CD Reviews

mikemagno_cd_cover

Mike Magno – Magno

The first time I had an opportunity to hear Mike Magno was on July 4th on the bandstand at the Marietta, GA, city square. He was performing a set for the crowd of families gathered as they waited for the evening’s festivities. Little did we all know the fireworks would be going off earlier than planned when The Villian’s frontman took to the stage for his solo performance and rocked the warm, summer evening. Having released his self-titled album, Magno, the alt-pop indie rock artist takes a step outside the band box for ...
 
bluestrabeler_suziecracksthewhip

Veterans Display Musical Mastery on New Releases

Orange County Register writer and music critic Robert Kinsler shares three new albums: The A, B, C & D of Boogie Woogie's Live in Paris, Seth Walker's Time Can Change, and Blues Traveler's Suzie Cracks The Whip. Artist: The A, B, C & D of Boogie Woogie; Album: Live In Paris (Eagle Records); You might be interested in buying this if you like: early Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Ben Waters; Tell me more: Jazz and blues are celebrated in spades across the debut release from the A, B, C & D of Boogie Woogie. “Live In Paris,” recorded ...
 
Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying: Macy Gray & 20 Riverside MWB Episode 96

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. This week Robert looks at the latest release by Macy Gray entitled covered wherein the Neo Soul Singer covers Metallica, Radiohead, & The Eurythmics to name a few. Then TJ discusses the Hip Hop Jazz Blues fusion of 20 Riverside.
 
traceywhitney_iamsinging

Tracey Whitney - I Am Singing...Songs I Love

On her stunning sophomore album, Tracey Whitney pays joyful homage to a diverse mix of musicians who have inspired her own singing and songwriting. Rounded out by three original tracks, "I Am Singing…Songs I Love" (a nod at her cover of the Stevie Wonder classic, "Ngiculela - Es Una Historia/I Am Singing") features the Los Angeles/Albuquerque-based singer's stirring renditions of classic yet lesser-covered songs by artists like Michael Franks, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. At turns breezy and beautifully moving, the follow-up to ...
 
bbsmoke_whipp

Blackberry Smoke – The Whippoorwill

First of all, let me start this review by saying that you know how sometimes an act releases an album where you have to analyze every word that is mentioned for some kind of deep hidden meaning? Well, this is not one of those albums! Blackberry Smoke has been around for awhile, they know what they do, and they do it well. Now signed to Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label, this album is simply fun to listen to. Granted, there are some deep moments of introspection involved, but when you hear...
 
sethwalker_timecanchange

Seth Walker – Time Can Change

Nashville singer/songwriter Seth Walker’s seventh album “Time Can Change” has a bluesy palette. With a wisp of smoke in his soulful tenor, and self-produced, loosey-goosey arrangements awash in Wurlitzer, downtown piano and his own guitar stylings, Walker’s songs are worn-in and kind of cozy – easy things to get lost in on a lazy night off. Writing or co-writing ten of the twelve offerings here, he shares those credits with notables such as Gary Nicholson, Ralo Malo, Jon Randall and Paul Overstreet.
 
philcollins_liveatmontreaux

Phil Collins – Live At Montreux 2004

What Englishman plays the drums, fronts a rock band, has had a solo singing career for thirty-plus years, writes songs, acts on stage and film, has an Oscar and speaks fluent French to a Swiss audience? The answer is Phil Collins – a jack of all trades and a master of many. After a decade in Genesis, Collins went on his own with hit after hit in the 80s and 90s, his iconic smooth delivery becoming a part of the sonic fabric of two generations of music. Two of his numerous appearances at the annual Montreux Jazz...
 
thetrishas_high-wide-andhandsome

The Trishas – High, Wide & Handsome

Americana country group The Trishas will soon be celebrating the release of their sophomore project, “High, Wide & Handsome.” The record’s press material points out, “But when the magic happens, sometimes you have to give in to its power.” This is true of how the Austin-based quartet initially came together, casually with no agenda to form a band, but immediately felt the chemistry of their special blend of voices. It’s also true of the spell they cast over listeners who are eager to hear something fresh, something pleasing...
 
natashaborzilova_outofmyhands

Natasha Borzilova – Out Of My Hands

“When people listen to this record, I’d like them to understand that they’re actually looking into a very, very personal space in my soul.” Singer/songwriter folk artist Natasha Borzilova is referring to her latest – her third solo project, “Out Of My Hands,” released by Hadley Music Group. This self-produced, eleven-song CD is smart and introspective; she peels back the layers of relationships and life experiences, and tells all with an intimate vocal that occasionally rocks out, grabbing the listener by the collar and giving it a shake.
 
brandnewstrings_staytuned

Brand New Strings – Stay Tuned

Their sound rings out full and bright like a new set of strings on an instrument. What better name, then, for this eastern Tennessee bluegrass band than Brand New Strings? The quintet of masterful players, high-lonesome tenors and a down-the-hill baritone have an authentic grass vibe that’s ageless, and their sophomore release, “Stay Tuned,” on Rural Rhythm Records supports that flair from start to finish. Five of the seven songs here are written by the band, showing their additional talents with the pen, and lead vocals...
 
martyraybon_handtotheplow

Marty Raybon – Hand To The Plow

CMA, ACM and Grammy Award-winning Shenandoah frontman Marty Raybon has been blessed with a rich solo career. His latest effort is a christian country release on Rural Rhythm Records, “Hand To The Plow,” recorded in Nashville and produced by Mark L. Carman. Considered by his peers to be one of the greatest singers today, Raybon’s skills as a songwriter also shine, having a hand in penning half of the tracks on this new ten-song CD. Singles bookend the project that opens with his second release ...
 
davidolney_thestone

David Olney – The Stone

Storytelling has been a part of our cultures for centuries; it’s something that never seems to go out of style. Modern-day master, folk singer/songwriter David Olney, carries on the tradition with a thought-provoking six-song EP on Deadbeet Records, “The Stone.” For the prolific Olney, this time around his is a concept project where he explores the crucifixion of Jesus, taking the unsentimental points of view of witnesses to that historical event. It’s smart without being clever or professorial, with nary a religious overtone; some feat.
 
shawnjones_strugglemakesyoustronger

The Fixx, Stone Temple Pilots and Shawn Jones, Impress with new releases

The Fixx and Stone Temple Pilots celebrate big anniversaries with epic releases while gifted singer-songwriter Shawn Jones is empowered by struggles. Artist: The Fixx - Album: Beautiful Friction (Kirtland Records) - Worth buying: Yes - You might be interested in buying this if you like: the 1982 Fixx album “Shuttered Room,” Simple Minds, Peter Gabriel. Tell me more: It has been 30 years since the Fixx burst on the international New Wave music scene with the album “Shuttered Room” which yielded such timeless modern rock hits...
 
robbduskey_blankcanvas

Rob Duskey and the Rounders – Blank Canvas to Man

90s folk rock is back for a spin, thanks to the new release by Cleveland band, Rob Duskey and The Rounders. This retro-feel sophomore CD of nine self-penned songs recaptures that ever-present rootsy sound of groups back then like Hootie and The Blowfish and Blues Traveler; BT’s John Popper’s sparkling featured harp performance on “Palo Alto” makes that official. Jodi Dobos adds resonant, velvety female harmonies to Duskey’s emphatic vocals for a welcome, ear-opening balance, and along with their bright and hopeful
 
asia_xxx

Asia - XXX

The aptly-titled “XXX” celebrates ASIA’s 30th anniversary with an outstanding batch of songs that equal and maybe even outdistance the gems compiled by the quartet on 2010’s “Omega.” Simply put, prog rock has never sounded as inviting or thrilling as the brew concocted by singer-bassist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Geoff Downes. From the breathtaking, “Tomorrow the World” and fiery “No Religion” to the confessional “Face on the Bridge,” ASIA still has plenty to say and...