Categories
Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: David Alpha “Chameleon Wheelhouse” The Extended Version

A lot of solo artists don’t actually start off as a solo act. They start off playing with a band and go their own way after that band falls apart for whatever reason. That is just the case for Tampa-based recording artist David Alpha who had spent time with the band The Fons (pronounced “Phones”) before that band fell apart. And once that band disintegrated, Alpha decided to give it a try on his own. Currently, he is in the middle of creating a new solo release. But until that album comes out, he is promoting a few of the tracks from the release as a new EP. The new EP from David Alpha is entitled Chameleon Wheelhouse. And when creating this particular release, there are two versions to choose from- the original two-track release, or the Expanded version that contains four tracks. What follows is a description of the four-song Expanded Version of the EP.  

The new Chameleon Wheelhouse EP from David Alpha begins with the double-song track “Light the Rockets/Hungry Ghosts”. “Light the Rockets” finds Alpha creating a track that features a strong Rock and Roll feel to the music. The musical blend combines several different styles from the likes of seventies-era David Bowie and/or Marc Bolan of T-Rex. Needless-to-say, the style of music of the first half of the track would fit right into the music genre known as Glam Rock. When the first half of the track comes to an end, “Light the Rockets,” the second half, begins. With this half of the track, Alpha changes the style completely as he moves the music to an acoustic setting. In fact, “Light the Rockets” would have been right at home on radio back in the nineties amidst the “unplugged” craze at that time. While the track’s six-minute timing is slightly long, that time is split between the two different styles of music which is like Alpha having recorded two three-minute songs.

With the next track, David Alpha releases a song that contains a strong Rock and Roll feel to the music. The track “Universalon” finds Alpha singing about his disdain about the whole state of Christianity in America. The lyrics of the song sing about how the religion is less about the values on which it was created and more about the material side of life that seems to have crept into the religion here over the years. The straight-out Rock and Roll music that is contained within the track would easily have been right at home on radio formats back in the eighties. The strong feel of the electric guitars help to create that Rock and Roll feel to the track. While the lyrical content of the track may be slightly controversial, the Rock and Roll approach helps to balance the track out.

The Chameleon Wheelhouse release continues with the track “Wake Up Gloria”. For the first several seconds of the track, David Alpha recites a poem in a manner that brings to mind the style of the beatniks from back in the fifties and sixties. Eventually, the track turns musical. When the music does appear, it is simply one guitar and Alpha’s vocals. The first few seconds of the music to “Wake Up Gloria” from David Alpha take on a musical approach that is reminiscent of the song “G-L-O-R-I-A” from the band THEM. Soon, though, the acoustic music of the track takes its own direction. But that direction finds Alpha seemingly drawing once again from the influence of the music from Marc Bolan/T-Rex. Moreover, because of the single guitar and vocals that make up the majority of the track, the feel of the song actually brings to mind the duo version of the band that was formed under the moniker of Tyrannosaurus Rex before the band’s moniker was shortened. While the majority of the track features only a single guitar, a second one is brought in late in the track to help add texture to the music.

David Alpha’s current EP called Chameleon Wheelhouse concludes with the song “Me or Him”. With this track, Alpha creates a track that feels like a vignette taken right out of movie. And with the lyrics of “He looks down like a punk in a wasteland,” you can almost envision a scene out of Mad Max or another post-apocalyptic movie. “Me or Him” contains a certain amount of darkness to the lyrics but that only adds to the power of the music. To go along with the visual of the story, the music creates one of the strongest Rock and Roll songs of the four tracks that make up the EP. The Rock and Roll on the track revolves around a strong guitar and a driving beat. There are also other guitars that seem to swirl around the listener. The added guitar effects help to add depth to the track. With all of the various elements in the song, the track brings to mind something that could have been created by Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and the rest of the band called The Cult. This song is easily the best song on the EP.

The new Chameleon Wheelhouse Extended EP from David Alpha is a short release. But the four tracks that are contained within it have a nice variety to them. With the various elements, influences and musical directions that are present, the artist certainly does a good job of whetting our whistle for when the entire album is finished and available.

David Alpha is still in the midst of creating the upcoming release. Because of that, very little is available online as far as videos are concerned. To experience some of the music from the Chameleon Wheelhouse Extended EP from David Alpha, check out the track “Me or Him” from the bandcamp site for the release. 

To find the Chameleon Wheelhouse Extended EP from David Alpha, click on the album cover below: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out David Alpha’s PR Firm, Whiplash PR. Click on the logo below to visit their site. 

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.

It was back in 1981 that Mike Peters and the rest of the band formed the band called The Alarm. That band came to be after the previous group called The Toilets came to an end. With The Toilets, the music was more Punk-based. That sound and style changed with the founding of the band called The Alarm.

As a band, The Alarm combined some New Wave elements and Rock and Roll elements to form the basis of the band’s sound. What resulted is a sound that is rather similar in some ways to the styles of bands like INXS or U2. During the time the band was together, they enjoyed a certain amount of popularity, although that popularity never quite hit here in the states. However, for those who know the band, The Alarm is known for such songs as “Rain in the Summertime,” “Spirit of ’76,” “Rescue Me,” and the song that made the most noise for the band, “Sixty Eight Guns“. 

Throughout the history of the band, The Alarm had three separate time periods, taking a few years off here and there. The last time the band had been together was back in 2010. The band took some time off until lead singer Mike Peters regained the desire to perform with his band mates after spending some time as the frontman of the Scottish band Big Country where Peters filled in for deceased guitarist and lead singer Stuart Adamson who took his own life back in 2001. As the fill-in for Adamson, Mike Peters gained a desire to put his own band back together again and the band of The Alarm reunited and have since released several new albums of music.

In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals.

Equals from The Alarm begins with the song “Two Rivers”. With this track, the band finds itself going back to the early days of its existence as the music in this song is a combination of both New Wave and Alternative. The track begins with a sound that would have been right at home on radio back in the eighties during the original phase of New Wave music. The keyboards on the track bring to mind the early days of bands like OMD or Depeche Mode. The New Wave feel is soon joined up by an musical influence that brings to mind the early days of Alternative Rock. The two styles combine in this track to create a track that truly feels more commercial than either of the styles on their own. The lyrics to “Two Rivers” deal with two people who have gone their separate ways because of a disagreement. Mike Peters sings of hoping that the two people will get back together where the “two rivers meet” so that they can work things out. The track “Two Rivers” feels very welcome in a time of strong uncertainty in the world.

It is with the first single off of the release that the Equals album from The Alarm continues. That song is entitled “Beautiful”. While much of the band’s earlier music contained a New Wave flavor to it, this track seems to find the band firmly embracing the feel of Alternative Rock. As a matter of fact, the song not only contains and Alternative feel, the track’s sound brings to mind some of the heavier work from the band U2. And while there is a certain amount of U2 influence to the music of the track, “Beautiful” contains a driving feel to the music that gives the song more of a Rock and Roll feel to the music than Pop-rock feel that is usually found on that other band’s music. “Beautiful” has a strong musical approach that would fit right in on any Top 40 radio format.

With the next track, Mike Peters and company create a track with the help of British musician and lead guitarist of the band The Cult, Billy Duffy. The track “Coming Backwards” takes the band’s music in a slightly retro feel. The resulting track features a sound that brings to mind the Power Rock music from the eighties. In fact, “Coming Backwards” would easily have fit on radio back in the eighties. For today’s music scene, the track has enough of a current feel to it that the track comes across as timeless. The lyrics to “Coming Backwards” deal with doing the same thing over and over again. The track ends up being one of the stronger tracks on the release.

The song “Transatlantic” features a sound that makes use of musical influences found back in the nineties. The track’s Rock and Roll approach combines the feel of the band U2 with that of earlier music from The Alarm. The musical blend on the track would fit right in with musical from either band. The track deals with someone in a long distance relationship. The lyrics deal with the singer missing someone on the other side of the world. This track is perfect for anyone who is currently missing someone who is far away from them.

Taking the music in a slightly different direction, the song “Thirteen Dead Reindeer” features an Alternative Rock feel with plenty of electronica influence thrown in. The result is a song that that has a strong beat to it as well as a driving feel to the pace of the music. The track’s sound falls somewhere between modern and slightly retro. The lyrics to the track deal with the senseless killing of animals and the fallout that happens afterward.

For two tracks on the band’s newest album, The Alarm create songs that deal with conflict. With the song “Neutral,” Mike Peters sings about not wanting to get involved with other people’s problems. At the same time, the track “Cenotaph” (a word that describes an empty tomb) deals with getting ready for the war that is about to start. With the way the world is right now, the two tracks seem to be speaking volumes about the current political atmosphere.

One of the more unusual tracks (for both the album and the band itself), “Hell Fire” is a track that truly separates itself from the rest of the album. The track contains a style of Rock and Roll and a lyrical content that combine to create track that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would be proud of. In fact, the track’s Nine Inch Nails sound only helps to point out that Mike Peters’ writing has been shaped by many different influences.

Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

The Alarm is currently promoting their new album called Equals. To help promote the new album, the band has released the song “Beautiful”. Click HERE to check out the video to “Beautiful”.

To check out the newest album from The Alarm called Equals, click on the album cover below: 

 

 

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Nuthin’ Muffin “Ugly in Pink”

It’s been quite a few years since anyone has heard from singer/songwriter Drew Ross. It was back in 2012 that the talented individual had released his one and only album. Back then, Ross had put out a double CD recording entitled Rocket Science.

Rocket Science was a strange type of album that had two parts to it. One CD of the release contained solo recordings of Drew Ross’ own compositions that contained only Ross’ voice and one single guitar. These acoustic recordings would later be used by a British musical duo who calls themselves EcoPunk. Working together with Drew Ross, the Brighton, England-based writing team would take his simple acoustic recordings and flesh them out by add their style of music to Ross’ compositions. With the two CDs showing off the two different phases of music composing (the initial creation phase and then the collaboration phase), the 2-CD Rocket Science release became one of the most interesting albums I reviewed back then.

After the release and subsequent success of Rocket Science, Drew Ross continued with the idea of collaborating with others to create other interpretations of his songs. And while some of those resulting interpretations were very good, no further album releases would surface and Rocket Science would remain Drew Ross’ one and only release. But then, that changed.

It was with a dramatic change of direction that Drew Ross found his next musical project. It was with his wife Anna that Drew Ross created the project Nuthin’ Muffin.

Nuthin’ Muffin is a musical project where every song was created by the Rosses. And every track created was a cover tune. In fact, the resulting album entitled Ugly in Pink consists entirely of songs from the 1980s. And while the two artists could have created an album of nothing but Top 10 classics from that era, they went in a much more interesting direction by mixing well-known hits from famous artists with lesser-known hits from not-so-famous artists. Heck, even the album title is a not-so-subtle homage to songs from the eighties. That album title is Ugly in Pink.

Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin begins with one of the lesser-known tracks. The lead-off song is “The Breakup Song” (better known by the title of “They Don’t Write ‘em Like That Anymore”. While “The Breakup Song” may not be instantly recognizable to all Rock and Roll lovers, the band did have another hit later on called “Jeopardy”. For the track, Nuthin’ Muffin creates a straight-out cover version that sounds very much like the original. What the Nuthin’ Muffin version lacks in originality it makes up for in promotion as the new version helps to reestablish the song in people’s memories.

While “The Breakup Song” is one of the lesser-known songs on Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, the next track ends up being perhaps the easiest to recognize. The second track of the album is “Talking in Your Sleep” by The Romantics. Other tracks like “Love Stinks” by The J. Geils Band, “I’ll Fall In Love Again” from Sammy Hagar and “Dancing with Myself” from Generation X (a band that featured Billy Idol) all give the listener solid versions of tunes that listeners to FM radio would be familiar with.

The more interesting moments on Ugly in Pink belong to songs that, like the aforementioned “The Breakup Song,” aren’t overly familiar. Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips like Sugar,” “New Girl Now” from Honeymoon Suite and even “She Sells Sanctuary” from The Cult adds that element of surprise to those music lovers looking for something different.

Taking a listen to Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, the arrangements of the tunes aren’t really all that amazing. As a matter of fact, what the album feels like is a well done album of tunes from your better-than-average cover band. What truly makes the release is the unusual mix of tunes. In-between the straight-out hits are songs you get to discover, or discover all over again.

The most important thing about Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin is that the album allows Drew Ross to get his name out there once again during the time that he works on his next album of all-original material. If you are a fan of music from the eighties, the new release from Drew and Anna Ross is well-worth the time to listen to it.

To learn about Drew Ross’ Rocket Science album, click HERE.

To check out the music of Ugly in Pink from Nuthin’ Muffin, click on the album cover below:

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heaven and Earth “Dig”

Back in 1997, guitarist Stuart Smith got together with a rather large group of musicians to record an album of Classic Rock music. Together, this group of musicians (which included the likes of Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora, Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes and even Steve Priest of the band Sweet) created several different musical formations of the same band which came to be known as Heaven & Earth. Some of the participating musicians in the recording project lent their talents to only one or two of the resulting tracks, while others (including bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Richie Onori and keyboard player Arlan Schierbaum) were a bigger part of the recording process as they lent their talents to several of those tracks.

After the self-titled album from Heaven & Earth was released, the band later added to that album and the resulting 2004 re-release easily stands as strong as any Classic Rock/Hard Rock release from The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin or even Steve Priest’s band Sweet. It’s the talent of the musicians and the strength of the music that you notice; you would never know the album took seven years to become a reality.

Now, almost a decade after that first album was released, Heaven & Earth have returned. While that first album had its unique circumstances with how it was created and by whom, this new release, entitled Dig, has been written and performed by five main musicians who finally feel like a band. The quintet that brought Dig to life consists of: Guitarist Stuart Smith, bassist Chuck Wright, drummer Richie Onori and keyboard player Arlan Schierbaum, all of whom participated in the recording process that led to that first album. The final piece is newcomer Joe Retta who adds both vocals and lyrics to the songs.

Categories
Features

Nothing Says ‘Love’ Like a Band Reunion

Nothing makes you wish you could win the lottery, or unexpectedly come into money some other way, like one of your favourite bands reuniting for a show. One of the ones you thought you’d perhaps never get to see live, or never again if you’d already seen them.

There is certainly a benefit of a band reuniting without putting out a new (often disappointing) release. No questioning whether or not to go to the show, worried you’ll have to endure a bunch of shitty new songs in order to hear a few of your old favourites. In addition, there are the likes of Billy Corgan  – expecting fans to be so devoted they won’t ask for the old songs that changed their lives, and reprimanding them when they do. It doesn’t seem like a fair approach somehow, even if the artist cringes at the angsty, earlier chapter of their career.