Martin Van Ruin is a Chicago-based Rock band that came together from different bands from that area to create something new and different. Consisting of Pete Falknor: drums; Sarah Jane Goldstein: vocals, percussion, melodica; Derek Nelson: vocals, guitars; Brian Sharpe: lead guitars, piano; Cathy Starr: violin; Philip Vickers: lap steel, guitars, trumpet; Alex Winter: bass, the various members of the band add several different musical influences into the band’s sound. Within the band’s sound you’ll find Rock, Folk, Country and other sounds that all blends together to make a style that is as much about Rock and Roll as it is about Folk and Country music. That style can be found on Martin Van Ruin’s current release called Every Man a King.
These Knees is a modern-day rock band that makes its home in Cleveland, OH. The band consists of singer/songwriter/guitarist Stephanie Trivison, bassist Eric Piontkowski and drummer Rob Hassing. Led by Stephanie Trivison who writes the songs for the band, These Knees creates their music by taking many different influences like Classic Rock icons The Beatles and more recent bands like Paramore and Tegan and Sara. The result of those influences creates a musical sound that sounds both retro and modern at the same time. The band’s unique take on modern-day Rock and Roll can be found on their 2013 release entitled The Young and The Bright.
Cleveland-based rock band Sputnik can easily be called a “supergroup” as the trio that makes up the band has made names for themselves on their own and as part of other bands for many years now. Lead singer and guitarist Alan Grandy had been performing in Cleveland as both a guitarist and a bassist for several bands including The Terrible Parade and Jehova Waitresses and also created music on his own. Jay Bentoff has also been a major part of the Cleveland music scene as he performed with his band The Kind Revolution while also recording music from Cleveland artists at his Dark Tree Studio. And the third part of the band, Chris Solt, has been part of several projects in Cleveland including Susan Weber’s band Monet’s Orbit before he hung up his guitar and sat behind the drumkit to fill out the current lineup of Sputnik.
New York-based singer-songwriter John Brodeur has been creating music for around two decades. While he has spent time as part of bands like The Suggestions and Maggie Mayday, Brodeur is known mainly for his solo work. Currently, Brodeur’s musical library includes several EPs and the albums Get Through from 2009 and his 2000 album Tiger Pop which was given the reissue treatment when the album turned 10 years old. The Tiger Pop Ten release included one CD that included the original recordings from the album and another CD that included brand new interpretations of those same tunes. Later in 2011, Brodeur also released a compilation of early music under the title of Young Man, Volume One: Studio Recordings 1994-98.
With the exception of 2011’s Tiger Pop Ten where John Brodeur took his previously composed songs and rewrote them to give them a fresh feeling, he had not released a new album since 2009’s Get Through. That probably had to do with his one-man band way of creating music. And while other people who go the singular voice route of creating music end up making songs that turn out two-dimensional, Brodeur is one of the best when it comes to creating music on his own and the music he creates ends up being just as full and fleshed out as if it had been created by an entire band. Nonetheless, it has been four years since a completely new release had been put out by Brodeur. Recently, he remedied that by releasing a new collection of music entitled Little Hopes.
Like a rising amount of bands and artists out there today, Chicago’s Jackpot Donnie is a band that creates its sound by combining several genres of music together. It’s the combination of Reggae, Funk even Blues that helps give the band’s music its quality and sound. And because the band draws from these unique and varying styles at different times, the Rock and Roll produced by Jackpot Donnie changes from one tune to the next.
To help create their sound, the five members of Jackpot Donnie call upon their various musical influences. The five members of Jackpot Donnie are: Adam Campbell on drums, Dave Langley on bass, Matt Love on guitar and vocals, Peter Spero on keys and Brian Wise on guitar. The band is currently promoting their third release, 2013’s Mayday!
Back in 1997, guitarist Stuart Smith got together with a rather large group of musicians to record an album of Classic Rock music. Together, this group of musicians (which included the likes of Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes and even Steve Priest of the band Sweet) created several different musical formations of the same band which came to be known as Heaven & Earth. Some of the participating musicians in the recording project lent their talents to only one or two of the resulting tracks, while others (including bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Richie Onori and keyboard player Arlan Schierbaum) were a bigger part of the recording process as they lent their talents to several of those tracks.
After the self-titled album from Heaven and Earth was released, the band later added to that album and the resulting 2004 re-release easily stands as strong as any Classic Rock/Hard Rock release from The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin or even Steve Priest’s band Sweet. It’s the talent of the musicians and the strength of the music that you notice; you would never know the album took seven years to become a reality.
Now, almost a decade after that first album was released, Heaven & Earth have returned. While that first album had its unique circumstances with how it was created and by whom, this new release, entitled Dig, has been written and performed by five main musicians who finally feel like a band. The quintet that brought Dig to life consists of: Guitarist Stuart Smith, bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Richie Onori and keyboard player Arlan Schierbaum, all of whom participated in the recording process that led to that first album. The final piece is newcomer Joe Retta who adds both vocals and lyrics to the songs.
Johnny Beauford is a Dallas, Texas-based singer-songwriter who has been spending a lot of time creating music. When he is not making his own music, you can find Johnny Beauford in the Dallas-based bands Jack Kerowax and Bravo, Max! In his short time on the scene in the Dallas, Texas area, Beauford seems to be making a lot of noise as he has already been nominated for Best Alt-Country/Americana Act for his time as part of the band Bravo, Max! And after putting out his debut solo EP called Lo-Fi back in 2013, Beauford is back in 2014 with the next release in his musical catalog.
Johnny Beauford’s new release is called A Pig Eating Past Love. For this release, Beauford took the one-man army approach and created most of the album on his own with a few parts on the album being recorded by a few of Beauford’s friends. And while one-man bands can sound very one-dimensional, that is not the situation with the feel of the music on this release.
Multi-talented musician Danny McGaw came to the United States after being raised in Manchester, England. When he came to the United States, he brought with him a love for the Northern England form of Rock and Roll. It is that style of Rock and Roll that he combined with the American Folk music. With that musical combination, McGaw started creating music with the band Wells the Traveler. The rest of the band consists of guitarist/singer Chad Brothers, percussionist Jason Jones, bassist Dan Hines, and producer Mike West who helps complete the band’s sound. Together, the members of Wells the Traveler are currently promoting their new debut release entitled One for the Dreamers.
The new album from Wells the Traveler is a very strong Rock release. One thing that separates this album from many of the albums that are released each year is that Wells the Traveler created the album live in the studio. On this album, the band brings a bit of closeness to their music as the listener gets to experience what the band would most likely sound like live. It is that feel that makes the album that much more special.
It is now time for my 2013 “Best Of” list. This time around, the list will be slightly different for me: There will be the usual best albums of the year; however, some of the selections did not appear on the Rock And Roll Report. Greater Alexander and Cole Hermer and the Ravens were reviewed over on my blog. I also have made the list slightly longer as I have also included two artists (Alert New London and May Stands Still) who I wanted to include in the list, but Alert New London put out a new EP since I reviewed their Youth album and I did the review of May Stands Still’s When You Come Home back in 2012 but decided to include it on my Best Of list this year because the album has grown on me throughout the last 12 months. For those reasons, the list contains the top ten reviews from me in the last year plus two extra. Check out these talented artists and their solid releases.
A Great Big Pile of Leaves is an Indie Rock band from Brooklyn, New York. The band is composed of guitarist/ lead singer Peter Weiland, bassist Tucker Yaro, guitarist Matthew Fazzi & drummer Tyler Soucy. Together, the band creates a sound that brings together sounds of bands like Taking Back Sunday, Motion City Soundtrack, Saves The Day, The Appleseed Cast and Hellogoodbye. A Great Big Pile of Leaves also incorporates some earlier rock sounds into their style to help bridge the gap between the modern-day rock sound and the sound of the rock music from a little earlier on. The combination of Indie Rock and Alternative create a sound that will grab the attention of many music lovers.
There are very few albums that grab your attention so hard and so completely that you just let the album play out because you are really enjoying the music, but You’re Always on My Mind from A Great Big Pile of Leaves is one such release. From the first note, you know you’re listening to something that really has that type of energy to it.