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CD Review: Emily Mure “Sad Songs & Waltzes” 

Having been classically-trained as an oboist, New York City’s singer-songwriter Emily Mure would later move to the guitar with which she would find her true calling as a Folk musician. Emily Mure has released three albums of original Contemporary Folk music. But now, the most current release from the singer-songwriter finds her exploring a much different idea. Mure’s newest release, entitled Sad Songs & Waltzes, is a short five-track release where Mure reinvents some of the songs that helped influence her, even if those songs don’t actually fall into the same musical category that she is classified under.  

Sad Songs & Waltzes from Emily Mure begins with the track “Gone for Good”. From the band The Shins, “Gone for Good” once appeared on that band’s Chutes Too Narrow album. With the version from The Shins, the band creates a track with a strong Alt-Country feel to the music. The track as recorded by the band comes complete with a strong twang to the song. When Mure created her version, the music comes with a softer feel as the Folk flavor of Mure’s style shines through. The electric guitar solo from Lyle Brewer helps add a lot of beauty to the lighter version of the track by Mure.

While the first track of Emily Mure’s Sad Songs & Waltzes was originally an Alt-Country song, the next track is a standard of sorts in the Country music genre. The album’s title track of “Sad Songs and Waltzes” is a song written by Willie Nelson from his Shotgun Willie album and covered by artists like Cake, Keith Whitley and Cowboy Junkies. As the original version from Nelson features a slow pace to the music, so too does the version from Emily Mure. With Mure’s version of the song, she strips the track down to a simple “guitar and vocals” arrangement. The simplicity of the track allows the sadness of the lyrics to come through.

When recorded by The Cranberries, the song “When You’re Gone” was an Alternative Rock track that had a generous amount of Doo Wop influence to it, especially in the beginning seconds of the track when it was simple the guitar and the vocals from Dolores O’Riordan. The beginning thirty seconds to the track on Emily Mure’s Sad Songs & Waltzes EP give the listener a hint at the original version by The Cranberries, but then the feeling of the track after that is much different. The track features the vocals from Emily Mure and her guitar for most of the track. Soon enough, the track also features the sound of a cello from Audrey Q. Snyder that helps to fill in a lot of the remaining sound. It’s when the upright bass from Brian Killeen appears that the track becomes complete. The Cranberries version of the song “When You’re Gone” was still a rather slow but had plenty of energy. The new version by Mure contains the same pace to the music while giving the track a much strong Folk feel.

“The Lonely 1” on the Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure is one track where the singer-songwriter/musician gives a cover a stronger musical approach than the original version of a song. When the band Wilco recorded “The Lonely 1,” the band created a track that was a track perfect for slow dancing and the strings in the song added to that feeling. The version from Mure contains a simpler musical approach as the acoustic guitar is the focal point whereas the piano from Elizabeth Ziman is there mainly to be the replacement for the string arrangement from the Wilco version. Together, Emily Mure’s acoustic guitar and Elizabeth Ziman’s piano combine to create a musical direction that comes with a quicker pace to the music while still laid-back and low-key in its delivery. “The Lonely 1” ends up being one of the standout tracks on the Sad Songs & Waltzes release.

During the six tracks that make up the new EP from Emily Mure, the listener encounters songs that have been rearranged to fit the gentler feel of Folk music. With the song “No Surprises,” a song originally done by Radiohead, very little rearranging was done for Mure’s version. Aside from a stripped down feel, the track stays rather loyal to what had been created by the originators of the track. The song by Mure still contains a gentle, almost lullaby-like approach to the track, which goes along with the somber lyrics in the song. The difference is in the aforementioned stripped down approach. The track’s simpler feel truly brings out the sadness in the song.

Emily Mure brings her latest release to a close with the track “Yellow” which was a major hit for the British band Coldplay. Keeping with the feel of the original hit, Mure and her guitar set the track in motion with a nice stripped-down arrangement of the song. Having appeared earlier in the release, pianist Elizabeth Ziman and cellist Audrey Q. Snyder both return to help close out the Sad Songs & Waltzes release. Snyder’s cello adds a string arrangement that really brings back a lot of the spirit of Coldplay’s song. And Ziman’s piano adds depth to the track as the piano appears in the background of the song. Being a basically stripped-down version of what Coldplay had produced, Emily Mure produces a track that brings the release to a close on a soft note.

The Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure is a well-named release as all of the tracks contain songs with rather sad lyrics to them. Together with the Folk-inspired arrangements, the six resulting cover tracks create a solid release that is familiar and intriguing at the same time. And although each track falls into the Folk category because of the arrangements of the songs, the release also belongs within the Rock and Roll music category because of the songs and the artists who created them originally being of the Rock and Roll style.

Here are links to the original songs included in the EP:
Gone for Good” from  The Shins
Sad Songs and Waltzes” from Willie Nelson
When You’re Gone” from The Cranberries
The Lonely 1” from Wilco
No Surprises,” from Radiohead
Yellow” from Coldplay

Check out Emily Mure’s PR firm, Michael J. Media by clicking on the picture below:

 

 

 

For a taste of the Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure, check out her version of “Yellow” by Coldplay.

To check out the entire Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure, click on the album cover below:

 

 

 

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

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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Artists and Bands

Sad Planets (Patrick Carney of The Black Keys and John Petkovic of Cobra Verde) Releases New Album

When you hear the words “Sad Planets,”  what the words sound like it could be the title of a bad fifties Sci-Fi movie that you’d end up seeing on Horror Host shows such as Elvira, Svengoolie, or Mystery Science Theater 3000. And while you might think that it might be a “B” movie title, what Sad Planets actually happens to be is the moniker to a new Rock and Roll band from Akron, Ohio. 

Sad Planets began when two Northern Ohio musicians met each other one day. Both John Petkovic (of Cobra Verde fame) and Patrick Carney (from The Black Keys) grew up in Akron, Ohio but had never found themselves in the position to join forces together in order to create music. Of course, all that has now changed!

When Petkovic and Carney found themselves meeting up, the idea of creating a band was formed. Shortly later, Sad Planets was born. And soon, the duo was recording their debut album. That newly-released album is appropriately entitled Akron, Ohio.

Akron, Ohio from Sad Planets begins with the track “Just Landed”. “Just Landed” is a Rock and Roll track that defies categorization. Having been created with the help of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr fame (Mascis also is a band mate to Patrick Carney in the band Sweet Apple), the song comes with a sound that blends several different musical elements together. The rather melodic music on the track feels as if it could have been right at home in the seventies, yet is melodic enough to have been influenced by the likes of British band Coldplay. Needless-to-say, the resulting track is rather commercial and could find its way onto on Top 40 and/or Modern Rock radio format.

While “Just Landed” from Sad Planets would feel right at home on today’s radio, the second track on the Akron, Ohio release, and the album’s first single called “Not of This World” changes the feel of the album after only one track. “Not of This World” finds John Petkovic and Patrick Carney creating a track that is very psychedelic in nature. The trippy music delivered on this song and the lyrical content of the words contained within the song both bring to mind music that would have been produced by bands like The Chocolate Watchband, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and others. The music in the track takes the listener back in time to the psychedelic sixties as the music and production of the track bring to mind the music that came from the early to late sixties when musicians were experimenting with both music and with drugs. “Not of This World” is a great title for a track that is completely out of place with today’s music. It’s also a great song for those who miss that type of creative Rock and Roll.

Just as soon as Sad Planets ends their trippy track called “Not of This World,” they continue the dated feel of the music with the song “Yesterday’s Girls”. As the previous song “Not of this World” featured a sound that took the listener back to the sixties, “Yesterday’s Girls” keeps the listener in that era. This back, however, is more about the instrumentation than it is about the psychedelic feel to the music. What keeps the track in the late sixties/early seventies is the use of the fuzz guitar on the track. That sound is mixed with a generous amount of influence from Petkovic and Carney’s other musical projects as the track seems to recall some of the music of Petkovic’s band Cobra Verde and Carney’s band The Black Keys. “Yesterday’s Girls” is the perfect track for this band as the track makes good use of their personal styles and the influences that helped to shape their playing.

Speaking of influences, the next track called “City Ghosts” is one track where the two musicians seem to wear their influences on their sleeves, as the expression goes. The track opens with an instrumental passage that brings to mind the playing style of the band The Ventures and bands like Portland, Oregon’s Satan’s Pilgrims that came after them. The instrumental introduction of the song again contains a dated feel to it as the music takes the track back into the sixties. The track also seems to have a slight influence from the likes of Ennio Morricone of spaghetti western soundtracks fame. As the track progresses, the music seems to take on a little influence from Lounge Jazz. Add in some haunting vocals and this track would be perfect for background music in a big budget movie from the seventies.

As the album advances, the duo of John Petkovic and Patrick Carney continue to create music that blends their various influences together. The track “(Falling into the Arms of a) Refugee” begins with a slightly different feel to the music as the track starts off with the acoustic guitar. When the rest of the instrumentation is added in, the track takes on an electrified approach with an Indie Rock sound.  Like with “City Ghosts” two tracks before it, the track “(Falling into the Arms of a) Refugee” contains a large amount of instrumental music during the track’s four-minute playtime. That playtime allows for the listener to enjoy the playing ability of Petkovic and Carney.

John Petkovic and Patrick Carney have both been around for many years performing in some really good bands. When the two came together, they created a band that contains many different influences. The ten tracks that make up the duo’s Akron, Ohio release under the moniker of Sad Planets makes good use of those influences. The band’s album of Akron, Ohio ends up with about one half of the tracks having modern influences to the music while the other half of the tracks take the band’s music back to earlier styles of Rock and Roll. The dual feel of the album ends up creating a release that ultimately would be a good release from any fan of Rock and Roll music, especially if you happen to like all types of the genre.

 

 

For more information on the band’s PR firm, check out Grandstand Media

You can find  the various formats of Akron, Ohio from Sad Planets on Tee Pee Records HERE

Click on the album cover below to be taken to Sad Planets’ spotify account.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Kavanaghs “Headlights”

A lot has changed since the first day when the Argentinian band The Kavanaghs came together as a group. Since the early days of the band, members have come and gone and the style of music has evolved. And even with all of that, the band has continued to create their own style of music.

When The Kavanaghs first came together, the band created their sound imitating the style of bands like The Beatles and other British Invasion groups. Soon after, however, the band started incorporating some of the Post-British Invasion music from the likes of The Raspberries and Badfinger. And more recently, the band has incorporated more modern sounds from British bands like Coldplay. This ever-changing sound that the band has been creating has made their two studio albums, 2009’s Self-Titled release and 2011’s Love Conquers Pain, feel miles apart from each other. But that simply means that the band has been stretching as musicians and a group as a whole.

Even when the band released their recent live release of Love Conquers Pain (Live) (although the album was recorded back in 2011), you can hear the progression of the band as the earlier tracks from the self-titled album that were included in that release have a definite different quality to them, as if the band’s influences were indeed affecting the sound of the band’s music.

The Kavanaghs have recently returned with their latest album of original music. The 2017 studio release from The Kavanaghs is entitled Headlights.  For this album, The Kavanaghs are composed of Tiago Galindez: Bass – Vocals, Seba Cairo: Guitars – Synths – Vocals, Diego Vázquez: Guitars and Franco Barbieri: Drums. The album tracks were split between Tiago Galindez and Seba Cairo as songwriters.

Headlights from The Kavanaghs begins with the track “Neither Do I”. On this track, the listener can truly tell the progression of the band’s sound as the British Invasion influence is all nearly non-existent. What is there is a very modern take on the Rock and Roll sound. “Neither Do I” has a strong timeless feel as the guitar-driven track would easily fit on any Top 40 radio format. The track even includes a very infectious chorus that will have the listener singing along.

With the track “Your Life is White,” the band takes their Rock and Roll sound and makes it just a little bit more commercial. As the listener puts the song on, they’re hit with a song that has a very undeniable musical influence from the band U2. In fact, the track could easily fit within that band’s song library and no one would even know…minus the Argentinian accent in Tiago Galindez’s vocals, that is. Like the previous track, “Your Life Is White” is ready-made for radio play. It could easily be a single off the release.

While most of the music on The Kavanaghs’ Headlights release has a modern feel to it, the band changes directions on the track “Like a Ship”. With this song, the band reverts their sound back to a more retro feel that would have fit with early Rock and Roll. In fact, the track sounds as if it could have been something from an American artist like Dion or even Del Shannon. The music on the track has a light but definite Doo Wop influence. At one point, the vocals on the track even feature an aged feel to them as if the vocal quality had faded over time. “Like a Ship” is a nice reminder of where the band had come from, musically.

As mentioned before, the Highlights album from The Kavanaghs was split between Tiago Galindez and Seba Cairo as writers. However, with the title track “Headlights,” the two songwriters collaborated together on a track that has a heavy Pop influence to the music because of the acoustic guitars that help make up the music. The result is song that features a lighter feel to the music as the song would fit more into the Light A/C (Adult Contemporary) radio format. Along with the acoustic approach, the lyrics of the track are handled by both Galindez and Cairo as they show off their ability to harmonize with each other. The acoustic approach on this track gives the listener just a taste of something special while focusing on a different side to the band.

The pace of the music is once again picked up on the track “Time and Time Again”. With this track, the band seems to have taken their song back into the eighties for a song that would have felt right at home on the radio at the time. One element that picks up the eighties vibe is the inclusion of the keyboards from Seba Cairo that give the song a definite dated feel. And while “Time and Time Again” does have that slightly dated touch, the track is still fun to listen to and shows off yet another take on the band’s sound.

The Highlights album from The Kavanaghs continues with the track “High Tide”. The track features a melodic Rock and Roll sound that is very reminiscent of Coldplay. However, the track’s guitars also seem to suggest a little influence from New Wave. Like other tracks on the release, “High Tide” feels like it should be a single for the band.

The newest release from the Kavanaghs comes to a close with the song “Maybe”. Like other tracks on the release, the band channels their British influences for this song. The track features a melodic Rock and Roll approach very much like that of the song “High Tide” that came a few tracks before. The track starts off rather subtly but the energy picks up late in the track with the addition of a strong electric guitar solo that is accompanied by the lyrics being delivered in a harmonic way. While some would include a quieter song as the last track, “Maybe” contains a slightly quiet feel but still has plenty of energy.

Headlights, the newest release from The Kavanaghs, is easily the strongest album of the three that the band has put out. With this album, the Argentinian quartet shows how far they have come as a band and also shows that their sound has evolved over the years. If you are unfamiliar with The Kavanaghs, this is the perfect place to begin getting to know the band.

To hear just a bit of The Kavanaghs, check out the video to the title track “Headlights“.

For more information, check out the band’s record label Eternal Sunday Records. Also check out the band’s American distributor, Dreamscape Records.

To check out the entire Headlights release from The Kavanaghs, click on the album cover below:

Kavanaghs Highlights

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Dickie S/T

What happens when an artist spends a lot of time doing one thing day after day and soon finds out they want more? That person starts looking for a new direction for that artform. That is the best way to describe the situation for the singer-songwriter named Dick Prall. After years of performing music on his own, Prall wanted something new and found that new direction with a musician who was just coming up in the music industry. That musician, violinist Kristina Priceman, made for the perfect partner as the two created a new partnership and a new musical outfit named Dickie.

With the new duo, Dick Prall and Kristina Priceman create an outfit that combines elements of pop music with orchestral influences. The album contains ten songs that seem readymade for the radio. That commercial combination can be heard on Dickie’s self-titled release.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Kavanaghs “Need a Pity Day EP”

Argentinean band The Kavanaghs has come a long way from their humble beginnings as an Argentinean Beatles cover band. Ever since they started out playing the music of The Fab Four and other groups from that time period, The Kavanaghs have continually shaped their sound to include more and more bands and styles of today so that their current style sounds more like Badfinger and British bands from the late ‘90s into today such as Coldplay, Oasis and U2. Their current sound can be found on their 2011 release Love Conquers Pain. The band is currently promoting that album and has since released several songs from that album as singles; the latest of which is “Need a Pity Day”.

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Artists and Bands Free MP3s

The U.K.’s Sierra Alpha Opt to Rely on Hard Work and Their Niche-Free Sound for Success, Rather Than Chasing a Golden Ticket Like Their Peers

l_1be8903baf054e15a3735148d19c8436Sierra Alpha is a highly rated five-piece pop/rock outfit from Wales, U.K., that is getting well-earned praise from countless sources. Their debut EP, Superhero, was released in June of this year and was welcomed with strong regional press and radio support, and the title track was featured as the single of the day on Amazon.com. Furthermore, World Machine, another track from the EP, has been featured on a MySpace.com video segment promoting Leonardo DiCaprio’s film, Body of Lies.

Sierra Alpha is comprised of Martin Goddard (Vocals, Guitar), Stuart Davies (Bass), Andrew Harries (Keyboards), Andrew Evans (Lead Guitar) and Simon Beecher (Drums). Their unique gift lies in that both their recordings and live performances are filled with a signature rocking style and catchiness that truly makes them a hit just waiting to happen.

The five track EP, with its combination of brilliant harmonic choruses, superb keyboards and Martin’s wide vocal range, leads to a collection of highly memorable, infectious songs. And, having had the chance to catch them performing live in Bath, U.K., I can also vouch for their stellar shows. On stage Sierra Alpha have a strong, tight delivery that has punch and verve. From the first song, Weekend Lover, Sierra Alpha commanded the attention of the entire venue and from that point on they faultlessly delivered the entire set, even mixing in a cover of La Roux’s Bulletproof.

Once the band got offstage I was lucky enough to catch up with Martin Goddard, who happily agreed to a chat for The Rock and Roll Report.