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CD Review: The Amplifier Heads “Loudah”

The Amplifier Heads is a Boston-based band consisting mainly of Sal Baglio. Sal Baglio is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has spent over thirty years in the music industry creating straight-out Rock and Roll music. Most of that time has been spent with one band- The Stompers, a band that came together in the East Boston, Massachusetts area back in 1977. That band, strangely enough, is still out there performing the music that made them so popular all those years ago.

However, as far as The Stompers are concerned, the band mainly exists today as a tribute to the very music that they created way back when. What that means is that every so often, the band will get together to perform their music live onstage in a concert setting. But as far as new material is concerned, The Stompers have not created anything new, musically speaking, since their last release, 2009’s Stompilation, which combines music from every era of the band and puts it all in one place as a 21-track Best Of album.

While The Stompers have not produced any new music for an extended amount of time, the same, happily, cannot be said for singer-songwriter Sal Baglio. Even though The Stompers aren’t creating anything new, Baglio has created several solo albums of his own over the years. And then, there’s the new musical venture for Baglio; a band that takes Baglio’s style of songwriting and puts it out there in the form of a new project. That new project being called The Amplifier Heads.

The Amplifier Heads is a band consisting mainly of Sal Baglio as he provides vocals, guitar and bass to the tracks that make up the debut release called Loudah. Along with Baglio, producer Ducky Carlisle provides the drums for the project, and Jeff Keithline appears on bass for three of the tracks. For the rest of the instrumentation on the album, the music comes from several other musicians who add their talents to one or two tracks on the release each. Together as a whole, Sal Baglio and Company create an album under the moniker of The Amplifier Heads that makes use of different forms of Rock and Roll, staying solidly within a Classic Rock format.

The debut release of Loudah from The Amplifier Heads begins with the track “The Boy with the Amplifier Head”. In a time where we are trying to steer the youth of today away from bullying, “The Boy with the Amplifier Head” tells the tale of a kid who was picked on by everyone in his age group for being different. The track features a Rock and Roll sound that blends together some seventies-era music with just a little British Invasion influence thrown in. What results is a song that would fit right alongside music from the likes of Badfinger or maybe The Raspberries.

With the next track called “Beat Club,” Sal Baglio and Ducky Carlisle are joined on bass by Jeff Keithline. Together, the trio creates a Rock and Roll sound that sets the music in the middle of the seventies. The track feels like something that would have existed at the same time as Glam Rock. In fact, the main musical influence that seems to come through on the track is the influence of Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex. You could easily imagine “Beat Club” from The Amplifier Heads alongside a track like “20th Century Boy” from that band.

While the previous song of “Beat Club” brings to mind music from the likes of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, the next track called “Jaw Teaser” screams The Rolling Stones. One reason in particular for that is because Sal Baglio sings the words “Jaw Teaser” with the exact same delivery Mick Jagger uses when singing the words “Brown Sugar”. The track also seems to have a similar feel to the music that “Brown Sugar” has. Musically, there is some musical influence from the Stones as well, but that’s just because the track features a sound that keeps it squarely within the Rock and Roll music of the seventies. That Rolling Stones feel to the music even continues on the next track called “Starleen”. The song contains a straight-forward Rock and Roll feel to the music, with a bit of The Stones influence thrown in.

The Amplifier Heads featuring Sal Baglio is not just a band with a Classic Rock feel to the music. The band also seems to have a slight sense of humor when it comes to writing the lyrics to the songs; at least, that’s the way it seems with the track “Two-Headed Girl”. Because of the Glam Rock feel to the music once again, the track falls into the same basic musical time period as “Beat Club”. It is with the slightly humorous lyrics to the song that the listener finds Baglio describing a date with a woman with two heads (maybe a way of saying “split personality” without actually coming out and saying it?). The track once again would be perfectly fine being included within music from the seventies. And with the addition of a slight sense of humor, the track of “Two-Headed Girl” stands out from the rest of the album.

Loudah from The Amplifier Heads continues with the track “Big Wax Lips”. Just as “Two-Headed Girl” comes to an end, Sal Baglio and Duck Carlisle create yet another track with a sense of humor. Where the lyrics to “Two-Headed Girl” may suggest a split personality, the lyrics to “Big Wax Lips” contain many plays on words. While many may think the track is about different forms of candy, Baglio is not referring to that. Much of the Loudah release from The Amplifier Heads finds the music to be rather reminiscent of styles and bands from days gone by, mostly from around the time of the seventies. This places the music in the retro category. “Big Wax Lips” is also retro in feel; but for this track, Baglio and Carlisle create music reminiscent of the Akron, Ohio band The Black Keys.

Where most of the album features the playing and singing of Sal Baglio, the final track of the release called “Rock Candy” features the playing of drummer Paul Armstrong of the Syracuse band The Flashcubes, a band much like Baglio’s group The Stompers as they date back to the seventies like The Stompers do. In fact, the track “Rock Candy” is mainly Paul Armstrong hammering away rather impressively on the drumkit with musical accompaniment from Baglio. And much like the previous track, the song contains much than a slight reference to bands like The Black Keys. “Rock Candy” is very energetic as it brings the albums to a close and leaves the listener who is looking for real Rock and Roll rather satisfied.

In a musical world where much of the current bands and musicians today are creating music based within the Pop-Rock style of music heavy on the “pop,” it’s always refreshing to find a musician like Sal Baglio who takes his band The Amplifier Heads and creates real, honest Rock and Roll. Loudah from Boston’s The Amplifier Heads may just be the debut release for this outfit, but it’s a rather impressive debut. And with each track on the release being mainly below the three-minute mark, the album is very listener-friendly, as well as radio-friendly. For those looking for straight-out Rock and Roll with plenty of energy, look no further than Loudah from The Amplifier Heads.  

 

For a taste of the Rock and Roll music from Sal Baglio and his band called The Amplifier Heads, check out the first track from the Loudah release called “The Boy With the Amplifier Head”.

https://theamplifierheads.bandcamp.com/track/the-boy-with-the-amplifier-head

To check out the entire release of Loudah from The Amplifier Heads, click on the album cover below:  

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Tom Guerra “Trampling Out the Vintage”

Connecticut-based guitarist and singer Tom Guerra has spent many years playing in a rock band called Mambo Sons. Together, the trio that also includes vocalist/bassist Scott Lawson, and drummer Joe “the Cat” Lemieux has released several albums. Those releases featured music that combine rock and roll with a large amount of blues influence. The band last released an album back in 2009 which was a double CD release called Heavy Days. Since then, however, the trio has been silent.

But that changed recently when guitarist and singer Tom Guerra went out on his own and released a solo project. Back in 2014, Guerra celebrated the release of the album All of the Above. While Mambo Sons created music that was heavily blues-based, Guerra decided to incorporate more influences into his sound. The more influences, the better-rounded the style of Guerra’s sound. And while Guerra does include more influences, he has also decided to take his music in a much more Classic Rock type of direction.

Two years have passed since the release of that album. Now, Guerra is back with yet another solo album. For the new release, Tom Guerra turned to Kenny Aaronson on bass guitar; Morgan Fisher on piano; Mike “Doubledog” Kosacek on drums and percussion; and Matt Zeiner on piano and Hammond Organ. Together, they make Guerra’s new album come alive. The new release from Tom Guerra is entitled Trampling Out the Vintage.

Trampling Out the Vintage begins with the track “All Purpose Song”. The track finds Guerra creating a song that would have existed back in the seventies alongside people like Bob Seger. The track features a very strong, driving feel to the music that revolves mainly around the guitar from Tom Guerra. However, the track also features a strong piano part that is as essential to the track as the guitar is. In fact, it truly is the piano that is the standout instrument on the track. “All Purpose Song” is a great song for those looking for the sound of the seventies. The track, however, is not the “all-purpose song” that the track itself actually describes. So just keep looking.

The new release from Tom Guerra continues with the song “Dr. Nick and Elvis”. The track is another that features a strong, driving pace to the music. The style of the guitar playing on the track and the feel of the lyrical delivery as well as the production quality on the guitar solo all add up to track that seems to scream Marc Bolan and his British Glam Rock band T-Rex. The song would easily stand up next to that band’s hit single of “Bang a Gong”.

The style of the music changes dramatically on the next track. For the song “Tell the World,” Tom Guerra finds himself being influenced by the likes of bands like The Raspberries.  That band shaped the sound of their music around the sound of the music being brought into the United States from England during the British Invasion. On “Tell the World,” Guerra’s song features the jangly feel of the guitars that were present within The Raspberries’ songs like “I Wanna Be with You” or “Go All the Way”. With the track’s commercial feel, “Tell the World” would have fit well with other songs on AM radio back in the seventies.

With the track of “BYOB,” Tom Guerra creates a track that takes his style back just a little bit from the style of “Tell the World”. “BYOB” feels and sounds as if the track would have been perfect for the time of the “Summer of Love”. In fact, the mindset of the lyrics comes across as being close to “free Love” as “BYOB” stands for “bring your own buzz”. As far as the music, the song sounds as if it had been influenced by the 60s era Rolling Stones.

One of the strongest tracks on Trampling Out the Vintage is the song “Pay in Blood”. The track is also one of the most unusual as the song alternates between one style and another. At one point, the music on the track feels like it would fit inside of the musical style of 70s Classic Rock. And when the track enters the refrain section, Guerra creates a musical and lyrical style that is undoubtedly very Zappa-esque in nature. The refrain feels as if it was influenced by songs from Frank Zappa such as “The Torture Never Stops,” one of Zappa’s darker songs.

For the track of “Supermoon,” Tom Guerra seems to invoke the style of Tom Petty. In fact, the song contains the style of Petty while he was part of the Supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. The track’s refrain even sounds as if Petty could have been joined by the rest of that band as they sang the lyrics of that refrain. The guitar solo even feels like something from Petty.

For his new release of Trampling Out the Vintage, Tom Guerra does a great job of using the various influences he has picked up throughout the years. The resulting album’s 10 tracks are widely varied from one track to the next while they still contain a solid Rock and Roll base. Guerra has put out yet another album that would be very welcome in any Rock and Roll listener’s music collection.

To check out the music from Tom Guerra, check out the song “Pay in Blood“.

To purchase a copy of Trampling Out the Vintage from Tom Guerra, click on the album cover below.

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