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CD Review: White Collar Crime “30 Years in the NY Rain”

What do you do when you spend part of your life in a court of law and other parts of your life performing music? If you’re like members of New York City- based White Collar Crime, you create a band with like-minded individuals and play music when you’re not in front of a bench. Since forming, White Collar Crime has performed countless amounts of concerts that feature the band’s original songs.

In the time that has passed since the beginning of the band White Collar Crime some thirty years ago, many musicians have come and gone through the New York City-based group. In fact, only guitarist/vocalist Matt King and drummer Alan Sanders are original to the band. Today, King and Sanders are joined today by other musicians, the majority of which have a considerable amount of time in the band themselves. David Gelman joined on keys in 1995, bassist Kevin Mackall and vocalist Andrea Urban came aboard in 2011, and guitarist Jon Bendis joined the rest of the group in 2016.

As a band, White Collar Crime has put out several albums of original material. The band’s most recent album, entitled Floor Aisle Room, was released back in 2012. Time has passed since the release of that album, but White Collar Crime recently released their first album in seven years. The reason for the time between the previous album and the one currently being promoted is simple: With some of the band members of White Collar Crime being busy in and out of the courtroom, it’s difficult to find the time to create new music as a band. But the band is now currently celebrating a new album of material called 30 Years in the NY Rain.

White Collar Crime’s 30 Years in the NY Rain begins with the track entitled “To Be Real”. The first few seconds of this track is based around the sound of the piano. Pianist David Gelman lays down fifteen seconds of quiet piano with a laidback feel to it. But after those fifteen seconds, the rest of the band joins in and picks up the pace and the energy level of the music. The piano which had been so prominent at the beginning of the song ends up falling into the background and blends with the rest of the instrumentation. The music of the track feels as if it came from the eighties and it brings to mind the writing style of singer-songwriter Don Henley. The lead vocals of the track are handled by Matt King with vocalist Andrea Urban adding texture to the background of the track as those lyrics find King looking for something in the relationship to reinforce his feelings towards the one he loves. The track’s lyrical content as well as the musical approach would fit well alongside Henley’s music, as well as other songs from the eighties.

The band continues their latest release with the track “Reason”. Where the previous track features music that would fit well into the eighties, this track’s musical approach is a lot more timeless, basically fitting into any musical period from the last thirty years to today. The previous song of “To Be Real” featured lyrics about looking for the positive in the relationship. But with this song, the outlook looks a little bleaker as King sings of not having cause to stick around. While the lyrics may not be all that positive, this song is far from being depressing as the music is just as upbeat as the track before it.

Yet another track from White Collar Crime’s 30 Years in the NY Rain release is the song “Dream the Dream”. The guitar-driven song features a strong Rock and Roll vibe that could be described as timeless. The music of the track would fall somewhere within the late seventies and early eighties, creating what many would consider the very sound of Rock and Roll music. The track brings to mind music from the likes of Dire Straits and/or Bruce Springsteen. “Dream the Dream” features lyrics about a relationship that could be a lot more passionate in nature than it is. While containing a strong Rock and Roll vibe in the music, “Dream the Dream” is basically a duet as guitarist/vocalist Matt King and vocalist Andrea Urban take turns singing about their roles in the relationship. While the track contains a light, upbeat musical delivery, the lyrics contain some sadness as the two voices don’t quite see the relationship the same way.

With the next track called “Letter to You,” the band changes directions slightly as the track features not only Matt King on vocals, but also features Andrea Urban as the two vocalists share the spotlight on this track. The running theme of relationships returns once again on this track as both King and Urban sing about writing down how they feel about the other person. Much like each of the songs that have come before on this release, “Letter to You” contains a strong, driving Rock and Roll feel to the music instead of a more laidback, romantic feel that one would associate with the lyrical content found within this song. That being said, this song still finds the band in fine form.

The first four songs on the 30 Years in the NY Rain release from White Collar Crime find the band creating tracks that feature straight-out Rock and Roll approaches with fully electric sounds. But with the track “Just a Song,” the band changes things up. This sound features an acoustic guitar as the main musical focal point, creating a slightly softer feel to the band’s sound. What results is a track that contains a musical delivery that is somewhat reminiscent of The Eagles. That approach sets the track more into the seventies time frame rather than the eighties era like the earlier tracks.

While many of the songs contained within the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime contain a throwback feel to their musical deliveries, the “title track” for the release puts the band’s music squarely into a much more modern timeframe. “New York Rain” contains a Pop-Rock feel to the music. The song contains guitars and keyboards that create a style in the music that would fit right in with bands like The Goo Goo Dolls, or The Gin Blossoms. What results is a track that would be right at home on any modern-day Top 40 radio format. “New York Rain” is easily one of the most commercial tracks of the entire 12-song album.

Another song on the newest release from White Collar Crime that is rather commercial in nature is the song “Just Like Me”. Where the previous song recalls bands such as The Goo Goo Dolls or The Gin Blossoms, this song finds the band drawing inspiration from the likes of Kid Rock. The reason for that comparison comes from the laidback feel of the guitars on the track and the Country-tinged Pop-Rock music that results.

While several the band members of this group have a very serious side that shows up in each of their court appearances, the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime shows off the various other talents of each of the band members of the group. It also shows off the various musical elements that act as influences to the band’s music. When combined, the resulting music on this album indicates that there is always more to a person than the one side people usually see on a daily basis.

For a taste of the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime, check out the “title track” from the release, “New York Rain”.

To check out the 30 Years in the NY Rain album from White Collar Crime, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Ray Flanagan and the Authorities S/T

Sometimes a person gets the bug to become a musician by following others who make music their livelihoods. Such is the case with Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Ray Flanagan. It was partially because of another Clevelander named Roger Hoover that Flanagan is the musician he is today.

While the years have passed since Ray Flanagan was learning how to create a sound that people would enjoy, Flanagan has since created an entire library of original music available on several albums. The latest album release from Flanagan was released with a band called the Authorities, a band that, aside from Ray Flanagan himself on guitar and vocals, includes: David Alan Shaw on guitar, some auxiliary instrumentation; Russell Flanagan on keys; Joe Botta – bass; and Dragon Phoenix on drums, percussion.

Together, Ray Flanagan & the Authorities spent several months in residence at a Cleveland, Ohio music venue called The Happy Dog. During that time, songs were created and then recorded, with the entire project being produced with the help of the band’s lead guitarist, David Alan Shaw. Eventually, enough songs from that residency were compiled to create a new EP. That seven-song self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities was just celebrated at a CD Release party for the EP.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities begins with the track “Morning Light”. The track features a Folk-Rock feel to the music with a stress on the Rock side of things. The track’s Folk-Rock sound brings to mind the sound and feel of the sixties/seventies Folk-Rock band known as The Byrds. It is the jangly feel of the piano on the track along with the guitar playing that is somewhat reminiscent of Roger McGuinn that mainly brings the style of The Byrds to mind when the listener checks out the track. With its light, folky delivery, “Morning Light” feels both modern and retro at the same time.

“Morning Light’s” Folk-Rock feel is replaced with a stronger Rock and Roll approach on the next track called “Fun & Phony”. The stronger Rock and Roll approach of the track would place it right in the middle of the Rock and Roll style that was part of the decade of the eighties. The stronger guitar-driven track has a sound and style that brings to mind something from the Scottish Rock band of Big Country. In fact, the “Fun & Phony” track has a sound that will remind fans of the Scottish band of the song “King of Emotion” from the Peace in Our Time album. The overall eighties feel of the track puts the track into a “timeless” category where fans of any style of Rock and Roll will enjoy the track.

As the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities continues, more and more influences come out, which adds to the timeless feel of the Rock and Roll that makes up the seven-song release. “Undercover” is another case where the band creates a track that overflows with influence. The Rock and Roll style of the song takes the track into a slightly more recent musical era. The feel of the music on “Undercover” seems to draw from bands like The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and maybe even Toad the Wet Sprocket.

After several tracks of music that feature an ensemble feel to the songs, Ray Flanagan creates the track “The Year Ahead”. Unlike the previous four songs, “The Year Ahead” comes with a completely different musical approach. Where the other songs feature Flanagan and the rest of The Authorities, “The Year Ahead” is a solo piece featuring only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The resulting Folk feel of the song gives the song an Old Timey feel, making the song feel much older than the rest of the release. But that completely different feel of the song gives the listener another perspective on Flanagan’s writing style.

Staying in that Old Timey mindset of “The Year Ahead,” the next track of “Headed Home” is yet another solo piece on the EP that features only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The slow pace and gentle feel of the song brings to mind someone like James Taylor who has been known for his laidback style on many of his songs. “Headed Home” from Ray Flanagan is very reminiscent of Taylor’s style.

Ray Flanagan returns the EP to a more ensemble feel as the Authorities return on the final track of “Glue”. Along with the band, Flanagan is joined on backing vocals by yet another performer from the Cleveland Music Scene known as Emily Keener. With the rest of the band back for this song and adding Keener’s vocals to the song, “Glue” is one of the more unique tracks on the release. The song features a style that blends several different musical references together, creating a track with a definite Americana feel to it. “Glue” ends up being perhaps the most unique sounding track on the seven-song release from the band.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities comes complete with many different styles through the EP’s seven tracks. And with the fact that the seven songs included on the release were created while the ensemble was “in residence” at Cleveland’s The Happy Dog, it’s easy to see why the EP feels so different from one track to the next. But that variety helps to show off the talents of the various members of the Authorities and Ray Flanagan himself. As a first release for the band as a collective, the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities is a good indicator of what’s to come.    

 

To check out the music from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, check out the song “Fun and Phony” off of the band’s self-titled release.

To check out the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, click on the album cover below: