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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Jackopierce “Feel This Good”

Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce came together to form a musical ensemble back in 1988. Together, they formed a duo called Jackopierce. That concept gave the toe musicians a decade-long music career that featured the release of six albums before they celebrated a decade with the release of the album entitled Decade. After celebrating ten years together, the duo went their separate ways…supposedly over the need to play the song “Three of Us In a Boat,” the song that ended up being their musical signature. After an extended break, O’Neill and Pierce would reconvene the duo and would once again start recording, adding an additional five albums to the Jackopierce discography.

The last album of Everywhere I Go from Jackopierce was released back in 2012. But now the duo of Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce has once again come back together. This time, they have a new album to promote. The latest album from the band is 2018’s Feel This Good.   

Feel This Good from Jackopierce begins with the album’s title track. “Feel This Good” begins with the sound of lightly clicking percussion that transitions into an easy going Acoustic Rock track. The song has a light, gentle feel as the music on the track contains a Pop-Rock feel. The addition of the banjo on the track adds texture to the music.  When the mandolin starts, the track is equal parts Pop-Rock and Folk.

When the second track of the album called “Without You” begins, the song instantly takes on the feel of the songs that were featured on the Everywhere I Go release. “Without You” contains so much of the same vibe as anything from that album that it’s as if O’Neill and Pierce had one more song left in them from the creation of the previous album and didn’t have any place to put it so they included it on Feel This Good.

The band changes its direction on the track “So Good”. The track has a slight Country feel to the music as it seems as if it would fit right in with any of the songs currently being played on any Country radio format. However, the song also contains a musical approach that also brings to mind the music of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The main reason for the Petty influence comes from the guitar playing on the track that contains the same type of twang that was always present in Petty’s music. The musical blend invites two different types of music lover to enjoy this track.

Jackopierce slows things down with the next track that is ironically called “Speed”. Like the previous track of “So Good,” the music on this track contains an easy feel and an almost Folk-like approach. The track’s lyrics deal with a relationship that apparently may be coming to an end.  The easy feel to the music brings to mind the Soft Rock music of the late seventies/early eighties. In fact, you can hear a little bit of influence from the band America in both the music and the lyrical content in the track. While there is a definite flavor to the song that will remind listeners of something from the seventies, you can still imagine “Speed” being played on any of today’s Adult Contemporary radio formats.

For the first few bars of the track “Miracle,” you can imagine the band Jackopierce having the same type of musical approach as the band Vertical Horizon. In fact, as you listen to the guitar on the beginning of “Miracle,” the song’s first few bars brings to mind “I’m Still Here” From VH. After the first few seconds, however, the song takes on a much different feel as the song’s approach takes on more of a Christian Rock approach. That musical approach is helped along with the inclusion of strings that give the song added beauty. The Christian feel not only comes from the musical aspect of the track but also from the lyrical content. While not overly religious, the track of “Miracle” could easily find its way onto Top 40 radio as well as the most obvious of Christian Rock formats, The Fish. The Crossover effect on the song almost guarantees that the song could get plays on many radio stations if given the chance.

With the track “Still House Hollow,” the feel of the band changes drastically. The track contains a straight-out Rock and Roll feel that brings to mind something from the eighties or early nineties. This track stands out because it has a different feel than anything else that appears on the latest release from Jackopierce.  In fact, the closest thing that the track reminds me of is something from the Scottish band Big Country or maybe even the Irish band Energy Orchard. While the track feels slightly unusual when compared to the rest of the album, “Still House Hollow” still has enough commercial appeal that it would still feel right at home on Top 40 Radio.

The band Jackopierce had once been signed to major label A&M back in the nineties. But the band’s more recent material has plenty of modern appeal to it. Songs like “Miracle” and the title track of “Feel This Good” would fit right in with today’s Top 40 music. And while the band’s previous album of Everywhere I Go had been released over six years ago, the time between albums seems to have been well worth it as Feel This Good is a very good release that is just as solid as the band’s last album.

(For more information, click HERE to check out the review for the last album of Everywhere I Go from Jackopierce.) 

Click HERE to check out the Feel This Good album from Jackopierce on Spotify. 

To check out some of the music from Jackopierce, lick HERE for the title track of “Feel This Good”. 

 

To purchase a copy of Feel This Good album from Jackopierce, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.

It was back in 1981 that Mike Peters and the rest of the band formed the band called The Alarm. That band came to be after the previous group called The Toilets came to an end. With The Toilets, the music was more Punk-based. That sound and style changed with the founding of the band called The Alarm.

As a band, The Alarm combined some New Wave elements and Rock and Roll elements to form the basis of the band’s sound. What resulted is a sound that is rather similar in some ways to the styles of bands like INXS or U2. During the time the band was together, they enjoyed a certain amount of popularity, although that popularity never quite hit here in the states. However, for those who know the band, The Alarm is known for such songs as “Rain in the Summertime,” “Spirit of ’76,” “Rescue Me,” and the song that made the most noise for the band, “Sixty Eight Guns“. 

Throughout the history of the band, The Alarm had three separate time periods, taking a few years off here and there. The last time the band had been together was back in 2010. The band took some time off until lead singer Mike Peters regained the desire to perform with his band mates after spending some time as the frontman of the Scottish band Big Country where Peters filled in for deceased guitarist and lead singer Stuart Adamson who took his own life back in 2001. As the fill-in for Adamson, Mike Peters gained a desire to put his own band back together again and the band of The Alarm reunited and have since released several new albums of music.

In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals.

Equals from The Alarm begins with the song “Two Rivers”. With this track, the band finds itself going back to the early days of its existence as the music in this song is a combination of both New Wave and Alternative. The track begins with a sound that would have been right at home on radio back in the eighties during the original phase of New Wave music. The keyboards on the track bring to mind the early days of bands like OMD or Depeche Mode. The New Wave feel is soon joined up by an musical influence that brings to mind the early days of Alternative Rock. The two styles combine in this track to create a track that truly feels more commercial than either of the styles on their own. The lyrics to “Two Rivers” deal with two people who have gone their separate ways because of a disagreement. Mike Peters sings of hoping that the two people will get back together where the “two rivers meet” so that they can work things out. The track “Two Rivers” feels very welcome in a time of strong uncertainty in the world.

It is with the first single off of the release that the Equals album from The Alarm continues. That song is entitled “Beautiful”. While much of the band’s earlier music contained a New Wave flavor to it, this track seems to find the band firmly embracing the feel of Alternative Rock. As a matter of fact, the song not only contains and Alternative feel, the track’s sound brings to mind some of the heavier work from the band U2. And while there is a certain amount of U2 influence to the music of the track, “Beautiful” contains a driving feel to the music that gives the song more of a Rock and Roll feel to the music than Pop-rock feel that is usually found on that other band’s music. “Beautiful” has a strong musical approach that would fit right in on any Top 40 radio format.

With the next track, Mike Peters and company create a track with the help of British musician and lead guitarist of the band The Cult, Billy Duffy. The track “Coming Backwards” takes the band’s music in a slightly retro feel. The resulting track features a sound that brings to mind the Power Rock music from the eighties. In fact, “Coming Backwards” would easily have fit on radio back in the eighties. For today’s music scene, the track has enough of a current feel to it that the track comes across as timeless. The lyrics to “Coming Backwards” deal with doing the same thing over and over again. The track ends up being one of the stronger tracks on the release.

The song “Transatlantic” features a sound that makes use of musical influences found back in the nineties. The track’s Rock and Roll approach combines the feel of the band U2 with that of earlier music from The Alarm. The musical blend on the track would fit right in with musical from either band. The track deals with someone in a long distance relationship. The lyrics deal with the singer missing someone on the other side of the world. This track is perfect for anyone who is currently missing someone who is far away from them.

Taking the music in a slightly different direction, the song “Thirteen Dead Reindeer” features an Alternative Rock feel with plenty of electronica influence thrown in. The result is a song that that has a strong beat to it as well as a driving feel to the pace of the music. The track’s sound falls somewhere between modern and slightly retro. The lyrics to the track deal with the senseless killing of animals and the fallout that happens afterward.

For two tracks on the band’s newest album, The Alarm create songs that deal with conflict. With the song “Neutral,” Mike Peters sings about not wanting to get involved with other people’s problems. At the same time, the track “Cenotaph” (a word that describes an empty tomb) deals with getting ready for the war that is about to start. With the way the world is right now, the two tracks seem to be speaking volumes about the current political atmosphere.

One of the more unusual tracks (for both the album and the band itself), “Hell Fire” is a track that truly separates itself from the rest of the album. The track contains a style of Rock and Roll and a lyrical content that combine to create track that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would be proud of. In fact, the track’s Nine Inch Nails sound only helps to point out that Mike Peters’ writing has been shaped by many different influences.

Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

The Alarm is currently promoting their new album called Equals. To help promote the new album, the band has released the song “Beautiful”. Click HERE to check out the video to “Beautiful”.

To check out the newest album from The Alarm called Equals, click on the album cover below: 

 

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Lord Nelson “Through the Night”

Lord Nelson is a Rock and Roll band that calls the state of Virginia home. Specifically, the band hails from the city of Nelson, which is most likely where the band’s name comes from. The quintet consist of: lead singer and guitarist Kai Crowe-Getty, multi-instrumentalist Henry Jones, Calloway Jones on lead guitar, Andrew Hollifield on bass, and Johnny Stubblefield behind the sticks. Together, the ensemble creates a musical style that can only be described as Modern Rock.

The sound from the band Lord Nelson consists of a timeless blend of styles that incorporates both Soul and Americana into it. That musical approach would fit as much with music from the eighties as it would with today’s sounds. Taking that classic sound, the band has created two releases: 2015’s The Country and 2018’s Through the Night.

Through the Night from Lord Nelson begins with the track “Second Chances”. The track begins with a strong drumbeat from Johnny Stubblefield that is then joined by lead guitarist Calloway Jones. The two instruments combine to create the backbone for the straight-out Rock and Roll track. The track’s driving feel to the song mixed with that straight-out Rock and Roll sound makes for a strong tune that moves along rather easily, creating a song that ultimately becomes a jam. “Second Chances” sets the album off with a bang.

The new release from Lord Nelson continues with the album’s first single, “Tail Lights”. Just like the previous track, the band creates a track that has a solid Rock and Roll feel to it. The track also features a strong R&B backbone to the music. While the previous track feels rather timeless in nature, the musical blend on this track creates a style that put the song somewhere in the nineties. “Tail Lights” could easily have been played on Alternative playlists at that time.

With the next track of “Black Hills,” the band’s sound changes a little. The music of the track contains a slight twang to it while the overall feel puts the song somewhere the late eighties/early nineties. The track brings to mind music from the likes of Big Country or even Bruce Springsteen.  Like the earlier tracks, “Black Hills” contains a musical direction that makes the track feel as if it should have easily been a hit back in the eighties.

Speaking of the eighties, that’s where you can imagine the track “Fingertips”. In fact, the track features a guitar part that seems rather reminiscent of something from John Mellencamp from that era. The inclusion of the horns, the band adds a lot of Soul influence to the track. “Fingertips” has a strong groove to it and once again feels very commercial in its musical direction.

While most of the tracks on the new release from Lord Nelson have a quick delivery, the band slows things down on the track “Good Time”. Along with the slower pace, the band gives the track a lot more Soul direction than any of the previous tracks. To go along with the overall Soul feel of the track, the horn solo in the middle of the track adds a bit of New Orleans Jazz to the track. The lyrical content of the track reminds the listener that nothing is forever and that your life will eventually come to an end. So have fun while you can.

Lord Nelson continues their new release with the track “Safety Meeting”. The song begins with a strong organ riff created by multi-instrumentalist Henry Jones. That riff contains a certain amount of Soul flavor to it and that Soul flavor gets incorporated into the body of the track. As lead singer and guitarist Kai Crowe-Getty delivers the vocals that Soul feeling shows up in his delivery. Together, the band creates a track that features lyrics getting together in order to create change when change doesn’t come on its own. While the track’s light, soulful musical delivery makes the track feel, there is a slight fun feeling to the track. But the serious nature belonging to the lyrics makes the overall feel of the song rather somber.

In the same vein, the very next track of “Southern Discomfort” digs a little deeper into the serious sides of things. The track’s lyrics speak of the current mood of the country as people are looking to change the way certain areas of the South are perceived. The track’s serious nature is matched up with a strong beat and a melody that makes for an interesting mixture.

Through the Night from Lord Nelson comes to a close with the song “Running on Back”. With this track, the band brings a bit of the fun back to the release. Like several of the earlier tracks on the release, “Running on Back” features a musical delivery that brings to mind straight-out Rock and Roll from the eighties. And while there is that eighties feel to the song, it also has enough of a modern feel to it that the track would feel right at home on today’s Modern Rock formats.

Through the Night, the newest release from Virginia-based Lord Nelson features a mix of styles that blend together to create a strong album from beginning to end. If you are a fan of straight-out Rock and Roll, this is one release that will satisfy your desire for the style.

Through the Night from Lord Nelson has yet to be released. Lord Nelson will be celebrating the release of the album on May 18, 2018. Until then, the band has released the track “Tail Lights” as the album’s first single.  

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, WHIPLASH PR. 

 

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Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Ray Flanagan and the Authorities S/T

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Red Wanting Blue “From the Vanishing Point”

Columbus, OH band Red Wanting Blue is finally realizing their dream of becoming a household name outside of the state of Ohio after more than a decade of existence. That success is thanks, in part, to the band’s last album, These Magnificent Miles. It was that album that captured the attention of New York-based record label, Fanatic Records. Fanatic Records re-released These Magnificent Miles and they have helped Red Wanting Blue gain a larger audience on a more national level.

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Features

Nothing Says ‘Love’ Like a Band Reunion

Nothing makes you wish you could win the lottery, or unexpectedly come into money some other way, like one of your favourite bands reuniting for a show. One of the ones you thought you’d perhaps never get to see live, or never again if you’d already seen them.

There is certainly a benefit of a band reuniting without putting out a new (often disappointing) release. No questioning whether or not to go to the show, worried you’ll have to endure a bunch of shitty new songs in order to hear a few of your old favourites. In addition, there are the likes of Billy Corgan  – expecting fans to be so devoted they won’t ask for the old songs that changed their lives, and reprimanding them when they do. It doesn’t seem like a fair approach somehow, even if the artist cringes at the angsty, earlier chapter of their career.