Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Borstal Boys S/T

It is said that many local music scenes, no matter where you live, are made up of about twenty-five musicians or so who make up about seventy-five percent of the music scene. Meaning, if you go out to see a cover band, you are most likely going to run into one of these omnipresent musicians. Even some of the Original Music bands contained within a scene will contain some of these musicians. This is very much the case for the band called The Borstal Boys.

The Borstal Boys is an Original Rock and Roll band that has roots within the Pittsburgh area. Each of the musicians that help to make up the group has a long history within the Pittsburgh music scene. Consisting of: Rocky Lamonde (Bass), Patrick Norman (Electric and Acoustic Guitar), Joe Pelesky (Organ and Vocal), Darryl Thumm (Guitar), Scott Wilson (Drums), Vinny Q (Guitar) and Mark Ponsonby (Lead Vocal), The Borstal Boys have stood on stages with the likes of Bill Toms and Hard Rain, Rusted Root and many other bands. Together, the musicians take the years of experience to create a new band that draws from that long history.

Taking all of their various musical influences such as The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Faces and more The Borstal Boys created their first album. The band’s self-titled album was released in 2018.

The first track on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys is the track “My Everything”. With this track, the band breaks into some good, old-fashioned Rock and Roll. In fact, what the sound will most likely remind the listener of is something from Bruce Springsteen. Moreover, the song has more than a little bit of influence from The Boss’ music from around the time of the Born to Run era. “My Everything” from The Borstal Boys has more than just a little influence from Springsteen’s song called “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”.  The track also has some Bob Seger influence to it, as well.

For the next track, the band seems to add some newer influences to the mixture. The track “Marlene Jane” features Rock and Roll that feels as if it came from the eighties. While there is still a good amount of Classic Rock influence to the track, the song also features a little New Wave and/or Alternative influence to the track. The majority of the track seems to contain some influence from John Mellencamp as the guitar-driven track is reminiscent of Mellencamp’s stuff from the eighties. The keyboards in the background of the song, however, seem to contain a much more modern influence to them. Because of the combination of the two directions at one time, “Marlene Jane” is a track that would easily fit well next to songs from the like of the Goo Goo Dolls or Gin Blossoms. The track would be right at home on any Modern Rock or Hot A/C radio format.

With the track “Head Full of Ghosts,” The Borstal Boys take their music back in time once again. The track is firmly placed in the middle of Classic Rock. As you listen to the track, you can easily imagine Power Trios like Cream adding some influence to the music of the band. But there also feels as if there is some Frank Zappa and the Mother of Invention influence present in the music, especially in the guitar playing on the track. For fans of straight-out Rock and Roll looking for that style today, you can’t do better than “Head Full of Ghosts” from The Borstal Boys.

Bringing their music back to a more modern sound, The Borstal Boys create the track “Green Light”. The slower-paced track features a strong guitar feel to the music. The music on the track brings to mind the feel of the music that came from The Black Crowes back in the nineties. This track by The Borstal Boys would feel right at home being played right after a track like “She Talks to Angels”. And with a playtime that exceeds the four-minute mark, “Green Light” ends up being one of the longer tracks on the album, although you really wouldn’t notice as the track flows rather smoothly during that playtime.

And speaking of angels, the very next track on the seven-song release is actually called “Fallen Angel”. And just like with “Green Light,” “Fallen Angel” has a slower pace to the music. While the previous tracks on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys do not contain any religious meanings, the song “Fallen Angel” is full of heavenly imagery in the lyrics. Plus, the inclusion of the organ on the track also adds a bit of flavor to the track as well.

The Borstal Boys bring their 2018 self-titled release to a close with the track “G-Spot Blues”. The final track on the release finds the band creating an all-instrumental track. And with the fact that the song contains the title it does and the music is quite Progressive in its style of Rock and Roll, the Frank Zappa references are sort of difficult to miss. The completely instrumental feel to the music on this track gives the listener a clear glimpse at the talent of each of the members of the band.

Where many bands and recording artists pay attention to only the newest rends in music, it is great to find those bands that still incorporate real Rock and Roll feeling into their sound. The Borstal Boys have created a strong seven-song release that stays fresh throughout as they create songs that make use of that Classic Rock style.  


For more information, check out the band’s record label The Vault Records

To hear the music of The Borstal Boys, check out their song “Head Full of Ghosts” 

To hear the entire self-titled album from The Borstal Boys, find the band on Spotify

To purchase a copy of the self-titled album of the The Borstal Boys, click on the album cover below: 


Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stubborn Son “Birthright”

In a time when many recording artists are creating music that focuses on the pop side of things in order to appeal to the widest audience possible, there are others who still want to create the full-fledged sound and feel of real Rock and Roll. One such band that focuses their efforts on creating real Rock and Roll is the band Stubborn Son.

The Seattle-based Stubborn Son is a trio consisting of guitarist and vocalist Garrett Lamp; bassist and vocalist Andrew Knapp and drummer Blair Daly. Together, the three musicians create Rock and Roll sound that takes the listener back to earlier times as their style features a large amount of Blues influence. Stubborn Son’s Blues-influenced music is brought to life with the help if Martin Feveyear who seems to bring out the best in the band. The resulting collaboration can be found on Stubborn Son’s 2015 release entitled Birthright.

Birthright from Stubborn Son begins with the track “The Broken Heart Proof”. The track begins with Garrett Lamp and Blair Daly creating a Black Keys-inspired, guitar-and-drums approach to the song. The Blues-Rock sound created by the duo soon becomes even stronger once bassist Andrew Knapp adds the bass to the track. As the duo becomes the full trio, the track’s Blues-Rock sound gains a strong, driving feel to it. “The Broken Heart Proof” would feel at home with anything from the early Rock And Roll as it would with today’s bands.

Stubborn Son slows the pace of their music just a little bit with the track “Make Believe”. And while the track is slightly slower than “The Broken Heart Proof,” no energy is lost. The three members of the band add even more Blues influence to their playing and this sound brings to mind the musical approach of someone like Cream. “Make Believe” gives the listener the best of Classic Rock with just a little modern-day influence, proving that the sound of Stubborn Son is the perfect bridge between Classic Rock and modern-day Rock and Roll.

With the next track on their Birthright release, Stubborn Son creates a track with a very modern feel. While still containing plenty of Blues in its style, the track “Catch Me Runnin’” feels somehow modern. And just like The Black Keys or The White Stripes, this track would easily feel right at home on today’s Top 40 radio. “Catch Me Runnin’” ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the Birthright release.

Changing directions just a little bit, Stubborn Son adds a lot more Blues influence to their song “Thick As Blood”. The track has so much Blues influence that it feels like a Blues track. On this track, vocalist/guitarist Garrett Lamp plays his guitar with a slide which adds to that Blues feel. The Power Blues created by the trio allows the listener to hear the talent and abilities of each member of the band.

While many of the tracks on Birthright from Stubborn Son come close to Blues but still contain that Rock and Roll edge, the track “Vixen” finds the band coming very close to creating a straight-out Blues track. The slow pace of the music and guitar solo on the track from Garrett Lamp makes the song sound very Bluesy. To take the track over the edge into the Blues, the lyrics of the song contain just the right amount of pain.

Staying in the same Bluesy frame of mind as “Vixen,” the track “Voices” also finds Stubborn Son creating a very mournful track. The track’s musical feel seems as if it were influenced by the classic song “House of the Rising Sun”. Singer Garrett Lamp brings plenty of Blues influence to the song as he sings of the voices in his head slowly driving him crazy. Along with the Bluesy feel, the track also seems to contain a certain amount of influence from Classic Rock band Iron Butterfly. In fact, there are several moments in the song where some vocalizations on the track bring to mind Iron Butterfly’s Doug Ingle as he sang on the song “Iron Butterfly Theme”. At nearly six minutes long, “Voices” is yet another strong track on Birthright and one of the best tracks on the album.

Throughout the ten tracks that make up Birthright from Stubborn Son, the three musicians of Garrett Lamp, Andrew Knapp and Blair Daly prove that The Blues is far from dead. The resulting Blues-Rock from the band not only keeps the style alive, but it also pushes the style and keeps it fresh. Birthright from Stubborn Son is a great album that would be great for any lover of Rock and Roll or for those who enjoy the Blues. And with the blending of the two styles on the Stubborn Son album, the release could inspire people of the Blues musical mindset to explore more artists in the Rock genre and vice versa.

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

Click HERE to check out the video to “The Broken Heart Proof”.

Click the album cover below to purchase a copy of the release.


Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heavy Glow “Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine”

Heavy Glow is a hard rock band that features a rock trio foundation. Headed by Cleveland-born Jared Mullins, the band makes use of musical influences such as Queens of the Stone Age, Cream, and several other bands that contain a very heavy feel to their music. Currently, the band is promoting their newest release entitled Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine. Although the lineup for the band has changed since the band released their most recent album, the band’s lineup on the album consisted of Jared Mullins on vocals and guitars, Joe Brooks on bass and St. Judas on drums.

Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine begins with the track “45 Shakedown”. Right from the very beginning, the track finds the band creating music that fits with the rest of the band’s previous energetic library of music. With the heavy feel of the bass from Joe Brooks on the track, there is no getting around the fact that the band lives up to their moniker as Heavy Glow definitely has a heavy approach to their music. Along with the heaviness from the bass, the track features a very groovy musical approach from the guitar of Jared Mullins. The track brings to mind a combination of something from Canned Heat with the Blues flavor to the track and the power of the trio setting from the band Cream.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heavy Glow “Midnight Moan”

Midnight MoanCalifornia-based Heavy Glow is a power trio that features a certain amount of “heaviness” to their sound, which makes the band’s moniker rather appropriate. At times, the band sounds like early Cream and at other times, they take on a much harder feel to their music. The band currently features Jared Mullins on guitar/vocals, Joe Brooks on bass and Andrew Merkle on drums. The band’s most recent release is entitled Midnight Moan.

Midnight Moan begins with the track “Lose My Mind”. On this track, the band takes on the sound and feel of the band Cream. The majority of the tune has the classic “power trio” feel to it with all three instruments (guitar, bass and drums) centered to feel as if the band is playing in one room. The band then builds the track with additional guitars from Mullins on both the left and right channels to help fill out the tune.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Black Earth “Pink Champagne”

Black EarthWhile the sound of rock and roll has changed throughout the years, you can still find bands that have been influenced by the sound of Classic Rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cream and others. One current band that has focused their musical energy on creating new music with that Classic Rock feel is Austin, Texas-based Black Earth.

Black Earth is a trio consisting of guitarist/vocalist Jason “Ving” Calise, bassist/vocalist Dave Rangel and drummer Jason Reese. Together, these three musicians create a trio that any Classic Rock lover will enjoy. This trio is currently promoting their latest release entitled Pink Champagne, a ten-song album that was recorded over two five-day sessions.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Muggs “Born Ugly”

To find an album of music so strong and enjoyable that you just need to put it on and let it play out from the first track to the last without the need to skip tracks is always a dream for music lovers. But a lot of the time, you inevitably find one or two tracks that don’t really live up to the rest of the release and you pass over those tracks to get to the better ones. So when you find that “perfect” album of music by a band or musician that is strong from beginning to end, you tend to cherish it more than other releases. Born Ugly by The Muggs is one such release that will rise to the top of your music collection because of the strength within each and every one of the 13 songs that make up the 2011 rock release.


Deep Manalishi and Manalishi Purple were considered, but Black Manalishi was born

Black Manalishi are emanating, illuminating and blasting out of the Northwest corner of the U.K. They have a classic/heavy rock style shaped by many great influences such as Black Sabbath, Cream, Crosby, Deep Purple, Free, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynrd, Nash & Young, Pink Floyd and a great many more.

I recommend you check out their tunes, as these guys have got everything that a true classic rock fan is looking for, in triplicate. The band members are Nathan Moore on guitar, Adam Ward on vocals, Lee Gallagher on drums and Sean Gallagher on bass. Yes, you may have guessed the fact that Sean and Lee are brothers, which must add so much to the bands synergised, taught sound. Black Manalishi stimulate your mind, body and soul with an amazing wall of guitar sound and vocals backed up so well with that brotherly rhythm section. I recently threw a few questions at Nathan…

Q: How did Black Manalishi come to form initially and what inspired the choice of name?

A: I met Adam Ward through a mutual friend when forming a cover band for fun. I decided to form a new band and continue writing and performing original material, something I had done since first learning to play. Being a great vocalist, with a style reminiscent of some of my favourite rock singers, Adam was the perfect choice for vocals. The other members have always been auditioned to find the best musicians when needed.

Features Record Labels

Rock and Roll is Alive! Part 1 – An Alive Records Natural Sound’s Round-Up

Let me tell you, I get a decent bit of music in the mail thanks to this gig right here and although every day brings a package with a little bit of melodic lovin’ inside, there are days where the bounty is just so fucking cool it makes me glad I decided to become a music writer. The day I received this fat package of music from the Alive label was one of those great days.

Alive is one of the few labels left which is dedicated to keeping rock and roll…ahem…alive in many ways, but most importantly in spirit. The label is a throwback to the days when substance meant more than anything else and sticking by your bands while they grew and matured was more important than milking them for one monster hit. I mean, while I am sure Alive would love to sell a ton of records and have a huge fat hit on their hands, they seem incredibly loyal to their bands and are nurturing their roster as each band builds their own reps and fan-bases which will eventually help the label as a whole. As it is, the label has one of the best young rosters out there and will soon be able to compete with any other label out there is the discs contained in this package is any clue. Since they sent me so many wonderful releases, I am splitting this article into two parts so I don’t hit you with too much good stuff at one time.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heavy Glow “The Filth And The Fury” [EP]

I don’t think I have heard any other band capture the classic sound of 60s/70s guitar rock as effectively as Heavy Glow. The band is: Jared Mullins (Vocals & Guitar), Joe Brooks (Bass), and Dan Kurtz (Drums). This trio rocks it like it’s 1969.

Their new 7 track (counting the two unlisted bonus tracks) EP, “The Filth And The Fury”, will transport you to a bygone era. Heavy Glow has mastered the tones and styles that dominated the crunchy and fuzzy psychedelic sounds that permeated freedom rock. Combined with the smoky soul of the vocals supplied by Jared Mullins, you have a win-win situation. The retro vibe is so remarkably good that someone who didn’t know better would easily be fooled if I told them “The Filth And The Fury” was recorded in 1969.

My favorites from this EP include the sizzling opener, “I Almost Prayed”, the seductive “Love Ghost”, and catchy “Bourgeois Baby”. The band already has a large following in San Diego, but this EP should help them expand that circle of love. Heavy Glow will light up the night for fans of Hendrix, Cream, The Doors, and early Rolling Stones.

Heavy Glow on MySpace. Official site.