March is known to come in like a lion and this month there is no shortage of artists unleashed from their cages ready to roar into your consciousness. Among them are classic rock favorites Randy Bachman and TOTO who join upstarts like Lannie Flowers, Lunden Reign and Revolution Saints — all of them set to spring into your hearts and minds with their quality and colorful releases.
Randy Bachman is best known for his work in the Guess Who and the band that bore his name, BTO. On April 15, 2015 he gets down to business with a new set of colleagues on the highly anticipated and star-studded Heavy Blues. On this 11-track effort Bachman fronts a power trio that includes a femme ferocious rhythm section of Anna Ruddick on bass and Dale Anne Brendan on drums. To round things out Randy has hooked up with many giants in the biz to add considerable gravitas to his already weighty collection of blues-soaked selections.
On the opening three tracks “The Edge”, “Ton Of Bricks” and “Bad Child” you can hear strains of classic rock blues makers The Who, Led Zep and Cream as Bachman pays homage to the decade that put him on the map. A fine mix of contemporary musicians and rock ‘n’ roll legends lend a helping hand to bolster Bachman’s brand of the blues.
The presence of Joe Bonamassa, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Robert Randolph and the departed Jeff Healey may help put this album in the running for the “guitar event of the year”. The raw energy exhibited on “Confessin’ To The Devil” and the title track reveal that Bachman might’ve been right when he sang “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” – this one’s quite good and now that the warmer days are here it will make a nice driving companion. Turn it up and put the windows down!
Chart toppers and part-time purveyors of prog rock TOTO return on March 24, 2015 with XIV and it doesn’t feel like we’re in Kansas anymore. Well, maybe it does a little bit. But, more likely it feels like we’re back in the 80’s. That’s because the band feels that this new record is the thematic follow-up to their super-seller “IV” that rocketed on the strength of their more commercially leaning songs like “Rosanna” and “Africa”.
While we said we weren’t in Kansas anymore there are ample moments when the fantastic five-piece of Steve Lukather, Joseph Williams, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Keith Carlock dish out the heavy prog side of the band. There are times where you can hear that the man behind the curtain endowed them with the qualities of the aforementioned Kansas along with prog giants like YES, Gentle Giant and newer favorites – Syzygy throughout the albums 11 solid tracks.
That’s not to say the band has completely abandoned their pop sensibilities, either. More like they’ve combined all the elements their fanbase loves into a unified and powerful presentation that aims to please. “Running Out Of Time” kicks off the “XIV” festivities with a big chorus and driving instrumentation that lets on that this band is a long way from the finish line. “Burn” is next and starts off with a spark of piano and quickly builds to a slow smolder before exploding into powerful anthemic glory. “Unknown Solider” – a tribute to their fallen bandmate – is regal and authoritative and a heartfelt highlight of the album. It’s great to see Toto back on the golden road that promises to lead them to a co-headlining tour with fellow prog rock wizards YES this summer.
Revolution Saints are a new “super” group that rocks hard with a classic Journey Frontiers era sound. This power trio is Doug Aldrich (ex-Whitesnake), Jack Blades (Night Ranger) and Deen Castronovo (Journey). Their self-titled debut album runs the gamut from heavy rockers to heavenly ballads with inspiring lyrics about love and overcoming challenges.
The Revolution Saints come out fighting on the first two fast paced tunes (“Back On My Trail” & “Turn Back Time”). Both are packed with peppy hooks paired with potent riffs and rhythms, a pattern used effectively throughout this 12-track album. The pace slows down for the melodic “You’re Not Alone” featuring guest singer Arnel Pineda. Whereas Pineda was himself a revelation when the band discovered him several years back on YouTube, even more revealing is that they already had a powerful and Perryesque singer sitting behind the drum kit for the past 17 years in the form of Castronovo – who now makes his debut as a lead singer in fronting this new AOR-laden power trio.
Guitarist Neal Schon assists on the acoustic “Way To The Sun” with strings adding to the ebb and flow of this reflective song. “Dream On” is a memorable anthem about never giving up. Later, “How To Mend A Broken Heart” brings a metal edge to the record. It is countered by the closer a pensive piece blending delicate drums, piano and vocals. Revolution Saints is a solid hard rock/melodic album from start to finish!
Lannie Flowers is a power pop artist with quite a bit of power. He crafts guitar driven melodies in songs that reflect classic rock influences. Interestingly, in a nod to days gone by, he has released a 45 of “Best I Can/Back Of A Car”. The second song is also featured on his 2014 album Lannie Flowers Live in NYC. This 14 track CD captures Flowers a fine front man & guitarist with his band performing at the Trash Bar on a Tuesday night. “I Didn’t Know” is the rousing opener with a reflective refrain. “Favorite Song” demonstrates Lannie’s forte as a storyteller. “All Dressed Up” is edgy flowing into a faithful rendition of Alex Chilton’s “Back Of A Car”. Lannie Flowers Live in NYC showcases Lannie’s intelligent up-tempo tunes in tasteful arrangements.
Lunden Reign is a group fronted by two strong leading ladies Nikki Lunden (vocals) and Lora G Espinoza-Lunden (guitar). Their sound blends hard rock with catchy hooks woven into compelling lyrics. Lunden Reign’s record American Stranger starts off with two searing tracks “Love In Free Fall” and “The Savage Line” both rockers that sets the pace for this 10 track album. Insightful songs paired with interesting progressions make for a potent debut album.
EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Autumn City based out of New Jersey is a female alternative rock trio. Their CD Tuesday’s Song, released 02/07/2015, features eleven tracks about heartbreak, hope and life told in expressive raw emotions in arrangements that are stark yet suit the message and mood of the music … She is said to have the voice of Melissa Etheridge and the arm of Joe Montana and now the former star quarterback for the Chicago Force of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Sami Grisafe is trading in the hard hits on the gridiron for the hit songs she’s crafting in the studio. Sami recently rebranded and relaunched her digital singles career with the simultaneous release of two solid tracks (“Tiny Victories” and “Brand New Fairly Tale”) in advance of a full album to come later in the year. Take a listen and see if you can catch what’s she’s throwing down … Kelakos presents “rare tracks from a vintage ’70’s band” on Uncorked giving fans a chance to drink in what they might have missed the first time around on fifteen thirst-quenching songs including “Gone Are The Days” and “How Did You Get So Crazy”. See ya next month!
Related Links: For more information on the new product releases mentioned here please visit the following links — Randy Bachman (http://www.randybachman.com) | Toto (http://www.totoofficial.com) | Revolution Saints (http://www.revolutionsaints.com) | Lannie Flowers (http://www.lannieflowers.com) | Lunden Reign (http://www.lundenreign.com) | Autumn City (http://www.autumncitymusic.com) | Sami Grisafe (http://www.samigrisafe.com) | Kelakos (http://www.kelakosband.com)
News Editors: Rich Lynch, Laura Turner Lynch
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