CD Review: Ricky Byrd - Sobering Times

Ricky Byrd offers hope to those struggling with addiction, and a killer set of songs, on Sobering Times.
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Three years ago, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Ricky Byrd released his acclaimed album, Clean Getaway, a record aimed at helping people struggling with addiction as he once did. The former Joan Jett and the Blackhearts guitarist has been sober for over 30 years and dedicates much of his time working as a recovery coach for other addicts. The response was so positive to Clean Getaway that Byrd decided to have a go at it again with his new release, Sobering Times, an album rich in classic rock hooks but, more importantly, rich with a message of hope

DVD Review: The Rolling Stones - Steel Wheels Live

The Rolling Stones deliver a killer concert from 1989 with some very special guests.
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In 1989, The Rolling Stones took to the road for their first tour since their widely successful Still Life tour of 1981-82. While the band had released two studio albums in the interim -- 1983's Undercover and 1986's Dirty Work-- they did not tour for either, instead focusing on solo works from singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards. These solo projects led to squabbling between the so-called Glimmer Twins and left the future of The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band up in the air, so when the group announced not only a new album in Steel Wheels, but

Single Review: Shawna Virago - "Heaven Sent Delinquent"

Shawna Virago returns with a rocking new single.
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Transgender singer-songwriter, Shawna Virago, is back with a new single, an electric version of her song "Heaven Sent Delinquent." Virago is something of a pioneer. While transgender people are typically more accepted today, she has been an "out" performer since the early 1990s, long before social media and celebrities made it "cool." The song deals with some of the struggles she faced coming from an oppressive town. While Virago has been called anti-folk and punk, this song has more of a mid-tempo, almost Rolling Stones vibe to it, with its laid-back vocal and Keith Richards-esque chord changes. The video is

Album Review: Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz - American Bardo

Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz have crafted a fine new album in American Bardo.
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For their third full-length album, American Bardo, singer-songwriter duo, Eric Anders and Mark O'Bitz found inspiration in Greg Saunders' award winning novel, Lincoln In The Bardo. Each song in the 12-song collection, or "readers", as vocalist Anders refers to them, is about one or more characters in the story. The resulting album is a collection of warm, often haunting, well-written songs filled with strong lyrics, vocals, and musicianship. The album leads off with the swampy guitar and electronic drums of "Matterbloomlight." Drenched in echo, the song is at once melodic and melancholy, with a fine guitar solo courtesy of "O'Bitz.

Album Review: Mark Vickness - Interconnected

Mark Vickness takes acoustic fusion to the next level on Interconnected.
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Three years after releasing his debut solo album, Places, Mark Vickness is back with Interconnected, an instrumental album that best can be described as acoustic fusion. Four of the album's eight tracks are in a modern, finger picked style, while the other four feature Vickness' talented group, which includes two-time Grammy Award winning Mads Tolling on violin, Joseph Hebert on cello, Dan Feiszli on both upright and electric bass and Ty Burhoe on tabla. Heavy with rhythmic elements, the music blends elements of folk, jazz, classical, and world music, making for a unique sound that is at once familiar and

EP Review: Vast Caldera - Vast Caldera 1

Vast Caldera combines the best of electronic music and classic rock on their debut EP
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When Justin Weiss was growing up, he and his family went on a road trip. It was there he discovered, via his father's iPod, a love for classic rock music - music he spent years practicing on guitar. When Weiss was in college, he discovered electronic music and quickly wanted to absorb that the same way he did with classic rock all those years ago. Finally, he decided, "Why not do both?" Weiss has done just that with Vast Caldera 1, the debut EP from his group, Vast Caldera. Produced by Abe Duque, the five instrumental tracks mix elements of

Single Review: Cosmopolis - "Sécheresse"

Cosmopolis drops a strong new single.
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Cosmopolis, a new band with members hailing from Brisbane, Australia; Brussels, Belgium; and Canterbury, England; have released a strong set of new tracks -- "Sécheresse" and "God Hotel." The tracks are modern sounding, with elements that would make fans of Radiohead, David Bowie, and even U2 happy, but not derivative. The group has channeled these influences into something new and exciting. "Sécheresse" mixes ominous keyboards with an edgy, monotonous vocal. The song gives a real sense of paranoia with a bit of a Bowie vibe in the vocals. The guitars swell, giving way to a spacey sound with potent drums.

Single Review: Grapefruit Sound Lab And Amuka - "Love Cards"

Grapefruit Sound Lab drops another killer preview of their forthcoming full-length release
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New York Native Robert Cotnoir has parlayed his success as a Hollywood movie music editor into a musical project. Grapefruit Sound Lab is his blend of freestyle, electro, house, and classic rock, among other genres. Working with a number of collaborators, including vocalist Amuka (who has worked with artists as diverse as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, John Mellencamp, and Rick James), the group is set to release their first album, and their new single, "Love Cards," is a potent preview of things to come. Beginning with an eerie, almost flute sounding keyboard, the track soon gives way to Amuka's powerful

Album Review: Les Techno - Flowers For Dystopia

Les Techno molds sounds of the past and present for an exciting debut album.
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After winning favor with critics on a number of singles, New York musician Les Techno has dropped his debut album, Flowers For Dystopia. The record is an edgy, often cynical, often satirical look at the world we live in today and mixes sounds new and old to bring a sound at once familiar and fresh. Imagine guitar rock, but in a nontraditional way. There are flourishes here and there, but also dissonant stabs over melodic keyboards. Add in some hip-hop rhythms and a healthy dose of 1980s keyboards and one might have a good idea of what Flowers sounds like.

Single Review: Patrick Ames - "You Make Me Scream"

Patrick Ames finds his groove on his danceable new single.
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Patrick Ames had spent the past year writing about serious issues, politics, and the state of the country. That, combined with pandemic, understandably got him down. His solution was to use his music for less serious pursuits -- in short, he wanted to dance, and his latest single, "You Make Me Scream," is certainly conducive to that. Beginning with a descending organ and bass lick that sounds like a bomb dropping, the song moves into a slinky, Stones-inspired riff with a funky bass line from producer Jon Ireson, who also played lead guitar on the track. Ames gives a gritty

Album Review - Lara Taubman - Revelation

Lara Taubman evokes music of the past, while embracing the present on her strong debut.
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When Lara Taubman was growing up, she had a serious interest in art -- painting to be specific -- and, envisioning a career in visual arts, went to college to pursue that dream. She eventually became an art critic and curator and studied cultural theory in graduate school, but she heard a call when she was cleaning of all things that said, "If you don't have children, you will probably be OK with that, but if you don't sing in a serious, committed way, you will regret it on your deathbed." Taubman heeded the call. Music had always been a

CD Review: Deep Purple - Whoosh!

Deep Purple's 21st album finds the band showing off some deep grooves
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Legendary rockers, Deep Purple, are back with their 21st album, Whoosh! The album is the band's third release produced by the equally legendary Bob Ezrin. If Whoosh! Could be described in one word, it would be groove, and few bands are able to lock into grooves as tight as Deep Purple. While many groups that have been around more than 50 years might sound their age, Deep Purple sounds fresh and vital and, most importantly, one can hear the fun they are having still making great music. The album leads off with "Throw My Bones," which begins with a funky

Album Review: Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen - Come On Angels!

Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen look to the past with their strong new album.
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Take the best elements of 1950s rock and roll and rockabilly ­­-- strong harmonies, tight musicianship, and excellent song craft -- and mix them with some modern lyrical and production elements and you would likely come up with the sounds present on Mighty Joe Castro & The Gravamen's first full-length album, Come On Angels! Formed in Philadelphia, the band consists of Castro, bassist HOOV3R, drummer Dallas, and lead guitarist Michael Stingle. The sound blends elements of Sun Records rockabilly with the Stray Cats and has a real punk energy in places, which is not surprising considering the punk pedigree of

Album Review: Chris Ianuzzi - Planeteria

Chris Ianuzzi takes listeners on a wild ride in his latest release.
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Chris Ianuzzi's music career has been decorated to say the least. He has performed for the American Society of University Composers, composed music for the Olympics in Japan, won an award for theme and music creation for The Crime and Investigation Channel, and composed music for the HBO series Earth to Moon. It is no surprise then that the music contained on his latest release, Planeteria, sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a futuristic movie. Opening with the title track, Ianuzzi quickly takes the listener on a journey that forgoes conventional song structure in place of atmospheric sounds

Single Review: Geoff Gibbons - "Keep On Driving"

Geoff Gibbons ponders the possibilities if one takes chances in his strong new single.
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Geoff Gibbons may hail from Vancouver, BC, but his sound is pure California Americana. Influenced by the likes of The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gibbons' music blends pop, country, rock, and a heavy dose of roots music. For his latest single, "Keep On Driving," he uses the car metaphor to illustrate the good things that can happen if one is willing to take chances in life. He himself pondered what would happen if we didn't turn into his driveway one day and just kept driving on. It's a chance not many are willing to take. The song blends

Best of 2020, Midpoint Music Roundup

An awful (start to the) year but with a brilliant soundtrack...
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Yes, 2020 has sucked like a turbo-charged Hoover but quarantine life has given you the opportunity to summon your inner me and sit on the you the opportunity to do what comes so naturally: to sit on your living room floor with a stack of brand new records and meditate on their magnificence. Haven't started yet? Don't know where to begin? Allow me to assist. One thing that jumps out to me immediately that I want to highlight is there have been some sensational records from women! They make up half of my list and there are a couple additional

Single Review: Patrick Ames - "Reawakened 2020"

Patrick Ames reworks his political track "Reawakened" for the times.
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Patrick Ames wrote his gospel-infused political track, "Reawakened," after President Trump's inauguration in 2017. Needless to say, he was not happy about the results of the previous year's election. Now, in 2020, the song has taken on new meaning. It It is an election year, but with the Covid outbreak and all the protests and unrest around the country, Ames thought it could use a reworking. Ames had been recording versions of his songs for a best-of collection, but felt a solo acoustic version would not suit "Reawakened." He enlisted Jon Ireson, who remixed the track -- keeping the original

Single Review: A Killer's Confession - "Last Chance"

A Killer's Confession are back with a strong new single "Last Chance."
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A Killer's Confession, a band led by former Mushroomhead front man Waylon Reavis, is back with a strong new single, "Last Chance." The song is an emotional one that moves between poppier quiet sections with Reavis' vocals over finger snaps and melodic keyboards and driving, yet still melodic, heavy sections with both melodic and guttural vocals. The track is a nice slice of modern, melodic hard rock, with strong musicianship and vocals to match. For the song's video, the band chose to follow current social distancing orders and shoot each of their parts individually at home. Shot in black and

CD Review: The Harmed Brothers - Across The Waves

The Harmed Brothers deliver ten smartly written tracks on their strong new album.
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It's been over a decade since singer/songwriter Ray Vietti and songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alex Salcido discovered they shared a bond in music. They decided to offer it up to the world as The Harmed Brothers, putting out four albums, touring constantly and evolving their sound from a banjo/guitar duo to a full-on band along the way. For their fifth album, Across The Waves, the songwriters have settled in the river town of Ludlow, Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati. The small town feel resonates throughout Across The Waves' ten tracks. The album opens with "Skyline Over," a driving rocker with smart lyrics and

Blu-ray Review: Def Leppard - London To Vegas

Def Leppard deliver hit after hit in two great concerts.
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For over four decades, Def Leppard has brought their brand of melodic hard rock to the masses. With a killer catalog, killer harmonies, and killer musicianship, the band's concerts celebrate rock's bygone era and play out like a classic rock radio jukebox. In 2018, the band took to the stage in London's famed O2 Arena to deliver their classic album, Hysteria, in its entirety. Six months later, the group did a residency in Las Vegas, playing lengthy sets filled with seldom heard, choice cuts. The band filmed the shows in both venues and those concerts make up the excellent Blu-ray,

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