Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of music albums, singles or videos.

Michael Shynes is having one of those kind of days

Michael Shynes is a gifted singer/songwriter who is only recently beginning to come into his own.  He lost his Father to an auto immune disease at the age of 25.  To honor his Dad’s legacy, he decided to chase those dreams he had put off for so long.   At that time he was working at a residential treatment center for teens and playing the occasional show on the weekend.

Shynes eplained, “It was important work, and shaped who I am today in a lot of ways.  But after three years, I just got tired of getting beat up, spit on, and called everything you can imagine.  I loved those kids though, and wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.”

Shynes moved back home to keep costs down while trying to become a full time musician.  “It worked out well because I didn’t want to think of my Mom being alone in the house after my Dad’s passing.  But by the same token, it felt like a lateral move being back in my childhood home.  I had many an existential crisis during that time.”

Shynes began playing every show that he possibly could, and as time went on, he was able to pay all his bills (and student loans) with an acoustic guitar.  “Paying rent every month by writing and performing songs was pretty surreal, and the harder I worked, the better the gigs got.”

Shynes was often considered to be a strong local candidate to open up for national acts as they came through town, and even ended up on a tour with platinum recording artist Howie Day.  “That really taught me a lot because I was playing for theaters full of people who were not there to see me.  But I was telling the stories and playing my songs, and everyone was listening.  That was a landmark experience.”

Since that time, Shynes has worked to become one of the most sought after acoustic performers and songwriters in the Midwest. He has an ability to blend shades of multiple genres over an acoustic landscape, and his songs are ripe with lyrical depth rarely paired with mainstream appeal.  “The thing that seems to separate Shynes is unquestionably his voice and phrasing.  With a range and falsetto that is nothing short of captivating, his acoustic finger picking style acts as the perfect bed of warmth on which his soulful lyrics can rest.” (Up Next, a local Minnesota publication)

Shynes has recently completed a new album that will be released on November 18, 2017.   In the meantime, he is already getting favorable press, including The Huffington Post, as to his first single and the title track, “Cold Day in Hell,” which was released on October 13.

This song is the perfect track for sharing his talents.  It combines comedic lyrics with a truly relatable story that most of us have endured at some point in our life.  He has followed up the single release with a hilarious lyric video that further drives home his story.

We love the new single and the lyric video.  We also encourage you to check out the live videos he has recently posted on his YouTube page.

 

Get it or forget it – The Elwins, Tout, John LaFayete Ramey, Noon

Happy Friday the 13th.  Hope you have a spooky good time today.  We have four reviews for your today, two of which are instrumentals courtesy of Trestle Records, which specializes in that genre.  We are proud to welcome them to our family of music enablers.  We hope these albums put you in the weekend mode.  Since we are going out on tour with Jerad Finck, this may be our last Get it or Forget it for a few weeks, but we will do our best to continue to enlighten you on the amazing indie artists we meet.

Artist NameThe Elwins

Album NameBeauty Community

Label:  Hidden Pony

Genre:  Indie Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Hey! Ya, You; 2.  Don’t Walk Away From Me; 3.  OMG; 4.  Hocus Pocus; 5.  Dreamgirl; 6.  Looks Like You’re Hiding; 7.  Never Felt so Good; 8.  Your Very own Beauty Community; 9.  How do you Feel; 10.  Watercolour; 11.  Grind you Down; 12.  C’mon C’mon; 13.  This is It

Publicist:  Auteur Research

Review:  The album kicks off with “Hey! Ya, You,” which is also their first single.  It is a powerful pop/rock song that will play well on the radio, with its cool beat, hooky lyrics and impressive sound.  The album delivers hit after hit, all of which deserve serious industry consideration.  Our favorite tracks include “Don’t Walk Away From Me,” “OMG,” “Dreamgirl,” “Never Felt so Good,” “How do you Feel,” and “Grind you Down,” as well as the superb first single.  We have been seeing some impressive Canadian acts recently, and The Elwins top the list.  The band is headed out for a tour of the northern United States and Canada, and we only wish we had known they were just down the road in Bozeman last weekend.

Recommendation:  This one is super catchy and fun, and belongs in your music library.  Get it.

Artist NameTout

Album NameLive

Label:  Trestle Records

Genre:  Instrumental

Track Listing:  1.  Have set the Trees A’Sobbin; 2.  Tis Munny in his Purse; 3.  I Pictured Him; 4.  My Condition Can’t be Worse; 5.  So Here I’ve Stood

Publicist:  Trestle Records

Review:  Tout brings us prog rock instrumentals that are interesting and complex, with a steady beat and impressive guitar work.  They provide an excellent background for your daily life, with music that will keep your ears and mind alert.  This live album follows their first three studio albums, which have garnered industry praise and created a huge fan base for this thoughtful and reflective tunes.  All five tracks are noteworthy and unique.  Take time to be reflective – just add these songs to your daily routine.

Recommendation:  If you love prog rock and instrumentals, take these tunes for a test drive.

Artist NameJohn Lafayette Ramey

Album NameExposition Lines

Label:  Self released

Genre:  Roots Rock/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Cheap Rent (Move On); 2.  Guadalupe; 3.  Amelia; 4.  Jenny; 5.  Troubled Soulful Mama of the Deepest Blue; 6.  Parnell; 7.  Let me Down Easy; 8.  Sad Song, Sad Town; 9.  I Don’t Believe You; 10.  Still with Me

Publicist: KB Music Press

Review:  John Lafayette Ramey is a multi-talented Americana artist that brings the total package to the genre.  His songs can be rocky, like “Cheap Rent” or heartfelt and sincere, like “Guadalupe” and “Amelia.”   He even throws in his own version of the blues with “Troubled Soulful Mama of the Deepest Blue.”  His album shows a firm understanding of the many facets of Americana music, and Ramey has the chops to make it in this very competitive marketplace.  He also shows a healthy respect for classic rock with a pair of songs that feel heavily influenced by the Beatles (“Parnell”) and Tom Petty (“Let me Down Easy”), as well as the country feeling “Sad Song, Sad Town” and “I Don’t Believe You.”

Recommendation:  Check this one out if your love the variety of sounds incorporated in the Americana genre.

Artist NameNoon

Album NameDisquiet

Label:  Trestle Records

Genre:  Instrumental

Track Listing:  1.  Use on Floor; 2.  Wow Ashen; 3.  Imani’s Call; 4.  Living Above Visions; 5.  Disquiet; 6.  Plastic White; 7.  Llangrannog; 8.  Obviously Having it Believers; 9.  London Swims

Publicist:  Trestle Records

Review:  The album is aptly named as this album is chock full of discordant notes, eerie and spooky undertones and an overall feeling of unease, making it the perfect soundtrack for the horror movie industry.  Amazingly, it was recorded live at conversational levels during their show at Netil House.  The band incorporates a myriad of styles and tones in creating their unique sound.  This one is not for the faint of heart, but the audiophile in search of something totally different.

Recommendation:  Check it out, if you dare.

 

Get it or forget it – Curtis Peoples, Lydia Loveless, Standing Before Kings, The Oxford Coma

Time is quickly running out and there is still so much to do.  Spent all morning going through my emails and found a ton of review requests.  Unfortunately, they will have to wait until I return from tour with Jerad Finck.  We should have time for one or two more articles before then, so here we go with four more reviews.

Artist NameCurtis Peoples

Album NameFive-Nine

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  All Hands; 2.  Love on Fire; 3.  Last Night my Favorite Band Broke Up; 4.  Damage Control

Publicist:  None

Review:  Curtis Peoples has been a favorite of this reviewer since he first saw him perform at the Roxy on Sunset when he was signed to Maverick Records.  Peoples has been spending most of his time recently penning hit songs for others (including Pierce the Veil), and it is with much joy that we have received this latest offering, even if it is only four songs.  Lucky for us all four are amazing and ready for radio.  Peoples has a strong smoky baritone that lifts his carefully crafted lyrics to new heights.  His musical accompaniment is first rate and shows further signs of the growth of this artist.

Recommendation:  If you love great music, then you must Get this EP.  Hopefully we’ll have a full-length CD soon :).

Artist NameLydia Loveless

Album NameBoy Crazy and Single(s)

Label:  Bloodshot Records

Genre:  Indie Rock/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  All I Know; 2.  All the Time; 3.  Lover’s Spat; 4.  Boy Crazy; 5.  The Water; 6.  Mile High; 7.  Blind; 8.  Come Over; 9.  Falling out of Love; 10.  I Would die 4 U; 11.  Alison

Publicist:  Bloodshot Records

Review:  Lydia Loveless has been making a name for herself, both as an individual artist and a collaborator on such project’s as Earwig’s award winning hit, “Wasted on You.”  Her latest project combines new songs with re-releases of previous material, and is a wonderful addition to this year’s indie offerings.  She has a country-tinged voice that reminds us of Martina McBride, mixed with a rock and roll flavor that is perfectly suited to her music.  From the first notes of “All I Know,” it become quickly obvious that we are in the presence of greatness, witnessing the rise of indie music’s next big star.  On top of her originals, she delivers a stunning cover of Prince’s hit, “I Would Die 4 U.”  While we love every track, we were especially drawn to “All I Know,” “Lover’s Spat,” the title track, “The Water,” and “Falling Out of Love.”

Recommendation:  This one is a requirement for all serious music lovers – Get. It. Now.

Artist Name Standing Before Kings (SBK)

Album Name: Standing Before Kings

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Euro Alternative Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Intro (Explosions); 2.  Explosions; 3.  In Your Eyes; 4.  Your World

Publicist:  None

Review:  Standing Before Kings, formerly known as SIKA, is an alternative rock band begun in Russia and perfected in North Hollywood, California.   They have a heavy but pure rock sound that resonates with the conviction of their faith-based lyrics, similar to the sound of Christian rock bands Skillet and P.O.D.  We can feel the anguish in their song “In Your Eyes” as well as the power in their other tracks.  We would definitely love to hear more from this band and look forward to the release of a full-length album.

Recommendation:  If you love rock, and positive lyrics, then definitely check them out.

Artist NameThe Oxford Coma

Album NameEverything Out of Tune

Label:  Siggy Records

Genre:  Psychedelic Grunge

Track Listing:  1.  Trauma (Maybe I’m Forgetting Something); 2.  Inflatable Patriots (Touching People in their Sleep); Patterns of Though; 4.  Cartoons; 5.  Junkies & God; 6.  Everything is out of Tune My Only Victories are Other; 7.  Reciprocal Damage; 8.  Smack & Temporary Enlightenment; 9.  Good Job Boys

Publicist:  The Syndicate

Review:  The Oxford Coma is frustrated with the current state of our country, and that frustration and angst comes through loud and clear on every dysfunctional track of their new album.  They wanted to create an album that would be the auditory soundtrack for a psychedelic hallucination, and they have achieved that goal.  They are also planning to release a feature film that will provide the visionary aspect of those hallucinations.  We think they definitely have the talent to pull off this multi-media project.

Recommendation:  If grunge and psychedelic music is your thing, then definitely check them out.  For the rest of us, just Forget it.

 

Get it or forget it – The Rasmus, Kele Okereke, Becca Richardson, Harper Grae

It’s been very busy this week preparing to take my client, Jerad Finck, on tour.  So much to do gathering merchandise, making last minute logistical runs and finalizing everything.  In addition to that, we have 21 new releases for the month of October to review, as well as eight more through the end of the year.  We will do our best to get all of the October reviews done before the end of the month, but that may be difficult being on tour.  Nevertheless, we will get them done and will start with four reviews for you today.

Artist Name The Rasmus

Album NameDark Matters

Label:   Playground Music Scandinavia

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Paradise; 2.  Something in the Dark; 3.  Wonderman; 4.  Nothing; 5.  Empire; 6.  Crystalline; 7.  Black Days; 8.  Silver Night; 9.  Delirium; 10.  Dragons into Dreams

Publicist:  Guerilla Music Promotion

Review:  The Rasmus have previously released eight studio albums between 1996 and 2012, and are making their comeback with Dark Matters.  The sound is indie rock meets anthemic heavy metal, and is worthy of serious consideration.  Recorded and mixed in Sweden and produced by The Family, Dark Matters arrives at a time when the USA market desperately needs new rock music.  This album hits the ground running and never lets up.  It is the type of album you want to hear again and again, especially “Something in the Dark,” “Nothing,” “Empire,” “Silver Night” and “Delirium.”

Recommendation:  This one rocks – Get it Now!

Artist NameKele Okereke

Album NameFatherland

Label:  BMG

Genre:  Indie Singer/Songwriter

Track Listing:  1.  Overture; 2.  Streets Been Talking; 3.  You Keep on Whispering his Name; 4.  Capers; 5.  Grounds for Resentment (ft. Olly Alexander); 6.  Yemaya; 7.  Do U Right; 8.  Version of Us (ft. Corinne Bailey Rae); 9.  Portrait; 10.  Road to Ibadan; 11.  Savannah; 12.  The New Year Party; 13.  Royal Reign

Publicist:  The End Records PR

Review:  British artist Kele Okereke of the band Bloc Party has been working on his acoustic release Fatherland for quite a few years, and the resulting album was definitely worth the wait.  The album shows the singer/songwriter side of Okereke, and we are impressed with the finished product.  The sound is definitely international with insightful lyrics that offer a rare glimpse inside this amazing artist.  He even throws in a couple of duets:  “Grounds for Resentment” with Olly Alexander and “Version of Us” with Corrine Bailey Rae.  Best songs include “Streets Been Talking,” “Capers,” “Yemaha,” “Do U Right,” “Portrait,” and “Savannah,” as well as the aforementioned duets.

Recommendation:  If you like acoustic music with an international flavor, then this is your lucky day.  We recommend you Get this one.

Artist NameBecca Richardson

Album NameWe are Gathered Here

Label:  Pink Mirror Records

Genre:  Indie Pop

Track Listing:  1.  Wanted; 2.  My Father’s Daughter; 3.  Stronger; 4.  Right Now; 5.  Dig; 6.  Killing all the Beautiful; 7.  Before the Chorus; 8.  Crooked Hearts; 9.  Rise; 10.  Are you Ready?

Publicist:  Noisy Ghost PR

Review:  We fell in love with this artist when we first heard her single “Wanted” and couldn’t wait for her to release her album.  OMG – this one is a definitely keeper that should find a lot of repeat time on your music player, and belongs on your local radio station.  Her voice is crisp and clear, soaring above the music as only those few special artists can.  The songs are well crafted with intelligent lyrics, a steady beat, and just the right instrumentation to support Richardson’s amazing voice.  Besides the killer first single, “Wanted,” we also love “Stronger,” “Right Now,” “Dig,” “Crooked Hearts,” and “Rise.”

Recommendation:  This one’s a keeper.  We think once you’ve heard it through you’ll want to hear it over and over again.  Get this one Now!

Artist NameHarper Grae

Album NameBreak Your Crowns

Label:  Oliver Ann Records

Genre:  Pop Country

Track Listing:  1.  Young Blood; 2.  Dear Daddy; 3.  Blame it on You (ft. Corey Bost); 4.  Thunder Rolls; 5.  7 Years; 6.  Good with your Goodbye; 7.  Break Your Crowns; 8.  True Love; 9.  Free; 10.  Where my Heart has Been (ft. Rand)

Publicist:  Alliance Media Relations

Review:  Harper Grae is a product of the awesomeness that was Glee, and was a contestant on the Glee Project 2.  Break Your Crowns is her debut album, and what a debut it is.  Grae contributes most of the tracks and adds an impressive cover of Garth Brooks’ classic hit, “Thunder Rolls.”  This album deserves serious radio air play, as well as consideration for placements in television and movies.  Our favorite tracks include “Young Blood,” her duets “Blame it on You” and “Where my Heart has Been,” “Good in your Goodbye,” “the title track and “Free.”

Recommendation:  Don’t even think about it, just Get it!

 

Get it or forget it – Canyon City, Monica Chapman, Marc Berger, Alex Mabey

We were so amazed at the level of talent at this year’s Durango Songwriters Expo.  It was our first trip since we moved to Montana, and the talent pool, which has already spawned such acts as Meghan Trainor, Alissa Moreno, Tim Fagan and others just keeps getting better.  Two of our reviews today are artists we saw perform at DSE.  We think all of these reviews will encourage and entice you to continue supporting indie music.

Artist NameCanyon City

Album NameConstellation

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Folk

Track Listing:  1.  Our Way; 2.  Find You; 3.  Midnight Flight; 4.  Like I Did; 5.  Train; 6.  For the Day; 7.  Oh my God; 8.  Satellite; 9.  Run; 10.  Be Scared With Me

Publicist:  Red Boot PR

Review:  Canyon City aka Paul Johnson has a sound smooth as silk, with a dreamy voice that will soothe the listener’s soul and provide the perfect background for a major chill session.  His music goes down like a fine glass of wine, warming your body as his vibe eases your tensions and stresses, creating a truly relaxing feel.  This is music that would be at home on Hot AC and AAA stations, as this music demands radio airplay.  From the first track onwards, Canyon City gives you song after song that will change your mind about indie music.  There are no weak tracks on the album, but we really love “Our Way,” the title track (which is also the first single), “Train,” “For the Day,” and “Satellite.”

Recommendation:  This is a must have for your musical collection.  It will soon become one of your favorites, so Get it now and play it often.

Artist NameMonica Chapman

Album NameSmall World

Label:  Live Records

Genre:  Jazz

Track Listing:  1.  A Shine on Your Shoes; 2.  Goldfinger; 3.  Piel Canela; 4.  Small World; 5.  Caravan; 6.  Baby It’s Cold Outside; 7.  Big Spender; 8.  What Kind of Fool am I; 9.  So in Love; 10.  Orange Colored Sky; 11.  Don’t Explain; 12.  A Foggy Day

Publicist:  None

Review:  Monica Chapman is a Canadian artist who was born in Romania, and teaches jazz in her spare time.  She has gathered a stellar collection of jazz standards and incorporated the incomparable voices of Mike Murley, Reg Schwager and Kevin Turcotte into her sound.  Jazz standards never go out of style, and Chapman has the perfect voice for these songs.   We love great horns, and she uses them to perfection, especially on “A Shine on Your Shoes.”  This is a great soundtrack for your daily or weekly happy hour, and the tunes will surely put a smile on your face.  We love her take on the James Bond classic “Goldfinger,” as well as the Duke Ellington classic “Caravan.”  Other impressive gems are “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” “Big Spender,” and “Orange Colored Sky.”

Recommendation:  If you love jazz, then this is a great album for your collection.

Artist NameMarc Berger

Album NameRide

Label:  Real Records

Genre:   Americana/Roots

Track Listing:  1.  Nobody Gonna Ride on the Railroad; 2.  Take it on the Chin; 3.  Ride; 4.  Time Waits for no Man; 5.  Montana; 6.  Twister; 7.  Heavenly Ancients; 8.  Object of my Affection; 9.  Long way from Vixenburg; 10.  A Bottle of Wine, a Suitcase, an Umbrella; 11.  Object of my Affection (instrumental)

Publicist:  None

Review:  Marc Berger has the perfect voice for roots/Americana – full of gravel, spit and determination.  He underscores his gritty sound with a musical background that is soothing, smooth and pure.  The underlying mandolin, accordion, slide guitar and harmonica flow seamlessly with the percussion and acoustic guitar.  This album takes off from the first note and never disappoints.   While every track is wonderful, we particularly love the title track, “Time Waits for no Man,” “Montana,” “Twister,” and “Long Way from Vixenburg.”

Recommendation:  This one is a worthy addition to your Americana collection – Get it.

Artist NameAlex Mabey

Album NameEnough

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Folk/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Bravest Daughter; 2.  Enough; 3.  Wild and Free; 4.  Soldier’s Wife; 5.  Run to the Edge; 6.  Jesus Was

Publicist:  None

Review:  We met this artist at DSE, and were immediately overcome with the beauty of her voice and the power of her words.  That amazement continues from the opening notes of “Bravest Daughter,” the first track of her EP Enough, as it becomes quickly clear that Alex Mabey has arrived as the new voice in folk/Americana music.  Her songs are well crafted, her voice soars like a bird, and the musical accompaniment is first rate, especially the cello on the first track and on “Soldier’s Wife.”   Our only complaint is that this six-song EP is simply too short – merely teasing us with her greatness.   The title track has such potential for placement in television and film, and creates a yearning for Mabey’s music that can never be fully quenched, but will keep bringing the listener back for more.  “Wild and Free” and “Run to the Edge” likewise grabbed our attention, and deserve serious radio airplay.

Recommendation:  Run, don’t walk, and Get this one now.  It is an absolute must have for your musical library.

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.

Get it or forget it – Chris Pierce, Raleigh, Chris Rea, Fool Heavy

Enjoying my final day in Oklahoma before heading off to the Durango Songwriters Expo in Wellington, Colorado this weekend.  It’s been an exciting week of reconnecting with my brother, Maj Charles Leggett, an Army chaplain who just returned from his third deployment to Iraq, as well as spending time with my father, who turned 85 in May.  Gonna be sad to leave them, but so glad I had the opportunity to visit.

Here are four more reviews that should complete all the September releases.  It’s been a very busy month.

Artist Name:  Chris Pierce

Album Name:  You’ve got to Feel It

Label:  Calabama Records

Genre:  R&B/Soul

Track Listing:  1.  Cry to Me; 2.  Slip Away; 3.  The Dark end of the Street; 4.  You Better Move On; 5.  Don’t Fight It; 6.  I’m a Ram; 7.  Trouble Man; 8.  Stop; 9.  That’s how Strong my Love Is; 10.  Is it Something You’ve Got; 11.  You Haven’t Done Nothin’; 12.  Many Rivers to Cross

Publicist:  Rogers & Cowan

Review:  Chris Pierce is considered to be one of the treasures of Los Angeles, and this album of covers will only cement that reputation even more.   Pierce traveled to Alabama to the famed Muscle Shoals Studio to record this tribute to some of the greatest songwriters in R&B and soul, including Wilson Picket, Clarence Carter, Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  The album was recorded using original members of The Swampers, the Muscle Shoals Horns and the Shoals Sisters, and ranks in the top 5 of all cover albums we have heard.  Pierce has the same powerful voice as the aforementioned greats, and knows how to bring out the emotion in any song.  His sound is a combination of Van Morrison and Otis Redding, among others, with the ability to channel the energy and power of these greats.  He even closes out the album with a song by one of our favorite reggae singers, Jimmy Cliff.  This album is sheer perfection to anyone who loves the golden age of soul.  Thank you Chris Pierce for your beautiful homage.

Recommendation:  This is a must have album for your collection and a worthy addition to your desert island collection.  Get. It. Now.

Artist Name:  Raleigh

Album Name:  Powerhouse Bloom

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Just Kids; 2.  Dead in Tracks; 3.  Smoke in our Eyes; 4.  Wake up Evangelist; 5.  Costume Party; 6.  We met in Alcatraz; 7.  Tithing, 8.  Nice Mistake; 9.  Acid Tongue

Publicist:  The Syndicate

Review:  Raleigh has a wonderfully raw sound that sets their music apart from many other indie artists.  The lyrics resonate over skillfully crafted musical accompaniment, allowing the power of the words to shine through.  There is no bravado in the album’s title, as “powerhouse” is an apt description of this band and their sound.  It is the perfect album to turn on and let it run from start to finish.  Our favorite tracks include “Just Kids,” “Smoke in our Eyes,” “We Met in Alcatraz,” and “Nice Mistake.”

Recommendation:  A most worthy addition, we recommend you take a chance on these guys and Get this album.

Artist Name:  Chris Rea

Album Name:  Road Songs for Lovers

Label:  BMG

Genre:  Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Happy on the Road; 2.  Nothing Left Behind; 3.  Road Songs for Lovers; 4.  Money; 5.  Two Lost Souls; 6.  Rock my Soul; 7.  Moving On; 8.  The Road Ahead; 9.  Last Train; 10.  Angel of Love; 11.  Breaking Point; 12.  Beautiful

Publicist:  The End Records PR

Review:  For those of us who have been around music a long time, the name “Chris Rea” brings back memories of a super hit from 1978 – “Fool (If you Think It’s Over).”  Rea has stayed active in the music industry over the past almost 40 years, making a total of 22 studio albums, releasing four other singles, and amassing sales of more than 30 million albums.  All of that experience pays off on this new album, which should once again make Rea a household name.  From rootsy rock songs like “Happy on the Road” to the laid back sound of the title track, this album has something for every music lover.   Check out the horns and keys on “Money.”  We are in awe of this album, and Chris Rea.  At a time when we are losing so many of our musical legends, let’s rally behind Rea and support his return.  He will be touring Europe and the UK for the remainder of 2017.

Recommendation:  If you love great music by a legend of guitar, check out this one.  You should definitely Get it.

Artist Name:  Fool Heavy

Album Name:  Gusto

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Alternative

Track Listing:  1. Pulp Fiction, 2.  Dude Quest; 3.  Orange Dracula; 4.  Canada Dry; 5.  Lil’ Brains; 6.  Avant Garbage; 7. Bruise; 8.  Homebody

Publicist:  Behind the Curtains Media

Review:  Vocalist/guitarist Taylor Berke and vocalist/bassist Sam Coughlin combine to form Fool Hardy, mixing garage, punk and alternative rock into their own sound that is full of energy.  On their debut album Gusto, they show that they have much to contribute to the indie music community.   This album will get your juices pumping to a steady beat and amazing riffs, with the vocals rising to the top like fine cream.  Our favorite tracks include “Orange Dracula,” “Canada Dry,” “Lil’ Brains,” and “Avant Garbage.”

Recommendation:  If you love rock, especially grunge and/or punk, then this is the group for you.  Run out and Get it – you’ll thank us later!

 

K-Syran’s latest release is making us ‘Dizzy’

It has been two years since Norwegian artist K-Syran released her last album, Smoke in my Veins.  We interviewed her last year after her single, “Hello” achieved some success on the Billboard chart, and she has been mentioned in four of our Monday Mash-up articles.

When we first heard the U.K. version of her new material, we were not impressed.  Her initial single felt incomplete, like it was recorded unprofessionally in a garage.  The vocals did not seem to be in sync, and the only thing going for the song was its incessant beat, making it a good dance track since no one would be listening to the vocals anyway.

Enter Eric Alexandrakis, critically acclaimed musician and producer.  When he finished remastering the single “Dizzy,” it was completely transformed into a radio ready hit song.  All of the problems we had with the U.K. version had been corrected, and we were beginning to see why K-Syran was becoming such an in-demand performer.

Her new album Dizzy was released in its remastered version on September 29, along with her new single, “Temptation.”  Here’s the music video for that song.

K-Syran also recently hosted  a live event to commemorate World Peace Day on September 21.

Artist Name:   K-Syran

Album Name:   Dizzy

Label:   Intimacy Records

Genre:   Pop/dance

Track Listing:   1.  Dizzy; 2.  Temptation; 3.  Skin; 4.  Hudson River; 5.  Staring at the Wall; 6.  Show Me; 7.  My Angel Tonight; 8.  LA; 9.  Call out my Name; 10.  Peace Song

Publicist:   Jennifer Allison Publicity

Review:  K-Syran is not just a creator of dance music.  A thorough listen to her latest album, Dizzy, will attest.  Her songs are well written, and help propel her beyond her dance music beginnings.  The first two tracks have both been released as singles, and we think that there is other material on the album that would also make good singles, including “Skin.”  The songwriting skills have definitely improved, possibly as a result of K-Syran’s desire to be an activist for change, as indicated in her song “Peace.”  Other songs that caught our interest include “Staring at the Wall,” “Show Me,” “My Angel Tonight,” “LA” and “Call out my Name.”

Recommendation:  Kudos to collaborators Phillip Larsen and Chris Smith of Manhatten Clique on their work on this album.  We recommend that you grab this one, and also check out her live performances at her upcoming CD release shows in New York City, Miami and Los Angeles.

Get it or forget it – Great Willow, After Hours Radio, Nick Ferrio, Five of the Eyes

Happy Friday, the final one for September.  It’s been a busy month, and we’ve reviewed a lot of albums, 43 of them to be exact, and we still have eight more to do before the end of the month.  Here are the first four of those, with four more tomorrow, giving us 51 for the month – not bad indie artists!

Artist Name:  Great Willow

Album Name:  find yourself in Los Angeles

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Roots/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Many Things; 2.  Petaluma; 3.  Rear View Mirror; 4.  Find Yourself in Los Angeles; 5. The new Normal; 6.  With Care From Someone; 7.  Time Bombs; 8.  Secretly Happy; 9.  No City can Cure Me; 10.  Love Will Finally Find You

Publicist:  None

Review:  Perfect harmonies make any type of music sound better, and Great Willow has some of the finest harmonies we have reviewed in quite a while.  The perfectly combined voices of James Combs and Erin Hawkins is the stuff legends are made of, rising above the musical harmonies of the instruments in the band.  The lyrics are well crafted, creating a confluence of sounds that quiet the mind and ease the soul of the listener.  Best tracks include “Many Things,” the title track, “With Care From Someone,” and “Love Will Finally Find You.”

Recommendation:  This is an incredible addition to any Americana library.  Definitely Get it.

Artist Name:  After Hours Radio

Album Name:  What Happened?

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Alternative

Track Listing:  1.  Shifting Standards; 2.  Nobody’s Home; 3.  Maryland; 4.  Wronged

Publicist:  Noisy Ghost PR

Review:  Noisy Ghost brings us another unique act in After Hours Radio.  Their four-song EP is too short to adequately represent the level of potential for this band.  That potential screams out through every note, beginning on the first track, “Shifting Standards,” with its amazing keys.  In fact the keys are one of the best features of this EP, underscoring the intelligent lyrics and thoughtful arrangements.  This group is definitely worth checking out, especially the final track, “Wronged.”

Recommendation:  Although not well known, we think they are worth taking a risk for.  Grab your copy now.

Artist Name:  Nick Ferrio

Album Name:  Soothsayer

Label:  Self released

Genre:  Power-pop

Track Listing:  1.  Quit Acting; 2.  Squeeze the Breeze; 3.  That’s not how I Remember It; 4.  Soothsayer; 5.  Are you Listening to Me; 6.  Last Night; 7.  Everybody Talks; 8.  Food Court; 9.  Heart to Heart; 10.  Crow Song

Publicist:  None

Review:  If 70’s power pop is your thing, and you love Elvis Costello, then you should enjoy the sound of Nick Ferrio.  His tunes are upbeat in a way that brings back fun memories of a time when music truly reigned.  They also capture the feel of the 70’s, with its focus on the beat and the sheer joy of music.  It’s hard to go wrong with this collection of songs.  We really love “That’s not how I Remember It,” the title track, “Are you Listening to Me,” “Everybody Talks,” and “Heart to Heart.”

Recommendation:  We think this one will grown on you and become one of your favorite old school indie artists.  Give it a go, and see if you like it.

Artist Name:  Five of the Eyes

Album Name:  The Venue Transit

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Prog Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Atmosphere; 2.  Wasteland; 3.  Mirrors; 4.  Space Is; 5.  Passenger; 6.  Lust to Dust; 7.  Oblivion; 8.  Monsoon; 9.  Delta

Publicist:  Behind the Curtains Media

Review:  Their sound is a mixture of Rush meets U2, with screaming guitars, soaring vocals, intelligent lyrics, and a rocking beat that will capture your mind as you ears absorb the energy and power of this band.  The album hits the ground rocking, and never lets up as they take us on a musical journey that would not be complete with the requisite headbanging and air guitar of the listener.  This is an album to put on, sit back, and take it all in as the music swells around you and the lyrics creep into your consciousness, freeing you from the cares of the world.  Best tracks include “Wasteland,” “Mirrors,” “Passenger,” “Oblivion,” and “Monsoon.”

Recommendation:  Run, don’t walk and Get this one.  It is a must have!!

 

Get it or forget it – Stacy Jones, Space4Lease, Amber Run, Pam Taylor

After nearly 23 hours of driving, I have arrived in Oklahoma where I will be visiting with my Dad and younger brother for the next week before heading to the Denver area for the Durango Songwriters Expo next weekend.  My brother just returned from his third tour of Iraq, and it has been nice catching up with him.  Family aside, we still have a few more CDs being released this month, so here are four more reviews for your consideration.

Artist Name:   Stacy Jones

Album Name:   Love is Everywhere

Label:   Self-released

Genre:   Blues/Americana

Track Listing:   1.  Mojo Potion 61 49; 2.  Wait for Heaven; 3.  Can’t Find Love; 4.  Stomp Jump Boogie; 5.  Can’t you be Mine; 6.  I Fell in Love; 7.  Love is Everywhere; 8.  One Stoplight; 9.  Gotta get Over You; 10.  Tough Girls Never Cry; 11.  I’ll be on my Way

Publicist:   None

Review:  Stacy Jones is another Seattle-based blues artist with a killer band.  Her music has drawn critical acclaim, including awards from the International Music and Entertainment Association and the Washington Blues Society.  Her latest offering not only features her award winning songs and band, but also a guest appearance from the one and only Lee Oskar on harmonica.   Jones incorporates roots, country and Americana into her blues regimen, and the result is a sure-fire sound that is sure to please all types of music lovers.  On this album she takes her listeners on a musical journey through the ups and downs of love, and what a journey it is.  Our favorite tracks included “Can’t Find Love,” “Stomp Jump Boogie” (which features those prolific harmonica licks), “Can’t You be Mine,” “One Stoplight” (with its upbeat rhythm, legendary harmonica and sax, and enough sass for an entire album), and “Gotta Get Over You.”

Recommendation:  If you love the blues, roots or Americana music, then you simply must Get this album.  If you love music, then you must Get this album.  In other words, Get it.

Artist Name:  Space4Lease

Album Name:  Drifting

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Must be Something; 2.  Drifting; 3. Lately; 4.  If it’s True; 5.  I Tried Calling

Publicist:  Behind the Curtains Media

Review:  Oklahoma based quartet Space4Lease has an airy sound that entice their listeners to give them full attention.  Their indie pop/rock sound with hints of psychedelica is a soothing respite from your crazy day, making their music a necessary part of your daily chill down.   We only wish there were more than five songs on the release.  We think you will enjoy it as much as we do.  We especially like the title song and “If it’s True.”  They are heading out on tour next month.  It would be worth your time to get out and see them if you live near where they’re playing.

Recommendation:  Give this one a try – we think you’ll enjoy it.

Artist Name:  Amber Run

Album Name:  Alaska

Label:  Dine Alone Records

Genre:  Acoustic

Track Listing:  1.  No Answers; 2.  Higher & Higher, 3.  Fickle Game; 4.  Alaska

Publicist:   Auteur Research

Review:   Amber Run has released an acoustic EP featuring two songs from their album “For a Moment, I was Lost, which was released in March, plus two cover songs – the classic Jackie Wilson song “Higher & Higher” (heard in the original Ghostbusters movie) and Maggie Rogers “Alaska.”  The band known for their tight harmonies and thoughtful arrangements, truly leave their mark on these two covers, especially “Higher & Higher,” which has a sound like Snow Patrol meets Chris Isaak meets OneRepublic.  The only drawback is that their covers kinda suck all the energy from the original versions, as their focus more on the songwriting than the vibe of the original songs.  On the other hand, their acoustic versions of their own “No Answers” and “Fickle Game” have their own unique sound and make Amber Run a band to definitely add to your collective musical universe.

Recommendation:  Although not our favorite acoustic EP, it is a worthy effort and worth the risk.

Artist Name:  Pam Taylor

Album Name:  Steal Your Heart

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Blues

Track Listing:  1.  House of Cards; 2.  Squeeze Me; 3.  It Ain’t Right; 4.  Already Alright; 5.  Mountain; 6.  Ordinary; 7.  The Rain Song; 8.  Make you Mine; 9.  Tangled Up; 10.  Witches Ball; 11.  Nirvana; 12.  SnakeButt

Publicist:  ABIK Promotions

Review:  There is nothing like the sound of a female-fronted blues band, especially when she knows how to wail and has a rocking rhythm section to back her up.  Pam Taylor is such an artist and her third release, Steal Your Heart, is one of the best blues records this year.  From the roots rocking “House of Cards” to the dirty blues of “It Ain’t Right” and “Already Alright,” Taylor brings us amazing songs that belong in the musical library of all true music lovers.   Other songs we love include “Squeeze Me,” “Ordinary,” “The Rain Song,” “Make you Mine,” and “Tangled Up.”

Recommendation:  Add this one to get your music library to the “gifted” stage.