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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Hadley Kennary “Habits”

Chicago, Illinois native Hadley Kennary is a singer-songwriter who, like many trying to make it in the music industry, has moved to Nashville to be part of the vibrant music scene in that town. And being in Nashville, Kennary is starting to get noticed. That has to do with her strong vocals and her writing ability. Both of those qualities have led to many accolades such as winning second place in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Songwriting Competition, as well as being included in several other contests.  

To date, Hadley Kennary released a self-titled release in 2011, the In Fall album in 2013 and the Momentum EP in 2016. Just recently, Kennary released her newest EP of music. The 2019 release from the singer-songwriter is titled Habits. And to help Hadley bring her music to life on that release, she’s joined by Collin Pastore on pedal steel, Austin Webb on guitar, Andrew Brown on Bass, and Jake Finch on drums and background vocals. While Hadley Kennary won that Second Place finish in the aforementioned Bluegrass Songwriting contest, together, Kennary and company create a release that blends together a generous amount of Pop and Rock influences.

Habits from Hadley Kennary begins with the track “First Love”. The track begins with the sound of the guitar and some light percussion as Kennary adds soft vocals to the provided music. Before long, the song changes from the light musical approach to a track with a full-on Pop-Rock musical feel. In fact, the track feels like something from Shania Twain except with a much stronger Rock and Roll influence to the music as Hadley and band create a track that would feel right at home alongside Twain’s “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” especially since both tracks contain an upbeat delivery on the music as well as containing lyrics about pursing your love interest. The commercial feel of the track ensures a strong showing on the charts if the song gets a chance.

With the next track, Hadley Kennary takes her music in a much different direction. The track “Right by You” is a track that contains a sound that will remind the listener of something from the mid-eighties. In fact, the musical Pop-Rock approach of “Right by You” contains a sound that places the track next to songs from artists like Kim Wilde, Sheena Easton and/or Kim Carnes. The musical vibe of the track comes courtesy of the bassline from Andrew Brown as well as the guitar playing from Austin Webb. As the track continues, the addition of the drums just helps to reinforce that approach. Together, the musicians help create that musical vibe that places the song musically into the eighties. For those who enjoy the sound of that era, “Right by You” will satisfy the craving for music from that decade.

Hadley Kennary and band slow things down on the next track of the EP. The song “Accountability” once again features a Pop-Rock feel to the music as the song begins with the sound of the acoustic guitar and Kennary’s vocals. The simplicity of that combination creates the basis of the track and that simplicity lasts throughout the three minutes of the song, creating a track with a gentle feeling to the music. The inclusion of electric guitar, slide guitar and other instrumentation in the background adds depth to the track. However, that added instrumentation stays rather low-key throughout, allowing the vocals of Kennery to shine as harmonies add even more to the track. Altogether, the soft gentle music of the song brings to mind the musical stylings of someone like Sarah McLaughlin, Tori Amos or other singer-songwriters who stay on the softer side of Pop-Rock.

The harder side of Hadley Kennary and her music returns on the track called “Casual”. The beginning of the track starts with the light sound of the bass before the electric guitar joins in to create a Rock and Roll feel to the music. In fact, it is the electric guitar that stands out on this song, adding power to the music while creating a sound that would fit squarely on the today’s radio airwaves. The full sound of the guitar and the strength of the music creates an Alternative Rock feel to the track. At the beginning of the song, the electric guitar and Alternative Rock feel of the music brings to mind someone like Alanis Morrissett. However, the track changes slightly as some Pop influence is added to the music. The track ultimately feels like a blend of Alanis Morrissett and the more Rock and Roll side of No Doubt. “Casual” ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the release, as well as one of the most commercial. And with that in mind, it’s easy to see why the track is one of the singles on the EP.

It is with the track “Potential” that Hadley Kennary brings her new Habits EP to a close. Much like with the previous track of “Casual,” Kennary creates a track with a strong Rock and Roll backbone to it. But the song also contains a Pop feel to the music at the same time. The track is one of the more energetic of the songs on the release as it contains a driving feel to the music. As far as style is concerned, the music falls somewhere between the nineties and today, creating a very modern feel to the song. You can imagine the track fitting on any Alternative Rock, Modern Rock or even Top 40/Hot A/C radio formats. The energetic feel to the music as well as its commercial vibe makes “Potential” a very listener-friendly track. It also makes the inclusion of the track at the very end of the release a good move as it brings Habits from Hadley Kennary to a close on a strong note.

Habits from Hadley Kennary is a strong five–song release. And with the Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 influences in the songs, the album gives the listener a short, but accurate indication of the talents of Kennary. Whether you are a fan of Pop-Rock, Alternative Rock, even Top 40 music, there’s something here for any lover of Rock and Roll music.  

For a taste of the music from Hadley Kennary, check out the single “Casual”.

To check out the Habits release from Hadley Kennary, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Itch “Round 2”

Begrade, Serbia is where the multi-dimensional Rock band called Itch came together. It was back in 2010 that the original lineup of the band brought their love of music and interests of creating something new together to create the band simply known as Itch. It was under that moniker that the various members of the band combined their eclectic musical influences together. And after being together for about two years, the band released their debut album back in 2012.

But since the release of that album called Lullulu, the band had to reorganize after the lead singer and the bass player both walked away from the group. With the new version of the band now consisting of Nina Budjinski on Vocal, Dušan Simic on guitar, Vihor Ristic on bass and Filip Stanišic on drums, Itch is now ready to make some noise in the music industry. With a label behind them and the current momentum that is carrying them forward, the band is proud to announce the release of their new album called Round 2.

Round 2 from Itch begins with one of the two tracks that have already been released as singles off of the album, “Prison Disco”. The track begins with a guitar riff from guitarist Dušan Simic and drumbeat from Filip Stanišic that brings to mind the feel of the seventies and the feel of Disco specifically. That musical feel changes immediately as bassist Vihor Ristic joins in to fill out the sound of the music. What results is a musical direction that brings to mind the very rockin’ side of the band No Doubt, especially when that band focused more on the Rock and Roll side of their personality and less on the Ska side. For more than half the track, “Prison Disco” contains a steady pace to the music. However, about halfway through, the band picks up the pace and the energy of the music. That quicker pace carries the song to its conclusion about a minute or so later. “Prison Disco” is a great track to begin the Round 2 album off with and would be easily welcomed on any Top 40 or Modern Rock radio format.

Itch’s new album continues with the track called “My Oh My”. Much like the track before it, “My Oh My” contains a very commercial quality to its music. But with this track, the band incorporates a good amount of Alternative Rock as well as some Progressive Rock influence. While the previous track contains a direction that could fall into the Pop-Rock category of music, this track is much heavier in nature. “My Oh My” contains both a Dance influence as well as an Alternative Rock influence. During the opening moments of the song “Prison Disco,” Itch gives the listener just a taste of Disco in the music of the track before moving on. On the song “My Oh My,” that Disco influence returns as a larger part of the makeup of this track, though the Disco influence is mainly in the beat of the track in certain places.

With the next track, guitarist Dušan Simic, bassist Vihor Ristic, and drummer Filip Stanišic show off their various influences. The track called “Tree Men” is easily the most spastic and uneven song on the album. The reason for that description is because the music of the song is all over the place. The track starts off with a few bars of music that feature an easy and relaxed nature to guitarist Dušan Simic’s playing, with vocalist Nina Budjinski singing the lyrics in a similar fashion as her vocals are relaxed and easy. Soon, when bassist Vihor Ristic, and drummer Filip Stanišic join in, the feel of the song changes and the track takes on an Alternative Rock feel. About halfway through the song, the trio of musicians segue the music into something with a Funk feel to it and with the inclusion of the wah-wah pedal on the guitar, the track takes on a Disco feel for a few musical bars before the Alternative Rock approach returns. “Tree Men” is all over the place throughout its not-quite-four-minutes playtime.

Much like with the track “Tree Men,” the next song called “Defpotec” also finds itself changing directions throughout its playtime. The track begins with an Alternative Rock sound that could have been found on Alternative Rock formats back in the nineties. With singer Nina Budjinski’s “boo-yah, boo-yah…” vocalizing, you could also add in some influence from the band of The B-52’s into the song. Soon, the song changes directions and the music takes on a Funk influence to the music. Before it’s all said and done, the song also features some influence from the band Santana as the track takes on just a little of that band’s sound in its music. One of the more unusual features of the track is the inclusion of the Jaw Harp in the background of the music late in the track. Needless-to-say, “Defpotec” ends up being just as unique as the track’s title.

Round 2 from Itch continues with the song “Captain Love”. “Captain Love” is a track that blends together a generous amount of Alternative Rock with equal amounts of influence from Rock and Roll music from the sixties. What results is a track that feels like a blend of The Cranberries and Jefferson Airplane. And on this track, singer Nina Budjinski seems to be channeling English singer-songwriter Kate Bush as Budjinski’s vocals easily recall Bush’s unique vocal quality. Together, what is created is a rather laidback song that features moments where the band kicks up the energy of the music from time to time. While it does have a slightly retro feel to it, “Captain Love” also has a strong commercial feel to it.

The band called Itch brings the energy of the music back up on the track called “Sun Will Rise”. On this track, the band brings out their Progressive Rock influences. The track begins with a few measures of what could only be described as Heavy Metal before the music shifts to music that, once again, brings to mind the sound of Jefferson Airplane; at least, what they sounded like back in the late sixties. With a little bit more energy, the track continues and the music along with Nina Budjinski’s vocals again feel as if they were influenced by the likes of The Cranberries.

Itch winds up their new album with the track “Mangata”. Equal parts of Rock and Roll, Jazz and Heavy Metal combine to create a track that changes constantly. Because of that, “Mangata” can only be described as a Progressive Rock track. The second of the tracks to be released ahead of the release in anticipation of the album, “Mangata” brings the album of Round 2 from Itch to a close.

Begarde, Serbia’s Itch has created an album in Round 2 that truly makes good use of the various musical elements that help shape the band’s music. The ever-changing blend of styles create one track after another that combine to make one enjoyable release. This album, and the fact that the band had just recently been nominated for the Independent Music Awards for the tracks “Prison Disco” and “Mangata” add up to the band having a lot of momentum. The band is currently on tour in support of their Round 2 album being released on Latticesphere Records.

 

To discover the music of Itch for yourself, check out the band’s song “Prison Disco,” one of the band’s songs that was nominated for the Independent Music Awards. 

The band is also now promoting their latest single called “Spell”. Check that song out here: 

For more information, check out the band’s PR Firm, Whiplash PR & Management.

 

 

 

 

Check out Round 2 from Itch on Bandcamp by clicking on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Wings of Valkyrie “Exploding Hearts”

San Antonio, Texas-based Punk Rock band Wings of Valkyrie came together as a band back in 2010. Choosing their name because of liking what the Norse legend of the Valkyries was about, the band created a sound that incorporated many different elements into the band’s Punk Rock music. And with bands such as Green Day, The Misfits, Taking Back Sunday as well as No Doubt and Red Hot Chili Peppers all being musical influences, you can tell that the band’s sound is not going to be boring. And with The Misfits and the elements of Horror of that band’s music being included in the influences to the music of Wings of Valkyrie, it comes as no surprise that the San Antonio band would create a few songs within their playlist of original material that also contain a strong Horror influence. But that horror influence is only a small part of the band’s overall writing style.

The original lineup for Wings of Valkyrie came together back in 2010. Through the years that have followed, several lineup changes have hindered the progress of the band. Because of ever-changing lineup of the band, Wings of Valkyrie have only produced a total of two albums in the years since 2010. The latest album from Wings of Valkyrie, the eight-song release of Exploding Hearts, was released earlier this year in April. For this release, founding members Valdeezy and MiK! settled on creating the album on their own, bringing in another member to play the bass when the band performs live. As a result, the band’s Exploding Hearts album features Alex “Valdeezy” Valdez on Drums and Mikael “MiK!” Lopez on Guitars/Bass/Vocals.

Exploding Hearts from Wings of Valkyrie begins with the track “Restless”. The track features a rather laidback musical approach for the first thirty seconds before the band launches the song into full throttle. The track’s music is fully punk-flavored with only a little Pop flavor added in. The lyrics of the song is where the track separates itself from most other Punk Rock songs. Within the lyrics, Mik! sings of coming out of the grave and trying to make his way in a world that has since passed him by. The song of “Restless” is radio-friendly while still containing enough harshness to satisfy any hardcore Punk music fans.

For the track “Where Were You?” Wings of Valkyrie adopts more of a straight-forward Punk sound for their song. That more straight-forward Punk flavor on the music matches up well with lyrics that contain a great deal of angst as well as anger towards the world. The track’s lyrics deal with the singer coming to terms with the fact that no one was there when he was down and out and really needed the help. “Where Were You?” is a great Punk track that contains a no-nonsense vocal delivery from MiK! as he tries to release his anger before it gets the better of him.

Sometimes, the influences that appear in the music from Wings of Valkyrie are very apparent. On the song “Goodnight Moon,” the band launches into a song that has the same sound and feel of something that could easily have come off of an album from Green Day. In fact, the Punk music on “Goodnight Moon” as well as the Pop-like approach of the music itself would easily have fit onto any of Green Day’s albums. The track begins with a light touch on the music before the band bumps up the energy and the song really takes off. The track is a nice mix of Pop feel and Punk mentality. And to add to that Pop feeling, the song also features the background vocals from Jenny Luna, the same woman who contributed the artwork to the album. “Goodnight Moon” is one track on the Exploding Hearts album from Wings of Valkyrie that will definitely feed your desire for Punk music.

If you create a band that makes Punk music, you need to create songs that draw from the real Punk mindset. With the track “Revolt,” Wings of Valkyrie definitely do that. The track features lyrics about the call to action that comes from a need to take a stand. The music and the lyrics on this particular track bring to mind the earlier bands like The Ramones or The Dead Boys who were known for their no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners attitude. While “Revolt” from Wings of Valkyrie may contain a slightly slower pace than most Punk tracks, but the Punk attitude is overflowing on this track. This track is definitely an anthem for today’s generation!

Just like the song “Revolt,” the song “Chicago” from Wings of Valkyrie also brings up anger from motivation that comes out of hatred. “Chicago” is a tribute to a city that has seen its share of anger, hatred and utter chaos in the last few years. While the track is a tribute to the city, there is absolutely no energy loss in the music in the song as the band’s musical approach still contains plenty of energy.

Following track after track of powerful moments created by the Punk music from Wings of Valkyrie, the band’s Exploding Hearts release comes to an end with the track “I Surrender”. The track finds Mikael “MiK!” Lopez singing about the pains of life and how they have started to weigh on him. The track’s lyrics are may seem rather depressing at times, but that simply means that Lopez is dealing with life the best way he can- through music.

Throughout the nine tracks that combine to create the Exploding Hearts release from Wings of Valkyrie, the band splits the time between serious subjects and lighter musical fare that come across as a lot more upbeat. And even though the entire album was created by only two musicians (Alex “Valdeezy” Valdez on Drums and Mikael “MiK!” Lopez on Guitars/Bass/Vocals), the resulting release feels fully developed and leaves the listener feeling completely satisfied; proving it’s not the number of band members, it’s the talent they possess.   

For a taste of the music from Wings of Valkyrie, check out their song “Restless” off of their Exploding Hearts release.

For more information and to check out more music from Wings of Valkyrie, check out the band’s Bandcamp account.

Also be sure to check out the band’s album cover designer (as well as manager), Jenny Luna.

To purchase a copy of Exploding Hearts from Wings of Valkyrie, click on the album cover below:

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Artists and Bands Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Dansewolf “Smoke-n-Mirrors”

Take a little amount of Foo Fighters, Bowie, Madonna, T-Rex and No Doubt and you have a musical mixture sure to please pop fans and rock fans alike. Take a beautiful, talented singer and place her in front of a band that can handle the aforementioned musical mixture and you end up with Dansewolf.

Dansewolf is the stage name of Juls D, a blonde bombshell who created a CD with musicians that include: guitarist Andy Lagomarsino, guitarist Grant Webb, bassist Brandon Puda, Eric Schackne on keyboards and Elmo Lovano who added his talents as drummer to the mixture. The resulting music from this musical outfit blends New Wave, pop, Rock and Indie into one sound that is sure to please.

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Features

Tracy Bonham talks new album, Steven Tyler’s love of slides, crying on Stevie Wonder’s suit, and, of course, the song that started it all

Many a music lover know of Tracy Bonham thanks to her Grammy-nominated debut, The Burdens of Being Upright, and its quirky, unforgettable star single, “Mother Mother.” However, fewer know (shame on you!) of the numerous releases, both full-length albums and EPs, that followed, delivering the same high caliber of original, infectious songs as Burdens. So, you owe it to yourself to add some more Bonham to your CD rack (um, I meant iPod), and now is the perfect time to do so, as she gears up to release her first full-length album in five years, Masts of Manhatta, on July 13th.

The R&RR recently had the chance to catch up with Bonham and talk Masts, Steven Tyler’s love of slides, crying on Stevie Wonder’s suit, and, of course, the song that started it all.