Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Review: The Pop Project “Stars of Stage and Screen”

The Pop Project has released their first proper record, “Stars of Stage and Screen” on Suburban Sprawl Music. These guys are the Yes equivalent in the power pop universe, skillfully incorporating progressive pop elements into each track they perform yet never losing sight of the big hook. “Stars of Stage and Screen” is rewarding enough for the diverse assortment of ultra-catchy songs, but pleasantly surprises the listener with each new spin. Every time I play this one I catch something new that my ears missed first time around.

A record as good as this one does not come along everyday. It did not surprise me to learn that it took years to write and record since each song is so meticulously done. Each track is a symphony with multiple unorthodox is truly a testament to their songwriting talents that they can keep the song sounding like a cohesive tour de force rather than a jumbled chaotic mess. The Pop Project is what you get when the songwriters and players truly care obsessively about perfecting their craft. The musicianship is top notch and the harmonies so sweet they would make The Carpenters green with envy. They have every right to be “super proud” of this release and deserve a pat on the back and money in their wallets.

The influences here run the gamut, so there is a little something for everyone. Where else can you hear influences from Queen, Squeeze, and ABBA all in the same song ("Secondary Players")? My favorite track is "Coerce", which has a 80s keyboard riff that would make Jim Peterik salivate. And as if you can't get any more 80s, in comes the sax followed by - get this - toy piano! "Totally Awesome" is also completely radical, bold and brassy and sounding a lot like All Star United. "Another Kind of Love" is an interesting country-flavored novelty that appropriately features banjo and pedal steel guitar. "Hearts and Flowers" is instantly catchy, sounding a bit like Snow Patrol on speed. "Stand In", with its vibraphone and French horn, has that familiar lounge feel fans of The Simple Carnival would appreciate. "Never Get the Breaks" is probably one of the most joyously upbeat protest songs about not catching the big break to become superstars. "House of Books" and "Not The One" are two more highlights, both masterful slices of modern pop.

"Stars of Stage and Screen" is an extraordinarily fun and smart record from start to finish – it borders on masterpiece. Go get it now and give them a break.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10

The Pop Project on MySpace. Official Site.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: The Rip Off Artists "Esque"

Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder, a.k.a. The Rip Off Artists, have delivered one of best power pop discs of 2008. The usual suspect blogs have been generating a big buzz on this one and it is well deserved.

You can tell the lyrics are one of the highlights just by some of the song titles, e.g. "The Present, Tense", "Without You I'm Something", and "The Look of Like". There is a true Paul Westerberg quality to the lyrics of every song, and even the couple of brief spoken word interludes. Musically, I am reminded of Fountains of Wayne, The Grays, XTC, and some Dada.

You will have to look hard to find a more upbeat and consistently enjoyable melodic pop disc. Vocals are perfect - great tones with just the right amount of tasteful falsetto, and the abundant harmonies are well planned and executed. Nearly every song has some well placed acoustic guitar and another unique element that keeps each track feeling fresh. They have done a great job in crafting a cohesive sound among all the songs without making them sound too much alike. The CD rewards the listener with each new spin because there always seems to be yet another cool little thing that is discovered during the replay.

Just go read their is an accurate reflection as to what this project is all about.

My favorite cuts include "The Present, Tense" and "Without You I'm Something". There really isn't a bad song in the batch, but our other picks for iPOD-goodness are listed below for your consideration.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15

The Rip Off Artists: Official site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review: Justin Currie "What Is Love For"

Del Amitri is one of those groups that had to grow on me a bit, but now I own their entire catalogue and listen to them regularly. Justin Currie, the voice and major songwriting force for Del Amitri, has written some of the catchiest tunes during the grunge-ridden 90s. I was hopeful that his first solo release, "What Is Love For" would continue the melodic rock genius of Del Amitri.

"What Is Love For" is the furthest thing from a Del Amitri record Justin Currie could record. This release finds Currie in a very melancholy mood. There isn't a single upbeat or snappy moment on this disc of slow, acoustic based ballads. Folks who enjoy Justin's voice will be happy with this release because his vocals get the spotlight in these delicate songs. Folks who enjoyed Del Amitri's penchant for melody and hooks will be utterly disappointed. I fall into the latter camp and would not be able to get through another listen of this CD without a pot of coffee.

Maybe Justin Currie is going to have to grow on me again.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 11

Justin Currie on MySpace. Official site.

A couple of excellent Del-related posts worth checking out...

Good Listening: Del Amitri Live Rarities (at Addicted To Vinyl)

The Popdose Guide to Del Amitri

Rare CD: Kelly Clarkson "Go" (single)

"GOOD LUCK finding a copy of THIS one, Kelly Clarkson fans! This is what I believe is the never-released CD single Kelly recorded of the song "Go," used for a time in Ford Motor Company advertising. This was available for free download, true--but the single never made it to market and I don't believe the song is available in 'hard copy' form on any Clarkson release: HERE IT IS! Splendid collectible, this. Still sealed--these may have been meant as promo giveaways at Ford dealerships, I don't know (doesn't say "promo copy" on it). These may have been manufactured then shelved when the decision was taken to make the song available for download; whatever the case, it's a superb--and RARE--Clarkson collectible now!! From Sony BMG/Ford "Bold Moves" 2006"

Sold for $302.99 on ebay (37 bids)

Rare CD: Bon Jovi "Crossroad" Japan 2 bonus cd

"In this auction, I'm selling a MEGA RARE Bon Jovi item. It is SEALED COPY Japanese 2 cd version of Crossroad released in 1998. The bonus cd contains live tracks along with an outtake. Any serious bidders know the rarity of this item, so I don't need to explain this in too much depth. This set is virtually impossible to find anywhere in ANY condition (even in Japan!). This copy is sealed and therefore complete with all the goodies (OBI, inserts) in perfect unopened condition. Maybe once every year or so one of these will appear on ebay, but not in this condition. If you are viewing this auction, I am not exaggerating when I say this may be your last chance to purchase this one sealed. I searched for years for this, and only came across when buying a large lot of Bon Jovi cds (the seller did not realize what he had at the time).

I have the entire set of Japan 2 cd remasters and will be selling them all. All but one of these are sealed! Keep a look out for my other auctions!

"Crossroad" - PHCR-90021/2

1. Livin' on a Prayer
2. Keep the Faith
3. Someday I'll Be Saturday Night
4. Always
5. Wanted Dead or Alive
6. Lay Your Hands on Me
7. You Give Love a Bad Name
8. Bed of Roses
9. Blaze of Glory
10. In These Arms
11. Bad Medicine
12. I'll Be There For You
13. In and Out of Love
14. Runaway
15. Never Say Goodbye

Bonus Cd:
1. Always (live)
2. Someday I'll Be Saturday Night (live)
3. With a Little Help From My Friends (live)
4. Good Guys Don't Always Wear White
5. Blaze of Glory
6. Stranger in This Town"

Sold on ebay for over $300

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Review: John Mellencamp "Life Death Love and Freedom"

"Life is short even in its longest days" sings John Mellencamp on his 2008 release, "Life Death Love and Freedom". I have been a big Mellencamp fan since the Cougar days and thought his previous record, "Freedom's Road" was excellent. With "Life Death Love and Freedom", John Mellencamp takes a hard exit off "Freedom's Road" to deliver the antithesis: a strange and dark record that makes little effort to be melodic. If you are looking for a traditional sunny and catchy Mellencamp record to brighten your summer, you will not find it here.

Truth be told, I am having a hard time digesting this record. The songs are rooted in folk and blues, which would be fine, but they are far from memorable. In fact, some are downright irritating. Consider "If I Die Sudden" - a candid song instructing us what to do with Mellencamp's corpse. Some would make a good case that unmelodious music is fitting with the subject matter, but, as John warns, life is short...too short to waste on songs like this.

The record is rather unique in the extensive Mellencamp catalogue. Similarities exist in "Big Daddy" and "Trouble No More". The unique elements would have been welcome if they were just better songs. The record is consistent and cohesive, but in this case, it means the suffering just takes too long to end. The refreshing blast of all things Mellencamp that fans would expect just never comes, which is a real shame since lyrically this record is one of his best.

There were a couple of tracks that did not give me the urge to hit fast forward. The opener, "Longest Days" is a sober and sparse tune, setting the serious tone for what is to come. But it is engaging, sounding like an early Bob Dylan piece without the harp. It would have made a great rocker. "My Sweet Love" sticks out like a sore thumb on this release being the closest the listener gets to the type of stuff they'd expect from John Mellencamp. "Mean" is a bit brilliant in being the nicest request to jerks to stop being jerks. I also think the last couple of tracks are OK, especially enjoying the lyric on "For The Children".

This one sounds like Johnny Cash Mellencamp and for a melodic rock fan, I warn you to proceed with caution on this one.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 11, 13, 14

John Mellencamp: Official site.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: Major Labels "Aquavia"

The Major Labels is the latest collaborative offering from modern power pop kings Bleu and Mike Viola. These guys are veritable fountains of pop songwriting goodness, impressively churning out new material almost faster than we blogs can keep up. However, the Major Labels project hints at a well running dry. There are some really cool tunes that have arisen from this project (noted below), but overall it is a lot of filler. It is not a record I would put on to listen start to finish, but the few tracks I selected for the ol' iPOD will be a pleasure to listen to again and again.

In keeping with the record's theme, which is a well-delivered punch that satirizes the asinine corporate music business, the Major Labels have made the entire record available for free if you send them three email addresses. Details at their MySpace site.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 4, 8

The Major Labels on MySpace.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review: Alternate Routes "The Watershed EP"

It is with great pleasure I announce the return of The Alternate Routes, albeit in the form of an EP rather than LP. Anything is better than nothing but, as I predicted, this EP whets the appetite and leaves you wanting for more.

The EP finds the boys once again in top form, with new drummer Kurt Leon fitting in seamlessly. Listening to Tim's voice again, kind of a cross between Glen Phillips and Neil Finn, is most welcoming, like hearing a comforting friend. With "The Watershed EP", The Alternate Routes continue the quality found on "Good and Reckless and True": great hooks, intelligent lyrics, outstanding musicianship, and an awesome voice.

We start with "Love Me For Nothing", a wonderful acoustic-driven ballad that takes off gently and builds steadily, much like "Ordinary" from "Good and Reckless and True". "Shelly", my favorite track on the EP, is an ultra-catchy pop rocker with a big fat chorus hook and a remarkable vocal performance in the bridge. Tim is an impressive singer and should give us the pleasure of hearing him belt out sustained higher notes more often. "Louisiana" is a foot stompin' Cajun-flavored tune inspired by the spirit of recovery efforts. Tim's voice sways like the breeze over a chorus of harmonious winds in this one. "Asked You Twice" is laced with harmonica and has a bluegrass tinge, but is firmly rooted in pop rock sensibility with harmonies and hooks aplenty. The short 20 minute party ends with a straight up rocker a la "Are You Lonely", entitled "Good Time Gang".

As we mentioned in an earlier post, "Love Me For Nothing" is available as a free download right now on their MySpace page - go grab it if you haven't already! Better yet, support The Alternate Routes and buy the EP today and catch them on tour in a city near you.

iPOD-worthy: all tracks!

The Alternate Routes on MySpace. Official site.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Review: David Mead "Indiana"

"A guy in Chicago said I sing like a girl", David Mead laments in the title track to this fantastic 2004 release. David's voice is high, light, and smooth, but I wouldn't call it girly. On the contrary, it is a perfect fit for the breezy, acoustic-driven pop on this stately record.

David Mead has been critically acclaimed for years but has yet to break into the mainstream. It is a mystery to me - his songs are brilliant and "Indiana" is one of the most consistent records from track to track; gorgeous and engaging from start to finish. The relatively sparse and striped down arrangements really let his beautifully unique voice shine; and whether you think it sounds feminine or not it is great music, period.

While every song is good, highlights include the title track, "Ordinary Life", and "You Might See Him." There is also an intriguing cover of Michael Jackson's hit from Thriller, "Human Nature" worth checking out.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10

David Mead on MySpace. Official site.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Review: White Lion "Return of the Pride"

Here we go with another example making us contemplate "What's in a name?" Similar to Journey, how much classic White Lion is really in the new White Lion? In this case, the answer is just Mike Tramp. So does this new CD truly deserve to be called White Lion? In my opinion, no freakin' way. And I would have said that before even hearing a single note off the CD. White Lion - at a minimum - MUST include guitar wizard Vito Bratta.

I've spun this CD several times now and it only sounds like White Lion twice...on the two live bonus tracks "Wait" and "When the Children Cry". Even that is a stretch because no one can play Vito Bratta like Bratta. So pox on Mike Tramp for engaging in this cash cow nonsense. Why was he not content to just put out a fifth solo CD, which this truly is?

Anyway, sorry about the rant. And don't get me wrong...while I don't think he is a great vocalist, I still think Mike Tramp is a solid, prolific songwriter that continues to crank out some of the catchiest AOR of the day. Fans of classic White Lion are not going to get much out of this CD, but fans of Mike Tramp will love it.

The CD starts off with one of those epic 4-songs-in-1 that Mike Tramp used to write for White Lion, "Sangre de Cristo". Another one bores us later called "Battle of Little Big Horn". There are some interesting bridges in these tunes, and the politically charged lyrics are OK, but overall I can't get into them. In contrast, Mike Tramp's more simplistic songs that encourage listeners to keep dreaming and never give up ("Dream", "Live Your Life") come across rather well - it is his specialty. The upbeat father-son tune "I Will" is another highlight. "Never Let You Go" brings back memories of the superior love ballads on "Mane Attraction", but this piano-driven sap fest is pretty good in its own right. "Gonna Do It My Way" is an excellent rocker with a Def Leppard-style chorus and Van Halen inspired guitar work in the verses. "Finally See the Light" is also a cool track, with a groovy verse and sing-along chorus. They should have quit here, because the chorus of the final track, "Let Me Be Me", showcases how bad Mike Tramp can really sound.

All in all, one of the better and more rocking Mike Tramp solo CDs under the guise of White Lion. There is plenty on this CD to delight most AOR fans if you don't mind the thin and raspy vocal styling of Mike Tramp.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9

White Lion (?) on MySpace. Official site.
Vito Bratta on MySpace.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: Zion "Zion" (2006)

OK, I admit it. I was a fan of "When I'm With You", Sheriff's one big hit in the 80s. I was thrilled to hear the awesome vocals of Freddy Curci once again in Alias, who scored several moderate hits a few years later. To my dismay, Alias died a quick and merciless death during the rise of grunge, and I've gone a long time without any new Freddy Curci. Imagine how happy I was to hear he released a new CD (well, 2006) as the front man for an AOR band named "Zion". And to boot, the Zion project features other Alias members and Bob Marlette of The Storm.

Maybe I was expecting too much, but I was not enthralled by Zion. I should like it...nice thick guitars, traditional AOR sounds, Freddy still sounds great, etc. But the songs just lack the hooks and instantly memorable melodies that made me a fan of Alias. I've given the record more than its fair share of spins now, and it should not be this hard to like a CD. So as surprised as I am to say it, Zion just doesn't take me to any promised land.

But it is not a complete washout. "I'm Running Home" is a fine tune in the AOR ballad tradition. "The Sky Is Falling" is my favorite track of the bunch, with a big meaty chorus and upbeat rhythm driving the meaningful lyrics. Freddy sounds his best and hits some amazing notes. This one is followed by "The Devil's Dance", a terrific acoustic-driven mid-tempo rocker. Unfortunately, the upswing of the Zion pendulum quickly goes back in the negative direction and the CD fizzles out with a couple more duds.

I realize Freddy Curci released a number of solo CDs in-between Alias and Zion, but I've yet to check them out. Pretty expensive!

iPOD-worthy: 5, 8, 9

Freddy Curci on MySpace.

Review: Journey “Revelation”

Is Journey really Journey anymore? The band changes lead singers like it changes underwear, and has now passed Van Halen with the number of guys who have fronted the band. The list of current and former members of this “band” is almost as long as the list of people who hate Clay Aiken.

The most interesting thing about Schon and Cain is that they have an uncanny talent of finding Steve Perry clones. The latest lead singer, Arnel Pineda, is a dead ringer for Perry – no surprise he came from a Journey tribute band. The tactic has worked surprisingly well…despite the revolving door of front men, Journey has been able to sustain itself as an AOR recording and touring giant. In fact, “Revelation” debuted at # 5 on the Billboard Album chart, the best since their final release with Perry, “Trial by Fire,” in 1996. I guess they can finally dedicate "I'll Be Alright Without You" to Steve Perry.

“Revelation” is also bolstered by a bunch of goodies that come with the 11 track CD. For less than $12, you also get a CD containing many of Journey’s greatest hits recorded live with Pineda, and a DVD too, all in an impressively handsome digipak. This is an incredible bargain, especially when you consider that the live CD is very well done.

But let’s get down to business: are the new Journey songs any good? Hell, yes! I would argue that “Revelation” is a true sequel to “Frontiers”. Ironically, the current Journey sounds more like 80s Journey. So yes some of the songs sound dated, but they have recaptured the sound and energy that made them kings of radio in the 80s. They won’t be kings of radio again, but they will rule on my stereo. They still do plenty of ballads, but it would not be a Journey record without them. Fortunately, they are some of the better ballads the band has turned out in the new millennium. Lyrically, Journey keeps it simple and stays on familiar ground: lots of “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Be Good To Yourself” themes in the rockers, lots of gooey “Faithfully” and “Open Arms” in the ballads.

Some tracks did not grab me at first, but the hooks started to sink in quickly after a second listen. The musicianship is top notch and Pineda is fantastic…don’t get of him! I am -ahem- "Happy To Give" this one a big thumbs up.

So is Journey really Journey anymore? We can debate this all day, but I doubt a consensus will be reached. So forget about it and just enjoy the music.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10

Journey: Official site.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Free mp3 - Alternate Routes


"Love Me For Nothing Download

Today is the release day for the EP!!!
....and alas it is not available on Itunes as of 5:01pm.
You're guess is as good as mine, but we are working on it.
In the meantime we have made the first track "Love Me For Nothing" available to download for free here on our myspace page.
All we ask in return is that you pass it along to anyone that you think will dig it. Send some people our way for some free music.

happy release day

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Review: Christopher Cash “Invisible”

“Invisible” is the sophomore effort recently released by Christopher Cash - who has not been heard from since “Hollywood Mirage” in 2005. “Invisible” continues Cash’s penchant for setting stories and philosophy into succinct pop songs.

Cash is a seasoned songwriter and performer, even promoting his music as "Adult rock that rocks". If you like a little musical complexity and wit on your iPOD rather than generic progressions and bland lyrics, then you should invest in some Cash. Listening to this CD brings several artists and influences to my mind, including Elvis Costello and John Wesley Harding. Cash sounds like them vocally, but at times also sounds like Jim Peterik (check out "Tangled in Wire") and Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens). Cash enunciates his lyrics clearly, and even though he stays in a comfortable low to mid-range tone, his voice is charming and warm.

While Cash’s talents are too broad to pigeon hole him into a single genre, there is a subtle yet unmistakable 80s vibe in the music akin to Joe Jackson's material then. Similarly, for listeners who are near religious about hooks and melodies, Cash is probably not going to interest you on the first listen. There are some standout cuts that should make anyone happy, including the brightest spot on the CD, "Morning Star", complete with some tastefully placed sitar and wonderful lala harmonies. "Blistering Velvet" and "Coming Home" are some of the more instantly catchy pieces. "Not Going Back" has a marked Neil Diamond feel to it, and the title track is another favorite of mine - a solemn tune fitting to the longing in the lyrics, accented with some excellent guitar work. "Empathy" is a bluesy rock commentary on our society's shortcomings, rooted in a lack of empathy. If you dig acoustic-driven ballads, you will be pleased with "Eloquence" and "Three Minutes Late". The latter reminds me of a Harry Chapin tune.

Overall, "Invisible" is a versatile blend of jangle pop, sizzling blues, and folk rock that gets better with repeated listens.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 6, 11

Christopher Cash on MySpace. Official site.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Free mp3 for July

Here we are folks, the FREE and LEGAL mp3s for the month of July! Access through the File Factory widget on the right side, or direct links here. Tell all of your friends! Thanks again to the generous arists contributing:

Adam Marsland - My Kickass Life [2007]

Box Social - Big T

Brigadier - This Is Why

Campbell Apartment - Addicted to MySpace

Craig Marshall - I Know What It's Like

David Brookings - I'm Not Afraid

Galaxies - Here We Go Again

Open Cage - Call It a Night

Shake Some Action - Get It Together

The Simple Carnival - Caitlin's On the Beach

Please note that File Factory removes files after 7 days; I will repost but there may be a day or two when the file is gone and/or link is down. Anyone know of a better way to share files for free???

Friday, July 4, 2008

Rare CD: Lisa Dominique "Rock N Roll Lady"

"MEGA RARE AOR/ MELODIC HARD ROCK from UK Rocker "LISA DOMINIQUE - ROCK N ROLL LADY" released in 1989 on FM Revolver Records.
Very Hard to find on CD, In the style of The Runaways, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Warlock, Doro."

Sold for $91.00 on ebay (13 bids)

Rare CD: Beau Brummels "Magic Hollow" 4CD set

"This auction is for the Rhino Handmade Limited Edition CD Box Set from The Beau Brummels entitled "Magic Hollow". This set is WAY out of print and will only become rarer as it was produced in a very limited quantity (only 2500). This CD boxed set is BRAND NEW and still FACTORY SEALED. This is a serious collectible"

Sold for $91.00 on ebay (3 bids)

Rare CD: Hayley Westenra "Walking in the Air"


Sold for $1092.00 on ebay (33 bids) !

Rare CD: "Goo Goo Dolls

"Up for sale today is the self-titled Goo Goo Dolls CD.

ORIGINAL ISSUE on Mercenary/Celluloid Records (MERCD-2102). First pressing with original red cover and band photos on the back cover."

Sold for $104.00 on ebay (21 bids)

Rare CD: Genesis "Studio"

"Genesis - "Studio" (Not a commercial release)
Label: Chapter One -- CO 25202

1) Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (second part)
2) Only Your Love (rehearsal)
3) Only Your Love (Finished version)
4) Master Of Time
5) Happy The Man (clean mix)
6) The Reaper
7) For Present Friends
8) A Child's Song
9) After The Ordeal
10) Silver Song (rehearsal)
11) Silver Song (finished version)
Outro: Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (2nd part)

Outtakes and rough mixes were recorded 1972/1973
Tracks 2, 9, 10, 11, have Phil Collins on Vocal.
Tracks 4 & 8 have Anthony Phillips (the 1st Genesis Guitarist) on Vocal.

Notes: In addition to five Genesis tracks this release includes five tracks produced by Anthony Phillips in the last few months before he left the band through 1973;

It is not believed that either Silver Song or Only Your Love (both Phillips/Rutherford compositions) were ever introduced to Genesis to consider for recording."

Sold for $152.50 on ebay (10 bids)

Rare CD: Wicked Lester "Better Off Dead"

"Now this cd seems to never show up, the only one I have ever had available....WICKED LESTER - BETTER OFF DEAD, 1998, 10 TRACKS...excellent hair metal for fans of Malice, Lizzy Borden, & Leatherwolf....this cd was dediciated to the singer Joel Finna who passed away for the completion....only a handful were and inserts are in excellent, used condition.....great collectors item...."

Sold for $202.50 on ebay (19 bids)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Review: Jonah Matranga "And"

Jonah Matranga has been around the block, honing his craft for years under the name Onelinedrawing. His latest (2007) release, "And", is a testament to the rich rewards that come with patience and persistence. Jonah is at the top of his game vocally, musically, and lyrically.

Jonah Matranga is one of those rare singer/songwriters that I imagine has the ability to bring a noisy coffeehouse to a -ahem- grinding halt. You could probably hear a pin drop when this guy takes the stage...his intimate and heartfelt songs are delivered with unbelievable sincerity. This type of "bring the coffeehouse down" feel permeates "And".

Fans of Matt Nathanson, Shawn Mullins, and Rhett Miller take note: Jonah Matranga will be a new favorite of yours. "And" is comprised of 10 very catchy, acoustic-driven folk rock songs. His smooth voice easily escalates into an angelic falsetto and back again. It works best on his sparse ballads, where the tenderness reaches out to knock on your heart, but it is strong enough to rock out on tracks like "So Long" and "Not About A Girl or A Place".

While I love the rockers, the standout track for me is "Every Mistake". His gentle delivery exudes a sincerity rarely heard in music these days, and lines like, "I'm gonna love you while you make every mistake", would make anyone feeling blue feel better.

Another cool feature - Jonah wrote out the chords above the lyrics, making it easy for you to learn these songs for open mic night at the local coffeehouse.

"The best things in life are lost, then found," Jonah softly sings on the closing track. Indeed...go find Jonah Matranga.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8

Jonah Matranga on MySpace. Official site.