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: Bethesda “Dreamtiger & Other Tails”

 The Greater Cleveland, OH band Bethesda is known for their blending of sounds and styles in their music. Part folk, part indie, part pop, Bethesda takes these genres and blends them together to create a sound that is modern, retro, artsy, and altogether beautiful all at once.

The band’s sound is made possible with the help of the members of the group. Together, they are: Shanna Delaney on vocals and bells, Eric Ling on rhythm guitar, vocals, bells, horns and keys, Jesse Sloan on lead guitar, vocals, bells and keys, Justin Rife on drums and percussion, Dan Corby on bass, and Estee Beasley on violin. The unusual instruments of bells, horns and violin used by the band help create a sound that is very unique and creative.

And then, there are Shanna Delaney’s vocals: She has a voice that sounds like it came from a time gone by. Her voice could easily remind you of female vocalists who would have recorded with bands and band leaders back in the Big Band era. The clear quality of Delaney’s voice really helps enforce the power of the lyrics to the band’s songs. Together with Delaney’s voice, the band’s sound is definitely like nothing you’ve come across before.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Modern American Theatre “We Could Make a House”

California-based Modern American Theatre is a rock band that has been in the spotlight ever since they placed first in the Rhythm category of the Gods of Indie Guitar contest. Modern American Theatre is a six-piece band that is currently made up of Natalie Diaz on vocals, Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers on guitar, John Reyna on bass, Conner Martin on drums and Chase Werner on keyboards.

Modern American Theatre creates a sound that blends together an extremely jazzy guitar sound with the style of Rock and Roll. With that sound, the only genre the band would fit into would have to be Indie Rock. The reason for the jazzy feel to the band’s sound comes from the combined playing of guitarists Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers. The eerily similar delivery on the guitar by the two musicians helps to create a sound that comes across as a layering effect. And that layering effect is what truly separates the band’s sound from nearly every other group out there today.  Taken with Diaz on vocals, Reyna on bass, Werner on keyboards and Martin on drums, their playing styles create a very unique sound that sets the band apart from most of the bands out there today.

The song that won the Rhythm category for the band (and was ultimately included on the Gods of Indie Guitar 2011 CD) was “She’s Like That With Everyone,” a song that is featured on the band’s CD entitled We Could Make A House. The main reason for the song winning the category is because of the unique playing of the band’s guitarists, Justin Bardales and Paul Bethers. Taken with Diaz on vocals, Reyna on bass and Martin on drums, their playing styles create a very unique sound that sets the band apart from most of the bands out there today.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Josh Thorner “Sounds of the Drum”

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Josh Thorner, 20, live. It is a very rare artist who impresses me. He is one of the best sounding singers I have heard in a long time. After hearing him, I had to find out more. I discovered Sounds of the Drum. Listening to this album sounded like listening to Josh Thorner baring his soul.

2010’s Sound of the Drums reminded me of a time in my life I felt romantic. Sadly, those days are long gone. The first track, “She’s Gone,” speaks of that heartache we all go through in life–the first lost love of a young teen. The tune is talking about a neighborhood girl who’d moved away.  In a way, it’s bittersweet. Her leaving, him heartbroken, yet relieved from the risk of pursuing her.  It is a great track.

Features Live Rock and Roll

Intense Nick checks out Groovegrinder

Groovegrinder Groovegrinder are new friends to me and highly treasured. The day after this initial point of contact I found their new album in my post hole, ’The Daily Grind’. This is a great album containing nine top feel good funky rocking tunes. In the spring of 2007 Ross Cordrey and Jon Hoon formed a band with the intention of writing and performing high energy music that had its roots in blues but also takes a healthy swig from 70’s funk and british Rock. With the addition of Adam Porter (drums) and Philip David (bass) the line up was established and the result is Groovegrinder. A four piece Bristol based outfit whose perfectly crafted songs focus on a feel-good, foot tapping and hand clapping audience. Groovegrinder are here to tell you that for a couple of hours at least, you can lose yourself to the music and ‘stick it to the man’, I strongly recommend that you do.


Artists and Bands

RockAngel’s Weekly Radar – Koufax

koufaxThis week, RockAngel’s Weekly Radar brings you Koufax…the best band you’ve never heard.

Though they’ve bounced between a few record labels, they’ve released their newest album Strugglers through Doghouse (US) and they’ve really nailed their sound on this one. This is one of those albums that hits you hard with the first few lines of a sax on the first song and then never lets go. Their sound fuses splashes of Cold War Kids with Spoon (“Name of Love” sounds like something right off of The Underdog), but manages to stay completely original. Strugglers was one of my top ten albums of the year in 2008 (released in September) and it has never let me down.

Each song brings something new to the table, but the album flows together well. It’s like a trail mix bar…there are lots of different components that are great on their own, but even better when you stick them all together. Koufax isn’t currently touring, but maybe if they actually got the attention they deserve, we could all be lucky enough to catch a live show.

Some of my faves on the album include “Any Moment Now” and “Once In A While”. What can I say, I’m a sucker for saxophones and horns (even if they are synthesized) So take a listen, show some love, and keep rockin’…

Koufax’s Myspace

Strugglers full album preview