CD Reviews


Madison McKenzie – A Part Of Me

“When I was younger, I had a hard time expressing myself, so I’d go to music. I always liked singing, just goofing around in my room, pretending like I was famous. That’s how I would make myself feel better,” confesses 18-year-old Madison McKenzie in a May radio interview. With a soft demeanor and Miss America good looks, one might be surprised to learn that this small-town Illinois girl is a Country singer/songwriter. She’s got her debut album under her belt now...

Sam Riggs & The Night People - Outrun The Sun

The Texas Country Music scene has a lot of different sounds coming from it. Some tend to have a little bit more irreverent shock factor, and some are very traditional-oriented. Where do Sam Riggs and the Night People fit in to this musical mix? I think that Sam Riggs and his band add another layer to the whole Texas sound. They are wide...

David Gelman - Undertow

Americana artists often offer listeners something that is very genuine and can be awe-inspiring. New York singer / songwriter David Gelman fits well into this category with his latest release entitled Undertow (Incremental Music). A highly second anticipated CD from a singer songwriter, featuring all original heartfelt songs on acoustic guitar and piano, accompanied by musicians on electric guitar, violin, viola, bass, drums, lap steel guitar, mandolin and back-up vocals.

Branch & Dean - Self Titled

The duo of Steve Branch and Dean Scallan have definitely been making a lot of noise on the career front as of late with their touching song "The Dash." Written as a tribute to Branch's son Theron, who passed away in March after a long battle with Cystic Fibrosis, the song has sparked emotions in countless Country Music fans all across the United States with the deep and meaningful lyrics of the...

Brenda Lynn Allen - Thoughts Of Me and You

Columbia, Tennessee native Brenda Lynn Allen is a Country singer. That is very apparent when you take a listen to "Now and Then," the opening cut from her latest album. There's a little bit of Patty, a little bit of Reba, and also a little bit of artists like The Whites or Connie Smith as well. There's not a lot of vocal pyrotechnics or studio wizardry involved in this album. It's pretty much straight Country singing from the...

E LaFuentes - E-Magic

Enter E LaFuentes: one of those singular composers based out of New York who just released his latest CD entitled ”E Magic”. On the upside, you can expect an experienced composer and songwriter to champion high intensity vocal ability against the polished sounding backdrop of a heavy and sinister sound. I would not classify E LaFuentes as Heavy Metal. I would classify him Alternative Industrial Metal. E-Magic is what you get when Rob Zombie and NIN have a child. With E LaFuentes...

Justin Moore - Off The Beaten Path

Since he first appeared on the scene back in 2008. Justin Moore has consistently been at the top of radio playlists - and has risen through the ranks to the point that he now has gained respect in touring circles as a headlining act. Still, as successful as he's been, there's still a lot of ambition in the Arkansas native. In doing interviews for this album, Moll ore talked about wanting to compete with the Aldeans and the Bryans of the world. That's a lofty goal, and I definitely...

Tim Ash - Up On Blocks

Country newcomer Tim Ash has spent time in Illinois and Indiana during his lifetime -both smack dab in the middle of America's heartland. For his latest project, hfe releases a disc that reflects the diverse mix of musical influences that have shaped his style. The self-explanatory "Tattoos, Tractors, Tanktops, and Trucks" would definitely fit in with the bulk of what is on today's mainstream airwaves. It doesn't...

J.T. Lauritsen & Friends - Play By The Rules

The seventh studio album from Blues great J.T. Lauritsen definitely qualifies as a collaborative effort. He surrounds himself with some of the finest Blues and Rock talent, with such names as Billy Gibson, Anson Funderburgh, and Victor Wainwright being among the artists represented on this disc on five of the tracks that were recorded in Memphis - a city that definitely knows something about the...
Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying - Elvis Costello and The Roots

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. This week we look at the new "genre bending" collaboration between Elvis Costello and The Roots: "Wise Up Ghost" and first new album in years by Mazzy Star, the ethereal "Seasons Of Your Day"

Joe Farren - Open Skies

His critically-celebrated debut album,‘Til the Day was released in 2007 and led to an extensive East-Coast tour, spins on national radio stations and a spot as a headliner on the Maine Songwriter’s Association’s annual Old Port Festival. Farren moved to Florida in 2011 and writes fresh material while maintaining a rigorous live performance schedule at venues up and down the East Coast. His latest release, Open Skies was recorded in collaboration with Nashville-based producer Jason ...

Russell Howard - City Heart +

North Carolina native Russell Howard sounds like nobody you have heard of - and that's a good thing. There's many different layers to his sound - a little pop, a little jazz, and even a dash of country. Yet, somehow, he makes it sound like a natural blend of all things, and also something very special. Howard received help in making this disc from the Kickstarter campaign, and those who made donations got their...

Skyfactor - Signal Strength

This 4 piece Alternative Rock band from New York call themselves Skyfactor. Their latest release: Signal Strength is sure to be remembered as one of the more remembered modern Alternative Rock-Pop releases of our time from New York. It’s pure College Rock the way it used to be via full-tilt of playing, hooky grooves and a top tiered sound. It’s the ultimate in musical intoxication. Before I get to the review let me first say Skyfactor will take you back to a simpler, happier more carefree...

Andrew Abaria - We are the Underdogs

How would one describe Andrew Abaria, a singer/songwriter who hails from California? Andrew’s first album, “No Man’s Land,” was released in September 2011 and was featured on AOL Music (alongside Jason DeRulo and the Glee cast). The album received airplay in the US and internationally. Two singles from the five-song EP were chosen as OutRadio’s top singles of 2011 and the lead track, “Dark Room,” was reviewed at the annual ASCAP Expo. Andrew has performed at venues all...

Brandy Clark - 12 Stories

Wow. Ok, I don't think I have ever started a review so simply in my decade-plus of writing them. But, sometimes, you can say a lot more with less than you can otherwise. I think you get the idea about where this review might be headed with that explanation. Brandy Clark has developed a reputation as one of Nashville's top songwriters, scoring a CMA Song of the Year nod for her contributions to "Mama's Broken...