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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zach Williams And The Reformation - A Southern Offering

Zach Williams And The Reformation - A Southern Offering
2011, Zach Williams And The Reformation

Zach Williams And The Reformation proves that growth is a good thing on their impressive sophomore album, A Southern Offering.  The band's previous effort, Electric Revival, was written solely by Williams.  This time out, Williams brings lyrics and his soulful rock voice and the rest of the band crafts the music.  The result is a stunning ode to the history of southern rock n roll, displaying the influence of bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Molly Hatchet and the Black Crowes.  In the process, Zach Williams And The Reformation has created a vibrant and modern album.  Producer Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Stevie Wonder, Elton John) helps capture the dynamic sound of ZWR with a live energy and a sense of polish that brings out the rough beauty of the music.

A Southern Offering opens with the vibrant southern friend rock n roll of "Gravy Train", a joyous number full of all the panache of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special.  "Mason Jar" is a solid piece of songwriting with a mildly soulful vocal from Williams.  "Fool's Moon" plays like it could be a Bob Seger outtake, and has a melody that will stay with you.  "Picture Perfect" is a mellow rock ballad that makes the most of Williams' soulful voice against a blues backdrop that does the title justice.  "The Fix" opens with a guitar riff that sounds like something cooked up by ZZ Top, and blows up into a full rock sound on the chorus that's infectious.

"Motels And Highways" is a world-weary lament of a man who makes his living on the road.  ZWR picks up steam on "Rock N Roll Me", a blues rocker that sounds like a southern fried Zeppelin tune if David Coverdale were sitting in for Robert Plant.  There's real energy in this tune, which is among the best on the album.  "PO Box And A Postcard" is a speculative number building off the ideas in "Motels And Highways".  ZWR sounds a lot like the Black Crowes here, as Williams ruminates on love lost.  "Wishing Well" and “Sky Full Of Treasure” close things out in consistent yet unsurprising style.

Zach Williams And The Reformation impress on A Southern Offering.  With a sound steeped in classic southern rock yet updated with a modern edge, ZWR stands to capture the attention of several generations of classic and southern rock fans.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Zach Williams And The Reformation at or  A Southern Offering is available digitally from and iTunes.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me

Brother Lou - The Devil In Me
2011, Brother Lou

Brother Lou (AKA Luis Dominguez), is a Vienna, Virgina-based singer/songwriter, but his colorful history has seen him in bands all along the east coast.  Settling into the Washington, D.C. scene, Brother Lou has quietly become one of the better Indie songwriters on the east coast, earning awards from the VH-1 Song Of The Year contest, the Great American Song Contest (2011 finalist) and American Songwriter magazine.  2011 finds Brother Lou at it again with the release of The Devil In Me, his follow-up to 2008’s As Good As You Want.  The Devil In Me is a fun mix of blues, folk and Americana that’s part Leon Redbone and part Big Rude Jake.

Brother Lou opens with the title track, a tasty bit of vaudevillian hobo blues.  Imagine Big Rude Jake in a stripped down setting.  "The Devil In Me" is a prayer of thanks that's counterintuitive but fun.  "Can't Make You Shine Anymore" is a fun little number covering the war of love, the love of war, and all the amazing things that happen in the space between.  The song is offered here in a wonderfully stripped down blues arrangement that is appealing to the ears.  "Through The Wind" is a mellow ballad praising the important things in life (love, happiness, peace, friendship).  The song gets points for intent and for Brother Lou's clear, steady voice. 

"I Go Down" is a solid autobiographical number from a man who struggles against his own inner demons to hold up his end of a relationship.  He consistently falls away, and this is one more time he's coming back seeking forgiveness.  "The Hungry Girl" is an amusing blues/folk exposition on an overly dependent upstairs neighbor.  Brother Lou goes for big entertainment value, but borders on mean-spirited humor at times here.  "Don't Want To Hide Anymore" is a pensive, run-on ballad that's highly emotive.  Centered in loneliness, the song is a strong Adult Contemporary entry, but does drag a bit.

"This Song" is a half-glass full song written from the perspective of a songwriter who lost a relationship but gained a song.  Mild wit and a health get-on-with-life attitude pervade here in a catchy but reserved arrangement.  Brother Lou missteps a bit with "When You Lose At Love", a melancholy ballad with a pitchy lead vocal that distracts from a fairly decent melody.  He recovers well on "Dancin' Shoes", a song of simple temptation and everlasting consequence that's catchy and more fun than it should be.  "I'm Gonna Rise Again" is awash in human imperfection and unreasonable optimism, opening with a promise and closing on the loneliness that comes when such are unfulfilled.  Brother Lou closes with "Bad Gravity", an offbeat song of excuses and misdirection.  The music is melancholy, but the vocal line is vibrant; the dichotomy is a bit jarring, and makes for an almost uncomfortable close.

Brother Lou sets an ambitious course with The Devil In Me, covering vast stylistic ground while trying to build a cohesive album that flows.  The effort is generally a success, although there isn't really a breakout moment on the album.  It's more of a slow-and-steady wins the race approach, with Brother Lou traversing love, loss and the many ways that people try to understand the world around them.  Accordingly, The Devil In Me ranges widely, but Brother Lou manages to tie it all together in a fashion that, while not storybook, works.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Brother Lou at  The Devil In Me is available via as a CD or Download.  The album is also available through iTunes.

Morning Fame - A Lasting Place

Morning Fame - A Lasting Place
2011, Morning Fame

Toronto’s Morning Fame is a quartet playing in a bout of pre-Grunge rock pique, incorporating solid melodies into tried and true arrangements and styles.  Comprised of vocalist Vik Kapur, drummer Alan Dennis, bassist Donald Colaco and guitarist Joe Liranzo, Morning Fame has carved out a niche in the vibrant Indie music scene of Toronto.  Morning Fame recently finished recording their debut EP, A Lasting Place.  Due for release September 1, 2011, A Lasting Place has good intentions, but often gets lost on the way.

A Lasting Place kicks off with Morning Fame's first single, "Long Time Waiting".  The song is a languid ballad with a Gin Blossoms feel; a song about waiting forever for the right one to come along and finally finding her.  Unfortunately the enthusiasm you might expect from the revelation never materializes, defaulting into a bland melancholy that's musically solid but ultimately unsatisfying.  "Something On Mind" continues in a similar vein; solid but unremarkable.  Morning Fame maintains the same level through "Stranger" and "Time", finally breaking out on the EP's final track, "Blinded".  All of the energy and inspiration listeners have been waiting for finally explodes in a pique of pure pop joy.  The song does nothing to shake Morning Fame's sound-a-like status with regard to the Gin Blossoms, but does show an ability to craft a catchy pop song you'll want to listen to more than once.

A Lasting Place suffers from a general lack of energy and showmanship.  Vocalist Vik Kapur is solid but unsure of himself at times.  Morning Fame does pull it together at the last minute, showing flashes of the band they might well become.  A Lasting Place is an important first step; hopefully Morning Fame can build on the EP's closing moments.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about Morning Fame at or, where you can stream many of Morning Fame's songs.  A Lasting Place is due for release on September 1, 2011.  Keep checking Morning Fame's website for details.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tom Goss - Turn It Around

Tom Goss - Turn It Around
2011, Tom Goss

Washington, D.C. singer-songwriter Tom Goss is having a pretty good year.  Recently married to his partner of five years, Goss released a new album, Turn It Around in 2011 inspired by romance and nostalgia.  In the process he had one of his songs, "All I Wanted", featured in the May 25, 2011 season finale of the show Cougar Town.  The Wisconsin native and one time Catholic seminarian explores politics, romance and issues of faith in an intriguing and surprisingly upbeat effort.

Turn It Around opens with "It's All Over", a solid, guitar-driven rocker that's decent enough but kicks things off on a somewhat slow note.  "Shady Dell" is a likeable piece of angular pop that captures the speed of change in the lives of children.  It's an intriguing and insightful number; intelligent but with a distinctive pop appeal.  "Spaces Unseen" is a pensive ballad that flows better musically than it does lyrically.  Goss' subtle arrangement and guitar work impress.

"Turn It Around" might be one of the catchiest songs we've heard thus far in 2011, and comes with a positive message.  You'll find yourself wanting to get up and dance, and humming along while you do.  "Is It Too Early?" is a well-intended love song exploring how early is too early to say those three words.  Unfortunately the song falls a bit flat, playing more like the hopeless perseveration of a lovelorn teenager than an attempt to understand love.  Stewart Lewis helps out on vocals this time around.  "Make Believe" is an infectious invitation to a future of romance and adventure; solid and appealing but perhaps lacking a vibrant sense that would make it more convincing.

""Two Steps From You" is a somewhat bland love ballad that just doesn't soar.  This trend is evident more and more throughout Turn It Around; with Goss struggling on the ballads to maintain the same sense of edge and energy that he does on the more upbeat material.  "All I Ever Wanted is a catchy pop gem about the power of hope and the changeability of circumstance; an appealing listen that may well become a fan favorite.  Goss closes out with a trio of solid, yet unremarkable tracks in "You Came Along", "Seems Like Yesterday" and "You Know That I Love You". 

It's obvious that ballads aren't going to have the same external energy as rockers; however the energy that goes into the song should not change.  Goss manages to infuse the upbeat tracks on Turn It Around with an infectious energy that engages listeners.  Unfortunately the ballads seemingly find Goss in his own reverie, and the connection gets lost along the way.  Turn It Around is obviously inspired by romantic love, which is never a bad thing.  But Goss gets caught up in his emotion the way a kid in a diary might; and his commitment and passion the ballads can become lost on listeners, just as the circular ruminations of the young in love might in a diary.  The words are there, but the passion simply doesn't translate in palpable terms.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Tom Goss at or  Turn It Around is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Von Ehrics - Two Foot Stomp

The Von Ehrics - Two Foot Stomp
2011, Lucky Buck Records

Dallas punktry band The Von Ehrics, named after the prominent ECW wrestling family, are back with their fourth album, Two Foot Stomp.  With an irrepressible sound and a can-do attitude, The Von Ehrics took seven months to write and rehearse Two Foot Stomp before stepping into a studio with producer Dave Willingham (Polyphonic Spree, Earl Harvin Trio).  The result is a blend of punk and country displaying the melodic sensibility of Bob Mould (Husker Du, Sugar). Suffice it to say The Von Ehrics will grab your attention quickly and simply won't let go.

Two Foot Stomp opens with a working class hero anthem entitled "Last Of The Working Slobs".  Set in a society that has moved on and forgotten the working class that built it, the song is full of great energy and unfettered angst, and houses a chorus you won't be able to get out of your head.  "Gone" is a catchy outsider's anthem that sounds like a cross between the Gin Blossoms and The Refreshments with a bit of outlaw country thrown into the mix.  It's an intriguing blend that you'll keep coming back to.  "Smokewagon" is a high energy tribute to the band's touring van, likely to target them for being pulled over in most states. 

"Lord, I Pray" is an entertaining blend of punkabilly and gospel that's unforgettable.  The Von Ehrics obviously had fun in recording this number, as it oozes from every pore of the song.  "Rock And Roll" is a catchy song, written for those times when nothing less than rock n roll will do.  In spite of the low-fi approach, The Von Ehrics prove to be very musically competent, a fact that is highlighted here.  The effort to capture a classic country motif on "Goodbye/The Ride" falls flat, however.  It is a sign of things to come, as Two Foot Stomp levels off into solid but unremarkable songs for the rest of the trip.  The closing track, "Texas (When I Die)" shows a brief revival of the energy and chutzpah of the first half of the album, but can't save the second half of the album from a somewhat ho-hum assessment in light of what it followed.

The Von Ehrics turn a brilliant and essential 6-song EP into a solid 12-song album with distinctive highlights on Two Foot Stomp.  Considering a lot of what is put on the market these days, that's not a knock on the band.  It's simply that the first half of the album is so good that the second half stands little chance.  There's really not a bad song on the album, which might aptly be called "The Two Sides of The Von Ehrics", but don't be surprised if the first half of the album gets significantly more spins than the second.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Von Ehrics at or  Two Foot Stomp is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand

Sheri Miller - Winning Hand
2011, Sheri Miller

Sheri Miller made an impact quickly.  Her 2008 debut album, Mantra, spawned an underground hit in "Right Here, Right Now", and earned her recognition as one of Music Connection's 'Hot 100 Unsigned Artists'.  An invitation to join a group called The Delilahs resulted in a major label contract and opportunities to write songs with the likes of J.D. Souther, Jill Sobule, Shawn Mullins and Al Anderson (NRBQ).  Unfortunately the band fell apart, and Miller found herself on her own again.  She did the only thing a songwriter could do; she kept writing and performing.  The result is Miller's sophomore EP, Winning Hand, featuring a top-notch band with members who have played with the likes of Paul Simon, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, David Bowie and Suzanne Vega.  Winning Hand was produced by Kevin Killern (U2, Peter Gabriel), and represents significant growth on the excellent start Miller got off to with Mantra

Winning Hand sets sails with an Americana/pop love song in the form of "Spoons".  It's a brilliant low-key pop tune featuring gorgeous harmonies and a memorable chorus.  This could be a bonafide hit for Miller, and will likely be a winner in the licensing world as well.  "Winning Hand" is a languorous Americana ballad about taking the chance to fall in love.  Miller's melody is winsome, but the overall effect is a touch bland.  "Satellite" has an acoustic southern rock feel that's appealing.  A quiet anthem screaming to have big guitar sound pumped in, the song remains an enjoyable listen even in this stripped down form.  "Everybody Feels This Way Sometimes" seems a bit out of place here.  It's a decent enough tune, but doesn't have the same energy or sense of personality as the other tracks presented here.  Winning Hand winds up with "Hungry For The Truth", a dark rocker about figuring out the meaning of life, no matter the cost.  The song is quietly impressive, sneaking up on you and growing in estimation with each successive listen.  It's probably the most impressive piece of songwriting Sheri Miller has unveiled thus far; showing a much more complex and intricate side to her songwriting psyche than one might expect.

Sheri Miller continues to impress, showing more levels and layers to her lyrics and composition than on the formidable Mantra EP.  The best way to describe Sheri Miller is to say she's a star in waiting.  In the days of major label dominance, Sheri Miller would already have a major record deal, and would be in demand as both a songwriter and performer.  Life is both easier and harder in the post-label era, but Miller's progression as a songwriter in the last three years speaks of wonderful things to come down the road.  Winning Hand has its rough spots, but when Miller is on her game there are few better.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Sheri Miller at or 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bowling For Soup - Fishin' For Woos

Bowling For Soup - Fishin' For Woos
2011, Que-So Records/Brando Records

Texas rockers Bowling For Soup return in 2011 with their eleventh album, Fishin’ For Woos, an intriguing collection of twelve songs that capture the irreverent air of classic Bowling For Soup material but also show a growing maturity as songwriters and performers.  Co-produced by front man Jaret Reddick and Jarinus (Linus of Hollywood), Fishin’ For Woos will remind longtime fans of the sound Bowling For Soup propagated on 2002’ Drunk Enough To Dance.

Fishin' For Woos opens with the muscular guitar-pop of "Let's Pretend We're Not In Love".  With a memorable chorus and bridge, Bowling For Soup pursues a counter-intuitive request for another chance, dolled up in solid vocal harmonies and an arrangement that moves.  "Girls In America" could be a pan-geographic update of "California Girls" for a global culture.  Bowling For Soup doesn’t go in for the Wilsonian harmonies you'd expect on a Beach Boys tune, although there is a brief homage wove into the arrangement.  It's a fun and entertaining number that seems fitting for the next installment in the American Pie series.  "S-S-S-Saturday" is a pure celebration of the weekend; mindless and fun.  It's a great piece of alterna-pop.  Bowling For Soup gets melancholy on "What About Us", employing a solid pop sensibility and plus melody in a number questioning the future of a relationship. 

Practically every songwriter who has ever lived has written a song about important people in their lives.  The rest get bugged about it until they do, or until they jettison the complaining friend/family member/significant other.  Bowling Soup responds to this hypothetical in pure smart-alec style with "Here's Your Freakin' Song"; a ballad dripping with sarcastic honesty.  "This Ain't My Day" is an anthem for the complainers out there; built on great pop hook with big rock sound.  Don't be surprised if this is the song you're still humming the day after you first hear Fishin' For Woos

"Smiley Face (It's All Good)" gets back to what rock n roll is all about.  You're left with the distinctive impression here (and through much of the album, really) that Bowling For Soup flat out had fun making this album.  "I've Never Done Anything Like This" is straight out of a movie, or at least it should be.  Anyone who's ever done the walk of shame has heard, though or said this at least once.  Guest vocalist Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo, Palmdale) is a real treat here.  "Friends Chicks Guitars" is a fun number that essentially sums up why a lot of bands started playing together in the first place.  There's a simple, uncomplicated joy here that is catchy.  "Guard My Heart" is a solid album track, and leads into the closer, "Graduation Trip".  You might call "Graduation Trip" something of an alternative "Time Of Your Life" (Green Day).  It starts out awkwardly and is a bit sophomoric in nature, but the song has a good heart, a solid melody and something thoughtful and poignant to say.

Bowling Soup has developed a fairly devoted following over the years, and it's easy to see why.  Maturity has perhaps mellowed the sound and approach of the band just a tad, but beneath the sheen of jocularity and machismo the band once carried beat the heart of a band with real pop sensibility and an ability to craft catchy, memorable songs that stick with you.  Fishin' For Woos manages to be the most accomplished effort to date from Bowling For Soup, without giving up the irreverent heart and the knowing smirk that has made them so fun to listen to over the years.  Fishin' For Woos is a pleasant surprise.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Bowling For Soup at or  Fishin' For Woos is available from as a CD, on Vinyl and as a Download.  The album is also available digitally via iTunes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Leah Lou And The Two Left Shoes - This Music Belongs To You

Leah Lou And The Two Left Shoes - This Music Belongs To You
2011, Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes

Leah Lou, Daniel Lee and a kick drum made from a garbage can comprise Cleveland, Ohio's Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes.  Originally a trio, the band lost their drummer a week before a performance and had to improvise.  Their unusual stage presence combined with Leah Lou's distinctive voice and songwriting style will take you by surprise.  Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes' debut EP, The Music Belongs To You, is a memorable effort that will leave you clamoring for more.

Leah Lou opens with "Clean Apartment", a snappy bit of folk/pop featuring Leah Lou's distinctively world-wise little girl voice.  Everything clicks here in an offbeat reminiscence, of sorts, about a relationship past.  "Donnie" is a bouncy little tune detailing the decline, fall and collateral damage of a family man succumbing to drug addiction.  The melody and tone of the song is in such stark contrast to the lyrics it's almost comical; you won't be able to get this tune out of your head.  "Donnie" might be one of the most infectious tunes of the year thus far, and seems ripe for movie licensing.

The dysfunction continues to flow on "Drunk Stupid & Used", where Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes continue to juxtapose a display of personal demons alongside bouncy alterna-folk arrangements with supreme pop sensibility.  The gem of the EP just might be "Green Like Me", a brilliant recounting of insecurity and envy that's wonderfully upbeat and awash in neuroses.  This time the bounce is in the words and the vocal line, played against a plaintive, tick-tock style arrangement that marks the passage of time.  "Rain, They Say" is an apologist take on moodiness and its effects on those around us; an entertaining ditty with a memorable melody.  The EP closes quietly with the existential "Stop & Go", a treatise on traffic jams and the way they bring us together and pull us apart.  The mundane approach and gentle arrangement suggest a deeper parallel that's intriguing.

Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes make a fine impression on This Music Belongs To You, the sort that will have listeners scouring the internet for unreleased tracks and waiting impatiently for their next album or EP.  Leah Lou's distinctive sound makes her instantly recognizable, and Daniel Lee helps to fill out the arrangements in distinctive style.  This Music Belongs To You is one EP not to miss.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

 Learn more about Leah Lou & The Two Left Shoes on MySpace or Facebook.  This Music Belongs To You is available for download from Bandcamp

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Gory Bateson - Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?

Gory Bateson - Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?
2011, Ethnog Records

Gory Bateson has lived a charmed life.  As primary songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist for 1960's rockers The Ethnogs; Bateson has a handful of top-ten singles to his name.  In spite of a host of well-documented personal struggles, Bateson's popularity has remained relatively unscathed over the years.  While legal troubles are rumored to have curtailed touring plans of The Ethnogs during the 1970's and 1980's, the band did manage to put on a handful of "hit and run" shows stateside, while maintaining their reputation as a world class touring act.  Bateson dropped out of sight for most of two decades, playing in Ethnog cover bands and even doing a brief stint a spokesman for Viagra.  But music never stopped calling, and Bateson needed the money.  The upshot of this mutual need is Bateson's first solo album in almost a decade, Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?  Bateson embraces technology this time around, using modern recording techniques and computer effects to complete his most compelling work since his 1960's heyday.

Bateson kicks things off with "She's Got The Booty For It", a hippy-hop/pop blend that marches up the borders of family propriety and sticks around for a good, long, uncomfortable look.  It's a well-written tune with a chorus that will stick in your head; you'll be cursing Bateson for days.  "Don't Be A Drag, Man" could be called a treatise in blues, and probably explains the outlook that has allowed Bateson to escape the ups and downs of his life without getting roughed up in the process.  "Delta Breezes" is a mellow-yet-catchy classic rock number with hints of Jimmy Buffet in its lineage.  The choice of clarinet for the big instrumental solo is a bit unusual, but works out particularly well.  The song definitely sounds like something you could dance to on a Saturday night. 

"My Baby's Thong" will leave listeners scratching their heads.  You'll find yourself hoping this one is a joke, but given Bateson's reputation you can never be sure.  Nevertheless, it's a disturbing song full of imagery those weak of constitution might want to avoid.  Bateson pulls himself into the 21st century with "Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?” a semi-comic response to a new dating pitfall for the digital age.  Bateson even uses a Vocoder to make the point; an artful touch to top off a catchy arrangement.  Bateson's stab at 1960's-style Latin pop, "Guanajuato", doesn't quite mesh with the rest of the album, but it is a pleasant little diversion along the way.

Bateson daydreams about driving fancy cars in "Valet In L.A.", a cute and catchy bit of fluff that leads into the low-brau rocker "Road Rage".  Bateson's chorus is catchy enough you'll carry it with you, and will recur the next time you're cut off in traffic or have to wait for the person in front of you at the stop light to finish their call before they realize it's turned green.  "West Hollywood Blues" finds Bateson crossing economic, social and sexual tracks in a well-intended but ham-handed attempt at humor (we think).  Once again, it's hard to know for sure, as Bateson tends to have no filters, and no apparent understanding of one might look like in the first place.  Bateson offers a quick goodbye in the form of "Happy Birthday Buddy", an abrupt birthday greeting for a friend whose demise has been greatly exaggerated. 

Gory Bateson isn't impossible, but he's highly improbable.  With a schizophonic sound that shifts as quickly as his moods, Bateson is literally all over the map on Is That Viral Enuf 4 U?  Gory Bateson is an artist with a good heart and a skewed perspective on life.  He's also quite generous; his constant emails, impromptu songs left on our answering machine, digital pictures of his belly button lint collection and bundles of homegrown oregano (we think) have certainly brightened the office here at Wildy's World.  The music will brighten your day as well.  Grant, some of the lyrics are downright disturbing or funny, depending upon your proclivities, but Gory is always entertaining.  The answer is Yes, Gory, I believe it is.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gory Bateson on Facebook or on Twitter.  Is Tha Viral Enuf 4 U? is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via and iTunes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wildy's World is going mobile!

Wildy's World readers are a mobile bunch, and now you can bring Wildy's World into your world wherever you go!

Wildy's World has now gone mobile! Go to to get an app for your phone.  It's free and it has alerts so that you'll know whenever Wildy's World has anything new. What could be better?

As of this time there is a Wildy's World app for Android as well as a Mobile Web App.  An iPhone app is in the works, and should be forthcoming.

100 Mile House - Hollow Ponds

100 Mile House - Hollow Ponds
2011, 100 Mile House

100 Mile House spent 2010 building their own success.  The Edmonton, Alberta trio of husband and wife Peter Stone and Denise McKay and multi-instrumentalist Scott Zubot built a following in Western Canada touring on the back of their debut album, Fall To Fall.  Airplay across Canada and a performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics helped to build a quiet buzz for the band.  100 Mile House returns in 2011 with Hollow Ponds; a contemplative album that follows the escapes and recoveries of the human heart.

100 Mile House kicks things off with the title track.  "Hollow Ponds" is the story of a prodigal son who is not yet ready to return home, but is drawn by the memory of comfort and safety.  The song is built from gorgeous, simple instrumentation, and is filled with startling imagery.  "Edward IV" is a driven folk/country number, full of prosaic story-telling and urgent energy.  The music almost becomes secondary against the power of the tale.  "Linden Tree" is a one-sided dialogue that leaves much out of the reach of understanding, but is compelling in its urgency. 

"Better, Still" is a mildly catchy song about priorities in the form of family and loves ones.  It's a nice tune with a positive message; as impactful in message as it is subtle musically.  100 Mile House settles into the middle of Hollow Ponds with four solid album tracks in "Freeland", "Sigh", "Queen St." and "Honey".  All are solid and well-written without calling particular attention to themselves.  Things pick up a bit with the enigmatic ballad "A Promise".  The band explores death, grief and the power of words in almost clinical fashion, but not without a good dose of heart in the end.  The song is moving, and will mean the most to those for whom such a situation is fresh.  "Because You're Mine" is a gypsy folk number with big rock attitude.  McKay and Stone share vocals here and play off of each other beautifully, while exploring the great truth of love.  100 Mile House closes with the pensive strains of "Morning Light"; pursuing a dream of comfort, but finding truth in the riches of a simple life.

100 Mile House builds on the quiet success of Fall To Fall with a sonically beautiful and thought-filled effort in Hollow Ponds.  100 Mile House have certainly refined their songwriting since 2009, growing into an even more cohesive and organic sound.  Hollow Ponds is a winner.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about 100 Mile House at or  You can download Hollow Ponds from iTunes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ricky Skaggs - Country Hits: Bluegrass Style

Ricky Skaggs - Country Hits: Bluegrass Style
2011, Skaggs Family Records

What makes a musical legend?  Perhaps you could start with being the head of an eight-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Instrumental Band of the Year (Kentucky Thunder).  Somewhere in there you could add fourteen GRAMMY Awards, 8 ACM Awards, 8 CMA Awards, and have twelve consecutive albums receive GRAMMY nominations.  Or perhaps it would take no less than someone such as Chet Atkins declaring that you personally saved country music.  Somewhere in there your persona will take on a life of its own.  So it is for Ricky Skaggs.  Skaggs seems to never make a wrong move musically, but his latest album is a real treat.  Country Hits: Bluegrass Style revisits his country hits of the 1980's and early 1990's, putting a bluegrass spin on some of Skaggs' most requested songs. 

Skaggs sets off with an incredibly catchy and danceable take on "Heartbroke".  The instrumental work beneath the surface is absolutely superb, and the entertainment value is high.  Skaggs sails through the vocals in an easy-going fashion.  "Honey (Open That Door)", one of Skaggs' most requested songs, is done up in classic country style, with guitar work Chet Atkins himself would be proud of.  "Cajun Moon" blends old school country and Zydeco in a classy arrangement you'll find it hard to shake.  Skaggs sounds a lot like Hank Williams on the Flatt and Scruggs penned "Crying My Heart Out Over You".  Sweet and full of sorrow, Skaggs creates a masterful arrangement decorated with amazing vocal harmonies.  "He Was On To Something (So He Made You)" shows Skaggs' more subtle side on guitar, in a sweet arrangement that washes over you like water.

"Highway 40 Blues" is a sweet homage to life on the road where Skaggs and his band find a moment of instrumental perfection.  This leads into the virulently catchy "Uncle Pen", a celebration of country music with vocal harmonies that will send chills down your spine.  Skaggs takes listens for a brilliant, high-speed romp on "Country Boy".  Anyone who has ever slung a guitar or banjo over their shoulder will be absolutely in awe of the instrumental work here, which blends speed, precision and musicality and takes the listener to dizzying heights in a true "WOW" moment. 

Skaggs begins winding down with the classic-style country ballad "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could".  This sweet rendition is memorable; reverent to the original but with more of a home grown feel.  "Don't Get Above Your Raising" is a catchy and fun mid-tempo number; fun fluff that you can dance to without working too hard.  Country Hits, Bluegrass Style closes with "Somebody's Prayin'", a sweet number steeped in the blended history of gospel and country.  Skaggs' unadorned voice lends to the simple beauty of the song, and is the perfect to say "until next time."

Rather than simply drop a compilation of recordings his ardent fans already have, Ricky Skaggs makes the classy choice to re-interpret his biggest country hits in bluegrass style.  For some of the songs presented on Country Hits: Bluegrass Style the jump isn't so large, but Skaggs breathes new life into old songs and in the process reminds us all why his is one of the most revered names in country music.  Don't be surprised if Country Hits: Bluegrass Style becomes the 13th consecutive Skaggs album to be nominated for, and ultimately brings home his 15th GRAMMY Award.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or  Country Hits: Bluegrass Style is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dan Fisk - Bruises From The Backseat

Dan Fisk – Bruises From The Backseat
2011, Daniel Fisk
Virginia native Dan Fisk is a versatile singer/songwriter who has been rising to the top of the Washington, DC market over the past few years.  Voted one of D.C.’s “Hottest 5” musicians in 2010, Fisk’s chunky guitar style, voice and songwriting mesmerize artists.  Comparisons to Dave Matthews and Pat McGee abound, and seem justified.  Fisk recently released his debut solo EP, Bruises From The Backseat, featuring appearances from the cream of the Washington D.C. music scene’s crop, including Katie Chambers and Ted Garber.
Bruises From The Backseat opens with "A Thousand Love Songs", an awkward newborn of a song that quickly finds its step.  This is an acoustic ballad with oomph, and you can almost hear the soaring strains of a classic power ballad beneath the unadorned acoustic arrangement.  "Part Of You" is an intriguing number about the transition of a relationship from lovers to friends.  Fisk creates interest with small musical touches woven into the edges of the arrangement, accentuating a melody worth paying attention to.  "Little Things" is a silly little love song that focuses of romantic minutiae.  Done up in a catchy folk/pop arrangement, "Little Things" is ripe for licensing for prime-time television drama. 

Fisk creates some musical waves with a brilliant cover of one of Paul Simon's lesser known hits, "Standed In A Limousine".  Fisk brings out the bluesy backbone of the song, and has obvious fun doing so.  There's no keeping your feet still for this one.  "Life And Limb" finds Fisk in a quieter mode, turning in a great vocal performance, and finding a bit of high lonesome sound in the distinctive vocal harmonies crafted around the melody.  Fisk closes with a solid reprisal in "Part Of You II".

The first thing that will strike you about Dan Fisk is his voice.  It's not perfect; flecked as it is here and there with interesting veins of timbre and tone, but there is something utterly reel about it.  Fisk is a performer, pure and simple; a quality that even comes across in the recorded media of a CD or MP3.  Bruises From The Backseat is the sort of introduction that keeps listeners coming back.  It's a little early to declare Fisk a star, but the potential is there. 

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Dan Disk at or Bruises From The Backseat is available from as a Bruises from the Backseat or Download.  The album is available via iTunes.

Escape Directors - The Crowded Room

Escape Directors – The Crowded Room
2011, Escape Directors
Bergen County, New Jersey melodic alt-popsters Escape Directors  first showed up in Wildy’s World back in July of 2010 with their debut album Ladders.  With an understated musical sensibility and a penchant for great songwriting, the band was off to a great start.  Now, with the 2011 well under way, Escape Directors hit back with a new EP, The Crowded Room.  Escape Directors maintain their musical sensibilities on The Crowded Room, showing a penchant for big, arching melodies, but struggle a bit with consistency this time out.
The Crowded Room opens with "The War Outside", a gorgeous sonic experience steeped in strings.  The piece is mired in the same sort of maudlin musical heart that afflicts occasionally afflicts Coldplay and Radiohead, but soars at times in piques of harmonic joy as hope and drudgery intermingle and fuse.  After such a splendid start, "Set Fire To A Crowded Room" is something of a letdown.  Not bad in and of itself, the song simply doesn't fare well in the shadow of its predecessor.  "The Distant Past" is a fair effort, neither exciting nor boring, but holds down the middle of EP in solid form.  "Long Flights" begins an ascent for Escape Directors, blending a big guitar sound with ethereal pop to show flashes of what the band is capable of.  Escape Directors bookends The Crowded Room with "Money Changes Everyone", once again capturing the soaring grandeur and pure sonic essence they opened with.

The Crowded Room starts and ends with the sort of musical magic Escape Directors are capable of creating.  The middle of the EP is a bit soft, although "Long Flights" does surprise with a slightly edgier sound that is a welcome treat.  While The Crowded Room is a bit uneven, it certainly represents the potential that Escape Directors continue to build on in fine form.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Escape Directors at or  The Crowded Room is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brion Riborn - Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover

Brion Riborn - Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover
2011, Brion Riborn
Brion Riborn is a Michigan-based singer/songwriter whose muse is as cold and unrelenting as the Great Lakes waters of his home.  Traveling the darker waters of human existence, Riborn’s songs often play on loss, grief and the shortcomings of mankind, both individually and collectively.  His latest album, Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover, is no exception.

Riborn is capable of singing with a gusto and pizzazz that makes you think of a big-time front man.  That charisma and urgent energy is there on the opening track, "Foursquare".  Riborn shows a lyric voice with some delightfully rough edges in this catchy, alt-Americana number.  "I Was A Lover" continues in a similar vein; Americana with something of a garage rock mystique.  But the album is about to be overtaken by a dark turn in emotive style and pace.  "Emergency Exit Routes" is stylish in approach, but falls quickly into a repetitive pattern that is tough to take.  The saving grace of the song is Riborn's voice, which soars in spite of getting stuck in a melodic rut.

"More Of Less" is an anthem for difficult times, and a reminder of the joy of simple things.  Riborn's poignant morality tale hits all the right notes, portraying a writing and storytelling style that's part Springsteen and part Marc Cohn.  Dark musical emotions swirl on "Such A Liar", while the song takes on a distinctively whiney tone that's bundled in pure Emo disaffection.  Riborn sinks further into the emotional muck and mire with "Walls & Wargames", a pain-riddled run-on sentence in song.  "Hold" sticks with this run-on, almost stream-of-conscious writing style, exploring the loss of losing a loved one, and the desire to hold onto the pain as a token of the past.  Lyrically well-written, Riborn simply maintains inertia for too long, both in this song and across the middle leg of the album.

"Times That We Forget" finds Riborn caught up in a melancholy reverie of memories and reflections.  There is an element of self-awareness that emerges from the mix of pain and wistful recollection that could be seen as the first green shoots of healing.  "The House On The Hill" opens with spooky organ music that quickly settles into hymn-like resolution.  This feeds into recollections of childhood and the paths that bring us together over time.  Riborn is in excellent voice in this pensive number, but his overly emotive vocal style once again takes on a whiney feel at times.   

"This Endless Sky" is a dreamy ballad with a classic theme; looking at the sky and dreaming that perhaps the other is looking at the same star.  Riborn's path is a bit darker here, as the other is perhaps looking from the other side of the veil.  Nevertheless, it's a gorgeous love ballad in spite of the darkness that hangs over it.  Riborn's poetry stands out here; written from the heart in deeply emotive terms, but retaining enough structure and style to stand on its own.  One might presume that suicide is the nexus of "On The Eve Of The Death Of A Beautiful Girl", but Riborn seems more concerned with others learning the power of words to change the course of ultimate decisions.  The sentiments here are wrought of pain but yield beauty in the end, over simplistic arrangement that works perfectly here.  Riborn sinks back into disaffection with "Weeds", sliding back into his struggle to understand mortality and the events that led to his particular heartbreak.  Riborn closes with "Futility", a post-modern glancing blow into Electronica that explores our inability to change the cycle of life and death, nor slow the passage of time.  The fatalistic turn here is a step forward in understanding, but definitely lacks the sort of resolution you might look for in a pop album.

Brian Riborn brings a disconnected sense to Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover, treading heavily on the themes of death, grief and the unerring human capacity to fall short of perfection.  Riborn grieves a host of causes here, both present and future.  His emotive and dark songwriting is obsessed with the minutiae of the shortcomings of human existence.  The music itself is generally beside the point, merely serving as quasi-generic landscapes against which Riborn's stylistic tales of woe are told.  Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover is ultimately intriguing, although there are moments in song that are perhaps as hard to get through as the events that inspired them.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Brion Riborn at or  Mediocrity Is An Adequate Lover is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.