SoundPress.net Presents Sights and Sounds of Note for December 2015

by Richard and Laura Lynch

richard-lynch_soundpress-netThis month, the holidays have come early at SoundPress.net. The gift of music has filled our office and these are the best of all the packages we’ve torn open so far. Here’s a recap and we’ll see y’all next year!

The year was 1979 and Bruce Springsteen just recorded the follow-up to Darkness On the Edge of Town. But, after turning in the single platter The Boss had second thoughts and replaced that with a rockin’ and moody double album. The new The Ties That Bind box set documents how that first record swelled into the critically acclaimed The River. Including 52 tracks on 4 CDs with a wealth of unreleased material, and 4 hours of never-before-seen video on 3 DVDs. It is comprised of the original ‘The River’ double album; the first official release of ‘The River: Single Album;’ a CD of 1979/80 studio outtakes; a two-DVD film of never-released, newly edited multi-camera footage from Springsteen’s famed 1980 show in Tempe, AZ, long rumored but never-before-seen; rare tour rehearsal footage; a brand new documentary “The Ties That Bind” about ‘The River;’ and a coffee table book of 200 rare or previously unseen photos and memorabilia with a new essay by Mikal Gilmore.

Of greatest concern to fans are the numerous newer tracks that prove that Springsteen was over-flowing with ideas and quality material at the start of the decade that would go on to define his superstar status. Our standouts are: “Be True” from the original album eventually turned up as a beloved B-side. This slightly altered version rings true and fits right in with the rockers from the era with E Street adding all the right parts. “Meet Me in the City” introduces the leftovers with an encounter that rocks with urgent undertones. “Dollhouse” is playful built on a strong foundation from Roy Bittan but soon after the Big Man Clarence Clemons blows his horn the whole things comes crashing down in a bittersweet tale of love gone bad. “Living on the Edge of the World” is instructive and offers insight into Springsteen’s creative process.

Initially conceived as a rocker this song would develop in two tracks (“State Trooper” and “Open All Night”) that would appear on Bruce’s more somber follow-up Nebraska revealing the meandering twists and the turns evident in music making. You’ll have to go down to The River yourself and fish out your own favorites. There’s sure to be a few that you’ll get hooked on.

Coldplay has been tapped to headline the half time show for Super Bowl 50 and this could be Chris Martin and Co.’s way of going out on top. Of course, it’s every guy in a garage bands dream to have the type of career and success these radio friendly London-based lads have achieved since their founding in 1996. But, recent published reports quoting the frontman reveal that their seventh full length record titled A Head Full of Dreams might be their last for awhile. The album kicks off strong enough with the disco driven “A Head Full Of Dreams”. The opener is vivid but other dreamscapes are revealed on the album’s ten tracks.

Throughout their career Coldplay has often been accused of sounding like U2 – a fact that hasn’t hurt their climb up the charts. There are times on the new release on stripped down songs like “Everglow” where you can get a glimpse of what a Chris Martin solo career may sound like should this in fact be the end. As the dreams unfolds the music meanders from mellow and ethereal to lively and lucid. Fans looking for clues that the nightmare scenario of the band’s impending implosion could in fact be a reality need to look no further than the track “Fun” which seems to fondly reminisce on their moment in the sun. Let’s hope it’s not a eulogy.

Jeff Lynne is an arranger, multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer well respected for his work in the iconic Electric Light Orchestra and the Traveling Wilburys. Jeff draws on his expertise to craft his latest album Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone in the Universe which echoes of his musical past yet is very much in the present. As one might expect Alone in the Universe is an expertly constructed record with captivating hook-lines combined with astute lyrics starting with the melodic and moody “When I Was A Boy” followed by the lovely “Love and Rain”.

The title track has a serious and spacey vibe that flows into the closer “Blue” which gets you thinking about who or what this track is about. The ELO signature orchestrated sound is still intact yet dramatically downplayed in the mix as this is predominantly a solo record as the title suggests. Alone in the Universe has it all – ballads, pop, and rock in superbly structured catchy songs.

Flying Colors is flying high on the release of Second Flight: Live At The Z7 in multiple formats with some first of features such as an audio-only version of the concert available in Headphone Surround. Another interesting first is that this show was recorded in Switzerland only a few days after Flying Colors’ sophomore album Second Nature came out thus much of the concert’s material was new to listeners. Plus, the band had only recently convened to practice for this tour. It was fresh for fans and performers alike giving the Z7 show an edge and an extra air of excitement that is palpable.

All formats are packed with first rate production musically and visually. Highlights include an explosive “Bombs Away”, a captivating “Kayla” flowing into a thunderous “Shoulda Coulda Woulda” plus a potent “The Storm” along with a menacing “Mask Machine”. The DVD captures all band members at multiple angles in addition to full stage shots. The goal of Flying Colors was to combine mainstream song writing with complex music and they have taken that aim to new heights with Second Flight: Live At The Z7.

Canadian prog-rock band Mystery is back with a new album and a new singer on Delusion Rain. The title opening track is one of a number of epics on this six-song CD that finds vocalist Jean Pageau fitting in nicely for the departed one-time YES frontman Benoit David. “Delusion Rain” runs the range from delicate to dynamic instrumentation – a format effectively used throughout this collection. “If You See Her” explores various musical elements and emotions as does the flavorful “The Last Glass of Wine” with “The Willow Tree” branching out even further progressively. “Wall Street King” and “A Song for You” are also lavish, layered compositions. Established in 1986, Mystery has weathered plenty of storms but they are back with Delusion Rain – a strong symphonic record.

Stryper left their mark in the mid-1980 as a Christian-glam rock band. In 2015 they are still blazing and harmonizing for the Lord on their latest record. The group rises to the occasion on Fallen a 12-track collection of hard rock rhythms, righteous riffs and a message for the ages. “Yahweh” is Alpha. It is dramatic – starting with a church choir before transitioning into a galloping beat with thrash guitars. Stryper covers a lot of ground on this tune and they are just getting started as the next two songs “Fallen” and “Pride” are heavy lyrically and musically. “All Over Again” is an orchestrated ballad with a build-up paired with an inspiring statement that love can last. “King of Kings” is the intense Omega of the record. Stryper stays true to their beliefs and brand on Fallen.

Jesse Malin describes his latest Outsiders as “a record built out of optimism and disgust – one for the leavers, the believers, the hustlers and the chicken hawks who could never catch us”. It’s a diverse 11-track collection of stories and styles starting at the snappy title track with horns punctuating Jesse’s observations. “San Francisco” echoes of classic rock influences before it just abruptly ends. “Here’s The Situation” lets the guitar convey a sense of urgency. Other highlights include “The Hustlers” with its bold bass lines in a structure that is slightly chaotic in spots in a good way. “All Bets Are Off” is moody and the closer “You Know It’s Dark When Atheists Start To Pray” covers an array of world flavors in a little over six minutes. Jesse Malin’s Outsiders is a raw and riveting record.

EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Perfectamundo is the debut solo album by Rock And Roll Hall of Famer and frontman for legendary Texas rockers ZZ Top – Billy Gibbons And The BFG’s. As the title may suggest, the album takes on a bit of an Afro-Cuban flavor that may come as a surprise to some Gibbons fans and followers. The concept for the album originated with Gibbons’ invitation to perform at the 2014 Havana Jazz Festival, delivered by his Argentine-born, Puerto Rico-raised friend and musical collaborator Martin Guigui. The results are Perfectamundo, indeed… Nashville band, The Delta Saints, have been touring the world in support of their debut album with Loud & Proud Records.

Bones was produced, engineered and mixed by Third Man Records alum, Eddie Spear who has assisted on projects with Jack White, Arctic Monkeys and Neil Young to name a few. The band has been garnering praise in the press for a sound that is all their own but with hints of My Morning Jacket, The Black Keys and The White Stripes thrown in for good measure. Even punk rocker Chrissie Hynde is a fan. They invite you on the road with them to shake your Bones to their high-energy arena rock that’s winning praise the world over… Paradise Animals have made their Day Bed – their debut full length album they bill as “the place we go to rest in the daylight.

A place where memories wash over us; a place where we pause and think about life. It’s a collection of songs that highlights the warmth and happiness of family and childhood, the heartbreak of relationships, and the randomness of social life in the 21st century.” Sounds like it has arrived just in the nick of time… See ya next month!

Related Links: For more information on the new product releases mentioned here please visit the following links — Bruce Springsteen (http://www.brucespringsteen.net) | Coldplay (http://www.coldplay.com) | Jeff Lynne’s ELO (http://www.jefflynneselo.com) | Flying Colors (http://www.flyingcolorsmusic.com) | Mystery (http://www.therealmystery.com) | Stryper (http://www.stryper.com) | Jesse Malin (http://www.jessemalin.com) | Billy Gibbons (http://www.zztop.com) | The Delta Saints (http://www.thedeltasaints.com) | Paradise Animals (http://www.soundcloud.com/paradiseanimals)

About SoundPress.net: This column is authored by Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch – the founders of SoundPress.net (http://www.soundpress.net), an Internet-based music industry magazine and review site, online since 1999. Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z (http://www.positivepowersecrets.net). Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (http://www.richlynchband.com).

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