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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Morning Bird “Lonesome Leaving Sound”

The Morning Bird is a band that is still rather new when compared to other bands in their situation. The reason I say that is because very few bands come together and create as much original material in such a short amount of time as this band seems to have.

Fronted by singer-songwriter Jeremy Taylor, The Morning Bird is a band that combines Rock and Roll, Country, Folk and other genres of music together to create a style of Americana that centers on the softer side of Rock and Roll. Because of that musical blend, the band could easily be grouped together with acts such as Mumford & Sons, Wilco, as well as Jason Isbell. You could even place them alongside Johnny Cash. Along with singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Taylor, the rest of the band consists of: Daniel Rice, guitar and backing vocals; Mark Mazak, bass guitar and vocals; and David Shullenberger on drums.  

Jeremy Taylor and the rest of The Morning Bird have just created a five-song EP to give those who have yet to hear them a glimpse into their musical style. The band’s new EP is entitled Lonesome Leaving Sound.

Lonesome Leaving Sound from The Morning Bird begins with the track “Sober”. Right from the very first note, the Country/Rock blend of the band comes through with the twang from the lead guitar from Daniel Rice. The track features a slow, steady pace to the track and that seems to allow for Jeremy Taylor’s vocals to come through strong. The track features vocals about a person who’s trying to take control of their life…for the umpteenth time. The vocals feature a slightly sad, yet humorous approach as the story plays out. “Sober” ends up reaching over the five-minute mark, but that just comes from the fact that the album version of the track feels much like the track when played live in concert.

With the next track, the Country side to the band’s music that comes through is a little stronger than what was there on the previous track. The song entitled “Tomorrow” contains a musical mix that is still part Rock and Roll and part Country, but the Country influence wins out this time. What results is a slow, driving pace to the easy feeling of the music. The track’s lyrics are about heading out on one’s own in search of wide open spaces where you can stretch out and relax. The song takes the band’s music back in time to the seventies or thereabouts. “Tomorrow” from Morning Bird would have fit right in with Conway Twitty, Glenn Campbell, John Denver and would have been right at home among songs like “Falling In and Out of Love” from Pure Prairie League or “Take it Easy” from The Eagles.

The Morning Bird pick up the energy level on the next track called “Sweet Wine”. While the first two tracks on the EP feature a blend of music that contained a good deal of Country influence, the track of “Sweet Wine” finds Jeremy Taylor, Daniel Rice, Mark Mazak and David Shullenberger creating a track with a much stronger Rock and Roll influence. The Rock and Roll influence on the track is also accompanied by a good amount of Folk influence. The Folk influence on “Sweet Wine” keeps the feel of the song on the soft side. However, no matter how much Folk influence there is in the song, this track is easily the strongest song on the release and perhaps the most commercial as well. You could easily imagine this track on any Top 40 or Adult Contemporary radio format.

For the next track, The Morning Bird takes their music back in time yet again. But with this track, the music style goes back to the nineties. It is on the track “Underneath” that the band embraces the style of the music from that decade. The easy feel to the music, mixed with strong electric guitars, brings to mind the music of bands like The Counting Crows, Sister Hazel, and most specifically, Toad the Wet Sprocket. In fact, you can hear quite a bit of influence from Toad the Wet Sprocket on this track. “Underneath,” much like “Sweet Wine” before it, features a style that would be perfect for radio play; especially if the track was played among the previously-mentioned bands. And as the lyrics deal with seeing only what you want to see and not what needs to be seen, those lyrics create a track that feels very personal and relatable.

The final track to the Lonesome Leaving Sound EP is the song “Swinging”. Much like the track “Sober,” The Morning Bird creates a track with a definite Country twang to it. In fact, with the lyrics about being betrayed by a woman easily puts the song squarely into the Country genre, especially if you place the song among the hit singles of the late seventies, early eighties when much of the genre’s music dealt with pain and hardship. This track would have fit right in with music from that time.   

The adage of “Leave them wanting more” is true. And many people take those words to heart. The Morning Bird is one band that truly believes in that saying. The band has been known to be able to perform about ninety minutes of original music at one time without repeating themselves. So they could easily have created an entire album of music. Instead, they provide the listener with only a small segment of sounds they have created on their five-song release entitled Lonesome Leaving Sound. There is plenty more to come from The Morning Bird, as they have not included tracks like “Maryanne” and “Suitcase,” two of the band’s strongest songs, on this EP. However, the Lonesome Leaving Sound EP is definitely a good place to start if you have yet to be introduced to the band. 

 

Check out a live performance of “Sweet Wine” from The Morning Bird’s Jeremy Taylor and Daniel Rice live at The Brothers Lounge in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

To check out entire Lonesome Leaving Sound EP from The Morning Bird on spotify, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Ray Flanagan and the Authorities S/T

Sometimes a person gets the bug to become a musician by following others who make music their livelihoods. Such is the case with Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Ray Flanagan. It was partially because of another Clevelander named Roger Hoover that Flanagan is the musician he is today.

While the years have passed since Ray Flanagan was learning how to create a sound that people would enjoy, Flanagan has since created an entire library of original music available on several albums. The latest album release from Flanagan was released with a band called the Authorities, a band that, aside from Ray Flanagan himself on guitar and vocals, includes: David Alan Shaw on guitar, some auxiliary instrumentation; Russell Flanagan on keys; Joe Botta – bass; and Dragon Phoenix on drums, percussion.

Together, Ray Flanagan & the Authorities spent several months in residence at a Cleveland, Ohio music venue called The Happy Dog. During that time, songs were created and then recorded, with the entire project being produced with the help of the band’s lead guitarist, David Alan Shaw. Eventually, enough songs from that residency were compiled to create a new EP. That seven-song self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities was just celebrated at a CD Release party for the EP.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities begins with the track “Morning Light”. The track features a Folk-Rock feel to the music with a stress on the Rock side of things. The track’s Folk-Rock sound brings to mind the sound and feel of the sixties/seventies Folk-Rock band known as The Byrds. It is the jangly feel of the piano on the track along with the guitar playing that is somewhat reminiscent of Roger McGuinn that mainly brings the style of The Byrds to mind when the listener checks out the track. With its light, folky delivery, “Morning Light” feels both modern and retro at the same time.

“Morning Light’s” Folk-Rock feel is replaced with a stronger Rock and Roll approach on the next track called “Fun & Phony”. The stronger Rock and Roll approach of the track would place it right in the middle of the Rock and Roll style that was part of the decade of the eighties. The stronger guitar-driven track has a sound and style that brings to mind something from the Scottish Rock band of Big Country. In fact, the “Fun & Phony” track has a sound that will remind fans of the Scottish band of the song “King of Emotion” from the Peace in Our Time album. The overall eighties feel of the track puts the track into a “timeless” category where fans of any style of Rock and Roll will enjoy the track.

As the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities continues, more and more influences come out, which adds to the timeless feel of the Rock and Roll that makes up the seven-song release. “Undercover” is another case where the band creates a track that overflows with influence. The Rock and Roll style of the song takes the track into a slightly more recent musical era. The feel of the music on “Undercover” seems to draw from bands like The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and maybe even Toad the Wet Sprocket.

After several tracks of music that feature an ensemble feel to the songs, Ray Flanagan creates the track “The Year Ahead”. Unlike the previous four songs, “The Year Ahead” comes with a completely different musical approach. Where the other songs feature Flanagan and the rest of The Authorities, “The Year Ahead” is a solo piece featuring only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The resulting Folk feel of the song gives the song an Old Timey feel, making the song feel much older than the rest of the release. But that completely different feel of the song gives the listener another perspective on Flanagan’s writing style.

Staying in that Old Timey mindset of “The Year Ahead,” the next track of “Headed Home” is yet another solo piece on the EP that features only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The slow pace and gentle feel of the song brings to mind someone like James Taylor who has been known for his laidback style on many of his songs. “Headed Home” from Ray Flanagan is very reminiscent of Taylor’s style.

Ray Flanagan returns the EP to a more ensemble feel as the Authorities return on the final track of “Glue”. Along with the band, Flanagan is joined on backing vocals by yet another performer from the Cleveland Music Scene known as Emily Keener. With the rest of the band back for this song and adding Keener’s vocals to the song, “Glue” is one of the more unique tracks on the release. The song features a style that blends several different musical references together, creating a track with a definite Americana feel to it. “Glue” ends up being perhaps the most unique sounding track on the seven-song release from the band.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities comes complete with many different styles through the EP’s seven tracks. And with the fact that the seven songs included on the release were created while the ensemble was “in residence” at Cleveland’s The Happy Dog, it’s easy to see why the EP feels so different from one track to the next. But that variety helps to show off the talents of the various members of the Authorities and Ray Flanagan himself. As a first release for the band as a collective, the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities is a good indicator of what’s to come.    

 

To check out the music from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, check out the song “Fun and Phony” off of the band’s self-titled release.

To check out the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, click on the album cover below: