31 May 2015

Concert Review: America At The Colonial Theater



America The Beautiful!
Legendary Band Entertains Capacity Crowd At The Colonial
Pittsfield, Mass.
May 28, 2015
                                http://www.venturahighway.com
 
Two men together for 45 years recording and on the road is quite an accomplishment considering many folks that tried to do it that long have been gone for years. That does not happen anymore right? It sounds incredible but it’s true. Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley have been doing it for that long as America. I tip my hat to them for their consistency and output of incredibly good music all these years. 

The current touring lineup of America is Gerry Beckley (founding member, guitar, keys, and vocals), Dewey Bunnell (founding member, guitar, and vocals), Rich Campbell (bass guitar, keys, and vocals), Bill Worrell (guitar, keys, and vocals) and Ryland Steen (drums).

On a beautiful Berkshire night in Pittsfield at the Colonial Theater the two men and their crackerjack band showed us why it has worked for so long. I went expecting soft rock and a lot of acoustic guitars, which there was, but what came as an unexpected surprise was how many songs they did that rocked the house! That’s right…America is more than just soft rock folks. They have a group of men that know how to compliment all of their hits with pinpoint precision on guitar, bass, keys and drums. In fact a young and versatile musician named Bill Worrell (the sound man’s son) added a lot to the mix. He sang, played keys, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, and all very well I might add. He really cut loose on the electric six-string several times during the course of the set much to the delight of the audience. 

There was no warm up band, they started right on time and played past 9pm nonstop-no intermission for these gents or the audience. I sure didn’t hear anyone complaining.

Gerry started off a little shaky in the vocal department on the first few numbers however he smoothed it all out in short order. When you are in your sixties it’s a bit harder to hit those higher notes than when you are in your thirties. Coupled with the fact he has a very unique vocal style makes it even more difficult to reproduce what he did in the past.

I must say the musicianship was outstanding and Dewey Bunnell sounds spot on and has not lost much with his vocal range. Music is more than a job for these men it’s a passion that drives them daily and like Gerry said “We will keep playing if you keep coming to listen,” and that got a big applause from the crowd. It was nice to see that happen and for this listener it was the first time I ever saw them perform. It’s hard to believe they released their first album in 1972!

All the hits came pouring out along with a screen for a backdrop showing images of the duo when they were younger along with some psychedelic colors and textures to fit the more rock oriented numbers. The images were like a multi-colored lava lamped that smashed on the floor, if you can picture that. Some songs from the new album Lost and Found were introduced along with some surprising covers from a previous recording called Back Pages. “California Dreaming” was especially good. That is still one of the best songs ever recorded in my opinion. There was a lot to like and when they played “Ventura Highway” they hit their stride and there was no turning back.

The one thing all the artists that play there say is the venue is beautiful, which makes me proud to be part of the entire experience, and I have the privilege of enjoying these great shows on a regular basis.

Some of my favorites were “Tin Man,” “Don’t Cross The River,” “Sandman,” the list goes on and on. This band had so many hits. It takes sitting in a theater and watching a band such as America to realize their lifelong achievements. If you were fortunate enough to live in the time when all their music was on the radio then it can be a very special experience to relive your life in a few hours. Music has that kind of magic and America still has what it takes to make all that happen. There has always been a bond or kinship with the people that make the music and those that listen and come out to hear it live. This was yet another night that validated that truth.


May 31, 2015

30 May 2015

Rock Review: Points North-Self Titled

Release Date: 21stApril 2015
Label:  Magna Carta Records

Points North is a band that has just released their second, and self-titled album, following on from their debut album released in 2012, Road Less Traveled.

Influences for the band comes from the likes of Rush and Joe Satriani, and although I really dislike trying to put bands styles into little boxes, the best description of Points North sound would be melodic guitar driven rock. Album No1 was an instrumental album, but Points North have stepped up to the mic with album No 2 and added some vocals.

The band is a 3 piece outfit comprising Eric Barnett (guitars), Uriah Duffy (bass) and Kevin Aiello (drums) who are all experienced musicians and between them have tutored, been session musicians, played in a well-known band (Whitesnake) and shared the stage with Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Etta James.

Points North, the album, contains 11 tracks and has around 53 minutes of music on offer. The longest and shortest tracks on the album are “Turning Point” and “Child’s Play,” lasting 7:15 minutes and 3:25 minutes respectively. 

The opening, well titled, track, “Ignition” (3:58), blast out of the speakers from the word “Go” and continues to power along with some slight tempo changes. Guitarist Eric gets to showcase some excellent riffs ably backed up by Uriah and Kevin on bass and drums respectively. At a touch under 4 minutes in length, it certainly does not outstay its welcome and is too soon over. A blistering opening to the album, but as this is a mainly instrumental release can the band maintain this level of listener interest?

“North Star” (4:38) is a more laidback style of track with more of the excellent guitar work by Eric. Latterly in the song there is an amazingly atmospheric passage. “Child’s Play” (5:18), “Sky Punch” (3:26) and “Rites of Passage” (5:26) are all tracks that combine the heavy driving edge of rock, tinged at times with some extremely melodic atmospheric passages.

“Colorblind” (3:53) sees the band venturing into the vocal side of things and although passable, the vocals are not earth-shattering. The music follows the path of previous tracks and I don’t feel that the lyrics add another dimension to the music.

Next up, “Harlequin” (5:08) is an almost folky, jazz influenced track which again highlights the skills of this tight unit of musicians.

The final quartet of tracks, “Turning Point” (7:15), “Red Eye” (4:42), “Foxes and Cougars” (5:19) and “Killer Pounder” (3:43) hold no surprises after what has already gone, but the band vary the “heaviness” within and between tracks to maintain the interest.

Points North is an extremely enjoyable rock album which, having posed the question about interest levels and instrumentals earlier in the review, successfully navigates through the minefield and maintains the listeners’ attention. Enjoyable as Points Northis however, it doesn’t have that spark that lifts it to a greater level. Good solid rock, played by enthusiastic, skilled and experienced musicians is a worthwhile listen and should get many rock fans parting with some money to add Points North by Points North to their collections.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks:  Northstar, Rites Of Passage, Harlequin

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

May 30, 2015

Review Provided By Write A Music Review

Tracks: 
Ignition
North Star
Child’s Play
Sky Punch
Rites Of Passage
Colorblind
Harlequin
Turning Point
Red Eye
Foxes and Cougars
Killer Pounder


29 May 2015

New Age-Celtic-World Review: Mary-Kathryn-Wonders In The Deep

Release Date: May 15, 2015
Label: Rhythm House

Some artists in today’s contemporary top 40 simply blend into the background, but not Mary-Kathryn. She takes a spiritual approach to music, singing about faith, angels, and the oneness of us all. Humanity is all the peoples of the world and with her New Age and world music slant she manages to pull it off. There is an emotional depth to this album that reaches across all borders and gets to the center of what it means to truly be human - the uncertainty, the faith and the love.

Guest musicians on this album include Carl Albrecht (percussion) Fergus Marsh (Chapman stick & bass), Mario Sangermano (stand-up bass), David McKay (piano), Benjamin Wolaver (cello) and Michael Lewandowski on mandolin. Five-Time Grammy Award winning audio engineer Paul Salveson mixed the project. Paul Buono and Mary-Kathryn co-produced the album making this a star studded cast of artists and music professionals. I knew when I started listening I was in for a profound experience and I was right.

The first song on the album is “Hear My Cry.” Percussion and crystal clear vocals reach up toward the heavens giving a vivid picture of man against the vast world, seeking shelter and solace in the arms of the Lord.  As human beings we often struggle to find our way and this song with its upbeat rhythms and stirring beat grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go.

“Mediterranean Passage” brings the textured beat of world music with chants in both Mary-Kathryn’s angel sweet voice and a background of male voices. Percussive elements and stringed instruments wind around you and take you away from the now until you are wrapped in a shimmering world of light and color. It is an audible vacation with the vast array of instruments and skilled musicians at the helm.

“Nathaniel’s Song” is sweetly spiritual with tender observations.  It made me think of an angel watching down over us as we go about our daily lives. The sadness, the pain, the perseverance and the foibles. God in all of His forms is all around us and I am reminded of the Footsteps poem. We may only see one set of footprints in the sand but that is because sometimes He has to carry us. Today, more than some, I found this to be a timely piece as a member of my family succumbs to blindness and I reach out for answers when there really aren’t any to be had. It takes faith and perseverance to live this life to its fullest, even when we stumble and don’t understand. Music like this helps us remember our blessings and that we are not alone. 

Sometimes music comes to you at the right time and Wonders In the Deep is no exception. In an ever changing landscape of health issues for loved ones and life trials, this album reaches down and plucks at the very pieces that hurt, only to spur them into healing. That is truly a gift and Mary-Kathryn makes the most of her talents. She combines contemporary music with world beat and envelopes a faith based message that transcends just one religion; reaching out to all in the name of love and spiritual peace. I highly recommend it.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Hear Me Cry, Mediterranean Passage, Nathaniel’s Song

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
May 27, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews 

Tracks:
01. Hear My Cry
02. Beyond
03. Deep Calls to Deep
04. Ships
05. Mediterranean Passage
06. Elohim
07. Nathanael's Song
08. Where Can I Go
09. Into the Heavens
10. You're With Me

 





British String Quartet Salutes The Legendary Manchester Scene With A New Album Of Chamber Rock Interpretations!


Los Angeles, CA - They are one of the most sought after chamber quartets in the UK, even earning the praise of Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, and now The Manchester String Quartet are proud to announce an exciting new tribute to their namesake, the city they call home, and a place that has birthed some of the most renowned musical acts in British rock history! From Oasis to New Order, The Smiths to The Buzzcocks, The Stone Roses to Elbow, Manchester England saw an explosion of groundbreaking musical acts starting in the mid 1970s that continues to this day, making it a true mecca of the artistic world. With their new album Classic Manchester, this group of 4 extremely talented classical musicians celebrate the city and its most memorable musical offerings, dramatically reinventing such classics as “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Wonderwall,” “This Charming Man,” “Blue Monday” and others. The album is available now on CD and digital download courtesy of a joint venture between UK outfit Glucose Recordings and Cleopatra Records.

Formed in 2002 by John Purton, Tim Crooks, Natalie Purton and Sarah Smyth, The Manchester String Quartet have quickly become one of the most sought after group of young classical musicians performing in the UK today. They are full-time professional musicians who perform with such renowned orchestras as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and The HallĂ©. They’ve even earned the praise of some of their rock counterparts such as Jarvis Cocker who declared, “The Manchester String Quartet are the real deal: not only are they fantastic players but, in John Purton, they have an incredibly talented composer and arranger. They’re mega!” So whether you’re a fan of classical music or not, you’re sure to hear and appreciate the extraordinary depth of talent possessed by this fine group.

To order the CD at Amazon, visit: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Manchester-String-Quartet/dp/B00VH6S62K
To order the digital version on iTunes, visit: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/classic-manchester/id990792992

Press inquiries:
Glass Onyon PR
Billy James
PH: 828-350-8158
glassonyonpr@gmail.com

CLEOPATRA RECORDS, Inc.
11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025
www.CleopatraRecords.com

28 May 2015

Audio Fidelity To Release B.B. King & Eric Clapton “Riding With The King” On Limited Edition Numbered Hybrid SACD


Two Masters Produce a Contemporary Blues Gem!

Camarillo, CA - In honor of the recent passing of blues guitar legend B.B. King, Marshall Blonstein's Audio Fidelity will be releasing B.B. King & Eric Clapton “Riding With The King” on Limited Hybrid SACD. This SACD should satisfy fans of King, Clapton and blues purists alike. “Riding With The King” was Eric Clapton's and B.B. King's first collaborative recording and it went on to win the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The album reached #1 on Billboard's Top Blues Albums.

They first performed together in 1967 when Clapton was 22 and a member of Cream. Clapton looked up to King and had always wanted to make an album with him. At the time of recording Clapton was 55 and King 74. Clapton arranged the session using many of his regular musicians, picked the songs, and co-produced with his partner Simon Climie. While this would appear to be a Clapton album recorded with King, Clapton gave King center-stage.

The set list includes lots of vintage King specialties, “Ten Long Years,” “Three O'Clock Blues,” “Days of Old,” “When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer,” as well as standards like “Hold On I'm Coming” and “Come Rain or Come Shine,” with some specially written and appropriate new material. King takes Clapton deeper into blues territory than he has ever gone alone and these two artists play the blues with conviction. There may never be another album that links the Delta Blues to modern rock with such style, grace, enthusiasm, and honesty.

Tracks
1 Riding With the King
2 Ten Long Years
3 Key to the Highway
4 Marry You
5 Three O'Clock Blues
6 Help the Poor
7 I Wanna Be
8 Worried Life Blues
9 Days of Old
10 When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer
11 Hold On, I'm Coming
12 Come Rain or Come Shine

Produced by Eric Clapton, Simon Climie
Mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering

For more information: https://audiofidelity.net/product/bb-king-eric-clapton-riding-king

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

27 May 2015

New Age Instrumental Review: David Franklin-Playing With Shadows

Release Date: March 1, 2015
Label: Indie

David Franklin is a musician and therapist that spent close to three years recording his most recent effort Playing With Shadows. This is his seventh recording.

The instrumental new age album has 18 tracks of acoustic piano and guitar pieces that include some special guests that include Michael Manring (fretless bass on 10 tracks), Rick Corrigen (accordion) and Alex Franklin (electric guitar). It was mixed and mastered by Warren Kahn

One of the main ingredients that take a part of the success on this album for Franklin is the addition of Michael Manring on bass. Michael's basses are custom made to his specs  He plays a 4-string fretless Zon bass and he often plays with an ebow. He creates a unique sound that compliments Franklin’s guitar and piano playing. A note of interest is that Franklin plays in about 25 different tunings on his guitar. Certainly these attributes are one of the main reasons the album has such a large palette of sounds and textures.

18 tracks is a lot of music and Franklin uses the space well throughout the recording. I was impressed with the overall diversity that I heard. Between the acoustic guitar, piano and Manring’s amazing fretless bass, each track held its own very well. For a listener that wants to take the time to hear it all fall into place within each track, I would recommend taking the time to do so. It not only soothes and relaxes; it brings to mind pleasant images that give a very spiritual atmosphere. Textured like a billowing cloud sitting in the middle of a clear blue sky, this music awaits you.

The opening track “Living in Interesting Times,” certainly is an understatement in a literal sense however the music does set you at ease and does a nice job creating the proper mood and atmosphere of what to expect in the forthcoming tracks. There were a lot of good reasons to find this track one of the most key presentations on the album.

“Song For The Dreaming” is another pick of the 18 tracks that really stayed with me and will prompt you to listen more than once. I featured it on our Rate The Tracks site as well. It is simplistic and that is the beauty of it. The guitar playing is smooth and flowing, it invites you in, and then you want to stay. So as a listener that means mission accomplished!

“Shifting Landscapes: Dawn” and “Shifting Landscapes: Dusk (feat. Rick Corrigan)” are two very strong tracks. As dawn segues into dusk you will find out it serves as a logical progression in two parts that make total sense. The music is anticipatory and holds beauty and elegance all at the same time. I found the changes and clarity refreshing and interesting much like Mother Nature can be when you observe it from a spiritual healing place.

Playing With Shadows has a lot to offer a listener and it can give more than just aural pleasure if you seek solitude and need to look within and or meditate, this wonderful music can be a useful companion where you will find joy and peace.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Living in Interesting Times, Song For The Dreaming, Shifting Landscapes: Dawn, Shifting Landscapes: Dusk (feat. Rick Corrigan)

Tracks: 
01. Living in Interesting Times
02. There Used to Be Songbirds   
03. Giza (feat. Michael Manring)
04. Shifting Landscapes: Dawn
05. Shifting Landscapes: Dusk (feat. Rick Corrigan)
06. Song for the Dreaming (feat. Michael Manring)
07. Falling Slowly (feat. Michael Manring)   
08. Falling Fast (feat. Michael Manring)   
09. Sunlit Mornings (feat. Michael Manring)
10. Not Just a Walk in the Park (feat. Michael Manring)   
11. The Rabbit Hole   
12. Rolling (feat. Michael Manring)
13. First Day of Autumn
14. Autumn Memories (feat. Michael Manring)   
15. Forgotten Memory (feat. Michael Manring)   
16. Goodbyes (feat. Michael Manring & Alex Franklin)
17. Playing With Shadows
18. A Final Song
 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music ReviewsFounder
May 27, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews



26 May 2015

Legendary Narada Michael Walden Produces Third Release by Lauded Bay Area Songstress Jordan Hurwitz Titled “Here I’ll Stand” on Tarpan Records


Redwood City, CA - Jordan Hurwitz, an American singer/songwriter born and raised in Redwood City, California, is announcing the release of her new EP, Here I’ll Stand, digitally and physically worldwide on June 23rd, 2015. This brand new release features six original songs written by Jordan and produced and arranged by the legendary Narada Michael Walden on his label, Tarpan Records.

Here I’ll Stand is Jordan’s third release, and her first with Narada. “Working with Narada is an incomparable and invaluable experience,” she says. “His talent and artistry take my music to a whole new dimension and continue to be nothing less than amazing.” 

When asked about working with Jordan, Narada says: “If you love Billy Joel, his chord changes and his melodies, if you love Broadway, if you love Lady Gaga and her dramatic sense of theatrics in music, Jordan brings a lot of that to her music. She is a wonderful keyboard player and singer, who is humble and has a lot of heart and care, and she is very powerful…”

Jordan released her first album of original songs, Infinity, at age 16, and hasn't stopped writing or performing since. Her songs are an outlet that speaks to the challenges people face in their everyday lives, providing an opportunity to empower everyone to rise above.

Jordan uses her lyrics as a way to work through the trials and tribulations of growing up. “A finished song always brings resolution to my internal conflicts,” she notes. “The problems themselves sometimes never change, but my actions and perspectives do. Every song I’ve ever written carries the motif of being broken and finding the strength to rise above. Often, before I create the song I don’t have this strength, but the empowering lyrics play on repeat in my head until they become reality.”

“I would be nothing without my lyrics. My songwriting is who I am.”

Infinity, which debuted in 2013, was followed with her EP, The New Me, produced by Marcus Barone in 2014. Jordan’s musical expertise began with piano lessons at age six, and has evolved to include drums, voice training, and guitar, all of which she now uses to accompany her songwriting. “Empowering myself with song was life-changing in itself, but that doesn’t even compare to the feeling deriving from other people relating to my songs. It gives me comfort to know that the issues I face are faced by other people, and it gives me a sense of pride realizing that with my music, I can help them feel better about themselves as well.”

She appreciates and is influenced by artists from many genres of music, including Billy Joel, Sara Bareilles, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Kelly Clarkson.

Jordan will be attending University of Miami’s Frost School of Music beginning in the Fall of 2015. “I am so excited to go to Frost. It’s my dream school: the perfect place to continue my music education and work towards my long-term goals of being a professional singer/songwriter.”

Her Here I’ll Stand EP will be available in stores and online June 23rd, 2015. Jordan plans to showcase her talents in assorted venues across the US over the next few months to support the new release.

For more information on EP release parties, new music samples, or to join the mailing list visit Jordan’s website http://www.jordansmusic.com. To pre-order the EP visit https://jordanhurwitz.bandcamp.com/

For Physical Distribution Inquiries please contact Steffen Franz or Ben Lang at Independent Distribution Collective at 415-292-7007 or via e-mail sales@independentdistro.com

For Digital Distribution Inquiries contact Jerome Forney at IDCDigital at 415-292-7007 or via e-mail jerome@independentdistro.com

For Press and Radio Inquiries contact Billy James at Glass Onyon PR at 828-350-8158 glassonyonpr@gmail.com

For more information on booking Jordan for live performances please e-mail jormusic@yahoo.com

25 May 2015

Rock Review: Von Hertzen Brothers-New Day Rising

Release Date: March 24, 2015
Label: Spinefarm
If you are looking for a band with a fresh and exciting sound, then look no further than Finland’s Von Hertzen Brothers or VHB.  Based out of the country’s capital of Helsinki, Von Hertzen Brothers consist of Mikko Von Hertzen (vocals, guitar), Kie Von Hertzen (guitar, vocals), Jonne Von Hertzen (bass, vocals), Juha Kuoppala (keyboards), and Mikko Kaakkuriniemi (drums).  More than your average rock group, they showed plenty of progressive and psychedelic influences on their previous album, Nine Lives, and they have turned up their game for their latest release, New Day Rising.

New Day Rising goes above and beyond what you would expect from a typical rock album.  They are not afraid to mix things up and veer off the established trail, which plays to their advantage.  The turns and surprises along the way are fantastic and enriching.  If there is a band that you take chance on, then let it be Von Hertzen Brothers, and if there is an album to take a chance on, then let be New Day Rising.

“New Day Rising” is a tone setter, for sure, with its alluring opening rift.  The drums and the keyboards roll in at just the right point to spice things up. The vocals are clean, smooth, and passionate.  The energy from this song could light up a city and makes for a smashing opener.  It is the type of song that you will have you hitting the replay button.  “You Don’t Know My Name” grabs you with its crazy, manic opening that never really lets up, and, gets faster in some places.  The multiple vocals sound fantastic. There are a couple twists and turns during this song that make it quite interesting and hard to forget.  It is not your average sounding rock song and that is a very good thing.  “Trouble” starts out nice and light before the heaviness drops in with a magnificent crash. Overall, the song has a cool melodic tone to it and the vocals carry much emotional weight for my favorite performance on the album.  The music falls and rises are just the right spots for maximum effect. 

Taking the sound of the album in a different direction, “Black Rain” pleases with its light and breezy sound.  The sound is toned down and less heavy, but the quality of the music is still the same.  “Hold Me Up” is more of a soft rock song than anything else. The music is melodic, catchy, hopeful, and might just bring a smile to your face.  “Dreams” is great rock song with some pop influences that makes for easy listening.  It is catchy, harmonious, and snappy, making for a great sing-along song.  This is a good song if you need a little pep in your step and makes for a great springtime tune. 

“Sunday Child” begins with two minutes of slow build-up to a brilliant climax.  It continues to charm with its soothing chorus and positive energy that exudes from the music.  This is the type of song that can brighten up any rainy day.  “The Destitute” opens up fast and funky before slowly morphing into a more heart wrenching and emotional sound.  “Hibernating Heart” is a mellow conclusion that is pleasant sounding, yet bittersweet.

Von Hertzen Brothers’ New Day Rising is an absolute gem of an album.  It definitely surpasses their pervious album, Nine Lives, a solid production in its own right, in every way possible.  New Day Rising is not just for rock fans, but also for people who love high quality music. This album is a finely crafted piece of work that is a prime example of the beauty that can be found in music.  

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: New Day Rising, You Don’t Know My Name, Dreams 

Tracks:

01.New Day Rising
02.You Don’t Know My Name
03.Trouble
04.Black Rain
05.Hold Me Up
06.Love Burns
07.Dreams
08.Sunday Child
09.The Destitute
10.Hibernating Heart


Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff
May 25, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review



23 May 2015

Progressive Metal Review: Native Construct-Quiet World

Release Date: 21st April 2015
Label: Metal Blade Records

This is another release by a band that this reviewer hadn’t heard of, and consequently would not have come across. The band is called Native Construct and the title of their debut album is Quiet World.

The band is a collaboration between students started in 2011 at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where I’m informed, a certain Dream Theater, also originated. The album, Quiet World, is a concept album dealing with the tale of Archon and The Silence, the inhabitants of the Quiet World. The style of the band hints at Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Queen, Between The Buried and Me, and should suggest what is to be found on Quiet World. There is a musical amalgamation of classical with musical theater via prog metal.

Native Construct is made up of three members, Myles Yang (guitar, programming), Robert Edens (vocals) and Max Harchik (bass).

The album, Quiet World, clocks in at around 48 minutes, with 7 tracks in total. The longest track on offer is the final track, track 7, “Chromatic Aberration” which plays for 12:28 minutes with the previous track, track 6, “Chromatic Lights,” the shortest at only 2:14 minutes.

The opening track on Quiet World, “Mute” (6:34); I have listened to many times because of the range of styles present in such a short time. Starting atmospherically, it soon explodes into action with a full band blast, including a vocal that just about holds its own against the instrumentation. A twist soon sees the track head into jazz territory before 2 minutes have elapsed, with some very nice harmonies and a little show of guitar work from Myles. A further shift around 3 minutes brings in a sublime little passage of gentle instrumentation and harmonized singing. This is then a cue for the “strings” to enter the fray and add a symphonic tinge with some very subtle piano away in the background. This is an excellent little section which slowly builds, but then jumps into growled vocals and metronomic drumming, which unfortunately happen to be two of my pet dislikes, but also features some amazing guitar. Despite several listens, the music loses me at the, and lets not pull any punches, death metal growls. Call it by any other name, extreme metal, whatever, but I find that growling vocals are a total turn-off. This opening track encompasses, for me, the highs and lows of what Native Construct have to offer.

There is a very jazzy start to “The Spark of Archon” (9:09) which edges into the metal style very quickly with some great guitar. The vocals are more like a narrative to start but become “normal” by the 2 minute mark. There are several tempo changes early on, which serve to impede the flow of the track, as it seems to veer from place to place. The jazzy moments are very good, but at around 3:30 minutes, there is a switch to full on metronomic drumming and I start to drift. A moment or two later and we have entered a superb atmospheric melodic passage. Just after 6 minutes we again hit the metal guitar with “double pedal” drumming then the track dives back into the realms of jazz again. There is some superb guitar from the 7:30ish minute which drives the track along, with some low, and fairly indistinct, vocals. The track moves to a finale with simple instrumentation and a crystal clear vocal.

“Passage” (8:23), has atmospheric passages, superb “string” themes, variable time changes, great saxophone, and then the growling starts, this time in front of some superb symphonic sounds.

The final, and longest, track, “Chromatic Aberration” (12:54), has some scintillating guitar work at the outset with excellent vocals and it isn’t long before the time changes start to appear and the vocals shift towards the growl, leaving the track desperately searching for a direction to go in. Instruments vie for attention and the overall effect is, unfortunately, disappointing. As the track continues to veer from one passage to another, it simply starts to blur the track. Around the 4:30 minute mark, there is an oasis of calm, with very atmospheric music and superb vocals, giving a majestic snapshot of what Native Conflict can achieve. The track then moves off in another direction but maintains the listeners’ interest. The mid part of this track is by far the most amazing passage contained within the album. The staccato style which heralds the tracks’ exit seems to jar and the growls also reappear around 12 minutes. 

This listener is certainly not leaping up to put the album on again. Quiet World is a very complex album to get into as it is seems to be trying to be all things to all people, sampling jazz, rock, metal, prog, folk, classical and more. Whereas there are great examples of skilled musicianship on show throughout this album, I found the speed at which shifts from style to style happen, didn’t work and although some passages were superb, the album seems to lack coherence and seemed unfocused.

I will stress again, however, that this is a very personal opinion on Native Construct and admit freely that the sound of growled vocals do absolutely nothing for me, apart from reach for the off button.

Having made that comment however, I will be very interested to see (or should it be hear) the direction that the band take with any follow-up release. I enjoyed many passages on this album, Quiet World, but the chasm between extremes was simply too great.

3.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Mute, Spark of Archon, Passage

Tracks:
 

Mute
The Spark Of Archon
Passage
Your Familiar Face
Come Hell or High Water
Chromatic Lights
Chromatic Aberration
 
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

May 23, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

R&B Guitar Legend Shuggie Otis Hits The Road For An Extended Summer Tour!


Los Angeles, CA - After the recent release of his first-ever live album, Live In Williamsburg (available on CD, vinyl and DVD), R&B legend Shuggie Otis is once again bringing his talents to the stage for a 20+ date, coast-to-coast tour starting July 5th. Nobody brings as much soul, style, and swagger to a live performance as Shug with his signature red Gibson SG, and fans who have followed this multi-talented performer’s tumultuous career know that a Shuggie Otis concert is not an event to be missed. Whether it be the fabulous grooves of “Inspiration Information” or the funkdafied rhythm of the all-time classic “Strawberry Letter 23,” Shuggie’s songs have a magical sway over audiences, both young and old, guaranteed to get them on their feet and dancing in the aisles!

The son of renowned bandleader and musician Johnny Otis, Shuggie Otis began his incredible career at the tender age of 15, playing as a session guitarist alongside Al Kooper before releasing his first solo album Here Comes Shuggie Otis in 1970. Already being hailed as a uniquely skillful guitarist, Shuggie proved his mettle as a songwriter the following year with the hit single “Strawberry Letter 23” from his second solo album. Now one of the most sampled songs in all of modern music, “Strawberry Letter 23” became an even bigger smash when The Brothers Johnson recorded their version in 1977 (produced by Quincy Jones). After the release of his third album Inspiration Information failed to meet outsized expectations, Shuggie seemed to retire permanently from music. But, thankfully, he reemerged in 2013 with a deluxe reissue of Inspiration Information that included a new album of previously unreleased recordings called Wings Of Love. Since then, Shuggie has returned to the stage and been re-embraced by an adoring public who have waited a long time and never lost faith!

07/05/15 Napa, CA City Winery
07/16/15 Nashville, TN City Winery
07/17/15 Chicago, IL City Winery
07/19/15 Ottawa Ottawa Bluesfest
07/20/15 Toronto, ONT Lee's Palace
07/23/15 North Hampton, MA Iron Horse
07/24/15 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bowl
07/25/15 New York, NY B.B. King Blues Club
07/28/15 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall
07/30/15 Lancaster, PA Ardmore Music Hall
07/31/15 Washington, DC Howard Theater
08/01/15 Raleigh, NC Lincoln Theatre
08/03/15 Atlanta Georgia Terminal West

Visit http://www.shuggieotismusic.com for up to date tour information

Press inquiries:
Glass Onyon PR
Billy James
PH: 828-350-8158
glassonyonpr@gmail.com

CLEOPATRA RECORDS, Inc.
11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025
www.CleopatraRecords.com

21 May 2015

Sharon Hendrix, Talented Back-Up Singer for Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tom Jones, Barry Manilow, Grace Slick & Starship, Olivia Newton-John and Others, Steps to Center Stage with Her Solo Debut


Sharon Hendrix has performed in over 8,000 shows and it’s only the beginning!

Los Angeles - After years of working just 20 feet from stardom Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix is stepping into the spotlight. Throughout her successful career Sharon has been singing backup on recording sessions and performing on stages across the world with top names including Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tom Jones, Grace Slick & Starship, Olivia Newton-John, George Duke, Dusty Springfield, Freddie Hubbard, Natalie Cole, Harry Chapin, Jermaine Stewart, Mac Davis, Billy Cobham, Michael White, Shirley Bassey and so many other notable musical talents.

Sharon Hendrix began her career as "Muffy" Hendrix singing in the church and school choirs and by the time she reached her teens she became part of The Young Americans, an international touring company of 30 singers from all across the country. Over the next two years Sharon toured the Far East twice, performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Kraft Music Hall and worked on various TV specials and commercials. Sharon earned a music scholarship to Chapman University and received her show business education on Las Vegas stages at the side of superstar entertainers including Debbie Reynolds and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sharon formed a lifetime friendship and working relationship with Barry Manilow from the moment the beloved superstar called her to replace one of the singers in his back-up band. In 1985 Sharon recorded the popular, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" duet with Barry that appeared on his "Manilow" album as well as the Billboard charts. Currently Sharon is performing with Manilow on his worldwide "One Last Time!" farewell tour which brings us to now!

Sharon's completing her solo debut album which will be available in the fall from Voss Records and has just released the title track, “Nowhere Fast” as the lead single. Sharon co-wrote the song with her producer, Dan Voss Jr. and trumpet virtuoso Steve Madaio. Sharon’s smooth vocal style sits over a contemporary urban Latin beat spiced with exciting percussion, a classic horn solo and an infectious rap by William “June Bug” Lee.

Between breaks in the Manilow tour the industrious Ms. Hendrix is finishing the new album as well as planning her solo career launch. Sharon’s been tirelessly rehearsing with her band working out arrangements on old and new tunes. When the tour ends this summer the Sharon Hendrix Nowhere Fast show will hit the road running and Sharon will be front and center exactly where she’s always been destined to be.

When she’s not on the road Sharon lives in southern California and is the proud mother of three lovely daughters.

To purchase: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sharonmuffyhendrix

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR Phone: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix records exclusively for:
Voss Records
4254 Harbour Island Lane
Oxnard, CA 93035
Phone: 805 469-4074 / eMail: danvossjr@gmail.com

CONTACT: Management:
Harold Childs & Ernie Campagna
Soundboard Marketing
8491 Sunset Blvd, # 174
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Phone: 323-692-1097 / eMail: soundboardMKT@aol.com

Visit Sharon at: www.sharonhendrix.net and follow her on tour on Facebook at Sharon Hendrix Music

Progressive Metal Review: At War With Self-Circadian Rhythm Disorder

Release Date: 11thMarch 2015
Label:  Digital release

At War With Self is a project led/conceived by Glenn Snelwar, a multi-instrumentalist, best known, although not by this reviewer, as one of the guitarists on the Giordian Knot debut which featured members of King Crimson, Cynic, Watchtower and Dream Theater.

At War With Self has previously released three albums, Torn Between Dimensions (2005), Acts of God (2007) and A Familiar Path (2009), and now, album No 4 has landed on The Ancient Ones’ desk for review. The title of the newest release is Circadian Rhythm Disorder.

To quote the press release that accompanies this album release, “Circadian Rhythm Disorderis the culmination of four years of writing, recording, re-writing, analysis, re-analysis, discarding, rebuilding, e-evaluation and final culmination of compositions based on the framework of a 51 minute drum solo performed in a single take by Marco Minneman (drummer, composer, multi-instrumentalist with Steven Wilson Band and Joe Satriani Band).”

I will admit at the outset of this review that the thought of a 51 minute drum solo filled me full of foreboding, but I was interested to hear how Glenn built Circadian Rhythm Disorder around this base point.

The musicians involved on this release are Glenn, who plays guitars, fretless bass, mandolin and keyboards, with Marco Minneman, providing the drumming and percussion.

Circadian Rhythm Disorder is a 24 track album with a total paying time of around 51 minutes. Fifteen of the tracks last for under the 2 minute mark, with “Slate Wiper Pt 2,” the shortest at only 53 seconds and the longest track on offer on Circadian Rhythm Disorderis “Seeds Of Doubt” which plays for 4:19 minutes.

The opening track on Circadian Rhythm Disorder, “Slate Wiper” (3:26) is an interesting piece of music based on the first section of the drum track. There is a fair amount of metal guitar riffing, interspersed with mandolin which draws the listener in, although the sudden change from acoustic to metal guitar can be a little jarring. This is a positive start to the album with a track that certainly hangs together very well.

“Seeds Of Doubt” (4:19) has a very atmospheric build-up to around the 2 minute point before the metal guitar appears in the background and takes over with bursts of machine gun like riffing, which unfortunately isn’t a style that keeps the interest of this listener.

“Seeds Of Love” (3:47) changes tack with piano and acoustic guitar setting the scene before the keyboards fill in the background. A good track, and indeed, I think the best of these early tracks without a doubt.

“Shards Pt 1” (3:21), “Shards Pt 2” (2:17) and “Shards Pt 3” (0:55) are based around the less metallic side of the music, with “Pt 1” using acoustic guitar and keyboards to provide a gentle, almost laid back, flowing piece of music, which does have a few tempo changes, but it is always satisfying. “Pt 2” has a superb piano to start and is again, in the gentler of the musical styles across this release. There are some excellent acoustic guitar themes on offer over the length of this track. “Pt 3” again highlights the piano, but at under a minute in length, is too soon gone.

Having listened to this album several times over the last few weeks, I am still not convinced that I like or dislike it. Overall I’m very happy with the gentler, more atmospheric tracks, but a little put off by the harsh metal thrashing. This is an album I may well dip into from time to time, but only some of the tracks.

As usual, this is a very personal view of Circadian Rhythm Disorder, and I would always advocate that people have a few listens before making their mind up.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Slate Wiper, Seeds of Love, Shards Pt 1-3

Tracks:
Slate Wiper
Seeds of Doubt
Seeds of Love
The Mirror
Mirage
Stumbling To Sleep
Daydream
This Is Not My Reflection
Smash The Mirror
Shards Pt 1
Shards Pt 2
Shards Pt 3
Nightmare
Running From The Dream
N.D.E.
Tunnel Of Light
Re-Birth
First Breath
New Life Pt 1
New Life Pt 2
Slate Wiper Pt 2
A Day’s Death
Completion Of The Cycle
One And All

 


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

May 21, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk