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Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

The Rock and Roll Report’s “Best Of” List For 2018

And so ends yet another year. For this writer, a lot of music came into my life. I ended up listening to and reviewing more music than any previous year. The amount of music made it both a lot easier to choose the best albums and harder to choose those albums. It was easier than any previous year to put together the list because of the sheer amount of music to pick through. But because of the amount to pick through, there were several albums that had to be left out of the list. While I had to pass some of the best releases I had heard by, I am rather pleased with the resulting albums and singles that made their way onto this list. I hope you will take the time to read the condensed reviews that follow and then will click on the link to finish reading the entire review. Enjoy. 


1. Bryan Banks “Sound of Urgency”
 

Bryan Banks is one of those musicians who took it upon himself to create his music on his own. When you have a musician who does everything on his own, the results could either be good or bad, depending on the talent of the individual. There is definite talent within the music of Bryan Banks as he seems to take many different flavors of Rock and Roll when creating his music. His music takes some Rock and Roll, Funk, and Grunge with a large hint of Heavy Metal thrown in and mixes all those styles together in the sound that makes up his music. And with the fact that everything on the album was created by Banks himself, the multi-talented musician has created an album of music that ends up being rather well-rounded. His debut album is entitled The Sound of Urgency. The Sound of Urgency from Bryan Banks was put together by Banks one song at a time over the course of several years. And while that time period created a rather long wait between the first single release and the final album packing, Bryan Banks has proved that sometimes it is worth the wait if you’re looking for quality. The Sound of Urgency turns out to be a very solid album of Rock and Roll that any fan of the music style will enjoy.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-bryan-banks-sudden-sounds-urgency/


2 Micah Olsan “Open Space” 

Milwaukee-based singer-songwriter Micah Olsan has gone through several stages in his musical career. And with those stages came different musical influences that helped flavor his music. Throughout his career, Olsan has performed with a band called The Many and he has performed on his own as a solo artist. But with each stage comes a different style and sound to Olsan’s music. And currently, Micah Olsan is in the middle of promoting a new EP of music that features a solo sound and style largely influenced by Folk music. The new 4-song EP from Micah Olsan is entitled Open Space. During his time as a singer-songwriter, Micah Olsan keeps evolving and changing his style. With his latest folk-based EP, Olsan takes his music in a much different direction than it’s ever been in before. And the softer, gentler side of Olsan shows off a very different side of the artist. The five tracks on the album are nicely varied while keeping that lighter approach on the music. 

https://matheson12.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/cd-review-micah-olsan-open-space/

 

3 The James Emmett Band “Bet Against Me” 

Ever since the band The Outsiders had their first taste of celebrity status when they released the song “Time Won’t Let Me,” the last name of Geraci has meant something in the city of Cleveland as Emmett Peter “Sonny” Geraci was part of that band. And although Sonny Geraci passed away back in early February of 2017, the name is still being mentioned in association with music in Greater Cleveland. But this time, it’s the next generation of the family that is making the noise, so to speak.
Sonny Geraci’s sons Justin James and Mathew Emmett have picked up the music bug and are currently making music just like their father used to do. In fact, they have been creating their own music for years. However, it’s just recently that the two brothers have been doing so together. And together, the brothers have created their own band; a band that features their middle names to form the band’s moniker. The group is called The James Emmett Band. As sons of Rock and Roller Sonny Geraci, Justin James Geraci and Mathew Emmett Geraci have created a band that proves that they have, indeed, inherited the music gene from their father. Bet Against Me from their band The James Emmett Band is a solid effort that comes complete with five songs that show off their various musical influences. The release features plenty of tracks that are just screaming to be played on the radio. If a five-song release is this good, then a full-length is surely welcomed.   

 

4 Falling Stars “Stranded in the Future” 

In Cleveland, there are many artists and bands that have been making names for themselves for years. One band that just recently came into being has a history in the Greater Cleveland area that reaches back years before it came into being. Together, two separate songwriters based in Cleveland named Chris Allen and Tim Parnin’s musical histories combine for more than 40 years of experience. That experience was put to good use when the two musicians decided to create a new band together. The resulting musical outfit featuring Chris Allen and Tim Parnin is called Falling Stars. Throughout the tracks that make up the album Stranded in the Future from Falling Stars, Chris Allen and Tim Parnin create songs that feature different Rock and Roll styles. Together, those various styles of Rock and Roll combine to create one release that feels ultimately timeless. The resulting release of Stranded in the Future from Falling Stars is one album that any love of Rock and Roll should search out and add to their music collection.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-falling-stars-stranded-future/ 

5 Stone Diamond “Don’t Believe What You Think”  

It was back in 2013 that Stone Diamond released their debut album entitled We Stole the Stars from the Black NightThat particular album was so strong and was such a breath of fresh air as far as Rock and Roll was concerned that it made quite an impression on those who were lucky enough to have been exposed to it. They would then go on to add the album Phoenix to their discography. Now, five years after the release of the original album, the ensemble (now a little larger than before) returns with their third album. That album is entitled Don’t Believe What You Think. The Don’t Believe What You Think release from Stone Diamond is a solid release from beginning to end. And with the inclusion of many different elements and influences, the Classic Rock from the band changes from one track to the next. For those music lovers who enjoy Classic Rock, Stone Diamond creates a release that will surely be something you’d want to experience first and then add to your own music library.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-stone-diamond-dont-believe-think/

6A The Whiskey Hollow “Greenhouse”  

Back in 2016, singer-songwriter Madeline Finn took songs she had been writing, and after putting together a band, started performing under the moniker of The Whiskey Hollow. With that loosely-bound group of musicians, she took seven of her songs and created a very strong debut release under The Whiskey Hollow moniker. That release was called X Waters. X Waters was a very solid release that found the group blending together a few different genres of music to create a unique sound that put Finn and her band far apart from the rest of the Cleveland, Ohio music scene. Today’s version of The Whiskey Hollow has recently put out a new EP of material. While the previous release contained a total of seven tracks, this new EP is a six-track EP. The new EP from Cleveland’s band The Whiskey Hollow is entitled Greenhouse. Greenhouse from The Whiskey Hollow is a solid release from the first track. While it does not truly feel like the band’s previous release of X Waters, the new EP from the band shows the creative process at work as Madeline Finn and the rest of the band show how they have gelled as a unit. The new sound for the band may be different than the previous direction, but the group is still solid and the Greenhouse EP proves that with the six tracks of Rock and Roll.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-whiskey-hollow-greenhouse/

6B Madeline Finn “Colerain Mansion” 

From the first time when I was in the audience for a three-song performance of Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Madeline Finn, I knew that the singer/guitarist had talent. She would release her first CD entitled X Waters not that long after that performance. X Waters and the follow-up entitled Greenhouse show off not only her musical abilities, but also the abilities of those musicians who helped to create the band The Whiskey Hollow. It was The Whiskey Hollow that was responsible for creating the music found on the two EPs of music. And with X Waters and Greenhouse, the Greater Cleveland area would come to know the true talent of the musical artist known as Madeline Finn. The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn continues the singer-songwriter’s string of releases that show off her musical abilities and her talent as a singer-songwriter, as well. While the previous releases of X Waters and Greenhouse gave the listener a good idea of what Finn could do with a band, the six tracks that make up the release show what she can do on her own. But as those of us who have seen her perform within a group and by herself can tell you, that’s not a surprise. The Colerain Mansion EP from Madeline Finn may be the most laidback of the three releases she has created, but the music contained within it will easily leave you stunned by the beauty it contains.

 http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-madeline-finn-colerain-mansion/

7 Joal Rush “Kaleidoscope Emotions” 

It was back in 2004 that singer-songwriter Joal Rush released his first EP. That EP, entitled Delightful Things, introduced the world to a musician whose straight-out Rock and Roll sound was very reminiscent to that of Jack Johnson. And given that the two artists create their songs using several different genres of music as influences such as Folk, Pop, Rock and Soul, it is a safe comparison to be made when describing the sound of Joal Rush. Almost fifteen years later, Joal Rush has been through a lot, including moving from Charleston, South Carolina to Music City, Nashville, Tennessee where he currently lives. And within that city, Rush created his latest album of music. The current release from Joal Rush is a twelve-song release entitled Kaleidoscope Emotions. While there are many people in the music industry being played on the radio today who deserved to be signed to a major label, there are just as many out there right now who are not signed to a major label and deserve to be. One such artist who deserves to be on a major label is Joal Rush. And his newest album entitled Kaleidoscope Emotions proves that point rather well.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-joal-rush-kaleidoscope-emotions/

8 Sister Speak “The Stand” 

Sherri Anne was born in Canada but currently splits her time between The United States and Canada in Los Angeles and British Columbia. The singer-songwriter has a voice and a style to her songs that bring to mind artists like Tori Amos and most obviously, Sarah McLachlin because of the style of both artists’ vocal sound. Given the piano or acoustic guitar nature to her songs, Sherri Anne’s music has a Folk flavor to it with a slight Alternative Rock flavor. Recently, Sherri Anne created a new six-song release under the moniker of Sister Speak. That release is called The Stand. To bring the EP to life, she was joined by Sarven Manguiat (Electric Guitar) and Avli Avliav (keys, moog bass and programming) along with several others who added touches to several tunes on the release. Starting from the very beginning track, Sister Speak’s The Stand EP hits the listener with Pop-rock music that is sure to satisfy. The five “album tracks” and the bonus track that completes the release combine to create a pop-rock release that feels so solid that each of the songs contained within should be allowed to find their way onto radio on their own merits. As it is though, the lead-off single of the title track of the release is a great place to begin. Hopefully, more tracks will be featured. Through it all, Sherri Anne and the rest of the musicians who helped to create the release under the Sister Speak moniker combined their efforts to make a solid debut that should be only the beginning of something special.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-sister-speak-stand/

9 Jann Klose “In Tandem”

Jann Klose is an internationally known singer-songwriter. The German-born artist discovered the world at a young age when he came to the United States as a young child as part of a foreign exchange program. It was in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that he discovered what another part of the world was like. And while in Cleveland, he also discovered and nurtured the musical side of his personality. But after a while, that musical side needed more than what Cleveland could offered and he made his way to New York City where he resides today.During his time as a musician as well as singer-songwriter, Jann Klose has created and released several EPs and albums of music that feature his musical blend that incorporates jazz, pop, and other musical styles. That blended style creates a sound that has helped him gain an audience not only in Cleveland, New York and Germany as a whole, but also in other parts of the world. Because of that, his music is and has always been well-rounded as far as its sound and appeal. You can find that well-rounded sound on Jann Klose’s aforementioned releases, which includes his latest album. The newest album from Jann Klose is entitled In Tandem. The In Tandem album from Jann Klose is a strong release with many moments in its thirteen tracks that fans of pop-rock will find very enticing. If you are one who enjoys Rock and Roll with a strong Pop influence as well as and international flair to the songs, Jann Klose’s In Tandem is the album for you.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-jann-klose-tandem/

10 The Weight Band “World Gone Mad”

Having created a band around musicians that spent time within The Band and The Levon Helm Band as well as The Midnight Ramble Band, a musical outfit put together as a Tribute Band of sorts to Helm, it should come as no surprise that the resulting sound that is created by The Weight Band can be described as being “picking up where The Band left off”. That truly does describe the sound and feel of World Gone Mad, the first official album from the supergroup. After spending a few years on the road touring, The Weight Band released their first album. That album is entitled World Gone Mad. And “picking up where The Band left off” is quite possibly the best way of describing the feel of the album. On their new album entitled World Gone Mad, the individual members of The Weight Band each show off their individual influences. And since many of the players in the band can claim to have played with The Band’s Levon Helm in one band or another, it is easy to see why the influence from Helm has made such an impression on the music of The Weight Band. And with that being said, if you have ever been a fan of the music from The Band, this collection of songs from musicians who used to play with him in one manner or another help to expand upon what has come before. While this is not a tribute album in any way, the influence from Helm is more than apparent.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-weight-band-world-gone-mad/

11 The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals. Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-alarm-equals/

12 Pale Hollow “Pilots”

When Michael Allen took his music, he looked for musicians who wanted to form a new band. What resulted was a musical outfit by the name of Black Amps, which would exist for a while before changing their name to Pale Hollow and in 2007; a self-titled album was released under the Pale Hollow moniker. That self-titled release from Pale Hollow saw the band create a sound that combined elements of The Kinks, The Verve and many other British influences as well as American bands such as The Byrds, The Verve Pipe, even The Raspberries into one sound. Because of the various different elements, what resulted was a sound that was very retro in nature. But that retro feel to the band’s Americana music ended up allowing the band to gain a rather large following within the Greater Cleveland area. Years would pass after the band’s first release. The band would change members during that time. And the band would change the feel of its music just a little because of the shifting of the band members. The current version of Pale Hollow includes: Michael Allen – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Kirk “Nemo” Nemerovsky – Drums, Jeff Ritchie – Bass, and Scott Steinbrick – Lead Guitar. It is this lineup that is featured on the newly-released second album from Pale Hollow. That second release is entitled Pilots. For those who enjoy a more relaxed feel to their Rock and Roll while also enjoy having some orchestral flavor to that music, the sound of Cleveland, Ohio’s Pale Hollow may just be what you are looking for. The band’s 2018 release of Pilots is one of the most commercial albums that are not available from a major label. It’s also one of the strongest albums of 2018. If you happen to be a fan over rather commercial Rock and Roll but are tired of the same bands on commercial radio, Pale Hollow and the band’s 2018 release of Pilots may just be what you are looking for.  

http://rockandrollreport.com/cd-review-pale-hollow-pilots/

 

TOP SINGLES OF 2018

1 Reina Mora “Passenger” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TuJeFZjYhI

 

2 Sister Speak “New York Sunrise”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXi7H8KnIEY

 

3 The Alarm “Beautiful” 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgXrHpduUjQ

 

4 Madeline Finn “Win the Girl”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo86u8tcmD0&fbclid=IwAR0di4a6l5mWI-oHyRRAn-hVFbeex6ikCC3lK7qB1ng7l7sOBunL32TlKTU

 

5 Jann Klose “Love High” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fX6R03ZMEbY 

Bonus Track: 

Jaclyn Bradley Palmer “Winter Night”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0Zs2ua6Gxs

 

 

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Whiskey Hollow “Greenhouse”

Back in 2016, singer-songwriter Madeline Finn took songs she had been writing, and after putting together a band, started performing under the moniker of The Whiskey Hollow. With that loosely-bound group of musicians, she took seven of her songs and created a very strong debut release under The Whiskey Hollow moniker. That release was called X Waters. X Waters was a very solid release that found the group blending together a few different genres of music to create a unique sound that put Finn and her band far apart from the rest of the Cleveland, Ohio music scene.

Two years later, Madeline Finn and her band of The Whiskey Hollow are back. This time, however, the band performing behind her has changed. And while still performing under the Whiskey Hollow moniker, the band features a very different line-up, different feel to the music and with that feel, a different sound. This time, The Whiskey Hollow consists of Madeline Finn, Liz Bullock, Griffin Pereksta and Tom Stankiewicz. Together, this lineup features a stronger, more solidified sound that contains a much harder edge to its music. The one thing that hasn’t changed as far as the band’s music is concerned is the talent that had been present in the previous version of the band.

Today’s version of The Whiskey Hollow has recently put out a new EP of material. While the previous release contained a total of seven tracks, this new EP is a six-track EP. The new EP from Cleveland’s band The Whiskey Hollow is entitled Greenhouse.

Greenhouse from The Whiskey Hollow begins with the track “Demon”. The track begins with the sound of a get-together. The party atmosphere at the beginning of the track soon disappears and the track officially begins with Finn and Liz Bullock creating a harmonic vocal approach to the lyrics before the band joins in. A harder version of the band’s old sound helps to launch the EP into motion. Soon enough, however, the band launches into a Hard Rock approach on the music and that Hard Rock approach is what the band uses to take the song to its finale. “Demon” from The Whiskey Hollow is a great track to introduce fans, new and old alike, to the newer sound that now makes up the band’s music. 

Madeline Finn and The Whiskey Hollow continue their new Greenhouse EP with the track “Wristwatch Wishes”. The music of the track finds Finn and the band combining elements of both Alternative Rock and Jazz to create a track with a lighter approach to the energy level of the song while still containing a Modern Rock feel. The easier feel of the music eventually leads to a much harder sound halfway through the track. Together, the track comes together to form a track that ultimately has a rather commercial approach.

While most of the songs from The Whiskey Hollow come from Madeline Finn, this new release features one song that comes from background singer Liz Bullock. That track is entitled “Muddy Water”.

“Muddy Water” takes the music from The Whiskey Hollow and kicks the energy level up a notch or two. The track contains much more of a Blues feel to the music than any other recorded track from the band. And the track also seems to contain a little bit of attitude you might find in today’s Country music from the artists like Martina McBride and Reba McEntire who sing about empowerment. While this is not a Country song, there are definite sentiments of empowerment within the lyrics to “Muddy Water”.

The new Greenhouse EP from The Whiskey Hollow continues with the track “Slowmotion”. The track combines a little Ska flavor with an otherwise straight-out Rock and Roll approach. That combination creates a track that would easily fit onto Top 40 radio formats. The rather commercial flavor to the track makes “Slowmotion” one of the most listener-friendly tracks on the six-song EP.

On the next track, The Whiskey Hollow slows things down with the track “In the Wings”. The slower pace of the music, as well as the easier feel to that music creates a more relaxed song that contains a rather gentle feel to it. That gentleness goes along well with lyrics that contain a romantic flavor to them. As the song continues, the band ups the intensity in the music but still holds onto the gentle approach on the music until the track comes to an end. “In the Wings” gives the listener just a hint at another side to the music that comes from The Whiskey Hollow.

Madeline Finn and The Whiskey Hollow bring their 2018 release of Greenhouse to a close with the track “Swampy”. This track shows off a very different side to Finn and the rest of the band as the track features more of a Southern Rock approach to the music. While the track is much different than other songs created by the band, it does show the versatility of the band members.

Greenhouse from The Whiskey Hollow is a solid release from the first track. While it does not truly feel like the band’s previous release of X Waters, the new EP from the band shows the creative process at work as Madeline Finn and the rest of the band show how they have gelled as a unit. The new sound for the band may be different than the previous direction, but the group is still solid and the Greenhouse EP proves that with the six tracks of Rock and Roll.

For a taste of the music from Madeline Finn and The Whiskey Hollow, check out the band’s track “Demon“. 

To check out the Greenhouse EP from The Whiskey Hollow, click on the album cover below: 

 

 

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Featured Review Reviews and Suggestions

Matheson Kamin’s Best Releases for 2016

2016 has come to an end. That means, for many, the time has come to put together our “Best Of” lists for the year. Like every year, I have put together a list of the releases that have peaked my interest the most throughout the year of 2016. In no particular order, here is my List for Best Releases for 2016,  the albums that need one more mentioning.

1. 9 from Mark Nomad

9Massachusetts-based musician and songwriter Mark Nomad has had a long musical career creating Blues-Rock music. Starting out with the band Little Village, Nomad’s career has included being part of a very popular band before going out on his own as a solo artist. Within the time period in which Nomad has created his own music, he has amassed a total of nine releases. This includes his latest album of new material. The new release from Mark Nomad is entitled 9. While the newest release from Mark Nomad is his ninth album, the release also consists of nine musical tracks. So the number “nine” is very much present on Nomad’s new release. Just like the other albums that have made up Mark Nomad’s discography, 9 consists of tracks that are largely influenced by the music of the Blues. Like other releases in his discography, 9 from Mark Nomad once again show off the musician’s talent as both a songwriter and as a player. The tracks on the new release contain many different styles and sounds that keep the release nice and varied. With it being the ninth album in his discography, 9 from Mark Nomad shows that he is not slowly down.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

2. Counterpoint from Circuline

circuline_counterpoint_fc_300dpi-resized-v1-560x503The form of Rock and Roll called Progressive Rock (or Prog-rock for short) had its heyday back in the late 60s/early 70s. However, there have always been bands or solo artists out there that continue to create new Prog-rock. These bands draw influence from earlier bands like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, or even Peter Gabriel-era Genesis to create their own songs in order to keep the vision of the originators of the style alive. The newer songs being created are continuing to push the envelope of that style of Rock and Roll music in order to keep the music fresh. One such band around today that is doing their best to push the envelope of Rock and Roll by creating Progressive Rock is Circuline. Earlier in 2016, Circuline released their second album called Counterpoint. The album showcases the band’s Progressive Rock sound. Counterpoint from Circuline is a solid Progressive Rock release. Throughout the album, the band shows off its ability to create some of the most entertaining Prog-rock out there today. For fans of the style, this is a great album to add to your collection. And for those unfamiliar with the style, this is a great place to start.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

3. Unnecessary Commentary from Matt Hurray

matthurray2Back in 2012, California-based guitarist Matt Hurray released his debut solo release entitled Egyptian Surfer. That album found Murray creating songs that featured a strong Surf Rock sound. But the album also contained many other influences that gave the release a very wide array of sounds. The ever-changing style of music made Egyptian Surfer a strong release. Now, Matt Hurray has returned with a new release of original music. And while the focus of the music is once again on Surf Rock, Hurray’s new release is just as varied as his debut release. Hurray’s new album is entitled Unnecessary Commentary. The new release from Matt Hurray entitled Unnecessary Commentary is an album that is overflowing with eighteen tracks. Each and every one of them is a track that is sure to catch your interest. While Hurray’s influences from the likes of The Ventures or Dick Dale do come through in Matt Hurray’s playing, each song is definitely his own. And with the inclusion of other styles mixed in with the dominant Surf Rock influence, Unnecessary Commentary from Matt Hurray is a well-rounded release with something for nearly every taste.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

4. Trampling Out the Vintage from Tom Guerra

tomguerra12Connecticut-based guitarist and singer Tom Guerra has spent many years playing in a rock band called Mambo Sons. The band last released an album back in 2009 which was a double CD release called Heavy Days. Since then, however, the trio has been silent. But that changed recently when guitarist and singer Tom Guerra went out on his own. While Mambo Sons created music that was heavily blues-based, Guerra decided to incorporate more influences into his sound. For his new release of Trampling Out the Vintage, Tom Guerra does a great job of using the various influences he has picked up throughout the years. The resulting album’s 10 tracks are widely varied from one track to the next while they still contain a solid Rock and Roll base. Guerra has put out yet another album in Trampling Out the Vintage that would be very welcome in any Rock and Roll listener’s music collection.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

5. Badass Generation from The Paul Nelson Band

BA GenerationYears ago, Paul Nelson was the man who helped shape the sound of Winter’s music by playing guitar in the Johnny Winter Band. And now, years after the passing of Johnny Winter, Paul Nelson is finally making a name for himself by stepping out of the shadow of Winter. Currently, Nelson is creating his own music with his own band of musicians. In fact, the Paul Nelson Band has just recently released their debut album of Badass Generation. It is this album that allows the listener to experience the talent of Paul Nelson and his band. There are plenty of moments to enjoy on Badass Generation from The Paul Nelson Band. Along with the unmistakable influences from Johnny Winter, the band makes use of other influences that help to give shape to their music. Ultimately, the band’s music will appeal to fans of Winter and other Classic Rock artists alike. And with Paul Nelson having backed up Winter for as long as he did, the influences that rubbed off on him have made Nelson a musician to watch in the future. But for now, check out the Badass Generation release from The Paul Nelson Band and you won’t be sorry.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

6. Self-titled release from Fire Merchants

FM CoverPennsylvania-born musician John Goodsall has made a name for himself working inside the music industry. Near the end of the 1980s, Goodsall helped to create the Progressive Rock/Jazz Fusion band called Fire Merchants. While John Goodsall’s former band of Brand X had been rather progressive in its style of music, John Goodsall and Fire Merchants created a sound that exceeded the progressive nature of even Brand X’s style. It was with the help of bassist Doug Lunn and drummer Chester Thompson that Fire Merchants came into being. Together, Goodsall, Lunn and Thompson created the debut self-titled album from Fire Merchants. Having been released back in 1989, the self-titled release from Fire Merchants ended up being one of the most overlooked albums from that year. However, as a way of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the album, Europe-based Gonzo Multimedia gave the album a proper re-release in 2014. Along with the original 11 cassette-release tracks from back in 1989, the 2014 re-release comes complete with two additional tracks of “Healing Dream” and “Nuclear Burn”. The newly-extended self-titled release from Fire Merchants is now even better at over one hour long and is begging to be heard.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

7. X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow

thewhiskeyhollowMy introduction to singer-songwriter Madeline Finn and her music came with a pre-arranged open-mic called Brent Kirby’s 10×3 where Finn performed three songs. At the end of those three songs, I found myself thinking that that time on stage for Madeline Finn simply wasn’t long enough as I wanted to hear more from the singer. And with a voice that reminds me of Norah Jones, Finn has a quality that begs you to listen. When I finally was able to hear X Waters, the new release from Madeline Finn and the rest of her band called The Whiskey Hollow, I was not surprised as I had already experienced Finn’s sound and style. I was also not disappointed as the music contained within the seven-song release was everything I had enjoyed live plus even more as the release from The Whiskey Hollow took the acoustic sound from Madeline Finn and expanded upon it. X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow is strong from the very first song and never lets up. And with the different genres and styles of music used to bring Madeline Finn’s words to life, the listener has plenty of things to keep them entertained.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

8. The Bad Guy from Man Called Noon

the-bad-guyBack around 2010, I had been introduced to the Chicago-based band Man Called Noon. At that time, I became familiar with the band because of their album Broke and Beaten Down. Several years after reviewing 2009’s Broke and Beaten Down, and after having released another album in the meantime entitled Edge of the Night, Man Called Noon returns with their newest album entitled The Bad Guy. With this album, the band creates a slightly different style of music than what had come before. This new lineup for Man Called Noon incorporates some of the old sound and feel of the band while also taking the band’s sound in a new and more interesting direction. While I was already familiar with Man Called Noon, the band’s new album was a nice surprise. The new release from Man Called Noon finds the band creating a much stronger vibe than what had appeared on the band’s 2010 album of Broke and Beaten Down. The Bad Guy contains better musicianship, stronger songs and an all-around better sound. If unfamiliar with Man Called Noon, The Bad Guy is the perfect place to discover the band for yourself.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

9. Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee

Diane CoffeeShaun Fleming has spent time in the entertainment world. In fact, Fleming’s acting credentials are quite impressive. And with those acting credentials come Fleming’s musical credentials, as well. You might know his name as part of the band Foxygen where he played drums. Now, Shaun Fleming has taken his musical experience and put it to good use as part of a relatively new project called Diane Coffee. The music of Diane Coffee has been described as “Psychedelic Motown”. That seems to be a relatively good description as that is very close to what the band sounds like on some of their songs. However, that is just the beginning of what the band sounds like. With elements of Funk, Blues, Melodic Rock and other sounds, Diane Coffee has a lot more substance to their music than much of today’s Top 10 musical acts. And that musical blend has made its way onto a couple CDs from the band- 2013’s My Friend Fish and 2015’s Everybody’s a Good Dog. Everybody’s a Good Dog from Diane Coffee is one of the more unique releases of the last year. It brings lots of different influences to life at one time and those influences combine to create a style that seems to incorporate nearly something from every different era within the age of Rock and Roll. That combination of styles makes for a solid album that’s worth checking out.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

(The following two releases are from the same artist of Michael McDermott. McDermott created two albums, one under his own name and one under the band moniker of The Westies. As the two albums came from the same artist and feature the same writing style, it was difficult to choose which of the two was the better release. Therefore, I included both of the albums on the list.)

10A. Six on the Out from The Westies

515NZWZxw3L__SS280What happens when you have a rather interesting and checkered past? Well, you write songs based around it. That is precisely what singer-songwriter Michael McDermott has done with the help of his wife Heather Horton. Together, McDermott and Horton got together to create songs that have a rather dark side to them, as the songs deal with the not-so-pretty side of life; the side of life that McDermott knows all too well. Together, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton make up the core of the band The Westies. With The Westies, Michael McDermott and Heather Horton have created songs that deal with the grimy underground that exists within society. Having already created one album in 2015 entitled West Side Stories, the musical outfit has returned after only one year from the release of that album with what amounts to being “part two” of the concept. That newly-released second album is called Six On the Out. The Six On the Out release from The Westies has many moments worth hearing. While there is a lot of darkness within the lyrics of the songs on the album, it is the musicianship of the players on the album and the writing of the songs themselves that add up to create a very strong album. Bottom line, this album is as good as anything available on a major label.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

10B. Willow Springs from Michael McDermott

willow-springsRight around the same time that Michael McDermott was recording music for the Six on the Out release, he was also recording other songs that were to be used for his newest solo release. And since the same group of musicians were used for both the Six on the Out album and the new Willow Springs release from Michael McDermott, the two albums have the same basic musical approach in their songs, but the tracks used for each album had their own feel to them. With Six on the Out, the tracks stuck to a more rockin’ feel to the music while the tracks for this album of Willow Springs stick more to a singer-songwriter approach. Willow Springs, the newest solo album from Michael McDermott, shows a slightly different side to McDermott than his previous album of Six on the Out, the album released under the moniker of The Westies. The singer-songwriter side of McDermott shines through on Willow Springs and the album contains many moments that the listener will enjoy.

Click HERE for the entire review for the album.

 

Part Two of the list for Matheson Kamin’s Best Releases for 2016 is a short list of some of the best tracks that were released during 2016.

1 Circuline “Forbidden Planet

2 The Whiskey Hollow “Hudson Hill

3 Diane Coffee “Soon To Be Wont To Be

4 Man Called Noon “The Bad Guy

5 The Westies “If I Had a Gun

Categories
Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: The Whiskey Hollow “X Waters”

My introduction to singer-songwriter Madeline Finn and her music came with a pre-arranged open-mic called Brent Kirby’s 10×3 where Finn performed three songs. At the end of those three songs, I found myself thinking that that time on stage for Madeline Finn simply wasn’t long enough as I wanted to hear more from the singer. And with a voice that reminds me of Norah Jones, Finn has a quality that begs you to listen.

When I finally was able to hear X Waters, the new release from Madeline Finn and the rest of her band called The Whiskey Hollow, I was not surprised as I had already experienced Finn’s sound and style. I was also not disappointed as the music contained within the seven-song release was everything I had enjoyed live plus even more as the release from The Whiskey Hollow took the acoustic sound from Madeline Finn and expanded upon it.

Along with Madeline Finn on vocals, guitars and writing, the rest of the band consists of Joe Botta on bass; Gabriel Swarts on electric guitar, percussion; Raymond Flanagan on electric guitar; Joe Czekaj on percussion and Shelby Lynn Sangdahl on cello. Together, The Whiskey Hollow creates a sound that combines indie rock, alternative, folk and even blues.

X Waters, the new release from The Whiskey Hollow, begins with the track “Tree Talker”. The acoustic rock track features Madeline Finn’s vocals and acoustic guitar as she and the rest of the band comes together to combine some rock and blues elements together to form a track that sounds very much like something that would be found on KT Tunstall’s Eye to the Telescope release. In fact, “Tree Talker” could remind the listener of Tunstall’s “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree”. The second half of the track finds Finn creating an acoustic folk feel to the music as the song seems to drift off into the distance. “Tree Talker” is a very strong opening track for the new release of X Waters.

The new album from The Whiskey Hollow continues with “Hudson Hill”. With this track, the band takes the blues influence on “Tree Talker” and increases it. The combination of blues, folk and rock in the music creates a very strong track with plenty of substance. The song feels like it could have been created during the sixties but also seems to have a modern feel to it, as well. Like “Tree Talker” before it, “Hudson Hill” is a track that grabs the attention of the listener and will never let go.

With the track of “Neat,” you get to know a little bit about the sense of humor from Madeline Finn. The track features a line that goes “Give me some whiskey and give it to me straight”. The title seems to be a play on words as both “straight” and “neat” mean the same when speaking in terms of drinking. The slow tempo of the music goes well with the lyrics about looking for some sort answer to life’s little problems. “Neat” is a track that has the most body to it as you can hear all of the instruments very clearly. Finn’s acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, Joe Botto’s bass and the keyboards all add up to a track where the listener can hear the pain and anguish in Finn’s lyrics.

One track that allows the singer-songwriter quality of Madeline Finn to come through is “Seasons”. While the song does contain the entire band, the track begins with a generous amount of just Finn and her acoustic guitar. The first two minutes of the track finds Madeline Finn’s acoustic guitar setting the slow pace with just a little help from Flanagan’s electric guitar adding a little atmosphere in the background before the rest of the band joins in. The mostly-acoustic rock track adds elements like cello from Shelby Lynn Sangdahl as well as harmonica to become one of the most orchestrated tracks on the release. In fact, the addition of the multi-voiced choir that appears on the track adds even more depth to the music. But for all of the elements that get added to the track, it is the voice of Madeline Finn and her guitar that stand out.

The release comes to an end with the track “Philco”. Different from any of the other tracks that preceded it, “Philco” finds Madeline Finn adding guitar and also keys to the track. The song about an old broken radio player finds Finn looking inward as she examines her feelings about the ways of the world. The final track of the seven-song release ends up being another track that needs to be heard. When the music for the album comes to an end, you start examining the packaging for X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow. It is at that point that you end up realizing that the pictures contained in the packaging help bring to life what you just listened to.

X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow is strong from the very first song and never lets up. And with the different genres and styles of music used to bring Madeline Finn’s words to life, the listener has plenty of things to keep them entertained.

To hear the music of The Whiskey Hollow, check out the video to the track “Hudson Hill“.

To purchase X Waters from The Whiskey Hollow, click on the album cover below:

The Whiskey Hollow | X Waters