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CD Review: Stolen Apple “Wagon Songs”

Italian band Stolen Apple came together back in 2008 after one band called Nest came to an end. The previous band would release two albums during its existence before calling it quits: Drifting in 2001 and Isn’t it? in 2007. And when the band’s time was over, Riccardo Dugini (vocals, guitar) and Luca Petrarchi (guitar) would search out musicians for their next project which would be Stolen Apple. The resulting band would include Dugini and Petrarchi, as well as Massimiliano Zatini on percussion and Alessandro Pagani on bass.

For nearly a dozen years, Stolen Apple has been creating their own brand of music. Together, the quartet draws inspiration from numerous forms of music: “From psychedelic rock to post punk; from folk to indie rock; from cosmic & post atomic rock to new wave; from country to italo disco.” This ever-changing blend of music can be found on Stolen Apple’s albums entitled When We Rise (2015) and Trenches (2016). Just recently, the band added one more album to that discography. The 2020 release from Stolen Apple is entitled Wagon Songs.

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple begins with the track “Suicide”. With this track, the Italian band seems to be influenced by the likes of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The track contains the same kind of musical approach as the Detroit group’s proto-punk sound back around 1969.  In fact, this track easily brings to mind the music of that band’s song “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. “Suicide” is a strong track that will easily appeal to those Rock and Roll fans looking for the “Real Deal,” and this is a straight-out Rock and Roll track for those looking for that.

Stolen Apple continues their album with one of the track “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”. The band takes their music into a much more current time. The music of this track comes with a style that blends together influences from the Queens of the Stone Age and those of The Black Keys. Those influences are used to create a track that is hard hitting and ready for today’s Modern Rock radio formats. Much like the previous song, the modern feel of the music on “Renegade Sun (Brexit)” will definitely appeal to the fans of hard hitting Rock and Roll music.

With the next track called “Masturbation,” Stolen Apple brings a little bit of the Italian side of the band into the music as they seem to flavor the song with just a little bit of the music found in a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. That Spaghetti Western flavoring added to a slightly New Wave Feel to the music ends up creating a track that is rather reminiscent of the eighties New Wave/Post-Punk band Wall of Voodoo, excepting maybe a little harder in its delivery. To go along with the slight Spaghetti Western flavoring in the music, the addition of a rather strong Italian accent in the lyrical delivery brings out more of that Italian base to the band’s music.

On the next track called “Out of Fashion,” Stolen Apple creates a track taking several different approaches at once. As the track begins, the slightly off-tone vocals mixed with the strong but gentle pace to the music created by the guitar, bass and drums create an easy approach to the song. Soon enough, however, the band picks up the energy level to the music. What occurs is a track with a strong Alternative Rock feel that blends together influences from the likes of Sonic Youth and Nirvana. The resulting track of “Out of Fashion” would easily fall directly into the Alternative Rock scene from the middle of nineties.

The Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple continues with the track “Kid”. With this track, the band slows things down quite a bit as they explores a more Progressive Rock sound. The track finds the band drawing inspiration from Classic Rockers Pink Floyd. In fact, the Pink Floyd influence seems to be there is several ways. Among those ways is the fact that the track itself seems to have a strong musical resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” track. The basic slow pace to the music of the track recalls Floyd’s style on that song. And then the accompanying strings add even more of a resemblance to Floyd’s song. Not to mention the extended length of the track which adds to the Progressive feel of the track. 

Before Alternative Rock became a radio genre, it was simply known as College Rock, music that would never have gotten played on Commercial Radio formats in the late seventies, early eighties. It’s within this concept that the track “Up Your Mind” from Stolen Apple falls. Bringing some of the influence from the early days of The Motels, Gang of Four, Wall of Voodoo and others from that era, the style of Rock and Roll featured on “Up Your Mind” is the type of music that would have felt right at home on College Radio in the early eighties. While not really commercial for the eighties, this would have been the type of song that would have gone on to influence the artists included in the early days of Alternative Rock. 

The latest release from Italy’s Stolen Apple comes to a close with the track “Easier”. During the first ninety seconds or so of the track, the band creates yet another track much like with “Up Your Mind” before it inasmuch as the song “Easier” features music that feels like it would have been right at home between the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties. With the instrumental feel of the music, the track draws some of its influence from New Wave music and some influence from Punk Rock of that era.  Adding the vocals in, the track ultimately feels like something from the Art Punk band Pere Ubu. 

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple finds the Italian band creating very strong Rock and Roll through the album’s nine tracks. And with the various influences, styles and musical elements that the band draws from and includes in their music, this album is for anyone who enjoys Rock and Roll from any era from the seventies through today. 

To hear just a little bit from the Wagon Songs album from Stolen Apple , check out one of the very first tracks released to promote the release,  “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”.

To check out the Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple on spotify, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: White Collar Crime “30 Years in the NY Rain”

What do you do when you spend part of your life in a court of law and other parts of your life performing music? If you’re like members of New York City- based White Collar Crime, you create a band with like-minded individuals and play music when you’re not in front of a bench. Since forming, White Collar Crime has performed countless amounts of concerts that feature the band’s original songs.

In the time that has passed since the beginning of the band White Collar Crime some thirty years ago, many musicians have come and gone through the New York City-based group. In fact, only guitarist/vocalist Matt King and drummer Alan Sanders are original to the band. Today, King and Sanders are joined today by other musicians, the majority of which have a considerable amount of time in the band themselves. David Gelman joined on keys in 1995, bassist Kevin Mackall and vocalist Andrea Urban came aboard in 2011, and guitarist Jon Bendis joined the rest of the group in 2016.

As a band, White Collar Crime has put out several albums of original material. The band’s most recent album, entitled Floor Aisle Room, was released back in 2012. Time has passed since the release of that album, but White Collar Crime recently released their first album in seven years. The reason for the time between the previous album and the one currently being promoted is simple: With some of the band members of White Collar Crime being busy in and out of the courtroom, it’s difficult to find the time to create new music as a band. But the band is now currently celebrating a new album of material called 30 Years in the NY Rain.

White Collar Crime’s 30 Years in the NY Rain begins with the track entitled “To Be Real”. The first few seconds of this track is based around the sound of the piano. Pianist David Gelman lays down fifteen seconds of quiet piano with a laidback feel to it. But after those fifteen seconds, the rest of the band joins in and picks up the pace and the energy level of the music. The piano which had been so prominent at the beginning of the song ends up falling into the background and blends with the rest of the instrumentation. The music of the track feels as if it came from the eighties and it brings to mind the writing style of singer-songwriter Don Henley. The lead vocals of the track are handled by Matt King with vocalist Andrea Urban adding texture to the background of the track as those lyrics find King looking for something in the relationship to reinforce his feelings towards the one he loves. The track’s lyrical content as well as the musical approach would fit well alongside Henley’s music, as well as other songs from the eighties.

The band continues their latest release with the track “Reason”. Where the previous track features music that would fit well into the eighties, this track’s musical approach is a lot more timeless, basically fitting into any musical period from the last thirty years to today. The previous song of “To Be Real” featured lyrics about looking for the positive in the relationship. But with this song, the outlook looks a little bleaker as King sings of not having cause to stick around. While the lyrics may not be all that positive, this song is far from being depressing as the music is just as upbeat as the track before it.

Yet another track from White Collar Crime’s 30 Years in the NY Rain release is the song “Dream the Dream”. The guitar-driven song features a strong Rock and Roll vibe that could be described as timeless. The music of the track would fall somewhere within the late seventies and early eighties, creating what many would consider the very sound of Rock and Roll music. The track brings to mind music from the likes of Dire Straits and/or Bruce Springsteen. “Dream the Dream” features lyrics about a relationship that could be a lot more passionate in nature than it is. While containing a strong Rock and Roll vibe in the music, “Dream the Dream” is basically a duet as guitarist/vocalist Matt King and vocalist Andrea Urban take turns singing about their roles in the relationship. While the track contains a light, upbeat musical delivery, the lyrics contain some sadness as the two voices don’t quite see the relationship the same way.

With the next track called “Letter to You,” the band changes directions slightly as the track features not only Matt King on vocals, but also features Andrea Urban as the two vocalists share the spotlight on this track. The running theme of relationships returns once again on this track as both King and Urban sing about writing down how they feel about the other person. Much like each of the songs that have come before on this release, “Letter to You” contains a strong, driving Rock and Roll feel to the music instead of a more laidback, romantic feel that one would associate with the lyrical content found within this song. That being said, this song still finds the band in fine form.

The first four songs on the 30 Years in the NY Rain release from White Collar Crime find the band creating tracks that feature straight-out Rock and Roll approaches with fully electric sounds. But with the track “Just a Song,” the band changes things up. This sound features an acoustic guitar as the main musical focal point, creating a slightly softer feel to the band’s sound. What results is a track that contains a musical delivery that is somewhat reminiscent of The Eagles. That approach sets the track more into the seventies time frame rather than the eighties era like the earlier tracks.

While many of the songs contained within the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime contain a throwback feel to their musical deliveries, the “title track” for the release puts the band’s music squarely into a much more modern timeframe. “New York Rain” contains a Pop-Rock feel to the music. The song contains guitars and keyboards that create a style in the music that would fit right in with bands like The Goo Goo Dolls, or The Gin Blossoms. What results is a track that would be right at home on any modern-day Top 40 radio format. “New York Rain” is easily one of the most commercial tracks of the entire 12-song album.

Another song on the newest release from White Collar Crime that is rather commercial in nature is the song “Just Like Me”. Where the previous song recalls bands such as The Goo Goo Dolls or The Gin Blossoms, this song finds the band drawing inspiration from the likes of Kid Rock. The reason for that comparison comes from the laidback feel of the guitars on the track and the Country-tinged Pop-Rock music that results.

While several the band members of this group have a very serious side that shows up in each of their court appearances, the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime shows off the various other talents of each of the band members of the group. It also shows off the various musical elements that act as influences to the band’s music. When combined, the resulting music on this album indicates that there is always more to a person than the one side people usually see on a daily basis.

For a taste of the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime, check out the “title track” from the release, “New York Rain”.

To check out the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Angela Perley “4:30”

Singer-songwriter Angela Perley grew up in Central Ohio near Columbus. In the city of Hilliard, Perley started playing guitar while in her teens and was in her first band while still in high school. As she moved from one level of education to the next, music was always part of Perley’s life as she joined and created bands. Perley started truly making a name for herself when she was part of the band Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons. After putting out several EP’s of music, Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons released their first album Hey Kid in 2014. That band would release one more album (2016’s Homemade Visions) before Perley would decide to go on her own as a solo artist.

As a solo artist, Angela Perley draws upon the same type of musical blend that she had created while a part of the band Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons: Country, Indie, Rock, and Folk. This blend creates one form of Americana, shifting through the various musical influences from one song to the next. That shifting of genres is a large apart of the music contained within the debut solo release from Angela Perley called 4:30.

The album called 4:30 from Angela Perley begins with the title track of the release. “4:30” finds Perley creating a song about being home for a change and not being able to sleep. The track begins with a rather laidback Folk-inspired feel that brings to mind something from the Sixties music scene. When the track continues, that Folk feel is added to with some easy Rock and Roll influence. The track quickly morphs into an Indie Rock feel which continues until the track ends. With the track “4:30,” Angela Perley draws the listener in right from the start.

Angela Perley’s new release continues with the track “Let Go”. This track leaves the easy feel of the last track far behind. Instead of an easy Folk-Rock blend, this song finds Perley unleashing her inner rock star. While the first track was largely inspired by the likes of Joan Baez or Carole King, “Let Go” draws its inspiration from the likes of Suzi Quatro or Pat Benetar, putting the track somewhere between the Hard Rock of the Eighties and the early days of Alternative Rock. Anyone looking for a good Hard Rockin’ Rock and Roll song, “Let Go” with its strong electric guitars and driving pace to the music will easily satisfy that desire.

Perley continues her 4:30 album with the track “Back in Town”. As the musician had just finished a track with a strong Rock and Roll vibe to it, she continued that direction with another such track in “Back in Town”. Where the previous track falls somewhere between Alternative Rock and Hard Rock of the Eighties, this song takes Perley’s music into a stronger Seventies/Eighties Rock and Roll direction. Falling somewhere between Joan Jett and Lita Fold, “Back in Town” easily would have been right at home on the radio in the Eighties on Power Rock radio formats.

The feel of the music changes again with the next track called “He Rides High”. With this track, Angela Perley creates a more relaxed song with a style and pace of Classic Rock from the late Sixties/early Seventies. This track blends together Rock and Roll, Jazz and some Folk influence. Together, the musical influences of the track seem to recall some of the style of the band The Doors in their less psychedelic stages. On this track, Angela Perley’s voice also contains a similar vocal quality to that of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane or Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac. While this is a new song, the track definitely contains a classic feel to it.

Staying in a rather laidback mood, the next track of “Don’t Look Back Mary” slows the pace of the music down. While “He Rides High” already contains a relaxed feel, with “Don’t Look Back Mary,” the slow pace of the music intensifies. Folk Rock and a hint of Country influence combine to create a track that appears to have a little pain in the lyrical content as the title character of Mary seems to have a hard time letting go of the past and moving on. The slow pace to the song and that lyrical content combine to create one of the most emotional tracks on the release.

After several slow-paced tracks, Angela Perley brings some of the energy back to her music on the track “Dangerous Love”. This track has a strong Pop-Rock feel to the music, creating a rather timeless feel to the music. The song brings to mind female Rock stars from the Eighties, such as Eighties-era Madonna or even The Bangles. In fact, you could imagine this track being played right after a track such as “If She Knew What She Wants” from Susanna Hoffs and the rest of the band. “Dangerous Love” is one of the most commercial tracks on the 4:30 album from Angela Perley.

“Walk With Me,” the final track of Angela Perley’s solo debut finds Perley bringing back a little of the Sixties flavor that had been found on the song “He Rides High”. Again, with this track, Perley seems to be drawing influence from Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane. The wah-wah pedal near the end of the track adds a nice retro feel to the song. The retro feel to the Rock and Roll on this track adds a nice amount of energy to the end of the release, and brings the album called 4:30 to a close on an energetic note.

4:30 from Angela Perley is an album with many different angles as the singer-songwriter and musician draws inspiration from many different artists and eras. That ever-changing direction creates a release that may very well find a rather diverse audience.  

 

To experience some of the music from Angela Perley, check out the song “Let Go”. 

To hear the entire 4:30 release from Angela Perley, click on the album cover below: 

 

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CD Review: When In Rome II S/T

Back in the eighties, many British bands made their way into American households by way of the radio for a second time, with the first time having been referred to as the British Invasion. Bands that were part of that “New Wave” included A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Joy Division, and on and on. And while the aforementioned bands were some of the best known, there were plenty of others that were part of the ‘wave” that never gained the same popularity. One such band that had not reached that same popularity here in the United States was the group known as When in Rome.

The original version of When in Rome came together in the late eighties. In 1987, Michael Floreale and Andy O’Connell were recruited by Clive Farrington after Farrington had dissolved the band he had previously been a part of. Together, the trio created a synthesizer-heavy Pop sound that fell into the Synth Pop category, and When in Rome was born. That band would record one album that would produce the band’s only real hit entitled “The Promise,” a song that would reach #11 on the Charts and #1 on the Dance charts here in the U.S. Before too long, this band too would have a falling out, resulting in Michael Floreale being fired by the remaining band members O’Connell and Farrington. Floreale would move to the United States while the other two stayed in Great Britain, and two bands would now use the band name. However, Michael Floreale’s version of the band here in the United States is called When in Rome II.

Under the moniker of When in Rome II, Michael Floreale brought together a new group of musicians. The lineup for When in Rome II would include: new singer/songwriter Johnny Ceravolo as well as Chris Willet (drums) and Michael Floreale (piano and keyboards). This lineup created the band’s 2015 self-titled release. And while this new band still has a sound that revolves around the keyboard, this ensemble’s music draws from Alternative Rock as much as it draws from New Wave. Imagine the synth sound of Depeche Mode from the eighties combining with the darker feel of Depeche Mode from the nineties with some Pop-Rock influences and you get somewhat of an idea of what When in Rome II’s music sounds like. This musical blend appears on the band’s 2015 self-titled release.

The 2015 self-titled release from When in Rome II begins with the track “Last Train”. The track begins with the sound of the synthesizer from Michael Floreale creating a slightly dark atmospheric approach. Soon, that synthesizer is joined by Johnny Ceravolo on guitar helping to complete the Alternative Rock feel to the track. What results is a sound that blends together some Depeche Mode with some Nine Inch Nails. The track has a strong, driving feel to the music that places the song somewhere in the middle of the nineties, musically speaking. The song contains rather grave lyrics as the words were inspired by someone attempted to end his life in front of a train, hence the title of the track. The overall feel of the song sort of brings to mind the song “Blasphemous Rumours” from Depeche Mode as both songs come from rather grim places.  

When In Rome II continues their album with the song “Come On”. With this track, the music takes on a lighter feel as a lot of the dark musical undertones of the last track are replaced by more Pop-like notes, bringing the band’s sound closer to what When in Rome had been in the eighties. In fact, “Come On” feels like a combination of eighties New Wave and early U2. This musical blend creates a track with a very commercial feel to it. Lyrically, the band seems to create a track that answers the dark, grave message in “Last Train” with a lighter, more upbeat message that life actually is worth living.

The feel of the music changes on the next track called “Let it Go”. Where the first two track are very synth-heavy, “Let it Go” showcases the guitar playing of Johnny Ceravolo as the acoustic guitar helps to create the musical base to the track. That acoustic guitar creates a much lighter pace to the music, creating a sound that is almost Pop-like. That Pop-Rock blends together acoustically-driven music that is flavored by the addition of the electric guitar to create a track that would easily fit onto a Top 40 radio format. And with the upbeat lyrics of the track that encourage the listener to see the bright side of things, this track would fit rather well on those Top 40 radio stations.

It is with the next track called “Eventide” that When in Rome II creates one of the most listener-friendly tracks on the album. The track begins with the swirling sound of a synthesizer creating a loop that brings to mind something from the eighties. That synthesizer loop is then layered with piano, guitar, bass and drums to create sound that feels rather timeless. What results is a track that would have fit anywhere in the late eighties into the nineties. This track brings to mind a newer version of the sound found in “The Promise,” the track that once made a name for When in Rome. Like earlier tracks on the self-titled release from When in Rome II, “Eventide” is a rather commercial track that would fit well on Top 40 radio alongside U2, INXS, or even the more commercial tracks from Duran Duran.

On the track “Giving Up,” When in Rome II brings back a Pop-Rock feel to the music as the track features the sound the piano as the main instrument creating a track with a soft, easy feel to the music, much like songs from the Lite Rock days of the eighties. The easy feel of the music, the sound of the piano and the light guitar in the back of the song all blend together and create a sound that is rather reminiscent of someone like Little River Band or Air Supply who were known for their overly laidback musical approach. For fans of that style of music, “Giving Up” is a nice reminder of that era.

While 2015 release from When in Rome II features mainly new material, this band brings their album to a close with the very song that made a name for the band- “The Promise”. And while the Michael Floreale-led band does revisit this track, they do not recreate what had come before. After all, this is not the same band and they do not have the same feel as the original trio. The 2015 version of the song, called “The Promise 2.0” finds the band creating a rather different version of the classic track. Where the original song had the New Wave feel to the Rock and Roll, the new version finds the band slowing things down and creating a track with a slower pace to it. The track also has a more prominent piano presence than the original version. And with Johnny Ceravolo’s deeper register when compared with Clive Farrington’s vocals, the deeper voice and slower pace create a track that feels more like a ballad than the original track. After a minute or so, the band returns a bit of the energy back to song. The track lives up to the original versions and while “The Promise 2.0” is not that original track, the listener will find this new version grows on them rather quickly.  

The original band called When in Rome only lasted three years before it imploded. When in Rome II has already bypassed that mark and is still going. In fact, Michael Floreale’s When in Rome II (with new vocalist Tony Fennell) is currently making the rounds as part of the Siriusxm Presents Totally 80’s Live tour with The Motels and Bow Wow Wow. Check out the 2015 self-titled release from When in Rome II, then check the internet to see if and when the tour is coming to your town.

 

To check out the music of When in Rome II, check out the track “The Promise 2.0”.

To check out the self-titled album from When in Rome II, click on the album cover below: