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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: Griffin House “Rising Star”

Griffin House is a musician and singer-songwriter who went in the direction of music when he could have taken a much different path in life. He was offered a golf scholarship to Ohio University but chose Miami University in Oxford, Ohio instead. While there, he focused his free time on learning to play guitar and write songs.

It was just after the turn of the new millennium that Griffin House would begin releasing his own music. Once he found his voice, Griffin House started creating his own albums. The first release from House was the 2002 album No More Crazy Love Songs. The album of Upland coming out in 2003 was a big stepping stone for House. It was that album would lead to House being signed to Nettwerk America. And with the album of Lost & Found being released on that label, Griffin House would finally reach a point where he was truly making a name for himself.

In the time that has passed since those days, Griffin House has released a number of albums and other releases that contain his version of Americana music, which contains a strong, underlying Rock and Roll flavor to the music as well as other musical influences. The most current album from the singer-songwriter, released earlier this year, is entitled Rising Star.

Griffin House’s new album of Rising Star is very much like a soundtrack album. The reason for that is because songs from the album are being used in a new documentary film that uses the same title. Both the documentary of Rising Star and the songs on the accompanying album deal with the life of House as he recalls his claim up the ladder within the music industry in the town of Nashville that he has been part of for years now.

Rising Star from Griffin House begins with the title track of the release. “Rising Star” is a track that features a rather sparse production quality to the music as the song contains only the acoustic guitar and the vocals from House himself. “Rising Star” is a singer-songwriter type of song that comes across as a story set to music. The lyrics focus on House as he sings about a man trying to make a name for himself, gaining momentum as he goes.

The new release from Griffin House continues with the song “15 Minutes of Fame,” a phrase that most artists are familiar with as it is used to describe the average length of the popularity of any actor, singer, athlete that never gets to “superstar” level. While “Rising Star” contained its sparse production feel, “15 Minutes of Fame” finds House and the musicians who helped bring the album to life creating a track with a straight-out Rock and Roll approach. The driving feel of the guitar on the track, mixed with the feel of the lyrics and the vocals from House all combine to create a track that sounds strongly inspired by the likes of Tom Petty. “15 Minutes of Fame” focuses on a person on the way up dealing with friends coming out of the woodwork now that he has some fame.

With the track “Mighty Good Friend,” Griffin House feels as if he is trying to create a song in the middle of family life. The track features background sounds of a child playing as House creates a track that blends together several different elements. With the inclusion of the banjo, you get some Country/Folk flavor. With the inclusion of the melody sung by House, you get some 4 Non Blondes influence. Ultimately, the song comes off sounding like something from early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The lyrics deal with House trying to write a song and just not being able to get around the voice in his head (the friend referred to in the title).

On the track “Hindsight,” Griffin House and company take the music back to the seventies as the track contains a rather easy pace to the music. The Folk/Rock blend on the track brings to mind the lighter artists from that era. More specifically, the music and the vocal delivery in the song bring to mind the style of Gordon Lightfoot as it sounds like from that musician’s material from the seventies. Even the lyrics seem rather reminiscent of Lightfoot’s style as those lyrics contain a slight sadness as House sings of becoming aware of what has happened only when he looks back.

Griffin House changes the feel of the music rather drastically with the song “Cup of Fulfillment”. The track begins with the sound of uilleann pipes before the track segues into a Lite Rock feel to the music. House sings lyrics that seem to have a rather spiritual feel to them, as he seems to be talking to a higher power. The spiritual lyrics and the Lite Rock feel to the music combine nicely to create a track that would fit easily within a current Christian Rock radio format.

The feel of the music on Rising Star changes once again with the song “Natural Man”. Griffin House and friends take the music back to an earlier time. The heavier Rock and Roll flavor on the track borrows influence from the eighties. The track features strong electric guitars and an all-over style that would have fit alongside Eddie Money, John Cougar Mellencamp, even Bruce Spingsteen.

With the track “Crash and Burn,” Griffin House stays within a timeless feel of the music. The lighter, easier feel to the music as well as an easier pace combine to create a track that feels like something from Pink Floyd. And while the title “Crash and Burn” feels like something that band might have written, the lyrics deal with someone dealing with the inevitable situation of falling apart and no longer being part of the mainstream, needing to step aside as the next Rising Star comes into the spotlight.

Like other albums in Griffin House’s discography, the ever-changing feel of the music within the Rising Star album keeps the album interesting. Much of the new release from Griffin House blends together, creating a loose story-line throughout the tracks. But since the album was created at the same time a documentary film starring House was being created, that’s understandable. And with the loose story-line running through the tracks, this ends up being one of the more interesting albums produced by the singer-songwriter.

For a taste of Rising Star from Griffin House, check out “Mighty Good Friend,” one of the tracks off of the album. 

To check out the entire Rising Star release from Griffin House, click on the album cover below:

 

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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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CD Review: The Cerny Brothers “Looking For the Good Land”

It was back in 1976/1977 that Steve Popovich launched Cleveland International Records. Perhaps the most notable album to come from the label was Bat out of Hell from Meat Loaf. It was also the album that would lead to the label shutting down for over a decade as Popovich and later his son Steve Popovich Jr would fight for the rights to that album. But now the label is back and releasing albums from its back catalog as well as new albums. One such new release coming from the label is the latest album from the band The Cerny Brothers, a band that had its origins in Illinois before they moved to Nashville in order to make a name for themselves in the music industry.

When growing up, The Cerny Brothers (whose first names are Scott and Bob Cerny) found themselves with little musical influence. Part of the reason for that was growing up in rural Illinois, and another reason was that their parents had very little music around the house. In fact, it was only after the two brothers went off to college that they finally ended up discovering what they had been missing out on for so long. In came musical influence from the bands Radiohead, The Avett Brothers, even Bob Dylan became a necessary influence to the brothers like so many musicians that had come before.

As far as The Cerny Brothers and music are concerned, the duo has already released three albums of music. The previous albums include from the outfit include:  2011’s Dream, 2013’s Self-Titled album, as well as 2015’s Sleeping Giant. Having just signed with Cleveland International Records, the record company has just released the duo’s latest album. The 2019 album from The Cerny Brothers is entitled Looking For the Good Land.

For their latest release, The Cerny Brothers created the album mainly on their own as singer-songwriter Bob plays guitar and sings most of the songs while his brother Scott plays the keys and adds vocals to the track “Ghost” and takes his turn as lead vocalist on the track “Denver”. To fill out the rest of the music, the brothers are joined by drummer Houston Mathews and bassist Matt Anderson. They also had some help from Billy Nobel who adds some organ to the mix. What results is a sound that draws upon Rock and Roll, Country and a few other influences. And like The Avett Brothers, the duo’s musical direction falls somewhere within the Rock and Roll section genre of Americana. In fact, the duo’s music brings to mind the music of artists like Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, even John Mellencamp.

Looking For the Good Land from The Cerny Brothers begins with the track “I Wanna Love You”. It is the guitar from Bob Cerny that put the track into motion. Because of Bob’s guitar, the track features a strong Rock and Roll feel that falls directly into the eighties. With the guitar and the vocals from Bob Cerny that add to the lyrical content about wanting to fall in love, the song would have felt right at home on Top 40 stations back then. The song has enough of a modern feel that you could easily imagine the song getting played on today’s radio dial, too.

The latest release from The Cerny Brothers continues with the song “Days of Thunder”. While the previous track featured the guitar from Bob Cerny, this song features Bob on vocals and keyboards. It is the sound of the keyboards that begin the track as the song takes on a Rock and Roll approach that features music that easily brings to mind the sound of the Tom Petty track “Learning to Fly”. That track also has a strong Pop-rock feel to that music which seems to give the track an additional influence that suggests influence from Coldplay. The Coldplay/Tom Petty feel to the track gives the song a definite commercial feel.

On the track “Ghost,” the brothers change places as Scott Cerny takes a turn on lead vocalist while he plays the piano. The piano creates the majority of the music with the rest of the instrumentation adding flavor to the track which once again brings to mind some of the music from the band Coldplay. The inclusion of the banjo in the background of the track and some strings gives the track a strong commercial sound that would be perfect on today’s FM radio.

The Looking For the Good Land release from The Cerny Brothers continues with the track “American Whore”. This track finds the duo once again taking their music back to the days of the Rock and Roll music that could be found on the radio back in the eighties. The track’s music easily brings to mind the style of John Mellencamp at that time. The lyrical style even brings to mind the way Mellencamp would write his lyrics as the words feature a strong patriotic feel to them. So much so, that that is what the lyrics are about- being so patriotic that you would refer to the singer as being an “American Whore”. While the subject matter leaves you to decide how you look at things, this track is one of the strongest moments on the album.

On the next track, The Cerny Brothers return their music to a more current feel and approach. The music of “Where I’m Going” has a definite Pop-Rock feel. The brothers seem to have taken some musical influence from Sugar Ray, added some influence from Jack Johnson, added some more Pop-Rock feel to the music and created a track that would be perfect for today’s Top 40 or Adult Contemporary radio formats. In fact, this track feels as if it could easily garner the duo a strong hit single.

The newest release from The Cerny Brothers contains an entire release full of tracks that lead from one track to the next to create one strong release. And after three or four songs after “Where I’m Going,” the duo creates the track “Moon Above the Desert”. The track is one of the tracks on the release that stands out because of several things. One reason the song stands out is the length of the track. At nearly six minutes, the song is easily the longest track on the release. Another reason it stands out is because the duo creates the song by drawing upon Indie Rock influences. The track stands out from the rest of the music because of that musical direction. “Moon Above the Desert” is one song on the release that the listener will find themselves seemingly falling into as the song progresses.

Looking For the Good Land is strong release from The Cerny Brothers. The album contains twelve tracks that all have a rather commercial feel to them. And while the brotherly duo does use a lot of influence from the eighties to create the songs on this album that hardly gives the album a dated feel. In fact, the album feels rather fresh from beginning to end. And with this being the first new album to come from the relaunched version of Cleveland International Records, label and band seem ready-made for each other.

 

For the relaunched version of Cleveland International Records, click HERE

For a taste of the Looking For the Good Land release from The Cerny Brothers, check out the song “I Wanna Love You“. 

For the Looking For the Good Land release from The Cerny Brothers, click on the album cover below:

 

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CD Review: Divining Rod “Return to Crystal Cove”

Miyuki Furtado and Patrick Harmon are two musicians with rather different backgrounds. Miyuki Furtado had spent time creating some Alternative Rock with the band called The Rogers Sisters, while Patrick Harmon had a background in music that included a Rock and Roll band that created a style referred to as Psych-pop. Together, the duo took their similar styles of music and started creating music under the moniker of Divining Rod.

As Divining Rod, the duo of Miyuki Furtado and Patrick Harmon splits up the musical responsibilities. As the main singer-songwriter, Miyuki Furtado sings and plays the guitar, bass and drums for the duo. At the same time, Patrick Harmon helps to flesh out the music for the duo as he provides the lead guitar/acoustic guitar for each of the tracks that Divining Rod creates. The duo has currently been joined by Mike Malone, John Malone and Eric Kaye as well as others. While Divining Rod has released several singles since they came together as a unit, they are currently celebrating the release of a full length album that album is entitled Return to Crystal Cove   

The new album of Return to Crystal Cove from Divining Rod begins with the track “Hemlock Blues”. The track features a sound that is based around both the acoustic guitar and the electric guitar at the same time. The combination of the two different guitars creates a full sound that seems equally balanced right from the start. The resulting musical combination gives the listener a track that would have been right at home back in the seventies and ends up feeling like something that would have come from some of the more Folk-like musicians from that era. The track also contains a slightly psychedelic feel to that same musical combination while at the same time, containing a very driving feel to the music. Ultimately, because of the folk feel of the song along with the style of the lyrics in the song, the track of “Hemlock Blues” sounds like something from the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young if they would have added a lot more energy to their music.

Divining Rod continues their album with the track “The Deepest Sun”. With this track, Miyuki Furtado and Patrick Harmon change the pace of the album by slowing the music down just a little. The track begins with the sound of picking on guitar strings that produce no music but do produce a strange percussive effect. That percussive effect feels very much like the ticking of the clock. Soon, a simple guitar part adds to that ticking effect to start the building of the music of the track. Eventually, what is produced is a track that feels much like something from the late sixties/early seventies. The Classic Rock feel to the music is mixed together with lyrics about seeing clearly.

The third song of the Return to Crystal Cove album is entitled “Love Come Tumbling”. Much like the track before it, “Love Come Tumbling” contains a slower pace than “Hemlock Blues”. In fact, the two tracks have much the same pacing to the music.  “Love Come Tumbling” features a style that is slightly retro in its nature as the duo creates a track that combines some elements of early Rock and Roll with more recent Indie Rock. The track begins with a rather simple guitar riff and an easy beat of the bass drum. The inclusion of the bass drum and the rest of the drum kit help to give the track that retro feel. The song moves along and includes an instrumental break that brings to mind songs from jam bands like The Grateful Dead. After a while, the vocals from Miyuki Furtado return to help bring the song to a close. The song of “Love Come Tumbling” feels both fresh and retro at the same time. 

With the track “Darling Down the Row,” Miyuki Furtado and Patrick Harmon create a track that contains a sound that feels right at home in today’s musical scene. The track’s Rock and Roll approach takes a generous amount of Rock and Roll flavor, adds some Country twang and some Folk flavor to create a song that is as much Rock and Roll as it is Americana. With its Americana feel, you can still imagine the track being played on today’s Top 40 or Modern Rock stations while also feeling as if it would have been right at home on radio formats in the seventies. Of course, the track has enough of a twang that it would also feel right at home on current Country formats.

The band returns to a more retro feel to their music on the song “Master/Servant Blues”. Much like the earlier track of “Hemlock Blues,” the duo brings back the feel of the music from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The track’s music brings to mind the seventies flavor of the quartet. It also contains a lyrical content that screams the band’s style. Plus, when Furtado and Harmon harmonize on the track, the influence from the quartet is almost undeniable. “Master/Servant Blues” ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the Return to Crystal Cove album from Divining Rod.

The Return to Crystal Cove album continues with the track “The Silver Ship”. Like much of the album, this track has a very retro feel to it. The Lite Rock feel to the music takes the listener back in time to the seventies when lighter Rock and Roll fare was being produced. The easy pace and lighter style to the music on this track would have been perfect for the AM dial back then. The track would have been right at home in the midst of artists such as Steely Dan, Harry Chapin, or Loggins & Messina. In fact this track feels like it was influenced by the band America, putting the track right in the middle of the decade of the seventies, musically.

On the “title track” of the release, Divining Rod picks up the pace and the energy level to create one of the more energetic tracks of the release. “Crystal Cove” is one of the hardest rockin’ tracks of the release. The song contains a strong Rock and Roll guitar feel and a rather unusual time signature that brings to mind the style of the band Devo. With that type of influence, the track contains a sound that would have been right at home on Rock and Roll stations in the eighties.

Return to Crystal Cove, the full-length album from Divining Rod, finds Miyuki Furtado and Patrick Harmon creating tracks that contain many different styles and influences. The twelve-track release puts to good use the various influences the two musicians have picked up over the years. The resulting album changes from track to the next and never lets up.  

To check out the music from Divining Rod, check out the video to the song “The Silver Ship“. 

To find the band’s music on spotify, click on the record 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: Pale Hollow “Pilots”

Singer-songwriter Michael Allen of the band Pale Hollow has spent a lot of time floating around the Greater Cleveland music scene helping to make the city a lot more musical. Starting out with the Rock and Roll band Jericho Turnpike, Allen and that group would exist within a rather strong music scene that featured other notable groups such as The Waynes, Jehova Waitresses, Java Bean, The Simpletons and many other groups that were just as strong. But soon, Michael Allen would branch out on his own to record his own songs.

When Michael Allen took his music, he looked for musicians who wanted to form a new band. What resulted was a musical outfit by the name of Black Amps, which would exist for a while before changing their name to Pale Hollow and in 2007; a self-titled album was released under the Pale Hollow moniker. That self-titled release from Pale Hollow saw the band create a sound that combined elements of The Kinks, The Verve and many other British influences as well as American bands such as The Byrds, The Verve Pipe, even The Raspberries into one sound. Because of the various different elements, what resulted was a sound that was very retro in nature. But that retro feel to the band’s Americana music ended up allowing the band to gain a rather large following within the Greater Cleveland area.

Years would pass after the band’s first release. The band would change members during that time. And the band would change the feel of its music just a little because of the shifting of the band members. The current version of Pale Hollow includes: Michael Allen – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Kirk “Nemo” Nemerovsky – Drums, Jeff Ritchie – Bass, and Scott Steinbrick – Lead Guitar. It is this lineup that is featured on the newly-released second album from Pale Hollow. That second release is entitled Pilots. And for a little help with that album, the band’s new record was produced by Al Sutton (Greta Van Fleet) of Rust Belt Studios. It was because of Sutton that the band’s album is so strong from beginning to end. 

The album Pilots from Pale Hollow begins with the track “Can You Hear the Highway?” The track contains a soft, gentle feel to the Folk-Rock music in much the same style as music that would have been found on AM radio back in the seventies. The track brings to mind the lighter sound of a band like The Eagles. And in fact, the lyrical content has a simplicity that also seems rather reminiscent of songs from that time period.

Michael Allen and Pale Hollow pick up the pace with the song “Good Thing”. While there is still a slight lightness to the music, the stronger touch to the music takes the song out of the seventies and sets it more into the early nineties before Alternative Rock would have come into being. The commercial feel of the song and the track’s refrain would place the track within Top 40 radio back at that time. The track would also feel right at home being played right alongside a current band like Coldplay.

With the next track called “Won’t Let You Down,” the band takes their music solidly into the nineties. In fact, the track seems to bring back a little of the flavor of the music that had been created back in the nineties by the aforementioned band of Jericho Turnpike. The nineties flavor of the track takes the listener back to the time right before the advent of the music genre called Alternative Rock. In fact, the sound of the music on this track would have been right at home with the very first artists that would have been played on radio stations such as Cleveland, Ohio’s 107.9 The End.

The album continues with the track “Empire”. The track contains a simplicity that features only the sound of the acoustic guitar and voice of Michael Allen. The slow pace of the song and the simple musical approach create a musical background for what sounds like an apology disguised as a poetic composition set to music. While the song is mainly just a guitar and Allen’s vocals, the inclusion of a light keyboard in the background helps to add some depth to the track.

Pilots from Pale Hollow continues with the title track of the release. “Pilots” is easily one the most commercial sounding tracks on the release. If given the chance, this track could be as large as anything on Hot Adult Contemporary radio formats today. With this track, the British influence in the band’s music comes to the forefront a bit stronger than on the earlier tracks. The music on the track contains a strong Pop influence that will remind the listener of something from the likes of Coldplay or Snow Patrol or other bands that fall into the same musical feel. And while the track’s rather long playtime of nearly five minutes may be too long for most commercial radio stations, the musical sound of “Pilots” more than makes up for that.  

Pale Hollow seems to wear their influences on their sleeves. The track “Flame On” not only screams British musical influence, the song’s musical direction truly suggests that the band was more than just a little bit influenced by the band Oasis. In fact, “Flame On” from Pale Hollow would fit nicely right next to tracks like “Live Forever” “Champagne Supernova” or other tracks that can be found on Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? release.

For those who enjoy a more relaxed feel to their Rock and Roll while also enjoy having some orchestral flavor to that music, the sound of Cleveland, Ohio’s Pale Hollow may just be what you are looking for. The band’s 2018 release of Pilots is one of the most commercial albums that are not available from a major label. It’s also one of the strongest albums of 2018. If you happen to be a fan over rather commercial Rock and Roll but are tired of the same bands on commercial radio, Pale Hollow and the band’s 2018 release of Pilots may just be what you are looking for.  

 

To hear the music from Pale Hollow, check out the band’s video to the title track to the album Pilots

You can find the Pilots album from Pale Hollow on Spotify

To check out the Pilots album from Pale Hollow, click on the album cover below:

 

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CD Review: White Buffalo Woman “Foolish Hearts”

White Buffalo Woman is a Rock and Roll band out of Northeast Ohio. The band creates their Rock and Roll sound by combining Soul and Blues together to create a rather timeless style. Together as a band, White Buffalo Woman has released several EPs and two albums throughout their time. The latest album from the band was released a little over a month ago. For the sake of their newest album, the band is comprised of Evan Rutledge on vocals, Adam Murphy on guitar, Devin Bezeredi on Guitar, Alex Leggett on Bass and Joe Wales on drums with help from Chris Leonardi on keys. The resulting new release from White Buffalo Woman is entitled Foolish Hearts.

The Foolish Hearts release from White Buffalo Woman begins with the track “Love Resolution”. The track’s musical blend features a Rock and Roll sound revolving around the sound of the electric guitar. The track features a strong Rock backbone but is also rather heavy on a Pop influence. The resulting sound of the track puts the band’s music somewhere in the range of the seventies with a strong retro feel that makes it seem even older than that. “Love Resolution” is a rather laidback track that allows the listener to get acquainted with the music from White Buffalo Woman before the band truly lets loose.

And speaking of letting loose, the album continues with the track “Cryin’ Shame,” a track that again features a retro feel to the music, creating a song that fits into the Classic Rock genre. Much like the song “Old Time Rock and Roll” from Bob Seger, “Cryin’ Shame” from White Buffalo Woman takes the musical feel from the first track and bumps the intensity of the music up a notch. The reason for the increase of the Classic Rock feel of the song comes from the inclusion of Chris Leonardi’s piano that helps add that Bob Seger influence to the song. The more retro feel to the music and the stronger energy of the track creates a track that would easily fit on any Classic Rock format.

As the release continues, White Buffalo Woman continues to keep the music of their new album in a Classic Rock vein. Nowhere is that more evident than on the track “Honey Love”. The music for the track feels very familiar to anyone who enjoys Classic Rock. That is because the track seems to be influenced by the likes of the Band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The guitar-driven track features a sound and style featuring a light twang that Petty’s music is famous for. “Honey Love” is strong enough and has of a fresh feel that the track could fit right in with today’s Modern Rock music while still carrying that Tom Petty influence.

Just like the previous tracks on the album, “Wasting My Time” contains a strong timeless feel to the music. But unlike the tracks that came before it, “Wasting My Time” finds the band taking the feel of the music back even further as the track contains a Rockabilly feel to the music that would fit in with early Rock and Roll from the likes of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. The resulting feel of the music could easily put this track into the Americana music genre.

The track “Do You Ever Think of Me” continues the band’s obsession with Classic Rock. The strong guitars on the track as well as the organ in the background combine to create a track that contains a straight-out Rock and Roll sound with plenty of energy to the music. The resulting feel of the track would once again place the music from White Buffalo Woman into the late sixties/early seventies. “Do You Ever Think of Me” is such a timeless song that it would easily fit on Classic Rock radio formats.

If any track on the Foolish Hearts album from White Buffalo Woman falls into the “timeless” category, it would have to be “Drowning in Love”. While that song title may conjure up visions of something rather soft and ballad-like, nothing could be further from the truth with this song. The music of “Drowning in Love” contains just as much Rock and Roll influence as “Honey Love” or “Cryin’ Shame” from earlier in the album. The strong guitars and the moderate tempo on the track help give the song a Classic Rock feel that brings to mind classic Rolling Stones tracks from the band’s early days.

As you listen to the Foolish Hearts album from Canton, Ohio’s White Buffalo Woman, you can find yourself thinking back to the classic eras of Rock and Roll when some of the best music from the genre was created. If you want an album that is based more on the Classic Rock days of Rock and Roll as opposed to the more recent music found on Pop/Rock radio formats of today, this release is just what you need to help fill out your music collection. Foolish Hearts from White Buffalo Woman is a solid Rock and Roll album that contains ten tracks of great Rock and Roll.

Click HERE for the video to the track “Love Resolution”.

To check out the Foolish Hearts album from White Buffalo Woman, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: Randy Forte “Chas Randall”

Randy Forte is a singer-songwriter from Phoenix who grew up in Alabama. While there, many different styles of music would end up influencing him in many different ways. One way the music would influence him was in his own songwriting. Because of being exposed to many genres at once, Forte’s own music ends up drawing from different genres, creating songs that have different sounds, styles and feels. Because of this, Forte’s music does not fit into any particular genre, which results in his music being grouped in the catch-all category known as Americana.

Currently, Randy Forte is promoting a new album of music entitled Chas Randall. Drawing from the likes of Country, Rock and Roll and other genres, Randy Forte decided to release this particular album under the alias of Chas Randall, a name that uses a shortened version of his real first name and his middle name- Charles Randall. To help bring this album to life, Randy Forte worked with some of the best known musicians down in Nashville. What resulted was an album that ended up being very strong musically while also being very eclectic in nature because of the ever-changing feel of the music.

Chas Randall, the debut release from Randy Forte (or Charles Randall Forte as he’s also known), begins with the track “Six Beers Away (From Crying Over You)”. The track contains a gentle pace to the Easy Listening style of music that is mostly made up of a Country/Folk approach, which makes sense given the subject matter that would stereotypically be released within Country music. “Six Beers Away (From Crying Over You)” is a track that would have been right at home on AM radio back in the seventies.

With the next track called “Living in Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” Randy Forte takes the music in a more Rock and Roll direction. The track features strong electric guitars that help to give the song its driving feel. The feel of the music sets the song firmly somewhere between the music found in the eighties and the music of today. And with the lyrics dealing with love and loss, the track ends up containing a rather timeless feel that is truly universal.

The next track of “You Can’t Keep Hiding” takes the listener back a few decades to the late sixties/early seventies as the song contains a Country/Rock blend that is rather reminiscent of songs that were written by the group known as The Band. The gentle feel to the drums on the track, mixed with the piano/guitar mixture truly creates a sound that would make The Band proud. And with the lyrics about not being able to avoid love, the song has a musical approach that feels very listener-friendly. “You Can’t Keep Hiding” is yet another track on the Chas Randall release from Randy Forte that would have felt right at home on AM radio of the seventies.

For the next track, the music on “Rollin’” contains a style that brings to mind the feel of what is now referred to as Roots Rock. The early Country-flavored Rock and Roll of the Everly Brothers or Elvis Presley could easily have been influences on this track. And while there is a definite throwback feel to the music of the song, there is also a fresh quality to “Rollin’” from Randy Forte that makes the song seem more suited to today’s Folk-Rock scene than earlier time periods.

Take the feel of Rock and Roll from the eighties but give it a bit of a twang and you have the basic idea of what the track “You Don’t Love Me, Like I Love You” sounds like. The result of that musical blend on the song brings to mind the sound of a band like The Blasters, a group that is known for making songs with this musical approach. “You Don’t Love Me, Like I Love You” is one track on the album that will easily satisfy any Rock and Roll fan’s desire for a good, hard-rockin’ song.

The feel of the music changes yet again on the next track. While the previous tracks contained the sound of an entire band, the song “Best Friends” contains only the sound of guitars. Electric and acoustic guitars blend together to create a somewhat laidback feel to the music of the song. That laidback approach to the music comes courtesy of the Folk style to the musical side of the song. The lyrics of the track find Randy Forte singing about all of the good things that come with having someone to call on in a friendship.

With the song “My Love Away,” the energy returns to the Chas Randall release. With this track, Randy Forte creates a track that features a Country Rock sound that would fit on any modern-day Country radio format. The song contains no fiddles, but instead contains strong guitars with plenty of twang to them to help create the sound that any lover of the modern-day take on Country music would enjoy.

The Chas Randall release from Randy Forte contains nearly a dozen tracks. And each one of the songs on the release comes with its own unique flavor. The ever-changing feel to the music helps to create a strong Americana album that listeners of the style will be happy with.

 

To hear some of the music from The Chas Randall release from Randy Forte, check out the song “Living In Yesterday’s Tomorrow“. 

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

 

 

 

 

To check out the Chas Randall release from Randy Forte, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Mark Huff “Stars for Eyes”

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Mark Huff has been creating music for nearly twenty years. Whether he was down in Las Vegas or in Nashville, Huff has always found himself being able to draw from many different influences to create his music. The love for creating music began when Huff and his brother created their first band. That initial group got the juices flowing for Huff and after taking the British Invasion and Punk influences from that initial band; he stared adding more influences into his original music. And as of today, the resulting music from Mark Huff is a mix of several genres.    

For his new album, Mark Huff’s Stars for Eyes begins with the track “Prison Door”. The beginning of the track features the sound of an electric guitar and keyboard that lay down a strong musical riff. Before long, the rest of the instrumentation joins in and the track becomes a Rock and Roll track featuring a sound that would fall somewhere between an eighties sound and one from the nineties, with a stress on the eighties vibe. The timeless feel of the track will appeal to lovers of Rock and Roll that has an energetic feel to it.

Immediately, the new release from Mark Huff changes musical directions. The album continues with the “title track” of the release. “Stars for Eyes” contains a pace that is quite a bit slower than the previous track. The feel of the music has changed as well, as the music on this track contains more of a Soul-based feel to the music. The track still contains some Rock and Roll feel, which gives the track some depth. The Rock/Soul feel of the track actually gives the song a “space-y” feel which only adds to the title and lyrics of the song.

Just like when the feel of the music changed between the tracks “Prison Door” and “Stars for Eyes,” the feel of the music changes once again with the next track of “Carolina Blue”. With the pedal steel on the track, the song features a slight Country feel to the slower, easier pace to the song. The resulting feel can only be described as Americana since the track is basically equal parts Country and Rock & Roll. The song “Carolina Blue” comes across as a track with definite “crossover” potential as it will draw fans of both styles to the music.

With the song “Big City Down,” Mark Huff and the rest of the band creates a track that would fit along the same lines of the track “Carolina Blue” before it. The Folk-Rock track comes complete with a steel guitar that is the instrument that shapes the feel of the track the most. “Big City Down” deals with a small-town person thinking about the bigger city and the potential it holds. The track feels as if it would have been right at home on AM radio back in the seventies.

Speaking of retro sounds, the track “God in Geography” also contains a sound that takes the listener back. With this song, however, the resulting music on “God in Geography” feels as if it could easily have come from New Wave Rockers The Cars. As the keyboards on Mark Huff’s track feel as if they were straight out of the eighties, “God in Geography” would have been right at home on radio during that time period.

Mark Huff and the rest of the band once again change the direction of the music. The track “Nightingale” finds Huff and the band adopting a more Countrified sound on this track. The With the inclusion of the piano, steel guitar and even Jews harp all blending together, the resulting track brings to mind the music of Michael Nesmith of the Monkees and his group The First National Band. The musical blend on the track will please any Country fan and the inclusion of the Jews harp gives the song a slightly humorous feel to it.

As the listener goes through the Stars for Eyes release from Mark Huff, the eleven tracks continue to change musical directions. The album never stays in one musical mindset very long before the sound of the music changes. As the songs from Huff are written well, the musicianship on the album is just as strong, helping to make the release an enjoyable listening experience from the first track to the last.     

 

To check out the music of Mark Huff, check out the song “Big City Down”. 

 

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

    

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase a copy of the Stars for Eyes release from Mark Huff, click on the album cover below: