CD Reviews


Neverwonder - Really Let It Out

Sometimes, a change can bring about a bit of creative energy. When it comes to Los Angeles-based Neverwonder, that sentence definitely applies. After a well-received 2010 debut, the band has switched lead singers for their new EP, with Alima Soul joining the group. What does she bring to the band? Actually, a lot! Soul shimmers through the tracks on this disc with all the confidence and sultriness of a Rock & Roll vixen, particularly on...

Skinny Molly – Haywire Riot

“I’ve got bikes to ride, fish to catch/ Songs that I ain’t written yet/Girls to love, hearts to break/Livin’ like it’s all at stake” is the life’s-too-short-to-waste-it-on-you mantra growled at a dishonest lover in “If You Don’t Care” – the opening track of the new album by Skinny Molly. The scrappy hard rock band, fronted by former Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mike Estes, produced and recorded “Haywire Riot” in Alabama and Nashville – their sophomore effort released on Ruf Records. Estes wrote ten of the eleven tracks...

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - Roads Well Traveled

In the course of Bluegrass history, there are few male vocalists as revered as the incomparable Doyle Lawson. That distinction was proven by his recent induction into the IBMA Hall of Honor. But, the thing about awards and plaques is that they just tend to gather dust. They look nice in a history book, but the true mark of an artist is to keep on creating, and that's what Lawson and Co. continue to do. Quicksilver - now consisting of Joe...

Rival Sons – Head Down

“Rock and Roll can’t be over-thought, and if it is, it loses its immediacy and instinct…it needs to be a knife fight, not a choreographed knife dance,” says Scott Holiday, guitarist for Rival Sons. Like their earlier albums, this Long Beach, California band’s latest, “Head Down,” was written, recorded and mixed in a mere 20 days. The result is a shattering recording that is raw and real in a Zeppelin kind of way, while bringing 70s rock into the 21st Century. Recorded in Nashville with Dave Cobb and Vance Powell...

Della Mae – This World Oft Can Be

Based out of Boston, I was very surprised when I took a listen to the Rounder debut for the five-woman group Della Mae. Their talent speaks for themselves, as they have developed one of the top reputations in the business for their melodic work. But, how do you combine the influences of the ladies – ranging from straight-ahead Bluegrass to Blues to even, (at times), a bit an international flavor into a cohesive musical thread? Well, how you do...

Susan Ashton - Thief

In the 1990s, Susan Ashton was on top of the Contemporary Christian world with nine number one records. Her success in that field led to her being included on Garth Brooks’ 1994 world tour, and a Country deal with Capitol Records. Though she did hit the top-40 with “You’re Lucky I Love You,” success outside CCM never truly materialized. Then, after her marriage ended, Ashton did (according to some) the unthinkable. She walked...

Dailey & Vincent – Brothers Of The Highway

Over the past half-decade or so, the duo of Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have become the gold standard of Bluegrass Music. When they are “on” - which is 24-7-365 (or 366 with a couple of leap years included in that span), there is nobody doing what they do any better. For their first Rounder album since 2009’s Brothers From Different Mothers, they don’t stray from the formula that has brought them success – whether for Rounder or their...

Bobby Dean - Double Wide

Just because you might not hear a lot of traditional sounding, old-school Country Music on the air of mainstream radio anymore doesn't mean that it's not there. You simply have to do a little bit of digging around for it. As a truck driver, Bobby Dean spent hours upon hours with those eighteen wheels a'rollin, listening to music with a high dose of twang. Now that he's on the other side of the stereo, it's symbolic that he has chosen to...

Bobby Chitwood – Gravity

Brownwood, Texas native Bobby Chitwood has listened to a lot of the “masters” growing up, like Haggard, Nelson, and Williams. You can instantly tell that with one listen to his latest album. Cuts like “The Way You Drive Me Crazy” have a definite traditional sheen, albeit one mixed with a little bit of a current attitude (He did listen to a little Skynyrd too!). “Put Your Lips Here (On Mine)” is also a favorite from the traditional side of the fence, featuring some...

Kelly Lang – Shades Of K

Kelly Lang has one of those distinctive voices that can seemingly run the gamut from Traditional Country to more crossover-oriented sounds. On her latest album, she tries both out for what might very well be her most effective vocal showcase yet. A collection of songs that influenced her, you instantly get the idea that Lang was listening to a wide variety of sounds growing up in Oklahoma. What makes the album very different than a lot...

Music Worth Buying - Releases That Impress

Guitar great Michael Schenker, singer-songwriter-guitarist Orianthi, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and an oustanding tribute to the late Levon Helm highlight a bevy of new titles available now. Artist: Michael Schenker. Title: Temple of Rock (Inakustik). You might be interested if you like: UFO, The Scorpions. Tell me more: Like Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, one-time UFO lead guitarist Michael Schenker influenced countless players to pursue the art of perfection when playing their...
Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying - Alvin Lee (10 Years After) and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. This week we pay tribute to guitar hero Alvin Lee of 10 Years After and look at a new up and coming guitar hero Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown's debut album Wild Child.

George Kilby, Jr. - Six Pack

“Music marketing professionals advise you to always have the same band, sound, and even guitar, so folks can ‘brand you.’ Makes some sense, but doesn’t work for me. I suppose my attention span is too short, or maybe I just can’t resist the lure of different kinds of music,” writes singer/songwriter George Kilby, Jr. in one of two bios posted on his website (one bio is written from his heart; the other one, he writes, is “if some of you journalists want facts and dates”). This cover-your-bases Alabamian-turned-New Yorker’s ...
brandon reeves_a decent melody

Brandon Reeves - A Decent Melody

Like the artist himself, Brandon Reeves’ sophomore release, A Decent Melody, is a workingman’s album. It is the culmination of writing and playing 100 live dates annually for three years. Stints with the bands of Ringo Starr, Billy Joel and Zac Brown helped Reeves road test the material. What results is an aptly titled album. Each of the very diverse 13 tracks has lead single potential. From the soulful opener, I Still Believe to the Celtic folk tinged Song About An Irish Girl, Reeves manages to fuse elements of rock...

Hadden Sayers - Rolling Soul

Houston-born Hadden Sayers had gone through many a life’s change over the years in his pursuit of music, which would have made many simply give up their dreams. For a while, he did put his on the backburner. However, while renovating houses, he found himself rediscovering some of the sounds that inspired him the most – such as Van Morrison and Sam Cooke. You can hear those influences – and a whole lot...
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