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CD Review: A.J. Croce “Just Like Medicine”

Singer-songwriter Adrian James Croce (from here on out to be referred to as A.J. Croce) has spent the last few years picking up where his father had left off. While only a toddler when Jim died, A.J. Croce grew to know his father through the music that Jim left behind. He has even spend time on stage creating concerts of Jim’s music under the concept name of Croce Plays Croce. And that music from A.J’s father plus the music of his father’s contemporaries have helped to shape A.J’s songwriting. Through the last few decades, A.J. Croce has released a total of ten albums of music, some of which contain a few tracks from Jim Croce. The latest album from A.J. Croce is entitled Just Like Medicine.  

The Just Like Medicine album from A.J. Croce begins with one of A.J’s original songs called “Gotta Get Outta My Head”. While Croce has followed in his father’s musical footsteps, he also has gone in his own direction as far as his writing style is concerned. Nowhere is that more apparent than on this first track of the album. The track feels more like a song that Dr. John would have composed. The track’s musical approach combines elements of Rock and Roll with some Funk to create a track with a rather strong groove to it.

For the title track of the release, A.J. Croce creates a track in “Cures Just Like Medicine” that brings to mind a style that seems to have been largely influenced by the like of Harry Connick Jr. “Cures Just Like Medicine” features a Jazzy, Connick-like musical approach. The somewhat raspy voice of A.J. Croce and the musical approach once again brings to mind the sound and feel of Dr. John but with more of a jazzy feel.

Staying in a jazzy state of mind, the next track entitled “Move On” features A.J. Croce continues with the Connick influence but with a stronger stressing of jazz to the music. On this track, what ends up coming across is an “American Songbook” era track that would have come from Rod Stewart. The easy feel to the music and the lyrical delivery that is unmistakably Stewart creates a track that transcends age as the track feels both timeless and retro at the same time.

While the Just Like Medicine album from A.J. Croce features A.J’s songs, the album is not completely about the singer-songwriter. The album features one song co-written by AJ and another musician, and one track that was actually written by Jim Croce himself.  

Just Like Medicine from A.J. Croce features the song “The Heart That Makes Me Whole,” a track that was written with the help of Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MG’s fame. With Cropper playing the guitar on the track, A.J. Croce creates a song with a strong groove that features a little Soul influence in the music. Because of Cropper’s musical background and with the various people he has played with over the years, the track “The Heart That Makes Me Whole” created by Cropper and Croce seems to draw inspiration from the artists of the past, giving the song a strong musical feel that would have felt right at home with the tracks that appeared on the albums produced by The Blues Brothers.

While “The Heart That Makes Me Whole,” is a track co-written by A.J. Croce, one track on Croce’s latest release of Just Like Medicine isn’t his. That track is the song “Name of the Game”. This song was written by Jim Croce but was never released. The reason for that was because Jim passed away before the release it was to be included on could be completed. Right from the beginning few notes of the track, it is absolutely clear that “Name of the Game” is Jim Croce’s song. The main reason why the track sounds like a Jim Croce tune is because of the way A.J. sings the song- he chose to sing the song in Jim’s “voice,” as A.J’s delivery on the track is a very strong impersonation. The guitar-driven track ends up being something that would have been right at home next to a song such as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”. In fact, the two tracks feel as if they could have been together on the same album.

Just Like Medicine, the latest album from A.J. Croce is brought to a close with the track called “The Roads”. With this track, Croce creates a track that seems to draw inspiration from the likes of singer-songwriter Chris Isaak as the song has a feel with a slight throwback feel to the music, much the same way Isaak’s songs do. “The Roads” is a track with an equal blend of guitar-based and keyboard-based music. The two main instruments both shine on their own and support the other instrument at the same time. This creates a track with a strong Rock and Roll approach. And with that Rock and Roll approach, the track brings the release to a close on a strong musical note.

The music on the latest release from A.J. Croce called Just Like Medicine features the spirit of Croce’s father as well as the many talents of Steve Cropper and the many other talented musicians who help to create an album of music with a straight-out Rock and Roll soul to it. The combination of the original compositions from A.J. Croce and the few tunes he chose to include on his latest album are all rather well-rounded, musically-speaking; especially given the fact that the tracks borrow from several different musical directions at once. While A.J. Croce may not gain the same notoriety that his father had when he was alive, that doesn’t mean that the he is any less talented. And Croce’s latest original album of Just Like Medicine is strong proof of that.

As the release of Just Like Medicine from A.J. Croce came out in 2017, Croce is currently creating new music. He recently released a new single. That new single is entitled “I Got a Name” which, of course, was one of Jim Croce’s more popular recordings when he was alive. As mentioned earlier, A.J. Croce has been touring under the concept of Croce Plays Croce for a while now. And with this tour concept, A.J. plays the music of his father Jim in concert the way Jim would be doing if he was still alive today. And that is exactly what you get with this new recording of “I Got a Name”. The arrangement of the track sounds like a note-for-note recreation of Jim Croce’s single, keeping the feel of the original intact. While not making any new strides in originality, A.J. keeps Jim’s memory fresh in people’s minds with this version of the old tune from his father.   

For a taste of the music from A.J. Croce, check out the album’s “title track” of “Cures Just Like Medicine”:

Also check out A.J. Croce’s latest recording of his father Jim’s song “I Got a Song”: 

To check out the entire Just Like Medicine release from A.J. Croce, click on the album cover below: 

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Album Preview

CD Review: David Gelman “Last Surviving Son”

David Gelman is a New York City-based singer-songwriter who has spent much of his life playing with the same group of people. And as a matter-of-fact, that group of people, known collectively as White Collar Crime, will shortly be celebrating their 30th anniversary as a band. During that time, the band has created several albums of original material, with the band’s latest release of Floor Aisle Room having been released back in 2016.

While being part of White Collar Crime, David Gelman has also spent time creating his own music. To date, David Gelman has created three albums of music. The latest album from Gelman is called Last Surviving Son.

To bring the music on Last Surviving Son to life, David Gelman is joined by a rather talented group of musicians which included: electric guitarist, slide guitarist and banjo player Ann Klein, drummer/percussionist Jerry Marotta, violinist Lorenza Ponce and bassist Sara Lee. Each of the musicians on this album have spent time playing with people like Ani DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates and many others. Those various musical influences help to give plenty of depth and variety to the music of David Gelman.

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman begins with the track “Far Away”. The track features a Folk base to the music as the violin and banjo help set the track in motion. As the track continues, some Rock and Roll influence joins in. The resulting Folk-Rock blend to the music comes with a strong driving pace. Banjo player Ann Klein and violinist Lorenza Ponce are as much a part of the track as Gelman’s voice and together, they and the rest of the band create a song with a beautiful musical approach while the lyrics about getting tired of lifetime on the run makes the listener stop and think. “Far Away” is the perfect modern-day Folk tune with a powerful meaning to the lyrics. 

The album continues with the track “Set It Free”. Much like the previous track, this song features a Folk/Rock blend. But while the song “Far Away” contains much more of a Folk base to the song, it is the Rock side of the music that comes through here. In fact, the track has a musical style that feels as if it would fit perfectly well right next to music from either The Byrds or The Lovin’ Spoonful. The song features a slow, gentle feel to the music. And much like the aforementioned bands of The Byrds and The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Set it Free” feels like it would have been right at home in the sixties.

While the first two tracks of Last Surviving Son from David Gelman feature some Folk inspiration, Gelman and the rest of the musicians on the release take the music of the album in a much stronger Country-flavored direction with the next track. The song “Feel Alright” contains a strong Country influence to the music while Gelman’s vocals now come with a strong twang to them. The addition to the twang in Gelman’s voice is accompanied by a stronger Country vibe to the music. The track features a straight-out Country vibe to it and that vibe gives the song a rather timeless feel. You can imagine this song alongside some of today’s best Country artists as much as Country artists of the past like Charlie Pride, George Jones, Willie Nelson and others. If you are a fan of Country music, “Feel Alright” is a track that will fit well in your music collection.

Things on the new release from David Gelman slow down with the title track. The track of “Last Surviving Son” begins with a march-style drumbeat that soon becomes a track with a rather somber message of living with the guilt of outliving the rest of your siblings. The easiness of the Folk-flavored music creates a sad feel to the track. That sadness is courtesy of the violin from Lorenza Ponce. The track comes across as rather relatable as many people know this kind of feeling. “Last Surviving Son” ends up creating one of the quieter moments of the release.

The feeling of the music regains some energy with the next track. The song “Lonely Tonight” is a song that blends together Folk, Country, Blues and a little Rock and Roll influence. The Blues flavor comes in the form of the slide guitar on the track. What ends up being created is the perfect Americana track as the song has so much going on musically all at the same time. “Lonely Tonight” is one of the strongest tracks on the Last Surviving Son release.

With the next track, the music once again slows down. “The Roads We Didn’t Take” contains lyrics with a rather strong poetic feel to them as if they were written by poet Robert Frost. The reason for this is that Gelman is found thinking about choices in life and what could happen, in much the same way Frost’s narrator in the poem “The Road Less Traveled” had.  The Lite Rock music on the track from David Gelman takes the listener back to the days of the seventies when music began going in a much softer direction. That Lite Rock approach seems very appropriate for the lyrics of the track. 

The pace of the music stays in a slow groove with the next track called “Let It All Go”. The light touch of the acoustic guitar on the track creates a style that will transport the listener back in time to the days of AM radio in the seventies. In fact, the track feels as if it could have been created by someone like Mac Davis, the American songwriter who was popular back at that time. You could imagine “Let It All Go” from David Gelman playing alongside “I Believe in Music” from Mac Davis. 

David Gelman stays in a retro mood on the track “Soft Surrender”. The track contains the same seventies-inspired Rock and Roll as the previous track. And much like with “Let It All Go,” “Because You Love Me” would have felt right at home on AM radio formats back at that time. The track contains a gentle pace to the music and feels almost Folk-like in its sound. With the inclusion of the strings in the background of the track, the track adds a bit of beauty to the Last Surviving Son release.

With the final track of the album, David Gelman changes the feel of the music. The rest of the album that came before featured a guitar-driven approach. But with “The Presence of the Lord,” the guitar is replaced with the sound of the piano. With the piano (and organ) on the track, “The Presence of the Lord” feels like as if it had been inspired by the likes of Billy Joel. With the title of the track being what it is, one might assume that the track is rather religious in nature. And while there is some of that, it’s more spiritual than anything as Gelman sings of looking inward for answers. Like much of the album, “Presence of the Lord” contains a laid-back feel to the music, which goes along with the lyrical content of the track. As the song is much different from the other songs on the release because of the lyrical direction, it makes sense that the song would bring the Last Surviving Son release to a close.    

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman finds the singer-songwriter staying within a certain time-frame on his latest release. Whether using Folk, County or Lite Rock influences, each song on the album seems to stay contained within a seventies mindset. What results is a solid album with a laid-back feel to it. If you are a fan of lighter musical fare, this album is just what you’re looking for.  

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

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the music Last Surviving Son release, check out the video to the title track of the album. 

To check out the entire Last Surviving Son release from David Gelman, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Griffin House “Rising Star”

Griffin House is a musician and singer-songwriter who went in the direction of music when he could have taken a much different path in life. He was offered a golf scholarship to Ohio University but chose Miami University in Oxford, Ohio instead. While there, he focused his free time on learning to play guitar and write songs.

It was just after the turn of the new millennium that Griffin House would begin releasing his own music. Once he found his voice, Griffin House started creating his own albums. The first release from House was the 2002 album No More Crazy Love Songs. The album of Upland coming out in 2003 was a big stepping stone for House. It was that album would lead to House being signed to Nettwerk America. And with the album of Lost & Found being released on that label, Griffin House would finally reach a point where he was truly making a name for himself.

In the time that has passed since those days, Griffin House has released a number of albums and other releases that contain his version of Americana music, which contains a strong, underlying Rock and Roll flavor to the music as well as other musical influences. The most current album from the singer-songwriter, released earlier this year, is entitled Rising Star.

Griffin House’s new album of Rising Star is very much like a soundtrack album. The reason for that is because songs from the album are being used in a new documentary film that uses the same title. Both the documentary of Rising Star and the songs on the accompanying album deal with the life of House as he recalls his claim up the ladder within the music industry in the town of Nashville that he has been part of for years now.

Rising Star from Griffin House begins with the title track of the release. “Rising Star” is a track that features a rather sparse production quality to the music as the song contains only the acoustic guitar and the vocals from House himself. “Rising Star” is a singer-songwriter type of song that comes across as a story set to music. The lyrics focus on House as he sings about a man trying to make a name for himself, gaining momentum as he goes.

The new release from Griffin House continues with the song “15 Minutes of Fame,” a phrase that most artists are familiar with as it is used to describe the average length of the popularity of any actor, singer, athlete that never gets to “superstar” level. While “Rising Star” contained its sparse production feel, “15 Minutes of Fame” finds House and the musicians who helped bring the album to life creating a track with a straight-out Rock and Roll approach. The driving feel of the guitar on the track, mixed with the feel of the lyrics and the vocals from House all combine to create a track that sounds strongly inspired by the likes of Tom Petty. “15 Minutes of Fame” focuses on a person on the way up dealing with friends coming out of the woodwork now that he has some fame.

With the track “Mighty Good Friend,” Griffin House feels as if he is trying to create a song in the middle of family life. The track features background sounds of a child playing as House creates a track that blends together several different elements. With the inclusion of the banjo, you get some Country/Folk flavor. With the inclusion of the melody sung by House, you get some 4 Non Blondes influence. Ultimately, the song comes off sounding like something from early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The lyrics deal with House trying to write a song and just not being able to get around the voice in his head (the friend referred to in the title).

On the track “Hindsight,” Griffin House and company take the music back to the seventies as the track contains a rather easy pace to the music. The Folk/Rock blend on the track brings to mind the lighter artists from that era. More specifically, the music and the vocal delivery in the song bring to mind the style of Gordon Lightfoot as it sounds like from that musician’s material from the seventies. Even the lyrics seem rather reminiscent of Lightfoot’s style as those lyrics contain a slight sadness as House sings of becoming aware of what has happened only when he looks back.

Griffin House changes the feel of the music rather drastically with the song “Cup of Fulfillment”. The track begins with the sound of uilleann pipes before the track segues into a Lite Rock feel to the music. House sings lyrics that seem to have a rather spiritual feel to them, as he seems to be talking to a higher power. The spiritual lyrics and the Lite Rock feel to the music combine nicely to create a track that would fit easily within a current Christian Rock radio format.

The feel of the music on Rising Star changes once again with the song “Natural Man”. Griffin House and friends take the music back to an earlier time. The heavier Rock and Roll flavor on the track borrows influence from the eighties. The track features strong electric guitars and an all-over style that would have fit alongside Eddie Money, John Cougar Mellencamp, even Bruce Spingsteen.

With the track “Crash and Burn,” Griffin House stays within a timeless feel of the music. The lighter, easier feel to the music as well as an easier pace combine to create a track that feels like something from Pink Floyd. And while the title “Crash and Burn” feels like something that band might have written, the lyrics deal with someone dealing with the inevitable situation of falling apart and no longer being part of the mainstream, needing to step aside as the next Rising Star comes into the spotlight.

Like other albums in Griffin House’s discography, the ever-changing feel of the music within the Rising Star album keeps the album interesting. Much of the new release from Griffin House blends together, creating a loose story-line throughout the tracks. But since the album was created at the same time a documentary film starring House was being created, that’s understandable. And with the loose story-line running through the tracks, this ends up being one of the more interesting albums produced by the singer-songwriter.

For a taste of Rising Star from Griffin House, check out “Mighty Good Friend,” one of the tracks off of the album. 

To check out the entire Rising Star release from Griffin House, click on the album cover below:

 

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CD Review: Diana Chittester “Paradox”

Diana Chittester is a singer-songwriter that makes her home in Northeastern Ohio. It is in this location that she is free to be herself and express herself the way she wants. You can hear some of her struggles in the lyrics that are found in the music that she creates.  And while her personal struggles find a place in her music, it is the music itself that is created by Diana Chittester that sets her apart from the crowd.

One thing that is rather obvious about the singer-songwriter Diana Chittester is just how strong she is as a musician. To help flavor her playing, Chittester calls upon influences from artists such as Ani DeFranco, Joni Mitchell, Lindsay Buckingham, Jewel and plenty of others including Ann Wilson of the band Heart, whose playing on tracks like “Crazy On You” truly helped flavor Chittester’s own style of playing.

That being said, just listening to the music from Diana Chittester doesn’t really do her justice. You must see the musician in concert to truly appreciate just how talented she truly is. Very few musicians can fill up a room with just their voice and one guitar but Chittester is one musician who is able to do just that. The multi-layering effect that happens when she is in concert is a wonder to behold. And it’s done without the use of a looper, which just adds to the amazing playing ability of the singer-songwriter.  

The multi-layering from Diana Chittester can be found on the various releases that have been produced by the artist over the years, with the most obvious of that layering appearing on her previous album of Find My Way Home which features only the artist with her guitar. The sparse feel of the music on that album truly helps the layering effect to shine through.

Diana Chittester’s playing and the multi-layering feel to her music led to her being included in the Top 10 list of the publication Guitar Gods Magazine. Her video for the track “Paradox” was even included in the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival to be included in an entire program of music videos. And just recently, Chittester was featured in the RiffJournal.com’s list of 50 Gifted Singer-Songwriters

As far as her music is concerned, Diana Chittester released a new six-song EP entitled Paradox not that long ago. Where the album Find My Way Home contained a sparse feel to the music on that release, Paradox comes complete with a much fuller feel to the music. The music contained within this EP is much different compared to the artist’s previous album because of that stronger production value. This six-song release shows off just what Chittester’s music can sound like when it comes with a completely full production value to it.

Paradox from Diana Chittester begins with the track “Freedom”. The track begins with the sound of the ukulele that she uses in much of her music. That ukulele is soon joined by the drums, guitar, bass and organ to create a Rock and Roll track with the ukulele in the forefront of the track. The track about needing to make one’s own choices in life feels both unusual because of the choice of the ukulele as the centerpiece of the track and familiar as the music contains a full amount of pop-rock flavor to it. You can even imagine yourself starting to sing along with the lyrics making the track a perfect anthem for those looking for inspiration.

Diana Chittester’s newest release continues with the track “In the Middle”. Where the track of “Freedom” ha a slightly unique flavor to it, “In the Middle” is much more mainstream in comparison. With the electric guitar and the rest of the instrumentation, the track of “In the Middle” brings to mind a style of Rock and Roll that was present in the mid-nineties. More specifically, the song contains a musical quality that brings to mind the song “All I Wanna Do” from Sheryl Crow. The Rock and Roll contained within the track creates one of the strongest moments on the release.

On the title track of the EP, Diana Chittester brings back a good deal of the simplicity that had been found on the artist’s album of Find My Way Home as the track begins with only the sound of the ukulele her vocals. The song of “Paradox” finds Chittester reflecting on years gone by as a relationship comes to an end. The singer-songwriter questions what happened and why it happened. She even wonders if it was all just a bad dream. As she follows her own thoughts, the music of the track gains momentum and becomes a lot fuller. To help fill out the music of the track, strings are added to the music. The strings add beauty as well as sadness to reinforce the meaning of the lyrics on the track. What results is a track where the lyrics are full of emotion and the music adds to that sorrow. The track of “Paradox” is easily the most personal song of the six tracks included on the EP.

The Paradox release from Diana Chittester continues with the track “On My Own”. With the lyrics of the track being what they are as they spell out a woman pushing herself to keep going after something bad has happened, the track feels much like a continuation of the EP’s title track. This is mostly likely just coincidence as the two tracks of “Paradox” and “On My Own” are right next to each other.  However, the two tracks with their similar lyrical approaches create a passage on the EP that is easily the most emotional.

Diana Chittester finishes off her release of Paradox with the song “Cry”. Like “Paradox” and “On My Own” earlier in the EP, “Cry” explores personal parts of Chittester’s life as she explains how her own path in life led her to lose friends and family for simply being who she is. The soft quality of the music and the strings that are contained within it combine to create a track that will definite tug at your heart as you experience just a taste of the pain that Chittester has experienced throughout her life. Musically speaking, the quiet delivery of the music on the track makes “Cry” the perfect track to help bring Chittester’s Paradox to a close.  

Paradox from Diana Chittester is quite different from the singer-songwriter’s previous release of Find My Way Home. This album contains a stronger production value. It contains a much fuller feel to the music. And most importantly, it comes across as much more personal. In many ways, this release shows the listener just how much Diana Chittester has matured as far as her music is concerned from one release to the next. One can only imagine where she will take us with the next release.

 

To discover for yourself the music of Diana Chittester, check out “Paradox,” the very video that was included in this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. 

To hear the entire Paradox release from Diana Chittester on spotify, click on the  album cover below: 


 
 

 

 

 

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Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Mimi Arden S/T

Michelle Gaw is a Cleveland-based singer-songwriter who has been creating her style of music for a while now. And she has been performing her music all over town. But when she performs, it is either as a solo act or as part of a band. The name of the band that Gaw performs with is called Mimi Arden, a name that derives from her own name. So when she was looking for a name for the band that helps bring her music to life, she used a nickname for Michelle (Mimi) and her middle name (Arden) to create the moniker for the band she fronts.

The band of Mimi Arden is made of three musicians. Along with Michelle Gaw, the rest of the band called Mimi Arden consists of Michelle Gaw on Vocals and Guitar, Lee Kolarik on Drums and Joe Botta on Bass. As Mimi Arden, Gaw, Kolarik and Botta are keeping busy. The trio can be found performing at many of the music festivals in the Greater Cleveland. And when they are not performing live, they are creating music. Just recently, the band went about recording some of their song. Together with some other friends that helped to create the music of the band, this trio created a new self-titled ten-song release.

The new self-titled album from Mimi Arden begins with the track “Wits”. The track about going slightly crazy begins with the sound of Michelle’s acoustic guitar and her voice which creates a Folk-rock track. And after about forty seconds, the acoustic rock created by Gaw is made fuller as she is joined the electric guitar from Raymond Flanagan. That electric guitar helps to add some flavor to the track but doesn’t really give the track any true energy as the track remains rather low-key throughout its three-and-a-half minutes of playtime. Lee Kolarik’s drums and Joe Botta’s bass join in and created a track with a laidback approach with a little bit of a Soul music feel. The easy-going track starts the album off rather easily, but that easy feeling simply ensures that there is enough room to increase the energy level as the release goes on.

The first track features a light feel to its music as does the second track. The difference in the two musical directions comes in when the second track of “Soul Pocket” contains more of Soul-like feel to the music. The musical approach on the track combines elements of Soul and Jazz. This combination brings to mind the playing of Jack Johnson while Gaw’s vocals also bring to mind vocalists from the seventies. The resulting feel of the track produces one of the most commercial tracks of the album and would feel right at home on today’s Top 40 radio formats.

”Returning to Ash,” the third track from the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, begins with drummer Lee Kolarik creating a drumbeat with a slightly jazzy feel to it before the light playing from electric guitarist Raymond Flanagan gives the track an Indie Rock feel. The entire ensemble of Flanagan, Michelle Gaw, drummer Lee Kolarik and bassist Joe Botta create a track that contains a light approach to the driving music. ”Returning to Ash” not only features Michelle Gaw, but it also contains the backing vocals of Elizabeth Bullock who helps to add some harmony to the track. The resulting track would fit on today’s radio formats but also contains enough of a retro feel that it would have felt right at home on AM radio back in the seventies.

As some of the music from Michelle Gaw contains a generous amount of Jazz influence, there seems to be a slight crossover possibility to some of the tracks on the self-titled release from Mimi Arden. “Vines” is one track that would feel right at home on an Adult Contemporary radio format just as easily as it would fit on a Smooth Jazz format. The laidback approach to the music and the jazzy feel to Gaw’s vocals are the main reasons for that. The musical approach seems to bring to mind the lighter songs from the band The Lovin Spoonful, which also means that there is a slight retro feel to the track.

With the track “Love All the Time,” Michelle Gaw and the rest of Mimi Arden once again create a track that features a strong Soul feel to the music. And with the track’s lyrical content about trying to find a way to live together, the track brings to mind something from the late sixties/early seventies. In fact, the track’s lyrics seem to contain the spirit of Marvin Gaye as they have the same type of message that would have been present in Gaye’s music. In fact, the title itself is rather reminiscent of something from the late singer-songwriter.

One of the tracks on the self-titled album from Mimi Arden that stands out because of its unique feel is the track “Rabbit Hole”. Just like the song “Love All the Time,” “Rabbit Hole” feels as if it would have come from an earlier time. The lyrical content of the track feels more like poetry than simple song lyrics. And with the guitar playing from Raymond Flanagan, the track’s music seems to contain a slightly psychedelic feel to it. The track would once again feel right at home on radio back in the seventies.

Before actually putting out the band’s self-titled album, Mimi Arden gave their fanbase a taste of what was to come. The track “Dandelions” once again finds the ensemble creating a track that combines a light Rock and Roll feel with a slight Jazz background to it. The track contains a lyrical content that finds Michelle Gaw singing about finding the right person to help her see the bright side of life instead of the darker side. Having released the song “Dandelions” before the rest of the release, the lead-off track now feels right at home in the midst of the other tracks that make up the album.

The self-titled album from Mimi Arden is a release that stays in a rather laidback and relaxed mood throughout the ten tracks that make up the album. Michelle Gaw and the rest of the band seem to work well together to create a track that would be perfect for those times when you simply want to put on some music an relax.

 

To listen to the music from Mimi Arden, check out the first single from the band’s self-titled album entitled “Dandelions“. 

To check out the self-titled release from Mimi Arden, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Reina Mora “Bird’s Eye View”

Puerto Rico native Leeane Melendez (from this point on to be referred to by her stage name of Reina Mora) has spent time in the music industry as part of many bands. But after spending time in other people’s groups, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter has taken on a new role as a solo artist. Having written her own songs, Reina Mora is about to release her first solo album. While Mora is an artist that is proud of her Latin background, the singer-songwriter has just created a release that is largely influenced by the same type of music that she has been singing as part of other bands. That pop/rock-based album is entitled Bird’s Eye View, a title that plays on the singer’s stage name of Reina Mora since “Reina Mora” is actually the name of a bird in Puerto Rico.   

The new album from Reina Mora begins with the track “Up In Arms”. The first track of the album finds Reina Mora creating a track that contains a large amount of pop-rock that features a very strong eighties vibe to it. The main reason for that vibe comes from the keyboards that are rather prominent on the track. To go along with the retro feel of the keys, Mora’s vocal approach brings to mind singers from the eighties such as Tiffany (of “I Think We’re Alone Now” fame) who were rather big on commercial radio back then. While rather retro in its sound, “Up In Arms” is a very strong track. 

Bird’s Eye View continues with the track “Trouble,” the first single off of the album. The music of “Trouble” focuses on the electric guitar that help to create a very strong Rock and Roll feel to the track. The electric guitar provides a moderate pace to the music. Reina Mora’s vocals are strong and focused as she plays out the character she created for the song. To go along with the Rock and Roll music, the lyrics of the song find Reina Mora creating a scene based around an Adam and Eve-type setting where Mora is portraying an Eve-like character who knows the power she possesses over “Adam” and is taking advantage of him as she plays out the forbidden apple scene from the Bible. As the title of the track suggests, Reina Mora declares that she is nothing but bad news. But as it turns out, Adam is no fool and he has a few tricks of his own. The writing style contained within the track comes across as a vignette set to music.

Reina Mora’s new album continues with the track “Passenger”. Having already released the song a few years ago, the singer-songwriter ended up revisiting the track for this new album. The original version of the song came complete with a guitar-driven feel that would have been right at home on radio back in the nineties alongside artists like Alannis Morrisette. For this version of the song, Mora completely rewrote the track to give the song a much different feel.  Much like track “Up In Arms” before it, the pop-rock music of this newer version of the track brings to mind music from the era of the eighties. The track begins with a strong heartbeat-like drumbeat that continues throughout the track. That drumbeat is matched up early with an acoustic guitar and the two instruments combine to create a rather infectious feel to the music. Adding the lyrics and the result is a song with a pop-rock ballad that is ultimately a song about regret as Mora sings about the one who got away. Much like the earlier version of the track, the commercial feel of this newer version of “Passenger” from Reina Mora means that the track could easily find its way onto today’s Top 40 radio formats.

The feel of Reina Mora’s new album changes directions with the next track of “If I Am A Stranger”. The track takes on a folk-like quality as the music is created by a mandolin, a bowed double bass and some light percussion. The simple and light music of the track comes complete with a slower pace than the previous tracks on the release. The lighter approach on the music allows Mora’s vocals to come through a lot more than on the tracks that came before.  While a lot lighter than the earlier tracks, “If I Am a Stranger” still contains a sound that is rather infectious.

Bird’s Eye View from Reina Mora continues with the song “Brighter Sky”. The Latin flavor of the percussion at the beginning of the track and the rest of the instrumentation throughout the track help to create a track that brings to mind the music of Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine. Part of the reason why the track brings to mind Estefan and her band is the eighties influence that once again gives the song a little bit of a throwback feel. The difference between Estefan and Mora’s song of “Brighter Sky” is that “Brighter Sky” has more of a Latin feel to it.

Throughout much of the Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora, the listener will find several tracks that feel readymade for radio airplay. No place is that more evident than with the track “Behind the Moon”. The commercial quality of the pop-rock music mixed with the strings that add an orchestral feel to the music combine to create a track that would feel right at home on Top 40 radio formats as well as Adult Contemporary formats and/or Hot A/C stations.

With the fact that Leeane Melendez (Reina Mora’s real name) is a native of Puerto Rico, it should come as no surprise that she would include some of her Hispanic background on the music of her album. With the track of “Cielo Azul,” she creates a track that fully allows her Hispanic side to come through. Of course, the listener will automatically recognize “Cielo Azul” as the track is the same song as the earlier track “Brighter Sky” except with lyrics in Spanish.

Bird’s Eye View, the new album from Reina Mora, finds the former frontwoman stepping out on her own to create a release that is solid from the very first track. Taking many of her musical influences that she picked up as a result of performing with the various musical acts she has been a part of, Mora has created an album that is very commercial and contains songs that would fit in on several different radio formats. If you are a fan of Adult Contemporary or Hot A/C radio, Bird’s Eye View from Reina Mora is an album that you need to check out.

 

I happened to get a copy of the Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora before it has been released. Because of that, I have no album cover to share for the release. Heck, as of this writing, the cover hasn’t even been shot yet! The Bird’s Eye View album is still in the process of being put together. Stay tuned to Reina’s website for complete release date details.   

However, there is a single available from the upcoming Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora. Click HERE to check out the track “Trouble”. 

For more information, check out Reina Mora’s PR firm, WHIPLASH PR

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CD Review: Mutts “Stick Together”

Singer-songwriter and piano player Mike Maimone and founding member of the band Mutts found his voice as a musician while living in his home state of Ohio. While he was in the Buckeye State, Maimone honed his craft as musician and writer releasing one album under his own name. In late 2008, Maimone put out his only solo album entitled Open Mic Nights, Empty Bottle Mornings.

 
Within one year after the release of that album, however, Mike Maimone found himself making a new home for himself in the city of Chicago. In that city, Maimone would befriend other Chicagoans and together, they would form the three-piece band called Mutts, a band that has been described as “if Tom Waits fronted a garage band”. Since the inception of that band, Mutts has created and released several albums and EPs. Mutts, a band that consists of Mike Maimone on vocals, piano, organ; Bob Buckstaff on guitar and Chris Pagnani on drums is currently celebrating the release of their newest EP. That five-song release is entitled Stick Together.

 
Stick Together, the newest release from Mutts, begins with the track “I’ll Be Around”. A song that says it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love, “I’ll Be Around” is a track that blends a romantic message with a rather strong musical approach. Where most romantic tracks would be soft and pretty, “I’ll Be Around” has a powerful backbone to go along with the reassuring lyrics about being who you are. The track has an infectious melody that is very listener-friendly but is still strong enough to be a solid radio-friendly single.

 
The new release from Mutts continues with the track “Neighbor”. In much the same way as the previous track, “Neighbor” is a track that features a strong message. Where “I’ll Be Around” says love is stronger than hate, “Neighbor” is a track that makes it clear that if you accept me for who I am, we will get by. And while the two tracks have very similar lyrical content, “Neighbor” steps it up a notch as the track has a much stronger and harder feel to the Rock and Roll music that accompanies the track’s powerful lyrics. To add just a bit of softness to the track, Mutts are joined by fellow musician and Chicagoan Jennifer Hall as she some harmony to the lyrics of the track.

 
One of the strongest and most commercial tracks on the five-song release entitled Stick Together is the song “Let’s Go”. While most of the music created by Mutts is piano-oriented and features Mike Maimone’s piano playing, “Let’s Go” shows off a slightly different side to the band. “Let’s Go” is a track that features the guitar playing of Bob Buckstaff as the main instrument. The guitar creates a different sound and feel to the band’s music…at least for one track. The song also features a strong groove and a call-and-response feel to the background vocals on the track. “Let’s Go” would easily translate well to a live setting.

 
To go along with the guitar-driven feel of “Let’s Go,” Mutts includes the track “Tin Foil Hat,” another track that features the playing of guitarist Bob Buckstaff. The track shows off the less serious side of the band as the track’s lyrics deal with conspiracy theories. The track’s lyrics suggest getting a “tin foil hat” in order to keep people from listening in on your thoughts. While the lyrics are rather fun, so is the music to the track. The band creates a track that has a strong beat that dares you to get up and dance. “Tin Foil Hat” seems to be fun on many different levels.

 
The newest release from Mike Maimone and the rest of the boys comes to an end with the song “Don’t Touch It”. On this song, the band creates a track that has a sound that brings back the feel of straight-out Rock and Roll songs from the eighties. The timeless feel of the track comes with lyrics that suggest that you keep your hands to yourself. “Don’t Touch It” is a strong track with a fun feel to the music that helps bring the short release to an end on a strong note.

 
The newest release from Chicago-based band Mutts called Stick Together shows off the group’s ability to create fun songs that ultimately have a meaning to them. The result is a Rock and Roll release that starts strong, ends strong, and could be a lot longer.

 

To help promote the album, Mutts has released the track “I’ll Be Around” as a single and video. Click HERE to check out the video. 

 

To check out “Stick Together” from Mutts, click on the album cover below:

Mutts CD Cover

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CD Review: Brendan McMahon “Universalist”

A little over a year ago, Brendan McMahon put out his last release, an album entitled Marker 7-58. This release was put out under the moniker of his band Satellite Gods. And while the album contains thirteen tracks, one song that is not included is a track called “Marker 7-58”. 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.

Brendan McMahon from Brendan McMahon begins with that track entitled “Marker 7-58”. Written as an ode to a park reserve location on a parcel of land near where McMahon recorded his music, the song “Marker 7-58” describes one day in McMahon’s life as he enjoys the view on the top of the hill on the land. McMahon creates a song containing an easy pace to the music that matches the simplistic feel to the song. With the mandolin creating most of the musical sound for the song, the electric guitar on the track adds just a hint of power to the music. The lyrics are matched well with this gentle approach to the music on this track. Whether having been kept off the album that contained the same name was intentional or not, the track “Marker 7-58” is a gentle track that kicks off the Universalist release from Brendan McMahon on a strong note.

Brendan McMahon’s new 5-song EP Universalist continues with the track “Hotel Hemmingway”. The track takes the music of McMahon and picks up the energy level from the easier pace of “Marker 7-58”. The song features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach that is very reminiscent of either Van Morrison or Eric Burdon. In fact, the style of Rock and Roll found on the track “Hotel Hemmingway” would have easily fit right in on Burdon’s I Used to Be an Animal release from 1988.

While Brendan McMahon is Australian by birth, some of his music seems infused with a Celtic influence. In fact, some of his music could easily have been influenced by the rock music that exists in Ireland itself. The song “Fridays in December” is one song that seems to contain a rather large Celtic influence to its music. While not overly noticeable, “Fridays in December” contains a strong Celtic feel that gives the song an international feel that would have felt right at home on commercial Rock radio stations back in the eighties.

The new release from Brendan McMahon is currently being promoted with the single “Mother”. A slow-paced track that is built around the piano, “Mother” features mainly the piano and McMahon’s voice as he sings a love song of sorts to the woman who raised him and helped him become the man he is. With only the sound of the piano to help create the music of the track, the emotion in McMahon’s voice comes out as he sings the lyrics to the song. The minimalistic musical approach also helps to show off his ability as a songwriter.

Brendan McMahon’s latest release comes to an end with the track “Beat”. For the last track of his Universalist release, McMahon picks up the energy level in a big way. For the final track, the inner Rock Star of Brendan McMahon is released as the electric guitar is the main instrument of focus on the track. While the four earlier tracks easily show off the songwriter side of McMahon, “Beat” is the song that really exposes the guitarist in him. While late in the tracking of the EP, the track “Beat” helps to remind the listener that Brendan McMahon can really rock when he wants to.

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 sides of Brendan McMahon’s songwriter personality.

As very little actual music from the Universalist EP exists on YouTube, check out the preview video for the song “Beat”. Then, check out the track “On My Way” from Brendan McMahon and the rest of the band Satellite Gods.

For more information, check out Brendan McMahon’s PR firm, The RMG Media Group.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of the track “Mother”:Brendan McMahon pic2

 

 

 

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CD Review: Ryan Joseph Anderson “City of Vines”

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Ryan Joseph Anderson has spent time as the bandleader for the group Go Long Mule, a band that created two albums of Americana-based music. After releasing two albums with that band, Anderson would then go on to create one release of his own. The 2014 debut album from Ryan Joseph Anderson, entitled The Weaver’s Broom, was one of the strongest releases to be put out that year. Three years have passed since the release of that album. After three years, Anderson is back with his second album of all original music. The new release from Ryan Joseph Anderson is entitled City of Vines.

City of Vines from Ryan Joseph Anderson starts off rather strongly with the track “Molly the Flood”. The track features a very strong Rock and Roll flavor and immediately gives the release a very rockin’ beginning. The track takes the music of Anderson into a direction that would fit alongside other songs that were created back in the eighties. The straight-out Rock and Roll sound on the track comes courtesy of the electric guitars that give the song a timeless musical feel. “Molly the Flood” is one of the most rockin’ tracks from either of Anderson’s solo albums.

The newest release from Ryan Joseph Anderson continues with the track “The Ragged Kind”. While the previous track makes use of the feel of the influence from the eighties, “The Ragged Kind” produces another musical approach that takes the music back even further in the Rock and Roll era as the track has a sound that almost seems as if it could have been produced by legendary Rock and Roll producer Phil Spector as the track comes complete with a very full and rich sound to the instrumentation included in the track. The nearly-overproduced feel of the track gives it a very commercial sound that would easily have fit on AM radio back in the sixties. Like the track “Molly the Flood,” “The Ragged Kind” sounds as if it would have been a popular track in another time.

The pace of the music slows down on the track “Shadowboxer”. And while the pace slows down, Anderson makes sure that the track “Shadowboxer” does not drag. The slower pace of the track is met with a strong drumbeat that acts kind of like a heartbeat and that heartbeat of sorts is what keeps the pace of the song moving. “Shadowboxer” is one track on the new album from Ryan Joseph Anderson that easily ties the new release to the previous one as this track could easily have fit within the playlist of the artist’s earlier album of The Weaver’s Broom.

The older feel to the Rock and Roll found on the first three tracks is only one reason why City of Vines from Ryan Joseph Anderson fits under the Rock and Roll label. One other reason for that label is the inclusion of other musical genres that help place that label on the release. One track on the new album that makes use of other musical genres other than just plain Rock and Roll is the title track to the album.

On the title track of “City of Vines,” Ryan Joseph Anderson takes the listener back to the sound of his last release, especially the last track of that album. On the song “City of Vines,” infuses a large amount of folk influence into the track’s music. In fact, the resulting song feels almost nearly like a continuation of the final song from The Weaver’s Broom called “Mission Bell”. Like “Mission Bell,”  “City of Vines” features a gentle flowing feel to the music. And just like “Mission Bell,” “City of Vines” ends up being one of the shining moments on the release. While the harder songs on the album show off the rock star side of Anderson, the softer songs like “Mission Bell” and “City of Vines” show off the real talent of the singer-songwriter.

Staying in a mellower mood, the song “16 Lovers” features a slower pace to the music as Anderson combines a Rock and Roll backbone to the song with a little bit of the Blues to give the track a rather unique sound. The track’s lyrics also seem to have a Blues influence as the resulting song finds Anderson singing about the women he has known intimately. “16 Lovers” is one track that seems to dig deeper into the songwriter side of Anderson than other tracks.

On the track “Diamonds,” Ryan Joseph Anderson writes a song that has more of a personal feel to it than the rest of the album. The lyrics of the track apparently sing about things that helped shape Anderson into the man he is today. The track once again features a gentle feel to the music but still contains a definite Rock and Roll approach to the sound.

The track “July” brings the new release of City of Vines from Ryan Joseph Anderson to a close. Like much of the material from Anderson, “July” is a track that combines an equal amount of Rock and Roll with Folk music. The easy pace of the track along with lyrics about remembering the past creates a song that seems very familiar to the listener. While the first part of the track has an easiness to the music, the second half finds the music building to a much more energetic approach to the music. The track of “July” brings the release to a close on an energetic note.

2014 found Ryan Joseph Anderson releasing a strong album in The Weaver’s Broom. Three years later, Anderson returns with his second album. City of Vines from Ryan Joseph Anderson features the same mix of both rather energetic tracks and rather laidback ones. While it is very rare to find a second album that is just as strong as or stronger than the first, Anderson has created a follow-up release that is just as strong as his first album and proves to have been well worth the three-year wait between releases.

To hear some of Ryan Joseph Anderson’s music, check out his song “Shadowboxer“.

For more information, check out Ryan Joseph Anderson’s PR firm NoVo Management and Publicity.

To check out City of Vines from Ryan Joseph Anderson, click on the album cover below:

City of Vines

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CD Review: Black Vincent “Teardrop Deluxe”

There was a time in the music industry when a person would walk into a recording studio with nothing more than a few lyrics to songs he had written and that was all he had. It was after he walked into the studio that he would meet the men who would help put together all of the musical parts to the songs that would become an album. This situation hardly happens today so when it does, the resulting album is something unique. This unique situation surrounds the new release from singer-songwriter Coley Kennedy, a man who recently created a release under the moniker of Black Vincent.