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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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CD Review: Razorhouse “Codex Du”

Mark Panick is a mainstay in the Chicago music scene. For years, Panick has been running around with several bands that made an impact on that musical scene. Not that long ago, he reassembled one of his bands called Razorhouse. With that reassembled band, he released the 2013 release called Codex Jun. With the success of that release, the band kept the momentum going and then released the band’s newest EP, 2015’s Codex Du.

Codex Du from Razorhouse begins with the track “Distance Wheel”. The track’s guitar-based rock music combines elements from bands like Love and Rockets and T-Rex with a little David Bowie thrown in for good measure. The track takes influences from Glam Rock, New Wave and Alternative Rock and throws them all together. This creates a track that could have existed anywhere from the late 60s, early 70s even mid-to-late 90s. With all of the various sounds flowing through the track’s nearly four-minutes of playing time, “Distance Wheel” is one of the most accessible Rock and Roll tracks to be produced by anyone in the years following the cross into the New Millenium.

The new release from Razorhouse continues with the track “Neu Sensation”. Just like the previous track, this song also feels very timeless. However, this song is much more grounded in a straightforward Rock style. “Neu Sensation” contains a generous amount of Alternative Rock feel. Because of that, the song would easily fit within the late eighties, early nineties. The track contains a strong electric guitar approach but also allows the acoustic guitar to shine through. While “Neu Sensation” is slightly less energetic than “Distance Wheel,” the track is still strong and would make any lover of Alternative Rock happy.

Mark Panick and the rest of the band change things up with the track “Girl Like a Hand Grenade”. The track begins with a slightly jazz-like approach to the Rock and Roll music. That musical approach goes well with the spoken word free verse from Panick. The result is a Beat Poet-like track. Soon, however, the band changes things and the song takes on a musical approach that once again, feels like something from the band T-Rex. In fact, Panick’s vocal quality is very reminiscent of Marc Bolan from T-Rex. The alternating between the two styles makes for an interesting track.

The pace of the music slows way down for the track “Regan’s Song”. The slow, steady pace to the gentle music is much different from the tracks that came before. In fact, the slower song takes on a style that is very reminiscent of a song like “Wicked Game” from Chris Isaak. This song continues the lyrical style set by the previous track of “Girl Like a Hand Grenade”. The lyrics of “Regan’s Song” seem to tell a story of a girl that only comes around once a year. The slower, gentler track adds a nice balance to the harder tracks of the Codex Du EP from Razorhouse.

Razorhouse picks the pace of the music back up on the song “If You find Heaven”. With this track, the band creates a very solid Rock and Roll feel that would probably fit best into the decade of the seventies. The song features a strong acoustic guitar part that makes up the majority of the track. The electric guitars that also appear do a lot to add a lot of energy to the track. The music is a nice balance between the electric and acoustic energies. The electric/acoustic approach of the song may fit well with songs written by David Bowie.

Codex Du from the band Razorhouse comes to a close with the track “St. Teresa”. After five tracks of hard-hitting Rock and Roll, the band brings their new album to a close on a gentle note. The song brings to mind the gentle feel of a song like “Teardrop Collector” from Love and Rockets. The easy feel of the song makes for a great way to bring the new release of Codex Du from Razorhouse to a close.

Razorhouse makes use of many different influences and musical elements to create an EP of music that will make fans of Rock and Roll very happy. The band’s newest release of Codex Du blends several decades’ worth of musical influences to create a timeless sound. Put the Codex Du EP from Razorhouse on and just indulge in the music.

To hear the music of Razorhouse, check out the song “Girl Like a Hand Grenade“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, NOVO Management and Publicity.

Click on the album cover below to purchase the release.

razorhouse-pic

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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.

tomguerra12

 

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Artists and Bands Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Diane Coffee “Everybody’s a Good Dog”

Shaun Fleming has spent time in the entertainment world as part of shows like Kim Possible. In fact, when looking through his IMDb, Fleming’s acting credentials are quite impressive. And with those acting credentials come Fleming’s musical credentials, as well. You might know his name as part of the band Foxygen where he played drums. Now, Shaun Fleming has taken his musical experience and put it to good use as part of a relatively new project called Diane Coffee.

Diane Coffee is a band that features Fleming on vocals with musicians Joey Lefitz, Jared Walker, Alex “Prince Thomas” Arnold, Sam France, Glenn Myers, Steve Okonski, Kyle “Hoopty” Houpt and Emily Panic adding numerous different elements and influences to create a musical concept that has more substance than the vast majority of the music industry at the present time. The music of Diane Coffee has been described as “Psychedelic Motown”. That seems to be a relatively good description as that is very close to what the band sounds like on some of their songs. However, that is just the beginning of what the band sounds like. With elements of Funk, Blues, Melodic Rock and other sounds, Diane Coffee has a lot more substance to their music than much of today’s Top 10 musical acts. And that musical blend has made its way onto a couple CDs from the band- 2013’s My Friend Fish and 2015’s Everybody’s a Good Dog.

Diane Coffee’s Everybody’s a Good Dog begins with the multi-layered track “Spring Breathes”. The track begins with a mostly a’capella passage that brings to mind something from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. After that initial a’capella passage, the track switches from Alternative Rock to Melodic Rock and several other styles all within the track’s 5-minute playing time.

While the first track of the Everybody’s a Good Dog album feels slightly sporadic because of the numerous changes in style, the songs on the rest of the album calm down considerably. However, there are still plenty of changes within the album as each track has its own style and musical direction.

The new release from Diane Coffee continues with the track “Mayflower”. The track begins with a strong amount of Soul influence. The horns on the track also give the song plenty of energy. Eventually, the song evolves into something that resembles something that could have easily come from The Rolling Stones. In fact, the music will remind you of songs from that band while Fleming’s vocal delivery on the track brings to mind the delivery of Mick Jagger. “Mayflower” is a quick song with plenty of energy that feels ready-made for the radio.

Everybody’s a Good Dog continues with the song “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be”. The track takes the band’s music in an English Reggae direction with a definite Pop flavor to it. The song makes use of the Reggae influence and also contains plenty of rock reverb. The song contains enough Reggae flavor to satisfy fans of the style while still being very accessible to fans of other styles.

Diane Coffee changes the style of their music once again with the track “Down with the Current”. It is with this track that the band creates a track that feels undeniably like something from Motown and the artists that existed on the label back in the 1960s. The harmonies that exist on the track feel as genuine as anything that came out during the Motown era. Listening to the track brings to mind groups like The Four Tops and The Temptations with a modern twist.

While “Down with the Current” feels very genuine as far as the “Motown Sound” is concerned, the track “Tams Up” makes use of the Soul feel of music more than the Motown Sound. “Tams Up” feels much more like an Otis Redding track than a Four Tops song, but the similarity between the two tracks keeps the listener in the same relative time period.

“GovT” is a track that also keeps the listener in that same relative time frame. However, with this track, Diane Coffee takes their music in a much more psychedelic direction. The music of the song sounds like something from the time of the Summer of Love. In fact, the feel of the guitar at the beginning of the track mixed with certain musical effects on the song and other influences on the music all combine to create a track that could have been part of AM radio at the end of the 60s into the early seventies. All of those influences and the lyrics within the song about the government all make for a song that has a definite dated feel.

“Duet (featuring Felicia Douglass)” keeps the retro feeling of the music on the new release from Diane Coffee going. Like the three last tracks, the band does a great job in creating a very genuine pop/rock feel from years gone by. The vocals from Shaun Fleming and Felicia Douglass make for a strong track that, once again, takes the listener back to the days of the sixties and the feel of AM radio at that time.

One of the more unique tracks on Everybody’s a Good Dog is “Too Much SpaceMan”. While the track still remains very retro feeling, the band takes the opportunity to create a track that goes beyond the usual musical influences. “Too Much SpaceMan” brings the songs of Diane Coffee back to the days of Glam Rock. On this track, both the music and the lyrical delivery bring to mind songs from Marc Bolan’s band T-Rex. The Glam influence penetrates the entire feel of the track, making the song one of the more unique on the album.

Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee is one of the more unique releases of the last year. It brings lots of different influences to life at one time and those influences combine to create a style that seems to incorporate nearly something from every different era within the age of Rock and Roll. That combination of styles makes for a solid album that’s worth checking out.

Click HERE to check the video to “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be” from Diane Coffee.  Click the links to check out the band’s label Western Vinyl as well as Secretly Canadian. Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee.

Diane Coffee

 

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CD Review: Tom Guerra “All of the Above”

Singer-songwriter Tom Guerra spent 15 years with the band Mambo Sons before the band called it quits. During their time together, the band released 4 albums of Indie Rock And Roll. The 4 albums included the last release of Heavy Days, which turned out to be a 2-CD set of music.

With Mambo Sons no longer together, Tom Guerra turned his attention to creating his own music. Not surprisingly, Guerra’s sound and style picked up right where Mambo Sons left off and therefore, Guerra’s music contains the same Indie Rock feel of his old band, but with a lot of other influences thrown in as well.

Not that long ago, Tom Guerra created his first solo album, 2014’s All of the Above. With Guerra now being a solo artist, he called upon several other people to help bring his music to life. Throughout the disc, Guerra performs both the guitar and bass parts on all of the tracks included on the release. But to bring the songs life, Guerra is joined by Mike Kosacek on drums, Morgan Fisher on piano, Matt Zeiner on piano, clavinet and Hammond B-3 and Christian Guerra adds vocals to a few of the tracks.

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Artists and Bands

They may best be known for their hit ’80s tune, but The Outfield are back in full force and ready to please again with their upcoming 2011 release

2011 will mark the return of the original trio behind ’80s pop rock sensation The Outfield – John Spinks (guitar, keyboard), Tony Lewis (bass, vox) and Alan Jackman (drums). The new album, due out in the spring, does not have an official title yet, but there have been rumors it will be “Pennyfields.” Grammy award winning producer David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, The Strokes and The Outfield’s Voices of Babylon) plays keyboards on two tracks for the new album, “California Sun” and “In Your Company.” All of the new songs have been written by John Spinks and produced by The Outfield with executive production by John Spinks. In addition, Sony Music Group will be releasing a new Best Of: The Outfield as part of their Playlist Series due out in January of 2011, which will include the forthcoming single, “California Sun.” In the meantime, we caught up with the members of The Outfield to find out more about the band – past, present and future.

Q: It has been a long time since we’ve heard from The Outfield, especially as the original trio! How does it feel to be up at bat once again?

Tony: Alan came back and re-joined last year and liked the material we were working on. He wanted to play drums to a couple of tracks and we ended up recording Alan for every track! It’s great having the original trio back. It’s more special this time around.