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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

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,

Album Review - Jefferson Berry & The Urban Acoustic Coalition - Double Deadbolt Logic

Jefferson Berry & The UAC's third album delivers strong musicianship and songwriting.
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Philadelphia's Jefferson Berry has lived a varied, interesting life. He is a member of the PFS Musician's Co-Op, is a mainstay at Philadelphia Folksong Society Events, and has played the Philadelphia Folk Festival numerous times. When he's not performing on the stage, he is performing in the classroom, as a history and government teacher in the Philadelphia School District. He even taught Lil Uzi Vert. His group -- Jefferson Berry and the Urban Acoustic Coalition -- has just released their third full-length LP, Double Deadbolt Logic. The folk/rock group consists of a revolving door of musicians, anywhere from three to

EP Review - Justin Hayward - One Summer Day/My Juliette

Justin Hayward returns with two excellent new tracks
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While touring and the music industry in general have ground to a halt in the midst of the global pandemic, it hasn't stopped talented artists from pursuing their creative muse. Legendary Moody Blues singer-songwriter Justin Hayward has taken this opportunity to release a new EP, a two-song collection featuring the tracks "One Summer Day" and "My Juliette." Warm and inviting, with fine lyrics, vocals, and playing, the songs demonstrate Hayward has lost none of his melodic gifts, more than 50 years into his phenomenal career. The EP leads off with "One Summer Day," a hopeful love song about living in

CD Review and Interview: Doug "Cosmo" Clifford - Magic Window

Former CCR drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford discovers a strong 1985 solo album in his garage.
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For most people, cleaning out the garage might mean getting rid of old paint cans and rusted out tools, but not for former Creedence Clearwater Revival drummer, Doug "Cosmo" Clifford. Clifford discovered loads of master tapes he had forgotten about with over 100 songs on them and had them baked and transferred to digital. The result is a "new" solo album from the drummer, Magic Window, his first since 1972's Cosmo. While the album features some modern overdubs and production choices from Clifford and his guitarist/coproducer Russell DaShiell (who was the album's original engineer), the bulk of the material was

Album Review: Diane and the Gentle Men - The White Sea

Diane and the Gentle Men offer up some 1960s-inspired garage rock and power pop on their latest release.
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The year 2018 was to be a banner one for singer-songwriter Diane Gentile and her band, Diane and the Gentle Men. They had completed recording their new album, The White Sea, and Gentile had appeared live on The Garden Sessions, filmed from Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows fame's home. The group had booked a short tour of Italy when Gentile was in a bad car accident, forcing her to have major reconstructive surgery on her face. Gentile's friends urged her to release an EP while she recovered and she did, dropping Little Things, which featured songs that would ultimately

Album Review - Rachel Garlin - Mondegreens

Rachel Garlin shows off her intricate lyrics and song craft on Mondegreens.
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Rachel Garlin has lived an interesting and varied life, one that she has applied to the lyrics of her songs. The former Harvard basketball player and schoolteacher has made a name for herself as a singer-songwriter with a keen eye for observation about the world around her. Her latest album, Mondegreens, blends folk, country, rock, and a touch of blues, along with warm production and Garlin's evocative lyrics and voice, making for a compelling listen. Produced by Julie Wolf, who has worked as a side musician alongside the likes of Ani DiFranco, Carly Simon, and the Indigo Girls, Mondegreens features

CD Review: Alex Dixon Presents...The Real McCoy

Alex Dixon keeps his family's blues tradition alive on The Real McCoy.
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It's only natural that Alex Dixon would become a blues musician. After all, his grandfather was the legendary blues artist, Willie Dixon. Dixon's new album, The Real McCoy, mixes tracks written by Alex Dixon along with a handful of numbers penned by his famous grandfather. Keeping in the family tradition, Alex's 13-year-old daughter, Leila, makes her vocal debut singing backup on "Nothing New Under The Sun." It all adds up to a strong album steeped in the electric Chicago blues tradition. Dixon's band is top notch as well. Vocalist Lewis "Big Lew" Powell is a powerhouse and Steve Bell is

Album Review: Jackson Price And The Blues Rockets - I Used To Have Fun

Jackson Price delivers a strong blues-rock record.
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Blues-rock artist, Jackson Price, got his start in a different form of performing arts -- acting. For 15 years, Price appeared in commercials, TV shows, and movies, though he eventually became burned out on acting. Price was always a guitarist, having learned blues licks in his youth, and soon he found himself fronting the Los Angeles-based blues band, The Mighty Mojo Prophets. Eventually, Price grew tired of Los Angeles and moved to Taos, New Mexico, forming Big Swing Theory. The group's local success prompted Price to form a side band to perform and record his original material and Jackson Price

Single Review: Matt Lande - "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

Matt Lande delivers a strong cover of an 80s new wave classic.
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Portland-based alt rock/electro pop artist, Matt Lande, has been compared to the likes of Savage Garden and Snow Patrol and has made a name for himself, both as a solo artist and as the principal force behind bands such as StorySide: B and Heaven Is Where. For his latest single, he pays tribute to his 1980s new wave roots by covering the Simple Minds classic, "Don't You (Forget About Me)." The track, which features Lande on guitar, bass, and keyboard, and Joey McAllister on drums was mastered by Andy Walter at London's famed Abbey Road Studios. Lande's version is a

Blu-ray Review: ZZ Top - That Little Ol' Band From Texas

Fifty years on, ZZ Top continues to put Texas boogie on the map.
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For more than 50 years there has been only one ZZ Top. No band before or since really sounds -- or looks -- like them. They play the blues, but they aren't a blues band. ZZ Top's brand of music takes a page from the blues and adds a healthy dose of rock 'n roll, Texas boogie and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of humor. They're consistent, too, featuring the same lineup of Frank Beard on drums, Dusty Hill on bass, and Billy Gibbons on guitar this entire time. A new documentary, That Little Ol' Band From Texas, takes a

Album Review: Brainsqueezed - Scarred

Sébastien Laloue has created a strong batch of tunes on Scarred.
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Brainsqueezed has been compared to the likes of Guns 'n Roses, A Perfect Circle, and Steven Wilson -- lofty company to be sure -- but on the group's second album, Scarred, the group's mastermind, Sébastien Laloue, has crafted a group of songs that live up to the billing. Influenced by the likes of Queen, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, Laloue builds upon those mentors' work, creating a sound that is at once both modern and classic. The album opens with the fast, acoustic strumming of "Sailors." One immediately notices the striking, rich quality of vocalist Marcello Vieira's voice. The band

Album Review - Rob Alexander - Being Myself

Rob Alexander delivers a 15-track album that sounds like an old friend musically.
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Rob Alexander has been a busy guy. When not working as a physician anesthesiologist in South Florida, he has been busy crafting well-made pop albums. His first album, 2018's Long Road Coming Home, featured five singles and much praise from critics. Now, he is back with Being Myself, a 15-song collection of well-written tunes that sound like old, familiar friends. Alexander's music is the sort of pop that dominated the charts from the 1970s until the 1990s. His voice bears a strong resemblance to that of Elton John's and, indeed there are three current members of John's touring band on

EP Review - Magical Beasts - Yes, My Love, I Am Reaching

Magical Beasts offer a laid back, richly orchestrated new EP
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On their latest release, Yes, My Love, I Am Reaching, Chicago folk group Magical Beasts have crafted a laid back EP, filled with lush orchestrations and sophisticated lyrics. Led by Nathan Paulus on vocals and guitar, and featuring John Herbst on vocals, banjo and ukulele, and Josh Miller on vocals and bass, the group recruits like-minded Chicago musicians on their recordings, fostering a sense of collaboration. Opening track "Come To Me" begins with some gentle acoustic guitar picking accented by pedal steel courtesy of Ethan Pikas. The song is a duet between Paulus and Katie Stimpson and both singers give

EP Review - Resurrection Fern - Fern

Resurrection Fern delivers an intimate new EP.
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Singer-songwriter, Resurrection Fern, is back with a new EP, simply titled Fern. Like her previous, full-length album, Beyond The Trees, Fern is a community-funded effort. Unlike that full-length release, however, Fern is a more stripped down recording, focusing on the singer's voice and acoustic guitar, making for a more intimate recording, one that feels like the listener is in the room with her. Like many musicians in this era, Fern has taken to the Internet as a main vehicle to spread her music. She has run a twitch.tv channel for the past three years, where fans can watch her give

Erich Mrak - See You In September Video Review

Erich Mrak offers up a video EP for his two new singles
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Toronto hip hop/electronic artist, Erich Mrak, is back with a visual EP of sorts. See You In September is an intense music video that combines two of his songs, "Navigate" and "Riptide." The video features a man seemingly lost in the jungle, in the water, on the ledge of a building, and in the city. He mirrors the lyrics to the songs of that of someone who is confused, trying to find his way, possibly hopeless. The video is not long, but the message is powerful. As "Navigate" fades out, the visuals continue before "Riptide" begins. As for the songs,

2019 New (To Me) Musical Discoveries Pt I

Two friends walk into a wine bar where I am introduced to delicious flavors and the delicious sounds of Charlotte Day Wilson and Khruangbin...
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I am frequently asked how I come across so much new music each year and I understand why they do because the vehicles that took my generation to new soundscapes have died in the case of MTV and radically changed as far as radio. And yet, the question also confuses me because most of the time I don't feel like I discover new music so much as it finds me. So how does that happen? Allow me to share my favorite new music discoveries of 2019 - music that was new to me this past year, regardless of when the

2019 New (To Me) Musical Discoveries Pt II

More musical discoveries for 2019: Madison Cunningham, Black Pumas, Michaela Anne, and The Messthetics!
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Wine bars weren't the only way I discovered new music in 2019 (although they might be my favorite method). Other paths to great music include friends, reading, and friends who read. Mark Saleski turned me on to several other new artists this year, two of whom he discovered via the good people who write for venerable roots music magazine No Depression. Mark and I crossed figurative paths and swords at Blogcritics a decade ago. It's an open debate as to which of us is the grumpier man on any given day but he is clearly the older. Our friendship has

Album Review - Chotto Ghetto - WILDFIRE

Chotto Ghetto delivers a challenging, fun concept album on their latest release.
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In their 14 years together, Chotto Ghetto has been compared to the likes of Bad Brains, Faith No More and The Mars Volta. With such a diverse range of influences, it's no surprise that their third (and latest) album, WILDFIRE, is a challenging, yet fun listen that combines numerous different styles and forces the listener to think. WILDFIRE is a concept album about a found black box recording and science experiments gone awry. Several tracks include voiceovers with actors delivering the storyline while some tracks are purely news clips. The record is political and covers topics as wide ranging as

DVD Review - Toto - 40 Tours Around The Sun

Toto celebrates its 40th anniversary in style with a killer concert.
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Toto has experienced a recent resurgence with Weezer's cover of "Africa" making the classic song a hit once again. The band never really went anywhere though. In fact, they have been traveling the globe in celebration of their 40th anniversary. The group filmed a March 2018 show before a capacity crowd at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam and that performance makes up the new DVD Toto - 40 Tours Around The Sun. After some brief footage of the city, the show begins with a moody synth intro before giving way to "Alone," a new song from the band's greatest hits

SDBlu-Ray Review - The Rolling Stones - Bridges To Buenos Aires

The Rolling Stones deliver a memorable show on the Bridges To Babylon Tour
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In April 1998, The Rolling Stones took their Bridges To Babylon tour to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for a series of massive stadium performances. Being the Stones, the band didn't just do one show, but rather five, at the famed River Plate Stadium. The band was in top form, mixing songs from their virtually untouchable back catalog -- including some rare cuts -- with several songs from the then new Bridges To Babylon. Add in a guest appearance by Bob Dylan and it made for a memorable night, a night that, fortunately for Stones fans, was filmed and makes up the

Single Review - Stimuli - "Ripple"

Stimuli mixes classic and modern metal on their single "Ripple".
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California's Bay Area has long been a source of some of the best hard rock and heavy metal produced. The latest of these bands is Stimuli, a power trio consisting of Jimmy Tomahawk on guitar and vocals, Cole Andrew on drums and Tai Hake on bass and Theremin. Stimuli's sound is at once familiar - the group has been compared to the likes of Black Sabbath, Tool, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains - and modern, mixing palm-muted riffs and big guitar solos with dropped tunings. On their single, "Ripple," Tomahawk delivers an Ozzy Osbourne-like vocal over a chunky rhythm. The

CD Review - The Magpie Salute - High Water II

The Magpie Salute offers up another slab of killer, classic rock-influenced tunes.
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The Magpie Salute are back with their second full-length release, High Water II, and, like the name implies, it is a continuation of the sound from the group's debut album, High Water. That's not a bad thing at all when one considers the sound is very reminiscent of that of the Black Crowes - bluesy southern and hard rock trading in equal parts Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Faces, and Steve Marriott - and not a surprise considering three of the band's members, including guitarists Rich Robinson and Marc Ford, were members of the Crowes. The album opens with "Sooner

CD Review - Fastball - The Help Machine

Fastball delivers a modern pop classic with The Help Machine
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For Fastball's seventh album, The Help Machine, the band enlisted some top notch help. Released on the group's 33 1/3 label, it was produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos fame and includes guest appearances by Charlie Sexton, Bruce Hughes of Cracker, Wye Oak's Andy Stack, and Gordy Quist and John Chapman from The Band of Heathens. The result is an 11-song collection of smartly crafted pop tunes that straddle the line between classic and modern rock. As usual, Miles Zuniga and Tony Scalzo share songwriting duties on the album, with Zuniga having seven tracks and Scalzo four. The duo

Blu-ray Review - John & Yoko - Above Us Only Sky

This excellent documentary looks even deeper into this creative period in John Lennon's life.
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The period surrounding John Lennon's second proper solo album, Imagine, was one of the most creative times in his life. Freed from the pressures and expectations of the Beatles, and with his wife Yoko Ono challenging him mentally as well as artistically, it is no wonder he came up with some of his best material. Lennon also had a penchant for filming everything, offering fans an intimate look at his life few other artists of his stature (or any stature, really) would ever allow the public to see. Fans caught a glimpse of these films in the original Imagine movie