Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: The Innocent Bystanders “Attractive Nuisance”

Take influences such as the style of Jackie Wilson, the sound of the sax player from Buck-O-Nine, Wild-&-Innocent-era Bruce Springsteen, a little Grace Slick, some Phil Spector influence and blend everything together. What you end up with is the base for a band from San Diego that calls itself The Innocent Bystanders.

The band consists of Steve Berenson – drums & percussion, Jessica LaFave – tenor saxophone, Ben Nieberg – acoustic guitar & lead & background vocals, Kath Rogers – lead & background vocals, Donny Samporna – electric 5-string bass, Steve Semeraro – electric 6 & 12 string guitars & vocal on Working Man’s Daughter and Kaimi Wenger – electric piano & Hammond B3. Together, the band combines various influences to create a sound that is all-inclusive and varied which gives the music an ever-changing feel.

With the size of the ensemble being what it is, it’s easy to understand just how it is that the band’s sound and style could contain that many influences weaving throughout it. The reason for the wide array of influences comes from the fact that the various members of the band come from different time periods, meaning they all grew up in different eras of music. And the musical influences from those time periods seeped into the feel of both the lyrics and music, helping to create a style which can only be described as timeless.

The Innocent Bystanders formed mostly as a live band, to play out in live settings. But recently, the ensemble walked into a recording studio where several songs written earlier in the lives of several of the band members were finally given the respect they deserved. These four songs now form the first EP to come from the band. The release from The Innocent Bystanders is entitled Attractive Nuisance.

Attractive Nuisance from The Innocent Bystanders begins with the track “Gotta Get Outta Here”. As the song begins, you can hear all of the various elements that the band admits to having as influences. The lead-off track begins with the sound of Kaimi Wenger’s Hammond B-3 and other instrumentation that gives a slight hint at a Ska feel to the music before that Ska feeling is swallowed up by other influences that help to create a Rock and Roll feeling to the music. Because of the initial Ska influence, the musical blend on the track helps to create a rather full-bodied feel to the music as various influences all float within the music that makes up “Gotta Get Outta Here”. The track blends together rather obvious musical influences such as Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen & the E. Street Band. And from the very first track of the EP, The Innocent Bystanders prove they have a lot of different influences that make up their music.

The Innocent Bystanders continue their new EP with the track “Highways”. The song begins with a strong bassline from Donny Samporna before the rest of the band joins in on a song that blends together influences from the mid-fifties with more recent influences. The result is a track that has a dual feel at the same exact time: The track contains a definite Retro feel as the fifties influence mixes together with a style that would be more eighties-based. The track of “Highways” features the vocals of Kath Rogers and the saxophone playing from Jessica LaFave who are truly the standout musicians of the band on this track. The song of “Highways” is a quick-moving track that also contains a beat strong enough to get up and dance to.

With the next track, Donny Samporna once again stands out as he begins this track with yet another strong bassline, just like he did for the song “Highways”. The track “Emerald Eyes” features a straight-out Rock and Roll feel to the music. The track revolves around the sound of the piano with the help of Samporna’s bass as well as Jessica LaFave’s saxophone and the vocals from Kath Rogers. Together, the entire ensemble creates a track that, once again, has a sound and style that feels as if it would belong with songs in the eighties.

The four-song EP entitled Attractive Nuisance from The Innocent Bystanders comes to an end with the track “Working Man’s Daughter”. The energy level is brought down quite a bit with a much softer approach to the band’s sound on this track. That being said, The Innocent Bystanders create a track that contains a stronger orchestral feel than previous tracks. The reason for that orchestral influence comes from the combination of both the piano and the organ. The inclusion of the saxophone also gives the track a rather retro feel to it. The result is a song that feels as if it should have been created by the likes of someone like Billy Joel back in the seventies as it has that type of vibe to it; especially given how mellow the feel of the overall track is. For someone looking for the definite feel of AM radio from back in the seventies, “Working Man’s Daughter” is one track that would absolutely fill that desire.

Taking a listen to the four tracks that make up the Attractive Nuisance release from The Innocent Bystanders, it seems only natural that this release came to be the way it did. As the band itself is mainly a cover group making a living playing cover songs in live settings, the band members each bring different musical influences into the group’s musical makeup. That makeup of different influences ultimately helps to shape the songs that have been written at different times by different members in the group. The blend of different writers matched up with band members with different musical backgrounds that are rather varied by the different age ranges makes for a release that could only be this varied by nature. And while there are many elements shaping the band’s songs, those elements still come together to form an EP that is a lot of fun to listen to.

To check out the music from The Innocent Bystanders, check out the official video to the band’s song “Emerald Eyes“.

The band is also currently promoting their version of the song from the band The Zutons called “Valerie,” a song that has recently been covered by the likes of both Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse. 

For more information, check out The Innocent Bystanders’ PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company. 






To purchase a copy of the Attractive Nuisance EP from The Innocent Bystanders, click on the album cover below:





Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Brendan McMahon “Universalist”

A little over a year ago, Brendan McMahon put out his last release, an album entitled Marker 7-58. This release was put out under the moniker of his band Satellite Gods. And while the album contains thirteen tracks, one song that is not included is a track called “Marker 7-58”. One year later, McMahon has included a track by that title in his new release that was put out under his name. Brendan McMahon’s new 5-song release is entitled Universalist.

Brendan McMahon from Brendan McMahon begins with that track entitled “Marker 7-58”. Written as an ode to a park reserve location on a parcel of land near where McMahon recorded his music, the song “Marker 7-58” describes one day in McMahon’s life as he enjoys the view on the top of the hill on the land. McMahon creates a song containing an easy pace to the music that matches the simplistic feel to the song. With the mandolin creating most of the musical sound for the song, the electric guitar on the track adds just a hint of power to the music. The lyrics are matched well with this gentle approach to the music on this track. Whether having been kept off the album that contained the same name was intentional or not, the track “Marker 7-58” is a gentle track that kicks off the Universalist release from Brendan McMahon on a strong note.

Brendan McMahon’s new 5-song EP Universalist continues with the track “Hotel Hemmingway”. The track takes the music of McMahon and picks up the energy level from the easier pace of “Marker 7-58”. The song features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach that is very reminiscent of either Van Morrison or Eric Burdon. In fact, the style of Rock and Roll found on the track “Hotel Hemmingway” would have easily fit right in on Burdon’s I Used to Be an Animal release from 1988.

While Brendan McMahon is Australian by birth, some of his music seems infused with a Celtic influence. In fact, some of his music could easily have been influenced by the rock music that exists in Ireland itself. The song “Fridays in December” is one song that seems to contain a rather large Celtic influence to its music. While not overly noticeable, “Fridays in December” contains a strong Celtic feel that gives the song an international feel that would have felt right at home on commercial Rock radio stations back in the eighties.

The new release from Brendan McMahon is currently being promoted with the single “Mother”. A slow-paced track that is built around the piano, “Mother” features mainly the piano and McMahon’s voice as he sings a love song of sorts to the woman who raised him and helped him become the man he is. With only the sound of the piano to help create the music of the track, the emotion in McMahon’s voice comes out as he sings the lyrics to the song. The minimalistic musical approach also helps to show off his ability as a songwriter.

Brendan McMahon’s latest release comes to an end with the track “Beat”. For the last track of his Universalist release, McMahon picks up the energy level in a big way. For the final track, the inner Rock Star of Brendan McMahon is released as the electric guitar is the main instrument of focus on the track. While the four earlier tracks easily show off the songwriter side of McMahon, “Beat” is the song that really exposes the guitarist in him. While late in the tracking of the EP, the track “Beat” helps to remind the listener that Brendan McMahon can really rock when he wants to.

When comparing Marker 7-58 (Brendan McMahon’s last release while he was using the moniker Satellite Gods) to his new EP of Universalist, the biggest difference that you can see is that the new release seems to make use of McMahon’s singer-songwriter side much more than the last album. The last release felt more like an album while the new release seems more like a collection of tunes, each deserving to be heard. While not altogether sporadic, Universalist feels a lot looser with its musical variety in the styles contained within each of the songs than Marker 7-58 did. While not as solidified as that last release, Universalist is still a solid release as the five songs that are present show off many sides of Brendan McMahon’s songwriter personality.

As very little actual music from the Universalist EP exists on YouTube, check out the preview video for the song “Beat”. Then, check out the track “On My Way” from Brendan McMahon and the rest of the band Satellite Gods.

For more information, check out Brendan McMahon’s PR firm, The RMG Media Group.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of the track “Mother”:Brendan McMahon pic2




Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Satellite Gods “Marker 7-58”

Australian singer-songwriter Brendan McMahon found his calling in his early teenage years as he started to listen to bands like Led Zeppelin, KISS and Black Sabbath and discovered he wanted to make music just like those bands and others. After taking time to develop his craft as a musician while being part of several cover bands, McMahon found his own voice and started creating his own songs. Most recently, McMahon has put together a band of his own called the Satellite Gods. Together with this group of musicians, McMahon has released the band’s second album entitled Marker 7-58.

Marker 7-58 from Satellite Gods begins with the track “Falling to Earth”. “Falling to Earth” brings the listener back to a time when there was still a lot of originality being created in the music industry as the style of Alternative Rock was just starting to develop. The sound produced by Satellite Gods on this track features a Rock and Roll style that brings to mind the style of U2 and other bands from the late eighties/early nineties.

The new release from Satellite Gods continues with the track “Saturday Night in Riga”. The band changes musical directions with this track as they bring a lot of influence from Irish singer/songwriter Van Morrison. The easy pace of the music as well as the light feel of the track itself really brings out the influence of Morrison’s writing as Brendan McMahon creates a song that feels like a vignette set to music as the narrator sings of a normal weekend night in Latvia. “Saturday Night in Riga” comes across as a song that would resonate well with people who enjoy songs with a narrative to them.

Marker 7-58, the new release from Satellite Gods, continues with the track “1 through 8”. Once again, Brendan McMahon and Satellite Gods create a track with a light pop/rock feel to the music as McMahon sings of watching a baby sleep. The poetic feel to the lyrics as he counts all the ways the child is perfect fills the song with plenty of emotion as the listener can all but imagine the child lying in their crib.

After several tracks from Satellite Gods that have a pop/rock feel, the feel of the music changes for the track “Invisible”. The track takes a stronger Alternative Rock sound to the music. While the track takes on a less mainstream feel to the music, the lyrics take on a much more personal feel. The lyrics deal with a person looking for a way to fit in with the rest of society. The slow pace of the music on the track seems to work well with the political overtones of the lyrics as the singer looks for acceptance from the world.

One of the standout tracks on the Marker 7-58 release is the track “My Friend”. This track changes the feel of the album drastically, at least for one track. Unlike the previous songs, “My Friend” begins with Brendan McMahon singing a’ Capella with a few other voices adding harmony. The track then features strings that help to reinforce the beauty of the words being sung by the voices in the track. The alternating between voice and strings on “My Friend” combine to create one of the most powerful moments on the Marker 7-58 album from Satellite Gods.

After taking a moment to create a very sobering track in “My Friend,” Satellite Gods once again bring the fun back to the release. The song “Once” contains a very bouncy, upbeat feel to the music. With the slightly Celtic feel to the music, “Once” comes across as a track that could have been inspired by the likes of the Irish/English band The Pogues. The band even joins in on the refrain of the song to give even more of a party atmosphere feeling to the track.

After many tracks that contain a “single” feel to them, Satellite Gods changes their mindset or the song “Stand By”. On that track, the band seems to let loose and create a track that feels more like an outright musical jam. The members of the band take turns with solos and the result is a track with a jam band feel to the music. And truthfully, the song could actually have been a little longer in its playtime.

Throughout the thirteen tracks that make up the newest release from Satellite Gods called Marker 7-58, Brendan McMahon and the rest of the band creates song after song that make for a very strong and solid album. This is the type of release that should simply be experienced from beginning to end without skipping tracks.

To hear the music of Satellite Gods, check out the song “Saturday Night in Riga”.

For more information, check out The RMG Media Group, the PR firm for Satellite Gods.

To purchase a copy of the music from Satellite Gods, click on the album cover below:

Marker 7-58 CD Cover


Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Dan Hubbard and the Humadors “The Love Show”

Dan Hubbard spent time on his own as a singer-songwriter, during which he created several albums of music that combined rock with elements of blues, folk, blues and country. When he hooked up with three talented musicians to play concert dates, a strong musical unit was created, forming the group Dan Hubbard and the Humadors.

Recently, Dan Hubbard and the Humadors released their newest album. 2011’s The Love Show is a strong release that captures Hubbard’s blend of Americana music, and the band (consisting of Scott McRae on bass and electric guitar; Kyle Yap on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and ½ whistle; and Kevin Yarger on drums) really help bring Hubbard’s musical vision to life.

Reviews and Suggestions

Imitation May Be The sincerest Form of Flattery, But To My Ears It’s Assault and Battery!

erickearnsEric Kearns – Voices of Legends: Love Songs
Self released

While listening to Eric Kearns’ new album, I was sort of reminded of Las Vegas, the city of glitz and glamour, and the places where fortunes are made and lost on an hourly basis. If you’ve ever been in a casino there, you know about those lounges off to the sides of the main gambling rooms where you can take a breather to count what’s left of your money or cry about the money you’ve lost. Every casino has one, and there’s always an entertainer there, singing the songs of yesteryear and trying to make people forget about how much money they’ve just lost. I was lucky enough to go to Vegas a few years ago when the Vegas power-brokers were just starting to abandon their ideas about Vegas being this great family destination. In fact, it was just about the time that “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas” started to take hold as a catchphrase to commemorate the fact that sin was back in and family values had been told to go back to wherever they came from as they were no longer welcome in Vegas. Not sure why they wanted to become some sort of Disneyland anyway. Vegas is inherently designed for adults. The city’s casinos are open all night long, the entertainment can be okay for kids but is primarily focused on adults and Kearns is the perfect example. More an impersonator than an artist, Kearns’ act is to sing the songs of legendary singers while impersonating their voices and singing styles. Think Rich Little singing Frank Sinatra and you get the idea of what Kearns is doing. I mean, let’s face it, there ain’t gonna be any White Stripes or My Morning Jacket songs on this CD, okay?