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Title - 'Billy Ocean: Remixes and Rarities' (2CD)
Artist - Billy Ocean

For those not in the know, Billy Ocean (actually born Leslie Sebastian Charles) is a Trinidadian-English recording artist who had a string of R&B international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s.

Indeed he was the most popular Trinidad–British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s.

After scoring his first four UK Top 20 successes, seven years passed before he accumulated a series of transatlantic successes, including three US No. 1's.

His 1985 hit 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going' reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US and in 1985, Ocean won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit 'Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)' and in 1987 was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist.

His 1988 hit 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car' also reached No. 1 in the US and No. 3 in the UK and his 1986 hit 'There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)' also reached No. 1 in the US.

Releasing August 30th, 2019 via Cherry Pop Records (UK), Billy Ocean: Remixes and Rarities is a quite brilliant 2CD that further promotes the labels Remixes & Rarities series.

This time focusing on the many special and sought-after versions of tracks from everyone’s favorite Anglo-Trinidadian pop superstar, Billy Ocean, the 2CD album features 23 alternative versions of some of Billy’s best known tracks.

CD 1:
1. 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Extended Version)'
2. 'European Queen (No More Love On The Run) (Special Mix)'
3. 'City Limit (Alternative Version)'
4. 'Love Really Hurts Without You (1986 Dance Mix)'
5. 'Mystery Lady (Club Mix)'
6. 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Extended Version)'
7. 'Loverboy (Dub Mix)'
8. 'Are You Ready (12" Version)'
9. 'Licence to Chill (Extended Version)'
10. 'Pressure (UK 12" Extended Mix)'
11. 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Instrumental)'
12. 'Love Zone (Extended Version)'

With a number of these wickedly vibrant versions making their first ever appearance on CD here on this new 2CD set, the first disc opens with the always-great to hear 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Extended Version)' and that's backed by the punchy original version of 'European Queen (No More Love On The Run) (Special Mix)' and then Billy's underrated early smooth R&B classic 'City Limit (Alternative Version).'

One of my all-time favorites from Billy is up next in 'Love Really Hurts Without You (1986 Dance Mix)' and that's backed by the sultry, one-on-one soulful R&B of the finger-snappin' 'Mystery Lady (Club Mix).' The massively popular dancefloor smash 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Extended Version)' is next and that's backed by the synth-bounce brilliance of 'Loverboy (Dub Mix).'

The Jackson-esque dancefloor vibe of 'Are You Ready (12" Version)' is another underrated gem from Billy which is why I'm so very happy to find it here amongst his more upbeat pop chart hits and that's followed by the funky two-step of 'Licence to Chill (Extended Version).'

The Caribbean hipsway of 'Pressure (UK 12" Extended Mix)' is yet another delight to hear and then the first disc rounds out with another version of 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Instrumental),' and then the slap bass of the mid-tempo love song 'Love Zone (Extended Version)' is showcased.

CD 2:
1. 'African Queen (No More Love on the Run) (New Extended Mix)'
2. 'American Hearts (12" Version)'
3. 'Dance Floor (Extended Mix)'
4. 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Club Mix)'
5. 'I Sleep Much Better (In Someone Else's Bed) (Extended Version)'
6. 'Love Really Hurts Without You (Dub Mix)'
7. 'Bittersweet (Extended Version)'
8. 'Pick Up the Pieces (Put It Back) (Reese Club Riot Mix)'
9. 'Loverboy (Extended Club Remix)'
10. 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Instrumental)'
11. 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (7th Heaven Club Mix)'

The second disc opens up with an extended moment of the worldly recognized saxophone intro to 'African Queen (No More Love on the Run) (New Extended Mix),' before we get another burst of Billy from back in his R&B solo days on the free flowing 'American Hearts (12" Version).'

A gentle funky hipsway is evoked in Billy's lesser known 'Dance Floor (Extended Mix)' before we get another version of 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Club Mix).' Next Billy brings us some lo-fi Hip Hop vibes on 'I Sleep Much Better (In Someone Else's Bed) (Extended Version)' with the powerfully fabulous 'Love Really Hurts Without You (Dub Mix)' along next.

The synth upbeat love song hit 'Bittersweet (Extended Version)' is then backed by the lesser known 'Pick Up the Pieces (Put It Back) (Reese Club Riot Mix)' and then another version of 'Loverboy (Extended Club Remix).'

This simply divine new 2CD collection of remixes and rarities then rounds out with another 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car (Instrumental)' with yet another 'When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (7th Heaven Club Mix)' bringing the show to a close.

Although sadly missing a couple of Billy's all-time greatest hits, 'Red Light Spells Danger' and 'The Colour Of Love,' this brand new 2CD set Billy Ocean: Remixes & Rarities is still a great rounding up of his songs; all extended, expanded, or done alternatively, of course.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Beleaf'
Artist - Indubious

Rising up out out of the fertile soil of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley, the group of Intergalatic Reggae Revolutionaries known as Indubious come to spread high vibes through their earth-shattering sound.

On their brand new album, Beleaf (in stores and online worldwide August 16th, 2019), this genre-bending reggae power trio comes pumping a positive message, and wielding impressive instrumental skill on their follow-up to 2017's From Zero album.

1. 'Here We Come'
2. 'Fabric Of Creation'
3. 'Be The Best You Can'
4. 'Years'
5. 'Strong End'
6. 'One By One' (featuring The Elovators)
7. 'Here We Go'
8. 'Arrow' (featuring Michael Leslie)
9. 'Frequent See'
10. 'Shuffle The Deck'
11. 'Good Ol' Days' (featuring Satsang)
12. 'Hocus Focus'
13. 'Blessings Run'
14. 'Here We Are'

Kicking things off with the mesmerizing slow groove hipsway of 'Here We Come' and then backing that up seamlessly with both the reggae bounce of 'Fabric Of Creation' and the upbeat, sharp rap streams found within 'Be The Best You Can,' you instantly know you've spent your money wisely.

The freeflowing beauty of 'Years' is up next with the tempo brought right down for the gently breezy ballad 'Strong End.' The storytelling within 'One By One' (featuring The Elovators) makes this one of the stand out cuts here for my money, and is followed by the quickly related heartfelt concerns of 'Here We Go.'

Featuring a beautifully woven storyline rich with visionary lyrical content, deep Dub and Roots Reggae textures, all of which are blended seamlessly with Dancehall, Rootstronica, and heart-centered songwriting, next up is another gem in the form of 'Arrow' (featuring Michael Leslie), and then the beautiful lo-fi pairing of 'Frequent See' and 'Shuffle The Deck.'

'Good Ol' Days' (featuring Satsang) is yet another cultured cut on this deeply moving, always informative album and is backed up by the slow funk grooves of 'Hocus Focus.'

The album then rounds out with more of the same on 'Blessings Run' with the book-end to the opening track, 'Here We Are' bringing a perfect end to a most incredible and pulsating new album.

Official Digital Purchase Link

Indubious @ Facebook

Title - 'Gone South'
Artist - 3 Pairs Of Boots

For those not in the know, San Francisco, CA-based Americana husband-and-wife duo 3 Pairs of Boots (Andrew Stern and Laura Arias) have just released their debut album, Gone South this past July 12th, 2019.

Stern and Arias originally met through a “Singer Wanted” ad and within a year they were not just bandmates, they were also spouses.

Produced by Stern and recorded in the band’s own studio, the music here on Gone South (out via Dark Country Music) is an amalgam of twangy two-step, gritty guitars, dusty pop, and bluesy, bittersweet folk from the Left Coast.

1. 'Hey, I'm On My Way'
2. 'Anything For You'
3. 'It Ain't Easy'
4. 'Gone South'
5. 'Dollar Store'
6. 'Wash Away the Blues'
7. 'One More Ride'
8. 'Slipping Away'
9. 'He Lost My Number'
10. 'Lousy Week'
11. 'Liberty'
12. 'Always Loved Cowboys'

While Tennessee and Texas reap most of the Americana glory, one cannot discount California’s contributions to the form. After all, the wide and deep genre’s roots reach back into the West Coast’s folk-rock scene just as much as they do the South’s blues and country traditions.

Kicking things off in fine style with the frenetic pace of 'Hey, I'm On My Way' and backing it up perfectly with both the mid-tempo, Sheryl Crow-esque 'Anything For You' and the finger-snappin' shuffle of 'It Ain't Easy,' you quickly know you've spent your money well.

The title track is as good as they come within this genre and begs to be played whilst you drive your car on a summer's day, windows down, arm-leaning. That's followed by 'Dollar Store,' a song that showcases the length and breadth of Arias' vocal talents exquisitely with the mid-tempo ballad 'Wash Away the Blues' along next.

The beautiful ballad 'One More Ride' is then backed by the up tempo gem 'Slipping Away' with one of my own personal favorites from the album, the fun storytelling of 'He Lost My Number' backing it nicely.

Another vocal depth is revealed by Arias within the sternly broadcast 'Lousy Week' with the album rounding out with a flowery 'Liberty,' and then the slow lo-fi country roll of 'Always Loved Cowboys.'

“We had a great time writing and recording these songs and got so much enjoyment as they revealed themselves during the recording process, discovering what they were all about, taking us places where we did not expect,” say Stern about Gone South. “We feel very close to all of them.”

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

3 Pairs Of Boots @ Facebook

Title - 'Guy Walks Into A Bar ...'
Artist - Mini Mansions

Partners-in-crime and brothers in all but blood, Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age), Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford reveal their unique personalities on their just-released new album Guy Walks Into A Bar ….

Mini Mansions was founded in 2009 after Queens of the Stone Age decided to take a break after touring in support of Era Vulgaris.

Their self-released EP from 2009 contains nine tracks and in 2014 they released the single 'Death Is a Girl' that appeared on their second studio album The Great Pretenders, released on March 24, 2015.

Serving the kind of rock 'n' roll you'd find on a dive bar jukebox, Mini Mansions's new album Guy Walks Into a Bar... sounds happily unaffected by trend or time and yet fills you with a calm sense of knowing.

1. 'Should Be Dancing'
2. 'Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)'
3. 'Don't Even Know You'
4. 'Forgot Your Name'
5. 'I'm In Love'
6. 'Time Machine'
7. 'Works Every Time'
8. 'Living In The Future'
9. 'GummyBear'
10. 'Hey Lover' (featuring Alison Mosshart)
11. 'Tears In Her Eyes'

The album - which was actually written with a narrative about love in mind and thus follows a story from beginning to end re: finding someone special, experiencing all the wonderful feelings, and finally breaking up - kicks off brilliantly with the electro-fuzz of 'We Should Be Dancing' and then backs that up with both the frenetic 'Bad Things (That Make You Feel Good)' and the mid-tempo smooth glide of 'Don't Even Know You.'

My personal favorite here is up next on the poptastic guitar gem 'Forgot Your Name' which is followed by the euphoric foot-stompin' anthem 'I'm In Love.' The gorgeous hipsway of 'Time Machine' is next and is backed seamlessly by the upbeat ballad 'Works Every Time.'

On an album chock full of dance synth treats combined with catchy melodies and hook line's for days, that vibe continues onward within 'Living In The Future' and then comes the groovy electro R&B of 'GummyBear.'

This quite stunning new album then rounds out with the psychedelic-tinged 'Hey Lover,' which is also a duet with Alison Mosshart / The Kills, with the final cut being the late '80s rock influenced 'Tears In Her Eyes.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Official Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'American Hard Rock'
Artist - Lou DiBello

Guitarist Lou DiBello certainly showed the world he is one of the most talented guitarists on the six-string with his previous album, Heat Wave and now he's back on the follow up American Hard Rock (out now via Lou Dibello Records).

“I am excited to release the new album American Hard Rock as this record is both a logical progression and a big step up from my last album," DiBello explains.

"Some of the highlights for me are the instrumental ‘Driving Force,’ with some of my hottest playing to date and ‘Beast Mode: Engage' featuring guest vocalist Carsten Schulz and with bassist Mike LePond on both tunes".

1) 'Driving Force'
2) 'Jack & Coke'
3) 'Walk Through The Fire'
4) 'Love Is Blind'
5) 'Flying High'
6) 'Beast Mode: Engage'
7) 'The Nighttime Is The Right Time'
8) 'I Love You'
9) 'Frankenstein'

DiBello, an honors graduate from Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, California, and who has been a part of the Central Illinois music scene since the late ‘80s, opens this vibrantly brilliant new album with the aforementioned instrumental 'Driving Force.'

A frenetically zip line showcasing of how a guitar truly shreds, that is backed up seamlessly by both 'Jack & Coke' and one of my own personal favorites here, the powerful early '90s guitar vibe found on 'Walk Through The Fire.'

The bluesy mid-tempo 'Love Is Blind' is along next and throws you back to the days when Gary Moore walked the very same path in the early '90s and that's followed by the free flowing 'Flying High.'

The balls to the wall, ferocious guitar slinging, drums and vocals on the Maiden-esque 'Beast Mode: Engage' is a pulsating, heart pounding ride, with the more melodic 'The Nighttime Is The Right Time' along next.

The album then rounds out with the only ballad on the album, the Bon Jovi-esque 'I Love You,' before DiBello's cover of Edgar Winter's ‘Frankenstein’ (a song that he has been playing at live shows for years now) brings the powerhaus rock show to a close.

Lou DiBello - Lead, rhythm guitars, bass, lead and backing vocals
Ron Phelps - Drums
Stacey Krecji - Bass (4,9), keyboards (4,8,9)
Also appearing:
Carsten Lizard Schulz - Lead and backing vocals on (6)
Bobby Whiles - Drums (1,5,6)
Mike LePond - Bass guitar on (1,6)

Official Purchase Links

Lou DiBello @ Facebook!

Title - Myrtle and Rose: Songs by Clara & Robert Schumann
Artist - Kyle Stegall & Eric Zivian

Myrtle and Rose - the title taken from the Heinrich Heine poem which Robert Schumann set as the final song of his Liederkreis, Op. 24 - features two of Robert Schumann's most beloved song cycles (the other being Liederkreis, Op. 39) along with several rarely-recorded songs by his wife Clara.

The album beautifully captures the artistic partnership of tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian, who first collaborated at the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma, California.

Combining Stegall's dulcet tone and impassioned expression together with Eric Zivian's original 1841 Rausch fortepiano from Vienna - built exactly when the songs were written - means that what the listener get to hear is something not only memorable, but atmospherically perfect.

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
1-12 Liederkreis, Op. 39 (25:40)

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
13. Ich Stand In Dunklen Träumen, Op. 13, No. 1 (2:09)
14. Lorelei (2:25)
15. Mein Stern (1:56)
16. Liebst Du Um Schönheit (2:22)
17. O Lust, O Lust, Op. 23, No. 6 (1:53)

Robert Schumann
18-26 Liederkreis, Op. 24 (23:18)

Trust me when I say that between the two of them, both Stegall and Zivian combine majestically to bring forth some truly inspired and highly illuminating interpretations here on Myrtle & Rose.

This simply magnificent and era-provoking work of musical art celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Clara Schumann and as a unique bonus there is also included Kyle Stegall's new English translations of the sung texts in the booklet.

Official CD Purchase Link

AVIE Records @ Facebook!

Title - 'Bonnie Tyler - The RCA Years' [4CD]
Artist - Bonnie Tyler

In truth, Bonnie Tyler needs little introduction: from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, she was one of the most popular British singers with a truly unique and amazing voice, a string of classic hits and a legion of fans.

The Welsh singer, known for her distinctive husky voice, Tyler came to prominence with the release of her 1977 album The World Starts Tonight and its singles 'Lost in France' and 'More Than a Lover'.

Furthermore, her 1978 single 'It's a Heartache' reached number four on the UK Singles Chart, and number three on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In the 1980s, Tyler ventured into rock music with songwriter and producer Jim Steinman. He wrote Tyler's biggest hit 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', the lead single from her 1983 UK chart topping album Faster Than the Speed of Night and also wrote Tyler's other major 1980s hit 'Holding Out For A Hero.'

She had success in mainland Europe during the 1990s with Dieter Bohlen, who wrote and produced her hit 'Bitterblue' and in 2003, Tyler re-recorded 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' with singer Kareen Antonn (their bilingual duet topped the French charts).

Rocks and Honey was released in 2013 and features the single 'Believe in Me' which she performed representing the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden and her latest album Between the Earth and the Stars was released on March 15th, 2019.

Both 'It's a Heartache' and 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' are among the best-selling singles of all time, with sales in excess of six million each.

Tyler's work has earned her three Grammy Award nominations and three Brit Award nominations, among other accolades.

Released with the artist’s blessing, Bonnie Tyler - The RCA Years does exactly what it says on the box! Containing CD miniatures of the singer’s first four albums, recorded for RCA Records between 1976 and 1981, each CD is housed in a replica of the original LP sleeve and each boasts various bonus tracks; collectively offering Bonnie’s entire RCA output in one place for the first time.

Disc: 1 - The World Starts Tonight
1. 'Got So Used to Loving You'
2. 'Love of a Rolling Stone'
3. 'Lost in France'
4. 'Piece of My Heart'
5. 'More Than a Lover'
6. 'Give Me Your Love'
7. 'The World Starts Tonight'
8. 'Here's Monday'
9. 'Love Tangle'
10.' Let the Show Begin'
11. 'My! My! Honeycomb' [Bonus]
12. 'I've Got So Used to Loving You, Baby' [Bonus]
13. 'Baby I Remember You' [Bonus]

Interestingly enough, soon after Bonnie recorded this album, she had an operation that changed her voice forever. However, although the difference is noticeable, it's not too dramatic for her voice was always husky.

That said, this album is filled with love songs, all but two of them written by the Scott-Wolfe partnership who, together with David Mackay, produced the album.

It yielded the UK top ten hit, 'Lost in France', and the UK top thirty hit, 'More Than A Lover' and also contains Bonnie's cover of the classic pop-rock song, 'Piece Of My Heart'.

This album was definitely difficult to find before becoming part of this wondrous box-set, but most of the tracks have been re-released on various compilations.

Nevertheless, it's nice to be able to listen to Bonnie's debut album in its entirety once again, this time containing the three (3) bonus tracks: 'My! My! Honeycomb,' 'I've Got So Used to Loving You, Baby' and 'Baby I Remember You.'

Disc: 2 Natural Forces
1. 'It's a Heartache'
2. 'Blame Me'
3. 'Living for the City'
4. 'If I Sing You a Love Song'
5. 'Heaven'
6. 'Yesterday Dreams'
7. 'Hey Love (It's a Feelin')'
8. '(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman'
9. 'Here Am I'
10. 'Baby Goodnight'
11. 'Don't Stop the Music' [Bonus]
12. 'It's About Time' [Bonus]
13. 'Don't Stop the Music' (German 7" Version) [Bonus]

I mean, come on now. If you are a fan of Bonnie Tyler this album won't disappoint. I originally purchased it just to have 'Living for the City and 'It's a Heartache,' but I was so impressed with the album I kept the vinyl on my turntable for weeks!

Definitely a melancholy album, but Bonnie's raspy vocals are amazing throughout. Interestingly, Natural Force was actually the European title for the album whereupon here in the US it was released entitled It's A Heartache.

Containing all ten of the original tracks this newly-created version for this box-set now adds three (3) additional bonus cuts: 'Don't Stop the Music,' 'It's About Time,' and 'Don't Stop the Music' (German 7" Version).

Disc: 3 - Diamond Cut
1. 'If You Ever Need Me Again'
2. 'Too Good to Last'
3. 'What a Way to Treat My Heart'
4. 'The Eyes of a Fool'
5. 'Bye Bye Now My Sweet Love'
6. 'Louisiana Rain'
7. 'Baby I Just Love You'
8. 'Words Can Change Your Life'
9. 'My Guns Are Loaded'
10. 'I'm a Fool'
11. '(The World Is Full of) Married Men'
12. 'My Guns Are Loaded' (Single Version) [Bonus]
13. '(The World Is Full of) Married Men' (12" Version) [Bonus]
14. '(The World Is Full of) Married Men' (Disco Version Acapella) [Bonus]
15. 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean' (Live at the World Popular Song Festival 1979) [Bonus]
16. 'I Believe in Your Sweet Love' (Single Version) [Bonus]
17. 'I Believe in Your Sweet Love' (Full Length Version) [Bonus]

Where I'm not a big fan of country, when Bonnie Tyler brought out this album of country-tinged rock in 1979 luckily for this fan there was enough rock to outweigh the country to still make it enjoyable to the rocker in me.

For my money, artists like Bonnie Tyler and The Eagles are responsible for creating the modern sound of country music. Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift owe Tyler and company a HUGE debt of gratitude for creating a style of music that has become the standard of today; and for allowing country and rock music to blend together and rise to the top of the pop charts.

With any of these songs easily able to find their way onto the current country charts of today, Diamond Cuts contains the UK hit single 'Married Men' (#35) plus the French Top 20 smash 'My Guns Are Loaded'.

Simply put, on this newly-created CD from Cherry Pop (that now contains six bonus tracks, including a rare live cut), if you want to see where today's country hits got their start play this CD!

Disc: 4 - Goodbye To The Island
1. 'I'm Just a Woman'
2. 'We Danced on the Ceiling'
3. 'Wild Love'
4. 'The Closer You Get'
5. 'Sometimes When We Touch'
6. 'Goodbye to the Island'
7. 'Wild Side of Life'
8. 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'
9. 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean'
10. 'I Believe in Your Sweet Love'
11. 'Come on, Give Me Lovin''
12. 'Get Out of My Head'
13. 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean' (Single Version) [Bonus]
14. 'Sola a la Orilla Del Mar' [Bonus]
15. 'I'm Just a Woman' (Single Version) [Bonus]
16. 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean' (Alternate Version) [Bonus]
17. 'Sayonara Tokyo' [Bonus]
18. 'Gonna Get Better' (1981 Version) [Bonus]

Goodbye to the Island is the fourth studio album by Bonnie Tyler and, as we now know, it became her final work with RCA Records after it was released in January 1981.

Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe wrote the majority of songs for the album, and co-produced the record with Hugh Murphy.

The album's lead single, 'I Believe in Your Sweet Love' was released in November 1979, but only reached #138 on the US Record World chart the next month.

Tyler actually won the World Popular Song Festival with 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean' when she represented the United Kingdom and so it was then released as a single in November 1979.

This new version of the album comes complete with six (6) lovely bonus tracks including and alternative version of 'Sitting on the Edge of the Ocean' and the always-brilliant to hear 'Sayonara Tokyo.'

Bonnie Tyler - The RCA Years follows the earlier success of the Cherry Pop 2-CD Remixes & Rarities and has been assembled by the same team.

Title - 'Coffin Eyes'
Artist - High Sunn

For those not in the know, Bay Area multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Justin Cheromiah has just released his latest album of melodic guitar-oriented indie rock.

High Sunn is the project of San Francisco's Justin Cheromiah, who started using the name to upload his garage rock-influenced home recordings as a 14-year-old in 2014.

His sound developed across dozens of releases over the next few years to the more coherent lo-fi guitar pop that marked High Sunn's first studio and full-band LP in 2018.

Cheromiah's entirely self-made debut album, High Sunn, appeared on Bandcamp in mid-2014. He followed it with a steady stream of singles, EPs, and LPs exploring shoegaze, punk, and melodic guitar pop, including September 2015's Luv Songs for Whiners.

It featured drums and percussion by Tristin Sovannarath, who became a regular contributor to Cheromiah's recordings. A month later, The Okada Bedroom Sessions offered a feedback and distortion-filled collection of "songs that were either rough drafts or thrown in the trash."

Subsequent releases included the split EP Emotional sHits with childhood friends Junkie in April 2016, and that July, his live drummer Joe Jensen appeared on Flower Funeral.

The latter received a cassette release on Crafted Sounds (U.S.) and Galaxy Train Records (Japan). Z Tapes issued the 20-track collection Sequential Sakura that October.

Another collection of otherwise discarded ideas and demos arrived in the form of sorryidroppedyoufrommyanimelist. With production help from prior collaborator John Mello, even the rougher demos demonstrated a tendency toward more structured, melody-focused songs.

High Sunn released its first studio recording, the Hopeless Romantic EP, in May 2017. Also its first full-band recording, Cheromiah was joined in the studio by Jensen on drums, lead guitarist Freddy Rivera, bassist Arianna Vazuez, and producer/engineer Dylan Wall.

Made with the same team, High Sunn's full-length studio debut, Missed Connections, followed in May 2018 on Pnk Slm.

And now, Cheromiah - who blends the influences of Studio Ghibli films, Taiwanese pop music, skateboarding, and boba tea, reflecting the diversity of his own cultural heritage (which include Native American, Chinese, German and Filipino ancestry) - has brought out his superb new album, Coffin Eyes via Cleopatra Records.

The album is a masterclass in guitar-orientated melodic bedroom rock, where the no-frills production adds to the rawness of Cheromiah's emotion and vulnerability.

1) 'Coffin Eyes'
2) 'Ginger Peach Tea'
3) 'Familiar Insecurities'
4) 'Guardpupper'
5) 'Knife'
6) 'Others Can't'
7) 'Night Walk'
8) 'Planner'
9) 'Dagger Dog'
10) 'Not Another Poem'
11) 'Tender'
12) 'Life Getting In The Way'

The album opens with the joyful indie pop bounce of the title track before flowing seamlessly into both the trippy-lite 'Ginger Peach Tea' and then the heartier 'Familiar Insecurities.'

The sunny and upbeat, acoustic guitar-led 'Guardpupper' is one of my own personal favorites here, with the laid back, gentle hipsway of 'Knife' and then the jangling guitar and synth work of 'Others Can't' along next.

The ethereal 'Night Walk' is yet another stand out cut and that's followed by the frenetic-drum groove tempo found within 'Planner' and then the lo-fi indie rock of 'Dagger Dog.'

The album then rounds out with the lyrically entertaining 'Not Another Poem,' the early '90s garage vibe of 'Tender,' before coming to a close with the melodic perkiness of 'Life Getting In The Way.'

Official CD Purchase Link

High Sunn Merchandise

High Sunn @ Facebook!

Title - 'Back In Time For Tea'
Artist - The Tea Set

For those not in the know, British post-punk veterans The Tea Set, known for their theatrical live shows support slots with The Clash, U2, and Iggy Pop as well as tours with The Stranglers and The Skids, have unveiled their video for their new track 'Pharaohs - a song featured on their new singles collection Back in Time For Tea.

Official 'Pharaohs' Music Video

The video sees the band dressed as mummies under a pyramid, paying homage to both the campy nature of the '60s rock, augmented by vintage organs, overlaid with springy guitars and bass, spliced together with footage from the bands early days circa 1979.

Formed in 1978 after the demise of one of Watford's most popular punk bands, The Bears, The Tea Set began with drummer Cally and bassist Ron West regrouped and drafted both keyboard player Mark Wilkins and Nic Egan, an art student who'd never sung a note on stage, as their new front man.

It was with this line up that the band made their first record, the Cups and Saucers EP, a raw debut that captured the group transitioning from their punk origins ('B5SG') to their first attempts at experimental rock ('Grey Starling').

It was well received by the music press and fans alike and ended up selling out of its first run. This was followed by three other singles including the wildly popular 'Parry Thomas / Tri X Pan' and the High Cornwell-produced 'Keep On Running (Big Noise From The Jungle)'.

Shortly after, the band's bass player Duncan Stringer left and they were joined by St. Albans guitarist Nick Haeffner while West moved back over to bass.

The Tea Set were the complete package with a highly energetic, theatrical live show that made them a popular attraction in London and a resurgence in popularity brought the band back together last year to not only record this aforementioned new track, but also to put this vibrantly brilliant new CD package together.

Entitled Back In Time For Tea (out now via Cleopatra Records), it includes all of the bands recordings originally released on 7 from 1978-1981 as well as two never-heard-before tracks!

1. 'On Them'
2. 'Sing Song'
3. 'Grey Starling'
4. 'B52G'
5. 'Parry Thomas'
6. 'Tri X Pan'
7. 'Keep On Running (Big Noise From The Jungle)'
8. 'Flaccid Pot'
9. 'South Pacific'
10. 'The Preacher'
11. 'Walk Small'
12. 'Pharaohs'

The album opens with the chargingly anthemic 'On Them' which is backed by both the frenetic finger-snappin' joy of 'Sing Song' and the truly atmospheric beauty of 'Grey Starling.'

Their mid-'70s raw punk sound flows freely through on 'B52G' and that's backed by the perky, foot-tappin' groove of 'Parry Thomas,' and then a song that sounds like early Adam & The Ants (circa 1977) 'Tri X Pan.'

The upbeat one-two beat of 'Keep On Running (Big Noise From The Jungle)' (originally recorded by Jackie Edwards, and which became a number one hit in the UK when recorded by The Spencer Davis Group) showcases the band at their hip finest, whilst both the mid-tempo, drum-led 'Flaccid Pot' and pacier 'South Pacific' bring forth other musical traits.

The album then rounds out with the softly-sung 'The Preacher,' and then two never-before-heard tracks in the form of the psychedelic vibe of 'Walk Small' and then the aforementioned, and recently recorded 'Pharaohs.'

The album art is by The Tea Set vocalist / front man Nic Egan who has designed cover art for The Clash, The Ramones and Bow Wow Wow as well as directing videos for Duran Duran, INXS, Oasis, Sonic Youth and many more!

All of these tracks are available here for the first time ever on CD and on 12" vinyl (only 200 copies made)!

Official CD Purchase Link

The Tea Set @ Facebook!

Title - 'Good Things'
Artist - Jordan Whitmore

For those not in the know, Texas-based singer-songwriter Jordan Whitmore is set to share her rootsy pop/Americana musical goodness with the world on September 6th, 2019, with the release of her rather excellent EP, Good Things.

Combining heartland rock 'n' roll guitars with bright pop hooks, Whitmore showcases her cross-genre sound on the new EP, which was produced by Brian Douglas Phillips (who also produced her 2014 album, Other Side).

An eclectic EP featuring six songs that excel at turning heavy source material into something beautiful, Good Things casts its net wide, heralding the shifting seasons in Whitmore's life with a bolder, broader sound.

1. 'Something Different'
2. 'All My Might'
3. 'Changing Your Mind'
4. 'What If'
5. 'Good Things'
6. 'I Wish You Would'

Now five albums into her career, and with obvious influences free flowing here on the new 6-track EP such as Aimee Mann, Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow and even Alabama Shakes, Whitmore opens with the Crow-esque 'Something Different' and backs that up sweetly with the early '90s guitar and deep vocal approach to 'All My Might,'

On an EP that is audibly more guitar-driven than her last album, Whitmore next delves into country, but swaddles it lovingly in a Hawaiian vibe on 'Changing Your Mind,' before that seamlessly gives way to the hipsway of the lyrically poignant 'What If.'

This vibrant, entertaining and sonically colorful new EP then rounds out with Whitmore's ode to Gary Clark Jr. on the conga-enhanced title track with the touching ballad 'I Wish You Would' (inclusive of additional percussion care of seashells) bringing the new musical journey to a close.

“I’m excited to finally share this project with the world,” Whitmore says. “After walking through a personally tough season these past few years, the creative process of writing and recording Good Things felt a bit like coming up for air."

"Thematically, these aren’t overtly shiny, happy songs, but there’s an underlying optimism and energy that feels really good to me, and I hope the listener feels that too.”

Jordan Whitmore @ Facebook

Jordan Whitmore @ Twitter

Title - 'Millennium' [Picture Disc]
Artist - Backstreet Boys

New Digital Interactive Experience Backstreet Boys: Millennium Match Celebrates 1999's Top-Selling Album!

The Millennium (20th Anniversary) Collectible Limited Edition Picture Disc Vinyl Was Just-Released Worldwide August 16th, 2019.

Millennium, the album that catapulted the Backstreet Boys to global superstardom in 1999, hit its 20th anniversary on Saturday, May 18th and the group invited their fans to help them celebrate during Millennium Week.

For May 13th (aka Millennium Monday) marked the launch of Backstreet Boys: Millennium Match, a digital interactive experience celebrating BSB's iconic third studio album.

Millennium bridged the 20th and 21st centuries as 1999's top-selling album, and generated four indelible hit singles including BSB's signature track, 'I Want It That Way' as well as 'Larger Than Life,' 'Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,' and 'The One.'

The BSB Millennium Match digital experience analyzes a fan's Spotify streaming history to match each fan with a playlist of BSB songs inspired by one of those singles.

Backstreet Boys: Millennium Match

The BSB: Millennium Match experience takes into account danceability, energy and valence levels to determine whether a fan's vibe is, for example, 'Larger Than Life' and suited to some bonafide Backstreet Boys hits.

Or perhaps they have a soft spot for a tender love song, then 'The One' is the perfect playlist for them. Overall art direction is heavily influenced by the year 2000, including shareable social assets and copy that all pay homage to the Millennium.

A collectible, limited edition 12" picture disc vinyl edition of Millennium was just-released by Sony Music Entertainment on Friday, August 16th, 2019 and is available now to own. (A limited-run 12" vinyl color variant of the album will be released exclusively through Urban Outfitters from Friday, July 19th onward).

Click Here To Purchase the Picture Disc Vinyl Album

In fact, special 20th anniversary versions of the Backstreet Boys Millennium official music videos will be released online throughout the Millennium 20th anniversary week (May 13th-18th).

The first Millennium 20 Edition video, 'I Want It That Way' (a blend of the BSB's original video and insightful fun facts for fans) premiered on April 12th, 2019 (20 years to the day after the release of the original single on April 12th, 1999).

BSB YouTube

As for the album itself, well the Backstreet Boys returned with the follow up to their huge self-titled album in fine form here on Millennium, that's for darn sure!

A joyous, well balanced mix of up-tempo euro pop songs and slow meaningful ballads - that went on to make the album the biggest of that summer - with all the hype about them at the time about whether or not they could still come up with the goods, the Boys actually produced the best work of their lives, in my humble opinion!

The albums first single 'I Want It That Way' followed much the same pattern as their top five smash 'As Long As You Love Me' and that's probably why it got so much airplay back then.

The guitar work on the song is actually rather phenomenal as the Boys experiment with different instruments over the old drum machines. ASCAP Co-Songwriter of the year Max Martin does an incredible job as the producer and writer of most of the album, it should also be known.

Working his magic on tracks such as the aforementioned first single, 'The One' and 'Larger Than Life' it's the ballads on the album that knock your socks off here, to be sure.

Especially on 'Back To Your Heart,' the albums best track and a song that will melt even a guys heart, me thinks! The Boys had a mission on this album and they accomplished it ten-fold.

They once again proved that they were the top boy band around and that they could truly sing and play their respected instruments. Ergo, Millennium is (still) a classic pop album that showcase the Backstreet Boys as the world's biggest group (of that time, and possibly in history - it just depends on who you talk to, I guess!).

Join in the Millennium 20th anniversary celebrates and listen and follow official Backstreet Boys playlists by clicking here!

Amazon Picture Disc Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Power'
Artist - Seratones

For those not in the know, Louisiana soul-rock band the Seratones are four musicians highly skilled in the art of rocking your socks off, bringing the house down, and blowing your mind!

With a goal to make your musical experience replenish your faith in the power of rock 'n' roll, the band - led by front woman extrodinaire A.J. Haynes - have just released their first new album in over three years; and the first featuring a new member line-up.

Entitled Power (out August 23rd, 2019 via New West Records), the sophomore album is produced by Cage The Elephant’s Bradley Shultz.

“We went through a pretty dramatic shift with this record,” says Haynes. “The band lineup, the creative process, the sound: all of it changed in ways that really reflected our growth and evolution."

1. 'Fear'
2. 'Power'
3. 'Heart Attack'
4. 'Lie To My Face'
5. 'Gotta Get To Know Ya'
6. 'Over You'
7. 'Permission'
8. 'Sad Boi'
9. 'Who Are You Now'
10. 'Crossfire'

The album opens with the vibrantly colorful shimmers of 'Fear' and backs that up seamlessly with the faster-paced title track and then the finger-snappin' frenetic beats of 'Heart Attack.'

The slow and easy lo-fi of 'Lie To My Face' makes this one of my own personal favorites here and that's followed by the fun, late '70s street chase vibe of the albums lead single 'Gotta Get To Know Ya.'

The smoky late night underground jazz/soul bar blues of 'Over You' is then backed by the sonically beautiful ballad 'Permission,' with the delectable lo-fi rap found within 'Sad Boi' perfectly sewn to the groove.

The album then rounds out with the drum-led 'Who Are You Now' and then comes to a close with the strongly emotive piano power ballad 'Crossfire.'

Seratones @ Facebook

Official Purchase Links

Title - 'The Collection'
Artist - Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue

This coming October 18th, 2019, Rave On Records will be releasing a most wondrous collection of tracks from Rhode Island native and Connecticut-based Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue on the aptly named The Collection.

Included in this brilliant new package will be their debut 1978 album Radioactive along with their previously unreleased album - featuring guitar legend Mick Ronson - entitled Reptiles In Motion.

As history now informs us, Reptiles In Motion was meant to be Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue’s second album, but the sophomore album to their debut just never saw the light of day.

During the studio group’s 1978-1979 existence, a stellar lineup of rock sidemen recorded as Rue Morgue, including guitarists G.E. Smith (Daryl Hall & John Oates, Bob Dylan, Saturday Night Live Band), Mick Ronson (David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Ian Hunter) and Jimmy McAllister (The Beckies, Mick Ronson Band, Sparks), alongside drummer Hilly Michaels (Mick Ronson Band, Sparks, Ian Hunter).

Basically put, The Collection features Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue’s discography, with all 24 remastered tracks making their CD debut.

Tracks 1-12 comprise the band’s aforementioned 1978 debut album Radioactive - when the band lineup was Reale (lead vocals, bass), G.E Smith (guitar), Hilly Michaels (drums, vocals), and Jimmy McAllister (guitar, track 10) - whereas tracks 13-24 comprise the previously unreleased 1979 sophomore album Reptiles In Motion album (that added Mick Ronson to the lineup).

1. 'High Society'
2. 'Dear Dad'
3. 'Stop And Go'
4. 'Pain Killer'
5. 'Rescue Me'
6. 'Kill Me'
7. 'Reach For The Sky'
8. 'Madonna's Last Stand'
9. 'Please Believe Me'
10.' Close Inspection'
11. 'Inside Outside'
12. 'I Can't Control Myself'

Reptiles In Motion
13. 'She's Older Now'
14. 'Pros and Cons'
15. 'Radioactive'
16. 'One More Try'
17. 'No Secrets'
18. 'Debutante Ball'
19. 'Make It Be Over'
20. 'I'm In Distress'
21. 'Point Blank'
22. 'Back It Up'
23. 'Living In Anger'
24. 'Rock It To The Kremlin'

On an album that comes deeply infused with the big sound of retro vocals and jangling guitars combined with infectious melodies and clear-cut hooks, The Collection is, without a shadow of a doubt, now one of my top 5 albums of 2019.

I mean, there's just something so vibrant about this collection, so alive still after all these years. Showcasing their personalities perfectly, for me the track that sums them up the best off Radioactive is the pop-rock sensibilities of 'Stop And Go.'

Forging Reale's rough, tough vocal style together with the unmistakable sounds of an era long gone, the lyrics are clean, the guitars streamlined, and the finished product smooth and radio friendly.

With a drum beat that encourages them to burst forth most times, the band do just that in perfect harmony of every single track here. Coming across as a harder version of The Rubettes, Bay City Rollers, Mud and most definitely Sweet, Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue are a breath of fresh air even today given all the programmed crap on the radio these days!

Funnily enough, one of my favorites off the second album here, Reptiles In Motion is the cut 'Radioactive,' which was, of course, the title of their debut album. That big sound of theirs combined with Reale's dusky, moody vocals just makes for one heck of a vocalized track; ensuring it is grounded and never too pop lite.

Reale, who also plays bass on the album, was part of the late-'70s talent pool that developed around Wallingford, Connecticut's Trod Nossel Studios (which led to the New York-based Big Sound label) and the man certainly had a knack for unearthing a righteous melody ala 'High Society' and 'Kill Me.'

Indeed, rounding out the debut album is a quite delicious cover of the Troggs' 'I Can't Control Myself,' but that's not to say that the sophomore album doesn't have it's own melodic gems ala 'Debutante Ball,' 'Point Blank,' and 'Rock It To The Kremlin.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue @ Facebook!

Title - 'Bandits Live at the Power Station' [EP]
Artist - Bandits On The Run

"Hi! We're Bandits, and a few months back, we pulled off our greatest heist yet — sneaking into one of NYC's most hallowed recording studios, The Power Station, and recording a couple of our oldest tunes!"

"This EP is the most accurate depiction of what we sound like when we're in a room (or subway station, or castle) right in front of you and you're jiving along to the mischief before you even realize you're in the midst of a stickup. And we can't wait for you to give it a spin!"

This is the intro from the trio themselves that combine brilliantly to bring forth the sound of Bandits On The Run, a band who forged their collective sound whilst busking in the acoustics of NYC subway stations!

Having released their debut album, The Criminal Record (crafted under the guidance of producer William Garett) in 2017, 2018 took them on various tours, playing to crowds everywhere from grungy bars to LA to living rooms in London and old town squares in France.

Having now released their rather brilliant new EP Bandits Live at the Power Station this past August 16th, 2019, it seems Bandits on the Run's - comprised of cellist Sydney Torin Shepherd (aka "Bonanza Jellyfish"), guitarist Adrian Blake Enscoe ("Roy Dodger"), and player-of-toys Regina Strayhorn ("Clarissa") - signature sound (that veers from shades of Motown to brit-pop to punk-rock to good old fashioned indie-folk) is about to hook a much wider audience.

1. 'Potted Plant'
2. 'Sweet Thing'
3. 'Cowboy on the Run'
4. 'Back to Black'

On an EP that includes several fan favorites, such as the opening tracks 'Potted Plant' and 'Sweet Thing,' which have both captured the attention of their fans for a long time now, but had never been recorded and released before now, once you start this 4-track musical delight you won't want it to ever stop.

'Potted Plant' is a sweepingly deep chorus of vocals harmonizing perfectly as the storytelling trio embrace everything great and original about the band.

The quieter paced, acoustic guitar-led beauty 'Sweet Thing' is just delightfully calming from start to finish and with crisp, clear lyrics and musicianship, means you live the song as much as they do.

With a wonderfully gentle vocal intro that sets the scene for the listening audience by making them aware that they are now not in fact standing where they though they were, but are in actually the deserts of New Mexico; and if they listened closely they might even be able to hear the distant rumble of a train, the old country vibe of 'Cowboy on the Run' is brought forth.

This EP then rounds out with a masterful cover of the late Amy Winehouse's 'Back to Black,' which may well follow a similar vocal path as the original, but the cultured, less studio-layered approach to their musicianship most definitely works in its favor here.

Official CD and Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Wax: Live In Concert 1987' [2CD/DVD]
Artist - Wax

For those not in the know, Wax was a 1980's musical duo formed in Manchester, England, consisting of American singer-songwriter Andrew Gold and 10CC guitarist/bassist Graham Gouldman.

In the US, they were listed as Wax UK with the band best known for the hit singles 'Right Between the Eyes' and 'Bridge to Your Heart.'

Both Gold and Gouldman had enjoyed successful careers before coming together. Andrew Gold had recorded four acclaimed albums for Asylum Records and had enjoyed hits with such classic songs as ‘Lonely Boy’, ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’, ‘Thank You For Being a Friend’ and ‘Kiss This One Goodbye’.

Graham Gouldman had been a successful songwriter in the 1960s and was a member of the aforementioned band 10CC from their formation in the early 1970s, being a co-writer of many of their hit singles and acclaimed albums.

Wax issued their debut album, Magnetic Heaven, in 1986 and followed this in 1987 with the album American English (which spawned the previously mentioned hit single ‘Bridge to Your Heart’).

In November of 1987 Wax undertook a UK tour with a line-up featuring Andrew Gold, Graham Gouldman and Rick Fenn (lead guitar, vocals), Roger Jackson (keyboards) and Mike Richardson (drums).

A concert in Harrogate on November 27th was captured both on audio and video tape, but has languished in the vaults until now.

The set performed that evening featured Wax material, including the hit ‘Bridge to Your Heart’, alongside classics such as ‘Never Let Her Slip Away’, ‘Thank You for Being a Friend’ and ‘Lonely Boy’ by Andrew Gold and Graham Gouldman’s ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘For Your Love’ and the 10CC track ‘Dreadlock Holiday’.

Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of a new 3 Disc digipack edition (of two CDs and an NTSC – Region Free DVD) of this previously-unreleased concert by Wax.

The set also includes an illustrated booklet with a new essay featuring an exclusive interview with Graham Gouldman.

CD 1:
1. 'Magnetic Heaven'
2. 'Right Between The Eyes'
3. 'Shadows Of Love'
4. 'In Some Other World'
5. 'Ready Or Not'
6. 'Ball And Chain'
7. 'Never Let Her Slip Away'
8. 'Thank You For Being A Friend'
9. 'Heaven In Her Bed'

After a brief, and admittedly repetitive synth introduction, the backing band take the stage and 30 seconds later so too both Gold and Gouldman.

Opening with the title track from their debut 1986 album, the instrumental 'Magnetic Heaven,' they then launch into the brilliant pop rock of 'Right Between The Eyes.' A joy to listen to today as much as it was for me back then, up next is the drum-led guitar rock of 'Shadows Of Love' which is in turn followed by two cuts from their sophomore album American English; the delicate synth-pop of 'In Some Other World' and the lush ballad 'Ready Or Not.'

Their very first single as Wax, the frenetic 'Ball And Chain' is up next and is backed by Andrew Gold's brilliantly lushly airy 'Never Let Her Slip Away' and then his finger-snappin' classic 'Thank You For Being A Friend.'

This first disc then rounds out with the longest track from their second album, the mid-tempo pop slush of 'Heaven In Her Bed.'

CD 2:
1. 'Bug In The Machine'
2. 'Bus Stop'
3. 'For Your Love'
4. 'Hear No Evil'
5. 'Alright Tonight'
6. 'The Promise'
7. 'Lonely Boy'
8. 'Dreadlock Holiday'
9. 'Bridge To Your Heart'
10. 'American English'
11. 'Slow Down'

Kicking off the second CD with the sophomore album track 'Bug In The Machine,' that leads seamlessly into a note-for-note cover of the Hollies' 'Bus Stop,' which is followed by an equally precise cover of the Yardbirds' 'For Your Love.'

Album track 'Hear No Evil' is a pop hipsway of a tune and keeping to the theme of bouncing between their two albums, so too (albeit a wee bit lesser) is 'Alright Tonight.'

'The Promise's beautiful free flowing synth lingers on that second album once more (even though some of the lyrics are admittedly forgotten by Gold), before he wishes everyone a "Merry Christmas" and then both Gold and Gouldman introduce the band.

Next up is one of the highlights of this show as we get Gold's brilliantly upbeat and always harmonious 'Lonely Boy' which is backed perfectly by the downtown reggae of 10CC's 'Dreadlock Holiday.'

The second disc then rounds out with the hit single pairing of the upbeat and poptastic 'Bridge To Your Heart' and the heavy synth of 'American English,' before finishing things off with the jangly rock 'n' roll of 'Slow Down.'

1. 'In Some Other World'
2. 'Hear No Evil'
3. 'Alright Tonight'
4. 'Dreadlock Holiday'
5. 'American English'
6. 'Bridge To Your Heart'

Everything about this recording is crisp, clear and fully vocally animated from start to finish. Thanking everyone for having shown up and asking them to drive safely, Wax aka Gold and Gouldman were musical dynamite throughout and it amazes me that this recording was forgotten about for so long.

Most every song still today compels me to sing-along and tap my feet to its catchy chorus and groovy beats. Much like you will also find yourself doing with this incredible 20 track live show - once you've run out and spent your hard earned money on it, of course!

Title - 'Swing!'
Artist - Pat Travers

For those not in the know, Pat Travers is a Canadian rock guitarist, keyboardist and singer who began his recording career with Polydor Records in the mid-1970s.

Indeed, musicians such as Pat Thrall, Nicko McBrain, Clive Edwards, Mick Dyche, Tommy Aldridge, Peter "Mars" Cowling, Barry Dunaway, Jerry Riggs, Gunter Nezhoda, Carmine Appice, are just some of the noted musicians who have been members of the Pat Travers Band through the years.

After 40-plus years of slinging his six-string all over the world, you'd think Pat Travers would be slowing down, settling into his well-worn blues rock groove that has earned him great critical acclaim as well as a massive worldwide fanbase.

Instead Travers appears to be ramping up and looking for new horizons to conquer. On the heels of his superb 2015 album Retro Rocket, the legendary guitarist gets swinging on a set of big band classics from the ’40s and ’50s on his brand new, and highly unique new album, simply entitled Swing! (out July 26th, 2019 via Purple Pyramid / Cleopatra Records).

1. 'Sing Sing Sing'
2. 'Opus One'
3. 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby'
4. 'In The Mood'
5. 'Take The ‘A’ Train'
6. 'Let The Good Times Roll'
7. 'Apple Honey'
8. 'Tenderly'

Featuring full band rock arrangements, this quite vibrant, and remarkably fresh-sounding new collection kicks off in fine style with Louis Prima’s 'Sing Sing Sing' and backs that up flawlessly with Tommy Dorsey's pop and hop of 'Opus One' and then Louis Jordan's timeless bop 'Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby.'

Next up, and making it his guitar-roaring own, is Glenn Miller's irrepressible 'In The Mood' which is followed by Duke Ellington’s 'Take The ‘A’ Train,' and then another from Jordan in the form of 'Let the Good Times Roll.'

The frenetically paced 'Apple Honey' (by Django Reinhardt & His American Swing Big Band) tends to lean more heavily on Travers' virtuoso guitar work than the underlying swing, with the album rounding out with a searing guitar remake of the 1947 Sarah Vaughan classic 'Tenderly.'

Travers explains the genesis and creation of the album by saying, "A little while ago, I had the '40s channel on satellite radio playing and I started thinking that it would be fun to get into that Big Band Swing era music."

"I thought that I could find a place for my guitar style in there and I asked the people at Cleopatra Records if they thought so too. They did and with Cleopatra's endorsement, I started to research the music and the bands and players from that time period."

"The first thing I discovered was that these Big Bands were a lot like the rock bands that came along in later years. They had a lot of power, like sixteen horn players, and the bass players and drummers were powerhouses."

"The soloists, guys like Ray Anthony on trumpet, had a ton of flare and chops and I found them very inspiring."

"I was fortunate to have my friend and great keyboardist Michael Franklin help me with the horn arrangements and getting the players for the recording sessions."

"Working with a baritone sax, trombone, alto sax, and trumpet was one of the best studio experiences I've ever had. These guys can play!"

"Plus having Michael Franklin's brother Tim Franklin playing the upright bass just made everything legit."

"I also wanted to have my trio of Tommy Craig on drums and David Pastorius on bass try out some of the classic '40s tunes in a more rocked out minimal style."

"I think that we have been very successful in adapting the Big Band sound to a more contemporary blues/rock thing. Classic Big Band hits like 'Sing Sing Sing' and 'In The Mood' were a ton of fun to record."

"All in all, I think what we've done here is make that great old 1940s-era Big Band music sound accessible to contemporary audiences and it certainly does swing!"

Swing! is now available on both CD (in a special digipak package) and vinyl (in your choice of blue or red) as well as digital.

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Christina Aguilera: 20th Ann.' (Picture Disc)
Artist - Christina Aguilera

Legacy Recordings celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Christina Aguilera's self-titled debut album Christina Aguilera with some rather special releases!

The Christina Aguilera: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Digital album is available now through DSPs.

The Digital album features the original album's songs along with rare versions, remixes and a cappella tracks that were previously unavailable for streaming.

There are also 1,000 Limited Edition Collector's Bundles with Christina's Autograph still available on Christina's D2C (Direct-To-Consumer) Store.

These include a special Collector's Edition 20th Anniversary Christina Aguilera bundle which features a Picture Disc Vinyl edition of the album (which we are luckily reviewing here today) which comes with an AUTOGRAPHED and numbered Certificate of Authenticity, a collectible Christina Aguilera cassette, the Christina Aguilera: Deluxe Edition Digital Download, and a selection of 20th Anniversary retro-themed merch!

Click Here For Christina Aguilera’s D2C Store

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough there is also an EXCLUSIVE Christina Aguilera: 20th Anniversary Colored Limited Edition LP (pressed on "Genie Fiery Orange Vinyl"!) ONLY being sold at Urban Outfitters!

That's right, boys and girls, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, invites music fans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Christina Aguilera, the self-titled debut album that launched the superstar’s career, with a range of special commemorative releases that broke online August 23rd, 2019.

Christina herself announced the news on August 13th, 2019, tweeting: "This month marks 20 years since my debut album, Christina Aguilera, was released!"

"In its honor, I’m releasing xxtra special versions digitally at my store … and more surprises to come!"

She also urged fans to share their memories of the record using the #XXtina hashtag.

Christina Aguilera debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in 1999, went eight times platinum and earned the singer her first Grammy for best new artist.

The album birthed classic singles like 'Genie in a Bottle,' 'What a Girl Wants,' 'I Turn to You' and 'Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You).'

For a 20 year-old teen pop record, Christina's debut has aged pretty well. Some cheesy spots here and there, but surprisingly mature in places and catchy as ever.

Watching the picture disc go round and round on the turntable, I quickly recalled how she was so fresh on the scene, so spunky, so willing to take on the other girl singers of the day.

Blessed with Whitney's power, Mariah's airy high notes, and a wide range all of her own, "The little girl with the big voice" quickly blew fellow poppers Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore out of the water! 'Genie In A Bottle' was an obvious choice for a summer single with it's breezy synth and laidback approach. The lyrics are sexy, but tasteful.

'What A Girl Wants' is also very catchy and one where you simply cannot get the chorus out of your head for days afterward! The saucy 'Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You)' gives Christina a chance to throw down and go crazy with the runs and melisma, but not in an annoyingly, over the top fashion.

The lyrics are racier with Christina teasingly persuading her man to get it on with her, but nothing too explicit and I also love the spoken bit: "Don't ya wanna be the one tonight?/We can do exactly what you like/Don't ya wanna be just you and me?/We can do what comes naturally/I got a thing for you/Got my mind made up/And I'm serious/Never been more, baby/Don't show it but its real/And it's right here!"

The Mulan single 'Reflection' is a soaring self-esteem anthem and 'I Turn To You' is a sentimental power ballad penned by Diane Warren. Both are pretty schmaltzy, but Christina kills them with her chops and that makes them less syrupy.

The sensual 'So Emotional' is R&B with a taste of jazz track about a guy who makes Christina feel like she's on an emotional rollercoaster: "You take me high or low, you know/I'm never sure which way you're gonna go/You're such a mystery to me/But baby, hot or cold, you got a hold/Of my imagination/I think you know what I mean."

The fluid 'Love For All Seasons' is addictive with lyrics promising to be the "Rain in your Summer" and "The chill in your Fall", "The fire in your Winter" and "The sun in your Spring" to a guy she's crushing on.

'Somebody's Somebody' isn't a song that I would purposely seek out, but I'll listen to it when it comes on (and just did). Neither the production or the lyrics are that interesting, but Christina's voice makes it palatable.

'When You Put Your Hands on Me' is pretty, but nothing more than a filler. Not the best I've heard from her, but far from the worst either! The "talk box" is unnecessary and borderline annoying though, in truth.

'Love Will Find a Way' is too Radio Disney for my taste, but 'Blessed' is a well sung ballad that could be dedicated to God or loved ones or both: "I know I'm truly... Blessed for everything you've given me/Blessed for all the tenderness you show/Do my best with every breath that's in me/Blessed to make sure you never go."

To my mind though, Christina's shining performance comes in the form of the closer 'Obvious' - "Can you hear it in my voice?/Was it something I let slip?/Does the whole world know?/Isn't it obvious?/I'm the one who's in control/Now I'm acting like a fool/Do my feelings show?/Is my face aglow?/Isn't it obvious?/That I don't know what I'm doing anymore?/I'm feeling like a little girl/Caught up in emotions/I'm out of control/Isn't it obvious?"

Her voice carries so much confusion and sorrow that it also previews the aura around her next record, the harder-edged Stripped.

In closing, the best thing about her debut is Christina's vocals are restrained. She still hits her fair share of notes and belts and runs, but it's pleasing to the ear.

Like the old adage says, less is more. Stripped, for my money, let everybody know Christina was here to stay, but she wasn't too shabby on the record that put her foot in the door either!

Throughout her career, Christina has won six GRAMMY Awards and sold more than 43 million records worldwide. She has achieved five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making her the fourth female artist to top the chart over three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s).

She has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and holds the prestigious honor of being the only artist under the age of 30 included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.

In 2011 she entered the world of television as a coach on NBC’s Emmy Award nominated show The Voice.

Aguilera has served as global spokesperson for Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief effort since 2009 and has helped raise over $150 million for the World Food Program and other hunger relief agencies.

In May 2019 she began her residency, The Xperience, at the Zappos Theatre at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and is also touring Europe on The X Tour throughout 2019.

Click Here To Purchase the Picture Disc Vinyl Album

Click Here For Christina Aguilera’s D2C Store

Title - 'Diagonal: A Tribute to Durval Ferreira'
Artist - Kerry Politzer

For those not in the know, Kerry Politzer is a Portland-based jazz pianist and composer.

She received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Piano from the New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied improvisation and composition with jazz guru Charlie Banacos.

In 1996, Kerry was one of six finalists in the American Pianists Association’s 3rd Biennial Jazz Piano Competition. Her composition Rhodes Rage won Third Prize, Jazz Category in the 2005 International Songwriting Competition.

Another tune, Begin The Baiao, won Third Prize, Jazz Category in the 2000 Mid-Atlantic Song Competition and an Honorable Mention in the 2000 John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

The pianist has released six CDs as a leader, including Blue in Blue, which featured saxophonist Donny McCaslin and was termed a “first-rate jazz outing” by

Kerry has also been a featured sideman on albums of George Colligan, Laura Dreyer, and the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble. Furthermore, Kerry’s 2005 CD Labyrinth was a finalist for Best Jazz Album in the 2007 Independent Music Awards.

Now the highly-lauded pianist releases her sixth jazz album entitled Diagonal: A Tribute to Ferreira.

A modern tribute to the late Brazilian jazz guitarist/composer Durval Ferreira, for this quite wondrous new album - which features eight reworked Ferreira compositions as well as three originals inspired by him - the pianist has assembled a fine cast of sidemen: John Nastos (Dianne Schuur, Esperanza Spalding) on saxophone, flute, and clarinet; noted pianist George Colligan, here on drums; Seattle bassist Tim Carey (Jovino Santos Neto); Ben Graves on acoustic and electric guitars; and Simon Lucas on Brazilian percussion.

1. 'São Salvador'
2. 'Chorinho No. 2'
3. 'The Day It Rained'
4. 'Diagonal'
5. 'O Gato'
6. 'Moça Flor'
7. 'Batida Diferente'
8. 'Tema Pro Durval'
9. 'E Nada Mais'
10. 'Cliché'
11. 'Estamos Aí'

After transcribing 30 of his compositions, the pianist chose melodies made famous by Sarah Vaughan, Sergio Mendes, Leny Andrade, and others and from the off, the perky, flighty 'São Salvador' showcases perfectly just what the listener is to expect.

The equally attentive and cheerfully lively 'Chorinho No. 2' (a contrafact written to Ferreira’s original 'Chorinho No. 1') stunningly highlights Nastos’ beautiful clarinet playing and that's backed seamlessly by the exquisitely reharmonized 'The Day It Rained' (which also adds a lovely flute part infused with Politzer’s hushed vocals).

The fervently enthused title track, 'Diagonal,' features an animated bass line and electric guitar solo, whilst the buoyantly happy 'O Gato' is a masterful tour-de-force brought forth by Nastos' saxophone (the title references Ferreira’s nickname when he performed with a group called Os Gatos).

Next up is 'Moça Flor,' a free flowing bout of Latin hipsway at its finest, and that's backed by the drum and sax-led beauty 'Batida Diferente' (transformed here into an uptempo, 7/8 whirlwind), and then comes the track that truly highlights Politzer's dulcet piano work, 'Tema Pro Durval.'

The album then rounds out with the sultry, late night underground club vibe of 'E Nada Mais,' the sanguine cheer of 'Cliché,' and then finally comes to a close with one of Ferreira’s most popular Brazilian jazz compositions, 'Estamos Aí.'

CD Baby Purchases Link

Title - 'Jirga: A Film by Benjamin Gilmour' (OST)
Artist - AJ True

'Jirga' is a 2018 Australian drama film written and directed by Benjamin Gilmour and produced by John Maynard.

It stars Sam Smith as a former Australian soldier returning to Afghanistan to seek forgiveness from the family of a man he killed while serving in the war.

The film was shot under extreme circumstances, in dangerous locations and with assistance from the local people of Afghanistan.

Deemed too politically divisive to be produced in Pakistan the film moved production at the last minute to Afghanistan and shot in one of the most dangerous regions in the world, Kandahar Province.

The brand new soundtrack to Jirga is composed by AJ True, a Sydney, Australia-based musician known for his work as a co-founder and drummer of Psychobilly band Zombie Ghost Train from 2002-2008.

Indeed, as a composer, producer, and musical director his music has been used in film, TV, radio & theatre.

1. 'Arrival' (1:12)
2. 'Walk to Hotel' (1:09)
3. 'Hotel Money Mystery' (2:16)
4. 'Safar Sandara' - Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad (1:01)
5. 'Meeting with the Colonel' (1:19 )
6. 'Hotel at Night' (1:14)
7. 'Hotel to Lakes' (1:21 )
8. 'Road to Kandahar' (1:27)
9. 'Dand Sandara' - Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad (0:32)
10. 'Roadblock' (3:08)
11. 'Lost in the Desert' (4:31)
12. 'Bonding at the Lakes' - Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad & Sam Smith (1:05)
13. 'Execution' (2:19)
14. 'Confession' (1:23)
15. 'Walk to Ruin' (2:22)
16. 'Lakes Solo' - Sam Smith (0:47)
17. 'Cave Montage' (1:32)
18. 'Walk to Village' (1:33)
19. 'Mike Rolls Over' (0:50)
20. 'Da Oor Sandara' - Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad (1:00)
21. 'Widow' (2:14)
22. 'Jirga to Sacrifice' (2:03)
23. 'Going Home' (1:48)
24. 'Adhan' (featuring Mu'aḏḏin) (1:10)
25. 'Midnight with Moroder' (Bonus Jirga Pitch Track) (2:44)

The first track 'Arrival' sets the atmospheric scene just perfectly and segue ways seamlessly into two of my favorites, 'Walk To The Hotel' and 'Hotel Money Mystery.'

The Eastern tone to the tracks - that includes the use of Cello, Harmonium, Violin, Viola and amongst others Rebab, Acoustic Guitar and Electric Bass - is simply stunning and shines bright in other tracks such as the stern 'Meeting with the Colonel,' the hypnotizing 'Road to Kandahar' and both the long-trek-in-the-hot-sun journeyman feel of 'Walk to Ruin' and pained 'Jirga to Sacrifice.'

The two tracks featuring Britain's Sam Smith are beautifully unique in their own ways. The first, 'Lake Solo' finds Smith on acoustic guitar for just 47 seconds, the latter 'Bonding at the Lakes' a slightly longer meditative guitar amalgamate session.

Rounding out with the yearning of 'Going Home,' the street sounds of 'Adhan' (featuring Mu'aḏḏin), and then the ambiance-induced synth bonus pitch track 'Midnight with Moroder,' Jirga is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most endearing and scenically-sculptured soundtracks that I have come across in the past decade.

Featured Musicians: Qais Essar: Rebab - Ali Sarshar: Harmonium - Heather Lindsay: Cello - Veronique Serret: Violin and Viola - Sayd Sarshar: Tanbur - Farman Khan: Additional Rebab - Dirk Kruithof: Additional Acoustic Guitar - Michaela Davies: Additional Electric Bass - AJ True: Synthesizers, Guitars, Additional Harmonium.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - '48 Seconds' [2LP Colored Vinyl]
Artist - Phil Lanzon

For those not in the know, Phil Lanzon is the keyboardist for British rock group Uriah Heep and has been since since 1986.

Furthermore, Lanzon has worked both as a session musician and sideman with Grand Prix, Grant & Forsyth, John Lawton (former Uriah Heep-member), Mick Ronson, Chris Spedding, and Sweet, among others.

Lanzon released his debut solo album If You Think I'm Crazy! in 2017 and it sold well and rightly garnered rave reviews from all around the world. For it he introduced a small orchestra and choir into his songs and used an array of different singers and musicians.

In much the same vein, Lanzon continues on with his love of movie scores and orchestral / choir arrangements on his sophomore solo album, the just-released 48 Seconds (via Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records UK).

Having enlisted a slightly larger orchestra (the London Telefilmonic Orchestra) this time to embellish this new set of 10 tracks, as with his debut solo album, Lanzon (now a published author with his first novel 'Curse of the Mudchalk Devil' - which came out in April 2019 and is published by Pegasus Publishers) has once again teamed up with producer Simon Hanhart and arranger Richard Cottle.

With the incredible artwork having been created by Michael Cheval, and with some songs also layered with a little brass section here and there, 48 Seconds is an elevated cinematic hipsway that embraces both drama and emotion in equal measures.

1. 'Azura's Theme (Instrumental)'
2. 'In The Rain'
3. 'Forty Line'
4. 'Rock N Roll Children'
5. 'Blue Mountain'
6. 'Look At The Time'
7. 'Road To London'
8. 'You Can Make A Living'
9. 'Face To Face'
10. '48 Seconds'

The ethereal yearning of the quite stunningly alive instrumental 'Azura's Theme (Instrumental)' sets the scene from the off and that is backed by the melodic rock storytelling of 'In The Rain.'

Sharing lead vocals with John Mitchell, Andy Makin and Miriam Grey, a contender for my favorite track on the album (this listen round) is up next in the form of the all-inclusive mid-tempo bounce of 'Forty Line.'

A track that floats us lovingly back to better, kinder days and inclusive of a massive big band swing movement as it heads into the last verse, if those pumped up trumpets and swinging vibe don't get your feet tappin' and fingers snappin' you might need to get your ears checked out!

The beautifully big 'Rock N Roll Children' stirringly sung by Miriam Grey is backed seamlessly by the euphorically passionate vocalization of 'Blue Mountain,' with the frenetic pop rock vibe of 'Look At The Time' backing it.

The folky troubadour within Lanzon next recounts a past tale of a love lost in the renaissance-flavored 'Road To London' and that's followed by a trip back to the early '70s on the funky groove and Daltrey-esque 'You Can Make A Living.'

A track first written in the late '90s by Lanzon, it was actually a comedy spoof in the style of Frank Zappa that was designed to take the mickey out of musicians who never achieved their dreams!

Having set to re-writing the original verses to recreate a more positive and inspirational lyric, the song is definitely another one of the stand out highlights of this new album.

This quite magnificent, vibrant, and just so alive album then brings forth the magnificent, orchestrally soaring duet 'Face To Face.' Once again featuring Miriam Grey, this tale that bemoans the rise of social media and the fall of direct communication between people comes complete with an orchestral film score interlude that virtually begs for your undivided attention.

The album then rounds out with its longest track, the stirring and emotively dynamic title track '48 Seconds.' A once long forgotten and left on a dusty shelf song about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (the title a reference to the actual length of the event), now inclusive of a full orchestra and children's choir, we follow along with two specially created characters within the story as the devastation befalls them.

A busy prog rock opus inclusive of some immersive choral work of the highest order, once the story has unfolded the aforementioned children's choir then come to the fore to bring the track to a most resoundingly poignant close.

As for where the inspiration of the title track '48 Seconds' first originated, Lanzon himself explains: "I started to get into books at the age of about 10. While sifting through my local library I came across a book called The San Francisco Earthquake."

"The title caught my attention as I had no idea about natural disasters at the time. The book left a huge impression on me and later I realized it was empathy for the people who suffered and the wonder of the power of nature that somehow gripped my sub-conscious.”

The story, he says, has a lot of ups and downs. “It starts optimistically. Then it becomes very sad. But it ends optimistically, with a message.”

The elaborate composition, which is just under 10 minutes in length, was recorded with a 23-piece orchestra along with guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums, as well as a choir of more than 60 people.

Musicians - Phil Lanzon - Keys and lead vocals; John Mitchell - Lead vocals; Andy Makin - Lead vocals; Richard Cottle - Additional keys, Saxes; Neal Wilkinson - Drums; Adam Goldsmith - Guitar; Mick O'Donohue - Guitar; Miriam Grey - Lead vocals, background vocals; Phoebe Street, Andy Caine, Andy Playfoot - Background vocals; Tom Walsh - Trumpets; Clare Mcinerney - Saxes; Neil Sidwell - Trombones; Chris Haigh - Violin solo; Richard Harwood - Cello solo; Levine Andrade - Viola solo; and London Telefilmonic Orchestra - Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Double Bass.

Distributed by Cargo Records, the album will be available on CD, double gatefold colored vinyl and all digital outlets.

Official AUTOGRAPHED 2LP Purchase Link

Official CD + Digital Purchase Link

Official 'Curse of the Mudchalk Devil' Book Purchase Link

Title - 'Rusty Treasures'
Artist - Eldanka

Finland has a number of world class guitarists that create excellent instrumental rock albums and in the spirit of the 1960's and the sound of UK guitar heroes The Shadows and the West Coast instro sound of The Ventures, Eldanka's brand new sophomore album Rusty Treasures is an excellent showcase for the Finnish rockers and their talented lead guitarist / composer Mika Jämsä.

Presenting a dozen original instrumentals, the 2019 line-up of Eldanka features founding member Mika Jämsä, Rasmus Tammik (rhythm guitar), Mauri Haapamäki (bass), and Janne Torvikoski (drums).

1. 'SUP Rider'
2. 'Paranta Beach'
3. 'Slap Me'
4. 'The Promise'
5. 'Treasure'
6. 'Threnody For My Pet Pony'
7. 'Bend or Stretch'
8. 'Dumb Step'
9. 'SF Surf'
10. 'November'
11. 'Jopo - The First Ride'
12. 'Springfields'

With the dozen new tracks rounding out at just 37 minutes, Rusty Treasures may well fairly skip along, but it never misses a beat and is, to my mind, the best album yet from Finland's finest rock instrumental band.

The foot-tappin' Dick Dale brilliance of 'SUP Rider' is first up and that's backed by 'Paranta Beach' (with Jämsä on trumpet and Haapamäki on tenor horn), and then the song that perfectly showcases the brilliance of Jämsä's guitar work, the stunningly atmospheric 'Slap Me.'

The breezy 'The Promise' masterfully adds Celtic elements to its core (notably through Jaakko Järvelä on the reed organ) and that's followed by the frenetic 'The Treasure,' the steadfast, drum-led 'Threnody for My Pet Pony,' and then both the jangly and twanging 'Bend or Stretch' and the fun and mischievous 'Dumb Step.'

The fast-paced, West Coast surf styling of 'SF Surf' is another joy to behold and is backed by a vibe more associated with the late night rides into sunset within Spaghetti Western's on 'November.'

The album then rounds out with the perky 'Jopo - The First Ride' (named after the well-known Finnish retro bike), and then comes to a close with the longest track on the album, the near-4 minute long 'Springfields' (a song inspired by the Christmas holidays).

Official 'Rusty Treasures' Digital Purchase Link

Title - '7 Cities'
Artist - Steve Future

With the release of the album 7 Cities, Sweden's veteran singer-songwriter, guitarist and blues-harp virtuoso, Steve Future now brings forth a quite stunning new 18-track album compilation for all fans of rock and blues around the world.

Released as a deluxe CD and a lush double vinyl LP, 7 Cities features music from Steve's EP releases It Takes Time, Four Cities and The 9 Others.

With several releases already to his credit, Future is on the leading edge of the 21st century blues and rock scene and his albums are not only highly anticipated, but most always gratefully accepted.

1. 'Bananas & Diamonds'
2. 'Blue Heron'
3. 'Waterfall'
4. 'Civil War'
5. 'Railway Layers Daughters Blues'
6. 'Don't Mean Nothing'
7. 'Trinity'
8. 'Black Water'
9. 'Future Kids'
10. 'Brand New Day'
11. 'Rat Poison'
12. 'Blended'
13. 'Keyhole Massacre'
14. 'Steal The Water'
15. 'Burning Wheels'
16. 'Boned Rock'
17. 'Woman In Panoramic'
18. 'Blue Volvo'

If you have never heard Steve Future's music I urge you to purchase this stunning new album today and listen to it not only at home, but in the car and wherever else music can be taken and played!

The album finds the blues rocker in the company of a stellar range of electric guitarists, drummers, backing vocalists and session musicians from Sweden and the US.

Produced by Future and Peter Melin, 7 Cities is primed with catchy pop-rock and hard-hitting blues-rock tracks spanning a wealth of musical genres and is now, quite easily, one of my personal favorites of 2019.

From the brilliant harmonica-driven opening of 'Bananas & Diamonds' and the drum-led 'Blue Heron,' to the delicate acoustic, down south, harmonica-infused duo of 'Railway Layers Daughters Blues' and 'Don't Mean Nothing,' to the jangling guitars of 'Brand New Day' and the laid back, lazy hazy summer day vibe of 'Rat Poison,' on to the hard harmonica and raw vocals of the early '70s-sounding 'Boned Rock' to the album closing blues rock out 'Blue Volvo,' this album truly has it all.

Steve Future @ Facebook

Official Steve Future '7 Cities' CD Purchase Link

Official Steve Future '7 Cities' Vinyl 2LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Parallel Worlds'
Artist - Magnatar

Magnatar is a five-piece band based in DeLand, FL. The lineup crosses over 3 generations of musicians that have forged a unique original instrumental sound that blends power rock with progressive leaning elements and rich layered melodic overtones.

In addition to the traditional guitar, bass, keys and drums, Mandolin serves as the fifth instrument that binds and weaves the various song movements together.

The founding members of the band which dates back about 12 years, are Glenn Smith on Mandolin and Joey Costa on bass. During the first 4 to 5 years, several iterations of the band evolved as they were developing their style and sound, with Glenn serving as the principal songwriter.

During this early formative period they played under the name Buckets And Strings.

About 8 years ago Glenn crossed paths through a chance encounter with drummer Reed Hayes. The band was playing at the DeLand Original Music festival, one of the largest festivals of this type in the Southeast sponsored by Songwriters Showcases of America, and Reed just happened to be near the stage where Buckets And Strings were playing.

Reed, who was well known in the central Florida music scene, was very intrigued by the unique sound of the band. He introduced himself to Glenn and one conversation led to others over the next few months and when the opportunity arose, Reed stepped in as the new drummer.

The next big step in the progression of the group occurred over the next year or so when guitarist Ryan Rivas stepped in and really took the band and its music to the next level. Ryan met Joey when he was only 14 and still trying to find his musical path.

Joey saw something very special in this young and raw talent, and spent a lot of time exposing him to a lot of the same music that had had such a profound influence on him in his early years.

Fast forward 8 years or so and that young, raw talent had developed into something very special, and as fate, or destiny would have it, the door opened for him to join the band.

Once Ryan had become fully integrated into the band along with the impact Reed had made on drums, the decision was made to again change the name of the band to Magnatar to reflect what had effectively become a completely new look and sound.

The final step in advancing the bands’ musical growth and identity occurred about another year or so after had Ryan joined the group.

Glenn’s cousin and Joey’s old band mate, Dave Norton, re-connected after many years apart through yet another completely chance encounter.

This unexpected reunion ultimately resulted in Dave coming out of “retirement” to return to his old music roots as the bands’ keyboard player.

Adding the keys has provided a multi-layer foundation to blend and accentuate the bands’ diverse tones and textures and serving to further refine and define the unique and ever-evolving sound of Magnatar.

While the core sound and style of the group is now stronger than ever, the band remains open to additional opportunities to further experiment and grow their sound.

After more than two years of very hard work, Magnatar released their independently-produced debut album entitled, Parallel Worlds (October 23rd, 2018).

1. 'Parallel Worlds'
2. 'Fourth Passage'
3. 'Solara (Intro to New Galaxy)'
4. 'New Galaxy'
5. 'Night Changes'
6. 'A Walk in the Park'
7. 'Five Pieces of Six'
8. 'She Flies'
9. 'Augmented Reality'

The album opens with the pacey title track and flows seamlessly into both 'Fourth Passage' and then the beautiful key work of the two minute intro to New Galaxy, 'Solara.'

The frenetic aforementioned 'New Galaxy' is then backed by the melodic intrinsicality of 'Night Changes' which in turn is followed by both the stunningly poignant acoustic guitar work of 'A Walk in the Park' and then the guitar picking and key marvel 'Five Pieces of Six.'

The album then rounds out with the atmospheric 'She Flies' and then their free flowing musical textures all come to the fore on the infectious 'Augmented Reality.'

Title - 'The Future Is Us'
Artist - Hawkestrel

Alan Davey, the former bass player of that legendary UK rock band Hawkwind has put together an incredible project involving no less than 9 members of the Hawkwind family - including co-founder Nik Turner, original bassist Lemmy Kilmister, drummer Ginger Baker, violinist Simon House, original guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, Paul Rudolph, Mick Slattery, and Bridget Wishart.

It's an epic undertaking worthy of the band that united these accomplished musicians, and continues to gain new followers with every new generation of music lovers.

The album (just released August 9th, 2019 via Purple Pyramid / Cleopatra Records) has been titled The Future Is Us and it features brand new compositions alongside several re-workings of Davey's solo songs - plus a very special new version of the spoken-word Hawkwind classic 'Sonic Attack' with the starship Captain himself, William Shatner!

1. 'Do What You Need To Do'
2. 'World For Fear'
3. 'Sea Of Sand'
4. 'Nyx Of Khaos'
5. 'The Future Is Us'
6. 'Sonic Attack'
7. '12 String Shuffle'
8. 'May Sun'
9. 'Goodbye Death Valley'
10. 'Free Like Us'
11. 'Old Dinah'
12. 'Hawkestrel'
13. 'Bad Boys For Life (2019 AD Version)'

Listening to this wondrous flashback to an era sadly gone by, it's obvious from the off that a couple of these brilliant artists – such as Huw Lloyd-Langton and Lemmy K. – are no longer with us, and Ginger Baker’s parts also presumably come from the hazy past, yet that fact doesn't diminish this powerhaus recording one bit, trust me.

With new musicianship from the likes of the aforementioned Nik Turner, Simon House, Paul Rudolph and Bridget Wishart, let alone the one, the only Starship God himself William Shatner reciting the intro to a revamped 'Sonic Attack,' The Future Is Us is quite easily one of the best albums of this year!

Davey shares his thoughts on the project, saying "It has been so much fun making this album with my ex-Hawkwind friends. This is what the fans have wanted from us ex-Hawks for some time and now it's here!"

"Cleopatra suggested the idea and then gave me free reign to contact everyone, write the songs, mix and produce the whole project."

"The ex-Hawks and William Shatner all did exceptional performances for the album as they always did. It's been a real honor for me to work with them all again and end up with a great, historically important album which has reminded me what great musicians we all are! Bravo everyone and huge thanx to all at Cleopatra!"

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Blue 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Children of the Stones'
Artist - Shining Pyramid

Following the 2016 release of their debut self-titled album, the duo of Nick Adams (guitars) and Peter Jeal (synths, keys) aka Shining Pyramid have now brought out their sophomore album, the quite brilliant Children of the Stones.

The London-based duo with a shared affection for the progressive rock groups of the Seventies, Shining Pyramid's follow up to their stunning debut - which was loosely based on Arthur Machen's gothic horror story written in 1895 - combines synthesizer and guitar to bring forth a rather unique, and highly individual sound that easily rivals anything you've ever heard before from this prog rock genre.

1. 'Hie Thee Sungates'
2. 'Children of the Stones'
3. 'Horses'
4. 'Machinery Of Myth'
5. 'Sun Loose in the Sky'
6. 'Raise The Stars'
7. 'Meadows Starred With Flowers'

The album begins with the joint-longest track on the album (at nearly 10 minutes), the quite absorbingly magnificent 'Hie Thee Sungates,' and backs that up with both the lazy, hazy day prog flow of the title track, and then the other joint-longest track, 'Horses.'

A track that exudes a haunting back bone melody complete with varying degrees of jaunty shifts, these musical moods are continued on the mid-'80s synth sound of 'Machinery Of Myth,' and my own personal favorite here, the pop rock guitar bounce of 'Sun Loose in the Sky.'

This quite wondrous new album then rounds out with the multilayered depth of emotion and static sonic intensity found within 'Raise The Stars', with the majestically atmospheric 'Meadows Starred With Flowers' bringing the show to a close.

Shining Pyramid @ Facebook!

Title - 'The Colors Of Life'
Artist - Moon Over Mountain

Featuring the music and keyboards of Kenneth Lee Roberts and the music, vocals and lyrics of Megan Buness, this just-released debut CD from Moon Over Mountain, The Colors Of Life is a quite stunning New Age musical experience.

With both Roberts and Buness already having deep familial roots in music, Moon Over Mountain was founded in the Spring of 2012 when they began to work out a fresh, new sound unlike any other they had heard.

Weaving together an elegantly mesmerizing musical tapestry from a wealth of experience within their chosen New Age genre, the group's debut here is not only profoundly moving, even painfully beautiful at times, but transcends the usual musical borders by merging elements of the aforementioned New Age with pop, neoclassical and even electronica.

A renowned vocalist in the Denver, Colorado area, Megan Buness also performs with one of Colorado’s top five chamber ensembles, so she also brings her classical music training to the Moon Over Mountain vocal tracks.

1. 'Yes, I Am Here'
2. 'A Walk In Fall Leaves'
3. 'You Can't Go Home Again'
4. 'Dry Your Eyes'
5. 'The Face in the Moon'
6. 'A Nation Divided'
7. 'Flying'
8. 'After The Work Is Done'
9. 'Heart Of The Song'
10. 'One Life'
11. 'Daybreak'

The album opens with the harmonious, and also mellotron-inspired 'Yes, I Am Here' and backs that up with the lushly stunning (if not a wee bit overlong at nearly 9 minutes in length) 'A Walk in Fall Leaves.'

The mindful ambiance of 'You Can't Go Home Again' is followed by the quietly-paced 'Dry Your Eyes,' and then both the beautiful storytelling found within 'The Face in the Moon,' and the acoustic guitar and classically trained vocals of Buness exquisitely present on 'A Nation Divided.'

A gentle, yet adoring Latin influence cannot be denied within 'Flying' before the sterner 'After the Work Is Done,' and the mid-tempo hipsway of 'Heart of the Song' are brought forth.

The album then rounds out with the richly natural New Age notes found within 'One Life' and then comes to an end on the inspiringly atmospheric 'Daybreak.'

Moon Over Mountain @ Facebook!

Title - 'Mel & Kim: The Singles Box-Set' [7CD]
Artist - Mel & Kim

Mel & Kim debuted with 'Showing Out' in September 1986, and in March 1987, 'Respectable' became the first Stock Aitken Waterman composition to top the charts.

Combining a streetwise pop sensibility with cutting-edge house grooves, Mel & Kim (Appleby) became a global sensation. But at the height of their fame, Mel was diagnosed with cancer.

Tragically, her health deteriorated and she passed away in January 1990, aged just 23.

In late 1990, Kim made her solo debut with the #2 smash 'Don't Worry', from a self-titled album that she had mainly co-written with her sister, and a further string of hits followed.

Written in honor of Mel, 'Don't Worry' was nominated for Best Contemporary Song at the annual Ivor Novello Awards and as result, Kim chaired the judging panel for this award at the Ivors for 11 years.

2018 found Kim making her long-awaited return to the stage for Let's Rock and Rewind festivals, where she delighted fans by revisiting Mel & Kim hits in her live set for the very first time.

Featuring no less than 76 remastered tracks and many rare and unreleased mixes, this collection Mel & Kim: The Singles Box-Set serves to highlight the pioneering pop/house crossover sound created especially for Mel & Kim by songwriting and production powerhouse Stock Aitken Waterman and the PWL studio team.

Not only was 'Showing Out' arguably the first ever British house record, but also the very first house track to crack the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

Likewise, 'I'm The One Who Really Loves You' was one of the very first tracks to be remixed by the legendary Clivillés & Cole.

Compiled with the blessing and involvement of Kim Appleby, this Mel & Kim: The Singles Box Set also boasts a 24-page booklet featuring lyrics, discography, new sleeve notes and many classic and rare images.

CD 1 - Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)
1. 'Showing Out'
2. 'System (House Mix)'
3. 'Showing Out (Extended Version)'
4. 'Showing Out (The Mortgage Mix)'
5. 'Showing Out (The Freehold Mix)'
6. 'Showing Out (Edit)'
7. 'System (Garage Vocal)'
8. 'System (12" House Mix)'
9. 'System (Alternative Mix)'
10. 'System (Original 12" Mix)'
11. 'System (U.S. Album Edit)'
12. 'System (Dub)'
13. 'System (Instrumental)'

As powerful a dance hit as anything that ever dared to come out after it, 'Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)' was a monster way to introduce yourselves to the chart world of 1986.

Funnily enough, the single's B-side, 'System', was originally intended to be the duo's debut release, but after getting to know the sisters, Pete Waterman felt that the song was too soft for their personalities, and halted the single's pressing!

Mike Stock then wrote 'Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)' for the duo, influenced by the Chicago garage house sound.

The single peaked at #3 in the UK in November 1986 (but reached #1 in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Belgium), and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry for sales exceeding 250,000 copies.

CD 2 - Respectable
1. 'Respectable'
2. 'Respectable (Extended Version)'
3. 'Respectable (Extra Beats Vocal)'
4. 'Respectable (The Tabloid Mix)'
5. 'Respectable (Shop Mix)'
6. 'Respectable (Full Album Version)'
7. 'Respectable (Alternative 12" Mix)'
8. 'Respectable (Pete Hammond Mix)'
9. 'Respectable (Mega Remix)'
10. 'Respectable (Extra Beats Version)'
11. 'Respectable (Instrumental)'
12. 'Respectable (12" Instrumental)'

Next came my favorite song from them, and I think 90% of all their fans, the highly infectious hip-hop pop dance groove of 'Respectable.' Sadly though there are no remixes if the B-side, 'From A Whisper To A Scream.'

As always, written and produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman it quickly became a UK #1 single for one week in March 1987.

Interestingly enough, and which I personally didn't know before I did research into SAW, it was also the second UK #1 single produced by Stock/Aitken/Waterman, following Dead or Alive's 'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)' in 1985; and the first UK #1 single that Stock/Aitken/Waterman had written themselves.

The single also topped the charts in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Australia and New Zealand in 1987.

CD 3 - F.L.M.
1. 'F.L.M'
2. 'F.L.M. (Extended Version)'
3. 'F.L.M. (Club Mix)'
4. 'F.L.M. (Sonic Remix)'
5. 'F.L.M. (Auto Mix)'
6. 'F.L.M. (Two Grooves Under One Nation Remix)'
7. 'F.L.M. (Two Grooves Dub)'
8. 'F.L.M. (Two Grooves Under One Nation 7" Mix)'
9. 'F.L.M. (Phil Harding Mix)'
10. 'F.L.M. (Beat Boys Mix)'
11. 'F.L.M. (Beat Boys Dub)'
12. 'Showing Out / Respectable (Mega Mix)'

Another corking dancefloor track came next in the shape of 'F.L.M.' (aka 'Fun, Love & Money)'. The 1987 hit song (written and produced by SAW) sadly, and undeservedly only peaked at #7 on the UK Singles Chart and was also the title track to their debut album.

Accordingly to all press sources at the time, the song title aka 'Fun, Love & Money' was actually a play on the sisters' frequent use of the expression "f**king lovely mate" during the recording sessions for the album!

However, due to Mel being diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer in June 1987, the duo did not appear in the promotional music video for the song. Instead, a clip was compiled using footage of the sisters' live performance of 'F.L.M.', the music videos for 'Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)' and 'Respectable' (where a male actor played the role of a detective, and string puppets resembling the duo!)

Sadly, 'F.L.M.' would be the second-last single released by the duo.

CD 4 - I'm the One Who Really Loves You
1. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Pop Radio 7" Mix)'
2. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Hip Hop Radio Mix)'
3. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Stardom Groove Club Mix)'
4. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Kick 'N Live Mix'
) 5. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Groove Dub)'
6. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Done Properly Dub)'
7. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Pop Radio Mix)'
8. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Chicago Club Mix)'
9. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Chicago Dubstrumental)'
10. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Yoyo's 12" Mix)'
11. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Original Mix)'
12. 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You (Instrumental)'

Now, as much as this track is so very, very strong and could have been a single on its own merit, 'I'm the One Who Really Loves You' was only ever a track from the F.L.M. album.

Furthermore, although never released internationally as a single, after being subjected to a handful of remixes by Clivillés & Cole and a limited North American release, it reached #11 on the Hot Dance Club chart.

It was originally recorded and released by British singer Austin Howard in 1986 with both versions having been written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman.

CD 5 - That's the Way It Is
1. 'That's the Way It Is'
2. 'You Changed My Life'
3. 'That's the Way It Is (Extended Version)'
4. 'That's the Way It Is (House Remix)'
5. 'That's the Way It Is (Acid House Remix)'
6. 'That's the Way It Is (Acid Dub)'
7. 'That's the Way It Is (Acid Pop Mix)'
8. 'That's the Way It Is (Original 12" Mix)'
9. 'That's the Way It Is (Original Dub)'
10. 'That's the Way It Is (Instrumental)'
11. 'That's the Way It Is (Acid Pop Instrumental)'
12. 'You Changed My Life (Instrumental)'
13. 'That's the Way It Is (Radio Jingles)'

'That's the Way It Is" (yet another hit single for the personable duo) was actually featured on the soundtrack album of Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy.

The song was, of course, written and produced by SAW and peaked at #10 in the UK, becoming their fourth consecutive top 10 hit.

Sadly by the time of the single's release, Melanie Appleby's cancer had gotten the bets of her and she had officially withdrawn from the public eye in mid-1987.

That said, Appleby discharged herself from hospital to record the vocals for the track. The sisters made Mel's illness public at the time of the release of this single, and memorably both appeared on TV-am in April 1988 (interviewed by Anne Diamond) while Mel was still undergoing treatment, as part of European Cancer Week.

Click Here to Watch the TV-am Interview from 1988

The B-side of the single was a new song, 'You Changed My Life', another bouncy dancefloor cut that was also the first song on which the sisters had a co-writer credit.

Weirdly, 'That's the Way It Is' was not included on the group's debut album, F.L.M. but has since been included on later compilation albums of the duo, along with 'You Changed My Life' (with both tracks appearing on the 2010 deluxe edition re-issue of F.L.M.)

Yet again, and all due to Mel's illness, the sisters did not appear in the promotional video for the song. Instead, it featured a team of dancers in a studio, much like the video clip of their previous single.

A second music video for the song was also released. combining footage of the dancers from the first video for the song with footage from the sisters' earlier music videos and a live performance of 'F.L.M.'

As we know now, sadly it would also be the last release as a duo, as they disappeared from the public eye again while Mel Appleby continued her cancer treatment.

She succumbed to pneumonia in January 1990, her immune system weakened by chemotherapy. Some of the songs she co-wrote with Kim Appleby during the last 2 years of her life were later released on Kim's self-titled solo album released in late 1990.

CD 6 - More Than Words Can Say
1. 'More Than Words Can Say'
2. 'You Changed My Life (Alternative Mix)'
3. 'More Than Words Can Say (Extended Version)'
4. 'More Than Words Can Say (Instrumental)'

A great song with beautiful lyrics, 'More Than Words Can Say' was a mid-tempo ballad that was a Scandinavia only single from Something Special, a Scandinavia-only remix album (1989).

CD 7 - Megamix: Ninety!
1. 'The Mel & Kim 1990 Mega-Mix'
2. 'Showing Out (The Italo House Remix)'
3. 'The Mel & Kim 1990 Mega-Mix (Extended Version)'
4. 'The Mel & Kim 1990 Mega-Mix (Alternative Version)'
5. 'The Mel & Kim 1990 Mega-Mix (Techno Version)'
6. 'Showing Out (The Italo House 12" Remix)'

A Continental Europe only release, 'Megamix: Ninety!' was as wondrous a compilation of their hits as you could imagine. Another non-album single (like 'That's the Way It Is').

Released just after Mel had passed away, the video was once again a compilation of live shows and music videos from the songs included and watching it again today (as I have just done) it just breaks my heart that Mel was taken from us so early in her young life.

FYI: A never-heard-before demo called 'Where Is Love' from the sisters' very first demo tape – which helped them secure a record deal with Supreme, and brought them under the wing of '80S super producers Stock Aitken Waterman – was recently unearthed by fans in 2018 (who crowdfunded to give the song a full release) and so became the duo's first new single in 30 years!

In closing, I actually met both sisters at a signing session at Tower Records in London back on April 14th, 1987 around the release of the album F.L.M. (I know this for a fact as I wrote it on the back of the photographs!)

They were so much fun to chat with, never rushed you along the line, signed the vinyl album cover with love and messages (although I recall one of them spelled my name "Rusle"!), and even allowed all the fans, one by one, to have photographs taken with them (much to the dismay of the salaried "security" behind them both!

And as much as this wonderful Box-Set of all their singles is, at 76 tracks definitely mass overkill (trust me, as much as a fan as you might consider yourself to be, hearing the same song over and over, just in slightly different peaks and troughs will quickly have you begging for another song to appear), their legacy is perfectly preserved here.

Official 7CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Words Fail Me' [3CD]
Artist - Nick Beggs

For those not in the know, Nick Beggs is an English musician best known for playing the bass guitar in '80s band Kajagoogoo, the offspring from them Kaja, and more recently in his own band The Mute Gods.

Formerly also a part of Iona and Ellis, Beggs, & Howard, Beggs now plays in the band of Steven Wilson and has added the upright Chapman Stick to his playing repertoire.

Esoteric Antenna is delighted to announce the release of the new solo album by acclaimed musician Nick Beggs, Words Fail Me as a wondrous 3CD digipak.

Noted for his virtuosity as both a bass guitarist and player of the Chapman Stick instrument, Nick reveals all facets of this unique instrument on his new album.

Describing his new work, Nick says, "There have been many composers I’ve admired over the years, so I chose to represent some of their works as instrumental Stick versions."

"Here you will find a cross section of diverse studies chosen to show off the versatility of the Chapman Stick and the beauty of the compositions”.

Accompanying Words Fail Me in this set are two reissues of Nick’s earlier work on the Chapman Stick. Stick Insect was originally released as a mail order only album in 2002 and has been out of print for some years, whilst The Maverick Helmsman was issued in 2004 along the same lines.

Simply put, Words Fail Me is a wonderful collection of music and is a simply mesmerizing listening experience by a supremely talented and creative musician.

Words Fail Me (2019):
1. 'Blue Eyes'
2. 'Portrait Of Tracy'
3. 'Midnight Cowboy'
4. 'Katerina'
5. 'Night Porter'
6. 'Tarantella'
7. 'Sheep May Safely Graze'
8. 'The Rainbow Connection'

Well, I have to say that I didn't expect what happened right from the off on this quite remarkable, simply musically breathtaking new album from Nick Beggs!

Seeing the opening song was named 'Blue Eyes' my mind immediately started to reflect back, and sing, the 1982 Elton John single of the same name. But then, and quite beautifully, once Beggs' song began playing you could have knocked me down with a feather as it was that very same Elton John track after all!

A version played by Beggs that you have to hear to believe, it then crossed my mind that there might well be more covers of the same ilk to be found here on the humorously entitled, yet spot on Words Fail Me.

And I was right for next up was Jaco Pastorius' achingly elegant 'Portrait Of Tracy' from 1976 and that is backed by the poignant plucking of John Barry's theme to 'Midnight Cowboy,' and then the sterner, more disciplined 'Katerina.'

I won't pretend to know if all the 8 tracks are covers, but as with the inching beauty of 'Night Porter,' the upbeat traditional Italian playful hipsway of 'Tarantella,' and both the soprano aria by Johann Sebastian Bach of 'Sheep May Safely Graze,' and then the engagingly darling 'The Rainbow Connection,' I think it's a safe bet to assume so.

Often his melody lines drift high into the sweet bluesy territory evocative of Stanley Jordan's art and style and that's perfectly fine. For just listening to this refreshingly enchanting new album proves, and without a shadow of a doubt, that you have a recording here that showcases the integral entity of an artist who loves what he does so much he simply cannot hide his devotion within his God-given artistry.

The Maverick Helmsman (2004):
1. 'All The Things You Are'
2. 'My Joy'
3. 'So Far Away'
4. 'Willow'
5. 'The Maverick Helmsman'
6. 'The Vigil'
7. 'Your Letter'
8. 'The Meaning Of Everything'
9. 'When First We Met'
10. 'Highland Saunter'
11. 'The Darkness In Men's Hearts'
12. 'After The Wave'

On this second solo Chapman Stick album we quickly discover that Begg's consistent musical style and his approach to the instruments he plays combine perfectly to bring forth an album that beggars belief at just how accomplished, how fresh, how utterly mesmerizing all 12 tracks come to be as a whole.

Whether it be in live solo, or sometimes overdubbed within creative windows, or often backed by The Stick's MIDI triggered voices (including piano, orchestral strings, looped tabla, arpeggiated harp, and rolling surf soundscapes), this album contains totally original moods and inventive rhythms with humor, passion and general gusto.

Another all instrumental album, all 10 tracks were recorded completely live in the studio with minimal overdubs.

Stick Insect (2002):
1. 'Science Fiction'
2. 'The Reggae Man's Hair Do'
3. 'Tonto's Return'
4. 'Tava'
5. 'Look At Us'
6. 'Down Stream'
7. 'Glass Slippers'
8. 'Lula'
9. 'Celtic Yardies'
10. 'The Last Bitch In Hellville'
11. 'Pothead'
12. 'Kumara'
13. 'Death In Cleavage'
14. 'For All That's Lost'
15. 'In Memory Of You'

Opening with the pure ethereal majesty of 'Science Fiction,' this multifaceted album showcases Beggs' all encompassing love for the Chapman Stick perhaps the best.

The 15 tracks here on his debut Chapman Stick outing are embraced with such a sense of spacious wonder, complete with multiple twists and turns around most corners, giving the album a transcendent appeal for all the categories and genres it lovingly plies its trade within.

In what has been noted as being a "dedicated Stick album", written, arranged, engineered, performed and produced by Nick himself (with a polished final mastering by Greg Howard), in what is obviously a very elaborate production, it contains three prominent elements: It is ethereal in nature. It has some mighty rock and roll orchestration (via synth and electronic percussion). And it obviously contains Nick's very own personal and biographical inspirations.

Official 3CD Purchase Link

Nick Beggs @ Facebook

Nick Beggs @ Instagram

Title - 'Are We Free?'
Artist - Burton Guibord

In 1996 Ojibwe singer/songwriter Burton Guibord traveled from Milwaukee to the Austin Acoustic Music Festival where he was one of only two Native American acts out of the 49 featured at the three day event.

Two decades later the last existing cassette copy of his music became the catalyst for revisiting the project and creating a new master from the original recordings, culminating in the 2019 re-release of Are We Free?

Producer/Engineer Gary Tanin of Daystorm Music, was charged with the mastering project proclaiming, “Burton is the real deal. It’s very important that this music gets put out there for younger generations to hear. This is legacy material.”

From the modern-day defiling of Bad River’s Lake Superior 'Madeline Island' to the heart-rending story of a long-ago massacre by 'Bluecoats'; in the poignant story of a homeless family in 'Hey Buddy' to the anger of an oppressed people in 'Chi-mookomaans,' the 11 songs on this disc are as relevant today as they were in 1996 - or 1896. According to Tanin, “Timeless.”

1. 'Watching over You' (3:15)
2. 'Madeline Island' (3:33)
3. 'Why Can't They Comprehend?' (3:52)
4. 'Freedom' (3:38)
5. 'Bluecoat' (3:38)
6. 'Ever Wonder Why' (3:17)
7. 'Hey Buddy' (3:16)
8. 'Northwinds' (2:27)
9. 'Your Heroes' (2:15)
10. 'I'll Be Back' (3:25)
11. 'Chi-Mookomaan' (3:38)

The harmonious gentle bounce of 'Watching over You' opens the album and immediately showcases perfectly what the listener is to experience over the 11 tracks.

The uptempo 'Madeline Island' is then backed by the honest, yearning storytelling of 'Why Can't They Comprehend?' with the gentle Cash-like ambiance of 'Freedom' along next.

The pacey duo of 'Bluecoat' and 'Ever Wonder Why' are followed by the tale of an invisible homeless family with the atmospheric 'Northwinds' up next.

'Your Heroes' is a stand out cut for me and then the album rounds out with the mid-tempo ballad 'I'll Be Back,' and then the spirited 'Chi-Mookomaan' brings an end to a most profoundly genuine album.

CD Baby Are We Free? Digital/CD Purchase Link

Daystorm Music @ Facebook

Title - 'The Peanute Butter Falcon'
Artist - Various

Winner of SXSW Audience Award and an early Oscar candidate, 'The Peanut Butter Falcon' is a modern day Mark Twain adventure featuring a top ensemble cast highlighted by Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson.

After running away from a residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler, a man who has Down syndrome befriends an outlaw who becomes his coach and ally.

The folk-based soundtrack features new songs from Sara Watkins, (Nickel Creek, I’m With Her), Butch Walker and a score lead by members of 2018 Grammy Winners for Best Folk Album, The Punch Brothers. Additional tracks come from The Staples Singers, Ola Belle Reed and more.

1. 'Cold Open' (1:27)
2. 'Clean Up Your Act, Tyler – Flashback' (1:31)
3. 'Crab Trap Beat Down' (1:40)
4. 'Uncloudy Day' - Performed by The Staple Singers (3:00) 5. 'On The Water – Boat Chase' (3:09)
6. 'On The Water – Coast Is Clear' (0:35)
7. 'Traveling Theme' (1:46)
8. 'What Is Your Name – Elanore Canvasing' (1:18)
9. 'You Led Me To The Wrong' - Performed by Ola Belle Reed (4:15)
10. 'Where The Wild, Wild Flowers Grow' - Performed by Ola Belle Reed (2:27)
11. 'Tyler Teaches Zak To Swim' (1:05)
12. 'Whippoorwills' - Performed by Chance McCoy (3:46)
13. 'My Heart Keeps Singing / Baptism' (2:32)
14. 'Give You All The Wishes – Flashback' (0:59)
15. 'Love Me In Kind' (0:50)
16. 'The Peanut Butter Falcon Emerges' (1:25)
17. 'Canvassing' (0:35)
18. 'Bad Boys' (0:50)
19. 'The Stable Song' - Performed by Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony (6:12)
20. 'Hold Up Tyler – Bad Boys' (1:57)
21. 'This Heartache' - Performed by The Time Jumpers (3:37)
22. 'Wrestling Theme' (3:26)
23. 'Atomic Throw' (4:02)
24. 'Running For So Long (House A Home)' - Performed by Parker Ainsworth, Butch Walker, Paris Jackson and Jessie Payo (4:35)
25. 'Long Hot Summer Days' - Performed by Sara Watkins (3:17)

The 'Cold Open,' performed by Jonathan Sadoff, Zachary Dawes, Noam Pikelny and Gabe Witcher (as being a score, they handle it all) is a atmospheric pin into what to expect from this insightfully creative soundtrack (to a film that is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favorites of the past decade!)

The duo of the banjo-led 'Clean Up Your Act, Tyler – Flashback' and the anthemically building force that is 'Crab Trap Beat Down' keep the momentum simmering, whilst as we progress tracks such as the lighter, more playful 'Traveling Theme' and 'What Is Your Name - Elanore Canvasing' open the door nicely for Chance McCoy's down South bounce within 'Whippoorwills.'

The beautiful, albeit short (0.48) 'Love Me In Kind' is just a stand out cut here for me and that's backed by the more foreboding 'The Peanut Butter Falcon Emerges,' 'Bad Boys' and 'Hold Up Tyler - Bad Boys.'

The album then rounds out with 'This Heartache' from Grammy award-winning band The Time Jumpers, the frenetic electric guitar and drum jam 'Wrestling Theme,' the concisely clockwork appeal of 'Atomic Throw,' and then both the gentle Country ache of 'Running For So Long (House A Home)' (performed by Parker Ainsworth, Butch Walker, Paris Jackson and Jessie Payo), and then the fiddle-to-the-fore 'Long Hot Summer Days' - performed by American singer-songwriter, and fiddler supreme, of course, Sara Watkins.

“Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson are very musical and it was clear they heard what they wanted the film to sound like as they wrote the script," Zach Dawes, composer and music supervisor, has since said.

"We discussed scores they liked as well as a curated playlist that felt aligned with the characters and place. ‘Atomic Throw’ at the end of the picture is my favorite musical moment because it serves the fantastical elements of the story – the music branches off from previous arrangements and instrumentation in a nice ethereal manner."

"I hope audiences see the importance of human connection and how integral that is to love and happiness. Family is what you make it and never be afraid to trust or love someone, or something.”

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'After The Wedding'
Artist - Mychael Danna

Seeking funds for her orphanage in India, Isabelle travels to New York to meet Theresa, a wealthy benefactor.

An invitation to attend a wedding ignites a series of events in which the past collides with the present as mysteries unravel.

The highly regarded drama starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Billy Crudup had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released in US theaters on August 9th via Sony Pictures Classics.

1. 'Isabel'
2. 'Oscar Goes Home'
3. 'Bird’s Nest'
4. 'Flashback'
5. 'The Stairwell'
6. 'Theresa Takes Pill'
7. 'The Wedding'
8. 'Grace’s Speech'
9. 'I’m Going to Call You Tomorrow'
10. 'Oscar and Theresa Tell Grace'
11. 'Grace Meets Isabel'
12. 'Dinner'
13. 'Theresa’s New Offer'
14. 'The Market '
15. 'Oscar Finds Pills'
16. 'We Don’t Get to Choose'
17. 'She’s Your Daughter'
18. 'Grace Crying'
19. 'The Contract'
20. 'Theresa’s Earring'
21. 'Time Passes'
22. 'Tattered and Torn' - Performed by The Counterfits
23. 'Brick House' - Performed by Commodores
24. 'Knew You For a Moment' - Performed by Abby Quinn

The hauntingly ethereal 'Isabel' opens this quite magnificently atmospherically scored album and with both the delicately paced piano work of 'Oscar Goes Home' and the jarringly edgy 'Bird's Nest' backing it, you instantly know that this soundtrack is going to keep you on your toes.

As we progress the recurrent 'Theresa Takes Pill,' the stirringly buoyant 'The Wedding,' the refined cello work of 'Grace's Speech,' and the dynamic ache of 'I'm Going To Call You Tomorrow' all flow together to create a mid-section that begs for your impalpable attention.

Journeying through the gentle wind pipes of 'The Market,' the stern build of 'Oscar Finds Pills,' and the dulcet slow piano strokes of 'We Don't Get To Choose,' the short (but not necessarily sweet) 'She's Your Daughter' evokes a quick knife-through-shower-curtain vibe all of its own!

The soundtrack score then closes out with the gossamer of 'Time Passes,' the lo-fi alt rock of 'Tattered And Torn' (from English punk rockers The Counterfits), brilliantly The Commodores' highly infectious '70s dancefloor smash 'Brick House,' and then the delicate 'Knew You For a Moment' (performed by actress/singer songwriter, Abby Quinn).

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'We Are Not Here To Help'
Artist - The Brutalists

For those not in the know, The Brutalists are a new rock and roll group featuring founding L.A. Guns member Mick Cripps and London Quireboys founder Nigel Mogg.

The group is rounded out by guitarist/vocalist Kent Holmes, bassist Robert Cripps and vocalist/drummer Charlie Nice and their self-titled debut was released this very same time last year.

The sophomore album from L.A.’s premiere garage rock quintet, We Are Not Here To Help is out now via Cleopatra Records and once again it combines their inherent musical influences from growing up in the industry.

Chock full of leering blues, pub rock, R&B and the synthesized dance ennui of post-punk, seasoned with bits of ska and reggae, this sophomore album is, without a shadow of a doubt, as strong as their first outing - if not perhaps a wee bit more gusto enhanced!

1. 'Leave It Out'
2. 'If I Just Do Nothing'
3. 'Who’s Gonna Believe Ya'
4. 'Take It All Away'
5. 'Something To Say'
6. 'Price On Your Head'
7. 'You Got Nothin’ On Me'
8. 'Useless Information'
9. 'Someone Like You'
10. 'Maybe I’m Wrong'
11. 'It Was Never Meant To Be So Easy' (CD Bonus Track)

On an album that brings forth 11 tracks that are just as vibrant, as rewarding to listen to as I think any album has affected me in the past decade, We Are Not Here To Help You is a magnificent example of how to create a still-requisite collection of music in this manufactured-pop industry.

From the achingly brilliant rock and soul of the opening duo of 'Leave It Out' and 'If I Just Do Nothing,' to the hipsway R&B bounce of the first single 'Take It All Away,' on through to the second single, the uber catchy 'Price On Your Head,' and the smart lyrics and flashback era musicianship found on both 'Maybe I'm Wrong' and the CD bonus track 'It Was Never Meant To Be Easy,' this album is as good as any record of its ilk made in the past 40 years!

Catch The Brutalists on their West Coast tour this summer and fall plus UK appearances later in the year including a reunion with The Dirty Strangers!

Official CD Purchase Link

The Brutalists @ Facebook!

Title - 'Live In Concert - Tour 2011'
Artist - Renaissance

For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit 'Northern Lights' and progressive rock classics like 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Mother Russia', and 'Ashes Are Burning'.

They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.

Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work.

The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.

The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf.

They intended to put "something together with more of a classical influence" and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.

Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the "classic line-up" of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.

They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.

From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.

Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance. Led by Haslam and Dunford, following that aforementioned hiatus of some years, the reformed Renaissance undertook live work, performing much praised concerts in the USA and Japan in 2010 and 2011.

On September 27th, 2019 Esoteric Recordings (via Cherry Red Records UK) will release a 2CD + DVD digipak edition of the live set from the mighty Renaissance.

This fine live document was recorded at The Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA, USA on 23rd September 2011 and features a line-up of Annie Haslam and Michael Dunford joined by Rave Tesar (keyboards), David J. Keyes (bass, vocals), Jason Hart (keyboards, vocals) and Frank Pagano (drums).

The band’s live set saw Renaissance perform two of their classic albums live in their entirety, namely TURN OF THE CARDS and SCHEHERAZADE & OTHER STORIES.

Sadly, this live document would be the band’s final release to feature Michael Dunford, who tragically passed away in November 2012. Ergo, Live In Concert - Tour 2011 serves as fine tribute to Michael’s memory and to the wonderful music of Renaissance.

Turn Of The Cards (1974)
1. 'Running Hard'
2. 'I Think of You'
3. 'Things I Don't Understand'
4. 'Black Flame'
5. 'Cold Is Being'
6. 'Mother Russia'

1974's Turn Of The Cards was the fifth Renaissance album, and once again, it's a masterpiece of classical/prog rock. Once more, the band's music is magically lush, sweeping and magnificent, with Annie Haslam's goddess-like voice leading the way.

All six songs are outstanding, played and sung to perfection by Haslam and performed to extreme precision by guitarist Michael Dunford, et al.

I mean, if you don't know now, I'll say it again: Renaissance were / are a phenomenal band who deserved a much bigger worldwide audience then what they had.

Their music is just that entertainingly good and this Turn Of The Cards is yet another simply brilliant album from Renaissance.

Listening to it live here on their 2011 reformation tour, lovingly nothing has changed down the years. Interwoven strains of classically influenced music, tempered by harmonies and balance arranged by a carefully orchestrated rock ensemble - which included traditional piano and contemporary synthesizer among others - are still their core.

With all of this classical influence punctuated by lyrics that represent the very essence of the self-discovery of the times all done with a trace of nostalgic longing, cuts such as 'Running Hard,' 'Things I Don't Understand' and the excellent 'Mother Russia' all still reverberate within today's world.

Scheherazade & Other Stories (1975)
1. 'Trip to the Fair'
2. 'Vultures Fly High'
3. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Song of Scheherazade'
5. 'The Mystic and the Muse'

1975's Scheherazade And Other Stories continued their winning streak where they seemingly, and effortlessly tossed off one magnificent album after another during their '70s heyday.

Ergo, Scheherazade is a beautifully crafted album, expertly sung and played, filled with lush, orchestral progressive pop-rock that's guaranteed to sweep you away.

Listening to it live here on this 2011 re-envisioning and Haslam's vocals are just as exquisite, as lushly ornate as they ever were back then.

For example, they begin with 'Trip To The Fair,' which is a rather heavenly 11-minute dreamscape, if I say so myself. 'Vultures Fly High' is a short, but mighty effective prog-rocker with the flowingly beautiful 'Ocean Gypsy' backing it seamlessly.

And then, of course, we get the 25-minute, nine-part epic 'Song Of Scheherazade,' the band's magnum opus that reinterprets Rimsky-Korsokov's classical tale about the Sultan and the magical woman where Scheherazade ultimately wins his heart.

Once again, the whole band shines throughout the live show: Annie Haslam's magical singing voice, Michael Dunford's brilliant guitar-playing, Keyes's powerful basslines (and co-lead vocals on 'Scheherazade'), Tesar's phenomenal keyboard work, and Pagano's incredible drumming.

The set is rounded out by the near 8 minute 'The Mystic And The Muse' and it just rounds out a simply tremendous live performance that once you see the accompanying DVD you will couple together with the CDs and quickly realize you had no idea how you have lived without them in your lives up until now!

Live In Concert - Tour 2011 (DVD)
1. 'I Think of You'
2. 'Things I Don't Understand'
3. 'Black Flame'
4. 'Cold Is Being'
5. 'Mother Russia'
6. 'Trip to the Fair'
7. 'Vultures Fly High'
8. 'Ocean Gypsy'
9. 'Song of Scheherazade'
10. 'The Mystic and the Muse'

2CD+DVD DigiPak Purchase Link

Renaissance Touring @ Facebook

Title - 'Royal Soldier'
Artist - Jah Cure

For those not in the know, Jah Cure (born Siccature Alcock) is a Jamaican reggae musician, who was raised in Kingston. In fact, he was given the name Jah Cure by Capleton whom he met while growing up in Kingston.

Jah Cure is also known as the King of Lovers Rock and Roots Reggae and his presence and influence among Caribbean fans has reverberated around the globe, earning him top status among reggae artists internationally.

Furthermore, Jah Cure is a musical adventurer, exploring rhythms, moods and meaning with his latest album Royal Soldier, his first since The Cure in 2015.

Featuring guest appearances from Melanie Fiona, Mya, Phyllisia Ross, Popcaan, Damien ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Tory Lanez, and others, Royal Soldier (out August 30th, 2019 via VP Records) is, once again, Jah Cure at the top of his game.

1. 'On The Move'
2. 'Brighter Day'
3. 'Marijuana' (feat. Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley)
4. 'Telephone Love'
5. 'Magic' (feat. Tory Lanez)
6. 'Risk It All' (feat. Phyllisia Ross)
7. 'Pretty Face'
8. 'Work It Out' (feat. Melanie Fiona)
9. 'Eyes On Your Body' (feat. Dru, Sketch Carey & Alx)
10. 'Only You' (feat. Mya)
11. 'Don’t Walk Away'
12. 'Royal Soldier'
13. 'Life Is Real' (feat. Popcaan)
14. 'Street Kings' (feat. Yami Bolo, Junior Reid & Capleton)

The album kicks off with the reverberated beauty 'On The Move' and backs that up with the slow roll of both 'Brighter Day' and 'Marijuana' (feat. Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley), the deep growl of 'Telephone Line,' and then both the almost hypnotic 'Magic' (feat. Tory Lanez) and the mid-tempo hipsway of 'Risk It All' (feat. Phyllisia Ross).

Jah Cure writes songs about love and consciousness and reality. His music moves between classic roots and smooth R&B and often challenges the boundaries of the reggae genre. All that and so much more is showcased perfectly here on the new album, especially as we run into both 'Pretty Face' and 'Work It Out' (feat. Melanie Fiona).

The sultry lo-fi of 'Eyes On Your Body' (feat. Dru, Sketch Carey & Alx) is backed by the first real pop bounce flow track, 'Only You' (feat. Mya) which is followed by Lover's Rock of 'Don't Walk Away.'

The mid tempo Roots Reggae smooth R&B bounce of the title track 'Royal Soldier' is then backed by the storytelling of 'Life Is Real' (feat. Popcaan & Padrino), with the magnificent album rounding out with the Wailersesque 'Street Kings' (feat. Yami Bolo, Junior Reid & Capleton).

Official CD Purchase Link

Jah Cure @ Facebook

Jah Cure @ Twitter

Title - 'Smoky Nights' [EP]
Artist - Jennifer Saran

For those not in the know, Jennifer Saran is a North American alt-pop/adult contemporary artist, songwriter, and vocalist, based in Hong Kong.

Her debut holiday-themed album Merry Christmas, You Are Loved was released in 2015 to many great reviews. Shortly thereafter her 2016 follow-up album Walk With Me, both of which were produced and co-written by the legendary producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Sting), were released through Walden’s Tarpan Records label.

In 2016, Saran teamed up with the South African Grammy-winning male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo (along with the Grammy and Emmy-winning producer Walden), to create Wake Up (which was released in the Summer of 2017).

Basically put, in just four years, singer-songwriter Jennifer Saran has gone from best-kept-secret status to being hailed as one of the freshest new voices in alt-pop/adult contemporary music.

And now, come September 20th, 2019, her fans are in for yet another musical treat, for the Hong Kong-based singer releases her brand new five-song Jazz EP Smoky Nights.

1. 'Smoky Nights'
2. 'The Love Is Now Gone'
3. 'Let the Waves Wash Over Me'
4. 'Don't Forget My Name'
5. 'Get Over Yourself'

As always, produced by Narada Michael Walden for his very own Tarpan Records, it finds Saran fully embracing the moody and melancholy genre of Jazz that she's loved her entire life.

“I’m so excited to be writing and singing jazz,” Saran enthuses. "I’ve always been a fan of Billie Holiday, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. And, of course, there’s Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett."

"The songs that Narada and I are writing together follow in their traditions, the way they could blend darkness with the gentle side of things.” She laughs, then adds, “Maybe I was born too late, but I believe there’s a timelessness to this style of music."

"It’s dramatic and elegant. I’m finding that this material feels very natural to me.”

Having touched on smooth jazz with the aching ballad 'Last Kiss' from her Walk With Me album, here on Smoky Nights Saran puts both feet in the Jazz waters and fully immerses herself.

This quite stunningly authentic to the times EP opens with the sultry smoothness of the title track, 'Smoky Nights' before sliding effortlessly into the stoically melodic 'Don’t Forget My Name.'

Next up is the lush mid tempo, gentle hipsway of 'Let the Waves Wash Over Me' which is backed by the late night / early morning, underground Jazz club appeal of 'Don't Forget My Name,' with the funky sax-enhanced, finger-snappin' beauty 'Get Over Yourself.'

As for that title track cut, well, as Saran herself reveals, "It’s about a feeling you have with another person. You want to be there and you want it to work, but you know it won’t. It’s about that hesitation. You see it before you, but you can’t go there.”

Saran is especially delighted at Walden’s production work on the new EP, stating that “he’s pushing me harder than he ever has before, but in a good way."

"I was used to singing in a lower register, but on the first four albums he urged me to use the whole range of my voice, so I was singing higher, but in a softer, gentler way than you might expect."

"Now, he’s taking me back to where I was always comfortable. He really brings out the best in me. I’m really excited to have people hear what we come up with.”

Walden himself says, “It’s my honor to work with Jenn on this new EP and I can’t wait for everyone to hear her jazzy touch on ‘Smoky Nights.’ I know it’s a musical style that’s been living in her heart and soul for some time now. I call it, ‘something for the tender in you!’”

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Jennifer Saran @ Facebook

Jennifer Saran @ Twitter

Title - 'You Don't Know Me: Classic Country'
Artist - Crystal Gayle

For those not in the know, Crystal Gayle is an American country music artist who began her career in the 1960s performing in the background of her sibling's bands, most notably Loretta Lynn.

Indeed, it was actually Lynn who helped her sister sign a recording contract with Decca Records in 1970 where she enjoyed minor success.

Encouraged by Lynn to develop her own musical identity, Gayle signed a new recording contract with United Artists Records in 1974. A collaboration with producer Allen Reynolds brought forth major success by shifting her music towards a country pop style.

In 1975, 'Wrong Road Again' became Gayle's first major hit. However, it was in 1977 when Gayle achieved her biggest success with the single 'Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue'.

The song topped the Billboard country chart, crossed over to the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, and became a major international hit.

The rest, as they say, is history, for You Don't Know Me: Classic Country is the twenty sixth studio album by American country artist Crystal Gayle.

The album was released on September 6th, 2019 via Southpaw Musical Productions and contains cover versions of classic country songs whilst also featuring collaborations with other artists.

1. 'Ribbon of darkness'
2. 'You Win Again'
3. 'Please Help Me, I'm Falling'
4. 'Am I That Easy To Forget?'
5) 'Hello Walls'
6) 'You Never Were Mine'
7) 'Just One More'
8) 'There Goes My Everything'
9) 'That's the Way Love Goes'
10) 'Crying Time'
11) 'I've Seen That Look on Me a Thousand Times'
12) 'Walking After Midnight'
13) 'You Don't Know Me'
14) 'Put It Off Until Tomorrow'
15) 'I Cried the Blue' (Right Out of My eyes)' - Bonus Track

On an album that marks Gayle's first studio release in sixteen years, she begins in familiar territory on the gentle foot-tappin' bounce of 'Ribbon of Darkness' (a song written by Gordon Lightfoot that was released in 1965 as a single by Marty Robbins) and backs that up with Hank Williams' 1952 beauty 'You Win Again.'

The lush 'Please Help Me, I'm Falling' (first recorded by Hank Locklin in 1960) is followed by the aching 'Am I That Easy to Forget' (first published back in 1958, and subsequent hits for both Gene Vincent and George Jones), the buoyant 'Hello Walls' (a song first recorded by Faron Young in 1961), and then 'You Were Never Mine' written by her brother, Jay Lee Webb.

The lo--fi country twang of 'Just One More' (a 1956 hit for George Jones) is then followed by 'There Goes My Everything' (a 1966 song best known for being made a hit by Jack Green), and then one of my own personal favorites, the Johnny Rodriguez song from 1973, 'That's the Way Love Goes.'

Buck Owens' 1964 hit 'Crying Time' is another beauty to hear and that's backed seamlessly by both 'I've Seen That Look on Me a Thousand Times' (covered more recently by George Strait), and the double bass passive thwang of 'Walking After Midnight' (Patsy Cline).

This quite magnificent return to form for Gayle then rounds out with the lush 1955 Eddy Arnold track 'You Don't Know Me,' the Dolly Partan and Bill Owens mid-'60s co-write 'Put It Off Until Tomorrow' (now a sibling trio featuring Loretta Lynn and Peggy Sue), and then the flashback gem of a bonus track - a demo written by Loretta Lynn and recorded by Gayle back circa 1969 - entitled 'I've Cried the Blue (Right Out of My Eyes).'

Official Purchase Links

Crystal Gayle @ Facebook

Crystal Gayle @ Twitter

Title - 'The Bell Years: 1972-1974 [4CD Box-Set]
Artist - David Cassidy

For those not in the know, David Cassidy (April 12, 1950 – November 21, 2017) was an American actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

He was best known for his role as Keith Partridge, the son of Shirley Partridge (played by his stepmother, Shirley Jones), in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family.

Indeed, this role catapulted Cassidy to teen idol status as a superstar pop singer of the 1970s where between 1972-74 he was one of the world’s best-selling artists; both solo and as a member of The Partridge Family.

This brand new 4CD, 50 track clam shell Box-Set (released October 4th, 2019 via 7T's Records / Cherry Red Records UK), covers all of his solo recordings for Bell Records during that aforementioned most commercially successful years.

Disc One is his debut album Cherish which hit #15 in the USA and #2 in the UK. It includes the #2 UK hit single ‘Could It Be Forever’ and the #3 ‘I Am A Clown,’ both of which were also major hits across most of Europe.

CD 1 - Cherish (1972)
1. 'Being Together'
2. 'I Just Wanna Make You Happy'
3. 'Could It Be Forever'
4. 'Blind Hope'
5. 'I Lost My Chance'
6. 'My First Night Alone Without You'
7. 'We Could Never Be Friends ('Cause We've Been Lovers Too Long)'
8. 'Where Is the Morning'
9. 'I Am a Clown'
10. 'Cherish'
11. 'Ricky's Tune'
12. 'All I Wanna Do Is Touch You' - Bonus Track

Cassidy's Cherish was a huge break out solo attempt by the artist best known for his portrayal of Keith Partridge; the perennial teenage eldest son on the hugely popular 'Partridge Family' series on ABC.

Indeed, it was David's continuous urge to expand his audience to a rock status that gave birth to this first solo project. Yet, as it is told, he was still under strict restrains at the time by producer Wes Farrell; who also produced the Partridge's musical numbers.

It was said that Farrell made Cassidy follow guide lines to not overstep the purity of his Partridge status - much to Cassidy's dismay - but Cassidy was so enthusiastic to break the mold he gave in.

Thus his first foray into a solo career sounds very similar to his Partridge tunes that Arista had already included many of Cassidy's previous songs of on the Partridge compilations beforehand.

Ergo, it's also difficult for a novice Partridge fan to really hear any difference in any of these tunes that could have easily transcended into the TV Show; which was Farrell's intention, of course.

The second disc is 1973’s UK #2 LP Rock Me Baby which also reached #41 in America. The title track was a UK #11 hit and #38 in the USA whilst ‘How Can I Be Sure’ gave David his first British #1 single.

CD 2 - Rock Me Baby (1972)
1. 'Rock Me Baby'
2. 'Lonely Too Long'
3. 'Two Time Loser'
4. 'Warm My Soul'
5. 'Some Kind of a Summer'
6. '(Oh No) No Way'
7. 'Song for a Rainy Day'
8. 'Soft As a Summer Shower'
9. 'Go Now'
10. 'How Can I Be Sure'
11. 'Song of Love'

On his sophomore album, Rock Me Baby it's evident right off that Cassidy finally seemed to have gotten his way with his insistence that he go towards a more blatant rock sound.

However, that may have worked better if the rock songs were more tuneful, or as good as anything on the rock/pop charts in 1971-1972, of course. I mean, we all know 'Smoke On The Water' is an incredible song, but the tracks on Rock Me Baby were just nowhere close, sorry.

That said, 'How Can I Be Sure' (which actually is a great song, it has to be said) charted, but it seems to divide the album into schizophrenia (for it's another cover, many of which Cassidy nearly always performed well).

Equally there's the Wrecking Crew performing with their usual distinction and adeptness on all the tracks leaving the stand out tracks for me being 'Some Kind Of Summer' and 'Soft As A Summer Shower' - which are tracks both performed, and produced, beautifully.

Disc Three is Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes, a UK Chart topper in November ’73. It includes the double A-side #1 ‘The Puppy Song’ / ‘Daydreamer’ and now has the bonus of both sides of the #9 smash ‘If I Didn’t Care’.

CD 3 - Dreams Are Nuthin’ More Than Wishes (1973)
1. 'Opening Theme'
2. 'Daydream'
3. 'Sing Me'
4. 'Bali Ha'i'
5. 'Mae Time'
6. 'Fever Time'
7. 'Summer Days'
8. 'The Puppy Song'
9. 'Daydreamer'
10. 'Some Old Woman (There Is A Woman)'
11. 'Can't Go Home Again'
12) 'It's Preying On My Mind'
13) 'Hold On Me'
14) 'If I Didn't Care' - Bonus Track
15) 'Frozen Noses' - Bonus Track

With Dreams Are Nuthin' it was very obvious that Cassidy was leaving Keith Partridge as far behind in his rear view mirror as possible!. Songs such as 'Daydreamer,' 'Can't Go Home Again' and 'It's Preying on My Mind' are the great stand outs here for me personally; on and album that managed to keep the world's ongoing love affair with him alive and burning bright!

The final disc in the box set is the In Concert Cassidy Live! ’74 which hit #9 in the UK and contains the Top 20 hit single ‘Please Please Me’.

CD 4 - Cassidy Live! ’74 (1974)
1. 'It's Preying on My Mind'
2. 'Some Kind Of Summer'
3. 'Breaking Up Is Hard To Do'
4. 'Bali Ha'i / Mae Time'
5. 'I Am a Clown'
6. 'Delta Lady'
7. 'Please Please Me'
8. 'Daydreamer'
9. 'How Can I Be Sure'
10. 'For What It's Worth'
11. 'CC Rider Blues / Jenny Jenny'
12. 'Rock Medley'

Listening to this live CD, and one I've never personally heard before, it's so very obvious that Cassidy just loves entertaining his fans.

Shining brightly on every single song, each lyric loving brought forth, he gives every vocal indication that he loves being up there, under the solo spotlight, in front of his adoring sell-out audience.

Simply put, the 1974 song selection even today brings back all those memories of teenage years spent dreaming about him (female and male, one assumes), as he sings just for you, live on stage.

So if you weren't a fan, don't buy this 4CD Box-Set. But if you were, then this will bring it all back lovingly to you in leaps and bounds!

Each album is housed in a cardboard wallet with original front cover artwork and a back sympathetic to the original album design.

The booklet contains lots of memorabilia and picture sleeves from the era as well as extensive liner notes.

Official 4CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Save the Universe' [EP]
Artist - Uncle Roy and the Band from Another Planet

Uncle Roy and the Band from Another Planet's brand new Save the Universe 5-track EP is the very first release from the prog rock artist and was released on September 1st, 2019.

Chock full of wide open, and delicious spacious goodness, the five alternative rock-pop rock vocal tunes range from sweet and ethereal, to a heavy blend of rock, alternative rock, classical rock, progressive rock, power pop rock and modern, pop rock music.

1. 'Cosmic Happiness' (5:21)
2. 'The Isle of Riff on the World of Tone' (4:10)
3. 'A World of Miracles' (4:13)
4. 'Father Time' (5:42)
5. 'It Doesn't Really Matter' (4:38)

Kicking things off nicely with the atmospheric fun '70s-esque rocker 'Cosmic Happiness,' we're soon into the echo chambered dark rock hole of 'The Isle of Riff on the World of Tone,' with the ethereal, and highly philosophical 'A World of Miracles' along next.

Containing a wondrous collection of stories within the thoughtful lyrics, all the abovementioned musical influences come to the fore throughout this quite magnificent new EP.

We next get the immersive trance-pop power of a song dedicated to the importance of time, 'Father Time,' with the EP rounding out with the thumping, driving, preachin', talk-singin' chorus-baked cut, 'It Doesn't Really Matter.'

Uncle Roy says, “For 'Save The Universe' I wanted to create a set of tunes that were not one style of rock or just heavy or just light. I wanted to have some of the musical ingredients, from several rock stylings, within the scope of the music."

"I wanted the recipe for this project to be more universal, with a mix of rock genres. Therefore, each tune has its own musical and lyrical difference and character from the others. There is soft guitar and screaming guitar."

"There are dreamy, orchestral keyboards to, thick, and rockin' keyboards. The drums may lightly and tightly groove for a section of a tune and then, be pounding. The bass will be subtle at times and then, sometimes big and fat."

"Vocally, you will find the voices of the songs going from the mellow and grand to heavy rock to a little, talk-singin' and preachin'. For every letter of the alphabet, there is a musical influence that has manipulated my musical, genetic makeup, over a few light years."

"The world's music is broad, cultural, always evolving and it is what influences me musically, as well, all the time.”

Included with the physical CD is a beautiful 8-page booklet filled with fun, sci-fi stories and thoughts, pictures, song descriptions and lyrics written by Uncle Roy.

There is also a cool, inventive and “top secret” alien photo file attached to the CD of Alien Uncle Roy!

CD Baby Purchase Link

Uncle Roy's Alien Music @ Facebook

Title - 'How Do We Get to Earth?' [EP]
Artist - Uncle Roys Spaceship

Uncle Roy's Spaceship's How Do We Get to Earth? is a 5-track EP and the very first instrumental release for the band, released on September 2nd, 2019.

The music is a progressive, instrumental recipe of several genres of rock music, blending time signatures and tempos, within instrumental rock, progressive rock, fusion, classical rock, space rock, jazz rock and other cosmic sounds; at this moment in space and time.

Furthermore, there is a galaxy of musical influences from many light years of playing, that you can hear within the sounds.

1. 'Space Noodlein' (3:26)
2. 'Moonbeams and the Cosmic Bang' (6:31)
3. 'There Is Nothing More Bright Than the Stars at Night' (4:04)
4. 'It's a Beautiful Day in the Milky Way' (4:10)
5. 'Flight of the Ancient Alien' (3:51)

Sometimes the soundscapes will be light and breezy and dreamy. And sometimes the soundscapes will be heavy, thick and creamy! Indeed, some tunes may have a bit of both, with a sprinkling or splashing of other musical textures and moods from soft to intense.

Uncle Roy kicks things into gear here immediately on the effervescent, speeding train dangerously close to derailing six string jammin' rocker 'Space Noodlelin' and backs that up seamlessly with the longest track of the five, the near seven minute harmonious, thoughtful, and ultimately progressive metal rock cut 'Moonbeams and the Cosmic Bang.'

Next up is the searing fusion guitar instrumental 'There Is Nothing More Bright Than the Stars at Night,' with rhythmic, soft guitar notes of 'It's a Beautiful Day in the Milky Way' backing it, before the EP rounds out with the pacey, energetic, anthemic prog rock of 'Flight of the Ancient Alien.'

Uncle Roy says, “I love instrumental music! From soloists to small groups to orchestral instrumentals, through a variety of music, the dynamic sensitivities within instrumental music makes me feel a rollercoaster of sensations and emotions!!!"

"So, I thought that creating a project of some tunes with the ingredients of a few instrumental rock music genres together, would be fun!"

"Instrumental rock, progressive rock, fusion, spacey rock, classical rock and jazz rock are all a part of the music in, 'How Do We Get To Earth?'"

"There are moments of soft, sweetness and moments of roaring and throbbing sounds. There are cruising, floating rhythms that groove and heavier, driving rhythms that rock. The dreamy and bright soundscape moments will make you drift."

"Each tune has a different mood, feeling, atmosphere and style from the others.”

CD Baby Purchase Link

Uncle Roy's Alien Music @ Facebook

Title - 'National Wrecking Company'
Artist - National Wrecking Company

The National Wrecking Company, featuring members of The Lizards, Cactus, Humble Pie and The Plasmatics, and have just released their eagerly awaited self-titled debut album (available on Hyperspace Records).

This quite magnificent new release features one of the final recordings by guitar legend Bernie Tormé, best known for his work with the Ian Gillan Band and Ozzy Osbourne, who sadly passed away this year.

Indeed, the song is a bonus preview track from the upcoming National Wrecking Company II release Overture/Mechanized Confusion.

1. 'Supersonic'
2. 'King of All I See'
3. 'Beast'
4. 'Molotov'
5. 'Holy Creatures'
6. 'Blood Moon Rising'
7. 'Return To Jesus'
8. 'Praise Yourself'
9. 'Whirlpool World'
10. 'End of Days'

Opening with the melodic rocker 'Supersonic,' and backing that up with both more of the same in 'King of All I See' and the prowling 'Beast,' right from the off lead singer Jimmy Kunes's (Cactus, Savoy Brown) thunderous vocal depth and range is brought to the fore on all the tracks.

Backed at every turn by bassist Randy Pratt (Cactus, The Lizards), tracks such as the drum-led (Neil Cicione of Rickity and T.C. Tolliver of The Plasmatics) 'Molotov' and the '80s-esque power rock of the searing 'Holy Creatures' makes this album truly as good as it gets within this business.

The powerfully menacing 'Blood Moon Rising' is then backed by the cultured funky hipsway of my own personal favorite cut, 'Return To Jesus' which in turn is backed by the guitar prowess of shred master Jesse Berlin on 'Praise Yourself.'

Complete with electric finger stylist Phil Bader and Scott “The Doctor” Treibitz on keyboards, the album then rounds out with two of the hardest cuts on the album in both 'Whirlpool World' and the crunchingly wary 'End of Days.'

Adding on the aforementioned preview track of 'Overture / Mechanized Confusion' featuring the late Bernie Tormé, the album (that also features the polished touch of Emmy winning engineer/producer, JZ Barrell) has fast become one of my Top 10 of the year - and I'm sure you will feel the same way once you yourselves have purchased it!

National Wrecking Company @ Facebook

Hyperspace Records @ Facebook

Title - 'Chernobyl' (Music From The HBO Mini-Series)
Artist - Hildur Guðnadóttir

For those not in the know, although I'm pretty sure you have most all heard her music on TV and in film at one time or another, Hildur Guðnadóttir is an Icelandic musician and composer.

A classically trained cellist, she has played and recorded with the bands Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Múm and Stórsveit Nix Noltes, and has also toured with Animal Collective and Sunn O))).

In 2006, she released a solo album under the name Lost In Hildurness, Mount A, on which she attempted to "... involve other people as little as I could."

It was recorded in New York City and Hólar in the north of Iceland and 2009 saw the release of her second solo album, Without Sinking, on the UK-based audio-visual label, Touch.

As well as the cello, Hildur also sings and arranges choral music, once arranging a choir for performances by Throbbing Gristle in Austria and London.

As a composer she has written a score for the play Sumardagur ("Summer Day") performed at Iceland's National Theatre. She has also written the score for the Danish film Kapringen (2012), Garth Davis' 2018 film Mary Magdalene (in collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson), Stefano Sollima's Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018), and the 2019 Chernobyl mini-series.

And it is there that we touch today as Chernobyl (Music From The HBO Mini-Series) has just been released on CD via Deutsche Grammophon this past August 23rd, 2019.

1. 'The Door' (2:43)
2. 'Bridge Of Death' (4:44)
3. 'Turbine Hall' (2:36)
4. 'Vichnaya Pamyat' (Homin Lviv Municipal Choir) (4:07)
5. 'Pump Room' (3:43)
6. 'Clean Up' (1:41)
7. 'Dealing With Destruction' (1:54)
8. 'Waiting For The Engineer' (1:31)
9. 'Gallery' (2:23)
10. '12 Hours Before' (2:31)
11. 'Corridors' (3:13)
12. 'Líður (Chernobyl Version)' (2:48)
13. 'Evacuation' (4:44)

This near 40 minute musical accompaniment to the heavily-lauded HBO show - which brings to us a story set in April 1986, where an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics becomes one of the world's worst man-made catastrophes - begins with 'The Door,' a building, throbbing work that bleeds seamlessly into the caustic 'Bridge of Death.'

Haunting tracks such as 'Turbine Hall,' and the ethereal 'Vichnaya Pamyat' (Homin Lviv Municipal Choir), and both the intense trio of 'Pump Room,' 'Clean Up' and 'Dealing With Destruction' are beautifully sculptured, and are backed by the frenetic pairing of 'Waiting for the Engineer' and 'Gallery.'

The calmer '12 Hours Before' is a work of ambient art, and is followed by the reverberating essence of 'Corridors,' with the soundtrack coming to a close with the stoic 'Líður (Chernobyl Version),' and then finally the building heartbeat found within 'Evacuation.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Wei Luo'
Artist - Wei Lou

For those not in the know, born in Shenzhen, southern part of China, the recipient of 2018 Gilmore Young Artist, Wei Luo showed interest in music and began piano lessons at age five.

She gave her debut recital in Hong Kong at age six. Winner of numerous competitions in China, Wei also claimed first prize in the 11th Chopin International Competition for Young Pianists in Poland and the 2nd Rachmaninov International Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Frankfurt, both in 2010.

Wei is also the 2016 winner and recipient of the “Salon de Virtuosi” Career Grant in New York. She made her orchestra debut at age ten with the Shanghai Philharmonic where, along with artistic director Muhai Tang, they opened the 2011 season by performing Prokofiev Concerto No. 3 at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center.

In past seasons Wei made her recital debut in Herbst Hall presented by San Francisco Performances. She performed at Festival Napa Valley, Mostly Mozart Festival, and continued her love of chamber music at the Santa Fe Chamber Music.

Wei performed Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 with Kansas City Symphony under the baton of Maestro Michael Stern, and Mendelssohn’s Concerto in G minor with the Denver Philharmonic.

In December 2017 she was featured soloist with the Albany Symphony conducted by David Allen Miller performing Mozart’s Concerto No. 24, K.491.

In the 2018-19 season, Wei makes her recital debut at NY Steinway Hall. She also performs Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3 with Quad City symphony.

Furthermore, she will tour in Michigan for Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in a series of solo recitals and performs Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody with Battle Creek Symphony.

Currently in school at the Curtis Institute and studying with Gary Graffman (teacher of Lang Lang and Yuja Wang), pianist Wei Luo has just released (Via Decca Gold this past August 30th, 2019, her self-titled debut album featuring works by Prokofiev, Shchedrin, and Shostakovich.

Opening with a compelling, near 12 minute take on Ravel’s solo piano version of 'La Valse,' Luo then transfers effortlessly into the duo of 'Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 - Prelude and Fugue No. 5 in D Major' and 'No. 24 in D Minor,' before bringing us a playful, yet extensively thoughtful Haydn Suite: 'Piano Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob.XVI: 52 - I. Allegro,' 'II. Adagio' and 'III. Finale: Presto.'

The powerful, arcing Prokofiev Suite is up next in the form of: 'Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-Flat Major, Op. 83 - I. Allegro inquieto,' 'II. Andante caloroso,' and the vibrant, key heavy 'III. Precipitato.' With the melodies and the earthy qualities obviously speaking volumes to Lou, this is also one of my own personal favorites.

This quite exquisite new album from Luo then rounds out with 'Shchedrin: Two Polyphonic Pieces - No. 1: Two-part Invention' and 'No. 2: Basso Ostinato,' which is rather perfect given its collective flighty forcefulness.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Across the Stars'
Artist - Anne-Sophie Mutter/John Williams

Grammy-winning violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter has just released her brand new collaborative album (via Deutsche Grammophon) with legendary film composer John Williams, Across the Stars.

Furthermore, Williams has adapted his beloved scores from films such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Star Wars, Schindler's List, and more specifically for Mutter and this quite wondrous album.

Recorded at Sony Pictures Studios with The Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles, conducted by John Williams himself, Across the Stars is a stunning 12 track album of known and yet elegantly reworked classics from the great man himself.

1. 'Rey's Theme' (from 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens')
2. 'Yoda's Theme' (from Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back')
3. 'Hedwig's Theme' (from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone')
4. 'Across the Stars (Love Theme)' (from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones')
5. 'Donnybrook Fair' (from 'Far and Away')
6. 'Sayuri's Theme' (from Memoirs of a Geisha')
7. 'Night Journeys' (from Dracula')
8. 'Theme' (from 'Sabrina')
9. 'The Duel' (from 'The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn')
10. 'Luke And Leia' (from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi')
11. 'Nice To Be Around' (from 'Cinderella Liberty')
12. 'Theme' (from 'Schindler's List')

Here within Across the Stars we find the obvious staples - the 'Star Wars' trilogy and 'Harry Potter' series, of course - but there are also some lovely renditions from such diverse films as 'Sabrina', 'Far and Away' and 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.

In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to choose what's more impressive: Williams' original takes on his own works or Mutter's extraordinarily expressive violin skills.

Each of the pieces in the collection are rearranged for violin and orchestra (the sole exception being the 'Theme from Schindler's List', which was originally for violin and orchestra).

That said, all the music here is more than simply arranged for new instrumentation for listening to them, one by one, you get a sense of new love, of heartfelt devotion to these tracks by both artists involved.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony' [3CD+]
Artist - Sons of Apollo

Sons of Apollo - former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (ex-Guns N' Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force) - have just released their highly impressive juggernaut of a live show, entitled Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony this past August 30th, 2019.

Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony documents the band's remarkable one-off performance at the Ancient Roman Theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria alongside a full orchestra and choir.

Playing tracks from their debut album Psychotic Symphony as well as a selection of tracks by other legendary bands (that they may or may not have had associations with down the years), it has been made available to their fans as a wondrous Limited Edition Deluxe 3CD + DVD + Blu-Ray Artbook, a Special Edition 3CD + DVD Digipak, and a standalone Blu-Ray & Digital Album.

CD 1:
1. 'God of the Sun'
2. 'Signs of the Time'
3. 'Divine Addiction'
4. 'That Metal Show Theme'
5. 'Just Let Me Breathe'
6. 'Billy Sheehan Bass Solo'
7. 'Lost in Oblivion'
8. 'JSS Solo Spot: The Prophet's Song/Save Me'
9. 'Alive'
10. 'The Pink Panther Theme'
11. 'Opus Maximus'

CD 2:
1. 'Kashmir'
2. 'Gates of Babylon'
3. 'Labyrinth'
4. 'Dream On'
5. 'Diary of a Madman'
6. 'Comfortably Numb'
7. 'The Show Must Go On'
8. 'Hell's Kitchen'
9. 'Derek Sherinian Keyboard Solo'
10. 'Lines in the Sand'

CD 3:
1. 'Bumblefoot Guitar Spot'
2. 'And the Cradle Will Rock'
3. 'Coming Home'

1. 'God of the Sun'
2. 'Signs of the Time'
3. 'Divine Addiction'
4. 'That Metal Show Theme'
5. 'Just Let Me Breathe'
6. 'Billy Sheehan Bass Solo'
7. 'Lost in Oblivion'
8. 'JSS Solo Spot: The Prophet's Song/Save Me'
9. 'Alive'
10. 'The Pink Panther Theme'
11. 'Opus Maximus'
12. 'Kashmir'
13. 'Gates of Babylon'
14. 'Labyrinth'
15. 'Diary of a Madman'
16. 'The Show Must Go On'
17. 'Hell's Kitchen'
18. 'Derek Sherinian Keyboard Solo'
19. 'Lines in the Sand'
20. 'Bumblefoot Guitar Spot'
21. 'And the Cradle Will Rock'
22. 'Coming Home'

1. 'God of the Sun'
2. 'Signs of the Time'
3. 'Divine Addiction'
4. 'That Metal Show Theme'
5. 'Just Let Me Breathe'
6. 'Billy Sheehan Bass Solo'
7. 'Lost in Oblivion'
8. 'JSS Solo Spot: The Prophet's Song/Save Me'
9. 'Alive'
10. 'The Pink Panther Theme'
11. 'Opus Maximus'
12. 'Kashmir'
13. 'Gates of Babylon'
14. 'Labyrinth'
15. 'Diary of a Madman'
16. 'The Show Must Go On'
17. 'Hell's Kitchen'
18. 'Derek Sherinian Keyboard Solo'
19. 'Lines in the Sand'
20. 'Bumblefoot Guitar Spot'
21. 'And the Cradle Will Rock'
22. 'Coming Home'
23. 'Documentary'
24. 'The "Slavi Show" feature'
25. 'Coming Home'
26. 'Lost in Oblivion'
27. 'Alive'
28. 'Tengo Vida'
29. 'Signs of the Time'
30. 'SOA - Introduction Part I'
31. 'SOA - Introduction Part II'
32. 'God of the Sun'
33. 'Coming Home'
34. 'Signs of the Time'
35. 'Labyrinth'
36. 'Alive'
37. 'Lost in Oblivion'
38. 'Figaro's Whore'
39. 'Divine Addiction'
40. 'Opus Maximus'
41. 'Behind the Scenes Outtakes Part I'
42. 'Behind the Scenes Outtakes Part II'

What I like personally about this stunning new 3CD / DVD / Blu-ray box-set is the fact that on the visual recordings of the live show, and after the introduction shots via some beautifully crafted overhead shots of the amphitheater itself, we get 360 degree multiple camera angles that draws you instantly into the totally immersive experience.

The band sure know what they are collectively, and individually doing and so the set is torn through in the most precisely animalistic musical manner.

Indeed, that joyous, abounding enthusiasm showcases itself in all their faces throughout this monster of a love show, and lit by some truly well envisioned stage lighting, everyone looks incredible doing it!

The sound is fabulous also, so too the final editing for it doesn't jerk rapidly from one band member to another (don't you just hate that when you see it!). No, here the camera lingers on the band and especially during the solos, puts the viewer right up there alongside them.

Mike Portnoy comments: "I've released several dozen live albums through the years with about a dozen different bands, but I have to say that this live release from Sons Of Apollo may indeed be the most special one of them all!!"

"Everything was aligned that evening: an absolutely beautiful Roman amphitheatre and a perfectly gorgeous summer evening, one set of SOA material and one set of specially chosen cover songs, and to top it all off being joined by a symphony orchestra and choir!"

"It was a magical evening for everybody in attendance and now we can share it with the rest of the world immortalized in this incredible live package."

"This package will serve as a nice souvenir to capture the band¡¯s first year on tour and should tide over all of our fans while we complete work on our sophomore studio release that will coming in Jan 2020."

Amazon Purchase Link

Sons of Apollo @ Facebook

Sons of Apollo @ Twitter

Title - 'Seems Like Tears Ago'
Artist - Jason James

When Jason James walks onstage, he declares his love of classic country before he even sings a note. His choice of attire — embroidered suits or pearl-snap shirts and sharply creased slacks — offers a visual tribute to his musical heroes and the traditions they established.

But it’s not his looks or style that provide the most convincing evidence of his kinship with other giants of the genre. It’s his sound: the pure, honest voice of a singer who rediscovered his soul when he reawakened his early love of well-crooned waltzes and hook-filled honky-tonkers.

On his sophomore album Seems Like Tears Ago - releasing worldwide October 4th, 2019 via his own Melodyville Records (Smith Music) - James follows his self-titled 2015 debut with ten original odes that recall the work of his influences without resorting to mimicry.

1. 'Seems Like Tears Ago'
2. 'I Miss You After All'
3. 'Move A Little Closer'
4. 'We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight'
5. 'Achin’ Takin’ Place'
6. 'Simply Divine'
7. 'Coldest Day Of The Year'
8. 'Cry On The Bayou'
9. 'Foolish Heart'
10. 'Ole Used To Be'

Reconvening with his first producer, John Evans (Hayes Carll, Corb Lund), James tracked it in just three days at Signal Hill Recordings in Dripping Springs, outside of Austin, with Patrick Herzfeld engineering.

Evans rounded up top talents for the sessions: Geoff Queen on electric and steel guitars; Reckless Kelly’s Cody Braun on fiddle; Rick Richards on drums; T Jarrod Bonta on piano; and Chris C Cook on rubboard.

Opening with the lo-fi title track, James ups the beat a wee bit for the twangy 'I Miss You After All,' which is itself backed by both the foot-tappin, barn-stormin' beauty 'Move A Little Closer' and the lovers intentions within 'We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight.'

A lonesome, pining guitar provides the back bone for both 'Achin’ Takin’ Place' and 'Simply Divine,' and they are seamlessly backed by the pop-lite vibe of 'Coldest Day Of The Year.'

The upbeat, hipsway fun of 'Cry On The Bayou' is one of my own personal favorites here, and that's backed by the beautiful 'Foolish Heart,' with the album rounding out with the classic-sounding 'Ole Used To Be.'

"It was fun to make this record,” James says. “It’s crazy seeing these guys come in and completely get it. I mean some of these songs were two takes. It was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s how you make a record.’”

In fact, he says, “I went through a little bit of a postpartum because I was like, ‘That’s it?’ It was such an easy birth.”

The writing came easily, too, particularly after James moved “back to the vortex” — of Texas City, on the Gulf Coast near Houston. Turns out there are fewer distractions in a town with a less active music scene. "They roll the carpets up here pretty early,” James says.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Annie In Wonderland: Remastered'
Artist - Annie Haslam

For those not in the know, Annie Haslam is an English vocalist, songwriter, and painter who is best known as the lead singer of progressive rock band Renaissance since 1971; and for her long and diverse solo singing career.

Indeed, she has a five-octave vocal range and from 2002, Haslam has developed a parallel career as a visual artist, producing paintings on canvas, painted musical instruments, and giclées.

Esoteric Recordings have just released (October 4th, 2019) the release of a newly re-mastered edition of the 1977 debut solo album by the celebrated vocalist, Annie Haslam.

Recorded in London whilst Renaissance were taking a break from recording and touring, the album was produced by legendary musician and songwriter Roy Wood (who also wrote three songs and played a staggering variety of instruments on the recordings).

The album also featured two compositions by Jon Camp of Renaissance and three cover versions, including a stunning rendition of the spiritual ‘Going Home’.

1. 'Introlise (If I Were Made of Music)'
2. 'I Never Believed in Love'
3. 'If I Loved You'
4. 'Hunioco'
5. 'Rockalise'
6. 'Nature Boy'
7. 'Inside My Life'
8. 'Going Home'

Now featuring some rather crystalline pure digital remastering efforts, which mean you will (as a devoted fan) most certainly pick up on sounds you had never heard before within each song, Annie Haslam's wondrous (albeit not chart exciting) Annie In Wonderland is, from start to finish a right royal beauty, if you ask me!

Whimsical, fanciful, and verging on precious, tracks such as 'If I Loved You' and the adventurous 'Nature Boy' ensure that Haslam gets right to the heart of these beautifully, soulful songs.

Furthermore, Roy Wood, who as mentioned, also wrote some of the material, arranged all the songs, played nearly all of the instruments and such actually is an uncredited lead vocal on 'I Never Believed in Love'.

Oh, and he also illustrated the cover!

The album features a range of musical styles enabling Haslam to experiment with vocal styles outside the ethos of Renaissance. The range for which Haslam is well-known is still apparent, however, especially in the showcase number 'Rockalise'.

Sadly though, as aforementioned, the album peaked at a low #167 on the Billboard pop albums chart of the time, which meant it died a death, to be quite honest.

Which is why I'm happy as a clam that Esoteric Recordings have remastered it and brought it out once again for a whole new generation to enjoy. I mean, come on now, the London Welsh Male Voice Chorus on the album closer 'Going Home' is worth the price of admission alone!

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Friday'
Artist - Monkey House

For those not in the know, Monkey House is the name of a musical group founded by Don Breithaupt, a Canadian-born pianist, singer/songwriter, composer, arranger, producer and author.

Indeed, the group got its name from a 1970 book by Kurt Vonnegut.

Sophisticated musicianship, imaginative lyrics, and a flair for melody are signatures of the Monkey House sound - a sound that has earned the group serious critical acclaim, peer respect, and a steadily expanding international following.

Those characteristics are again evident on their fifth full-length album, the quite brilliant Friday (out now via Alma Records / Universal) - and album that has rocketed to my #1 Top Pick of 2019!

1. '10,000 Hours'
2. 'Nine O'clock Friday'
3. 'Shotgun'
4. 'Welcome To the Rest Of The World'
5. 'Book Of Liars'
6. 'The Jazz Life'
7. 'I'll Drive, You Chill'
8. 'Say It For The Last Time'
9. 'When The Mud Men Come'
10. 'Because You'
11. 'Brainyard'
12. 'Island Off The Coast Of America'

Having just celebrated the notable milestone of 25 years of playing together - which has also meant that their musical core members have remained solid too re: singer/songwriter/keyboardist Don Breithaupt, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin - the new album also features some notable guests.

Guitarist Drew Zingg (Boz Scaggs) and trumpeter Michael Leonhart (Steely Dan) have guested on previous albums and make joyous contributions here, as does François D'Amours (Gino Vannelli), and Snarky Puppy guitarist Mark Lettieri.

Ground Up artist Lucy Woodward (Rod Stewart) adds background vocals throughout, while famed vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer add their magic to the choruses of 'The Jazz Life.'

Beginning with the bright and brisk '10,000 Hours' they back that up with both the lo-fi dream state beauty 'Nine O'clock Friday' and then the funky, finger-snappin' 'Shotgun.'

Next up is the free flowing sax work of 'Welcome To the Rest Of The World' which is followed by the slo' roll of 'Book Of Liars,' the aforementioned 'The Jazz Life' featuring the unmistakable harmonies of Manhattan Transfer, and then comes the mid-tempo duo of 'I'll Drive, You Chill' and 'Say It For The Last Time.'

'When The Mud Men Come' showcases nice vocal touches from Breithaupt and that's backed by the late night jazz club feel of 'Because You,' with the album rounding out harmonized 'Brainyard' and the expectedly laid back 'Island Off The Coast Of America.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Monkey House @ Facebook

Title - 'Sutherland Brothers & Quiver: The Albums' (8CD)
Artist - Sutherland Brothers & Quiver

For those not in the know, the Sutherland Brothers (Gavin and Iain Sutherland) are a British duo, born in Scotland who originally performed folk and rock music in the early 1970s, and then from 1973 to 1978 joined with rock band Quiver to record and tour as Sutherland Brothers & Quiver.

Under this combined moniker, the group recorded several albums and had a significant international hit single with the song 'Arms of Mary' in 1976.

In North America they are primarily known for their 1973 debut single '(I Don't Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway', which was not a hit in the UK.

This 8 CD, 103 track brand new Box-Set Sutherland Brothers & Quiver: The Albums (out this October 4th, 2019 via Lemon Records / Cherry Red Records UK) covers all of the releases by Sutherland Brothers & Quiver during the period 1971-79 for both Island and CBS Records.

Disc One is the self-titled Sutherland Brothers album, produced by Muff Winwood and featuring the single ‘The Pie’ - which was later covered by (of all people) the Bay City Rollers on their Strangers In The Wind album.

CD 1 - Sutherland Brothers (1972)
1. 'The Pie'
2. 'Sleeping Dog'
3. 'Hallelujah'
4. 'I Was in Chains'
5. 'Medium Wave'
6. 'Big Brother'
7. 'Wars of the Roses'
8. 'Midnight Avenue'
9. 'Sunny Street, W14'
10. 'Where in the World'
11. 'Long Long Day'
12. 'The Pie' (7" Version)

When I first heard 'The Pie' on the radio in the early '70s it sounded so fresh and different so I bought the album and its been one of my favorites ever since!

Outsanding tracks for me are the bittersweet love song, the aforementioned 'The Pie', the atmospheric, although ultimately doomed 'Midnight Avenue', and the enigmatic lonely heart of 'Medium Wave' - all with exquisite, magical lyrics, although this is a strong album throughout.

There is a simple purity to the album that is there still today. Furthermore, and for my money, Ian and Gavin Sutherland have some of their best work displayed here on their debut outing.

The second disc features 1972’s Lifeboat album which now adds seven bonus tracks, four taken from the USA version of the album.

Also added is the single ‘Sailing’ which though not a hit for the band, gave Rod Stewart an international chart topper.

The single ‘You Got Me Anyway’, however, did reach #48 in the USA, #25 in Canada and #34 in Australia.

CD 2 - Lifeboat (1972)
1. 'Lady Like You'
2. 'Lifeboat'
3. 'Where Do We Go Wrong'
4. 'Ireland'
5. 'All I Got Is You'
6. 'Space Hymn'
7. 'Change the Wind'
8. 'Sorrow'
9. 'Love Is My Religion'
10. 'Real Love'
11. 'Have You Had a Vision'
12. 'Rock and Roll Show'
13. '(I Don't Want to Love You But) You Got Me Anyway'
14. 'Not Fade Away'
15. 'Sailing'
16. 'Who's Crying Now'
17. 'Annie' (7" Version)

Not only does this album feature 'Sailing' (which a lot of smarter folks than me liked enough to cover), but the final track on the original album, 'Real Love; includes some of Stevie Winwood's best keyboard playing to date!

And that's just a couple of the highlights. I won't bore you with how much I truly, and wholly appreciate this magical sophomore album, but if you take a chance on any of the Sutherland Brothers albums, their debut and this one will allow you to hear some of the greatest, and richly melodic rock to date.

Disc Three is 1973’s Dream Kid album which now adds a previously non-album cut as a bonus.

CD 3 - Dream Kid (1973)
1. 'You and Me'
2. 'I Hear Thunder'
3. 'Flying Down to Rio'
4. 'Seagull / Lonely Love'
5. 'Champion the Underdog'
6. 'Bluesy World'
7. 'Bad Loser'
8. 'Dream Kid'
9. 'Maker'
10. 'Rollin' Away / Rocky Road / Saved By the Angel'
11. 'Don't Mess Up'

An artists conception of the Dream Kid looking out into a blue universe, standing in a clear cube with clouds and seagulls in his line of sight, is a colorful and good visual equivalent to the music inside this team-up of two musical forces.

Songwriters Ian and Gavin recruited three members of the Warner Bros. group Quiver - drummer Willie Wilson, guitarist Tim Renwick, and bassist Bruce Thomas - and came up with a smooth and very satisfying product.

Gone is Quiver songwriter vocalist Cal Batchelor, and it is a unique transition concept., of that you can be assured.

1974’s Beat Of The Street is on Disc Four and features two previously non-album cuts as a bonus.

CD 4 - Beat Of The Street (1974)
1. 'World in Action'
2. 'Saviour in the Rain'
3. 'Devil, Are You Satisfied'
4. 'Bone Dry'
5. 'Beat of the Street'
6. 'Laid Back in Anger'
7. 'Hi Life Music'
8. 'Living in Love'
9. 'Annie'
10. 'Last Boy Over the Moon'
11. 'Saviour in the Rain' (7" Version)
12. 'Silver Sister'

This is the one Sutherland Brothers & Quiver album that seems to be completely overlooked, yet it is their definitive album, that's for darn sure!

Their next album would be graced with 'Arms Of Mary' yet devoid of keyboards completely. I mean, compare Reach For The Sky with this album and the difference is immediately recognizable.

My personal favorite song is 'Devil, Are You Satisfied'. Tim Renwick performs the most inspired guitar on this album and it's so obvious why he became so in-demand as a session player on other albums.

Disc Five is 1975’s Reach For The Sky album which reached #26 in the UK charts. It features the hit single ‘Arms Of Mary’ which hit #5 in the UK, #17 in Germany and the top spot in both Holland and Ireland.

Again, two non LP tracks have been added as a bonus. Making a guest appearance is Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour.

CD 5 - Reach For The Sky (1975)
1. 'When The Train Comes'
2. 'Dirty City'
3. 'Arms Of Mary'
4. 'Something Special'
5. 'Love On The Moon'
6. 'Ain't Too Proud'
7. 'Dr. Dancer'
8. 'Reach For The Sky'
9. 'Moonlight Lady'
10. 'Mad Trial'
11. 'We All Get Along'
12. 'When The Train Comes' (7" Version)

This is probably their best overall album and includes their only US charter, 'Arms Of Mary'. This album is stripped down to the four primary members and Tim Renwick's excellent lead guitar work is featured fully here; which makes the album for me, personally.

The opening track, 'When the Train Comes', starts with an inviting drum riff and barreled along like an express at full steam, with train-whistle effects and a couple of great guitar solos!

I was hooked. The rest of the album is filled with really well-crafted pop songs: singable tunes ('Something Special'), chugging basslines ('Dr. Dancer'), neat harmonies ('Ain’t Too Proud'), and rocking guitar solos ('Mad Trail', 'Love on the Moon').

The sixth disc is 1976’s Slipstream album which includes the UK #35 hit single ‘Secrets’. The album itself reached #49 in the UK charts.

CD 6 - Slipstream (1976)
1. 'Slipstream'
2. 'Wild Love' 3. 'Saturday Night' 4. 'If I Could Have Your Loving' 5. 'Love On The Side'
6. 'Secrets'
7. 'Dark Powers'
8. 'Something's Burning'
9. 'Sweet Cousin'
10. 'Midnight Rendezvous'
11. 'The Prisoner'
12. 'High Nights'

Although the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver had already delivered what ended up being their best albums and songs, Slipstream is still worth owning.

Unfortunately, a few of the songs attempted to duplicate the evolving new "disco" sound instead of sticking with their own. The best songs on this album are the ones where they stuck with their successful sound and delivery.

Six previously non LP bonus tracks have been added to the Down To Earth album including rare cuts from the USA version of the album. All produced by The Shadows’ Bruce Welch.

CD 7 - Down To Earth (1977)
1. 'Ice In The Fire'
2. 'Dark Ship'
3. 'Harbour Light'
4. 'Somebody's Fool'
5. 'Fun Of The Farm'
6. 'Every Tear I Cry'
7. 'Situations'
8. 'Oh Woman'
9. 'Rock 'N' Roll People'
10. Where Lies Your Soul'
11. 'Ice In The Fire' (7" Version)
12. 'Every Tear I Cry' (7" Version)
13. 'Somebody's Fool' (7" Version)
14. 'One More Night With You'
15. 'Sunbird'
16. 'When I Say I Love You (The Pie)'

Although they were reaching the end of the line as a band, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver maintained their high level of song craft and performance on Down to Earth.

It's still a mystery to me why these guys weren't huge. I mean, they had a great drummer in Willie Wilson, a stunning guitarist in Tim Renwick (who plays parts that are integral to the arrangements, not just solos), and chorus hooks that won't quit from the two Sutherlands!

Maybe it's the fact that their lyrics frequently avoid the usual clichés of subject matter and venture into darker, more philosophical areas ('Dark Ship', for instance).

Anyhow, for anyone who liked previous SBQ records like the aforementioned Reach For The Sky or Slipstream, I don't think you'll be disappointed with this one either.

The final disc is 1979’s When The Night Comes Down opus which features the #50 UK hit single ‘Easy Come Easy Go’.

CD 8 - When The Night Comes Down (1979)
1. 'Natural Thing'
2. 'Have You Ever Been Hurt?'
3. 'First Love'
4. 'Easy Come, Easy Go'
5. 'As Long As I've Got You'
6. 'I'm Going Home'
7. 'When The Night Comes Down'
8. 'Dreams Of You'
9. 'Crusin’
10. 'On The Rocks'
11. 'Crazy Town'

As we all know by now, this was to be the Sutherland Brothers' last album, and they just kept getting better and better.

Sadly, their long time lead guitarist, Tim Renwick, is replaced by some fine LA session men including some wicked lead work by Rick Vito.

Filled with catchy pop and rock songs it also contains some beautiful songs and rather harmonious singing to go with it: 'Sunbird', 'When The Night Comes Down', 'On The Rocks', 'One More Night With You', 'Easy Come, Easy Go', and 'First Love,' automatically spring to mind.

The detailed booklet includes an in-depth new interview with the main band members by webmaster Brian Mathieson.

Official 8CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Vice Squad – The Albums: 1981-84' [5 CD]
Artist - Vice Squad

For those not in the know, Vice Squad are an English punk rock band formed in 1979 in Bristol, England.

In fact, the band was formed from two other local punk bands, The Contingent and TV Brakes.

The songwriter and vocalist Beki Bondage (born Rebecca Bond) was a founding member of the band and although there was a period of time when the band had a different vocalist, she reformed the band in 1997.

Inbetween, Vice Squad pressed on following Bondage's departure to form Ligotage, but never with the same level of British success.

Releasing November 1st, 2019 via Captain Oi! / Cherry Red Records (UK), Vice Squad: The Albums 1981-84 is a wondrous 5CD Box-Set that rounds up of all of the Punk legends' recordings between 1981-84.

Disc One is their debut album No Cause For Concern which reached #32 in the UK Album Charts back in 1981.

CD 1 - No Cause For Concern (1981)
1. 'Young Blood'
2. 'Coward'
3. 'Nothing'
4. 'Summer Fashion'
5. '1981'
6. 'Saturday Night Special' 7. 'Offering'
8. 'The Times They Are a Changing'
9. 'Evil'
10. 'Angry Youth'
11. 'It's a Sell-Out'
12. 'Still Dying'
13. 'Last Rockers'

Featuring Bondage on vocals along with Dave Bateman (guitar), Mark Hambly (bass) and Shane Baldwin on drums, their debut is an instant classic. Songs like ‘Last Rockers’, ‘Latex Love’ and ‘Summer Fashion’ are just a few of the now-classic gems to be discovered on this quite vibrant album.

Containing all the raw punk angst of the early '80s combined with brilliant melodies and harmonies, together with great guitar riffs and drum beats that form the back bone perfectly, add to that the vocal style of the Bondage and, well, this is surely one of the best punk albums ever made.

The second disc contains the #47 charting Stand Strong Stand Proud album which features the single of the same name and now something of an anthem for the whole UK/82 Punk movement.

CD 2 - Stand Strong Stand Proud (1982)
1. 'Stand Strong Stand Proud'
2. 'Humane'
3. 'Cheap'
4. 'Gutterchild'
5. 'Rock 'N' Roll Massacre'
6. 'Fistful of Dollars'
7. 'Freedom Begins at Home'
8. 'Out of Reach'
9. 'Saviour Machine'
10. 'No Right of Reply'
11. 'Deathwish'
12. 'Propaganda'

Although not a strong sophomore album, Bondage still brings the band into the spotlight with her singing, but sadly the casual listener will quickly become bored with it all.

For here on Stand Strong Stand Proud, Bondage sings and the band play an album of a dozen songs that soon become one.< p> Basically utilizing new patterns of three power chords for each song, and with the added distortion they then seemed to want to mess with too, many of the songs are catchy, sure, but the album overall is just not as trailblazing as their tremendous debut.

The band’s third album Shot Away is on Disc Three and is the only one they did with vocalist Lia and contains the classic single ‘You’ll Never Know’.

CD 3 - Shot Away (1984)
1. 'New Blood'
2. 'Take It or Leave It'
3. 'Out in the Cold'
4. 'Nowhere to Hide'
5. 'You'll Never Know'
6. 'Rebels and Kings'
7. 'Playground'
8. 'The Rest of Your Life'
9. 'What's Going On?'
10. 'Killing Time'
11. 'Teenage Rampage'

Known as being the only album recorded by Vice Squad without singer Beki Bondage, as well as also being the last album to feature aforementioned founding members Dave Bateman (guitar), Mark Hambly (bass) and Shane Baldwin (drums), Shot Away is still a pretty decent album.

That said, the band were, in my humble opinion, much better with Bondage at the mic, because new-girl Lia might well have had the glam stage persona that the record label had always been begging for, but the vocal chops of Bondage she did not.

Ergo, the general public must have thought so too as their third album was released, but did miserable sales and so Vice Squad rapidly faded from view soon thereafter.

That said, their cover of 'Teenage Rampage' by Sweet is actually one of the stand out highlights here. Co-written by an Australian record producer and songwriter called Michael Chapman, who was a major force in the British pop music industry in the 1970s, he also created a string of hit singles for artists including The Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Smokie, Mud and Racey with business partner Nicky Chinn.

Disc Four, titled Odds N Squads rounds up 25 non LP tracks from the era. Includes the Indie Chart hits ‘Last Rockers’ (#7), ‘Resurrection’ (#4), ‘Black Sheep’ (#13) and ‘Teenage Rampage’ (#44) as well as #68 National Chart hit ‘Out Of Reach’.

CD 4 - Odds N Squads (1984)
1. 'Nothing' (Avon Calling Version)
2. 'Living on Dreams'
3. 'Latex Love'
4. 'Last Rockers' (Single Version)
5. 'Resurrection'
6. 'Young Blood' (Single Version)
7. 'Humane' (Single Version)
8. 'Coward'
9. 'It's a Sell Out'
10. '(So) What for the 80'?' (Demo)
11. 'Sterile' (Demo)
12. 'Out of Reach' (Demo)
13. '(So) What for the 80's?'
14. 'Sterile'
15. 'Out of Reach' (Single Version)
16. 'Tomorrow's Soldier'
17. 'Darkest Hour'
18. 'Citizen'
19. 'Scarred for Life'
20. 'Faceless Men'
21. 'Black Sheep'
22. 'New Blood' (Plus Version)
23. 'The Pledge'
24. 'The Times They Are A-Changin' (New Version)
25. 'High Spirits'

Just like it says on the tin, Odds N Squads is an expansive rounding up of 25 of Vice Squad's non-LP tracks from the era.

A stand out collection that has never been featured anywhere else quite like this, it's a right royal treasure trove of musical goodies for all Vice Squad fans, that's for sure!

The fifth and final disc is a 12 track In Concert, Live And Loud!! and was recorded in 1982 on their successful debut tour of America.

CD 5 - Live And Loud!! (1982)
1. 'Coward'
2. 'Rock N Roll Massacre'
3. 'Angry Youth'
4. 'Evil'
5. 'Living on Dreams'
6. 'Stand Strong Stand Proud'
7. 'Humane'
8. 'Latex Love'
9. 'Last Rockers'
10. 'Out of Reach'
11. 'E.M.I'
12. 'Upright Citizen'

Starting slowly and building quickly with the two minute 'Coward,' the introduction from a young Bondage is an immediate flashback to a time when the girls wanted to be in the punk spotlight as much as their male counterparts.

Chock full of overflowing energy and drums that seem to never stop, the live performance is a massively brilliant testament to a band that knew who they were, knew they could be something big, but just self-imploded all too soon behind the scenes.

Vocalist Beki Bondage still leads a version of the band to this day and is a regular and popular addition to the main Punk Festivals across the globe such as REBELLION in Blackpool where they played on August 4th, 2019.

The clamshell box contains a 16 page booklet featuring liner notes, pictures of all the relevant records and lots of clippings and memorabilia from the era.

Official 5CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Carnage Bargain'
Artist - The Paranoyds

For those not in the know, Los Angeles punk quartet The Paranoyds channel equal amounts of revelry and revulsion when it comes to their debut album, the quite stunning Carnage Bargain (out now via Suicide Squeeze Records).

Inclusive of a rather raucous blend of garage rock grit, new wave swagger, horror film soundtrack campiness, and a myriad of other influences, The Paranoyds' beginnings can be traced back to a friendship forged between Staz Lindes and Laila Hashemi in their teens.

With the additions of Lexi Funston and David Ruiz, the band found the personnel for their sonic balance of jubilant energy and foreboding undercurrents.

1. 'Face First'
2. 'Carnage Bargain'
3. 'Girlfriend Degree'
4. 'Egg Salad'
5. 'Bear'
6. 'Hungry Man'
7. 'Courtney'
8. 'Laundry'
9. 'Heather Doubtfire'
10. 'Ratboy'

Opening with the prolonged guitar whine that brings us 'Face First' that then bleeds seamlessly into both the bass-laden undercurrent of the title track 'Carnage Bargain' (itself chock full of scathing lyrical observations, delivered on the back of some stand out drum and guitar work) and the lead single 'Girlfriend Degree' (which the band calls an ode to “being a badass woman who’s taking time to make sure she’s doing things for herself".

Next up is the drum-led frenetic punk rawness of 'Egg Salad' which is followed by the catchy hook lines found with the indie rocker 'Bear' (my own personal favorite here).

'Hungry Sam' may well borrow from Elvis Costello's melodic chorus line for 'Pump It Up,' but they soon make it all their own and that's backed by the funky Ian Dury and the Blockheads vibe to 'Courtney' ("Courtney's got cash and she don't care ...").

As we head into the final third of what has now quickly become one of my Top 10 albums of 2019, the frenzied, yet lovingly controlled, one minute guitar bash 'Laundry' is backed by the harmoniously genre-lurching 'Heather Doubtfire, with the late '60s swirls-lost-in-time vibe of 'Ratboy' rounding things out.

Official CD / Color Vinyl Purchase Link

The Paranoyds @ Instagram

Title - 'Over The Rainbow'
Artist - Herb Alpert

For those not in the know, Herb Alpert is an American jazz musician most associated with the group variously known as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, or TJB.

Interestingly enough, Alpert is also a recording industry executive, the "A" of A&M Records, a recording label he and business partner Jerry Moss founded and eventually sold to PolyGram.

Alpert also has created abstract expressionist paintings and sculpture over two decades, which are publicly displayed on occasion. Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, are substantial philanthropists through the operation of the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Alpert's musical accomplishments include five No. 1 albums and 28 albums total on the Billboard Album chart, nine Grammy Awards, fourteen platinum albums, and fifteen gold albums. Alpert has sold 72 million records worldwide.

Alpert is the only recording artist to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as both a vocalist ('This Guy's in Love with You', 1968) and an instrumentalist ('Rise', 1979).

On his latest album, Over The Rainbow (out September 20th, 2019 via Herb Alpert Presents, Inc.), Herb Alpert began the same way he has done for all of his albums over the years: searching for great melodies.

That search has resulted in the prolific trumpeter’s latest offering, a collection of 11 classics and one brand new, original track.

1. 'Skinny Dip'
2. 'Ain't No Sunshine'
3. 'All Love'
4. 'Fantasy'
5. 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'
6. 'Copacabana'
7. 'With You I'm Born Again'
8. 'You are So Beautiful'
9. 'Nature Boy'
10. 'Always On My Mind'
11. 'South Of The Border'
12. 'What A Wonderful World'

Indeed, it's that one brand new, original song, and first single 'Skinny Dip that opens this quite wondrous album in some fine flare style. Complete with a rather quirky and playful vibe, from there Alpert moves into more known territory with some songs taken from the great American songbook.

Next up is 'Ain't No Sunshine,' the iconic recording by Bill Withers and which here Alpert puts his own spin on it, and even brings in Hussain Jiffry singing along with his wife, Lani Hall. 'All Love,' which was written by Babik Reinhart, is a stunningly beautiful tribute to his incredibly talented Gypsy jazz guitarist father, Django Reinhardt, and that's backed by the second single, Earth, Wind & Fire's beloved 'Fantasy.'

Then comes a real trio of beauties for my money with the title track leading the way. Owned by the iconic Judy Garland, Alpert's version begins with Michael Shapiro singing part of the opening refrain and then bleeds seamlessly into the most beautiful orchestration by Eduardo del Barrio.

Then comes a mesmerizingly Tijuana shuffle version of Barry Manilow's always-fun-to-hear 'Copacabana,' which is followed by a simply lush and glorious 'With You I'm Born Again' (Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright), with Alpert's cover of 'You Are So Beautiful' (Joe Cocker) yet another magnificent rendition.

The song 'Nature Boy' (arranged by Jochem Van der Saagen) ables Alpert to relax his chops a wee it, traveling instead down a more relaxed, free flowing set of arrangement, and is made all the more personal as having known and spent some interesting times with the composer, Eden Abez, Alpert always knew him as someone who lived his life as the real nature boy!

This beautiful album then rounds out with 'Always on my Mind,' a track that sees Alpert taking a chance on turning a familiar country song into an instrumental (and yet it works, of course), the multi-recorded 'South Of The Border,' and then brings everything to a close on a tribute to the great Louis Armstrong, 'Wonderful World.'

"My intention was not to cover his record, but to show how it had an international impact and to highlight the power of music as a tool to help us understand each other and bring more light into the world," Alpert explains, "so that peace will have a much better chance to survive."

Recorded at both Alpert's studio and at famed Grammy winning and multi-nominated engineer, arranger and mixer Jochem van der Saag's studio, Over The Rainbow was recorded in eight months and boasts a roster of pop, classic and international hits that are familiar to all ages.

"This project started like all of the other albums that I have recorded throughout the years, including the Tijuana Brass projects," Alpert explains. "I am always looking for good melodies to play and if it is a familiar song that I am working on, I'll try to do it in a way that it's never been heard before."

"When choosing songs, I look for something that makes you feel good, I have learned to become an audience to my own music and listen to what creates feelings that stop and call you."

Herb Alpert @ Facebook

Herb Alpert @ Twitter

Title - 'Risen'
Artist - Angel

For those not in the know, Angel is an American rock band from Washington, D.C., United States, formed in the mid-1970s by Punky Meadows and Mickie Jones.

They were signed to Casablanca Records and in a move that worked wonders for them, had the stage image of dressing in white.

Angel was discovered by Kiss bass player Gene Simmons performing at a nightclub and was eventually signed to the same label as Kiss, Casablanca.

Angel's image of dressing in all white was a deliberate contrast to Kiss, which wore black. Angel sported an androgynous image and elaborate stage sets.

Sadly, Angel never achieved mass commercial success but acquired a following as a cult band.

Their first album was the self-titled Angel (1975) and consisted of guitarist Punky Meadows, bassist Mickie Jones, vocalist Frank DiMino, keyboardist Gregg Giuffria, and drummer Barry Brandt.

This lineup would hold for the following two albums, Helluva Band (1976) and On Earth as It Is in Heaven (1977), after which Jones would be replaced by Felix Robinson. =

They made an appearance in the film Foxes (1980) and Frank DiMino sang 'Seduce Me Tonight' on the Flashdance (1983) soundtrack.

DiMino and Meadows departed the band in 1981, and the remaining members brought in vocalist Fergie Frederiksen (later of Toto) and guitarist Ricky Phillips (later of The Babys, then Bad English, then Styx), but this lineup dissolved shortly thereafter.

Now Angel consisting of lead guitarist Punky Meadows, lead vocalist Frank DiMino, rhythm guitarist Danny Farrow, bassist Steve Ojane, drummer Bill Orrico and keyboardist Charlie Calv will be releasing a new studio album, aptly entitled Risen via Cleopatra Records on October 4th, 2019.

1. 'Angel Theme (Prelude)'
2. 'Under The Gun'
3. 'Shot of Your Love'
4. 'Slow Down'
5. 'Over My Head'
6. '1975'
7. 'We Were The Wild'
8. 'I.O.U.'
9. '(Punky’s Couch Blues) Locked Cocked Ready To Rock'
10. 'Turn Around'
11. 'Desire'
12. 'Our Revolution'
13. 'Tell Me Why'
14. 'Don’t Want You To Go'
15. 'Stand Up'
16. 'My Sanctuary'
17. 'Tower' (2019 Bonus Track)

Here on their seventh studio album, containing 16 brand new songs as well as a remake of 'Tower,' this hugely impressive heavy, yet melodic rock album kicks off with their 'Angel Theme (Prelude)' before powering into the rock hard trio of 'Under The Gun,' 'Shot of Your Love,' and one of my own personal favorites off this new album, 'Slow Down.'

The guitar work from Meadows combined with the brilliant drumming backbone from Orrico, all steered by the vocal expertise of DiMino means that this albums sounds as fresh, as vibrant and as alive as you could have ever hoped for.

With a magnificent mid-section that includes the flashback gem '1975,' the mid-tempo rocker 'I.O.U.' and yet another stunning example of just how good Meadows still is on guitar '(Punky’s Couch Blues) Locked Cocked Ready To Rock,' this new album is bursting at the seams to take you lovingly back to an era that has long since been left by the musical wayside.

Simply put, having come together for the first time in over 30 years back in 2017 to mull over this very same project, Meadows and DiMino have brought forth an album of genuine quality here.

Rounding out with cuts such as the AOR vibe of both 'Tell Me Why' and 'Don’t Want You To Go,' the anthemic 'Stand Up,' and then finally both 'My Sanctuary' and a re-recording of their classic epic 'Tower,' if you are anything like me - a lover of genuine rock from days gone by - then you will simply re-hit Play and allow yourself to be taken back to better times, my friends.

Says Meadows: "I am very proud of this album and ANGEL fans will LOVE it! It really kicks ass and is very diverse with songs that will satisfy every ANGEL fan and take you on a musical journey!"

"The band played their asses off! Play it from top to bottom, you will not want to miss a beat."

Adds Dimino: "This is an album that will take you on a journey to many different roads, all exciting. Enjoy it and play it loud!!!"

Angel is available on both CD and in a very special gatefold 2LP set on, what else, WHITE vinyl!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official White Vinyl Purchase Link

Angel @ Facebook!

Title - 'Open Your Eyes'
Artist - David Hasselhoff

For those not in the know, Platinum selling recording artist and star of the sand and screen, David Hasselhoff, celebrates a truly historical moment with his monumental new studio album!

Marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, Hasselhoff bridges several musical cultures including the UK, Germany, and the US!

Packaged in a deluxe 6-panel wallet, Open Your Eyes features an incredible cast of diverse supporting acts including Todd Rundgren, The Stooges' James Williamson, country legend Charlie Daniels, industrial pioneers Ministry, The Cars' Elliot Easton and more!

1. 'Open Your Eyes' (feat. James Williamson)
2. 'Head On' (feat. Elliot Easton)
3. 'I Melt With You' (feat. Steve Stevens)
4. 'Lips Like Sugar' (feat. A Flock of Seagulls)
5. 'Heroes' (feat. Tyler Bates)
6. 'Here I Go Again' (feat. Tracii Guns)
7. 'Jump In My Car' (feat. Todd Rundgren)
8. 'Rhinestone Cowboy' (feat. Charlie Daniels)
9. 'If You Could Read My Mind' (feat. Ava Cherry)
10. 'Sugar, Sugar' (feat. Steve Cropper)
11. 'Mit 66 Jahren' (feat. Patrick Moraz)
12. 'Sweet Caroline' (feat. Ministry)
13. 'That's Life'
14. 'Looking For Freedom (Clinton Sparks Remix)' - Bonus Track

Showing a severe discomfort to all of todays politically misdirected, and increasingly harmful to our current generation, media-saturated onscreen and online messages, The Hoff has taken it upon himself to join forces with a truly diverse array of artists to bring out a quite brilliant new album.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary fall of the Berlin Wall, The Hoff opens the album with the anthemic forcefulness of the title track, 'Open Your Eyes.'

Featuring guitarist, songwriter, record producer and electronics engineer James Williamson from The Stooges, the track embraces not only The Hoff's passion on the subject, but showcases just how comfortable he is knowing his own vocal range.

Covering a wide range of hit songs from such bands as The Lords Of The New Church, David Bowie, Glen Campbell, Echo & The Bunneymen, to Modern English, Whitesnake and even both Neil Diamond and The Archies, it has to be said that The Hoff does all he can do with each track; and does it superbly well.

That said, have obviously worked here with some renowned musicians to not only reconstruct the songs to better suit his range, I have to honestly say that The Hoff has never sounded better.

Also inclusive of a CD bonus track in the form a remix by Clinton Sparks (an award-winning producer whose credits include Lady Gaga, Notorious B.I.G., Pitbull and more), his 1989 chart topping single ‘Looking For Freedom’ (the aforementioned musical rallying cry for a reunited Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall) deftly showcases an older Hoff whose range has deepened as the years have gone by.

Available on both CD and limited edition RED vinyl, Open Your Eyes not only brings forth a mature singing Hoff, but throws into the mix an Al Jourgensen electro take of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline'! Trust me when I tell you that you have to hear it to truly believe it can work!

The Hoff will launch a massive tour in early October covering Germany, Austria and Switzerland!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Red Vinyl Purchase Link

David Hasselhoff @ Facebook!

Title - 'Rocking Live Around The Fire Station'
Artist - LenneBrothers Band

The LenneBrothers Band was founded by the brothers Stefan "Teddy" Koch and Michael "Ele" Koch. The two brothers have played rock 'n' roll music for 35 years at nearly 3,000 concerts in 22 different countries.

They even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the highest rock 'n' roll concert of all time in 2003 (on a 757-300).

Well, for those not in the know, rock 'n' roll fans everywhere have something to look forward to this fall with the release of a new live album from Germany's LenneBrothers Band.

Entitled Rocking Live Around The Fire Station (relasing September 27th, 2019 via AGR Music), it showcases the LenneBrothers Band playing a benefit concert at the Feuerwache (fire station) in Hagen-Hohenlimburg for Reh-Henkhausen’s volunteer fire brigade (earlier this year, February 16th, 2019).

Also joining them were the Bobcats from Britain, and the Sinners from Hamburg, which means that this final 20-track product is one of the most vibrant, fun, and upbeat live albums that I have had the privilege to review in many a year.

1. 'Oakie Boogie'
2. 'Been There, Done That'
3. 'Lenne Brothers Stroll'
4. 'Wild West Rockabilly Special'
5. 'Old Black Joe'
6. 'Choo Choo Billy Train'
7. 'Rocking and Trucking'
8. 'Some Like It Hot'
9. 'Rock Around the Fire Station'
10. 'Picking Berrys'
11. 'She's a Whiskey Girl'
12. 'Matchbox'
13. 'Call Me the Breeze'
14. 'Boogie Woogie Queen'
15. 'Guitar Slinger'
16. 'No More One More Time'
17. 'High Class Lady'
18. 'Folsom Prison Blues' (Bonus Track)
19. 'Rockin' My Life Away' (Bonus Track)
20. 'Tear It Up' (Bonus Track)

Being a band that I had previously known nothing of, and thus having gotten to know more about them online before making this review, the LenneBrothers Band played The Lenne Rockers' greatest hits (their original incarnation), such as 'High Class Lady' and 'Boogie-Woogie Queen,' as well as many of their own songs, including 'Rocking and Trucking' and 'Picking Berrys.'

Featuring Michael "Ele" Koch (Piano, Banjo, Lead Vocals), Stefan "Teddy" Koch (Guitar, Piano, Vocals), Claus Coxx (Slap Bass, Vocals) and Andreas "Andy" Kässens on Drums and Washboard, Rocking Live Around The Fire Station showcases many styles of music - a mix of Rock ’n’ Roll, Country, Blues, Roots, and even Americana - but never sway too far from their own musical home.

Inclusive of the aforementioned hitlist from their set, the band also include some delightful rockin' cover songs from some legends of the day on this quite pulsating new album.

Furthermore, the track 'Rock Around the Fire Station' was actually written especially for the concert. So, with a total of 17 songs from the concert being included on this new live CD, plus three other live recordings appearing as bonus tracks (that were recorded eight days before at the Country Music Meeting in Berlin), Rocking Live Around The Fire Station is the most complete, uplifting and joyous musical package that you could ever have hoped it to be!

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Lenne Brothers Band @ Facebook!

Title - 'Vinyl Tap'
Artist - Spyro Gyra

Well, for those not in the know, Spyro Gyra is an American jazz fusion band that was formed in Buffalo, New York in 1974.

The band's music combines jazz, R&B, funk, and pop music and got its name from Spirogyra; a genus of green algae which founder Jay Beckenstein had learned about in college.

Over the years the band has released over 30 albums and sold over 10 million copies in the process.

Now the seminal contemporary jazz band mines a collection of vinyl classics for their first album in six years on the quite delicious-to-the-ears Vinyl Tap.

So the story goes, the five members of Spyro Gyra were laughing and having fun in the recording studio where creativity flowed as the band revisited the songs that inspired them from their youth; when they were themselves listening to music on vinyl.

Ergo, that artistic fount was spun into Vinyl Tap, the bands brand new album of inventive jazz covers from pop favorites from the vinyl era, that comes out October 11th, 2019 via Amherst Records.

1. 'Secret Agent Mash'
2. 'Sunshine Of Your Love'
3. 'Can’t Find My Way Home'
4. 'What A Fool Believes'
5. 'The Cisco Kid'
6. 'You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away'
7. 'Tempted'
8. 'Stolen Moments'
9. 'Carry On'

Featuring Jay Beckenstein (saxophone), Tom Schuman (keyboards), Scott Ambush (bass), Julio Fernández (guitars), and Lionel Cordew (drums), with a distinctive wide range of ages and musical upbringings coming to the fore, luckily for us it all came harmoniously together to bring us this album of diverse, yet cultured new material.

“My hope is that our music has the same effect on the audience that it does on me,” says group leader Jay Beckenstein. “I’ve always felt that music, and particularly instrumental music, has this non-literal quality that lets people travel to a place where there are no words."

"Whether it’s touching their emotions or connecting them to something that reminds them of something much bigger than themselves, there’s this beauty in music that’s not connected to sentences."

"It’s very transportive. I would hope that when people hear our music or come to see us, they’re able to share that with us."

The album (which is not only brilliantly named, but features great cover art) opens with the upbeat drums and sax of 'Secret Agent Mash,' which Beckenstein himself selected to do so. A foot-tappin' mashup of Johnny Rivers' 'Secret Agent Man' and 'Alfie’s Theme,' that's backed by the funky slap bass of a virtually unrecognizable 'Sunshine Of Your Love' (Cream), and the first single going to radio, a westernized Blind Faith's 'Can’t Find My Way Home.'

A simmering take on 'What A Fool Believes' (complete with mid-set swing vibe) is up next and is backed effortlessly by both the finger-snappin' deep soul funk of War's 'The Cisco Kid' and then a lo-fi take on the Beatles' 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away.'

This quite masterful album then rounds out with my own personal favorite, a take on Squeeze's always-brilliant-to-hear 'Tempted' (which here is brought in by Schuman's key work), Oliver Nelson's on fire cut 'Stolen Moments,' and then a buoyantly sanguine rendition of 'Carry On.'

“This is the first record we’ve done where we have allowed ourselves to do other people’s material full throttle,” continues Beckenstein. “That is not to say in any way that we tried to copy what other people did, but it was really great to reach outside of our writing capabilities for inspiration for us to take off on."

"And that’s what this album is about,” he adds, with a sly, yet knowingly cheeky smile.

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Amazon Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'The Edge of Silence'
Artist - Susan Narucki

Well, for those not in the know, American soprano and Latin Grammy-nominee Susan Narucki, one of todays most committed advocates of the music of our time, has a deep and lasting working relationship with Hungarian composer György Kurtaìg which dates back to 1986.

Thus, Susan's luminous tone and distinctive artistry and Kurtaìg's idiosyncratic fusion of poetry and music come together in this quintessential recorded collection of some of the composers most iconoclastic vocal works, entitled The Edge of Silence (August 2nd, 2019 via AVIE Records).

György Kurtaìg (b. 1926)
1. Scenes from a Novel, Op. 19 (19.32)
15 songs to poems by Rimma Dalos for soprano, violin, double bass & cimbalom
2. Three Old Inscriptions, Op. 25 (6.01)
3. S.K. Remembrance Noise, Op. 12 (6.36)
7 songs to poems by Dezső Tandori for soprano & violin
4. Attila Joìzsef Fragments, Op. 20 (12.28)
5. Seven Songs, Op. 22 (9.15)
to poems by Amy Kaìrolyi and a haiku by Kobayashi Issa
6. Requiem for the Beloved, Op. 26 (5.09)
Rimma Dalos
7. A Twilight in Winter Recollected, Op. 8 (6.00)
Paìl Gulyaìs

Total time: 65.00

Featuring along with Susan Narucki, Donald Berman (piano), Curtis Macomber (violin), Nicholas Tolle (cimbalom), and Kathryn Schulmeister on double bass, this quite magnificent recording took place between February 22–24 and June 28-29, 2018, at the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall, University of California in San Diego.

This quite breathtaking recording from Narucki may well indeed represent her lifelong dedication to the performance of Kurtaìg's extraordinary music, but with her heart and soul on obvious display here, well, it might well just be the most emotively stimulative recording ever done of his work.

In Susan's own words, "I have spent much of my life immersed in this repertoire, and it has become essential to the way I understand music; it is the heart of my practice as a musician."

Equally appreciative, Kurtag acknowledges Susan, "… who sang so warmly, purely, so integer these songs", with thanks and love.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - … nobody move … : Commissions and Premieres, et al
Artist - Sarah Bob

Well, for those not in the know, pianist Sarah Bob is a passionate and trailblazing advocate of the music of our time who has introduced the music of dozens of living composers to the world.

Ergo, the just released … nobody move … (September 6th, 2019 via AVIE Records) is a collection of works by six award-winning composers whom Sarah commissioned for the Boston-based New Gallery Concert Series; of which she founded 20 years ago.

Randall Woolf (b. 1959)
1. …nobody move… for solo piano (1997) (6:02)

Jonathan Bailey Holland (b. 1974)
2. The Intimacy of Harmony (2013) (8:06) *

David Rakowski (b. 1958)
3. Mind the Gap #18 from Préludes Book II (2012) (3:16) * 4. Wayo #51 from Préludes Book VI (2015) (3:28) * 5. Ghepardo #48 from Préludes Book V (2015) (3:09) *

Curtis K. Hughes (b. 1974)
Suite No. 1 from “Vestibulations for Solo Piano” (2016) (10:10) *
6. slacken
7. crestfall [downer] (2004/2016)
8. perturb [paean to a fly trapped in the vestibule]
9. Mitigate
10. fluster (2015)

Curtis K. Hughes (b. 1974)
11. Avoidance Tactics #1 for piano and electronics (1999/2001) (11:50) *

Lee Hyla (1952 – 2014)
12. Solo Cadenzas from My Life on the Plains (2010) / arranged by Sarah Bob (2012) (5:05) *

Shaw Pong Liu (b. 1979)
13. Never Has Been Yet for vocalizing pianist (2017) (13:18) * Words by Langston Hughes

Audience participation in Never Has Been Yet represented by Carrie Cheron, Lauren A. Cook, Will Cordes, Naomi Gurt Lind, Bryan Hayslett, Carolyn Shadid Lewis, Shaw Pong Liu, Sarah Bob.

Total time: 60:04

* world-premiere recordings

Sarah Bob's sheer, and unadulterated exuberance and exactitude are common threads here throughout as she ties together the albums diverse musical dialects quite seamlessly.

From Jonathan Bailey Holland's evocative chord clusters in The Intimacy of Harmony to Curtis K. Hughes' electro-acoustic Avoidance Tactics #1 and his varied suite of miniatures, vestibulations, and inclusive of the late Lee Hylas' energetic Solo Cadenzas from his large-scale orchestral work My Life on the Plains, here lovingly arranged by Bob, everything she puts her magical musical touch to has expertly paid off.

Furthermore proof of this can be found in David Rakowskis' cheeky Mind the Gap #18, encompassing a rather tender Wayo and edgy Ghepardo, and within Shaw Pong Lius' powerful Never Has Been Yet, which sets Langston Hughes poem Let America Be America Again to Randall Woolfs fearlessly virtuosic title track.

Ergo, ... nobody move … (which also happens to be one of my favorite titles for an album within the past decade) is a striking collection of works that ranges from sincere and forthright to contemplative moods to sanguine textures aplenty; whilst all entertaining the ears of contemporary music lovers and novices alike.

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Title - 'Edvard Grieg: Lyric Music'
Artist - Claire Booth & Christopher Glynn

Well, for those not in the know, following their acclaimed collaboration in Percy Graingers Folk Music, soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn turn to the Lyric Music of Edvard Grieg; an apt sequel as the elder composer befriended Grainger - who idolized the Norwegians folkloric idiom - immediately on their first encounter in London in 1906.

Interspersing intimate vocal miniatures with lyrical solo piano pieces, Claire and Christopher mirror many of the programs that Grieg and his wife Nina performed on their many recital tours together (much like Potton Hall, Suffolk, where the excellent acoustics of this recording were produced).

So, sure, Edvard Grieg's songs and short piano pieces have been played from time to time, but this newly cultured AVIE release may be the first in which they have been given what might be called an historically informed performance, so to speak.

Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
1. Den hvide, røde Rose EG137 (The White and Red Roses) (1.45)
2. Norwegisch from Lyric Pieces, Book I Op.12 (1.02)
3. Volkweise from Lyric Pieces, Book I Op.12 (1.28)
4. Mens jeg venter (On the Water) from Digte Op.60 (2.05)
5. Sylphe from Lyric Pieces, Book VII Op.62 1.34 (1.34)
6. Med en Vandlilje (With a Waterlily) Ibsensangene Op.25 (1.54)
7. Sommerfugl (Butterfly) from Lyric Pieces, Book III Op.43 (1.41)
8. Melodi from Lyric Pieces, Book IV Op.47 (3.11)
9. Prinsessen EG133 (The Princess) (2.31)
10. Dulgt Kjærlighed (Hidden Love) from Romancer Op.39 (2.06)
11. Hjemad from Lyric Pieces, Book VII Op.62 (3.10)

Haugtussa Op.67
12. I. Det Syng · The Enticement (3.20)
13. II. Veslemøy · The Young Girl (2.13)
14. III. Blåbaer-Li · Blueberry Slopes (2.52)
15. IV. Møte · The Tryst (3.41)
16. V. Elsk · Love (2.22)
17. VI. Killingdans · Little Goat’s Dance (1.47)
18. VII. Vond Dag · Hurtful Day (2.19)
19. VIII. Ved Gjætle-Bekken · At the Brook (6.04)

20. Drömmesyn (Phantom) from Lyric Pieces, Book VII Op.62 (2.33)
21. Jeg elsker Dig (I Love Only You) from Hjertets melodier Op.5 (1.18)
22. Når jeg vil dø (Autumn Farewell) from Elegiske Digte Op.59 (1.29)
23. Den Ærgjerrige (Ambition) from Fem Digte Op.26 (1.17)
24. Svundne dage (Vanished Days) from Lyric Pieces, Book VI Op.57 (6.35)
25. Ved en ung Hustrus Båre (At the Grave of a Young Wife) from Romancer Op.39 (4.17)
26. Klokkeklang (Bell Ringing) from Lyric Pieces, Book VI Op.54 (4.18)
27. Stambogsrim (Album Lines) from Ibsensangene Op.25 (1.46)
28. Arietta from Lyric Pieces, Book I Op.12 (1.17)

Total time: 71.59

Sung in the original Norwegian, something I personally had never heard done before, Claire's and Christopher's performances are as evocative as Norway's varied landscape.

Interspersing vocal miniatures with solo piano pieces that range in mood from bright, youthful innocence to shades of autumnal twilight, each of the works on Lyric Music tell a story that, come the end, has culminated in a most enjoyable, and highly comforting manner.

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Title - 'Peace To The Planet'
Artist - Rainforest Band

For those not in the know, Rainforest Band is a collaboration between guitarist Vernon 'Ice' Black, bassist Tony Saunders and keyboardist Sylvester Burks.

The inspiration for the group came from the original Rainforest Band formed by Merl Saunders (Tony's dad), featuring Jerry Garcia.

The 1990 project Blues From the Rainforest - a Musical Suite was created out of Merl and Jerry's need to spread the word about the beauty of the rainforest, as well as the message of preservation.

With influences of world music, new age and traditional blues, Saunders and company crafted tunes that took the listener on a spiritual and musical journey that was close to their hearts.

On this quite incredible new album, Peace To The Planet, Black, Saunders and Burks have created 12 original compositions in the Smooth Jazz genre that evoke a relaxed, romantic and funky vibe.

1. 'SIZ'
2. 'Consequences'
3. 'Caribbean Sunset'
4. 'My Mellow Ways'
5. 'One More Time'
6. 'Gumbo Groove'
7. 'God's Nature'
8. 'Annisa'
9. 'Just Before Sunrise'
10. 'Reflections'
11. 'Windows Of Time'
12. 'Verano Dias'

Continuing to spread the message of preservation for one of the world’s most delicate and endangered regions through music, Rainforest Band kick things off with the low down and funky sax work of 'SIZ' (featuring Billboard #1 charting artist Jeff Ryan) and that's backed up by both a smooth, late night jazz approach on 'Consequences,' and the magnificent 'Caribbean Sunset.'

More achingly smooth jazz is next in the form of 'My Mellow Ways' which is followed by the effortless sleek 'One More Time,' the flavorful bounce of 'Gumbo Groove,' and then both the dreamy sax work of 'God's Nature' and then the piano-led 'Annisa.'

The gently free flowing 'Just Before Sunrise' is also one of my own personal favorites, with the dulcet beauty of 'Reflections' yet another highlight here. The album then rounds out with 'Windows of Time' and the Latin hipsway of 'Verano Dias.'

Aside from the aforementioned Jeff Ryan on saxophone, other special guests include Gail Jhonson (from The Norman Brown Band) on keyboards and percussionist Marquinho Brazil.

Today, in the spirit of what Merl and Jerry created, Rainforest Band's Peace to the Planet takes the mission to a new level through Contemporary Jazz.

With the same goal of spreading the message of preservation for one of the world's most delicate and endangered regions, Rainforest Band is back with a new sound for a new generation.

The time is now, but the message is the same - we all need to do our part to save the planet.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Soul Shifter'
Artist - Vinnie Moore

For those not in the know, the follow-up to Vinnie Moore's critically acclaimed 2015 Aerial Visions album will be released on October 9th, 2019 via his very own label, Mind's Eye Music.

Entitled Soul Shifter", Vinnie's ninth solo album not only comprises 10 brand new tracks, but also features a whole host of guest appearances: such as legendary artists Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), with Richie Monica on drums, Michael Bean (bassist from Vinnie's Time Odyssey album), John Cassidy (keyboards), and John Pessoni (drums).

Worldly considered one of the originators of shred guitar, it's also interesting to know that Vinnie has himself progressed from his shredder days to a more blues-orientated sound.

1. 'Funk Bone Jam' (05:01)
2. 'Same Sun Shines' (04:45)
3. 'Kung Fu Grip' (04:49)
4. 'Mystified' (03:37)
5. 'Brother Carlos' (04:31)
6. 'Gainesville Station' (04:26)
7. 'Soul Rider' (04:00)
8. 'Mirage' (04:13)
9. 'Heard You Were Gone' (04:54)
10. 'Across the Ages' (05:10)

Paying homage to his influences on this new album, songs such as the blues/rock hipsway of 'Brother Carlos' came to be because, as Vinnie himself admits, "I wrote that as a tribute to Carlos Santana.”

Furthermore, on an album of all hits and no fillers, 'Heard You Were Gone' was written about the late CEO of Dean Guitars Elliott Rubinson, who was also a member of Vinnie’s touring band.

Simply put, this new album is Vinnie effortlessly fusing classical structure and melody with the energy of metal. It's as if Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven were composing metal music today!

Highly technical, but always melodic, intelligent, and memorable, this album's positive energy is contagious and inspiring. Even the rhythm guitar tracks are noteworthy and all come together to showcase the fact that Vinnie's genius is clearly evident; and has yet to be duplicated.

“Solo records are a great vehicle because the canvas is totally open and I can paint whatever and wherever I want," Vinnie adds. "There’s total freedom in not having boundaries."

"All of my influences are on the canvas, from Rock to Blues to Be-Bop to Funk, even R&B and beyond. I have always felt music deeply even before I played guitar."

"After I began playing, it became my vehicle to express and release what I feel inside. I love channeling my soul into melodies and songs.”

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Vinnie Moore @ Facebook

Title - 'Push Thru'
Artist - Crystal Beth

For those not in the know, Crystal Beth unleashes her first full-length studio record, Push Thru this October 18th, 2019 via 7D Media.

A solo incarnation using wailing vocals, amplified clarinet, beat-boxing and electronics to weave a sonic universe all her own, she has been described as both “world music from an imaginary planet" and "quite compelling and magical" (Seattle Times).

Known for crafting aural rituals that encompass industrial chants, alien disco breaks, heart gushings, and robot love songs, Crystal Beth redefines the possibilities of the voice and clarinet in tight experimental pop songs and undulating, cathartic noise cries.

Crafting moments that ricochet between meditation and a full body purge, she is an electric, adrenaline inducing performer voted Seattle’s Best Classical Musician and nominated for NW Vocalist of the Year.

1. 'Push Thru' (06:40)
2. 'Our Piece' (05:53)
3. 'Shrill' (0:243)
4. 'Dolphy' (04:54)
5. 'Go Fast' (04:42)
6. 'Invocation' (02:54)
7. 'Kali Out' (04:11)
8. 'So Much Hurts' (08:57)

Just sitting back and listening to the opening, and title track 'Push Thru' made me quickly sit up and take notice of a sound, a vibe, an incredible musical passion and presence that has been missing from the industry for decades now.

A tribal fusion of sounds and vocals that allow her to actually sing in her own syllabic language, Crystal Beth performs her solo work using loop pedals and delays, and a five-piece rock outfit (the Boom Boom Band) to craft and explore her idiosyncratic and distinctive original music.

From that explosive, thunderously impassioned opening we weave a distinctive story through the eight tracks, that even take a midway pit stop within 'Dolphy.'

A cut that suddenly evokes a late night, smoky jazz club vibe, complete with dusty, raw vocalizations, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best tracks on this quite brilliant album.

The album rounds out with the aching melodies and soaring soundscapes captured within the longest track on the album at nearly nine minutes, 'So Much Hurts.'

Showcasing her aptitude for both the amplified clarinet and bass clarinet, Crystal Beth has most definitely crafted herself one aurally ethereal lo-fi sonic masterpiece.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Crystal Beth @ Facebook

Title - 'Unknown and Other Hits from Outer Space'
Artist - The Supertones

For those not in the know, The Supertones are a surf band from NYC formed in 1988. The original members - Tim Sullivan (guitars), Ted Lawrence (guitars), Marc Lipscher (bass), and Mike Arcidiacono (drums) - built a solid musical foundation and even though they are currently in their fourth incarnation as a band, original band leader Sullivan has never let the Surf-Rock spirit leave him.

Every year The Supertones release a new album, which is not only a cause for celebration for all their long time fans from their hometown of NYC, but also for fans worldwide of instrumental Surf Rock.

Of course, Sullivan is at the helm once again on the vivacious new album, Unknown And Other Hits From Outer Space which features 15 newly-recorded Supertones tracks of instrumental Surf-Rock gold!

1. 'Unknown'
2. 'Antaris'
3. 'Balazar'
4. 'Saturn Express'
5. 'Starman'
6. 'Torque Wrench'
7. 'For A Few Dollars More'
8. 'Shanghai Surf'
9. 'Speed Trap'
10. 'Space Oddity'
11. 'Down The Rabbit Hole'
12. 'Back Pedaling' 13. 'Don't Look Up'
14. 'Hijinx'
15. 'Queso Grande'
16. 'The Gorgon' [Bonus Track]

From the very first opening chords of the frenetic 'Unknown' to the closing bars of 'Queso Grande,' it's clear that The Supertones differentiate themselves from the legions of other bands in the thriving Surf-Rock instrumental underworld by writing excellent original songs.

Highlighting the cohesiveness of the 2019 line up of the band - Sullivan (lead guitars), Seth Lipscher (rhythm guitars), Simon Chardiet (bass guitars), and Tommy Mattioli on drums - the new album not only features those aforementioned reworkings of their own songs, but two classics penned by the late, great rock legend himself, David Bowie ('Starman' and 'Space Oddity').

Another covered track is actually one of the stand out highlights here for me of the album, their take on the 1965 track 'For A Few Dollars More', originally penned by Ennio Morricone. In true Supertones Surf-Rock style, they truly make it their own and bring it back to life in a way that can only be heard to be believed.

With the vibe of the album having been partly inspired by Sullivan's recent solo instrumental guitar performances at the Hayden Planetarium near Central Park in Uptown Manhattan, Unknown follows the critical acclaim of the band's other recent studio albums, Mysto Incognito (2013), Going To A Rock & Roll Dance Party' (2015), and most recently, The Sweet Ride' (2017).

Complete with the bonus "hidden" track 'The Gorgon,' The Supertones' 19th album Unknown and Other Hits from Outer Space - which was recorded at Brooklyn's famed Cowboy Technical Services studio - is the band at their very passionate best; and if this new album doesn't propel their music to the furthest reaches of outer Space (for all "beings" to enjoy), well, then nothing will!

CD Baby Purchase Link

The Supertones @ Facebook

Title - 'PETRA'
Artist - The Building

For those not in the know, PETRA was written, produced, and performed by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist/ songwriter Anthony LaMarca; also known for his role as guitarist in The War On Drugs.

Like so many Midwestern musicians before him, LaMarca left his beloved hometown of Youngstown, OH for Brooklyn, but returned in 2014 and began work as The Building, often joined by his brother Angelo (guitar) and wife Megan (cello) on a series of EPs and albums – including 2017’s acclaimed Reconciliation – released via Peppermint Records.

1. 'Transformed'
2. 'All Things New'
3. 'Purifier'
4. 'Warning'
5. 'Life Half Lived'
6. 'When I Think Of You'
7. 'Never Understand'
8. 'Never Was Alone'
9. 'Peace's Eternal Truth Renews All'

PETRA – which shares its name with the LaMarcas’ beloved German Shepherd – is a bare-boned, often brutally blunt, new work from a gifted musician-songwriter forced by fate to confront life’s hardest truths and consequences.

On an album that encapsulates beautifully the way LaMarca creates music that is, at all times, inwardly driven and yet openly, and undeniably both relevant and understood by all that listen, the nine tracks free flow effortlessly through your speakers and into your soul.

Furthermore, LaMarca had just begun recording at Youngstown’s Peppermint Productions – a vintage studio facility best known for producing everything from polka superstar Frank Yankovic to the Judge Judy theme song – when a spell of intense back pain led to his being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma.

Originally, LaMarca was diagnosed in the middle of making Reconciliation whereupon he immediately started treatment, which brought the disease into complete remission.

His disease relapsed last year while in the middle of making PETRA, but instead of making him take a back seat, maybe even back burn the new project, the experience inspired a second meaning to the album’s title; the acronym P-E-T-R-A, or “Peace’s Eternal Truth Renews All.”

Moreover, LaMarca’s physical struggle has resulted in the most powerful work of The Building’s still-growing canon, a vivid series of deeply personal songs - such as the lush, ethereal musings of the opener 'Transformed,' the lo-fi Americana of 'Purifer,' and the heartfelt stoic beauty of the closer 'Peace's Eternal Truth Renews All.'

CD Purchase Link

The Building @ Facebook

Title - ‘~’ (’tilde’)
Artist - Marinho

For those not in the know, Portuguese alternative folk-rock artist, Marinho, has just released her debut album, ‘~’ ('tilde’) via Street Mission Records this October 18th, 2019.

Born in Lisbon and raised in front of the TV, Filipa Marinho had plenty of early exposure to American cartoons and mid-'90s movies, as well as an intimacy with Hollywood's views on love, relationships, and overall human nature.

Growing up in an emotionally abusive household, Marinho experienced and witnessed a lot that she should never have been exposed to, causing here to live in fear of not being loved and accepted herself.

Ergo, here on this quite stunning, real, arterial album of heartfelt emotions and ponderings, sadness and an abandonment phobia are themes that Marinho tackles head on; in addition to her sexuality and feminism, of course.

1. 'Intro'
2. 'I Give Up and It's Ok' (03:25)
3. 'Ghost Notes' (04:16)
4. 'Not You' (feat. Monday)
5. 'Window Pain' (04:15)
6. 'Joni'
7. 'Freckles' (04:53)
8. 'Outro'

But, please don't for one second think this is an angst-ridden, self-pitying tirade of lyrically roared darkness from Marinho, for it is anything but.

On this album she tries to come to terms with what lies between overly romanticized expectations and real life, whilst at the same time enriching them lovingly within the dulcet resolutions found within alternative Americana-rock.

The lead, and debut single, '​Ghost Notes,' is a quite wondrous, and humble lyrical reminisce of her own emotionally intense take on modern day romances, where as my own personal favorite, 'Window Pain’ reveals a reflective Marinho, caught in daydreams about her own childhood.

"It’s about how when you’re a kid, you can fall and hurt yourself but all that stays is the fun memory of running around,” she admits.

“In fact, the writing of 'Ghost Notes' and album coincided with my growing feminist side as I felt inspired by a lot of women that pick up their guitars to do the same," she further explains.

"Representation is very important to me and played a key role in my willingness to make music, so releasing ‘Ghost Notes’ on Women’s Day just resulted in a cosmic coincidence that really made sense to me.”

Official Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'MLC'
Artist - Modern Love Child

For those not in the know, Modern Love Child (the pseudonym of Jonny Shane) will release his debut "self-titled" album, MLC, on October 25th, 2019, via Believe (UK).

Since 2012, Shane has been engrossed in his own flavor of Venice, CA living: “Surf when you want to, work a sh*tty job when you have to, make music all night.”

His first band, Blue Blazer, became a local favorite up and down the Sunset Strip before disbanding in 2015. As Shane began exploring a more direct, autobiographical way of writing, Modern Love Child was born.

The following year, he headed to London and inked his first record deal with Believe.

Having sereditiously run into fellow musician Ben Kweller a couple of times both sides of the pond, Shane was on a plane to Texas to join Kweller at his ranch outside of Austin.

The two artists worked non-stop for days on demos that would become this quite wondrous new album, MLC. Once the album was written and ready to be recorded, Shane enlisted acclaimed producer/mixer, Charlie Russell (Alt-J, Passenger, OK Go) to record the final product.

Also featuring musical contributions from Cameron Knight (Alt-J), and Jacob M Berry (Two Door Cinema Club), in addition to Kweller, I have now sat and listened to the album three times through and have to say it is, and without a shadow of a doubt, firmly now in my Top 10 of 2019.

1. 'West'
2. 'In A City'
3. 'Just for Kids'
4. 'Golden Brown'
5. 'Greenwich Girl'
6. 'Sweet Like Me'
7. 'Pictures Of The Moon'
8. 'Party For Two'
9. 'Ali'
10. 'Stay Young'

With a vocal stance that, at first, had me second guessing the speed that the CD was playing at, from the off the lyrical brilliance of Shane is front and center.

The aboundingly, pulsating anthemic 'West' is a quite brilliant way to kick things off and that's backed by the Strip ambiance of 'In A City,' the lo-fi electronica wandering of 'Just For Kids,' and then both the more upbeat 'Golden Brown' (no, not the Stranglers version), and the gentle hipsway of 'Greenwich Girl.'

Talking about 'In A City,' an exuberant new anthem for those struggling to fit in, Shane explains: “The song was inspired by a trip I had to NYC to see my family and friends. At that time in my life, I felt really lost."

"Everyone else’s life seemed perfect and I felt left out, hence the line, ‘I don’t fit the mold.’ Essentially, it seemed like everyone had it all figured out and I was still just this ‘dreamer in the streets, in a city that never sleeps'."

"The song also represents some internal struggle, there is the line, ‘Maybe I should move to the suburbs, find a significant other, because a white picket fence is the best defense against the world outside'."

"That’s basically thinking to myself, ‘Maybe I should just settle down and live a normal life. I’m certain most people can relate as we all tend feel a bit left out sometimes.”

The drum-led 'Sweet Like Me' is also one of my own personal favorites here and that's backed seamlessly by both the emotive 'Pictures Of The Moon,' and the ebullition found within 'Party For Two.'

Rounding out with the poignancy of 'Ali' and then the alt-fuzz early '90s CA guitar rocker 'Stay Young,' the recording brings to a close an expansive, and obviously heartfelt album for the ages.