Category Archives: LA Music Critic Awards

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 43

Day three of hospice care and I’ve discovered that this is definitely not for the faint of heart.  My brother and I are working hard to provide care for our Dad.  I had no idea how much work is involved in that.  Mad props to anyone who does this for a living.  Taking a break from duties while the hospice nurse works on him and thought it was time to work on our Monday Mashup.

WENDY SWEETLOVE SELLS OUT CD RELEASE SHOW

Wendy Sweetlove, who we introduced to you a few months back at our LA Music Critic Award winners showcase, recently performed at Hotel Cafe for a sold-out house, performing all the songs from her recent release Dirty Sunday.   Alana Sweetwater opened the show, and we wish we could have been there.  From what we hear, it was one of the best shows of the year.

KELLY McGRATH SIGNS NEW PUBLISHING DEAL

Kelly McGrath, who just returned from a tour of the UK, signed a new publishing deal with Luna Music Group, and released her holiday single on iTunes.  We expect even greater things from this indie superstar in the new year.

NEW SINGLES

First up is the latest from powerhouse band FlecHaus with “Finding.”  This one is a keeper – let it inspire you this season.

Next check out “Big G,” the latest from Neosho.  This one has enough energy to get you up and dancing with encouragement for the new year.  Let us know what you think.

Our last new single today comes from the band Echo City.  The tune is called “Burn Me,” and it definitely gets our flames arising.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

NEW MUSIC VIDEOS

Our first video today is “Shooting Stars” by Mellott.  We love this lyric video with its awesome background of shooting stars – it is perfect.  Enjoy.

Our next video, “Paint the Road,” by Sierra Blanca, has visually stunning cinematography and a beautiful story sung with a incredibly strong voice.  Please share this one with your friends.

Our final video for the week is “Rise” by Sluka, an intense protest song complete with images to drive home his point.  Let us know where you stand.

 

Get it or forget it – Sarah Rogo, Blues Goose, Ray Goren, Amy Clarke

After 23 hours of driving, I arrived last night at my brother’s home in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I will be helping him provide hospice care for our father.  I don’t know how long I will be here, but don’t have any current plans.  I do, however, have a lot of albums to review, so here are another four for your consideration.

Artist NameSarah Rogo

Album Name Live at Lestat’s West

Label:  Funzalo Records

Genre:  Blues

Track Listing:  1.  Born to be Blue; 2.  It’s Gonna be Alright; 3.  Oh my God 4.  Misbehave; 5.  These are the Blues; 6.  Loving her Tonight; 7.  Going Where the Weather Suits my Soul

Publicist:  Independent Music Media

Review:  It is rare for an indie artist to release a live album.  It is even rarer that the genre be blues, and original blues at that.  At a time when so many blues artists continue to record the same old classics over and over again, it is refreshing to hear a complete album of original blues, and from such a young artist as Sarah Rogo, who is all of 25 years old.  Having recently been at a live show at San Diego’s Lestat’s West, we can honestly say it is one of the best small venues in the country, with by far one of the best sound engineers, Louis Brazier.  Rogo has such an amazing voice that soars above her guitar accompaniment, bringing life to her well-crafted lyrics.  The only thing that could be better than this live album would be to hear it with a full band.

Recommendation:  This lady is gonna be huge.  Jump on board this train now cause it is about to leave the station.  Get her live album now.

Artist NameBlues Goose

Album NameQuestions

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Blues

Track Listing:  1.  Flat Tire Blues; 2.  You’re Fine You’re Mine; 3.  Questions; 4.  I’m a Woman; 5.  Let it Out (Blues for Veterans); 6.  Stay Away; 7.  Sweet Love; 8.  Got a Broken Heart; 9.  Wooden Shoes (Pub Blues)

Publicist:  ABIK Promotions

Review:  There’s nothing like female-fronted blues, and Blues Goose has a definite winner in Ingrid.  Her powerful and soulful voice is the perfect complement to the intense tracks laid down by the band, especially Frank’s mean keys.   The songs are well-crafted, witty and fun, and can be played on repeat without ever getting sick of them.   Our favorite tracks include “You’re Fine You’re Mine,” the title track, the fantastic cover of the Peggy Lee classic hit “I’m a Woman,” “Let it Out,” and “Sweet Love.”

Recommendation:  If you love the blues, then you simply must add Blues Goose to your musical library.  Get this one today.

Artist NameRay Goren

Album NameMe

Label:  Palmetto Records

Genre:  Blue-eyed Soul

Track Listing:  1.  Ain’t Here; 2.  Feeling; 3.  Have a Nice Day; 4.  Yes No Maybe So; 5.  Manners; 6.  I Do 7.  When I’m Gone; 8.  Outta Sight, Outta Mind; 9.  Don’t Worry; 10.  Cash and Gold; 11.  Fallen Angel

Publicist:  None

Review:  “When you ain’t here with me, I ain’t who I wanna be.”   So says the chorus of the first track of the latest from teen phenom Ray Goren.  Goren has switched his style from blues to indie rock tinged blue-eyed soul, and the difference is amazing.  This talented young man has a tremendous future ahead of him, and based on both of his works to date, he has the chops to do it all.  He combines the vocals of John Legend and Justin Timberlake with the guitar chops of Keith Urban and Brad Paisley to create music that is compelling in its intensity and craft.  He adds to that the keyboard skills of Phil Vassar and Dave Yaden that take his music to an even higher level, especially on “Yes No Maybe So.”   His song “Manners” would be perfect for the Fox hit show “Empire.”  Overall, this is definitely one of the finest albums of 2017, and a true contender for an LA Music Critic Award.

Recommendation:  This is today’s no brainer.  Run, don’t walk, and Get this one now!

Artist NameAmy Clarke

Album NameA New Way

Label:  ScorpFaery Productions

Genre:  Singer-songwriter

Track Listing:  1.  Rain Come Round; 2.  Once; 3.  Belmont Blues; 4.  May; 5.  Goddess; 6.  We are the Web 7.  Between the Ice and the Ocean 8.  Love is the Way; 9.  From Here; 10.  Ella Mira; 11.  Give it Back 12.  A New Way; 13.  Shine

Publicist:  None

Review:  Amy Clarke has always been one of the best indie keyboard players.  Her songwriting is always well-crafted and compelling, with deep lyrics imposed upon complex instrumentation, creating songs that don’t just sound great but bring awareness to issues affecting the world at large.  She pours her passion into her tune, and passes that passion on to her listeners.  You cannot listen to a song like her first track, “Rain Come Round,” without feeling a charge in your soul, which in turn increases your hunger for justice, and your quest to help others find and achieve it.   Best cuts include “Belmont Blues,” “Mary,” “We are the Web,” “Love is the Way,” “From Here,” “Give it Back” and the title track.

Recommendation:  Accept her challenge – be the change you want to see.  Support this amazing artist and Get her latest CD.

 

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 41 (Updated)

It has been snowing every day since I returned from tour, although much of it has melted when the thermometer reaches the upper 30’s.  It is a beautiful reminder that we are headed into the end of 2017, which has provided a plethora of great indie music.  Just a few more weeks until Thanksgiving and then a few more until Christmas and before you know it, we’ll be announcing the nominations for the LA Music Critic Awards for the second half of 2017.  We have definitely got our work cut out for us this time, as the quality and quantity of submissions are some of the best we have ever seen.   We can’t wait to share our nominations with you.  Until then, check out what’s currently happening in the indie music community.

INDIE ARTISTS PARTICIPATE IN SHOWCASES

This past weekend several of our favorite indie acts participated in showcases.  Fan Favorite winner FlecHaus took part in Austin Strong, along with Of Sea and Stone and Deer Fellow, at the Sidewinder in Austin, Texas on November 2.  Meanwhile, back in California, Floating Records hosted its “Fall Revue 2017,” featuring LA Music Critic Award nominee Jeffrey Halford & the Healers, as well as Marble Party and  Graham Guest on November 4 at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley.  Thanks to publicist Doug Deutsch for sharing.

BLAKE MORGAN HOSTS TRACY BONHAM

Blake Morgan has had an artist residence at Rockwood Music Hall for quite some time.  This month he will host Tracy Bonham on Rockwood’s Stage 3 on November 15.  If you are in New York City,  you might just want to grab tickets for this show – grab your tickets soon cause this series has consistently sold out.

JACK TEMPCHIN CELEBRATES 45th ANNIVERSARY OF “PEACEFUL EASY FEELING”

Blue Élan Records artist and former Eagles hit songwriter Jack Tempchin has scheduled a trio of local Los Angeles shows to celebrate the 45th anniversary of one of his biggest hits, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which he co-wrote with Glenn Frey.  The first one is scheduled for November 10 at Carruth Cellars in Solana Beach.  Labelmate Cindy Alexander will open this show.  Next will be a stop at the world famous McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on November 26.  Another labelmate, Chelsea Williams, will open this show.  His final stop will be at Mozambique in Laguna Beach on December 2.

MARINA V TO CELEBRATE CD RELEASE

Multiple LA Music Critic Award winner Marina V, recently returned from a tour of Germany and Moscow, will celebrate the release of her latest CD, Born to the Stars, with a show and party at the amazing Three Clubs on Sunday, November 12.  Tickets are half-off if purchased in advance on her website.  This is one show you don’t want to miss.

NEW SINGLES

First up today is blue-eyed soul singer Ashleigh Watson, with her new single “Little Love.”  We love the sound of this song, and look forward to hearing more from Ms. Watson.  We think she’s got a great vibe that will last for a long time.

Next is “Train to Nowhere,” a sure-to-be Americana classic song from The Sound of Ghosts.  This one has everything you love in a great Americana song – great lyrics, vocals, fiddle and even some amazing horns.  Let us know what you think.

Our final single today comes from Tim Maiden, with his beautiful song “So Far Gone,” a trip hop, electronic, R&B masterpiece.  Enjoy this one.

NEW VIDEOS

LA-based alt-rockers Satellite Citi bring us their latest music video for “Undead.”  It’s got great guitar riffs and a stunning visual story that brings the song to life.   Video game lovers – this one is for you!  Please let us know what you think.

Next up is a great lyric video from The Rebel Light for their song, “Where did all the Love Go?”  We are constantly amazed at the creativity in the indie music community, and think this one is a hit.

Our final music video for this week comes from Elizabeth and the Catapult, which we recently reviewed in our Get it or Forget it series.  Here is their video for “Ambrosia.”  Enjoy your week!

 

 

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 39

And we’re on tour.  Spent the night with our client Jerad Finck in his amazing hilltop home overlooking Spokane.  His first show is tonight at Darrell’s Tavern in the Shoreline area of Seattle.  He is sharing the stage with another LA Music Critic Award winner, Polly O’Keary & the Rhythm Method.  This is gonna be fun.  As such, we will be posting sporadically here for the next two weeks.  We will be posting a daily tour blog on Finck’s Facebook page every day, including our thoughts about the entire tour process.  In the meantime, here’s our Monday Mashup to get  your new week off to a great musical start.

LIZ KENNEDY DROPS NEW RELEASE

Liz Kennedy released her latest album, Hike Up Your Socks,  featuring legendary bluesman Taj Mahal on harmonica on “Love Gave Me Away” as well as vocals and banjo on “Everyone Knows How It Goes” on September 15.  Watch for our review soon.

NEW MUSIC

Our first new single this week comes from Matt Zambon.  Check out “Blue & Yellow” and let us know what you think.

Just had to share this amazing electronic pop single from the band Elektrisk Gønner for their single “Money.”  Love the beat and especially the soaring vocals.  Let us know what you think.

Our last new single comes from Sara Diamond.  She has a voice like Beyonce’ and great songwriting to boot.  Check out “Stay a Little.”

NEW MUSIC VIDEOS

Our first video today is from John Hickman, who has released a fun animated video for his song “Cascade.”  This should get your new week off to a fun start.

Next up is a new video from Lexie Rose, who we featured back in July.  We think  you’ll love her video for “Wrong,” which we feel is just right.

Last but not least this week is some old fashioned bluegrass, courtesy of Bernie Faulkner with his rousing song, “Potbelly Stove.  This one sure brings back memories of my childhood.  We think you’ll like it too.

Kanisha K returns with a Nashville mix of her single ‘Oh Damn Yeah’

Kanisha K is no stranger to Indie Voice Blog.  We have featured her twice before – in 2015 for her Christmas song, and this past February for “Bet on Me,” which was also nominated for best single (female) in the LA Music Critic Awards.  We love what this young lady has accomplished, and her future potential as an indie artist.

 “I love being able to do what I love and to inspire people who think that their dreams can’t come true.  All of this is hard for me to believe sometimes, but I think everything boils down to focusing on your passion and working hard.  I’m excited about the way music travels,” explains Kanisha when describing her vision.  The Holland, Michigan native has embraced hit music from the past as well as the current music scene, forging a combination that allows her creative style to shine.

A couple of years ago she released her song “Oh Damn Yeah” to Top 40 and CHR Radio.  The song was written and produced by uber producer Joe Vulpis (Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, Richie Blackmore, Jennifer Love Hewitt) and mastered by Tom Coyne (Adele, Beyonce, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, Pink, Ariana Grande) and recorded at Vulpis’ studio in Nashville.  It seems only fitting that two years later, she is re-releasing it as a country mix.

“Working with Joe Vulpis and bringing his songs to life through the recording process was an enormous honor for me.  I really fell in love with “Oh Damn Yeah” and “Never Stopped Loving You” and worked hard to preserve the integrity of both the music and the lyrics. I think we have some hits here.”

 

The song takes all the elements of today’s country pop scene and mixes them with this amazingly written song, keeping all the elements that made the original version such a hit while making the song attractive to another genre.  It is truly ready for extended air play on a multitude of radio formats, as well as being a killer song for placement in television and film.

But as every artist knows, every story has a beginning and Kanisha’s begins at home.  At a very young age, the singer was introduced to a wide array of music from her supportive parents.  She credits her musical influences as Etta James, Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin.

From singing and playing piano at age four to joining a band and playing the sax and guitar in sixth grade, Kanisha knew that vocal lessons would be the next step in her musical education.  Beginning those lessons in eighth grade she went on to join her High School choir the next year and also became involved in local community
theater. Her participation in an award-winning choir ultimately took her into the studio with Robyn Robins from The Silver Bullet Band and eventually headed to Los Angeles where she recorded two songs at the legendary Capitol Records studios.

Kanisha enjoys speaking about her love of animals and is proud to live in a family that has a total of six pets – two dogs, two cats, one bird and a rabbit.  She has recently gotten involved working with the HSUS (Humane Society of the U.S.) and the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected organization and plans for much more work with pet and charity foundations in the future.

We can hardly wait to see what’s next for Kanisha.  She has garnered our full attention.  Don’t forget to follow her on Spotify, and listen there as well.

2017 Flathead Lake Blues Festival (day 2) – live performance review

Hope you enjoyed our reviews of day 1 of the Flathead Lake Blues and Music Festival, which featured some of Montana’a best musicians.  The theme for day 2 was “Ladies of the Blues,” and Steve Pickel pulled out all the stops to bring four of the finest and brightest to light up the stage.

First up was Missoula native Andrea Harsell with her new band, Luna Roja.  Harsell has become a Missoula icon with her sound, primarily as a solo artist.  She began hiring drummer Antonio Alvarez and guitarist Nick Hamburg for her gigs, and then asked them to join her as a band.  They hired bassist Michael Rhead to complete the band, and Alvarez came up with the name Luna Roja (Red Moon) because of his Spanish heritage.  They also recorded an album, which will be celebrated with a show at the Top Hat on September 15.  The album will also be reviewed shortly on this blog’s Get it or Forget it series.  Their sound is a mixture of Americana, rock, R&B and blues.  Harsell has a voice akin to Janis Joplin, and it showed on many of their songs, including new tunes “Oh Boy” and “Hard Times,” as well as on their cover of the Sam Cook classic “Bring it on Home to Me.”  The only thing missing was the stage banter, but we are sure that will come as they continue to grow as a band.

Next up was the power-packed sound of Seattle’s Michelle Taylor Band.  If Harsell had the sound of Joplin, then Taylor is the reincarnation.  With her band composed of Robert Morrill on drums, Lissa Ramaglia on bass, Jim Barnes on keys and vocals and her husband, Justin Dean on guitar and vocals, the MTB truly brought the blues home to Polson.  With a mixture of original tunes like “Black Lace” and “Trashy Queen,” and pop hits like Duffy’s “Mercy,” Elle King’s “Exes and Ohs,” Grace Potter’s “Paris” and “Medicine,” Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel From Montgomery,” Tracy Chapman’s “Give me a Reason,” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious,” MTB proved that any song can be stylized as blues.  But what really drove home their exceptional talent was their version of Ike and Tina Turner’s classic “Proud Mary,” which truly allowed Taylor to shine as both a singer and a performer, as she brought Tina’s unique energy to the show.  This performance was one of the pinnacles of the weekend.  Kudos also to both her husband and badass female bassist Ramaglia on their outstanding licks on guitar and bass.  The band also received the first encore of the Festival, and delivered a rousing version of Led Zeppelin’s “Been a Long Time” in response.

The third band for the day was Estelle and the Atomic Jive, who brought something entirely different to this day.  Atomic Jive is reminiscent of a combination of the Royal Crown Review and one of Brian Setzer’s various bands in that they bring an army of sound to the stage.  The band features Estelle on lead vocals, surrounding by the amazing talents of Mike Ruggles on guitar, Lee Cardella on bass, Brian Seagrave on keys, Bob Briley on drums and a horn section that is as powerful as the one from Tower of Power, composed of Russ Hoffer on sax and Mike Baker on trumpet.   Some of the highlights of the show were their version of the “Stray Cat Strut,” the classic jazz standard “Don’t Roll Your Bloodshot Eyes at Me,” Roy Head’s 1965 classic “Treat her Right,” and the theme from the Blues Brothers’ movies, “Peter Gunn.”  This was classic New Orleans jazz-tinged blues, and elevated the musical standard to a new level.

The final act for the weekend was another Seattle band, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method.  We had the distinct pleasure of awarding them the Best Blues Band trophy for the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  O’Keary was totally taken by surprise, and the band joined in her gratitude for the award.  O’Keary is a red ball of energy, constantly dancing across the stage as she delivers true bad ass licks on her brand new wireless LedBelli Blackbird 6-string bass and vocals that stir the soul.  The band also includes the amazing David Miller on guitar and O’Keary’s husband, Tommy Cook, on drums.  The band performed primarily original material, many of which came from their latest album, Black Crow Callin.‘  Included in their amazing performance were “I Don’t Understand,” “Yours to Lose,” “Red Light,” “Wish You Could See me Now,” “Reconciled,” and “How the Mighty Fall,” which reminded this reviewer of “Mustang Sally.”   They also did a stirring rendition of Eric Bibb’s classic “In my Father’s House.”  Cook laid the perfect foundation on his drums, while Miller proved to be a true guitar aficionado, even playing the guitar behind his head at one point.  The band brought their set and the Festival to a close with an amazing encore with Michelle Taylor and Justin Dean of ZZ Top’s “Tush.”  It was the perfect cherry on top of a super delicious weekend of music.  Special thanks to Steve Pickel and Anderson Broadcasting for bringing these amazing artists to us.  We can hardly wait for next year!!!

 

2017 Flathead Lake Blues Festival (day 1 – part 1) – live performance review

We love discovering new bands, and this year’s Flathead Lake Blues Festival proved the perfect location for doing just that.  We were unaware of this amazing festival, and discovered it by accident.  One of the bands slated to play on day 2 of the Festival was the winner of the Best Blues Band category in the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  We had earlier decided to present certificates to all the award winners, and we thought it would be a great idea to present it to the band in front of a crowd.  We contacted Steve Pickel of Anderson Broadcasting, the organizer of the Festival, and he was ecstatic about it.  He invited us to come up and be VIPs for the entire weekend.  Thank you Steve!!!

The first day of the Festival was subtitled “Montana Musicians Review,” and featured 10 Montana bands over a six hour period – very ambitious, but somehow it all came together and only ran about an hour and a half over the schedule.  This review will cover the first five bands to perform, while part 2 will cover the remaining five bands and the special events.

The first artist to take the stage was Missoula’s Andre Floyd and Mood Iguana.  Floyd is an amazing original blues artist who shares his craft throughout Western Montana.  His band included the prolific Dave Griffith on guitar, organ and keys, Ron Reeves on bass and Don Caverly on drums.  Griffith also lent his talents to several other bands throughout the day.  Floyd’s sound is progressive roots-based blues and he brought his best to this performance.  We especially loved his jazzy rendition of the classic song “Our Day Will Come.”  You can catch him playing the Draught Works Brewery stage later this month.

Next up was the Mike Murray Band, who took the music up a notch with their seriously funky style.  Composed of Murray on lead guitar and vocals, Christopher Krager on bass and backing vocals, Marco Forcone on drums and Ryan Wickland on keys, pedal steel and guitar, they joined awesome vocals with some amazing guitar riffs to bring the funk to the Festival.  This is a band that we could see everyday, and never get enough.  They closed their set with a blues number that showed off the funky keys and guitar, and firmly established themselves as a force of music.

The first female-fronted band was next in the person of Halladay Quist, a multi-instrumentalist who completely  wowed the crowd with her stage antics and her incredible mastery of guitar, banjo and electric stand-up bass.  The daughter of musician and would-be politician Rob Quist, Halladay is a ball of energy that never stopped her entire set.  She was joined on stage by her father on acoustic guitar, as well as Dave Griffin on keys and sax, Leif Christian on electric guitar and Bally Lopez on drums  Halladay’s vocals are truly beautiful, and she shares them on music that ranged from country blues to bluegrass to classic rock, including a stunning cover of Jefferson Airplane’s mega-hit “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love.”  One of the highlights of the set was watching her father grin from ear to ear at the talents of his daughter.  Halladay has just released an album that will be reviewed shortly on this blog.  Prepare to be blown away.  She performed several of the new songs during her set, of which we really loved “Let it Burn,” especially in light of our Montana fire season this year.

Leif Christian didn’t have far to go when he finished playing with Halladay, as his band, Ticket Sauce, was the next on the stage.   Joining with his long-time bassist Nathan Talley and substitute drummer, Collin Scott, the Sauce brought it all together with their healthy blend of rock, funk, blues and soul, with a special topping of cool.  They are a party band, and are guaranteed to get any gathering off to a jamming start.  They were especially incredible on their covers of Jimi Hendrix’s “Isabella” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”  They also write some great jams, including “Alone.”  They closed their set out the way they began, funky to the end.

The fifth band to take the stage, and the last one we will cover in part 1 of this review, was Off in the Woods, a dynamic six piece band composed of Jon Schumaker on guitar, Layne McKay on saxophone and guitar, Kyle Daugherty on trombone, Kia Abibzadeh on keys, Kai Salmonson on bass and Nathan Noble on drums.   This band is a true local icon, as their members come from Polson, home of the Festival.  They have a very funky jam band sound, with a touch of reggae.  Some of their best songs included “Blue,” “Early Summer Rain,” and “The River.  The band will have a new album out in the near future.

We’ll be back soon with part 2 of this review, followed by our review of day 2.

Get it or forget it – My Girl My Whiskey & Me, Marina V, John Brownlow, MUTTS

Getting closer to that weekend, so we’re bringing you more great artists to get you ready.  We are pleased to present these four to you, which include multiple LA Music Critic Award winner Marina V.  We hope you enjoy the music and will continue to support indie acts.

Artist NameMy Girl My Whiskey & Me

Album NameIn the Ground

Label:  Other Southern

Genre:  Progressive Bluegrass/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  When I Die; 2.  Olive Branch Silhouette; 3.  Last Night I Dreamt I was a Ghost; 4.  Carolina Reel; 5.  Eye; 6.  Lucy; 7.  Cake & Wine; 8.  In the Ground; 9.  Petrichor; 10.  Last Night I Dreamt I was a Ghost (reprise)

Publicist:  None

Review:  Florida natives George William Beardsworth and Kelly Colyer form the nucleus of MGMWAM, a truly progressive Americana band that includes elements of Depression era bluegrass with the more progressive sounds of bands like The Punch Brothers, The Decemberists and The Civil Wars to create a wholesome family-friendly. sound that should appeal to most listeners.  They have embarked on a one-year tour of all 50 states, and we hope that they can accomplish their mission.  If this debut release is any indication, they will be selling out venues before the tour is done.   Their diversity is best shown in the songs “Last Night I Dreamt I was a Ghost” (with the amazing harmonies of Beardsworth and Colyer), “Carolina Reel” (showing off the amazing mandolin chops of Beardsworth, “Eye” (with its perfect marriage of mandolin and violin), current single “Lucy” and “Cake & Wine” (which feels like it would fit perfectly in the soundtrack of O Brother Where art Thou?  All in all, this is one of our favorite bluegrass albums to review, and a necessary addition to our library.

Recommendation:  We highly recommend this amazing CD.  Get. It. Now.

Artist NameMarina V

Album NameBorn to the Stars

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Soft Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Born to the Stars; 2.  I am Iron; 3.  Be my Light; 4.  Together Alone; 5.  Fire in the Sky; 6.  Beautiful Forever; 7.  Good; 8.  Bring it On; 9.  Autumn Song; 10.  Imagine

Publicist:  None

Review:  We have been fans of Marina V almost since she first set foot in California from her native Moscow, and have enjoyed watching her career and influence rise within the world-wide music community.  With the arrival of her new album Born to the Stars, she has brought us her best effort to date, and which has already spawned an LA Music Critic Award for the video to the title track.  Anyone who has seen her perform live knows that she always brings light into the room, and songs like “I am Iron” exemplify that fact.  It is an inspirational song that should find easy placement in television or film.  Other songs that stand out include “Together Alone” (with its amazing string background), “Fire in the Sky,” “Beautiful Forever” (with its simple guitar and vocals), and her cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” one of the best homages to this song we have ever heard.  Truth be told, there is not a weak song on the album, and we believe it will appeal to most, if not all, music aficionados.

Recommendation:  This is one of the best indie music albums we have reviewed this year.  We strongly urge you to Get it and support this artist.  If you live anywhere near where her tour takes her, you would be remiss not to attend.

Artist NameJohn Brownlow

Album Name The Summertime

Label:  Chromopop

Genre:  Britpop

Track Listing:  1.  Burn Hollywood Burn; 2.  Live Forever; 3.  Asteroids; 4.  Government Work; 5.  God Willing (and the Creek Don’t Rise); 6.  Already Gone; 7.  Baby got a Gun; 8.  Don’t Walk Away; 9.  Get yr Groove On; 10.  Gonna Have to let you Down; 11.  Let the Feeling Go; 12.  Man in the Mirror; 13.  On my Way; 14.  Bullet to the Head; 15.  Kingdom Come; 16.  Occupy my Heart; 17.  Rip it Up; 18.  You Slipped Through my Fingers; 19.  Shame the Devil; 20.  Sunshine on the Radio; 21.  Where my Mind Goes; 22.  Radiation; 23.  Let’s not and say we Did; 24.  The Pink Raincoat; 25.  Shalala Says I Love You; 26.  Where Does Love Go; 27.  Storm Coming; 28.  One Fine Day; 29.  Song for the Ferryman

Publicist:  Last Tango Productions

Review:  Veteran Hollywood screenwriter and former music journalist John Brownlow brings new life to the Britpop sound with his debut double album containing 29 original songs.  He wastes no time with the upbeat rocking “Burn Hollywood Burn” and proceeds to give us a dynamic musical journey with a colorful narrative that lasts through all 29 songs, almost two hours of non-stop entertainment.  This double album should be listened to several times in order to absorb all that Brownlow has to offer.  His songs have great lyrical content as well as incredible musical accompaniment that will keep his listeners engaged and coming back for more.  There is so much to this album, but we really like “Asteroids” (with its jazzy guitar), “Government Work” and “Baby Got a Gun (for their rockabilly/surf rock feel), “God Willing” (for its 60’s sound reminiscent of the Monkees), “Already Gone” (for its Smoky Robinson soulful feel), “Gonna Have to let you Down” (for its dynamic bass line); and “Let the Feeling Go (for its overall laid-back and groovy beauty.  All in all this album will keep you company for a long time, so make sure you make time to enjoy it,

Recommendation:  Brit pop is alive and well and we’re so glad we discovered this amazing artist.  This one should be one of your “desert island picks.”  Don’t delay – Get it today.

Artist NameMUTTS

Album NameStick Together

Label:  8eat8 records

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  I’ll be Around; 2.  Neighbor; 3.  Let’s Go; 4.  Tin Foil Hat; 5.  Don’t Touch It

Publicist:  Perpetual Media Relations

Review:  Critics are already hailing this Chicago-based band as the successor to Tom Waits, and we tend to agree with their assessment.  The music would make the Blues Brothers proud, with its almost gospel choir feel and its feel-good musical accompaniment.  If you are a Cubs fan, you’re probably already familiar with the band, as their song, “Let’s Go” was used extensively by the club during last season’s World Series run.  This band has the power and the spunk to make a huge name for themselves.  Check out “Tin Foil Hat” as proof.  Don’t be surprised to see them continue to break down the walls that separate indie from mainstream.  We expect these guys will go far in this business, and set a precedent that will enable other great indie bands to also bust out.  As the Cubs (through MUTTS) like to say, “Let’s Go.”

Recommendation:  Be the first in line to Get this one when it is released on September 12.  Pre-order it now.

 

Get it or forget it – Riley Smith, The Grascals, Istanbul Hippodrome, Gabe Dixon

Welcome to September.  We have a special edition of Get it or Forget it, featuring the debut EP from one of our favorite actors, Riley Smith, star of Nashville and Frequency.  In addition, we have the latest from The Grascals, as well as LA Music Critic Award winner Gabe Dixon.  Have a wonderful Friday, and let’s get cracking.

Artist Name:   Riley Smith

Album Name:   Riley Smith

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Country/Pop /Rock

Track Listing:  1.  I’m on Fire; 2.  I Can’t Keep on Missing You; 3.  Break Somethin’; 4.  Mad Love; 5.  Selfish; 6.  Change of a Season

Publicist:   Chloe Robinson

Review:  With a soulful voice over country tinged pop music, Riley Smith bursts forth on the indie music scene with “I’m on Fire,” the first single off his latest EP.  Smith has the kind of sound that is truly radio ready and is perfect for both country and pop/rock formats.  He has chosen a strong group of songs that showcase his voice and bring out the best possible sound.  Every song on this EP is amazing, and worthy of repeated listens.  We are pleased to welcome Smith to the club of artists with amazing voices, including the entire cast of Nashville, Lukas Haas, Minnie Driver and others.

Recommendation:  You simply must add this one to your musical library.  We think that Smith will become a very important member of the exclusive club of actors that can sing.  Get it now!

Artist Name:  The Grascals

Album Name:  Before Breakfast

Label:  Mountain Home Music

Genre:  Bluegrass

Track Listing:  1.  Sleepin’ with the Reaper; 2.  Demons; 3.  Delia; 4.  I’ve Been Redeemed; 5.  Lonesome; 6.  Beer Tree; 7.  Pathway of Teardrops; 8.  Lynchburg Chicken Run; 9.  He Took Your Place; 10.  Lost and Lonesome; 11.  There is You; 12.  Clear Corn Liquid

Publicist:  So Much Moore Media

Review:   The Grascals have earned their reputation for quality bluegrass music by choosing the right songs and arrangements.  Since they were introduced by Rounder back in 2005, they have thrilled bluegrass fans around the world.  On this collection, they have chosen to cover some of the classic songwriters of bluegrass and country music, like Bill Anderson, Jon Randall, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Paul Overstreet and Tim Stafford, while also showing their skills at writing (“Lynchburg Chicken Run”).  Composed of John Bryan (guitar, clawhammer banjo and vocals), Terry Eldredge (guitar and vocals), Terry Smith (bass and vocals), Adam Haynes (fiddle), Danny Roberts (mandolin) and Kristin Scott Benson (banjo and guitar), this dynamic sextet take bluegrass to h\new heights, thrilling old fans and creating new ones.  The Grascals continue to set the bar high, and every song on Before Breakfast only strengthens their position as one of the premier bluegrass bands in the world.

Recommendation:   Lucky for you, this album is being released on September 1.  We strongly recommend that you Get it before it sells out.

Artist Name:  Istanbul Hippodrome

Album Name:  No Way Home

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Electronica/instrumental

Track Listing:  1,  Overlord; 2.  No Way Home; 3.  Servovar Vent; 4.  Diet of Worms

Publicist:  Neon Tetra

Review:   Istanbul Hippodrome is a British band with an entirely different sound.  Their music is not so much songs but soundscapes, with a cinematic sound you would expect from your favorite movie soundtrack.  Their music is eerie and ethereal, encompassing all your senses.  It is music that you feel even more than just hear, as the unique yet cohesive sounds envelop you from head to toe, transforming your environment and setting your mind free to wander through the vast possibilities set forth in the notes.  Their music is perfect for your solitude and meditation, when you want your thoughts to wander free.

Recommendation:  This unique blend of sounds and moods is a perfect addition to your musical library.  We recommend you pre-order it so that you will have it when it is released on September 8.

Artist Name:  Gabe Dixon

Album Name:  Live in Boston

Label:  BirnCORE

Genre:  Indie Pop

Track Listing:  1.  Holding her Freedom; 2.  Crave; 3.  If I Love You; 4.  Flow Like Wine; 5.  Five More Hours; 6.  Last Fool; 7.  Find my Way; 8.  All Will be Well; 9.  Till You’re Gone

Publicist:  Berklee College of Music

Review:  This live album was recorded on the independent label of Berklee College of Music in Boston from a performance by Gabe Dixon, who is no stranger to indie music lovers.  Dixon won Best Single for “Crave” and Best Male Pop/Rock Artist in the 2016 LA Music Critic Awards, and has been nominated for Best CD (Male) and Best Video (Live).  We also reviewed his last album, Turns to Gold, and interviewed him after his LAMCA win.  In this stellar live performance, Dixon shows his major piano chops as he brings to life nine of his best songs.  He has that mastery of the ivory that was previously exhibited by the legendary Bruce Hornsby, as well as an uncanny ability to capture emotions in his songwriting.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend one of his live shows, then this is the next best thing to experience Dixon’s brilliance.  It is obvious even from this live album why he was chosen to appear on the Carson Daly show last year.  Although every song is amazing, we simply love his live arrangements of “Holding her Freedom,” Crave,” “Flow Like Wine,” and “Find my Way.”

Recommendation:  If you love great music, then this one must be included in your musical library.  We strongly suggest you pre-order it so that you will be among the first to have it when it is released on September 8.  You can find it here.

 

Chris Chilton and Jerad Finck at Bellwether Brewing Co – live performance review

Last month we had the distinct pleasure of attending the performances of Chris Chilton and Jerad Finck at the Bellwether Brewing Co in Spokane, Washington.   Bellwether is owned and operated by Finck’s high school friend Thomas Croskey.  Finck arranged the show to highlight the brewery and to introduce Chilton from nearby Coeur d’Alene, with whom Finck has been writing and producing.

Croskey opened Bellwether in September 2015 as a place where he could demonstrate his love for historical home brews.  The brewery usually has about 19 options for beer, of which 8 or 9 are ongoing brews and the remainder are seasonal.  In fact, he created a beer called “Goomba Juice” just for this special occasion.

The Bellwether beer menu consists of Old World styles from Celtic and Nordic influences as well as contemporary Northwest styles.  The menu also contains food items like pistachios, panini’s, soft pretzels, cheese platters and bread and butter.  Interestingly enough, the bread is made daily by Alpine Bakery using the brewery’s spent grain.

Besides this amazing musical show, the Bellwether is also home to several festivals, including GruitFest in February and the BraggotFest in July.  For more information, check out their website.

First up was Chilton for a short five-song warm-up set.  He has deep passionate vocals that bring his well-crafted lyrics to life.  Not only was he amazing on his own song “You Won’t Hurt me Anymore,” but he also killed it on his cover of the Snow Patrol song, “Run.”  He closed his short set with the first single off his new project, “Adonai,” a song he co-wrote with Finck and which Finck produced.  Check out his lyric video below:

After a short break, Finck took the stage and launched into “Never Coming Back.”  Finck has great stage presence and has mastered the art of audience interaction with his tales of high school hi-jinks and the back stories of how the songs came to be written.

Among the songs he performed were originals “Code Breaker,” “Pieces of April” (which he wrote when he first met his wife, and which was nominated for an LA Music Critic Award), “Blood in the Water,” and “Carried Away,” along with a wonderful cover of The Cure’s “Love Song,” a band he was a big fan of while growing up.

He saved his best for the end of his set, including “Criminal,” a song he co-wrote with Steven Solomon and Darrell Hodges, and which won the 2016 grand prize in the USA Songwriting Competition, as well as his latest single, “New Kids,” which is all about standing up for the underdog.  Both songs were winners in the LA Music Critic Awards and have done well on the Hot AC charts, with the latter being the basis for his upcoming fall tour through Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Montana.

The audience demanded an encore, and Finck complied with an older song, “Whatever You Want.”  It was the perfect culmination of a delightful evening of song and beverage.