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CD Review: Maura Rogers and the Bellows “Always”

For Maura Rogers and Meredith Pangrace, it was a match made in heaven. Or maybe destiny. Whatever it was, the two women got to know each other. And then, because of a medical emergency when Rogers needed a second chance in life, Pangrace was there for her. Once that situation was handled, a relationship that was blooming became stronger and so did a songwriting partnership. Along with their relationship, Maura Rogers and Meredith Pangrace create music as part of a band known as Maura Rogers and the Bellows. Until just recently, the band had released three albums: 2012’s A Good Heart Will Break, 2015’s In Light and 2016’s Live at the Beachland Ballroom.

Today, Maura Rogers and Meredith Pangrace are still creating music under the Maura Rogers and the Bellows moniker, a name that came about because of the inclusion of the accordion played by Pangrace. With Maura Rogers on guitar and vocals and Meredith Pengrace on keys and accordion, the duo is joined by the rest of the band which consists of: Al Moses on lead guitar, Quinn Hyland on bass, and Jeff Babinkski on drums. Together, this band is currently creating music that could fall into the Americana genre as it draws from several different musical styles and seems to have been inspired by the music of several different eras of music as well. It is with this version of the band that has created the fourth and newest release under the Maura Rogers and the Bellows moniker called Always.

The Always release was actually a form of therapy in and of itself for Maura Rogers. The reason for that is because the music for the album was recorded during the time when Rogers was in kidney failure. The band went into the studio to get the album recorded before things got worse for Rogers. Luckily, things worked out, Rogers has a working kidney and the band’s newest album was released. The drive to finish the project may actually have helped Rogers survive the day-to-day wait until she had the operation that saved her life.

Always from Maura Rogers and the Bellows begins with the track “Moses and the Tide”. The track begins with the sound of the bass and drums to create a strong beat. That beat is soon joined by the accordion from Meredith Pangrace. The combination of music feels very gypsy-like in nature. Add the rest of the instrumentation in and what results is a track that brings to mind Sixties-era Jefferson Airplane. You can almost imagine “Moses and the Tide” being played alongside a track from Jefferson Airplane such as “Go Ask Alice”.

The band continues a slight retro feel to their music on the second track called “Let Go”. While this track doesn’t have the same Sixties vibe as the previous song, this song still feels rather retro in nature as the song contains a light Rock and Roll approach. The Lite Rock of the track is mixed with Maura Rogers’ vocals that had a somewhat familiar vibe to them as her vocal delivery recalls that of singer Linda Ronstadt. Together, the track feels like it would have been right at home at AM radio back in the seventies.

For the first few seconds of the track “Anything At All,” Maura Rogers and the Bellows create a passage that feels like an acoustic version of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” from Guns ‘N Roses. Soon after that, however, the track takes on a musical direction with a strong Folk-Rock sound to it. The track contains an easy pace to the music which lends itself well to the sadness in the lyrics about one person reflecting on a relationship that has been played out. Lyrics such as “Do You Feel What I Feel? Do You Feel Anything At All?” give the song its sad feel.

Before Always from Maura Rogers and the Bellows was released, the track entitled “92 Days” was used as the first single off the release in order to promote the still-upcoming album. The title of the track refers to the amount of time that Maura Rogers was laid-up recovering from her kidney transplant back in 2012. The lyrics of the track reflect some of the things Rogers thought about when recovering, especially how love can truly affect the outcome of certain things. The song contains a Folk-Rock musical approach, but the electric guitar on the track pushes the song closer to the Rock and Roll side of things. “92 Days” ends up being a rather emotional track but also one of the strongest moments on the album.

The track called “Tequila” is one of the more unusual songs on the Always album. Having a lyrical content about losing one’s inhibitions after a few drinks, the track finds the band creating a track with a Folk-Rock/Zydeco blend. While the musical blend sets the track apart from the rest of the release, another thing that is different is the atmosphere around the song as the track feels more like a group effort than the rest of the release. The reason for that is the inclusion of more than just Maura Rogers’ vocals as both female and male vocalists take turns singing parts of the song. And when many and/or all of the musicians creating the track join in on the background vocals, it helps give the song a completely different feel than what came before.

One of the more emotional tracks comes late in the album. The song “There’s a Fire” slows things down on the Always release as Maura Rogers sings of the passion in her relationship. The slow-paced track features a Folk-Rock feel to the music with a slight touch of Blues to give the music that emotional edge. The slow pace and tempo of the song match up well with the emotional feeling to the lyrics and helps to create a track that just begs the listener to grab their lover and start a slow dance.

The new release from Maura Rogers and the Bellows comes to a close with the title track of the album. For the track called “Always,” Rogers creates a song that feels more like poetry set to music than just a regular song. Inside of that poetic lyrical approach, Rogers writes of inviting the one she loves in to create a couple; a family, as she says in the lyrics. As far as the music of the track is concerned, Rogers and the rest of the band combine to create a slow-paced, expansive song that takes on the feel of a jam-band like track in the style of bands like the Grateful Dead and/or Phish as several solos are taken within the song. The extended nature of the music and the emotional feel of the lyrics to the song “Always” create a song that feels just right as the final track on the release.

Maura Rogers and the Bellows released their current album of Always earlier this year. Since that time, Rogers and the band have continued to create music. In fact, the band just recently released their latest song entitled “Lullabye”. As you might imagine, “Lullabye” is a slow-paced track that deals with the love between mother and child. This song was originally released by Maura Rogers almost a decade ago as she had placed it on her Get Up Girl album when she was still a solo performer. But since the lives of Maura Rogers changed not that long ago with the arrival of two twins, one boy and one girl. That event made it the perfect time to revisit the track and that is exactly what has happened. 

 Always from Maura Rogers and the Bellows is a strong release that makes good use of the various musical influences found in the band’s songs. Those various influences of Jazz, Blues, Country, Folk and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The combination of those styles help shape the album and create a release that is firmly situated within the music genre of Americana.

As a way of promoting the Always release from Maura Rogers and the Bellows before the album was released, the band put out the song “92 Days” as a promo track. Here is the video to that track. 

Maura Rogers and the Bellows is currently promoting their newly recorded version of the track “Lullabye”. The track is available only through the band. You can reach them through their Facebook profile.  Here is the live version of the track recorded in concert at the Music Box Supper Club the night of the track’s release.

To hear the Always release from Maura Rogers and the Bellows, click on the album cover below for the spotify profile for the release:

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CD Review: David Gelman “Last Surviving Son”

David Gelman is a New York City-based singer-songwriter who has spent much of his life playing with the same group of people. And as a matter-of-fact, that group of people, known collectively as White Collar Crime, will shortly be celebrating their 30th anniversary as a band. During that time, the band has created several albums of original material, with the band’s latest release of Floor Aisle Room having been released back in 2016.

While being part of White Collar Crime, David Gelman has also spent time creating his own music. To date, David Gelman has created three albums of music. The latest album from Gelman is called Last Surviving Son.

To bring the music on Last Surviving Son to life, David Gelman is joined by a rather talented group of musicians which included: electric guitarist, slide guitarist and banjo player Ann Klein, drummer/percussionist Jerry Marotta, violinist Lorenza Ponce and bassist Sara Lee. Each of the musicians on this album have spent time playing with people like Ani DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates and many others. Those various musical influences help to give plenty of depth and variety to the music of David Gelman.

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman begins with the track “Far Away”. The track features a Folk base to the music as the violin and banjo help set the track in motion. As the track continues, some Rock and Roll influence joins in. The resulting Folk-Rock blend to the music comes with a strong driving pace. Banjo player Ann Klein and violinist Lorenza Ponce are as much a part of the track as Gelman’s voice and together, they and the rest of the band create a song with a beautiful musical approach while the lyrics about getting tired of lifetime on the run makes the listener stop and think. “Far Away” is the perfect modern-day Folk tune with a powerful meaning to the lyrics. 

The album continues with the track “Set It Free”. Much like the previous track, this song features a Folk/Rock blend. But while the song “Far Away” contains much more of a Folk base to the song, it is the Rock side of the music that comes through here. In fact, the track has a musical style that feels as if it would fit perfectly well right next to music from either The Byrds or The Lovin’ Spoonful. The song features a slow, gentle feel to the music. And much like the aforementioned bands of The Byrds and The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Set it Free” feels like it would have been right at home in the sixties.

While the first two tracks of Last Surviving Son from David Gelman feature some Folk inspiration, Gelman and the rest of the musicians on the release take the music of the album in a much stronger Country-flavored direction with the next track. The song “Feel Alright” contains a strong Country influence to the music while Gelman’s vocals now come with a strong twang to them. The addition to the twang in Gelman’s voice is accompanied by a stronger Country vibe to the music. The track features a straight-out Country vibe to it and that vibe gives the song a rather timeless feel. You can imagine this song alongside some of today’s best Country artists as much as Country artists of the past like Charlie Pride, George Jones, Willie Nelson and others. If you are a fan of Country music, “Feel Alright” is a track that will fit well in your music collection.

Things on the new release from David Gelman slow down with the title track. The track of “Last Surviving Son” begins with a march-style drumbeat that soon becomes a track with a rather somber message of living with the guilt of outliving the rest of your siblings. The easiness of the Folk-flavored music creates a sad feel to the track. That sadness is courtesy of the violin from Lorenza Ponce. The track comes across as rather relatable as many people know this kind of feeling. “Last Surviving Son” ends up creating one of the quieter moments of the release.

The feeling of the music regains some energy with the next track. The song “Lonely Tonight” is a song that blends together Folk, Country, Blues and a little Rock and Roll influence. The Blues flavor comes in the form of the slide guitar on the track. What ends up being created is the perfect Americana track as the song has so much going on musically all at the same time. “Lonely Tonight” is one of the strongest tracks on the Last Surviving Son release.

With the next track, the music once again slows down. “The Roads We Didn’t Take” contains lyrics with a rather strong poetic feel to them as if they were written by poet Robert Frost. The reason for this is that Gelman is found thinking about choices in life and what could happen, in much the same way Frost’s narrator in the poem “The Road Less Traveled” had.  The Lite Rock music on the track from David Gelman takes the listener back to the days of the seventies when music began going in a much softer direction. That Lite Rock approach seems very appropriate for the lyrics of the track. 

The pace of the music stays in a slow groove with the next track called “Let It All Go”. The light touch of the acoustic guitar on the track creates a style that will transport the listener back in time to the days of AM radio in the seventies. In fact, the track feels as if it could have been created by someone like Mac Davis, the American songwriter who was popular back at that time. You could imagine “Let It All Go” from David Gelman playing alongside “I Believe in Music” from Mac Davis. 

David Gelman stays in a retro mood on the track “Soft Surrender”. The track contains the same seventies-inspired Rock and Roll as the previous track. And much like with “Let It All Go,” “Because You Love Me” would have felt right at home on AM radio formats back at that time. The track contains a gentle pace to the music and feels almost Folk-like in its sound. With the inclusion of the strings in the background of the track, the track adds a bit of beauty to the Last Surviving Son release.

With the final track of the album, David Gelman changes the feel of the music. The rest of the album that came before featured a guitar-driven approach. But with “The Presence of the Lord,” the guitar is replaced with the sound of the piano. With the piano (and organ) on the track, “The Presence of the Lord” feels like as if it had been inspired by the likes of Billy Joel. With the title of the track being what it is, one might assume that the track is rather religious in nature. And while there is some of that, it’s more spiritual than anything as Gelman sings of looking inward for answers. Like much of the album, “Presence of the Lord” contains a laid-back feel to the music, which goes along with the lyrical content of the track. As the song is much different from the other songs on the release because of the lyrical direction, it makes sense that the song would bring the Last Surviving Son release to a close.    

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman finds the singer-songwriter staying within a certain time-frame on his latest release. Whether using Folk, County or Lite Rock influences, each song on the album seems to stay contained within a seventies mindset. What results is a solid album with a laid-back feel to it. If you are a fan of lighter musical fare, this album is just what you’re looking for.  

For more information, check out David Gelman’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the music Last Surviving Son release, check out the video to the title track of the album. 

To check out the entire Last Surviving Son release from David Gelman, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Spade Mcquade “An Ocean Between Us”

It was nearly thirty years ago that Irish rock band Energy Orchard released their self-titled album. Energy Orchard may never have had a very large following here in the United States, but they did end up releasing their self-titled album on MCA. That band and their self-titled album featured a sound that blended a style reminiscent of U2 with a stronger Irish vibe than the more well-known band ever had. And from that album, the band released one of their strongest singles, a song called “Sailor Town“. That resulting style was featured in several albums before the band would go their separate ways. And for the band’s rhythm guitarist, Spade Mcquade, that meant making his way over to the United States.  

Spade Mcquade now makes his home in the United States. And because of that, his musical style has taken on a definite American flare to it. So much so, that Mcquade refers to his style as Irish Americana. And it is that style that can be found on his latest release entitled An Ocean Between Us

An Ocean Between Us from Spade Mcquade finds the singer-songwriter creating an album in a Live In The Studio setting. What ends up being created is an album that sounds as if the tracks have the same warmth that they would have if the listener was experiencing the tracks in a concert setting.

Spade Mcquade’s An Ocean Between Us album begins with the track “Humble”. The track takes some influence from the early days of Hootie and the Blowfish and combines it with elements of Deep Blue Something’s song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. What results is a track that feels as if it would have been right at home on the radio back in the early to mid-nineties. The track finds Mcquade declaring that he has always been and will always be the same person.

It is on the track “London Again” that the listener gets to understand just what is meant by the term Irish Americana.  The track features a strong Country/Rock blend to the base of the music. But it also includes a little Celtic influence from the inclusion of the tin whistle on the track. What results is a sound that is rather reminiscent of the type of music that the band The Pogues would have created, minus the Punk influence to track.

With the next track, Irish musician Spade Mcquade takes the listener back in time a bit on the song “Stupid”. The musical direction on the track finds Mcquade creating a track that seems to contain a strong Folk vibe. But the feel to the music of the song is not just any Folk vibe. The song contains a vibe that was very much present in American music during the sixties. As a matter-of-fact, what comes across is a song that was largely influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan back at the time period of the sixties.

One of the strongest tracks on the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade is the song “Human After All”. The track features a sound that feels like a combination between a Michael Nesmith & the First National Band song and a more Countrified song from The Eagles. The combination that is produced creates a track that feels as if it would have been right at home on AM radio back during the seventies. In fact, the song would have been right at home on the Top 40 charts back then.

It is with the next track on the release that the listener gets to experience a bit of Spade Mcquade’s humor. It is with the song “Gaybar” that Mcquade adds a few chuckles to the album, although the track is more light-hearted than humorous. The track finds Spade and some friends leaving a bar as they were looking for something fun. When other places failed to live up to their expectations, they tried a gay bar and found some fun. The track proves that keeping an open mind is very important or else you might miss out on something you might regret later. As far as the music to the track is concerned, Mcquade creates a track that, like with the song “London Again” from earlier on in the release, features a style rather reminiscent of The Pogues. The fun, bouncy feel of the music adds to the overall lightheartedness of the track.

As Spade Mcquade is living in the United States having been born over in Ireland, it should come as no surprise that he would write a song about that very topic. The song called “Bangor Town” finds Mcquade feeling nostalgic as he sings about thinking back to his time back in Ireland and how, no matter where you may go in your life, your hometown will always be where you come from. To go along with the gentle feeling of reminiscing that is found in the lyrics, the music of the track also contains a gentleness that lends itself to the feeling of reminiscing about the past. Together, the music and the lyrics on the release combine to create a moment that most of us can relate to in some way.  

The final track of the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade is more of a story than anything else. The song “Just a Cat” contains a light, easy pace to the music as the song features a Folk approach to both the music and lyrical content. “Just a Cat” is the tale of a man who is relaxing in his backyard when a strange cat makes its way over to him. However, there is something different about the animal: He is the reincarnated soul of a friend who is now pondering what to do. The track is a cautionary tale of what might happen if you don’t treat people (or in this case, animals) the way you would to be treated.

While many of the track that are contained in Spade Mcquade’s new album have a Rock and Roll base to them,  An Ocean Between Us album is a release that features different styles of music to nearly every song. The Americana (or Irish Americana, as Spade himself describes it) music contained within the release creates moments on the album that are unique from one track to the next. This ensures that the album is rather varied throughout the ten or so tracks that make up the album.  

To discover the music of Spade Mcquade, check out the song “Pucker Up“. 

You can find An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade on Spotify HERE

To check out the An Ocean Between Us album from Spade Mcquade, click on the album cover below:  

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CD Review: Mimi Arden S/T

Michelle Gaw is a Cleveland-based singer-songwriter who has been creating her style of music for a while now. And she has been performing her music all over town. But when she performs, it is either as a solo act or as part of a band. The name of the band that Gaw performs with is called Mimi Arden, a name that derives from her own name. So when she was looking for a name for the band that helps bring her music to life, she used a nickname for Michelle (Mimi) and her middle name (Arden) to create the moniker for the band she fronts.

The band of Mimi Arden is made of three musicians. Along with Michelle Gaw, the rest of the band called Mimi Arden consists of Michelle Gaw on Vocals and Guitar, Lee Kolarik on Drums and Joe Botta on Bass. As Mimi Arden, Gaw, Kolarik and Botta are keeping busy. The trio can be found performing at many of the music festivals in the Greater Cleveland. And when they are not performing live, they are creating music. Just recently, the band went about recording some of their song. Together with some other friends that helped to create the music of the band, this trio created a new self-titled ten-song release.

The new self-titled album from Mimi Arden begins with the track “Wits”. The track about going slightly crazy begins with the sound of Michelle’s acoustic guitar and her voice which creates a Folk-rock track. And after about forty seconds, the acoustic rock created by Gaw is made fuller as she is joined the electric guitar from Raymond Flanagan. That electric guitar helps to add some flavor to the track but doesn’t really give the track any true energy as the track remains rather low-key throughout its three-and-a-half minutes of playtime. Lee Kolarik’s drums and Joe Botta’s bass join in and created a track with a laidback approach with a little bit of a Soul music feel. The easy-going track starts the album off rather easily, but that easy feeling simply ensures that there is enough room to increase the energy level as the release goes on.

The first track features a light feel to its music as does the second track. The difference in the two musical directions comes in when the second track of “Soul Pocket” contains more of Soul-like feel to the music. The musical approach on the track combines elements of Soul and Jazz. This combination brings to mind the playing of Jack Johnson while Gaw’s vocals also bring to mind vocalists from the seventies. The resulting feel of the track produces one of the most commercial tracks of the album and would feel right at home on today’s Top 40 radio formats.

”Returning to Ash,” the third track from the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, begins with drummer Lee Kolarik creating a drumbeat with a slightly jazzy feel to it before the light playing from electric guitarist Raymond Flanagan gives the track an Indie Rock feel. The entire ensemble of Flanagan, Michelle Gaw, drummer Lee Kolarik and bassist Joe Botta create a track that contains a light approach to the driving music. ”Returning to Ash” not only features Michelle Gaw, but it also contains the backing vocals of Elizabeth Bullock who helps to add some harmony to the track. The resulting track would fit on today’s radio formats but also contains enough of a retro feel that it would have felt right at home on AM radio back in the seventies.

As some of the music from Michelle Gaw contains a generous amount of Jazz influence, there seems to be a slight crossover possibility to some of the tracks on the self-titled release from Mimi Arden. “Vines” is one track that would feel right at home on an Adult Contemporary radio format just as easily as it would fit on a Smooth Jazz format. The laidback approach to the music and the jazzy feel to Gaw’s vocals are the main reasons for that. The musical approach seems to bring to mind the lighter songs from the band The Lovin Spoonful, which also means that there is a slight retro feel to the track.

With the track “Love All the Time,” Michelle Gaw and the rest of Mimi Arden once again create a track that features a strong Soul feel to the music. And with the track’s lyrical content about trying to find a way to live together, the track brings to mind something from the late sixties/early seventies. In fact, the track’s lyrics seem to contain the spirit of Marvin Gaye as they have the same type of message that would have been present in Gaye’s music. In fact, the title itself is rather reminiscent of something from the late singer-songwriter.

One of the tracks on the self-titled album from Mimi Arden that stands out because of its unique feel is the track “Rabbit Hole”. Just like the song “Love All the Time,” “Rabbit Hole” feels as if it would have come from an earlier time. The lyrical content of the track feels more like poetry than simple song lyrics. And with the guitar playing from Raymond Flanagan, the track’s music seems to contain a slightly psychedelic feel to it. The track would once again feel right at home on radio back in the seventies.

Before actually putting out the band’s self-titled album, Mimi Arden gave their fanbase a taste of what was to come. The track “Dandelions” once again finds the ensemble creating a track that combines a light Rock and Roll feel with a slight Jazz background to it. The track contains a lyrical content that finds Michelle Gaw singing about finding the right person to help her see the bright side of life instead of the darker side. Having released the song “Dandelions” before the rest of the release, the lead-off track now feels right at home in the midst of the other tracks that make up the album.

The self-titled album from Mimi Arden is a release that stays in a rather laidback and relaxed mood throughout the ten tracks that make up the album. Michelle Gaw and the rest of the band seem to work well together to create a track that would be perfect for those times when you simply want to put on some music an relax.

 

To listen to the music from Mimi Arden, check out the first single from the band’s self-titled album entitled “Dandelions“. 

To check out the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, click on the album cover below: