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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

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