All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CD Review: Karisa Wilson - Little Girl

Karisa Wilson - Little Girl
2008, Frogirl Productions

Karisa Wilson is a classically trained violinist who never really picked up a guitar until a couple of years out of college. Since that time she has developed a musical style that meshes Latin, jazz, blues and soul influences into classic folk music. Her debut album, Little Girl is something of a musical revelation.

Karisa Wilson likes to keep her musical options open. Dancing through Little Girl changing musical styles like Celine Dion changes outfits in a concert, Wilson weaves a magical story in music and verse. From the Latin jazz introduction (Promenade) to the wailing call of Adore to the bluesy Old Dog, Karisa Wilson keeps you on your toes. She combines a powerful voice with gorgeous acoustic arrangements and intelligent lyrics to offer up a palette full of many colors, influences and timbres.

Open Chord Lullaby is perhaps my favorite song on the album, sporting a very memorable melody and a mix of sass and sensibility that is highly intriguing. Other highlights include Indiana; Luke's Song and What Do We Do Now?

Little Girl is a very strong debut album and an ample introduction to Karisa Wilson. I suspect she'll be offering up recordings for many years to come.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Karisa Wilson at You can purchase a copy of Little Girl at

CD Review: Gary E. - Now & Then

Gary E. - Now & Then
2007, Electric Shadow

Gary Edelburg is a fabulously talented multi-instrumentalist whose primary instrument is the Trumpet. He has studied under Lee Konitz as well as at Berklee School Of Music. His prior credits include work with several bands as well as composing music for PBS documentaries. His second release, Now & Then, displays a penchant for reserved musical theatrics and a conservative approach to composition that is classy and distinct.

Now & Then opens with Partly Sonny, featuring Ken Schwab on Rhythm guitar. Schwab breathes a funky life into this tune, while Gary E. channels Chris Botti channeling Sonny Rollins. Ken Schwab is a definite asset to Gary E. throughout Now & Then, appearing on three of the seven tracks. Schwab brings a tension into the songs he's involved with that Gary E. seems to consume and feed off to great effect. Return Of The Toads Of The Short Forest is mellow dinner music and stands in counterpoint to the Zappa tune from whence the title comes. This is a pleasant listen but at times lacks the tension/energy seen elsewhere on Now & Then.

The title track, Now & Then, also includes Schwab on guitar, and the funk is engaged again. This is an example of the musical soul mates at their very best. There is just something about the pairing of Gary E. & Ken Schwab that lifts them, individually and collectively, to a higher musical plane. Gary E's interpretation of Wade In The Water is reverent and inspired, riffing on the melody line to a bed of jazz/funk construction. Wade In The Water qualifies for the label Lite Jazz and would do well on radio stations that embrace that format.

Heading Home is the third and final song that features Schwab and is a change of pace from the other two. Heading Home has more of a Jackson Browne ethic to it. Gary E is reserved here, and Schwab's guitar playfully dances around as it teases the trumpet into fuller recognition. Fuse is Gary E. solo, and has an ethereal yet electronic flavor that is almost reminiscent of Delirium (were they to play Jazz). This is true for approximately the first minute of Fuse, after which the song devolves into a chromatic morass of dissonant sounds. Fuse then evolves again into the main theme, which is about as mainstream jazz as you can get. The aural picture is one of extreme conflict that is played out in the music as it careens from harmonic comfort to cognitive and musical dissonance (and back again).

Now & Then closes out with Wild Mountain Thyme, a traditional tune arranged by Gary E. This is far and away the most beautiful track on the album. The liner notes indicate Gary E. arranged Wild Mountain Thyme, but rather than try to recreate it he chose to step out of the melody's way and let it be what it is. This is the mark that distinguishes a good musician from a great one.

Gary E. possesses a distinctive vision that comes through in his music. It is a pursuit of beauty in simplicity; allowing the notes and the spaces in between to speak for themselves. On his own he is an impressive writer/arranger/instrumentalist; in conjunction with Ken Schwab on guitar he comes a magician who spins instrumental yarns that wrap you in their staves and carry you along. Now & Then speaks to both the simplicity and the beauty of music, with a little funk on the side.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gary E. at You can purchase a copy of Now & Then at

CD Review: Josh Rouse - The Best Of The Rykodisc Years

Josh Rouse - The Best Of The Rykodisc Years
2008, Rhino Records

Josh Rouse was a "military brat" who was born in Paxton, Nebraska and wound up settling in Tennessee. The lifestyle of a military family is one of regular moves, many schools (for the kids) and vague or incomplete social ties. It's the sort of lifestyle that can breed artists and musicians quite easily: kids who find it easier to stay in their rooms and play the guitar than continually going out to meet new people. I don't know if this was quite the circumstance with Josh Rouse, but it would explain the volume and quality of songs he's written over the years. Rhino Records decided to memorialize the best of Josh's recordings with Rykodisc in 2008, and the double-disc The Best Of The Rykodisc Years is the end result.

Josh Rouse has a penchant for mellow, slightly depressed sounding songs, but manages in spite of this to always imbue a high level of energy into each one. This is a very difficult skill to master, yet for Rouse it seems almost natural. Rouse does manage the occasional hook-filled folk/pop number now and then, such as Late Night Conversation. Another mid-tempo song that jumps out from this set is Dressed Up Like Nebraska. This is my favorite song from the set thus far. Under Cold Blue Stars brings an electronic sound to the collection as is an unexpected yet delightful change of pace.

Ugly Stories is a mellow-pop classic, and 1972 does all it can to convince us that the true singer-songwriters aren't all gone. Other highlights include Rise; Winter In The Hamptons; A Night In; Sad Eyes and Princess On The Porch.

Josh Rouse started out as Indie, went to a major label, and is now Indie again. Along the way he seems to never have lost the power and freedom that is evident in his songwriting. Josh Rouse's easy deliver allows him to deliver significant ideas that slip in past your defenses and wallop you at just the right moments. The Best Of The Rykodisc Years is a must-own collection of the best of Josh Rouse. See how he shines.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Josh Rouse at You can pick up a copy of The Best Of The Rykodisc Years at or at most major music retailers.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CD Review: Sunday Speedtrap - You Can't Outrun The Radio!!/Confessions From The Heart

Sunday Speedtrap - You Can't Outrun The Radio!!/Confessions From The Heart

Seattle suburbanite Chris Eric is the literal and spiritual heart and head of Sunday Speedtrap. A local folk artist in Everett, Washington for the past fifteen or so years, Eric has quite the following locally. Performing both solo and with a band (Sunday Speedtrap), Eric has managed to release 5 CDs in the past ten years. His band, Sunday Speedtrap has released two albums, both of which we are reviewing today.

Sunday Speedtrap - You Can't Outrun The Radio!!
2005, Canucmysng?

You Can't Outrun The Radio is a lo-fi collection of American and Country/Rock tunes with a very mellow disposition. It is a pleasant listen but lacks the sort of spark that turns a good listen into a great one. The songwriting, musicianship and vocals are all solid, but nothing really jumps out here as special. Standing By Your Side displays some of the energy I was looking for from Sunday Speedtrap, as do One Touch and Pretty Little Girl. Pretty Little Girl is the best track on You Can't Outrun The Radio.

Sunday Speedtrap - Confessions From The Heart
2008, Canucmysng?

2008's Confessions From The Heart shows some significant steps forward for Sunday Speedtrap. I would presume that the additional three years of playing together has helped something to click for Sunday Speedtrap. Follow My Heart is a mellow alt-country rocker in the vein of Blue Rodeo. The Life I've Led is also a strong entry, with a pleasant melody and a little creative tension apparent. All And All is a bit of a rocker that is a pleasant change of pace from Sunday Speedtrap. Other highlights include Spirit, Dance With Me, Do You Believe and I'm Going To The Dance.

Sunday Speedtrap is a band that has experienced considerable growth in the three years between You Can't Outrun The Radio!! and Confessions From The Heart. Musically strong from the first, they've shown definite improvement as a unit. Vocals and songwriting have both shown significant growth in the meantime. I would strongly recommend Confessions From The Heart. If you really like the disc or a completist pick up You Can't Outrun The Radio!!, but it's not up to the level of their sophomore release.


You Can't Outrun The Radio!! - 2 Stars (Out of 5)
Confessions From The Heart - 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sunday Speedtrap at or You can purchase a copy of You Can’t Outrun The Radio!! at You can purchase a copy of Confessions From The Heart at

CD Review: The Smith Bros. - Restless

The Smith Bros. - Restless
2008, The Smith Bros.

The Smith Bros. have a love of melodic power-pop with big hooks and great harmonies. Their sound is reminiscent of 1970's AM music and 1980's pop rock. They've been compared to Teenage Fanclub and Fountains Of Wayne, although there would appear to be strong influences here from The Beatles to Van Morrison to a host of 1980's Brit-Pop bands. On 2008's Restless, The Smith Bros. offer up 14 melodic gems.

How Wrong You Are is a jangly rocker that could almost be a Gin Blossoms tune. She's Under My Skin is a silly little love song in the British tradition with big harmonies in the chorus and a memorable melody. Restless opens with an American influenced guitar hook and resolves into a strong harmony-based gem. Other highlights include the guitar-heavy Every Day Gets Better, You Did It All, Indecision and My Great Regret.

If the Everly Brothers came up through the musical ranks twenty years later and were from Britain, they might sound quite a lot like The Smith Bros. (who are from Ohio, by the by). Restless is full of memorable melodies, soaring harmonies and hooks galore. This may be one of the most sonically pleasing recordings of 2008, even if it probably isn't quite hip enough to have significant radio impact. The Smith Bros. are a band to respect and appreciate and go see live as many times as you can. Restless is a little sample for home listening and comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Smith Bros. at Restless is a forthcoming release. Keep checking The Smith Bros. MySpace page for release dates and purchase information.

CD Review: John Stein - Encounterpoint

John Stein - Encounterpoint
2008, Whaling City Sound

John Stein is the sort of guitar player you build a band around. As former bandleader or sideman for the likes of David "Fathead Newman" and Lou Donaldson, Stein has proven himself to be a versatile and dynamic jazz man. For all great artists there are always songs that get held back for someday, when the perfect band or gig comes along. Rather than wait for the day to come along, Stein put together the band in the fall of 2007 for a weekend session in Boston. The result is Stein's 7th album, Encounterpoint. It may just be his best thus far.

Encounterpoint opens with Jordu, written by Duke Jordan and popularized by Clifford Brown; the melody literally jumps off Stein's fingers. What becomes apparent very quickly is that Stein has put together a super group of incredibly talented musicians. Stein's band includes drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario (Brazil); keyboardist Koichi Sato (Japan) and bassist John Lockwood (South Africa). There isn't a piece here that isn't played with expert delicacy and fabulous musical interplay. Check out the exquisite Line Drive where Sato takes center stage. Other notable tunes are Roundabout, Trois, and Carlos Jobim's Dindi.

John Stein is a virtuoso on jazz guitar. Encouterpoint is jazz as it is meant to be played -- vibrant and full of life. The creative sparks fly all over the place on Encounterpoint, as Stein raises his game to yet another level. It’s definitely worth the time to listen to.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about John Stein at You can pick up a copy of Encounterpoint at

Sunday, September 28, 2008

CD Review: Deep 6 Holiday - Awake At The Funeral

Deep 6 Holiday - Awake At The Funeral
2008, Deep 6 Holiday

Tyler Azelton (vox, piano) and John Graves (bass) are lifelong friends, wife and husband and the heart of one of the most unique bands to cross my desk in 2008. Tyler Azelton has been performing since the age of three and had steady exposure to classical, jazz, Broadway and Opera while growing up. It wasn't until hear twenties that Azelton started listening to rock music. Consequently when she began composing rock music convention went out the window. In 2003, Azelton returned to Los Angeles after living in a New York City Hallway and began playing with Graves. Cut forward five years and we come to the release of Deep 6 Holiday's debut CD, Awake At The Funeral. Awake At The Funeral is a highly personal and eclectic album that you won't be able to put down.

Tyler Azelton might just have one of the best voices in popular music. Her ability to change sound, tone and emotive quality on a dime is almost singular. Her dusky, smoky alto is something to behold. She is the type of singer who could carry a bad song and make the worst song you've ever heard listenable. From a piano perspective she has some similarities to Tori Amos in writing style, although I have to say that Hazelton practices what Amos is perhaps capable of. It's hard to believe that Azelton has the concentration to just sing over what she's playing, much less sing well. The piano compositions here at times are so complex it's hard to imagine she's writing in the popular realm.

Water leads off Awake At The Funeral and serves as a chilling introduction to Azelton's voice and Deep 6 Holiday's dark yet enlightened sound. The piano part here sounds a little like something from a Tori Amos tune, but the composition is incredibly unique and circular without sounding in any way repetitive. Strong is more of a straightforward pop/rock tune but again eschews traditional ABABC song construction. Falling For You is a darkly sensuous tune and will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's Not Me makes you wonder how Azelton can manage to sing along to the obviously complicated piano part she's playing. Other highlights include Anastasia, the jazzy Breathe, the gorgeously orchestrated Empty Casket and the operatic Greta.

Finally, there is one song on Awake At The Funeral that deserves the sort of praise reserved for Beatles Love Songs. Will You Remind Me is primarily Tyler Azelton and her piano, and is far and away the highlight of highlights here. This is not a rock tune as it is presented here, but is the sort of song that could rise up most any chart in the popular realm. Expect Will You Remind Me to be licensed six ways to Sunday before long. This song is a classic.

Deep 6 Holiday is the most wonderfully enigmatic band I've had the honor to review in 2008, and Tyler Azelton might just have the best voice in popular music. Add in tremendous songwriting and a completely out of left field Zeitgeist and you have an album for the ages. Awake At The Funeral would make Deep 6 Holiday incredibly rich and famous in a perfect world. At the very least it should serve to help Deep 6 Holiday build a significant enough following to guarantee their on-going existence for a long time. Awake At The Funeral is definitely a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc. Don't pass this one by.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Deep 6 Holiday at You can purchase a copy of Awake At The Funeral at

CD Review: Dylan Kight - The Nightbirds Revolt

Dylan Kight - The Nightbirds Revolt
2008, Aztec Ballroom Records

The Nightbirds Revolt is a pleasant album consisting of fourteen moderate tempo rock tunes that tries mightily but fails to get off the ground. Dylan Kight seems to have a fine melodic sense, but the delivery here lacks significant energy or emotion. What could be a strong album becomes a pleasantly generic yet forgettable listen. There are a few songs here worth mentioning, but generally more for what they might have been than what they are. A Running Rose has a great melody and would soar if Dylan Kight displayed an emotional connection to the song. Daydream Deferred brings a little life to The Nightbirds Revolt, but once Kight starts to sing it all falls apart. Kight's voice is pleasant enough, but he tends to sound like he's going through the motions here.

Be sure to check out Ballad Of Clarence Marshall and Arcadia. These are both songs that with the right treatment could be downright outstanding. I have to believe that Dylan Kight has more to offer on the performance side, and perhaps his energy and interest comes through more in the live environment, but I just don't hear it on the CD. It's unfortunate because Kight is actually a pretty decent songwriter. The Nightbirds Revolt is worthwhile for the material, but the performance aspect is just there.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Dylan Kight at You can purchase a copy of The Nightbirds Revolt at

CD Review: Bill Grady - A Room Called Home

Bill Grady - A Room Called Home
2006, Godorobot Records

Bill Grady is a resident and product of New York City. He and his music embody the smart sophistication and raw primal qualities needed to survive in Gotham. Mixing in elements of disparate musical styles, Grady creates spasmodically wonderful musical alliterations. His 2006 release, A Room Called Home is a minor miracle.

A Room Called Home is a delightfully edgy and enigmatic folk album. The CD is primarily Bill Grady and his guitar, and comes across as a personal live performance. Grady reminds me of what might happen if Jason Mraz and Ani DiFranco had a child together. In fact I am not certain this hasn't happened already. Bill Grady has a rapid-fire lyrical style reminiscent of Ani and a melodic sense reminiscent of Mraz. Check out Sandpaper Or Suede to see what I mean.

On Secret Grady shows a more refined style. This impressive ballad is a thing of beauty and calls to mind some of Elton John's best story-songs. Don't Be Shy finds Bill Grady accompanying himself on lip-trumpet in a bit of good-natured fun. Other highlights include Do Bei Lei Lo; Yours, truly; the jazzy Bye Bye Farewell; Walkabout and Carry You.

Bill Grady walks to the beat of his own drummer. His songs are full of interesting melodies and spry lyrical spins and turns. A Room Called Home is an effecting debut that will bring you to big highs and dramatic lows while covering the entire gamut in between. Strong recommendations all around for Bill Grady and A Room Called Home.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Bill Grady at You can purchase a copy of A Room Called Home at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

CD Review: Moscow - Moscow

Moscow - Moscow
2008, Moscow

Moscow is a 4-member all female alternative rock band from Los Angeles. Their sound is halfway between Hole and The Cure, a sort of semi-depressed slow-core drone that ebbs and flows from song to song. Their self-titled debut CD will be released in 2008 independently and may find a niche with goth and new-wave fans.

I'll be honest; this is not a disc where you spend a lot of time talking about highlights. That's not a knock on the disc; it's just the style of music. The intent here is more of a consistent musical focus that spurns dynamism for a grinding (if not terribly heavy) motif. This is mellow rock rave music with a dark but not evil heart. Shadows and shading dominate throughout, and sudden tempo changes invade the music at odd times to create a sonic disturbance that is almost emotional. Favorite songs here are Scissors; Snow; The One and 2AM.

Moscow is not for everyone. It is slightly disturbing and rhythmically atypical of its genre. Moscow finds the movement in minutiae and odd time signature changes. Vocal dynamics and chord changes are left for occasional moments rather than as integral parts of the song, and melody is nearly an afterthought to the consensus of musical inertia, but Moscow are unique and interesting in their failure to comply with the rules and dictums of pop music. One gets the sense that this is truly a case of marching to a different drummer rather than being different to be different. Moscow’s self-titled album is an interesting study with unusual choices that will find its mark with enough fans to keep Moscow making music for some time.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Moscow at Contact Moscow through their MySpace page for purchase information.

CD Review: Steve Brockley - Steve Brockley EP

Steve Brockley - Steve Brockley EP
2008, Steve Brockley

Steve Brockley is a folk singer/songwriter with the meanest finger-pick guitar style I've heard in some time. The Montreal, Canada resident has a punk Arlo Guthrie aura about him. He displays a distinct talent for story telling set to music and writes gorgeous backgrounds for his musical poetry. On his self-titled Steve Brockley EP, Brockley offers up 4 outstanding tracks in the form of introduction.

Late Night Nancy would seem to describe the arc of a nonpareil dysfunctional relationship and is a classic story song. Gold seems to play on the same themes as Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay. The melody is memorable and Brockley's voice brings a homey feel -- you can picture sitting around a kitchen fire in Appalachia with the warmth of fire, grog and friends. Dress Me Up continues in the vein of classic story songs and adds in a blues accent. The EP closes with Nickels and Dimes, which includes a guitar played in a blues style that mimics slide guitar. This is musically the most interesting song on the disc and my personal favorite.

Steve Brockley should be big draw on the folk circuit in the coming years. He's the kind of performer who could take a place like Falcon Ridge by storm. I highly recommend this EP as a classic example of roots music. A must-have!

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Steve Brockley at Contact Steve through his MySpace page if you’re interested in purchasing a copy of his self-titled EP.

CD Review: Todd Lorenz - Twenty Aught Eight, Volume 1 and Volume 2

Todd Lorenz - Twenty Aught Eight V. 1 & V. 2
2008, Todd Lorenz

Todd Lorenz is an acoustic based singer/songwriter whose musical ancestry lies in blues, rock, folk and bluegrass. The native of Southern California has made his was to Monroe, WI by way of Phoenix but has continued to make music and play out whenever possible. After releasing 5 solo albums and fronting several Southern California bands, Lorenz has set a new goal for himself in 2008. Between January 14, 2008 and January 12, 2009 he will post one new song each week to his website, These songs will be available for free download, and will later be available for sale on 4 CDs, each of which will represent one quarter of a year. The project is called Twenty Aught Eight, and volumes 1 and 2 will be available shortly.

Twenty Aught Eight is an acoustic project made up primarily of Todd Lorenz and his guitar. One would expect that the pressure of releasing one song per week would create a barrier to strong, consistent songwriting, but the recorded evidence is quite to the contrary. Twenty Aught Eight V.1 and V.2 contain consistently strong songwriting and plus performances from Todd Lorenz.

Volume One opens with Three Chords And The Truth, with Lorenz sounding a little like Johnny Cash. This song is quite catchy and stays with you after the CD is over. Rock Me has a rockin' blues feel to it, again as if done by Johnny Cash. Trouble No More may well be the class of Volume 1, and could be a bit of a working class anthem. Moonbeams is a lovely country/folk instrumental ballad. Other highlights include The Meanderin Hound; Ain't No Greater Sorrow; Beauty Of Our Lives and Lost In Pain.

Volume Two includes the powerful anti-war song Bring 'Em Home. The message here is a hammer that comes across in sometimes awkward, sometimes oblique fashion. It's not as poetic as you might expect in a song, but lyrically is perhaps closer to actual thoughts than the finessed word could capture. Next up is perhaps the best song from the first two volumes of Twenty Aught Eight - Walk On By. Other highlights include Perfect Pleasures; Talkin' 'Bout It; Leave A Light On; Two Step and Soothe My Soul.

Todd Lorenz isn't the prettiest voice in music. His lower register sounds very much like Johnny Cash. His upper register is idiosyncratic and unique. Whatever flaws exist in his voice make him more interesting and listenable rather than detracting from the musical experience. The song quality is in general lower than you might expect from Lorenz just becauseof the volume, but he finds some real gems along the way. I liken this to being given a look inside an artist's sketchbook where the failures have been given equal opportunity alongside potential masterpieces. Lorenz bravely offers up a years worth of catalogue in what becomes a study in the process of composition and creation. Todd Lorenz is a unique and brave artist who warrants further attention. The Twenty Aught Eight project is highly recommended listening, and is as fine example of the raw creative process as we've had the pleasure to hear here at Wildy's World.


Volume 1: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Volume 2: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Todd Lorenz at; where you can download his weekly offerings from the Twenty Aught Eight project for free, or purchase CDs of previously released Twenty Aught Eight songs in the not too distant future.

Friday, September 26, 2008

CD Review: Leigh Jones - Music In My Soul

Leigh Jones - Music In My Soul
2008, Peak Records (Concord Music)

Leigh Jones has big friends and supporters. The Southern California native has managed to impress both Berry Gordy (Motown founder) and Al Bell (Stax Records) that she has something special. That’s no small potatoes in the world of Soul and R&B music. This high school classmate of Josh Groban has the world at her feet musically, and the potential to make it hers. Her debut album Music In My Soul was released on September 9, 2008.

Music In My Soul is something of a creative Pangaea. On the one hand you have wonderfully written songs such as the bluesy I'm Leavin' You, the gorgeous Free Fall, the jazzy Sick Of Fools and the cabaret tune Goodbye. Jones shines on these tunes as smoky-voiced alto with a beautiful sound. Leigh Jones' vocals soar on Music In My Soul, making good songs great and even partially rescuing some of the lesser material. A few songs don't work as well for Jones, including Words You Never Say (You rip me open like a Hostess Cupcake / down to the creamy filling). Aside from being one of the most unintentionally funny lyrics in pop music in a decade, this song is more of a venue for Jones to engage in coloratura runs and drop Shakespeare references than to sing.

Singing is what Leigh Jones does well, and it's markedly clear that with the right material she can be downright mesmerizing. Music In My Soul is uneven with some songs that are definite keepers and some that would be best left behind. Jones herself makes a fair effort on all the songs here, but some are just not savable. Leigh Jones is an ample talent with a bright future. We here at Wildy's World hope to hear more from her in the future.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Leigh Jones at You can purchase a copy of Music In My Soul at and most major music retailers.

CD Review: Kill Bosby - On Thursday We Leave For Home

Kill Bosby - On Thursday We Leave For Home
2007, Kill Bosby

Concept albums have a long history in Rock and Roll, from the glorified (The Who's Tommy) to the reviled (Styx' Kilroy Was Here). Bands always take a tremendous risk in taking on concept albums. This commitment limits the range of material to a band in its writing and can cause musical strains trying to fit music and ideas together. Kill Bosby is a brave little band. In On Thursday We Leave For Home, Kill Bosby has crafted a succinct and musically interesting narrative based on the Twilight Zone episode of the same name.

Kill Bosby uses this story to highlight their use of tight harmonies, jangly guitar pop and soaring choruses to navigate the narrative. Today Is... begins the story with a musical vignette that suggests tedium turning to resolution and the stark excitement of Captain Benteen's castaways at being saved from their exile. DNA exudes the control crisis Benteen suffers on his way to extending his own self-imprisonment on V9-Gamma. The guitar and keyboard on this track have a distinctive 1980's feel to them.

Free is straight forward guitar pop and may be the most commercial tune on the album. Satellites & Submarines is probably the best song on On Thursday We Leave For Home. The combination of interesting dueling guitar hooks and lofty harmonies creates moments of musical beauty in the form of a vaguely maudlin song. The EP closes with I'm Leaving, a hopeful yet vaguely troubled epilogue to the television tale.

While the subject matter here is a bit unusual for rock and roll, the songwriting and execution are right on. Kill Bosby manages to break a Twilight Zone episode into five musical vignettes that managed to illuminate the story without overpowering or over-explaining it. On Thursday We Leave For Home is great pop music with a melancholy twist. This is required listening, particularly if you are a singer/songwriter who's ever struggled for writing ideas. Kill Bosby proves that the most mundane or esoteric ideas can be musical fodder when re-imagined from the right angle.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Kill Bosby at or You can purchase a copy of On Thursday We Leave For Home at

CD Review: Willie Mack - Headlights and Tailpipes

Willie Mack – Headlights And Tailpipes
2007, Open Road Recordings

Texas’ own Willie Mack plays rock and roll country songs that would make Charlie Daniels proud. With a pop/country voice that is made for radio and strong songwriting, Willie Mack seems positioned to be a big thing in country music. His 2007 release, Headlights And Tailpipes is full of highly commercial yet musically interesting songs.

Headlights and Tailpipes opens with Gonna Get Me A Cadillac, with a driving bass line that will have you up and dancing immediately. The song "." is full of delicious innuendo and probably won't make Sarah Palin's iPod play list any time soon but sure is a fun listen. Headlights and Tailpipes is the perfect road tune, guaranteed to make that long road trip pass in a jiffy. Other highlights here include Another Sky; the honky tonk Love You I Do; the religious themed TGIF and the deliciously devious Sumpin' Sumpin'.

The class of this album is Golden Years. For any of you who are parents this song will have special resonance. Aside from being a wonderfully written and touching song, it is extremely marketable on the commercial side, most likely for licensing (movies/commercials).

Willie Mack has a sound that is very classic country rock and yet retains a spark of originality. Headlights And Tailpipes is a classic debut CD with strong commercial sensibilities, great arrangements and the sort of melodies you'll be humming for days. Headlights and Tailpipes easily crosses stylistic boundaries and find a disparate batch of followers for Willie Mack.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Willie Mack at or Unfortunately Headlights and Tailpipes is currently only sold in Canada. You can spend $35 plus shipping to buy the import through, but I would recommend going to one of the Canadian retailers such as CD Plus where you’ll get it for about half the price.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CD Review: My Federation - Don't Wanna Die

My Federation - Don't Wanna Die
2008, Eye Industries

I have heard the future of British Rock and Roll. It sounds something like the progressive past of rock and roll melded with a Beatles-esque sense of melody, harmonies the Beach Boys would be proud of and enough energy to pogo dance for hours. Intrigued?

My Federation is from Brighton, England, and may have created one of the most infectious albums of 2008 in Don't Wanna Die. The album opens with the title track, a minimalist Prog Rock tune with an amazingly catchy chorus. This has first single written all over it and sounds like it would translate well into the clubs with the right remix. Open My Eyes sounds like Simon & Garfunkel wrote a tune with the Moody Blues and again has an incredibly virulent chorus.

My favorite song on the album is What Gods Are These. The mix of 1970's rock effects, a vocal performance that will send shivers down the spine of any Tom Waits fan and yet another chorus you can't shake from your head make this a potential commercial bonanza. This is the sort of song that in the right market and time could be a number one hit. It All Comes Clear changes tempo by falling into a Radiohead-inspired muse. The listener is then thrown out of their temporary reverie by Nothing To Say, a stark change of pace that sounds as Beatles inspired as it probably is.

Other highlights include the frenetic Honey Bee; the sonically diffuse new wave sounding Party Offender; the infectious Tom Tom (earphones recommeded) and Honey For The Soul. Truth be told, there isn't a weak track here.

My Federation walks on similar retro ground as Wildy's World alums Tally Hall and Woodward, but takes their retro muse in a slightly different direction. Hummable melodies combined with atypical song construction; strong harmonies and a definite ear for strong hooks and great lyrical turns make My Federation the total package. Vocalist Lee Muddy Baker could front most any band, anywhere, anytime. Don't Wanna Die is the sort of album to build a career around. This isn't any ordinary debut, it's a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc. That title is well deserved.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about My Federation at or You can pick up a a copy of Don't Wanna Die through, although you might be able to find it for cheaper if you hunt around the internet.

CD Review: Lisa Lindley-Jones - White Shadow E.P.

Lisa Lindley-Jones - White Shadow E.P.
2007, Eye Industries

London’s Lisa Lindley-Jones engages us in seemingly free-form folk songs that are musical stream of consciousness songs. Bare bones instrumentation and Lindley-Jones' enigmatic voice will either hold you on the edge of your seat or turn you off completely. That's not a knock on Lisa Lindley-Jones, I just sense that she will be an acquired taste. Those who have or acquire the taste will love what she does, but some just won't get it. Her debut, White Shadow E.P. charts course for unusual territory in pop music, and may just turn out to be highly rewarding.

StepBack frames Lindley-Jones' voice against a musical backdrop of soft pastel chord changes and cascading melody. Her voice is not one I would describe as pretty, but has a beauty to it that is both striking and severe. Killing Song is a morbid musical poem that is vaguely unsettling. Let It Slip is a song full or pretty harmonies that seems to be a romantic come-on song. This is probably the best song on the disc. The EP closes with Lazy, which has the energy to match the title.

Lisa Lindley-Jones has an unforgettable voice and a unique, quirky writing style. She has definite talent as a songwriter, but these songs kind of wither on the vine at times. For all that is interesting or unusual in this set, the energy level throughout is a half-step above breathing. Even the occasional change in dynamic would spice up the disc and let it fly. White Shadow E.P. is interesting as a stylistic study and shows distinct potential from Lisa Lindley-Jones, but may be hard pressed to find a significant audience.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Lisa Lindley-Jones at You can currently purchase the EP as a download through

CD Review: Corinne Gooden - All My Days

Corinne Gooden - All My Days
2008, Corinne Gooden

Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Corinne Gooden grew up surrounded by natural beauty. As a young singer/songwriter and producer, some of that beauty has woven its way into her songwriting. Gooden's 2008 debut, All My Days is a lushly orchestrated yet understated beauty.

Corinne Gooden's earliest musical heroes were bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Allman Brothers. Over time she developed for some of the finest singer-songwriters of the 1970s and 1980s (James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Patti Griffin, etc). It was these later influences that have helped inspire and inform her songwriting. All My Days is full of intimate story songs that rely as much on the patchwork narratives as on the verdant orchestrations.

All My Days opens with You've Got Me, a radio-ready track if I've ever heard one. It's also a great introduction to Corinne Gooden's voice which is full and deep in a way you might not expect. It's a beautiful voice that I could picture just as easily handling blues, jazz or soul in addition to pop/rock. All My Days (title track) is a wistful look at loss. Anything At All is so full of palpable longing it will leave you breathless, and Come This Far marks the fall from grace of a relationship once held dear.

Other highlights include the gorgeous Leaving A Life, the upbeat Goodbye and the fall afternoon sunshine of 17th Street. And don't miss the last song, Last Chance (In the Moonlight). This stripped down number goes with a basic finger-picking style to provide texture and rhythm as a counterpart to Gooden's voice. It may be best musical afterthought you'll hear this year.

Corinne Gooden is going to be compared to artists such as Patti Griffin and Joan Baez. Her voice is an incredibly distinctive and beautiful deep alto. It will shock you with deep textures not unlike a late season red wine and you'll never forget it once you've heard her. All My Days is a shockingly good debut as it displays song craft and maturity well beyond Gooden's age or experience. She is a consummate story teller and a talented composer. This is a must own disc, and I would say it's just the beginning for Corinne Gooden.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Corinne Gooden at You can purchase a copy of All My Days directly through her website or at

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CD Review: Michael Feinstein - The Sinatra Project

Michael Feinstein - The Sinatra Project
2008, Concord Music Group

Frank Sinatra is a legend. He never had the greatest voice in popular music, but he was a showman par excellence. There was no one in Sinatra's time (and perhaps no one even today) who could sell a song like Frank. His conviction and delivery were perfect every time, even in his elder days. For this reason any sort of tribute to Sinatra brings big risks for an artist. Get it right and you will be lauded, but miss a beat and there are millions of Sinatra fans and pundits there to tell you when, where and how many times you fell off the Sinatra pedestal. Michael Feinstein has been making great music for years and certainly has the sort of resume required to try a tribute. Now we have The Sinatra Project from Feinstein, released in September, 2008 by Concord Music.

Feinstein chooses some Sinatra classics but also mixes in some lesser known tunes. He wisely avoids songs that have become iconic (My Way, Come Fly With Me), but gamely tries to bring the sort of energy and delivery that Sinatra embodied. Depending on how you look it The Sinatra Project is either an unbridled success or a fair attempt. If you're looking for someone to recreate the magic of Sinatra, then this isn't it. I'm afraid there might not be anyone in popular music that can do that. If you're looking for a faithful reading of Sinatra tunes that tries to capture the zeitgeist without trying to BE Sinatra, then this is a great album.

Feinstein has some real moments here. All My Tomorrows/All The Way seems to allow Feinstein to capture that Sinatra magic for a few minutes, and may be the most inspired tune on the disc. The Song Is You is another highlight and captures some of the Vegas-era swing that Sinatra personified. The Same Hello, The Same Goodbye was a pleasant surprise as well. Other highlights include Begin The Beguine; I've Got A Crush On You; You Go To My Head and At Long Last Love.

Michael Feinstein isn't Frank Sinatra, but is a capable singer who manages to catch some of the Sinatra sizzle at points throughout The Sinatra Project. His orchestra is top-notch and the arrangements are perfect. Fans of Frank Sinatra will enjoy this, but if you haven't heard him play, I'd refer you to Frank first to get acquainted. The Sinatra Project is a strong recording and one that should do well for Michael Feinstein. Frank would approve.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Michael Feinstein at You can purchase a copy of The Sinatra Project through or through most major music retailers.

CD Review: The McKrells - Cosmic Hayride

The McKrells - Cosmic Hayride
2005, Thorntree Music

Kevin McKrell has built a reputation as a world class songwriter and performer over many years of hard work, a handful of recordings and thousands of live shows. As the charismatic lead singer/songwriter of The McKrells he has toured the world and had his songs played by artists from The Furey Brothers to Michael DeAngelis. The McKrells presented a blend of Celtic and bluegrass donned "Celtic Newgrass", and they had an ability to charm most any crowd any place they went. Their most recent (and possibly final) album is Cosmic Hayride, which offers an outstanding performance from the McKrells.

Cosmic Hayride opens with Always, a song that is so representative of the McKrells sound it could be their signature song. It features the extraordinarily tight play of the band and the unmistakable voice of Kevin McKrell. The fact that it is a silly little love song in the Beatles tradition (if they played bluegrass) is pure gravy. No Good Reason is an ode to staying in a bad situation in spite of your self. I also enjoyed Big Lazy River, an Apalachian style folk/country tune that you can't help but be drawn into. This melody will stick in your ears like a fly in honey. Other highlights include the frenetically banjo laden Cosmic Hayride, Snowbound (featuring Craig Vance on vocals), the traditional ballad Black Is The Colour and For Emily.

The absolute pinnacle of this album is A Ghost In This House. This is the sort of song musicians find out about and want to record for their own albums. It's a heartbreaking song of loss, surpassed in its sense of loss only by a jagged-edged beauty. This is The McKrells, and Kevin McKrell in particular, at their zenith.

Whatever the future of The McKrells, they leave behind a catalogue of great songs and unforgettable performances. If The McKrells are over, then Cosmic Hayride is a subtle exclamation point on their time together and a must for your music collection.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

If you want to learn more about Kevin McKrell and The McKrells, check out You can purchase a copy of Cosmic Hayride at if it is currently in stock. Otherwise you can purchase the album as a download through iTunes.

CD Review: Sara Milonovich - Daisycutter

Sara Milonovich - Daisycutter
2008, Sara Milonovich

I first became aware of Sara Milonovich during her stint as violinist for The McKrells, a Celtic/bluegrass band from Saratoga Springs, NY who were well-known on the Celtic music circuit and were legends locally. Milonovich always managed to exude an energetic and sweet stage presence while ripping it up on the violin. I never really got to hear her sing anything other than background vocals however. In the summer of 2008 Sara Milonovich released an EP in the Saratoga/Albany, NY region as a preview for an upcoming full-length album. The EP is called Daisycutter. It proves her status as an incredible Celtic/Country violin player but also introduces Milonovich as a capable vocalist and front-woman.

Country Life opens the set as a banjo driven, Celtic influenced country/rock tune. This tune was my first introduction to Milonovich as a lead vocalist and I have to say it's impressive. She has a rich, full sound that is pleasant to listen to but also carries an edge that can as easily be cutting or vulnerable, in turn. Fiona's Breakdown and Wither Canada allow Milonovich to show off her fiddle skills in amicable fashion. When Sara Milonovich is on her game she's in the same league as Natalie MacMaster on violin.

Last Dance is a gorgeous country ballad that will have you on the edge of your seat. Willie Taylor is an interesting turn. This Celtic tune mixes a dark violin bridge that sounds middle-eastern and also draws in jazz-style woodwinds. It's a stunning musical choice and works very well after the initial adjustment (of the listener). Northern Cross comes across as extremely personal; nearly confessional in Milonvich's rich alto. The most poignant and moving event on Daisycutter is the cover of Peter Gabriel's Here Comes The Flood. Sara Milonovich was born to sing this song, or so it would seem. Her rendition encompasses all of the loss and loneliness the song implies and is overpowering in its emotional weight. I should add that I sat and listened to this in the wake of the September 2008 fiscal crisis and so the song had an added poignancy.

Sara Milonovich is the sort of musician we love here at Wildy's World. Here is a small, incredibly talented independent artist plying her trade in a small market in the Northeast. The music and talent she brings to the world around her are more than worthy of the larger stages of Nashville, New York and LA (and all the stages/clubs between here and there). Milonovich is the sort of artist record execs should be lining up to sign (and she's far from the only one we've reviewed here thus far). Daisycutter is an amazing debut, and means we will anxiously anticipate the forthcoming full-length release. There's no doubt, Daisycutter is a Certified Wildy's World Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

If you want to learn more about Sara Milonovich check out The full length album will be released under the band name Daisycutter. If you’d like to pick up a copy of Sara’s hand produced EP, check out You won’t find the CD on their site, but they do sell it in the store. If you call them I am sure they’ll be happy to mail order a copy to you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CD Review: John Mellencamp - Life, Death, Love And Freedom

John Mellencamp - Life, Death, Love and Freedom
2008, Hear Music

In a career spanning twenty-five plus years, John Mellencamp has seen the highs and lows of the music business. He's been a struggling artist and he's also been on top of the pop world. This parallax view of his own career has provided Mellencamp with perspective that many artists never begin to grasp. On his 2008 release, Life, Death, Love and Freedom, Mellencamp embraces a blues-informed Americana style to compel his ideas.

Sounding like a middle-American Bruce Springsteen, Mellencamp takes what has always been a prodigious talent for songwriting and sharpens his craft a step or two further. The album opens with Longest Days which just might be my favorite Mellencamp song ever. If I Die Sudden is a close second, with great acoustic blues guitar and charismatic vocals. Don't Need This Body is a Dylan-esque folk ballad and is very enjoyable. Other highlights include Without A Shot, Mean and A Brand New Song.

John Mellencamp has never lost his edge. His songs still evoke strong imagery and highly memorable melodies. Life, Death, Love and Freedom is a musical departure for Mellencamp, but he's managed to maintain the same delivery and level of quality he's known and loved for. Life, Death, Love and Freedom is highly recommended listening.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about John Mellencamp at You can purchase a copy of Life, Death, Love and Freedom at or at most major music retailers.

CD Review: Stacee Lawson - Deranged

Stacee Lawson - Deranged
2008, Destroy All Records

Listening to Deranged the first time reminded me of the first time I heard Jess Klein sing. Huntington, Virginia’s Stacee Lawson has the same sort of edge and urgency to her voice. The musical arrangements on Deranged as pure modern rock with the occasional nod to a 1970's hard rock sound. Run picks up on this retro sound as an envelope for Lawson's urgent vocals. This song is highly commercial and should do well as a rock single. Mr. Love has a bluesy feel to it and discusses longing from a distance.

Lawson also delivers a delicious cover of Edie Brickell's What I Am. It's a straightforward interpretation that's faithful to the original but very well done. Other highlights include Come Back Down and Hangin' On.

Stacee Lawson is a pop vixen with a rough edge. Deranged is a worthy debut album that establishes Lawson as a burgeoning artist with room to grow. Deranged is very much worth a listen or two, particularly if you like the mix of edgy and sweet in rock music. I suspect Lawson has a bright future in music, and Deranged is the first step.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Stacee Lawson at Deranged will be released on September 30, 2008 and is currently available for pre-order through

CD Review: Rhoda Nkojo - Rhoda

Rhoda - Rhoda
2008, RKW Media

Uganda born, Washington D.C. raised Rhoda Nkojo grew up with a musical cornucopia at her fingertips. With exposure to Pop, jazz, Broadway, R&B, hip-hop and West African Rhythms, Rhoda has an unusually broad range of influences. Rhoda is known for stage work with New York City's Harmony Theater Company, as well as for providing vocals for New York's Loose Booty. In the meantime she's managed to acquire a JD from George Washington School of Law. Despite all of this she's managed to record and her debut album, Rhoda, which hints at many of these influences but stays strongly in the R&B/hip-hop realm.

Rhoda has a lovely voice, full of interesting textures. Technically she is proficient, occasionally falling prey to some sloppy runs but generally quite good. The material here is fairly generic R&B. It's a good listen, but Rhoda never quite distinguishes herself from the massive pop/R&B markets. My favorite track is I'm Nobody (Without You), which seems to bring out the best in Rhoda's voice. Fallin' is also a strong entry and opens the album. Other highlights include I Remember You and Check'd Out.

Rhoda (the person) is a talented singer with a sweet sounding voice. There as a few minor flaws here and there that are more a matter of training and breath control than an issue of talent and are easily rectified. Rhoda (the CD) is a pleasant debut that shows some promise, but never really establishes Rhoda as a musical force. You can hear the elements of a good performer on Rhoda, but they don't quite mesh the way you might hope. That aside I believe this recording has real value, as I believe it is a stepping stone to where Rhoda is headed rather than a culmination of her talent and work. It's the sort of first album fans may be buying for exorbitant prices on eBay a few albums down the road. Rhoda has that kind of potential.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Rhoda at You can purchase a copy of Rhoda at

Monday, September 22, 2008

CD Review: Peter Moore - One Ride

Peter Moore - One Ride
2008, SineAppleSap Records

Peter Moore is one of the most accomplished and enigmatic songwriters to come out of the Boston music scene in the last twenty years. As songwriter for Think Tree and later Count Zero, Moore has been a cult hero to a couple of generations of Boston music fans while reaching far beyond the confines of Beantown. Moore was also the lead singer and keyboard player for Blue Man Group's Megastar Would Tour from 2006 until 2008. He might not sound familiar, but if you've ever played Guitar Hero I, II or Rock Band then you've heard songs from his band Count Zero. In 2005 Moore decided to develop and release a solo album based on material he'd been writing. 2008's One Ride is the culmination of this effort, and it's something you really ought to check out.

If Heaven Ever Knew calls to mind some of the great XTC records I listened to growing up while memorializing a crush. Drop'n Trou' is likely to be a cult classic with its 1970's vibe and comedic look at The Next Step. Drop'n Trou' is in competition with The Romance as favorite tracks here. Other highlights include Wicked Lies and all of the musical interludes whose titles begin with "Cycle".

Peter Moore takes a lot of risks on One Ride and most of them work. As a concept album about the life cycle of a relationship it lacks a little bit of cohesion, but as a collection of songs it's great listening. Moore plays virtually all instruments on One Ride and does all the vocals. He will no doubt continue to build his own part in musical history as part of his many projects, but be sure to take note of One Ride.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Peter Moore at One Ride is an upcoming release. Keep checking Peter Moore’s MySpace page for release dates!

CD Review: Hills Rolling - Something Delicious

Hills Rolling - Something Delicious
2008, Whiskey Child Records

Hills Rolling (aka multi-instrumentalist Trey McGriff) has a way of insinuating his music into your mind. There's something catchy and edgy about his sound that sticks around your subconscious and yells, "Boo!" every so often. This Mississippi born and bred Atlanta resident has had quite the couple of years. He's gained sponsorship from Jagermeister, gained exposure through MTV's Real World - Denver, XM Satellite Radio, NPR and various Comcast channels. He's also opened for the likes of Journey, Foreigner, Paul Rogers, Molly Hatchet, Slightly Stoopid and Kenny Wayne Sheppard. Now comes the latest infectious release from Hills Rolling, Something Delicious.

Something Serious has a very familiar sound and feel to it. It's a comfortable disc but not a groundbreaking one. I Wake Up opens Something Delicious with a driving acoustic rock sound that resolves into an ethereal bridge to nowhere. I Need It sounds a bit like the Foo Fighters playing a Beatles tune. I rather enjoyed After All These Years. This is probably the most commercial tune on Something Delicious, but lyrically comes across as slightly sophomoric. Tearing You Up Inside is the class of the album and may be the best song McGriff has written to date. Perfect Escape closes out the set with driving electric guitar and is reminiscent of the good days of Collective Soul.

On the whole Something Delicious is a decent album. Hills Rolling has some good press out there and I expected to be blown away upon listening to this. It didn't happen, but it's a good rock album with a few weak spots and some great musical moments. Something Delicious is the sort of music you keep around for an occasional snack. I don't see it being a regular item on the menu but once in a while you'll just have to hear it.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Hills Rolling at or You can pick up a copy of Something Delicious at

CD Review: RJ Cowdery - One More Door

RJ Cowdery - One More Door
2007, RJ Cowdery

RJ Cowdery is a darling of the US Folk Music circuit. Based on Columbus, Ohio, Cowdery broke through in the mid-1990's. Life got in the way for a few years, but in 2007 she returned with the critically acclaimed One More Door. The album itself was recorded live with members of Public Radio's Mountain Stage band. The Todd Burge produced album features Don Dixon on bass, who has previously produced artists such as R.E.M., Marti Jones, Kim Carnes, Hootie & The Blowfish and Marshall Crenshaw, amongst others.

Cowdery has a very straight-forward voice with just a hint of country twang. There is a plain beauty in her singing that is instantly recognizable and constantly subdued in the words she sings. The album opens with These Ties That Bind, showing how the gifts of filial love become the promise of our tomorrows. This song has a great melody and great hooks and could easily play to both pop and country audiences (think Indigo Girls at the top of their game with a country accent). One More Door is a regretful look back at lovers who've gone their separate ways.

State Of Mine has the chance to be a real country hit. It's a "don't let the door hit you on the way out" sort of a song, and couches its frustration in wit ("It's a matter of time and a little bit of wine / that keeps me feeling fine in this state of mind"). It's a thinking person's get lost song. Now And Then is a sweet recollection of youth and is sure to be a long time concert favorite for RJ Cowdery. Other highlights include Too Fast, There She Goes and Hold On.

RJ Cowdery is likely to be much appreciated to anyone who actually hears her. She's managed to be lauded at Folk Festivals including the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival; the Folk Alliance Official Showcase and Falcon Ridge. One More Door is a quintessential American folk album, and has several songs that will fit nicely into The Great American Songbook. If folk, country or singer-songwriter genres appeal to you then One More Door is essential listening. If you're looking to broaden your horizons into one of those areas then this is a great place to start.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about RJ Cowdery at You can pick up a copy of One More Door at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

CD Review: Gee Davey - She Sells Smiles

Gee Davey - She Sells Smiles

2008, Gee Davey Productions

Named for the catch phrase from the old cartoon Davey and Goliah, Gee Davey has spent the last several years being one of the hardest hitting bands on Long Island. The band had a critical and college hit in 2006 with Sparticle but was unable to tour. 2008 sees the return of a revamped Gee Davey with She Sells Smiles, a six song EP with a more pronounced pop sensibility and a new lead singer (DJ Pearlman).

She Sells Smiles starts out with Say Another Prayer, a modern rock bruiser with punk roots. Last Song opens with a great guitar hook and an extremely commercial sound reminiscent of the Foo Fighters. Beautiful You is a gorgeous rock and roll ballad and sounds a little like early Pearl Jam. Trial By Self is my favorite song on She Sells Smiles. It finds Gee Davey musing in the acoustic realm and highlights just how talented these guys are.

If you like poppy modern rock with eclectic rhythms and inventive instrumental turns , Gee Davey is a band you need to check out. She Sells Smiles is an extremely solid release that should garner Gee Davey significant attention.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gee Davey at You can purchase a copy of She Sells Smiles at

CD Review: Bob Pressner - Summer In Illusionland/More To America

Bob Pressner – Summer In Illusion Land/More To America

Bob Pressner makes his living on the meat and potatoes of classic rock music. Pressner is a pleasant vocalist who writes interesting and pleasant songs that are relatively generic to the genre of classic rock. He recently moved to Florida to pursue his passion of making music full time, and has released an album (not reviewed here) of songs dedicated to/inspired by The Beijing Olympics.

Summer In Illusionland – 2007, Bob Pressner

On 2007's Summer In Illusion Land, Bob Pressner seems to settle more comfortable into the singer/songwriter mold. One Voice is a positive, hopeful message that is particularly relevant today. Matters Of The Heart is a self-deprecating look at the composer's own love difficulties. High Maintenance Woman may be the best song on the album, and has kind of a Chris Isaak feel to it. Other highlights include The Gift Of Love, Sing For The Sunrise and Keep Your Love Strong. As sometimes happens; I like the second half of this album more than the first..

Summer In Illusion Land is a strong sophomore effort and is in essentially the same league as More To America. Bob Pressner continues to build a catalog of interesting and pleasant songs that make for great listening and would probably fill a fun evening on stage. Summer In Illusion Land is definitely worth a listen.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

More To America – 2006, Bob Pressner

I actually like this disc, but there's not much here that makes it really stand out as special or unique. Pressner does show a talent for lyrics at times. He has a succinct yet full-circle writing style that is typical of your good singer-songwriters. In fact the more I think about it Pressner is really a singer-songwriter in the garb of a 1980's guitar-rock guy.

Breath Of Fresh Air is a fun tune with interesting lyrical turns and a memorable melody. Ibiza Man is a fun dance/rock tune complete with saxophone and a bit of ironic wit. See You Fall is my personal favorite on More To America as it fits more to the singer-songwriter persona I see in Pressner's music, and the arrangement here is perfect.

As with Summer In Illusion Land I liked the album more as it progressed (particularly the second half). On the whole, More To America is a solid album but it gets progressively better as it goes. Bob Pressner is a talented songwriter with great musical story telling skills and a strong sense for turns of phrase. Definitely worth a listen.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Bob Pressner at You can purchase More To America and/or Summer In Illusion Land through

CD Review: Gilday - Gilday

Gilday - Gilday
2008, Eight Lights Music

New York City’s Gilday has quite the Indie history in New York City, playing with bands such as Sheltercock, Gapeseed and Kill Your Idol), but on his solo debut has has some major help. Starting with producer Don Casale (Dionne Warwick, Iron Butterfly, Janis Ian, etc.), Gilday managed to attract some heavy musical hitters. Helping out are Richie Cannata (Billy Joel), Mario Staiano and Gerry Sorrentino (Savoy Brown) among a cast of many others. Gilday’s self-titled debut not surprisingly is a highly professional and market ready disc.

Gilday is an interesting figure. He sounds a little like Adam Duritz at times, and has occasional pitch issues, but is competent. The band itself is top-notch, playing a brand of pop/Americana that is pleasing to the ear. Check out Raining In New York, one of more commercially viable songs on the album. Other highlights include My Own Song; The Time Has Come; Hold On and Fire In My Eyes.

Gilday has a great sound that moves back and forth between rock and country while touching all points in between. He has an eccentric sound that will be instantly memorable. You'll either love his voice or not. Gilday ultimately is a pleasant listen without being exceptional. A solid effort.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gilday at You can purchase a copy of Gilday at

Saturday, September 20, 2008

CD Review: Gwen Hughes - Instead Of Light

Gwen Hughes - Instead Of Light
2006, Fairfield Records

Imagine if Tina Turner and Cassandra Wilson somehow combined genetic material and a child was born of the experiment. She might well sound like Gwen Hughes. Hughes delivers a powerful and compelling performance on her CD Instead Of Light.

Instead Of Light is full of interesting song choices and arrangements. Her cover of Time Of The Season is beautiful to hear, although a bit slower than you might imagine it. She opens the set with Born In Bethlehem, a blues laden take on the gospel standard. Also of note are the sensuous Come To Me and a cover of Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love (combined with You Need Love). Come To Me is a beautiful take, while the Zeppelin cover is slowed down to the point of being almost painful. Other highlights include Prizefight and Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye.

Gwen Hughes is an exciting talent. Although Instead Of Light would suggest that her vocal range may be somewhat limited, Hughes rings everything she can out of the voice she has. The result is highly entertaining and enjoyable. Instead Of Light is great cabaret jazz perfect for an old style supper club, an uptown club or just lounging around at home.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gwen Hughes at You can purchase a copy of Instead Of Light at

CD Review: Lexx Luther Vandroz - World Dominatrix

Lexx Luther Vandroz - World Dominatrix
2008, Lexx Luther Vandroz

Big bad blues inflected guitar rock is back. Wilmington, Delaware’s Lexx Luther Vandrozz swaggers out of the darkness, guitar in hand, ready to do battle with the forces of pithy pop. This alter-ego of popular Wilmington band Cadre builds a sound around big guitars, a Hammond B3 Organ and one of the tightest rhythm sections this side of the Mississippi. Lexx Luther Vandroz' debut album, World Dominatrix is currently being prepared for release. You'd best be ready.

Lexx Luther Vandroz could musically stand up with many of the icons of early 70's hard rock/heavy metal. The fact that they unleash a riotous sense of humor at times in their music in no way diminishes how hard these guys rock. If anything, the willingness to not take themselves too seriously raises the bar just a notch higher. The six song EP opens with Deep Contact, a heavy metal slow jam if ever there was one. Mike Tyson On Cocaine is one of the funniest new songs I've heard this year, and is musically a second cousin to Walk This Way (I suspect this was intentional). Make sure to check out Flash Or Trash and Gravity Shifting as well: Both songs are guaranteed to knock your socks off.

Lexx Luther Vandroz brings the chutzpah back to rock and roll. World Dominatrix is twenty-three minutes of in your face Rock N Blues. Put this disc on your shopping list, particularly if your stereo goes up to eleven.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Lexx Luther Vandroz at You’ll have to contact the band through their MySpace page for release dates and purchase information.

CD Review: Bob Pepek - From The Let Go

Bob Pepek - From The Let Go
2008, Bob Pepek

Bob Pepek grew up wanting to play punk rock. His earliest musical experiences included bands like Green Day, and he started out on a $37 JC Penney guitar strumming for his life. Twists and turns abound in life, and on his 2008 debut, From The Let Go, Bob Pepek displays songwriting craft that far exceeds the usual expectations of punk rock.

From The Let Go is upbeat and energetic acoustic rock (think Sister Hazel or Train). Bob Pepek shows real promise as a songwriter, displaying a strong sense of melody (and great harmonies!). From The Let Go opens with Just One More Word, a melancholy air about spending the night alone with unrequited love. The tune is hopeful and hopeless all at once and is utterly amazing. This is a song that most any lovelorn teen (or anyone who's ever been one) can identify with, and has a universal angst that could make it a very popular song indeed.

A Little More revisits a long-lost relationship with a peppy tune that will get stuck between your ears. Open Your Heart is a lovely ballad that will be definite mix tape material. Redundancy brings a fuller sound to From The Let Go and is a decent song, but not as enjoyable as the more stripped down tracks that came before. This Promise To You returns to the bare acoustic sound that dominates From The Let Go. Pepek seems most comfortable (or at least at his best) when it's just him, guitar, a few voices and scant supporting instrumentation. This is part songwriting and part his natural sound. The one song on From The Let Go that went to a fuller sound became somewhat muddy. The rest? Amazing.

Bob Pepek is a name you should be hearing more of over the next few years. I would not be surprised if he builds a fairly steady following over time and if we're still hearing new music from him 20 years from now. For the time being, From The Let Go is a strong entry into the pop music discography. It's definitely worth a listen, so check it out!

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Bob Pepek at Bob Pepek does not currently have sale information on his MySpace page for From The Let Go, so you’ll have to send him a message and ask!

Friday, September 19, 2008

CD Review: The Laurie Berkner Band - Rocketship Run

The Laurie Berkner Band - Rocketship Run
2008, Two Tomatoes Records

Laurie Berkner is the most popular children's artist in the United States for one reason: she's real. Berkner has an ability to speak to children in her music without condescending to them, all while making music that parents enjoy as well. The Laurie Berkner Band's 2006 DVD (We Are...The Laurie Berkner Band) sold 4 million copies if you need a gauge of success. Laurie Berkner released Rocketship Run in August, 2008, her first CD of new material in six years. The disc contains 20 songs developed with Adam Bernstein and Susie Lampert (The Laurie Berkner Band), and should maintain Berkner's status as the Madonna of the kindergarten set.

Laurie Berkner started out as an elementary school who moonlighted as an alt-rocker. Putting her two diverging professional paths together turns out to have been sheer genius as she has achieved success far beyond what she might have imagined at the beginning. Rocketship Run mixes folk, rock, ska, blues, conga, samba and even an Irish jig to create a musical stew that is vibrant and varied. The kiddies will be able to sing along with this disc in no time (as is usually true with Berkner CDs), and you'll soon know the album front to back from continuous replays.

Highlights include the title track, Rocketship Run, which has already been featured in a Noggin video. Other great tracks include Mouse In My Toolbox, Jump and Fly, Pigbasket, Winter Lullaby and Fast And Slow (The Rabbit And The Turtle). As always Berkner's voice is pleasant and full of light. Rocketship Run continues Berkner's very appealing and intelligent children's albums. Our kids love her, yours will too.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Laurie Berkner at You can purchase Rocketship Run through a link of Berkner’s website, or at major music retailers such as WalMart, Barnes and Noble and Target.

CD Review: Future In Plastics - Future In Plastics

Future In Plastics - Future In Plastics
2008, Future In Plastics

Future In Plastics sets course for a post-punk, stream of consciousness lyrical style that fits their energetic yet unfocused musical compositions. Imagine Living Color crossed with the B-52's and you have an idea of the sound promulgated by Future In Plastics. This is great music to slam dance to, otherwise it's a bit hollow. Dead Sea Rolls includes some interesting guitar work, but is lyrical babble. Better Living Through Chemistry opens with one of the best bass riff's this side of La Via Strangiato, but otherwise falls prey to its own disorganization. Death Valley similarly has difficulties, although its infectious beat makes it very danceable.

Future In Plastics is a young band. They remind me something of a group of guys I went to high school with who put out an album back in the early 1990's to no fanfare and smaller sales. After struggling for years in the Indie scene they've built a solid reputation and a side gig as Graham Parker's backing band. They're called The Figgs when playing their own material. Future In Plastics show some of the same talent and tendencies of the early Figgs material. Whether they follow the same path depends a great deal on perseverance (and a little luck).

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Future In Plastics at You can purchase the EP at

CD Review: Steven Rodriguez - The Simple Things

Steven Rodriguez - The Simple Things

2008, G-Music

The Simple Things is just Steven Rodriguez and acoustic guitar. There is no denying that Rodriguez has a great voice and is adept on the acoustic. What's missing here is a backing band. The songs are decent but there's nothing earth shattering here -- no "Whoa." There is potential however. Rodriguez comes across as a young songwriter here with a lot of talent, but who would benefit from the creative tension that a band can provide. Songs like I Give In and The Simple Things show the talent that exists. It's just a question of a little more seasoning and maybe someone to bounce musical ideas off of.

The Simple Things is a valuable snapshot of a developing artist who may turn into an outstanding songwriter before he's done. Vocally and musically he's there. Keep your eyes and ears on Steven Rodriguez. He's one to watch.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Steven Rodriguez at The release of The Simple Things is forthcoming. Keep checking Rodriguez’ MySpace page for a release date and purchasing information.