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Matheson Kamin’s Best of 2017 List

BEST OF THE ROCK AND ROLL REPORT FOR 2017

1 CD Review: Count’s 77 “Soul Transfusion”

Sometimes, you have to go far out of your way to find real Rock and Roll music these days. Thankfully, there are still those musicians out there that are keeping the feeling of real Rock and roll alive. You just have to know where to look for it. One band that is keeping the spirit of real Rock and Roll alive is Las Vegas-based band Count’s 77. Like the band’s name suggests, Count’s 77 is a Hard Rock band that focuses their musical energy on creating real Rock and Roll. Throughout their album of Soul Transfusion, Count’s 77 makes good use of musical influences that are both modern and a little bit older. The album contains plenty of songs that will end up satisfying and Rock and Roll lover’s need for Good Ole Rock and Roll.   

Read the entire review HERE

2 CD Review: Satellite Gods “Marker 7-58”

Australian singer-songwriter Brendan McMahon found his calling in his early teenage years as he started to listen to bands like Led Zeppelin, KISS and Black Sabbath and discovered he wanted to make music just like those bands and others. After taking time to develop his craft as a musician while being part of several cover bands, McMahon found his own voice and started creating his own songs. Most recently, McMahon has put together a band of his own called the Satellite Gods. Together with this group of musicians, McMahon has released the band’s second album entitled Marker 7-58. Throughout the thirteen tracks that make up the newest release from Satellite Gods called Marker 7-58, Brendan McMahon and the rest of the band creates song after song that make for a very strong and solid album. This is the type of release that should simply be experienced from beginning to end without skipping tracks.

Read the entire review HERE

2B CD Review: Brendan McMahonUniversalist

Brendan McMahon put out his last release entitled Marker 7-58 under the moniker of his band Satellite Gods. One year later, McMahon has included a track by that title in his new release that was put out under his name. Brendan McMahon’s new 5-song release is entitled Universalist. When comparing Marker 7-58 (Brendan McMahon’s last release while he was using the moniker Satellite Gods) to his new EP of Universalist, the biggest difference that you can see is that the new release seems to make use of McMahon’s singer-songwriter side much more than the last album. The last release felt more like an album while the new release seems more like a collection of tunes each deserving to be heard. While not altogether sporadic, Universalist feels a lot looser with its musical variety in the styles contained within each of the songs than Marker 7-58 did. While not as solidified as that last release, Universalist is still a solid release as the five songs that are present show off many sided of Brendan McMahon’s songwriter personality.

Read the entire review HERE 

3 CD Review: Remember Jones “Tranquilizer!

New Jersey-based singer-songwriter Anthony D’Amato spent a lot of time on stage. Some of that time on stage was included in the Asbury Park production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch where D’Mato portrayed Hedwig himself. Taking that theatrical experience, which also includes recreating an album from Amy Winehouse live in concert as well as other projects, D’Mato took his experience and created a new persona: Remember Jones. Remember Jones started creating a style that was reminiscent of Las Vegas-type concert experiences. That included an orchestra containing 25 pieces. In fact, the entire experience worked so well that the first album from Remember Jones entitled “Ladies and Gentlemen, Remember Jones!” was created live in concert. And with that album being as big as it was, a new EP was created. The newly-released 5-song EP is entitled Tranquilizer! Tranquilizer! from Anthony D’Mato’s Remember Jones is a short but solid release of five tracks that focus on Soul music while the different styles of the musical genre helps to keep the release fresh throughout the twenty minutes of music. Though rather short, the five tracks on Tranquilizer! make the EP very strong.

Read the entire review HERE

4 CD Review: Mark Bryan “Songs of the Fortnight”

Singer-songwriter Mark Bryan may never be as famous on his own as he had been when he had been part of a band. You see, Bryan was a founding member of a small band called…Hootie and the Blowfish. When the band went its separate ways and Darius Rucker changed directions and goals to enter the world of Country music, Mark Bryan also went for a solo career. But he chose to stay within the Pop-Rock genre that earned his former band its following. Since the band separated Bryan has released three solo albums, having just released the third just recently. The new release from Mark Bryan is entitled Songs of the Fortnight. While it’s been quite a while since Hootie and the Blowfish had been a band, it’s great to know that lead singer Darius Rucker is not the only one from the band that has kept busy since that band ceased to be. The new release of Songs of the Fortnight from Rucker’s ex-bandmate Mark Bryan shows off the talent of the lead guitarist/singer-songwriter. And the various different directions that Bryan takes the music on the release show off the versatility of Bryan.    

Read the entire review HERE

 

5 CD Review: Roadcase Royale “First Things First”

One member of the late, great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Prince’s band the New Power Generation, Liv Warfield has joined up with former Heart founder Nancy Wilson to create the base for a new musical project. The new project the two women are part of is called Roadcase Royale. In every genre of music, you will end up losing talented musicians or bands or both. The thing is to find other talented individuals to fill that void. And while both Prince and the band known as Heart are no longer around, the void left behind from the loss of those entities has been filled rather nicely by the very same people who had a hand in creating the songs made famous by those artists. Nancy Wilson, Liv Warfield and their bandmates have created a new band in Roadcase Royale that is easily as solid as what the two musicians had come out of. Having already made musical history once, Wilson and Warfield are doing it again with Roadcase Royale. It should come as no surprise that this new ensemble truly ROCKS! The band’s new First Things First release that will immediately catch your attention.

Read the entire review HERE

6 CD Review: Stratospheerius “Guilty of Innocence”

When looking for musicians that have the talent to put on a good show, you don’t have to look any further than seven-string violinist Joe Deninzon. Guilt of Innocence from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius finds the band in fine form as they create a new album of music. While the album comes with plenty of Progressive Rock tracks, it’s the other songs containing other styles that help to make the release even more entertaining. If you happen to be a fan of Progressive Rock, the new album of Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and the band Stratospheerius is one album you need to check out.   

Read the entire review HERE

7 CD Review: Granicus “Better Days”

It was in the city of Cleveland that Granicus founder and drummer Joe Battaglia brought together a band of four other individual musicians in order to create a Hard Rock band to rival the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and other bands that were around at the same time. While the bandmembers of Granicus may have changed over the years, this new version of the band is still out there to burn the place down, musically speaking. Better Days from Granicus is a very solid release from a band that has had an extremely interesting history as a group. While it was not created by the same exact group that ended up getting signed to RCA back in the seventies, this version of the band has done a nice job creating a solid group of songs that create an album that live up to what had come before. Drummer and founder of the band Joe Battaglia should be proud of what has been accomplished on Better Days.

Read the entire review HERE 

8 CD Review: Mickey Hart “RAMU”

For his 2017 album of RAMU (which stands for The Random Access Musical Universe), Mickey Hart created each of the tracks on the album using, as he put it, Pythagorean mono-chord, a series of chords tuned in order to create healing. Each track has the same basic flow and therefore the tracks segue into each other rather well. That helps to make the RAMU album one of the most solid and unified albums released within the year 2017. Throughout the twelve tracks that make up Mickey Hart’s new release of RAMU, he and his band of musicians blend a lot of different musical elements to create a release that changes directions from one track to the next. As the songs change so do the influences used to help shape the music. And while the tracks all have a style of their own, Mickey Hart’s use of his Pythagorean mono-chord gives the album a solid foundation that makes the album feel unified in its musical direction.

Read the entire review HERE

9 CD Review: Daniel Welsh “Extra Stout”

Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a solid release from beginning to end. Throughout the six tracks that make up the EP, not one song is a disappointment. In fact, each of the tracks on the release have a very commercial feel to them. While this is an independent release, the EP from Welsh feels as strong as anything a major label could put out. And with Welsh’s former affiliation with Warner Brothers Records, there may be a very good reason for that. If you are a fan of Rock and Roll music that has a timeless feel to it, Extra Stout from Daniel Welsh is a release you need to check out. 

Read the entire review HERE

10 CD Review: Electric Guest “Plural”

Released earlier in 2017, Plural from Electric Guest is an album of music that fits nicely into the Indie Rock category. The duo of Taccone and Compton combine elements of Rock and Roll, Soul, even a little Hip Hop and Reggae together to create the band’s style that is rather laidback in its delivery. But that laidback delivery creates a sound that would fit easily on most Top 40, Adult Contemporary and Hot A/C radio formats. That nearly universal appeal translates into a wide potential audience for the band’s music. The Plural release from Electric Guest is one of those rare albums that features such strong tracks that you simply put the album on and let the release play out. There isn’t one song on the album that brings down the quality of the release. My only complaint is that I had not discovered this album much sooner in the year.

Read the entire review HERE

Top 10 Songs from 2017
1. Andrew Wiscombe “Holding a Ghost”

2. Remember Jones “Tranquilizer”

3. Count’s 77 “Summer of 77”

4. Stephen Covell “Monuments”

5. Mutts “I’ll Be Around”

6. Mark Bryan “If You Saw Her”

7. Brendan McMahon “Saturday Night in Riga”

8. Robbing Johnny “Sylvia”

9. Mickey Hart “Wayward Son”

10. Electric Guest “Dear to Me“

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Granicus “Better Days”

Throughout the musical history of Cleveland, Ohio there are many bands that have come and gone that have left their marks on the music world whether within the city limits of Cleveland itself or on a much grander scale. Bands like The Raspberries, The James Gang, Pere Ubu or even Nine Inch Nails all started here before going on to bigger and better things. And while these bands are well-known throughout the world, there have been plenty of other bands that have called the city of Cleveland home before moving on to other larger and greener pastures. One particular band that had had a connection to the city of Cleveland before relocating in order to achieve success was the Psychedelic/Hard Rock band known as Granicus.

It was in the city of Cleveland that Granicus founder and drummer Joe Battaglia brought together a band of four other individual musicians in order to create a Hard Rock band to rival the likes of Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Blue Cheer and other bands that were around at the same time. Together with bandmates Woody Leffel on Vocals, Dale Bedford on Bass, Al Pinell on Rhythm Guitar and Wayne Anderson on Lead Guitar, Joe Battaglia brought Granicus to life. These initial five musicians would go on to create a self-titled record in 1973 under the Granicus moniker for RCA before falling apart because of several different circumstances that ended up driving the band members apart.

Many years after the initial era of the band, members of Granicus were brought back together again because of the rerelease of the band’s self-titled album and the discovery of initial tracks that would have become the band’s second release. Having control of their music, the band took the tracks that had been recorded during the era of the band’s heyday and created what would essentially become the band’s second album. The 2010 release is entitled Thieves, Liars, & Traitors.

Since the release of 2010’s Thieves, Liars, & Traitors, the name of Granicus has stayed alive within the city of Cleveland. The band has actually enjoyed a rebirth of sorts after the release of the second album. In fact, the band is still going strong performing for fans of the band, both old and new alike. But today’s version of the band is much different than the original lineup. While Granicus still performs the same music that got them signed to RCA Records in the first place, the musicians in the band are mainly a completely different group of guys.

Today’s version of Granicus consists of drummer and band founder Joe Battaglia, vocalist Gerry Schultz, guitarists Artie Cashin & hPr, and bassist Bobby Stephens. It is this newest lineup of the band that has recorded the latest release under the Granicus moniker, the 2016 album entitled Better Days.

Better Days from Granicus begins with the title track of the release. While the majority of the album has a definite Hard Rock vibe going through it, this track is slightly different. With “Better Days,” the band unleashes a strong guitar presence in the music that is a lot closer to Heavy Metal than your normal Hard Rock is. Guitarists Artie Cashin (who appeared on the completed tracks for 2010’s Thieves, Liars, & Traitors) & hPr create a strong groove that would easily have been found on any Heavy Metal album back in the eighties while vocalist Gerry Schultz has a voice that is reminiscent of someone like Ian Gillam from Deep Purple. In fact, Schultz even produces a scream that’s close to Gillam’s signature sound. Together, the track of “Better Days” lives up to what Granicus used to sound like while also kicking up the energy level quite a bit.

The new release from Granicus continues with the track “Southbound”. This track is a lot closer to the Granicus of old. The Hard Rock style contained within the track would easily fit right in with the music from the initial time period of Granicus in the mid-seventies. “Southbound” starts off with a slow guitar solo before the track picks up steam. The track continues to alternate between a slow pace to the music and a quicker tempo throughout the four-plus minutes of playtime. “Southbound” would easily belong on an Album-Oriented Rock station.

With the track “Walk Free,” Granicus slows the pace down a little but never lets up on the energy of the music. The steady pace of the music allows the musicians to create a musical groove that allows for a little jamming. The track features several guitar solos within the nearly six minutes of Rock And Roll. Together, the band combines all of their musical elements to produce a track that feels just like it should had it been created back in the seventies. “Walk Free” is one track off of the new Granicus that truly will make fans of Classic Rock very happy.

The band picks up the pace with the track “On the Road”. The track features not only a strong beat, but also a driving feel to the music. Like other songs about getting behind the wheel, you can just about imagine yourself speeding down the highway with the song blasting away. The song’s pace is made possible with the help of the guitars from Artie Cashin & hPr who create a two-guitar feel with the two players alternating between solos. The vocals from Gerry Schultz help add to the driving feel of the track. Ultimately, “On the Road” is one of the strongest moments on the Better Days album.

For the track “Take Me Back,” Granicus slow things down. The very relaxed track features an easy pace to the music, a much less intense feel to the song’s sound and even the inclusion of a keyboard that adds more to the relaxed feel of the song. As the track slows things down, the thing that stands out the most is the vocal ability of lead singer Gerry Schultz who adds not only the lead vocal to the track but also the harmony to add depth to the vocal on the song. “Take Me Back” is definitely the track that shows off the lighter side of Granicus; however, it also shows the band’s ability to create a more intimate musical scene when the moment calls for one.

Just like the first track of the release, “Better Days,” the final track of “Still Rockin’ It” finds Granicus creating a track that feels more like an older style of Heavy Metal than Hard Rock. The harder delivery to the music and Gerry Schultz’s stronger vocal delivery create a moment on the release that, once again, shows off the band’s range as musicians. This new version of Granicus seems to have created this song as a way of reminding new and old fans alike that, while the bandmembers may have changed over the years, this new version of the band is still out there to burn the place down, musically speaking.

Better Days from Granicus is a very solid release from a band that has had an extremely interesting history as a group. While it was not created by the same exact group that ended up getting signed to RCA back in the seventies, this version of the band has done a nice job creating a solid group of songs that create an album that live up to what had come before. Drummer and founder of the band Joe Battaglia should be proud of what has been accomplished on Better Days.

 

To hear the music of Granicus, check out the band’s song of “Better Days“.

For more information, check out the Wikipedia Page for Granicus.

For the music of Granicus, check out the band’s music page on their website by clicking on the album cover below:

better-days

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Granicus “Thieves, Liars and Traitors”

Psychedelic hard rock band Granicus existed alongside bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. The Cleveland-formed band left the area to seek their musical fortunes out in New York. RCA signed the band and released their self-titled debut release. However, it would be their only major label release, as bad management and a bad record deal left Granicus’ potential as a band unfulfilled. By the mid-seventies, Granicus had ceased to be.
Jumping ahead three and a half decades to 2010, unfinished demos were uncovered as band members were cleaning and the idea to release the ‘album that never was’ was born.