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CD Review: Dave Vargo “Spaces in Between”

New Jersey Singer-songwriter Dave Vargo began his career as a musician in the music industry after he graduated from Berklee College of Music. Since then he has shared the stage with notable artists such as Phoebe Snow, Vanda Sheppard and even the late Whitney Houston. As a singer-songwriter, Dave Vargo is creating a sound that feels rather timeless as it could fit any decade from the eighties forward and would fit right in on any Pop/Rock radio formats. With his own music, Vargo released one album of music called Burning Through back in 2016. Now, Vargo returns with an entirely new album. The 2019 release from Dave Vargo is entitled Spaces in Between

Spaces in Between from Dave Vargo begins with the track “This Moment On”. The track features a driving feel to the pace of the music and a strong drumbeat to add to that pace. On top of those drums, bass and acoustic guitar combine to create music that has an acoustic approach but also has a rather energetic delivery to it. Add in some electric guitar with a bit of a twang to it and you get a track that contains a Pop/Rock feel that would have been right at home on the radio in the eighties or could be right at home on modern-day Country music formats right now. “This Moment On” kicks off the Spaces in Between release with a very commercial to the music.

Dave Vargo continues his newest album with the track “Without a Fight”. Where the previous track featured the acoustic guitar, this track brings the electric guitar into the spotlight. The addition of that electric guitar gives the song a harder musical approach than the previous track, although it’s quite a bit slower. The song once again features a strong 80s vibe to the music. In fact, the guitars and Vargo’s vocal delivery bring to mind the musical stylings of Richard Marx from that time period. “Without a Fight” is perfect for those looking for strong Rock and Roll.

The acoustic feel of the music returns on the song “This Time Around”. In fact, there seems to be more than just a little familiarity to the music as that music sounds a lot like the first track of “This Moment On”. To be fair, the two tracks are not carbon copies of each other. However, the arrangements of the music mixed with the same basic instrument mixture makes the songs feel very similar. One thing that is different between the songs “This Moment On” and “This Time Around” is that “This Time Around” doesn’t come with the twang that is there in the earlier song. With similar styles, “This Time Around” and “This Moment On” help to solidify the Spaces in Between release to make it seem like one album.

As the new release from Dave Vargo continues, he returns to a stronger, harder feel to the music with the song entitled “Rewrites”. Right from the beginning of the track, the electric guitar creates a solo that sets the pace for the rest of the track. Just like with the earlier song of “Without a Fight,” Vargo adds some extra energy to the music. With this track, Vargo seems to be rather reflective as he sings about rewriting a few things. The lyrics seem to suggest trying to make things right by editing, much like in a story or a movie script.

After four songs that alternate between strong Rock and Roll with an eighties vibe and songs that contain a slightly easier feel to the music, Dave Vargo creates a track that features a much different sound. The track “Nowhere Else” contains a slower pace and an easier approach to the music. On this track, Vargo seems to be channeling Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot as the song “Nowhere Else” blends together some Pop influence with a generous amount of Folk flavor. The inclusion of some female vocals helps give the song a little depth. All of the various elements, including a strong electric guitar solo in the middle, create a track that deserves to be included on any Pop/Rock, Lite Adult Contemporary radio format. This song is one of the shining moments on the album.

With the track “Someday,” Dave Vargo creates a moment of simplicity. While many of the songs on the Spaces in Between release come with complete arrangements and full instrumentation, “Someday” features mainly Vargo and his acoustic guitar. The track focuses on the singer-songwriter and his guitar, allowing the vocals from Vargo to shine. An electric guitar is added into the background as a way of adding depth to the song. The electric guitar is there for texture, not for power. Sometimes, it’s good to allow the singer-songwriter to shine on their own. “Someday” gives Vargo the chance to do just that.

Like with most of the Spaces in Between release, Dave Vargo returns to an eighties frame of mind on the “title track” of the album. “In Between” has a sound that is rather reminiscent of songs from the likes of Don Henley. In fact, you can hear a lot of Henley’s influence in the track. The track of “In Between” has a strong, driving pace to the music, much like the track of “This Moment On” at the very beginning of this album. “In Between” would have been right at home on the radio back in the eighties, but it still has a fresh approach to the music that would be welcome on any Hot Adult Contemporary station today.

Spaces in Between from Dave Vargo starts off strong and never lets up. Throughout the eleven tracks that make up the Spaces in Between album, Dave Vargo stays pretty much within a style that draws influence from music from the eighties. And while that does mean that the album is very retro in its sound, it’s also very timeless in its sound at the same time since music from the eighties always seems to be welcome.

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

 

 

 

To discover the music of Dave Vargo, check out his song “This Time Around”.

To check out the Spaces in Between release from Dave Vargo, click on the album cover below:  

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CD Review: Highland Kites “I’m Not Weak”

Los Angeles-based trio Highland Kites came to be as the three musicians met each other over the course of several years. Singer/guitarist/keyboard player Marissa Lamar developed her style as a singer-songwriter after getting over a bad bout of lyme disease. She would then meet drummer Neil Briggs who would add the backbeat to her music. The duo existed as the band Highland Kites for a while until lead guitarist Alex Edwards was added to the mix to help the duo finish the sound they were looking for.

The band of Highland Kites creates a sound that they describe as Anti-Folk music. Taking a large amount of Rock and Roll with a rather soft quality to it, the band adds a lot of other musical elements that go together to form an Indie Rock-like style. But the addition of harder Rock and Roll elements that kick the energy level of their music up a notch every so often is what truly makes their style something to experience. Having already released several EPs, Highland Kites is currently celebrating the release of their newest collection of music. The new EP from the band is entitled I’m Not Weak.

I’m Not Weak from Highland Kites begins with the track “Nothing to Say”. The lead-off track finds Marissa Lamar sitting behind the keyboards for this track as the band creates a track that contains a certain amount of quietness to the music while still containing a New Wave feel to the music, as well. The song of “Nothing to Say” kicks the new EP from Highland Kites off with on a rather low-key note as the lyrics of the song suggest that Lamar seems to just be warming up.

While the first track of the I’m Not Weak EP has a slightly laid-back quality to it, the band really shows off their Anti-Folk style on the song “Monster”. The trio kicks the song off with a quiet guitar that seems to be back in the distance before the rest of the instrumentation are added to the mix to create a song with an Indie Rock quality to it. The first half of the track follows that laidback feel before the band takes things to the next level. The song finds the band building the track by adding a more prominent keyboard sound and a much harder quality to the music. By the later part of the song, Highland Kites sounds as though they are about to launch into a straight-out jam. And just like that, the song ends.

The new EP from Highland Kites continues with the track “Temporary Life”. The track begins with the instruments from the band and the vocals from Marissa Lamar combining to create the main melody for the song. The resulting melody will remind some of something that could have been influenced by the likes of the Cocteau Twins. The easy pace of the music and the light, airy feel of Lamar’s vocals create a track that seems as much like Folk music as it feels like New Wave. As the track progresses, the production on the drums from Neil Briggs makes them feel like they would fit nicely into a New Wave track from the eighties. The New Wave/Folk quality of the track continues as the energy level picks up during the latter half of the track. The band adds a lot of energy to their musical approach and they rock their way out of the song.

With the track “You’ll Never Know,” the trio creates yet another song that builds as they play. The song begins with a simply guitar part and Marissa Lamar’s vocals before more guitar and the drums are added. The reverb on the one guitar adds a lot of texture to the track. The drums from Neil Briggs add a strong beat to the music. The band adds more and more texture to the song as more drums and more guitar are added to the track. The song builds and builds and just like with the track “Monster,” the song comes to an end just as it reaches the climax.

Highland Kites bring their new EP to an end with the release’s title track. During the four song that lead up to the final track on the release, Marissa Lamar, Neil Briggs and Alex Edwards alternate between softer and harder approaches to their music. With “I’m Not Weak,” the band unleashes their Rock and Roll side completely and creates a track with a very strong Indie Rock quality to it. The track gives the listener the chance to hear what the band can do when they release their inner rock stars. As the title implies, “I’m Not Weak” proves that the band is definitely not powerless even though they spend a lot of time in a more laidback state of mind.

Whether it’s the laidback quality of “Nothing to Say” or the Rock and Roll feel of the titled track, the trio of Marissa Lamar, Neil Briggs and Alex Edwards show off their abilities as musicians to adapt to the intensity of the music. The five songs that make up I’m Not Weak from Highland Kites show the talent of the members of the group.

To hear the music from Highland Kites, check out their current single, “I’m Not Weak“.

For more information, check out Highland Kites’ PR firm The RMG Media Group.

I'm Not WeakHighland Kites will be releasing their newest EP, I’m Not Weak, on July 29, 2017. Check out the band’s Facebook page to stay updated.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Michael McDermott “Willow Springs”

Singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has been busy as of late. Within only a few months, McDermott released an album under the moniker of The Westies, a band that included Heather Horton, McDermott’s wife. The resulting music from that band sounds like a combination of Springsteen mixed with a little Eddie and the Cruisers thrown in for good measure. The rock and roll release from The Westies is called Six on the Out.

Right around the same time that McDermott was recording music for the Six on the Out release, he was also recording other songs that were to be used for his newest solo release. And since the same group of musicians were used for both the Six on the Out album and the new Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott, the two albums have the same basic musical approach in their songs, but the tracks used for each album had their own feel to them. With Six on the Out, the tracks stuck to a more rockin’ feel to the music while the tracks for Willow Springs stick more to a singer-songwriter approach.

Willow Springs from Michael McDermott begins with the title track of the release. “Willow Springs” features an acoustic guitar-based feel to the folk-rock music. The six-minute track shows off the Bob Dylan influence that appears in some of McDermott’s music. The lyrics of the track contain a very deep Bob Dylan feel as they come across as something that Dylan would have created.

Michael McDermott and company pick up the pace and the energy of the music on the song “These Last Few Days”. While the folk-rock track sides more with the folk influence, it’s the unforgiving beat to the track that gives the listener the illusion that there is much more energy than the folk influence will allow. “These Last Few Days” is a strong track that will get you clapping along with the music.

Having already released the Six on the Out album as part of The Westies, Michael McDermott had penned an entire album of songs that had to do with the subject matter of the tough and grimy side of life where the criminal element can be found. The track of “Getaway Car” from the Willow Springs release is yet another track that has that same type of subject matter. Since the track seems to have a slightly easier pace to the music, McDermott included it on this album.

One of the most powerful moments on the Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott has to belong to the track “Butterfly”. Like many of the tracks that can be found on the album Six on the Out, “Butterfly” is a track that focuses on a moment in time and what happens afterward. The track is about the pain of what happens when you love someone, even when that person may not be the best person to fall in love with. “Butterfly” is a bittersweet track that all but drags you into the moment as you experience the same pain the singer feels.

In much the same way that “Butterfly” features lyrics about loving someone who may not be the best person, “One Minus One” is a track that also deals with the pain sometimes found in relationships; more specifically, relationships that come to an end. The slow-paced track features piano and acoustic guitar as the basis for the backing music on the track. The track features a duet-like approach to the lyrics as McDermott is joined on the track by his wife Heather Horton. Together, the duo create one of the most touching moments on the entire Willow Springs as they sing about two people going their separate ways.

After almost an entire album of songs that feature a laidback approach to their music, Michael McDermott completely changes the pace with the track “Let a Little Light In”. While the previous tracks on the album feature a folk/folk-rock style, “Let a Little Light In” finds McDermott and the band taking a lot amount of Soul influence to create the track. The music on the track comes complete with a horn section that adds a hefty amount of energy to the music. “Let a Little Light In” ends up being the strongest track on the album, as far as the energy level of the music are concerned.

After returning to an easier pace to the music after the more upbeat track of “Let a Little Light In,” Michael McDermott finishes out his newest album with the track “What Dreams May Come”. The track features an easy pace to the music and a very reflective nature to the lyrics as McDermott sings about the different types of dreams and where they take you. The track is a very strong moment on the album and a really nice way to wrap up the newest release from Michael McDermott.

Willow Springs, the newest solo album from Michael McDermott, shows a slightly different side to McDermott than his previous album of Six on the Out, the album released under the moniker of The Westies. The singer-songwriter side of McDermott shines through on Willow Springs and the album contains many moments that the listener will enjoy.

Click HERE to check out the video to “What Dreams May Come,” a track from Michael McDermott.  

Click HERE to check out Michael J. Media, the PR firm for Michael McDermott.

Click on the album cover to purchase a copy of Willow Springs from Michael McDermott.

Willow Springs