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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CD Review: 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: The Borstal Boys S/T

It is said that many local music scenes, no matter where you live, are made up of about twenty-five musicians or so who make up about seventy-five percent of the music scene. Meaning, if you go out to see a cover band, you are most likely going to run into one of these omnipresent musicians. Even some of the Original Music bands contained within a scene will contain some of these musicians. This is very much the case for the band called The Borstal Boys.

The Borstal Boys is an Original Rock and Roll band that has roots within the Pittsburgh area. Each of the musicians that help to make up the group has a long history within the Pittsburgh music scene. Consisting of: Rocky Lamonde (Bass), Patrick Norman (Electric and Acoustic Guitar), Joe Pelesky (Organ and Vocal), Darryl Thumm (Guitar), Scott Wilson (Drums), Vinny Q (Guitar) and Mark Ponsonby (Lead Vocal), The Borstal Boys have stood on stages with the likes of Bill Toms and Hard Rain, Rusted Root and many other bands. Together, the musicians take the years of experience to create a new band that draws from that long history.

Taking all of their various musical influences such as The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Faces and more The Borstal Boys created their first album. The band’s self-titled album was released in 2018.

The first track on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys is the track “My Everything”. With this track, the band breaks into some good, old-fashioned Rock and Roll. In fact, what the sound will most likely remind the listener of is something from Bruce Springsteen. Moreover, the song has more than a little bit of influence from The Boss’ music from around the time of the Born to Run era. “My Everything” from The Borstal Boys has more than just a little influence from Springsteen’s song called “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”.  The track also has some Bob Seger influence to it, as well.

For the next track, the band seems to add some newer influences to the mixture. The track “Marlene Jane” features Rock and Roll that feels as if it came from the eighties. While there is still a good amount of Classic Rock influence to the track, the song also features a little New Wave and/or Alternative influence to the track. The majority of the track seems to contain some influence from John Mellencamp as the guitar-driven track is reminiscent of Mellencamp’s stuff from the eighties. The keyboards in the background of the song, however, seem to contain a much more modern influence to them. Because of the combination of the two directions at one time, “Marlene Jane” is a track that would easily fit well next to songs from the like of the Goo Goo Dolls or Gin Blossoms. The track would be right at home on any Modern Rock or Hot A/C radio format.

With the track “Head Full of Ghosts,” The Borstal Boys take their music back in time once again. The track is firmly placed in the middle of Classic Rock. As you listen to the track, you can easily imagine Power Trios like Cream adding some influence to the music of the band. But there also feels as if there is some Frank Zappa and the Mother of Invention influence present in the music, especially in the guitar playing on the track. For fans of straight-out Rock and Roll looking for that style today, you can’t do better than “Head Full of Ghosts” from The Borstal Boys.

Bringing their music back to a more modern sound, The Borstal Boys create the track “Green Light”. The slower-paced track features a strong guitar feel to the music. The music on the track brings to mind the feel of the music that came from The Black Crowes back in the nineties. This track by The Borstal Boys would feel right at home being played right after a track like “She Talks to Angels”. And with a playtime that exceeds the four-minute mark, “Green Light” ends up being one of the longer tracks on the album, although you really wouldn’t notice as the track flows rather smoothly during that playtime.

And speaking of angels, the very next track on the seven-song release is actually called “Fallen Angel”. And just like with “Green Light,” “Fallen Angel” has a slower pace to the music. While the previous tracks on the self-titled release from The Borstal Boys do not contain any religious meanings, the song “Fallen Angel” is full of heavenly imagery in the lyrics. Plus, the inclusion of the organ on the track also adds a bit of flavor to the track as well.

The Borstal Boys bring their 2018 self-titled release to a close with the track “G-Spot Blues”. The final track on the release finds the band creating an all-instrumental track. And with the fact that the song contains the title it does and the music is quite Progressive in its style of Rock and Roll, the Frank Zappa references are sort of difficult to miss. The completely instrumental feel to the music on this track gives the listener a clear glimpse at the talent of each of the members of the band.

Where many bands and recording artists pay attention to only the newest rends in music, it is great to find those bands that still incorporate real Rock and Roll feeling into their sound. The Borstal Boys have created a strong seven-song release that stays fresh throughout as they create songs that make use of that Classic Rock style.  

 

For more information, check out the band’s record label The Vault Records

To hear the music of The Borstal Boys, check out their song “Head Full of Ghosts” 

To hear the entire self-titled album from The Borstal Boys, find the band on Spotify

To purchase a copy of the self-titled album of the The Borstal Boys, click on the album cover below: 

 

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CD Review: The Innocent Bystanders “Attractive Nuisance”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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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CD Review: The Celebration Army S/T

The Celebration Army is a Toronto-based Rock and Roll quartet who is “taking back the night and breathing new life into the roots of the most inspiring genre of our generation”. Comprised of Oliver Pigott on vocals, Nelson Sobral on guitar & backup vocals, Leandro Motta on bass & backup vocals and Troy Larabie on drums, the band has created a style of the genre that takes the group’s sound back to the Classic Rock era of the music. Combining Rock, Soul, and Blues, The Celebration Army’s Rock and Roll style helps to bring back a little strength to the music that has been losing a lot of energy over the last few years. To help bring back that energy to the style of Rock and Roll, The Celebration Army has put out a few releases. Along with two EPs, the band has just recently put out a new self-titled album.

The Celebration Army went into the studio and spent two days recording tracks that would become their self-titled debut album. That “live in the studio” feel can definitely be felt within the twelve tracks that make up the band’s self-titled release.

The 2017 self-titled album from The Celebration Army begins with the track “When Your Love is on the Loose”. A straight-out Rock and Roll track, the sound of the track brings to mind underground bands from the eighties like Junk Monkeys who created straight-out Rock and Roll. The track also seems to suggest a little influence from the band The Del Lords. The song “When Your Love is on the Loose” brings the listener back to the days of the late eighties/early nineties in a good way. While the track feels very reminiscent of that time period, the underground feel of the track would have easily fit on college radio at the time.

With the next track of “Hang it Up,” The Celebration Army slows the pace of the music down a little. And even with that slower pace, the band doesn’t give any less energy to their music. While “When Your Love is on the Loose” feels like straight-out Rock and Roll, the band adds a little Soul influence into the music of the track. The resulting song brings to mind something from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. And unlike the previous track, “Hang it Up” would have fit well on commercial radio in the eighties.

An unmistakable Funk groove hits the listener in the first seconds of the track “In the Henhouse”. That groove created by Nelson Sobral on guitar, Leandro Motta on bass and Troy Larabie on drums help to create one of the most powerful moments on the entire release. And with the vocals from Oliver Pigott that add some Soul to the track, “In the Henhouse” is the most listener-friendly track up to that point.

On the next track, The Celebration Army adds a lot of Alternative Rock influence to their new album. The slightly orchestral nature of the music on the track and the operatic vocals from Oliver Pigott on “Don’t Hold Me Now” combine to create one track that stands out when compared to the rest of the music.

“Motorbike” is one track that shows off The Celebration Army’s Blues influence. With this track, the band adds that Blues influence with slightly stronger guitars, harmonica and stronger basslines to create a track that all but screams “Canned Heat”. “Motorbike” is another track that stands out as the band creates a moment unlike anything else up to that point.

Like the track “In the Henhouse” a little earlier in the album, the song “Risky Business” contains a strong groove to the music. The strong bassline adds that Funky feel to the song while the guitar helps to add the melody to the track. The lyrics to the refrain of the track are very easy and seem to just flow, creating very easy lines that feel very infectious that lend themselves to singalongs. “Risky Business” was released by the band previous to the actual album coming out. That helped to promote the album with a very strong track that deserves multiple listenings.

On the track “Dust My Dirt,” The Celebration Army creates a song that feels as if it should have come out of the seventies. The band calls upon their influences from groups from that era as they create a slow-paced jam that brings to Eric Clapton. The track contains that feel before the band picks up the energy for a few seconds. The softer/rockier approaches alternate throughout the track until the final few seconds when the band sends the track off with a very strong guitar solo that contains a Jimi Hendrix-like sound.

The 2017 self-titled album from The Celebration Army focuses on musical styles that fit into the Classic Rock genre. The twelve tracks on the release make good use of the band’s influences. Whether using straight-out Rock and Roll sounds or more underground influences, each track from The Celebration Army is very strong and the twelve tracks combined together make for one solid album.

To check out the music from The Celebration Army, click HERE for the band’s song “Risky Business”.

To check out the self-titled release from The Celebration Army, click on the album cover below:
Celebration Army CD

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CD Review: J.D. Malone & The Experts “Town and Country”

Back about ten years ago, singer-songwriter J.D. Malone had been a part of a successful Philadelphia-based cover band called Steamroller Picnic. Together, Steamroller Picnic had a career that lasted 15 years. Once Steamroller Picnic went their separate ways, J.D. Malone started creating music of his own. Together with the collection of musicians called The Experts, J.D. Malone has started to create a library of original music.

Along with J.D. Malone on guitar and vocals, the rest of The Experts consists of: Avery Coffee – electric guitar and backing vocals; Jim Miades – bass guitar; Tommy Geddes – drums; Nate Gonzalez – keys, accordion; Tom Hampton – lap steel, pedal steel, mandolin, baritone guitar and backing vocals; as well as John Farrell – pedal steel / harmonica, Michael Ronstadt – cello and Jayda Hampton – vocals. Currently, J.D. Malone and The Experts are celebrating the release of their latest EP called Town and Country.

Town and Country from J.D. Malone and The Experts begins with the track “Courage Under Fire”. The track features a Rock and Roll sound that takes the listener back to the style of Rock and Roll found in the eighties. In fact, you can hear a little influence from the likes of Springsteen or Mellencamp in the music. The track has a strong pop-like feel to the music that would make the song perfect for Top 40 radio airplay.

With the next track, Malone delves into a rather political subject. “Unknown Soldier” focuses on what happens when a soldier dies in battle. The track is written from the point of view of the soldier as he lies dying. The lyrics about the wishes of that dying soldier are matched up with music that contains a moderate pace to the tempo and gentleness to the music itself. On “Unknown Soldier,” it becomes evident that there might actually be a running theme going as “Courage Under Fire” and “Unknown Soldier” contain the same sort of lyrical content to the songs. And while the lyrics to “Unknown Soldier” could have been written with more of an emotional attachment to them, Malone makes a point without adding that painful tug of the heart to the song.

With the track of “Light was Born,” J.D. Malone slows the pace down quite a bit. The track features a rather simple musical approach as the main instruments are Malone’s acoustic guitar and Tom Hampton’s accordion. The two instruments create a slow pace and light background as J.D. Malone sings the lyrics about accepting what has happened and just moving on. The addition of Jayda Hampton on a light vocal gives the track a little more texture.

The pace picks up with the release’s title track. “Town and Country” features a sound that is a combination of influences from the likes of Counting Crows and Black Crowes. The resulting slow jam with the Classic Rock influence focuses on the playing of electric guitarist Avery Coffee and organist Nate Gonzalez. Along with that musical mix, the track features lyrics about how the world sees you. “Town and Country” is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

With the track “My Own Paradise,” J.D. Malone and The Experts stay with a Classic Rock in the style of Counting Crows but with a lighter feel to the energy level. The song has one of the catchiest sounds of any of the tracks on the Town and Country release. The simple chorus will encourage people to sing along with the track. “My Own Paradise” is another track on the EP that seems to beg to be heard.

Just as “My Own Paradise” comes to an end after the final few seconds fade into the distance, the beginning of the track “Weight of the World” fades the music back up. When the music finally segues from “My Own Paradise” to “Weight of the World,” the track of “Weight of the World” contains a lot of the same feel as the previous song but with an easier pace. The folk-like feel of the pace to “Weight of the World” continues for about three minutes and then at the three-minute mark, the band creates one of the hardest rocking thirty seconds on the release.

The newest release from J.D. Malone and The Experts comes to a close with the track “Gamma Man”. The track finds the entire band creating a song with a definite jam band feel to the music. “Gamma Man” is one of the hardest rocking tracks on the release and one of the tracks that really stands out.

Town and Country from J.D. Malone and The Experts makes use of several different musical influences in order to bring the release to life. Throughout the seven tracks that make up the EP, the listener will find plenty of variety and that variety is what makes the release so strong.

To hear some of the music of J.D. Malone and the Experts, check out the song “Town and Country“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm of Michael J. Media.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Town and Country from J.D. Malone and the Experts.

Town and Country, J.D Malone and The Experts

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CD Review: Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth “100 Miles to Macon”

Bucky Hayes is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter. However, Hayes was originally from Nashville and then spent time in both Georgia and Florida. Because of that upbringing, you can definitely notice the Southern quality to Hayes’ vocals. That southern childhood also influences the music that Hayes creates with his band called the Commonwealth. Along with Bucky Hayes on vocals and guitar, the rest of the band consists of bassist Bobby McCullough, drummer Sonny Ratcliff, keyboardist Bryan Trenis and guitarist Patrick Hay. Together, the band has recently created the album entitled 100 Miles to Macon.

The 100 Miles to Macon album from Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth begins with the track “I’ll Leave the Light on”. This particular track sounds like something that would have been on radio in the 80s. In particular, the track reminds the listener of someone like Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp would have written. “I’ll Leave the Light On” contains the type of Rock and Roll from back in that period of music. While the band does approach the track with plenty of energy, the track features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach with a certain amount of gentleness to the music. It is the gentleness to the Rock and Roll that places the band into the Americana genre.

100 Miles to Macon continues with the song “Sweet June”. On this track, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth slow down the pace of the music. However, they also add a bit of the blues to the music to add some energy to the song. The slower pace helps to create a track that would remind some of songs from the likes of Tom Petty. The majority of the track contains a somewhat laidback quality. However, the electric guitar from Patrick Hay gives plenty to the music of energy near the end of the song.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth continue with a slower pace to their music on the track “Go Brother Go”. The slower pace, the lighter feel of the music and the easy delivery to the lyrics gives the track a musical approach reminiscent of Jack Johnson. The acoustic feel to the music allows for the band to show off their skills as musicians without having to overpower the song itself. The track’s easier pace helps to separate it from many of the other songs on the release.

The track “Loretta Rae” finds the band picking up the energy of the music. The track features a strong guitar part from guitarist Patrick Hay as well as a strong keyboard presence from keyboardist Bryan Trenis. The track begins with a strong guitar solo from Hay. After that initial beginning, the entire band joins in to create a track with a quick pace to the music. The music and the vocals from Bucky Hayes bring to mind John Mellencamp. The track contains a solo break with both Trenis’ keyboards and Hay’s electric guitar creating a strong instrumental break. “Loretta Rae” ends up being one of the strongest tracks with a very catchy musical feel to it. The song ultimately sounds like it could be used as a single for the album.

100 Miles to Macon is not only the album title for Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth’s new release, but it’s also a very strong track on its own. The track “100 Miles to Macon” begins with a quiet musical quality. That quiet beginning features only the keyboards from Bryan Trenis and a light beat from drummer Sonny Ratcliff. The track quickly evolves into a full-band track that feels like something from a band from the nineties. The track about a rather long road trip has a style that may remind some of something from Counting Crows, like “A Long December” with a bit of twang to both the music and the vocals from Bucky Hayes.

The pace of the music slows way down on the next track. “The Times You Chose to Be in My Arms” finds the band trading a modern-day approach to their music for something from back in the 1960s. With the track, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth took the song and also added a lot more Country twang to it. The track feels as if someone like Waylon Jennings would have performed the track. There seems to be a rather timeless quality to the track. That timeless feeling helps to add to the all-around Americana classification of the music from the band.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth bring their new album of 100 Miles to Macon to an end with the track “We Gonna Get Stronger Somehow”. The track contains a strong Rock and Roll beat while containing a slight twang to the music. The Alt-Country track shows off the talents of each and every member of the band. The strength of the music and the upbeat nature of the lyrics contained within the song make the song a great choice to be used as the closing track for the album. And with the loose feel to the playing of the band throughout the track, it also contains a fun nature to it.

The 100 Miles to Macon album from Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth begins strong and continues to be strong throughout the ten tracks that make up the release. While the band does incorporate some other influences to their music, the strong Rock and Roll sound of the band shines through from the beginning note until the last one. If you like a group that knows how to have fun, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth is someone you need to check out.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth will be celebrating the release of 100 Miles to Macon on September 9, 2016. Until then, for music of Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth, check out the video to “I’ll Leave the Light On“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm of RMG Artist Development.

Bucky-Web-Record

 

 

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CD Review: Man Called Noon “The Bad Guy”

Back around 2010, I had been introduced to the Chicago-based band Man Called Noon. At that time, I became familiar with the band because of their album Broke and Beaten Down. With that release, the band created an album that alternated between solid Rock and Roll and a style that was more folk-infused. While the tracks were interesting with the continuous alternating of styles, the album seemed as if it was missing some sort of glue to hold it together.

Several years after reviewing 2009’s Broke and Beaten Down, and after having released another album in the meantime entitled Edge of the Night, Man Called Noon returns with their newest album entitled The Bad Guy. With this album, the band creates a slightly different style of music than what had come before. That has to do with the new lineup for the band. Having gone through some changes over the years, Man Called Noon now consists of Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Tony Giamichael, bassist Dave Aitken and Drummer Josh Fontenot, as well as new band members Elisa Carlson (Keys & Vocals), Stephanie Aitken and Erin Piotrowski (Backing Vocals), and new lead guitar player Alex Ross. This new lineup incorporates some of the old sound and feel of the band while also taking the band’s sound in a new and more interesting direction.

The new sound of Man Called Noon can be found on The Bad Guy, the 2015 release from the band. The Bad Guy begins with the title track to the release. “The Bad Guy” finds Man Called Noon creating some good, old-fashioned Rock and Roll. The track starts will a strong combination of bassist Dave Aitken and Drummer Josh Fontenot as they create a strong beat. Eventually, the rest of the band joins them. The solid Rock and Roll style featuring guitars and some piano on the track would easily be right at home with anything that would have been found on Rock and Roll formats back in the 80s. “The Bad Guy” could fit between tracks from Bruce Springsteen and Rick Springfield. The track’s sound is fresh enough that it would also be welcome on today’s Top 40 formats.

The new release from Man Called Noon continues with the song “Dark Side of the Dawn”. Like the title track before it, “Dark Side of the Dawn” has a very strong retro feel to it. And just like “The Bad Guy,” “Dark Side of the Dawn” sounds like something from the 80s. The inclusion of both the piano and the keyboard on the track definitely gives the song a very commercial musical approach. The commercial feel of the music and the driving feel to the tempo of the song make the track very an easy single off the release.

Man Called Noon takes the sound of their music in a much more “pop-like” direction with the next track. “Dance Tonight” features a strong bass/drum approach with just enough guitars and keys being added to the mix to flavor the song. The various musical elements combine together to create a strong dance beat and that makes the song one of the strongest tracks on the album.

With the track “More,” Man Called Noon drastically changes the musical direction of their music. While the previous tracks stayed in a pop/rock vein, “More” finds the band heading in a much more Alternative Rock direction. The harder sound of the guitars, the stronger beat of the drums and the slower tempo all combine to create a track unlike anything else on the release up to that point. The change of pace is good and keeps the album interesting.

The band switches their sound once again for the track “Hold On”. The piano-driven track finds the band returning to something that would belong in the eighties. The rockin’ track seems to be a combination of the energetic driving rock and roll of someone like The Fools with a little bit of keyboard-pop thrown in. “Hold On” is easily one of the best tracks on The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon.

Appearing late in the album is one of the strongest, most listener-friendly tracks on the 9-track album. “Midnight Revival (Get Down)” is a track that features a very addictive melody, a strong beat and easy lyrics that lend themselves to a very catchy sing-along. While the song may not be something that FM radio might pick up on, “Midnight Revival (Get Down)” has a sound and style that would be perfect for use in commercials or in a movie soundtrack, which is just as good as being played on the radio.

While I was already familiar with Man Called Noon, the band’s new album was a nice surprise. The new release from Man Called Noon finds the band creating a much stronger vibe than what had appeared on the band’s 2010 album of Broke and Beaten Down. The Bad Guy contains better musicianship, stronger songs and an all-around better sound. If unfamiliar with Man Called Noon, The Bad Guy is the perfect place to discover the band for yourself.

Bad Guy

To discover the music of Man Called Noon, click the link for the track “The Bad Guy“.

To purchase a copy of The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon, click the link.

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CD Review: The Westies “Six on the Out”

What happens when you have a rather interesting and checkered past? Well, you write songs based around it. That is precisely what singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has done with the help of his wife Heather Horton. Together, McDermott and Horton got together to create songs that have a rather dark side to them, as the songs deal with the not-so-pretty side of life; the side of life that McDermott knows all too well. Together, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton make up the core of the band The Westies.

With The Westies, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton have created songs that deal with the grimy underground that exists within society. Having already created one album in 2015 entitled West Side Stories, the musical outfit has returned after only one year from the release of that album with what amounts to being “part two” of the concept. That newly-released second album is called Six On the Out.

Six On the Out, the new album from The Westies, plays like a combination of little vignettes, with each song focusing on an entire storyline within the timeframe of only a few minutes. From one song to the next, you meet different characters and live their stories before moving on to the next character and storyline. And while each song is its own plot, they combine together to form an interweaving storyline that brings each character together into the same crime-filled universe.

The Westies’ new release begins with the track “If I Had a Gun”. With the band building their music around Folk music as well as many other musical influences, it is that Folk influence that shows up loud and strong within “If I Had a Gun”. The track begins with the sound of the acoustic guitar and the mandolin coming together to form a strong musical base that soon finds the band adding a lot of rock influence to the track. The song revolves around a character who finds himself freshly released from jail and looking for something to do, although he’s not sure which path to take- the legal job path or the more familiar path that led to his being incarcerated in the first place. The choice of which path to take seems to rest on whether or not the main character can get his hands on some sort of weapon. With the same sort of “what if” scenario running through the song “If I Had a Gun” brings to mind the older song of “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” from Bruce Cockburn as both songs ponder what would happen if things were different.

While “If I Had a Gun” deals with one man’s choice of whether to go straight or pick up where he left off, “Pauper’s Sky” is a track that picks up the pace of the music and adds a more upbeat feel to the lyrics…but only barely. The lyrics of the song deal more with city as a whole than the deal with one character, although the song is told from the viewpoint of a man living within that gritty city. The music of the track feels very familiar as the band creates a song that brings up the styles from the 1980s. Within the track, you can feel the influences of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, even the not-so-real band of Eddie and the Cruisers. “Pauper’s Sky” is one of the strongest tracks on the new album from The Westies and one of the tracks on the album that proves that the band can truly rock when it wants to.

There is definitely a strong dark undertone to the songs on Six On the Out. Like the track “If I Had a Gun,” “Parolee” deals with someone who just got out of jail. Maybe the same someone? But unlike the character in the album’s first track, the character in “Parolee” finds himself trying to figure out just what to do after he paid his debt to society as no one seems to want him around. The music for “Parolee” finds the band of The Westies bringing the Folk flavor back into the Rock sound on the track. The listener can really feel the dark undertones to the lyrics of the song as the singer sings about the struggle inside of whether to stay and try to make it work or to get the hell out of the city to try and start anew where people won’t look at him strange.

Things change with the track “Like You Used To”. With the tracks that came before, there was a large amount of darkness that appeared within the songs. On “Like You Used To,” The feeling turned to sadness. While Michael McDermott has lent his voice to the previous tracks on the album, it is wife Heather Horton who takes her turn on lead vocals on this track. The track is a slow-paced heartbreaking song about a relationship that has seen better days as the singer laments that her lover no longer loves her the way he did once before. The track features a sound that seems perfect to be covered by a well-known Country music star. You can almost imagine someone like Suzy Bogguss singing the song. “Like You Used To” is one of the shining moments on the Six On the Out release.

With the next track of “Everything is All I Want For You,” Michael McDermott and Heather Horton create one of the most upbeat tracks on the release. The two singers create a Folk-Rock tracks with a very strong duet-like approach, although McDermott handles most of the vocals. While most of the lyrics deal with the bad that has happened, McDermott sings of better things to come.

The Six On the Out release from The Westies has many moments worth hearing. While there is a lot of darkness within the lyrics of the songs on the album, it is the musicianship of the players on the album and the writing of the songs themselves that add up to create a very strong album. Bottom line, this album is as good as anything available on a major label.

Check out the video to The Westies’ song “The Parolee“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, Michael J. Media.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of the release.

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