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: Straight Six “Full Circle”

As time goes by, it seems that less and less people are focusing on making real, straight-out Rock and Roll. However, there are those out there that are focused on keeping the style alive. No matter how far and wide you need to look, you can find real Rock and Roll if you look hard enough. One particular band out there right now making now short of real Rock and Roll is the band Straight Six.

Straight Six is a quartet that came together after bassist Glen Drieth had attempted to form a band. When that version of the band did not work out, a new and different line-up was put together and the result is the quartet of musicians who call themselves Straight Six. Along with Glen Drieth on bass, the rest of the group consists of Jay Quintana on vocals, Eric Schaudies on guitar and Joey Shapiro on drums. This band is a supergroup of sorts as Glen Drieth, Jay Quintana and Joey Shapiro also appear in other bands when not providing their time and talents to Straight Six; Quintana can be found in Death Bed Confession while Shapiro can be found in XYZ and Glen Drieth also appears with the Chris Cagle Band. Together with Eric Schaudies on guitar, the resulting quartet creates some of the hardest hitting Rock and Roll out there today.

Together, bassist Glen Drieth, Jay Quintana on vocals, Eric Schaudies on guitar and Joey Shapiro on drums create the band Straight Six, whose Rock and Roll lives up to many of the hard rocking bands who had existed in the seventies and eighties when straight-out Rock and Roll was at its strongest and hardest. And right now, Straight Six celebrating the release of a brand new ten-song album entitled Full Circle.

Full Circle from Straight Six begins with the track “Aimed at Me”. The track starts off strong as continues that way as the music contains a driving feel to the Rock And Roll music. The music itself is somewhere between straight-out Rock and Roll and Hard Rock. And with the vocals from Jay Quintana containing a slight feel reminiscent of Bon Scott and/or Brian Johnson of Hard Rock. The feel of the music and the feel of the vocals ensure that what the listener experiences is and can only be considered Rock and Roll.

The new album from Straight Six continues with the track “Middle of the Ride”. Where the first track of “Aimed at Me” had a fact, driving pace to the music, “Middle of the Ride” contains a slower, more contained pace. What this track may remind the listener of is music reminiscent of Aerosmith; at least, the sound of Aerosmith from the mid-to-late eighties. You can hear a little bit of that band’s influence from their songs like “Walk like This” in the song “Middle of the Ride”. And while you may hear a little Aerosmith in the band’s music that is all you hear as the band uses Aerosmith as an influence and not one to copy.

For the song “Back Home,” the listener gets a chance to hear Straight Six at its best. This track features strong guitars as well as strong vocals from Jay Quintana. What the listener also experiences with this track is a band that has created a song that easily falls into the Hard Rock genre but does not sound like a band in particular. The unmistakable Hard Rock feel of the track proves that Straight Six is most serious about the music they create. Just like the bands that came before them, they have a sound that is fresh. In fact, “Back Home” could easily be the stand out track of the release.

With the song “Cry All Night,” is one song that takes the listener back in time. If you are of a certain age, you can put “Cry all Night” on and find yourself thinking back to the days of Power Rock. In fact, this track would have felt right at home within that radio format. The sound of the guitars on the track, in particular, is one indicator that this track would be right at home back in the eighties.

While the Full Circle release from Straight Six seems to be a release without much controversy, there is one track on the release that seems to have a statement of sorts. With a feel to the lyrical delivery that would be reminiscent of Punk Rock if the anger was there, the track “Divided We Stand” is a track that sounds very political yet may not actually be. The play with the lyrics has the listener paying closer attention to the track simply to hear the playful delivery of the lyrics. Lyrics like “Divided We Stand, United We Fall” will make you think; especially with how much we have been exposed to the other way of making those statements. 

With the track “What Would I Give,” Straight Six provides the listener with a truly straight-out Rock and Roll musical approach. The track comes complete with a sound that would remind the listener of something from The Black Crowes. The track’s intensity lies somewhere between the band’s rockin’ delivery from something like the track “Remedy” and the more relaxed delivery of “She Talks to Angels”.

As you make your way through the ten tracks that make up Full Circle from Straight Six, you get to experience several different Rock and Roll influences. But no matter how matter styles of Rock and Roll you encounter on this album, it’s all Rock and Roll. With this release, Straight Six shows you just what a Rock and Roll album can sound like. And the most important thing is that there is no track on the album that needs to be skipped. Put the album on and just let it play out. That is something you rarely get today, but you get it here on Full Circle from Straight Six.

For more information, check out the band’s website

To hear the music of Straight Six, check out the song “Aimed at Me“. 

And to hear the entire Full Circle release from Straight Six, click on the album cover below:

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: J.D. Malone & The Experts “Town and Country”

Back about ten years ago, singer-songwriter J.D. Malone had been a part of a successful Philadelphia-based cover band called Steamroller Picnic. Together, Steamroller Picnic had a career that lasted 15 years. Once Steamroller Picnic went their separate ways, J.D. Malone started creating music of his own. Together with the collection of musicians called The Experts, J.D. Malone has started to create a library of original music.

Along with J.D. Malone on guitar and vocals, the rest of The Experts consists of: Avery Coffee – electric guitar and backing vocals; Jim Miades – bass guitar; Tommy Geddes – drums; Nate Gonzalez – keys, accordion; Tom Hampton – lap steel, pedal steel, mandolin, baritone guitar and backing vocals; as well as John Farrell – pedal steel / harmonica, Michael Ronstadt – cello and Jayda Hampton – vocals. Currently, J.D. Malone and The Experts are celebrating the release of their latest EP called Town and Country.

Town and Country from J.D. Malone and The Experts begins with the track “Courage Under Fire”. The track features a Rock and Roll sound that takes the listener back to the style of Rock and Roll found in the eighties. In fact, you can hear a little influence from the likes of Springsteen or Mellencamp in the music. The track has a strong pop-like feel to the music that would make the song perfect for Top 40 radio airplay.

With the next track, Malone delves into a rather political subject. “Unknown Soldier” focuses on what happens when a soldier dies in battle. The track is written from the point of view of the soldier as he lies dying. The lyrics about the wishes of that dying soldier are matched up with music that contains a moderate pace to the tempo and gentleness to the music itself. On “Unknown Soldier,” it becomes evident that there might actually be a running theme going as “Courage Under Fire” and “Unknown Soldier” contain the same sort of lyrical content to the songs. And while the lyrics to “Unknown Soldier” could have been written with more of an emotional attachment to them, Malone makes a point without adding that painful tug of the heart to the song.

With the track of “Light was Born,” J.D. Malone slows the pace down quite a bit. The track features a rather simple musical approach as the main instruments are Malone’s acoustic guitar and Tom Hampton’s accordion. The two instruments create a slow pace and light background as J.D. Malone sings the lyrics about accepting what has happened and just moving on. The addition of Jayda Hampton on a light vocal gives the track a little more texture.

The pace picks up with the release’s title track. “Town and Country” features a sound that is a combination of influences from the likes of Counting Crows and Black Crowes. The resulting slow jam with the Classic Rock influence focuses on the playing of electric guitarist Avery Coffee and organist Nate Gonzalez. Along with that musical mix, the track features lyrics about how the world sees you. “Town and Country” is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

With the track “My Own Paradise,” J.D. Malone and The Experts stay with a Classic Rock in the style of Counting Crows but with a lighter feel to the energy level. The song has one of the catchiest sounds of any of the tracks on the Town and Country release. The simple chorus will encourage people to sing along with the track. “My Own Paradise” is another track on the EP that seems to beg to be heard.

Just as “My Own Paradise” comes to an end after the final few seconds fade into the distance, the beginning of the track “Weight of the World” fades the music back up. When the music finally segues from “My Own Paradise” to “Weight of the World,” the track of “Weight of the World” contains a lot of the same feel as the previous song but with an easier pace. The folk-like feel of the pace to “Weight of the World” continues for about three minutes and then at the three-minute mark, the band creates one of the hardest rocking thirty seconds on the release.

The newest release from J.D. Malone and The Experts comes to a close with the track “Gamma Man”. The track finds the entire band creating a song with a definite jam band feel to the music. “Gamma Man” is one of the hardest rocking tracks on the release and one of the tracks that really stands out.

Town and Country from J.D. Malone and The Experts makes use of several different musical influences in order to bring the release to life. Throughout the seven tracks that make up the EP, the listener will find plenty of variety and that variety is what makes the release so strong.

To hear some of the music of J.D. Malone and the Experts, check out the song “Town and Country“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm of Michael J. Media.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Town and Country from J.D. Malone and the Experts.

Town and Country, J.D Malone and The Experts

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Dan Hubbard s/t

Singer-songwriter Dan Hubbard has been creating music for over a decade now. Since 2003, the Illinois-based musician has gone from being a solo act to being part of a band called the Humadors and then back to being just a solo act. As a matter of fact, it is as a solo act that Dan Hubbard has created his most recent release; an album simply entitled Dan Hubbard.

Dan Hubbard’s self-titled release find the artist taking his music to the next level. The 2015 release by Hubbard was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with the help of producer and 3-time Grammy nominee Ken Coomer, a producer who had previously worked with the likes of people such as Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. As both of these acts create a style to their music that incorporates many different genres into one sound, the partnership between Dan Hubbard and Coomer seemed to be a perfect fit as Hubbard’s music in very much in the same musical vein.

The new release from Dan Hubbard begins with the track “February”. The sound of the track takes on a relaxed pop/rock feeling that seems to feel like something that could have been created by someone like John Mellencamp. While the acoustic guitar from Hubbard is the driving force for the track, Adam Ollendorff’s electric guitar helps to add just a little energy to give the track some substance.

The energy level is raised slightly for the next track of “More I Live, Less I Know”. While the pace of the song remains basically the same as on “February,” the stronger electric guitar presence makes for a much stronger track. The song’s stronger Rock and Roll approach makes for a track that feels as if it would be right at home on Top 40 radio.

For the track “Johnny,” Dan Hubbard lets his inner storyteller out. In much the same way that Jim Croce would have written a track like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “Johnny” from Dan Hubbard creates a song that feels like a story set to music. “Johnny” tells the story of a guy who is doing his best to make it as a musician. The story takes a bad turn as Johnny loses control when he doesn’t succeed as a musician. Like “More I Live, Less I Know,” “Johnny” has a very listener-friendly feel to it. It also turns out to be one of the strongest tracks, musically and energetically, on the newest release from Hubbard.

Another standout track on the album is “And the Music”. With this track, Hubbard seems to recall an earlier time in his life as he sings to a good friend who stood by his side through the good times and bad. The track finds Hubbard delving into a more folk-like approach to his music. The beauty of the music will hit you as you listen to the track. On the track, the gentle feel of the music allows the listener to focus on the playing abilities of Hubbard, guitarist/producer Ken Coomer and even bassist Dave Roe, who stands out on this track because of the sparse feel of the music. The beauty of the music and the slightly sad quality of the lyrics combine to create a rather powerful track.

With the track “All Night, Alright,” Dan Hubbard changes directions with the feel of the music. The track finds Hubbard picking up the energy level while turning back the clock as the song contains a strong Rockabilly flavor to it. And with the party-like approach to the lyrics and that Rockabilly approach to the music, you could say the song feels like a cross between something from Carl Perkins and either “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” from Slade or “Rock And Roll All Night” from Kiss. The two musical directions being forced together create a rather unique track.

Once again, Hubbard slows the pace of the music down on the track “Tired of Loving You”. The anti-love song finds Hubbard creating a duet of sorts with singer Annalise Emerick. Along with the slow pace of the music to life on the track brought to life by the talented musicians on the album, Emerick and Hubbard create a track that could easily rival anything that was created by country singers from the mid-sixties/early seventies. The timeless feel of the track only makes the track that much stronger.

The track “Come Tomorrow” is yet another track on the new release from Dan Hubbard that has a timeless feel to it. The music of the track would feel right at home with anything from the seventies, eighties or even today. The track feels like a cross between The Black Crowes and Counting Crows. “Come Tomorrow” joins “And the Music;” “More I Live, Less I Know” and “Johnny” as a standout track on the release.

While it took four years for Dan Hubbard to release a follow-up to his 2011 album of The Love Show, it was well worth the wait. Hubbard’s 2015 self-titled album starts off strong and keeps going throughout the album’s ten tracks.

To check out the music of Dan Hubbard, click HERE for the track “More I Live, Less I Know”.

Check out Dan Hubbard’s PR firm, Fanatic Promotion.

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

Dan Hubbard | Dan Hubbard  

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.