Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: The Well Wishers “Dreaming of the West Coast”

Throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s, the Spinning Jennies emerged as a popular Bay Area band fronted by Jeff Shelton. In 2003, Shelton assembled a new band to carry the powerpop torch called The Well Wishers. The band has been doing very well – even getting music featured on major network television shows such as “In The Motherhood” and “Parenthood”. “Dreaming of the West Coast” marks their sixth full-length record, which Shelton states is “the band’s most lavish and full-bodied production to date”.

I would describe the sound of The Well Wishers as early Posies covering songs written by Bob Mould. The record is a wonderfully consistent listen from beginning to end, brimming with crunchy riffs and sticky melodies. Among the highlights I would count the jangle pop rocker “Escape The Light” (a pronounced 80s R.E.M. feel on this one), the Cheap Trick-styled “Allison”, and the arena rock stomp of “Tonight”. My favorite in the bunch is “Here Comes Love”, which is textbook powerpop perfection. Also be sure to check out the quirky but fun “Have Some More Tea” – it is actually a cover tune originally recorded in 1967 by the underground UK mod-pop trio called The Smoke. Props to Shelton for mining the archives to dust off this gem! And somebody tell me if “Truth Is Coming Home” doesn’t sound like it belongs on “Dear 23” by The Posies. To put it in a nutshell, “Dreaming of the West Coast” is one of the first “must have” powerpop releases of 2012.

The Well Wishers – Official site.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

SHY “Shy” (2011)

It's ironic and extremely sad to see a great guitarist create an awesome album that can match his peak in the 80s but then he passes away that same year. Hearts go to Steve Harris and his family for this catastrophic loss, but on a positive note SHY brought a fruitful record with a new singer, Lee Small, to replace the iconic screamer, Tony Mills, who went to their competitor, TNT.

'Land of A Thousand Lies' is an incredible start. After a long intro, the track blasts into a monstrous melodic hard rock tune with a chorus that is utterly mind blowing. SHY combines the classic style with heavy metal, as evident on tracks like 'So Many Tears' or 'Pray', which are both fantastic tunes. Lee Small caught me by surprise with his superb singing technique – at times, I slightly prefer him over Mills because there's a point that you grow tired of the glass-breaking shrilling shout of Mills.

But they also crawl back to their AOR roots. 'Only For The Night' and 'Over You', for instance, are flawless 10/10 quality songs. The uptempo 'Live For Me' reminds me of JOURNEY's classic, 'Separate Ways'. 'Ran Out of Time' and 'Save Me' aren't as good as those three, but still winners in my book.

However, there's volatility in the songwriting and I spot some weaknesses in at last four tracks. 'Breathe' is a predictable ballad, if not generic. 'Blood On The Line' isn't really interesting, 'Sanctuary' is actually pretty good but too long, and 'Union of Souls' is the weakest link. The production isn't great - you've heard lots of other albums that beat this sound.

SHY has largely accomplished a difficult mission to offer an outstanding album for the great year of 2011. I rated it 85% and placed it at #12 in my final list. A solid record and a legacy of Harris to be remembered!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cover tune catastrophe: "Stairway to Heaven"

Far Corporation "Stairway to Heaven" (Led Zeppelin)

If you ever wondered what the epic "Stairway to Heaven" would sound like filtered through the cheesy stylings of the 80s, wonder no more. Far Corporation was the brainchild of record producer Frank Farian, who recruited some 80s hot shots like vocalist Robin McAuley (who recently departed from Survivor) and some boys from Toto (including Bobby Kimball, who recently did a duets album with Jimi Jamison, who just reclaimed his position as lead vocalist in Survivor). At any rate, this tune polluted the airwaves in 1985 and marked the first time the legendary song entered the music charts since Led Zeppelin never released it as a single. Frank Farian would go on to injure our ears even more with his creation of Milli Vanilli a few years later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Jet Electro “Jet Electro”

I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this record as soon as I saw all the 70s memorabilia decorating the room featured in the digipak artwork. Even better, there were several references to Alfred E. Newman and MAD magazine, further suggesting I would appreciate the sense of humor of the lyricist.

That lyricist is Craig Daniel, the guitarist of Poplord, a notable powerpop band we’ve featured here several times before (see here). Jet Electro is Daniel’s alter ego, “the forever young musical super hero”. The self-titled debut record contains 11 songs, each with a different set of musicians. Despite the revolving door of musical personnel, Daniel’s songwriting and vocals still deliver a cohesive listen built around a theme of musical autobiography.

The life story begins appropriately with a tune about mom, “I’ll Never Find Another Girl Like You”. Radiating with an AM radio vibe, this song is one of my favorites – a classic powerpop treasure with wonderfully crafted melody lines. Horns, played by musicians found using craigslist, add flair to the Memphis soul inspired tune, “Buckle Up”. “For Sale By Owner” is another upbeat highlight, as is “This Baby Of Mine”, a Beach Boys flavored ode to a 1965 Cadillac Deville. There isn’t a love song to be found on the record, but Jet Electro offers an honest explanation in the beautifully fingerpicked piece “I Don’t Know How”. The record ends the story of this life with “Through”, an engaging romp with gorgeous retro chord changes and cool falsetto harmonies. Some of the tracks are a bit too offbeat for my tastes, such as “Walter Cronkite” and “100 Girls”, but overall this is an impressive and captivating debut sure to please powerpop lovers of all stripes - including fans of Poplord.

Jet Electro is recommended if you like Todd Rundgren, The Beatles, or The Raspberries. Pick it up now at CDbaby or iTUNES.

Jet Electro – Official site.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Were Robbed – The Posies

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

The Posies – “Dear 23”

The dynamic duo behind the The Posies is Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, who first started writing together in the mid-1980s. Their 1990 record, “Dear 23” is an undisputed masterpiece of acoustic-based, hook and harmony driven pop rock. The record gained some momentum and became an instant favorite of many in college radio, but for some reason The Posies failed to become a household name.

What I find so captivating about “Dear 23” is the shimmering sound of those beautiful upbeat acoustic guitars, lifting the expertly crafted melodies to lofty heights. Auer and Stringfellow simply sound magical together, and to top it all off they wrote songs that had deep meaning. I can’t imagine anyone taking a listen to “Golden Blunders”, “Suddenly Mary”, or “Help Yourself” and not being impressed.

If not, try the more contemplative ballads like the brilliant “Apology”, “You Avoid Parties”, or heartbreaking “Everyone Moves Away”.

The Posies released a couple very good follow up records during the 90s, with each release gravitating more towards a harder, darker edge at the expense of that bright acoustic sound that won over their initial fanbase. Auer and Stringfellow have released numerous solo projects, but none that could ever capture the chemistry of their work as a team. In 2010, The Posies reunited to release their seventh album, “Blood/Candy” (reviewed here), which was hailed by many as a welcome return to form.

As we often see with these tragically ignored releases, they are available for pennies. So you have no excuse for not getting yourself into The Posies now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Brian Vander Ark “Magazine”

Brian Vander Ark has been quietly cranking out one amazing record after another since going solo from the underrated band The Verve Pipe (remember their big hit, “The Freshmen”?). His latest, “Magazine”, continues to impress with insightful (and often amusing) lyrics and engaging melodies. The record was completed once again with immaculate production from Bill Szymczyk.

As you might gather from the cover art, Vander Ark’s fourth solo release has a lighter tone in sharp contrast to the more somber predecessors. It would seem that he’s been moved lately by love and family, perhaps an extension of The Verve Pipe’s 2009 children’s record, “A Family Album”. But Vander Ark, thankfully, is a complex character and it’s sometimes hard to tell when he is being sarcastic. But one thing is undeniable: these songs possess many of his trademark catchy hooks and this time out they are generally housed in brighter, poppier song arrangements. The charm of “No Getting Over You”, “Just Another Heartbreak”, and the bouncy rhythm of “My Independence Day” exemplify this sunny attitude. “Miracle Mile” is a welcome Vander Ark standard – a gentle track fingerpicked on guitar with some light piano as accompaniment – damn near sounding like a classic Billy Joel song. If you enjoy Vander Ark’s ballads, you also won’t want to miss the beautiful love song, “On The Day I Fell”.

Other notable cuts include a homage to his home state in “Michigan Coast To Coast” (he knew Kid Rock when he was just a kid) that anyone from The Wolverine State will appreciate. There’s also an epic storytelling track called “My Little Town” co-written with Jeff Daniels (yeah, the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ guy!) complete with a hint of country twang. His satirical look at the social networking craze is encapsulated in the tune “Facebook Friend”.

As Vander Ark advises, “Every mile can be a miracle mile”, every record by this guy is a little musical miracle.

Brian Vander Ark – Official site.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

ROXY BLUE “Want Some” (1992)

If only "Want Some?" was released 4 years earlier, Roxy Blue could have enjoyed big sweet success. But with all eyes on Nirvana and the gang in 1992, MTV only gave them a little spot for one of their songs, "Rob The Cradle", and Roxy Blue just vanished into nowhere. However, for many hard rock fans this album is considered one of the great records of the 90s, with "Times Are Changing" being one of their power ballads that was still occasionally aired on the local radio.

Produced by the legendary Mike Clink, who's responsible for GNR's “Appetite For Destruction”, their sound fell between Skid Row and Poison with high-octane guitar shredding. "Too Hot To Handle" cranked up the heat, "Luv on Me" showed their tender side, and the best-of-it-all is the loudest fast-paced "Love's Got A Hold On Me". They were a badass band with bad timing but this is an impeccable and stunning album that should be in your collection.

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cover tune catastrophe: Raspberry Beret

Hindu Love Gods "Raspberry Beret" (Prince)

The Hindu Love Gods is basically R.E.M. fronted by Warren Zevon. They teamed up in 1990 for a one-off album that flopped. Their attempt to cover Prince's big 1985 hit "Raspberry Beret" sounds awful to my ears, extracting all of the joy out of this song and making it sound more like an Americal Idol audition gone horribly wrong. See what you think...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Butch Walker “The Spade”

Readers of this blog should be well acquainted with our love of all things Butch Walker (see here). Walker got his start with the glam band Southgang, achieved one hit wonder status with his spectacular post-grunge alt rock band (The Marvelous 3), and is one of today’s most heavily sought after record producers. Along the way, he’s consistently cranked out numerous solo records filled with sharp melodies that are branded with his wry sense of humor.

The ten songs on “The Spade” were written and performed with Walker’s band, The Black Widows, with some help from Patrick Keeler of The Raconteurs. As expected, each song sparkles with Walker’s masterful production and rewards the listener with an abundance of tasty hooks to savor. Leadoff single “Summer of ‘89”, a nod to the Bryan Adams hit “Summer of ‘69”, is a fantastically nostalgic piece that is a modern song about life in the late 80s (video below). Lots of the other tunes allow Walker to indulge in his love of throwing different decades of sound into a single melting pot, as you’ll notice on “Every Single Body Else” and “Bodegas and Blood”. Be sure to check out the soulful rock of “Sweethearts”, the superb falsetto harmonies of “Day Drunk”, and the satirical “Synthesizers”, which has a distinct Dexy’s Midnight Runners feel in the chorus. The record doesn’t end as strong as it begins, although “Bullet Belt” has a terrific chorus worth holding out for.

For fans of Butch, you also don’t want to miss his autobiography, “Drinking With Strangers”. Check it out here.

Butch Walker – Official site.

Check out the video for “Summer of ‘89”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You Were Robbed – Avion

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

Once upon a time, there was a brilliant powerpop band named The Tories. After their breakup in 2002, ringleader Steve Bertrand formed a similar band with a slighter rock edge called Avion. Their only album (self-titled) is one of the most criminally ignored masterpieces of modern pop rock – it should have represented the sound of the new millennium.

Joined by his bandmates Josh Dunahoo (guitar), Joey Clement (bass), Ben Hazlett (guitar/keyboards), and Jamie Wollam (drums), Bertrand purposely set out to make every song on the Avion record radio friendly. Needless to say: mission accomplished. The record begins with a Tories holdover called “Would You Notice”, which is the perfect introduction to Bertrand’s songwriting skills and warm vocals. With an instantly memorable chorus, the song seemed destined to be a radio smash, but the band was robbed. I couldn’t find the Avion version, so here is the one by The Tories:

An Avion video I could find is to the majestic ballad, “Seven Days Without You”, another tune that should have been a radio staple in 2004.

Other highlights off this release that are ‘must-hears’ include the driving mid-tempo number “Beautiful”, “Perfect From Now On”, “The Best Is Yet To Come”, and the gorgeous piano-driven ballad, “Love Is Here Again”.

Steve Bertrand has gone forward to release a solo record in 2007 called “Pain Is A Megaphone”. It is a more subdued affair with an abundance of ballads, but fans will enjoy hearing his buoyant vocals once again. You can get all the Tories, Avion, and Bertrand records dirt cheap so there’s no excuse not to enhance your music collection today with all of these gems.

PS: If you dig this type of music, James Guffee is another ex-Tories band member who released an incredible solo record in 2005 called, “So Much for Secrets”.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: The Maine “Pioneer”

Here come the fireworks baby. Formed in Phoenix, Arizona, the Maine scored a major label debut in 2009 with “Black & White”. The band is back now with their third full-length studio album, and they decided to go back to the independent way of doing things. “Pioneer” was written and produced by the band and was released on their own label called Action Theory Records in December 2011. In the words of the band, "This record represents persistence, passion, and the failure to give in when all around have given up.”

“Pioneer” opens with the slow burning rock of “Identify”, which gently creeps into your senses with its haunting verses, then voraciously stamps its imprint onto your memory with its pounding chorus. Some fuzzy Hendrix guitars open up another gritty rocker in the grandiose cut, “My Heroine”. Venturing into more commercial territory, “Time” is a radio-friendly treat for the ears – my favorite in the bunch. Other highlights include the melancholy feel of “Some Days”, “Don’t Give Up On ‘Us’”, and the summery feel of “Like We Did (Windows Down)”. There is also a track called “Thinking Of You” that seems custom built for the pop rock fans, featuring a bouncy piano riff in-between the crunchy chorus.

Overall, these songs are sung with earnest and the lyrics are often above the cut. Dynamic guitar tones mix classic and contemporary sounds, making “Pioneer” a very engaging release.

The Maine - official site.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

VAIN “Enough Rope” (2011)

Vain has always been considered a second-rate glam act but they have more talent than what appears on the outside. Davy hasn't left the building since their late-coming, “No Respect” (1989), which is hailed by many as one of the most underrated records of the 80s. Vain has also split opinions, mainly because some people just can't stand Davy's nasal and whiny singing style, but the dark vibe and his enigmatic charm on “No Respect” underlines how great that album is.

“Enough Rope” tries to bring back that feeling and in my opinion, it's a superb come back that successfully takes you back to their prime era. Not only is Davy's vocal still as strong as ever, but the whole album is comparable to “No Respect”. The difference is “Enough Rope” leans more on the hard rock/heavy metal side while the debut sounds sleazier - but the songs are solid on both albums.

“Greener” is an awesome start and the chorus is totally addictive. “Triple X” is a heavy metal monster with a splendid display of riffs. The perfect track here along with the title track and “Vain”. Rumor has it that around 4-5 songs were actually taken from old demos while I suspect maybe at least 5-6 songs, and that's why the vibe is so similar. “Cindy's” intro riff reminds me of Maiden's “Wasted Years”- a good song anyway!

“Treasure Girl” is an awesome acoustical ballad, “Distance of Love” has that creepy feeling that Vain has on the debut. “Worship You” is similar to “Beat The Bullet” and definitely serves as a perfect closer. The production is great, especially when considering it's an indie album. It's hard to pick which one is better, but many will choose “No Respect” only because they've played it more than 1000 times. In the end, I might prefer “Enough Rope” a bit better. A superior release that has climbed to my top 5 of 2011!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cover tune catastrophe: Welcome To The Jungle

One of the most intriguing cover concepts I've heard in sometime: the great jazz artist Etta Jones does her interpretation of a classic rock anthem. The reworking just doesn't work for me, nor does it provide a chance to let Etta shine, so what's the point? It's gonna bring you down...huh!

Etta James "Welcome To The Jungle" (Guns-N-Roses)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Eddie Grey “The Love Thief”

The debut release from singer/songwriter Eddie Grey, “The Love Thief” is a schizophrenic mix of styles and influences, incorporating elements of funk, soul, and even a touch of reggae. It makes for an inconsistent listen and leaves an impression that this artist hasn’t yet decided who he wants to be. Then again, some people are going to appreciate the variety and wild jumps from pop funk to straight up rock. Vocally, Grey deserves credit in being highly adaptable to all these different genres, sometimes reminding me of Freddy Curci (Sheriff, Alias). However, the lyrics leave quite a bit to be desired. One thing Grey has going for him is a budding instinct for good pop hooks, no matter what musical landscape he is exploring. If you want to hear the tunes with a solid rock edge, check out “Hideaway” or “One Week”. If you want that island experience try on “Just Say It” for size. For fans of adult contemporary ballads, check out “My Only Thoughts Of You”. My favorite track in the set is the catchy mid-tempo number “Guys and Girls”.

Eddie Grey – Official site.

We’ve been given permission to offer you “Mary Go Round” as a free mp3! Here is the link: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/1332554580/4d8a9569d8b720ba9b4214dd62328745

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You Were Robbed – Material Issue "Destination Universe"

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

At the dawn of grunge, Material Issue went against the grain to deliver concise pop rock songs stuffed to the gills with hooks and sensational harmonies. While most people would site the full-length debut “International Pop Overthrow”, from which the famous powerpop festival derived its name, as the best album by Material Issue, I will go against the grain and announce that their sophomore effort “Destination Universe” (1992) is my favorite. Blessed with astounding instincts for tasty melodies, this trio of Jim Ellison, Ted Ansani, and Mike Zelenko wrote some of the greatest pop songs of the early 90s, besting idols such as Cheap Trick during this decade (“Woke Up With A Monster” anyone?).

“Destination Universe” is devoid of filler and provides a wonderfully satisfying listen from the opening rush of the single, “What Girls Want” to the closing riffage of “If Ever You Should Fall”.

While “What Girls Want” did earn the band a little bit of attention, tracks like “Next Big Thing” and “Don’t You Think I Know” should have launched this band into superstardom. Ellison had a knack for writing about the everyday things in such moving ways.

“Who Needs Love”, “Girl from Out of This World”, and “The Loneliest Heart” also feature stellar powerpop arrangements and insightful lyrics. The record also houses one of my all-time favorite songs - the deceptively simple and achingly beautiful acoustic ballad, “Everything”. How could this not have been a hit? Wrong place at the wrong time, I guess.

The record was followed by another strong release in “Freak City Soundtrack”, but in 1996 chief songwriter, guitarist, and singer, Jim Ellison took his own life. You may be able to catch Mike Zelenko and Ted Ansani performing under the name of Material Reissue. Fans may also be interested in picking up the recently released "20th Anniversary" edition of their breakout record, “International Pop Overthrow”.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Danny Echo “Unplugged and Unglued” [EP]

You may recall that we raved about the debut record from Danny Echo back in 2009 (see here). Danny Echo, who counts the Rolling Stones, The Who, Beatles, Radiohead, and U2 as influences, is back with a new five song EP of stripped down songs (to be released January 24). Overall, these tunes hold up very well in the unplugged format, allowing Danny Echo to showcase his vocals and shine the spotlight on the quality of the songwriting. The subdued yet engaging “Help Yourself” leads the pack, setting the perfect stage for this collection. The contrast of some soaring electric guitar floating atop the acoustic base of “Barely Getting By” is sublime, and be sure not to miss the beautiful and contemplative closer, “Never Make It Home”. “Unplugged and Unglued” is a welcome treat for fans, but I imagine this one is not going to hold them over for long.

More about Danny Echo: here

Monday, January 9, 2012

Melodic rock CD of the week

By Stephen Kasenda

ROBIN BECK “Trouble Or Nothing” (1989)

After a long and exhausting wait since her flop of a debut, "Sweet Talk" in 1979, Robin Beck finally rose to fame with the Coca-Cola commercial hit, "First Time" – which is featured on this album. Under the big name of Desmond Child and several cover songs, "Trouble Or Nothing" offers something more than mere popsicle hits - it qualifies as a gorgeous AOR record that let’s Beck’s beautiful voice shine.

Many songs to love here like "Don't Lose Any Sleep" - a melodically enticing mid-tempo rock, "Hide Your Heart" - an incredible rendition of a KISS track, "Save Up All Your Tears" - the sanctuary for the broken hearts, or even the heart-throbbing "Tears In The Rain" with trembling words that could probably make you cry.

There are no weak fillers on this album as every song has its own strength. With such a perfect voice, Robin should have been bigger. If you can read this now, then you're lucky because you're not missing a piece of information to the essential album in the history of rock diva. Big thumbs up!

Read more of Stephen’s features at MetalMusicArchives.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cover tune catastrophe: Imagine

In this ongoing series, I will uncover some of the WORST cover tunes ever recorded. We’ve all encountered that unsettling feeling upon hearing a beloved song redone by another artist. What were they thinking? How dare they try to redo this song! While we are powerless to prevent these clowns from trashing the originals, we can call them out on it.

Cee Lo Green - "Imagine" (John Lennon)

In this live performance from New Year's Eve, Cee Lo Green covered John Lennon's masterpiece, "Imagine". I don't know what is more horrific - the way he absolutely butchered the singing of this song or his immensely disrespectful changing of the lyrics (he sang "all religion is true" instead of "and no religion too").

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Trucker Diablo “The Devil Rhythm”

Hard rock/metal
WOW. This hard rocking outfit from Northern Ireland formed in 2008 and their January 3, 2012 release of “The Devil Rhythm” (on Ripple Music) is destined to set fire to the stale offerings on the current platter of modern hard rock. You may have been lucky enough to catch them on tour with Black Stone Cherry in Ireland; if not, you can catch them at the 2012 Hammerfest being headlined by Anthrax.

Trucker Diablo should have wide appeal amongst rockers of all stripes – they use thick, crushing guitars making them sound like they belong right alongside of other modern rock champs like Shinedown or Three Days Grace, but they write melodies with chord progressions made famous by the glam bands of the 80s. Most bands simply don’t have the skill – or smarts - to mesh the old and new school rock, but Trucker Diablo gets the job done and then some. They even pull some blues and Southern rock in on occasion (check out “Voodoo” or “Rattlehead”).

The explosive opener, “Drink Beer, Destroy” should be your new party anthem for 2012 – I can’t think of a better track to set the stage for raising a little hell. The metal riffs of “Juggernaut” will put your heart into overdrive. With its muscular riffs but intensely melodic chorus, “Big Truck” has got to be one of the best driving songs of all time, and happens to be my favorite track. Need a pick me up anthem? Try “Stand Up and Fight” on for size. “Dirty Love”, one of the more radio friendly tunes, is also worth checking out (not a cover of the Thunder hit of the same name). Most of the other tracks have plenty of power but not as much melody, but the CD still plays great when listened to in its entirety.

Other notable features about this release include the appearance of Ricky Warwick (Thin Lizzy) on “Juggernaut” and endorsements from Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister). What more could you ask for?

For more information about Trucker Diablo, click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We're looking for a few good music writers

Now This ROCKS! is looking for MUSIC WRITERS!

We’re sending out a call for music writers who would like to have their articles, reviews, or features posted on Now This ROCKS! We specialize in all forms of melodic rock and pop, and we welcome the opportunity to have you contribute to the site. Please send your idea and a writing sample or two to jesterrec@aol.com if you’re interested!

You Were Robbed - Marty Casey and Lovehammers

"You Were Robbed" features artists and bands that should have gotten much more recognition and fame than they did. Check them out now...better late than never!

Modern rock
Marty Casey was the runner up to J.D. Fortune on the reality show Rock Star: INXS. This self-titled 2006 effort – which you can find used for only a penny – is a modern rock extravaganza that no fan of Nickelback or Theory of a Deadman should be without. Marty Casey and Lovehammers have a sound that captures the power of Shinedown but retains the commercial hooks that have carried the Goo Goo Dolls to the top of the charts. Casey is a knockout vocalist and superb songwriter, but this record just didn’t set the world on fire for some reason.

While “Marty Casey and Lovehammers” is their major label debut, the album contains a collection of re-recorded songs from previous indie albums released by The Lovehammers. The opening three tracks, “Casualty”, “Hold On”, and “Trees”, represent a hat trick of radio-friendly rock, putting muscle behind lyrics of encouragement and empowerment. More hooks await you in the driving “The Tunnel” and post-grunge affair called “Eyes Can’t See”. Just as good are mid-tempo rockers like the pleasant “The Riddle” and “Call of Distress”. As far as ballads, don’t miss “Clouds”.

The band released a follow up in 2009 once again as just The Lovehammers called “Heavy Crown” that I look forward to checking out in the near future.

More on Marty Casey here.

Check out a video for “Trees”

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Michael Addison “Always You” [EP]

From the outskirts of Philadelphia to the University of Arizona to L.A., singer-songwriter Michael Addison has been developing a pop rock sound based around influences including Goo Goo Dolls and Dashboard Confessional. His new EP features 8 songs and contributions from Christine Wu (Justin Timberlake/Usher) and Ryan Hoyle (Collective Soul). Largely built up from an acoustical guitar base and frequently incorporating complex harmonies, his style is going to be embraced by many fans of pop and folk rock. His vocal tone reminds me of John Wesley Harding, so I think he’s going to appeal to a limited subset of listeners.

“Always You” is the clear standout on the EP - an infectious, upbeat little tune that stays in your head for days (video below). Nothing else comes close to the remarkably catchy title track, but “Let You Go” and “Last Words” are certainly worth a listen. If Addison can write more instantly likeable tracks like “Always You”, big things should come his way.

We’ve been given permission to let you download “Always You” for free! Check it out here.

More about Michael Addison here.

Check out the video for “Always You”