Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kneejerk: My Chemical Romance – Kid Rock

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new major label releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...

My Chemical Romance - “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys”

The music world has patiently waited four long years for the follow up to My Chemical Romance’s crossover smash, “The Black Parade”. Like Green Day, this band’s punk roots have grown into a tree with many branches. Incorporating punk, modern rock, pop, metal, and even dance rock, into innovative concept albums, My Chemical Romance is one of the most creative bands on the scene today. Best of all, nearly every song they write is imbued with a strong sense of melody that makes them hard to forget. “Danger Days” is nothing short of brilliant and in my opinion even surpasses “The Black Parade”, which I thought would be impossible to achieve. There are a few weak tracks near the end of this 60 min opus, but you won’t find a more consistently awesome modern rock record this year. Most of you have heard the single, “Na Na Na” already, which is good, but there is even better material waiting for you on the record. Second single “Sing” is great, but don’t miss “Bulletproof Heart”, “The Only Hope For Me Is You”, “Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back”, and the beautiful 80s-flavored “Summertime”. With “Danger Days”, My Chemical Romance proves they deserve to wear the crown as kings of modern rock.

Kid Rock – “Born Free”

The new one by the big mouthed, undershirt wearing Detroit rocker takes a sharp turn into more accessible territory – as he sings on “Slow My Roll”, he “turns around and settles down”. In doing so, he risks alienating fans expecting more of his rap metal rock hybrids. Will a new fan base flock to replace them? My bets are on “no”. Kid Rock has considerably mellowed out on “Born Free”, producing generic country-flavored rock songs. The approach could have worked if only the songs were interesting and if Kid Rock was a better singer. Perhaps trying to capitalize on their previous success with “Picture”, he teams up again with Sheryl Crow on the sleepy “Collide” (which also features on Bob Seger…on piano). Country rock fans without high expectations are likely to enjoy this left turn, but most listeners are going to be as bored as Kid Rock appears on the cover. If you are curious, I’d direct your attention to the title track, “Care”, and “When It Rains”. And for a good chuckle, check out “For The First Time (In A Long Time)”, where Kid Rock attempts to sing in falsetto.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: Ned Brower “Great To Say Hello”

Most of us know Ned Brower as the drummer and a vocalist for one of our favorite power pop bands, Rooney (see reviews here). Brower also has some modeling and acting credits under his belt (Big Fat Liar, Dawson’s Creek, Not Another Teen Movie), and now the multitasker is testing the waters with a solo record.

Brower’s debut record, ““Great To Say Hello”, was produced by none other than pop maestro Mike Viola, who put his indelible stamp on many of these songs. There are plenty of catchy hooks and ear pleasing harmonies to go around, more than enough to satiate any fan of Rooney, but Brower injected enough of himself into the record to make it a clear standout from Rooney material. In general, the record is peppy and bright, like the cover art. “Underneath Your Spell” is a sublime classic pop gem with a hint of 70s bubblegum flavor. You’ll fall in love with its bouncy melody and the warm and fuzzy harmonies. Other pop rocking highlights include “Hide Your Secrets Away” and “The Alleyway”. “Mine and Mine Alone” is also a standout, breaking up the stream of power pop with a funky groove and juicy chorus that will win you over in a heartbeat. I’m also a sucker for father-son tunes, so have to give props to “Father To Son”.

Given the outstanding solo albums from Taylor Locke and now Brower, it gives us a greater appreciation of the massive talent tied up in Rooney. Lucky for us fans of power pop, this abundance of talent can be dealt out in more than one venue.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8

Ned Brower on MySpace. Official site. Get it on iTUNES.

Listen to “Underneath Your Spell”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

FOREIGNER “Mr. Moonlight” (1995)

There are two important things to mention about Foreigner’s "Mr. Moonlight". First, it marked the return of Lou Gramm to the band, and also long-time members Rick Wills and Dennis Elliot. Second, the album basically marked the end of this chapter of Foreigner until Jones resurrected the band in 2009 with a new lineup. 1995 was surely a bad year for melodic rock - album sales were disappointing and rated so low that many people didn't even know the band still existed. However, this record has many good songs worth listening to, especially if you love the tender tunes of AOR.

I'm gonna start with "White Lie", a great upbeat track to start the album. This one is followed by "Rain", and the smooth transition of each note is lovable. "Until The End of Time" is relatively unknown, but the single reached a quite respectable position in the Adult Contemporary chart back then. Some other notable tracks are "Running The Risk", "I Keep Hoping" (which is the best ballad on the album), and "Hand On My Heart". The rest are good except "Real World" and "Big Dog", which I think should have been left behind and replaced with other songs in the veins of "Cold As Ice" or "Waiting For A Girl Like You".

It's nice to see the recent comeback of Lou Gramm, whose voice is still as strong as in the 80s. "Mr. Moonlight" is an underrated gem with a lot of high value goodies that you can find cheap. Don't let anyone fool you into thinking that this album is horrible!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rare Trax - Johnny Cash "Hurt"

Every Saturday at BMF we present rare or deep tracks from my collection for your listening pleasure, or perhaps for your amusement!

This week’s track is by Johnny Cash from his album, "American IV: The Man Comes Around". In the twilight of his career, the legendary Johnny Cash released a string of albums filled with cover songs, putting his unique stamp on songs you'd never imagine appropriate for him to perform. Take this chill-inducing version of "Hurt", originally done by Nine Inch Nails, for example. So haunting, so deep, so Cash. One of the last songs he ever recorded, and his final music video.

Here's the video:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: The Great Affairs “Ricky Took The Wheels”

Last February we reviewed the self-titled record from The Great Affairs (review here). The mastermind behind this outfit, Denny Smith, is back with Patrick Miller, Matt Andersen, and Jason Hees to promote their latest effort, “Ricky Took The Wheels”. “Ricky Took The Wheels” picks up where the last record left off, with the Nashville band serving up more pop Americana.

The first string players are right at the top of the lineup, although there is a pinch hitter saved for the very end. In-between are a lot of slumbering tunes that, while expertly performed, might be a chore for many of you to get through. “Feels Like Home” is a terrific way to start things off…an upbeat number straight out of the Tom Petty songbook. Hearing The Great Affairs play this one feels like home, indeed, and this one is my favorite off the new album. “Inside Your Head” also has its charms, with a bit of Black Crowes injected into the punchy riffs. The verses shake you a bit, but it is the wonderful pre-chorus that gets you moving. “My Apologies” is a sparse and lovely fingerpicked tune, but like many songs on “Ricky Took The Wheels”, it takes a few spins to fully appreciate its subtle majesty. A few sleepers creep in, but then “You’re Not Funny” arrives - a bluesy road house track that gets your blood pumping once again. Similarly, “Bastard Son” is a driving pop rocker that proves these guys can be more accessible if they want to be. Finally, the record ends on a high note with the crazy good rocker called “Last Good Memory”.

Half slow, half upbeat, “Ricky Took The Wheels" takes us up to the mountains and down into the valleys. The Great Affairs is recommended if you like The Jayhawks, Grant Lee Phillips, or Wilco.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, 12

The Great Affairs on MySpace.

Listen to “Feels Like Home”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: The Remainers “Formal Fridays” [EP]

The Remainers are a modern rock band with 80s pop influences, an outgrowth of a band called Big City Rock, which we previously praised here. The Remainers are Nate Bott on guitar/vocals, Frank Staniszewski on keyboards, Jason Lautenschleger on bass, and Kaumyar on Drums. “Formal Fridays” is their first EP, consisting of six must-have tracks that Big City Rock fans are sure to love.

The sprinkling keyboards at the start of “House”, which kicks off the EP, will make you think you stuck the “Better Off Dead” soundtrack into your disc player…until the contemporary guitars blast through the mix. “House” is a hot track fresh from the Big City Rock songbook (video below) that radio should be playing night and day. “Another Moment Like This” is another upbeat slice of rock delivering the best of what this band has to offer. “Blessing In Disguise” has a markedly darker sound, but the band’s retention of a strong melody throughout puts their stamp on it and makes it a winner. The splendid power ballad “I Got A Chance” could have been a 1988 prom theme, but it sounds edgy enough to serve the same role at next year’s prom. “When You Need Me” ends the EP on a powerful and energetic note, leaving you begging for more.

With driving verses, arena ready choruses, and a flair for the pop rock sounds of the 80s, The Remainers should be at the top of everyone’s playlist. Check them out if you like Rock Kills Kid, The 88, Neon Trees, or (naturally) Big City Rock. I can’t wait to hear more from these guys.

The Remainers on MySpace. Official site. Get it.

See a video for “House”


The Remainers | Myspace Music Videos

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: Matt Ryd “Looking For Home”

You may have heard Chicago singer/songwriter Matt Ryd if you are a regular watcher of Scrubs – the first single, “Healed” from his new record, “Looking For Home” has been featured on the popular television show. Ryd has also opened for Jeff Tweedy and The Swell Season.

“Looking For Home” is a sunny album full of smart, pristine pop rock that is very much in Rembrandts territory. Joan Hoedeman supplies ear-pleasing harmonies on many of the tracks, taking those songs to a whole new level. “Impression” is a great way to begin the record, with melodic verses building to a most catchy chorus with Hoedeman beautifully echoing Ryd’s lines. “Impression” makes a great first one, and this track has become my favorite. The aforementioned “Healed” is even more upbeat and another treat for the soul. Additional highlights include “Pieces” and “Home”, the latter of which makes for an excellent anthem when you’re away. The achingly contemplative “Wondrin’” is my pick for best ballad on the record. The second half of the record is generally slower with songs that are well done, but not as instantly memorable.

One minor complaint – toy piano appears to be used on a couple tracks, which just sounds like fingernails scratching a chalkboard to me. But don’t let this be the factor that dissuades you from giving Matt Ryd some serious attention.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10

Matt Ryd on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Impression”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kneejerk: Bruce Springsteen – Lee DeWyze

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...

Bruce Springsteen “The Promise”

“The Promise” is a time capsule – a massive collection of recordings from The Boss from the “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” recording sessions. Two discs hold 21 previously unreleased songs from the creative peak of a living legend – what more could Springsteen fans want? To be prolific is one thing, but to write so many songs that are this good truly speaks to the magnitude of this man’s talent. “The Promise” could have been one of the greatest rock albums of the late 70s. We finally get to hear Springsteen perform familiar hits like "Because the Night" and "Fire", songs he gave to Patti Smith and the Pointer Sisters, respectively. It is difficult to identify highlights from so many wonderful songs, but suffice it to say that you’ll find some of the jubilant Springsteen and the E Street Band on numbers like “Gotta Get That Feeling” and “Ain't Good Enough For You”, and the more contemplative balladeer on “Someday (We’ll Be Together)” and “The Brokenhearted”. I also really liked “Wrong Side Of The Street”, “One Way Street”, and “The Little Things (My Baby Does)”.

Lee DeWyze “Live It Up”

The winner of last season’s American Idol (season 9), and the last to make it through the Simon Cowell filter, Lee DeWyze offers “Live It Up” as his major label debut. Quite the departure from his pre-Idol singer/songwriter releases, “Live It Up” is predictably slick and hip, with DeWyze tweaked to sound like Jason Mraz. Recalling some of his standout performances on Idol, this is not quite the sound I was expecting from the raspy rocker with the humble guy next door attitude. The charm of his voice, even that rock-ready tone, seems to be vacant from this record. I am left wondering what happened, but it is obvious he’s been through the Idol processing machine. It is a shame…his vocals could have made a great modern rock record, but this pop rock fluff that tries too hard to sound like other artists besides himself is extremely disappointing. “Live It Up” will bore you to death.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Jet “Jet-Even More Light Than Shade”

Thirty two years ago, Jet’s self-titled debut album was released on CBS (not to be confused with the modern day band of the same name). Produced by Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Foreigner, the Cars, Cheap Trick), the record has become an underground classic among 70s rock and glam connoisseurs. Now, RPM Records, an offshoot of Cherry Red Records, has assembled a handsome two disc reissue of this sought after collector’s item. Included are extensive linear notes by Dave Thompson that eloquently bring you up to speed on the band’s history.

The Jet line-up consisted of Andy Ellison on vocals, Davey O'List on guitar, Peter Oxendale on keyboards, Martin Gordon on bass / songwriting and Chris Townson on drums, and is best remembered as an early incarnation of what became Radio Stars. The RPM reissue features the original album in all is analogue glory and a bonus disc collecting all the band's recordings from before and after the album, and which includes previously unreleased material. The sound quality is not the best, but the songwriting shines through, and fans of T. Rex, Flamin’ Groovies, and even some Cheap Trick are going to be happier than pigs in slop. I would also recommend Jet to fans of Butch Walker’s more recent records, which have been heavily influenced by T. Rex.

Standout tracks to sample include “Start Here”, “Brain Damage”, “It Would Be Good”, and “Cover Girl”. Disc 2 is strictly for collectors, with uneven sound quality between the various hodgepodge of demo material and live cuts. The never before heard tracks are sure to please longtime fans who no doubt will praise RPM for bringing this material to their ears at long last.

They don’t make music like this anymore, so the best way to get your fix is to dig into the crates of LPs at dusty record shops. Deep in a dark musty corner, you will find some records that never made it big but should have by all accounts. Jet is one of those bands, and to have their record more accessible to the masses by being reissued on CD is a real treat.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11

Martin Gordon has a web site here.

Listen to “Start Here”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

EXTREME “Pornograffitti " (1990)

Funny how many people didn't even know how Extreme really sounds because they're overshadowed by their own romantic acoustic love song, "More Than Words". But you need to explore the undeniably infinite musical capacity of the quartet, especially the thunderous fingerpicking by the guitar god, Nuno Bettencourt.

"Decadence Dance", for example, has an enthusiastic groove with hot-blooded guitar shredding and an anthem of a chorus. "Get The Funk Out" is an inviting performance with perfectly executed rhythm. "Hole Hearted" is an instant classic radio hit. Other songs such as "When I First Kissed You" and "It's A Monster" are madly awesome as well. A strong release and probably their best!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rare Trax - Todd Snider "Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues"

Every Saturday at BMF we present rare or deep tracks from my collection for your listening pleasure, or perhaps for your amusement!

This week’s track is by Todd Snider from his live album, "Near Truths and Hotel Rooms". This song is done in the style of classic Bob Dylan, and brilliantly satirizes the 90s music scene. A must hear!

Listen to "Talking Seattle Grunge Rock Blues"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Ryan Star “11:59”

Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Ryan Star (formerly of Stage) has released his first full-length major label debut entitled, “11:59”. You may recognize his powerhouse vocals from his stint on CBS’s 2006 reality show “Rock Star: Supernova”, or from his opening for American Idol winner David Cook in 2009. If you have not experienced Ryan Star’s vocal talents yet, be prepared to be dazzled.

Ryan Star is one of the strongest voices I’ve heard in a long time – loud and bold like Alex Band (The Calling), but with a subtle rasp very similar to Gavin Rossdale (Bush). He has a tendency to actually over-sing from time to time, but don’t let that overshadow his remarkable abilities to captivate an audience. The songs on “11:59”, produced by Matt Serletic (matchbox twenty, Collective Soul), are equally loud and bold, but thankfully not to the point where the music eclipses Star’s vocals. The tunes themselves are fairly catchy, with “Right Now”, “Last Train Home”, and “Breathe” being the standouts. The lyrics are average, oscillating between love songs and inspirational anthems, before bottoming out with the insipid “Start A Fire”. But all of this plays second fiddle to the guy’s potent voice, which is worth the price of admission alone.

One more minute and Ryan Star could be having fifteen.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 3, 4, 10
Ryan Star on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for “Breathe”

Review: White Buffalo “Prepare For Black and Blue” [EP]

The White Buffalo is a sight and voice to behold. The towering bearded man looks more like a lumberjack than a singer/songwriter, but this gentle giant skillfully weaves heartfelt lyrics into a cozy blanket of sound. It doesn’t take long to realize this guy has lived through the stories he tells in his songs. The White Buffalo’s latest EP, “Prepare for Black and Blue”, consists of five songs of just acoustic guitar and vocals. But honestly, that is all The White Buffalo needs to leave a lasting impression.

There isn’t a bad track in the bunch, and since they are all acoustic driven, the EP is wonderfully cohesive. “Love Song #2” (video below) is a great introduction to White Buffalo that will leave you salivating for more. Earnest words, beautifully sung against a backdrop of crisp fingerpicking, will have you hitting the repeat button soon after the song is done. But if you manage to move on, you’ll find this song is followed by another winner in “Oh Darling”, a more upbeat but haunting tune that sticks fast. Another instant favorite of mine is “Into The Sun”, which not only showcases White Buffalo’s talent for melody, but also his strong and vibrant voice.

It is truly amazing what this guy can do with so little. Part Cat Stevens, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan, The White Buffalo is an endangered species – let’s hope he gets the attention he deserves.

White Buffalo on MySpace. Official site.

Check the video for “Love Song #2”:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: The Brigadier “The Secret Of No Success”

Loyal readers will know we’ve been a fan of The Brigadier since day one (see reviews here). The Brigadier is Welsh born singer, songwriter, and producer Matt Williams, who has been receiving much acclaim for his intimate live shows and timeless pop. Influenced by all sorts of popular music past and present, he writes melodic pop rock with intricate chord changes and catchy choruses.

“The Secret Of No Success” is the fourth full-length record released by The Brigadier since 2007, not to mention his numerous seasonal EPs. This time out The Brigadier turns his attention to another topic most of us can relate to (except Charlie Sheen): the world of work. While in the States right now any job is a good job, The Brigadier focuses on the ins and outs of the 9 to 5 grind, creating what amounts to a concept album that climbs the steps of the career ladder. He covers everything from resumes to interviews, commuting to resignations, office life and the weekend break. As one would expect, his stories about career culture are set to music that runs the gamut of pop, incorporating 70s bubblegum, classic 60s pop, baroque, and indie pop all into one.

The songs are listed on the back in the form of a flow chart, consistent with the theme of this thoughtful record. The Brigadier wakes us up with “Doing The 9 To 5”, which begins the same way so many of us begin our day. “Just A Little Kiss Miss Busy” is another upbeat guitar-driven slice of pop heaven, and The Brigadier’s wry sense of humor (along with one of the catchiest Beach Boys-inspired choruses on the record) makes “Back In The Office Again” a winner. The 80s new wave spirit that permeates “Dreaming Of The Weekend” makes it a nostalgic treat. “Middle Management” is another brilliant satirical look at corporate mentality, a sweeping ballad with beautifully melancholy music. The title track and “A Better Day” are additional highlights you shouldn’t miss.

With so many catchy melodies and enjoyable harmonies, “The Secret Of No Success” may just be the ticket to success for The Brigadier.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 13

The Brigadier on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Doing The 9 To 5”

Review: Garfields Birthday “More Sense Than Money”

Fans of the classic Brit pop that graced MTV's 120 Minutes during its heyday in the late 80s…you will rejoice upon hearing Garfields Birthday. We’ve covered this band on numerous other occasions (see here), and are very happy to report that their latest, “More Sense Than Money”, is their best yet!

Founded by brothers Shane and Simon Felton, Garfields Birthday has now been around for 15 years – where does the time go? The band has added guitarist Leighton McGrath, which may have something to do with the markedly heavier edge the pop has this time out – which suits this batch of songs well. Longtime fans need not worry…Garfields Birthday has not abandoned their trademark sound and knack for writing smart pop hooks with Partridge Family harmonies and backing vocals. But the added umph that McGrath brings to these tunes seems to have provided a new energy all around.

You’ll notice the revitalized sound right at the top with the lively “Cool Your Jets”, followed closely by the melancholy “Liar”. “Cambridge” is a sweet ballad with gorgeous strings that provides a nice break from the rest of this generally crunchy pop record. “Carry On Karaoke” is one of the strongest songs, with very catchy chord changes; as the title suggests, it was written as a tribute to the loyal supporters of a weekly karaoke session that takes place in one of Weymouth’s pubs. Finally, “Bubbles” is another upbeat offering worth repeated listens.

“More Sense Than Money” will be available November 29, 2010. Fans will embrace this one, and I would encourage all lovers of smart Brit-pop to take a listen. The music of Garfields Birthday is very reminiscent of The Connells and The Judybats.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7

Garfields Birthday on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Cool Your Jets”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: The Reason “Fools”

The Reason is a modern rock band that calls Hamilton, Ontario home. Back in August, they released “Fools”, their third album. Trying to make the third one the charm, the band recruited producer Steven Haigler (Pixies, Brand New, Quicksand) to assist with the effort. Recorded at North Carolina’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio, “Fools” shows the band maturing, settling into a sound that they can truly call their own.

The Reason is Adam White (vocals, guitar), James Nelan (keyboards, vocals, guitar), Jeremy Widerman (guitar, vocals), Ronson, (bass) and Steve Kiely (drums, percussion). Drawn together in early 2003 by their love of music and the impetus to forge their own musical path, the powerhouse quintet first caught the attention of audiences and music critics across Canada with the release of their debut album “Ravenna” in 2004. Coming off the release of Ravenna, the band focused on the goal of crafting memorable songs with hooky guitar lines. Their 2007 sophomore album, “Things Couldn’t Be Better” added greater dimension to their sound, and “Fools” aims to combine the best elements of each of its predecessors.

Generally, the results are pretty good. “Fools” has a very modern sound that would fit comfortably on radio these days. The album gets off to a puttering start with “Come and Go”, which jogs around the track but never takes off. Much more satisfying is the radio-friendly pace of “Where Do We Go From Here”, which could almost be mistaken for Panic! At The Disco. Equally energetic is the closing track and first single, “The Longest Highway Home” (video below). The driving verses and cool chord changes in the chorus make for a winning combination. My favorite in the bunch, however, is “The Ending of Us All”, which features a smart lyric, innovative guitar effects, and the catchiest chorus out of all eleven tunes here – everything comes together perfectly on this song. The near folky feel in the chorus of “I’ll Be Around” makes this another tune worth repeating. Some good intentioned experiments are conducted on “Fools”, but ultimately they come up short. “Dogs” provides a needed break from the heavy riffs with acoustic guitar front and center, but unfortunately it is an impotent song. Similarly, “Work With Me” also veers from the band’s formula, sounding like it would be more fitting on a 70s movie soundtrack. Some songs can agonizingly close to being great, such as “Run” and “Cry Like The Rain”, but in the end they’re missing that magic something.

The Reason has come a long way, and “Fools” is a noble next step, but short of a great leap forward. The band has found their niche and their chemistry is strong. If they continue to devote themselves to writing stronger hooks, The Reason will break out. The Reason is a logical choice for fans of Kings of Leon or Fall Out Boy.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 5, 6, 9, 11

The Reason on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for “The Longest Highway Home”:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kneejerk: Alter Bridge - Bon Jovi

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...

Alter Bridge “AB III”

I haven’t really gotten into Alter Bridge all that much, despite my admiration for Myles Kennedy, the lead vocalist with one of the best voices in rock today. The band always seemed to be a bit restrained, still tethered to Creed and uncertain where their niche was in the musical climate of the day. If anything can be said about “AB III” is that the band sounds a lot more confident of its footing. “Slip To The Void” is a seductive way to kick off the record, luring you in with a slow pace that you know is going to explode at any moment. “Isolation” is pure shredding rock, what you would expect from a band that recently moved to the Roadrunner music label. But for me, the band is at its best on more melodic tracks like “Ghost Of Days Gone By” and “All Hope Is Gone”. Other standouts include “I Know It Hurts”, “Breathe Again”, and the remarkable ballad “Wonderful Life”. An ambitious 16 song opus, “AB III” should satisfy its fan base, and with their inclusion of more accessible radio-ready tunes this time out, may even expand that base.

Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits/Ultimate Collection”

Considering the number of 80s hard rock bands that have gone down in flames never to be heard from again, it is quite the miracle that Bon Jovi not only escaped unscathed, but emerged to rack up a whole new consortium of younger fans. By softening their sound and going for the commercial jugular, the band deserves a lot of credit for successfully navigating the choppy and uncertain waters of the present musical tide. The band has been around for over 25 years cranking out hit album after hit album, so one disc really isn’t enough to fit all of their hits. And in recent times, the criteria for what makes a “hit” are less clear. Either way, I’d recommend you go for the 2 CD collection rather than the single disc – more of the hits, plus four new songs (whereas the single disc only gives you 2 of the new songs). Even with the two CD set, there are some unfortunate omissions. There are no songs from the albums “7800º Fahrenheit” or “Bounce”, and the songs “Never Say Goodbye”, “Misunderstood”, and “Living In Sin” should be here rather than “When We Were Beautiful”, “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”, or “Blood on Blood”. Even Jon Bon Jovi’s solo tune “Miracle” was technically a bigger hit than these (and yes, they do include his monster solo smash “Blaze Of Glory” from the same soundtrack). But beauty is in the ear of the beholder, and it is easy enough these days to make your own Bon Jovi playlist – in that context, I’m not sure why bands even bother with these compilations anymore. In terms of new songs, “What Do You Got” is a sluggish but melodic tune and “The More Things Change” would have fit nicely on “Lost Highway”. I liked the arena-ready “This Is Love This Is Life” better.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: Melee “The Masquerade”

“The Masquerade” is the latest from Melee, a hugely talented pop rock band from Orange County, California. The record is the long-awaited sequel to the masterful “Devils and Angels” from 2007. “The Masquerade” follows in the tradition of “Devils and Angels”, delivering more synth-driven pop rock with Chris Cron’s soaring vocals.

In many ways, the music of Melee sounds a lot like the 80s – they manage to use synths without sounding cheesy, and produce dance ready music that can still be enjoyed by those who can’t shake a leg to save their life (like me). The title track eases us back into the world of Melee, conjuring up images of Keane. The song is a pleasant and catchy invitation to the record, but the high energy Melee steps up to the plate next with the awesome “Girls Wanna Rock”, which features one of the most infectious choruses this time out. “On The Music Screen” (video below) gears back down to a mid-tempo pace, resulting in a pretty radio friendly track, but not the strongest effort on the album. “The Ballad Of You and I” obviously slows things down even more – a sweet but relatively boring song. I find “Freeze” to be a much more compelling ballad, and “Someday You’ll Be a Story” is awe-inspiring. “You won’t know peace without a fight” is a sample of the lyrical gems you’ll find in this beautiful, sweeping opus. Some of the additional standout tracks include “Wedding Dress”, “What Good Is Love (Without You)”, and “Towers”. In short, I found the back half of the record to be better than the first.

In general, the band crammed in a lot of slower tracks on their latest effort, but they are no less catchy and enjoyable. Not sure this one is better than “Devils and Angels”, but that is a high bar to surpass. “The Masquerade” is available on CD overseas, but in American you have to go to iTUNES to get it for now.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Melee on MySpace. Official site.

Check out the video for “On The Music Screen”:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week - Icon

By Stephen Kasenda

ICON "Icon" (1982)

Icon was unlucky to have to compete with giants like Dokken or Motley Crue back in the early 80s and, thanks to a lack of huge promotion from the label, Icon was pretty much estranged from the herd, if not forgotten. I consider them as among the second wave of glam metal, bringing up classic heavy metal hooks with some melodic touches…some of us call it melodic metal. To simplify things, imagine a combination of early Dokken, Keel, WASP, and Scorpions, and that would be a good definition of Icon's music.

There are four superb tracks inside. "Killer Machine" has a stampeding rhythm with a gorgeous verse/chorus composition. "On Your Feet" is the real deal of heavy metal and the solo guitar is just stunning. "World War" is melodic and heavy at the same time. "Under My Gun" is a blast - the roaring guitars behind Clifford's furious vocal is perfectly blended - this is Icon at their best. Now, the reason why they can't compete with Crue or Dokken is because the rest of the tracks aren’t as strong as these four. Take a look at "Hot Desert Night", "Iconoclast", or "It's Up To You", they're totally disposable. Luckily, the opening track, "Through The Night" and "Rock And Roll Maniac" are accessible and quite good.

I'd say Icon's debut might not be a really important release, but for hardcore fans of glam, melodic metal, or even traditional heavy metal, this band has something good to offer. The production isn't satisfying and that's a shame - if they release a remastered version with an upgrade in audio quality, the disc would be rated better. But for the music alone, I guess 4-stars is acceptable.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rare Trax - Winger "Seventeen (Live, Unplugged)"

Every Saturday at BMF we present rare or deep tracks from my collection for your listening pleasure, or perhaps for your amusement!

This week’s track is by Winger from the album "Metal Mania Stripped Volume III". Ever wonder how aging rockers deal with performing fan favorites that just don't seem appropriate to sing anymore due to their age? Showing their good sense of humor, Winger deals with this by changing the lyrics "She's only 17" to "She's only 35"!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: Sho “I Don’t Want To Go” [EP]

Sho is an emerging band rising from Dubai’s underground music scene. Sho began with the meeting of two like-minded musicians: Rizal (lead guitarist) and Zara (a powerful female vocalist). They recruited some top notch players to round out the band, which has the simple mission to get their music into as many ears as possible. Sho, which means ‘What?’ in Arabic, features an amalgamation of different genres of music strongly influenced by the amazing multicultural mix that is Dubai. Rizal uses 6 and 8 string guitars and a variety of pedals to give their music a unique sound. Zara's lyrics focus on the message of nonconformity, standing up for what you believe in, and fighting for what you want.

The “I Don’t Want To Go” EP features four songs of high intensity sure to please fans of modern hard rock. A song by the same name of the band kicks things off, coming at you forcefully and demanding your attention. “Sho” is a great song to get you moving on those days you have trouble getting out of bed. The title track blends some reggae into the heavy riffs, providing some interesting dynamics in this arena-ready rocker. “Phride” and “Winter” are more on the darker, unmelodious side and did not maintain my attention as strongly as the first two tracks. Check out this promising band if you like the music of Damone, Paramore, or Evanescence.

Shoofficial site.

Listen to “Sho”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Greg Koch Trio “From The Attic”

It is always a pleasure to discover outstanding new talent, even if that talent has been around a long time unbeknownst to me! Such is the case with guitarist extraordinaire Greg Koch. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Koch’s guitar playing perhaps received the highest form of flattery after being noticed by another guitar virtuoso, Steve Vai. Consequently, Vai signed Koch to his Favored Nations label in 2001. “From The Attic” is Koch’s 12th release, and skillfully misses blues, rock, funk, jazz, and rockabilly. Rounding out his trio is bassist Tom Good and drummer Del Bennett, both of whom do a superb job to accompany the guitar phenom.

“Leg Up Foot Out” is a feisty way to start the record, coming at you with gusto and dazzling guitar licks that will drop your jaw to the floor. You’ll instantly hear that Koch sounds like a throatier David Lee Roth, which suits this song particularly well. The lyrics on “Leg Up Foot Up” pretty much sum up the main theme Koch likes to explore, which is righteously questioning the darker side of human nature that blocks the road to nirvana for all. But the magic in Koch’s playing is so immense that words are not always required to convey complex emotions – take the instrumental piece “Sleep Light” for example. The jazz infused blues just wraps around you like a warm blanket. I’m not much a fan of instrumentals, but what Koch can do is nothing short of amazing. “Picked On” is less enjoyable…more of an exercise in “let’s see how many notes I can play before my fingers fall off”. Consequently, the song offers little to anyone who isn’t impressed with speedy fretwork. He rebounds with “Trouble”, which is a track sure to please fans of Big Head Todd, and the sunny “Here We Go Again” sounds like it could have been lifted from Eric Johnson’s commercial masterpiece, “Ah Via Musicom”. “Agree To Disagree” is another standout, with timeless and sensible lyrics that should be required listening before any session of Congress. I also like the lyrics of “Happy Versus Right”, but the verses are quite redundant and uninteresting. The record closes strong with a driving roadhouse rocker that reminds us to “take the punch of life and spike it”.

With enough fiery licks and infectious grooves to make Eddie Van Halen envious, “From The Attic” is not to be missed. Greg Koch is essential for guitar geeks and highly recommended for everyone else. Adding “From The Attic” will instantly up the “cool” factor on your collection – you’ll rock and like it.

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

Greg Koch Trio on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Agree To Disagree”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: Chapa “Creation Room”

Brazilian natives, the three Fagundes brothers have been active in the music scene since the early 90s. Now based in London, they have released their latest effort, “Creation Room”, named after the very room where the brothers first played together back in Brazil. The music of Chapa is largely piano based, accentuated with rock guitar and harmonizing vocals. Siblings naturally sound great when harmonizing, and the Fagundes brothers are no exception.

The upbeat opener “Before You Go”, which happens to be the first single, is a quirky and choppy composition, and consequently is a shaky way to introduce us to the band. Chapa’s strong suit comes with the following piano ballad, “Just A Dream”, a much more conventional arrangement and the band’s best performance on the record. Some other highlights include “Somebody Is Crying For You”, “Killing Time”, and the bouncy powerpop of “Highs and Lows”. Unfortunately, the melodies crafted for the other songs don’t go anywhere interesting and the lyrics are pretty pedantic.

Chapa has a lot of style, but I find them lacking in substance. Underneath the shiny veneer, most of the songs simply aren’t good enough to be memorable. I believe the talent is there, but the brothers need to work on their chemistry and songwriting.

iPOD-worthy: 2, 6, 8, 10

Chapa on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Just A Dream”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kneejerk: Saw 3D Soundtrack – Good Charlotte

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...

Various artists “Saw 3D Soundtrack”

What type of music comes to mind when you watch the wildly popular slasher flick, “Saw”? We don’t have the eerie orchestral stabs of Psycho, or the chirp chirp –pa pa pa sound of Friday the 13th, or the frantic and haunting piano of Halloween...we have blistering hard rock. Whatever you think of this tired movie series, “Saw 3D Soundtrack” may as well be a “Now: That’s What I Call Hard Rock” CD. The “Saw 3D Soundtrack” is packed with great artists, some of whom we have previously reviewed on BMF like Krokus and Kopek (why Kopek is not huge by now I have no idea). Others on this record even better known to modern rock fans include Saliva, Hinder, and Saving Abel. There is even a smattering of progressive bands like Karnivool and techno-rock bands like Nitzer Ebb. The key question – are these tracks just sloppy seconds by these artists or do they synergize and make for a good soundtrack from start to finish? I’d have to argue for the latter – this powerhouse of a soundtrack is more consistent than most, with the worst “songs” (virtually just abrasive noise) tacked onto the end as almost an afterthought. Best tracks are Hinder’s “Waking Up The Devil”, My Darkest Day’s “The World Belongs To Me”, Default’s “Turn It On”, Adelita’s Way’s “Scream”, and of course Kopek’s “Love Is Dead”. Tracks by Saliva and Boom Boom Satellites were disappointing.

Good Charlotte "Cardiology"

I’ve always enjoyed this Maryland band, ever since their breakthrough hit “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” from 2002’s “The Young and the Hopeless” tore up the charts. Good Charlotte is classified by some as emo, pop punk, or what have you…but it is safe to say they specialize in radio-friendly pop rock with an edge. “Cardiology” is the band’s fifth effort and is supposed to sound like Blink-182. Well, why not just sound like Good Charlotte? The record gets off to a reasonable, albeit predictable, start with staples like “Let The Music Play” and “Counting The Days”. The middle of the record is quite lame with cliché by-the-book tunes like “Sex On The Radio” and “Last Night”, and an occasion misstep into dance rock territory with head scratching songs like “Like It’s Her Birthday”. Saving the record somewhat is the inspirational power ballad “Standing Ovation”, the jovial acoustic strumming in “1979”, and pop rocker “There She Goes”. Lyrically, the album is surprisingly empty and dull. “Cardiology” is good – but not heart stopping good. For a band that is heading into their second decade, a little more growth than this is expected.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Dom De Luca “A Bell I Gotta Ring”

Dom De Luca is a singer/songwriter based in Ontario, Canada, who has released “A Bell I Gotta Ring”, a record following his 2008 folk effort called, “Birds Of Worry”. Influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, and Wilco, De Luca croons his way through acoustic-driven stories of love and hardship. As the album cover suggests, De Luca is all heart, and it is obvious these songs are his babies and mean the world to him.

The problem most people are going to have with De Luca is that he is not a polished singer. His tone is a mix of Jack Johnson and Eddie Vedder, which will charm for a song or two, but doesn’t have the appeal that will get you through an entire record in one sitting. He sings with all the enthusiasm of Ben Stein. The voice does better when the music is full, but when a song that is stripped down (like on “Such A Good World”), the vocal shortcomings are too pronounced. The strong suit that De Luca brings to the table is that he does write some catchy and memorable folk rock songs. First single “Brother, Brother” is the standout track possessing a winning combination of melody and solid production, providing an environment that suits De Luca’s vocals. Unfortunately, there isn’t much else on the record that thrills like this track. Fans of reggae might want to check out “Lovin’ You So”, and if you need an encouraging pick-me-up, check out “Chin Up Babe”.

All the heart in the world is no substitute for vocal talent, and I think this is what is going to keep “A Bell I Gotta Ring” largely unheard. But don’t miss “Brother, Brother”.

iPOD-worthy: 1

Dom De Luca on MySpace.

Check out the video for “Brother, Brother”:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Classic melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

BANGALORE CHOIR “On Target” (1992)

Bangalore Choir is a short-lived melodic rock act comprised of former Accept frontman, David Reece, and also ex-members of Hericane Alice. Playing with the typical sound of Bon Jovi and commercial Whitesnake, "On Target" is a sanctuary for melodic ears, but the real strong element inside is the Coverdalish singing style of Reece. His vocal performance is blazing and flawless on many varied tracks inside, from the fast-tempo rockers to the acoustic ballads.

"Angel In Black" will grab your attention instantly. This unreleased Autograph track was enhanced with the band's uplifting rhythm, and somehow turned out to be surprisingly awesome. "Loaded Gun" is the band's MTV-hit, a great commercial tune. "If The Good Die Young" is really a wonderful power ballad, one of their strongest tracks. The other ballad, "Hold On To You", is also quite okay, even though not nearly as great as the former. "All Or Nothin" and "Slippin' Away" are definitely their best tracks. The quick pace of intense hard rock rhythms combined with superb choruses and beautiful hooks are simply genius. The last track, "Just One Night", is also an underrated gem with an unbelievably majestic chorus. "Doin' The Dance", written by Jon Bon Jovi and Aldo Nova, ironically is the worst of a bunch.

After folding the cards, Reece resurrected the band in 2010 with their latest release, "Cadence". Apart from the fact that it's a good album and showed the band's heavier side, there's no doubt that "On Target" remained their best release. For fans of Bon Jovi, Warrant, or 80s Whitesnake, the recently remastered disc should be on your top-priority buy list if you don’t have it yet.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rare Trax - Bricklin "Fear of Life"

Every Saturday at BMF we present rare or deep tracks from my collection for your listening pleasure, or perhaps for your amusement!

This week’s track is by Bricklin from their self-titled debut album. This underrated 80s band had a great pop rock sound and even landed a song on the soundtrack to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. The brothers Bricklin later became Martin's Dam and released a couple great CDs under that name.

Listen to "Fear of Life"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review: Archie Powell and the Exports “Skip Work”

Archie Powell and the Exports impressed us in 2009 with his “Loose Change” EP, a terrific little romp through roots rock and pop territory (review here). Archie and the gang are back with a full-length release entitled “Skip Work”, which, despite having four songs cc’ed from “Loose Change”, is markedly more towards the powerpop end of the spectrum.

There is still plenty of that raw, do-it-yourself attitude coming through on “Skip Work”, so longtime fans should not feel alienated. And while the record’s title might indicate that these guys are slackers, one thing that they take very seriously is their music. As rough and boisterous as it sounds, these melodies are very meticulously crafted – to the point where I’d almost think they came out of Squeeze’s songbook. Speaking on the concept of the new record the band states, “The material bears many faces with raucous garage rock, pop sensations and slow burners abound. All of which are held together by a pervasive sense of dark humor and twentysomething restlessness.”

The amusing tale, “Milkman Blues”, starts things off before some grungy guitar driving “Enough About Me” introduces us to the more traditional Archie Powell sound (video below). “Enough About Me” has great sing-a-long quality, with a close second being the gritty pop anthem, “Moving To The City”. “Skip Work” is one of the catchiest tunes against the 9 to 5 world and the midtempo “Follow Through” has an irresistible melody too. But almost as if Powell purposely saved the best for last, “Down and Out” is my favorite in this remarkable batch of songs.

Powell’s vocals are well-suited to this rambunctious pop rock, even reminiscent of Paul Westerberg at times. There is only one minor complaint – the use of distorted vocals! A little on occasion – when well placed – can be effective, but Powell uses it too often and throws in so much distortion that he is virtually incomprehensible. But the band’s sound is consistent from start to finish, making “Skip Work” one of those rare albums you can play straight through without skipping a track.

Check out Archie Powell and the Exports if you like Fountains of Wayne, Weezer, or The Replacements. So call the boss and say you’re sick, take a holiday, and get lost in this record.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Archie Powell and the Exports on MySpace. Official Site.

Check out a video of “Enough About Me”:

Enough About Me - Archie Powell and the Exports from Jon Kline on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Matt White “It's The Good Crazy”

Matt White seems destined to make musical history - his grandmother was the first female orchestra leader in the country and his great grandfather was responsible for giving Frank Sinatra his first violin. White is fixing to climb to a higher branch on the family tree to pop rock stardom, and his new sophomore releases, “It’s The Good Crazy” might just get him there.

The son of a psychiatrist, White has a deeper understanding over human nature than most, and this is reflected in his lyrics. Vocally, White’s voice is on the higher end of the spectrum, allowing him to effortlessly slip up into an angelic falsetto that he frequently puts to good use. His vocals are similar to Adam Levine (Maroon 5), but White lacks the high polished pop sheen, resulting in a more authentic and less processed sound. But the real standout talent is White’s ability to tap into our emotions through song, and his instrument of choice is usually the piano. The result is a superior collection of tunes that make you think as much as they make you feel.

Opening track, “And The Beat Goes On”, is by far and away the favorite for me, an ambitious crowd pleaser in the style of “Bennie and the Jets” - could be one of my favorite songs of the year. White quickly shows another side with his comparatively mellow single, “Falling In Love (With My Best Friend)”. The song is driven more by acoustic guitars, addressing a universal subject with finesse. Even tenderer is the chilling ballad, “Taking On Water”, which allows White to showcase the vulnerability in his vocals. Other highlights include the easy going groove of “Colorblind” and “Honeymoon Phase”, which sounds like it was written by Paul Simon. Be sure to stick around to the end, because “Sunshine” is another perky piano rocker - White doing what he does best.

“It's The Good Crazy” is not without its missteps. Despite a rousing vocal delivery, “She’s On Fire” does little to ignite the soul, and the quirky verses combined with the sustained falsetto in the chorus of “Off My Wall” wears on the ears. But all in all, this album is a very impressive effort. Fans of The Fray, Sara Bareilles, and Elton John…do yourself a favor and check out Matt White.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 11

Matt White on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “And The Beat Goes On”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Will Hoge “The Living Room Sessions” [EP]

About this time last year, I was listening to the latest from roots rocking road warrior Will Hoge called, “The Wreckage” (review here). He’s back again so soon with an EP aptly entitled, “The Living Room Sessions”, which consists of new versions of five songs from “The Wreckage” as well as the tune “All Night Long”, a favorite from Hoge’s 2003 landmark record, “Blackbird On A Lonely Wire”. And yes, they were all recorded in his living room.

The six songs are stripped down to bare essentials, but by no means do they sound boring or dull. The organic nature of this format is perfectly suited to nearly every song Hoge has ever put to tape. Indeed, one could argue that his songs sound better this way than with a full blown band and highly polished sheen. “The Living Room Sessions” is like a love letter to fans, but also serves as an appropriate introduction to the world of this talented yet criminally underrated Nashville rocker.

“I like acoustic recordings that try to be different from the album version,” says Hoge. “We just got together and camped out at my house for a couple of days…it’s not a home studio, no real fancy set-up or multi-tracking. The console was a laptop on a card table, and that same table also served simultaneously as the keyboard stand. There were no real overdubs or re-dos or pitch correct. We just did it ‘til we liked it and let it be…not out of laziness, it just seemed to fit.”

Don’t miss Hoge on the “Anything and Everything” tour with (!) Shinedown (an unintuitive combination if I’ve ever heard one) from November 4 – December 9. “The Living Room Sessions” EP is available now.

Will Hoge on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Favorite Waste of Time”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kneejerk: Fran Healy – Elton John and Leon Russell

Welcome to the latest edition of KNEEJERK, where we preview some new releases and give our short, "kneejerk" reaction...


“WRECKORDER” is the solo debut from Fran Healy, the lead singer and songwriter of the Scottish rock band Travis. Travis made quite the splash in the late 90s and early 2000s with their breakthrough CD, “The Man Who” and equally excellent follow-up, “The Invisible Band”. Little did we know how prescient that title was, as Travis quickly fell off the radar. The good news is that Healy’s first solo outing is more or less a return to what made Travis successful back in the day. While not a perfect record, it feels more like the legitimate successor to “The Invisible Band” than the gloomy “12 Memories”. Healy’s vulnerable voice charms on melodious tracks like “In the Morning” and “Holiday”. “Sing Me To Sleep”, a duet with Neko Case, is another atmospheric gem. “Anything” is my favorite track in this 10 song collection, a sweeping piece beautifully sung and well orchestrated. The first single, “Buttercups” is a close second, featuring crisp acoustic guitar that pairs perfectly with Healy’s vocals. Not all of “WRECKORDER” is light and easy on the ears - tunes like “Fly in the Ointment” and “Shadow Boxing” are distinctly darker in tone. Ironically, they are less interesting and forgettable. Healy begins a tour with Brandon Flowers of The Killers on November 10.

Elton John and Leon Russell “The Union”

Everyone knows Elton John, but I doubt half the number know of Leon Russell. Russell has played for just about everyone in the music business across multiple genres and had a string of modest chart successes in the 70s. Although he’s been more behind the scenes than Elton John, Russell has earned an esteemed reputation as a session player and songwriter. These two icons, both having their heyday in the 70s, have teamed up to create this record with T Bone Burnett producing and a boatload of guest talent including Neil Young, Brian Wilson, and Don Was. “The Union” generally captures many elements from 70s piano rock, and continues along the path that Elton committed himself to with the outstanding back-to-basics ethics of “Songs From The West Coast”. The two seem to play off one another, rejuvenating their vigor in the performances, which can best be felt on Elton’s enthusiastic singing of “Hey Ahab”, Russell’s sly delivery of “If It Wasn’t For Bad”. With a couple country-flavored tunes (“Jimmie Rodgers' Dream”), honky tonk (“Monkey Suit”), and the typical Elton John balladry (“Never Too Old (To Hold Somebody)”), there’s a little something for everyone here. The fun these two had in making “The Union” is contagious, providing the listener with a thrilling experience, especially those fans of 70s era rock.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Review: Dimestore Buddhas

Dimestore Buddhas are a new indie rock formed just this year in New Jersey. Led by Gene Pompilio, they are fans of “three-chord, sugar-coated bubblegrunge”.

Dimestore Buddhas are busy working on their debut release, but in the meantime they sent me an advance copy of two tracks, “Oh Yeah Baby” and “Sci-Fi Girl”. “Oh Yeah Baby” is ear candy all right, starting off with Beach Boy style harmonies that sing the title of the song. We move into an easy going verse with pleasant lead guitar interjecting between the lines. The chorus is a bit redundant, but the catchy melody is the main reason you’ll find yourself singing it all day. “Sci-Fi Girl” is another mid-tempo powerpop gem not far removed from something The Smithereens or The Knack might write. And I have a gut feeling that most of my readers will relate to the lyrics!

Be on the lookout for these guys! If these two tracks are any indication, the full-length CD promises to be huge.

Dimestore Buddhas on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “Oh Yeah Baby”