Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dizzy Box Nine

 
Dizzy Box Nine drops new album

BANDCAMP: https://dizzyboxnine.bandcamp.com/releases

So who is Dizzy Box Nine anyway? In my own words: Dizzy Box Nine composes richly-layered tunes about life, heartbreak, love, sacrifice, memories, joy, triumph, toil and other realities of humankind. Their cool lyrics and great performances reveal life’s extraordinary moments and via the band’s own vivid, personal adventures. The band is genuinely a diamond on the rough, a shout out to a specific era.
 
Their latest album “Electric Illusion” was recently released and without question delivers a mildly strong collection of music that really showcases all the powerful elements of Pop, punk with some early 60s Rock N' Roll throw in the midst. For guys like me, the more old school listener, “Good” will no doubt make a splash and prove to be very enjoyable. For the more mainstream crowd it will sound like it belongs in your personal or kids' college record collection. The song structures at times feel all over the place, but there's something to appreciate and get yourself lose to underneath. Vocals from Ludwig are pretty good considering the music playing on the background. This whole album starts in grand fashion with “Open Up To Me” and “Oh Yeah!” that pretty much sets the tone of what's to come next.
 
The rest of the tracks really helps making of this album a must-listen for those missing the days of Hot Topic and skat8boys (and girls) madness. Ludwig delivers raw melodic vocal emotions. He’s clearly a master at delivering vocal emotion (singer to listener). The music shows this is a band of substance and character.
 
All of the aforementioned culminate into a great album that has it’s share of  magical moments but it’s mostly a good decade-classic package to be enjoyed by anyone who wants to know what good vintage pop punk is really all about.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Lu9S7HW6zOfvI4iRaPtPf

Ryan Harper

 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

John Brownlow - The Summertime



John Brownlow - The Summertime
In my past few years writing reviews for a wide range of bands and artists, I have had the pleasure to meet and enjoy some really great and touching records by some phenomenal bands - on the other side of the spectrum I have encountered some plain down, simple and boring as hell materials. So say I was a bit worried for the next record, is to really say the least. 29 songs?! "Boy", I was praying, "I hope this would be fun ride".
Luckily for me, The Summertime by John Brownlow is an inspiring and great record that brings back some great memories for me and many of the audience that will likely listen to this record. The album echoes the sound of great iconic and pretty much staple names from the Britpop era (where Brownlow can be considered quite an underdog veteran) like Oasis, Blur and other older names as Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, The Clash, etc. However, calling Brownlow a rock musician wouldn't be correct, and this album shows he's one of those rare acts that aren't afraid of jumping into different wagons and the way, the ease how he does this is pretty remarkable. He goes from Powerpop (Burn Hollywood Burn) to Bossanova (Asteroids), old school Rock and Roll (Government Work) and Punk (Bullet To The Head) is very impressive. There's really something for everybody who's up to open their musical minds and explore a wide range of sounds. The production value also helps showcasing the greatest potential of everyone involved, especially Brownlow dynamic vocals, in a time where nothing hears or sounds real but rather way too perfect, the rawness in the tone and often missing notes instead of working against him it does serves on his advantage.
There isn't too much of a criticism for the record, perhaps the number of tracks might cause some listeners to not give it a shot. In a time where we are always in a hurry and would like to listen a bizzillion different songs in zero time, this big number seems like it wasn't a good idea, especially when you are a relative new artist trying to make it into the industry and get yourself heard.
In the end, John Brownlow's The Summertime is a fantastic journey through the mind of an artist that has compiled all of his influences into one magnum opus.
Rate: 8.5/10
by RJ Frometa  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time

 
Barbara Jo Kammer - One Song at a Time 


There’s a lot of personal meaning in this collection and, certainly, anyone who has experienced the punishing lifestyle that defines the life of an addict will find much here to relate to. It isn’t the whole story about Barbara Jo Kammer’s solo debut, One Song at a Time, however. The vibrant musical tapestry she weaves with her collaborators makes this an entertaining listen from the first and that spark never dims over the course of the album’s ten songs. She maintains a level of energy ably matched by her band mates and they respond with on point performances that help these tunes reach their fullest potential. It’s all presented against the backdrop of a superbly rendered production job that doesn’t sound like the product of an independent operation whatsoever, but rather top flight professional and with a keen ear turned towards balancing her voice against the instruments. 
 
“I Can See Clearly” is an ideal example of what Kammer is capable of covering other artists. She recasts this iconic pop tune as a high-stepping bluegrass tilt and the definition the individual players achieve is quite impressive. Their unerring accuracy reveals itself in every minute of this tune and it results in one of the album’s most complete performances. “Choices” joins its company, as well, in that regard while coming from an entirely different place musically. This is a song pulled directly from the classic country tradition and its decidedly adult lyric about struggling with alcoholism is surely one that affected Kammer profoundly the first time she heard it. She delivers a wrenching performance here that goes beyond just hitting her marks and has a transformative quality all listeners will respond to in some way. “Hard Promises to Keep” is another deep nod to country music tradition as it sets itself up as a classic ballad and duet between Kammer and the fine vocalist Greg Blake. Blake’s lower register smoothness has its own emotive quality, but it’s different enough from Kammer’s that the juxtaposition of their voices takes on a compelling aura.   

“In a Cabin on the Mountain by the Pine” is written by Robert Backlund, a friend of Kammer’s, and this well honed invocation of rural life and its peaceful qualities comes across quite nicely thanks to the wealth of specific detail and Kammer’s expert reading of the song. “The Winning Side” embraces a more modern country vibe without surrendering any of the traditional instrumentation that gives the album such a vintage sound and Kammer’s singing for this particular performance ranks among her best outings on a great album. She wraps One Song at a Time up with an equally involving performance of the Jimmie Rodgers classic “Mule Skinner Blues” and, while it was written for a male voice, Kammer doesn’t let that get in her way of owning the song completely and making it sound like the tune was written with her in mind all along. This is one of the best traditional releases of 2017 and we can only hope that Kammer follows it up with an equally powerful sophomore effort or something even better. 

RELATED ARTICLE: https://newmusicweekly.com/one-song-time-barbara-jo-kammer-releases-debut-cd-62/ 


Scott Wigley
 

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Sighs – Wait On Another Day

 

The Sighs – Wait On Another Day  


The Review: Massachusetts bred The Sighs has one of those sounds that’s familiar but yet you can’t quite put your finger on him. The closest I could place it would a cross between The Beach Boys and The Beatles without the rock n’ roll bombast.  

The Sighs are finally back with their highly anticipated third album, Wait On Another Day which really took a decade or so to come to fruition. The result is a rich musical stew, with ingredients from righteous power pop rock to heavy riffs and everything in between.  

The CD starts off with “It's Real” an explosive opener painted with gloomy vocal harmonies, threatening lead guitars and likewise menacing drum and bass lines. Track 2 “Words of Love” follows through nicely, moving from the angsty roars from the first single with captivating guitar lines and psychedelic undertones. The first 4 tracks really show how well these cats can really play outside the a-typical Pop embellishment of today, bringing some of that magic that made this genre so amazing back in the days. Speaking of nostalgia, "Summertime Roses" smells like Oasis everywhere, bringing those layers that made Brit Pop so great. Slowly but surely you are introduced to inviting baritone voice via more great music. As you may realize by now, this is really an album that enjoys diving into different eras of Rock music. From time to time, the record also shows great depth on the writing, they aren't exactly very meaningful but catchy in the way other classics used to be by sounding familiar, commercial but never manufactured. You feel there's a life, a soul behind those lyrics. As I listened to these songs over and over again, I noticed how fluid all of the arrangements really were. The whole CD moves from one moment to the next, one transition /track to the next. And despite the lack of ‘jolting moments’ to catch you off guard, all of all the tracks manage to grab your attention with its often gentle, lighthearted style that changes when you less expected. 

Most good pop songs have what I call a “sweet” higher tonal registry within the melody. While LaRoche never hits those big notes, the vocal work never feels odd. Though I would have loved the band take some risks. It sometimes feels like they were playing it too safe.  

“Wait On Another Day” by The Sighs rounds out an exceptional 11 Track CD presentation delivered by a talented group of musicians and songwriters who has definitely honed their craft over the years.

RELATED ARTICLE: http://austintownhall.com/2017/07/10/the-sighs-return-for-third-album/  

Jamie Russell 

Bunny Sigler – Angel Eyes

 
Bunny Sigler – Angel Eyes 


Bunny Sigler dates back a long time as a producer and recording artist, from the Philly soul variety of R&B to all this time later crossing over to jazz with the release of Young At Heart. The first single is “Angel Eyes” which covers the Ella Fitzgerald song. His name should ring bells because he’s been working with artists like Curtis Mayfield and others since he started. This album combines R&B with jazz and the single is wisely chosen to show how well he pulls it off. There is no question the answer is yes. And that says everything about his effort to remake something with integrity. This isn’t something to turn your nose up at, it’s the real deal, so if you’re expecting a run of the mill rendition, think again. The video should be seen to further entice readers of what a beautiful version it is. The audio stands more important but sometimes a promo goes the distance too, with some great scenery to keep it interesting. But don’t let it distract you from the bigger picture. This is best experienced on headphones, so watching the video with them is recommended. Otherwise make sure to give it a listen without looking. You can hear the smoke with or without seeing it.


If you like his work this will come as no surprise, and it can turn anyone onto Bunny Sigler as well. You get everything with no added ingredients to muck it up. A male version she would be proud of, and that’s part of the magic of this whole experiment. I am a huge lover of songs with the mention of menu items, so I have always liked the track but he seriously takes it to another level. Not to say that is above the queen of jazz, but certainly no slouch himself, even if he is new to straightforward jazz. It sounds like he’s been doing it all his life though, so it’s in his blood already. 
 
 
The coolest part about his voice is the low register parts, it’s truly gifted how he goes just about everywhere on the map as well. The vocal performance itself is something to marvel at alone, and that should be the case when taking on someone so strong. Sometimes you want to go even higher or lower because the memory of the song is so powerful you overdue it on a cover, but he never overdoes it. When a song is mesmerizingly hypnotic in the first place it has a laid-back vibe that can take being in the mood to get used to. But not this, it’s on from his first breath. It never loses interest from there.


What more can you say about such a classy song and classy singer. It should be heard far and wide, and the album should get airplay if the rest of it is as extraordinary as this. Lovers of both jazz and R&B music can relate better than most, so the album should satisfy his fans and this single should whet plenty of appetites and lift every spirt that hears it. This is where two worldly legends meet, one of them alive or not. If it doesn’t pump your blood for more, the LP won’t be for you. But if-not you’ll get everything out of it that you put into listening. His grand signature is written all over it with jubilance. 
 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weatherboy

 
Weatherboy 


Employing guest musicians working alongside them like no less than Grass Harp’s iconic guitarist Phil Keaggy, multi-instrumentalist Ragnar Rosinkranz and artist John Walquist ten song debut collection as Weatherboy ranks among the most compelling debuts in a commercial genre over the last five years. Let’s be honest however – despite the melody, glossy surfaces, and vocal beauty exhibited here, there’s very little that you’ll hear on Top 40 radio. Weatherboy has musical muscle to bring to bear as well as a sense of personal mission not campaigning for any cause but that of communicating their inner most thoughts to the audience in all its forms. The lyrics are an underrated part of the overall package – they are rather personal in nature and, thus, retain a little obscurity, but they communicate through image in such an impactful way they enhance their musical landscapes. Everything here is framed for maximum effect. 
 
When you hear the vocals boasting about the good thing they’ve found in the opener song “Got a Good Thing”, it doesn’t come off as ham-fisted or insincere and listeners experience a similar effect with the second song “Great Great Life”. These two opening songs practically demand to be taken as a tandem and, having done so, they make a marvelous impact thanks to how well and unpredictably they weave brass, guitar, and rhythm section playing into a fluid and hard-hitting whole. “Riding on the Wind” is cut from a different cloth. Weatherboy temper their more pronounced pop inclinations in favor of something much more atmospheric and understated in comparison to earlier performances. The variety of colors at their disposal doesn’t sound readily exhaustible/ :Some more cynical listeners might be immediately suspicious of a song entitled “Good Morning LA”, but the duo’s aim is true as they pour out with a good natured song dedicated to the City of Angels. There’s more than a little melancholy coming out of this track belied by a friendly, good natured vocal. “Bennett” has a number of impressive musical ideas and some truly gut-wrenching and inspired vocal passages on an album brimming with such moments. 
 
“Eva” is nearly pure unadulterated folk given only a slight pop spin thanks to the vocal and its evocative modern production. It seems outright simple compared to “All Your Fault”, a raw yet expertly dispatched meditation on competing emotions that the duo gets over quite nicely with some memorable contributions from Phil Keaggy. It sets up the album’s final tracks in a decisive way. “Home Fire” and “Full Bloom” are, largely, low key affairs, but the latter tune is particularly effective as a closer and the marriage of piano and voice alone stands in sharp and remarkable contrast with the album’s earlier performances. Weatherboy is a remarkable project by any standard, but the fact they are coming out of the gates with such quality and intelligence to burn suggests they may have remarkably brilliant dawns ahead of them as a partnership. This is an exceptional debut.  


Wayne Toole

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sam Baker – Land of Doubts

 
Sam Baker – Land of Doubts


Following a European tour behind his new album, Land Of Doubt, Sam Baker is turning his attention to creative projects in 2017: Opening his first-ever exhibition as a visual artist, staging an original play and filming a documentary. As you may know, Sam has limited hearing after being on a bus that exploded during a 1986 terrorist attack in Peru, but he’s from Texas, now living in Austin. There’s a lot more bio to cover on him but the album has 15 songs and they’re all worth talking about on one level or another. This is his 5th album since launching his music career, and he’s now expanding his reach by writing a play called Broken Fingers, filming a documentary and staging an art exhibition (Dream Of The Snow Geese) in Santa Fe, NM. And this album which serves as a companion to 2013’s Say Grace, starts off with “Summer Wind” and it quickly passes with some nifty guitar parts into “Some Kind Of Blue” which kicks up into high gear in the songwriting department.

A serious war number with everything he’s got behind it to really pull off a top shelf song, and that is honestly what it is, nothing more to really explain except to recommend headphones. You won’t be sorry you listened, especially if you like a narrative approach to the army about Charlie fighting Charlie. It goes through all the gnarly mud to be held in the trenches. You’ll have to just hear the rest for yourself. The instrumental “The Silvered Moon” is up next and it’s a quick set up for what comes next in the form of “Margaret” which gets tagged the token love song. And this is where it gets a little soft but bounces back after you get through it.

“Love Is Patient” is an otherworldly thing worth waiting for, so anything could come before it and not have any worries. This is my favorite song by Sam Baker, and I wouldn’t have looked past this album if it were not for this amazing opus. Nothing on the album is composed quite like it, in fact nothing out there I’ve heard lately sounds so majestic and real. It’s a fake world of a little of everything, and music is no exception. It’s a breath of fresh air to hear something from so far out in left field. I’m glad I heard it and kept looking-into his work. It should hold up in my playlist for a long time coming. The track already feels like it has that much resonation quality.

“Leave” is almost a complete 180 in contrast, but not a complete loss as a song to enjoy after that. It just never quite picks up until it threatens to at the end, but he makes his message perfectly clear in the lyrics. “Pastures Fit For Thoroughbreds” and “Song Of Sunrise Birds” are two more instrumentals, the former being the longer and more enjoyable sounding of the two, and a lot more interesting as well. This isn’t your grand-daddy’s jazz, but it isn’t exactly modern either. It falls somewhere in between the two. And “Peace Out” gets the last word in edgewise, which is by far one of the most modern moments on what is an amazing collection of modern folk songs. 
 

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/sambakermusic

Randy Jones