CD Reviews


Brendan Benson - You Were Right

It’s often difficult to articulate what’s so inherently different about listening to a Brendan Benson album versus another artist. Benson is a musical chameleon in the best sense possible; he has a knack for sounding equally comfortable sitting in the pocket of a laid back classic rock vibe as well as pushing the boundaries of conventional power pop. Somehow, through the style shifts, he maintains that ability to connect lyrically with simplicity, wit and charm. You Were Right taps...

Rory Block – Avalon: A Tribute To Mississippi John Hurt

“One of the things I have endeavored to capture in this tribute series is a return to a more earthy, natural approach. We don’t love the old recordings because they are crackle-free, or fancy, or have clever formats…So instead of sweeping the tracks clean…I feel compelled to let it be real…Every recording is a field recording in my view,” writes blues guitarist-extraordinaire Rory Block in the liner notes of her latest and fourth album in her Mentor Series: “Avalon – A Tribute To ...

Dan Bankhurst - At First Sight

Fingerstyle guitar playing is a dying art, with guys like Tommy Emmanuel and Adrian Legg getting older, and fewer youngsters willing to do the work, as playing the acoustic guitar well can be pretty physically demanding. Dan Bankhurst is an Ohio player who not only seems willing to do the work, but sounds like he revels in it on his new album At First Sight. With influences that sound like they include Chet Atkins and Phil Keaggy with the energy of Leo Kottke, Bankhurst ...

Blackjack Billy - Get Some

These boys are good. Maybe a little too good by today's country radio standards. Blackjack Billy would kick the butt of most acts on Music Row if Music Row was serious about doing something that wasn't crappy pop. On their album Get Some, tight harmonies and Skynyrd-influenced guitars (though they aren't afraid to throw a banjo in there) tear it up from this band that is obviously ready for the big time if they can get a shot. These guys sound like they live to play and play to live...

Jason Sturgeon – Cornfields & Coal

“It’s challenging to find time to write now,” is a royal understatement, considering Country artist Jason Sturgeon did two hundred shows on tour last year, and has a future calendar booked more than ever. Still, he wrote or co-wrote nine out of ten songs on his latest project: his sophomore album “Cornfields & Coal,” released on his Toolpusher Records label. Dipping into back catalog, as well as composing fresh material, this small-town-Indiana boy made good, along with producer...

Jesse Jones - One Memory For The Road

Searching for new original traditional Country music in the 21st century sometimes feels like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Never mind looking toward Nashville these days for the good stuff. It's actually scattered to and fro across the North American landscape hiding out in micropolitan towns that are totally unassuming when it comes to music creation. Jesse Jones's debut CD (as a recording artist) "One Memory For The Road" is a treasure...

FlyByWire - Lost and Found

While many feel the music industry is in disarray right now it's always a breath of fresh air to hear a new and exciting band that's not afraid to take chances with their music. Enter Sydney Australia 4 member Rock band FlyByWire and their latest musical offering: “Lost and Found” (2013). I discovered there are about 10 or so bands called Fly By Wire, but only one spelled this way - FlyByWire. This simple. brilliant, unique title arrangement tells me a lot about the band. It’s clear to me they...

Recommended New Releases: Lone Justice, The Doors and The Strypes

Two of Los Angeles' most beloved bands are celebrated via essential new retro-mining collections, while a young brash Irish outfit is set to unleash its retro rock brew in the U.S in early 2014. Artist: Lone Justice. Title: This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes 1983 (Omnivore Recordings). You might like if you enjoy: Hot Club of Cowtown, Emmylou Harris, Johnny and June Carter Cash. Tell me more: Long before modern-day Americana outfits such as the Civil Wars...

Rhonda Vincent - Only Me

Fans of Rhonda Vincent are in for a double-decker treat with her new album titled ONLY ME. Scheduled for a national January 28 release, ONLY ME is a two-disc album with a unique twist. Remember vinyl LPs that had six songs on each side? ONLY ME echoes that concept, CD-style: Disc One is a six-song set of bluegrass songs, while Disc Two features a six-song country set. Neat, eh? But ONLY ME is definitely more than a novelty package, and these twelve cuts ...

Edo Castro - Edo

So as luck would have it I stumble across the latest CD by Jazz Bassist Edo Castro entitled “Edo” released in 2003. I really love timeless Jazz in general. Looking back at the last 20-30 years there have been some truly amazing Jazz bassists that have given us the gift of music for the ages. What players am I referring to: Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, John Patitucci just to name a few. These players were the new Jazz Pioneers that changed the course of “bass player led” Jazz history forever.

Kandia Crazy Horse - Stampede

Kandia Crazy Horse is an East Coast music critic who decided to make records herself, and, unlike so many critics, she can really sing. Though her sound is all over the map, she never takes on more than she can handle, as she (and her producer, who worked with Shakira) understands what so many styles of music are about, and does a great job of singing them all and blending them into something that sounds like, well, Kandia Crazy Horse. And she has good...

Steve Bucci – Streetlight on 5th Avenue

“…at my bedroom window was this ultra-bright streetlight that would keep me up for a while every night. All I would do is think about music, drums, drums, music…and my bike,” says Montreal country rocker Steve Bucci in a recent interview, looking back at his childhood alternative to counting sheep. After a long career as a sideman drummer to a number of Canadian performers, he has released his debut recording, “Streetlight on 5th Avenue” – his “homage to that little boy and his...

Rob Nance - Lost Souls And Locked Doors

Spruce Pine, North Carolina may be the feldspar-mining capital of the world, but it’s really a mere wisp of a town – home to 2,175 people – tucked between a river and a mountain in the Blue Ridge range. This is where blue grass music, country, folk and Americana meet and blend into the scenery; a place where singer/songwriter Rob Nance grew up; a place where he says, “Doc Watson’s shadow looms large.” This folk rock artist has released “Lost Souls And Locked Doors...

Jeff Jensen – Road Worn and Ragged

“When I think about my life, I can’t pretend blues isn’t as much a part of me as my own skin,” says blues guitarist Jeff Jensen on his website, as he beckons like-wired working musicians to donate to the Raise the Roof campaign to benefit the Blues Hall of Fame. The recent Memphis transplant further explores his genetic make-up on his latest Swingsuit Records project, “road worn and ragged.” Produced by Jensen along with pianist Victor Wainwright, the album features...

Phil Celia - Circus Town

Americana artists often offer listeners something that is very genuine and can be awe-inspiring. Los Angeles based singer / songwriter Phil Celia fits well into this category with his latest release entitled Circus Town (Dark Moon Records). In his own words: For me the journey keeps on and the passion remains. I am grateful for all the support of my friends, family and the fans I’ve made along the way. I truly feel, the best is yet to come”. His rather simplistic, under bearing...
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