Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Made of Boxes S/T

Made of Boxes is an Indie Rock band from Seattle, Washington. The band is made up of members Luke Brown on Vocals, Guitar, Keys; David Chapaitis on Guitar, Bass; John Hage on Keys, Bass, Vocals and David Testa on Percussion, Vocals. Having been around a short amount of time, the band formed in December of 2013. The band is about to celebrate the release of their debut album as that self-titled release will hit the streets in July.

The new self-titled album from Made of Boxes begins with the track “Mountains”. The track contains a moderate pace to the music. The Indie Rock of the band on the first track of the album would seem rather straight-forward if it wasn’t for the occasional feedback that gives the track its unique feel.

The first track of the album contains a definite moderate pace to the music. The pace to the second track of “Osprey” is not as clear-cut. The guitar that begins the track contains a jazz/classical feel and sets a certain pace to the music. The drum that joins the jazz-like guitar seems to speed that pace up a tad. That back and forth play changes the pace several times before the band decides on one pace. The jazz-like approach to the Indie Rock on the track of “Osprey” creates a track that is just as unique as the first track of “Mountains”.

As the self-titled album from Made of Boxes continues, the listener becomes more and more familiar with the sound of the quiet guitar that makes up the majority of the music on each of the tracks that make up the album. “Floodlight” is one track that features that guitar more than any other. The majority of the track contains a certain quiet quality to it before the band launches into a stronger, louder and quicker feel to the music for a few bars before retreating back into the quiet. “Floodlight” is the strongest song of the first three tracks and shows off the talent of each of the members of Made of Boxes, as well as the vocal ability of Luke Brown who also alternates his voice from quiet to a more intense feeling throughout the track.

The track of “Jeremy” from Made of Boxes changes the direction of the music of the band just a bit. While the previous tracks contains a certain amount of jazz influence, “Jeremy” feels as if it should belong on an album from an artist like Al Jarreau who creates albums of vocal jazz tracks. The light feel of the music and the laidback approach of Brown’s vocals make the jazz-inspired track yet another unique track on the self-titled from Made of Boxes.

The band returns to a more rock-based sound for the track “Concrete”. The resulting track features a folk-like approach to the rock music. The track once again finds the band creating a track that contains a slow and easy pace to the track yet a stronger drumbeat than previous songs on the release. “Concrete” is one of the heavier tracks on the self-titled album from Made of Boxes.

Some of the tracks on the new release from Made of Boxes have a soft, almost jazz-like approach to them. Because of that, it comes as no surprise when the band takes a turn creating a completely instrumental track. “Drawing Circles” is a jazz-like track that features both acoustic and electric guitars that seem to intertwine to create a song that contains a very infectious melody. The guitars on the track alternate with the main melody to create a track that contains a nice complexity to the music. Although one of the most laidback tracks on the debut album from Made of Boxes, the song is one of the catchiest of the release.

On the new album from Made of Boxes, the band spends a few tracks in a very mellow musical direction before picking up the pace with the track “Butterflies”. While the track still does not blow the listener away with its intensity, “Butterflies” does have a more intense rock feel to the music than the previous three tracks. The Indie Rock by the band creates one of the catchy and memorable tracks on the album.

For their new 2016 self-titled album, the band Made of Boxes creates Indie Rock that is very heavy in its jazz influence while also incorporating a nice amount of alternative rock to help shape their style. The resulting tracks on the album are very strong as the band members take their time crafting songs that are equal parts melody and musical ability. For a debut release, Made of Boxes makes an album that begs to be heard from beginning to end.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, XO Publicity.

As Made of Boxes will be celebrating in just over a week, the band’s self-title is not currently available for purchase or download. Therefore, check out the band’s new video for “Mountains,” one track that will be on the upcoming release.

MOB Album Cover  



Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Michael McDermott “Willow Springs”

Singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has been busy as of late. Within only a few months, McDermott released an album under the moniker of The Westies, a band that included Heather Horton, McDermott’s wife. The resulting music from that band sounds like a combination of Springsteen mixed with a little Eddie and the Cruisers thrown in for good measure. The rock and roll release from The Westies is called Six on the Out.

Right around the same time that McDermott was recording music for the Six on the Out release, he was also recording other songs that were to be used for his newest solo release. And since the same group of musicians were used for both the Six on the Out album and the new Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott, the two albums have the same basic musical approach in their songs, but the tracks used for each album had their own feel to them. With Six on the Out, the tracks stuck to a more rockin’ feel to the music while the tracks for Willow Springs stick more to a singer-songwriter approach.

Willow Springs from Michael McDermott begins with the title track of the release. “Willow Springs” features an acoustic guitar-based feel to the folk-rock music. The six-minute track shows off the Bob Dylan influence that appears in some of McDermott’s music. The lyrics of the track contain a very deep Bob Dylan feel as they come across as something that Dylan would have created.

Michael McDermott and company pick up the pace and the energy of the music on the song “These Last Few Days”. While the folk-rock track sides more with the folk influence, it’s the unforgiving beat to the track that gives the listener the illusion that there is much more energy than the folk influence will allow. “These Last Few Days” is a strong track that will get you clapping along with the music.

Having already released the Six on the Out album as part of The Westies, Michael McDermott had penned an entire album of songs that had to do with the subject matter of the tough and grimy side of life where the criminal element can be found. The track of “Getaway Car” from the Willow Springs release is yet another track that has that same type of subject matter. Since the track seems to have a slightly easier pace to the music, McDermott included it on this album.

One of the most powerful moments on the Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott has to belong to the track “Butterfly”. Like many of the tracks that can be found on the album Six on the Out, “Butterfly” is a track that focuses on a moment in time and what happens afterward. The track is about the pain of what happens when you love someone, even when that person may not be the best person to fall in love with. “Butterfly” is a bittersweet track that all but drags you into the moment as you experience the same pain the singer feels.

In much the same way that “Butterfly” features lyrics about loving someone who may not be the best person, “One Minus One” is a track that also deals with the pain sometimes found in relationships; more specifically, relationships that come to an end. The slow-paced track features piano and acoustic guitar as the basis for the backing music on the track. The track features a duet-like approach to the lyrics as McDermott is joined on the track by his wife Heather Horton. Together, the duo create one of the most touching moments on the entire Willow Springs as they sing about two people going their separate ways.

After almost an entire album of songs that feature a laidback approach to their music, Michael McDermott completely changes the pace with the track “Let a Little Light In”. While the previous tracks on the album feature a folk/folk-rock style, “Let a Little Light In” finds McDermott and the band taking a lot amount of Soul influence to create the track. The music on the track comes complete with a horn section that adds a hefty amount of energy to the music. “Let a Little Light In” ends up being the strongest track on the album, as far as the energy level of the music are concerned.

After returning to an easier pace to the music after the more upbeat track of “Let a Little Light In,” Michael McDermott finishes out his newest album with the track “What Dreams May Come”. The track features an easy pace to the music and a very reflective nature to the lyrics as McDermott sings about the different types of dreams and where they take you. The track is a very strong moment on the album and a really nice way to wrap up the newest release from Michael McDermott.

Willow Springs, the newest solo album from Michael McDermott, shows a slightly different side to McDermott than his previous album of Six on the Out, the album released under the moniker of The Westies. The singer-songwriter side of McDermott shines through on Willow Springs and the album contains many moments that the listener will enjoy.

Click HERE to check out the video to “What Dreams May Come,” a track from Michael McDermott.  

Click HERE to check out Michael J. Media, the PR firm for Michael McDermott.

Click on the album cover to purchase a copy of Willow Springs from Michael McDermott.

Willow Springs

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Whiskey Hollow “X Waters”

My introduction to singer-songwriter Madeline Finn and her music came with a pre-arranged open-mic called Brent Kirby’s 10×3 where Finn performed three songs. At the end of those three songs, I found myself thinking that that time on stage for Madeline Finn simply wasn’t long enough as I wanted to hear more from the singer. And with a voice that reminds me of Norah Jones, Finn has a quality that begs you to listen.

When I finally was able to hear X Waters, the new release from Madeline Finn and the rest of her band called The Whiskey Hollow, I was not surprised as I had already experienced Finn’s sound and style. I was also not disappointed as the music contained within the seven-song release was everything I had enjoyed live plus even more as the release from The Whiskey Hollow took the acoustic sound from Madeline Finn and expanded upon it.

Along with Madeline Finn on vocals, guitars and writing, the rest of the band consists of Joe Botta on bass; Gabriel Swarts on electric guitar, percussion; Raymond Flanagan on electric guitar; Joe Czekaj on percussion and Shelby Lynn Sangdahl on cello. Together, The Whiskey Hollow creates a sound that combines indie rock, alternative, folk and even blues.

X Waters, the new release from The Whiskey Hollow, begins with the track “Tree Talker”. The acoustic rock track features Madeline Finn’s vocals and acoustic guitar as she and the rest of the band comes together to combine some rock and blues elements together to form a track that sounds very much like something that would be found on KT Tunstall’s Eye to the Telescope release. In fact, “Tree Talker” could remind the listener of Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree”. The second half of the track finds Finn creating an acoustic folk feel to the music as the song seems to drift off into the distance. “Tree Talker” is a very strong opening track for the new release of X Waters.

The new album from The Whiskey Hollow continues with “Hudson Hill”. With this track, the band takes the blues influence on “Tree Talker” and increases it. The combination of blues, folk and rock in the music creates a very strong track with plenty of substance. The song feels like it could have been created during the sixties but also seems to have a modern feel to it, as well. Like “Tree Talker” before it, “Hudson Hill” is a track that grabs the attention of the listener and will never let go.

With the track of “Neat,” you get to know a little bit about the sense of humor from Madeline Finn. The track features a line that goes “Give me some whiskey and give it to me straight”. The title seems to be a play on words as both “straight” and “neat” mean the same when speaking in terms of drinking. The slow tempo of the music goes well with the lyrics about looking for some sort answer to life’s little problems. “Neat” is a track that has the most body to it as you can hear all of the instruments very clearly. Finn’s acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, Joe Botto’s bass and the keyboards all add up to a track where the listener can hear the pain and anguish in Finn’s lyrics.

One track that allows the singer-songwriter quality of Madeline Finn to come through is “Seasons”. While the song does contain the entire band, the track begins with a generous amount of just Finn and her acoustic guitar. The first two minutes of the track finds Madeline Finn’s acoustic guitar setting the slow pace with just a little help from Flanagan’s electric guitar adding a little atmosphere in the background before the rest of the band joins in. The mostly-acoustic rock track adds elements like cello from Shelby Lynn Sangdahl as well as harmonica to become one of the most orchestrated tracks on the release. In fact, the addition of the multi-voiced choir that appears on the track adds even more depth to the music. But for all of the elements that get added to the track, it is the voice of Madeline Finn and her guitar that stand out.

The release comes to an end with the track “Philco”. Different from any of the other tracks that preceded it, “Philco” finds Madeline Finn adding guitar and also keys to the track. The song about an old broken radio player finds Finn looking inward as she examines her feelings about the ways of the world. The final track of the seven-song release ends up being another track that needs to be heard. When the music for the album comes to an end, you start examining the packaging for X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow. It is at that point that you end up realizing that the pictures contained in the packaging help bring to life what you just listened to.

X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow is strong from the very first song and never lets up. And with the different genres and styles of music used to bring Madeline Finn’s words to life, the listener has plenty of things to keep them entertained.

To hear the music of The Whiskey Hollow, check out the video to the track “Hudson Hill“.

To purchase X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow, click on the album cover below:

The Whiskey Hollow | X Waters

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Nuthin’ Muffin “Ugly in Pink”

It’s been quite a few years since anyone has heard from singer/songwriter Drew Ross. It was back in 2012 that the talented individual had released his one and only album. Back then, Ross had put out a double CD recording entitled Rocket Science.

Rocket Science was a strange type of album that had two parts to it. One CD of the release contained solo recordings of Drew Ross’ own compositions that contained only Ross’ voice and one single guitar. These acoustic recordings would later be used by a British musical duo who calls themselves EcoPunk. Working together with Drew Ross, the Brighton, England-based writing team would take his simple acoustic recordings and flesh them out by add their style of music to Ross’ compositions. With the two CDs showing off the two different phases of music composing (the initial creation phase and then the collaboration phase), the 2-CD Rocket Science release became one of the most interesting albums I reviewed back then.

After the release and subsequent success of Rocket Science, Drew Ross continued with the idea of collaborating with others to create other interpretations of his songs. And while some of those resulting interpretations were very good, no further album releases would surface and Rocket Science would remain Drew Ross’ one and only release. But then, that changed.

It was with a dramatic change of direction that Drew Ross found his next musical project. It was with his wife Anna that Drew Ross created the project Nuthin’ Muffin.

Nuthin’ Muffin is a musical project where every song was created by the Rosses. And every track created was a cover tune. In fact, the resulting album entitled Ugly in Pink consists entirely of songs from the 1980s. And while the two artists could have created an album of nothing but Top 10 classics from that era, they went in a much more interesting direction by mixing well-known hits from famous artists with lesser-known hits from not-so-famous artists. Heck, even the album title is a not-so-subtle homage to songs from the eighties. That album title is Ugly in Pink.

Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin begins with one of the lesser-known tracks. The lead-off song is “The Breakup Song” (better known by the title of “They Don’t Write ‘em Like That Anymore”. While “The Breakup Song” may not be instantly recognizable to all Rock and Roll lovers, the band did have another hit later on called “Jeopardy”. For the track, Nuthin’ Muffin creates a straight-out cover version that sounds very much like the original. What the Nuthin’ Muffin version lacks in originality it makes up for in promotion as the new version helps to reestablish the song in people’s memories.

While “The Breakup Song” is one of the lesser-known songs on Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, the next track ends up being perhaps the easiest to recognize. The second track of the album is “Talking in Your Sleep” by The Romantics. Other tracks like “Love Stinks” by The J. Geils Band, “I’ll Fall In Love Again” from Sammy Hagar and “Dancing with Myself” from Generation X (a band that featured Billy Idol) all give the listener solid versions of tunes that listeners to FM radio would be familiar with.

The more interesting moments on Ugly in Pink belong to songs that, like the aforementioned “The Breakup Song,” aren’t overly familiar. Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips like Sugar,” “New Girl Now” from Honeymoon Suite and even “She Sells Sanctuary” from The Cult adds that element of surprise to those music lovers looking for something different.

Taking a listen to Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, the arrangements of the tunes aren’t really all that amazing. As a matter of fact, what the album feels like is a well done album of tunes from your better-than-average cover band. What truly makes the release is the unusual mix of tunes. In-between the straight-out hits are songs you get to discover, or discover all over again.

The most important thing about Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin is that the album allows Drew Ross to get his name out there once again during the time that he works on his next album of all-original material. If you are a fan of music from the eighties, the new release from Drew and Anna Ross is well-worth the time to listen to it.

To learn about Drew Ross’ Rocket Science album, click HERE.

To check out the music of Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, click on the album cover below:

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Man Called Noon “The Bad Guy”

Back around 2010, I had been introduced to the Chicago-based band Man Called Noon. At that time, I became familiar with the band because of their album Broke and Beaten Down. With that release, the band created an album that alternated between solid Rock and Roll and a style that was more folk-infused. While the tracks were interesting with the continuous alternating of styles, the album seemed as if it was missing some sort of glue to hold it together.

Several years after reviewing 2009’s Broke and Beaten Down, and after having released another album in the meantime entitled Edge of the Night, Man Called Noon returns with their newest album entitled The Bad Guy. With this album, the band creates a slightly different style of music than what had come before. That has to do with the new lineup for the band. Having gone through some changes over the years, Man Called Noon now consists of Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Tony Giamichael, bassist Dave Aitken and Drummer Josh Fontenot, as well as new band members Elisa Carlson (Keys & Vocals), Stephanie Aitken and Erin Piotrowski (Backing Vocals), and new lead guitar player Alex Ross. This new lineup incorporates some of the old sound and feel of the band while also taking the band’s sound in a new and more interesting direction.

The new sound of Man Called Noon can be found on The Bad Guy, the 2015 release from the band. The Bad Guy begins with the title track to the release. “The Bad Guy” finds Man Called Noon creating some good, old-fashioned Rock and Roll. The track starts will a strong combination of bassist Dave Aitken and Drummer Josh Fontenot as they create a strong beat. Eventually, the rest of the band joins them. The solid Rock and Roll style featuring guitars and some piano on the track would easily be right at home with anything that would have been found on Rock and Roll formats back in the 80s. “The Bad Guy” could fit between tracks from Bruce Springsteen and Rick Springfield. The track’s sound is fresh enough that it would also be welcome on today’s Top 40 formats.

The new release from Man Called Noon continues with the song “Dark Side of the Dawn”. Like the title track before it, “Dark Side of the Dawn” has a very strong retro feel to it. And just like “The Bad Guy,” “Dark Side of the Dawn” sounds like something from the 80s. The inclusion of both the piano and the keyboard on the track definitely gives the song a very commercial musical approach. The commercial feel of the music and the driving feel to the tempo of the song make the track very an easy single off the release.

Man Called Noon takes the sound of their music in a much more “pop-like” direction with the next track. “Dance Tonight” features a strong bass/drum approach with just enough guitars and keys being added to the mix to flavor the song. The various musical elements combine together to create a strong dance beat and that makes the song one of the strongest tracks on the album.

With the track “More,” Man Called Noon drastically changes the musical direction of their music. While the previous tracks stayed in a pop/rock vein, “More” finds the band heading in a much more Alternative Rock direction. The harder sound of the guitars, the stronger beat of the drums and the slower tempo all combine to create a track unlike anything else on the release up to that point. The change of pace is good and keeps the album interesting.

The band switches their sound once again for the track “Hold On”. The piano-driven track finds the band returning to something that would belong in the eighties. The rockin’ track seems to be a combination of the energetic driving rock and roll of someone like The Fools with a little bit of keyboard-pop thrown in. “Hold On” is easily one of the best tracks on The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon.

Appearing late in the album is one of the strongest, most listener-friendly tracks on the 9-track album. “Midnight Revival (Get Down)” is a track that features a very addictive melody, a strong beat and easy lyrics that lend themselves to a very catchy sing-along. While the song may not be something that FM radio might pick up on, “Midnight Revival (Get Down)” has a sound and style that would be perfect for use in commercials or in a movie soundtrack, which is just as good as being played on the radio.

While I was already familiar with Man Called Noon, the band’s new album was a nice surprise. The new release from Man Called Noon finds the band creating a much stronger vibe than what had appeared on the band’s 2010 album of Broke and Beaten Down. The Bad Guy contains better musicianship, stronger songs and an all-around better sound. If unfamiliar with Man Called Noon, The Bad Guy is the perfect place to discover the band for yourself.

Bad Guy

To discover the music of Man Called Noon, click the link for the track “The Bad Guy“.

To purchase a copy of The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon, click the link.