CD Reviews

Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying: Ringo Starr and Le Voyage Dans La Lune

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. This week Robert discusses "2012" The new album by Ringo Starr and TJ talks about "Le Voyage Dans La Lune", The electronic film score for film of the same name by the French Electronica Duo Air.
 
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Carrie Hassler - The Distance

Over the past few years, Carrie Hassler has went about carving out a spot as one of the most respected female vocalists in Bluegrass music. With this new eight-song collection, I think it’s safe to assume that what she has done so far is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Hassler has put together quite the project with her latest Rural Rhythm release, and it shows on each cut. Kicking off with a fiery version of Gram Parsons’ classic “Luxury Liner,” Hassler delivers a winning performance from the...
 
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Mad Buffalo – Red And Blue

The big sky country of Montana is where singer/songwriter Randy Riviere composes melodies and sharpens lyrics. This one-time wildlife biologist records under the moniker Mad Buffalo, which is made up of Riviere plus a configuration of backing musicians. His fourth album, “Red And Blue,” was released earlier this year, and is an eight-song effort recorded in Primm Springs, Tennessee, produced by the artist along with Chad Cromwell. Riviere has found his writer’s voice through use of poetic lyrics awash in imagery ...
 
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Brand New Strings - Stay Tuned

The name of the group might be Brand New Strings, but one thing is for sure. This group loves some of the classic sounds of Bluegrass Music. You can tell that on the opening cut, their current single "Other Side Of Lonesome." Though it is very up-front soundwise, and progressive, there's something about Randall Massengill's vocals that take one back to a classic time. But, make no mistake about it. This is not a retro record. The album kicks with a raw energy that will have you on your feet no doubt. Changing lead vocalist duties to Mike Ramsey on their peppy cover of Stonewall Jackson's "I Washed My Face In Muddy Water," the band doesn't...
 
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Mark Collie & His Reckless Companions - Alive At Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary

In my opinion, Mark Collie may very well be one of the most underrated Country artists in the past quarter-century. His 1990 debut Hardin County Line stands as one of my favorite albums of all time. Though he did achieve radio success with songs like "Let Her Go" and "Even The Man In The Moon Is Crying," I don't think he ever got the full credit for his talent that he is due. I think that's about to change with the release of this new live disc, recorded at Tennessee's Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. Recorded over a decade ago, but kept on the shelf, this album kicks off with the driving sound of "One More Second Chance," and keeps churning...
 
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The Kenneth Brian Band - Welcome To Alabama

While I don't think one will ever see the sounds of acts like the Marshall Tucker Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd ever again, there are some acts that are doing their best to try to uphold the time-honored tradition of Southern Rock. Kenneth Brian is one of them. Take a listen to "Nothin' You Can Do," a collaboration with the legendary Bonnie Bramlett. You can almost hear the spirit of one Waylon Jennings in the speakers. Of course, it doesn't hurt matters one bit that the song is from the catalog of the great Dickey Betts. That cut is one of the highlights from the album, along with the old-school Country sound of "Last Call," a duet with the amazing Lillie Mae...
 
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Chelle Rose – Ghost of Browder Holler

In a lazy, drawling growl, East Tennessee’s Chelle Rose sings about life experiences on her sophomore album, “Ghost of Browder Holler,” released on Lil’ Damsel Records. The singer/songwriter spent her childhood in The Smokies of North Carolina, and now writes about the mountain folk in honest, sometimes dark tones that see the light of day here in her self-described “Appalachian rock ‘n’ roll.” Produced in Austin by the legendary Ray Wylie Hubbard, who sought after the artist and sprinkled his Texas flavoring...
 
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Candy Coburn - Lucky

Candy Coburn is one of those artists that seemingly has it all. She can sing like nobody's business, is a heavily sought-after performer for her high-energy shoe, and well, she's pretty easy to look at, as well. On her current disc, she puts it all together for quite the collection. You can tell the wide array of artists she listened to growing up - everything from Loretta Lynn to Glenn Miller helped her to become the very talented act that you hear today. The current single from the disc, "Don't Walk Away," is ample proof...
 
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Herrick - New Dance

Sometimes - given the high volume of CD's that pass across my desk, it's tough to get anything on the first listen. You typically have to go back, and listen to a disc a few times before you realize whether you 'get' the act or not. I only needed one listen to tell you that Herrick is the real deal, and may very well contain the next great female voice of this generation in Donna Herrick. It's all in how you interpret it, but in Herrick I hear a mixture of Jennifer Nettles' phrasing, as well as the rock and blues swagger of one Faith Hill. That ...
 
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Roy D Mercer - Ultimate Fits: The Very Worst Of

2012 marks the fifteenth anniversary of one of the biggest success stories in American Comedy. At KMOD Radio in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a pair of radio personalities named Phil and Brent helped to give a voice to a man who qualifies, for…something. Roy D. Mercer is something of a vanishing breed these days. He’s the kind of man who takes no bull from people – whether it be a mechanic that overcharged him, a telemarketer who won’t leave him alone, or the pharmacist who messes up his prescription after the dog...
 
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Chase Rice - Dirt Road Communion

Carolina native Chase Rice has had some big things happen to him these days. One of those was the release of this album. It hit the Billboard Country Albums chart at # 48. That is a very impressive feat, especially when one considers that Rice has yet to have a major hit at radio. That is probably a circumstance that will change soon, given the high quality of music on this disc. Rice can maneuver between many different styles, and do so in a way that almost comes across as effortless. Some of the winners on this disc include...
 
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JB & The Moonshine Band - Beer For Breakfast

A few years ago, the Country format was filled with women at the top of their game. Nowadays, at least to my ears, there seems to be a trend toward signing bands on the Row. Each seems to be talented, and each seems to be more “bad ass” than ever before. That being said, I really think that this act, signed to Average Joe’s Entertainment, is one to seriously watch. Yeah, they are “bad ass,” as the demographic likes, but they cut just a little more deep than you might figure. In listening to such tracks...
 
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Lurrie Bell - The Devil Ain't Got No Music

Chicago-area bluesman Lurrie Bell has been 'doing his thing,' and doing it well for quite a while now. On his latest album, he shines the spotlight on some of Gospel Music's most endearing songs - all of which are given a sterling performance, as only Bell can do it. Starring off with the standard "Swing Low," Bell gets on a roll immediately, and stays there throughout the album. "It's A Blessing" most definitely is, and in his style, "Peace In The Valley" becomes quite a different sounding song than Red Foley or Elvis Presley, yet no less touching or effective. In this listeners' opinion, this is some fantastic old-school blues. It has...
 
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Rob Baird - I Swear It's The Truth

Over the past few years, Rob Baird has become known as one of the top artists in the Lone Star state. This album should be the catalyst to introduce his sound to other fans outside of the Texas border. Listening to it, you will no doubt find that he is ready for that next step. The intro cut, “Dreams And Gasoline,” has that churning Texas sound, but what sets it apart is Baird’s vocal range. He can sing, and does it very well. He’s got a versatile sound, too. “Same Damn Thing” gives him a chance to show...
 
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Joan Osborne - Bring It On Home

Joan Osborne has often been one of the most diverse artists out there, even tipping her hat to her Country side on her excellent 2006 album Pretty Little Stranger. For her brand new project, the Kentucky native returns to her roots - the Blues. When the opening strains of "I Don't Need No Doctor" kick off this album, you can almost see the Mississippi River churning through Memphis circa 1968. The guitars, the horns, the background singers - they are all there in full force, and Osborne sounds like she...