Monday, October 16, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Singer/Songwriters Cindy Alexander & Sarah Aroeste, Along With Swedish Jazz Band Trallskogen

Award-winning artist Cindy Alexander is preparing to release her ninth studio album, "Nowhere To Hide" on January 5th, 2018. The album consists of some of Alexander's favorite songs, chosen by friends and fans, re-recorded live in the studio. Her new 11-song release begins with the gentle piano ballad "I See Stars" and the beautiful poetry of "Passengers," which is one of two brand new songs on this album. Her warming vocals soar on "4 Hours" and her beautifully simple cover of Bread's "Everything I Own" allows you to enjoy the truth behind Cindy's vocals. The other new original tale is "The Song Will Always Find You," which allows you to fully appreciate her songwriting, before she finishes her new album with the fan favorite "Wonderful," which carries the most up-beat tempo on this release. To find out more about Cindy Alexander and her new album "Nowhere To Hide," please visit cindyalexander.com.

Bi-lingual singer/songwriter Sarah Aroeste is preparing to release her new, all-original Ladino/English holiday album titled "Together/Endjuntos." The Ladino language is a old Sephardic dialect and includes elements of Portuguese, French, Italian, Greek, Hebrew and others. Her new 10-song release begins with "Buena Semana" as you are introduced to Sarah's beautiful vocals. While you may not understand all of the lyrics, you will still get wrapped up in her voice. She becomes more playful with the folk/pop sing-along of "Thank You For The Trees" and the Middle-Eastern rhythm of "El Dia De Purim." She returns to the gentle flow of "Ayada Buena" that just allows you to relax and melt into her vocals. Sarah closes her new album with the hip-hop beats of "Bimuelo," featuring the work of Kosha Dillz and the Latin jazz of "Buen Shabat." To find out more about Sarah Aroeste and her latest release "Together/Endjuntos," please visit saraharoeste.com.

Swedish jazz band Trallskogen recently released their debut album titled "Trollskogen." It features 9-tracks, beginning with the seven-minute "Intro" as you enter the world of this experimental band. As they feel their way around the studio in the opening track, they begin to settle down into the steady pace of the title song "Trollskogen." While you may not understand the language within the songs, you can certain appreciate the musicianship on some of these epic tracks. They deliver the avant garde jazz of "Bergtrall" and the more up-beat feel of "Vad Nu," which showcases the diversity in their musicianship. The wonderful vocals of Annika Jonsson is highlighted with the poetry of "Han Drak," before Trallskogen finish their new album with the rock infused "Bitar" and the epic build-up of "Farval" along with the hidden track "Intercity Mood," which is an energetic jazz number that you must seek out. To find out more about Trallskogen and their latest release "Trollskogen," please visit trallskogen.com.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

CD Review: Bob Marley & The Wailers "Live!" Doubles In Size & Native Works With Lee "Scratch" Perry

The legendary "Live!" album from Bob Marley and The Wailers is finally getting its proper release on CD. Originally released in December 1975, the album captured the band during their two-night stand at Lyceum Theatre in London on July 17 & 18 1975. The idea was to quickly put an album together of the band's live material to keep fans interested while Bob Marley and The Wailers recorded their new album, which eventually became "Rastaman Vibration." The original record only featured 7-songs, which were featured on the "King Biscuit Flower Hour." After 40 years, that was all corrected last year when the Universal Music Group released a 3-vinyl set that included both concerts. It featured, for the first time, the entire unreleased July 17th show and also full-length versions of songs from the July 18th show. On October 13th, Universal Music Group released a new 2CD set that featured the complete "Live!" album. Both shows are presented on their own discs and comes with a booklet of unpublished photos and new essay about the evening's events. To find out more about newly released Bob Marley & The Wailers "Live!" set, please visit bobmarley.com.

Back in 1977, Jamaican-based reggae band Native were given the keys to the kingdom, when they got to record with famed record producer Lee "Scratch" Perry. Perry was the pioneer of the dub sound, working with everyone from Bob Marley to Paul McCartney to the Beastie Boys. In 1973, Perry built his own studio, named The Black Ark. There he was able to control his signature sound and create some amazing albums from local Jamaican bands, including Native. On September 22nd, Goldenlane Records released the hidden reggae-gem "Black Ark Showcase 1977" by Native Meets Lee Scratch Perry. It was one of the last recordings done at The Black Ark studio before it burnt down in 1978.

The new 10-song release features the local reggae band Native given the sonic treatment to a handful of their songs. The first five songs on the album are featured as they were recorded in the studio, without any wizardry from Lee "Scratch" Perry. The second half of the album showcases the talents of Perry as the final mix features a deeper reggae vibe as you can feel the songs' groove. To find out more about this classic album makeover, please visit nativemeetsleescratchperry.bandcamp.com.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

CD Review: Europe Returns To "Walk The Earth," While Heaven & Earth Become "Hard To Kill" & Tom Keifer Adds More To His "Life"

Swedish rock band, Europe overtook the airwaves in 1986 with their third album, "The Final Countdown." It featured 3 "top 40" hits, including the title-song and the top 5 hit ballad "Carrie." Unable to capture that same fire, the band Europe broke up from 1992 to 2003. Since their reunion, the band has been on a steady climb back up the rock charts and on October 20th, Europe will release their 11th studio album titled "Walk The Earth." The new 10-song release includes the band signature keyboard-heavy rock sound, spearheaded by the iconic vocals of lead singer Joey Tempest.

The album start out with the atmospheric keyboards and thunderous rhythm of "Walk The Earth" as they have adapted a heavier sound on this release. They continue with the intensity of "The Siege" and still showcase their diversity with emotional ballad "Pictures." Then Europe come roaring back with the high-powered "Election Day" and "GTO," before finishing up their new album with big guitar riffs and wild drumming of "Haze" along with the seven-minute epic piece "Turn To Dust." Europe will be finishing out the year with a string of dates in Europe. To find out more about the band's new album "Walk The Earth," please visit europetheband.com.

Former Cinderella lead singer, Tom Keifer released his debut solo album titled "The Way Life Goes," back in 2013 (review: jpsmusicblog.blogspot.com). Now, 4 years later he revisits that album, releasing a deluxe edition of the album that includes 3 bonus tracks and a DVD that features a 30-minute documentary about album and the new recording sessions, as well as music videos and tour clips. The new bonus songs feature two version of the Cinderella classic "Nobody's Fool," one with Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) and the other is a stripped down piano version of the song. The other bonus song is a studio version of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends," which Keifer has been performing live in concert. This new deluxe edition of Tom Keifer's "The Way Life Goes" will be available on October 20th through Cleopatra Records. To find out more, please visit tomkeifer.cleorecs.com.

October 6th saw the fourth release from hard rockers Heaven & Earth. Their new album titled "Hard To Kill" is arguable their most explosive and cohesive album to date. The 11-track release kicks off with the adrenaline-fueled title song that showcases the full power of this band. The songs get an extra jolt of energy on this release from drummer Kenny Aronoff (Rolling Stones, Chickenfoot) and keyboardist Ty Baillie (Katy Perry). The album continues with the classic California hard rock appeal of "Walk Away" and the strut of "Till It's Over." They motor through the high-energy of "The Game Has Changed," led by bassist Lynn Sorensen, then lead singer Joe Retta and guitarist Stuart Smith smash down the walls with the "Monster." The album finishes up with up-tempo sonic blues of "Hellfire" and the pounding rhythm of "Bad Man." Heaven & Earth have only two live shows lined-up at the moment, but look for more to be announced soon. To find out more about their new album "Hard To Kill," please visit heavenandearthband.com.

Friday, October 13, 2017

CD Review: New Releases From Legendary Artists Nik Turner, Steve Hunter, Sonja Kristina & Rick Wakeman

Musician Nik Turner, co-founder of the band Hawkwind, recently released his brand new studio album titled "Life In Space." He is following up that album's release with a month-long North American tour. Turner plays the role of your pilot for this latest sonic journey, beginning with the classic, space-rock of "End Of The World." The song carries a timeless, classic rock quality, which could place his music in any era. Next, Turner delivers the seven-minute, psychedelic mind drifter, "Why Are You?" as he continues to delivery a nostalgic sound. Turner lets you in on the "Secrets Of The Galaxy" as he rocks out with this guitar led piece, before returning to the more experimental, ambient sound of "Approaching The Unknown." Nik Turner finishes up his latest album with a visit to the past as he remakes the Hawkwind classic "Master Of The Universe," adding a more modern rock flair. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about his latest release "Life In Space," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/NikTurnermusic.

Guitar legend Steve Hunter (Alice Cooper, Lou Reed) returns with a new solo album titled "Before The Lights Go Out." Hunter also uses this latest release to announce that this may be one of his last musical statements, due to his failing eyesight. Hunter kicks things off with the sonic blues groove of "On The Edge Of Uncertainty," which also showcases another side to his legacy. Fellow guitarist Joe Satriani lends a hand on the electrifying boogie shuffle of "Mojo Man," before Hunter continues with the country tones of "Summer's Eve." Hunter heads down south with the back country bayou strumming of "Cinder Block," then delivers the Latin flair of "Tienes Mi Corazon (You Have My Heart)." He wraps up his new album with the seven-minute journey "Under The Bodhi Tree" and the lullabye cover of "Happy Trails," which features the only vocals on the album, supplied by his wife Karen Hunter. To find out more about Steve Hunter and his latest release "Before The Lights Go Out," please visit stevehunter.com.

Legendary Curved Air singer Sonja Kristina is releasing a two-disc compilation titled "Anthology." The set features her first collection of her solo work along with exclusive newly recorded tracks. According to Sonja, these songs deal with "life and love through the decades and beautiful songs that I have had the privilege to perform and make my own." Her  ​ angelic vocals shine on the folk storytelling of "Frank Mills," before she settles into her comfort with "The Passion" and "Full Time Woman." One of the highlights of the first disc is the floating melody of "One To One" as Sonja's vocals capture the mood of the song perfectly. The second disc comes out rocking with "Devil May Care" and "San Tropez" as Sonja shows a different side to her solo work. The gentle touch of "I Don't Believe A Word" highlights her beautiful vocals, before closing this set with the progressive rock appeal of "Love Child" and the grand delivery of "Citadel." To find out more about Sonja Kristina and her new solo collection "Anthology," please visit sonjakristina.com.

The 1984 erotic thriller "Crimes Of Passion" may not have turned many heads when it was released in movie theaters, but it's soundtrack has become a cult collectors dream. The movie revolves around human relationships and mental illness and starred Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins. As the film brought upon negative reviews, fans sought out the film's soundtrack, which was scored by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Now the soundtrack is being re-released on CD and includes a bonus track that features Maggie Bell on vocals. The mostly instrumental album begins with the eighties rock number "It's A Lovely Life" that features Swedish vocalist Maggie Bell, as she gives her all to this opening track. Wakeman works his magic on the songs "Eastern Shadows" and "The Stretch" and all their eighties glory. He delivers the blues with "Stax," before returning the energy of "Taken In Hand." The bonus track, "Dangerous Woman" has a pop/rock vibe that would climb up any eighties music chart. To find out more about this album, please visit rwcc.com.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

CD Review: New Music From Neon Moon, Sweetwater String Band, Bend Sinister And Tony Geoffredi

The Americana/country duo Neon Moon recently released their latest album "6:53" this past summer. The new 6-song EP is a songwriter's dream as these well-constructed musical pieces are filled with emotion. They begin with the gentle swing of "If I Knew" and the darker tones of "Smoke" as you easily get wrapped up in singer Noelle's vocals. They deliver the nostalgic country twang of "Homewreker," before wrapping up their new album with the storied lyrics of the moody "Something In The Water" and the sweet, acoustic folk strumming of "If We're Being Honest." To find out more about Neon Moon and their latest release "6:53," please visit neonmoonmusic.com.

From the Sierra Mountains of California comes the third album titled "At Night" featuring the Americana/folk sounds of Sweetwater String Band. This four piece band make the most of their string instruments as they deliver a great collection of folk gems. Their new 11-song release begins with the up-tempo strumming of "Same Stars" and they keep the pace going with the steady rhythm of "Beautiful." They deliver a more bluegrass sound with "My Proud Mountains" and "Red Hill Country" as the Sweetwater String Band look to get you up on your feet with these quick-moving songs. They finish up their new album with the slow, mosey sound of "The Night Has Come" and the simple remembrance of "Wild River." To find out more about the Sweetwater String Band and their latest release "At Night," please visit sweetwaterstringband.com.

Canadian rock band Bend Sinister recently released their latest album titled "The Other Way." It features 6-tracks to get you re-antiquated with this band as their music becomes very addictive as in the opening track "Move A Little Slower." They keep the tempo high with the sing-along chorus of their new single "Walk The Other Way" and kick things into high gear with the intense delivery of "Run." Their new short release closes with the seventies pop/rock sound of "Rock N Roll" and the piano ballad "Gonna Be Alright." To find out more about Bend Sinister and their latest release "The Other Way," please visit bendsinisterband.com.

Finally from Denver comes the latest release titled "Life Is..." from singer/songwriter Tony Goffredi. The new 5-song EP begins with the country acoustics of "What Can I Say" as his vocals are a strong presence throughout this new release. The album continues with the ballad "Broken Glass" as you get emotional from the song's lyrics. He closes his new short release with the beautiful country tones of "An Ocean Away" and "Sleeping Away" as his voice is a hidden gem among the independent music community. To find out more about Tony Goffredi and his latest release "Life Is...," please visit tonygoffredi.com.