Days (4:05)
11. Smell The View (3:44)
12. The Girl From Notradamas (4:25)
13. Walk On The Wilderbeast (5:14)
14. Leg End (4:20)
15. Heart Felt (5:15)
16. Yellow Jack (2:44)

26 March 2007

Jen Porter-Moving On

Artist: Jen Porter
Title: Moving On
Genre: Blues, Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Adult Contemporary
Label: JJP Productions
Website
CD Baby Link


Moving On, the third album from Chicago-based artist Jen Porter, showcases the singer's sultry, gutsy voice and ability to seamlessly blend rock and roll, blues and country-folk influences into a contemporary sound. Featuring a solid backing band, this collection of songs is polished, down-to-earth, and full of energy, the perfect soundtrack to a dinner party with friends or a night out on the town. Residents of Chicago can easily catch a live performance, as the hard-working Porter plays four to five shows a week around her hometown; for the rest of us, Moving On brings Porter's powerful vocals right to our living rooms.

The album gets started with "Along the Way", a pop-tinged blues anthem that quickly sets the stage for Porter's no-holds-barred vocals and fine piano work.. "Get Out", a driving ode to a former lover, calls to mind the intensity of Fiona Apple combined with the self-sufficient attitude of Alanis Morisette. Other tracks, such as "Aaron's Song" and "Brotherly Love" are softer both musically and lyrically, highlighting Porter's diverse talents as a singer-songwriter. Throughout the album, Porter's technical skill is apparent.

One of the strongest points of Moving On is its blues rock and country roots that sustain and clearly influence Porter's music. The song "Gracie" has a great classic-rock feel with piano work reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama". The vocal styling of "Heaven to Me" evokes some of Bonnie Raitt's best work.

Jen Porter is clearly a seasoned and talented performer; Moving On adds another successful album to her already impressive resume. Judging by the rousing quality of this album, I'm sure Porter's live performances are soulful and energetic. Those with the opportunity to see her in Chicago should definitely do so; those not lucky enough to live in the windy city will be sure to put this album in regular rotation on their stereos.

© MuzikReviews.com

Ryan Quinn-March 24, 2007

Tracks:
01. Along The Way (3:47)
02. Get Out (4:14)
03. Aaron's Song (4:35)
04. Hard Easy (5:26)
05. Gracie (4:36)
06. Heaven to Me (4:25)
07. Brotherly Love (4:49)
08. Thank You (3:55)
09. Pictures of You ( 5:07)
10. The Way (3:19)

21 March 2007

Richard Zeier-Phenomenation

Artist: Richard Zeier
Title: Phenomenation
Genre: Symphonic Rock
Label: RJZ Music
Website
CD Baby Link

Richard Zeier's Phenomenation is a cleanly produced, mostly instrumental album that incorporates sounds from rock, classical, new age, and electronica. The album is well composed and Zeier's guitar work is superb. Each of the thirteen tracks explores emotional locations that combine to create an overall sound that at once transcends time and location yet feels very familiar and accessible.

The album opens with "Rainbow Nebula," which features an ethereal beginning followed by layers of acoustic and electric guitar under laid by a rhythmic bass line and interspersed with piano. The sound is upbeat yet underscored with darker rhythms and melodies that suggest you are entering a textured and complex musical world. That multi-layered sound appears throughout the album and gives Zeier's work a cinematic feel: each of these tracks suggests plots and complexities that extend beyond the song itself, and is telling only part of a larger story.

For those of you looking for Zeier's straight-up, rock the stadium electric guitar, Zeier indulges the need with the bluesy song "The Journey," the funky "Z-Factor," and the first half of "Cloud Painter." However, the album overall does not limit itself to one genre, instead favoring towards tight compositions and covering a variety of styles and moods. "Rite of Passage" and "New World" have an orchestral sound and forgo the guitar in favor of violins, drums, and a choral singers to create a sound that is both optimistic and sinister in a way that classical musical is able to that rock and roll just can't do in the same way.

Phenomenation is an excellent musical journey through time and space and a deep showcase of Zeier's musical ability. This is the best of cinematic rock: whether it's on your MP3 player or in your favorite films I have no doubt you'll be hearing a lot of Phenomenation and Richard Zeier.

© MuzikReviews.com

Ryan Quinn-March 20, 2007

Tracks:
01. Rainbow Nebula (3:02)
02. Phenomenation (3:52)
03. The Journey (2:57)
04. Q-Blaze (4:13)
05. First Light (4:17)
06. Sweet (3:18)
07. Shanghai (4:02)
08. Z-Factor (4:40)
09. Who You Are (4:25)
10. Cloud Painter (3:53)
11. Rite of Passage (3:02)
12. New World (7:17)
13. Shiloh (2:59)

20 March 2007

Paul and Friends-Smooth Sailing

Artist: Paul and Friends
Title: Smooth Sailing
Genre: Jazz-Pop-Rock
Label: P & J Records
Website


After hearing Smooth Sailing for the first time, my first impression was that it might be a little too contemporary and syrupy for these ears. I do listen to a wide variety of music but I always find myself reaching for my 70’s classic rock when I really want to unwind. Never being one to dismiss a recording after merely one listen, unless its completely horrible for the first 3 or 4 tracks, I endeavored to open my mind and ears once again to really ‘hear’ the music.

Well for starters, they really hit the proverbial nail on the head for the title. This CD is without a doubt Smooth Sailing all the way through. I have to emphasize the word smooth, as in smooth jazz and rock. Paul & Friends is Paul W. Sammarco (alias Paul Summers, his stage name in Australia). He is the leader of the pack, and I do not refer to pack lightly (see credits). One of the more difficult things to do is to put together an album with so many people involved. Consequently, it comes as no surprise it took over 4 years to complete this ambitious and eclectic project.

“What’s The Matter With That?” is the most catchy and memorable tune on the album and sounds radio ready. On the other side of the coin they do an about face and do an old standard like “Amazing Grace” with aplomb. The track is not the easiest to make sound new again because its one of the pillars of the American songbook and very old. On top of that, to come up with some fresh insight and make it happen, well I thought the band did a nice job with that from top to bottom. The lead and background vocals of Lindsay Melancon, who also plays oboe on the track, did not bore me in the least and that was my fear when I saw the track listed. The message is the same only the delivery method is different. The Beatles “In My Life” is done very well. I am always a little skeptical of Beatles covers and very judgmental. I have to say that the more I hear their special version of “In My Life,” the more it grows on me. For this staunch Beatles lover that is saying a mouthful so kudos for a job well done to Martin and Carol Hart handling the vocals and to the band for their fine musicianship!

Those were the highlights for me and actually, I found plenty of value and enjoyment in every track. I especially enjoyed the smooth jazz aspects and the careful mixture of pop and rock, which was interspersed amongst the jazz rudiments as well. This is a very good album so if you are looking to kick back and go for a sail along your fantasy shoreline throw on this CD and let it happen.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 19, 2007


Tracks:
01. Smooth Sailing (0:59)
02. Just One More Time (3:34)
03. What's the Matter with That? (3:57)
04. Helplessly Hoping (2:56)
05. Drift Away (3:51)
06. In My Life (3:33)
07. Willie (2:33)
08. Amazing Grace (3:56)
09. Have You Ever Seen...? (4:50)
10. Brunch in the Big Easy (4:49)
11. Thanks for Being There (4:16)


Credits:

Todd Adams (keyboards)
Des Anthony (acoustic guitar, vocals; from “Three’s Company”)
Kurt Brunus (keyboards; from “The Kurt Brunus Project”)
Tracy Griffin (flugelhorn; from “Allen Toussaint and Friends”)
Carol Hart (vocals)
Martin Hart (vocals, acoustic guitar; from “Three’s Company”)
Roger Kimball (soprano sax, tenor sax; from "Harry Connick, Jr.", “Soul Survivors”, “NiteLife”)
Mark Liuzza (keyboards, Hammond B-3 organ; from “Benny Grunch”)
Larry Martin (keyboards; from “NiteLife”)
Ben Melancon (vocals, percussion; from “Unmerited Favor”)
Lindsay Melancon (vocals, oboe)
Brian O’Neill (trombone; from “Bonerama”)
Clyde Pellegrin (keyboards)
Curtis Pierre (Brazilian percussion; from “Casa Samba”)
Joe Raines (vocals; from “Full FX”)
Hank Randle (percussion; from “Soul Survivors”)
Donna Sammarco (piano; from Dept. Fine Arts, Nicholls State University)
Paul W. Sammarco (bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals; from “Three’s Company”, “Little Ripper Band”, etc.)
Jerome Theriot (alto sax, keyboards; from the US Army Band - New Orleans, “Soul Survivors”)
Steve Theriot (percussion; “The Kevin Koike Blues Band”)
Mark Trennecosta (electric guitar; from “Benny Grunch”)
and June Yamagishi (acoustic guitar; from “Papa Grows Funk”)

18 March 2007

Eric Kamen Releases Second Instrumental Album Eric 2.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, New York--March 19, 2007-- From the heart of the Big Apple Eric Kamen delivers his multicultural instrumental music to the world. Nearly a year and a half has passed since the incredible Native Unit made its mark upon our consciousness and now Eric 2.0 continues the journey of the tasteful Latin-World flavored instrumental compositions that have built a large worldwide following. Once again, Kamen gracefully plucks his Spanish guitar and dazzles us with picturesque soundscapes on his latest offering.

Kamen composed, recorded, and played all the instruments on Eric 2.0, again proving his steadfast indie approach to all of his recorded output. Since the release of the last album, the artist has found his place amongst the many flourishing cyberspace communities. The phenomenon of Myspace is no stranger to Eric, and he has created an entirely new audience by connecting to that community. As he progresses as an artist, his listener’s are with him every step of the way.

Fourteen tracks encompass Eric 2.0 and his distinctive World-Latin-Fusion comes at you in different tones, atmospheres, and flavors. Each track creates a story in one’s mind, allowing you to run away with the music for a while then you begin to write your own script as the music unfolds. Spanish guitar, Indian tablas, sitar, and many other worldly sounds emanate from this musical melting pot of instrumental delights.

The enchanting “1001 Nights” and “Etude for Flute and Sitar” give the listener a Middle Eastern flavor while “La Gitane” reminds you again of Eric’s expertise with Spanish guitar and how a melody can sweep you away and stay stuck in your head for hours on end. The entire recording is something you will want to hear repeatedly.

The master of moods and atmospheres is back with another work of genius and he does it all without saying a word, he lets his guitar do all the talking for him.

Visit Eric Kamen’s Myspace site for samples of the new album and updates.

Contact: Eric Kamen
Company: E*Traxxx Productions
Address: New York, New York 10024
Cell: 917 952-6198
Email
Website
CD Baby Link

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15 March 2007

Thomas Earl-Golddust Magic

Artist: Thomas Earl
Title: Golddust Magic
Genre: Folk-Rock
Label: Independent
Website
CD Baby Link

Thomas Earl grew up in the 60’s and his music has that kind of quality and personality about it on Golddust Magic. I have always remained steadfast that the 60's was the best decade for music and the most important in the development of rock and folk genres.

Earl has a Dave Alvin meets Gordon Lightfoot vocal tone and style that is very appealing, immediately setting you at ease. He gives you comfort and the ability to absorb all the music and words unencumbered by distractions. Right from the melodic opener “On My Way” which leads into the toe-tapping “Fly,” Earl turns on his Golddust Magic. “Fly” is my pick for a single that I think would get tons of airplay. I found it literally impossible to get it out my head after I heard it the first time.

I get the feeling Earl is an old soul, a gifted poet that has the ability to set it all to music in a beautiful and unforgettable way that few artists have the ability or insight to accomplish in one recording.

“Silence In Your Mind” is a very intense composition that sends you into a contemplative mood with provoking music to help it along. I love the line-“Every eye is open, though everyone is blind.” That one line says a lot about mankind and the world we live in today. It is a message that I heard loud and clear. Although it was my own interpretation, I did notice it right away and felt it would hold a lot of meaning for every listener. I cannot speak for others but I just have a feeling that anyone that cares for this kind of music will find tremendous value and enjoyment in every track on this CD.

The production values are good, the musicianship is simple, clear, and defined, taking Earl’s words and molding them into something very special. He receives some great support from a talented group that includes Sean Dixon, Scott Sharrard, and Jerry Krenach (see credits for the multitude of instruments played). Everything that is in addition to Earl’s voice seems to be the perfect compliment on this album, making Golddust Magic a five star indulgence from start to finish.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 14, 2007

Tracks:
01. On My Way (3:31)
02. Fly (3:07)
03. For Always (2:15)
04. Girl With the Blue Green Eyes (3:47)
05. Intermezzo (1:34)
06. A Silence in Your Mind (3:33)
07. Time (Will Get You There) (2:44)
08. Lost in Her Dreams (2:23)
09. Tryin' to Say Goodbye (3:24)
10. Still Here in My Heart (2:49)
11. Golddust Magic (1:34)

Credits:

Thomas Earl: Acoustic guitars, vocals

Sean Dixon: Drums – tracks 3, 9; Percussion – tracks 1, 4, 6; Rhodes Piano – track 4; Hammond B-3 Organ – track 7; Bass guitar - tracks 3, 6,9.

Scott Sharrard: Lead Guitar – tracks 1, 6; Slide guitar – track 4: Hammond B-3 Organ –Tracks 1,4; Bass Guitar – Tracks 1,2,4

Jerry Krenach: Drums – Tracks 1,2,4.

14 March 2007

Electron Love Theory-Colors Of The Galaxy

Artist: Electron Love Theory
Title: Colors Of The Galaxy
Genre: Pop, Electronic, Dance
Label: Electron Records
Website
CD Baby Link

Listening to Colors Of The Galaxy you get the sense that electron love theory feels equally comfortable producing top-forty hits as they do spinning late night in a club. The creation of writer, musician, and producer Jeff Leisawitz, Electron Love Theory has been compared to artists such as Dido, Portishead, and Everything But the Girl, to name a few, and the range of comparisons is apt: Colors Of The Galaxy incorporates a wide range of styles across its thirteen tracks. What is remarkable about this album is how seamlessly, and to what good effect, Electron Love Theory incorporates different musical directions into a depth and breadth of sound that takes the best from each and mixes them into an aural ecosystem where every part adds to the whole.

“The Perfect Lie” brings the galaxy into existence with a smooth, ethereal sound setting the stage for the clean vocals of Gaetana Gravallese, whose fine voice is featured on ten of the tracks. The next couple of songs flesh out the soundscape, adding funky, driving baselines into the atmosphere. This is a rich sound that envelopes and holds you through the last beat. Flowing up from the vibrating, oceanic energy of the album are lyrics that navigate the distance between the personal world of human experience and emotion and physical world in which they exist: the Colors Of The Galaxy.

The album combines catchy, pop melodies to explore the more personal insights into songs such as “You’ll Never Know” and “My Own Worst Enemy,” with tracks like “Endlessly (version 2)” and “Stirring Words” utilizing more electronic and ambient sounds to invoke the outer world. But this distinction is only to help explain the themes and approaches used on the album; each song—and the album as a whole—makes use of, and integrates, sounds and styles, and inward and outward perspectives on the world, to create a cohesive, engaging, and very enjoyable whole. Nothing represents this unity better than the song “Uptown,” whose funky guitar; smooth bass, ambient electronics, well-placed scratches, and soul-tinged pop vocals make it one of the best songs on the album.

Colors Of The Galaxy , with its expert mixing of pure beats, driving rhythms, great melodies, clean vocals, and interesting lyrics is finely produced and good from start to finish, and then again.

© MuzikReviews.com

Ryan Quinn-March 13, 2007

Tracks:
01. The Perfect Lie (4:13)
02. Into the Moonlight (3:39)
03. Puzzle (3:44)
04. You'll Never Know (3:19)
05. Endlessly (version 2) (5:39)
06. Stirring Words (3:10)
07. Change Direction (4:25)
08. Uptown (4:31)
09. My Own Worst Enemy (4:13)
10. Where Is All the Love in the World? (4:30)
11. In Your Galaxy (4:09)
12. Your Love Is Bringing Me Down (3:59)
13. Come a Little Closer (4:05)

13 March 2007

Roddo Fab Industries-Sugar. Plum. Plastic.

Artist: Roddo Fab Industries
Title: Sugar. Plum. Plastic.
Genre: Rock-Pop
Label: Independent
Website
CD Baby Link

Roddo Fab Industries…kind of sounds like the latest animated film. Well its not and that thought actually, could not be farther from the truth. This band is actually one person, his name is John Gassere, and he provides all the lyrics and music while playing all the instruments. It truly is amazing what you can put together in a studio these days. I can imagine the time and effort that must have gone into this. He really does sound like a band on the new CD Sugar. Plum. Plastic.

The way the title is spelled out suggests a certain finality that carries with it definitive meaning in each song.

I found this CD very light in atmosphere and feeling. The weight of the world and all its problems melt away while listening to these pop-rock nuggets. As the artist suggests, this is a throwback to bands like the Beatles. If you listen to “Purple Streets” with its psychedelic underbelly pushing along nonsensical lyrics, one or two of the mop tops tunes is bound to come to mind. The lead off title track is a teaser, a real setup for everything else you are about to hear. I think the arrangement of songs has a great flow to it and I really did not hear a throwaway in the entire lot. The closer “Pity Party” is quite funny, I like the way it ends the album and leaves you wanting for more, forcing you to give it yet another spin. If you have the right stuff, the power of suggestion can be very effective and in this instance, it worked.

The instrumentation, while understated at times, can be quite effective, leaving the door open for Gassere to display his sugar sweet vocals that make each song a hook-laden delight. The title alone makes your (musical) sweet tooth cry out for more ear candy. There are not a lot of artists around that are making music like this and doing it well. Roddo Fab Industries has not cornered the market on this sound but he sure does a nice job of making it a fun listen and one that you want to hear again, and in the end that is all any recording artist could hope to accomplish.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 13, 2007

01. Sugar Plum Plastic (2:48)
02. Purple Streets (3:06)
03. Miss You Like Crazy (3:05)
04. Paper Towel (2:59)
05. Take Me Back (3:26)
06. Wake Up Call (3:07)
07. See You There (3:14)
08. To Be (3:20)
09. Picture of Health (3:39)
10. Pity Party (3:29)

12 March 2007

Kemp Harris-Edenton

Artist: Kemp Harris
Title: Edenton
Genre: Blues-Gospel
Label: Righteous Mischeif LLC
Website

Kemp Harris titled his new album after his home Edenton North Carolina. It makes sense to me, use your “home is where the heart is” philosophy, and turn it into music and lyrics that come from the very core of your soul. Harris sings about much more than his former hometown (he resides in Boston now) but I cannot help feeling that was the foundation for everything else that happened on this recording.

This CD has continued to grow on me with the passing of time. I liked it when I first heard it but the more I listen to the music and words, the more it permeates my senses in every way. Harris reminded me of Robert Cray at times with his vocal style. He is very expressive and emotional when he sings a song and the 11 tracks on this recording benefit from those feelings and thoughts projected through the music. Harris uses his ears and heart to lead him on this recording session. He also gets some help from the Holmes Brothers with backing vocals for some extra depth and soul on tracks 2, 3, & 10.

I like the way Harris mixes up the blues with gospel and combines the two effectively. The album opens up with a 57-second intro called “Sometimes” then launches into “Sweet Weepin Jesus,” a blues-gospel burner. It is not too hard to figure out which tracks are gospel injected when you look at the titles. My favorites were “Tryin Times,” one that befits the days we live in, and this could apply to so many things depending on who you are, and the gospel track “Didn’t It Rain,” which sounds like an old time spiritual that you would hear ringing out from a church in the deep south somewhere. It really touched me and gave me a feeling of hope and desperation all at the same time. “Edenton” sounds like it could be a single earmarked for radio play; it would be a logical choice for a crossover hit that would lead to a lot of interest in this artist.

That is my take on what I heard now it is up to you to check it out for yourself. If you enjoy the blues or gospel this is a spot on independent release that you will find great joy in hearing until that day comes when the rain begins to fall and it never ends.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 12, 2007

Tracks:
01. Sometimes (0:57)
02. Sweet Weepin Jesus (4:45)
03. Day After Day (4:38)
04. Tryin Times (5:03)
05. Ruthie’s (3:32)
06. Didn’t It Rain (3:13)
07. Mother Earth (3:15)
08. Miles Between Us (5:25)
09. Nightlife (3:02)
10. Edenton (4:41)
11. Sometimes (reprise) (1:09)


Musicians:

Kemp Harris: Vocals & Piano
Jim Lucchese: Drums
Josh Stoltzfus: Guitar
Brian Verrochi: Bass

The Alternate Routes-Good And Reckless And True

Artist: The Alternate Routes
Title: Good And Reckless And True
Genre: Rock
Label: Vanguard Records
Website
Amazon Link


With The Alternate Routes CD Good And Reckless And True you can instantly be reminded of sounds you have heard before (the lead singer reminded me of John Waite). It seems weird to say a band that is making music like this today is a throwback to an era gone by but it is true and actually a good thing in this case. Make no mistake about it this is a band of modern rockers that sound fresh and vibrant on their exciting debut.

I really like this music and this band. This album stands on solid ground backed by a legendary label known for presenting quality acts. I have to say they have done it again, made every effort to impress, and came up with a great rock band that offers some immense straight ahead rock music-11 tracks that put this talented group in a good light.

Firstly, you will recognize as I did, the lead singer Tim Warren on the catchy brilliant opener “Ordinary” (my pick for a single). He has a commanding voice that demands your attention. Not only is he a good vocalist that knows how to project his voice, he sings with a warmth and emotion that is rare in a rock band. Although their sound is not, principally unique it does border on several genres such as roots and alternative rock at times and even dabbles with some country rock flavors (think The Eagles or Jackson Browne) like on the closer “Please Don’t Let It Be.” They take some “alternate routes” if you will.

What I am getting at here is that this band is loaded with talent, enough in every position that they could take their music in any direction at will. The lead guitar playing of Eric Donnelly on the closing track is scorching red-hot not mention the stellar job he does on all the tracks prior to that. Kudos to the rest of the band as well…Chip Johnson (bass) and Stephen Chopek (drums) are a great rhythm section, they are tight and really hold it down from start to finish. Mike Sembos on keyboards and guitar adds some very selective tasty licks and layers of keys to take the edge off while Warren chips in with some acoustic strumming of his own.

Good And Reckless And True is the ultimate group effort that starts and ends on a superlative note, and everything in between is mighty fine too.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 12, 2007

Tracks:
01. Ordinary (4:08)
02. Who Cares? (3:23)
03. Hollywood (4:28)
04. Aftermath (3:36)
05. Going Home With You (4:32)
06. Time Is A Runaway (4:16)
07. Endless Conversation ( 3:29)
08. California (4:32)
09. Are You Lonely? (3:30)
10. The Black And The White (5:11)
11. Please Don't Let It Be (4:47)

Credits:

Tim Warren: lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Eric Donnelly: electric guitars, vocals
Chip Johnson: bass, vocals
Mike Sembos: keyboards, guitar
Stephen Chopek: drums

11 March 2007

Electric Violinist James Sudakow Releases Instrumental Progressive Rock Album Green

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Long Beach, CA--March 12, 2007-- James Sudakow is a musician with an imaginative and groundbreaking approach to the electric violin and viola. Classically trained since the age of four, he has modified his training to revise the instrument’s sound and potential. The artist uses a heavy distortion to play both lead and guitar like riffs and rhythm sections in much of his original progressive rock projects.

The summit of the advances with the instrument and James’ superior creative talents reach its fruition on the new recording Green. He demonstrates a unique application of the electric violin/viola and Marshall JCM2000 Amplifier in his studio work and electrifying live performances.

Sudakow sites particular influences that pushed him in the direction he arrived at musically and surprisingly enough his heroes are not whom you would expect. Guitar players such as Hendrix and Vernon Reid take credit for the path he decided to travel years ago.

Troy Paul, President of The Frequency summed up the talent that Sudakow brings to the stage and in the studio by saying-“James is one of the most creative and talented musicians in Los Angeles. It's like watching Jimi Hendrix on violin.”

Green is conceptual in that it offers many different shades and moods of the Sudakow musical palette for the listener to discover and embrace while each individual composition has a title taken from the basic colors. Think of a classical violinist that decided to swallow some peyote buttons on a vision quest, and only then can you imagine the musical journeys you are about to embark upon after giving Green a few spins. The electric violin takes a radical departure from the norm when it is in the hands of this consummate technician and musician.

Visit the James Sudakow website for sound samples, performance dates, pictures, and more then enjoy The Electric Violin Experience like you never have before.

Contact: James Sudakow
Company: The Electric Violin Experience
Address: Long Beach, CA. 90815
Tel: 714-356-6535
Email
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08 March 2007

Bard Shasta Re-Masters Indie Release No More Smoking!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hartford, Connecticut—March 6, 2007— When you hear the name Shasta you immediately think of the famous mountain; however, in the world of music it has another meaning. Shasta is a Bard with a guitar, armed and ready to make you reflect and ponder your very existence on this planet while questioning your own belief system. The New England native made a life-changing sojourn to California years ago, which is when he began developing into the artist he is today.

The re-mastered and re-issued version of “No More Smoking!” will have folk rock fans wondering why Shasta has not opened for legendary acts like Dylan. He won Dylan imitator contests in the past, so it is no coincidence his sound is similar. The lyrics he presents in a song are just as thought provoking and prolific as some of the master’s work. Although Shasta does not take himself that seriously, he knows how to have fun in a song and get his audiences laughing. The tongue in cheek innuendo of “It Won't Reach! (My Hose Won't Reach!),” is proof positive of his penchant for comedy and tragedy going hand in hand within one recording. Shasta’s gift for the dramatic and politically driven messages is evident as well. Just as his major influences have done in the past, he has a mission and seeks to spread his messages through his music. Shasta also imparts plenty of soul seeking and lyrics about love, which can be serious and funny all at the same time. In a world full of lying politicians and negative media, Shasta is a breath of fresh air appreciated for candor and his heart-on-the-sleeve approach.

Tony Bates of 100.6 Highlands FM in Victoria Australia had this to say about the reissue of “No More Smoking!”- "How can one re-release an album that on first hearing needs no additional work? Well, Shasta has surpassed himself by revitalizing his previous album and, guess what? It works! The Bard has proved that one can improve on what others feel is a masterpiece and he has done so without either ruining the essential and initial essence of the album or over-vamping it. Not many could do that, but that just shows Shasta has an intuitive view of his work. This latest release should be bought as an add-on to its predecessor as the two are complimentary."

Visit Shasta's website & Myspace for updates on performance dates, downloads, pictures, and more.

Contact: Shasta
Company: Shasta Music
Address: Chester, CT 06412
Tel: 203-947-1333
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06 March 2007

Kelly Sweet-We Are One

Artist: Kelly Sweet
Title: We Are One
Genre: Pop
Label: Razor & Tie
Website
Amazon Link

Kelly Sweet is going to be the next big star, the diva we all have been waiting to come onto the scene that is not a manufactured American Idol. Kelly met with producer, arranger, and songwriter Mark Portmann (Celine Dion) in the summer of 2004. Soon the two began writing songs together, resulting in the turning point of a career that blossoms on We Are One on Razor & Tie Entertainment.

The twelve tracks on this CD give you a glimpse of the diverse talent that Kelly Sweet is. Someday this album will be a cherished debut that few were able to duplicate. The comparisons to Celine Dion will invariably arise due to her relationship with Portmann as the producer and the fact that she recorded three tracks in French and Italian. Although I could not understand a word, I could feel the emotion that went into each track and Sweet’s talent is obvious no matter what she is doing on this recording. This lady has it all going for her. “Raincoat” is her take on jazz, and oh my, is it a great effort. I think that jazz is a style she should delve into more seriously. She certainly has the right vocal timbre to go places with it-not to say she is not already. These are yet more options for a career that is all set to take flight-straight to the upper stratosphere and beyond. Yes, I feel that strongly about this artist. I do not say things like this if I do not feel it and all the necessary elements are in place here for her to make a huge impact.

Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is interesting. I love the original and have some difficulty with this sugary interpretation. Kelly does a nice job with it however, the original intent seems to hold an entirely different meaning now, and perhaps that is the entire reason she covered it in the first place? I can hear the leadoff and title track earmarked as the first single and an excellent draw for the rest of the album. It is one of the best tracks on the album. This is my pick for the single that pulls in a massive audience just dying for a new hero, someone who is real that worked their way up through the ranks with guts, determination, and real talent. All of that really appeals to me, after all, we get our share of negative media and “reality” TV, and lord knows we all could use a good shot of wholesome talent and an angelic voice to bring us back down to earth.

If you enjoy pristine beautiful vocals that entice you with elements of rock, pop, jazz, and dabble in crossover pop from another country, this is your next ticket to a paradise that you probably thought was long gone. Yes indeed “Now We Are Free.”

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 6, 2007

Tracks:
01. We Are One (3:36)
02. Raincoat (3:49)
03. Dream On (3:30)
04. Caresse Sur L'Ocean (1:13)
05. Crush (3:57)
06. Ready For Love (4:17)
07. Giorno Dopo Giorno (4:19)
08. I Will Be Waiting (3:42)
09. Now We Are Free (4:21)
10. How 'Bout You (3:42)
11. Love Song (3:34)
12. Je T'aime (2:24)

Swampdawamp-Self Titled

Artist: Swampdawamp
Title: Swampdawamp
Genre: Blues-Rock
Label: Big Penny Entertainment
Website
Amazon Link

With a tongue twister of a name like Swampdawamp you may not know what to expect for music. I figured it had to be at least southern flavored, and I was partially right. This band plays rock and blues and their sound is something like the Allman Brothers meets Lynyrd Skynyrd or some facsimile thereof. Ok enough with the comparisons and trying to figure who and what they sound like, when the day is done they create a sound that is all their own.

Gig Michaels has a hefty whiskey like vocal style that lends itself nicely to the lyrics and the sounds the band generates. Right at the outset “I’m Feelin’ Saturday” sets the tone and they grab hold and take control of the steering wheel, never once veering off track. As they move through each track you become increasingly entertained and engrossed in what they have to offer.

The one track that really says who they are lyrically and musically is “Sunday Southern Tradition.” It is all about backyard barbeques and pretty girls and the thrill of NASCAR racing. The south is veracious in their appetite for racing and the culture that has grown up with the sport. This tune tells the tale. It all sounds so darn real when you listen to the Swampdawamp wailing blues-rock machine pump out the music and Michaels starts churning out those vocal workouts. Then they hand out a “Little Pill Called The Truth” with a little ditty called “Tastes Like Chicken To Me.” This is a play on words and more than hints that what we are going through in Iraq right now tastes an awful like the last go round we had in Vietnam, accept this is much more complicated and difficult to get out of, but in the end it still taste like chicken. Yup, I heard that message loud and clear.

This is a very entertaining CD in many ways and well worth your time to check it out. If you have a hankerin’ for the blues-rock southern style, I have just the ticket for you, a little old band called Swampdawamp. You may not be able to say it or spell but you sure you can hear it.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 6, 2007

Tracks:
01. I'm Feelin Saturday (3:18)
02. Sometimes (3:33)
03. Birthday (4:38)
04. Blind Crippled and Crazy (4:56)
05. Backporch (3:55)
06.The River (6:06)
07.Sunday Southern Tradition (4:50)
08.Miss Becky (3:32)
09. Little Pill Called The Truth (4:24)
10.Tastes Like Chicken To Me (5:25)

Credits:

Gig Michaels: lead vocals & acoustic guitar
Marty Hill: lead & acoustic guitars and dobro
Duke Rivers: B3 & piano
Michael Hough: guitar & backup
Robbie Hegler: bass & backing vocals
David Lee: drums & backing vocals

Additional Musicians & Vocalists:
Michael Brignardello: bass
Eric Darken: percussion
Zippy Dokes: B3
Sabra Callas, Lokie Cloud, Vicky Hampton: background vocals

05 March 2007

Eric Kamen-Eric 2.0

Artist: Eric Kamen
Title: Eric 2.0
Genre: Instrumental-World-Fusion
Label: E*Traxxx Productions Inc.
Website

Eric Kamen has returned with a continuation of his Native Unit project with Eric 2.0. Once again, Kamen plays all the instruments, composes all the tracks, and produces the final product.

He is nothing short of a magician with the Spanish guitar, dazzling us once again with a distinct blend of Latin and Middle Eastern flavored rides that last long into the desert evening. As the sun sets in your mind’s eye, you can picture a mysterious stranger riding off into the sunset, just like in the old spaghetti westerns. It sounds cornball but this wonderful music is simply destined for each individual listener to evoke his or her own images. Surely, only the creator could truly convey what it all means but it allows us to let our imaginations run wild as the wind and make up our own stories complete with handpicked actors to play out the drama.

There are 14 tracks on this CD and it sounds as if it’s a long story continued within each track. The flow of tracks 1-7 is similar in style but differ in tempo. Track 8 is “1001 Nights,” it starts and changes up the entire pace that you just became accustomed to hearing then suddenly it feels like another chapter or segment of the story begins. This beautifully textured composition comes filled with airy guitar parts and sitar, and then when the bongos come online it is like a trip into a dark and dusty Arabian night. During the song a gently ringing bell lures you in and relaxes you, which sets you up for a little more Middle Eastern atmosphere and intrigue with “Etude for Flute and Sitar.” Another one of my favorites is “La Gitane,” it has a hook filled melodious stretch that I cannot get out my head and I love it.

Kamen is a master for setting up a mood and keeping you entranced and on course. His fluidity with his compositions and ability to hold steady a common theme is what keeps you hanging on for the next track. The gift that the artist holds close to his heart is the innate ability to take a bare bones guitar track and fill in all the missing pieces and layers to make one complete song. He is a one-man band, a solo artist that sounds like 3 or 4 individuals playing their parts. This is another splendid performance by Eric Kamen, that will likely get people’s attention in a more dramatic fashion than the last release and have them wondering what they may have missed the first time around.

© MuzikReviews.com

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-March 5, 2007

01. Paco-san (2:43)
02. Rambling on Las Ramblas (2:43)
03. Goin Down (4:18)
04. Left Eye (3:09)
05. Mumbai Mami (2:55)
06. The Belly Dancers of Sedona (3:26)
07. Emotion L (3:46)
08. 1001 Nights (4:37)
09. Etude for Flute and Sitar (3:05)
10. Bonehead (3:40)
11. Dirty (3:29)
12. 7 Days 6 Nights (3:35)
13. La Gitane (3:16)
14. Dirge (4:08)

04 March 2007

The Alternate Routes To Debut New Vanguard Records Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Santa Monica, CA--March 5, 2007-- Vanguard Records has signed the powerful rock/pop group, The Alternate Routes and plan on releasing their label debut, Good and Reckless and True on March 13, 2007.

The Alternate Routes, which include co-founders Tim Warren (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and Eric Donnelly (guitar), Chip Johnson (bass), Stephen Chopek (drums) and Mike Sembos (keyboard/electric guitar), have never been afraid to work hard and take risks during their turbulent journey. Based in Bridgeport , Connecticut , they are five talented young musicians who’s strong work ethic both in the studio and on the road have led to a solid fan base, airplay on an influential Boston radio station and now, a label deal with Vanguard Records.

Good and Reckless and True, produced by Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt), is a collection of eleven songs born out of pain, faith, personal tragedy, passion, humor and desperation. From the haunting first track, “Ordinary” to the straightforward driving rock tune “Aftermath” to the gorgeous tone of the first single “Time is a Runaway,” the CD is a cooperative statement that tells a story with engaging lyrics, melodic themes and a rhythm section that complements each of the various moods.

With an inspiring new record to introduce themselves by, The Alternate Routes are now ready to take their music to another level.

Contact: Chip Schutzman
Company: Miles High Productions
Address: 6622 Delongpre Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel: 323-806-0400
Fax: 323-462-0829
Email
Website

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Multitalented Kemp Harris Releases Blues-Gospel Album Edenton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Boston, MA--March 5, 2007-- With almost four decades behind him as a songwriter and performer, Kemp Harris has shared the stage with a surprising range of talent -- including Koko Taylor, Taj Mahal, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Harris’ depth of experience echoes powerfully throughout his sophomore CD release entitled “Edenton,” scheduled for release on March 13th. The album is both a literal and figurative journey back to Harris’ roots in Edenton, North Carolina, the town where he was born.

It features the legendary Holmes Brothers on backing vocals. The Brothers bring the full force of their talent, providing deep, rootsy harmonies to the raw-boned force of Harris’ lead vocals. With the support of the Holmes Brothers, Harris’s original songwriting and performances reflect a mature artist not content to rehash the clich├ęs of the blues and roots genre. Harris shows his willingness to fuse diverse elements in the search for a more modern and timely blues, with intelligent lyrics that are both socially aware and intensely soulful. Edenton brings an edgier, darker hue to this traditional American music.

A diverse group of covers augments the original material. Kemp really reaches back on the gospel classic, “Didn’t It Rain.” This cappella track features his mother and aunt (each of them in their late-seventies) singing a version the trio has been performing together since Kemp’s childhood.

The album was recorded at Hi-n-Dry Studios in Cambridge, MA, the former studio of Mark Sandman and the band Morphine. Tom Dube (Marc Cohn, Buffalo Tom, Ben Kweller, Juliana Hatfield, Duncan Sheik) engineered the album. As a result, the production on the album is sparse, warm, and organic, letting the humanity of the songs and performances come through.

In support of the release, Kemp and his band will be performing throughout the Northeast, kicking off the tour at Joe’s Pub in New York City on Friday, March 30th.

Visit Kemp’s website (www.kempmusic.com) or www.myspace.com/kempharrismusic for downloads, pictures, performance dates and more.

Contact: Chip Schutzman
Company: Miles High Productions
Address: 6622 Delongpre Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel: 323-806-0400
Fax: 323-462-0829
Email
Website

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