All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pre-Screening Through SonicBids!

Here at Wildy's World we listen to every submission we receive, and as long as we can find something positive to write about we'll write a review about your CD or DVD. In the six months we've been doing this we've only chosen not to review three recordings (versus 140 or so reviews written). Nevertheless, there is always a very small chance that a review might not happen.

To minimize the already chance of this, we have partnered with Sonicbids to allow for artists to submit their Sonicbids EPK to Wildy's World for pre-screening. There is a cost for this service, but it's all Sonicbids -- Wildy's World does not profit from it in any way. You can always just e-mail me and ask me to check out your page or profile in advance as well. The difference is that if you are accepted via Sonicbids you are GUARANTEED a review on Wildy's World.

Okay, kind of hokey, I know, but there is a benefit to those of you that perhaps have not ventured onto Sonicbids yet. The cost to submit for pre-screening through Sonicbids is $2.00. If you do not have a Sonicbids EPK already, you can sign up and get three months worth of the service, plus submit for pre-screening to Wildy's World for $6.95. I do not know what the regular rate is, but there is a savings involved.

Sonicbids is a great networking site for bands/artists who are promoting themselves. You can be considered for gigs (including big time festivals/events like the Vans Warped Tour, The Independent Music Awards, The International Songwriting Competition amd Unisong.

Once again, Wildy's World doesn't make a cent off of this (or anything else, for that matter). We're in it for the music and to see great musicians get a little press along the way. But of the sites out there that actually offer bang for the buck they charge, Sonicbids is one of the better ones.

So if you want to submit for pre-screening through Sonicbids, or if you want to take advantage of this special offer through Wildy's World, please check out the Sonicbids Wildy's World Opportunity!

Or if you need the URL, here it is:

And yes, you can just e-mail us for the submission address and do this the old-fashioned way!

Be well,


Friday, June 27, 2008

CD Review - The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy - self-titled

The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy - The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy
2007, Daniel Sheehan

Dan Sheehan is known to many in the Boston and New York music scenes as one of the creative forces behind the band Banter, which obtained cult status in those markets.  Now Dan Sheehan has been set free from the constrictions of being part of a band and has unleashed his full creative force into The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy.  Sheehan rocks with the vigor and suppressed anger of the best punk rockers, but is influenced stylistically by modern and prog rock.  The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy is an ample introduction to this talented musician. 

Sheehan brings the intensity of Jim Morrison to the microphone, and even sounds a bit like him at times.  The frenetic energy in Sheehan's guitar work reminds me of a Canadian Alt-Rock band from the 1990's called Dig Circus.  There's even a rap/rocker in here, Collateral Damage, imploring listeners to pay attention to the after-effects of war on soldiers and their families.  Sheehan runs the gamut from classic rock anthem (See Kay, The Valley) to folk song (Rock Song) to ballad (Before You Wake).  The true highlights come in the prog flavored Patterns In The Rain. 

The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy has already seen airplay on nearly 200 radio stations across the US, and I suspect that number will only increase in time.  Dan Sheehan's subject matter will appeal to broad swath of the general public, and the music is first class.  His voice is unique and memorable, with just a hint of that Morrison mystique.  Add in the solid drumming of Morrissey's Spencer Cobrin, and there is something here to appeal to music fans of many tastes.  The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy CD is something you'll want in your collection.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

To learn more about The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy, go to  You can purchase a copy of The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy at

CD Review: Vic Kingsley - These Frequencies

Vic Kingsley - These Frequencies
2008, Victor Garcia

Miami, FL native Vic Kingsley (nee Garcia) grew up on a musical diet that included the Beatles and Michael Jackson, among others.  This goes a long way toward explaining the crisp, hummable melodies that play throughout his full length debut, These Frequencies

Kingsley is an emotive singer with a sense for writing vaguely detailed songs filled with emotional power.  Missing You Tonight is a prime example, featuring Kingsley and his guitar in a confessional that reminds me of some of John Mayer's better stuff.  The album opens with the jangly Last Satellite, a song that displays Kingsley's voice in fine fashion.  Other highlights include B For Breaking My Heart, Take You Home, Undercover and What Are We Going To Do?

These Frequencies is the sort of release that makes you excited to hear what comes next.  There is a certain quirkiness to Kingsley's style that is at once comforting and startling.  To say that the music feels emotionally honest is an understatement.  Lyrically he is a definite talent, and the voice is at once familiar and new.  You'll find yourself falling into the world of Vic Kingsley each time you listen to this fine CD!

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

To learn more about Vic Kingsley, check out  You can purchase a copy of These Frequencies at  

Wildy's World Top 25 CDs: The Final Five

Here it is folks. You've been waiting five whole days to find out who will be #1, so you can be impatient and skip to the end of the post and find out. Or you can practice a little self control and wait for it... :)

Honestly, once you get down into the top 6 it becomes a matter of mood on a given day. I've rearranged these several times and listened to the top 6 albums several times over in the past couple of weeks trying to find an edge or a reason to change. This list I am comfortable with today, but ask me again in a few weeks and there could be swap here or there.

So with that qualifier, and without further a do...


The Hollyfelds - Saratoga
The Hollyfelds are perhaps one of the finest working alt-country bands I've come across at any time. Their musical vision is a thing of beauty, and their execution is perfect. I'd put my money down for a Hollyfelds recording anytime.


Mike Ford - Canada Needs You, Volume 2
Mike Ford has been writing and performing great songs for years, both on his own and with Moxy Fruvous. He is one of the true gems of Modern Canadian music. Even though the subject matter in his songs does not tread the beaten paths of pop music, he is an incredible songwriter and a prima performer.


Woodward - But Your Kids Are Gonna Love It
Woodward has it all. Incredible sound, amazing songs and a feeling like they were born to do this. For pure entertainment value, this was the best CD I've heard all year.


Tally Hall - Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
Tally Hall made the jump from Indie to Major Label (Atlantic Records) in 2008. Atlantic released this disc, originally recorded in 2005 by the band, without changes (other than perhaps some remastering). This may well be the Sergeant Pepper of this generation.


Jason Plumb & The Willing - Beauty In This World
Jason Plumb is a sorely undervalued talent in his home country of Canada, and is virtually unknown in the United States and beyond. This is odd, because he is probably one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Shaking off his old band, The Waltons, for The Willing, seems to have set Jason completely free. This album is a work of art.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wildy's World Top 25 CDs: Numbers 6-10

Today brings our forth installment of the Top 25 CDs reviewed by Wildy's World in the first half of 2008. The excitement builds as we get closer to #1. Who will it be? Stay tuned!

Today we're picking up with #10 and counting down to #6. So without further ado...


Katie Haverly - Around The Bend
"Around The Bend is the sort of musical Watershed moment that tells you whether an artist has long-term staying power. I’ve seen the future, and it’s very bright for Katie Haverly."


SPiN - Spin EP
"You can not listen to this disc without be-bopping along, unless you’re clinically deceased. And I wouldn’t make any arguments against SPiN in that case, either."


Gena Perala - This Ain't Pretty
"I believe that Gena Perala is the sort of distinctive voice that only comes around every 10 years or so. She bears the linguistic gravitas of a Bruce Cockburn or a Canadian Springsteen. She bears hearing..."


Mindwalk Blvd - Paint The Seconds
"What's most interesting about Mindwalk Blvd is that if you listen closely to the song composition, the music is extremely complex and interesting. Despite all of the amplifier fire here, I would not be surprised to learn that one or more members are classically trained musicians with significant music theory knowledge. This is a musician's album above all things, but is accessible to all."


Julie McKee - What A Woman Shouldn't Do
"This is a gem. I don’t throw around the “Desert Island Disc” label very often, but it applies here. If you had to be stuck on an island for the rest of your life and could have only 5 CDs with you, What A Woman Shouldn’t Do would be a must."

CD Review: The States - The Path Of Least Resistance

The States - The Path Of Least Resistance
2007, The States

The States bring an interesting mix of Matchbox 20-esque pop acumen and the driving guitar of No Use For A Name. The result, in the form of The Path Of Least Resistance, is pure power-pop ear candy.

The Architect is a perfect introduction to The States, matching great hooks and great vocals, whereas All The Salt In The Sea shows off a bit of a gentler side to the band. Black Jack is an absolutely must-listen, as is God's Numbers, where The States take on an early U2 vibe.

The soaring nature of many of the songs is uplifting and musical in a way that is similar to Creed, without sounding anything like them. I could see people having the kind of visceral reactions to The States that inspired early fans of U2 and Creed. Further, the songwriting here would suggest a level of talent that may bring The States closer to U2 than to Creed in the long run.

The Path Of Least Resistance, in this case, leads to the greatest reward for The States, and for the listener. This is good stuff!

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The States at, where you can purchase a copy of The Path Of Least Resistance.

CD Review: 1undread - Revolutionary Dub Type Thing

1undread - Revolutionary Dub Type Thing2008, 1undread/TuneCore 1undread is a Bermuda based duo comprised of Nicola Swan on vocals and Brian Swan 1undread appears to be perfecting a drum 'n' base inflected techno vibe that has significant potential.  Revolutionary Dub Type Thing displays flashes of brilliance, and the amazing voice of Nicola Swan, but ultimately falls just a little bit flat. The beats and breaks of Brian Swan the songs on Revolutionary Dub Type Thing call to mind a sputtering house party that just never reaches its full potential.  The mixes and arrangements here suggest an artist in transition and still trying to find his voice.  Vocalist Nicola Swan lends a beautiful but uninspired tapestry of sound to the songs on Revolutionary Dub Type ThingRevolutionary Dub Type Thing has its high moments, but ultimately comes across as more of an exercise in sound.  This can be interesting and exciting at times, but it ultimately falls short of captivating the listener. 1undread is definitely for you if you are a techno/electro fan, but I think the scope of popularity of this particular disc will be limited.  It's not for lack of talent, but for a sound with a low level of accessibility and energy,and an artist who comes across as less than committed on this particular CD.Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)You can learn more about 1undread at, which offers several links/options to purchase Revolutionary Dub Type Thing.

CD Review: Worth Dying For - Worth Dying For

Worth Dying For - Worth Dying For
2008, Integrity Music

Worth Dying For is the latest entry into the movement of Christian musicians into modern/alternative rock. For many years Contemporary Christian Music was characterized by lay ministers who had more passion than musical talent. This started to change with bands like Jars Of Clay and Five Iron Frenzy, although there is still a lot of schlock out there. Worth Dying For raise the bar of musicality and hip-ness to a new level for Contemporary Christian Rock on their debut album.

Growing out of Modesto, California's Calvary Temple youth ministry, Worth Dying For harness all of the energy and grungy sheen of alternative modern rock. Combine this with lyrics that are clearly worship based and you have a new brand in CCM. On the whole this is a credible rock album, with some outstanding songs and some that do not work as well. Die To Live is a modern rock ballad (complete with layered guitars, distorted effects and the Amy Lee-like vocals of Christy Johnson) that has top-40 potential. My Only One is another highlight: a driving rock ballad that would be perfectly at home on Modern Rock stations. Other highlights include Take Me and The Change.

Worth Dying For presents as a band out to change the world, one soul at a time. That is to say, they make no bones about the evangelical and worship focus in their music. For that reason Worth Dying For will turn off some listeners. It's a definite hard sell. If you're into that, or you can set it aside, the music is definitely worthwhile. Worth Dying For is worth listening to when they hit the mark. I think some growth is still ahead of them lyrically, and there are hints of musical pathways here that have yet to be explored, yet Worth Dying For's self-titled debut is nothing short of fantastic!

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Worth Dying For at You can purchase a Worth Dying For CD at, or you can download it on iTunes.

CD Review: Wendy St. Kitts - Woman Empowered

Wendy St. Kitts - Woman Empowered
2008, Wendy St. Kitts

The Voice. With Wendy Kitts it's all about The Voice. Woman Empowered is euphemistically orchestrated -- the music that underlies the voice of Wendy St. Kitts quickly becomes an afterthought. The producers must have recognized this early on, and offered up a reserved yet high quality perch from which Wendy St. Kitts' voice could fly.

Starting off with The Voice, Wendy St. Kitts lays down a path through R&B music that touches on a multitude of styles. The music and instrumentation is top quality, but kept in reserve as a foil to the big, inspiring voice of Wendy St. Kitts. Songs such as Should I Love Him Or Walk Away are a breath of fresh air. The song is built on swing beat and a simply piano foundation that serves as the perfect counterpoint to St. Kitt's melodious alto. Treasure inspires a dance groove with its island influence and frenetic piano. The Guitarist (You Don't Know Me) rides a jazz bass line and some of the tastiest guitar riffs this side of New Orleans.

Woman Empowered is a strong album from front to back. Give it a listen; it'll be worth your time.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Wendy St. Kitts at You can purchase a copy of Woman Empowered at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wildy's World Top 25 CDs: Numbers 11-15

Ten down, 15 more to go til #1, folks!  We resume the Wildy's World Top 25 CDs of 2008 with...

Sugar Blue - Code Blue
"At the end of the day you have to acknowledge people like John Popper and Taylor for keeping the Blues Harmonica alive in pop music, but they wouldn't exist without someone like Sugar Blue."

#14Parlour Steps - Ambiguoso
"Parlous Steps’ Amiguoso is anything but – it is a distinctive and delightfully thought-provoking CD."

#13Maria DeMaio - Maria DeMaio
"Maria DeMaio is more than just a blues-rock maven, but is an artist who can stretch and grow beyond the mold that she is obviously comfortable with (and so good at)."

#12Ron Hawkins - Chemical Sounds

"Hawkins has always shown a maturity beyond his years as a lyricist.  On Chemical Sounds he takes a turn toward even greater depth."


Nate & Kate - Fame By Frame

"This is an absolute keeper; a desert island disc.  Nate Marshall’s songwriting rivals that of Jesse Harris of the aforementioned Once Blue... Kate is the perfect counter and harmonic balance... I can’t recommend this strongly enough."

CD Review: Low-Fi - Where You Are

Low-Fi - Where You Are
2007, Low-Fi

Low-Fi is a Boise, Idaho based power trio with a unique sound.  (Imagine REM with chutzpah).  Where You Are is an exercise in nuance and subtlety, mixing jangly, mellow-guitar pop with smart lyrics and a keen sense of musical phrasing (there's a phrase you don't often hear in Indie Rock). 

The energy is high throughout Where You Are, even on the slower songs.  Highlights include War, 1957, and Where You AreWhere You Are is perhaps my favorite song on the album.   Other tracks to check out are Goin' On, Overtime, and The Darkness.  The tie that binds all of these tunes together is the tremendous sense of musicality of Low-Fi.  Build in the expressive singing and asymmetric guitar work of Todd Sloan; the killer rhythm section of Josh Gilmore and Mike Rundle and some wonderfully written tunes, and you get a must-have CD. 

Where You Are is the sort of album that helps a band build a following.  It's not flashy or trashy or any of the other gimmicks that bands try, it's just great music. 

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Low-Fi at  You can purchase a copy of Where You Are at

CD Review: JD & The Straight Shot - Right On Time

JD & The Straight Shot - Right On Time
2008, JD Records/Fontana Distribution

Jim Dolan (JD) has been married to his guitar since the age of 15.  When most of us who picked up a guitar at that age were starting to put them down to go do other things, JD was working that much harder to master the art.  The dividends over the years have been worthwhile, but really started to pay off in 2006 when JD & The Straight Shot were picked to perform as special guests on Joe Walsh's North American Tours.  Mixing blues and rock and roll in a sound reminiscent of early Rhythm & Blues, JD & The Straight Shot manage to put a modern twist on good roots Rock N Roll.  On their second release, Right On Time, JD & The Straight Shot rock it for they're worth. 

Highlights include Long White Cadillac, a barrelhouse tune if there ever were one, replete with rinky-dink piano stylings, classic blues foundation and Hammond B-3 style organ.  Jim Dolan comes across as a cross between George Thorogood and Johnny Cash, and he is in fine form here.  Slow Motion In Reverse features the inimitable Joe Walsh on lead guitar, and Robert Randolph sits in on pedal steel for A Train's A ComingLeap Of Faith may be my favorite tune here, recalling the best of the Stax/Volt sessions.   Also check out Lie No Better, with hot harmonica and gospel harmonies backing it all up.

Right On Time should appeal to blues fans and rock fans alike, regardless of generation.  Whatever your inclination, before you're done, you'll be asking JD & The Straight Shot to "double your order". 

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about JD & The Straight Shot at You can purchase a copy of Right On Time through  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wildy's World Top 25 CDs: Numbers 16-20

Hey!  We're back with the second installment of Wildy's World's Top 25 CDs for the first half of 2008!  And here we go...

#20Laura Joy - Six Flights"Don’t be surprised if ten or fifteen years from now, rather than hearing people describe who Laura Joy sounds like, you instead hear new artists being said to sound like Laura Joy."

#19Brother Dan Palmer - Nothin' Better Than This"This is how Brother Dan closes out the album, with a wink, a nod, and a kick in the pants... Don't pass Brother Dan by.  You'll probably never hear him on top-40 radio, but that says more about the sorry state of radio than about this fine recording."

#18Jason Yudoff - Tragic Hero"Jason Yudoff has a sound that will appeal to the masses if things break his way.   Get on the train now, and you can say you knew him when..."

#17Nicole Berke - Frondescence"Nicole Berke has a talent in offering up songs that touch on a familiar part of your consciousness and make you feel right at home... As debuts go, this is absolutely stellar.  The only concern here is what she's going to do avoid the usual sophomore jinx."

#16The Frantic - Audio & MurderThe Frantic are "one amazingly cohesive band.  The musicianship is outstanding; the playing tight.  This is music that will make you want to mosh the night away."Stay tuned, tomorrow we continue our trip down to #1 with CDs #11-15!  Until then, as always...Be well.Wildy

Wildy's World Top 25 CDs: Numbers 21 - 25

Hello everyone! Welcome to the inaugural Wildy's World Top 25! This list is comprised of the 25 (26) best CDs I've reviewed in the first half of 2008. It is not conditional on when the CD was release, simply on when I reviewed it (although I did disqualify one release from 1995 on general principles. We'll do this twice a year and then compile an annual list. This is my way of giving another shout out to the best and brightest material that comes across my desk every year. The artists deserve it!

Each album will be listed with artwork, and a quote from the original review. If you click on the band name you will be magically transported by the internet gnomes to the original review! The original review will have all of the artist website information you could possibly ever need or want!

So today we are talking about numbers 21-25. We'll be publishing in five installments over the next 5-7 days, so keep checking back to see if you're favorite (or you) made the top-25! We have a tie for the 25th slot (because I just couldn't decide in the end). Are you ready? Awaaaaay we go!


Sailing To Rome - An Outline For Reason
"An Outline For Reason is the kind of debut that can push a band to stardom with the right breaks, and should serve as a reminder to the world that there's a whole lot more to Buffalo than snow and chicken wings."

#25 (tie)

James Brown Car Alarm - The Roots
"James Brown Car Alarm is too talented to stay small. Check them out before they get too popular to be hip."


Omar Torrez Band - The Beat Outside
"The Beat Outside dips so deeply into various ethnic and stylistic wells that it is ultimately nothing other than American, and a sterling example at that!"


Doug Sedgwick - Committed
"Committed is a dazzling display of songwriting talent and chameleon-like performance acumen. Sedgwick has a homey, comfortable voice that slips over a song like a favorite sweater. His guitar-work is amazing... There are no weak points here, just the usual highs and lows that are the trademark of a running conversation with an old friend."


Fourwayfree - Deeper
" Fourwayfree is a musician’s band; a lyricist/poet’s band; the whole package. From simple ballads to lush, layered musical constructs to intricate guitar work, the songs brought forth by Fourwayfree on Deeper are musical gems."


Peter Bloom Band - Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind)
"Peter Bloom is a singular talent. His Americana infused pop-rock should bring him much success in a perfect world."

CD Review: Blood Red Sun - Nation Of Saviors

Blood Red Sun - Nation Of Saviors
2007, Blood Red Sun

Blood Red Sun is an interesting band. They have this intense musicality hidden deep within slightly formulaic rock sounds. Imagine if Eddie Vedder were fronting The Tragically Hip and you might get an idea of the sound on Nation Of Saviors. Refreshingly smart lyrics combine with creative arrangements, grossly talented instrumentalists, a unique vocalist and great songs. The production values here sound major label, which might almost be something of deficit for this post-grunge modern rock powerhouse.

Nation of Saviors opens with It Gets You Nowhere and Pray For Rain, two divergent rockers that show of the depth of Blood Red Sun. All At Once expands the range once again to show a more straight-forward rock sound. Love Letter is a standout track, with an intense, driving urgency that causes it to jump right out of your speakers.

This is the sort of an album that, as a reviewer, you find yourself thinking you would have bought it if you hadn’t gotten a review copy. Believe me, that’s high praise. Nation of Saviors is a knockout punch, perhaps the first of many from Blood Red Sun.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Blood Red Sun at You can purchase a copy of Nation Of Saviors at

CD Review: Abbotfinney & Jeffrey Alan - What You're Here For

Abbotfinney/Jeffrey Alan - What You're Here For
2008, Freefall Music, LLC

Abbotfinney hail from Seattle, Washington – the capital of grunge. They’ve built a following with their catchy, hook-based acoustic pop/rock that is well deserved. 2008 sees the release of What You’re Here For, and it’s worth a listen.

Building their sound on an acoustic-electric mix, Abbotfinney create incredibly accessible pop-rock songs. Their sound is somewhat reminiscent of Shaw/Blades or The Pat McGhee Band. Led by the distinct voice of Jeffrey Alan, with outstanding harmonies, Abbotfinney hit all of the right notes. Highlights abound, but Change, Isabella Rain and Breakin' My Heart are personal favorites.

Abbotfinney is feel-good music with a sunny disposition. What You're Here For is a tangible musical step in the direction of success. Deep on songwriting and musical talent, Abbotfinney should be making great music for some time to come.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Abbotfinney at or You can purchase a copy of What You’re Here For at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wildy's World Top 20

Alrighty folks! We've been doing this long enough to publish a substantial number of reviews (around 124) with another 40-50 recordings currently in inventory awaiting review.

Going forward we will publish a top 20 list for each half year, and then a top 20 list for the year. For this, our first year, all CDs reviewed will be eligible. Beginning next year the CD release date will have to have been within 18 months of the review date.

We will publish our first Top 20 CDs list on or about July 1, 2008, which will cover all reviews published in the first half of 2008. We will also publish a Top 10 songs list for the same time frame, with the same criteria as above. So check back and see if one of your favorites made the list. If you want to write and lobby for someone in the mean time you have 9 days (and counting...)


CD Review: Steve Haggard - Ain't Life Grand?

Steve Haggard - Ain't Life Grand?
2008, Wild Oats Records

Steve Haggard has a long history of writing and releasing eclectic Americana tunes, infusing elements of blues, rockabilly and southern friend rock when he sees fit. His distinctive sound has brought him critical notice, but limited commercial movement. Ain't Life Grand? is a sort of career overview that includes songs from five of his prior releases, plus three songs from an upcoming release. I believe this may be a promotional retrospective and may not, itself be for sale (at least I could not find it for sale on the Wild Oats Records website). The focus is more on the country side of the tracks, and Steve Haggard has some great country cookin' going on.

It's actually hard to understand how Steve Haggard hasn't truly made it in the Country World. It may be that he still actually performs country music rather than the homogenized country-pop favored by CMT and country radio these days. I suspect that in the late 1970's and early 1980's he would have been considered a certain future Country Music Hall of Famer. Home Is Any Honky-Tonk captures perfectly the melancholy common in country music in the 1980's, while There's Blue (And Then There's Blue) lends itself to a good line dance on hay-strewn floor. Trust In Love is steeped in rockabilly tradition, with wicked guitar licks. Other highlights include Wine and Memories, Give Me One Good Reason and We're In Love.

If you're a fan of old-school country then Steve Haggard is your man. Ain't Life Grand? is a refreshing step away from the Botox era of country music we're in, and a step back to a time when country music mattered.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Steve Haggard at (available after June 28, 2008. You can order Steve Haggard CDs through Wild Oats Records .

CD Review: Yael Naim - Yael Naim

Yael Naim (with David Donatien) – New Soul
2008, Atlantic Records

Born in Paris and raised near Tel Aviv, Yael Naim has had quite the unusual path to where she stands today. From movie and stage work to a stint in the Israeli army, Yael Naim has a wealth of life experience to draw on. Add to that a classical education and acquired loves of pop, jazz and folk, and you have quite the personal melting pot for great art. On her self-titled CD Yael Naim creates, with the help of David Donatien, a rich musical tapestry against which she projects stories of beauty, vulnerability and hope.

I can not comment on the lyric content of the album, as most of it is in Hebrew (which I do not speak), but most everyone out there has heard one song from this album. New Soul was used by Apple in their MacBook Air commercial campaign. The music here is beautiful and sparse. Much of the instrumentation is minimalist and focus on supporting the melody with the barest of structure. The occasional horn arrangement adds layers of beauty and color, even where the lyrics are out of my reach. Levater is a prime example of this, and is an absolute must-hear. Ditto Shelcha.

Lonely may be the most moving song on the album, with the musical framework suggesting the theme as much as the lyrics. Other highlights include Far Far, 7 Baboker and Toxic. The mood and elemental nature of the songs on Yael Naim’s self-titled CD suggest a lonely, distant beauty, brought closer for a time by the voice of the singer, but eternally just out of reach. This is great work.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

If you want to learn more about Yael Naim you can check out Yael Naim is available through and most major retailers.

CD Review: Sugar Blue - Code Blue

Sugar Blue - Code Blue
2007, Beeble Music

What do you say about one of the most innovative harmonica players in the world? Do you highlight the fact that he's played with the likes of Prince, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Stan Getz, Frank Zappa, Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon? Do you talk about his Grammy Award? Maybe you talk about his unique voice? How do you characterize an artist who is essentially a living legend? For a man like Sugar Blue, you let his music do the talking. Sugar Blue released his sixth album, Code Blue, in 2007. It's a gem.

Krystalline kicks off this set with funk and attitude. You will be jumping out of your seat once the groove gets into you, which won't take long. Chicago Blues laments the loss of many of the old Blues Greats. The highlights here are endless. Aside from his Grammy win for 1985's Blues Explosion, Sugar Blue is horribly unrecognized outside of Blues cognoscenti. Bluesman is a declaration of whom and what he is, and should serve as notice to music fans everywhere that the Blues Legends aren't all gone. Likewise Cold Blooded Man, which moves into the Funk-Rock realm where blues is a distant uncle. At the end of the day you have to acknowledge people like John Popper and Taylor Hicks for keeping the Blues Harmonica alive in pop music, but they wouldn't exist without someone like Sugar Blue.

Code Blue is everything you expect.

Rating 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sugar Blue at, where you can purchase a copy of Code Blue.

Friday, June 20, 2008

CD Review: Omar Torrez Band - The Beat Outside

Omar Torrez Band - The Beat Outside
2008, Omar Torrez

Omar Torrez is a virtual representation of what America should be.  He is a blend of Spanish, Basque, Norwegian, Native American and Russian roots.  Musically he has studied everything from Cuban styles to Andalusian Gyspy music to flamenco and classical guitar.  He is also a winner of the National Jimi Hendrix Guitar Competition at the Bumbershoot Festival.  To top it all off he was chosen by rock legend Tom Waits to accompany him on his "Glitter and Doom" tour in the US in 2008.  The Omar Torrez Band, in the meantime, delivers a funky-fresh release called The Beat Outside.  This album is destined to be a classic. 

Sunshine may be the brightest of the highlights here, mixing blues, Latin and funk into one delicious treat.  This song screams for huge radio distribution.  We Are lives on a quasi-reggae groove and treats with the differences and concomitant similarities of people who look different from one another.  I'm Your Man shows off the chops that won Torrez the Hendrix competition.  You almost feel like he's channeling Hendrix at times.  Other highlights include Rich Man, the ballad Say Goodbye and the acid rocker Free Your Mind

Omar Torrez is the real deal, from top to bottom.  Like Omar Torrez, The Beat Outside dips so deeply into various ethnic and stylistic wells that it is ultimately nothing other than American, and a sterling example at that!

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Omar Torrez Band at, where you can purchase a copy of The Beat Outside.  You can also purchase the CD through

CD Review: The K's - Can't Get It Together

The K's - Can't Get It Together
2007, Flatware Productions

The K's aren't your typical rock band. Mixing grit and wit with just a bit of old school rock theatrics, they may be one of the hardest working bands out there. As a live performer they are one of the most high-energy shows around. This New York based outfit earns their money and then some every time they go onstage. The K's come across as a modern version of bands like the 1960's Knickerbockers ("Lies"). The rough mix of guitar-driven rock with horns and a lo-fi garage sound suggests a very loose, fun band. Can't Get It Together is a whirlwind of Rock-N-Roll fun.

The album opens with I Can't Get It Together is as garage as it comes, with loose harmonies and a very sixties groove. This is the sort of song that might either open a show or be one of the final encores of a night. It's a great rock tune. The K's don't let up from there, tearing through songs such as Last Trip To The Well, 13 Steps and Eliza Lynn. Eliza Lynn sounds like a good old Irish drinking tune from the right side of town let loose of it's acoustic arrangements and turned Punk. The Man In Black continues the aural barrage before we get to see the softer side of The K's on Fashion Plan. Other highlights include The Mosquito, Peg Legged Pirate and RubbintheBuddha.

This is a fabulous album. It's high energy from start to finish -- full of great songs and theatrics. The K's are definite Keepers.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about the K’s at You can purchase a copy of Can’t Get It Together at

CD Review: JoyFocus - Ultra Catchy Atomic Pop Interlude - Volume 1

JoyFocus - Ultra Catchy Atomic Pop Interlude - Volume 1
2008, JoyFocus

JoyFocus is a power rock due from Wheaton, IL, consisting of Holly Joy and Rikk Currence. Dancing around the edge of contemporary Christian rock, JoyFocus displays powerfully positive messages in their songs.

Ultra Catchy Atomic Pop Interlude - Volume 1 consists of three songs. Rikk Currence shares vocals with Holly Joy on He & Mary. Their voices are in perfect counterpoint to each other, she with a child-like quality reminiscent of Cyndi Lauper, circa-1985; he with a mellow baritone. On Mr. Hughes Comes Home and Prayer the lead is all Holly Joy. Her enigmatic sound wraps itself in the music like a trusted friend, particularly when Currence joins in on harmony in Prayer.

This is just a small sample, but it's obvious that JoyFocus has a certain spark or chemistry that turns the connection of notes and words into something more than just the song. They have a full length release due in the Fall of 2008, and I will be excited to see what that brings.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about JoyFocus at Ultra Catchy Atomic Pop Interlude – Volume I is available as a download through iTunes.

CD Review: Hollywood & Vine - One Way Ticket

Hollywood & Vine - One Way Ticket
2007, Frederick Ryland Fisher, Jr.

Hollywood & Vine is the physical extension Frederick Ryland Fisher, Jr.'s musical muse. It is a high octane power trio that draws on classic rock, 90's power pop and country. One Way Ticket is the band's debut CD, and an ample introduction to the powerhouse entity that is Hollywood and Vine.

The interesting juxtaposition of Fisher's Guitar and vocal styles is intriguing. He can shred with the best of them, but vocally sounds something like Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy. His voice is a little out of place on the more straightforward rockers, but works perfectly with alt-country flavored songs that pepper One Way Ticket. Highlights include So Easy, It's Only Raining, While You've Been Gone, and the demo of Angel.

Hollywood and Vine definitely have something, but some of their material seems to fit them better than others. Frederick Ryland Fisher, Jr. is a guitarist to watch, and I would suspect that over time they will continue to smooth the rough edges. This is a worthwhile listen.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Hollywood & Vine at You can purchase a copy of One Way Ticket at

CD Review: Duo Caramuru/Baldanza - Bossa In The Shadows

Duo Caramuru/Baldanza - Bossa In The Shadows
2007, Labor Records

Anything, and I mean anything recorded by Brazilian pianist and composer Fabio Caramuru is a treat. Team him with bass guitarist Pedro Baldanza and it's going to be a good time. This Sao Paolo based duo blends Brazilian Classical and popular musical styles to create musical magic, and also interpret songs from Brazilian and North American artists along the way. Drawing on American Jazz traditions and styles, Duo Caramuru/Baldanza add in dashes of Brazilian musical culture to create a sound that is both foreign and familiar; familiar yet new.

One of the reasons that Brazilian Jazz draws so many devotees is that there is still a view of Jazz as an art form instead of platform in Brazil. The focus here is still on making great music, rather than seeing how many notes an instrumentalist can fit into a run. There is an understanding that there are times for such polyphonic spree, but also times when more said when less is spoken. Fabio Caramuru is a master at knowing what to say with his piano, and when to say it. He understands when a moment of silence is more musical than any notes he might choose to play, and Pedro Baldanza is the ultimate foil to Caramuru's artistry. Bossa In The Shadows is an on-going discussion between these two great artists that should have tongues wagging from New Orleans to New York to wherever Jazz finds a home.

There are too many highlights - passages even, to mention specific songs or moments. If you are an aficionado of great jazz, or if you are a neophyte who wants to experience and understand the artistry of the form, then Bossa In The Shadows is essential listening for you.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can find additional information about Duo Caramuru/Baldanza through You can purchase a copy of Bossa In The Shadows at

CD Review: Christina Kowalchuk - How Much Noise

Christina Kowalchuk - How Much Noise
2008, Christina Kowalchuk

Take a powerhouse voice with a sense of humor, add in some of the best of The San Francisco Bay area musicians, great songwriting and monkey noises, and you're in for the treat that is Christina Kowalchuk's debut album.  How Much Noise runs the gamut from blazing Indie Rock to vulnerable ballad, with the aforementioned primate communications thrown in the middle. 

I found this album to be enjoyable, but it did not make a strong impression on me.  Christina Kowalchuk has a very pleasant, listenable voice.  The band here is tight and very proficient at what they do.  The material is average-plus, with a couple of standout tracks thrown in.  The title track, How Much Noise is perhaps the star of the album.  Sweet On You has the vulnerable desperation that comes with unrequited love and self-awareness.  Lucky You is also a must-hear.  To be fair, the album gets better as it goes on.  In the end, it's a decent effort. 

Christina Kowalchuk has obvious talent, both in the performing realm and the songwriting realm.  How Much Noise is a pleasant listen that you will find enjoyable.  Whether it gets a lot of attention after the first few listens will depend on whether you connect to the recording.  Personally I did not, but it will find its audience. 

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5) 

You can learn more about Christina Kowalchuk at  You can purchase a copy of How Much Noise at

CD Review: Maria DeMaio - Maria DeMaio

Maria DeMaio - Maria DeMaio
2007, Maria DeMaio

Based in the deep Boston music scene, Maria DeMaio & The Fellas have built quite a following in the past two years. She has been featured on XM Radios' XMU Unsigned and radio station WERS in Boston. What does a rocker do after navigating the Boston Scene to rave reviews for a couple of years? You take a leap of faith into the national scene and see if you can swim in the deep waters outside of Boston Harbor. With Maria DeMaio & The Fella's debut CD, Maria DeMaio, they have definitely put their best foot forward.

Maria DeMaio has a smoky, sultry voice that fills up your ears. Her band is absolutely tight and works the blues/funk influences nicely into some great rock tunes. Highlights include Her Side, Beyond The Pale, Swell, Eleanor and Fine Line. Honestly, my favorite song on the album is Further Behind, which shows a little more vulnerability and finesse than the straight forward rock tunes. This song is the keystone in that it shows that Maria DeMaio is more than just a blues-rock maven, but is an artist who can stretch and grow beyond the mold that she is obviously comfortable with (and so good at).

Maria DeMaio (the singer) is a talent who should be around for some time. Maria DeMaio (the album) is declaration and delightful promise that she is here to stay.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Maria DeMaio at You can purchase a copy of Maria DeMaio at

CD Review: Charlie Wheeler Band - Highway Run

Charlie Wheeler Band - Highway Run
2008, Charlie Wheeler Band

When you tell people you spend 15 months in the studio crafting your debut album, you better make sure it's good. The number alone builds expectations. Luckily for Charlie Wheeler, it's not bragging if you can back it up. Highway Run is a raucous trip back to a time when Rock was still a part of Rock-N-Roll.

Where to start? Charlie Wheeler is a superstar guitar player whether you've heard of him or not. But vocalist Greek Cheronis steals the show here. First of all, what a great Rock-N-Roll name: Greek Cheronis. Marketing aside, he has the perfect voice for a modern take on good old fashioned rock music. Highway Run is our introduction to the Charlie Wheeler Band, and it's everything you want in a rock album. New York City Night has a funk/soul groove to it that's irresistible, and catches the mood of the nocturnal city perfectly.

I Got To Ramble sounds like the sort of blues-inflected southern rock practiced by ZZ Top, and No One's Gonna Save You is a true rock ballad. Not the sort of easy listening cheese-metal ballads we've become accustomed to, but a song with definite rock structure and energy even while delivering it's low-key message. Other highlights include My Mama Cried, In A Daydream, When The Lord Comes To Get You, Protect You and Take Your Love From Me. Truth be told, there isn't a weak song here.

Charlie Wheeler and Greek Cheronis show the potential to be someday maybe be named alongside the likes of Page/Plant, Jagger/Richard, Van Halen/Roth, etc. This is one hot band, and Highway Run is must-have disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Charlie Wheeler Band at You can purchase a copy of Highway Run at Homegrown Music . The title track, Highway Run, is also featured on the July 2008 Relix Magazine Sampler, currently available on newsstands everywhere.

CD Review: Mike Ford - Canada Needs You, Volume 2

Mike Ford - Canada Needs You, Volume 2
2008, Mike Ford

Just about everything I know about Canadian Geography or History I learned from Mike Ford. I've never spoken to him on the subject, but through his songs I have learned about Oak Island, Sir John A, D'Arcy McGhee, The Great Toronto Fire of 1904, Oak Ridges Moraine, The Eastern Gap, and Thanadelthur (among others). In May of 2008, Mike Ford released Canada Needs You, Volume 2, a continuation in his Canadian song cycle.

The thing about Mike Ford is that he tackles subject matter that might not normally draw in listeners, but the music and the delivery are so entertaining that you find yourself grooving along while you learn. Tackling serious ideas and issues with humor and panache has been an earmark of Mike Ford's songwriting since his Moxy Fruvous days, and if anything he has blossomed as a songwriter in his solo releases. Canada Needs You, Volume 2 continues the growth seen on last year's Satellite Hotstove (see review here).

Canada Needs You, Volume 2 opens with Creeping Barrage, an urgent ballad about the personal wages of war. The song is particularly prescient in these times because it avoids the political arguments of right or wrong and just points to the costs. This may be one of the best (and most understated) anti-war songs I've heard. Talkin' Ten Lost Years is an entertaining look at the effects of the Great Depression in Canada, told in a speak/sing style reminiscent of Arlo Guthrie. Let's Mobilize is a big-band tune about Canada's involvement in World War 2, and will have you wanting to be up and dancing the jitterbug within the first two bars.

Joey Smallwood is a comic take on the life of the controversial New Foundland politician who led the drive to include New Foundland in the Canadian Union, while Maurice Richard is a loving tribute to the hockey great. Open For Business is the most rocking song on the album and deals with pros and cons of globalization. This song is done in a style reminiscent of a Johnny Cash tune, and is incredibly entertaining. The Giants is an ode to the protestors in the Clayoquot River Basin in 1992, many of whom were arrested and tried for social protests to protect the natural beauty of that region from loggers and corporate interests.

Nestled in amongst the above are tunes such as In Winnipeg, Tea Party, Canada Doesn't Need You, Expo 67!, and I'm Gonna Roam Again -- all great tunes for which I have less contextual understanding, but great respect nonetheless.

Mike Ford is an enigma in today's pop music culture. He writes great songs full of thoughtful and sometimes humorous lyrics. The music stands on its own as great art, and you just might learn a little bit along the way. As a special bonus for Moxy Fruvous fans, there is an unheralded mini reunion on Canada Needs You, Volume 2, as all four members appear in some capacity or other. Canada Needs You, Volume 2 gets Wildy's World's highest rating, and qualifies as one of our certified Desert Island Discs!

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Mike Ford at You can purchase Canada Needs You, Volume 2 through Maple Music .

CD Review: Ionia - Ionia EP

Ionia - Ionia EP
2008, Donato Paternostro 

Ionia takes its name from a small strip of coastal land in present day Turkey that was known for inspiring a school of Philosophy (Ionian Philosophy), as well as a school of art characterized by fine workmanship and minute detail.  On their self-titled debut EP, Ionia more than lives up to the legacy of their namesake. 

My favorite track here is Skin & Bones, which has an almost alt-country feel to the opening verse before resolving into a driving rocker with a soaring chorus.  Loneliness Will Not Be Televised is the most introspective song on the EP.  Winning Is Everything, The Storm and Rewind are definite post-punk anthems each on their own.  Gasoline Rainbow was good as well, but perhaps not up to the level of the other songs here. 

Ionia has a great sound and a unique vocalist.  More importantly, they write great rock tunes.  Ionia is a band going somewhere, and their EP is a worthy vehicle. 

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5) 

You can learn more about Ionia at or  You can purchase a copy of the Ionia EP at  The EP is also available for digital download on iTunes. 

CD Review: J'Espere - Live As Loud As You Can

J'Espere - Live As Loud As You Can
2008, J'Espere 

J’Espere is French for I expect or I hope.  I can tell you unequivocably that there is no hoping involved in J’Espere’s music.  It’s the real deal.Live As Loud As You Can has a fuzzy melancholy that informs it from start to finish.  The lyrics are positive and hopeful, but the music has an ambivalent effect in raising specters of doubt or dissent to positive themes. 

Live As Loud As You Can (title track) is a self-actualizing anthem with a slightly dark timbre in the music.  Some of this is in the production value, but some is the music itself.  Feeling of Heaven is in a similar state.  The end result is a series of songs that are uplifting with a "but..." hanging over them.  The music is outstanding, and the juxtaposition of emotion makes for great listening.  Other highlights are Here I Go and Shut Inside

Live As Loud As You Can brings healthy melancholy back to the forefront of modern rock.  J'Espere has defined its path here in certain terms, and it may be a path to very big things. 

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about J’Espere at  You can purchase copies of Live As Loud As You Can at, or on 

CD Review: Howie Newman - Baseball's Greatest Hits, Volume II

Howie Newman - Baseball's Greatest Hits, Volume II
2008, Howie Newman

Howie Newman is a staple on the New England folk circuit.  His songs are warm, funny, family friendly and as at home around the kitchen table as in a concert hall.  Newman has graced us with baseball songs in the past, and he’s not done!  Here he comes with Baseball’s Greatest Hits, Volume II.  He’s rounding third and heading for home folks, this might just be a home run!

Mendoza Line may be one of the greatest Baseball songs ever written.  What else can you say about an American Rockabilly tune written about a shortstop from Mexico who once hit .198 for an entire season.  You also absolutely must check out It's The End Of The Curse As We Know It, a spoof of REM's It's The End Of The World As We Know It.  The song refers to the Boston Red Sox finally breaking "The Curse Of The Bambino" with their 2004 World Series Championship.  While as a Yankee fan I find the song to be detestable, I must admit it is quite a clever and entertaining send up of the original.  The EP also includes Weekend Warrior and Why Did You Go, Johnny Damon? Definitely check out Blasted In The Bleachers for a little comedic relief that closes out the album, or the enigmatic Doug Mientkiewicz, which wins the award for the best use of the name "Mientkiewicz" in a song. 

Howie Newman is always entertaining, and for a Red Sox fan he's not al bad guy.  His albums tend to be good family entertainment.  This would be perfect for any Red Sox fan, long-suffering or otherwise.  Baseball fans in general will get a kick out of it, as will fans of country-tinged folk rock.  This is definitely a worthwhile 20 minutes spent! 

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5) 

You can learn more about Howie Newman at  You can purchase a copy of Baseball’s Greatest Hits, Volume II at