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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: 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. Having graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Violin Performance and Jazz Violin from Indiana University and a Master’s in Jazz/Commercial violin from Manhattan School of Music, Deninzon splits his time between teaching violin and performing in his band called Stratospheerius. Just recently, Deninzon and the band created a new album of music. For this album, Stratospheerius consists of: Joe Deninzon – Electric Violin, Lead Vocals & Mandolin; Aurelien Budynek – Guitar & Backup Vocals; Jamie Bishop – Bass & Backup Vocals and Lucianna Padmore – Drums. Together, the band is currently celebrating the release of this album. The new release from Stratospheerius is entitled Guilty of Innocence.

Guilty of Innocence from Stratospheerius begins with the track “Behind the Curtain”. With this track, Deninzon and the band start the album off with a bang. The track features a strong, driving pace to the music that comes complete with a definite Progressive Rock feel. That Prog-Rock sound is helped along with the inclusion of Deninzon’s electric violin along with a few musical effects that add to the feel of the piece. With a sly acknowledgement to the movie The Wizard of Oz, the track’s lyrics deal with a slight of hand, making people pay less attention to what’s really going on around you. “Behind the Curtain” contains a sound and feel that keeps the feel of the band’s last release of The Next World…, an album that was released back in 2012.

The newest release from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius continues with the track “Take Your Medicine”. The track starts off with a very strong bassline from bassist Jamie Bishop before the rest of the quartet joins in. Like the previous track, the band creates a track that features a very driving feel to the music. That driving feel seems to alternate between musical deliveries that is reminiscent of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention and a delivery that contains a slightly less progressive feel. Because of the Progressive nature of the music, “Take Your Medicine” may not be very commercial; however, this track would be extremely popular on Album-Oriented Rock radio formats.

Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius create one of the more “progressive” tracks on the title track of the album. Keeping with the pattern set forth by the first two tracks of the album, “Guilty of Innocence” hits the listener with yet another driving force to the music. Like the previous tracks on the release, the band plays with plenty of energy. But the one thing that stands out on this track is the Classical Music feel to the music as Deninzon layers his playing on the electric violin to create an effect as if a string quartet was brought in to add texture to the track. The addition of the Classical approach on the song is what truly sets the title track apart from the earlier songs.

Continuing the inclusion of a more Classical approach on the musical side of things, the track “Face” allows Deninzon to show off his ability on the violin. This track features more of Deninzon’s playing than the previous tracks on the album. The song begins with Deninzon’s violin and a strong beat plus his vocals. The sparse feel of the music allows for Deninzon’s violin to truly have a moment in the spotlight. When the rest of the band joins in on the music of the piece, the band creates a track in “Face” that has a definite Gentle Giant vibe to it.

And speaking of other people’s styles, the Guilty of Innocence album from Stratospheerius continues with the band’s version of a track from the band Muse. It is that group’s song of “Hysteria” that Joe Deninzon and band put their spin on. With the version by Muse, the band creates a song about animal attraction and the uncontrollable need for someone. Needless-to-say, the lyrics and music from Muse create a song that has a very dark feel to it. When Deninzon and the rest of Stratospheerius take their turn at the song, the ensemble seems to lighten up the feel of the song so that it’s not so dark. The energy level is still there with the Stratospheerius version as they create yet another track with a driving nature to the music, but the song contains a lighter feel this time around. If only a little bit.

The mood of the album changes direction on the next track. Like many in the music industry, Joe Deninzon shows he has a political side on the track “Affluenza”. With this track, Deninzon makes his opinion known on the subject as he sings about those who live their lives not caring what the consequences of their actions may be. While the lyrical content is rather political, the music of the track is rather commercial. The song begins with a Funk style of music that separates this track from every other song. The track’s music also includes some straight-out Rock and Roll. If not for the political edge to the song, “Affluenza” would be the most commercial track on the Guilty of Innocence album.

The most progressive sound of the band returns with the track “Game of Chicken”. The track once again features Deninzon on violin back by the rest of the band as they create a track that features one of the more challenging musical time signatures. With the track, Deninzon and the musicians in Stratospheerius show off their true musical abilities.

The Guilty of Innocence album from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius comes to a close with what could be called the “showcase piece”. The track “Soul Food” features a playtime that exceeds the ten-minute mark. The twelve-plus minute opus features the band creating several different passages that change the direction of the music from one moment to the next. Included in the song are passages that include the use of a piano and the final section that even includes an entire chorus that adds an orchestral feel to the piece. The twelve-minute playtime seems to go by rather easily because of the variety in the different sections of the track. “Soul Food” ends up being the most unique track of the ten that make up the release.

Guilty 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.

To hear just a little of the music of Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius, check out the song  “Guilty of Innocence”. 

For more information, check out the band’s PR Firm, Leighton Media.

To purchase a copy Guilty of Innocence from Joe Deninzon, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stratospheerius “The Next World…”

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Joe Deninzon live in concert

Russian-born musician/songwriter Joe Deninzon came to the United States as a young child when his parents were hired to be a part of the Cleveland Orchestra. With that early Classical upbringing, it was almost a given that Deninzon himself would end up becoming a musician, which he did. And while he did learn to play the violin, it was Rock and Roll and not Classical music that would eventually draw him into the world of music. And with that Classical music influence, it seemed only natural that Deninzon would find the style of Progressive Rock to be his musical direction of choice.Eventually, Joe Deninzon went on to form the band Stratospheerius.

Drawing from early Prog-rock bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Jethro Tull; Gentle Giant and even Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Stratospheerius takes the various influences from those bands and creates their own style of Prog-rock while also helping to continue pushing the boundaries of Progressive Rock. That wide array of influences can be found in the music contained in the band’s current release, 2012’s The Next World…

While the band incorporates unusual rhythm patterns and melodic structures just like any other Prog-rock band, the lead-off track from The Next World… “Release,” is one of the most commercial sounding tracks on the album. Drawing more from the likes of Sting rather than Peter Gabriel, “Release,” features a pop-rock approach that incorporates a sound that feels like something from The Police. “Release” is one song from Stratospheerius that could easily find a spot on Album-oriented Rock radio formats.

The following track of “The Missing Link” also finds Deninzon and the band creating a track that feels very commercial. This time, however, Stratospheerius adds a little more progressive feel to their Prog-rock. The track’s music is a little less straightforward and a little more challenging. The ever-changing feel of the rhythm and pace of the song along with a stronger feel of the playing from guitarist Aurelien Budynek gives the listener a lot more substance to the music to enjoy. While the track does contain a strong progressive approach, there is also a lot of melody that fills up the track’s sound.

Of the album’s first three tracks, the most progressive musical approach comes from the song “Tech Support”. The track begins with the unmistakable sounds of a computer. Those sounds then get incorporated into the main body of the music to the track. The band of bassist Jamie Bishop, guitarist Aurelien Budynek and drummer Lucianna Padmore help Joe Deninzon create music that continuously alternates between Ska influences and Jazz-Rock. The speed at which the quartet plays the Ska passages and the way they transition into the Jazz-rock proves just how capable the band is at handling the challenges of playing Prog-rock. “Tech Support” is one of the standout tracks on The Next World… because of the challenging nature of the music.

Along with the widely accepted challenging nature that comes with Prog-rock, one of the other things that make the genre so progressive is the inclusion of other styles into the music that helps to continuously change the way the music sounds. On the track “Climbing,” it isn’t so much about intensity as it is about adding new sounds into the mix. With Joe Deninzon adding a strong folk influence into the music with his violin, “Climbing” ends up being the track on the release with the easiest pace. With the rest of the album being rather intense, “Climbing” is a nice change of pace…if only for one track.

If you get to catch Joe Denizon live in concert, you experience firsthand the talent of the musician and what he can do with the violin. On the track “Gods,” Deninzon puts down the bow of his violin and ends up playing the instrument in much the same way someone else would play the mandolin. With Deninzon “picking” on the electric violin creates a rather unique and interesting sound and it’s that sound that is featured on “Gods”. The track itself features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach. But the violin adds an element to the music in a style reminiscent of an electric guitar but with a noticeable difference that makes “Gods” such a strong track.

On the song “Road Rage,” the band as a whole picks up the energy of the music. The track begins with the electrified sound of Joe Deninzon’s violin as he lays down a riff that sounds very much like a guitar. After a few seconds, the rest of the quartet launches the song into hyperdrive. The quick pace of the playing from every musician in the group creates a tune that would be perfect when included a mixtape for long highway journeys.

The Next World… from Stratospheerius continues with the song “One Foot in the Next World”. Like the song “Release” from earlier in the album, “One Foot in the Next World” once again finds the band creating a track that has a much more commercial, radio-friendly approach than most of the other songs. In fact, the album’s “title track” is the most recognizable song in Joe Deninzon’s library of songs. The track has become a fan favorite.

The Next World… from Stratospheerius is one solid release with strong songs from one song to the next. And with the album already being several years old, Joe Deninzon and the band are in the process of creating a follow-up. But until they release the album that is in the works, check out The Next World… and rock out.

 

For more information, check out Joe Deninzon’s PR firm, Leighton Media. To check out “One Foot in the Next World” from Stratospheerius, click HERE.

Also check out his record label, Digital Nations.

Click the album cover below to purchase a copy of The Next World… from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius.

joedeninzonstratospheeri