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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical'
Artist - Various

Coinciding almost perfectly with the 20th anniversary of the Roger Kumble film from which it is based, the new Off-Broadway musical 'Cruel Intentions' uses hit songs from the 1990s as its central motif.

Throughout the show, cast members pay tribute to the decade with stellar performances of The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony', Christina Aguilera's 'Genie In a Bottle', the Cardigans' 'Lovefool' and the lead single from the film itself, the highly-infectious yet one-hit wonder-bound 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (Deep Blue Something).

So, as I'm sure you can all attest to yourselves, those of you of a certain age that were teens when this film originally came out of course, first love is truly a bittersweet symphony!

Ergo, not only the stage play of the same name, but the plethora of radio hits from that decade found here on this just-released 18-track Original Cast Album once again pull you into the manipulative world of Manhattan’s most dangerous liaisons: Sebastian Valmont and Kathryn Merteuil!

Seduced by revenge and fueled by passion, the two diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet on whether or not Sebastian can deflower their incoming headmaster’s daughter, Annette Hargrove.

As the two set out to destroy the innocent girl—and anyone who gets in their way—they find themselves entangled in a web of secrets, temptation, and the cruelest game of all: love.

The album really does capture the '90s perfectly, with these well-voiced cast members bringing us such classics as favorite throwback hits by artists like: Boyz II Men, Christina Aguilera, REM, *NSYNC, and, of course, Britney Spears and even 'Kiss Me' from the highly-underrated Sixpence None the Richer.

Two time Grammy-winning record producer Stewart Lerman took music director Zach Spound's orchestrations and arrangements from 'Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical' into his studio in August of this year and came out with, well, … this!

The album kicks off with an original from the Off Broadway Cast, 'Every You, Every Me,' which amazingly sounds like it was born in the '90s! The guitar heavy power track is clearly built for the stage, but begins our nostalgic trip down memory lane just perfectly.

Melissa Etheridge's powerful vocals still come through on the multi cast-sung 'I'm The Only One' with both Lauren Zakrin and Constantine Rousouli on Aguilera's 'Genie In A Bottle' and Carrie St. Louis' quite brilliant 'Just A Girl' (No Doubt) well worthy of a spot here too.

A cover bandesque 'I Want It That Way' (*NSYNC) from both Alex Boniello and Brian Muller lacks strength and I was also hoping for more passion from Six Pence None the Richer's 'Kiss Me' (Cast).

Constantine Rousouli and Carrie St. Louis get the music back on track with a rousing 'Lovefool' (The Cardigans) and that's backed by much better collaboration from Alex Boniello and Brian Muller on *NSYNC's blazingly addictive 'Bye Bye Bye.'

One of the highlights of the original movie was 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' (Deep Blue Something) and I'm here to say that both Jessie Shelton and Matthew Griffin knock it out of the park!

Sadly, Matthew Griffin, Lauren Zakrin and Patricia Richardson on TLC's 'No Scrubs' doesn't work for me as there's just too much plot point chit-chat in between, but the soundtrack gets back on track with the Cast-sung 'Only Happy When It Rains / Act 1 Finale Medley.'

Boyz II Men's beautiful 'I'll Make Love To You' is slaughtered here by the pitched wail of Jessie Shelton (although Alex Boniello, Brian Muller and Matthew Griffin all manage to harmonize decently enough), but a stunning rendition of Natalie Imbruglia's catchy 'Torn' by Carrie St. Louis and Constantine Rousouli make up for it in spades.

The Counting Crows' love song 'Colorblind,' sung here by Constantine Rousouli and Carrie St. Louis and backed by the Cast is a lovely musical moment, and then comes Rousouli doing his karaoke version of The Goo-Goo Dolls' 'Iris.'

Jewel's 'Foolish Games' gets a rather splendid crack at the whip from Carrie St. Louis, with the album rounding out nicely with 'Kathryn's Turn Medley' by Lauren Zakrin and Constantine Rousouli (inclusive of a highly charged 'Bitch' - Meredith Brooks), before the Cast come together for an acoustic guitar singalong on The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony.'

NYC’s most intoxicating new musical is a full-on ’90s party so run out and get this wonderful Original Cast Album recording now!

Chock full of all the songs you know and love from the '90s allow yourself to be transported back to a much better era of music than we have now!

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Born To Sing: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - En Vogue

For those not in the know, En Vogue is an American R&B/pop vocal group whose original lineup consisted of singers Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones.

Formed in Oakland, California in 1989, En Vogue reached number two on the US Hot 100 with the single 'Hold On', taken from their 1990 debut album Born To Sing.

The group's 1992 follow-up album Funky Divas reached the top 10 in both the US and UK, and included their second US number two hit 'My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)' as well as the US top 10 hits 'Giving Him Something He Can Feel' and the monster smash 'Free Your Mind'.

In 1996, 'Don't Let Go (Love)' became the group's third, and most successful single, to reach number two in the US, and became their sixth number one on the US R&B chart.

Robinson left the group in 1997 shortly before the release of their third album EV3, which reached the US and UK top 10. Jones left the group in 2001, Amanda Cole joined shortly thereafter.

However, in 2003, Cole left the group, and Rhona Bennett joined the group during the recording of their album Soul Flower. In 2005, the original members briefly united before disassembling again.

In 2009, the original members once again reunited for their En Vogue: 20th Anniversary. Shortly after the tour, Robinson and Jones again departed from En Vogue, with Bennett rejoining the group as a trio.

En Vogue has sold more than 20 million records worldwide to date, and are often considered one of the best female vocal groups of all time. The group has won seven MTV Video Music Awards, three Soul Train Awards, two American Music Awards, and received seven Grammy nominations.

Cherry Red Records (UK) are now proud to launch 90/9, their dedicated new '90s imprint, with a Deluxe Edition of the aforementioned iconic album from En Vogue, Born To Sing.

Furthermore, this Deluxe Edition marks the first occasion that one of En Vogue’s classic albums has been given an expanded reissue.

Produced by Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, Born To Sing features the signature hit ‘Hold On’ (#2 US, #1 US R&B and #5 UK), plus ‘Lies’ and ‘You Don’t Have to Worry’ (both also #1 R&B smashes) and ‘Don’t Go’ (#3 R&B).

The sought-after single versions of all four singles are included here as bonus tracks along with a comprehensive selection of remixes, many of which were originally issued only on vinyl and have been unavailable ever since.

CD 1:
1. 'PARTY'
3. 'LIES'
5. 'HOLD ON'
10. 'DON’T GO

Bonus Tracks:
13. 'SILENT NITE' (Holiday Edit)
14. 'MOVER'
16. 'HOLD ON' (Seven Inch Edit)
17. 'LIES' (The Avant Garde Remix)
18. 'YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY' (Radio Remix Edit)
19. 'DON’T GO' (Radio Edit)

The original album opens with some spoken rap (at a 'Party', of course) and features one of the best chat up line comebacks I've ever heard on any album re: "What's your sign?" - "Stop sign!" That's backed by the finger-snappin' dancefloor slide of 'Strange' and the mid-tempo groove of 'Lies.'

Next up is a wicked R&B tribute to The Andrews Sisters' 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy' and then a simply incredible vocal on the pulsating 'Hold On.' The ballad 'Part Of Me' is as delightful to hear now as it was back then and that's followed by the lite funk of 'You Don't Have To Worry.'

In much the sane vein, 'Time Goes On' is next and is backed by the two ballads 'Just Can't Stay Away' and 'Don't Go.' The gentle hipsway of 'Luv Lines' is next and that wraps up the original album nicely.

Amongst the 8 bonus tracks featured on the first disc is their 1991 holiday single ‘Silent Nite’, produced by Chuckii Booker. This festive favorite originally featured on the Remix to Sing EP alongside specially-commissioned remixes of Born to Sing tracks from Steve “Silk” Hurley, Frankie Knuckles, Marley Marl, Martin Van Blockson and DJ Eddie F. & Dave Hall; all of which appear on this Deluxe Edition.

We also get two acappella bonus tracks: the Japanese-only 1991 single ‘Mover’ and the rare studio recording of the American national anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ (here simply as 'National Anthem'), originally released only as a cassette single B-side.

CD 2:
1. 'HOLD ON' (Extended Version)
2. 'LIES' (The Extended Avant Garde Remix)
3. 'YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY" (Club New Breed Mix)
4. 'SILENT NITE' (Long Holiday Mix)
5. 'STRANGE' (House Remix)
6. 'TIME GOES ON' (Dance Remix)
7. 'LIES' (New Jack Remix)
8. 'YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY' (Club Remix)
9. 'HOLD ON' (Hip Hop Remix)
10. 'LIES' (Extended Funky Remix)
12. 'HOLD ON' (Dub Version)
13. 'LIES' (Kwameì’s Bone Age Remix)
14. 'YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY' (Lo Cal Mix)
The second disc is chock full of remixes, but as is the norm, the tendency for song overkill can, come the final bend begin to overwhelm ones enjoyment of the tracks.

That said, my personal stand out favorites having now listened to this disc through twice back-to-back, are cuts such as 'Silent Nite' (Long Holiday Mix), 'Lies' (New Jack Remix), and both 'Hold On' (Hip Hop Remix) and the brilliant 'Lies' (Kwame's Bone Age Remix).

With direct input from En Vogue and Foster/McElroy, this Deluxe Edition boasts an extensive booklet containing new sleeve notes, a fully illustrated discography and lyrics.

Official CD Purchase Link

En Vogue @ Twitter!

Title - 'Me & Mrs Jones: The Anthology'
Artist - Billy Paul

For those not in the know, Paul Williams (December 1, 1934 – April 24, 2016), known professionally as Billy Paul, was a Grammy Award-winning American soul singer, known for his 1972 #1 single, 'Me and Mrs. Jones', as well as the 1973 album and single 'War of the Gods' (which blends his more conventional pop, soul, and funk styles with electronic and psychedelic influences).

He was one of the many artists associated with the Philadelphia soul sound created by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell.

Indeed, Paul was identified by his diverse vocal style which ranged from mellow and soulful to low and raspy.

Questlove of the Roots equated Paul to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, calling him "... one of the criminally unmentioned proprietors of socially conscious post-revolution '60s civil rights music."

SoulMusic Records (via Cherry Red Records UK) has just released Me & Mrs Jones: The Anthology, a stunning 31-track 2-CD retrospective saluting the artistry of distinctive soul’n’ jazz song stylist Billy Paul; spanning ten studio albums he recorded between 1969-1985.

This anthology features all of Billy's thirteen US charted singles for PIR including 'Thanks For Saving My Life' and 'Am I Black Enough For You' as well as 'You're My Sweetness' (from a 1979 Best Of Billy Paul collection) and 'New Day, New World Comin' (from 1977's PIR album, Let's Clean Up The Ghetto); plus three tracks from Billy's 1985 Total Experience LP.

CD 1: People Power
13. 'LET ‘EM IN'

The light and breezy R&B of the Elton John cover 'Your Song' is up first and that's backed by the Gamble & Huff stunner, and official Black Lightning theme, 'Am I Black Enough For You.' The classic Philadelphia sound of 'Brown Baby' is next and that's followed by the Philly lushness of 'The Whole Town's Talking' (check out the rhythm in the musical break for a true groove vibe).

The funk is back for both 'Thanks For Saving My Life' and 'Only The Strong Survive' with the slow bass guitar backbeat of 'How Good Is Your Games' being one for the ages. The dancefloor gets a hit here on 'Be Truthful To Me' with the bass funk of 'False Faces' and the lush orchestrations of 'People Power' following seamlessly along.

Next up is that heralded old soul sound of 'Let The Dollar Circulate' and that's backed by the Philly funk of 'Bring The Family Back.' Released in 1976 and peaking at a ridiculous-to-think-of-now #91, his fantastic cover of the Paul McCartney/Wings hit 'Let 'Em In' is still such a massive joy to hear today, and that's followed by the fast funk groove of 'America (We Need The Light).'

The first disc then rounds out with both the stand loud and be proud 'We All Got A Mission' and then the excellent funk vibe of 'New Day, New World Comin' from 1977.

CD 2: You're My Sweetness
13. 'LATELY'
14. 'LET ME IN'

The second disc picks up where the first ended with the piano lush 'This Is Your Life' (from his underrated Going East album) and then backs that up with forthright 'Ebony Woman,' the soaring ballad 'Let's Fall In Love All Over Again,' and then comes the beautiful, soothing instruments found within his massive 1972 hit, 'Me & Mrs. Jones.'

The emotional truth found within 'It's Too Late' still resonates with us all today, I feel, and that's followed by Paul testifying his pain on 'I Was Married.'

The laid back Philly soul of 'When Love Is New' is yet another stand out track here and that's backed by both the upbeat ballad 'You're My Sweetness' and the gentleness of 'Let's Make A Baby.'

Billy's beautiful and soothing voice comes to the fore once again on the ballad 'Billy's Back Home,' with the goosebump-inspiring 'I Think I'll Stay Home Today' along next.

This wondrous second disc comes to a close with the orchestrally brilliant 'I Trust You,' the lovely pairing of his mid-'80s ballads 'Lately' and 'Let Me In,' with Billy's tribute to Marvin Gaye 'Sexual Therapy' wrapping things up nicely.

In a personal reflections commentary, SoulMusic Records founder David Nathan notes that in sequencing Disc One, he became aware of the timeless and timely lyrical messages in many of Billy’s ‘70s recordings featured here, including ‘False Faces’, ‘Let The Dollar Circulate’, and ‘We All Got A Mission’.

New liner notes included are by renowned US writer Kevin Goins and include quotes from Dexter Wansel; plus first class artwork from Roger Williams and remastering from Nick Robbins.

Official CD Purchase Link

Billy Paul @ Facebook

Title - 'Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria'
Artist - Andy Bell

For those not in the know, Torsten In Queereteria is the third solo album by Andy Bell (Erasure) performing as alter-ego Torsten; a gender-fluid, semi-immortal who, having loved and lost many during an unnaturally elongated life, is left haunted by his lifetime of bittersweet memories.

Torsten is a role Andy Bell first took up at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival in 2014 in Torsten The Bareback Saint, and a role reprised by him in the critically acclaimed, 2016 follow up, Torsten The Beautiful Libertine which enjoyed a sell-out run at London’s Above The Stag Theatre.

Torsten In Queereteria is a unique pop / musical theatre collaboration between Erasure singer Andy Bell, poet/playwright Barney Ashton-Bullock and musician Christopher Frost.

This new album, three years in the making, is structured around four separate themed Acts which deal with different aspects of both Torsten’s life story and his self-realisation; each song designed as if a postcard insight into a particular hot-spot of memory.

ACT 1: Remembrance, Youth and Beauty

ACT 2: The Hedonism and The Hurting

ACT 3: Bitter Regrets

ACT 4: To Mourn and To Miss

A surreal tale spun end to end, Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria is the further spawning of a man born in 1905 who's been and seen a lot of things in his time. Being 114, Torsten has made his fair share of friends along the way and he speaks of a few of them here on this third installment.

With this new album being even more anarchic than its two predecessors, the album (Act One) opens with Torsten in a deeply reflective mood on ‘A Hundred Years Plus Today.’

Mulling over the in's and out's of the longevity of his life it precedes three recollections, in song, of intense events from long ago times spent with lost friends and lovers.

It also speaks of the hope, uniquely embodied in coming from a coastal town, that the sea might deliver temptations in the guise of sailor lovers.

Act Two narrates a headlong bounding into hedonism; interacting with strange, seaside town, cottaging cruisers in ‘Cabaret Awayday’, to the respite and debauchery afforded by trips to the Queereteria cruising club and a stout defense of partying and drunkenness in ‘If We Want To Drink A Little’ (a duet with my beloved friend, Hazel O’Connor of ‘Breaking Glass’ fame).

A haunted soul, it's obvious Torsten doesn't particularly enjoy still being around, even though his search for the Fountain of Youth is one shared by many, of course.

In Act Three, Torsten hits rock bottom and becomes a tad unpleasant and bitter. ‘Thou Shalt Be My Vibe’ portrays a manipulative, drugged-up, drunk Torsten driving a potentially exploitative relationship.

‘Money With Menaces’ is an ode to the bitterness of both parties in a rent-boy / sugar daddy relationship. ‘Let’s Be Sober Another Time’ sees Torsten in denial of his chronic alcoholism which leads, in turn, to a mindless and provocative challenge to all his remaining friends and cohorts to ‘Come And Taste My Breakdown’, concluding Act Three.

Within these lyrics we discover that his bones are really brittle now and that he is beginning to get worn out from all the partying and good times, but yet he forges forward - now within his drug-addled state.

Levity is restored in Act Four in which an older Torsten is in more reflective mood about leaving his partying years behind.

‘To Know Good Men From Perverts’ is the culmination of the experience that life affords in learning one of its ultimate lessons, the discernment between those who we can trust and those who seek to harm us.

‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’, the lead single from the album, is a loving reminiscence of close friends and the mayhem and mirth of their formative years partying with a vengeance!

‘Silence Is Golden’ pays emotional tribute to an aged lover who has recently died, someone who sublimated the existential angst and fear of knowing he was nearing death by a mania to read widely and an insistence on ‘Silence’ to enable him to do so.

‘Not Opting Out’, the album’s defiant closing number is Torsten’s reckoning that though his own life may be nearer its end, he remains stalwartly an active participant in it; even though the ever accelerating pace of change is spiritually and physically exhausting, he will not be defeated.

The musical tale of a semi-immortal polysexual who is destined to love many, lose many and be haunted by bittersweet memories, Andy Bell's Torsten in Queereteria is a quite stunning work of musical art that, as Andy himself has said on more than one occasion, has taxed him re: the spoken word epilogues.

But here, well, he nails every line, every forceful emittance of love, hope despair and reward as if his life depended on it.

The CD comes with a richly illustrated 32 page lyric booklet.

Official CD Purchase Link

Andy Bell @ Twitter

Title - 'Samuel Barber Piano Concerto & Solo Piano Works'
Artist - Kevin Robert Orr

For those not in the know, much like myself, concert pianist Kevin Robert Orr pursues a dynamic agenda as performer, professor, masterclass clinician, lecturer and adjudicator that has taken him to major music institutions and festivals across North America, Europe, China, South Korea and Australia.

A strong advocate of the music of living composers, Orr has premiered and recorded solo and ensemble works by composers Jennifer Margaret Barker, Paul Basler, Houston Dunleavy, Paul Richards, Robert Rollin, and John Weinsweig.

Orr’s critically acclaimed solo recordings include the complete sonatas and ballades of Johannes Brahms, and the just-released piano concerto and sonata of Samuel Barber.

Here on Samuel Barber Piano Concerto & Solo Piano Works (Meyer Media LLC) Orr joins forces with Maestro En Shao and the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra to record Samuel Barber's Pulitzer Prize winning Piano Concerto.

Included on this recording is Barber's Piano Sonata, as well as his Nocturne and Ballade and trust me when I say that from start to finish this album us a genuine and pure delight to behold.

As my introduction to the works of Samuel Barber, my general take on the collection is that Orr does a rather excellent job conveying the moods of Barber's music on this compilation; which are alternately meditative and unsettled.

Beautifully performed, this fresh interpretation on Barber's piano and solo works - as I've since come to learn - really inherits the works that Barber was creating.

By that I mean Barber was creating tonal music at a time in the mid-20th century when atonality and aleatoric music were considered the new frontiers in modern classical.

Although neo-romanticism did eventually catch on, Barber was deeply affected by the rejection of his music by critics/peers and especially by the poor reception of his opera entitled Antony and Cleopatra (1966).

As Barber indicated, this opera contained some of his finest work and it has to be said that this expansive new reiteration from the seasoned Orr evokes that period, that passion, that devotion almost seamlessly.

Title - 'Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol.8'
Artist - Jonathan Biss

For those not in the know, much like myself, Jonathan Biss was born in 1980; his professional debut preceded this event by several months, when he performed, prenatally, the Mozart A Major Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall, with the Cleveland Orchestra under the direction of Lorin Maazel.

Subsequent violin performances have shown greater independence, though they have also been more likely to send listeners running in the opposite direction, wildly searching for Ear, Nose and Throat specialists, and handguns!

Although the highlight of his career as a violinist took place when he was a fetus, Mr. Biss’ childhood was nonetheless saturated with music.

With both of his parents playing the violin, and his older brother Daniel taking up the piano, he remembers music emanating from nearly every room in the house, including bathrooms, which, while modest in their decor, were valued for their acoustical properties.

Growing up in Bloomington, Indiana, Mr. Biss was blessed with excellent teachers and at the age of 17, Mr. Biss went to the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Leon Fleisher, which proved a phenomenal learning experience.

Around the same time, Mr. Biss began concertizing, highlights of which have included post-natal reengagements with Ms. Fried (with Mr. Biss a less reticent partner this time around), Maestro Maazel, and in November 2007, the Cleveland Orchestra.

While Mr. Biss’s life in music provides him with tremendous satisfaction, playing music remains ever a struggle. On the just-released Beethoven Piano Sonatas Vol.8 Nos 8 (Pathétique), 10, 22 & 31 (Meyer Media LLC), Biss continues his journey of Beethoven Piano Sonatas.

Exploring his infinite perspective and masterful performance of some of Ludwig's most cherished music, the variety within each work is lovingly brought to the fore here by the earnest Biss.

Showcasing an astonishing passion for preciseness within each work, their deeply embedded originality still present and correct, but here Biss' range enables them to, if only for the moment perhaps, become his.

Title - Haydn Cello Concertos Vivaldi Concerto for Violin
Artist - Christoph Croisé

For those not in the know, much like myself, Christoph Croisé is a French-German-Swiss cellist.

Winner of the Berliner International Music Competition, the Prix Jeune Soliste des Medias Francophones Publics, and the International Manhattan Music Competition, young cellist Christoph Croisé debuts on AVIE performing the two Cello Concertos by Franz Joseph Haydn.

His fresh and fervent approach is matched by his collaborators, the Eurasian Soloists Chamber Orchestra, as they recreate the original set up of the works first performances in the Esterhazy Castle when the composer directed from the harpsichord alongside the first violinist and the soloist.

The Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major, Hob. VIIb/1 was composed around 1761-65 for longtime friend Joseph Franz Weigl, then the principal cellist of Prince Nicolaus's Esterházy Orchestra.

The work was actually presumed lost until 1961, when musicologist Oldøich Pulkert discovered a copy of the score at the Prague National Museum.

Though some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of the work, most experts believe that Haydn did compose this concerto.

Concerto No. 2 in D Major for cello and orchestra, Hob. VIIb/2, Op. 101, was composed in 1783 for Antonín Kraft, a cellist of Prince Nikolaus's Esterházy Orchestra.

The piece's authenticity was doubted for some time, and at one stage it was suggested that Kraft himself had written it, but most experts now believe that the work is indeed authentic after Haydn's autograph score was discovered in 1951.

Although the concerto sounds more relaxed and lyrical than its C major predecessor it is more technically difficult for the soloist.

And that's where Croisé comes in for his dedication to the works is beyond discussion. He literally embodies the spirit of the original compositions and floats along with them as if magically harnessed.

Croisé concludes the album with Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin and Cello, RV 547, joined by the orchestra's founder and director, Kazakh violinist Sherniyaz Mussakhan.

A magical performance from beginning to end, Concerto In B Flat RV 547 is expertly executed and spaciously recorded by Croisé. Furthermore, and in my humble opinion, his work here consolidates and celebrates the original intent Vivaldi entertained when creating the work.

Title - 'Spear of Destiny - The Albums 1983-1985'
Artist - Spear of Destiny

For those not in the know, Spear of Destiny is a British rock band, founded in 1983 by singer and songwriter Kirk Brandon and bassist Stan Stammers.

Complete with an ever-changing line-up throughout the years, the band's original line-up consisted of Brandon, Stammers, Chris Bell and Lascelles James.

In late 1983 this line-up was superseded by Dolphin Taylor on drums, Alan St Clair on guitar, John Lennard on sax and Neil Pyzer on keyboards and additional saxophone. In 1984 John Lennard was replaced by Mickey Donnelly on Saxophone.

Having released their debut album Grapes of Wrath in 1983 (which reached #62 on the UK Album Charts), their second album, One Eyed Jacks was subsequently released in 1984 (reaching #22).

It was no wonder then that Spear of Destiny’s reputation in the mid-1980s began to rise with their growing fame dependent on their powerful live performances.

In 1985, their album, World Service reached #20 but founder Stammers left the band the year later due to internal struggles. In the wake of the release of the fourth album, Outland (1987) and its Top 15 hit 'Never Take Me Alive', the band began achieving some chart success and staging sell-out concerts; including a support slot to U2 at Wembley Stadium.

However, ill fortune struck on the eve of the band’s appearance at the Reading Festival, as Brandon developed reactive arthritis which obliged the band to put all their plans on hold for nearly a year. This just-released 56 track 3CD clamshell box-set entitled The Albums 1983-1985 contains pretty much everything that Spear Of Destiny released on Epic Records during their time with the label between those years.

Disc 1: Grapes of Wrath
1. 'The Wheel'
2. 'Flying Scotsman'
3. 'Roof of the World'
4. 'Aria'
5. 'Solution'
6. 'The Murder of Love'
7. 'The Preacher'
8. 'Omen of the Times'
9. 'The Man Who Tunes the Drums'
10. 'Grapes of Wrath'
Bonus Tracks
11. 'The Hop'
12. 'Flying Scotsman (12" Version)'
13. 'The Preacher (Cassette Mix)'
14. 'Omen of the Times (Cassette Mix)'
15. 'Grapes of Wrath (Live)'
17. 'The Preacher (Live)'
18. 'Solution (Live)'
19. 'Roof of the World (Live)'
20. 'Love Is a Ghost (Live)'

The first CD album is their debut Grapes of Wrath and it features the #59 (UK Singles Chart) single ‘The Wheel.’ Recorded at a turbulent, yet creative time in the life of front man Brandon (who had been gaining notoriety with his band Theatre Of Hate during the beginning of the '80s, but couldn't keep a solid line-up together long enough to truly gel), the album was more of a hit on an underground level; reaching fellow musicians and artists if not the masses.

Now inclusive of a brilliant nine (9) bonus tracks comprising a rarely heard 12" vinyl cut,two cassette mixes never previously released on CD and five amazing live tracks (all featuring the original line-up), this album was the true sound of "New Wave" at the time (until the kids discovered synthesizers and shot the whole thing to shit!)

Disc 2: One Eyed Jacks
1. 'Rainmaker'
2. 'Young Men'
3. 'Everything You Ever Wanted'
4. 'Don't Turn Away'
5. 'Liberator'
6. 'Prisoner of Love'
7. 'Playground of the Rich'
8. 'Forbidden Planet'
9. 'Attica'
10. 'These Days Are Gone'
Bonus Tracks
11. 'Rosie'
12. 'Grapes of Wrath (1984 Version)'
13. 'Forbidden Planet (Single Version)'
14. 'Liberator (Dub)'
15. 'Liberator (Extended Mix)'
16. 'Rainmaker (Live)'
17. 'Don't Turn Away (Live)'
18. 'The Wheel (Live)'
19. 'Prisoner of Love (Live)'
20. 'Liberator (Live)'

One Eyed Jacks was the bands sophomore album and includes the UK singles 'Prisoner Of Love’ (#59) and ‘Liberator’ (#67). On an album where no chances were taken with their formula which meant that it barely progressed from the sounds of its predecessor, SOD brought forth the same clattering tribal drums, the same honking sax soaring through the mix, and the same near-operatic swoop of vocals and yelps seamlessly.

That said, a year of constant gigging had honed the band to perfection, and a clutch of new songs kick off with the triumphant 'Rainmaker' and just keep rising from there.

Now featuring an incredible ten bonus tracks, inclusive of another five (5) live cuts, the album is as complete now as it has ever been.

Disc 3: World Service
1. 'Rocket Ship'
2. 'Up All Night'
3. 'Come Back'
4. 'World Service'
5. 'I Can See'
6. 'All My Love (Ask Nothing)'
7. 'Mickey'
8. 'Somewhere in the East'
9. 'Once in Her Lifetime'
10. 'Harlan County'
Bonus Tracks
11. 'Last Card'
12. 'Walk in My Shadow'
13. 'Cole Younger'
14. 'Young Men (Return Of)'
15. 'Come Back (Club Mix)'
16. 'All My Love (Ask Nothing) (Extended Version)'
17. 'Come Back (Dub Mix)'

The third disc is World Service which contains the singles ‘All My Love (Ask Nothing)’ (#61) and ‘Come Back’ (#55). A brash power-pop attempt that honestly doesn't match the raw energy of its predecessors it was seen at the time as an attempt to expand on the commercial appeal of their sophomore album.

The fact is though where its immediate predecessor possessed an acerbic bite, World Service was a collection of rather more blunt homilies that just didn't hold up in the same way.

However, and now emblazoned with seven non LP B-side cuts, inclusive of a rather powerful and still fantastic to hear 'Come Back (Club Mix)' and 'All My Love (Ask Nothing) (Extended Version)', the album is definitely one for the SOD completist.

3CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'When The Sun Goes Down'
Artist - Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert

For those not in the know, Kieran Kane has been referred to as "the godfather of Americana music" for good reason.

His seminal work in The O'Kanes and Kane Welch Kaplin, as well as co-founding the independent label Dead Reckoning Records, laid the foundation for the contemporary world of Americana music.

A successful solo artist, collaborator, and songwriter (with songs recorded by Alan Jackson, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and many more), Kieran is a musician's musician: his playing is always understated, always groove-oriented, and always serving the song.

If Rayna Gellert seems a preternaturally gifted songwriter, it’s because she’s seen farther into the old songs than most.

Growing up in a musical family, she turned to Appalachian old-time music at a young age, becoming a prodigious fiddler and leading a new revival of American string band music through her work with the acclaimed roots band Uncle Earl.

An in-demand collaborator, she has toured and recorded with artists such as Scott Miller, Abigail Washburn, Toubab Krewe, and Robyn Hitchcock.

Kieran and Rayna first met, fittingly, at San Francisco's celebrated Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which led to their cowriting songs for Kieran's recent album, Unguarded Moments (Dead Reckoning).

They joined forces again for Rayna's 2017 release, Workin's Too Hard (StorySound Records), which they also co-produced. Their first duo album, The Ledges, was released in February of 2018 on Dead Reckoning Records.

Their second album together, the just-released When the Sun Goes Down, is out now and is a rather wondrous collection of ten new tracks.

1. 'Who Knows'
2. 'Bells & Clover'
3. 'Ain't Got Jesus'
4. 'What Would You Do'
5. 'Stable'
6. 'One Foot In The Grave'
7. 'Can't Live Without You'
8. 'Ghost'
9. 'Not The Time'
10. 'Shoulda Been Done'

The album begins with the laid back, porch-burnt 'Who Knows' and backs that up seamlessly with the faster paced both 'Bells & Clover' and the late night vibe of 'Ain't Got Jesus.'

Bringing the tempo down for 'What Would You Do,' Gellert takes the vocal lead here and showcases her stunningly emotive voice perfectly. Next up is the vibrant 'Stable' and that's followed by the free flowing 'One Foot In The Grave.'

Recorded live at home, When the Sun Goes Down captures the duo's grounded, restrained playing and singing with a shimmering intimacy. Perhaps none more so than on the heartbreaking sentiment of 'Can't Live Without You,' that's backed by the poignant 'Ghost.'

Inclusive of guitar, fiddle, banjo, and octave mandolin — in combination with their deeply affecting vocal blend — the album then rounds out with the upbeat duo of 'Not The Time' and the fun 'Shoulda Been Done.'

Complete with beautifully created compositions, expert instrumentation and a blend of voices that come across as fresh, gentle and thoroughly uplifting, Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert are two extraordinarily talented musicians.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Ledges'
Artist - Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert

For those not in the know, Kieran Kane has been referred to as "the godfather of Americana music" for good reason.

His seminal work in The O'Kanes and Kane Welch Kaplin, as well as co-founding the independent label Dead Reckoning Records, laid the foundation for the contemporary world of Americana music.

A successful solo artist, collaborator, and songwriter (with songs recorded by Alan Jackson, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and many more), Kieran is a musician's musician: his playing is always understated, always groove-oriented, and always serving the song.

If Rayna Gellert seems a preternaturally gifted songwriter, it’s because she’s seen farther into the old songs than most.

Growing up in a musical family, she turned to Appalachian old-time music at a young age, becoming a prodigious fiddler and leading a new revival of American string band music through her work with the acclaimed roots band Uncle Earl.

An in-demand collaborator, she has toured and recorded with artists such as Scott Miller, Abigail Washburn, Toubab Krewe, and Robyn Hitchcock.

Kieran and Rayna first met, fittingly, at San Francisco's celebrated Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which led to their cowriting songs for Kieran's recent album, Unguarded Moments (Dead Reckoning).

They joined forces again for Rayna's 2017 release, Workin's Too Hard (StorySound Records), which they also co-produced. Their first duo album, The Ledges, was released in February of 2018 on Dead Reckoning Records, with the follow up, When the Sun Goes Down scheduled for release in March of 2019.

1. 'Wouldn’t Be the First Time'
2. 'Cold Air'
3. 'I Don’t Know Why'
4. 'Go Forth & Multiply'
5. 'Miles'
6. '15 Acres'
7. 'You Don’t Know Me'
8. 'Where’s My Baby'
9. 'One More Time'
10. 'I Wanna See Something New'
11. 'Take Your Burden to the Lord'

The album begins with the gentle beauty 'Wouldn’t Be the First Time' and backs that up with the mystic ambiance bounce of 'Cold Air' and the love song 'I Don't Know Why.'

Turning the tempo up for the finger-snappin' 'Go Forth & Multiply', Gellert then takes the vocal lead on the shimmering ballad 'Miles.' Showcasing her stunningly emotive voice perfectly it has to be said that the way they set their melodies atop such gorgeous rhythms is perfection personified.

Recorded live at home in the cabin pictured on the front cover art, Kane takes the lead on '15 Acres' with the tempo being raised thereafter for the duo of 'You Don't Know Me' and the banjo-driven 'Where's My Baby.'

Inclusive of guitar, fiddle, banjo, and octave mandolin — in combination with their deeply affecting vocal blend — the album then rounds out with beautiful, porch swinging on a late summer's night 'One More Time,' the vibrant 'I Wanna See Something New,' and then the Gospel-fed 'Take Your Burden To The Lord'.

Complete with beautifully created compositions, expert instrumentation and a blend of voices that come across as fresh, gentle and thoroughly uplifting, Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert are two extraordinarily talented musicians.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Ain't No Storm'
Artist - Tony Lucca

For those not in the know, the Detroit-born and now Nashville-based singer-songwriter Tony Lucca is an American singer, songwriter, producer, and actor perhaps best known for starting his career on The Mickey Mouse Club.

After the Mickey Mouse Club, Lucca went to Los Angeles, California, for a brief career as an actor, then became a full-time musician.

He is a consistent touring artist and has toured with a multitude of acts, including Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, *NSYNC, Marc Anthony, Josh Hoge, Sara Bareilles, Matt Duke, Tyrone Wells, and the late Chris Whitley.

He also finished in third place on the second season (2012) of the American reality television singing competition talent show, The Voice, broadcast on NBC.

Having released ten solo albums, three live albums and many EPs since 1997's So Satisfied, Lucca now brings to us his 11th studio album, the quite stunning Ain't No Storm (Off The Record Music).

1. 'Everything's Changing'
2. 'Come Around'
3. 'One Less You'

4. 'Frame By Frame'
5. 'Restless Heart'
6. 'Empty Handed Blues'
7. 'Room With A View'
8. 'Other Side Of The Clouds'

With Ain't No Storm finding Lucca embracing his musical gift of highly crafted songwriting, this brand new album - which took more than two years to bring to the fore - kicks off with 'Everything's Changing,' an Americana-vibed track of the highest order.

Next up is the acoustic and electric guitar balance of 'Come Around,' which in turn is seamlessly backed by both the atmospheric, stirring 'One Less You' and the youthful flashback within the storytelling of 'Frame By Frame.'

"This is about as honest an album as I could ever make," Lucca admits. "There were very few takes of each song even recorded. Most of the vocals were recorded right along with the acoustic guitar. There was minimal editing and very few overdubs."

That sentiment shines through track after track, especially on my own personal favorite, the soaringly alive 'Restless Heart.' Up next is the raw vocal and sparse instrumentation found on 'Empty Handed Blues' which is followed by mid-tempo hipsway delight 'Room With A View.'

The album then rounds out with those Americana blues seeping through once again on the uplifting, sentiment-inspired 'Other Side Of The Clouds.'

So, asked how he would describe this new album and his sound to someone who hadn't heard it before, Lucca quickly replies, "Refreshingly familiar." Amen, my brother. Amen.

Tony Lucca @ Facebook

Tour Dates 2019:
2/4/2019 - Nashville, TN / Cambria Hotel
2/8/2019 - Kitty Hawk, NC / Jack Brown's
3/4/2019 - Nashville, TN / Cambria Hotel
3/15/2019 - Charlotte, NC / Evening Muse
3/16/2019 - Greensboro, NC / Backyard Stage
3/22/2019 - Decatur, GA / Eddie's Attic (w/Eliot Bronson)
3/23/2019 - Decatur, GA / Eddie's Attic (w/Eliot Bronson)
4/1/2019 - Nashville, TN / Cambria Hotel
4/23/2019 - New York, NY / Rockwood Music Hall (w/Dan Rodriguez)
4/24/2019 - Philadelphia, PA / World Cafe Live (w/Dan Rodriguez)
4/25/2019 - Vienna, VA / Jammin' Java (w/Dan Rodriguez)
4/26/2019 - Boston, MA / City Winery Haymarket (w/Dan Rodriguez)
4/27/2019 - Schenectady, NY / The Van Dyck
4/28/2019 - Basking Ridge, NJ / Ross Farm
5/6/2019 - Nashville, TN / Cambria Hotel
5/29 - 6/2/2019 - Kill Devil Hills, NC / Pat McGee's Down The Hatch

Title - 'Girl In A Million: The Complete Recordings'
Artist - Twinkle

For those not in the know, Lynn Annette Ripley (15 July 1948 – 21 May 2015), better known by the stage name Twinkle, was an English singer-songwriter.

Indeed, she had chart successes in the 1960s with her best known songs such as 'Terry' and 'Golden Lights'.

Housed in a plush-looking Digipak, and being released this April 26th, 2019 via RPM / Cherry Red Records, Girl In A Million: The Complete Recordings contains all of Twinkle’s Decca sides (with two stereo mixes, belatedly issued in the 1970s, making their CD debut).

Likewise, this beautifully presented 2-CD set boasts everything which followed on subsequent labels, which is definitely what all her fans have wanted for the longest of times.

CD 1: The Sixties - The Decca Recordings / The Instant Recordings / Live Recording
1. 'Terry'
2. 'The Boy of My Dreams'
3. 'Golden Lights'
4. 'Ain't Nobody Home But Me'
5. 'Tommy'
6. 'So Sad'
7. 'A Lonely Singing Doll'
8. 'Unhappy Boy'
9. 'Poor Old Johnny'
10. 'I Need Your Hand in Mine'
11. 'The End of the World'
12. 'Take Me to the Dance'
13. 'What Am I Doing Here with You'
14. 'Now I Have You'
15. 'Tommy (German Language Version)'
16. 'Terry (Stereo Version)'
17. 'The Boy of My Dreams (Stereo Version)'
18. 'Micky'
19. 'Darby and Joan'
20. 'Soldier's Dream'
21. 'Micky (Long Version)'
22. 'Sha-La-La-La-Lee (Live)'

Twinkle shot to fame in 1964 with her self-penned “death disc” Terry, which reached #4 in the UK charts and catapulted the singer to instant fame. Of course, that's the very same cut that kicks this trip down memory lane off (I wonder if "Terry" met her at the gates?), and then that's backed by the bouncy pop of 'The Boy of My Dreams' and a track that was even covered by The Smiths, 'Golden Lights.'

One of my all-time favorite Twinkle tracks is also the B-side to 'Golden Lights,' the fun and vibrantly swingin' 'Ain't Nobody Home But Me' and that's backed by both a cover of the Reparata and the Delrons' 'Tommy' and the emotive 'So Sad.'

Next up is her English version of France Gall's 'Poupée de cire, poupée de son' entitled 'Lonely Singing Doll' and that's backed by 'Unhappy Boy,' the gentle hipsway of 'Poor Old Johnny,' 'I Need Your Hand In Mine' (which was also covered in French by Agnès Loti - 'Aujourd'hui c'est ta fête'), and both the Skeeter Davis cover 'The End Of The World' and the fun 'Take Me To The Dance.'

The Decca Recordings round out with another of my favorites, the Bev Harrell classic 'What Am I Doing Here With You' and that's followed by the mid-tempo 'Now I Have You', and then some wondrous bonus tracks in 'Tommy (German Language Version), 'Terry (Galaxy Mix)', and 'The Boy Of My Dreams (Galaxy Mix)'.

Added as a great bonus assortment are four cuts from her Instant Recordings, which include the vibrant and uplifting melodies of her one-off single from that period 'Micky,' the brilliant commentary on a common British expression 'Darby And Joan,' the harmonica-driven 'Soldier's Song,' and then 'Micky (Long Version).'

The first disc then ends with a brilliant (and previously unissued) live recording of the Small Faces' 'Sha La La La Lee' that aside from being a wee bit "fuzzy" at times, still sounds as warranted today in our society as it obviously was back then.

CD 2: The President Recordings / The Bradley's Recordings & Michael Hannah LP / Later Recordings
1. 'Take the Trouble'
2. 'Michael Hannah'
3. 'Days'
4. 'Caroline'
5. 'Radio Station Lady'
6. 'Zefferelli' (aka 'Little Piece of Heaven')
7. 'I Am A Woman'
8. 'Michael Hannah'
9. 'Bowden House'
10. 'Joanna'
11. 'Ladyfriend'
12. 'Jane'
13. 'Soldier'
14. 'Smoochie' (By Bill & Coo)
15. 'Always I Love You' (By Bill & Coo)
16. 'I'm a Believer'
17. 'For Sale'
18. 'Holiday Romance (Demo)'
19. 'Summer Holiday (Demo)'
20. 'Little Piece of Heaven (Demo)'
21. 'A Song for My Son (Demo)'

The second disc opens with 'Take The Trouble' and its original B-side 'Michael Hannah,' both previously unissued tracks by Twinkle. In 1971, she recorded the former as a single for President Records, whilst the latter was written about the love of her life (and was later re-recorded during her time at Bradley’s, but remained in the can until an archive release in 2003).

Her stunning, truly stunning vocal expression on the French-inspired 'Days' is a joy to behold and that's backed seamlessly by the glam rock stompers 'Caroline,' 'Radio Station Lady,' the earnest 'Zeffirelli,' and then both 'I Am A Woman' and her re-released version of 'Michael Hannah.'

The funky bounce of 'Bowden House' is another delight and then comes 'Joanna' which is backed by the near six minute long acoustic guitar and trumpet-enhanced jazz / pop piano beauty 'Ladyfriend.' Man, if this song doesn't lay bare the her vocals to the most luxurious extreme.

Produced by Mike d'Abo, the quietly subtle, and highly poignant 'Jane' is next and then 'Soldier,' with the Bill & Coo single 'Smoochie' and it's B-side 'Always I Love You' along thereafter.

The second disc then begins to come to a close with some later recordings in the form of the Neil Diamond-written but made famous by The Monkees' cover 'I'm A Believer' (although Twinkle's version here is way more pumped up than either of their versions!) and the yearningly raw love song 'For Sale.'

Rounding out the second disc we get a quartet of demos in the form of 'Holiday Romance,' a rousing 'Summer Holiday' (a Cliff Richard and The Shadows cover), and then both 'Little Piece Of Heaven' and a truly touching 'A Song For My Son.'

The package is fully endorsed by Twinkle’s family, including elder sister Dawn, who was a music journalist in the 1960s and helped secure a recording contract for her sibling.

Dawn has written a very personal account of Twinkle’s career, offering a fresh and unique insight into her life and her music.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Book of Romance and Dust'
Artist - Exit North

For those not in the know, Exit North are Thomas Feiner, Japan co-founder Steve Jansen, Ulf Jansson and Charles Storm are a co-writing partnership first formed when Feiner worked with Jansen on his solo album Slope (2007).

In 2014 they enlisted Ulf Jansson and Charles Storm to form Exit North. Jansen, Storm & Feiner all contribute as multi-instrumentalist, Ulf Jansson on piano and keyboards with lead vocals by Feiner.

Luckily for all their fans, Exit North have just released their debut recording, the quite stunningly creative, atmospheric, and at times melancholic Book of Romance and Dust.

1. 'Bested Bones'
2. 'Short Of One Dimension'
3. 'Sever me'
4. 'Passenger's Wake'
5. 'North'
6. 'Lessons In Doubt'
7. 'Spider'
8. 'Losing'
9. 'Another Chance'

This new album traces the edges of darkness and hope across a nuanced, provocative nine song cycle and brings forth an uncompromising and unconventional debut that explores the collective psyches and diverse influences of its renowned members.

From the hauntingly stoic opener 'Bested Bones' to the gently precise orchestrations found within 'Short Of One Dimension,' on to the ethereal stirring of 'Passenger's Wake,' to the jazz-lite gossamer of 'Lessons In Doubt' and then the near 10 minute opus 'Losing,' Book of Romance and Dust is an album that not only ALL Japan fans will fall in love with, but fans of real and authentic music will too.

Official CD Purchase Link

Exit North @ Facebook

Title - 'The Final Frontier'
Artist - Nik Turner

For those not in the know, the uber talented Nik Turner is an English musician, best known as a former member of space rock pioneers Hawkwind.

Turner plays saxophones, flute, sings and is a composer and whilst with Hawkwind, was known for his experimental free jazz stylizations and, of course, his outrageous stage presence; which often meant donning full makeup and Ancient Egypt-inspired costumes!

Well, boys and girls, the space rock legend has now launched his latest solo project that goes further than any auralnaut has gone before!

Featuring all new and (highly) original songs that harken back to the sci-fi psychedelia of early Hawkwind, the just-released The Final Frontier (Purple Pyramid / Cleopatra Records) is a wondrous nine track album that you'll have on replay for days to come.

1. 'Out of Control'
2. 'Interstellar Aliens'
3. 'Thunder Rider'
4. 'The Final Frontier Part 1'
5. 'Back to the Ship'
6. 'Calling the Egyptians'
7. 'Strange Loop'
8. 'The Final Frontier Part 2'
9. 'Pad4'

From the soaring opening, drumtastic and keyboardliscious track 'Out Of Control' onward, the album is just as wonderfully space prog rock-drenched you could ever have hoped it would be.

The trippy psychedelic swirls of 'Interstellar Aliens' finds Turner at his musical finest, with the more gently building jazz-lite aspects of 'Thunder Rider' (Turner's long-running nickname!) a rather lovely discovery to behold too.

'The Final Frontier Part 1' is a passive walk back down into psychedelic way, with the more upbeat Eastern-flavored guitar sounds and beating drums of 'Back To The Ship' and the forthright energy of 'Calling The Egyptians' along next.

The longest track at nearly nine minutes is the space rock fusion beauty 'Strange Loop,' and that's backed by a short, and for the most part spoken word 'The Final Frontier Part 2' with the flute-inspired 'Pad4' rounding out his/our musical journey perfectly.

Official CD Purchase Link

Nik Turner @ Facebook

Title - Sharp Objects (Music From The HBO Limited Series)
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, Entertainment One has just released this wondrous double vinyl LP Sharp Objects (Music from the HBO Limited Series) soundtrack and musical companion to the groundbreaking summer mini-series as part of Record Store Day 2019.

The crime drama starring Amy Adams as Camille Preaker, a troubled reporter returning home to an equally troubled assignment fast became a smash hit limited series and benefited greatly from the vision of director Jean-Marc Vallée and the Emmy Award-winning music supervision of Susan Jacobs (all drawn from the original Gillian Flynn novel of the same name).

Side A:
1. Franz Waxman - 'Dance and Angela'
2. Mark Batson - 'Cupcake Kitty Curls' (ft. The Rooster Incorporated)
3. Jeffrey Brodsky - 'Glance Backwards (Dance and Angela Jean-Phi Gonclaves Remix)'
4. Jean-Phi Goncalves - 'Dance and Angela (Trip-Hop Version)'
5. Hurray For The Riff Raff - 'Small Town Heroes'

Side B:
1. Snoop Dogg - 'I Love My Momma'
2. Alison Krauss & Robert Plant - 'Through The Morning, Through The Night'
3. Emily Wells - 'Mama's Gonna Give You Love'

Side C:
1. Engelbert Humperdinck - 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You'
2. Alexandra Streliski - 'Concerto in D Minor (After Alessandro Marcello), BWV 974: II. Adagio'
3. Willie Dixon - 'The Little Red Rooster'

Side D:
1. Hurray for the Riff Raff - 'Pa’lante'
2. The Acid - 'Tumbling Lights'
3. Sylvan Esso - 'Come Down'

This Record Store Day 2019 2LP edition of the soundtrack makes its vinyl debut today and I have to say that hearing the soundtrack on such a musical format is as beautiful as one could ever hope it would be.

But wait for things can only get better for this delightful 2LP vinyl set is not only super limited to just 1500 copies, but is also created as an exclusive green swirl edition!

As for the album itself, well, the stand out point to note is that with the show having quite a few Led Zeppelin syncs within it, and with the band being notoriously selective about licensing its songs, it’s very noteworthy that Jimmy Page and company are even featured - although, funnily enough, not actually here on the soundtrack.

Containing 14 tracks @ 49 minutes in total (whereas the show itself featured more than 100 songs), this captivating album opens with Franz Waxman's 'Dance and Angela' (which plays over the opening credits).

It's a haunting piece of free flowing '30s dancefloor gentle twirling of dance partners, but weirdly, as I've since come to learn, it also serves as the only semblance between the HBO series and this musical accompaniment.

Next up we have the low-fi R&B rap 'Cupcake Kitty Curls' (ft. The Rooster Incorporated) from Mark Batson which is followed in turn by both Jeffrey Brodsky's highly evocative EDM-lite 'Glance Backwards (Dance and Angela Jean-Phi Gonclaves Remix)' and the Twin Peaksesque 'Dance and Angela (Trip-Hop Version)' from Jean-Phi Goncalves.

Hurray For The Riff Raff bring Side A to a close with their lo-fi acoustic country cut 'Small Town Heroes' and Side B begins with the heartfelt 'I Love My Momma' from a Gangsta-less Snoop Dogg.

The breathtakingly beautiful Alison Krauss & Robert Plant track (of the Gene Clark classic) 'Through The Morning, Through The Night' is next and Emily Wells's brilliant, stirring 'Mama's Gonna Give You Love' wraps up this side neatly.

Side C on the second vinyl opens with Engelbert Humperdinck's classic 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' and that's backed by the haunting piano work of Alexandra Streliski's Bach 'Concerto in D Minor (After Alessandro Marcello), BWV 974: II. Adagio' and then the great Willie Dixon with 'The Little Red Rooster' brings this side to a close.

Side D opens with Hurray for the Riff Raff's survivor anthem 'Pa’lante' (which is actually the show's end credits track), and then the album rounds out with the scarred mental state-buzz of 'Tumbling Lights' (from The Acid) and then the gossamer-vocalized 'Come Down' from Sylvan Esso.

Sadly though, this collection does not include any of the many old French classics that Amy Adams' character's dad plays time and again on his old-fashioned stereo. Hence no 'Les Moulins de Mon Coeur' by Michel LeGrand being the stand out loss here, but that's just my own personal grievance.

Digital Download Purchase Link

Amazon 'Sharp Objects' RSD 2019 2LP Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Keep On'
Artist - Southern Avenue

For those not in the know, Southern Avenue combines the talents of a prodigiously talented set of young musicians who bring their individual backgrounds to the table to create music that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century.

Spanning the band members' wide-ranging musical interests while showcasing the powerful chemistry and electrifying live show that they've honed through extensive stage and studio experience, since the release of their debut, Southern Avenue has played in over a dozen countries and wowed audiences at all their gigs.

Guitar phenom Ori Naftaly originally built his reputation in his native Israel before joining forces with deeply expressive Memphis-bred singer Tierinii Jackson and her subtly powerful drummer sister Tikyra Jackson.

The band's lineup is rounded out by versatile keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax Records' renowned music academy.

On their aforementioned self-titled 2017 debut album, the boundary-breaking Memphis combo Southern Avenue sparked a one-band musical revolution, embodying an effortlessly organic soul/blues/R&B fusion that reflects the band members' diverse roots as well as their deep commitment to their chosen style.

On their upcoming second album Keep On (coming out May 10th, 2019 via Concord Records), the dynamic outfit expands its gritty musical vision to embrace new musical challenges and a more expansive creative vision.

1. 'Keep On'
2. 'Whiskey Love'
3. 'Savior'
4. 'Switchup'
5. 'The Tea I Sip'
6. 'Lucky'
7. 'Jive'
8. 'Too Good For You'
9. 'We Are Not So Different'
10. 'We've Got The Music'
11. 'She Gets Me High'
12. 'We're Gonna Make It'

The album kicks off in some fine style with the funky horn blues title track, before heading seamlessly into both the steamy blues of 'Whiskey Love' and then the laid back underground club vibes of 'Savior' and the upbeat, vivacious funk lines of 'Switchup.'

The sultry bass lines of 'The Tea I Sip' make this one of my own personal favorites and that's followed seamlessly by both the gentle hipsway of 'Lucky,' the frenetic beats of 'Jive' and that wondrous Down South upbeat attitude of self confidence wrapped in can-do on 'Too Good For You.'

"Making this album was an interesting journey," Ori says of Keep On. "Our first album was recorded very fast and released very fast. With this one, we spent a long time planning, and we knew how we wanted it sound."

"For me, it's a big progression from the first album. The experience was completely different from making the first one," adds Tierinii. "We learned a lot about each other and a lot about the band."

The rhythm section once again comes to the fore on 'We Are Not So Different' whilst 'We've Got The Music' allows their funkier side to stand loud and proud. Another stand out cut here, its overall old school Motown R&B blues vibe is a true flashback high-five.

This incredibly vibrant, and wholly organic album then rounds out with the drum-led beauty 'She Gets Me High,' before the lush Gospel ballad 'We're Gonna Make It' is unveiled.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'California'
Artist - Den Of Ashes

For those not in the know, Den of Ashes is the name of singer/songwriter Ash.

The grandson of early country and western performers John & "Texas Peggy" Clemens (The Wyoming Ramblers, circa 1940s-1950's), they shared the stage, and had subsequent friendships with The Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Tex Ritter and Patsy Cline, amongst others.

The just-released Den of Ashes (Starry Eyed Records) - which in turn is the follow-up to his prior 2016 EP, Blackbird) - is a unique and intimate exploration into the human condition where each moody melodic song is about lost moments in time.

1. 'California'
2. 'Silver Dreams'
3. 'Easy Town'
4. 'Hangman'
5. 'Late Night Radio'
6. 'Living In My Dreams'
7. 'Sun In My Eyes'
8. 'Canyon Walls'

As much as the spoken vibe about this album has it, as aforementioned, as a collection of somewhat moody orchestrations, the opening title track defies that by being an upbeat and tour-guide savvy piece about the state itself.

OK, sure, 'Silver Dreams' and 'Easy Town' do both paint pictures of aspirations and venues that have seen better days, but then in 'Hangman' you sense a cheeky, sneaky chink in the albums makeup.

The lush storytelling of 'Late Night Radio' is one of my own personal favorites and that's followed by the more upbeat holding patterns displayed within 'Living In My Dreams.'

The album then comes to a close with a lonely salute to the bright CA sunshine and the western ache of 'Canyon Walls' thereafter.

Grammy-Award winner Lili Haydn also graces this richly authentic new album on violin along with famed pedal steel player Greg Leisz, Dan Rothschild on bass, Alex Alessandroni on piano, and Ash himself on vocals, guitar and harmonica.

Den Of Ashes @ Facebook

Title - 'Dear Marvin'
Artist - Elan Trotman

For those not in the know, saxophonist Elan Trotman has quickly become one of jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers as he continues to stand out and push boundaries as a composer, performer, teacher and recording artist.

Trotman’s playing, though inspired by Grover Washington, Jr., Kirk Whalum and Najee, displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone.

So much so that the New England Urban Music Awards, and The Barbados Music Awards both named him Jazz Artist of The Year on multiple occasions.

As a recording artist Elan has topped the Billboard Radio Charts over 10 times. As a solo artist charting songs include 'Heaven In Your Eyes' (feat. Brian Simpson), 'Tradewinds' (feat. Peter White), 'Master Blaster', 'As' (feat. Lin Rountree), 'Thoughts of Summer' (feat. Will Downing), and 'Smooth N Saxy'.

Collaborations that have topped the charts include 'Magic Men' (Marion Meadows), 'Groove Me' (Greg Manning), 'Just What You Need' (Brian Simpson), 'Smooth' (Cal Harris), and 'Ride Along' (Julian Vaughn).

Now on his just-released new album, Dear Marvin (Woodward Avenue Records), Elan brings forth a collection of ten of Marvin Gaye’s best-loved songs done in the styling that only he knows best.

1. 'Inner City Blues' (feat. Sherrod Barnes)
2. 'Got To Give It Up'
3. 'Distant Lover' (feat. Patches Stewart)
4. 'Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing'
5. 'Mercy Mercy Me' (feat. Ray Greene)
6. 'I Want You' (feat. Obadele Thompson)
7. 'Sexual Healing' (feat. “Smithsoneon”)
8. 'After The Dance' (feat. Najee)
9. 'Trouble Man' (feat. Jeff Lorber)
10. 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' (feat. Jeff Bradshaw)

Brought out to coincide with the late legendary R&B singer’s 80th birthday, the album kicks off in fine style with 'Inner City Blues.' Featuring the guitar work of Sherrod Barnes, once it starts to play you just know you're in for some incredible music here on this ten track album.

The upbeat 'Got To Give It Up' (which was also the first single released from the album and which was also the #1 most-added track on the Billboard chart that week) is next and that's backed by the late night sultry vibes of 'Distant Lover' (featuring esteemed trumpeter Patches Stewart), and the truly wonderful and vibrantly fresh 'Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing.'

A goosebump-inducing 'Mercy Mercy Me' featuring the pleading vocals of Ray Greene (Santana, Tower of Power) is up next and that's backed seamlessly by both the gentle funk of 'I Want You' (featuring rapper Obadele Thompson) and then a delightful 'Sexual Healing' (featuring Tim “Smithsoneon” Smith).

Another highlight here is the jazz-lite 'After The Dance' (featuring seminal urban-jazz flautist Najee) and then the album comes to a close with the Blaxploitation-toned soundtrack cut 'Trouble Man' (featuring Grammy-winning keyboardist Jeff Lorber) and then a funked up, foot-tappin' version of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' (featuring soul-jazz-hip hop-funk trombonist Jeff Bradshaw).

With members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra enhancing a pair of tracks with strings, this quite delightful album (which is officially now my favorite album of 2019) also includes Trotman’s core collaborators such as his former colleagues from Berklee College of Music: keyboardist Mitch Henry (Marsha Ambrosius), bassists Kyle Miles and Keithen Foster (H.E.R.), and percussionist Atticus Cole.

Elan Trotman @ Facebook

Title - 'Established 1972 NYC'
Artist - Binky Philips and The Planets

For those not in the know, Binky Philips, a life long New York babyboomer, was born a few years before Elvis changed everything!

Permanently ruined by The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Binky has devoted his life to the noise made by larynxes and electric guitars.

In fact, he spent the '70s and '80s performing, writing, and recording his own songs in the semi-legendary CBGB/Max's Kansas City band, The Planets.

For the last three decades, Binky has run East Village records stores, done radio promotion for every major record label's Rock and Alternative acts, ran his own indie record label, Dotpointperiod.

Oh, and he's also the author of "My Life in the Ghost of Planets - The Story of a CBGB Almost-Was."

Well, just released by these NYC rock legends Binky Philips & The Planets is Established 1972 NYC, which is amazingly their first album in over 47 years!

The story goes that back in August 2017, The Planets started working with producer JZ Barrell on what improbably was going to be this aforementioned debut album.

1. 'Splitsville Or Bust'
2. 'Drinking Gasoline'
3. 'Just Fine Just Fine'
4. 'Kinda Liked It At The Time'
5. 'Leave Me Hanging'
6. 'Plumbing The Depths'
7. 'Blink'
8. 'Goodbye To All That'
9. 'Sour Grapes'
10. 'Wear Out The Grooves'

With all ten tracks on this quite brilliant, and fully realized album all written by Binky Philips between 2014 and 2017, it kicks off in some style with both the thunderous late '70s punk vibe of 'Splitsville Or Bust' and the tempered 'Drinking Gasoline.'

Dirty guitars lead the way on 'Just Fine Just fine' and that's backed seamlessly by both the throat tearin', foot tappin' 'Kinda Liked It At The Time' and the drum-led Stonesesque 'Leave Me Hanging.'

Says Binky, “Over many years, I have written about ten albums worth of songs. None of them ever got past the demo stage. Perhaps, rightly so. It’s fitting that The Planets’ first ever true full-blown-production album, Established 1972 NYC, is comprised of the best songs I have ever written."

"The brand of music we play could be called Unhyphenated Rock. It’s straight up. It’s hard. It’s real. We are not Pop. We are not Metal. We are not Punk. We are not Retro. We are Rock & Roll.”

Next up is mid tempo fare of 'Plumbing The Depths' which in turn is backed by one of my own personal favorites here, the prog-lite 'Blink.' The storytelling of 'Goodbye To All That' is next before the album rounds out with the return of thunderous guitars and lyrical angst on 'Sour Grapes' and the funky dark soul, harmonica-driven backbeat of 'Wear Out The Grooves.'

CD Baby Purchase Link

Binky Philips @ Facebook

The Planets @ Facebook

Title - Clint Eastwood / Many Moods Of 'The Upsetters'
Artist - The Upsetters

For those not in the know, The Upsetters was the name given to the house band for Jamaican reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry.

The name of the band comes from Perry's nickname of Upsetter, after his song 'I Am The Upsetter', a musical dismissal of his former boss Coxsone Dodd.

The Upsetters were originally Gladdy's All-Stars, led by pianist Gladstone Anderson and it was they who originally recorded the international hits 'Live Injection' and 'Return of Django'.

The double A-side release of 'Return of Django' / 'Dollar in the Teeth' actually peaked at #5 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1969.

When other commitments prevented the All Stars from participating another band named The Hippy Boys were recruited to do the subsequent tour in the United Kingdom.

This line-up remained the studio band that is most associated with the name, going on to eventually form the nucleus of Bob Marley's backing band The Wailers.

The band included guitarist Alva Lewis, organist Glen Adams and brothers Aston "Family Man" Barrett and Carlton Barrett, on bass guitar and drums respectively.

Under Lee "Scratch" Perry's direction, the band backed Bob Marley on a full-time basis, especially with his 1969 groundbreaking works Soul Rebels and Soul Revolution.

By 1972 the Barrett brothers had joined The Wailers and Scratch brought in other musicians to replace them.

At that time the main Black Ark Upsetters became Boris Gardiner (bass), Mikey Richards, Sly Dunbar, Benbow Creary (drums), Earl "Chinna" Smith (guitar), Winston Wright (keyboards) and Keith Sterling (keyboards).

Just released via Sanctuary Records / Cherry Red Records UK is a 2CD set that includes two of the most collectable Lee "Scratch" Perry LPs of all time: Clint Eastwood and Many Moods Of 'The Upsetters'.

In 1969, Pama Records issued Clint Eastwood, a 12 track LP comprising a dozen sides from the producer’s recent catalogue, the majority of which had seen issue in the UK over the previous months as 7” singles on the company’s Camel and Punch subsidiary labels.

Disc One: Clint Eastwood
1. 'RETURN OF THE UGLY' – The Upsetters
2. 'FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE' – The Upsetters
3. 'PRISONER OF LOVE' – Dave Barker
4. 'DRY ACID' – Cool Sticky & The Upsetters
6. 'CLINT EASTWOOD' – The Upsetters
7. 'TASTE OF KILLING' – The Upsetters
8. 'SELASSIE' – Reggae Boys
9. 'WHAT IS THIS' – The Reggae Boys
10. 'AIN’T NO LOVE' – The Reggae Boys
11. 'MY MOB' – The Upsetters
12. 'I’VE CAUGHT YOU' – Cool Sticky & The Upsetters
Bonus Tracks
13. 'DOWN IN THE PARK' – The Inspirations
14. 'STRANGE WHISPERINGS' – The West Indians
15. 'HARD TO HANDLE' – Carl Dawkins
16. 'NOT ME' – The Ethiopians
17. 'FACTS OF LIFE' – The Mellotones
18. 'CAN’T GET NO PEACE' – Monty Morris
19. 'FREEDOM TRAIN' – Ernest Wilson
20. 'I’LL BE WAITING' – The Termites
21. 'ANYWAY' – Lloyd Douglas
22. 'LOVE OH LOVE' – The Inspirations
23. 'BROKEN HEART' – Busty Brown
24. 'CUT DOWN ON YOUR SPEED' – The Ethiopians

Kicking things off in style, and as a precursor to the what was to come, the sweet smooth soul reggae vibe of 'Return Of The Ugly' is still such a joyous track to behold.

One of Perry's greatest productions comes next in the form of the rude boy stance 'For A Few Dollars More' and that's backed by both the cool soul slide of 'Prisoner Of Love' (Dave Barker) and the skinhead shuffle of 'Dry Acid' (Cool Sticky & The Upsetters).

The soulful preaching of U Roy's 'Rightful Ruler' is a nice touch as is hearing Perry on cowbells for the title track, to be honest. The suede head styling of 'Taste Of Killing' is next and is followed by one of my own personal favorites, 'Selassie' from The Reggae Boys.

Next up is the brilliant 'What Is This' and the lush 'Ain't No Love' (both from The Reggae Boys), with the original album rounding out with the reggae bounce of 'My Mob' (The Upsetters) and the wicked tune 'I've Caught You' from Cool Sticky & The Upsetters.

The bonus tracks start with 'Down In The Park' (The Inspirations), a track that still sounds vibrant and fresh today, and is then followed by both the ska of 'Strange Whisperings' (The West Indians) and an ace version of 'Hard To Handle' from Carl Dawkins.

The skinhead shuffle is in full effect on 'Not Me' from The Ethiopians and that's backed by addictive highflying spirit of The Mellotones' 'Facts Of Life,' the upbeat 'Can't Get No Peace' (Monty Morris), and both the delicious 'Freedom Train' (Ernest Wilson, although it was actually first recorded by James Carr on Goldwax Records) and the massive The Termites hit 'I’ll Be Waiting.'

This first disc then comes to a close with 'Anyway' from Lloyd Douglas (and was the B-side to David Isaacs' 'Can't Take It Anymore'), the stunning vibes of ''Love Oh Love' (The Inspirations), and then both the soulful preaching of Busty Brown on 'Broken Heart' and the ruff riders vibe on 'Cut Down On Your Speed' from The Ethiopians.

With that aforementioned album proving to be an instant best-seller, Pama needed little incentive to release a second collection of Perry’s work and the following year issued The Many Moods Of 'The Upsetters'; a similarly styled collection, featuring a mix of instrumental and vocal material.

Disc Two: Many Moods Of 'The Upsetters'
1. 'EXRAY VISION' – The Upsetters
2. '(‘TIL) CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE' – David Isaacs
3. 'SOUL STEW' – The Upsetters
4. 'LOW LIGHTS' – The Upsetters
5. 'CLOUD NINE' – Carl Dawkins
6. 'BEWARE FADE' – The Upsetters
7. 'SERIOUS JOKE' – The Upsetters
8. 'GOOSY' – Pat Satchmo
9. 'PROVE IT' – The Upsetters
10. 'BOSS SOCIETY' – Pat Satchmo
11. 'MEAN AND DANGEROUS' – The Upsetters
12. 'GAMES PEOPLE PLAY' – The Upsetters
Bonus Tracks
13. 'HIT ME BACK' – Dave Barker & The Upsetters
14. 'TRIBUTE TO A KING' – Busty Brown
15. 'LENNOX MOOD' – Lennox Brown & Upsetters
16. 'YOU BETRAY ME' – Dave Barker & The Upsetters
17. 'NEVER GET AWAY' – The West Indians
18. 'FEEL THE SPIRIT' – The Upsetters
19. 'SOUL JUICE' – Busty Brown & The Upsetters
20. 'WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME' – Dave Barker & The Upsetters
21. 'RAM YOU HARD' – The Bleechers
22. 'HELLO DOLLY' – Pat Satchmo
23. 'THE RESULT' – The Upsetters
24. 'SHOCKS OF MIGHTY' – Dave Barker & The Upsetters

This second disc begins with the tight and classy 'Exray Vision' from The Upsetters which is backed seamlessly by David Isaacs' big quality tune 'Til I Can't Take It Anymore,' and a soulful organ-enhanced duo from The Upsetters in the form of 'Soul Stew' and 'Low Lights.'

The irie Carl Dawkins pops in with the low funk sound of 'Cloud Nine' with The Upsetters back for another couple adding both 'Beware Fade' and 'Serious Joke' (although I can't stand that constant "clicking" throughout the song, sorry!)

The deep-throated 'Goosy' from Pat Satchmo is up next and is backed by the gentle, yet playful bounce of 'Prove It' (The Upsetters) before Satchmo is back again on 'Boss Society' (complete with a trumpet that sounds like an elephant throughout it!)

The original album then rounds out with two more from The Upsetters in the shape of 'Mean And Dangerous' and the old school steel drums of 'Games People Play.'

The bonus tracks included start off with 'Hit Me Back' from Dave Barker & The Upsetters and that's followed by the laid back testifying ska of 'Tribute To A King' (Busty Brown), the sax-heavy beauty 'Lennox Mood' from Lennox Brown & Upsetters (the B-side of The Upsetters' 'Clint Eastwood'), and then the dancefloor swagger of 'You Betray Me' from Dave Barker & The Upsetters.

As we head into the final curve we get the rapid reggae vibe of 'Never Get Away' from The West Indians, with a trio following along thereafter from The Upsetters in the form of the playful horn bounce of 'Feel The Spirit,' the feisty chant of 'Soul Juice' (with Busty Brown), and then 'Wil You Still Love Me' (with Dave Barker).

The second disc then comes to a close with the boss groove of 'Ram You Hard' from The Bleechers, the immense 'Hello Dolly' from Pat Satchmo (which is a turnabout take on what you expect it to be!), the window's down on a hot summer's day vibe of 'The Result', and then finally the loud and proud 'Shocks Of Mighty' from Dave Barker & The Upsetters.

Both of these best-selling albums feature on this must-have 2CD set that also includes all of the producer’s work released in the UK by Pama and Doctor Bird Records between 1969 and early 1970 – their number including a handful of tracks previously unavailable on CD.

This is an essential purchase for all fans of the musical genius that is Lee "Scratch" Perry and followers of the immensely popular boss reggae sound.

Official CD Purchase Link

Lee "Scratch" Perry @ Facebook

Title - 'No Good Deed'
Artist - Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers

For those not in the know, one of the most recognized and sought-after saxophonists/vocalists, two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000.

No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and dynamic stage presence.

Indeed, she has garnered ten #1 radio hits, six Top 5 solo records and two #1 spots on the Billboard album charts and in 2014 Mindi received her first GRAMMY® nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category.

That was followed by a 2015 GRAMMY® nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo LP Wild Heart featuring Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg.

The daughter and granddaughter of working musicians, Abair continues to captivate fans while evolving her sound for in 2014, after two seasons as the featured saxophonist on the hit series American Idol, Abair released Wild Heart.

This LP showcased a compilation of grittier rock and soul tracks featuring some of the biggest names in music and to help translate this sound to her live shows, Mindi enlisted longtime friend and The Boneshakers founder Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to inject his brand of Detroit Blues Rock.

The collaboration was undeniable, and it lead to an almost immediate decision to join forces creatively.

Which is why we are here today to make you aware that Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers - featuring Abair (Saxophone, Vocals), Jacobs (Guitar, Vocals), Rodney Lee (Keys), Ben White (Bass, Vocals), and Third Richardson (Drums, Vocals) - are releasing a wonderful new album entitled No Good Deed on June 28th 2019 via Abair’s very own Pretty Good For A Girl Records.

1. 'Seven Day Fool'
2. 'No Good Deed Goes Unpunished'
3. 'You Better Run'
4. 'Sweetest Lies'
5. 'Good Day for the Blues'
6. 'Mess I'm In'
7. 'Bad News'
8. 'Movin' On'
9. 'Who's Gonna Save My Soul?'
10. 'Baby, Get It On'

The follow up to their critically-acclaimed Blues chart-topping album, The EastWest Sessions, which won 8 Independent Blues Awards including Artist of the Year, an Independent Music Award for Best Blues Song Fan Award and a Blues Music Award Nomination for Best Instrumentalist: Horn, No Good Deed kicks off the musical roadshow with the twangin' guitar and piano beauty 'Seven Day Fool.'

Next up is the foot stompin' 'No Good Deed Goes Unpunished' which is in turn backed by both the drum-led and B3 organ driven powerhaus 'You Better Run' and the heartfelt ballad 'Sweetest Lies.'

The southern dancefloor hipsway of 'Good Day for the Blues' is one of my own personal favorites here and that's followed by the Sheryl Crowesque blues funk of 'Mess I'm In' and then the stunning picked guitar work of the down low blues vibe on 'Bad News.'

The album then rounds out with some funky slap bass entwinned seamlessly with electric guitar on 'Movin' On,' a dose of low-fi gospel in 'Who's Gonna Save My Soul?' and then the foot-tappin' B3 organ, guitar, and saxophone brilliance of the Abair and Jacobs rockin' duet, 'Baby, Get It On.'

Here on No Good Deed Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers expand musically past what an expected Blues Rock album sounds like and that is going to please and excite all their fans (and music lovers, in general).

It's another chapter for this raucous powerhouse band mixing stomp your feet blues rock anthems alongside lyrical vulnerability and musical depth.

So buy your copy the moment it gets released, put it in your car, hit play, put the windows down, open the sun roof, slide your sunglasses into position and drive (safely) to wherever it is you are headed that day with a huge smile on your face and a new zest for life!

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Red Hot' [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Lola Bates

For those not in the know, 17 year-old Lola Bates is a crazy talented American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, from Los Angeles.

She is also a classically trained pianist, and has performed works by Chopin, Rachmaninov, Debussy, and many others, to audiences at myriad events; including semi-annual recitals in a college environment at UCLA since the age of five.

While continuing her classical piano studies, Bates joined local School of Rock Show Band at the age of twelve, to hone her skills as a musician and performer.

An undeniable curiosity and passion for music led Lola to study voice, electric bass, guitar, and percussion – all of which she performs on her debut album, Red Hot (out now via Human Made Records).

Leading up to the album debut and working entirely on her own, Bates wrote the music, lyrics and recorded demos for this album via a collaboration with her father, composer/producer Tyler Bates and Grammy-winning engineer/producer/mixer Robert Carranza.

Furthermore, it was a familiar experience in this setting as the young Bates was tasked at age 12 to record piano work on the Marvel franchise film 'Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.1' and again in 2017 recorded her piano work for 'Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2' at Abbey Road Studios in London with the London Symphony Orchestra!

Side A:
1. 'Still a Mess'
2. 'Hey Hey Hey'
3. 'Lost in the City'
4. 'I'm Gonna Lose You'

Side B:
5. 'Red Hot'
6. 'The F**k You Song'
7. 'That's Life'
8. 'The Day That I Walked'

The debut album, which arrived here as a wondrous vinyl LP (although they missed a trick by not producing it in red, me thinks!), once placed on the turntable (which, come on now, is the only way to listen to music) begins with the mid tempo countrified Sheryl Crowesque swagger of 'Still a Mess' and backs that up with the more frenetically paced 'Hey Hey Hey.'

With both those tracks having featured in the pilot episode of USA network’s 'The Purge' TV series, next up is one of my own personal favorites here on this quite spectacular and evoking new album, the late night underground blues/jazz piano bar vibe of 'Lost in the City' (featuring Frank Macchia on Sax).

The stunningly haunting ballad 'I'm Gonna Lose You' is next and is followed by the raucous title track 'Red Hot' (featuring David Rallicke on Trombone). The storytelling of a love gone horribly wrong is brought forth within 'The F**k You Song' (featuring Rallicke on sax and Blake Cooper on Tuba) with the joyful road trip, sun shining, windows down 'That's Life' along next (featuring Rallicke on Sax, Michael Rozon on Pedal Steel, and her father, Tyler on Banjo).

Rounding out this quite excellent smorgasbord of musical thoughts, wishes, hopes, ambitions and forthright opinions is the near six minute long, and goose bump-inducing piano ballad 'The Day That I Walked.'

Once again featuring Rallicke on Sax and Scott Seiver on Drums, it's most definitely a track that will lyrically resonate with you long after it has finished playing, trust me.

Lola Bates @ Facebook

'Red Hot' Music Video

'Still a Mess' Music Video

'Lost in the City' Music Video

Title - 'Shake, Stomp and Stumble'
Artist - Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets

For those not in the know, Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets are a fast-rising Southern California rock group and although front man Antista has known each of his band members for decades, the Lonely Streets have only been in existence for a year.

The lineup is comprised of: Antista (lead vocals, songwriter, guitar), Jessica Kaczmarek (lead guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, piano), Warren Renfrow (bass), and Jorge E. Disguster (drums, backing vocals).

Having recently unveiled their debut music video, 'Goodnight Ramona' to their highly devoted fan base the song is also the lead single from next month's Shake, Stomp and Stumble album that will be issued on LP/CD/DL via Primal Beat Records on May 17th, 2019.

1. 'Shiver'
2. 'Goodnight Ramona'
3. 'Nasty Weather'
4. 'U-Haul'
5. 'Beat Down and Broken'
6. 'They Killed Lily Bell'
7. 'Forever'
8. 'Carmelita'
9. 'Finally Say Goodbye'

This pulsating and highly emotive new album recalls the sincerity of Johnny Cash and the country-infused, socially conscious anthems of Social Distortion in equal measures, whilst always being anchored by indelible melodies, heartfelt vocals, powerful musicianship, and a steadfast sense of community.

First up is 'Shiver,' a rampant SoCal indie punk rocker that not only takes you immediately by the hand and jives you into what is to come, but is also the lyrical parlay into the album title.

The first of a duo of tracks that showcase relationships gone awry is that aforementioned catchy lead single, 'Goodnight Ramona,' and that's backed seamlessly by both the yearning of close comfort in the drum-led 'Nasty Weather' and then one of their live favorites, the spurned lovers return in the tongue in cheek 'U-Haul' (aka 'She Showed Up With The Cops In A U-Haul Van').

On an album produced and engineered by Paul Miner - whose credits include New Found Glory, Thrice, C.J. Ramone, and Lisa Loeb - next up is definitely the first of Antista's most personal lyrical forays.

The foot-tappin' 'Beat Down and Broken' is a heartfelt track he wrote upon hitting a personal low point in his life with a tribute to a fallen heroine from the hit AMC series Hell on Wheels in the boisterous 'They Killed Lily Bell' backing it up.

Then, and in tribute to Antista's school days friendship with Steve Soto (Adolescents, Agent Orange) and the fact he went on to later form Joyride with him, a cover of the late Soto's melancholic 'Forever' is a solid nod to the musician.

Rounding out the album we first get the other aforementioned relationship breakdown track in the rip-roaring 'Carmelita.' Complete with a breathtaking, mindful and cultured guitar solo from Kaczmarek the album then closes with a rather hip-shakin' view on karma in 'Finally Say Goodbye'.

Oh, and the joyous, colorful album cover art for Shake, Stomp and Stumble — which depicts a pair of rockabilly skeletons in full swing dancing abandon — was designed by Louis Perez III, the son of the famed Los Lobos songwriter/instrumentalist who shares the same name.

Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets @ Facebook

Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets @ Twitter

Title - 'In the End'
Artist - The Cranberries

For those not in the know, The Cranberries is an Irish rock band formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler; although Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O'Riordan in 1990.

The band officially classify themselves as an alternative rock group, but incorporate aspects of indie pop, post-punk, Irish folk, and pop rock into their sound.

The Cranberries rose to international fame in the 1990s with their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, which became a commercial success.

The band has sold over 40 million records worldwide and achieved five top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart (Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?; No Need to Argue, To the Faithful Departed, Bury the Hatchet, and Stars: The Best of 1992-2002) and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart ('Linger', 'Dreams', 'Zombie', 'Ode to My Family', 'Ridiculous Thoughts', 'Salvation', 'Free to Decide', and 'Promises').

In early 2009, after a six-year hiatus, the Cranberries reunited and began a North American tour, followed by shows in Latin America and Europe. The band then recorded their sixth album Roses in May 2011 and released it in February 2012.

Something Else, an album covering earlier songs together with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, was released in April 2017.

Sadly, on January 15th 2018, lead singer Dolores O'Riordan passed away in a London hotel room having been there for a recording session.

The Cranberries then confirmed in late September 2018 that they will not be continuing as a band and that they would release their final album, the upcoming In the End and disband immediately thereafter.

As Noel Hogan stated: “The Cranberries was the four of us. We don’t want to do this without Dolores. So we’re going to leave it after this.”

1. 'All Over Now'
2. 'Lost'
3. 'Wake Me When It's Over'
4. 'A Place I Know'
5. 'Catch Me If You Can'
6. 'Got It'
7. 'Illusion'
8. 'Crazy Heart'
9. 'Summer Song'
10. 'The Pressure'
11. 'In the End'

This quite wonderful, heartfelt and poignant 8th and final album from The Cranberries, and one once again produced by Stephen Street, kicks off with The Cure-esque swirly power pop 'All Over Now' (which must have also been a contender for the album title) and backs that up with both the anguish of 'Lost' and the quite brilliantly paced 'Wake Me When It's Over' ("Trying to forget, Something that you know. It hasn't killed you yet, But you cannot let it go".)

Another poignant reminder of just how good, how crisp, how devoted to her homeland Dolores' voice truly was is up next in 'A Place I Know,' and that's followed by the wondrously fluid Celtic melodies of the cry for help within 'Catch Me If You Can' and then song about coping, 'Got It.'

The signature vocals on both 'Illusion' and 'Crazy Heart' are so true to the core Cranberries tracks that they could easily have been recorded and sung back in the mid-'90s, with the forewarning of the fickleness of life on 'Summer Song' one of my own personal favorites here.

That all said, I think that the most poignant of tracks here on this quite magnificent has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, 'The Pressure.' In lyrics that I could swear rove between "When I'm feeling the pressure you make me feel so much better" and "When I'm feeling depression you make me feel so much better", it's as if Dolores is laying down her own personal mantra within the lyrics.

The album then comes to a close with more of sensitivity through poetry, her wonderful and unique voice entering our souls within the title track, 'In the End.'

“After Dolores’ devastating and unexpected passing in January 2018, we took some time out and put all plans on hold,” bandmates Noel and Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler have said. "As time passed, we began to think about how we might best honor our close friend and bandmate."

"This was a very painful process. We remembered how Dolores had been so energized by the prospect of making this record and getting back out on the road to play the songs live, and realized that the most meaningful thing to do was to finish the album we had started with her.”

Fittingly, Dolores' mother, Eileen has since said that, and I quote, "I can't think of a more fitting way to commemorate the first anniversary of Dolores' passing and to celebrate her life than to announce to the world the release of her final album with the band."

Amen, Eileen. Amen.

Rest in Peace, Dolores.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Game of Faith'
Artist - Auburn

For those not in the know, Liz Lenten formed Auburn in the summer of 1999 with their very first gig being at the jam-packed launch party of Scarlet Records (held at the salubrious and smoky Madame JoJo's in Soho) to a completely packed and enthusiastic house.

Their first EP 'Sweet Sebastian' received extensive airplay and sold out of its limited pressing within two weeks. They then teamed up with producer Tim Pettit, (Travis, Sun House and Carlene Carter) and recorded 'For Life', which also got great radio support.

The debut album Dreams was released in 2003 and Auburn toured with Sophie Ellis Bextor in the UK and Europe playing to 40,000 people along the way.

In 2005 Cry reach #5 in the indie video charts after which they took a break … to concentrate on parenthood!

Auburn reunited in 2011 to create one of the break-out releases of 2012, Indian Summer, which, of course, naturally garnered rave reviews worldwide.

In March 2013 Liz went back into the studio to write some new songs and later joined by original Auburn collaborator Mark ‘Gus’ Gustavina she took them to Nashville TN, to record with award winning producer Thomm Jutz and his team of Grammy winning musicians.

The resulting album, entitled Nashville was then finished and brought out for their adoring fans in early 2014.

In January 2015 Liz returned to Nashville, TN., and again with producer/guitarist Jutz and her fantastic Nashville musicians they recorded Mixed Feelings - which was released in 2015.

Not one to sit around aimlessly for long, in January of 2016, Liz returned once again to TJ Tunes in Nashville with Jutz and recorded 12 new songs for her Love & Promises album (which featured a duet with American troubadour Chet O’Keefe).

After a quieter couple of years on the front line, albeit it with a huge amount of work and writing going on behind the scenes, come May this year and Liz and Auburn will proudly unveil their brand new album entitled Game of Faith.

Once again recorded in Nashville, TN with the aforementioned award-winning producer Jutz, the amazing 14 track album is truly one for the ages.

1. 'Game of Faith'
2. 'Bad Girl, Good Woman'
3. 'I Don't Love Him'
4. 'I Drank'
5. 'Prosecco-fuelled Profiles'
6. 'Trinidad'
7. 'Red Velvet Pillow'
8. 'Happy Nowhere'
9. 'Misshapen Fruit'
10. 'It's Not Love'
11. 'Float To Blue'
12. 'Spoke in the Wheel'
13. 'Like I Do'
14. 'His Arms'

Featuring Liz on lead vocals, Jutz on guitars, Mark Fain on bass, Lynn Williams on drums and Britt Savage on harmonies, the album kicks off in some fine style with the laid back swagger of the title track, 'Game of Faith.'

On an album chock full of American roots blues the tracks that follow seamlessly - such as the storytelling of 'Bad Girl, Good Woman,' the lonesome admittance of 'I Don't Love Him,' and both the husky-voiced, gentle guitar-twanging reminiscing ballad 'I Drank' and the upbeat troubadour-inspired 'Prosecco-fuelled Profiles' - make this new album obviously one of Liz's most personal to date.

The vibe of the album then gets picked up for the foot-tappin' Trinidad' which in turn is backed by both the thought-provokingly quiet 'Red Velvet Pillow' and the emotional fragile, although joyful admittance of 'Happy Nowhere.'

'Misshapen Fruit' slows the roll back down before we're back rolling along the highway of Liz's gorgeous vocals on the mid-tempo roll of 'It's Not Love.' My own personal favorite track is up next in the earnest reveals found within 'Float To Blue' which is backed by the upbeat Americana ride of 'Spoke in the Wheel.'

The gently countrified 'Like I Do' is yet another gem in the musical crown that this new album wears with the whole musical adventure rounding out with the delicate, faith-inspired 'His Arms.'

Oh, and if a 14 track album wasn't enough, Game of Faith has a unique strategy-based card game that will be launched with the album! Indeed, it has been devised and designed to compliment the songs and lyrics of the material so that everyone can play their own 'Game of Faith.'

Auburn @ Facebook

Title - 'The Fermi Paradox'
Artist - Paul K

For those not in the know, Paul Kirkpatrick, aka Paul K, is a British composer, producer, musician and songwriter.

He released and performed his debut album Omertà in 2017 to great critical acclaim and digitally released his new album, The Fermi Paradox, this past November 2018.

Now out as a physical limited edition release in January 2019, this quite stunning new album has, as it has been dictated to online, a deeply rooted concept to it that, perhaps, you should know going in.

It seems that the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and the high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations formulated The Fermi Paradox perfectly.

1. 'Anomaly'
2. 'Sagan'
3. 'Ecce Homo'
4. 'The Fermi Paradox'
5. 'Twelve Billion Eyes'
6. 'Exegesis'
7. 'Embryonic'
8. 'K I C 8462852 (Boyajian's Star)'
9. 'Parallax'
10. 'Dark Matter'
11. 'F R B'
12. 'The Great Silence'
13. 'Drake Equation'
14. 'Arecibo'

Inclusive of audio samples from various cosmologists, it begins with the lushly constructed tones of 'Anomaly' which it backs up seamlessly with the dulcet piano tones of 'Sagan,' the more flowing post rock vibe of 'Ecce Home' and then the spoken word musings of the title track, 'The Fermi Paradox.'

The heartache of an effortless space is brought forth within 'Twelve Billion Eyes,' whereas one of my own personal tracks, the prog rock of 'Exegesis' uplifts the mood greatly. The stoic piano of 'Embryonic' is truly beautiful to behold and that's backed by the space-fluid 'K I C 8462852 (Boyajian's Star).'

The lightly industrial 'Parallax' is then followed by both the atmospheric piano and drum-backed 'Dark Matter' and then the heartfelt piano work of 'F R B.' The stirring 'The Great Silence' is yet another stand out track and then the album comes to a close with the mathematical spoken word 'Drake Equation' and then the haunting 'Arecibo.'

Paul K @ Facebook

Paul K @ YouTube

Title - 'Left Unsaid'
Artist - Tapio Ylinen + Tatu Rönkkö & Miikkael Anttila

For those not in the know, Tapio Ylinen is not only the founder of Eclipse Music but is also a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.

In his songs Tapio channels together the sensitivity of the great singer-songwriters with classic rock sounds, blues guitar and a touch of progressive rock styles.

Educated in both music and the dramatic arts he is an expert storyteller both musically and lyrically.

Released in 2012, his debut album Nuoruus is a true solo effort with Ylinen playing all instruments himself. He followed that up with Brother Come Back (2015) and then his Eläimistä ja Kuolemasta (EP) in 2016.

In addition to his solo work Ylinen is a member of two other bands in the Eclipse Music artist roster: Juhani Valkama’s ensemble and folk rockers Tammela 33100.

Oh, and he also plays guitar with the Pink Floyd tribute band PULSE and works as a freelance radio host.

Tapio's latest album is the quite brilliant storytelling of Left Unsaid and features both Tatu Rönkkö and Miikkael Anttila alongside him.

1. 'Bright Young Star'
2. 'Brother Come Back'
3. 'Life Of A Bird'
4. 'The Great Gamble'
5. 'Noble Heart'
6. 'Snake In The Grass'

This wondrous, earthy new 6-track album begins in fine style with the troubadour reminiscing of 'Bright Young Star' and backs that up with the guitar rock of 'Brother Come Back.'

The beautiful drum-led 'Life Of A Bird' is a most elegant work of music art and, perhaps, one of the best pieces I have heard within this genre in the past decade, and that's followed by the slap bass joy of 'The Great Gamble.'

The new release then rounds out with the melodic yearnings of 'Noble Heart' with the songster once again at his finest balladeer self on 'Snake In The Grass.'

Tapio Ylinen @ Facebook

Title - 'Crickets'
Artist - Phil Madeira

For those not in the know, Phil Madeira is a Nashville-based musician, artist, songwriter and producer.

Phil has been a behind-the-scenes shaker and mover as a band member (Emmylou Harris; Red Dirt Boys, Buddy Miller, The Phil Keaggy Band) and session musician/songwriter (Alison Krauss, Mat Kearney, Old Crow Medicine Show, Buddy Miller, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Keb' Mo', Amy Grant, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Civil Wars, Julie Miller, The Band Perry, Mavis Staples, and many more) for many years now.

Indeed, Madeira has recorded seven solo albums (inclusive of this brand new one being reviewed today) and has received the Nashville Music Award (Nammy) for Best Keyboardist in 2000. Phil’s first instrumental record, the aforementioned seventh solo album of his career, Crickets is out now (April 26, 2019 via Mercyland Records) and goes down the jazz path; without getting over anyone’s head.

Hearkening back to '50s and '60s piano based jazz, the record features: Aaron Smith - drums; Chris Donohue - bass; James Hollihan - guitar; Rahsaan Barber - sax; Roland Barber - brass, and Phil on piano.

1. 'Sirkka's Dream'
2. 'Cut It Out'
3. 'Cricket'
4. 'Teamwork Salad'
5. 'Rollin' With Oti'
6. 'Last Call At Bovi's'
7. 'Swingset'
8. 'In Walked Willis'
9. 'Jazz Hands'
10. 'Coming Home'

After having admitted that after his return to piano on his last album (Providence) that he had decided to record an instrumental record, this quite spectacular new album (called Crickets as in "not a word") begins with the quietly free flowing 'Sirkka's Dream' and backs that up with the more breezy tones of 'Cut It Out' and then comes the polished, dedicated tones of the title track 'Cricket.'

Up next is the finger-snappin' jam 'Teamwork Salad' which is followed by both the more structured 'Rollin' With Oti' and the quieter, late night jazz club appeal of 'Last Call At Bovi's.

The upright swing of the aptly entitled 'Swingset' is one of my own personal favorites here and is showcases Phil's nibble piano work splendidly.

The melodic groove of 'In Walked Willie' is next, with the fun jive approach to 'Jazz hands' and then the instrumental prowess of 'Coming Home' rounding the album out majestically.

"To be honest, I didn't mean to make an instrumental record, never mind a jazz album," Phil has since said. "I just had the itch to record with some friends."

"I'm not a trained musician, but whenever I sit down to play the piano, something like jazz happens. When I played some of this music for a few intimate friends, the response was unanimous - "This music needs to be heard"."

Phil Madeira @ Facebook

Official SIGNED CD purchase Link

Title - 'Never Is Now'
Artist - Skold

For those not in the know, Skold is Tim Sköld, a Swedish musician and record producer, who in addition to producing solo work, has also collaborated with multiple musical groups including Shotgun Messiah, KMFDM, Marilyn Manson and Motionless in White.

Swedish born multi-instrumentalist Sköld, the creative force behind his namesake industrial metal project, has been one of few lasting Swedish music exports since the 1980s as front man for one of that country’s earliest and more successful metal bands, the aforementioned Shotgun Messiah.

After the suspension of that outfit in the mid-90s, Sköld struck out on his own and released the debut album for his industrial metal project, the self-titled Skold album, in 1996.

The album was hailed as a triumph with songs such as 'Chaos' and 'Hail Mary' landing in major motion pictures as well as mainstream video games.

Since then, Sköld has gone on to work in a numerous other major bands, becoming a permanent member of the aforementioned KMFDM and Marilyn Manson as well as playing live with Taime Downe’s The Newlydeds and Nivek Ogre’s Ohgr; all the while composing, performing, and producing for other artists.

Never Is Now is the much anticipated follow-up to 2016’s The Undoing and perfect for all fans of industrial metal. Released this April 5th, 2019 via Cleopatra Records, to my mind, this is easily Skold's finest work to date and showcases a new masterpiece from a master musician.

1. 'Never Is Now'
2. 'Small World'
3. 'Pharmaceuticals'
4. 'Roses'
5. 'Please Remain Calm'
6. 'Ravenous'
7. 'In Another Life'
8. 'This Is The End'
9. 'Idle Hands'
10. 'Temple Of Rage'
11. 'Be Brave'
12. 'American Bluff'
13. 'This Is What You Get'
14. 'Insatiable'
15. 'And So'

It begins with the earthy bass beat tones of the title track, 'Never Is Now' and backs that up with the searingly industrial 'Small World' and the lesser-cursive 'Pharmaceuticals.' The melodic 'Roses' is then followed by the gently pulsating 'Please Remain Calm,' the head-spinning 'Ravenous' and then the mid-'80s synth trip of 'In Another Life.'

The wickedly powerful orchestrations of both 'This Is The End' and 'Idle Hands' make for a great mid-section with the foot-stomping 'Temple Of Rage' up next. Complete with an exilerating guitar solo that's backed by more '80s-esque synth work on both 'Be Brave' and especially 'American Bluff.'

This incredible, sensory album then rounds out with more poignant synth work, albeit more of the mid-'90s feel within 'This Is What You Get,' before the Skold backbone gets heated up for the EDM-vibed 'Insatiable' and then comes the hauntingly poetic album closer, 'And So.'

Skold @ Facebook

Official CD purchase Link

Title - 'Re-Ignition'
Artist - TANK

For those not in the know, veteran British metal group TANK will release their new album, Re-Ignition on April 26th, 2019 via Cleopatra Records.

TANK were formed in 1980 by Algy Ward, a former member of The Damned with the band being known as part of the new wave of the British heavy metal movement.

Indeed, TANK was often compared to Motörhead as both bands, trios fronted by singing bassists, played a loose, almost punk-styled metal music with often colorful lyrics.

This rip roaring new album is a tribute to the early days of TANK and features 11 classic TANK songs chosen from the first four albums; which were originally released in the early '80s: Filth Hounds Of Hades, Power Of The Hunter, This Means War and Honour And Blood.

Furthermore, and led by guitarists Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans Re-Ignition also features two very special guest appearances.

Cradle Of Filth front man Dani Filth and thrash legend Tom Angelripper of Sodom both add their own unique style and energy to this already formidable album.

1. 'Walking Barefoot Over Glass'
2. 'Power of the Hunter' (feat. Tom Angelripper)
3. 'Just Like Something from Hell'
4. '(He Fell in Love With A) Stormtrooper'
5. 'This Means War'
6. 'Shellshock' (feat. Dani Filth)
7. 'W.M.L.A.'
8. 'Honour and Blood'
9. 'Blood, Guts and Beer'
10. 'Echoes of a Distant Battle'
11. 'The War Drags Ever On'

The album bursts into life with the thunderously melodic 'Walking Barefoot Over Glass' and backs that up brilliantly with the death metal roll of 'Power of the Hunter' (feat. Tom Angelripper) and then the majestical synth prog speed rock of 'Just Like Something from Hell.'

They go back to the power guitars for both '(He Fell in Love With A) Stormtrooper' and 'This Means War' with the brilliant death metal of 'Shellshock' (feat. Dani Filth) bringing a wondrous high point to this new work of musical art.

The drum-led, foot-stompin' 'W.M.L.A.' is along next with ferociously-paced 'Honour and Blood' and then the orchestrated rock guitar frenzy of 'Blood, Guts and Beer' is brought forth.

The album then rounds out with a storming Judas Priestesque 'Echoes of a Distant Battle' and then the album comes to a close with the expansive prog rock yearnings of 'The War Drags Ever On.'

"Many of the songs from those classic albums are still present in our live set and we are constantly being asked by our fans if we would ever consider re-recording any of them," says TANK guitarist Mick Tucker.

Those original recordings are timeless and will always be there but we thought what harm can it do to give them a full metal makeover and inject new life into them. They deserve it!"

Official CD purchase Link

Title - 'Hammer of Justice' [CD/DVD]
Artist - THOR

For those not in the know, THOR actually started out as a concept band in 1973.

They were first called Centaur and then Mikl Body Rock, both of which were the brainchild of Jon Mikl, a vocalist, musician and body building champion who won titles such as Mr. USA and Mr. Canada.

It was around that time that Mikl decided to combine muscle with music and thusly, Mikl Body Rock toured throughout North America seeking fame and to garnish enough attention to secure a record deal (which, of course, they did).

At the time the press dubbed them "Kings of Muscle Rock" or "Warriors of Gladiator Rock" and Mikl and his band loved every second of it.

Well, the God of Heavy Metal Thunder, THOR, swings his mighty hammer once again by unleashing a storm of killer metal riffs and thundering rhythms on their epic new album, Hammer of Justice.

Released April 26th, 2019 via Dead Line Records (Cleopatra Records), this powerful 11 track CD also includes a special bonus DVD with a feature length documentary “The Return Of The Thunderhawk” - which picks up where the previous documentary “I Am Thor” left off!

1. 'Beginning of the End'
2. 'Warp 5000'
3. 'Return of the Thunderhawk'
4. 'Victory'
5. 'As the Dragon Flies'
6. 'It's Our Right'
7. 'Beyond the Wall'
8. 'Destroyinator'
9. 'Hammer of Justice'
10. 'Wötan'
11. 'The End'

"The Return of the Thunderhawk" Documentary

As Vikings would do when they went into battle, THOR have once again brought forth an album chock full of sing-along anthemic metal tracks with heavy riffs on the mighty Hammer of Justice.

When you hear the first songs break through here ('Beginning of the End,' 'Warp 5000' and 'Return of the Thunderhawk') you instantly know what you are in for and just how little Mikl has lost in his vocal power.

In truth, and having now listened to this album twice back-to-back (my favorites tracks the duo of 'Beyond the Wall' and the quite brilliant 'Destroyinator'), THOR are still as awesome a band as ever was let loose from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

And given that they have been releasing albums and rocking concert halls since 1973, well, is it any wonder that this album is one of the most fun, most powerful, most deliberately strident to have been released in the past decade?

As for the DVD documentary included on this 2-Disc set, “Thunderhawk picks up where ‘I Am Thor' left off," Mikl himself explains. "I Am Thor followed my life in the rock business, as a youth and moving forward through the years."

"Through all the ups and downs, the obstacles, the triumphs, the losses and the triumphs again. The movie ended off where I didn’t know if I was going to continue to perform anymore."

"I was kind of thinking of getting out of the business, but what happens is I continue. That’s where the cameras follow me on a worldwide tour with return of the Thunder Hawk."

"Also I pick up a new band of younger guys. A lot of strange and crazy things happen to us on that tour so it’s uh you know, one story ends and other one picks up.”

Official CD purchase Link

Title - 'Henosis'
Artist - Joep Beving

For those not in the know, Joep Beving is a Dutch composer and a pianist.

Beving studied Public Administration before going on to then work in the advertising business, where he was mainly responsible for the music of numerous commercials.

He also composed soundtracks for the short films Hortum (2010) and Het cadeau (2015) and in 2015 Beving released his first album, Solipsism; with modern classical atmospheric piano pieces.

He himself describes his compositions as "accessible music for complex emotions" which seems highly accurate once you listen to his work, in truth.

In 2017 his second album, Prehension, appeared in a similar style to his debut album with Conatus coming along next in 2018.

On April 5th, 2019 Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company, will release Henosis, Beving’s closing chapter in a trilogy of albums; marking the end of an intensely personal four-year spiritual and philosophical exploration.

“This is my journey, and my search for understanding,” says Beving, and I believe that the answers are much more on the inside.”

“So this journey, in a way, is also an internal one. My hope is to give people a space to be in for a couple of minutes or hours where they feel things just seem to be right; like a recognition that they’re understood or that they can just be.”

CD 1:
1. 'Unus mundus' (4:18)
2. 'Into The Dark Blue' (3:39)
3. 'Whales' (2:12)
4. 'Sirius' (1:35)
5. 'Shepherd' (7:22)
6. 'Orvonton' (5:02)
7. 'Sol And Luna' (5:52)
8. 'Klangfall' (6:15)
9. 'Philemon' (3:01)
10. 'Noumenon' (5:37)
11. 'Saudade da Gaia' (3:59)
12. 'Apophis' (7:05)

CD 2:
1. 'Aeon' (5:48)
2. 'Implikigo' (2:25)
3. 'Venus' (3:55)
4. 'Anima' (2:38)
5. 'Adrift In Aether' (4:04)
6. 'The One As Two' (5:15)
7. 'Henosis' (6:45)
8. 'Anamnesis' (3:37)
9. 'Nebula' (9:43)
10. 'Morpheus’ Dream' (2:15)

On Henosis, the acclaimed Dutch composer/pianist who rose to eminence in 2015 thanks to millions of streams of the aforementioned contemplative, atmospheric album, Solipsism, continues his minimalist and at times romantic style of writing, but this time explores new territories.

The first disc begins with the delicate workings found within the opening track of wonderment 'Unus mundus' before seeping gently into the quietly pensive, yet forward thinking first single from the album, 'Into The Dark Blue.'

Moving through the album it's truly hard to just pick out the so-called "best bits" as each track is seamlessly woven into the next in such an exquisite manner that this 2CD set is, for all intents and purposes, one large spectacular opus.

As noted above, the new album sets itself in motion from where his sophomore album, Prehension, left us; the warm intimate sound of the Schimmel piano Beving inherited from his grandmother resonating throughout.

Tracks such as the haunting 'Sirius,' the open bare ambiance of the quiet stunning 'Shepherd,' and the playful, yet pensive 'Klangfall' all bring a sense of understanding to the work, before the second disc is brought forth.

The stern 'Aeon' is backed by the delicate low hum of 'Implikigo' which in turn is followed by the inner ache of 'Venus.' Continuing onward and tracks such as the dulcet 'The One As Two,' the passion of the near ten minute 'Nebula' and then the thoughtful album closer 'Morpheus’ Dream' all showcase why Beving is now one of the most streamed pianists in the world.

With the help of producer Gijs van Klooster and through collaborations with Cappella Amsterdam, Echo Collective and Maarten Vos, Beving opens up new musical worlds using orchestral and electronic sounds alongside the familiar piano.

Amazon Purchase Link

Joep Beving @ Facebook

Title - 'The New York Concert: Mozart, Fauré, Dvorák'
Artist - Evgeny Kissin & Emerson String Quartet

For those not in the know, Evgeny Kissin is a Russian classical pianist who has been a British citizen since 2002 and an Israeli citizen since 2013.

Indeed, he first came to international fame as a child prodigy. He has a wide repertoire and is especially known for his interpretations of the works of the Romantic era, particularly those of Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

He is commonly viewed as a great successor of the Russian piano school because of his virtuosity and powerful key touch.

Furthermore, when the great pianist Kissin makes a rare foray into chamber music when he partners with the Emerson String Quartet you immediately know you are in for a sumptuous musical treat.

So here on the just-released 2CD set The New York Concert: Mozart, Fauré, Dvorák (via Deutsche Grammophon) from the aforementioned and highly renowned Evgeny Kissin & Emerson String Quartet, the serious tone, flashes of drama, and technically challenging roles Mozart assigns to each player makes his Piano Quartet in G Minor — the first notable work for this combination of instruments — a simply groundbreaking composition.

Opening with the stern, precise keyed storytelling of an era within the beauty of 'Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478 - 1. Allegro,' he moves seamlessly into the sweeping majesty of 'Andante' and then the raptures found within 'Rondo, Allegro monerato' in such a way that I could sit and listen to this one piece over and over.

Fauré's quartet is high spirited with an abundance of lyricism, passion, and an especially robust role for the pianist. This work opens with the cultured stance of the day found within 'Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15 - 1. Allegro molto moderato' before finding its way into both 'Scherzo, Allegro vivo, the stern embers of 'Adagio,' and the passionate, yet restrained 'Allegro molto.'

Striking melodies, vigorous rhythms, great depth of feeling, and hints of Czech folk music are the Dvoøák trademarks present in his large-scaled quintet and they all seep through immediately on the opening 'Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81, B. 155 - 1. Allegro, ma non tanto.'

A simply divine piece it is yet another that starts slow, builds, then jumps into gear sooner rather than later. The power of 'Dumka, Andante con moto,' the vibrant 'Scherzo (Furiant),' and then the hauntingly beautiful 'Finale, Allegro' makes this a wondrous opening to the second disc included in this new release.

The album itself then rounds out with the bonus Encore of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Quintet in G minor op. 57 'Scherzo Allegretto,' which in and unto itself features some fearfully dark moods, but overall is still such a free flowing endeavor of gravitas.

Amazon Purchase Link


Title - 'Shock'
Artist - Tesla

For those not in the know, Tesla is an American rock band formed in Sacramento, California in late 1981 by bassist Brian Wheat and guitarist Frank Hannon as Earthshaker, and later City Kidd.

Lead vocalist Jeff Keith, drummer Troy Luccketta, and guitarist Tommy Skeoch joined them by 1984 and by 1986 the band had changed from its glam-derived sound to a 'rootsier' direction under a new name: "Tesla".

In 1996, the band disbanded, with members devoting themselves to solo projects, but in 2000 they reformed; with Tommy Skeoch departed the band in 2006 and being replaced by Dave Rude.

Having sold over 15 million albums in the United States alone, Tesla (Brian Wheat – Bass / Keyboards / Piano / Backing Vocals; Frank Hannon – Guitars / Backing Vocals; Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals; Troy Luccketta – Drums / Percussion; and Dave Rude – Guitar / Backing Vocals) are back once again with the just-released new studio album, Shock (out via UMe).

Having enjoyed international chart, radio, and tour success for nearly 35 years, their new release (and their 8th studio album to date) is comprised of 12 new tracks and is produced and co-written by Phil Collen (Def Leppard).

1. 'You Won't Take Me Alive'
2. 'Taste Like'
3. 'We Can Rule The World'
4. 'Shock'
5. 'Love Is A Fire'
6. 'California Summer Song'
7. 'Forever Loving You'
8. 'The Mission'
9. 'Tied To The Tracks'
10. 'Afterlife'
11. 'I Want Everything'
12. 'Comfort Zone.'

Kicking off with the pounding Leppardesque 'You Won't Take Me Alive' it's obvious from the off that the aforementioned involvement of Phil Cohen means that the album is very Def Leppard-affected.

That seeps immediately into the vocals and chorus line of the raucous 'Taste Like' that has Frank Hannon's vocals coming through as if they were being filtered through a Joe Elliott microphone.

The euphoric piano ballad 'We Can Rule The World' is nice and backed by the title track, the foot-tappin' 'Shock' with more Leppardesque vibes pouring through on another power ballad 'Love Is A Fire' and the sunshine bounce of the Kid Rockesque 'California Summer Song.'

Yet another ballad is brought forth on the low key 'Forever Loving You,' which is backed by both the mid-tempo rock of 'The Mission' and then the flashpoint markings of the thunderous 'Tied To The Tracks.'

The musical free for all within 'Afterlife' is next, with the album rounding out with the guitar fest of 'I Want Everything' and then the slap fuzzy bass work of the stand out Leppardesque embodiment, 'Comfort Zone.

In truth, some fans will be put off by this album because it is very overly polished and oozes so much Def Leppardesque moments that it might as well be their new album!

The rockers such as 'You Won't Take Me Alive' and 'Tied To The Tracks' are a wee bit more the old Tesla we know and love' and together with the cool groove of 'Comfort Zone' does manage to pump the adrenaline with us for a band that could have given up a long time ago.

That said, and playing Devil's Advocate here, the hard rocking, creative, sonic, face-crushing Tesla you know and love from the '80s and '90s is definitely MIA here, sorry.

Personally, I cannot comprehend why they needed Phil Collen in the first place because over the years Tesla has written great songs on their own. So allowing Cohen to write and produce these songs with them has the entire album coming across as a Def Leppard wannabe project, sorry.

Not a bad thing overall, but one that might shock (all pun intended) the die hard Tesla fan once the album has begun.

Tesla are actively touring across North America, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe throughout 2019 so be sure to catch them live.

Click here to listen to 'Taste Like'

Amazon Purchase Link

Tesla @ Facebook

Title - 'Poptosis'
Artist - Fraud Prophets

For those not in the know, Fraud Prophets is a musical collaboration between drummer extraordinaire Nate Morton and multi-instrumentalist/composer Sean Halley.

Nate Morton is an American drummer and also the drummer for the house band on NBC's TV show The Voice.

In 2005 and 2006 Morton appeared on the Mark Burnett's Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova reality shows, as drummer for the House Band.

During that time he has also appeared on two CDs, Rock Star: A Night at the Mayan Theatre, and Dark Horse, released by Ryan Star.

Sean Halley has been actively making a living in some musical or musically technical form since he began playing live club gigs at 17 years-old where playing some 280+ gigs per year was not uncommon.

Oh, and that was in addition to the full-time studio life that began professionally in college, of course. In tandem to writing and performing music for himself he has also spent a lifetime on “both sides of the glass”.

Halley has produced a large number of indie pop and singer/songwriter records, sometimes playing all of the instruments save for drums.

These projects range in genre from drop B metal and roots country, to torch pop and hip hop, with nearly everything in between.

"I have made a career out of my ability to adapt to new situations," Halley freely admits, "and my constant desire to learn new things."

So, what we have here on the upcoming Poptosis (June 3rd, 2019) from the aforementioned duo is the popular and highly regarded drummer Morton melding quite magnificently with the studio guitarist, bassist, vocalist, keyboardist, and purveyor of varied stringed instruments Halley to quite magical musical effect.

1. 'I Think I Just Said That'
2. 'Scrubs'
3. 'Hoker's Journey'
4. 'Koths And Kosquitoes'
5. 'Eat A Frog'
6. 'Sad People Music'
7. 'The Phlebotokist'
8. 'Skronktastic'
9. 'The Climb'
10. 'Two Steps Back'

On a quite wonderful, breezy and yet purposely solid 10 track album of music that weaves effortlessly and seamlessly between jazz, pop, rock, and even seventies fusion with a little bit of country thrown in for good measure, Poptosis showcases two guys at the top of their profession who are still having joyous fun working together.

"This band has been something that Nate and I have talked about doing for years," Halley continues, "removing the need to fit the music into clearly defined little boxes means that we're free to explore whatever we feel comfortable playing."

"There was a real sense of joy and fun when we put these tunes together - I mean, we DID start it out by drinking to a click, after all! - and I truly hope that it comes across when listening to 'Poptosis'."

"We've had a blast making it and we can't wait to take it out into the world and play it!"

CD Baby Purchase Link

Fraud Prophets @ Facebook

Sean Halley @ Facebook

Nate Morton @ Facebook

Title - 'Alternative Landscapes'
Artist - Jon Durant

For those not in the know, guitarist Jon Durant brings a unique sense of texture and melody to his chosen instrument.

His distinctive “cloud guitar” soundscapes and engaging lead work have graced numerous CD recordings and film soundtracks.

Indeed, as executive producer of Alchemy Records, he produces recordings for internationally acclaimed artists in his small Massachusetts-based studio.

Jon attended Berklee College of Music in the early '80s after having studied privately with fusion guitar legend and Emmy Award-winning composer Randy Roos.

Jon bolted before long (too much jazz for his independent, prog-rock spirit), but has kept playing and recording with Roos to this day.

Jon's brand new album, coming out May 3rd, 2019 (once again via Alchemy Records) is the 4-track work of musical art Alternate Landscapes.

1. 'Systravatn' (15:56)
2. 'Aragon' (6:56)
3. 'Ciel du Cheval' (20:32)
4. 'Dinkelsbühl' (15:11)

Beginning things with the stunning, absolutely atmospherically charged, Church organesque wonderment of 'Systravatn,' the new album clearly represents a remarkably unique approach to the guitar.

Named after, and inspired by a gorgeous lake in Iceland it showcases perfectly what is to come on the four tracks. In fact, throughout these four extended compositions, the only instrument used is a guitar - though at no time is it obvious that a guitar is being played.

I mean, as second track, the quietly stoic, always pacing 'Aragon' comes to the fore, the noises associated with the music defy your ears to even credit other instruments than the guitar are not incorporated.

As we move through the delicately pulsating, always wistful and always seeking your attention, 20 minutes long opus that is 'Ciel du Cheval' (which is French for "Horse's Heaven") and into yearning of 'Dinkelsbühl' (an historic town in Central Franconia), it's obvious that the new material includes some overt references to some of the music that inspired Durant as a teenager in the 1970s; including Tangerine Dream and Fripp & Eno.

Thus, Durant’s vision here on Alternate Landscapes is one of extensive sonic vistas, taking time to unfold but deeply engaging throughout.

At times lush and beautiful, other times dark and disturbing, but always stirring, empowering, curious and free flowing, the landscapes evolve slowly and evocatively at all times.

Simply put, Alternate Landscapes is an incredible album from a master musician and needs to be heard by a wider audience.

Jon Durant @ Facebook

Title - 'The Search For Peace'
Artist - BT ALC Big Band

For those not in the know, spontaneous, funky, and undeniably a party, the BT ALC Big Band assembles the finest musicians from Boston and beyond to create something totally original.

Featuring on Sax Pete Levesque, Rick Stone, Bill Vint, Mike Tucker, Tucker Antell, Jared Sims, and Ben Whiting; on Bones Ben Griffin, Brian Thomas, Clayton DeWalt, Jeff Hoyer, Chris Beaudry, and Angel Subero; on Trumpets Yaure Muniz, Alex Lee-Clark, Doug Olsen, and Trent Austin; and on Rhythm Ted Sullivan, Jeffrey Lockhart, Steve Fell, Sam Gilman, and Darby Wolf, BT ALC Big Band is one of the most dedicated and deserving of the spotlight bands I've heard in many a year.

Since the their formation in 2011, the BT ALC Big Band, led by trombonist Brian Thomas (BT) and trumpeter Alex Lee-Clark (ALC), has gained a reputation for hard grooving original compositions featuring the most talented jazz and funk musicians in Boston.

The BT ALC Big Band (who released their debut album, Superhero Dance Party in 2013 and then their sophomore two-volume album The Herd Sessions in 2016) draws from the big band traditions of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Thad Jones and infuses music from funk legends like James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, and The Meters, creating an undeniably unique sound, Big Band Funk.

Ya'll might have already seen Thomas in the mix with Ropeadope alum Otis Grove and Akashic Record, but now he takes the musical reins alongside Lee-Clark for their joint new album.

Indeed, on May 17th, 2019, this vibrant 19 piece original funk/soul/hip hop/jazz big band will release their simply incredible, so richly vibrant album The Search For Peace via Ropeadope Records.

1. 'Soft Shoe'
2. 'Dance'
3. 'Make It Your Job'
4. 'The Search For Peace'
5. 'Tune For Lou'
6. 'Live 9'
7. 'Paging Dr. Cooperman'

Believe me when I say that each and every track on this wondrous and so alive album is as great as this genre could ever hope to be. With each of the seven tracks inclusive of the vibe of those big bands from the '50s and '60s, BT ALC's approach here was obviously to incorporate that old-school approach to their own sound.

Ergo, what we get at times are some high-voltage energy passion plays combined with some muscled horn section layers, to rhythm sections that could lift you clean off your feet!

The result is a vintage sound of rhythm and groove - that they themselves call "big band funk" - that back in the day would have given George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic a huge run for their money!

Not so much of a tribute to those big names or even the aforementioned eras, The Search For Peace is more a willingness for these highly talented musicians to continue to push the art of the genre forward in todays society.

To bring to this new generation that feeling of uplifting, rapturous and culturally relevant, vibrant music in much the same way as when tracks such as 'Pennsylvania 6-5000,' 'Ain't Misbehavin' and 'Take The "A" Train' were first brought forth to the masses.

BT ALC Big Band @ Facebook

BT ALC Big Band @ Twitter

Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'Bully Pulpit'
Artist - Jared Deck

For those not in the know, Jared Deck was fired from his last church music job - via text message. “I was in the studio, tracking vocals for my first album, when I got the text. I remember saying, ‘I just got fired from church.’ The producer asked if I wanted to quit for the night. I said, ‘No, let’s keep going,’ hopped into the booth, and did another take.”

That defiant, never quit attitude is a lifelong theme for blue-collar songwriter, Jared Deck, and dominates his new album, the just-released Bully Pulpit.

“I had played in churches my entire life, but that megachurch was a doozy. There was this wall of deception, complete with lip-syncing and fake-playing instruments. At one point, I was required to watch video of myself and told to look ‘more real’ on stage while no actual sound came from my instrument."

"The irony was palpable. Ultimately, I hit a point of no return, and my boss told me to walk. In hindsight, I should’ve trusted my instincts instead of submitting for the good of the order.”

Deck released his eponymous debut album in 2016 to critical acclaim from outlets such as Rolling Stone Country and American Songwriter. He won First Place in the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Contest for his song, The American Dream.

However, with his follow-up record, he wanted to unmask further, include more of his influences, and open up his voice. "After the debut, I still had more to say – more stories to tell. Additionally, I’ve often compartmentalized my different musical influences; I kept the gospel at church and the country at the honky-tonk."

"With Bully Pulpit, I tore down those walls to expose a more ruthless honesty about myself, my experiences, and my reflections on the world around me.”

1. 'I Don't Know What You Come To Do'
2. 'Money Back'
3. 'Where I Fall'
4. 'Make Your Mama Proud'
5. 'Great American Breakdown'
6. 'In The Name'
7. 'Sometimes I Miss Being Lonely'
8. 'Tulsa Sound'
9. 'True Believer'
10. 'There's A Leak In This Old Building'
11. 'Over And Over'

The vibrant, uplifting 'I Don't Know What You Come To Do' is the most perfect showcase to what is to follow for if you don't have your foot a-tappin' and your fingers a-snappin' after the first chorus, well, this ain't the album for you my friend, sorry.

'Money Back' brings forth the first reveal of just how good, how clean, how impassioned Deck's vocals truly are and that's backed by the lo-fi countrified ballad duo 'Where I Fall' (a heartbreaking country tale of how tragic loss can divide a home) and the folk-tinged 'Make Your Mama Proud.'

The heat is turned back up on the Americana fire-branded 'Great American Breakdown' ("I the ain't the Devil. Just the Devil you know") and that's followed by the mid-tempo, R&B slow roll of 'In The Name.'

The beautiful ballad 'Sometimes I Miss Being Lonely' is yet another example of how good Deck's voice is a cappella, and that's backed by the another ballad in the form of the quieter 'Tulsa Sound.'

The Gospel-tinged, raise the roof vibe of 'True Believer' (a stern warning of false prophets and politicians) is one of my own personal favorites here and will have your heart pounding with energy once it's done.

That's backed by the dulcet piano ballad 'There's A Leak In This Old Building' before the album rounds out with the acoustic guitar ballad of a hymn 'Over And Over.'

From gospel shouts to country croons, Bully Pulpit showcases Deck’s road-ripened voice and allows him to put a shine to otherwise coarse subjects.

So please, in closing, purchase this new album today. Put it on at home when you are lost or busy of mind. Perhaps even get a second copy for your car to listen to on those bright, breezy summer days with the windows down, for I haven't heard an album quite as majestic, as real, as unbelievably honest as this in decades - and I wouldn't want you to miss out on it.

Jared Deck @ Facebook

Jared Deck @ Twitter

CD Purchase Link

Title - Sher-oo! / Modern Priscilla - 2CD Expanded Edition
Artist - Cilla Black

For those not in the know, Cilla Black was an much beloved English singer, television presenter, actress and author.

Championed by her friends the Beatles, she began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' and 'You're My World' both reached number one in the UK in 1964. Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between then and 1971; and an additional 8 hits that made the top 40.

In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' was the UK's biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. 'You're My World' was also a modest hit in the US, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).

In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honored this milestone with a one-off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O'Grady.

Sadly, Cilla Black died on August 1st, 2015 after a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain. The day after her funeral, the compilation album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the New Zealand Albums Chart; it was her first number one album.

This deluxe double CD set is the fourth release in a brand new series which re-issues the legendary Cilla Black’s original albums.

In this package, Cilla’s all-time favorite of all her albums SHER-OO!, from 1968, is paired with her 1978 disco fueled pop album and Cilla Black fans’ favorite MODERN PRISCILLA, which is released for the very first time on CD.

Both albums contain a wealth of bonus tracks with an incredible 21 bonus tracks in total across the package!

CD 1:
1. 'What the World Needs Now Is Love'
2. 'Suddenly You Love Me'
3. 'This Is the First Time'
4. 'Follow the Path of the Stars'
5. 'Misty Roses'
6. 'Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me'
7. 'Yo-Yo'
8. 'Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart'
9. 'Step Inside Love'
10. 'A Man and a Woman'
11. 'I Couldn't Take My Eyes Off You'
12. 'Follow Me'
Bonus Tracks:
13. 'All My Love'
14. 'Step Inside Love (Original Demo Version Featuring Paul McCartney on Acoustic Guitar) (Mono)'
15. 'Step Inside Love (First Take)'
16. 'M'innamoro (Step Inside Love - Italian Language Version) (Mono)'
17. 'I Only Live to Love You (Mono)'
18. 'From Now On'
19. 'What Good Am I? (Mono)'
20. 'Work Is a Four Letter Word (Film Version)'
21. 'Abyssinian Secret (Mono)'
22. 'Trees and Loneliness (Mono)'
23. 'There I Go (Mono)'
24. 'Time (Mono)'
25. 'Step Inside Love (Mono)'
26. 'Step Inside Love (Almighty 12" Definitive Mix)'

This first disc containing Sher-oo! was an album that Cilla herself was immensely proud of and has said that she adored making it and considered it to be her all-time favorite long play.

Indeed, it was whilst on holiday during the recording sessions for Sher-oo! that Cilla received the career defining news that manager and friend Brian Epstein had both gotten her her very own series on BBC Television, but that also he had also died from an accidental overdose.

Epstein had adored Cilla and was instrumental in changing her life by launching her career to the dizzy heights of superstardom and British icon.

Completing the sessions for the album, Cilla very much considered Sher-oo! to be her tribute to Brian. The final recording which needed to be reworked was ‘Step Inside Love’.

This was the signature tune for Cilla’s new BBC TV series and her album’s lead single as was written for Cilla especially by her friends Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

1968 was overall an extremely successful year for Cilla with her new BBC TV shows regularly commanding audiences of 22 million and both her lead single ‘Step Inside Love’ and new album Sher-oo! becoming Top 10 hits on the British charts.

As with her previous album, there is a mixture of '60s pop here, such as the wonderful, free flowing easy beauty of 'What the World Needs Now Is Love,' the upbeat infectious finger-snaps of 'Suddenly,' the gorgeous hipsway and brass band-backing of 'This Is The First Time' and standards such as 'A Man and a Woman (Un Homme Et Une Femme)' and the stand out chart stunners 'Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart' and 'Step Inside Love' all immaculately scored by George Martin.

This re-release of Sher-oo! notably includes amongst the bonus tracks, the four songs from Cilla’s 1967 EP Time for Cilla which showcase her innate ability to deliver both a soft and tender love song and an emotive power ballad.

Indeed, the bonus tracks allow for a deeper look into Cilla in that timeframe with the lead off being the lush 'All My Love (Solo Tu),' a simply show stopping 'M'innamoro (Step Inside Love - Italian Language Version),' the power of 'From Now On' and the love ballads 'Abyssinian Secret (Mono)' and 'Trees and Loneliness (Mono).'

CD 2:
1. 'Silly Boy'
2. 'The Other Woman'
3. 'Me and the Elephant'
4. 'Keep Your Mind on Love'
5. 'Putting It Down (To the Way I Feel)'
6. 'Sugar Daddy'
7. 'Opening Night'
8. 'Brooklyn'
9. 'I Couldn't Make My Mind Up'
10. 'Heart Get Ready for Love'
11. 'Love Lines'
12. 'Platform Rocker'
Bonus Tracks:
13. 'This Time I'm in It for Love'
14. 'If I Could Put You in My Song'
15. 'When You Walk in the Room'
16. 'I Wanted to Call It Off'
17. 'Songs'
18. 'Silly Boy (Paul Hulme Mix)'
19. 'Follow'

The second disc contains fan favorite album Modern Priscilla from 1978; her tenth studio album and her last for EMI.

Keeping up with ever changing musical tastes, producer Mike Hurst moved Cilla in the direction of the then popular disco style in an attempt to broaden her musical appeal. Cilla knew Mike from the early 1960s when he was a member of The Springfields with Dusty and Tom Springfield.

Modern Priscilla includes several ballads and a colorful array of up-tempo numbers – three of these were penned by Dominic Bugatti and Frank Musker who were the celebrated song-writing team behind disco anthems for The Three Degrees and Bonnie Tyler.

A pre-release teaser, the standalone disco infused single ‘I Wanted To Call It Off’ was released in July ‘77 and by December that year most of Cilla’s new album was completed.

Cilla did however return one last time to the recording studio in March 1978 when she gave two of her finest vocal performances of the decade on ‘Brooklyn’ and the hauntingly beautiful ballad ‘Songs’.

Indeed, this session turned out to be her final one under her EMI recording contract.

Bugatti & Musker’s catchy song ‘Silly Boy’ was chosen as the lead single for Cilla’s new album and was supported by performances on the BBC‘s Top Of The Pops and Cilla’s new TV special for Thames.

The final single to be released from the album was ‘The Other Woman,’ a perky upbeat, guitar-backed track that if you didn't know it was Cilla, well, you might never guess.

Overall, the album was split between disco numbers and ballads and for the most part keeps its head above water with great tracks such as the disco-thrilling 'Silly Boy,' the dancefloor sway of 'Keep Your Mind On Love,' the seductive 'Sugar Daddy,' and both 'Opening Night' and the guitar rocker 'Platform Rocker.'

The bonus tracks are a fun addition to the album, with both the Donna Summeresque 'I Wanted To Call It Off' and a stunning cover of The Searchers' 'When You Walk In The Room' leading the way.

'Silly Boy (Paul Hulme Mix)' is not much of anything compared to the original, whereas the ballad 'Songs' definitely stands out as being Cilla at her finest.

The album’s eye-catching sleeve was inspired by the work of Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha whose work Cilla adored.

This release, along with all the others in this Cilla Original Album Series is endorsed by its Executive Producer, Cilla’s son Robert Willis and comes with a 32 page booklet including extracts from a 2009 interview with Cilla, introductory essays about both albums and contemporaneous photographs from both the record company archives and the Cilla Black Estate.

Cilla Black @ Facebook!

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Cilla / In My Life - 2CD Expanded Edition'
Artist - Cilla Black

For those not in the know, Cilla Black was an much beloved English singer, television presenter, actress and author.

Championed by her friends the Beatles, she began her career as a singer in 1963, and her singles 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' and 'You're My World' both reached number one in the UK in 1964. Black had eleven Top Ten hits on the British charts between then and 1971; and an additional 8 hits that made the top 40.

In May 2010, new research published by BBC Radio 2 showed that her version of 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' was the UK's biggest-selling single by a female artist in the 1960s. 'You're My World' was also a modest hit in the US, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Along with a successful recording career in the 1960s and early 1970s, Black hosted her own variety show, Cilla, for the BBC between 1968 and 1976. After a brief time as a comedy actress in the mid-1970s, she became a prominent television presenter in the 1980s and 1990s, hosting hit entertainment shows such as Blind Date (1985–2003), The Moment of Truth (1998–2001) and Surprise Surprise (1984–2001).

In 2013, Black celebrated her 50 years in show business. British television network ITV honored this milestone with a one-off entertainment special which aired on 16 October 2013. The show, called The One & Only Cilla Black, featured Black herself and was hosted by Paul O'Grady.

Sadly, Cilla Black died on August 1st, 2015 after a fall in her villa in Estepona, Spain. The day after her funeral, the compilation album The Very Best of Cilla Black went to number one on the UK Albums Chart and the New Zealand Albums Chart; it was her first number one album.

This deluxe double CD set is the third release in a brand new series of re-issues of the legendary Cilla Black’s original albums.

In this package, Cilla’s ‘Top 5’ hit debut album from 1965, Cilla, featuring a wide array of song material and musical styles, is paired with her 1974 soft rock album In My Life, which is released for the very first time on CD.

Both albums contain a wealth of bonus tracks with an incredible 26 bonus tracks in total across the package; including the whole of the Cilla album in its variant mono version.

CD 1:
1. 'Goin' Out of My Head'
2. 'Every Little Bit Hurts'
3. 'Baby It's You'
4. 'Dancing in the Street'
5. 'Come to Me'
6. 'Ol' Man River'
7. 'One Little Voice'
8. 'I'm Not Alone Anymore'
9. 'What'cha Gonna Do 'Bout It'
10. 'Love Letters'
11. 'This Empty Place'
12. 'You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To'
Bonus Tracks:
13. 'A Shot of Rhythm and Blues (Take 2)'
15. 'You're My World (Alternate Take)'
16. '(Love Is Like a) Heatwave'
17. 'Some Things You Never Get Used To'
18. 'Goin' Out of My Head (Mono)'
19. 'Every Little Bit Hurts (Mono)'
20. 'Baby It's You (Mono)'
21. 'Dancing In The Street (Mono)'
22. 'Come To Me (Mono)'
23. 'Ol' Man River (Mono)'
24. 'One Little Voice (Mono)'
25. 'I'm Not Alone Anymore [Mono]'
26. 'What'cha Gonna Do 'Bout It (Mono)'
27. 'Love Letters [Mono]'
28. 'This Empty Place (Mono)'
29. 'You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To (Mono)'
30. 'Anyone Who Had a Heart (Mono)'

The first disc contains her debut album Cilla which showcases her diverse vocal range through an array of jazz, pop and soul tunes.

These include Cole Porter’s standard ‘You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To’, Marvin Gaye & Mickey Williamson’s soul classic ‘Dancing In The Street’ and Burt Bacharach & Hal David’s pop hit ‘Baby It’s You’.

Additionally, there are the power ballads such as ‘One Little Voice’ and ‘Come To Me’, the second of which was written especially by George Martin and Cilla’s future husband Bobby Willis.

The album peaked at #5 during an 11 week run on the UK album chart. This re-release notably includes amongst its bonus tracks ‘(Love Is Like A) Heatwave’, a session outtake originally only included in the repackaged US edition of this album, as well as ‘A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues’ from Cilla’s first ever recording session at Abbey Road Studios in July 1963.

Also included is the mono version of her breakout #1 smash hit single from January 1964, ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’, which complements Cilla’s other smash hit #1 single from 1964, ‘You’re My World’, which is also featured as a bonus track in an interesting rare ‘Alternate Take’.

A delightful album that introduced the world to the balladeering side of Cilla, the 12 tracks are definitely softer than you would expect from a grown Cilla, but all work in harmony, nonetheless.

Inclusive of the aforementioned covers and some new material a little bit of trivia here for you us that the album was originally going to be called CILLA'n'SOFIE'n'ADA after her board dogs! Indeed, she still put a nice photo of all three of them on the back of the original vinyl LP sleeve.

CD 2:
1. 'Flashback'
2. 'I'll Have to Say I Love You, In A Song'
3. 'Everything I Own'
4. 'Baby We Can't Go Wrong'
5. 'Someone'
6. 'Daydreamer'
7. 'In My Life'
8. 'Never Run Out (Of You)'
9. 'Let Him in'
10. 'The Air That I Breathe'
11. 'Like a Song'
12. 'I Believed It All'
Bonus Tracks:
13. 'Changes'
14. 'From the Inside'
15. 'Alfie Darling'
16. 'I'll Still Love You (When Every Song Is Sung)'
17. 'Baby We Can't Go Wrong (2009 Orchestral Mix)'
18. 'He Was a Writer'
19. 'Anything That You Might Say'
20. 'Little Bit of Understanding'
21. 'Baby We Can't Go Wrong (Almighty Definitive Mix)'

The second disc contains In My Life, which was Cilla’s first album not to be produced by Sir George Martin.

This new chapter in her recording career was headed up by producer David Mackay who’d had recent success with both Cliff Richard and The New Seekers.

Mackay led Cilla in a new soft-rock in their initial sessions, Cilla recorded the album’s lead single ‘Baby We Can’t Go Wrong’ which became the opening theme for the 7th series of her BBC TV variety show Cilla and a Top 40 hit.

Cilla, with husband and manager Bobby Willis and producer David Mackay, selected a diverse body of songs for In My Life that included covering many hits of the day such as Paul Anka’s ‘Flashback’, Bread’s ‘Everything I Own’, The Hollies’ ‘The Air That I Breathe’, Jim Croce’s ‘I’ll Have To Say I Love You, In A Song’ and The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ - which deservedly became the title song of the album.

This re-release features many of Cilla’s rare and much sought after singles of the seventies as bonus tracks as well as Cilla’s tender rendition of ‘I’ll Still Love You (When Every Song Is Sung)’ which was penned by her friend George Harrison.

In truth, Mackay's remit for the project was to develop a new sound for Cilla which would keep her music in tune with the current pop market.

He wanted to move away from her trademark power-ballad orchestrations and produce a soft rock record in the vein of "Step Inside Love" which he considered to be her finest work.

Opening track 'Flashback' is a disco proud standard, with tracks such as the delicate 'I'll Have to Say I Love You, In A Song,' the powerful 'Everything I Own,' and both the lead single 'Baby We Can't Go Wrong' (which only reached #36 on the UK Singles Chart) and summer's day hipsway of 'Daydreamer' true musical gems, one and all.

It was noted as being a busy time for Cilla around the release of this album and as much as the chart-topping hits had (mysteriously) dried up, she still put as much gusto and verve into each and every track.

Perhaps none more so than the Bonus Tracks now wonderfully included such as the guitar-heavy rocker that she wrote with George Harrison, 'I'll Still Love You (When Every Song Is Sung)' and Alan Price's lush 'Alfie Darling' (which was featured in the film of the same name).

As for that Cilla and George-written gem, well, word has it that Cilla originally recorded this song in 1972 with George producing but it remained unfinished so she tried it again in 1975; and this is the version that we know and love today.

The album’s eye-catching sleeve was inspired by the work of Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha whose work Cilla adored.

This release, along with all the others in this Cilla Original Album Series is endorsed by its Executive Producer, Cilla’s son Robert Willis and comes with a 32 page booklet including extracts from a 2009 interview with Cilla, introductory essays about both albums and contemporaneous photographs from both the record company archives and the Cilla Black Estate.

Cilla Black @ Facebook!

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Solide'
Artist - Shob

For those not in the know, Shob is a very talented bass player with many collaborations with fellow artists such as Roger (Biwandu-Zawinul syndicate), Patrick Rondat (G3), PapaGuyo (Sly & Family Stone), J Halliday, Charles X, Eths…), amongst others.

After the release of his debut album Pragmatism (2015) and his sophomore album Karma Obscur (2018), he is now once more coming back to the musical fore with the quite brilliant new album Solide (out May 3rd, 2019 via Inouïe Distribution/La Route Prod).

1. 'Hostile'
2. 'Primal Fear'
3. 'Vertige'
4. 'Mémoire'
5. 'La Brèche'
6. 'Solide'
7. 'Turbo Zulu'
8. 'What Now?'
9. 'Totem'
10. 'Cure'
11. 'Dr. Gros Zozo'

Shob's music is an intense progressive rock/funk played live by amazing musicians and the fact that Shob has played more than 1000 shows in the past six years is showcased here perfectly in this impassioned collection of 11 new tracks.

The album begins with the purest of Afro/Punk mantras within 'Hostile' which once both 'Primal Fear' and the Hip-Hop majesty of 'Mémoire' have had their musical say, come back again on both 'Vertige' and 'La Brèche.'

With a brass section featuring FM Moreau & PJ Ley - which, between the two of them, gives this album its Afro/Funk buoyancy - and some downright groovy percussion from Ludo Lesage, the album continues sprightly onward.

This, for the most part instrumental album keeps the mood free flowing on both the '80s electro vibe of the title track 'Solide' and then one of my own personal favorites here, the honest roots appeal of 'Turbo Zulu.'

Also featuring some solid back bone drumming from Morgan Berthet (Myrath, Eths, Kadinja) - who also performed on the first two albums - these jammed improvisations continue with more Afro/Funk ambiance on 'What Now?' and another stand out cut, the brass-heightened Hip-Hop of 'Totem.'

The album, which also comes complete with some amazingly funky guitar work from both Johary Rakotondramasy and Jean Lou Siaut, rounds out with some Orleansesque rhythms on 'Cure,” before ending on the atmospheric Afro/Funk of 'Dr. Gros Zozo.'

Shob @ Facebook

Official purchase Link

Title - '#9'
Artist - The Raz Band

For those not in the know, for the last thirty-five years, The Raz Band has been recording and performing their own brand of original songs, entertaining audiences across the US and globally.

This past December 2018 The Raz Band recorded their first live album performing songs from the upcoming #9 album as well as their most recent albums Madison Park (2015) and The Best of RAZ 1985-2015.

And so with that in mind, the latest Raz Band studio album #9, which features eleven new Raz Band songs, is due for release May 17th, 2019 via Gonzo Multimedia.

1. 'Breadline Love'
2. 'I Got This'
3. 'Curveball'
4. 'In the Meantime'
5. 'Coming at You'
6. 'The Winds of Time'
7. 'Let Me Tell You'
8. 'Call Me Raz'
9. 'The Times Together'
10. 'Nipple Town'
11. 'Dirt'

Featuring tremendous production by band member Joey Molland, The Raz Band members are: Michael 'Raz' Rescigno on guitar and vocals; Jeff 'Hutch' Hutchinson on drums and vocals; Jim Manzo on bass and vocals, and Molland on guitar, vocals and production.

The album opens with the fun old school R&B guitar rock of 'Breadline Love' and backs that up seamlessly with both the hipsway of 'I Got This' and the magnificent, cultured guitar work found on 'Curveball.'

The first track notable for the fact that it's the very first time that Joey Molland has sung lead vocals, both 'In The Meantime' and 'Coming At You' are pure The Raz Band gold, with the Jeff 'Hutch' Hutchinson-sung 'Winds Of Time' along next.

The other Molland-sung track is the epic 'Let Me Tell You' which they back up with one of my own personal favorites, the rock and soul of 'Call Me Raz.' The album then rounds out with the troubadour-esque vibe of 'The Times Together' and then the quirky 'Nipple Town.'

We had a great time creating #9," Moland has since said, "and we hope you enjoy it. Peace, love and rock n roll."

With The Raz Band having opened for Badfinger, Missing Persons, Berlin, Marky Ramone, Bill Ward, Iron Butterfly and others, 2019 will once again see The Raz Band performing in the United States as well as abroad.

The Raz Band @ Facebook

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Futurecide'
Artist - 1919

For those not in the know, 1919 was a year of massive change and desperate rebellion. The murder of Rosa Luxembourg, the mutiny of the French fleet in the Black Sea, the Churchill/Trotsky dual, general strikes in Belfast, Glasgow and other cities, the great red scare in America, etc.

Oh, and 1919, a post-punk band, were formed in Bradford, England in early 1980.

The band was formed in late 1980 by Guitarist Mark Tighe and Vocalist Ian Tilleard. After starting life as Heaven Seventeen, and with early line-ups including a pre-Zodiac Mindwarp Mark Manning, the band eventually settled as 1919 (after a book belonging to Tighe) with Nick Hiles on Bass and Mick Reed on Drums.

Their intention was, according to Reed, "... to create a heavy melodic intense dance band with no frills and no intentions."

Sadly though the band split in 1985, but reformed in 2014 to great acclaim and numerous tours and festival appearances across Europe.

So, after having released the albums Machine (1983) and then Bloodline (2017), the British post-punk veterans 1919 have now released their brand new masterpiece of darkly melodic goth rock.

Entitled Futurecide - out now via Cleopatra Records - it's the group's (Mick Reed - Drums; Rio Goldhammer - Vocals; Karl Donner - Bass; and Sam Evans - Guitar) first album recorded since the passing of founding member and lead vocalist Mark Tighe who insisted that the band carry on - which they have done in fine form here on these 10 tracks, trust me.

1. 'Anxiety'
2. 'Isolation'
3. 'Futurecide'
4. 'Radicals'
5. 'Dali Alarma'
6. 'Speak Now'
7. 'Aurora'
8. 'Man, Myth, and the Curse of the Immortal'
9. 'Stop the World'
10. 'Where Are You Now?'

This thunderously great, alive and vibrant album kicks of with the drumtastic 'Anxiety' and backs that up with both the ferocious 'Isolation' and the melodic guitar work on the title track, 'Futurecide.'

A soaring 'Radicals' is one of the stand out tracks here for me and that's followed by the psychedelic, post-apocalyptic floating vibe of 'Dali Alarma' and then the old school vinyl sounds of 'Speak Now.'

If I thought I couldn't have loved this new album any more I was wrong for 'Aurora' is one of the best tracks of this musical ilk I've heard in a long, long time outside of the mid-'80s / early-'90s.

The album then comes to a close with the brilliant Goth ambiance of 'Man, Myth, and the Curse of the Immortal,' the drum-led, foot-tappin' 'Stop the World,' and then the Goth reverb of the grasping earthly beauty of 'Where Are You Now?'

1919 @ Facebook

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Piano Book: Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Lang Lang

For those not in the know, Lang Lang is a Chinese concert pianist who has performed with leading orchestras in the United States, Europe, and Canada, in addition to his native China.

A leading figure in classical music today, as a pianist, educator and philanthropist Lang Lang has become one of the world’s most influential and committed ambassadors for the arts in the 21st century.

Equally happy playing for billions of viewers at the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony in Beijing or just for a few hundred children in the public schools, he is a master of communicating through music.

Heralded by the New York Times as “the hottest artist on the classical music planet”, Lang Lang plays sold-out concerts all over the world.

He has formed ongoing collaborations with conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniel Barenboim and Christoph Eschenbach and performs with all the world’s top orchestras.

Lang Lang is known for thinking outside the box and frequently steps into different musical worlds. His performances at the GRAMMY Awards with Metallica, Pharrell Williams or jazz legend Herbie Hancock were watched by millions of viewers.

For about a decade Lang Lang has contributed to musical education worldwide. In 2008 he founded the Lang Lang International Music Foundation aimed at cultivating tomorrow’s top pianists, championing music education at the forefront of technology, and building a young audience through live music experiences.

In 2013 Lang Lang was designated by the Secretary General of the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace focusing on global education.

With this new collection, Piano Book: Deluxe Edition Lang Lang goes back to his first love - to the pieces that made him want to become a musician in the first place.

Rediscovering the most popular and accessible pieces written for learners and lovers of the piano, this album is a journey; of inspiration, of discovery, fantasy and learning.

It is a moment for Lang Lang to illuminate these classic pieces as the masterworks they truly are. It is also a reflection on the music that influenced him most during his early childhood, later in life coping with difficult moments, and working with young piano learners around the world.

Music can change lives and Piano Book tells this story. "I dedicate this album to my wonderful piano students and all my friends around the world who love the piano as much as I do," Lang Lang has said.

Disc: 1
1. 'Prelude in C major BW V 846' from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1
2. 'Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, "Für Elise" Wo O 59'
3. 'The Departure' (Original version appears in the soundtrack to The Leftovers)
4. 'Song Without Words in C major, "Spinning Song" Op. 67 No. 4'
5. 'Clair de lune L. 75 No. 3' from Suite bergamasque
6. 'Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum L. 113 No. 1' from Children's Corner
7. 'Prélude in D flat major, "Raindrop" Op. 28 No. 15'
8. 'Allegro from Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, r "Sonata facile" K 545'
9. 'Andante (in F major)' from Sonatina in C major Op. 36 No. 1
10. 'Presto Op. 299 No. 1' from The School of Velocity
11. 'La Valse d'Amélie from 6 Pieces for Piano Vol. 2' (Original version appears in the soundtrack to Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain)
12. 'Rêverie L. 68'
13. 'Moment musical in F minor D 780 No. 3'
14. 'To Spring Op. 43 No. 6' from Lyric Pieces, Book III
15. 'Wilder Reiter Op. 68 No. 8' from Album für die Jugend
16. 'Staccato FP 65 No. 2' from Villageoises. Petites Pièces enfantines pour piano
17. 'The Merry Shepherd Boy' - SAKAMOTO
18. 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' (Original version appears in the soundtrack to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence)
19. 'The Maiden's Prayer Op. 4' - MOZART
20. '12 Piano Variations in C major on "Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman" K 265 (300e)'
21. 'Minuet in G major from Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach BW V Anh. 114 (App. D)'

Disc: 2
1. 'Eliza Aria No. 2' from the Wild Swans Concert Suite
2. 'The Chop Waltz' ("Chopsticks") - CHINESE TRADITIONAL
3. 'Jasmine Flower'
4. 'Danza de la moza donosa Op. 2 No. 2' from Danzas argentinas 5. Limu, limu, lima
6. 'Nimrod Op. 36 No. 9' from Enigma Variations
7. 'Arirang''
8. 'Maple Leaf Rag'

From the very off, the first disc showcases Lang Lang's impeccable and truly poignant piano work on 'Prelude in C major BW V 846 from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1' and never looks back.

Chock full of his unique personality throughout each price, as he makes his way patiently through these new tracks, playing each one as majestically, as beautifully as I think I've ever heard them been portrayed before, Lang Lang's passion for this new project knows no boundaries.

From the free flowing key work on the stirring 'The Departure' (Original version appears in the soundtrack to The Leftovers) to the absolutely breathtakingly stunning rendition of 'Clair de lune L. 75 No. 3 from Suite bergamasque,' to the has-to-be-heard-to-be-believed firefly display on 'Presto Op. 299 No. 1' from The School of Velocity to the perky notes of 'The Merry Shepherd Boy' by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the recording is as perfect as perfect could ever hope to be.

Featuring en masse of classics from my childhood, although here being reinterpreted by a true master, Lang Lang continues onward with more old school classics - which we all grew up either playing or listening to - such as the haunting 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' (Original version appears in the soundtrack to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence), the fun and playful 'The Chop Waltz' ("Chopsticks") - CHINESE TRADITIONAL (just listen to his fingers slip and slide), and we even get a bright and breezy rendition of Scott Joplin's 'Maple Leaf Rag' to round the second disc out with.

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Blue Hour' - Weber, Brahms, Mendelssohn
Artist - Andreas Ottensamer

For those not in the know, Andreas Ottensamer is an Austrian clarinetist and is the principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic.

Ottensamer performs as a soloist in the major concert halls around the world, with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, the Seoul Philharmonic, the Orchestre Metropolitain, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons, Sir Simon Rattle, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Alan Gilbert and Lorenzo Viotti.

His artistic partnerships as a chamber musician include work with Yuja Wang, Leonidas Kavakos, Janine Jansen, Lisa Batiashvili, Nemanja Radulovic, Nicolas Altstädt and Sol Gabetta.

In 2005 Ottensamer founded the clarinet trio “The Clarinotts” with his father Ernst and brother Daniel.

He is also artistic director of the ” Bürgenstock Festival” in Switzerland, together with pianist José Gallardo, and the “Artström Festival” in Berlin.

His latest release, Blue Hour is a collaboration with phenomenal pianist Yuja Wang, in which he explores the music of Mendelssohn and his contemporaries through concertante works and arrangements for the clarinet.

1.2. Intermezzo in A Major. Andante teneramente (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Popov), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
2.1. Allegro, Andreas Ottensamer (Berliner Philharmoniker)
3.2. Adagio ma non troppo, Andreas Ottensamer (Berliner Philharmoniker)
4.3. Rondo, Andreas Ottensamer (Berliner Philharmoniker)
5.No. 6 Allegretto con moto (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
6.No. 1 Andante un poco agitato (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
7.1. Wie Melodien zieht es mir (Transcr. for Clarinet and Piano), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
8.No. 4 Agitato e con fuoco (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
9.No. 3 Andante tranquillo (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
10.1. Allegro con fuoco, Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
11.2. Andante con moto, Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
12.3. Rondo. Allegro, Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
13.No. 6 Allegretto tranquillo (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
14.No. 2 Allegrio leggiero (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)
15.No. 4 Andante sostenuto (Arr. for Clarinet and Piano by Ottensamer), Andreas Ottensamer (Yuja Wang)

On a rather exceptional new album of work (which also features the Berliner Philharmoniker with Mariss Jansons) you simply cannot refrain from being lovingly swept along by each and every one of these lush compositions.

For with an album that creates its very own soundscape of clarinet, piano, and orchestra from the off, both Ottensamer's and Wang's majestic playing is a joy to behold.

Quite easily one of the best clarinetists I have ever heard, Ottensamer's precision and clarity combined with Wang's precise and cultured piano playing brings forth a truly beautiful sound.

With all the composers featured being German Romantics it's obvious that this place, this period in time is where Ottensamer especially believes the best music for the clarinet is to be found.

Furthermore, here on Blue Hour, the artists are clearly masters of their craft and hence compliment each other perfectly.

Oh, and as for that title for the album, well, as Ottensamer himself reveals, "There’s a question over whether you give albums a 'title' at all or not, but I was simply so bored by all those very obvious titles like 'The Romantic Clarinet', which just make my eyes roll."

"So we decided if it was going to have a title, it should be more atmospheric. It has two meanings: one is an allusion to the blue flower that was a symbol of the Romantic movement at that time, so it fits well with that music."

"The other, the main reason for this choice, is connected with the picture on the cover: the 'blue hour' is a time of day just after the sun has set, or just before it rises, when you get a unique kind of mood."

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Celebrating John Williams' [2CD]
Artist - Gustavo Dudamel / Los Angeles Philharmonic

For those not in the know, Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a Venezuelan conductor and violinist and he is also the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Having earlier this year been given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gusatvo is now repaying the honor with this quite stunning new 2CD collection entitled Celebrating John Williams (out now via Deutsche Grammophon).

CD: 1
1. 'Olympic Fanfare And Theme'
2. 'Excerpts from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'
3. 'Out To Sea and The Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws'
4-6. 'Three Selections from Harry Potter'
7. 'Theme from Schindler’s List'
8. 'Adventures On Earth from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
9. 'The Flight To Neverland from Hook'

CD: 2
1.' Theme from 'Jurassic Park'
2-4. 'Three Selections from Indiana Jones'
5. 'Sayuri’s Theme from Memoirs Of A Geisha'
6-8. 'Three Selections from Star Wars'
9. 'Adagio from Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens'
10. 'Superman March from Superman'

My goodness, if you like John Williams' work and you also have a passion for the brilliance of Gustavo Dudamel, well, you're in for a glorious musical treat here, my friends.

For this 2CD set presents a veritable Who's-Who of the film scores of John Williams, collecting together extracts from 10 of his most celebrated films (or franchises therein), into a stunning live concert; played and recorded complete with as much "Hollywood smultz" as can be proffered it by the exquisite Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Everything you ever wanted to hear and more is here and I'm sure, in times to come that this recording will become a must-have for all classical music lovers and lovers of movie scores combined.

Recorded live at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles in 2019, they open with a soaring 'Olympic Fanfare and Theme' before moving seamlessly into 'Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'

Believe me when I say that everything you hear on these two discs has already been heard, sure, but never quite like the impassioned manner as in which it is brought forth live here by Gustavo.

With most everything here instantly recognizable to those directing an ear to them, other stand outs over the two discs are the melodramatic, yet stylized strings of 'Sayuri's Theme from Memoirs of a Geisha', the poignancy of Theme from Schindler’s List' and a trifecta of selections from the 'Harry Potter' films.

But, of course, once the trumpets begin to blare out and unite as one for a trio of selections from 'Star Wars,' well, together with those and 'Adagio from Star wars: The Force Awakens' and the album ending 'Superman March' and come the final chords you just know your heart is beating a little faster and louder than it was at the beginning of the musical experience!

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'J.S. Bach - Concertos (Extended Tour Edition)'
Artist - Avi Avital

For those not in the know, the first mandolin soloist to be nominated for a classical Grammy, Avi Avital is one of the foremost ambassadors for his instrument.

Passionate and “explosively charismatic” (New York Times) in live performance, he is a driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory.

More than 90 contemporary compositions, 15 of them concertos, have been written for him, while his inspired re-imaginings of music for other instruments include the arrangements heard on his 2014 recording Between Worlds.

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, up until this brand new release he has made four recordings for the label including his ECHO Klassik Award-winning Vivaldi (2015).

Recently released Avital meets Avital (2017) with oud/bassist, Omer Avital, explored their shared cultural heritage and brought their differing classical and jazz musical backgrounds into dialogue.

Earlier releases featured his own Bach concerto transcriptions (2012) and Between Worlds (2014), a cross-generic chamber collection exploring the nexus between classical and traditional music.

Released this past March, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon is his fifth album for the label, a Limited Edition Extended Tour 2CD + DVD expansion on the aforementioned, and yet still highly effective J.S. Bach - Concertos (Extended Tour Edition).

Disc: 1
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Concerto in D minor BWV 1052R
Concerto in G minor BWV 1056R
Concerto in A minor BWV 1041
Sonata in E minor BWV 1034

Disc: 2
Partita No. 2 In D minor NWV 1004
Suite No. 1 in G major: Prelude BWV 1007

Bonus DVD
Concerto in A minor BWV 1041
Sonata in E minor BWV 1034

On this delightfully engrossing, at times breezy, others precise and dedicated, but always playful Tour Edition, the Grammy-nominated classical mandolinist (aided by Paul Dyer on harpsichord; Tommie Andersson on theorbo; and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra) is rightly showcased as an artist who pushes at boundaries and defies expectations.

Overflowing with charm, intelligence and enthusiasm this 2CD + DVD program includes Avi's own mandolin transcriptions of three concertos and a trio sonata by the great Cantor of Leipzig.

To my ear he has impeccable technique; there's no "clickiness" (mandolin players will get this) or fuzz or buzz at any point. He also grabs a number of quick double stops and runs some dazzling passages all through that took my breath away.

Glorious musical moments abound all across the board here and it is perfectly timed as a release to remind the world of what a beautiful and unique addition the mandolin can be to any classical recording. What a unique and truly Blessed joy to behold Avi's work is.

In closing, this true virtuoso brings forth an album retelling for the ages here on this Limited Extended Tour Edition of his J.S. Bach Concertos album and so if you love Bach, or the mandolin, or both, you'll enjoy this, trust me on that!

Official Purchase Link

Title - Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps; Debussy: La Mer
Artist - Jaap Van Zweden / New York Philhamonic

For those not in the know, Jaap van Zweden is a Dutch conductor and violinist and who is also currently music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and of the New York Philharmonic.

Zweden has become an international presence on three continents over the past decade with the 2018-19 season marking his first as the 26th Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. As aforementioned, he also continues as Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a post he has held since 2012.

He has appeared as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras around the globe, among them the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, Orchestre national de France, and London Symphony Orchestra.

The New York Philharmonic’s third release on Decca Gold, featuring Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (“incisive, blazingly powerful” — The New York Times) and Debussy’s La Mer (“bold, almost cinematic” — The New York Times) conducted by Zweden, is out now and it's a beauty!

The album, Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps; Debussy: La Mer was recorded during concerts in September–October 2018, which was also Zweden’s opening weeks as Music Director.

1. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Introduction (03:37)
2. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Augures printaniers (Danses des adolescentes) (03:25)
3. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Jeu du rapt (01:26)
4. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Rondes printanières (03:49)
5. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Jeux des cités rivales (01:58)
6. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Cortège du Sage (00:45)
7. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Adoration de la Terre (Le Sage) (00:19)
8. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 1: L'Adoration de la Terre: Danse de la terre (01:18)
9. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Introduction (04:24)
10. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Cercles mysteriéux des adolescentes (03:01)
11. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Glorification l’Élue (01:33)
12. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Évocation des ancêtres (00:42)
13. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Action rituelle des ancêtres (03:22)
14. Le Sacre du Printemps / Pt 2: Le Sacrifice: Danse sacrale (L’ Élue) (04:50)
15. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 1. De l'aube à midi sur la mer (09:16)
16. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 2. Jeux de vagues (07:13)
17. La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 3. Dialogue du vent et de la mer (08:42)

The conductor and his Philharmonic continue their revered institutional partnership here in beautiful harmony on this latest recording. Featuring Debussy's orchestral masterpiece La Mer and Stravinsky's groundbreaking Le Sacre du printemps, both pieces are as vibrant, as cultured, as delicate and yet as stirring in places as you could ever hope them to be.

During Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps, I was constantly left with the impression that a great deal of energy was expended at the expense of finesse and color.

Sure there's a genuine is a sense that everyone involved was having a great deal of fun, but Zweden's direction lacks a degree of imagination that is found in a number of other recorded performances that I've personally encountered over the years.

Indeed, and perhaps only for me (although I highly doubt it), the performance succeeds in the more visceral moments than it does in quiet ones.

The artistry of the NYP has to be greatly admired, but of course, they cannot match the subtle colors produced by the great Orchestras that have gone in their stead.

As for Debussy's La Mer, well, in Zweden's hands it is powerful and expansive, yet subtle and lovely. At times crystalline and sparkling, yet always romantic and delicate, this new rendition expresses the music in long sweeps of feeling; with each bar notably full of color and nuance.

As familiar as La Mer is, to go beyond mere scene-painting (wind, waves, foam, etc.) is difficult. To my ears, Zewden's interpretation rises to the very top, but you must be able to open your ears to it.

Amazon Purchase Link

Title - 'Out Of Italy'
Artist - Various

The 18th century experienced a mass migration of musicians from Italy hitherto regarded as the home of music seeking better fortunes in nations to the north.

Giacobbe Basevi Cervetto, Giambatista Cirri and Francesco Geminiani went to London, Luigi Boccherini to Madrid. Antonio Vivaldi aimed for Dresden though never arrived, having died en route in Vienna.

These Italian instrumentalists / composers and others are the focus of Out of Italy, a survey of sonatas and duos for two cellos and continuo by eminent baroque cellist Phoebe Carrai and her protégé Beiliang Zhu; many of them quite rare.

On her beautiful Italian cello, Carrai's project is, essentially music for two cellos with or without continuo. As aforementioned, and with all the tracks having been written by Italian composers who left Italy to seek fame and fortune, the album takes on an eerie sense of what could have been for these poor souls.

That said it now also celebrates them in a way that, perhaps, they might have been back in the day, so who knows.

Featuring full-bodied distinguished performances that offer a genuine point of view (Classics Today on Phoebe Carrais Bach Cello Suites) elegant and sensual, stylishly wild (The New Yorker on Beiliang Zhu), Out Of Italy also allows Carrais' former student, now thriving cellist, Beiliang Zhu to join the fray.

Joined by harpsichordist, Avi Stein and lutenist, Charlie Weaver, Beiliang and Carrais split the repertoire so that she gets the obvious fun of accompanying her as well.

An album that fairly skips along, this dynamic continuo team handles each track sublimely, the chosen 4 sonatas with continuo and 3 duos without from the baroque into the early classical eras the most perfect of choices.

Amazon Purchase Link

Title - 'Schumann: Complete Piano Trios'
Artist - Horszowski Trio

Hailed by The New York Times as “impressive, lithe, persuasive,” when the members of the Horszowski Trio – Jesse Mills, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Rieko Aizawa – played together for the first time, they immediately felt the spark of a unique connection.

Many years of close friendship had created a deep trust between the players, which in turn led to exhilarating expressive freedom.

Two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills first performed with Raman Ramakrishnan, founding cellist of the prize-winning Daedalus Quartet, at the Kinhaven Music School over twenty years ago, when they were children.

In New York City, they met pianist Rieko Aizawa, who, upon being discovered by the late violinist and conductor Alexander Schneider, had made her U.S. debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.

Their musical bonds were strengthened at various schools and festivals around the world, including the Juilliard School and the Marlboro Festival.

The Horszowiski Trio debuts on Avie with the Complete Piano Trios by Robert Schumann, music that the ensemble is as passionate about as the composers Romantic works exude.

Schumann's works for piano trio were written within a decade of each other yet represent three distinct periods in the composers life; the emotional span of the four works reflected in Schumann's all-too-short 46-year life span.

Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
CD: 1
Trio in D Minor, Op. 63 (30:36)
1. I. 'Mit Energie und Leidenschaft' (12:15)
2. II. 'Lebhaft, doch nicht zu rasch' (4:52)
3. III. 'Langsam, mit inniger Empfindung' (5:41)
4. IV. 'Mit Feuer' (7:48)
Trio in F Major, Op. 80 (26:54)
5. I. 'Sehr lebhaft' (7:33)
6. II. 'Mit innigem Ausdruck' (8:37)
7. III. 'In mäßiger Bewegung' (5:29)
8. IV. 'Nicht zu rasch' (5:15)

CD: 2
Trio in G Minor, Op. 110 (26:48)
1. I. 'Bewegt, doch nicht zu rasch' (9:28)
2. II. 'Ziemlich langsam' (5:45)
3. III. 'Rasch' (4:19)
4. IV. 'Kraftig, mit Humor' (7:17)
Phantasiestücke, Op. 88 (18:45)
5. I. 'Romanze Nicht schnell, mit innigem Ausdruck' (2:38)
6. II. 'Humoreske Lebhaft' (7:22)
7. III. 'Duett Langsam und mit Ausdruck' (3:16)
8. IV. 'Finale Im Marsch-Tempo' (5:28)

From the opening of Trio in D Minor, Op. 63 (30:36), the breathtaking splendid 'Mit Energie und Leidenschaft' brings forth a high level of playing that remarkably keeps its pace, its presence and it's quality throughout.

True the Horszowski Trio are mostly attentive to textual detail, although there are one or two passages where they breezily skim along, but their attention to the textural details are delicious.

For my money, this trio of musicians definitely make the most of the crucial hairpins in the first movement of Op 110, suggesting a veritable ocean of emotional surges and swells.

As they open the second disc with Trio in G Minor, Op. 110 (26:48) and the lush, spirited yet always restrained 'Bewegt, doch nicht zu rasch' its their combined balance, heart for the project and overall musical swells are marvelous.

Also, it has to be brought to the fore the work accomplished here threading it all seamlessly together by producer and engineer Judith Sherman.

"The piano trios of Robert Schumann have too often been neglected as oddities." Mills explains. "but when we began to program them on our concerts, we felt a powerful connection to them."

“Schumann’s amazing textures, his heartbreaking tenderness, his humor and passion, and his mastery of form all spoke to us … we knew at once that we wanted to record these masterpieces,” he continues.

"Schumann’s world was troubled yet supremely beautiful … with these performances we want to celebrate this incredible, complex person, to revel in his emotional genius,” he adds.

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Clocks And Clouds'
Artist - Jukka Iisakkila

The art of 21st Century instrumental jazz-rock fusion moves to a higher level with the first solo album by Finland's esteemed recording artist, composer and conductor Jukka Iisakkila.

Following in the artistic footsteps of Finland's late, great orchestral-rock icon Pekka Pohjola, Jukka's seven track Clocks And Clouds CD is filled with soaring instrumental rock-fusion instrumentals that would find a home with any Pohjola fan.

Both as a composer and guitarist / keyboardist, Jukka covers all the basses and, with the aid of drummer Ilkka Saarikoski, gives the album a fine fusion stamp.

1. 'Freefall' (6:53)
2. 'The Only Sound Is Waterdrops' (7:09)
3. 'Inner Universe Fever' (5:54)
4. 'Interludes' (2:26)
5. 'Clock And Clouds' (6:48)
6. 'Darling We've Made A Mess' (6:39)
7. 'Shakin' It On' (6:18)

The forthright Prog rock of 'Freefall' kicks things off here very nicely and definitely showcases exactly what's to come on this quite stunning, vibrantly transcendent post rock motif-laden album.

The dynamic edges and swirls on the longest track 'Only Sound Is Waterdrops' makes for a beautiful car journey in the making; top down, music playing, sun shining and that's backed by both the sterner Prog guitar and fast drumming approach of 'Inner Universe Fever' and then the short, but oh so sweetly dulcet, playful keys of 'Interludes.'

The title track, 'Clocks And Clouds' is a searing guitar wonderment of art, to be sure, and that's backed by my own personal favorite on this elegant 7-track album, the brilliantly quirky jam of 'Darling We've Made A Mess.'

The light, jazzy guitar and key work of the album closer 'Shakin' It On' brings a rather delightful close to an album that has already fast become one of my Best of 2019.

Official Purchase Link

Title - 'Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones'
Artist - Kepa Härkönen

Finland continues to amaze guitar fans with the 2019 North American CD release of Spicy Tales & Spacey Tones by Kepa Härkönen.

This vibrant 2018 recording includes ten Kepa originals and a pair of covers by Freddie King and surf-rock legends The Bel-Airs.

The album is a fitting display of Kepa's guitar influences, running the gamut from Mickey Baker and Freddie King to Ry Cooder, Shadows' icon Hank B. Marvin and jazzers like Kenny Burrell, Marc Robot and Manuel Galban.

1. 'Havana Dream'
2. 'Funky Hi-Heels'
3. 'Caravan of Reindeers'
4. 'Lime Green Blues'
5. 'Escape from the City'
6. 'Mr. Moto'
7. 'Slow Surf'
8. 'Lapache'
9. 'The Last Independence Day'
10. 'Happy'
11. 'Fish Fare'
12. 'Blue Flames'

Chock full of rock 'n' roll surfing ambience, the opening track 'Havana Dream' epitomizes that vibe perfectly, before raising the tempo for 'Funky Hi-Heels' with the guitar reverberation made famous by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones cautiously ebbing its way out on 'Caravan of Reindeers.'

The solid mid-tempo hipsway of 'Lime Green Blues' is up next and that's followed by the faster pace of the reverb-drenched electric guitars of 'Escape from the City.'

With a number of excellent musicians backing Kepa's rockin' guitar sound, including Daniel Hjerppe (drums), Robban Hagnas (bass) and Pekka Grohn (keys), the finger-snappin' Bel-Airs beauty 'Mr. Moto' is up next and also happens to be one of my own personal favorites.

That's backed by the cagey, paced duo 'Slow Surf' and Native Indian-inspired 'Lapache' with the twangy guitar-led rock 'n' roll surfing riot of 'The Last Independence Day' yet another highlight.

The album then comes to a close with the forthright 'Happy,' the sublime beach blanket jive of Freddie King's 'Fish Fare,' and then the lush vibes of 'Blue Flames.'

Kepa Härkönen @ Instagram

Title - 'Moonlight'
Artist - Johnnyswim

Critically acclaimed Los Angeles band Johnnyswim - led by husband and wife Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano — unveil their third full-length album Moonlight on April 19th, 2019 via BMG Records.

Indeed, this actually marks the group’s first release under their newly minted deal with Britannia Row Recordings and BMG.

Throughout 2018, Johnnyswim carefully crafted what would become the new album alongside Grammy® Award-winning producer and songwriter Malay [Frank Ocean, Sam Smith], working out of both his Brooklyn apartment and his recently opened Britannia Row Recordings studio in Hollywood.

Together, they expanded the band’s musical palette, while honing its signature songwriting and all that shines through in abundance on this incredible 12-track new album.

1. 'Bridges'
2. 'Souvenir'
3. 'Long Gone'
4. 'Lost in Translation'
5. 'The Last Time' (feat. Michael McDonald)
6. 'Say What You Will'
7. 'Flowers' 9. 'Back to You'
10. 'Moonlight'
11. 'Amanda'
12. 'Same Old Thing'

The opening track, the anthemic lead single 'Bridges' (“Let’s burn the bridges down. Light ‘em up. Don’t turn it around. No escape through the ashes now”) is a wondrous showcasing for what is to come here, with every track as powerful, as cultured, as skillfully crafted as the next.

The romantically lush ebb and flow of their second single 'Souvenir' is followed by both the ethereal lo-fi vibe of the ballad 'Long Gone' and the melodic ballad 'Lost In Translation.'

One of the stand out tracks here is the strong 'The Last Time' (featuring the richly-voiced icon Michael McDonald) and that's backed by the reaching mid-tempo groove ballad 'Say What You Will.'

Another lo-fi balled is up next in the form of the countryfied 'Flowers' and that's followed by the strongly guitar-led 'Marietta' and then the free flowing beauty of 'Back To You.'

This quite breathtakingly fresh new album then brings us the, for my money, best track on the album, the atmospheric Americana-folk of the title track, 'Moonlight.'

The acoustic guitar vocal of 'Amanda' (which serves as a tender letter from husband to wife) is a welcomed delight and then the album rounds out with the hauntingly breathtaking 'Same Old Thing.'

“You can listen to a record and walk away feeling like your spirit is nourished,” Amanda has said. “That’s what I want. I hope it marks a time for you and your family, where you can associate these songs with those special moments.”

To celebrate the arrival of the album, Johnnyswim have announced an extensive tour for 2019 that kicks off May 3rd in St Louis and wraps on June 14th in Los Angeles.

May 3 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
May 4 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
May 7 Cincinnati, OH Bogart’s
May 8 Knoxville, TN Tennesse Theatre
May 10 Nashville, TN The Ryman
May 11 Atlanta, GA Coca-Cola Roxy
May 13 Charlotte, NC The Fillmore
May 14 Raleigh, NC The Ritz
May 15 Washington, DC Lincoln Theatre
May 17 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
May 18 New Haven, CT College Street Music Hall
May 20 Boston, MA House of Blues
May 21 New York, NY Webster Hall
May 22 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Steel
May 24 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
May 25 Chicago, IL Rivera Theatre
May 28 Austin, TX Emo’s
May 29 Houston, TX White Oak Music Hall
May 30 Oklahoma City, OK Jones Assembly
June 1 Dallas, TX Bomb Factory
June 4 Denver, CO Ogden
June 5 Salt Lake City, UT The Union
June 7 Seattle, WA Showbox SODO
June 8 Portland, OR Roseland Theatre
June 10 San Francisco, CA The Masonic
June 12 San Diego, CA Humphrey’s
June 13 Phoenix, AZ The Van Buren
June 14 Los Angeles, CA The Theatre At Ace Theatre

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Johnnyswim @ Facebook

Title - 'Bridges Live: Madison Square Garden' (CD/DVD)
Artist - Josh Groban

The world’s most unmistakable voice returns with a spectacular live concert (as seen on PBS this spring); Josh Groban Bridges Live: Madison Square Garden (out April 19th, 2019, via Reprise Records).

Recorded live from the final US stop of his 2018 Bridges Tour at the famed Madison Square Garden, the multi-platinum award-winning singer is joined by Tony-Award winning, multi-platinum recording artist Idina Menzel along with a special appearance by Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles.

1. 'Bigger Than Us'
2. 'You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)'
3. 'Won't Look Back'
4. 'Granted'
5. 'Pure Imagination' (from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory")
6. 'Oceano'
7. 'Marrakech'
8. 'She's Always a Woman'
9. 'Lullaby' (with Idina Menzel)
10. 'Falling Slowly' (with Idina Menzel)
11. 'Bring Him Home' (from "Les Misérables")
12. 'Musica Para Caminar'
13. 'Música del Corazón'
14. 'River'
15. 'Alla Luce del Sole'
16. '99 Years' (with Jennifer Nettles)
17. 'You Raise Me Up'
18. 'To Where You Are'
19. 'Bridge over Troubled Water'

1. 'Bigger Than Us'
2. 'Won't Look Back'
3. 'Granted'
4. 'The Wandering Kind (Prelude)'
5. 'She's Always a Woman'
6. 'Lullaby' (with Idina Menzel)
7. 'Falling Slowly' (with Idina Menzel)
8. 'Música del Corazón'
9. 'River'
10. '99 Years' (with Jennifer Nettles)
11. 'Bridge over Troubled Water'
12. 'She Moved Through the Fair' (Live from Dublin)

The first disc is the DVD and has a longer track listing and deservedly so as the visual sight of Josh singing, nay performing is a delightful and heartwarming sight.

Backed by a 5-member band, 20-member choir and 15-piece orchestra, and bathed under a blood red and purple hue, Josh kicks off the set with the emphatic, anthemic 'Bigger Than Us' (from his latest studio album Bridges) and backs that up with a song that expresses God's love for humanity beautifully, 2008's 'You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up).'

Next up, after a brief chit-chat with members of the front row we get another new track 'Won’t Look Back, a hymn for the couples that have gone through the whole course of being married and yet still stick together. Wearing his glasses, now bathed in a beautiful, soothing blue and green light, the ballad 'Granted' is then backed by both the stirring Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley ballad 'Pure Imagination' (from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") and then one of the highlights of a show packed with them, the strong, adamant 'Oceano.'

Throughout this incredible live performance, Josh performs an electrifying mix of beloved classics, new songs, and special covers, including the standard one of my own personal favorites here, Billy Joel’s 'She’s Always A Woman,' and 'Bring Him Home' from "Les Misérables").

Introducing Idina Menzel - and boy, what a BIG introduction and chat with/about her he provides the audience - they then launch into not one, but two captivating duets. The first is the angelic 'Lullaby' and that's backed by the emotionally-charged 'Falling Slowly' (from the movie "Once").

Josh then showcases three more turns off his multi-lingual expertise as he impressively delves into 'Musica Para Caminar,' 'Música del Corazón' and the soaringly uplifting 'Alla Luce del Sole,' with the beautiful 'River' (a heartfelt track that can aim to help so many people, bringing hope and light to their darkness) in-between.

Whilst bathed under a lime green spot laid upon a black background, Josh is then joined on stage by Sugarland songstress Jennifer Nettles for a remarkable duet of '99 Years' before he closes his set with both 'To Where You Are' and then a simply stunning rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.

The CD/ DVD includes the aforementioned 'Won’t Look Back' and 'Lullaby' (not included in the PBS Special) as well as the never-released before bonus track 'She Moved Through the Fair.'

Amazon DVD/CD Purchase Link

Josh Groban @ Facebook

Title - '3'
Artist - The Gloaming

For those not in the know, The Gloaming is a contemporary Irish/American music group formed in 2011 comprising fiddle player Martin Hayes, guitarist Dennis Cahill, vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddle player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, and pianist and producer Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman).

The group has been credited with an original retake on the vernacular of traditional Irish music through a modern prism via elements of post-rock, jazz, contemporary classical, chamber, and minimalism.

Lyricist Ó Lionáird often uses motifs, poetic verse and whole songs from the ancient Irish canon, with some lyrics dating back centuries.

Indeed, The Gloaming's music has been described as a genre of its own while also drawing comparisons with diverse acts such as Sigur Ros, Brian Eno, Arvo Part, Buena Vista Social Club, Tortoise, Steve Reich, and Seán Ó Riada.

On February 22nd, 2019, world renowned Irish American supergroup The Gloaming returned with their highly anticipated third studio album entitled 3.

Produced by Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent) and engineered by Patrick Dillett (David Byrne, Laurie Anderson), the album was recorded in New York City at Reservoir Studios.

Like its predecessors, The Gloaming (2014) and The Gloaming 2 (2016), it richly re-imagines the vernacular of traditional Irish music through a modern prism via elements of post-rock, jazz, contemporary classical, chamber and minimalism.

1. 'Meáchan Rudaí (The Weight of Things)' (07:46 )
2. 'The Lobster' (06:53 )
3. 'Áthas (Joy)' (04:49)
4. 'The Pink House' (08:39)
5. 'Reo' (07:47)
6. 'The Old Road to Garry' (03:31)
7. 'Sheehan’s Jigs' (07:24)
8. 'My Lady who has Found the Tomb Unattended' (05:12)
9. 'Doctor O'Neill' (10:36)
10. 'Amhrán na nGleann (The Song of The Glens)' (07:39)

From the very off, the earthy, dulcet minimalism of their Irish heritage seeps majestically through on the hauntingly ethereal 'Meáchan Rudaí (The Weight of Things)' (which features extracts from the late Liam Ó Muirthile’s prose poem of the same name) which they back up with the strikingly crisp fiddle work of Hayes on 'The Lobster' and then the dulcet piano work of Bartlett on 'Áthas (Joy)' (which is taken from Ó Muirthile’s Camino de Santiago pilgrimage poems).

Hayes' impeccable fiddle work comes to the fore once again on the captivating 'The Pink House' with the foreboding Seán Ó Ríordáin poem 'Reo' backing it up. One of my own personal favorites is up next in the form of the Traditional Irish fare of the upbeat and fun (and complete with piano/fiddle duet) 'The Old Road to Garry', with the mid-tempo and joyously hopeful Celtic notes of 'Sheehan’s Jigs' yet another stand out track.

The intense storytelling of the melancholic 'My Lady who has Found the Tomb Unattended' (which features the 17th-century poetry of Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bhaird) is a masterpiece all unto itself with the album coming to a close with the longest track on the album, the ten minute recounting of 'Doctor O'Neill' and then 'Amhrán na nGleann (The Song of The Glens)' allows Ó Lionáird's masterful and warmly invigorating vocal tones to truly excel.

On an album whose cover art couldn't portray more the actual feel of the contained music if it tried, listening to this near seventy minute long album proves, without a shadow of a doubt that The Gloaming are a band whose cultivated sound of classical chamber built within restructured Irish heritage is as freeing, as moving and as invigorating to the soul to listen to today as I'm sure it was back then.

Official CD Purchase Link An introduction to The Gloaming

The Gloaming @ Facebook

Title - 'Collected Works 2003-2019' [2CD]
Artist - Phil Ranelin

For those not in the know, Phil Ranelin is an American jazz and experimental music trombonist.

Ranelin was born in Indianapolis and lived in New York City before moving to Detroit in the 1960s where he played as a session musician on many Motown recordings; including with Stevie Wonder.

In 1971, he and Wendell Harrison formed a group called The Tribe, which was an avant-garde jazz ensemble devoted to black consciousness. Alongside it he co-founded Tribe Records.

He released several albums as a leader in the 1970s and continued with The Tribe project until 1978 where he followed that up by working with Freddie Hubbard.

Ranelin worked mostly locally in Detroit in the following decades and did not find widespread acceptance among jazz aficionados.

However, he eventually came to the attention of rare groove collectors who became increasingly interested in his work. As a result, Tortoise drummer John McEntire remastered some of Ranelin's older material and re-released it on Hefty Records.

A remix album (2002) soon followed, which included an appearance from Telefon Tel Aviv, and then came Inspiration (Wide Hive, 2004), Living a New Day (Wide Hive, 2009), Reminiscence (Wide Hive, 2009), and Perseverance with Henry Franklin and Big Black (Wide Hive, 2011).

Phil Ranelin - Collected 2003-2019 features songs with Pharoah Sanders, Kamasi Washington, Donald "Duck" Bailey, Henry Franklin, Big Black, Calvin Keys, Roger Glenn and many, many more.

Here in this collection of 16 years of Phil's work, his "Tribe" spiritual root continues to grow into greatness and his is assisted along on his path with a cast of some of the greatest players in this genre.

Ergo, this album encompasses 15 remastered songs, one newly released alternate version and two new compositions.

CD 1:
1. 'Freddie's Groove' (7:35)
2. 'Horace's Scope' (5:30)
3. 'This One's For Trane' (8:43)
4. 'Living A New Day' (6:50)
5. 'Blue Bossa' (6:14)
6. 'Metamorphosis' (7:30)
7. 'A Tear In Elmina' (5:49)
8. 'Close Encounters' (5:47)
9. 'Shades Of Dolphy' (8:34)

CD 2:
1. 'In Search Of The One' (8:48)
2. 'Moorish' (3:49)
3. 'Perseverance 2019 (New Alternate Version) (9:48)
4. 'Full Moon' (6:33)
5. 'Excursion To Fantasy' (8:38)
6. 'Spiritual Vibrations' (7:28)
7. 'How Do We End This Madness' (New) (7:11)
8. 'Fantasy Vibrations' (New) (6:45)
9. 'Black On The Nu' (5:51)

Here on this wondrous new 2CD collection we get some truly great jazz from trombonist extraordinaire and living legend of The Indiana Avenue Era of Jazz heavyweights, Ranelin.

Indeed, Ranelin’s love for the slide trombone was born from the almost royal tradition that the trombone holds in the aforementioned Indianapolis’ Jazz heritage: and from the slide trombone’s spiritual position within the genesis of Jazz as an indigenous American cultural treasure.

I mean, wow! Just wow! Listening to the opening cut, the powerful and funky 'Freddie's Groove' which is backed by the piano-led beauty 'Horace's Scope' and you know you're in for a right royal treat here.

I mean, no matter which track you land on, should you hit the random button (which I did on the second time around), what you get each and every time is definitive audible knowledge that the man plays the trombone with heart and inspiration within every lick!

I won't go through the entire album track by track, but suffice to say that stand out cuts for me - aside from those two - are cuts such as the delicate, late night/early morning underground smoky jazz club feel within 'Blue Bossa,' the double bass-led, free flowing jam of 'Shades Of Dolphy,' and both the rigid, yet thoughtfully playful 'Excursion To Fantasy' and, of course, the yearning of 'Spiritual Vibrations.'

Having created a musical space that is both paradoxically sparse and yet overflowing with noise, Ranelin's own personal influences are scattered majestically throughout for all to hear.

Simply put, Phil Ranelin stands on the shoulders of a long line of great trombonists who held their instruments up above the evolving trend to overlook the slide trombone as a preferred lead instrument.

As a Straight Ahead innovator, Ranelin continues to explore new realms of collaborations with younger generations, with the presentations of atypical configurations, and with complex-rhythmic and melodic-groove juxtapositions.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Country Faith Hymns, Vol. 2'
Artist - Various

For those not in the know, Country Faith Hymns, Volume 2 is the ninth, and latest addition to the hit Country Faith series with an all-star cast singing the beloved hymns of the Church!

Chock full of 16 righteous, relaxing, comforting and timeless songs, the artists included on this delightfully uplifting album include The Judds, Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, The Bellamy Brothers, Billy Ray Cyrus, Charley Pride, B.J. Thomas, Drew Baldridge, Randy Travis and many more of country music's most musically gifted believers.

1. Brad Paisley - 'When We All Get To Heaven'
2. Alison Kraus & Union Station - 'Jesus Help Me To Stand'
3. Randy Travis - 'Peace In The Valley'
4. Charlie Daniels - 'Swing Down Chariot'
5. Billy Ray Cyrus - 'Amazing Grace'
6. Mo Pitney - 'How Deep The Father's Love For Us'
7. Aaron Watson - 'Sonshine'
8. Jason Crabb (featuring Ashleigh Crabb) - 'This Little Light of Mine'
9. T. Graham Brown - 'Just a Closer Walk With Thee'
10. Drew Baldridge (featuring Mike & Doug Baldridge) '- It Is Well With My Soul'
11. The Judds - 'When King Jesus Calls His Children Home'
12. B.J. Thomas - 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus'
13. Wade Hayes - 'In Christ Alone'
14. The Bellamy Brothers - 'Suppertime'
15. Charley Pride - 'The Church In the Wildwood'
16. LeAnn Rimes - 'The Lord's Prayer'

Beginning with the stirring 'When We All Get To Heaven' by Brad Paisley it's the most poignant way to start our musical journey here for his Gospel-tinged lo-fi country hit is backed seamlessly by the gently vocalized 'Jesus Help Me To Stand' (Alison Kraus & Union Station), Randy Travis' spent and sorrowful 'Peace In The Valley,' and both Charlie Daniels' frenetically upbeat 'Swing Down Chariot,' and then a heartwarming rendition of 'Amazing Grace' from Billy Ray Cyrus.

Mo Pitney is up next with a heartfelt 'How Deep The Father's Love For Us,' which in turn is followed by Aaron Watson's 'Sonshine' (from his brilliant Barbed Wire Halo album), and then comes one of my own personal favorites here, Jason Crabb (featuring his daughter Ashleigh Crabb) with a truly uplifting 'This Little Light of Mine.'

A man who will have you reaching for your Bible, T. Graham Brown next brings is the deep-throated wonderment of 'Just a Closer Walk With Thee' which is backed up by Drew Baldridge (featuring Mike & Doug Baldridge) on the earthly soul of 'It Is Well With My Soul' (with lyrics written by Philip Bliss and Horatio Spafford).

Up next is the lo-fi bluegrass Gospel of The Judds' beloved 'When King Jesus Calls His Children Home,' then comes the luscious, warm vocal tones of B.J. Thomas on his 1982 hit 'What A Friend We Have In Jesus,' with the delicate guitar work and vocals from Wade Hayes on 'In Christ Alone.'

This just beautiful second volume of Country Faith Hymns then rounds out with another (new) classic in the form of The Bellamy Brothers' country reggaefied 'Suppertime,' the beloved and uplifting 'The Church In The Wildwood' from Charley Pride, and then a young LeAnn Rimes brings us an emphatically poignant 'The Lord's Prayer.'

Country Faith Hymns, Vol. 2 is available to download through digital outlets iTunes and Amazon, while physical copies are available at all Cracker Barrel locations. The album was distributed via Curb|Word Entertainment.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Don't Panic'
Artist - IZZ

For those not in the know, IZZ is a New York-based progressive rock band with its music being inspired by such classic progressive groups as Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Renaissance.

Often infused with pop hooks à la The Beatles the band's name comes from the nickname of baseball relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen, who was once on the New York Mets, a team favored by John Galgano (vocals and keyboards).

IZZ’s debut album Sliver of a Sun was released back in 1998 to which they followed that up with I Move (2002), Ampersand Volume 1. (2004), My River Flows (2005), IZZ Live at NEARfest (2007), The Darkened Room (2009), Crush of Night (2012), and both Everlasting Instant (2015) and then Ampersand, Volume 2 (2016).

The group has performed at American progressive rock festivals RoSfest, NEARfest, The Rogue Independent Music Festival, CalProg, and ProgDay.

Centered around the 18+ minute epic, '42', their brand new album Don't Panic bears all the hallmarks of what has made IZZ one of the brightest lights in the US progressive rock scene.

Indeed, the band's 9th studio album reveals a fresh, new energy evidenced immediately by the title track's driving bass and catchy hooks to the unpredictable musical twists of the album closer 'Age of Stars' to the instrumental tour-de-force that is 'Moment of Inertia,' to the exquisite classical guitar piece, 'Six String Theory'.

1. 'Don't Panic' (4:25)
2. '42' (18:41)
3. 'Six String Theory' (2:07)
4. 'Moment of Inertia' (9:46)
5. 'Age of Star' (8:59)

The album kicks off with the brilliant title track 'Don't Panic,' within which you will find your foot tapping out the melodic mid-tempo, free flowing bass lines well before the midway point and backs that up with the aforementioned near twenty minute long epic, '42.'

This musical opus displays the band in full force as all four vocalists - Anmarie Byrnes, Laura Meade, John Galgano, and Tom Galgano - create melodies and harmonies around the intersecting and connected sections of the piece; while guitarist Paul Bremner, and drummers, Greg DiMiceli and Brian Coralian bring the song's powerful, dynamic, and emotional arrangement to life.

The absolutely breathtakingly precise and crisply executed classical guitar piece 'Six String Theory' just so happens to be my own personal favorite here (although I wish it had gone on longer than just two minutes) and that's backed by a beautifully arranged classical instrumental 'Moment of Inertia.'

This delightful and highly emotive new album then rounds out with the storytelling reveals of 'Age of Stars,' another melodic mid-tempo track that incorporates and showcases everything that is great about this group.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

IZZ @ Facebook

Title - 'Evergreen'
Artist - Beth Bombara

For those not in the know, Beth Bombara has a folk singer’s head and a rocker’s heart.

Drawing inspiration from the melodies and lyrics of Neko Case and Aimee Mann, along with the hooks and harmonies George Harrison and Tom Petty, she has toured nationally as a headliner and supported shows for Pokey LaFarge, Waxahatchee, and Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear.

Bombara's (and her band mates: Samuel Gregg (electric guitar, background vocals), Mike Schurk (drums and percussion), John Calvin Abney (pianos, organs, harmonica), and Kit Hamon (bass, background vocals, percussion, synthesizers) new album, the Kickstarter-created Americana roots rocker Evergreen is due out in August, but we have to say (having been sent a copy for review here in the magazine) that it is, quite easily (and in our humble opinion, of course), her best to date.

Indeed, Bombara's upcoming new album began thousands of feet above sea level! Looking to step back and clear her head after a long bout of touring, the rock & roll-influenced Americana artist nestled herself into the Rocky Mountains in a remote cabin.

The cabin's name? Why, Evergreen, of course.

As for why Bombasa didn't believe that she could make this new album (or at least, get it physically made and manufactured), she explained that more on the aforementioned Kickstater page: "Why am I asking you to partner with me? As you may have heard from other independent artists, we do this on our own, without the support and muscle of a record label."

"Traditionally, the label would fund the making and promotion of a new record. Since 2015, I've been making a living as an independent artist."

"Without label support, I've created 4 albums that I'm extremely proud of, toured the U.S. a handful of times, and built a community of fans that have made this whole journey about as rewarding as it can be."

"By simply ordering an advance copy of the album, opting for a one-of-a kind experience, or even just sharing this project with friends, you enable me to bring on all the people that will make this album happen."

"It is my belief that collaboration among different artistic disciplines draws out a stronger piece of work in the end."

"I've been working tirelessly toward the next thing: the next song, the next album, the next tour. Having people join in on that creative process is a total dream come true for me!"

1. 'I Only Cry When I'm Alone'
2. 'Upside down.'
3. 'Anymore'
4. 'Tenderhearted'
5. 'Growing Wings'
6. 'Does It Echo?'
7. 'Good News'
8. 'Evergreen'
9. 'Criminal Tongue'
10. 'All Good Things'

The album kicks off with the lo-fi countrified-Folk of 'I Only Cry When I'm Alone' and backs that up seamlessly with both the faster paced 'Upside Down' and then the emotive, forthright mid-tempo ballad 'Anymore.'

The twanging guitars light up for the Country vibe of the love song 'Tenderhearted' which is followed by the sentimentally charged yearnings of 'Growing Wings.' My own personal favorite here amongst the ten is the quite stunning lyrical gem 'Does It Echo?' with the loud and proud 'Good News' along next.

The bouncy 'Evergreen' is up next and then the album rounds out with both the fuzzy guitar rock of 'Criminal Tongue' and then finally the dulcet piano ballad, and aptly titled 'All Good Things' brings the wondrous musical experience to a close.

Beth Bombara @ Instagram

Beth Bombara @ Facebook

Title - 'Strawberry Lite' b/w 'Vaguely Satisfied' (Single)
Artist - Honey Harper

For those not in the know, Honey Harper (born William Fussell), grew up surrounded by country music in the heart of Georgia.

He introduced himself to the Country music world with his debut EP Universal Country in 2017, a genre-bending project pieced together over multiple years with deep ties to Harper's Georgia roots.

The critically-acclaimed EP showcased a multi-faceted new vision of Country music and harnessed its most beautiful elements from an outsider's perspective.

Now, with new music on the horizon, Harper is set to become the torchbearer for a revitalized Country sound.

And so if you just cannot contain yourself in your desire to hear new music from Harper, well you are in luck as he has just released his quite stunning, and wholly original new 7" Single (that's a vinyl record, kids!)

Entitled 'Strawberry Lite' (and backed with the equally enigmatic 'Vaguely Satisfied'), the track transcends specific origins; incorporating vocals reminiscent of growing up in Georgia, but with a sound refined in the UK.

At all times still harboring his love of Country music, 'Strawberry Lite' is a gentle musical affair that you just can't but help yourself from closing your eyes and allowing yourself the luxury of drifting away to a better, calmer, translucently comforting place.

Its B-side (as, once again kids, this is an old school WHITE vinyl record!), the brilliantly-titled 'Vaguely Satisfied' is a gentle guitar piece that showcases Harper's articulate and cultured vocal tones perfectly.

A free-flowing work of musical art that features some rather lovely wind instrument work, for my money this track should have been the A-side.

For it has such a beautiful, lush sparseness to it that it makes you want to lay down in a grassy field on a summer's day and, eyes closed, just listen to it over and over; freely noticing as your built up daily stresses and cares all slowly drift away.

Currently in the studio working on his full-length debut album for later this year, Harper will be performing a string of shows across the UK and North America including The Great Escape Festival in May and Bonnaroo in June.

"'Strawberry Lite' was written on the couch in my living room and on the floor of Dean Street Studios, where I record most often," Harper has since revealed. "I lay on the ground of the studio with Mick and Gus, two of my band members, as we discussed the song and what we all thought it meant."

"We talked about the past and the future, stress and letting go, The Grateful Dead, old hippie slogans, and hip new t-shirt companies and I wrote out new lines and transcribed mumbled demo verses to finish the lyrics.”

Honey Harper @ Twitter

Honey Harper @ Facebook

Title - 'The Justus Brothers'
Artist - The Justus Brothers

For those not in the know, this past May 10th, 2019 the eponymously titled debut album from The Justus Brothers came out and suddenly the world was a better place.

For this 9-track CD from the all-star group of stellar Memphis musicians who have joined together to explore new horizons in contemporary jazz is, quite easily, one of the most uplifting and colorful new releases I've personally heard in the past few years.

The new album from Memphis International Records underscores the unparalleled musicianship of the group that includes Niko Lyras (guitar), Pat Register (sax) Jason Clark (keyboards), Steve Potts (drums) and Dave Smith (bass).

Guest musicians of (and on) this new album include Latin percussionist Billy Ramirez and Memphis horn ace Scott Thompson whose trumpet has been heard on thousands of recordings over the past three decades.

Recorded over a period of three months at Cotton Row Studios in Memphis and produced by Niko Lyras and the band, The Justus Brothers features a wide range of moods and styles; all of which will have you sittin' back and kickin' back, trust me.

1. 'Fragile / Fields of Gold'
2. 'Chinese Checkers'
3. 'Sabroso'
4. 'Miss L'
5. 'Askin' Ain't Gettin'
6. 'Hip Pocket'
7. 'King's Strut'
8. 'Garment District'
9. 'I Keep Forgetting'

It opens with the truly beautiful one-two combination of Sting's solo works 'Fragile' / 'Fields of Gold' and backs that up seamlessly with a fresh treatment of Booker T. & The MG’s 'Chinese Checkers.'

Inclusive of some rather forthright trumpet and trombone from both Thompson and Jason Yasinsky respectively, that's followed by the gorgeous Latin hipsway of 'Sabroso.'

The tempo is brought down for the lo-fi 'Miss L' before the late '80s R&B funk vibe of 'Askin' Ain't Gettin' is brought forth. Easily one of my own personal favorites on this vibrant new album, another is up next in the form of the laid back 'Hip Pocket.'

The funky 'King's Strut' is a Hammond B3-led piece of musical wonderment and that is in turn backed by the frenetic, yet cultured 'Garment District,' with the album coming to a close with a delicious, smooth jazz rendition of Michael McDonald's 'I Keep Forgetting' (with vocals from Katrina Anderson).

"We’re proud of it from a compositional point of view and think this is the best we’ve done to date," Niko Lyras spoke of the album as a totality, adding, "We’re mature about it all with none of that ‘I wish I had done something different’ second guessing."

"As far as naming the group was concerned, the ‘Brothers’ part was easy as we’ve all played together in one combination or other for more than 30 years," he continues.

"We thought about a name that would lend credibility to this type of music — it’s groove heavy with an emphasis as much on rhythm as on melody, a kind of ‘groove conversation,’ so ‘Justus” sprang to mind.”

Amazon Purchase Link

The Justus Brothers @ Facebook

The Justus Brothers Online

Title - 'Live at Carnegie Hall (Remastered & Expanded)'
Artist - Renaissance

For those not in the know, Renaissance are an English progressive rock band, best known for their 1978 UK top 10 hit 'Northern Lights' and progressive rock classics like 'Carpet of the Sun', 'Mother Russia', and 'Ashes Are Burning'.

They developed a unique sound, combining a female lead vocal with a fusion of classical, folk, rock, and jazz influences.

Characteristic elements of the Renaissance sound are Annie Haslam's wide vocal range, prominent piano accompaniment, orchestral arrangements, vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, synthesiser, and versatile drum work.

The band created a significant following in the northeast United States in the 1970s, and that region remains their strongest fan base.

The original line-up included two former members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty, along with John Hawken, Louis Cennamo and Relf's sister Jane Relf.

They intended to put "something together with more of a classical influence" and so Renaissance was born; and the band released a studio album in 1969, and another in 1971.

Subsequently, John Tout replaced Hawken on keyboards, followed by a period of high turnover of musicians until the "classic line-up" of Haslam, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp, and Terry Sullivan was established; although none of them were in the original band.

They were assisted with lyrics on many songs from Cornish poet Betty Thatcher-Newsinger.

From 1972 to 1979 Renaissance released seven successful studio albums, toured extensively, and sold out three nights in a row at Carnegie Hall with Tony Cox conducting the New York Philharmonic.

The 1980s were a lean time for them, with personnel changes, and two relatively unsuccessful studio albums, leading to disbandment in 1987.

Two different offshoots of Renaissance existed at the same time at one stage in the mid-1990s. The band re-formed in 1998 to record Tuscany, which was eventually released in 2001; however, they disbanded again the next year.

2009 heralded a new line-up for Renaissance, led by Haslam and Dunford, and since then the band has continued to record and tour.

They were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Dunford in November 2012, but later Haslam stated that the band would continue touring.

The current line-up is not as English as the band's early period, with five U.S.-born members and one English-born member who lives in the United States and in April 2014, Renaissance released the studio album Symphony of Light.

On June 14th, 2019 Esoteric Recordings will release a newly re-mastered and expanded 3CD clamshell box edition of the aforementioned classic live album, Live at Carnegie Hall.

Released in 1976, the double album documented a series of sold-out concerts at the Carnegie Hall in New York City staged in June 1975, which saw highly gifted vocalist Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford (acoustic and electric guitars), John Tout (keyboards, vocals), Jon Camp (bass, acoustic & electric guitars, vocals) and Terry Sullivan (drums, percussion) joined by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Regarded as one of the finest live albums of the era, the album featured such classic tracks as ‘Ocean Gypsy’, ‘Carpet of the Sun’, ‘Mother Russia’, ‘Can You Understand’, ‘Song of Scheherezade’ and ‘Ashes Are Burning’ and is regarded among the finest works by Renaissance.

This expanded edition 3CD box-set has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features six lengthy bonus tracks, including the very rare live performance of ‘Kiev’, recorded at the concerts and issued as the B-side to a rare promotional single by Sire Records in the USA only.

CD 1 - Live at Carnegie Hall
1. 'Prologue'
2. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Can You Understand'
5. 'Carpet of the Sun'
6. 'Running Hard'
7. 'Mother Russia'

CD 2 - Live at Carnegie Hall
1. 'Song of Scheherazade'
a) 'Fanfare'
b) 'The Betrayal'
c) 'The Sultan'
d) 'Love Theme'
e) 'The Young Prince and Princess as told by Scheherazade'
f) 'Festival Preparations'
g) 'Fugue for the Sultan'
h) 'The Festival'
i) 'Finale'
2. 'Ashes are Burning'

CD 3 - BBC Radio One "In Concert" (March 25th, 1976)
1. 'Prologue'
2. 'Running Hard'
3. 'Ocean Gypsy'
4. 'Mother Russia'
5. 'Song of Scheherazade'
a) 'Fanfare'
b) 'The Betrayal'
c) 'The Sultan'
d) 'Love Theme'
e) 'The Young Prince and Princess as told by Scheherazade'
f) 'Festival Preparations'
g) 'Fugue for the Sultan'
h) 'The Festival'
i) 'Finale'

With the New York Philharmonic augmenting them (especially filling out 'Scheherazade' beautifully), this live recording is actually one of the best live concert albums from the Progressive rock era and stands head and shoulders besides another of my own personal favorites, Yessongs.

Live at Carnegie Hall opens up with the song that opened up the Annie Haslam vocal era of Renaissance, 'Prologue', a piano and voice symphonic rock rush.

An offering from their at-the-time upcoming album gives the listener the beautiful mystical ballad 'Ocean Gypsy,' before the very rare live performance of ‘Kiev’ is finally included on this collection, with the fan favorite 'Can You Understand' taking us on a ten-minute progressive piano and bass ride.

Inclusive of Annie’s lyrical perfection and Dunford’s acoustic string swells it proves why Renaissance was one of the preeminent art rock groups of the '70s.

The folksy 'Carpet of the Sun' is next and then the music traverses into the two long-form epics from Turn Of The Cards: 'Running Hard' and the Russian ode to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 'Mother Russia' - forever the model of Renaissance’s classical influences.

The second of the three CDs opens with the-then premiere of 'Song Of Scheherazade' and opens with a somewhat longish “explanation” (lacking a libretto for the audience) of the story line. Complete with its nine parts, this is why the song tracks longer on the live version than on the studio release).

This second CD then rounds out with the magnum opus closer of the concert: a near doubled-length version of the epic 'Ashes Are Burning'. In truth, some enjoy this version far above and beyond the original studio track from the album of the same name.

That version ended with a fantastic solo guitar coda, courtesy of Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and the instrumental sections were tactfully restrained.

Here, the live version opens out with jazzy piano solo, a bass as lead solo that rocks the jazz club night out forays, and a synthesizer solo, all eventually leading to a Annie Haslam lead coda with voices that will haunt your dreams and raise the hairs on the back of your neck; before holding an exit note that proves hers was "The Voice" of the 70’s art rock era!

For, as I'm sure you will all agree, there is nothing, no one, comparable to her at the time, not by a long stretch.

Expanded here to now include a third disc that features the BBC Radio One "In Concert" from March 25th, 1976, a lot of what has been delved into before comes back around; and joyfully so, it has to be said.

Previously unreleased on CD, this sought after Carnegie Hall performance has been Remastered and Expanded to make this new release from Cherry Red one of the best from Renaissance.

3CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'The Body and Soul Sessions' (Remastered)
Artist - Philippe Saisse Trio

For those not in the know, Philippe Saisse is a French smooth jazz and new-age music multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer and arranger.

He was born in Marseille and raised in Paris and after studying at the Conservatoire de Paris he won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.

He became the protégé of Gary Burton and debuted on Al Di Meola's Splendido Hotel and also worked with Nile Rodgers and Felicia Collins on the album Outloud; and wrote also for David Sanborn.

Indeed, Saisse has also worked in the alternative rock, jazz fusion and rock world for David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Gato Barbieri, Paul King, The Rolling Stones and others.

Between 1988 and 1990 he performed as the regular house band keyboardist in The Sunday Night Band, during the two seasons that the highly acclaimed music performance program Sunday Night ran on NBC late-night television "Night Music" episodes No. 104 (1988), No. 113 (1989), No. 114 (1989), No. 121 (1989).

Saisse's 2008 solo album, At World's Edge, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album. Although it did not reach the commercial success normally expected of an album boasting a cast of highly ranked musicians, it reunited Saisse with two old friends: bassist Pino Palladino, and drummer Simon Phillips.

The three performers then joined together as an instrumental rock/jazz fusion trio ensemble, PSP or Phillips Saisse Palladino. Their debut album, PSP LIVE, on the C.A.R.E Music Group label (of Munich) and the Forest Records label was supported by a minor tour of Europe from 2009 through February 2010, spotlighting the talents of each performer in the songs chosen for their set list.

The trio finished up their tour in Japan at the end of March, 2010, having allowed Palladino time in February to honor his responsibilities as the touring bassist with The Who; at the Super Bowl XLIV half-time show in the United States.

Saisse was also a member of Dave Koz & The Kozmos, the house band of The Emeril Lagasse Show and in 2014, he worked with Japanese drummer Senri Kawaguchi on her second album Buena Vista.

In 2016, he worked with her again, composing many tracks for and playing in her album Cider ~ Hard and Sweet, which was released in December, 2016. In 2017, they performed together with Armand Sabal-Lecco at the 2017 Tokyo Jazz festival before touring a number of locations round Japan; including one at Motion Blue in Tokyo which won the Nissan Jazz Japan Award 2017 for Best Live Performance.

Releasing June 21st, 2019 via Bandar-Log Music, the newly remastered version of The Philippe Saisse Trio's 2006 hit record, Body & Soul Sessions will grace our ears once more.

Chock full of high-spirited and super swinging tunes, the French-born Saisse whips up an all-cover 12-track collection, balancing pure, playful '60s and '70s pop and soul with the ultra-retro sounds of smooth jazz ala 'Do It Again' (which went to #1 on the Radio & Records Smooth Jazz Chart).

1. 'Do It Again'
2. 'September'
3. 'Lady Madonna'
4. 'Harley Davidson'
5. 'Lovely Day'
6. 'Fire and Rain'
7. 'Constant Rain (chove chava)'
8. 'The Dolphin'
9. 'Comment Te Dire Adieu'
10. 'Body and Soul'
11. 'We're All Alone'
12. 'If I Ever Lose This Heaven'

Kicking things off with those ultra-retro sounds of smooth jazz on Steely Dan's 'Do It Again,' they back that up beautifully with both a joyful rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 'September' and then a piano-led 'Lady Madonna' (Beatles).

An euphoric, hand-clapping Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg's 'Harley Davidson' was always a smart choice for the album with Bill Withers' 'Lovely Day' a magnificent rendition to behold once again.

A cover of James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain' brings the mood down to lo-fi, before the Latin hipsway essence of Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66 come to the fore on their cover of 'Constant Rain (chove chava).'

The magical sunshine of 'The Dolphin' (Luiz Eça) is a genuine treat to behold here (if not only for the fact that it is considered a jazz standard, having being recorded by artists as diverse as Stan Getz, Bill Evans and Denny Zeitlin, et al), and that's backed by 'Comment Te Dire Adieu' (a French adaptation of the song 'It Hurts to Say Goodbye,' written by Gainsbourg and originally performed by Françoise Hardy in 1968).

Up next is the title track, a popular song and yet another jazz standard (written in 1930 with music by Johnny Green and lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton), it's late night, underground jazz bar appeal always undeniable.

The album then rounds out with Boz Skaggs' brilliantly moody 'We're All Alone' and then the jazzy R&B piano sway of 'If I Ever Lose This Heaven,' which was written by Pam Sawyer and Leon Ware and was first released by Quincy Jones in 1974.

Oh, and if you are wondering where Saisse came up with the interesting choice of album cover art pose, well, in 1960, a young Ramsey Lewis posed for the cover of his Ramsey Lewis Trio album Stretchin’ Out with drummer Red Holt and bassist Eldee Young framing the background.

46 years later, pianist Saisse replicated Ramsey’s cool cover for his then brand-new CD featuring drummer Scooter Warner and bassist David Finck.

Once again, the remastered album drops June 21st, 2019 for the first time on vinyl and will also be available as a CD and in digital form.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 9'
Artist - Andris Nelsons/Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

For those not in the know, Andris Nelsons is a Latvian conductor and is also currently the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Luckily for all us fans of his, Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig continue their acclaimed Bruckner cycle with Symphony No. 6 (which Anton Bruckner himself described as his “boldest” and “most brazen”), and Symphony No. 9, which had Bruckner struggling for a total of nine years.

The symphonies are coupled with Wagner’s Preludes to “Parsifal” and “Siegfried Idyll” and were released this past May 3rd, 2019 as a 2CD set via Deutsche Grammophon.

To my mind, the Bruckner symphonies are played magnificently by the orchestra, in readings that I would describe as energetic and exciting without compromising that sense of breathing-room; which is required for Bruckner.

From start to finish these works from Nelsons and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig are powerful takes on Bruckner and Wagner’s most stirring masterpieces, that's for sure.

The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig showcases the beauty and power of this music in spectacular fashion, and the recording quality delivers, too.

As one would expect, the very same excellence is found in the Wagner pieces - the luminously beautiful Parsifal Prelude and the truly lovely Siegfried Idyll.

Indeed, the combination of Bruckner symphonies and Wagner orchestral music in this series from DG is not only very clever marketing, but undeniably compelling and enjoyable listening.

Nelsons has successfully embarked on the journey exploring the sound world of Anton Bruckner’s iconic symphony cycle with the much acclaimed recordings of Symphony No. 3 – released in 2017, Symphony no. 4 – released in February 2018 and Symphony No. 7 – released in April 2018.

This second ambitious long-term recording project is consciously combined with the production of DG’s first complete Shostakovich cycle that Nelsons is recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra which has already been awarded with four Grammys as well as various other awards.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'El Chan'
Artist - Dessner - Labèque

For those not in the know, Bryce Dessner is an American composer and guitarist based in Paris, best known as a member of the rock band the National.

In addition to his work with the National, Dessner is also known for his independent work as a composer. Indeed, his orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions have been commissioned by, but not limited to, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the New York Philharmonic), Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, BAM Next Wave Festival, Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, and the Sydney Festival, amongst others.

Furthermore, his work Murder Ballades featured on eighth blackbird's album Filament, an album he also produced and performs on, and which won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.

The Labèque sisters, Katia and Marielle, are an internationally known French piano duo. While some degree of recognition came with this performance repertoire, true celebrity arrived when their 1980 two-piano recording of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue sold over a half million copies.

Beyond the traditional classical repertoire, their repertoire extends to contemporary classical music, jazz, ragtime, flamenco, minimal music, baroque music on period instruments, and even pop music and experimental rock.

On Dessner's latest orchestral release El Chan (out May 3rd, 2019 via Deutsche Grammophon), the talented musician effortlessly brings together classical nuances with his own mind's eye of creative musical soundscapes.

"Concerto for Two Pianos" (22:47)
"Haven" (8:05)
"El Chan" (15:38)

Comprising three elegant, free flowing and gorgeous compositions, El Chan begins with "Concerto for Two Pianos" which features sweeping arpeggios from the Labèque sisters (who play the piano on each of the album's pieces).

Following in the footsteps of minimalist composers such as Glass, Adams, and Reich, Dessner actually composed this composition specifically for the sisters.

Created especially for two guitars (both Dessner and David Chalmin) and two pianos, next up is the near ten minute wonderment of "Haven," a gorgeous modern classical work of fluid, shimmering majesty, it fairly skips across the waters of our minds eye like the setting sun on a radiant ocean.

Finally we get to settle in for the near 16 minute musical wonderment of the more quietly composed "El Chan." An exhaustive composition that consists of seven movements the Labèque sisters more than master all the ebbs and flows of the intricate, and at times wholly complex portions.

Recorded in 2018 with Orchestre de Paris conducted by Matthias Pintscher, the El Chanalbum was written for and inspired by film director Alejandro González Iñárritu whose film 'The Revenant' Dessner provided additional musical compositions for.

Oh, for those wondering, yes, the cover art was also indeed created by the wondrously talented Iñarittú.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Seven Days Walking: Day Two'
Artist - Ludovico Einaudi

For those not in the know, Ludovico Einaudi is an Italian pianist and composer who was trained at the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan.

Indeed, Einaudi began his career as a classical composer, later incorporating other styles and genres such as pop, rock, folk, and world music.

Einaudi composed the scores for a number of films and trailers, including 'This Is England', 'The Intouchables' and 'I'm Still Here', the TV mini-series 'Doctor Zhivago', and 'Acquario' in 1996 (for which he won the Grolla d'oro for best soundtrack).

He has also released a number of solo albums of piano and orchestra, notably I Giorni in 2001, Nightbook in 2009, and In a Time Lapse in 2013.

Furthermore, both Taranta Project, a collaborative album, was released in May 2015, and Elements was released in October 2015.

However, on March 1st, 2019, he announced a seven-part project named Seven Days Walking, which will be released over the course of seven months in 2019.

The ambitious project consists of seven volumes of music, the first of which Seven Days Walking: Day One was released on March 15th, 2019 via Decca / Universal Music.

A complete box-set of the project will be released in the fall of 2019, but for now Day Two has just been released.

1. "Low Mist" (Var. 1)
2. "A Sense of Symmetry"
3. "Ascent"
4. "Golden Butterflies" (Var. 1)
5. "Birdsong"
6. "Fox Tracks"
7. "Campfire" (Var. 1)
8. "Matches" (Var. 1)
9. "The Path of the Fossils"
10. "Cold Wind" (Var. 1)
11. "Low Mist" (Var. 2)

Featuring Einaudi on piano, Federico Mecozzi on violin and viola, and Redi Hasa on cello, each episode is focused on several main themes, which are recurring in different form: seven variations following the same imaginary itinerary.

Or, perhaps it's the same itinerary, retraced in seven different moments. That's the beauty of Einaudi's work here on this opus, for it is always going to be whatever the listener wishes or imagines it to be.

"I remember that in January 2018 I often went for long walks in the mountains, always following more or less the same trail," Einaudi himself has since explained.

"It snowed heavily, and my thoughts roamed free inside the storm, where all shapes, stripped bare by the cold, lost their contours and colors. Perhaps that feeling of extreme essence was the origin of this album.”

Recorded between September and October 2018 in Schloss Elmau (Germany) and Air Studios in London (England), this now-released Day Two gives us 11 compositions that are noticeably more vibrant, perhaps even more aggrieved than the first.

Chock full of wondrous whirring violin moments and sparingly subtle, yet immensely poignant piano work, the album is a masterpiece unto itself, it truly is.

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Title - 'Generic'
Artist - Silver Relics

Drawing influence from the iconic British songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s and brooding '80s rock, as Silver Relics, songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Alex Sepassi and drummer Justin Alvis deliver a psychedelic sound that simultaneously smolders and electrifies with fierce energy; conjuring vibrant technicolor dreams and scenes of thrilling adventure through tight songwriting.

Inspired by their metamorphic relocation from Austin, Texas to NYC, Generic - released May 17th, 2019 via their label Farmadelica - is a 12 track collection of songs that came together with the inclusion of New York producer Howie Beno.

1. 'Fame'
2. 'Generic'
3. 'End of Zero'
4. 'Gridlock'
5. 'Time Bomb'
6. 'Wanderlust'
7. 'Submarine'
8. 'Cardiac'
9. 'Colours'
10. Yellow Master Motive'
11. 'Small Talk'
12. 'Postscript'

They begin in fine form with the '80s synth vibe of 'Fame' before floating seamlessly into the trippy Depeche Mode feel of the title track and then the upbeat, free flowing arms open wide on a summer's day catching a breeze sensibility of 'End of Zero.'

The indie rock of 'Gridlock' is up next and that's followed by the late '90s hazy rock of 'Time Bomb' with the laid back sunny drive time melodies of 'Wanderlust' along next.

A heavier drum foot combined with a harder guitar vibe combine for 'Submarine,' which is backed by the gently frenetic 'Cardiac,' with the pop-tastic psych ambiance of 'Colours' easily one of my own personal favorites here.

'Yellow Master Motive' is a delicious work of musical art and then the album rounds out with the punchy 'Small Talk,' and then the aptly titled lo-fi trance-pop of 'Postscript.'

"I started Silver Relics to function as an art project centered around the music," Sepassi explains. "It can be a painting, fashion, poetry on paper, photo and film or through the live show. It's about creating risks and opportunities to explore every option."

“What makes these songs different for me is how we were able to capture a snapshot of all the things that surround a life changing move in a very short period of time … the excitement, the uncertainty, the risk, the anticipation, the massive f**king anxiety just to name a handful,” he adds.

"I think these are experiences that a lot of people go through often and you certainly don’t have to move across the country to identify with this record. It’s very human.”

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Silver Relics @ Facebook

Title - '6 Partitas by Antón García Abril ' [Vinyl]
Artist - Hilary Hahn

For those not in the know, Hilary Hahn is an American violinist who in her career has performed throughout the world both as a soloist with leading orchestras and conductors and as a recitalist.

She also built a reputation as a champion of contemporary music. Several composers have written works especially for her, including concerti by Edgar Meyer and Jennifer Higdon and partitas by Antón García Abril.

Following the widely celebrated release of Hilary Hahn Plays Bach on Decca Classics last fall, Hilary Hahn returns with a world premiere recording of 6 Partitas by Antón García Abril (released May 17th, 2019 via Decca Classics / Universal Music Canada); her first-ever solo commission and her first of a set of pieces from a single composer.

Side A:
1. Heart (14:33)
2. Immensity (7:06)
3. Love (9:11)

Side B:
4. Art (8:56)
5. Reflective (8:03)
6. You (12;27)

“This commission led me to an enthusiastic and long-meditated work,” said García Abril. “I had the great fortune to compose them directly with Hilary… [her] generosity and interest in the work makes her one of the all-time greats, unique and powerful — not only artistically but at the same time intellectually, placing her in a higher musical state.”

Each movement has a different theme, displays its own personality, and is deeply tied to the performer for whom the work was written. So much so that García Abril chose to name the movements (as you may have notied above) after Hahn in acrostic: Heart, Immensity, Love, Art, Reflective, and You.

“Before these pieces existed,” adds Hahn, “I knew they needed to be written. Antón García Abril deeply understands the violin, and he epitomizes a musical tradition that has never before been expressed in the solo violin repertoire. His voice is romantic and impulsive, abrasive, beautiful.”

Commissioned by Hahn, these six Partitas from García Abril - which we were lucky enough to receive for review as a vinyl record (within a sumptuous gatefold sleeve) - which, to my mind is the only way to listen to any kind of music) allows to continue a wondrous tradition as well as allowing to amplify the profound dedication to the art from an important contemporary composer outside of his home country.

Likewise, it's obvious as we listen in throughout the work of musical art that García Abril found inspiration in Hahn’s technical proficiency and interpretational skill; evidently writing her personality and mastery of the violin into the music itself.

That said, for the player, the partitas are technically as well as musically challenging. "To really find the music in them, you need to spend some time with them, and you also have to understand the Spanish rhythms, as well as his own personal sense of rhythm and freedom," Hahn has admitted.

"That was really a revelation to me. Sometimes García Abril wanted the opposite of what might be conventional. For example, when he writes 'rubato,' he means to start fast and then broaden. When he writes 'free' he means to broaden."

"When he sings and demonstrates it, when he speaks about the music, if you are privy to that information I think you can see it reflected in everything that he does."

For that reason, Hahn is releasing a number of YouTube videos in conjunction with the new recording, including interviews with García Abril and mini-masterclasses about each piece.

"You can see in the interview video that he speaks in grand terms," Hahn adds. "He is a senior artist in his country who is revered as an authority on a lot of things. In Spain he is one of the great living composers and very well known."

Amazon Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Depart'
Artist - Akku Quintet

For those not in the know, the Akku Quintet was founded by drummer and composer Manuel Pasquinelli.

Best-known for his work in Swiss post-rock minimalist outfit, SONAR, Pasquinelli’s writing contains an almost cinematic dimension that encompasses bittersweet moods and moments of unfolding drama.

Following their acclaimed 2017 album, Aeon, the Switzerland-based outfit minimalistic jazz quintet have released their fourth record, Depart (and is the first to be released on Trey Gunn’s (King Crimson, Security Project) 7d Media label).

1. 'Largo' [14:35]
2. 'Made In China' [07:16]
3. 'Breeze' [03:44]
4. 'Depart' [10:52]
5. 'Cyan' [07:07]

Containing a sequence of darkly beautiful compositions by founder Pasquinelli, between the mesmeric ostinato, subtly shifting grooves, resonant overtones, tingling harmonics and languorous, yearning melodies, each and every one of the five new jazz-infused tracks are as vibrant and as fresh as one could have ever hoped for.

The opening, and longest track 'Largo' is a wondrous opener and during its progression allows for all the band members to have beautiful solo moments.

Much like the gentle, getting-into-your-stride start to a race, it picks up pace midway through, before culminating in what I can only describe as a decidedly film noir structure.

Recorded last year in April over just four days next up is 'Made In China,' a track that incorporates the back beat of a rather joyous, playful electronic, plastic toy piano with the added deep sax groove from Gilsenan flowing in-step along side it.

'Breeze’ is a more dulcet and darkly atmospheric journey into the band where Nydegger takes centerstage. Her work at the piano is impeccable, moving, stirring, and collectively wrapped in more film noir essence is one of my own personal favorites here.

The title track 'Depart,' together with the gentle, train-like effervescence of Ischer's guitar work immediately brings Gilsenan's layered sax work to the fore, with Pasquinelli's drums adding the structure to enable him to organically progress thereafter.

The album then rounds out with the Akku Quintet delving into a complete different style of music, Flamenco. The colorful, piano, guitar and bass-led composition of 'Cyan' is as emotive and as sculptured as most anything that has gone before it from the band. A true twisting and turning, even achingly reverent at times gem to behold, that's for sure.

Says Pasquinelli, “We have chosen ‘Depart’ as the album title because it describes very good the general feeling/spirit of the album. I’d say compared to our previous albums, ‘Depart’ is more driving and expressive."

"I think one can hear a forward-moving undertone on all the tracks. The title track ‘Depart’ comes along in a courageous and at the same time doubting and mysterious mood, performed with lots of playfulness."

"‘Depart’ was the best word to describe the mood of this track and the album in general.”

Manuel Pasquinelli - Drums, Compositions
Michael Gilsenan - Sax
Maja Nydegger - Keys
Markus Ischer - Guitar
Andi Schnellmann - Bass

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Underdog Heroes'
Artist - Black Oak Arkansas

For those not in the know, Black Oak Arkansas is an American Southern rock band named after the band's hometown of Black Oak, Arkansas.

Their style is punctuated by multiple guitar players and the raspy voice and on-stage antics of vocalist Jim "Dandy" Mangrum and reached the height of its fame in the 1970s with ten charting albums released in that decade.

Their first full-length album of all new recordings in more than 30 years, the just-released Underdog Heroes (out now via Cleopatra Records) features founding members Jim "Dandy" Mangrum (vocals) and Rickie Lee Reynolds (guitar).

Having kept the spirit of BOA alive over the intervening years it's their songwriting partnership that makes this album an essential release in the band's much heralded catalog.

1. 'Don't Let It Show'
2. 'Underdog Heroes'
3. 'Channeling Spirits'
4. 'Ruby's Heartbreaker'
5. 'The Wrong Side of Midnight'
6. 'The Devil's Daughter' [Feat. Sammy B. Seauphine]
7. 'Arkansas Medicine Man'
8. 'Do Unto Others' [Feat. Shawn Lane]
9. 'You Told Me You Loved Me'
10. 'Love 4 Rent'
11. 'The 12 Bar Blues'
12. 'Johnnie Won't Be Good'

On an album that truly delivers from start to finish, and with lyrical references encouraging people to come together when times get tough, tributes to lost loves, songs that detail the pain of street life all lovingly wrapped up within some of the most dedicated blues rock 'n' roll boogie that I've heard in a long time, Underdog Heroes is a stunning return to form for the band.

The album opens with the unique trademark lo-fi growl from front man Jim "Dandy" Mangum on the heartfelt ballad 'Don't Let It Show' and that's backed up by both the spirited guitar fest of the title track and the tribute to those that have departed us within the industry, 'Channeling Spirits.'

The storytelling of 'Ruby's Heartbreaker,' a song "... dedicated to memory of an unforgettable little lady with red hair and a perfect derriere" is up next and that's followed by the growled passages of darkness within 'The Wrong Side of Midnight.'

One of the best tracks on the album, in my humble opinion is the blues rock of 'The Devil's Daughter' featuring the unmistakable vocals of Sammy B. Seauphine (founder/front woman of melodic metal band, Dark Epiphany).

Up next comes the howling rock winds of 'Arkansas Medicine Man' which in turn is backed by another stand out cut in 'Do Unto Others'. Now this is a very special recording for many reason, lest the fact that it features the incredible talents of virtuoso guitarist Shawn Lane; regarded by many as one of the fastest guitar players to ever live, and a member of the BOA clan since 1978!

The slow rock roll of 'You Told Me You Loved Me' is next and that's followed by the slower lo-fi vibe of 'Love 4 Rent.' The album then rounds out with the blues rockier 'The 12 Bar Blues,' and finally a rousing 'Johnnie Won't Be Good.'

Underdog Heroes is available on both CD and a special limited edition GOLD vinyl pressing (only 300 made!).

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Humanworld'
Artist - Peter Perrett

One of the recent past’s most unexpected comeback stories, Peter Perrett – former frontman of The Only Ones (formed in London in 1976 and originally disbanded in 1982, they were associated with punk rock, yet straddled the musical territory in between punk, power pop and hard rock, with noticeable influences from psychedelia - resurfaced in 2017 with How The West Was Won, an album that saw him chart in the UK.

In this new chapter, Peter continues to dissect romance and politics with his trademark sense of sardonic wit and wry humor, if not with more vigor and a palpable sense of immediacy, on Humanworld, his second album for Domino.

1. 'I Want Your Dreams'
2. 'Once Is Enough'
3. 'Heavenly Day'
4. 'Love Comes On Silent Feet'
5. 'The Power Is In You'
6. 'Believe In Nothing'
7. 'War Plan Red'
8. '48 Crash'
9. 'Walking In Berlin'
10. 'Love's Inferno'
11. 'Master Of Destruction'
12. 'Carousel'

The album begins with the gently jangled lo-fi storytelling of 'I Want Your Dreams' with the groove being upped for the wants and desires found within 'Once Is Enough,' and then comes one of my own personal favorites, the reminiscing of a perfect first date on 'Heavenly Day.'

The fervent guitars and drums of the rollercoaster of a track 'Love Comes On Silent Feet' are up next with the lazy hazy mid tempo ballad 'The Power Is In You' backing it up beautifully.

The drum-led telling-it-like-it-is 'Believe In Nothing' ("It's not a time for hope. Living is a joke") together with some stirring viola work (from Jenny Maxwell) is next and that's followed by the rambunctious 'War Plan Red,' and then the melodic early-'90s indie vibe of '48 Crash.'

The moody ambiance of 'Walking In Berlin' resonates the '70s subculture and anarchist freedom associated with Germany shortly after the Wall fell with the free flowing hipsway of 'Love's Inferno' along next.

The album then rounds out with the sounds of a radio being tuned in, landing on a song ('Master Of Destruction') that wishes to inform the masses of what the leading cause of their downfall is, with a final return to lo-fi on the nourishing love song, 'Carousel.'

Peter’s band includes his guitar and bass playing sons Jamie and Peter Jr, drummer Jake Woodward, Jenny Maxwell (Microkorg synthesiser, viola, BVs) and Lauren Moon (keys, drums, BVs).

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Heavyweight Colored Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Deadlines: Remastered & Expanded Box-Set'
Artist - The Strawbs

For those not in the know, The Strawbs are an English rock band founded in 1964. Although the band started out as a bluegrass group they eventually moved on to other styles such as folk rock, progressive rock, and (briefly) glam rock.

They are best known for their hit, 'Part of the Union', which reached number two in the UK charts in February 1973, as well as for 'Lay Down,' a popular progressive rock hit from the same LP.

The Strawbs also toured with Supertramp on their Crime of the Century tour, doing their own Hero and Heroine tour, which drew musical similarities and themes.

Esoteric Recordings is now releasing (June 21st, 2019 via Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red Records UK) a remastered and expanded 2 CD / 1 DVD boxset edition of their 1977 album, Deadlines.

Released in late 1977, this would be the band’s final album to be released in the 1970s. Recorded in Dublin and London by a line-up of Dave Cousins (vocals, acoustic guitars, banjo, guitar), Dave Lambert (vocals, lead guitar), Chas Cronk (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals) and Tony Fernandez (drums, percussion) with guest keyboard players John Mealing and Robert Kirby, Deadlines was the Strawbs only album for the Arista label.

Often unfairly overlooked in the Strawbs canon and largely ignored by some quarters of the music press upon its release (at the height of Punk rock), Deadlines was a mighty fine album featuring some excellent tracks such as ‘No Return’, ‘The Last Resort’, ‘Sealed With A Traitor’s Kiss’, ‘Time And Life’, ‘New Beginnings’, ‘Deadly Nightshade’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’.

CD 1 - Deadlines: Original Album
1. 'No Return'
2. 'Joey and Me'
3. 'Sealed with a Traitor's Kiss'
4. 'I Don't Want to Talk About It'
5. 'The Last Resort'
6. 'Time and Life'
7. 'New Beginnings'
8. 'Deadly Nightshade'
9. 'Words of Wisdom'
10. 'Midnight' (Out-Take) - BONUS TRACK
11. 'No Return' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
12. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
13. 'Time and Life' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
14. 'Deadly Nightshade' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
15. 'Words of Wisdom' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
16. 'The Chosen Ones' (Acoustic Demo) - BONUS TRACK
17. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss' (Band Demo) - BONUS TRACK
18. 'No Return' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK
19. 'Joey and Me' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK
20. 'Deadly Nightshade' (Dublin Production Mix) - BONUS TRACK

CD 2 - BBC Radio One "Sight & Sound in Concert" 18th February 1978
1. 'Lay Down'
2. 'The Last Resort'
3. 'Ghosts'
4. 'No Return'
5. 'Heartbreaker'
6. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss'
7. 'Simple Visions'
8. 'Cut Like a Diamond'
9. 'Out in the Cold'
10. 'Round and Round'
11. 'Hero and Heroine'

DVD - BBC TV "Sight & Sound in Concert" 18th February 1978
1. 'Lay Down'
2. 'The Last Resort'
3. 'Ghosts'
4. 'No Return'
5. 'Heartbreaker'
6. 'Sealed with a Traitors Kiss'
7. 'Simple Visions'
8. 'Cut Like a Diamond'
9. 'Out in the Cold'
10. 'Round and Round'
11. 'Hero and Heroine'

For most hardcore Strawbs fans, this album remains a perennial let down. Why? Two reasons: 1) Dave Cousins admitted it was not one of his favorite recording experiences as the label was shunting him aside for Dave Lambert; having the guitarist assume a de facto leader role when (really) none was needed, and 2) It came out at a time when progressive rock was withering on the vine and its best bands were struggling for redefinition.

However, The Strawbs were no stranger to this latter dilemma. Deadlines can be described as full of sound and fury signifying nothing; a loud, lumbering set weighed down by bombastic production, overdub nightmares and poor songwriting.

And yet, this brand new 2019 3-Disc boxset from Esoteric Recordings has strangely made me fall in love (perhaps for the first time ever) with the album!

Real heft and drama have been "added" to these songs via the remastering process, the bottom solid, the spacing and instrumentation given newfound clarity and context throughout.

The vocals are much better layered, mannered, effervescent and the guitars sting and barb the listener with newfound power (all hail Dave Lambert!).

Of course, we've heard all these songs before, but some just "pop" now quite like never before. I mean, 'Words Of Wisdom' and 'No Return' both retain their venom and vitriol and sound even MORE anthemic than ever.

Yet I've now come to actually enjoy 'Joey And Me' and 'The Last Resort', not to mention the dark ballads such as both 'Sealed With A Traitor's Kiss' and 'Deadly Nightshade'.

So time isn't the enemy here and the remastered tweaking has made a decent, if unspectacular, album all THAT much better. The Strawbs fans have no fear, dig in and enjoy for it's now time for Deadlines to take its rightful place in the Strawbs pantheon!

To promote the album. The Strawbs made a memorable appearance on the BBC TV and Radio simulcast programme “Sight & Sound in Concert” in February 1978 (featuring recently recruited keyboard player Andy Richards in their ranks) where they performed a blistering 60 minute set of some material from Deadlines along with other classics such as ‘Lay Down’, ‘Ghosts’, ‘Heartbreaker’, ‘Cut Like a Diamond’, ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Hero and Heroine’.

This concert appears on both a CD and a DVD (NTSC / Region Free) in this wondrous boxset for the first time, remastered from the original BBC tapes, along with 11 bonus tracks comprising alternate takes and demos from the Deadlines sessions.

2 CD / 1 DVD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'The Rabbit & The Rope'
Artist - Owen-Glass

For those not in the know, creative indie folk-rock duo Owen-Glass (singer-songwriter Kelly Wayne Conley and guitarist Cole Humphrey) have just released their incredible debut album The Rope & The Rabbit.

A collection several years in the making, The Rope & The Rabbit makes an impactful statement about who we are as individuals living in a larger society; challenging us to look inside ourselves and think about how we are connected to the world around us.

1. 'Rabbit Hole'
2. 'Here It Comes'
3. 'Devil Don't Mind'
4. 'General Butler'
5. 'Leave It Alone'
6. 'Hammer and Sickle'
7. 'Saint'
8. 'Paper Chains'
9. 'Solomon Pt. 1'
10. 'This Room'
11. 'The Rope'

The duo from the Piney Woods of East Texas open their album with the dulcet tunesmith 'Rabbit Hole' and back that up seamlessly with the upbeat 'Here It Comes' and the laid back hipsway of 'Devil Don't Mind.'

The gentle reggae bounce of 'General Butler' is a right royal gem here and that's followed by the early '90s indie guitar vibe of 'Leave It Alone' with the quite brilliantly sweet and free flowing 'Hammer and Sickle' one of the stand out cuts. The sterner paced 'Saint' is up next before we get yet another musical gem in the form of the structured slap guitar of 'Paper Chains.'

The album (which was produced and engineered by David Beck, mixed by Beck, Conley and James Campbell at Cibolo Studios in San Antonio, TX, and mastered by Evan Bradford - The Avett Brothers, Dierks Bentley, Dawes - of Mixtown USA in Los Angeles, CA) then rounds out with the countrified storytelling found within 'Solomon Pt. 1,' the mid tempo ballad 'This Room,' and then the lay-in-a-meadow, sun shining, eyes closed sweeping melodies of 'The Rope' bring the show to a close.

“It’s really a chronicle of that ‘coming of age’ period where you call everything into question, expose yourself to new ideas, and really expend a lot of intellectual energy finding out who you are, what you believe, and what your purpose in life must be,” Conley reveals.

"I fell down quite the rabbit hole—intensely studying philosophy, religion, economics—you-name-it—and wrote several of these tunes along the way. When you really tune in to the lyrics, you notice pretty quickly that there’s more going on than some heavy breakup. There’s a soul being exposed and vulnerable.”

Of working with Conley, Bradford says: “I truly enjoyed working on his music and am honored to have been a part of this album."

"I personally find it difficult to box music into really specific genres, but I also feel that the best songs and albums don’t necessarily fit into a nice little box, and this definitely falls into that category for me."

"There is clearly a theme and concept that threads the whole album together, and I love how it speaks to me.”

The Rope & The Rabbit announces the arrival of an unshakable duo onto the indie scene through the bold drive of rock, the organic glory of Americana, and the powerful charge of gospel.

Stream or download the album now on digital music platforms.

'Here It Comes' - Official Video

Owen-Glass @ Facebook

Owen-Glass @ Twitter

Title - 'And Then'
Artist - Christopher Martin

For those not in the know, Christopher Martin is a reggae/dancehall singer and songwriter from St. Catherine, Jamaica.

Martin won Digicel's Rising Stars in 2005 (the Jamaican version of American Idol) and is best known for the songs 'Cheaters Prayer', 'Paper Loving' and 'Big Deal'.

One of Jamaica’s most versatile vocal stars, Martin's sophomore album for VP Records entitled And Then is packed pop-flavored mid-tempo cuts the singer calls "sugar reggae."

The album will definitely please core fans (ladies) and attract new listeners (more ladies) based on smooth audio and video productions to support the feature tracks, with his latest hit 'Life' on the Global Warming Riddim produced by Omar Samuels and Corey Stoneman, having launched in mid-March.

1. 'Life'
2. 'Come Back'
3. 'Bun Fi Bun'
4. 'Can't Dweet Again'
5. 'I'm About It'
6. 'To Be With You'
7. 'Still Got Feeling'
8. 'Is It Love'
9. 'True Love'
10. 'Happy You're Mine'
11. 'Mirror Mirror'
12. 'Don't Tell'
13. 'Tears In Her Eyes'
14. 'I'm Tired'
15. 'I Do It All'

The first track we get ushered into is the aforementioned lead single, a cut that is both vibrant and sun-kissed to the fullest extent. Next up is the pairing of the mid-tempo hype yearnings of 'Come Back' and the dancehall reggae of 'Bun Fi Bun.'

The ballad 'Can't Dweet Again' is then seamlessly backed by the lo-fi beats of the mid-tempo ballad 'I'm About It' with an outstanding, absolutely brilliant cover of Mr. Big's 'To Be With You' along next.

A genuine stand out highlight of the album, that's followed by the summery pop of 'Still Got Feeling,' the dubstep of 'Is It Love' and then another great cut in the heartfelt 'True Love.'

The joyous bounce of 'Happy You're Mine' is the backed by 'Mirror Mirror' with the pop reggae beats of 'Don't Tell' along next. The album then rounds out with the gentle ballad 'Tears In Her Eyes,' the beautiful hipsway of 'I'm Tired,' and then the barefoot on the sand as sunset approaches passionate plea to both Heaven and earth, 'I Do It All.'

Amazon Purchase Link

Christopher Martin @ Facebook

Title - 'Weinberg: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 21'
Artist - Graþinytë-Tyla/Kremer/City Of Birmingham Symphony

For those not in the know, Mirga Graþinytë-Tyla is a Lithuanian conductor who was named Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in February 2016; following in the footsteps of Sir Simon Rattle, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons.

Her Music Directorship was extended through the 2020-21 season.

Highlights of her 2018-19 season include numerous European tours with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, performances with the New York Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Swedish Radio Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scalla, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra. She will also take part in highly anticipated events such as the CBSO Song Festival and the BBC Proms.

Graþinyte-Tyla has electrified audiences as a guest conductor all over the world. In Europe, she has collaborated with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn, the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie, the Choir of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Chamber Orchestras of Vienna, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the Mozarteum Orchestra and the Camerata Salzburg, and the Orchestra of the Komische Oper in Berlin.

For her first recording with Deutsche Grammophon, the Lithuanian conductor offers haunting accounts of two symphonies by the Polish-born Soviet composer, Mieczysùaw Weinberg.

Having just released the album in May this wondrous collection of orchestral works by Polish composer Mieczysùaw Weinberg, whose centenary falls this year is as good as it gets, in my humble opinion.

On this 2CD set, we get the String Symphony No. 2, played by Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica, and the longer Symphony No. 21 (“Kaddish”), the composer’s last, played by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; both, of course, conducted by the latter’s new chief, Graþinytë-Tyla.

In the first movement, violinist Kremer takes the long solo violin segments, while Graþinytë-Tyla takes on the soprano part in the finale. A stunning combination, perhaps less operatic than in works gone by, nonetheless it's Graþinytë-Tyla’s dulcet, schooled, pure dare I say singing that shines through on this new interpretation.

Indeed, she conducts the combined forces of the CBSO, Kremerata Baltica and violinist Kremer in Symphony No. 21 “Kaddish” – a major work completed in 1991 and dedicated to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto - as if her life depended on a successful interpretation.

Much as she also did in the early Symphony No. 2, she allows the Second String Symphony to become more "classical" in character, shall I say. More tightly bound than the somewhat fragmented “Kaddish” it's a more readily approachable and even moving a composition now.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Rise'
Artist - Jess Gillam

For those not in the know, the young British saxophonist Jess Gillam has acquired a burgeoning presence in the UK music scene; starting from her reaching the finals of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, and building up to her appearance at the 2018 Last Night of the Proms, which proved a breakout moment for her, in terms of cultural recognition.

Now Gillam has debuted at the top of the Official UK Classical Chart with her critically-acclaimed album Rise, released on April 26th, 2019 on Decca Classics.

This remarkable achievement makes Gillam the youngest saxophonist ever to hit the No.1 spot of the classical charts.

An instrument which is often forgotten in the classical world, the 20-year-old star has brought the saxophone into the spotlight, and back to the top of the charts.

This totally unique album showcases Gillam's phenomenal talent as well as her diverse musical taste, with tracks ranging from John Williams and Shostakovich to David Bowie and Kate Bush.

1. Pedro Iturralde - 'Pequeña Czarda'
2. Kate Bush - 'This Woman's Work'
3. Alessandro Marcello - 'Adagio'
4. Darius Milhaud - 'Brazileira'
5. John Williams - 'Closing In'
6. Michael Nyman - 'If'
7. John Harle - 'RANT!'
8. David Bowie - 'Where Are We Now?'
9. Kurt Weill - 'Je ne t'aime pas'
10. John Dowland - 'Flow My Tears (featuring Miloš, guitar)
11. Rudy Wiedoeft - 'Valse Vanité'
12. Dmitri Shostakovich - 'Waltz 2'
13. Traditional - 'Dark Eyes'
14. Francis Lai - 'Love Story - Theme' (Bonus Track)

This quite stunning, elegant album opens with the playful 'Pequeña Czarda' from Iturralde (the liner notes by Jessica Duchen comment that this track has actually become Gillam's signature piece now) and then brings us the stirring, low key 'This Woman's Work' from Bush, with the stirring beauty of 'Adagio (Oboe Concerto in D Minor)' by Marcello next.

The fast-paced, at times delightfully nearly tripping over itself 'Brazileira (Scaramouche, suite for saxophone & piano (or orchestra), Op. 165c)' by Milhaud is one of my own personal favorites here and that's backed by Williams' 'Closing In' (from Escapades and also adapted from his score for the film 'Catch Me If You Can') and the sweeping 'If' from The Diary of Anne Frank by Nyman.

The sternly playful 'RANT!' by Harle (which was actually composed by Harle as a musical salute to and portrait of Gillam) is a piece that sounds like it might well have been Gillam's toughest work to master, given all it's breathless tucks and bounds and that's followed by Bowie's haunting The Next Day (2013) album track 'Where Are We Now?'

The gentleness of 'Je ne t'aime pas' by German Jewish composer Weill is perfectly paired with the reflective 'Flow my Tears' featuring Miloš on guitar (from Dowland's Second Booke of Songes, 1600), the delightful sax and piano duet 'Valse Vanité' by Wiedoeft next.

The album then rounds out with Shostakovich's twirling ballroom musical wonderment 'Waltz 2' (from his Suite for Variety Orchestra and which was also included in the film 'Eyes Wide Shut'), the ethereal Traditional track 'Dark Eyes,' and then the Bonus Track is the sentimentally lush 'Love Story – Theme' from Lai.

On hearing of her chart success, the young star said: “If someone had told me – when I first picked up a saxophone in the Barracudas Carnival Band in Barrow-on-Furness – that I would get a classical number one for my first album release, I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years!"

“It has been so exciting to record my debut with the team at Decca Classics, and special thanks to the producer John Harle, BBC Concert Orchestra and Miloš for being a part of Rise."

"Music has been such an important part of my life and the tracks included on the album are very personal to me, so it’s overwhelming that there has been such an amazing response to it so far."

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Palimpsest'
Artist - Mika Stoltzman & Richard Stoltzman

Clarinet legend Richard Stoltzman and virtuoso marimbist Mika Stoltzman have come together to bring forth a rather delightful, entertaining and vibrant new collection of arrangements evoking the past and new works of the present on Palimpsest.

Including music by J.S. Bach, William Thomas McKinley, Astor Piazzolla, Maurice Ravel and John Zorn, the album is not only the fruit of the Stoltzman's musical partnership, but their relationship as husband and wife.

JS Bach (1685-1750)
1. Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue (15:51)
2. Chaconne (16:51)
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
3. Pavane pour une infante deìfunte (6:47)
William Thomas McKinley (1938-2015)
4. Mostly Blues Nos. 2, 8 & 12 (6:10)
John Zorn (b. 1953)
5. Palimpsest (4:44)
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
6. Tango–Eìtude No. 5 (2:30)
7. Fuga y misterio (6:10)

This quite brilliant, dulcet and charming, precise and yet ever flowing album begins in gentle form with two of Bach's works: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue allows Mika to step to the fore, whilst Chaconne showcases the talent of Richard.

Ravel's perky Pavane pour une infante deìfunte is excellently performed here by Richard on clarinet with McKinley's sprightly Mostly Blues Nos. 2, 8 & 12 allows for the Stoltzman's harmonious relationship (along with some wondrous work from Hector Del Curto on bandoneon) to come to the fore, once again.

My own personal favorite here is the collection's title track, Palimpsest for Clarinet and Marimba (by Zorn) which has Richard most definitely reaching musical heights (quite literally) that allow Mika's marimba undercurrent to create a beautiful backbone for him.

This insightful and stunning album rounds out with two from Piazzolla: first the playful peaks and troughs of the magical Tango–Eìtude No. 5 and then the quietly captivating Fuga y misterio brings things to a stoically ethereal close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'JS Bach, Kodály & Brown: Music for Solo Cello'
Artist - Matthew Zalkind

Praised for his “impressive refinement, eloquent phrasing, and singing tone” by The New York Times, American cellist Matthew Zalkind has performed throughout the United States and abroad as a recitalist, soloist and chamber musician.

As a soloist, Zalkind has performed concerti with such organizations as the, the Albany Symphony, the Hongzhou Philharmonic, Musica Viva Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the Tongyeong International Music Festival Orchestra, the Music Academy of the West Festival Orchestra and the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra.

Zalkind has also performed concerti with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Thierry Fischer, Giancarlo Guerrero, David Alan Miller and several others.

On his solo debut recording, JS Bach, Kodály & Brown: Music for Solo Cello, the acclaimed cellist truly puts his best foot forward with his interpretations of works by JS Bach, Michael Brown and Zoltan Kodaly.

JS Bach (1685-1750)
1-6 Suite No. 6 in D for Solo Cello BWV 1012 (30:00)
Michael Brown (b. 1987)
7-9 Suite for Solo Cello
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8

Playing all his works on a rare Italian cello made by Florentine Maker Luigi Piatellini in 1760, Zalkind takes Bach's work first and although playing by all the noted rules, still manages to make the half hour his own.

Always safe in the knowledge that these works he has chosen to bring together as one already possess a strong sense of kinship between the composers, with each one exploring the vast expressive and technical possibilities of the solo cello, Zalkind's movements within Brown's (who is also a close friend and colleague of his) are simply divine.

But for me, it's his take on Kodály's daunting Sonata for Solo Cello, Op. 8 that has become my go-to for return play. The eloquent phrasing along with the magnificent inflections and nuances of the Hungarian folk music make Zalkind's work crispy soar with perfectly astute harmonies.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Keep On Keeping On' [EP]
Artist - The Truth

I guess I should start at the beginning, but as it's rather a long story, which would subsequently make for an even longer intro, I'll just cut to the chase.

One of my favorite bands growing up in the UK was Nine Below Zero, an English blues band who had a cult following throughout Europe, and were most popular during the period 1980–1982.

When Nine Below Zero split, no-one saw Dennis Greaves starting again with what would become the UK's best Modernist Soul band since the heyday of the 1960's, The Truth.

But sure enough, with the addition of the song-writing talents of Mick Lister, hits like "Confusion (Hits Us Everytime), "Exception Of Love" and "A Step In The Right Direction" saw a full chart assault whilst still playing to a largely new, post-Jam crowd of Mods.

Signing to WEA and then IRS they went through several line-up changes, but Greaves and Lister remained members throughout the group's run (1982-1989).

In 1990 Greaves then reformed Nine Below Zero (inclusive of Mark Feltham) and in 2012 he and Lister reformed The Truth for live performances around the world.

Well, all good things come to those who wait because some 35 years on and via Heavy Soul! Records The Truth have just brought out a wondrous new 4-Track EP CD and vinyl 7" single (limited to just 250) entitled "Keep On Keeping On."

1. "Keep On Keeping On"
2. "Confusion Hits Us Every Time" (2019)
3. "A Step In The Right Direction" (2019)
4. "Life Through A Glass"

Featuring two totally new tracks with the EP CD alongside two new recordings of the bands biggest hits, once the finger-snappin' opening bars of "Keep On Keeping On" arrive your brain instantly acknowledges the fact that The Truth are back and in some mighty fine rollicking form!

A love letter to Mods everywhere along with harboring a delicious Northern soul vein, that's backed next by two splendidly vibrant re-recordings of days gone by in both "Confusion Hits Us Every Time" and "A Step In The Right Direction."

Always two highlights of any live shows, let alone watching the videos whenever they crept onto TV never failed to encourage my hipsway to come to the fore, the EP rounds out with the quietly acoustic new Lister-sung track "Life Through A Glass."

Chock full of all The Truth passion, verve and melodic bounce that always existed it's also pretty brilliant to hear that Greaves has lost none of his distinctive trademark vocals.

Indeed, his brand of stylistic singing that branded each record either Nine Below Zero or The Truth released from '83 onward is still perfectly in place here on this stunning return-to-recording-form 4-track EP CD.

Official 4-track EP CD Purchase Link

Official 7" Single Purchase Link

The Truth @ Facebook!

Title - 'Rambling Stranger'
Artist - Lucy Isabel

New Jersey-born and Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lucy Isabel has just released her new full-length album, Rambling Stranger this past June 14th, 2019 and it is glorious. Simply glorious.

Produced by Jared Anderson and recorded in a series of live, inspired takes, Rambling Stranger shows the full scope of Isabel’s songwriting along with her classic-sounding folk croon – that evokes everyone from Brandi Carlile to Judy Collins.

1. 'How It Goes'
2. 'Something New'
3. 'The Road Ahead'
4. 'Rambling Stranger'
5. 'California Coming Down'
6. 'False Prophet'
7. 'Little Bird'
8. 'Lucky Stars'
9. 'The Between'
10. 'Don't Ask Me Why'

The first track of the 10 is 'Here It Goes' which opens bombastically before free flowing into a wondrous Americana vibe and that's backed by both the dulcet lo-fi bluegrass-folk of 'Something New' and the counted-in country roots-rock of 'The Road Ahead.'

The beautiful, lush title track 'Rambling Stranger' is a track that you will find yourself hitting replay on many times and that's backed by a distinctive rock-blues orientated sound on 'California Coming Down.'

Another of my personal favorites is when Isabel's brand of Nashville Americana comes to the fore on the beautiful 'False Prophet' which then has the folk-pop of 'Little Bird' following along nicely thereafter.

This quite captivating new album then rounds out with the gentle acoustic ballad 'Lucky Stars,' the harder-hitting rock bounce of 'The Between', and then the storytelling whilst sat at the piano of 'Don't Ask Me Why' brings the show to a righteous close.

With all 10 of these new songs being filled with images from an adulthood lived on the run: a shuttered army fort along the Jersey Shore; a mountain range outside of Seattle; a road leading to an unknown destination, promising nothing but the unexpected for anyone willing to take it, Rambling Stranger is as perfect an album as I've heard (within any genre) in many a year.

“This album has been building up inside of me since I first moved to Nashville,” says Isabel. “I’m so excited to have had the opportunity to work with such amazing musicians and friends to bring it to life, and I’m even more excited to share it with as many people as possible.”

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Title - 'No Wind Tonight ...'
Artist - Free Human Zoo

Featuring elements of Jazz, Rock, Jazz-Rock, Pop, Prog, Folk, Etno, World and so much more, the electrifying sextet Free Human Zoo - led by drummer and percussionist Gilles Le Rest - keeps on its passionate search for liberating music here on their brand new album No Wind Tonight …, whilst still incorporating its bold brand of hybridization.

Some two years after they released their wondrously received album Freedom, Now!, Free Human Zoo - Laurent Skoczek, Samy Thiébault, Nico Feuger, Emmanuel Guerrero, Matthieu Rosso and the aforementioned Gilles Le Rest - are back with a bang!

CD 1 - Bab'Y
01. 'Prologue' (2:40)
02. 'Barbarossa' (4:25)
03. 'Klezmer Volutes' (1:47)
04. 'Die frohlichen kamaraden' (3:58)
05. 'Pitchipoi' (4:22)
06. 'L'espoir au Coeur' (3:57)
07. 'The Yar' (6:49)
08. 'My Little African Doll' (5:48)
09. 'Revoir l'aurore' (2:42)
10. 'Forces Vitales' (5:57)
11. 'Epilogue' (1:42)

CD 2 - Curritur ad Vocem
01. 'Curritur' (6:42)
02. 'Sursum Corda' (5:12)
03. 'Ad Vocem' (3:20)
04. 'Vive Valeque' (4:22)
05. 'Acta Est Fabula' (5:10)
06. Talitha Koum (6:42)
07. No Wind Tonight (7:07)

The first disc opens with a long memorial suite entitled Bab'Y, the 11 sub part opus being a heartfelt a tribute to the survivors of Babi Yar (where in September 1941 some 33,771 Jews were gunned down by the SS).

Opening with the stern 'Prologue,' the melodies being to come forth on the more playful 'Barbarossa' and the short, but uber sweet 'Klezmer Volutes.'

The methodical 'Die frohlichen kamaraden' is along next and even has a gentle Wintry feel to it, before the finger-snappin' and sax wonderment of 'Pitchipoi' (my personal favorite amongst the 11) and then the vibrant 'L'espoir au Coeur' are brought forth.

Evoking the power of the life forces, the forces of life, through the evidence of a compassionate fraternity, of a necessary communion of the "after", as a whole BabY's sub tracks draw from a spiral of contrary feelings and bring them into the light - if only for a few minutes.

The dulcet piano work of 'The Yar' gives this track its more serious backbone with the thoughtful, yet melodic key work of 'My Little African Doll' backing it beautifully.

A track that wouldn't be out of place in a smoky underground, late night/early morning jazz club 'Revoir l'aurore' is up next with the first disc rounding out with the bombastic 'Forces Vitales,' and then the emphatic closer 'Epilogue.'

The second disc comes in three pieces, the first split into 5 sub tracks and overall is a piece inspired by a traditional medieval style that comes from the series called "Carmina Burana" (manuscript of the Abbey of Benediktbeuern / XIII C.).

Opening with the joyous musical deliberations of 'Curritur' that's backed seamlessly by the free flowing piano, drum, bass and trumpet work on 'Sursum Corda,' with the more delicate 'Ad Vocem' along next.

The drums and sax take centerstage next on another late night jazz club-evoking 'Vive Valeque' with the sweepingly lush 'Acta Est Fabula' another stand out work of musical art here.

The next main track is 'Talitha Koum' and celebrates the mystery of perpetual rebirth, especially through an open and laughing harmonic grid combined with a fast and more tense tempo.

This quite stunning, absolutely mesmerizing new album then comes to a close with the title track (and longest at over seven minutes), 'No Wind Tonight.' The cut is an eponymous theme of the album and comes across as a calm, clensing and introspective journey for the soul once undertaken.

With room to freely manoevure within its construction for the acoustic piano, double bass and tenor sax, it's Zen warmth and state of fluid being makes it the most perfect way to end the album - let alone ones day, in general, of course.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Getz at The Gate' [2CD]
Artist - Stan Getz

For those not in the know, Stan Getz (born Stanley Gayetski) was an American jazz saxophonist. Playing primarily the tenor saxophone, Getz was known as "The Sound" because of his warm, lyrical tone, his prime influence being the wispy, mellow timbre of his idol, Lester Young.

Coming to prominence in the late 1940s with Woody Herman's big band, Getz is described by critic Scott Yanow as "one of the all-time great tenor saxophonists".

Getz performed in bebop and cool jazz groups. Influenced by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim, he popularized bossa nova in America with the hit single 'The Girl from Ipanema' (1964).

A previously unreleased recording of master jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and his quartet, recorded on November 26th, 1961 at New York’s Village Gate, will be released by Verve/UMe on June 14th, 2019.

Entitled Getz At The Gate it will be available as 2CD, 3LP and digital sets featuring every note performed that night by Getz with his new band of the time, featuring Steve Kuhn, John Neves and Roy Haynes.

The show itself was professionally recorded with a view to possible commercial release but, after those plans were forgotten, the tape sat in the vaults for 58 years.

Ergo, the recording now serves as a priceless document of a direction that Getz, ultimately, did not follow.

CD 1:
1 – Announcement by Chip Monck
2 – 'It’s Alright With Me' (Cole Porter)
3 – 'Wildwood' (Gigi Gryce)
4 – 'When The Sun Comes Out' (Harold Arlen-Ted Koehler)
5 – 'Impressions' (John Coltrane)
6 – 'Airegin' (Sonny Rollins)
7 – 'Like Someone In Love' (Jimmy Van Heusen-Johnny Burke)
8 – 'Woody ’N You' (Dizzy Gillespie)
9 – 'Blues' (Stan Getz)

CD 2:
1 – 'Where Do You Go' (Alec Wilder-Arnold Sundgaard)
2 – 'Yesterday’s Gardenias' (Dick Robertson)
3 – 'Stella By Starlight' (Victor Young-Ned Washington)
4 – 'It’s You Or No One' (Jule Stine-Sammy Cahn)
5 – 'Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most' (Tommy Wolf-Fran Landesman)
6 – '52nd Street Theme' (Thelonious Monk)
7 – 'Jumpin’ With Symphony Sid' (Lester Young-King Pleasure)

Listening avidly to this quite wondrous 2CD set, not only does Getz at The Gate contain performances of several tracks that he had recorded in the 1950s - including ‘When the Sun Comes Out,’ ‘Like Someone in Love’ and ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most’ - but it also hints at where he might have gone if the bossa nova sound had not dictated his next direction (with Getz’s only known recordings of ‘It’s All Right with Me’ and ‘Yesterday’s Gardenias’ included here).

On what is quite a harmonious and illustrious live album, the 16-tracks include renditions of John Coltrane’s ‘Impressions’, Thelonious Monk’s ’52nd Street Theme,’ and complete with uptempo choruses, Sonny Rollins’ ‘Airegin’.

As aforementioned, this impassioned lush live recording captures Getz shortly before his deep dive into jazz samba, and now iconic releases with Charlie Byrd (Jazz Samba, 1962) and João Gilberto (Getz / Gilberto, 1964), but also showcases a man not afraid to experiment.

2CD Purchase Link

3LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Phenomena: Anthology'
Artist - Phenomena

For those not in the know, Phenomena is a rock music concept formed by record producer Tom Galley and brother, Whitesnake guitarist Mel Galley.

During the recording of their debut, Phenomena they were joined by Metalhammer founder Wilfried Rimensberger with other contributors along the way being such notables as leading rock musicians Glenn Hughes, Brian May, and John Wetton, amongst others.

In fact, Phenomena's production of rock songs based on a story line running through a whole album, attached to artworks and other multi-media aspects was credited for the “return of the concept album” in the 1980s.

Phenomena released three albums in the 1980s and early 1990s, and had a number one hit single in South America with 'Did It All For Love,' while the album charted across Europe, in Japan and Brazil.

With all three of those aforementioned Phenomena albums having been re-released as Definitive Editions in 2018, their legion of fans can now also enjoy these incredible rock performances under the one roof in this excellent best of one disc compilation entitled Anthology.

1. 'Still the Night'
2. 'Dance with the Devil'
3. 'Phoenix Rising'
4. 'Assassins of the Night'
5. 'Running with the Pack'
6. 'Stop!'
7. 'Did It All for Love'
8. 'Hearts on Fire'
9. 'Banzai' (Single Edit)
10. 'What About Love'
11. 'If You Want to Rock'
12. 'How Much Do You Love Me?'
13. 'Stealing Heaven'
14. 'Did It All for Love' (12" Remix)
15. 'Still the Night' (12" Remix)

Phenomena was their aforementioned debut in 1985 with the all-star, million selling album - created by Tom Galley - featuring the rock talents of: Glenn Hughes; Cozy Powell; Mel Galley; Neil Murray; Don Airey; Ric Sanders; John Thomas; and Ted McKenna.

This Anthology features three of those tracks - 'Still The Night,' 'Dance With The Devil,' and 'Phoenix Rising' - along with final mixes of the rare tracks ‘Assassins in the Night’ and ‘Running with the Pack.’

From Phenomena II: Dream Runner (1987) we get just the three cuts from the original ten - 'Stop!,' 'Did It All For Love' and 'Hearts On Fire' - but they are, in truth, and in my own humble opinion, also the best of the bunch from the release.

Phenomena III: Innervision from 1993 completes the all-star Phenomena trilogy, and brings forth five cuts from the brilliant album - 'Banzai' (Single Edit), 'What About Love,' 'If You Want to Rock,' 'How Much Do You Love Me?,' and the final mix of the rare track 'Stealing Heaven.'

The bonus tracks included are the rare 12” Remix of ‘Did It All For Love’ along with the previously-unreleased 12” Remix of ‘Still The Night.

The styling of the music is amazing, much like a mix of '70s melodies and rhythms from the '80s. Complete with atmospheric intros on many of the songs and featuring a lot of ex-Whitesnake members, it's no wonder that the album leans towards that sound - together with a tag that hung with them forever, which was they sounded like "Journey's evil cousin"!

The lyrics tend toward dark themes, while the music bounces through light and shade, hard rock and pop rock, and guitar dueling with synthesizer and, perhaps, even fiddle on 'Dance with the Devil'.

With a three year gap in place, and featuring a largely different group of rock musicians to aid them this time, Phenomena came back with tracks such as the brilliant 'Stop!' from Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath).

Sounding like a great Asia cut, Wetton's only venture to the mic is the melodic harmonies of 'Did It All For Love,' and remains one of my all-time Phenomena favorites.

On the debut, Glenn Hughes took vocal command of the tracks, but here he only performs on three, with the late John Wetton (Asia), Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath/Badlands) and Max Bacon (GTR) splitting the remaining seven between them.

They completed their all-star Phenomena trilogy with a much smaller army of willing and able rockers: Brian May; Scott Gorham; Michael Sturgis; Keith Murrell; and Leif Johansen.

Six years had now passed for Phenomena by the time their third album, Innervision, had been created and most all these tunes enabled more playing time for the guitar Gods Brian May and Thin Lizzy's very own Scott Gorham to wreck musically perfected havoc on the 10 song collection!

The Alcatrazz-esqe '80s synth in play on 'Banzai' is as strong to hear now as it was to listen to for the first time back then with the mid-tempo Journey-esque ballad 'What About Love?' (complete with Brian May’s undeniable contribution) following along perfectly.

The stand out cut from that album is the anthemic 'If You Want To Rock' which is backed by the pop rock sensibility of 'How Much Do You Love Me?' and then the power pop rock of the rare track 'Stealing Heaven.'

Trust me, if you like Whitesnake, Journey, and other bands of the same musical ilk, this new Anthology is for you, my friends.

'Phenomena: Anthology' CD Purchase Link

'Phenomena' (Definitive Edition) CD Purchase Link

'Phenomena II: Dream Runner' (Definitive Edition) CD Purchase Link

'Phenomena III: Innervision' (Definitive Edition) CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Black Moon'
Artist - Lucifer's Friend

For those not in the know, Lucifer's Friend is a German hard rock band, formed in Hamburg in 1970 by guitarist Peter Hesslein, singer John Lawton, bassist Dieter Horns, keyboardist Peter Hecht, and drummer Joachim Reitenbach.

The group was an early practitioner of heavy metal and progressive rock and they also incorporated elements of jazz and fusion into their music, especially in their fourth album Banquet of 1974.

Beyond heavy metal the band has also been cited as one of the pioneers of doom metal, helping to define both genres due to their heavy sound and dark oriented lyrics of their acclaimed debut Lucifer's Friend (1970) and returning to their roots in 1981 with Mean Machine; although here more notably influenced by speed metal.

The band officially broke up in 1982, but Lucifer’s Friend reformed in 2015 and since then has been playing high profile festival concerts - such as the HEADLINE act on 4 Sound Stage the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL and at the ROCK OF AGES and LORELEY festivals too.

Lucifer’s Friend have now released a new studio album, Black Moon which is their first album since 2016’s Too Late To Hate.

It is also the band’s second album since the aforementioned reuniting in 2015 with singer John Lawton, guitarist Peter Hesslein and bassist Dieter Horns all in the line up.

1. 'Black Moon'
2. 'Passengers'
3. 'Rolling the Stone'
4. 'Behind the Smile'
5. 'Palace of Fools'
6. 'Call the Captain'
7. 'Little Man'
8. 'Freedom'
9. 'Taking It to the Edge'
10. 'Glory Days'

Featuring the original core members of John Lawton (ex-Uriah Heep), Peter Hesslein and Dieter Horns, the album opens with the title track itself, 'Black Moon.'

A wondrous jazz-fusion cut, and also one of my favorites off the new 10 track album, it's Lawton’s still-incredible and strong vocals that grab you first, Hesslein’s guitar work next, and then the storytelling lyrics following along thereafter.

In what I can only describe as a beautiful flashback to an era and sound gone by, Black Moon to me (as an album) comes across much in the same musical vein as their 1974 album Banquet. And that thought is showcased to perfection within both 'Passengers' and the R&B vibe to 'Rolling The Stone.'

The keyboard-led 'Behind The Smile' is another harkening beauty and is backed seamlessly by both the rock prowess of 'Palace of Fools' and the pacey seafaring tale within 'Call the Captain.'

'Little Man' is then followed by the tribal beats found within the uplifting 'Freedom' with the album then rounding out with both the rock-fusion wonderment of 'Taking It To The Edge' and a sly nod to their own moments in the spotlight, perhaps, on the reflective 'Glory Days.'

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Chouans'
Artist - Alan Simon

For those not in the know, Alan Simon is a French folk-rock musician and composer, best known for his rock operas performed with noted rock musicians guesting.

Simon is associated with Breton Celticism, and his most ambitious works are typically on themes linked to Celtic myth and history. Indeed, Simon has also branched out into film-making.

Simon achieved fame with his rock opera Excalibur, La Légende des Celtes (Excalibur, The Legend of the Celts) (Sony) in 1999, of which he was both songwriter and producer.

His brand new studio album entitled Chouans is Simon’s epic musical interpretation of the French Revolution and is being released to coincide with the 230th Anniversary of the start of the revolution.

CD 1:
1. 'Ouverture'
2. 'L'incorruptible'
3. 'Ça Ira'
4. 'Au Nom de Tous Les Miens'
5. 'Le Chant Des Paysans'
6. 'La Folie'
7. 'Ma France, Mon Espérance'
8. 'La Complainte de L'abbé'
9. 'Dieu & Le Roy'
10. 'L'appel de Cadoudal'
11. 'Le Saint de L'anjou'

CD 2:
1. 'L'amazone'
2. 'Le Pardon de Bonchamps'
3. 'La Virée de Galerne'
4. 'L'infernale Danse'
5. 'Monsieur Henri'
6. 'Coeur de Chouans'
7. 'God Save the King'
8. 'Réfractaire'
9. 'Un Nouveau Monde'
10. 'Mourir Pour Des Idées'
11. 'Mon Petit Frère'
12. 'Le Vent de la Mémoire'

This incredible and expansive new orchestral rock double album features all new studio tracks and is, from the very off, both haunting ethereal and yet buoyantly hopeful.

Inclusive within these moods are many bouts of invigorating fervor where Simon's orchestrated passion for hands held solidarity against the war and its undertakings is strong, loud and proud.

To listen to just one track might well be enough for the average bystander to be drawn in for more, but collectively, well, it is a vibrant, authentic and massively engrossing work of musical art that has to be heard to be believed.

“It's the dark side of the French Revolution! The unknown pages! 300 000 people died. Mainly paysans, priest and some nobles. They were killed in the west of France where I was born," Simon himself explains.

"It's the last French civil war! The very young republic just created the humans rights and 18 months later Paris the national assembly gave the orders to march on the district call 'Vende'."

"That's was where most of the royalists were leaving. But mostly poor people! That's the history! This is the first historical album about this history! It's an hidden story. No one is proud about it!”

Official CD Purchase Link

Alan Simon's 'Chouans' @ Facebook!

Title - 'Ashes Are Burning: Remastered & Expanded'
Artist - Renaissance

Formed in 1969 by former Yardbirds members Jim McCarty and Keith Relf, by the 1971 Renaissance had undergone a series of line-up changes and had evolved into a completely different band from the one that had recorded the albums Renaissance and Illusion.

By June 1972, Renaissance had signed to EMI's Sovereign label and had settled into a line-up featuring the highly gifted vocalist Annie Haslam.

Featuring such classic material as 'Can You Understand', 'Carpet Of The Sun', 'At The Harbour' and the epic title track (featuring Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash on electric guitar).

Released in October 1973, Ashes Are Burning would establish Renaissance as one of the finest symphonic progressive rock acts.

This Esoteric Recordings edition has been remastered from the original Sovereign Records master tapes and adds a previously unreleased thirty minute live performance for BBC Radio One's In Concert programme in 1974 (recently discovered in the archives).

1. 'Can You Understand'
2. 'Let It Grow'
3. 'On the Frontier'
4. 'Carpet of the Sun'
5. 'At the Harbour'
6. 'Ashes Are Burning'
7. 'Can You Understand' (Live -BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)
8. 'Let It Grow' (Live -BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)
9. 'Ashes Are Burning' (Live - BBC Radio "In Concert" 1974)

In truth, Ashes Are Burning is my favorite Renaissance album for I just adore their combination of folk, rock, and classical music.

The songs by Michael Dunford (music) and Betty Thatcher (lyrics) have great melodies but sadly as Renaissance had such a small following in the US this wondrous album only reached #171 in the US Album Charts of that time.

I discovered the band while at college in 1975 and liked their unusual sound and so when this album was recorded in 1973 they had already made three other rather excellent albums beforehand for us fans to enjoy.

After 1979, the band moved in a more pop direction, but weirdly enough their '70s records have not really dated all that much as they are all mostly acoustic.

Annie Haslam was/is a superb singer with a unique voice and John Tout played the piano rather than a synthesizer, which was unusual for a prog band.

However, and I'm sure there is much more to it behind the scenes, but to my mind it's strange that Michael Dunford contributes acoustic guitar and nearly all the music, but is not credited as a full member of the band.

Look out for a superb electric guitar solo at the end of the title track, from Wishbone Ash's Andy Powell if not only for the fact it is the only electric instrument on the album; apart Jon Camp's bass guitar.

In closing, this is a beautiful album and in 2015 was listed at #31 in Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time."

The booklet features a new essay and exclusive interviews with Annie Haslam and Terry Sullivan and fully restores the original album artwork.

CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Futurama: Expanded & Remastered'
Artist - Be-Bop Deluxe

For those not in the know, Be-Bop Deluxe were an English progressive rock band who achieved critical acclaim and moderate commercial success during the mid to late 1970s.

The band's sound emerged as a mixture of glam rock, prog rock and straightforward rock and roll. Indeed, Science fiction imagery was common in the lyrics, along with the more traditional themes of love and the human condition.

Digitally remastered and now an expanded 2CD edition, Futurama, the legendary 1975 album by Be-Bop Deluxe, has now been re-released via Esoteric Recordings / Cherry Red Records (UK).

This expanded reissue has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features an additional 15 bonus tracks drawn from some stunning new stereo mixes from the original multi-track tapes by award winning engineer Stephen W. Tayler, a previously unreleased out-take from the album sessions and rare single tracks.

CD 1: The Original Stereo Mix
1. 'Stage Whispers'
2. 'Love with the Madman'
3. 'Maid in Heaven'
4. 'Sister Seagull'
5. 'Sound Track'
6. 'Music in Dreamland'
7. 'Jean Cocteau'
8. 'Between the Worlds'
9. 'Swan Song'
10. 'Between the Worlds (Single Version)' (Bonus Track)
11. 'Lights' (Bonus Track)

CD 2: New Stereo Mix
1. 'Stage Whispers'
2. 'Love with the Madman'
3. 'Maid in Heaven'
4. 'Sister Seagull'
5. 'Sound Track'
6. 'Music in Dreamland'
7. 'Jean Cocteau'
8. 'Between the Worlds'
9. 'Swan Song'
10. 'Between the Worlds (Single Version)'
11. 'Lights'
12. 'Music in Dreamland' (Phonogram Studios Version) (Previously Unreleased)
14. 'Between the Worlds' (Alternate Single Version) (Previously Unreleased)

Recorded in the first two months of 1975 at Rockfield studios (with some sessions also taking place at SARM studios in London), Futurama was the second album by Be Bop Deluxe and the first to feature the line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Charlie Tumahai (bass, vocals) and Simon Fox (drums).

Produced by Roy Thomas Baker (who at the time was also working with Queen), Futurama was an album of immense musical inventiveness and creativity and was a huge leap forward in creative terms for Bill Nelson.

The album gained much praise thanks to Bill Nelson’s composition skills and his highly innovative guitar playing. Featuring such wonderful material as ‘Maid in Heaven’, ‘Sister Seagull’, ‘Music in Dreamland’, ‘Sound Track’, ‘Between the Worlds’, ‘Jean Cocteau’ and ‘Swan Song’, the album would see Be-Bop Deluxe heralded as one of the most accomplished acts of 1975.

Top-heavy with massed guitars and melodic ideas pursued on a whim and just as quickly abandoned, it nevertheless contained two of the most perfect pop singles never to make the charts – 'Maid in Heaven' and 'Sister Seagull'.

Oh, and for those who are interested, the first three Be-Bop Deluxe albums are all, in one way or another, named after guitars. Axe is slang for a guitar, Futurama is a particular make of guitar, while Sunburst Finish refers to a style of finishing for the instrument.

Kicking off in some guitar-flaring (and original stereo mix) style with the pop sensibilities of the rampant 'Stage Whispers' (which also has a definitive pubescent Queen vibe to it), that was backed seamlessly by both 'Love With the Madman' (and its David Bowie mimicry) and the definite Queen-influenced 'Maid in Heaven.'

The first to feature the aforementioned line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Charlie Tumahai (bass, vocals) and Simon Fox (drums) next up is the brilliant '70s prog cut 'Sister Seagull.'

Next up comes the pure pop Prog fluidity of 'Sound Track' which is backed by the free flowing operatic beauty of 'Music in Dreamland.' Up next is one of my own personal album favorites, the gentle trip of 'Jean Cocteau', which is followed by the frenetic 'Between the Worlds.'

The original album then rounds out with the six minute opus 'Swan Song,' with this newly expanded and remastered classic now containing on the first disc two bonus tracks: 'Between the Worlds (Single Version)' and funky soul of 'Lights.'

The second CD features all the same songs, all be they now recorded as new stereo mixes and inclusive of three Bonus Tracks: Once again 'Between the Worlds (Single Version)' and 'Lights,' and also 'Music in Dreamland (Phonogram Studios Version)' and 'Between the Worlds (Alternate Single Version).'

The set also features a booklet which restores the original album artwork and includes previously unseen photographs and an essay of recollections by Bill Nelson.

This re-mastered and expanded edition of Futurama is a fitting tribute to a fine band, the creative vision of Bill Nelson and a wonderful album.

Official 2CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Singles Collection'
Artist - Bay City Rollers

For those not in the know, the Bay City Rollers are a Scottish pop rock band known for their worldwide teen idol popularity in the 1970s.

They have been called the "tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh", and "the first of many acts heralded as the 'biggest group since the Beatles'".

The group's line-up had many changes over the years, but the classic line-up during its heyday included guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart John Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir.

Vocalist Les McKeown still leads a version of the band to this day and has recently undertaken a tour of the UK’s largest venues with the likes of Suzi Quatro and David Essex.

Indeed, another version of the line-up still touring now includes guitarist Stuart John Wood (Woody), singer Ian Thomson, bassist Marcus Cordock and drummer Jamie McGrory.

The UK No.1’s ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and ‘Give A Little Love’ plus Top Ten’s such as ‘Remember’, ‘Shang A Lang’, ‘Summerlove Sensation’, ‘Love Me Like I Love You’ and ‘Money Honey’ are all included.

Also featured is the U.S. chart topper ‘Saturday Night’ plus many other hits from around the globe as the band in the mid 70’s – unlike many other UK bands whose success was limited to their homeland – really did rule the charts all over the world.

From one of the biggest selling bands of the entire '70s comes this 47 track clam shell box-set rounding up all of the singles from when "Roller Mania" ruled the world!

CD 1:
1. 'Keep on Dancing'
2. 'Alright'
3. 'We Can Make Music'
4. 'Jenny'
5. 'Manana'
6. 'Because I Love You'
7. 'Saturday Night'
8. 'Hey! C.B'
9. 'Remember'
10. 'Bye Bye Barbara'
11. 'Shang A Lang'
12. 'Are You Ready for That Rock N Roll'
13. 'Summerlove Sensation'
14. 'Bringing Back the Good Times'
15. 'All of Me Loves All of You'
16. 'The Bump'

CD 2:
1. 'Bye Bye Baby'
2. 'It's For You'
3. 'Give A Little Love'
4. 'She'll Be Crying Over You'
5. 'Saturday Night (Les Version)'
6. 'Marlina'
7. 'Money Honey'
8. 'Maryanne'
9. 'Love Me Like I Love You'
10. 'Mama Li'>br> 11. 'Rock 'N Roll Love Letter'
12. 'Shanghai'd in Love'
13. 'I Only Wanna Be with You'
14. 'Rock 'N Roller'
15. 'Yesterday's Hero'
16. 'My Lisa'

CD 3:
1. 'It's A Game' 2. 'Dance, Dance, Dance'
3. 'You Made Me Believe in Magic'
4. 'Are You Cuckoo?'
5. 'Dedication (Les Version)'
6. 'The Way I Feel Tonight'
7. 'Love Power'
8. 'All of the World Is Falling in Love'
9. 'If You Were My Woman'
10. 'Turn on the Radio'
11. 'Washington's Birthday'
12. 'Life on the Radio'
13. 'Ricochet'
14. 'No Doubt About It'
15. 'Set the Fashion'

The first disc kicks off with the finger-snappin' gentle pop rock hipsway of 'Keep on Dancing' and backs that up with the drum-led (and repetitive chords of) 'Alright,' the charismatic 'We Can Make Music' (a track that was originally meant to be released as the band's first single with 'Alright' on the B side, although that honor obviously went to 'Keep On Dancing'), and then both the faux piano lead in to the upbeat tempo of 'Jenny' and the unchosen Eurovision song contest qualifier, 'Manana.'

Next up is 'Because I Love You' (sung by Gordon "Nobby" Clark) which is backed by the bubblegum pop of that era 'Saturday Night,' the roaringly gritty rock of 'Hey! C.B,' the Sha la la la la la la la shoobie do of 'Remember' and then both the twangy bounce of 'Bye Bye Barbara' and always brilliant and catchy as all heck 'Shang A Lang.'

The fists pumped high 'Are You Ready for That Rock N Roll' (a track that never made it anywhere, sadly) is up next and that's followed by one of their all-time greats, and a song that after all the years still sounds great and brings back some wonderful memories, 'Summerlove Sensation.'

Next up is the gentle mid-tempo cut 'Bringing Back the Good Times' with both the joyous bounce romp of 'All of Me Loves All of You' and the drum-led 'The Bump' rounding the first disc out nicely.

The second disc opens with the phenomenal chart hit 'Bye Bye Baby' (written for them by the Four Seasons), and that's backed by the lesser known, and yet still brilliant to hear today ballad 'It's For You' and then another ballad in the form of 'Give a Little Love' ("It's a teenage dream to be seventeen. And to find you're all wrapped up in love.")

Written by Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood and the B-side of their hit single 'Give A Little Love,' next up is 'She'll Be Crying Over You' and that's followed by a 'Saturday Night (Les Version).'

The heart skip beats of 'Marlina' makes this, quite easily, one of the best BCR songs (in my humble opinion) and that's backed by both the heavy guitar work of the Faulkner/Wood cut 'Money Honey.'

The delightful pop rock of 'Maryanne' is up next and is backed by both 'Love Me Like I Love You,' 'Mama Li' (which was the B-side of 'Love Me Like I Love You' and had a video of the boys mucking out horses, if memory serves me correctly!), the hard rocking of 'Rock 'N Roll Love Letter' and then the dreamy mid-tempo ballad 'Shanghai'd in Love.'

This second disc continues on with the foot-tappin' classic 'I Only Wanna Be with You' and the guitar and vocal rocker 'Rock 'N Roller,' with the disc rounding out with both 'Yesterday's Hero' (which was already a hit in 1975 by John Paul Young in Australia and written by two Australian's from The Easybeats - Vanda and Young) and then the beautiful ballad 'My Lisa.'

The third and final disc begins with a new era for the BCR and the track 'It's A Game' (which had been an unsuccessful 1973 single by String Driven Thing),which came from an album that mysteriously only went to #18 on the UK Album Charts of the year.

'Dance, Dance, Dance' is next and that's followed by the pop soul R&B funk of 'You Made Me Believe in Magic' and the pure, unadulterated brass funk of 'Are You Cuckoo?' 'Dedication (Les Version)' is next (although the original version sung by Ian Mitchell is still the better one, for me), and that's backed by one of best love songs ever written, 'The Way I Feel Tonight.'

The rock guitar work on 'Love Power' is one to turn the sound bar up for and that's followed by both the gentle beauty of 'All of the World Is Falling in Love' and the pop flow of 'If You Were My Woman.'

At the end of 1978, the band had split with McKeown, then fired manager Tam Paton shortly after, and decided to continue in a more new wave, rock-oriented sound.

Their name was now the Rollers. South African-born Duncan Faure joined the band as new lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. The first of those was the pop rock bounce of 'Turn on the Radio' which was backed by the heavier 'Washington's Birthday' and the whistled-in fan favorite 'Life on the Radio.'

The third disc then rounds out with the guitar-heavy instrumental 'Ricochet' (which was a far cry from their teenage bubblegum pop '70s stuff), the absolutely thunderous 'No Doubt About It' and then the melodic back beats of 'Set the Fashion.'

With Faure, the line-up produced three albums: Elevator (1979), Voxx (1980) and Ricochet (1981).

The booklet also contains notes for each single and stacks of collectable picture sleeves from across the world plus tons of memorabilia.

Official 3CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Lesley Step Lightly: The GM Recordings'
Artist - Lesley Duncan

For those not in the know, Lesley Duncan was an English singer-songwriter, best known for her work during the 1970s.

She received a lot of airplay on British radio stations such as BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2; but never achieved great commercial success; in part because of her unwillingness to chase stardom, and crippling stage fright.

Lesley Steps Lightly is a brand new anthology of Lesley’s period with the (Billy) Gaff Management set up (managers of The Faces, Status Quo, Rory Gallagher, Greenslade at the time), releasing recordings on their GM label.

Indeed, to Lesley’s name were 3 LPs and 7 singles, all included here, from 1974-1978.

The three albums included are Everything Changes (Disc One), Moon Bathing (Disc Two), and Maybe It's Lost (Disc Three).

CD 1 - Everything Changes (1974)
1. My Soul'
2. Broken Old Doll'
3. The Serf'
4. Hold On'
5. Everything Changes'
6. Love Melts Away'
7. Sam'
8. You'
9. Watch the Tears'
10. We'll Get By'
11. My Soul (Live)' - Bonus Track
12. Sam (Live)' - Bonus Track
13. Fortieth Floor (Live)' - Bonus Track
14. Love Song (Live)' - Bonus Track
15. The Serf (Live)' - Bonus Track
16. Earth Mother (Live)' - Bonus Track
17. Sing Children Sing (Live)' - Bonus Track

CD 2 - Moon Bathing (1975)
1. I Can See Where I'm Going'
2. Heaven Knows'
3. Moon Bathing'
4. Rescue Me'
5. Lady Step Lightly'
6. Wooden Spoon'
7. Pick Up the Phone'
8. Helpless'
9. Fine Friends'
10. Jumped Right in the River'
11. Rocking Chair'
12. Could've Been a Winner' - Bonus Track
13. Earth Mother (Live at Reading Festival)' - Bonus Track

CD 3 - Maybe It's Lost (1977)
1. The Sky on Fire'
2. Maybe It's Lost'
3. Slipping Sideways'
4. Living It All Again'
5. Another Rainy Day'
6. Ride on the Wind'
7. Let It Roll'
8. Walk in the Sea'
9. Falling Like a Leaf'
10. Don't Worry 'Bout It'
11. Drift Away'
12. The Magic's Fine' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)
13. Paper Highways' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)
14. Sing Children Sing (Charity Group Version)' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)
15. Rainbow Games' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)
16. Don't Cry Anita' - Unreleased Bonus Track (1978-1982)
17. The Wrong Woman' - Unreleased Bonus Track (1978-1982)
18. Walking Out Into a Bad Dream' - Unreleased Bonus Track (1978-1982)
19. Yesterday (Was It Too Late)' - Unreleased Bonus Track (1978-1982)
20. You're a Sly One' - Unreleased Bonus Track (1978-1982)
21. Masters of War' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)
22. Another Light Goes Out' - Bonus Track (1978-1982)

With ninety per cent of the tracks written by Lesley these songs are very largely chronicles of relationships both happy and troubled; most, but not all of them, about Lesley's own with some songs notably being about friends rather than herself.

Everything about the debut album, Everything Changes is of the highest quality (much like all her material, to be quite honest). The songwriting, her vocals, the musicianship, the overall production and mastering are of a very high standard and each track is a pure unadulterated gem to behold.

The additional material on Disc One is the 1974 BBC In Concert recording made at the Golders Green Hippodrome. Listening to the second album, Moon Bathing and I harken back to a 1987 story I read on her that claimed Duncan blamed herself for her music not having become as far reaching as everyone around her had always hoped.

She said that being a backup session musician was easy money for all she had to do was simply write and sing and only when she felt like it. She added that she always had it in the back of her mind to make records but added she never wanted to promote them.

Indeed she was happy with her quiet life, home and child. She also said she was treated very well as a back up and felt it would be unfair to have a record label invest in her, when she probably wouldn't do much, if anything, to promote an album they had made her write/sing.

Disc Two has an extra b-side plus the live cut of one of Lesley's big song's 'Earth Mother' recorded live in 1973 at the Reading Festival.

The third album was also a doozy in the form of 'Maybe It's Lost.' Her voice, her style, all is wonderful. The instruments are at the same level with her own backing musicians on song with the way Duncan could only have hoped for.

And Disc Three goes beyond the GM years and rounds up unreleased songs recorded with her second husband arranger/producer Tony Cox during the early 1980s; her final mainstream single in 1982 an acerbic delivery of Dylan's 'Masters Of War', and the 1979 live aid style charity single cover of Lesley's song 'Sing Children Sing' with Pete Townshend, Madeline Bell, Kate Bush, Joe and Vicki Brown, Billy Nicholls and Phil Lynott.

A major 20 page essay details Lesley’s whole career and importantly offers fascinating context material with input from Jimmy Horowitz , Linda Lewis, Madeline Bell, Tony Hazzard, Kiki Dee, Jeff Dexter and Tony Cox.

The great Lesley Duncan is sadly no longer with us, but at least we can still enjoy her superb voice and songwriting talent here on this 3CD box-set.

Official 3CD Digipak Purchase Link

Title - 'The Road to Zion'
Artist - Peter Lewis

For those not in the know, early in his long and winding odyssey, Peter Lewis played a crucial part in the creation of that rare beast, the perfect rock & roll album: Moby Grape, a legendary union of guitars, voices and brotherhood made in a now-distant American age, the psychedelic San Francisco of 1967.

All these years later, and still making incredible and heart felt music, Peter is set to release his latest full-length album The Road To Zion this upcoming July 16th, 2019.

Releasing via Omad, the boutique label of the album's producer John DeNicola, listening to the 11 tracks it's quite clear that the singer/songwriter has made his best record yet.

1. 'On The Road To Zion'
2. 'Down By The Water'
3. 'When I Think About Me'
4. 'Nobody's Love'
5. 'In This Place'
6. 'Journey To The Crossroads'
7. 'A Song For Kris (This Memory)'
8. 'When I'm Gone'
9. 'Only A Fool'
10. 'Celebration Of January 24'
11. 'For The Gypsy'

From start to finish the album is a pure, unadulterated and wondrous flashback to an era when music was original and a troubadour told stories for the first time.

You don't have to get too deep into the album before you realize the quality of music that you are in for and that Lewis brings to the table for the lead single 'Down By The Water' is just Heaven on a stick, my friends.

Indeed, the title song, complete with its layered guitars and gentle vocal is as evolved as anything out there today, whereas other cuts such as the jangling march found within 'In This Place' and the hauntingly profound 'Nobody's Love' are further reminders of just how good Peter's musicianship really is.

Much like the pop Americana storytelling found within those, each track also ebbs and flows much the same stories of wanderlust, fortune, trial and commitment. So much so that, at times, you will swear the mighty Springsteen has had a hand in the albums creation.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'It Ain't The Same'
Artist - Jack Klatt

For those not in the know, musical missionary, tireless troubadour and producer Jack Klatt (based in Minneapolis, MN) isn’t one to be easily categorized or relegated to a narrow niche.

Indeed, he comes across as a young man with a wizened and worldly perspective, an artist who possesses a timeless sensibility of both place and purpose.

Yet, his artistic integrity extends to more than simply his songs. It embodies both execution and intent. Much like the way he has mastered his deft finger-picking technique and used that sturdy approach to bring his material an authenticity reminiscent of the most revered musicians and storytellers.

His brand new album, the rather stunning It Ain’t The Same (out September 27th, 2019 on Yep Roc Records) reflects that reverential attitude, but adds a depth and devotion that ensures its contemporary credence.

1. 'I'll Never Let You Down'
2. 'Looking For Love'
3. 'World Shaker'
4. 'Ramblin' Kind'
5. 'It Ain't The Same'
6. 'Caught In The Middle'
7. 'Highway Lines'
8. 'Prove My Love'
9. 'Tinted In Blue'
10. 'Tomorrow'
11. 'Love Me Lonely'

From the quite brilliant opening track 'I'll Never Let You Down' and the combination of Klatt's strong vocals and perfected guitar playing within impassioned lyrics such as "Wild flowers are hard to find, in a world that's lost it's mind" and "Be careful with playing shy, you never know what'll pass you by", this 11 track album has quickly become one of my Top 10 for 2019.

The quieter pacing of the dulcet 'Looking For Love' ("If you stray, it will find you. Give it away, it will unwind you") is up next and that's backed by the more upbeat Americana of 'World Shaker' and the lo-fi country of 'Ramblin' Kind.'

That slow country roll continues onward on the slow poke reminiscing beauty of the title track 'It Ain't The Same,' which Klatt backs up seamlessly with both the stoic guitar work of 'Caught In The Middle' and the yearning within 'Highway Lines.'

Pulling from a wide range of American music, Klatt's love for genres such as Rhythm and Blues and early Rock N’ Roll, to country and folk music, is lovingly apparent within each track.

Bringing his own voice to all of his songs, next up is the most upbeat track, the Rock N' Roll hipsway of 'Prove My Love,' which he backs with the early '70s pop sensibilities of 'Tinted In Blue.'

Inclusive of the talents of a skilled set of session players - John James Tourville (The Deslondes) on electric guitar and pedal steel, Casey McDonough (NRBQ) on bass skills, and Alex Hall (JD McPherson, The Cactus Blossoms, Robbie Fulks) on drums, percussion, keys and engineering - this wondrous new album then rounds out with the showcasing of Klatt's signature guitar work on 'Tomorrow,' with the delicate love song 'Love Me Lonely' bringing the album to a heartfelt close.

'Prove My Love' Music Video

Title - 'Lieder: Brahms, Schumann & Mahler'
Artist - Renée Fleming

For those not in the know, Renée Fleming is an American opera singer and soprano who has a full lyric soprano voice.

She has performed coloratura, lyric, and lighter spinto soprano operatic roles in Italian, German, French, Czech, and Russian, aside from her native English.

She has also sung chansons, jazz and indie rock and speaks fluent German and French, along with limited Italian.

Her signature roles include Countess Almaviva in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, the title role in Dvořák's Rusalka, the title role in Massenet's Manon, the title role in Massenet's Thaïs, the title role in Richard Strauss's Arabella, the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, and the Countess in Capriccio.

A National Medal of Arts and Richard Tucker Award winner, she regularly performs in opera houses and concert halls worldwide and in 2008, she was awarded the Swedish Polar Music Prize for her services in music.

In 2010, she took the title of 'Creative Consultant' to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the first person to hold such a title with the company.

Conductor Sir Georg Solti said of Fleming, "In my long life, I have met maybe two sopranos with this quality of singing; the other was Renata Tebaldi."

Four-time Grammy winner Renée Fleming now presents her first full-length Lieder album in almost two decades (out June 14th, 2019 via Decca Records), featuring a selection of favorite songs from Brahms, Schumann, and Mahler.

1. ‘Wiegenlied’ (‘Lullaby’), Op. 49, No. 4
2. ‘Ständchen’, Op. 106, No. 1
3. ‘Lerchengesang’, Op. 70, No. 2
4. ‘Mondnacht’, WoO 21
5. ‘Des Liebsten Schwur’, Op. 69, No. 4
6. ‘Die Mainacht’, Op. 43, No. 2
7. ‘Du Unten Im Tale’, WoO 33, No. 6
8. ‘Vergebliches Ständchen’

Frauenliebe Und Leben, Op. 42
9. ‘Seit Ich Ihn Gesehen’
10. ‘Er, Der Herrlichste Von Allen’
11. ‘Ich Kann’s Nicht Fassen, Nicht Glauben’
12. ‘Du Ring An Meinem Finger’
13. ‘Helft Mir, Ihr Schwestern’
14. ‘Süßer Fruend, Du Blickest’
15. ‘An Meinem Herzen, An Meiner Brust’
16. ‘Nun Hast Du Mir Den Ersten Schmerz Getan’

17. ‘Ich Atmet’ Einen Linden Duft’
18. ‘Liebst Du Um Schönheit’
19. ‘Um Mitternacht’
20. ‘Blicke Mir Nicht In Die Lieder!’
21. ‘Ich Bin Der Welt Abhanden Gekommen’

Spanning six decades of German song, Lieder: Brahms, Schumann & Mahler features songs by the aforementioned trio of composers, each of whom bring Romantic poetry to life.

Fleming is partnered by her long-standing artistic collaborator Hartmut Höll on piano for songs by Brahms, including the beloved Brahms’ ‘Lullaby’, and also for Schumann’s ‘Frauenliebe Und-Leben’.

She is also joined by Christian Thielemann and the Munich Philharmonic for a performance of Mahler’s ‘Rückert Lieder’ which, in my humble opinion, is the stand out highlight of this gorgeous new collection.

“I love lieder for the marriage of poetry and music that allows both profound emotion and the most intimate, nuanced expression”, Renée explains.

"The German lied is, for me, both the foundation and the pinnacle of song literature. I am especially excited to have been able to collaborate with some of the greatest interpreters in the world for this repertoire.”

For my money, here on Lieder: Brahms, Schumann & Mahler Renée, quite easily the world’s most beloved soprano has conjured up a magnificent trio of works to embody and embrace within the German vernacular of Lieder.

Indeed, her lower register has become ever-richer toned, yet fluid, while higher up her silken soprano remains undiminished within the lengths and breadths of all these works.

Title - 'Subversions II'
Artist - U.K. Subs

For those not in the know, the U.K. Subs are an English punk band, among the earliest in the first wave of British punk.

Formed in 1976 (initially using the name the Subversives), the mainstay of the band has been vocalist Charlie Harper, originally a singer in Britain's R&B scene.

Originally one of the first street punk bands, their style combined the energy of punk and the rock and roll edge of the then thriving pub rock scene.

The band had hit singles such as "Stranglehold", "Warhead", "Teenage", and "Tomorrow's Girls", with several of their songs even managing to enter the United Kingdom's Top 40 Singles Chart.

Now Charlie along with Alvin Gibbs (bass), Jamie Oliver (drums) and Steve Straughan (guitar) return for another killer covers album that puts the Subs' unique spin on a dozen rock classics!

1. "Diversion"
2. "White Light, White Heat"
3. "Immigrant Song"
4. "One More Time"
5. "Season of the Witch"
6. "Search and Destroy"
7. "This Is Rock N' Roll"
8. "My Generation"
9. "You Wreck Me"
10. "Rockin' in the Free World"
11. "We Will Rock You"
12. "The Last Time"

Including brilliant reworkings of well known songs by Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Neil Young, The Who, Queen and more the album kicks off in serious no holds barred style with "Diversion."

Written by Eddy Grant and first released by The Equals in 1973, that's backed by both a thunderous "White Light, White Heat" (Velvet Underground) and a pale (in comparison to the original) "Immigrant Song" (Led Zeppelin).

Frenetic drums and guitars blend together for "One More Time" before a diligent cover of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" is unleashed. "Search And Destroy" from Iggy And The Stooges is one of their better covers here (containing a lot of the same energy that propelled Iggy himself during his live performances) and that's backed by "This Is Rock 'N' Roll" (The Kids) and then a valid attempt at The Who's "My Generation."

Another highlight here is their soulful version of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' "You Wreck Me" which is followed by a passionate "Rockin' In The Free World" (Neil Young).

The album then comes to a close with a growled, gnarly Lemmy-esque "We Will Rock You" (Queen) and a near-perfect rendition of The Stones' "The Last Time" (that showcases perfectly just how good Harper's 70 year-old vocals truly still are!).

Available on both CD and vinyl (in your choice of BLUE or WHITE), the U.K. Subs' new album of covers Subversions II is as good as it gets within this genre - where bands seemingly now don't actually come to die at a certain vintage!

Title - 'Piggy Go Getter: Remastered'
Artist - Tear Gas

For those not in the know, formed in Glasgow at the close of the 1960s, the band Tear Gas (originally known as Mustard) featured Eddie Campbell (keyboards), Zal Cleminson (guitar), Chris Glen (bass, vocals), Gilson Lavis (drums) and Andi Mulvey (vocals).

Mulvey and Lavis were soon replaced respectively by keyboard player and vocalist David Batchelor, and Richard “Wullie” Monro and it was this very same line-up that recorded Piggy Go Getter at Regent Sound studios in London in 1970.

The album was a fine progressive rock record which gained a release both in the UK and the USA (adorned in an elaborate gatefold sleeve).

Tear Gas enjoyed a fine reputation on the European live circuit and would undergo further line-up changes when some months later Hugh McKenna replaced Batchelor and his cousin Ted McKenna (ex-Dream Police) took over from Monro on drums.

In August 1972 Zal Cleminson, Ted McKenna, Hugh McKenna and Chris Glen joined forces with vocalist Alex Harvey to form The Sensational Alex Harvey Band who would meet with success and record a series of inventive albums throughout the 1970s.

Thanks to the musician’s later work with SAHB, the Tear Gas recordings are now highly sought after by collectors.

Ergo, this just released August 2nd, 2019 via Esoteric Recordings edition has been remastered from the surviving master tapes and the booklet features a new essay with exclusive interviews with Zal Cleminson and Chris Glen and restores the original album artwork.

1. 'Lost Awakening' (3:25)
2. 'Your Woman's Gone and Left You' (2:22)
3. 'Night Girl' (5:40)
4. 'Nothing Can Change Your Mind' (3:31)
6. 'Big House' (3:35)
7. 'Mirrors of Sorrow' (2:52)
8. 'Look What Else Is Happening' (5:05)
9. 'I'm Fallin' Far Behind' (2:57)
10. 'Witches Come Today' (3:16)

On an album typical of the time with it's long guitar and keyboard passages, the group never shied away from the fact that as playful as they were musically, they were, at heart, simply a really loud band!

If memory serves me correctly, they used to open their live shows with Jethro Tull's 'Love Story' which started out very softly allowing the crowd to drift towards the front. Then they would turn the volume up and blow everyone out of the hall!

'Lost Awakening,' the albums opener, is like an electric CS&N number with harmonized vocals only in the chorus. Some decently flung solos close the track. Not bad. A similar, acoustic-laden gait ambles over to 'Your Woman’s Gone and Left You', a song that really needs to be given a hotfoot or something!

In and out of melancholy is 'Night Girl,' which means it’s in and out of vigor as well for a literally down the middle track; though still isn’t saving the day. More meandering takes place in the chorus-heavy, stillborn 'Nothing in This World Can Change Your Mind', but then 'Living for Today' pretends to be the harbinger of the future, centered on a strong, intriguing riff that kind of deflates to a rather fruity chorus.

'Big House' is a piano-led foot-tapper with a somewhat insipid forefront harmony they could easily lose, but it’s worth sitting through to shift 'Mirrors of Sorrow' into audible range.

Simultaneously dirge-like and bouncy, the obscure rhythm shares momentum with full-scale backing vocals, a breaking chorus, off-the-beam drum work and some memorial driving hooks that easily propel this to the top of the totem.

While not as boisterous, 'Look What Else is Happening' is still almost as lively as the first four tracks combined! Drummer Willie Munro finally wakes up and gets his licks in, as does guitarist Zal Cleminson and keyboardist Eddie Campbell.

'I’m Fallin’ Far Behind' persists in the feverish pace with another original main riff that ducks and moves like a basketball player angling for a shot. Discordant and lethal is the riffage of 'Witches Come Today' that grudgingly steps aside for a more prescribed, softer chorus.

Official CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Hard Luck'
Artist - Royal Teeth

For those not in the know, New Orleans-based indie rock/electronic pop band Royal Teeth (Gary Larsen, singer Nora Patterson, guitarist Thomas Onebane, and drummer Josh Hefner) will be releasing their long-awaited full-length sophomore album Hard Luck on June 28th, 2019 via Round Hill Records.

The new album features their five recently released singles, as well as five other tracks that make this album chock full of delicious new rock/electro-pop/hip-hop hybrid tunes.

1. Never Gonna Quit'
2. 'Show You What I Can Do'
3. 'Get A Load Of This One'
4. 'It's Just The Start'
5. 'Time Bomb'
6. 'The Best'
7. 'Rivalry'
8. 'Unbreakable'
9. 'You Make It Better'
10. 'Arrival'

From the jaunty opening track 'Never Gonna Quit,' the aforementioned electro-pop energy is as alive, as designed, as raw and as head swirling as ever!

The fact that it leans seamlessly into the brilliantly frenetic 'Show You What I Can Do' (featuring Tunde Olaniran, a Flint, MI native who's become a staple of Detroit's music scene) and then the hybrid hip-hop of 'Get A Load Of This One' just means your car will never need to have any other CD playing within it!

The (for the most part) softer love song 'It's Just The Start' is a pleasant surprise ("There's a war in me, but I'm bigger than the rivalry") and that's backed by the funky '80s electro-pop of 'Time Bomb.'

A track that showcases the uniqueness of Nora Patterson's vocals, that's followed by the back-to-basics 'The Best' with one of my favorite tracks, the lo-fi emotionally vulnerable ballad 'Rivalry' along next.

The fun and vibrancy of 'Unbreakable' is then backed by more of Patterson coming to the fore (which is never a bad thing), and then the album rounds out with the pop-rock distorted dancefloor funk of 'Arrival.'

Hard Luck marks Royal Teeth’s comeback to indie rock, with a progression in their sound that exudes energy and conviction. No stranger to the ups and downs of the music industry, they have known success and off-sets.

Hard Luck is a chronicle of the rocky road of being in a band, and also of the determination, passion, creativity, and connection that makes it all worthwhile.

As singer and guitarist Gary Larsen puts it, “This line of work can be difficult. It requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself out there to be judged by others."

"It’s hard to get used to. We are using this album as a platform to face our fears, and to focus on the love we find through the music we create and those who connect along the way."

"I hope that this album gives strength to anyone who has a hard time putting themselves out there for the world to see.”

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Hard Luck @ Facebook!

Title - 'The Empty Room'
Artist - Frédéric L’Épée

For those not in the know, Frédéric L’Épée is a French guitarist and composer who is best known for founding the progressive rock band Shylock in 1974 (gathered again since 2012), the guitar band Philharmonie in 1988, the instrumental quartet Yang in 2002, and the acoustic rock band Lobotonics in 2008.

L’Épée is also a solo performer, a contemporary composer, and takes part in several collective projects (e-werk, Steppe Scape).

L’Épée has made nine solo albums so far, all of them available for download on Bandcamp, with his latest the expertly created The Empty Room is out now via L’Épée/Yang Music.

1. 'Badong' (07:00)
2. 'Inévitable Traversée' (04:23)
3. 'Descending the Slow River' (06:28)
4. 'Amour et dissolution' (3:32)
5. 'Delta' (08:22)
6. 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 1' (3:15)
7. 'Treasured Wounds' (06:48)
8. 'Mist' (04:50)
9. 'Parle-moi Encore' (06:40)
10. 'Souvenirs de Traversée' (5:40)
11. 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 2' (2:04)
12. 'Wegschippernd' (1:03)

On this ninth solo album - which is also the very first one to become pressed to CD - L’Épée brings forth a state of mourning; albeit one that musically is not sad.

More a questioning of loss, about letting go or the handling of internal pain, the tracks "talk" about how, after time, grief can turn into a vessel of serenity and peace.

From the opening track 'Badong' you are transported into a whole new and exciting world, freefalling one minute, flying high the next under the expert guidance of L’Épée.

The beautiful, dulcet 'Inévitable Traversée' (aka 'unavoidable crossing') is as poetically lush an instrumental as I think I've heard in the past decade and is backed by the sterner 'Descending the Slow River' (aka 'en descendant la rivière lente').

Though we all have to face it one day or another, the process is different for each of us with regard L’Épée's centralized theme, but here on The Empty Room his personal previews of human inner turmoil are, at once, both transfixing and yet tangible.

Both 'Amour et dissolution' and the pert (and longest track on the album at just over eight minutes) 'Delta' are perfect mid-point partners and they are followed by the stoic heartbeat of 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 1.'

L’Épée started to compose this new album some nine years ago during one of the most painful periods of his life with the next track 'Treasured Wounds' (aka blessures précieuses') directly linked to that time.

Since then, each year has brought the loss of someone close to him and so with what he already had to emotional deal with still raw inside him, L’Épée soon found himself taking on the tangible burdens of others.

Ergo, all that and more is reflected in the next track 'Mist' (aka 'brume') which comes across as a heartache siren learning to slowly embrace the euphoric understanding of grief as a whole.

L’Épée's plaintive piano work is brought to the fore next on the stark, but emotive 'Parle-moi Encore' (aka 'keep talking to me') which he backs seamlessly with the upbeat wonderment of 'Souvenirs de Traversée' (aka 'memories of crossing').

The album then comes to a close with two shorter tracks. The first, 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 2' is a guttural expression found within us all at any low moment of hardship and loss.

The second, 'Wegschippernd' (aka 'Sailing Away - Voguant au Loin') even at being just over a minute long inclusive of both yearning and understanding in equal measures.

Official Digital/CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Leaving On a Jet Plane'
Artist - Blueridge Mountain Bluegrass Band

For those not in the know, the Blueridge Mountain Bluegrass Band came about when you mix together the very best Adirondack Bluegrass musicians with some of Nashville's best pickers and singers!

The band includes three National Champion players, along with two twenty year veterans of the Grand Ole Opry.

A special blend of Bluegrass and Folk standards that is Americana Music at it's best, their debut album I'm Leaving On a Jet Plane is out now via Country Rewind Records.

1. 'Adrenaline Hayride'
2. 'Leaving on a Jet Plane'
3. 'Stony Lady'
4. 'Cripple Creek'
5. 'Bartender's Blues'
6. 'Dixie Hoedown'
7. 'You Are My Sunshine'
8. 'Head over Heels in Love with You'
9. 'Blackberry Blossom'
10. 'Blue Suede Shoes'
11. 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown'
12. 'More Pretty Girls Than One'
13. 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett'
14. 'Summertime'
15. 'Salt Creek'
16. 'Grandfather's Clock'

The album kicks off in high octane style with the barn burner, fast fiddlin' and banjo strummin' beauty 'Adrenaline Hayride' and backs that up with both the joyous title track 'Leaving on a Jet Plane' (yes, the very same John Denver track) and then the storytelling of 'Stony Lady.'

Those nibble-picked, fast-talkin' banjos and fiddles come back out on 'Cripple Creek' and that's backed seamlessly by the slower paced reminiscing of 'Bartender's Blues' and then the gently frenetic 'Dixie Hoedown.'

The beautifully melodic 'You Are My Sunshine' (popularized by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell in 1939 and which has since been a hit for many a country artist) is up next and is followed by the short but sweet 'Head over Heels in Love with You.'

One of my own personal favorites here is the vibrant 'Blackberry Blossom' which is backed by a near note-for-note rendition of 'Blue Suede Shoes' (although the Bluegrass harmonies are a joy to behold).

Next up is the famous Bluegrass instrumental written by Earl Scruggs 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' and then comes yet another stand out cut, their rendition of the Lyle Lovett classic 'More Pretty Girls Than One.'

Then we get a right royal flashback treat in 'The Ballad of Jed Clampett' (which you will recall was also the theme song for the television series The Beverly Hillbillies) and that's backed by a quite stunning 'Summertime' (Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, et al).

This resoundingly upbeat album then rounds out with the Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys' fast-fiddled instrumental 'Salt Creek' with Johnny Cash's wondrous 'Grandfather's Clock' bringing the show to a close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Mr. Country'
Artist - Carl Smith

For those not in the know, Carl Smith (March 15, 1927 – January 16, 2010) was an American country music singer.

Known as "Mr. Country," Smith was the husband of June Carter (later June Carter Cash) and Goldie Hill, and the father of Carlene Carter.

He was one of country's most successful male artists during the 1950s, with 30 Top 10 Billboard hits, including 21 in a row.

Indeed, Smith's success continued well into the 1970s, when he had a charting single every year except one. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

These unreleased recordings on his new album, appropriately entitled Mr. Country have been enhanced by Producer Larry Marrs with a light touch, adding some acoustic and electric guitar, bass, snare drum, kick drum and background vocals, bringing the tracks up to twenty-first century audio standards.

Included are four unreleased versions of Smith's #1 hits which is important to know as a distinction between those tracks verses the newly updated ones is admittedly found, but Marrs felt it was essential to exactly match the style and the tone of those original recordings nonetheless.

1. 'Are You Teasing Me'
2. 'If Teardrops Were Pennies'
3. 'Deep Water'
4. 'Loose Talk'
5. 'Mr. Moon'
6. 'Hey Joe'
7. '(When You Feel Like You're In Love) Don't Just Stand There'
8. 'There Stands the Glass'
9. 'I Love You Because'
10. 'Foggy River'
11. 'The Best Years of Your Life'
12. 'She Called Me Baby'
13. 'I Over Looked An Orchid'
14. 'The Way I Lose My Mind'

We begin with the laid back, foot-tappin' wonderment of 'Are You Teasing Me,' which he backs up with his #8 hit from 1951 'If Teardrops Were Pennies.'

The upbeat jazz, finger-snappin' delight 'Deep Water' is a pure gem of a cut and that's backed by both Smith's last #1 hit 'Loose Talk' (1954) and the fourth single released by Smith in 1951, the #4 hit 'Mr. Moon.'

A 1953 popular song written by Boudleaux Bryant, up next is 'Hey Joe' and spent eight weeks at #1 on the US country music chart that same year. Then comes the wonderful country duo of the brilliantly titled #1 hit '[When You Feel Like You're in Love] Don't Just Stand There' (1952) and the reflective 'There Stands a Glass.'

The gentle country hipsway of 'I Love You Because' is always something beautiful to hear and is followed by his #18 hit from 1967, 'Foggy River.'

The reminiscing of 'The Best Years of Your Life' (#15, 1959) is another stand out cut from Smith and is backed by the storytelling of a lost love within 'She Called Me Baby.'

The album then rounds out with the impassioned sentiment within his second (non-charting) single 'I Overlooked an Orchid' and then the yearning fiddle work of 'The Way I Lose My Mind' brings the musical show to a close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'The Music City Sessions'
Artist - Jeannie C. Riley

For those not in the know, which included me before this album arrived, an album of previously unreleased Jeannie C. Riley songs recorded by Elvis Presley’s guitar player Scotty Moore has now been released; complete with a Sam Phillips connection.

Sam Phillips was the owner and founder of Sun Records, Elvis Presley’s first record label.

This new Jeannie C. Riley album comes via Country Rewind, founded by Sam Phillips and his brother Tom in 1960 and know operated by Tom’s son and Sam’s nephews Sam W. and John Philips.

The other partner in the project is Thomas Gramuglia who rescued the songs after 50 years in storage.

Indeed, the tracks were initially never intended for commercial release but have been restored and upgraded to the sounds available from today’s technology.

Ergo, Jeannie's talent is at it's peak in these unreleased The Music City Sessions!

Included here is a new version of 'Harper Valley P.T.A' (which she actually rerecorded for these sessions), along with never before released tracks with exceptional performances throughout.

Producers J.R. McNeely and Larry Marrs have brought these lost tracks up to twenty first century audio standards by adding additional instruments and background vocals.

Old and new fans alike will love this album and once again Jeannie will be making country music history.

1. 'Country Girl'
2. 'That's A No-No'
3. 'Harper Valley P.T.A.'
4. 'Crying Time'
5. 'There Never Was A Time'
6. 'Son of A Preacher Man'
7. 'Things Go Better With Love'
8. 'Me and Bobby McGee'
9. 'Back Side of Dallas'
10. 'Games People Play'
11. 'Wish You Were Here'
12. 'Girl Most Likely'
13. 'Okie from Muskogee'
14. 'Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms'

The album begins with 'Country Girl,' a tale of how far away New York is from Texas, and the trials and tribulations between them, with the twangin' beauty 'That's a No-No,' the finger-snappin' fun of 'Harper Valley P.T.A.' and then the quietly stunning lo-fi country of 'Cryin' Time' following.

The countrified bounce of 'There Never Was a Time' is a wonderful gem to behold and that's backed by her Dusty Springfield rendition of 'Son of A Preacher Man.'

The sweet love story of 'Things Go Better with Love' is then backed by the Kris Kristofferson-written, Janis Joplin-made famous 'Me and Bobby McGee,' with the upbeat hipsway of 'Back Side of Dallas' along next.

The Joe South track 'Games People Play' is lovingly embraced by Jeannie and then she follows that up with the vibrant duo of both 'Wish You Were Here' and 'The Girl Most Likely' up next.

The album then rounds out with the storytelling of small town folk within 'Okie from Muskogee' and then the fast-paced, yet cultured mid-tempo country vibe of 'Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally'
Artist - Johnny Russell

For those not in the know, Johnny Russell (January 23, 1940 – July 3, 2001) was an American country singer, songwriter, and comedian best known for his song 'Act Naturally' - which was made famous by Buck Owens, who recorded it in 1963, and The Beatles in 1965.

Indeed, his songs have been recorded by Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Jerry Garcia, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt.

Now released by Country Rewind Records, All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally is a 14-track collection of his songs for a whole new generation of country fans to get to hear.

Producer J.R. Mcneely has enhanced each song by adding a little bit of polish to make these tracks shine.

These long-forgotten tracks, now saved for prosperity, show Johnny Russell at his very best.

1. 'Good Hearted Woman'
2. 'She's In Love With A Rodeo Man'
3. 'Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer'
4. 'Johnny B. Goode'
5. 'Catfish John'
6. 'Act Naturally'
7. 'I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)'
8. 'Making Plans'
9. 'In A Mansion Stands My Love'
10. 'She Burn't The Little Roadside Tavern Down'
11. 'Jambalaya'
12. 'The Baptism of Jesse Taylor'
13. 'Mr. and Mrs. Untrue'
14. 'The World's Meanest Man'

We begin with the happy lo-fi country bounce of 'Good Hearted Woman' which he backs up with both the story of a bar maid in a West Texas dance hall 'She's in Love with a Rodeo Man' and then the passionate 'Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer.'

A vibrant and truly better than I ever expected rendition of Chuck Berry's iconic 'Johnny B. Goode' is up next and is followed by the Gospel-esque 'Catfish John' and then his go-to hit single, 'Act Naturally.'

The beautifully sweet ballad 'I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)' is something I think we can all nod gently too, and that's backed by 'Making Plans' and then lush country vibe of 'In a Mansion Stands My Love.'

The fun and jaunty ditty 'She Burn't the Little Roadside Tavern Down' is always a pleasure to hear and then comes both a loving rendition of The Carpenters' 'Jambalaya (On the Bayou)' and the Gospel-edged 'The Baptism of Jesse Taylor.'

The album then rounds out with the gentle guitar twang of 'Mr. and Mrs. Untrue,' with the upbeat, yet heartbroken man ditty 'The World's Meanest Man.'

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Title - 'Drums On Low'
Artist - Dave Schoepke

For those not in the know, after spending many years as a touring and professional musician, longtime Milwaukee-area drummer Dave Schoepke realized one of his many career goals — to record an entire album of percussion music.

Ergo, and recorded in his Hartland home studio, his first solo album Drums On Low will be released July 15th, 2019.

The album contains a mix of Schoepke’s previous compositions and improvisational work and to help select material for the album, the drummer turned to his No Quarter bandmates, Michael Brandenburg and Matt Miller.

1. 'War Of The Grasshoppers'
2. 'Which One ARE You'
3. 'N'ging'
4. 'Window'
5. 'The Throw'
6. 'Sound On Low'
7. 'Eleven Three'
8. 'The Thing From The Darkness'
9. 'Pool-Pond'
10. 'Tangles'
11. 'Four Twenty Six'

Listening to the 11 tracks it's obvious Schoepke wanted to think of drums as a compositional tool, like a guitar or piano. As for an actuality, it's been said that to help the album achieve a melodic, harmonic sound, Schoepke experimented with tuning his Ludwig drums in a number of ways.

Playing out, one after another like eclectic, yet aspiring works of performance art, all the tracks on Drums On Low are a culminative journey for a drummer that fully deserves the new, front of stage spotlight.

'Which One ARE You' - Music Video

Title - 'Detroit Breakout!'
Artist - Mitch Ryder Appearing With Guests

For those not in the know, legendary blue eyed soul singer and one of Detroit music's most iconic figures, Mitch Ryder has returned with a host of friends to reimagine 14 soul and classic rock anthems!

Featuring guest performances by fellow Motor City alumni James Williamson of The Stooges and Wayne Kramer of MC5 as well as blues legends Joe Louis Walker and Arthur Adams, not forgetting the New York Dolls' Sylvain Sylvain, The Runaways' Cherie Currie, daughter of B.B. King, Shirley King and more, Detroit Breakout! is a quite stunning album to behold!

1. 'Devil with a Blue Dress' (Feat. James Williamson)
2. 'Cool Jerk' (Feat. Wayne Kramer & Brian Auger)
3. 'Dirty Water' (Feat. Sylvain Sylvain)
4. 'Turn Back the Hands of Time' (Feat. Shirley King)
5. 'Have Love Will Travel' (Feat. Paul Rudolph)
6. '(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone' (Feat. Walter Lure)
7. 'Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)' (Feat. Cherie Currie)
8. '(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay' (Feat. Arthur Adams)
9. 'Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)' (Feat. Lee Oskar)
10. 'Bad Bad Leroy Brown' (Feat. Joe Louis Walker)
11. 'You Send Me' (Feat. Linda Gail Lewis)
12. 'Twistin' the Night Away' (Feat. Joe Louis Walker)
13. 'If I Had a Hammer' (Feat. Linda Gail Lewis)
14. 'Shout' (Feat. Linda Gail Lewis)

Including smokin' new versions of Ryder's own blockbuster hit single 'Devil With A Blue Dress' as well as '60s/'70s soul classics such as 'Cool Jerk,' 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me),' '(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay' and lots more, the 14 tracks will have you hitting repeat every time it comes to and end, that's for sure!

This breathtaking new album kicks off with a new rendition of Ryder's classic 1966 hit with his band The Detroit Wheels, 'Devil with a Blue Dress.' Featuring Williamson on guitar it's more paced than it used to be, but contains no less the energy, for sure.

Other stand out cuts include a cover of The Capitols' hip swingin', dancefloor shuffle 'Cool Jerk' (featuring Wayne Kramer & Brian Auger), a thunderously gritty 'Dirty Water' cover of The Standells hit (featuring Sylvian Sylvain), and they are backed seamlessly by both the quietly melodic Tyrone Davis cover 'Turn Back the Hands of Time' (with Shirley King), and righteously raw 'Have Love, Will Travel' from The Sonics (featuring Paul Rudolph).

A muted '[I'm Not Your] Steppin' Stone' (The Monkees) featuring Walter Luke is next and that's backed by a joyous Roy Orbison cover of 'Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)' (featuring Cherie Currie) and a lush '[Sittin' On] The Dock of the Bay' (Otis Redding) with Arthur Adams.

The Temptations get a dust off next with 'Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)' featuring Lee Oskar and then comes the vibrant blues swing of Jim Croce's 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown' (featuring Joe Louis Walker) and one of the best tracks here, in my humble opinion, a cover of Sam Cooke's endearing 'You Send Me' featuring Linda Gail Lewis.

Cooke gets another shout out with Ryder's noticeably quieter rendition of 'Twistin' the Night Away' (featuring Joe Louis Walker), with the album rounding out with the Peter, Paul & Mary hit 'If I Had a Hammer' and then an Isley Brothers' cover of 'Shout' - both featuring singer and pianist Lewis, once again).

Oh, and this release is also available not only on CD in a special digipak, but as a wondrous, and very limited edition RED vinyl pressing!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official RED Vinyl Purchase Link

Title - 'Live from Niles City'
Artist - Jack Barksdale

For those not in the know, Forth Worth, TX-based Americana and blues music artist Jack Barksdale has announced the upcoming release of his debut full-length album, Live From Niles City.

Inspired by folk, rock, and blues legends, Jack started performing original music at the age of nine and has already shared the stage with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Max Gomez, Will Kimbrough, and Hayes Carll.

Releasing this June 28th, 2019 via his own Jack Barksdale Music, the 11-year-old singer / songwriter / Multi-instrumentalist has brought together a collection of 12 tracks (albeit that three are simply intro's into the main songs) that feature an intimate live set recorded with over fifty fans in attendance at the iconic Niles City Sound in Fort Worth.

1. 'Niles City Blues'
2. 'Widow of the Wind'
3. 'Never To Love Me'
4. 'Until The End'
5. 'My Mother Intro'
6. 'My Mother'
7. 'Revival Song No. 2'
8. 'Somber Sundown'
9. 'White Freightliner Blues Intro'
10. 'White Freightliner Blues'
11. 'Folsom Prison Blues Intro'
12. 'Folsom Prison Blues'

Following on the heels of Jack's debut EP release last September, Revival, this full-length album features seven original songs penned by Jack along with two covers – a slide guitar version of Johnny Cash’s 'Folsom Prison Blues' and a harmonica-fueled 'White Freight Liner Blues' by Townes Van Zandt.

The album is, without a shadow of a doubt, one excellent wizened-before-his-time musical testimony to a boy who's blood bleeds blue and opens perfectly with the frenetic instrumental slide guitar beauty 'Niles City Blues.'

From there we travel seamlessly into a tale of grief found within 'Widow of the Wind' which is backed by the American folk roll of 'Never to Love Me.'

A track that showcases both how young, unblemished Jack's vocals are alongside his expertly flawless fingerpicking skills makes this a pure and unadulterated joy to behold.

The traditional country fare of the yearning found within 'My Mother' is quite powerful to behold also and that's followed by the stunning pairing of the harmonica driven companion piece to his debut EP 'Revival No. 2' and the brilliant and far reaching chords of 'Somber Sundown.'

With Jack’s inspirations including classic country artists such as Cash and Hank Williams Sr. along with Texas singer-songwriters van Zandt and Guy Clark, the album rounds out just perfectly with a couple of aforementioned covers from both Cash and van Zandt.

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Jack Barksdale @ Facebook!

Title - 'Dawnbreaker'
Artist - Daughter Of Swords

For those not in the know, which definitely included me before this album arrived, as a member of the vocal trio Mountain Man, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig found her lineage within a long history of folk music, stretching back to the traditional American songbook.

Ergo, the title track of her solo debut Dawnbreaker - under the name Daughter of Swords - sounds untethered to anything but her own drifting visions, delicate and hazy as it bends through the air.

1. 'Fellows'
2. 'Gem'
3. 'Fields Of Gold'
4. 'Shining Woman'
5. 'Grasses'
6. 'Easy Is Hard'
7. 'Rising Sun'
8. 'Long Leaf Pine'
9. 'Human'
10. 'Dawnbreaker'

Indeed, from that very first track, the haunting ethereal, yet deeply personal-sounding 'Fellows,' Sauser-Monnig’s oh-so-gently fingerpicked guitar and breathy vocals ensure your musical journey with her is not going to be one spent fruitlessly.

The tempo rises for the bright and breezy CA highway drive of 'Gem' which she backs up seamlessly with both the more casual and light approach to 'Fields Of Gold' (no, not the Sting track) and the textural beauty of 'Shining Woman.'

The quieter ponderings of 'Grasses' then leads into one of my own personal favorites here on this 10 track album, the humbling American folk vibe of 'Easy Is Hard.'

The early morning resonance of 'Rising Sun' is a beautiful, clippity-clop Country cut which is followed by the delightful serenity found within oneself on 'Long Leaf Pine.'

This quite remarkable, and wholly grounded album (produced by Nick Sanborn, of Sylvan Esso) then rounds out with Sauser-Monnig’s perfected hushed vocal approach on 'Human' with the mid-tempo title track, 'Dawnbreaker' bringing things to a righteous close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Daughter Of Swords @ Facebook!

Title - 'Zëss'
Artist - Magma

For those not in the know, Magma is a French progressive rock band founded in Paris in 1969 by classically trained drummer Christian Vander; who claimed as his inspiration a "vision of humanity's spiritual and ecological future" that profoundly disturbed him.

In the course of their first album, the band tells the story of a group of people fleeing a doomed Earth to settle on the planet Kobaïa. Later, conflict arises when the Kobaïans—descendants of the original colonists—encounter other Earth refugees.

Furthermore, Vander invented a constructed language, Kobaïan, in which most lyrics are sung.

In a 1977 interview with Vander and long-time Magma vocalist Klaus Blasquiz, Blasquiz said that Kobaïan is a "phonetic language made by elements of the Slavonic and Germanic languages to be able to express some things musically. The language has of course a content, but not word by word."

Vander himself has said, "When I wrote, the sounds [of Kobaïan] came naturally with it. I didn't intellectualize the process by saying 'Ok, now I'm going to write some words in a particular language', it was really sounds that were coming at the same time as the music."

Later albums tell different stories set in more ancient times; however, the Kobaïan language remains an integral part of the music.

Magma's brand new album Zëss marks the 50th anniversary of the group, still led by Christian Vander with long-time member Stella Vander assisting, as always.

Released this past June 28th, 2019 via Seventh Records it comes with a 40-page deluxe CD book which also includes all the lyrics from the record.

Given that the Vanders are not spring chickens these days, word has already spread that this might well be their very last album.

Indeed, some of the lyrics themselves kinda foreshadow that theory, but then again, understanding them wholly and having your own mind as to their meanings is a whole other world to be part of, of course.

That said, Christian - who for the first time ever does not play drums on the album (which already puts Zëss into its very own singular entry in the group’s discography) - has admitted that this is to be the grand finale to the Kobaïan story - so it makes sense to go out with a bang, so to speak!

The album's plot - which features just the one song for just under 38 minutes in length - focuses on the end of the universe and all of the music is accompanied by the aforementioned orchestra.

Indeed, a first draft of Zëss first emerged in 1977, made its live debut in 1979, and was part of the French outfit’s set until 1983.

Now completed as a mainstay project this wondrous new studio version complete with the excellent The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra is rather the most perfect prog beast to behold, believe me.

Vocalist and producer Stella Vander Linon says: “It was the right time for us, and our audience wanted it too. We wanted to make a beautiful studio version – different from the live versions and closer to the original vision for the song."

Christian Vander adds: “Zëss is the story of the end of everything – the end of time and of everything that has ever existed. Absolute oblivion, like a dreamless night."

"It feels like nothing has ever existed nor will it ever exist again – all forms of consciousness have vanished.”

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Magma @ Facebook!

Title - 'Lucky, Revisited'
Artist - Karen Jonas

For those not in the know, Fredericksburg, VA-based award-winning Americana artist Karen Jonas is set to release her fourth full-length album, Lucky, Revisited, on July 19th, 2019.

Lucky, Revisited (which had 92 backers on Kickstarter who pledged $8,605 to help bring this project to life) is a fresh look at some of Jonas' favorite songs on her previous records; which given that after over five years of touring, means that the songs have grown along with these highly talented musicians too, of course.

And with that in mind, Lucky, Revisited features new, stripped-down, acoustic recordings of nine songs released on her first three albums, as aforementioned, as well as two stellar covers.

“The songs grow, morphing by millimeters at each of hundreds of shows, so they always feel new,” Jonas says. “We decided to make these new recordings of songs you’ve heard on our previous records, as they are today, after so much growing.”

1. 'Ophelia'
2. 'Lovesick Blues'
3. 'Oklahoma Lottery'
4. 'Lucky'
5. 'It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry'
6. 'Butter'
7. 'Country Songs'
8. 'Wasting Time'
9. 'River Song'
10. 'Money'
11. 'Gospel of the Road'

The first single off the album is 'Ophelia,' a "hang on to your hats, boys" frenetic act of musical storytelling if ever there were and that's backed by both the mid-tempo hipsway of 'Lovesick Blues' and the gentle country road, top down, arm leaning blessing of 'Oklahoma lottery.'

The jazz scat bounce of 'Lucky' is as joyous to hear now as it ever was and that's backed by road weary, heart broken yearning of 'It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.'

The fun, jovial flow of 'Butter' is a stand out highlight here and is followed by the country twang of 'Country Songs.'

The wistful, breathy 'Wasting Time' is yet another golden cut here and showcases Jonas' vocals just perfectly and is backed by gentle Americana of 'River Song.'

This complete in oh-so many ways album then rounds out with the upbeat, barn storming ditty 'Money' with the delicate ballad 'Gospel of the Road' bringing it all to a most beautiful close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Karen Jonas @ Facebook!

Title - 'Sound City'
Artist - The Hollywood Stars'

For those not in the know, The Hollywood Stars are a group originally assembled by rock impresario Kim Fowley in 1973 that have announced the first-time issue of a “lost album” recorded in 1976.

In fact, during the 1970s, the glitter rockers toured with The Kinks and supported such artists as The New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Ramones, and even disco legend Sylvester – while future superstars like Journey, Van Halen, The Runaways, Quiet Riot, and The Knack all opened shows for the Stars!

Furthermore, their 1974 debut album for Columbia Records remained shelved until 2013 and a 1977 album on Arista came and went without the attention it deserved.

But now, the aforementioned "lost album" Sound City arrives on CD and digital download via Burger Records on August 23rd, 2019.

A month prior to the album release, the newly-reformed Hollywood Stars will headline the world famous Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood, a venue at which the band was previously a top draw.

1. 'Sunrise On Sunset'
2. 'I Can't Help It'
3. 'Escape'
4. 'So Blue'
5. 'Too Hot To Handle'
6. 'All the Kids On The Street'
7. 'Habits'
8. 'Make It To The Party'
9. 'Shotgun'
10. 'Houdini of Rock and Roll'

Recorded at the legendary Sound City Recording Studios (immortalized by Dave Grohl in the 2013 documentary Sound City, and a recording home of artists ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Barry Manilow) has been unleashed and having listened to it twice through now I can confirm that it is a right royal doozy of sounds and emotive flashbacks!

'Houdini of Rock ‘n’ Roll,' 'Shotgun,' and the Merryweather-helmed version of 'Escape' all debut on Sound City with both 'Too Hot to Handle' and 'Habits' having previously been issued on a limited-edition 7" Vinyl Single back in 2017.

The five remaining cuts were all re-recorded for the 1977 Arista LP The Hollywood Stars produced by Harry Maslin (David Bowie, Melissa Manchester), but premiere here on Sound City in their original versions.

Of those my two personal favorites are the flashback gem 'All the Kids On The Street' (complete with its sly hand-clappin' bounce) and album opener 'Sunrise On Sunset.'

Both encapsulate exactly not only what this band were bringing to the table back then, but the quality of both their bandsmanship and their lyrics.

The Hollywood Stars’ renaissance will continue after they headline the world famous Whisky a Go Go with a newly-recorded album, which will feature fresh band compositions as well as songs penned by the late Mark Anthony.

“We all have a sense of unfinished business," says original member Scott Phares (vocals). “We’re looking forward to telling our story and playing to our fans—old and new."

"The band is currently deep into the process of writing a new record, which will feature brand-new Stars compositions as well as songs by Mark (Anthony).'

Official CD Purchase Link

The Hollywood Stars @ Facebook!

Title - 'Magnetic Moves'
Artist - Katie Toupin

For those not in the know, Katie Toupin, formerly of Houndmouth, currently of herself, and futurely of the future, will release her debut solo album, Magnetic Moves this June 14th, 2019.

Indeed, in the spirit of self-reliance, Toupin took the reins in producing Magnetic Moves, letting her intuition guide her to everything from the harmony-heavy gospel of 'Lost Sometimes' to the Beatles-esque psych-pop of 'In Your Dreams.'

With multi-instrumentalist Scott Davis and percussionist Josh Blue accompanying Toupin, the album unfolds in a dreamy pastiche of soul and pop and brightly jangly ’70s rock, a sound that’s lavishly detailed but fantastically fluid.

1. 'Magnetic Moves'
2. 'Run To You'
3. 'Someone To You'
4. 'Real Love'
5. 'In Your Dreams'
6. 'As Good As It Gets'
7. 'The Hills Are Calling'
8. 'I Need You'
9. 'Lost Sometimes'
10. 'Back In Time'

The mid-tempo electro pop of the quietly defiant opener and title track 'Magnetic Movies' is an unadulterated joy to behold, and although 'Run To You' is a bit repetitive in its DNA, the wondrous hopefulness of the love song 'Someone To You' makes up for it in spades.

The lo-fi countryfied 'Real Love' is then followed by the more upbeat, rousing '70s flashback cut 'In Your Dreams' (which also features the vocals of Austin-based soul singers Lauren Marie and Angela Miller) with the truly beautiful ballad 'As Good As It Gets' along next.

The storytelling of a relationship gone bad 'The Hills Are Calling' follows that with the slow hand clappin' hipsway of 'I Need You' following. The album then rounds out with an Amy Winehouse-esque 'Lost Sometimes' (which again also features the vocals of Austin-based soul singers Lauren Marie and Angela Miller) with the upbeat melodic notes of 'Back In Time' bringing this delightful album to a close.

“It’s about being bold and being brave, and using your magnetism to create the world you want to live in,” says the L.A.-based singer/songwriter, Toupin.

"The whole album came from a place of wanting to be completely direct, in a way I never felt I could before. I think it’s important to let yourself show your heart like that.”

Amazon Digital Purchase Link

Katie Toupin @ Facebook!

Title - 'Deeper Roots: Where The Bluegrass Grows'
Artist - Steven Curtis Chapman

For those not in the know, the backing soundtrack to Steven Curtis Chapman’s childhood was bluegrass music.

Some of his earliest memories are of watching and hearing live bluegrass music with his dad on guitar and a couple of his dad’s best friends on the dobro and banjo.

When he was still a toddler, Chapman’s dad opened a music store in his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Chapman developed a love for music and playing the guitar.

Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows, the newest project from Steven Curtis Chapman, harkens back to those younger days of hearing his dad play bluegrass and folk music as well as playing bluegrass tunes for music store customers.

1. 'Where the Bluegrass Grows'
2. 'Dive' (featuring Ricky Skaggs)
3. ‘Til The Blue' (featuring Gary LeVox)
4. 'Cinderella'
5. 'Victory in Jesus' (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
6. 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
7. 'My Redeemer is Faithful and True'
8. 'How Great Thou Art' (featuring Jillian Edwards Chapman)
9. 'Life is Like a Mountain Railroad' (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
10. 'I’ll Fly Away'
11. 'Without Him' (featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr.)
12. 'Be Still and Know' (featuring Caleb Chapman)
13. 'I’d Rather Have Jesus' (featuring Herb Chapman Sr.)

Honoring his rural Kentucky heritage, this quite wondrous new album announces itself with a 'Where the Bluegrass Grows' and then rolls seamlessly into a rollicking romp bluegrass version of 'Dive' - featuring recent Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Ricky Skaggs.

Up next is the signature Chapman soul-filled tearjerker 'Til The Blue' featuring Gary LeVox with the excellent lo-fi young love fairy tale of fan favorite 'Cinderella' along next. One of the stand out cuts here for me is the forthright stance of 'Victory in Jesus' featuring Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr. (father and brother) and that's backed by the trio coming back on the strong ballad 'Great is Thy Faithfulness.'

The gentle guitar work and passive vocals on 'My Redeemer is Faithful and True' is just a joy to behold and that's backed by the wanderings and wonderings of 'How Great Thou Art' - featuring the dulcet vocals of Jillian Edwards Chapman (his daughter-in-law).

The upbeat 'Life is Like a Mountain Railroad' once again features Herb Chapman Sr. and Herb Chapman Jr. and that's followed by the high flying, arms and hands raised to the skies jamboree 'I’ll Fly Away.'

The album then rounds out with the family back on 'Without Him,' the quietly yearning 'Be Still and Know' featuring Caleb Chapman, with his father taking the lead vocal focus on the tender overview within 'I’d Rather Have Jesus.'

Official Purchase Link

Steven Curtis Chapman @ Facebook!

Title - 'Propaganda Man'
Artist - Jack Spann

For those not in the know, Jack Spann has had an incredible couple of years.

The Saint Louis native has lived in New York City for the last 18 years and established himself as one of the city's in-demand keyboardists.

Indeed, his reputation led to an introduction to David Bowie's producer, Tony Visconti who hired him to play on the demos for what would be Bowie's final album, Blackstar.

Spann's Visconti connection did not end there. It led to an introduction to Milwaukee-based producer, Gary Tanin, who worked with Spann on his 1st and 2nd solo records, Time, Time, Time, Time, Time, and Beautiful Man From Mars, and now on his 3rd upcoming release Propaganda Man.

1. 'Propaganda Man'
2. 'Rage In The Garden'
3. 'All Go Together'
4. 'Her Majesty'
5. 'She's My Love Line'
6. 'Your Lullaby'
7. 'Sing Your own Song'
8. 'When Joe Sings'
9. 'Marry The Flag'
10. 'Dead Man's Clothes'
11. 'Shut The Door'
12. 'Good Night Lullaby'

The album, which took two years to complete, is different from his last in that it faces social issues head on and does not shy away from addressing thorny social conundrums.

Kicking off with the guitar-led title track 'Propaganda Man' ("Who'll be my next little Hitler") each track that follows contains jaunty rhythms, informative and self-indulgent lyrics all wrapped within Spann's distinctive vocals.

A wondrous '70s flashback rock approach to 'Rage In The Garden' makes this one a stand out for me personally, and that's backed by nostalgic, sixties British-type vibe on both 'All Go Together' and vibrantly trippy 'Her Majesty.'

Drums lead us into '70s melodic pop rock of 'She's My Love Line' with the lush and thoughtful elements of 'Your Lullaby' and the finger snappin' hipsway of 'Sing Your Own Song' along next.

The '80s AOR lo-fi vibe of 'When Joe Sings' is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with the epic tale within 'Marry The Flag' backing it. Those playful mid'90s are back on energetic rocker 'Dead Man's Clothes' with the wistful 'Shut The Door,' and then the quietly peaceful 'Good Night Lullaby' rounds things off nicely.

Jack Spann @ Facebook!

Title - 'Binary Garden'
Artist - Auras

For those not in the know, Auras is a four-piece Canadian progressive metal band from Waterloo, Ontario.

Founded in March 2010, the group is composed of Josh Ligaya and Aaron Hallman (guitars), Eric Almeida (vocals), and Nathan Bulla (drums).

They released their debut 7-Track EP Panacea in January of 2013 and have been gaining momentum ever since.

Indeed, in the summer of 2013, the band followed up Panacea with a single called 'Adverse Condition', a hint of their newly developed sound.

Noted for their tasteful combination of riveting grooves and harmonious melody, Auras continue to challenge themselves musically to bring fans consistently fresh material.

Furthermore, Auras operate in a musical landscape instantly familiar to devotees of Meshuggah, Periphery, The Contortionist, and Tool.

But their specific take on the genre combines the bite of thrash, the weight of death metal, and the spirit of hardcore with a hypnotic groove-oriented pulse shrouded in a captivating atmosphere.

Thus, with that in mind, Auras' new album Binary Garden (out July 12th, 2019 via eOne Entertainment) explores the complex relationship between humankind and technology; as people evolve from symbiotic parts of mother nature into cybernetic bits of code.

1. 'Momenta'
2. 'Pseudo Intellect'
3. 'Erode'
4. 'Another Place'
5. 'Whiteout'
6. 'Disenchant'
7. 'The Last Canary'
8. 'The Demoness'
9. 'Essence'
10. 'Abyss'

The intellectual depth of the subject matter on Binary Garden is juxtaposed by its immediate accessibility. The expansion of Auras into bigger melodic hooks is more suited to the digital single oriented era than ever; even as Binary Garden works as a cohesive whole.

From the moment the building of 'Momenta' and its drum-led movements come to the fore quickly followed by Almeida's distinctive death metal vocals, you know exactly what you are in for here.

Their version of prog-metal continues onward with the frenetic duo of 'Pseudo Intellect' and 'Erode' and then one of my own personal favorites on this new album, the growing spirit within 'Another Place.'

The spatial ambiance that opens 'Whiteout' continues to weave through the track and that's backed by both 'Disenchant' and the crashing guitar work of 'The Last Canary.'

Another stand out track is the disjointed appeal of 'The Demoness' which is followed by the peaceful, melodic presence found within 'Essence.' The album then rounds out with the known quip and bite of the band on 'Abyss.'

Auras continue to throw new curveballs, pulverizing through tight musical corners with precision, filling their songs with rhythmic twitches and warped riffs that beckon listeners down a new rabbit hole with each rewarding repeated listen.

It’s all imbued with a deep sense of connection to the audience and an emphasis on communication. Ergo, Auras shouldn’t just be listened to. This is music that simply must be experienced.

Official Digital Purchase Link

Auras @ Facebook!

Title - 'People Mover'
Artist - Scott Henderson

For those not in the know, guitar virtuoso Scott Henderson has finally finished his brand new album People Mover, the most ambitious project of his career!

The American jazz fusion and blues guitarist best known for his work with the band Tribal Tech grew up in an era where blues-rock was at it's peak.

His formative musical years took place in South Florida where he played the clubs with various bands, playing everything from Led Zeppelin to James Brown.

As he was learning his instrument, Henderson was influenced by Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, and his favorite blues guitarist Albert King.

Even though Henderson claims to be more of a blues-rock player, it was the influence of jazz that led him to the style of playing and composing that he is now famous for.

This highly anticipated instrumental album for guitar trio was just released this past July 1st, 2019 and features 10 new and original recordings from the master guitarist.

1. 'Transatlantic'
2. 'Primary Location'
3. 'All Aboard'
4. 'People Mover'
5. 'Satellite'
6. 'Blood Moon'
7. 'Blue Heron Boulevard'
8. 'Syringe'
9. 'Happy Fun-Sing'
10. 'Fawn'

Having listened to the wondrous People Mover twice through now I can honestly say that it demonstrates Scott's striking ability to combine elements of jazz, rock, funk and blues in an even more authentic, seamless and musical way than any of his previous work.

Tracks such as the stunning eight minute album opener 'Transatlantic,' the funky hipsway of 'Primary Location,' the AOR appeal of the title track itself and both the melancholy leaning of 'Blood Moon' and the perky bass prog of 'Syringe,' all serve as proof that after 35 years as a bandleader, Scott is a musician whose playing and composing continues to grow.

Amazon Purchase Link

Scott Henderson @ Facebook!

Title - 'Resilience'
Artist - Bayonics

For those not in the know, much like myself, for over a decade now, the nine-piece band known as Bayonics has been rocking the San Francisco Bay Area and abroad with a unique blend of latin, reggae, funk music.

This stalwart band has been a Bay Area headliner for many years and they never fail to deliver fresh new music and move the crowd with consistent passion, energy and emotion.

Led by the powerful vocal stylings of Jairo Vargas (aka Rojai), he merges elements to produce a raw soulful sound as distinct and unique as the San Francisco streets that bred him.

Channeling a sixth sense that only he holds he puts forth melodies, lyrics and compositions that carry inherent respect for the artist that inspired his craft.

Luckily for all their fans, Bayonics will now be releasing a new album worldwide entitled Resilience on August 2nd, 2019.

1. 'Exile'
2. 'El Bajo'
3. 'Soldier Dance'
4. 'Around The Way'
5. 'Olvidaste'
6. 'Now That You Want It'
7. 'Runaway'
8. 'We Gon Show 'Em'
9. 'Batalla en Babylon'
10. 'Sospechosos'
11. 'Not The One' (Acoustic)
12. 'Olvidaste' (Reprise)

The 12-track album kicks off with their first single ‘Exile,’ a track that not only encapsulates Bayonics at their best, but also brings forth a beautiful, and cultured reggae bounce flow not heard since the days of Bob Marley.

Other stand out cuts here for me include the hypnotic reggae hipsway of both 'Olvidaste' and 'Now That You Want It,' along with the urban Latin grooves found within both 'We Gon Show 'Em' and 'Sospechosos.'

Freely melding genres, they carry on the tradition of legendary Bay Area groups such as Santana and Sly & The Family Stone, groups that sought to transcend genre with music that moves people both literally and figuratively.

The album Resiliences inspired by a range of topics, from social issues like immigration, poverty, and gentrification, to more personal topics like love and heartbreak. The common theme being resilience.

As the world changes around us, be it global politics, the city we live in, or the people in our lives, we all need a healthy dose of optimism, fortitude, and resilience to keep moving forward.

Well, having now listened to this album twice through I can confirm that Bayonics have created an album that not only provides that in spades, but also acknowledges the fact that music might still be the key for a better conversation to be heard.

Official Purchase Link

Bayonics @ Facebook!

Title - 'Angels on the Slope'
Artist - Lisel

For those not in the know, much like myself, singer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and artist Eliza Bagg (a member of Brooklyn's Pavo Pavo) recently launched her new solo project Lisel with its first single, the stunning 'Ciphers.'

Releasing on July 26th, 2019 via Luminelle Recordings, Lisel's remarkable self-produced debut album, Angels on the Slope, showcases an exciting introduction to a solo artist who taps into her experience in classical, avant-garde, experimental and indie pop spheres on this quite wondrous debut.

1. 'Ciphers'
2. 'Digital Light Field'
3. 'Hollowmaker'
4. 'Vanity'
5. 'Bloodletting'
6. 'Hunker Down'
7. 'GENUiNE'
8. 'Sun and the Swarm'
9. 'Mirage'
10. 'This Time Tomorrow'

Opening our eyes to her incredible, truly ethereal and crisply uplifting vocals from the off, the album opens with both the aforementioned 'Ciphers' and backs that up with the lead single, 'Digital Light Field.'

The latter a track about our attempts to make sure the things that happen around us are meaningful by capturing them electronically, affirming and insisting on their significance, it's a constant theme here that Bagg wishes to convey.

Indeed, it's Bagg's personal drive that propels this brand new 10-track selection for she has never been one to sit back and allow the world to govern her thoughts, moods and constructions.

With her prolific career also including collaborations alongside Helado Negro and Julianna Barwick, as well as work as a classical singer, operating in avant-garde operas by Meredith Monk with the LA Philharmonic, here on Angels on the Slope Bagg is always aiming to create immersive art that transports the listener to a place where our everyday, familiar thoughts about the world don't quite fit exactly.

"The fact that on this record I was mainly processing my own voice -- something human, intuitive, elemental -- with the digital world of the computer, felt really significant," Bagg reveals. "Each song on the album feels like it's own individual micro-biome built out of the different versions of how I might use or manipulate my voice in that way."

Gradually building up each track, the album - with stand out tracks such as the immensely profound, moving trio of 'Hollowmaker,' 'Bloodletting' and 'Sun and the Swarm' - touches upon familiar aesthetic points while also allowing fresh light to intrude. “I had found space in the classical world that made sense for me,” she continues, “but I realized I needed to make something that was truly mine, that sprung from my own voice.”

Thus, this quite stunning first solo effort finds Bagg crafting a gorgeous record as a whole. One grounded in specific, at times strange vocal sounds that form a diverse, upside down world landscape.

One where her music focuses on her voice and all the intimate and warmth confined there, whilst at the same time her impossibly crystalline and heavenly resonation brings forth worldly notes of ethereally distorted, beat-driven pop.

Official Purchase Link

Watch the 'Ciphers' Video Now!

Watch the 'Digital Light Field' Video Now!

Title - 'Samson - Bright Lights: The Albums 1979-81'
Artist - Samson

For those not in the know, Samson were a British rock band formed in 1977 by guitarist and vocalist Paul Samson (.d).

They are best known for their first three albums with future Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson, then known as "Bruce Bruce", and drummer Thunderstick (real name Barry Graham Purkis), who wore a leather mask and performed on stage in a metal cage!

As for other drummer's associated with the band, Clive Burr was with them both before and after his tenure with Iron Maiden along with Mel Gaynor, who had a successful music career being a member of Simple Minds for over 20 years.

Dickinson's replacement on vocals, Nicky Moore, performed with Samson throughout the mid-1980s and again from the late 1990s onwards and was also a member of the bands Mammoth and Nicky Moore and the Blues Corporation.

Also named as a part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, alongside Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Def Leppard and Saxon, to name but a handful, Samson - Bright Lights: The Albums 1979-81 is a wondrous 5CD box-set that collects together the three albums released by the influential classic hard rock and NWOBHM band.

All featuring lead guitarist Paul Samson, we also get a disc entitled Head On: Tony Platt Alternative Mix (an 11-track CD of, well, alternative versions of the tracks from their Head On album - previously unavailable) as well as a disc of their Live At Reading show in 1981.

CD 1 - Survivors (1979)
1. 'It's Not As Easy As It Seems'
2. 'I Wish I Was the Saddle of a Schoolgirl's Bike'
3. 'Big Brother'
4. 'Tomorrow or Yesterday'
5. 'Koz'
6. 'Six Foot Under'
7. 'Inside Out'
8. 'Wrong Side of Time'
9. 'Mr Rock 'N' Roll' (Bonus Track)
10. 'Primrose Shuffle' (Bonus Track)
Alternative Recordings with Bruce Dickinson on Vocals
11. 'It's Not As Easy As It Seems'
12. 'I Wish I Was the Saddle of a Schoolgirl's Bike'
13. 'Big Brother'
14. 'Tomorrow or Yesterday'
15. 'Six Foot Under'
16. 'Inside Out'
17. 'Wrong Side of Time'

Produced by Gillanfs John McCoy, Samson released their debut Survivors in 1979 and it was around the time the band had coalesced around lead guitarist Paul, drummer Thunderstick, and bass guitarist Chris Aylmer.

The then unknown singer going by the Monty Python inspired name "Bruce Bruce", now much better known as simply Bruce Dickinson joined after the album had been put to tape.

Back in those days there were plenty fuzzy and obscure releases, mingling various elements of Rock, Jazz and Blues into mesmerizing monstrosities.

However, Samson's music and sound seemed to have taken the harder edge of Rock and encrusted it with a decent amount of psychedelia and Blues, sounding like earlier versions of Deep Purple and even Led Zeppelin.

In truth, here on Survivors the songwriting is varied, at times memorable, sometimes hooking, but never magnificent. 'Tomorrow or Yesterday' is this albumfs treasure piece, noting the change of seasons in Rock, between the subtly of the old dreamy gloom and right into the crunchier twists of Rock Nf Roll and Heavy Rock.

'Wrong Side of Time' maintains a moderately spacey vibe, enticing with its sorrowful balladry nature, living up to be a well-made Rock venture sharing nostalgic moments.

Both 'Big Brother' and 'Inside Out' continue the slick slides of the boogie fame, contagious Bluesy Hard Rock tunes right on the edge of the upcoming heaviness and melody.

'Mr Rock 'N' Roll', one of this new versionfs bonus cuts, is a solid ball of Rock, straight to the point glitter and rather hook-laden with its riffs and chorus.

As well as the aforemention eMr Rock eNf Rollf single, bonus tracks included here now are some interesting alternative versions of seven tracks from the album featuring the aforementioned Dickinson.

These special alternative versions of the albums songs with Dickinson at the helm of the vocals just means, in my humble opinion, that his distinctive voice upgraded the songs to new levels.

I mean, come on now, how could they not given that he is renowned as having one of the greatest voices in Metal music!

CD 2 - Head On (1980)
1. 'Hard Times'
2. 'Take It Like a Man'
3. 'Vice Versa'
4. 'Manwatcher'
5. 'Too Close to Rock'
6. 'Thunderburst'
7. 'Hammerhead'
8. 'Hunted'
9. 'Take Me to Your Leader'
10. 'Walking Out on You'
11. 'Angel with a Machine Gun' (7" B-Side) (Bonus Track)
12. 'Kingsway Jam' (Bonus Track)
13. 'Vice Versa' (7" Edit) (Bonus Track)

In 1980 Samson released Head On, featuring the NWOBHM classic single eVice Versaf, and the first full album to feature Bruce Dickinsonfs vocals. This sophomore album is, essentially, Bruce Dickinson's first foray into the serious world of music and for all his freshman status, it doesn't show at all.

Simply put, Head On may even feature some of the greatest performances by Dickinson throughout his career. Around a minute and a half into the final track of the album, 'Kingsway Jam' he even manages to hit a note that seems to be gone from him by the time of Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast!

The album is filled with vocal sections that range from the straightforward and expected, but yet still mighty proficient to the hurried, fluctuating, and at times, almost out of place; such as the aforementioned 'Kingsway Jam.'

But they are always interestingly, passionately, and energetically sung. 'Hammerhead' feels like a precursor to a Power Metal epic, while the track 'Angel With a Machine Gun' is a pure joy hard rock fantasy.if there were to be any downside to Head On, it would possibly be the fact that 'Thunderburst' also happens to be the Iron Maiden song 'The Ides of March' (due in most part to the fact that it was co-written by Paul Samson and Steve Harris!)

CD 3 - Head On: Tony Platt Alternative Mix (1980)
1. 'Hard Times'
2. 'Take It Like a Man'
3. 'Vice Versa'
4. 'Manwatcher'
5. 'Too Close to Rock'
6. 'Thunderburst'
7. 'Hammerhead'
8. 'Hunted'
9. 'Take Me to Your Leader'
10. 'Walking Out on You'
11. 'Hard Times' (7" Version) (Bonus Track)

Next up us the entire Head On album remixed by Tony Platt and available on CD for the very first time.

Nothing much more to add here for the tracks save for they sound crisper, louder in places and definitely punched and less fuzzy, so to speak.

CD 4 - Shock Tactics (1981)
1. 'Riding with the Angels'
2. 'Earth Mother'
3. 'Nice Girl'
4. 'Blood Lust'
5. 'Go to Hell'
6. 'Bright Lights'
7. 'Once Bitten'
8. 'Grime Crime'
9. 'Communion'
10. 'Little Big Man' (7" B-Side) (Bonus Track)
11. 'Pyramid to the Stars' (Bonus Track)
12. 'Losing My Grip' (Bonus Track)

Samson looked poised to enter the big time with 1981fs Shock Tactics on the next disc. Kicking off with the Russ Ballard penned rocker eRiding With The Angelsf, the album includes the classic eEarth Motherf and features the bonus tracks eLittle Big Manf, ePyramid To The Starsf and eLosing My Gripf.

For my money, Shock Tactics can be thought of as the most metal album that Samson has ever released! I mean, sure, Head On had its metal tendencies, but all in all it was not as nearly as consistent.

Virtually all of the work to follow would not be metal as well, but rather Blues-oriented rock. Dickinson's vocals on Shock Tactics is still not quite what it would go on to be known for in Iron Maiden, but it is definitely getting much closer than with Head On.

The opening track, 'Riding With the Angels' could definitely be an Iron Maiden song with Bruce's slick and raunchy vocal stylings blending seamlessly with a bevy of power chords from Paul Samson making this a straight up NWOBHM masterpiece.

There is not exactly much of a solo to this song, which is its only downfall, but then again, Paul Samson happened to be the band's only guitarist; therefore not able to pull off the twin axe attack of Iron Maiden.

'Nice Girl' is just one of the many metal songs I have heard about a lust for women and if you listen closely, oddly enough half of this album has a considerable amount of sexually oriented lyrics!

'Blood Lust' and 'Grime Crime' have a considerable amount of shrieking in them and 'Communion' (which is probably my favorite non-screamed track) is also the lone ballad.

CD 5 - Live at Reading (1981)
1. 'Big Brother'
2. 'Take It Like a Man'
3. 'Nice Girl'
4. 'Earth Mother'
5. 'Vice Versa'
6. 'Bright Lights'
7. 'Walking Out on You'
8. 'Hammerhead'
9. 'Riding with the Angels'
10. 'Gravy Train'
11. 'Red Skies' - Rehearsals (Bonus Track)
12. 'Turn Out the Lights' - Rehearsals (Bonus Track)
13. 'Firing Line' - Rehearsals (Bonus Track)

This 5CD set finishes with their triumphant show at the 1981 Reading Festival when they played on a bill featuring Gillan, Rose Tattoo and Billy Squier.

In what sounds like an immensely strong live vocal and performance outing, both Dickinson and Paul Samson were at their Samson peak here.

The former shows his signature captivating hold of the audience combined with his utmost charisma as a front man (and man, those pipes!), the latter the energies associated with his guitar work that swarm the stage as he prowls it taking his guitar playing to new heights.

In a show kicking off with 'Big Brother' and featuring 'Nice Girl', 'Earth Mother', 'Vice Versa', and 'Riding With The Angels', it remains a fitting tribute to this early era of Samson.

Indeed, the set list for the show crossed the first three albums discography and is, overall, a good set to have seen live, one imagines.

Less of the past obscurity and more into the tough Hard Rock / NWOBHM edge most of the songs were from Head On and Shock Tactics, but sadly missing is one of my favorites from them, 'Tomorrow Or Yesterday.'

Following the 1981 Reading show, Bruce Dickinson left for worldwide success with Iron Maiden, joining ex-Samson drummer Clive Burr for 1982fs The Number Of The Beast LP.

Paul would carry on with various line-ups of Samson, most notably with powerhouse vocalist Nicky Moore, where the band took a much more blues orientated direction, until his sad and untimely death in 2002.

Capturing the halcyon days of the bandfs career, and produced in conjunction with NWOBHM expert John Tucker, and Samsonfs archive curator Rob Grain, Bright Lights: The Albums 1979-1981 is essential for fans of quality Classic Hard Rock & NWOBHM.

Official 5CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'Version'
Artist - The Members

For those not in the know, The Members are a British punk band that originated in Camberley, England.

In the UK, they are best known for their single 'The Sound of the Suburbs', reaching #12 in 1979, and in Australia, 'Radio' which reached #5 in 1982.

Now released via Cleopatra Records comes the brand new 2019 release from the British punk legends, Version.

On Version, The Members play the hits of Buzzcocks, The Lurkers, The Ramones, Johnny Thunders, The Wailers, Gregory Isaacs, Grandmaster Flash, Dillinger and many others with each track reflecting the many and varied influences of the band (aka punk to pop to reggae and dub).

1. 'When You Were Mine'
2. 'Does Your Mother Know'
3. 'Boys Keep Swinging'
4. 'What Do I Get?'
5. 'Sheena Is a Punk Rocker'
6. 'Shadow'
7. 'On Broadway'
8. 'Chinese Rocks'
9. 'Police in Helicopter'
10. 'Soul Rebel'
11. 'Night Nurse'
12. 'Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've?) / Under Mi Sleng Teng'
13. 'Cokane in My Brain / White Lines'
14. 'Waiting For My Man'

With all the 14 tracks arranged and performed with an intense artistry all their own, they kick off with the brilliant duo of Prince's 'When You Were Mine' and a gently distorted version 'Does Your Mother Know' (yes, ABBA!), before a quite stunning rendition of David Bowie's 'Boys Keep Swinging' (even sounding like him!) is brought forth.

Next up is 'What Do I Get?' (Buzzcocks) which is backed by a blistering 'Sheena Is a Punk Rocker' (Ramones), before we then get a more contemporary track in the form of The Lurkers' 'Shadow,' followed by continued smooth vocal roll (albeit in the style of The Kinks!) for 'On Broadway.'

Showcasing perfectly how apt at performing both old school and new school The Members - JC Carroll, guitar/keys/vocals; Chris Payne, bass/ guitar/vocals; Nick Cash, drums/percussion; and Calle Engelmarc, guitars/vocals - still are today that's backed by a more than decent stab at the classic Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers cut 'Chinese Rocks,' the genius that was John Holt on 'Police in Helicopter,' and then the beloved Bob Marley track 'Soul Rebel.'

Their version of reggae artist phenom Gregory Isaacs' 'Night Nurse' is a most definite stand out cut here, and is backed by a rather interesting, foot off the pedal version of their old mates the Buzzcocks' 'Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've?) / Under Mi Sleng Teng.'

Jamaican musician Dillinger's 'Cokane in My Brain' is then blended sweetly with Grandmaster Flash's infamous 1983 chart-topper 'White Lines,' with the album rounding out with a righteous nod to the Velvet Underground (and Lou Reed, in particular) on 'Waiting For My Man.'

Version is available on both CD as well as a special limited edition (only 200 made) vinyl pressing!

Official CD Purchase Link

Official Vinyl LP Purchase Link

Title - 'Gratitude'
Artist - Steve Cole

For those not in the know, known for consistently cranking out chart-topping singles that deploy big vibrant pop hooks, contemporary jazz saxophonist Steve Cole is actually much more than that; for he is also a professor/adviser of music business at the University of St. Thomas.

The Chicago native exploded onto the scene in 1998 with the album Stay Awhile that was produced by fellow Chicagoan Brian Culbertson. The disc scored two #1 hits and earned Cole the Oasis Smooth Jazz Award for best new artist shortly before his sophomore set, Between Us, was released in 2000.

His catchy singles made him an instant radio favorite and he cranked them out with regularity on subsequent albums NY LA (2003), Spin (2005), True (2006), Moonlight (2011), Pulse (2013), and then Turn It Up in 2016.

It’s during the times when we’re confronted with life’s hardest struggles that we learn to appreciate the humanity around us. On his latest album, Gratitude, Cole offers thanks for the people who’ve helped see him through some of his tough times – the loved ones, the musicians and collaborators who rallied around, and the often-nameless professionals whose job is to help and to heal.

Releasing on July 26th, 2019 via Artistry Music / Mack Avenue Records, Gratitude arrives on the heels of a health scare in Cole’s family.

The successful battle left the saxophonist feeling rejuvenated, with a renewed sense of hope and faith in his fellow humans.

"Going through something like this," Cole says of the recent health scare, "and seeing all these marvelous people who care so much about others has really imbued my music with optimism and gratitude."

Ergo, that depth of feeling shines through on the album’s ten tracks, which joyously spotlight Cole’s gift for infectious grooves, soulful melodies, and vibrant pop hooks.

1. 'Good News Day'
2. 'Neo Sol'
3. 'Gratitude'
4. 'Soho'
5. 'Starting Over'
6. 'Love Ballad'
7. 'Five6oh83'
8. 'Can't Get Enough'
9. 'Let's Go!'
10. 'Toronto'

The first track from his brand new ninth album is the upbeat, addictively funky and definitely the only track you would need playing in your open top car on a summer drive 'Good News Day' and that's backed by both the gentle jazz lite flow of 'Neo Sol' and the quieter title track ballad 'Gratitude.'

The beat gets turned back up on the finger-snappin' beauty 'Soho' which is backed seamlessly by both the gently distorted slap bass and guitar of 'Stating Over' and the truly lush, and aptly titled 'Love Ballad.'

Bringing back the funk for 'Five6oh83' that's followed by one of my own personal favorites here, the windswept hipsway of 'Can't Get Enough.'

The album then rounds out in some style with Cole showcasing his immense sax talents on the fun 'Let's Go!' with the laid back ease of 'Toronto' bringing this quite stunning new album to a close.

Amazon CD Purchase Link

Steve Cole @ Facebook!

Title - 'Tor & Vale'
Artist - Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband

For those not in the know, Mark Wingfield is a guitarist and composer based in the UK. Most of his output is rooted in jazz, but he is also active in contemporary classical music.

Indeed, Wingfield cites jazz, rock, Indian, Japanese, African, and classical music as influences and has written over 70 compositions.

Gary Husband is an English jazz and rock drummer, pianist, and bandleader. He is best known for his emotive and dynamic style on both his primary instruments, the keyboards and the drums.

Also a composer, arranger and producer, Husband is a member of John McLaughlin's group The 4th Dimension and also performs with Germany's Norddeutscher Rundfunk Big Band and as a solo pianist.

He has been a member of many of Billy Cobham's groups (including Cobham's Spectrum 40 band), the guitarist Allan Holdsworth's groups, British pop/funk band Level 42 and groups led by Jack Bruce and guitarist Gary Moore.

Coming together on the quite brilliant new album Tor & Vale (released July 5th, 2019 via MoonJune Records), this quite magnificent album was recorded in high resolution digital on a single day during a multi-day set of sessions.

With audio engineer Jesus Rovira at the helm along with other artists at La Casamurada Studios in Catalonia, Spain the eight track album consists of five compositions from Wingfield together with three improvised pieces by them both.

1. 'Kittiwake' (07:25)
2. 'The Golden Thread' (08:19)
3. 'Night Song' (05:48)
4. 'Tor&Vale' (16:28)
5. 'Shape of Light' (10:41)
6. 'Tryfan' (09:37)
7. 'Silver Sky' (11:59)
8. 'Vaquita' (05:49)

The first track from his new coupling is 'Kittiwake' (07:25) which immediately showcases the wealth of dedicated passion these two have for such lush acoustic piano and electronic guitar pieces.

Their New Age flow is embraced once more on the free flowing, call-and-response exchanges found within the dramatic structure of 'The Golden Thread' which in turn is backed seamlessly by both the dynamic tone of 'Night Song' (05:48) and then the hauntingly ethereal free-form title track, 'Tor&Vale' (16:28).

Next up is the improvised piece 'Shape of Light' (10:41) which brings to the fore the truly dynamic, yet ultimately playful relationship between both men and their treatments.

One of my own personal favorites is the delightful 'Tryfan' (09:37) that allows the genuine, unforced chemistry between these two extraordinary players to truly take centerstage.

The album then rounds out with the heartfelt and driven 'Silver Sky' (11:59), and then the intrepid improvisers bring the new project to a close with the resoundingly magnificent 'Vaquita' (05:49).

Official Digital / CD / 2LP Purchase Link

Mark Wingfield @ Facebook!

Title - 'Wild Kingdom'
Artist - Hot Club of Cowtown'

For those not in the know, the Hot Club of Cowtown - Whit Smith, Jake Erwin and Elana James - is celebrating its 22nd anniversary during the 2019-2020 touring season.

Since its beginnings in the late 1990s, the Hot Club of Cowtown’s star has continued to rise as its reputation for jaw-dropping virtuosity and unforgettable live shows has become the band’s global brand.

Lauded for its “down-home melodies and exuberant improvisation” (The Times, London), the Hot Club has always woven a combination of seemingly disparate styles together to its own magical effect, setting up camp “at that crossroads where country meets jazz and chases the blues away” (The Independent), remaining “conscious always that above all else, the music is for dancing and an old-fashioned good time” (New York Times).

The band’s musical alchemy has been described as “another breathless journey in the Texas tardis” (The Times, London), while American Songwriter observed that “the excellent three players of this band could be doing anything but have chosen to honor the greats of jazz and swing with their sound.”

Indeed, the Belfast Telegraph called the Hot Club of Cowtown “a pretty much perfect country trio at the very top of their game,” and the New York Times, in a live review viewed the trio as armed with “an arsenal full of technique and joy.”

Releasing on September 6th, 2019 via Gold Strike Records is their brand new, and highly anticipated new album of new material in ten years, Wild Kingdom.

Featuring 11 brand-new original songs plus three traditional band favorites along with one of the most colorful album covers I think I've seen in the past decade, Wild Kingdom sees the Austin-based trio upping their musical and lyrical game.

1. 'My Candy' (04:08)
2. 'Last Call' (04:47)
3. 'Caveman' (03:29)
4. 'Near Mrs.' (04:41)
5. 'Three Little Words' (03:13)
6. 'Billy The Kid' (04:20)
7. 'Tall Tall Ship' (03:21)
8. 'Rodeo Blues' (03:47)
9. 'Ways Of Escape' (04:24)
10. 'Loch Lomond' (02:50)
11. 'High Upon The Mountain' (04:01)
12. 'Easy Money' (04:15)
13. 'Before the Time of Men' (05:05)
14. 'How High The Moon' (04:33)

The first cut from this wonderfully vibrant new album is the fun tuck and roll of the James-written, sweet-talkin' 'My Candy,' which is backed seamlessly by the bands traditional American music vibe on both the drinking waltz of 'Last Call' and the Smith-original storytelling of 'Caveman.'

James's 'Near Mrs.' has that classic sound you expect from the band (complete with an unexpected big country star name drop), and that's followed by the first of the bands favorites, the 1930s theme from the eponymous film 'Three Little Words.'

The storytelling continues on the interestingly told lyrics found within 'Billy The Kid' (where cornered by Sheriff Pat Garrett, Billy's life flashes before his eyes), and then comes the chugging country rhythm of 'Tall Tall Ship.'

'Rodeo Blues' is another deeply meaningful cut that uses the metaphor of the pickup rider in a rodeo as the savior in a relationship, with Smith's bluesy brilliance for both lyrical and musical combinations rising to the top on the outstanding 'Ways To Escape' thereafter.

A swinging version of the traditional 'Loch Lomond' is backed by 'High Upon The Mountain,' which itself paints a glorious picture of nature's power to make us look inward and consider the stillness around us (in contrast to the turmoil in our lives).

On 'Easy Money,' another of my personal favorites here, the central theme of Smith's relationship with a gold-digging girlfriend who he cannot help but still love makes for an interesting lyrically emotive tale, and then the album rounds out with the complex mix of central Asian flair and manouche jazz of 'Before The Time of Me', and then an inspired cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford's 'How High The Moon.'

On an album that will have you tappin' your toes, snappin' your fingers, creating gentle hipsway in your chair, and even trepidatiously reminiscing about days gone by, Wild Kingdom is, without a shadow of a doubt, the album of 2019 to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step!

Official CD Purchase Link

Hot Club of Cowtown @ Facebook!

Title - 'Sacred Kind Of Love: The Columbia Recordings'
Artist - Grover Washington, Jr.

For those not in the know, Grover Washington Jr. (December 12, 1943 – December 17, 1999) was an American jazz-funk / soul-jazz saxophonist.

Along with George Benson, John Klemmer, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chuck Mangione, Dave Grusin, Herb Alpert, and Spyro Gyra, he is considered by many to be one of the founders of the smooth jazz genre.

Indeed he wrote some of his material and later became an arranger and producer.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Washington made some of the genre's most memorable hits, including "Mister Magic", "Reed Seed", "Black Frost", "Winelight", "Inner City Blues" and "The Best is Yet to Come".

In addition, he performed very frequently with other artists, including Bill Withers on "Just the Two of Us" (still in regular rotation on radio today), Patti LaBelle on "The Best Is Yet to Come" and Phyllis Hyman on "A Sacred Kind of Love".

He is also remembered for his take on the Dave Brubeck classic "Take Five", and for his 1996 version of "Soulful Strut".

Washington had a preference for black nickel-plated saxophones made by Julius Keilwerth which also included a SX90R alto and SX90R tenor. He also played Selmer Mark VI alto in the early years, but his main soprano was a black nickel-plated H. Couf Superba II (also built by Keilwerth for Herbert Couf) and a Keilwerth SX90 in the last years of his life.

SoulMusic Records (via Cherry Red Records) now presents Sacred Kind Of Love: The Columbia Recordings, a 5-CD deluxe box-set of six stellar albums, spanning nine years (1987-1996) by the legendary saxophonist himself, Grover Washington, Jr.

Four of the six albums – Strawberry Moon (1987), Time Out Of Mind (1989), Next Exit (1992) and Soulful Strut (1996), his final LP for Columbia – achieved success on the U.S. R&B, jazz and pop charts, while two albums, 1988’s Then And Now (with guest players such as Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Grady Tate) and 1994’s All My Tomorrows (featuring Eddie Henderson, Bobby Watson, Hank Jones, Robin Eubanks and Billy Hart) were both critically acclaimed by audiences; demonstrating Grover’s skill as a ‘straight ahead’ jazz musician of the first order.

Justifiably considered an influential pioneer in fusing jazz, soul, R&B and pop and bringing his distinctive sound to mainstream audiences globally throughout his career, this box-set also includes detailed liner notes by renowned UK writer Charles Waring that include comments from Ramsey Lewis; a personal tribute to Washington by reissue producer and founder David Nathan; with first class mastering by Nick Robbins and superb artwork by Roger Williams.

CD 1 - Strawberry Moon (1987)
1. "Strawberry Moon"
2. "The Look of Love" (Feat. Jean Carne)
3. "Shivaree Ride"
4. "Caught a Touch of Your Love"
5. "Maddie's Blues"
6. "I Will Be Here for You"
7. "Monte Carlo Nights"
8. "Keep in Touch" (Feat. Jean Carne)
9. "Summer Nights"

Then And Now (1988)
10. "Blues for D.P"
11. "Just Enough"
12. "French Connections"
13. "Something Borrowed, Something Blue"
14. "Lullaby for Shana Bly"

The sounds of Grover Washington's saxophone are indeed very soothing, especially more so here on his brilliant Strawberry Moon album. The special effects from the synthesizers and the percussion merely add to the songs rather than over color them as other artists sometimes do.

The themes on each of the songs are also quite memorable. "Caught A Touch Of Your Love" is probably the most memorable piece on this collection as BB King delivers some fine vocals and guitar licks in between Grover's tender sax sounds.

"The Look Of Love", "Monte Carlo Nights", and the title track itself also are very memorable mostly due to the balance between the instruments with the bass lines on the latter just pulsating.

Then And Now (which is weirdly spread over two CDs) is one of Washington, Jr.'s occasional strays away from R&B-oriented jazz to play in a more straight ahead setting, so to speak.

Switching between soprano, alto and tenor, he is accompanied by either Tommy Flanagan or Herbie Hancock on piano during some of the selections as he performs such numbers as Ron Carter's "Blues for D.P.," "French Connections" and both "Stolen Moments" and "Stella by Starlight" with swing and taste. (Oh, and tenor-saxophonist Igor Butman also helps out on three songs).

CD 2 - Here And Now (1988) (Continued)
1. "Stolen Moments"
2. "In a Sentimental Mood"
3. "Stella By Starlight"

Time Out Of Mind (1989)
4. "Jamaica"
5. "Gramercy Park"
6. "Sacred Kind of Love" (Feat. Phyllis Hyman)
7. "Brand New Age"
8. "Fly Away"
9. "Don't Take Your Love from Me"
10. "Time Out of Mind"
11. "Split Second (Act II, the Bar Scene)"
12. "Nice-N-Easy"
13. "Unspoken Love"
14. "Protect the Dream"

Washington never followed trends when it came to his music - he made them. Ergo this album from the '80s was magical in its time. Today it is still a pleasure to hear. Not bop, nor smooth jazz, he had a sophistication all of his own. Musically, he gave much and was truly respected for not just his talent but his sharing and caring.

It's obvious that Grover Washington Jr. also had an ear for talent. Check out the great soul diva Phyllis Hyman on "Sacred Kind Of Love". Grover's sax and Phyllis' voice blend beautifully to make it a timeless song.

"Unspoken Love" has smoldering moments intermingled with tender interludes as it's a rather gorgeous sax solo full of soul and depth. Oh, and "Protect The Dream" will take you away as you get caught up inside it.

CD 3 - Next Exit (1992)
1. "Take Five (Another Five)"
2. "Your Love"
3. "Only for You (Siempre Para D'sera)"
4. "Greene Street"
5. "Next Exit"
6. "I Miss Home"
7. "Love Like This" (Feat. Lalah Hathaway)
8. "Summer Chill"
9. "Till You Return to Me"
10. "Get on Up"
11. "Check Out Grover"

All My Tomorrows (1994)
1. "É Preciso Perdoar"
2. "When I Fall in Love"
3. "I'm Glad There Is You"
4. "Happenstance"

CD 4 - All My Tomorrows (1994) (Continued)
5. "All My Tomorrows"
6. "Nature Boy"
7. "Please Send Me Someone to Love"
8. "Overjoyed"
9. "Flamingo"
10. "For Heaven's Sake"
11. "Estate ("Ess-Tah-Tay") (In Summer)"
12. "Every Day a Little Death" (From a Little Night Music) - Bonus Track

My main reason for loving Next Exit so much is because of my favorite (of all-time) vocalist Ms. Nancy Wilson's rendition of "Your Love." Wow, what an incredible, soulful touch she brings to this wondrous song.

But there is so much more to love on this album that after my second listening all these years later I was mesmerized and actually fell in love with the whole album.

I love the Latin-flavored hipsway beat that swoops and dances itself way through most all of the songs along with the overall timeless of his music.

Indeed, Washington's sax shares time with vocal tracks featuring the likes of not just Wilson, but Lalah Hathaway, and the Four Tops too, of course.

Sadly, yet again, another of his albums has been spread across two CDs, this time his great album All My Tomorrows. Here, Washington is joined by a fantastic band with plenty of delicious piano by Hank Jones.

I fell in love at first with the opening and last tracks of this album, but after few more listening sessions (most notably in my car, top down, summer sun on my face, I can now conclude that entire album blends perfectly; revealing a very relaxing atmosphere, full of beautiful tunes.

Ergo, for my money, All My Tomorrows is an overlooked gem from the reedman, recorded in his later years, but a set that's actually got more of an acoustic style overall – and one that goes back to the roots farther than any of Grover's fusion records, to my mind.

CD 5 - Soulful Street (1996)
1. "Soulful Strut"
2. "Can You Stop the Rain"
3. "Play That Groove for Me"
4. "Bordertown"
5. "I Can Count the Times"
6. "Village Groove"
7. "Headman's Haunt"
8. "Poacher Man"
9. "Mystical Force"
10. "Uptown"
11. "Heat Index" - Bonus Track
12. "The Night Fantastic" - Bonus Track

Soulful Strut is a typically smooth and swinging date from Washington where, in all honesty, and maybe only to my ear, sure, but occasionally, the production by Walter Afanasieff is a wee bit too slick and commercial; diluting the impact of Washington's subtle, relaxed groove.

Fortunately, Washington's instrumental skills cut through the gloss, making Soulful Strut another worthy record for mainstream soul-jazz fans.

Various special guest vocal performances by Jean Carne ("The Look Of Love", 'Keep In Touch"), Phyllis Hyman ("Sacred Kind Of Love"), B.B. King ("Caught A Touch Of Your Love"), Nancy Wilson ("Your Love"), Lalah Hathaway ("Love Like This") and The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs ("Till You Return To Me") are among the many highlights of Grover’s tenure with Columbia Records along with bonus tracks, "Protect The Dream" (originally released on the CD version of Time Out Mind); "Every Day A Little Death", (from the 1995 Sony album, Color And Light: Jazz Sketches On Sondheim); "Heat Index" and "The Night Fantastic", both originally included on Prime Cuts, a Columbia Records compilation released in 1999 - the year Grover passed away at the age of 56.

Official 5CD Box-Set Purchase Link

Title - 'All You Get' [Vinyl]
Artist - Andras Jones

For those not in the know, Andras Jones is a West Coast-based actor, author, the host of the podcast Radio8Ball, singer-songwriter, and musician.

Having also appeared in such films as 'Nightmare on Elm Street 4 – The Dream Master', 'The Prom', and 'Every Day Is A Journey,' and having also written a book entitled 'Accidental Initiations: In The Kabbalistic Tree Of Olympia' (Sync Book Press), Jones's career also includes seven previous runs all under different monikers (along with touring with his band The Previous).

Now Jones has brought his true musical self back to the fore on his just-released eighth studio album, the deeply personal recanting of All You Get.

Having admittedly avoided finishing the album since the turn of the millennium Jones battled his own personal crises (one that mirrored a nation's descent into the future) and even though the album had been completed years before, finally knew the time was right to raise his voice and tell his tales once more.

1. 'All You Get'
2. 'The Things I Have to Live Without'
3. 'Natalie Wood said ...'
4. 'Spin The Bottle'
5. 'Cartesian Shack'
6. 'Insecurity'
7. 'Jealousy Nation'
8. 'Birthday Boy'
9. 'You Moved to Chicago'
10. 'Epic Teen (Nancy)'
11. 'One More Figure'
12. 'Paint My Day'

The first track from his wondrous, simply stunning, earthy and yet vibrantly alive album is the jangling guitar title track itself, a cut (with additional vocals from Frazey Ford) that showcases perfectly the non-traditional workings of a musician whose almost whispered conspiratorial qualities are as much his trademark as his synchronistic musical format known as the aforementioned Radio8Ball.

The grey day following winter home aspects of 'The Things I Have to Live Without' bring forth yet another self-realized emotive core from Jones, with one of the best cuts on the album, IMHO, the delicate, yet lush early '70s psych pop flow of 'Natalie Wood said' along next.

The gently beautiful strummed acoustic vibe of 'Spin The Bottle' is a pure delight to behold and that's backed by the swaying moments of distorted hipsway found within the subtle humor of 'Cartesian Shack' (featuring the dulcet trumpet work of Ida Nilson), with Side A of this vinyl record rounding out with the album's longest track at just under six minutes, the building assortment of melodies found within the ballad 'Insecurity.'

Recorded in Vancouver, BC with Canadian Wildman Ford Pier (D.O.A., The Rheostatics) at the helm and featuring a crew of illustrious Canucks like Frazey Ford & Samantha Parton (The Be Good Tanyas), Barry Mirochnik (Neko Case), Keith Rose (The Hanson Brothers) & Veda Hille, Side B opens with the fun and perky 'Jealousy Nation,' and then the lo-fi finger-snappin' vibe of the storytelling (inclusive of Marc L’esperance on violin and additional vocals and Walt Vincent on bass) behind 'Birthday Boy' ("Check out the kid with the face like a Russian novel, long and hard to read").

The upright jazz bass (courtesy of Keith Rose) and lo-rent blues inherent within both the music and Jones's vocals make 'You Moved to Chicago' (with backing vocals from Samantha Parton) my own personal favorite track here and that's backed seamlessly by the soft cinematic shuffle of 'Epic Teen (Nancy)' (featuring Marshall Thompson on Wurlitzer organ).

This resonating new album then rounds out with the upbeat and inspired guitar playing and vocal expression from Jones and company on the foot-tappin' groove of 'One More Figure,' with the breathy, organ-led (by Veda Hille) 'Paint My Day' bringing this heartfelt musical experience to a close.

In closing, Jones himself has said about this new album, "It’s a record about disappointment that I hope isn’t disappointing,” but trust me when I say that there is nothing disappointing abut this album. Nothing.

All You Get - The Album @ Facebook!

Andras Jones @ Facebook!

Official Radio8Ball Website

Andras Jones & Radio8Ball @ Twitter