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Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Mimi Arden S/T

Michelle Gaw is a Cleveland-based singer-songwriter who has been creating her style of music for a while now. And she has been performing her music all over town. But when she performs, it is either as a solo act or as part of a band. The name of the band that Gaw performs with is called Mimi Arden, a name that derives from her own name. So when she was looking for a name for the band that helps bring her music to life, she used a nickname for Michelle (Mimi) and her middle name (Arden) to create the moniker for the band she fronts.

The band of Mimi Arden is made of three musicians. Along with Michelle Gaw, the rest of the band called Mimi Arden consists of Michelle Gaw on Vocals and Guitar, Lee Kolarik on Drums and Joe Botta on Bass. As Mimi Arden, Gaw, Kolarik and Botta are keeping busy. The trio can be found performing at many of the music festivals in the Greater Cleveland. And when they are not performing live, they are creating music. Just recently, the band went about recording some of their song. Together with some other friends that helped to create the music of the band, this trio created a new self-titled ten-song release.

The new self-titled album from Mimi Arden begins with the track “Wits”. The track about going slightly crazy begins with the sound of Michelle’s acoustic guitar and her voice which creates a Folk-rock track. And after about forty seconds, the acoustic rock created by Gaw is made fuller as she is joined the electric guitar from Raymond Flanagan. That electric guitar helps to add some flavor to the track but doesn’t really give the track any true energy as the track remains rather low-key throughout its three-and-a-half minutes of playtime. Lee Kolarik’s drums and Joe Botta’s bass join in and created a track with a laidback approach with a little bit of a Soul music feel. The easy-going track starts the album off rather easily, but that easy feeling simply ensures that there is enough room to increase the energy level as the release goes on.

The first track features a light feel to its music as does the second track. The difference in the two musical directions comes in when the second track of “Soul Pocket” contains more of Soul-like feel to the music. The musical approach on the track combines elements of Soul and Jazz. This combination brings to mind the playing of Jack Johnson while Gaw’s vocals also bring to mind vocalists from the seventies. The resulting feel of the track produces one of the most commercial tracks of the album and would feel right at home on today’s Top 40 radio formats.

”Returning to Ash,” the third track from the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, begins with drummer Lee Kolarik creating a drumbeat with a slightly jazzy feel to it before the light playing from electric guitarist Raymond Flanagan gives the track an Indie Rock feel. The entire ensemble of Flanagan, Michelle Gaw, drummer Lee Kolarik and bassist Joe Botta create a track that contains a light approach to the driving music. ”Returning to Ash” not only features Michelle Gaw, but it also contains the backing vocals of Elizabeth Bullock who helps to add some harmony to the track. The resulting track would fit on today’s radio formats but also contains enough of a retro feel that it would have felt right at home on AM radio back in the seventies.

As some of the music from Michelle Gaw contains a generous amount of Jazz influence, there seems to be a slight crossover possibility to some of the tracks on the self-titled release from Mimi Arden. “Vines” is one track that would feel right at home on an Adult Contemporary radio format just as easily as it would fit on a Smooth Jazz format. The laidback approach to the music and the jazzy feel to Gaw’s vocals are the main reasons for that. The musical approach seems to bring to mind the lighter songs from the band The Lovin Spoonful, which also means that there is a slight retro feel to the track.

With the track “Love All the Time,” Michelle Gaw and the rest of Mimi Arden once again create a track that features a strong Soul feel to the music. And with the track’s lyrical content about trying to find a way to live together, the track brings to mind something from the late sixties/early seventies. In fact, the track’s lyrics seem to contain the spirit of Marvin Gaye as they have the same type of message that would have been present in Gaye’s music. In fact, the title itself is rather reminiscent of something from the late singer-songwriter.

One of the tracks on the self-titled album from Mimi Arden that stands out because of its unique feel is the track “Rabbit Hole”. Just like the song “Love All the Time,” “Rabbit Hole” feels as if it would have come from an earlier time. The lyrical content of the track feels more like poetry than simple song lyrics. And with the guitar playing from Raymond Flanagan, the track’s music seems to contain a slightly psychedelic feel to it. The track would once again feel right at home on radio back in the seventies.

Before actually putting out the band’s self-titled album, Mimi Arden gave their fanbase a taste of what was to come. The track “Dandelions” once again finds the ensemble creating a track that combines a light Rock and Roll feel with a slight Jazz background to it. The track contains a lyrical content that finds Michelle Gaw singing about finding the right person to help her see the bright side of life instead of the darker side. Having released the song “Dandelions” before the rest of the release, the lead-off track now feels right at home in the midst of the other tracks that make up the album.

The self-titled album from Mimi Arden is a release that stays in a rather laidback and relaxed mood throughout the ten tracks that make up the album. Michelle Gaw and the rest of the band seem to work well together to create a track that would be perfect for those times when you simply want to put on some music an relax.

 

To listen to the music from Mimi Arden, check out the first single from the band’s self-titled album entitled “Dandelions“. 

To check out the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, click on the album cover below:

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Featured Review Rock History

Exit Stencil Recordings Re-releases Two Albums from Cleveland, Ohio’s The Damnation of Adam Blessing

Any mid-sized city or larger has their share of bands that have left a mark on that area’s music scene. And Cleveland, Ohio is one such city that has had its share of really good bands. And while there are some bands within the city’s music scene today that are making a lot of noise, there will always be those bands that are talked about long after they’re gone. One band that left its mark on the music scene so strongly that people remember them today is the band The Damnation of Adam Blessing.

Having taken their name from a book of fiction written by Vin Packer with the same name, the Cleveland-based Hard Rock band The Damnation of Adam Blessing ended up being grouped together with bands like Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper and other bands that are now classified as Classic Rock. And just like both Tull and Cooper, the moniker of The Damnation of Adam Blessing would later be considered the name of the lead singer, a role that the band’s singer, Bill Constable, would gladly take up.

And as Adam Blessing, Constable would lead the band through its historic time as a group. Along with Bill Constable on lead vocals, the rest of the band consisted of Bob Kalamasz – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals; Jim Quinn – Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Electric Pillow, Backing Vocals; Ray Bench – Bass Guitar; Bill Schwark – Drums and Ken Constable- Backing Vocals.

The Damnation of Adam Blessing is one of those bands that should have been a lot bigger than they were, but have gone on to become bands that people still remember, even long after the initial time of the group had come to an end. Because the band has stayed on the minds of people many years after the band came to an end, there have been several reissues of the group’s music. One of the most memorable reissues was the three CD Box Set put out in 2000 from the Italian Record Label Akarma entitled Damnation to Salvation which included the self-titled release from the band, the second album entitled The Second Damnation, and the third release entitled Which is The Justice, Which is the Thief. A fourth album, Glory, was not included in that reissue. The 3-record version of that box set is currently available on Amazon.com for an asking price of almost $100.00. Thankfully, there is something a lot less expensive now available from Exit Stencil Recordings.

In 2018, Cleveland-based record label Exit Stencil Recordings is bringing the music from The Damnation of Adam Blessing back into existence. Available soon will be the1969 Self-Titled album and the 1970 release called The Second Damnation. The vinyl LP reissues will be just like the original issues that were released nearly fifty years ago.

It was with the first album that people got to know The Damnation of Adam Blessing. Right from the first track of “Cookbook,” the band’s self-titled release gives the listener a glimpse into the musical style of the late sixties/early seventies. The album contains such classic tracks such as: “Morning Dew,” a track that helped put the band on the map, musically. The release also contains the song that really brings the feel of that era to life, “Strings and Things”.  One of the more unusual tracks on the album is the band’s classic interpretation of the song “Last Train to Clarksville”. While people are used to the version of the song by The Monkees, The Damnation of Adam Blessing gives the track more of Rhythm & Blues approach to the music. While that version did come after The Monkees, there is no way you can call it a cover as the band put their own spin on it. The album also comes with many other classic tracks.

After the release and success of the self-titled album, The Damnation of Adam Blessing returned with their second album. The band’s second release, entitled The Second Damnation, finds the band creating an album that lives up to the first album. And while the magic of the first album does appear on the band’s second release, The Damnation of Adam Blessing (called simply “Damnation” on this release) incorporated some of the psychedelic influence that was happening at the time into their music. Maybe it was just a natural progression of the band’s sound.  And while there is some of that psychedelic feel to the music, the band does not go overboard with that influence. The Second Damnation includes songs such as “Back to the River,” “Ba-Dup” and “Money Tree” as well as many other classic tracks from the band. 

To go along with the reissues, both of the albums from The Damnation of Adam Blessing now come complete with liner notes describing the band and its music. For those fans of the band that have been waiting for a solid reissue of the music of the band, now is the time to get in line as the record label Exit Stencil Recordings is now taking orders for the reissues that will be released in the near future. Complete details on the reissues can be found on the record label’s website.  If you are new to the music of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, this is the time to become acquainted with the band.

Together, first two albums from The Damnation of Adam Blessing stand as strong as or stronger today as anything that was released on major record labels at the time. And while many bands that were mainly “local heroes” seem to fade away after a while, this group’s legend is as strong today as it’s ever been. Because of that, the label Exit Stencil Recordings will shortly be re-releasing the self-titled release AND The Second Damnation from The Damnation of Adam Blessing. In only a matter of days, the two albums will be available on the label’s website. Stay tuned to the label’s website as well as the band’s Facebook page to stay updated.

To discover (or rediscover, depending) the music of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, check out the first three songs from the band’s 1969 self-titled release.

   

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Mickey Hart “RAMU”

When I saw that former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart had created a new album, something drew me to the album. I don’t know what it was, but I was curious about the release. Having heard a few of the preview tracks from the release before actually finding the entire album, I was drawn it and I had to search it out. And I am glad I did because the twelve tracks that make up RAMU from Mickey Hart create one hell of an album.

Mickey Hart brings together a group of talented musicians that help to create the album. Along with Hart, the musicians contributing to RAMU feature Zakir Hussain on tabla, bassist Oteil Burbridge, talking drum master Sikiru Adepoju, guitarist Steve Kimock, multi-instrumentalist Charles Lloyd, and Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident. Along with these artists the rest of the personnel on the album features Avey Tare from Animal Collective, and Tank from Tank and the Bangas as guest vocalists. To bring the entire project together, RAMU was co-produced by Michal Menert, formerly of Pretty Lights. Because of this rather impressive cast of individuals, RAMU ends up being an enjoyable listening experience.

For his 2017 album of RAMU (which stands for The Random Access Musical Universe), Mickey Hart created each of the tracks on the album using, as he put it, Pythagorean mono-chord, a series of chords tuned in order to create healing. Each track has the same basic flow and therefore the tracks segue into each other rather well. That helps to make the RAMU album one of the most solid and unified albums released within the year 2017.

The RAMU album from Mickey Hart begins with the track “Auctioneers”. The first thing that the listener will notice is the use of the “RAMU” that helps to add a whole lot of random sound bites into the track. Those sound bites are so random and unique that they combine to create a patchwork of noise that will make your ears tingle as you try to decipher each and every noise, word and musical note that all blend together. That patchwork of noise sits on top of a musical blend of Jazz, Folk and Blues(?) as well as African-inspired percussive effects that is just as strange and unusual as the patchwork of noise. Together, each and every musical and non-musical sound comes together to create a track that will intrigue you as much as it will bewilder you. “Auctioneers” is by far one of the most unusual (and unique) tracks created in 2017 by any recording artist. Prove me wrong!

After the head-spinning track of “Auctioneers” comes to an end, the RAMU release from Mickey Hart continues with the track “Wayward Son”. Where “Auctioneers” is bewildering, “Wayward Son” is quite the opposite. The track is one of the most commercial-sounding recordings on the new album from Mickey Hart. The track blends together Rock and Roll, Jazz and a little Folk music to create a track that contains a slow pace to the music but also contains a rather infectious melody that lasts throughout the entire length of the four-minute playtime. To help bring the track to life, Mickey Hart and the rest of the album musicians are joined by vocalist Avey Tare of Animal Collective. Tare’s vocals help to add a certain amount of psychedelic feeling to the track. “Wayward Son” ends up being easily the best track on the album.

RAMU from Mickey Hart segues from one track into the next to keep the feeling of the music flowing. That is precisely what happens between “Wayward Son” and the third track called “Big Bad Wolf”. The segue between the two tracks is made even more unifying with the inclusion of Peter Coyote’s vocals that help to bring words from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Castaneda to life. After that intro by Coyote, the track takes on a most unusual style, especially when compared to the rest of the album. The track features the vocals of Tarriona “Tank” Ball of Tank & the Bangas who adds a solid delivery of Hip Hop vocals to the track. The “Big Bad Wolf” track is rather unusual, even when compared to the rest of the RAMU release.

After spending three tracks creating songs with lyrics, the song “The Lost Coast” finds Mickey Hart and the rest of the musicians on the track creating an instrumental track that contains a rather evident African vibe to the music. Mainly, the African feel of the music comes from the various percussion instruments that blend together in order to create the track. Along with the many percussion instruments included on the track, the song also includes the guitar from Steve Kimock that helps to add some texture to the mainly percussion track.

With how popular the musical style EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has become, it should come as no surprise that Mickey Hart would venture in that direction for his new album of RAMU. On the track “You Remind Me,” Hart and the group of musicians that helped to bring the track to life (Drum: Sikiru Adepoju, Bass Guitar: Oteil Burbridge, Sarangi: Sabir Khan, Sitar: Niladri Kumar and Drums: Jason Hann) combine their talents to create a sound that would easily rival anything that EDM producers are currently creating. In fact, with the inclusion of vocalist Avey Tare and the rather Multi-International feeling to the music, the track takes on the feeling of something that may have been created by the likes of someone like DJ Sammy or Robbie Rivera. “You Remind Me” contains a rather relaxed EDM quality to the music while still having enough of a beat that the listener will find it hard not to want to move to the beat. Like “Wayward Son” from earlier in the release, “You Remind Me” is one of the standout tracks on the RAMU release from Mickey Hart.

Having made a name for himself as part of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members The Grateful Dead, it should come as no surprise that Mickey Hart would eventually pay homage to one of the most important parts of the band, Jerry Garcia. On Hart’s song “Jerry,” he created an instrumental track that features some rather psychedelic elements. The song ends up being part Rock and Roll and part Jazz. The electronic flute in the track and sound bites that swirl throughout the track add a certain amount of sixties flavor to the song. If the song had been a lot longer and more free-flowing than the three-and-a-half minute playtime that it contains, that would have made the track even more Dead-like. However, because it contains only a rather short playtime, the track ends up being a short tribute to the leader of one of the most popular bands of all time.

Throughout the twelve tracks that make up Mickey Hart’s new release of RAMU, he and his band of musicians blend a lot of different musical elements to create a release that changes directions from one track to the next. As the songs change so do the influences used to help shape the music. And while the tracks all have a style of their own, Mickey Hart’s use of his Pythagorean mono-chord gives the album a solid foundation that makes the album feel unified in its musical direction.

To hear the music of Mickey Hart, check out the song “Wayward Son“. 

For more information, check out Mickey Hart’s PR Firm Grandstand Media.

To purchase a copy of Mickey Hart’s RAMU release, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Roadcase Royale “First Things First”

Nancy Wilson & Liv WarfieldOne member of the late, great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Prince’s band the New Power Generation, Liv Warfield has joined up with former Heart founder (and Rock Hall member herself) Nancy Wilson to create the base for a new musical project. The new project the two women are part of is called Roadcase Royale. What happens when you take singers from two of the most popular Rock and Roll bands from the past and create a band around them? You end up with nothing less than a powerhouse band that will give today’s musicians a run for their money.

Along with Warfield and Wilson, various members of both the New Power Generation and Heart help to bring this new Supergroup of Roadcase Royale to life. The complete list of musicians that make up Roadcase Royale includes: Ryan Waters (lead guitarist) along with Heart members Chris Joyner (keys), Dan Rothchild (bass), and Ben Smith (drums). With both of the former bands being as strong as they had been, it should come as no surprise that this new ensemble truly ROCKS!

Roadcase Royale is currently promoting their new album released on September 22, 2017. The new album from Roadcase Royale is entitled First Things First.

First Things First from Roadcase Royale begins with one of the strongest tracks, “Get Loud”. The track begins with a very strong guitar riff from Ryan Waters that leads into a Rock and Roll track that contains a Soul influence. Liv Warfield adds her vocals to the track and gives the song even more of a Soul feel. The track’s lyrics take the listener back in time as they contain a definite message about standing up and making your voice heard. The track has a driving feel to the music that is both retro with a seventies feel and modern at the same time. That strong musical combination will have the listener bopping along to the song. “Get Loud” is nothing less than an anthem waiting to be heard.

With today’s political scene being what it is and with the way many people are unhappy about the situation in the country, it should come as no surprise that the band Roadcase Royale included one song on their release that is more than just a little politically charged. On the track “Not Giving Up,” Liv Warfield, Nancy Wilson and the rest of the band create a song about the current sitting president and having to deal with decisions made by him and his regime. The Blues-influenced track once again finds the band creating a song with an unrelenting feel to the music. The strength in the driving music created by the band adds plenty of energy to the lyrics of the song.

Even though much of the album contains its own sound, the track “Hold On To My Hand” brings back the feel of the music from the band Heart. In fact, the Heart-inspired track feels as if it would have been right at home with any of the tracks that had made up the discography of the group. Of course, that would have a lot to do with the fact that most of Roadcase Royale is made up of members of that band. “Hold On To My Hand” begins with a keyboard sound that brings to mind something that could have come from the band Steppenwolf. Before long, the band launches into the Rock and Roll track that contains a gentle pace to the music but with a strong, rockin’ delivery. Like “Get Loud” earlier on, “Hold On To My Hand” is one track on First Things First that needs to be heard.

Most of the songs on First Things First have a modern feel to their music, the track of “The Dragon” sort of stands out when compared to the rest of the songs. The music on the track seems slightly dated as the song’s music contains a slightly psychedelic feel to the music. In fact, that psychedelic feel brings to mind the music of the band Jefferson Airplane; especially music of Jefferson Airplane from back in the seventies. Although there is that psychedelic flavor, the track would still feel right at home on today’s radio stations.

The new album from Roadcase Royale contains mainly original material. However, the band did include one cover on the album: “These Dreams”. But since most of the musicians in Roadcase Royale came from Heart and “These Dreams” was and still is a song from Heart, maybe it’s more of a reimagining than a cover. And while it is a reimagining of the song, one thing that does remain the same is that Nancy Wilson handles the vocals. And with this track, the listener can tell that she has not lost any magic in her vocal abilities. The track’s new arrangement stays true to the original recording, yet still feels very fresh. These Dreams is yet another track on the new First Things First release that will immediately catch your attention.

In every genre of music, you will end up losing talented musicians or bands or both. The thing is to find other talented individuals to fill that void. And while both Prince and the band known as Heart are no longer around, the void left behind from the loss of those entities has been filled rather nicely by the very same people who had a hand in creating the songs made famous by those artists. Nancy Wilson, Liv Warfield and their bandmates have created a new band in Roadcase Royale that is easily as solid as what the two musicians had come out of. Having already made musical history once, Wilson and Warfield are doing it again with Roadcase Royale and their new release entitled First Things First.

Check out the powerhouse band Roadcase Royale and their single “Get Loud” by clicking on the link.

For more information, check out band’s record label, Loud and Proud Records and their PR firm, 37-Media. A “Shout Out” also goes to Dreamscape Records who also suggested this particular release for review.

To purchase a copy of First Things First from Roadcase Royale, click on the album cover below:

RoadCase-Royale_cover-900pixels-300dpi-220x220

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Kavanaghs “Need a Pity Day EP”

Argentinean band The Kavanaghs has come a long way from their humble beginnings as an Argentinean Beatles cover band. Ever since they started out playing the music of The Fab Four and other groups from that time period, The Kavanaghs have continually shaped their sound to include more and more bands and styles of today so that their current style sounds more like Badfinger and British bands from the late ‘90s into today such as Coldplay, Oasis and U2. Their current sound can be found on their 2011 release Love Conquers Pain. The band is currently promoting that album and has since released several songs from that album as singles; the latest of which is “Need a Pity Day”.

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Reviews and Suggestions

Muddy Miles bring us ‘Another Headache’.

Muddy MilesMuddy Miles are a band who moved to Bristol in the UK a short while ago and have been making a firm mark in the music scene for some while. They have been filling their time by working on their first album during the last year whilst gigging locally and nationally and gaining plenty of support and recognition.