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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stolen Apple “Wagon Songs”

Italian band Stolen Apple came together back in 2008 after one band called Nest came to an end. The previous band would release two albums during its existence before calling it quits: Drifting in 2001 and Isn’t it? in 2007. And when the band’s time was over, Riccardo Dugini (vocals, guitar) and Luca Petrarchi (guitar) would search out musicians for their next project which would be Stolen Apple. The resulting band would include Dugini and Petrarchi, as well as Massimiliano Zatini on percussion and Alessandro Pagani on bass.

For nearly a dozen years, Stolen Apple has been creating their own brand of music. Together, the quartet draws inspiration from numerous forms of music: “From psychedelic rock to post punk; from folk to indie rock; from cosmic & post atomic rock to new wave; from country to italo disco.” This ever-changing blend of music can be found on Stolen Apple’s albums entitled When We Rise (2015) and Trenches (2016). Just recently, the band added one more album to that discography. The 2020 release from Stolen Apple is entitled Wagon Songs.

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple begins with the track “Suicide”. With this track, the Italian band seems to be influenced by the likes of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The track contains the same kind of musical approach as the Detroit group’s proto-punk sound back around 1969.  In fact, this track easily brings to mind the music of that band’s song “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. “Suicide” is a strong track that will easily appeal to those Rock and Roll fans looking for the “Real Deal,” and this is a straight-out Rock and Roll track for those looking for that.

Stolen Apple continues their album with one of the track “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”. The band takes their music into a much more current time. The music of this track comes with a style that blends together influences from the Queens of the Stone Age and those of The Black Keys. Those influences are used to create a track that is hard hitting and ready for today’s Modern Rock radio formats. Much like the previous song, the modern feel of the music on “Renegade Sun (Brexit)” will definitely appeal to the fans of hard hitting Rock and Roll music.

With the next track called “Masturbation,” Stolen Apple brings a little bit of the Italian side of the band into the music as they seem to flavor the song with just a little bit of the music found in a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. That Spaghetti Western flavoring added to a slightly New Wave Feel to the music ends up creating a track that is rather reminiscent of the eighties New Wave/Post-Punk band Wall of Voodoo, excepting maybe a little harder in its delivery. To go along with the slight Spaghetti Western flavoring in the music, the addition of a rather strong Italian accent in the lyrical delivery brings out more of that Italian base to the band’s music.

On the next track called “Out of Fashion,” Stolen Apple creates a track taking several different approaches at once. As the track begins, the slightly off-tone vocals mixed with the strong but gentle pace to the music created by the guitar, bass and drums create an easy approach to the song. Soon enough, however, the band picks up the energy level to the music. What occurs is a track with a strong Alternative Rock feel that blends together influences from the likes of Sonic Youth and Nirvana. The resulting track of “Out of Fashion” would easily fall directly into the Alternative Rock scene from the middle of nineties.

The Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple continues with the track “Kid”. With this track, the band slows things down quite a bit as they explores a more Progressive Rock sound. The track finds the band drawing inspiration from Classic Rockers Pink Floyd. In fact, the Pink Floyd influence seems to be there is several ways. Among those ways is the fact that the track itself seems to have a strong musical resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” track. The basic slow pace to the music of the track recalls Floyd’s style on that song. And then the accompanying strings add even more of a resemblance to Floyd’s song. Not to mention the extended length of the track which adds to the Progressive feel of the track. 

Before Alternative Rock became a radio genre, it was simply known as College Rock, music that would never have gotten played on Commercial Radio formats in the late seventies, early eighties. It’s within this concept that the track “Up Your Mind” from Stolen Apple falls. Bringing some of the influence from the early days of The Motels, Gang of Four, Wall of Voodoo and others from that era, the style of Rock and Roll featured on “Up Your Mind” is the type of music that would have felt right at home on College Radio in the early eighties. While not really commercial for the eighties, this would have been the type of song that would have gone on to influence the artists included in the early days of Alternative Rock. 

The latest release from Italy’s Stolen Apple comes to a close with the track “Easier”. During the first ninety seconds or so of the track, the band creates yet another track much like with “Up Your Mind” before it inasmuch as the song “Easier” features music that feels like it would have been right at home between the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties. With the instrumental feel of the music, the track draws some of its influence from New Wave music and some influence from Punk Rock of that era.  Adding the vocals in, the track ultimately feels like something from the Art Punk band Pere Ubu. 

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple finds the Italian band creating very strong Rock and Roll through the album’s nine tracks. And with the various influences, styles and musical elements that the band draws from and includes in their music, this album is for anyone who enjoys Rock and Roll from any era from the seventies through today. 

To hear just a little bit from the Wagon Songs album from Stolen Apple , check out one of the very first tracks released to promote the release,  “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”.

To check out the Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple on spotify, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Amplifier Heads “Loudah”

The Amplifier Heads is a Boston-based band consisting mainly of Sal Baglio. Sal Baglio is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has spent over thirty years in the music industry creating straight-out Rock and Roll music. Most of that time has been spent with one band- The Stompers, a band that came together in the East Boston, Massachusetts area back in 1977. That band, strangely enough, is still out there performing the music that made them so popular all those years ago.

However, as far as The Stompers are concerned, the band mainly exists today as a tribute to the very music that they created way back when. What that means is that every so often, the band will get together to perform their music live onstage in a concert setting. But as far as new material is concerned, The Stompers have not created anything new, musically speaking, since their last release, 2009’s Stompilation, which combines music from every era of the band and puts it all in one place as a 21-track Best Of album.

While The Stompers have not produced any new music for an extended amount of time, the same, happily, cannot be said for singer-songwriter Sal Baglio. Even though The Stompers aren’t creating anything new, Baglio has created several solo albums of his own over the years. And then, there’s the new musical venture for Baglio; a band that takes Baglio’s style of songwriting and puts it out there in the form of a new project. That new project being called The Amplifier Heads.

The Amplifier Heads is a band consisting mainly of Sal Baglio as he provides vocals, guitar and bass to the tracks that make up the debut release called Loudah. Along with Baglio, producer Ducky Carlisle provides the drums for the project, and Jeff Keithline appears on bass for three of the tracks. For the rest of the instrumentation on the album, the music comes from several other musicians who add their talents to one or two tracks on the release each. Together as a whole, Sal Baglio and Company create an album under the moniker of The Amplifier Heads that makes use of different forms of Rock and Roll, staying solidly within a Classic Rock format.

The debut release of Loudah from The Amplifier Heads begins with the track “The Boy with the Amplifier Head”. In a time where we are trying to steer the youth of today away from bullying, “The Boy with the Amplifier Head” tells the tale of a kid who was picked on by everyone in his age group for being different. The track features a Rock and Roll sound that blends together some seventies-era music with just a little British Invasion influence thrown in. What results is a song that would fit right alongside music from the likes of Badfinger or maybe The Raspberries.

With the next track called “Beat Club,” Sal Baglio and Ducky Carlisle are joined on bass by Jeff Keithline. Together, the trio creates a Rock and Roll sound that sets the music in the middle of the seventies. The track feels like something that would have existed at the same time as Glam Rock. In fact, the main musical influence that seems to come through on the track is the influence of Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex. You could easily imagine “Beat Club” from The Amplifier Heads alongside a track like “20th Century Boy” from that band.

While the previous song of “Beat Club” brings to mind music from the likes of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, the next track called “Jaw Teaser” screams The Rolling Stones. One reason in particular for that is because Sal Baglio sings the words “Jaw Teaser” with the exact same delivery Mick Jagger uses when singing the words “Brown Sugar”. The track also seems to have a similar feel to the music that “Brown Sugar” has. Musically, there is some musical influence from the Stones as well, but that’s just because the track features a sound that keeps it squarely within the Rock and Roll music of the seventies. That Rolling Stones feel to the music even continues on the next track called “Starleen”. The song contains a straight-forward Rock and Roll feel to the music, with a bit of The Stones influence thrown in.

The Amplifier Heads featuring Sal Baglio is not just a band with a Classic Rock feel to the music. The band also seems to have a slight sense of humor when it comes to writing the lyrics to the songs; at least, that’s the way it seems with the track “Two-Headed Girl”. Because of the Glam Rock feel to the music once again, the track falls into the same basic musical time period as “Beat Club”. It is with the slightly humorous lyrics to the song that the listener finds Baglio describing a date with a woman with two heads (maybe a way of saying “split personality” without actually coming out and saying it?). The track once again would be perfectly fine being included within music from the seventies. And with the addition of a slight sense of humor, the track of “Two-Headed Girl” stands out from the rest of the album.

Loudah from The Amplifier Heads continues with the track “Big Wax Lips”. Just as “Two-Headed Girl” comes to an end, Sal Baglio and Duck Carlisle create yet another track with a sense of humor. Where the lyrics to “Two-Headed Girl” may suggest a split personality, the lyrics to “Big Wax Lips” contain many plays on words. While many may think the track is about different forms of candy, Baglio is not referring to that. Much of the Loudah release from The Amplifier Heads finds the music to be rather reminiscent of styles and bands from days gone by, mostly from around the time of the seventies. This places the music in the retro category. “Big Wax Lips” is also retro in feel; but for this track, Baglio and Carlisle create music reminiscent of the Akron, Ohio band The Black Keys.

Where most of the album features the playing and singing of Sal Baglio, the final track of the release called “Rock Candy” features the playing of drummer Paul Armstrong of the Syracuse band The Flashcubes, a band much like Baglio’s group The Stompers as they date back to the seventies like The Stompers do. In fact, the track “Rock Candy” is mainly Paul Armstrong hammering away rather impressively on the drumkit with musical accompaniment from Baglio. And much like the previous track, the song contains much than a slight reference to bands like The Black Keys. “Rock Candy” is very energetic as it brings the albums to a close and leaves the listener who is looking for real Rock and Roll rather satisfied.

In a musical world where much of the current bands and musicians today are creating music based within the Pop-Rock style of music heavy on the “pop,” it’s always refreshing to find a musician like Sal Baglio who takes his band The Amplifier Heads and creates real, honest Rock and Roll. Loudah from Boston’s The Amplifier Heads may just be the debut release for this outfit, but it’s a rather impressive debut. And with each track on the release being mainly below the three-minute mark, the album is very listener-friendly, as well as radio-friendly. For those looking for straight-out Rock and Roll with plenty of energy, look no further than Loudah from The Amplifier Heads.  

 

For a taste of the Rock and Roll music from Sal Baglio and his band called The Amplifier Heads, check out the first track from the Loudah release called “The Boy With the Amplifier Head”.

https://theamplifierheads.bandcamp.com/track/the-boy-with-the-amplifier-head

To check out the entire release of Loudah from The Amplifier Heads, click on the album cover below:  

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Artists and Bands

Sad Planets (Patrick Carney of The Black Keys and John Petkovic of Cobra Verde) Releases New Album

When you hear the words “Sad Planets,”  what the words sound like it could be the title of a bad fifties Sci-Fi movie that you’d end up seeing on Horror Host shows such as Elvira, Svengoolie, or Mystery Science Theater 3000. And while you might think that it might be a “B” movie title, what Sad Planets actually happens to be is the moniker to a new Rock and Roll band from Akron, Ohio. 

Sad Planets began when two Northern Ohio musicians met each other one day. Both John Petkovic (of Cobra Verde fame) and Patrick Carney (from The Black Keys) grew up in Akron, Ohio but had never found themselves in the position to join forces together in order to create music. Of course, all that has now changed!

When Petkovic and Carney found themselves meeting up, the idea of creating a band was formed. Shortly later, Sad Planets was born. And soon, the duo was recording their debut album. That newly-released album is appropriately entitled Akron, Ohio.

Akron, Ohio from Sad Planets begins with the track “Just Landed”. “Just Landed” is a Rock and Roll track that defies categorization. Having been created with the help of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr fame (Mascis also is a band mate to Patrick Carney in the band Sweet Apple), the song comes with a sound that blends several different musical elements together. The rather melodic music on the track feels as if it could have been right at home in the seventies, yet is melodic enough to have been influenced by the likes of British band Coldplay. Needless-to-say, the resulting track is rather commercial and could find its way onto on Top 40 and/or Modern Rock radio format.

While “Just Landed” from Sad Planets would feel right at home on today’s radio, the second track on the Akron, Ohio release, and the album’s first single called “Not of This World” changes the feel of the album after only one track. “Not of This World” finds John Petkovic and Patrick Carney creating a track that is very psychedelic in nature. The trippy music delivered on this song and the lyrical content of the words contained within the song both bring to mind music that would have been produced by bands like The Chocolate Watchband, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and others. The music in the track takes the listener back in time to the psychedelic sixties as the music and production of the track bring to mind the music that came from the early to late sixties when musicians were experimenting with both music and with drugs. “Not of This World” is a great title for a track that is completely out of place with today’s music. It’s also a great song for those who miss that type of creative Rock and Roll.

Just as soon as Sad Planets ends their trippy track called “Not of This World,” they continue the dated feel of the music with the song “Yesterday’s Girls”. As the previous song “Not of this World” featured a sound that took the listener back to the sixties, “Yesterday’s Girls” keeps the listener in that era. This back, however, is more about the instrumentation than it is about the psychedelic feel to the music. What keeps the track in the late sixties/early seventies is the use of the fuzz guitar on the track. That sound is mixed with a generous amount of influence from Petkovic and Carney’s other musical projects as the track seems to recall some of the music of Petkovic’s band Cobra Verde and Carney’s band The Black Keys. “Yesterday’s Girls” is the perfect track for this band as the track makes good use of their personal styles and the influences that helped to shape their playing.

Speaking of influences, the next track called “City Ghosts” is one track where the two musicians seem to wear their influences on their sleeves, as the expression goes. The track opens with an instrumental passage that brings to mind the playing style of the band The Ventures and bands like Portland, Oregon’s Satan’s Pilgrims that came after them. The instrumental introduction of the song again contains a dated feel to it as the music takes the track back into the sixties. The track also seems to have a slight influence from the likes of Ennio Morricone of spaghetti western soundtracks fame. As the track progresses, the music seems to take on a little influence from Lounge Jazz. Add in some haunting vocals and this track would be perfect for background music in a big budget movie from the seventies.

As the album advances, the duo of John Petkovic and Patrick Carney continue to create music that blends their various influences together. The track “(Falling into the Arms of a) Refugee” begins with a slightly different feel to the music as the track starts off with the acoustic guitar. When the rest of the instrumentation is added in, the track takes on an electrified approach with an Indie Rock sound.  Like with “City Ghosts” two tracks before it, the track “(Falling into the Arms of a) Refugee” contains a large amount of instrumental music during the track’s four-minute playtime. That playtime allows for the listener to enjoy the playing ability of Petkovic and Carney.

John Petkovic and Patrick Carney have both been around for many years performing in some really good bands. When the two came together, they created a band that contains many different influences. The ten tracks that make up the duo’s Akron, Ohio release under the moniker of Sad Planets makes good use of those influences. The band’s album of Akron, Ohio ends up with about one half of the tracks having modern influences to the music while the other half of the tracks take the band’s music back to earlier styles of Rock and Roll. The dual feel of the album ends up creating a release that ultimately would be a good release from any fan of Rock and Roll music, especially if you happen to like all types of the genre.

 

 

For more information on the band’s PR firm, check out Grandstand Media

You can find  the various formats of Akron, Ohio from Sad Planets on Tee Pee Records HERE

Click on the album cover below to be taken to Sad Planets’ spotify account.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Group S/T

Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Taylor Lamborn is a pop-rock performer who is making a name for herself in the Greater Cleveland area. As a solo performing and recording artist in the area, Lamborn has been getting plenty of attention as she performs regularly. But about one year ago, Lamborn took a different path in the career as she also joined forces with three other musicians to create a band that features original music with a solid Rock ‘n’ Roll sound. Along with Taylor Lamborn on vocals, the rest of the relatively new ensemble consists of Luke Pernici on keys, guitar and vocals; Joe Botta on bass and vocals; and Dom Williams on drums and vocals. Together, this musical ensemble came to be known simply as Group. While the band’s moniker may leave much to be desired, Group’s music stands out as the band is a solid ensemble that creates some of the strongest Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Greater Cleveland area.

Group’s recently-released self-titled EP begins with the track “Trouble Sleeping”. As the track begins, the listener experiences the sound of Blues-flavored Rock ‘n’ Roll, a style that is rather hard to find in today’s musical landscape. As the band creates a strong driving feel to the music, Lamborn’s vocals are just as strong as she seems to come across as a modern-day Janis Joplin. Together, the strong vocals from Lamborn and the Blues-based Rock ‘n’ Roll from the rest of the band create a song that stands out when compared to the rest of the musical offering out there today; especially when comparing “Trouble Sleeping” to the majority of what makes its way to Top 40 radio today.

The self-titled release from Cleveland’s Group continues with the track “Don’t Mind Me”. It is the sound of Luke Pernici’s guitar that starts the song off with a strong and catchy riff. That Blues-filled riff is soon joined by Taylor Lamborn’s bluesy vocals. The two create a musical approach that is filled to overflowing with a Blues sound. When the drums from Dom Williams and bass from Joe Botta join in, the track becomes equal parts Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. The track is very infectious and the groove created by the band almost begs the listener to get up and dance. “Don’t Mind Me” is even catchier than the EP’s lead-off single of “Trouble Sleeping”.

After two tracks that allow Group to show off their Rock ‘n’ Roll side, the band changes the direction of the next track. With the song “Happy,” Group incorporates generous amounts of both Jazz and R&B into the one song on the self-titled release from the band that stands apart from the other four tracks. Along with the different musical approach, the song also features the keys from Luke Pernici instead of his guitar that was so present in the first two songs on the EP. The resulting track of “Happy” is so different that it feels like a completely band. And while that is the case, that change in style and sound proves just how capable and versatile the three musicians and Lamborn are as an ensemble.

The self-titled release from Cleveland’s band known as Group continues with the song “Tangles”. Just as soon as the band had changed pace for the song of “Happy,” The change directions again and bring back some of the Blues approach that was present on the first two tracks. For the song of “Tangles,” however, their approach feels a lot like something that could have been produced by someone like the band The Black Keys. On the track of “Tangles,” the guitar and the bass seem to have been recorded so that they are equally strong. The track feels more like an Alternative Rock track rather than a Blues-based Rock ‘n’ Roll track. Like “Happy” before it, “Tangles” stands out on the EP, but in a much different way. Group’s 2016 self-titled release comes to an end with the track “Maybe I”. With this song, the band once again changes directions. This time, however, they create a musical approach that seems very familiar. The pop-rock track with Lamborn’s vocals comes across as something that sounds like very much like something from the band No Doubt…when that band was at the top of their popularity. The pop-rock track of “Maybe I” from Group is perhaps the most radio-friendly song on the five-song EP.

Throughout the five tracks that make up the new EP from Cleveland’s Group, the band shows its versatility from one track to the next. And because they change their style from track-to-track, they leave no time for the listener to get bored. The five-song release from Group is a strong debut and only hints at what the band is capable of.

To check out the music of Group, click HERE for the band’s song “Don’t Mind Me”.

Click on the album cover below to check out the latest release from Group:
group

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Rebel House Radio “One More Day”

Rebel House Radio is a Los Angeles-based duo made up of multi-instrumentalists Mike Mangan and Mike Blumberg who play all of the music themselves. The band combines several genres of music together to create a style that feels very inclusive. From one track to the next, Rebel House Radio sounds like a completely different band. That form of variety comes alive on the band’s new release entitled One More Day.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Heavy Glow “Midnight Moan”

Midnight MoanCalifornia-based Heavy Glow is a power trio that features a certain amount of “heaviness” to their sound, which makes the band’s moniker rather appropriate. At times, the band sounds like early Cream and at other times, they take on a much harder feel to their music. The band currently features Jared Mullins on guitar/vocals, Joe Brooks on bass and Andrew Merkle on drums. The band’s most recent release is entitled Midnight Moan.

Midnight Moan begins with the track “Lose My Mind”. On this track, the band takes on the sound and feel of the band Cream. The majority of the tune has the classic “power trio” feel to it with all three instruments (guitar, bass and drums) centered to feel as if the band is playing in one room. The band then builds the track with additional guitars from Mullins on both the left and right channels to help fill out the tune.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Safe Haven “Sermon for No One”

Safe HavenChicago-based Safe Haven started when lead guitarist Patrick Lyons got together with drummer Tony Tabor. And while the two musicians created yet another drum and guitar duo to add to the number of musical duos that have formed since the success of The Black Keys, Safe Haven is so much more as they draw upon the talents of other musicians to help flesh out their sound. When other two-member bands have a hollow sound to their music because of the lack of other musicians, Safe Haven is a musical outfit that has plenty of body to their music.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The 71s “We Are The Seventy Ones”

The 71sGiving you songs that bring back the sound and feel of Glam and running through the style of today’s bands like Jet, The 71s have a sound that features a lot of energy and make you wish more bands from today still cared about making “real” rock and roll. Taking the listener through many different feelings in their music, The 71s have created a very solid release with We Are The Seventy Ones.

The 71s are a four-piece rock band from Houston, Texas made up of singer/guitarist Keeton Coffman, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Cecil, bassist/vocalist Jacob Lisenbe and drummer Tank Lisenbe. The band’s music is described as “anthem-sized songs”. That really is a good way of putting a feel to what the band is about. The four musicians in the band really do seem to care about making rock and roll that has both energy and real talent in the music that makes up each song that the band creates.

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Artists and Bands

Matt Pfahlert, owner of Get a Clue Design Studio, talks about his musical clients and puts the word out to The Tragically Hip to please collect their posters

Matt Pfahlert spent his early years engrossed by the inner workings of his dad’s ad agency, and being the envy of his classmates. In 2003, with more than twenty years of experience in the business, Pfahlert unveiled his very own, independent Get a Clue Design Studio.

Offering design and illustration, the Get a Clue Design Studio often finds itself working on projects for the music industry and its artists. Over the years, clients have included Live Nation, Wilco, Band of Horses, The Black Keys, Against Me!, Gogol Bordello, and many others. Pfahlert recently took some time to talk about the good ol’ x-acto knife days in his dad’s agency, maintaining a business in today’s economy, dream clients (as well as overly demanding ones), and to put the word out to The Tragically Hip to please collect their posters.

Q: You were introduced to the design world by working with your dad from a young age – how would you say those years shaped the way you work/design today?

A: I think that coming from a time when graphic design was still being done, essentially, by hand – wow, do I sound old – that hands-on process affects how I approach design projects today. Even though there’s no kerning type by hand with an x-acto knife, there’s no applying just the right amount of rubber cement on a mechanical you just hand inked with a rapidiograph pen, there’s no shooting the perfect photostat – all those little things that added to the “craft” of design – all those techniques I remember and, at least in some way, I think all that translates today into how I try to take a bit more time to develop a design. Which is tough because we’re in the quick-natured computer age of design. There’s that perception that all you do for a living is draw all day and hit a few buttons and viola;“Design happens!”

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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.