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Blu-ray Review - Queen + Bejart - Ballet For Life

Six years after his death, Freddie Mercury's dream of bringing ballet to the masses came true.
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In a chance meeting at a recording studio in 1977, Sid Vicious once sneered to Freddie Mercury that he was trying to bring ballet to the masses -- a jab at Mercury's well-known love of the art form and his penchant for wearing ballet-inspired leotards on stage. While the merger between rock and roll and ballet never really happened during either Vicious or Mercury's lifetimes, in 1997, the surviving members of Queen teamed with famed choreographer Morris Bejart for the Ballet For Life, a performance that mixed ballet with the music of Queen and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with fashion by

CD Review: Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - The Definitive Collection

A thorough collection of sides from a classic Chicago blues label.
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Chicago has long been known for many things, with the blues being at the forefront. Labels such as Chess and Brunswick come from the Windy City and great artists such as Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy have ties there as well. It wasn't just the larger labels producing great blues and R&B music though. Chicago had a plethora of talent and was a hotbed for many independent labels as well. One of these labels was Bea & Baby Records, led by the larger than life Narvel "Cadillac Baby" Eatmon. From 1959 to 1989, Eatmon's label released a number of classic

Album Review: Outerfield - Pleasant Grove Hotel

Matt Hutson and Gary Schrader's patience pays off with a strong set of songs.
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Matt Hutson and Gary Schrader had been veterans of the Indiana music scene for some time when they met playing in a local church band. The pair realized they had something together and decided to combine forces as Outerfield. The duo enlisted the help of Posies and latter-day Big Star Member Jon Auer, who produced some of the group's sessions, but they were not initially happy with the results. Undeterred, they revisited the material and managed to cobble out a strong album, Pleasant Grove Hotel, in the process. Unsurprisingly, given the Auer connection, the album is rooted in strong song
Pop singer-songwriter Juliette Reilly has teamed up with pop/dance/EDM artist INViDA (David Schoenwetter) and international music duo Muza (Muza and G'Anomaly) for an interesting new single, "Chameleon". The song mixes modern pop touches with a bit of gospel and EDM for good measure. Opening with a dreamy, gospel-like feel and distant, ethereal backing vocals, the song builds in intensity throughout. Reilly delivers a soulful vocal where she unapologetically touts how she is "always turning into someone new, "likening herself to that of a chameleon. The track showcases modern pop production values with a nod to classic sounds while including a

Album Review: The General Maynyrd Band

A strong side project filled with grooves and killer vocals.
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When Crooked Flower guitarist Dan Ingberman began writing otherwise strong songs that just didn't fit his group's direction, his band mates, Daniel Erik (bass) and Pat Shields (drums) suggested forming a side project. They called upon many of their Bay Area music friends, including powerhouse vocalist Dave Combs, and the General Maynyrd Band was born. The band's music offers up heavy doses of funk and soul with a healthy slice of Lynyrd Skynyrd-style southern rock (The band's name itself has a stylized spelling not unlike Skynyrd's). One would not think this is a side project given the musical chemistry the

EP Review: Seneko - Soul Numbers

A killer mix of country, rock, folk and gospel.
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On Soul Numbers, Seneko's third EP release in the last four years, Stan Olshefski has conjured up an exciting mix that is equal parts country, rock and roll, folk, and gospel -- all with an indie edge. The songs showcase a crack band, as well as some killer singing and playing. With lyrics both serious and humorous, Olshefski's songs are bound to provoke. Soulful backing vocals and honky-tonk piano dominate the opening track "The Devil You Don't Know." Olshefski does a great job of playing the jilted ex in this country-tinged rocker. "Calling Of The Cause" is a gritty, riff-based

Single Review: Saint Mars - Loveghost

Saint Mars offers a surrealistic look at life and love with "Loveghost".
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Saint Mars released their debut EP in 2017 to much fanfare. Now the group, which is based in the UK and Switzerland and includes several notable musicians such as Angelo Bruschini from Massive Attack, has a new single, "Loveghost". The song is from their forthcoming LP Boys Never Cry, a concept album about bullying that features 14-year-old Internet sensation Tryzdin Grubbs on vocals on most of the tracks. The song is a trippy dance number, with rapped verses courtesy of Jethro "Alonestar" Sheeran (cousin of Ed) and a powerful, sung chorus from Grubbs, whose voice sounds much more mature than

Album Review: Annamay - F*ck You

a strong debut record from this Swedish singer-songwriter.
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From Sweden comes Annamay, a singer-songwriter that is equal parts pop, folk, country, rock, and 80s new wave. Her voice is strong and she crosses genres effortlessly. Her debut album, the somewhat surprisingly titled F*ck You, is proof positive of her eclectic influences and wide-ranging talent. The album opens with "I'm Gonna Wake Up," a track that features famed songwriter Tom Kimmel. The song is pleasant enough, folk-influenced pop rock about finding better things in life and showcases some tasteful, country-influenced slide guitar. Annamay gives a strong vocal performance both here and throughout the album. "See Me Now" mixes tribal

Single Review: Eddy Yang - On Our Way (Into The Night)

Eddy Yang mixes old and new genres in an exciting debut single.
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New from Eddy Yang comes "On Our Way (Into The Night)", the lead single from his debut album American Glory, the first-ever new release to be available in 5.1 Surround Sound, 24-bit/96Khz. That distinction is usually reserved for legendary, classic albums, not a first release. The song is a pleasant mix of jangly, power pop guitars over an electronic drumbeat. Yang likes to combine old sounds with new and has created something exciting here. The song's lyrics deal with being young and searching for one's path in life - something most people can relate to. Yang also mixes in some

Review: Joshua Redman Quartet - Come What May

Joshua Redman Quartet in top form on enjoyable, efficient "Come What May" LP
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The Joshua Redman has been my favorite contemporary tenor saxophonist even before I knew I had one, back when I didn't think I liked jazz because I couldn't understand it. It pains me a little to say it but credit must be given to the Rolling Stone magazine for their review of his Freedom In The Groove LP. That review and, well, if I'm completely honest, his name and the fact I attempted saxophone as a kid made me curious enough to gamble on a jazz record back when I didn't do that. It didn't immediately make me a jazz

Single Review: Galapaghost - Jellyfish

Galapaghost goes for a more electronic sound on his latest single.
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On Galapaghost's latest single, "Jellyfish," the solo artist/producer takes a deliberate turn away from his indie/folk routes, adding a healthy dose of electronica to the mix. The result is a dreamy track, with a hypnotic drumbeat and an intentionally monotone vocal, droning on about drifting through life. The jellyfish serves as a metaphor about how we often float about aimlessly in this world. The video is equally trippy. We see scenes of a man running, screaming, lying down staring at a glass of milk and a woman doing much of the same. At one point the glass of milk starts

Single Review: Best Intentions - At The Ocean

Best Intentions delivers hooky pop punk in the vein of blink-182.
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Best Intentions is the latest band to come from the Nashville music scene, but don't think country music here. Best Intentions' sound is decidedly pop punk, with some elements of hard rock for good measure. Formed in 2016 in Philadelphia by guitarist Matthew Kleinman, the group was reborn a year later with a new lineup after Kleinman's move to Nashville. They are currently working on their debut album and, in the meantime, have dropped a catchy single "At The Ocean." The song mixes crunchy guitars with a melodic lead vocal courtesy of Tony Pietrafesa and a big, memorable chorus (think

CD Review: Wes Montgomery - Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings

A must-own compilation of previously unheard Wes Montgomery recordings.
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In 2012, the Resonance label issued a collection of previously unheard Wes Montgomery recordings. That release, titled Echoes of Indiana Avenue, featured recordings made in Montgomery's home state of Indiana in the late 1950s. The tapes used on Echoes contained some three hours of music, a treasure trove for Montgomery fans, of pre-Riverside, pre-fame recordings. With precious little documentation, session recorder Carroll DeCamp went uncredited on the original release. A Montgomery disciple, Brook Reindollar and fellow pianist Lewis Porter, contacted Resonance Records' Zev Feldman, informing him it was DeCamp who made those recordings. Feldman made a promise to release the

CD Review: Bill Evans - Evans In England

The newly surfaced recording of the Bill Evans trio at Ronnie Scott's is a revelation.
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In December 1969, Bill Evans played a series of shows at London's famed Ronnie Scott's jazz club with his then relatively new trio of Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums. The group would become his longest-running trio, playing with him until 1974. The group was on fire, feeding off each other's energy and playing at a very high level. Fortunately for fans, a recording exists of these remarkable shows. First released on vinyl for Record Store Day and now available on CD, Evans In England feels like a classic album, one that has been with us through

Album Review: Rose Ann Dimalanta Trio - It's Time

The Rose Ann Dimalanta Trio delivers a strong, versatile new album
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Rose Ann Dimalanta has been a prolific and in-demand musician, releasing eight solo albums under the name of "rad" between 1992 and 2009, all while touring the world, both on her own and as a member of Prince's band for his Musicology tour. It's no surprise then that her latest release with the Rose Ann Dimalanta Trio, It's Time, boats world class musicianship and just a bit of that latter day jazzy soul sound Prince used to chase. It's also no surprise that other two members of the trio -- Raymond McKinley on bass and Massimo Buonanno on drums --

Album Review - Ivan Beecroft - Liars, Freaks & Fools

Ivan Beecroft gives rock a shot in the arm with Liars, Freaks & Fools
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On his latest album, Liars, Freaks & Fools, Ivan Beecroft wanted to get back to the guitar-oriented rock he heard in the pubs in his native Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. In his own words, he wanted to "turn people back on to this music". If the guitar gods are just, Liars, Freaks & Fools will accomplish just that. The music offers a fresh take on a classic rock sound, with Beecroft wearing his influences on his sleeve, channeling the likes of AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and Nirvana, without sounding derivative. The album opens with the driving hard rock of

Album Review - Joan Torres's All Is Fused - Revolution

Joan Torres issues a killer final album in a four-album story.
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Joan Torres has certainly kept busy with his fusion band All Is Fused. Over the last seven years, the group has released three albums -- Before, The Beginning, Of The Musical and his latest, Revolution. The albums share similar artwork and musical themes and their titles, when combined, seem to make a statement about where All Is Fused is headed musically. On Revolution, the band mixes Latin elements with funk, rock, jazz, and prog rock to form an exciting sound. With a title such as "Before the Musical Revolution," the players had better be able to back it up and

Single Review: Erich Mrak - Fake It

Erich Mrak blends pop, hip hop and electronic music in a strong new single.
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Toronto native Erich Mrak has been on quite the creative role, releasing a single each month this year through June in a planned six-song rollout. His latest, "Fake It," is a pop tune that straddles the line between electronic and hip hop and showcases excellent production from Bento. The song opens with a jittery keyboard over sparse piano before the song fully kicks in, with lush keyboards, drenched in reverb over a more traditional hip hop beat. Mrak's monotone vocal delivery works here, given the subject matter of a person afraid to show his true feelings of a relationship gone

Single Review: Lillimure - Something

Lillimure offers an uplifting view of some of life's harsh realities with her bouncy new single.
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Singer-songwriter Lillimure's latest single, "Something," gives a positive spin on some of the negative aspects of everyday life and making the best of everything. Its chorus stresses that "everything happens for a reason" and while Lillimure may not believe it, it is "Something to hold onto." The song showcases electric pianos played over a bouncy, jazzy, beat with sparse guitars tastefully accenting the track. Lillimure's vocals are strong, powerful, and soulful, sounding like those of a seasoned veteran and not a 19-year-old newcomer. She wanted to write a song about the obstacles one faces in life to succeed and she

Single Review: Krigare - Take On Me

Krigare delivers a fresh take on an '80s classic.
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To say Krigare has lived a full life is an understatement. She backed Kelly Clarkson at the 2006 Grammys at the age of 8, she has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning writers, and she has had her music featured in the Netflix series Elite and in a trailer for Blake Lively's All I See Is You. She also survived two forms of cancer before she turned 18. Her name translates to warrior in Swedish and she certainly lives up to that moniker. Her latest single is a cover of A-ha's '80s classic "Take On Me." While the song's familiar melody is

DVD Review: Imagine/Gimme Some Truth

Newly restored, the Imagine/Gimme Some Truth DVD presents a remarkable time capsule for the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
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When John Lennon recorded his legendary album Imagine, he and Yoko Ono had the presence of mind to film everything. The pair had released albums and films together at this point and for this album, they decided to make a video scrapbook of sorts, combining footage from the recording sessions with a series of vignettes - some poignant, some humorous, some bizarre and all predating MTV by many years. Originally released in 1972, the Imagine film is part of a new reissue, combining it with the excellent documentary, Gimme Some Truth, about the recording of Imagine. For the reissue, both

EP Review: Sevi Ettinger - The Salty Water EP

An exciting debut EP from newcomer Sevi Ettinger.
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Newcomer Sevi Ettinger found musical inspiration in an unlikely source - the Syrian refugee crisis. Just 15, the American singer, who lives in Shanghai with her family, channeled the anguish she felt for the victims into the lyrics of her debut single, "Salty Water," a song that also serves as the title of her new EP. Ettinger wrote the song using an app on her phone and caught the attention of songwriter Phillip Jarrell, who played it for Grammy Award-winning producer Jeff Bova, who liked the track as well. The pair agreed to work with Ettinger in the studio, helping

CD Review: Vincent Poag - Heroes And Demons

The singer-songwriter delivers a diverse third album.
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For his third album, Heroes And Demons, singer-songwriter Vincent Poag continues where he left off on 2014's excellent For The Girls. Not one to be tied to any particular style, Poag mixes pop with touches of rock, blues, jazz and county to great effect. Poag's gritty voice at times recalls Mark Knopfler or Tom Waits, but is never derivative. The weariness of his vocals give his lyrics, which often find him ruminating about everyday life, an everyman feel and give weight to the tracks. The album opens with the bouncy pop of "Beautiful Day." Here Poag channels his inner Paul

Blu-ray Review: Eric Clapton - Life In 12 Bars

An unflinching look back at one of rock's great guitarists.
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Eric Clapton has had a career that any musician would envy. The only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he helped expose blues music to white America while staying a leading-edge, influential figure on guitar since the 1960s, receiving commercial and critical acclaim in multiple decades. His life has had its share of heartache however. Rejected by his birth mother (twice, no less) and raised by his grandmother, Clapton found solace first in music, but later in drugs and alcohol. That the death of his four-year-old son Conner didn't fully send him over the edge is

CD Review: Big Star - Live At Lafayette's Music Room

A fascinating live time capsule from this classic power pop group.
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In 1973, Big Star was in a state of flux. Founding member and co-leader Chris Bell had left after the failure of the group's debut album #1 Record and the band was unsure of its future. The rest of the group was persuaded to perform at a now-legendary showcase show for the Memphis Rock Writers Convention in May of that year, which led to the group entering the studio to record their second album, Radio City. What isn't as widely known is that this three-man version of Big Star played the same venue four months earlier opening for the R&B

CD Review: Ali McManus - Unbreakable

Ali McManus delivers a strong debut album.
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Singer-songwriter Ali McManus has had her share of adversity in her short 21 years and that's besides the near-impossible task of making it in the music business. McManus has been confined to a wheelchair since she was 7 as a result of a rare bone disorder. She's had 11 surgeries, halo tractions, and steel rods to straighten her spine. In spite of this, she became a musician, and fairly recently too. McManus has played piano since she was 14 and guitar since she was 16. One wouldn't know she has played for less than 10 years by listening to her

CD Review: Big Star - The Best Of Big Star

An excellent overview of this power pop's short, but memorable run.
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Big Star may be the biggest band a lot of people have never heard of. Formed in the wake of the Box Tops dissolution by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, they were a group that was seemingly out of place with what was going on in popular music. A power pop band on a soul label making concise, Beatlesque pop songs in an era of 10-minute jams and rock and roll excess. A critics' darling, they were the victims of poor distribution from their record label Stax and broke up. After being persuaded to reform, Bell left the group, and

DVD Review: Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters - Live At David Lynch's Festival of Disruption

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters deliver a spirited performance at the Festival of Disruption.
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Robert Plant's solo career has taken many interesting turns, continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible in a rock music context. Backed since 2012 by his excellent band, The Sensational Space Shifters, the former Led Zeppelin front man has mixed rock, blues, folk and world music, combined with a healthy dose of African rhythms and exotic instruments to create a sound that is uniquely his. The fact his music has remained powerful and relevant nearly 40 years after Zeppelin's demise is a testament to his talent and vision. In October 2016, while on tour for his Lullaby And...

CD Review: Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer - Two Of A Kind

Two giants from different eras make magic with a big assist from Billy May
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In the early 1960s, Bobby Darin's manager Steve Blauner had a brainstorm: he wanted Darin to cut an album with famed lyricist/singer/composer Johnny Mercer with arrangements by Billy May. Darin was 24 at the time and Mercer was 51 and the record was a major nod to the Tin Pan Alley songs of old. While this might seem a recipe for disaster, quite the opposite happened. The pair had immediate chemistry and a playful camaraderie that is evident throughout. Add in the hard swinging sounds from May, who had worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, and the resulting album,

CD Review: The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Atom Bomb

This mid-2000s Blind Boys Of Alabama classic has been reissued with bonus tracks.
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By the mid-2000s, The Blind Boys of Alabama were in the midst of a late-career resurgence that saw the group being introduced to new audiences and receiving critical acclaim and numerous awards. Continuing this hot streak was Atom Bomb, an album that featured several guest stars and showcased the group's signature blend of gospel, blues, R&B and rock. Originally released in 2005, the album has been rereleased with bonus tracks and expanded liner notes. The album opens with "(Jesus Hits Like The) Atom Bomb," a song that likens the return of Jesus Christ to that of an atom bomb and