22 December 2015

Holiday/New Age/Classical Review: Jennifer Thomas-Winter Symphony

Release Date: November 20, 2015
Label: Tickled Ivory Music

Jennifer Thomas is a talented multidimensional artist. She is a composer, pianist and violinist with a lot of respect coming from her peers in the industry. With Winter Symphony she takes tradition and several genres and creates a magnificent soundtrack. The album is titled appropriately as it is a shimmering and magical journey. At times certain parts did remind me of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I knew after hearing the first track that this recording was going to be prolific and moving.

The curtain opens to a spectacular unraveling of sound and color with “Angels We Have Heard On High (feat. The Ensign Chorus),” and the chorus indeed sounds like it was heaven sent.

The brilliance of “Carol of the Bells” opens the door to the Holiday with parts of a legendary track that come alive with cascading piano and orchestrations. Classical and New Age music merge with tradition for an entirely new universe of music for a listener to enjoy.

As an individual that gets inundated with Holiday music every year it becomes harder and harder to get my attention and any particular release to make a lasting impression. I have been fortunate this year to hear several great unconventional recordings that gave me a new perspective and outlook on this special Holiday season.

“Ice Dance” is a musical ballet with the grandeur of orchestrations, a choir and Jennifer’s tinkling and alluring piano strokes. It is quite beautiful…you can envision a lone ice skater joined by others as the song reaches its apex then winds down like a snow globe in your mind gently bringing it back to the singularity of purpose this dance represents.

As mature and distinct as this music is it can most certainly bring to light the child inside all of us. Remember when you were the wide eyed little girl/boy full of the wonder of Christmas morning? It is all here for you to absorb and hold in your heart for as long as you wish or to listen to again and again.

Winter Symphony needs a stage with actors to play out the parts of this engrossing musical story. I would not be surprised to see it all come to life on a stage or on the screen someday soon. If that does not happen I will surprised. There is so much going on in this music, it makes you feel alive and grateful for life and all there is to enjoy. The power of music proves once again that it can heal and change an attitude within minutes. The spirit of humanity and the holidays are alive and breathing in this music, do not miss it!

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Carol of the Bells, Angels We Have Heard On High (feat. The Ensign Chorus), Ice Dance

01. Angels We Have Heard On High (feat. The Ensign Chorus)
02. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
03. Carol of the Bells
04. Alleluia (feat. Felicia Farerre & The Ensign Chorus)
05. Ice Dance (feat. The Ensign Chorus)
06. I Saw Three Ships
07. Breath of Heaven
08. Theme from Home Alone (Somewhere in My Memory)
09. What Child Is This (feat. Taylor Davis)
10. Silent Night (feat. The Ensign Chorus)
11. Winter Symphony
12. O Holy Night

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
December 22, 2015
Provided By New Age Music Reviews

21 December 2015

Prog Metal Band Odin's Court Release Deathanity (R3)

Progressive Metal for fans of Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Porcupine Tree, Iron Maiden, King’s X, Metallica, HIM, and Journey, Enchant, Queen

Baltimore, MD - USA based progressive rock and metal band Odin's Court's announced the re-release of their 2008 album Deathanity (R3) for March, 1 2016. Deathanity (R3) is a “reboot” of the original ProgRock Records album, consisting of a remix (original recording), new recordings (e.g., vocals), and a re-master.

Band leader Matt Brookins commented on the decision to revisit Deathanity: “This was an important album to the band – we worked hard independently, and then shopped it to labels. It was picked up by ProgRock Records (2008), and to date remains our best selling and most popular release. While we were, and still are, proud of what we did, there are some factors that made us want to revisit and improve the quality of the album…mainly, the addition of Dimetrius LaFavors (lead vocals), but also my improvements as an engineer and producer. Additionally, the concept of the album is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, so hopefully we will reach even more ears with this re-release. Stylistically, this album is heavy, progressive, and artsy.”

Deathanity was well received when originally released:

“There's wonderful variety from section to section, the instrumentation and the songwriting are clearly the album's strengths.” – Sea of Tranquility

“The sound of the group is quite personal with a lot of quality, and fantastic production for their music, very pleasant to the ear, nothing strident, with guitars and smooth refining where all instruments are in a place where you can distinguish each of them with complete ease.” – Hall of Metal

“Matt Brookins has succeeded in serving a fantastic album to the inclined listener. From the first minute until the last there is insanely much to discover, and the protagonists are true masters of their instruments.” – Rock Times

Check out the first single “Manifest Destiny” from Deathanity (R3) here:

The band is continuing off the momentum gained from the positive press received on their latest album Turtles All the Way Down (2015):

“Odin’s Court has quietly become one of the best bands in the American Progressive Rock scene, and this album is a perfect example of why that is the case.” – Hard Rock Haven

“Terrific melodic prog/metal that gets better with every listen!” – USA Progressive Music

“The band plays heavy rock inundated with catchy guitar riffs, cool keyboard passages, and excellent lead vocals…the music is so well played, upbeat and catchy as any rock/metal album I have heard in a while.” - Sea of Tranquility

“The strengths are undoubtedly the singing, orchestration, and the work on the guitars. It is highly recommended listening!” – MusicInBelguim.Net

Odin's Court:
Matt Brookins – Guitarist, Keyboardist, Vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist
Rick Pierpont – Guitarist and Backing Vocalist
Dimetrius LaFavors – Vocalist
Gary Raub – Drummer, Percussionist, and Backing Vocalist
Jason Pierpont – Bassist

Email: band@odinscourtband.com

Band: www.OdinsCourtBand.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/odinscourtband
YouTube: www.youtube.com/odinscourt

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

Progressive Rock Review: Gazpacho-Molok

Release Date: 23rd October 2015
Label: KScope

Originally appearing back in 1996 the Norwegian band, Gazpacho, has gone from strength to strength and has now released studio album no 9, Molok. The debut album, Bravo, appeared in 2003 and the band has released an album every 1-2 years since, so have maintained a steady output of excellent material. Molok follows on fairly quickly from the critically acclaimed, Demon, from 2014, and takes the band another step up on the progressive ladder.

The band line-up has been amazingly consistent since the original core members of Jan Henrik Orme (vocals), Jon-Arne Vilbo (guitars) and Thomas Anderson (keyboards and programming) started out and then added Michael Kromer in 2001 (violin and mandolin), Kristian Torp in 2005 (bass) and Lars Erik Asp in 2010 (drums). This line-up has been present on the last four studio albums.

Molok has been described by Thomas Anderson as “Molok is about a man somewhere around 1920 that decides wherever anyone worships a god, they always seem to be worshipping stone in one form or another. Whether a grand cathedral, the stone in Mecca or even Stonehenge, god seems to have been chased by his worshippers into stone, never to return. This harkens back to Norwegian folk myths, where if a troll was exposed to sunlight, it would turn to stone, but also reflects the way god has been incommunicado for a very long time.” This sounds like very profound material, so what does the album actually sound like?

Molok is a 9 track release (on CD, but 8 tracks on vinyl) with a total running time of around 45 minutes (44:37). The final track, “Molok Rising,” is the longest track on offer at just less than 10 minutes (9:38) in length with track no 3, “Beta Kiss,” the shortest on the album at 2:45 minutes.

The opening track on Molok is “Park Bench” (6:44) which begins with a drum beat setting the scene. Jan Henrik Ormes’ voice enters, instantly recognizable to all Gazpacho followers. There is the characteristic minimalist instrumentation behind the voice with a piano motif, keyboard theme and then the violin makes an entrance. The atmosphere produced on this opening track is nothing short of majestic. As the voice builds and retreats, the background shifts almost imperceptibly, but the sheer power that seems held back by invisible forces constantly threatens to be unleashed. The amazing ability of the band to generate such controlled atmospherics has to be admired. The band then work as a tight unit to take the track out.

“The Masters Voice” (4:08) picks up the atmospherics from the word go. The plaintive voice is backed by a gentle electric guitar and a choir which leads into a stunning section led by the bass and drums, with the piano generating more of the simple, but fascinating, themes. This is a slow building track which moves along with the voice, more of the electric guitar and a little more intensity to the music, when without warning it drops away to almost silence before re-entering and building, before ultimately, exiting.

Track 3 is a very different style of track. “Bela Kiss” (2:45) is an up-tempo folky toe-tapper which also has Stian Carstensen on accordion. This is a short track which highlights the folk charm which is never too far away from the surface on any Gazpacho release.

Back to the atmospherics with the next track up, “Know Your Time” (6:07) which starts with a longer introduction of bass, drums and keyboards as it slowly builds to the entrance of the vocals, almost 1:30 minutes into the track. The vocals are crystal clear and there is a little more of the gentle electric guitar carrying the music along. Around the 2:30 minute point you become aware of the presence of the piano theme in the background as the music flows effortlessly along. A deeper, darker section starts up around the 3:40 minute mark which allows more guitar and piano to come to the fore. The track is escorted out by some stunning violin playing by Michael.

There is a piano start to “Choir of Ancestors” (4:44) before being joined by Jan Henrik and the rhythm unit of bass and drum move the track along. A “distant” voice appears around the 1:30 minute mark and this is followed by a choir, which builds behind the lead voice, with the drums appearing impatient to be moving quicker. This all leads to a guitar led “wall of noise,” but for Gazpacho that is a fairly subdued level. This track is another example of how to generate atmosphere within a short piece of music. The track ends with the sound dropping away and a little more of the “distant” voice.

Next up is a trio of shorter tracks, all within the 3-4 minute timescale. First up is “ABC” (3:26) which is a very melodic up-tempo track and this is followed by “Algorithm” (3:10) with an almost jazzy styled feel to it initially before it settles into a shorter slice of atmospherics, with some vocalization, but no words. The last of the trio, “Alarm” (3:54) is another up-tempo chunk of music highlighting piano and keyboards with superb vocals from Jan Henrik. Piano themes abound both in the background and leading the piece as the track progresses.

The final, and longest, track on Molok, “Molok Rising” (9:38) is the albums’ tour de force. The introduction of the track is very simple but generates a majestic atmosphere as the track builds with, seemingly, the minimum of effort. This track highlights the fantastic ability the band possesses enabling them to paint amazing aural landscapes without losing the minimalistic feel to the music. Piano, keyboards, guitar, mandolin, bass, drums and violin interact so perfectly and seamlessly.

Molok is a stunning album and easily achieves the maximum star rating that its’ predecessor, Demon, garnered. This is a superb example of the stunning atmospheric music that can be produced by 6 musicians who are acutely sympathetic to each other. Do not expect shredding guitars, thundering drums and blistering vocals on a Gazpacho album, as the band have everything down to a fine art and generate something very special each and every time they enter the recording studios.

This is an album that further cements Gazpacho as a unique band in modern progressive music. My advice is made very simple by Molok, and that is, get out there and buy it. There have been a few albums that I have given the accolade, “one of the best releases in 2015” to, and Molok can now be added to that list.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Park Bench, Choir of Ancestors, Molok Rising

Park Bench
The Masters’ Voice
Bela Kiss
Know Your Time
Choir Of Ancestors
Molok Rising

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
December 21, 2015
Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

19 December 2015

Audio Fidelity To Release "Colors of the day - The Best of Judy Collins" on Quad 4.0 Hybrid SACD

“This is Collins at her finest.”

Camarillo, CA – Marshall Blonstein's Audio Fidelity will be releasing the ultimate “best of” collection by folk legend Judy Collins on Quad 4.0 Hybrid SACD. Colors of the day - The Best of Judy Collins first arrived in record stores in 1972. The recording features Collins' earliest, most time-honored recordings. The song that propelled the album sales was her number one hit, “Both Sides Now,” an alluring Joni Mitchell tune that dominated the charts for months.

Collins' voice is remarkably beautiful, her phrasing, her ability to enunciate and her vocal range place her in a category by herself. Her amazing talent is on full display in this excellent collection that includes Collins' explorations into folk-pop, country-pop (“Someday Soon,” an Ian Tyson classic), British folk (“Sunny Goodge Street,” The Beatles “In My Life”), and gospel (“Amazing Grace”) that clearly show her eclecticism.

The thoughtfully programmed collection includes the Leonard Cohen classic, “Suzanne.” Cohen's haunting and evocative lyrics are masterfully interpreted by Collins who was an early champion of his amazingly poetic folk songs. Some of the record's finest moments are from her exquisite 1968 album Who Knows Where the Time Goes including that album's title track. Also included are two of her lovely autobiographical compositions, “My Father” and “Albatross.”

“This anthology brings the 'best-of' collection to a new art form.”

Track listing:
Someday Soon
Since You Asked
Both Sides Now
Sons Of
Farewell to Tarwathie
Who Knows Where the Time Goes
Sunny Goodge Street
My Father
In My Life
Amazing Grace

Produced by Mark Abramson, David Anderle
Mastered: Stereo CD, SACD mastering and 4.0
Analog to Hi Definition DSD Digital Transfer: Steve Hoffman and Stephen Marsh

For more information: www.audiofidelity.net

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

17 December 2015

New Age/Classical Review: David Lanz & Kristin Amarie-Silhouettes Of Love

Release Date: October 6, 2015
Label: Dkl Records

Grammy nominated David Lanz has been thrilling fans for decades. His newest album with Kristin Amarie, Silhouettes of Love is a jazzy blend of classical and New Age sound.

“The Soaring Heart” is the first piece on the album. Filled with chimes, bells, string, piano movements and the playful sound of Kristen’s voice as she highlights the already perfect multi-instrumental experience. This track is a landscape of audible artistry and one I never get tired of listening to. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

“Circles Round the Moon” begins with tender piano movements and the kiss of chimes. Kristen’s voice descends watching over her loved one like an angel. She hears her love singing, melodies drifting by as she ponders whether it is stardust or merely a dream. This song is a tender fairy tale of moments buried deep in the night as her true love’s arms wrap her in his embrace.

“Beatrice and Dante” is a song based on the Divine Comedy written by Dante Alighieri and the woman that haunted him during her life and her untimely death. Dante met Beatrice as a child and never forgot her, leading the two to fall in love despite being married off to different people. When she died at the young age of twenty four, he was devastated. His only recourse was poetry and he invokes her in two portions of his trip through the levels of Hell. 

This piece has a haunting quality, with the twisting piano and string combinations. Down and down into the bowels of the earth Dante wanders as he hears his true love’s breath on his ear. Waiting. Longing. Eternity in a state of passion that can never fully be fulfilled. Only words remain but neither can let go of their love for the other, despite one being dead and the other trapped in the land of the living. Dante is deep in contemplation of the nature of Hell and those who deserve to reside there. The sweet song of Kristin Amarie gives voice to the lovely Beatrice as the music swirls around her and she vanishes into the darkness. “Want me. Need me. Speak to me words of love…”

“Silver Threads” is a song of grief. The threads that hold us together are not severed when death lays its cold hand on our lives. Love endures and sweetness envelopes the heart as moments are remembered. Piano blended with multi-instrumentation bring the stark feeling to life. Kristin’s voice is the sound of a breaking heart desperately clinging to the happy moments and facing the future without the person you held so dear. 

Silhouettes of Love is a journey of emotion that covers many musical genres. At times Classical, jazzy and New Age it touches us all with memories and tender, wistful sentiments. David Lanz, Kristin Amarie and the host of musicians working with them on this project have outdone themselves. The melodies constructed are masterful and exude emotion and Kristin’s voice…as I have said before, an angel must be missing from heaven.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Soaring Heart, Circles Round the Moon, Beatrice and Dante, Silver Threads

01. The Soaring Heart
02. The Promise
03. Circles Round the Moon
04. Falling
05. Found By Love's Return
06. Lady On the Shore
07. Silhouette of Love
08. Our Illusion
09. Amore Eterno (Redux)
10. Beatrice and Dante
11. Waiting for the Sun
12. So in Love
13. Silver Threads (Without You)

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer
December 17, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Holiday Music Review: Various Artists: The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album

Release Date: October 2, 2015
Label: Legacy Recordings

It is that time of year again.  Lights, Christmas trees, wreaths, and Christmas songs, because it cannot be the Christmas season without the music.  Sony’s Legacy Recordings has put together a Christmas album full of songs from the ‘80s, and appropriately titled it The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album.  It features an assorted cast of successful ‘80s talents, including Whitney Huston, Run-D.M.C., Hall & Oates, The Pointer Sisters, and many more covering such Christmas classic as “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” and “Run Rudolph Run” to name a few. 

Opening up the album is the new wave band The Waitresses of “I Know What Boys Like” fame.  Their Christmas song, “Christmas Wrappings” has classic written all over it.  The song has a nice blend of modern and traditional and it is just so catchy and infectious from the very beginning.  Patty Donahue’s vocals are beautiful.  It is the perfect pop/post-punk holiday song.  Following it is another fantastic song, “Last Christmas” by Wham!. The sound is light and festive, making it a great choice to celebrate the holidays with.  George Michael brings his A-game on here, and it is easy to see way this song has been covered so many times over the last three decades. 

Next up is The Bangles’s version of the Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter.” I like it, as it is very good rock song with lots of energy and edge, but it is not much of a Christmas song.  One of the albums standouts is Run-D.M.C’s “Christmas in Hollis.”  It is a wonderful party song that is full of Christmas spirit, and it is not a ‘80s compilation album without some hip-hop, and who better to represent that than Run-D.M.C.  It is the right song to liven up any Christmas party and should be on everyone’s playlist.  Hall & Oates give very solid and respectful rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock.”  Whitney Huston’s version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” makes a good case for best single on the album.  Her beautiful and powerful voice is stunning, memorable, and leaves a lasting impression after the song is over. 

Billy Squier’s “Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You’” has a nice rock edge to it and the energy from the crowd is electrifying. It definitely makes for a good song to get everyone singing along to. Dave Edmunds’s “Run Rudolph Run” is pretty solid, but I prefer the Chuck Berry version. Next up is “Zat You Santa Claus” from Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blue which adds a nice touch of jazz and lounge music sound to the album.  The Pointer Sisters’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” is the best song on the second half of the album.  It is a fun, energetic rendition with great vocal harmonies. Roy Parker Jr.’s “Christmas Time Is Here” is a calm and pleasant song. The fictional comedy duo of Bob and Doug Mackenzie give their special take of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  It is a fun and silly song that sounds like something your drunken relatives might start singing after too many glasses of spiked eggnog. 

The album hits a speed bump with “This One’s for the Children” by The New Kids on the Block.  It is overly sentimental song that does not belong on this album.  It is not a Christmas song and not a good song in general.  Fishbone’s “Slick Nick, You Devil You” is another one that I did not care for.  The tempo is too slow and I do not like the clapping.  The Hooters finish the album off with “Silent Night.”  It is solid version of a Christmas classic and a good choice to bring everything to a close. 

The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album is great album for the holidays.  The selection is varied and strong with only a miss or two against it, making for a high quality album.  This is good because it makes the ‘80s nostalgia trip an added bonus instead of its only selling point.  You cannot go wrong by adding The Classic Christmas ‘80s Album to your collection.  You might even find yourself with some new holiday favorites.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Christmas Wrappings, Last Christmas, Christmas in Hollis, Do You Hear What I Hear? 


01. Christmas Wrappings
02. Last Christmas
03. Hazy Shade of Winter
04. Christmas in Hollis
05. Jingle Bell Rock
06. Do You Hear What I Hear?
07. Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You’
08. Run Rudolph Run
09. Zat You Santa Claus
10. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
11. Christmas Time Is Here
12. The Twelve Days of Christmas
13. This One’s for the Children
14. Slick Nick, You Devil You
15. Silent Night

Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff
December 17, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

16 December 2015

Holiday Review: Celtic Thunder-Classic Christmas Album

Release Date: October 2, 2015
Label: Sony Legacy

Celtic Thunder has been brightening spirits with their amazing vocals and world class performances since their inception in 2007. Current members include Neil Byrne, Emmett O'Hanlon, Emmet Cahill, Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Damian McGinty, Paul Byrom and George Donaldson. This compilation of holiday music is a must for any fan.
“Carol of the Bells” is the first tune on the album. It is a twisting musical confection that is pure holiday magic. Crisp tones, joyful voices, melodic music ranging from horns to chimes and floating string and the jingle of bells all combine for an elemental introduction to this wonderful album. It was composed and written by Mykola Leontovych and Peter J. Wilhousky.

“In the Bleak Mid-Winter” was composed and lyrics created by Gustav Holst and Christina Rossetti. Performed with Celtic textures at the onset, the piece quickly morphs into a piano movement with light musical flutterings in the background. The vocals and pipe sounds reach into the still and lonely parts that this time of year can really make stark and utterly clear. Love of God warms the soul as the singer remembers the reason for the holiday and the angels that walked among us to give the child safe passage. “What can I give him poor as I am?” This rings true for so many of us these days. What value do we offer when we can’t buy the things we desire or give others the gifts they want. The answer is the same as it always was. Love. It is the beginning and the end of all things and with it, we can conquer the world.

“Fairytale of New York” is the last piece on the album. Written and composed by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer this song captures the Celtic reality in all of its glory. Soft and sweet with pipes and lilting dance music, it swings into a rowdy bar ballad among other things. Awash in regret but dreaming of the days ahead, the vocalists bring to life the myriad of emotions that make a man. Drink and food and laughter bring us all together but in the end, we each of us make the other strong.

The Classic Christmas Album is a wonderful compilation of Celtic holiday music, both traditional and original. The vocalists’ voices join forces to bring us a glimpse into the sounds of the heavens or the lowest bar in midtown. There is light in the darkness and if you listen to this music you might just feel a bit of warmth this holiday season. I highly recommend it.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Carol of the Bells, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, Fairytale of New York

01. Carol of the Bells (1:24)
02. Gaudete (2:22)
03. Mary Did You Know? (3:09)
04. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1:55)
05. In the Bleak Mid-Winter (4:12)
06. Gabriel’s Message (2:50)
07. Christmas Medley: Sleigh Ride, Here Comes Santa Claus, Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (6:00)
08. Away in a Manger (2:40)
09. Comfort Ye (2:50)
10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1:58)
11. The Christmas Song (3:34)
12. Oh Holy Night (4:44)
13. O Come All Ye Faithful (3:47)
14. Fairytale of New York (4:00)

Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
December 16, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

Goldbringer 'Telling The Truth' Review

Goldbringer is a musical project that marries avant-garde with rock music. Their album ‘Telling The Truth’ is a piece of sonic brilliance. Although the record is rooted in rock music its electronic influences and compelling melodic build ups make it a colourful, multifaceted opus of energy driven magic.

The songs have an excellent structure and carried by the powerful delivery of vocalist Bone as well as the bashing riffs of heavy guitars this album is swamped with intensity and potential. The melodies are a melting pot of sophisticated chord changes that positively affect both the heart and the brain.


Novacaine New EP Review

With their new EP ‘Noughts and Crosses’ hardcore rockers Novacaine have demonstrated musical excellence mixed with technical proficiency.

‘Noughts and Crosses’ is a dynamic piece of hard rock underlined by powerful and muscular guitar sounds as well as a blasting storm of thunderous vocals. While all in all a heavy record, the song ‘Closure’ shows that Novacaine are perfectly capable of hitting a more contemplative and slightly softer tone, albeit remaining in the realms of darkness as so evidently suggested by the song title of the opening track ‘Kill You’.

‘Noughts and Crosses’ will be available from 18th December


'Trio' By Neil C Young - Review

‘Trio’ is Neil C Young’s newest release and a follow up to the fantastic fusion album ‘Encemble’. Jazz guitarist Young is a legend in his own right and this EP proves how full of potential he is. Instrumental jazz has never been hotter and up to date. The three songs ‘Aguas Calientes’, ‘The Darned’ and ‘Hydrant’ are a powerful appraisal of rhythm, touching on the fusion of jazz with 70s funk.

It’s a record that is best enjoyed with a dry martini, somewhere in a smokey corner of an old-fashioned bar. It’s a perfect blend of melancholic nudges and modern production techniques.

Check out more on Neil here:

15 December 2015

Progressive Rock Review: Billy Sherwood-Citizen

Release Date: 6th Nov 2015
Label: Frontiers Records

The list of areas in which Billy Sherwood is involved, is little short of staggering, as he is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer, producer, engineer, mixer, solo artist, current bass player with Yes and an independent producer. He has, however, found time to record his eighth solo album, Citizen, released recently. His debut album was released back in 1999 (The Big Peace) and even with his involvement with many projects, also releasing albums, he has averaged a solo album every 2 years on average.

The list of guest artists helping out on this album reads like a “Who’s Who” of the progressive fraternity. On keyboards we find such luminaries as Rick Wakeman, Jordan Rudess, Tony Kaye, Geoff Downes and Patrick Moraz, on guitars appear Steve Hackett, Steve Morse and John Wesley, violin provided by Jerry Goodman and vocals by Colin Moulding, Alan Parsons and Jon Davidson. Billy Sherwood contents himself by only being involved in drums, bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals. One other guest, who sadly passed away earlier this year, provides the thundering bass on the title track which is apparently one of the last recordings by Yes bassist, Chris Squire.

Classed as a concept album, Citizen tells stories from various historic moments as seen through the eyes of one man, a sort of audio version of “Quantum Leap” which was a TV series. The album itself is an 11 track release with a total playing time of around 72 minutes with the shortest track, “Just Galileo and Me” clocking in at 5:12 minutes and the longest piece on offer, “The Great Depression” having a running time of 8:58 minutes.

First up on Citizen, is the title track, “Citizen” which is a tad under 7 minutes in length (6:57). This is an initially strong opening track with a great guitar melody, backed by the characteristic thundering bass provided by Chris Squire and good vocals, all of which lead into a superb keyboard based section from Tony Kaye. Unfortunately, by the time the track has entered its 5th minute, just after the keyboards section, the repetitive melody seems to have been overplayed and the last couple of minutes seem to be an extension too far.

“Man and Machine” (6:59) has a typically “mechanized” sound to the intro, but rolls along well and has several passages that maintain the interest of the listener and there is a great little hook appearing at points. This track seems to work better than the opening track, but there is a similarity to the pace of the tracks.

The third track on Citizen is “Just Galileo and Me” (5:12) which has a different style, but similar tempo to the previous two bits of music. The chorus is extremely catchy and the lyrics prompt a bit of thought, but I was starting to yearn for someone to “let rip” with an instrument to heighten the “grab your ears” factor.

The ballad-like “The Great Depression” (8:58) leans heavily on the superb piano passages and keyboard themes, provided by The Caped Crusader himself, none other than Rick Wakeman. Billy Sherwood excels on acoustic guitar then moves onto the electric guitar and fires off some classy solos.

“Empire” (5:45) features vocals by Alan Parsons and some excellent violin playing by Jerry Goodman from The Flock and Mahavishnu Orchestra. “Age of the Atom” (6:37) has a few points which hint back at previous tracks and is one of the less successful outings on the album. There are a few excellent keyboard and guitar passages on “Trail of Tears” (6:14), but “Escape Velocity” (6:14) seems to struggle to reach the heights of earlier tracks.

The penultimate track, “A Theory All of Its Own” (5:45), and the finale, “Written In The Centuries” (7:35) build up the interest in this listener again as there seems to be more happening musically within the tracks than earlier.
Without doubt, having reviewed a few of the Billy Sherwood project releases, Citizen is the most enjoyable release I have heard thus far. Individually, the tracks all have their moments some more than others, but after all 11 tracks, the lack of real highs across the album is a bit of a disappointment. This may be caused by the expectation from such an amazingly talented collection of guests, but I feel that the potential from such a pool of musicians is left untapped.

Citizen is an album that I will dip into from time to time, but for a single track or perhaps two. As always, I would suggest giving Citizen a few listens before making any decisions, and I would also expect that a great many people will have a different viewpoint on the album.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Great Depression, A Theory All of Its Own, Empire

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
December 15, 2015
Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

13 December 2015

Instrumental/New Age/Classical Review: Tim Neumark-Galaxy-Solo Piano, Op.6

Release Date: May 1, 2015
Label: Indie

Tim Neumark’s sixth release Galaxy-Solo Piano, Op.6 came out this May. The solo piano works of this talented musician are starting to stack up and it is most impressive. This is the second album I have had the pleasure to enjoy since the 2014 recording Storm.

Most recently we featured the beautiful track “Starlight” on Rate The Tracks. This would serve as an excellent introduction to this album and a fine way to pull you into the entire project.
This is very straight forward solo piano music that consist of parts new age and classical while doubling as a meditation guide or relaxation tool. Everyone needs to retreat from a hard day of work and let all of the stress and worrying role off your back and melt away. I wish I could just carry this calm and assuring feeling with me everywhere I went and with everything I do. When I hear music like this it provides a course to take and then I have the hope that I can attain that state of being.

The idea here is clear, one look at the cover of the CD and you get. Neumark calls this an Opus and indeed it is. The more I listen to each track as they flow into each other like a river with a purpose; you can understand why he calls it an Opus. “Orbit” illustrates this in the most profound way as it takes the listener from baby steps into the vastness of space to take a trip around the globe. In a musical sense that is exactly what it conveys and becomes. The progressions of his playing are nearly 5 minutes. Its beauty and pureness transcends anything that gets in the way whether it be a busy mind or unhealthy thoughts, the music prevails.

“The Inner Light” is another tapestry of delicate sounds and movement…like the stars, planets and vast galaxies in the universe. Your inner light will come shining through and you will be taking the voyage with Neumark through his fingers to the piano and directly to your soul, like a musical umbilical cord it connects you and feeds you as you grow in the womb of the music. 

I always connect the stars and the endless universe with birth and life itself - stardust we are indeed. I once had an experience on a birthday the year after my mother died that solidified this belief. I woke up and heard my mom say my entire name then I fell half asleep and felt a silver umbilical cord connecting me to the universe beyond. I know this sounds a little far-fetched for some folks but this really did happen to me and I will never forget it. 

The music on Galaxy-Solo Piano, Op.6 allowed me to remember that spiritual experience that changed me forever. Thank you Tim Neumark for seeing the beauty beyond humanity and how intrinsically connected we are to the stars. Bringing it to us through your music is a beautiful thing.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Starlight, Orbit, The Inner Light

01. Preludio
02. Starlight
03. Orbit
04. Perspective
05. Vast
06. Traveling Music
07. The Inner Light
08. Tapestry
09. Sweet Little Evening Melody
10. Night
11. Time's Arrow
12. What You Leave Behind
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- New Age Music Reviews Founder
December 13, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews