All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

CD Review: Nikita Germaine - Just Kita

Nikita Germaine - Just Kita
2008, Family Tree Records

Prepare yourself. Nikita Germaine may just have one of the most amazing voices in R&B: A powerful and dusky alto that would be as enjoyable in front of a band as it would acapella. This is why she has previously been asked to contribute vocals to projects for Aretha Franklin (Who's Zoomin' Who), Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard), Steve Winwood, Curtis Mayfield, Tevin Campbell, Shanice Wilson and LaToya London. Nikita Germaine is also an accomplished songwriter, co-penning Take Me Higher (Diana Ross). The only surprise from Ms. Germaine's second album, Just Kita, would be if she failed to deliver on all of that promise. She doesn't fail.

Just Kita is a strong album involving elements of popular R&B and soul. The album is outstanding aside from the unfortunate lead single. 911-Love is a prime example of a record producer trying to include one highly marketable radio song to bolster sales of an otherwise solid album (and is included in its original form as well as a Dance Remix to bookend the album). That aside, the album is outstanding. My Life would burn up pop/dance/R&B charts throughout the summer if given the right push, and pray is just a first class pop song.

I would love to hear Nikita Germaine on a few old blues standards. Her voice is so strong and warm that she could sing a shipping invoice and be entertaining. Nikita Germaine is a first-class talent, and Just Kita is an outstanding listen (and most of you probably won't have the same reaction to 911-Love as yours truly - my apologies to Ms. Germaine).

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Nikita Germaine at You can purchase Just Kita at most major music retailers.

CD Review: The Wedding Present - El Rey

The Wedding Present - El Rey
2008, Manifesto Records

I was amazed to learn that The Wedding Present had been around for 21 years. I mean, I'd certainly heard of them, but I'd managed to never come across any of their music in all that time. El Rey is the bands 9th release, and is perhaps the most intense to date. The Wedding Present is in top form under the steady guiding hand of producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, The Pixies, Page and Plant, The Stooges).

El Rey is very guitar oriented and has a dark timbre akin to a good stout beer. I've actually waffled on the album a few times since I first heard it, liking it at times and holding it arms length at others. The conclusion I came to is that for me, at least, it's a mood album. Highlights for me are Spider-Man on Hollywood; Actress, Model, Whatever...; Don't Take Me Home Until I'm Drunk, and Boo Boo. These are some of the more upbeat songs on the album. I just had a hard time connecting with some of the slower, darker material (I never was big on the bottom of the stout glass either).

That's not to knock the music. Everything is executed very well. The production values are high and the musicianship is right there, it was just a little too dark for my taste. Where I was able to connect I really enjoyed the music, and I think that fans of the band will eat this album up. Likewise, if you were a fan of any of the dark, semi-depressed music that came on the late-80's British Invasion then this is definitely for you. All-in-all a strong effort, even if I don't have the taste for all of it.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Wedding Present at You can purchase a copy of El Rey at most major music retailers, or online at

Friday, May 30, 2008

CD Review: Five A.M. - Raise The Sun

Five A.M. - Raise The Sun
2008 Big Blue Bus Music

Five A.M.'s fans believe in them. All three of Five A.M.'s CDs have been funded or otherwise sponsored by fans. It's one thing to plunk down money for a band's CD, and another altogether to put up money to help make a CD that has yet to be recorded. Five A.M. inspires this sort of loyalty in their fans because of the quality of their music. On Raise The Sun, Five A.M. has crafted a disc full of radio-worthy songs that should help them gain much wider exposure.

Produced by Jeff Dawson (Daniel Powter) and mixed by Mike Fraser (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Rush, Metallica), Five A.M. is like a September call-up to the big leagues that plays his heart out. Raise The Sun features inspired songwriting, memorable melodies, class harmonies and a keen pop sensibility. Think Matchbox 20 with a little more muscle and you're in the right ballpark. Be Still, Just Say Anything and Still In Love With You are key songs on the more pop side. The title track has more of a Live (Lightning Crashes) feel to it, and one senses that there is a rougher side to Five A.M. that may come out more on stage.

The Distance is far and away my favorite track here, and would have significant radio exposure with the right push. This is a true potential hit.

Five A.M. is a very talented band and have offered up a great record in Raise The Sun. It deserves much attention.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Five A.M. at You can purchase a copy of Raise The Sun at, or on

CD Review: Hayden - In Field & Town

Hayden - In Field & Town
2008, Fat Possum Records (US), Hardwood Records (Canada)

The enigmatic Canadian singer/songwriter known as Hayden has been plying his musical trade for a lot of years now. I remember checking out some of his early recordings in the mid- to late-90's and being rather impressed. Hayden has always had a talent for writing these eclectic, mellow rock songs with thoughtful lyrics and wonderful melodies. These talents are still quite in evidence years later on his latest release, In Field & Town.

Hayden is the anti-rock star, seemingly to be in music more for the art than the almighty dollar or fame. This combination of humility, talent, experience and a constant search for musical perfection has built quite a catalog for Hayden over the years; yet In Field & Town may be his finest work yet.

Hayden is an acquired taste, I believe, but one worth acquiring. Despite an everyman's voice and less than clear diction, Hayden songs come across as near-perfect cameos of life's moments (or non-moments). Highlights on In Field & Town include Worthy of Your Esteem, More Than Alive, Did I Wake Up Beside You?, and Where And When. Where and When is a bit of reverie about a first meeting with someone significant, and will bring a smile to all but the most of cynical listeners.

The finest track here is Damn This Feeling. This is a musical soliloquy that should be required listening in any course about songwriting. Damn This Feeling should rank in the pantheon of great songs. If nothing else, In Field & Town has reminded me of what a fine talent Hayden possesses. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't give In Field & Town a listen.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Hayden at You can purchase a copy of In Field & Town through Fat Possum Records .

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thanks Big Meteor!

A special thanks to for the mention in their May issue!

CD Review: Josh Myers Band - Soul Serenade Sessions

Josh Myers Band - Soul Serenade Sessions
2007 Josh Myers Band

Is Josh Myers the next Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson? That really is the question here. Josh Myers Band's Soul Serenade Sessions is full of great rock tunes that are constructed along traditional ABACAB formats with one important difference: the lead vocalist here is Josh Myers' guitar. The lyrics themselves are lost in the mixolydia, but the singer is in perfect voice.

Soul Serenade Sessions is an exercise in stepping outside of traditional views of what rock music should be. The Good Fight is one of the finest rock tunes you'll hear, with down and dirty riffs and a soaring chorus. Part of me desperately wants to hear this music with an actual vocalist, because aside from having outstanding guitar chops, there is first-class composer behind Soul Serenade Sessions.

The most evocative and moving recording here may be Josh Myers' interpretation of Amazing Grace. There's a blues feel to Myers' interpretation that is at once reverential and original. Josh Myers dances along the fretboard and from mellow to heavy blues-oriented rock like night turning to day. And just when you think you've heard everything Josh Myers has got, he hits you with Takin' Back The Farm, a raucous country-rockers that blows the cover off your speakers.

So yes, a part of me hopes that the Josh Myers Band adds a vocalist at some point in the future, if just to add another dimension to the music. If not, it really doesn't matter. The music is that good.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Josh Myers Band at You can purchase copies of Soul Serenade Sessions at

CD Review: Chris DeMarco - Lost And Found

Chris DeMarco - Lost And Found
2007, Dreamco Music

What a long and varied road it's been for Chris DeMarco. From his days fronting Island Recording artist Riff Raff to his current tranquility base in Atlanta, Chris DeMarco has made a career of creating/performing well-crafted songs. His latest release, Lost and Found, is no exception. Chris DeMarco trots out a list of musical friends that boggles the mind: Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper), Tommy Talton (Gregg Allman), Ken Mazur (Robert Palmer), Barry Richman (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rhys Clark (Billy Joel/Freddy Jones Band) and Jim Fielder (Buffalo Springfield/Blood Sweat and Tears/Neil Sedaka). Oh, and let's not forget Billy Joel and Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf), who appear on the bonus track Sail Away.

Lost and Found is a rather varied record within the classic rock realm, with some songs (I Don't Wanna Wake Up, Out of The Blue, I;m Calling You, Love and Murder) that work very well. A couple of tracks fell flat for me, but overall this is a very powerful album. As a songwriter DeMarco is extremely talented, and obviously the band is top-notch. The sound is a little dated perhaps for the younger set, but those who know great music will be instantly attracted to Lost and Found.

Unknown Soldier is my personal favorite track, with it's neo-country Americana flavoring. Sail Away is a close second. You'll know Billy Joel by the presence of his signature keys (A riff that sounds like it might have been pulled right from Captain Jack). This is a first-class classic mellow rock album. It's not going to find a lot of traction with the kiddies, but will appeal strongly to fans of 70's & 80's AOR stations. An admirable effort.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Chris DeMarco at You can purchase Lost and Found on iTunes, Rhapsody & Napster as downloads. If you're like me and prefer the old-fashioned hard copy, check CD Baby or most major music retailers.

CD Review: SPiN - Spin EP

SPiN – Spin EP
2008, SPiN

Rock Is Not Dead. Despite the oft repeated refrain, rock is alive and well. Today we visit Philadelphia, PA and SPiN; one of the more pleasant surprises I’ve found of late. No bass player? No problem! SPiN offers up infectious, high-energy rock and roll on their debut: Spin EP. Released in November, 2007, this CD has already garnered Top-10 placement on the FMQB charts and some positive response from commercial radio. You can not listen to this disc without be-bopping along, unless you’re clinically deceased. And I wouldn’t make any arguments against SPiN in that case, either.

The disc opens with the straightforward rocker Not In Love, which combines driving guitar, soaring harmonies and a melody that will stay with you for days. Home is a rock ballad that builds on a flamenco riff and lush string arrangements to craft a bit of pop magic. This is your classic, heart-on-the-sleeve love song that many rock acts have lost the art of making (or become too caught up in). The song evolves into an urgent plea, utilizing some of the best rock theatric writing I’ve heard in some time.

There is a bit of theater in the music of SPiN. Based on this first EP, they just might be the total package musically. Great songwriting, smart lyrics, a profound sense of melody and harmony, and a vocalist (Eric Rothenheber) you could listen to all day long. Check out Bleed, which may just be the best pure rock song I’ve heard in some time. Buy the disc. Support their muse. This is what rock and roll is all about.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about SPiN at or You can download the Spin EP from iTunes or

CD Review: Career Club - Pure Hearing

Career Club – Pure Hearing
2008, Zza Records

Set for release on June 1, 2008 is Career Club’s Pure Hearing. The unusual rock due from Brooklyn, NY features Hans Gutnecht on Vocals/Guitar and Phillipp Gutbrod on drums. Pure Hearing is an exercise in the marriage of pop-savvy grunge with the sort of gothic new-wave that poured out of England in the late 1980’s. The end result is a noisy, angular rock and roll record that should land significant critical acclaim.

Quietly doing their own thing in the New York City music scene for the past few years, Career Club has built a solid following by pandering to nothing other than their own musical muse. The musical results are raw in the way good rock and roll should be. There is actually a strong stylistic resemblance to Canadian rock stalwarts Max Webster (Kim Mitchell). Like Max Webster, not everything here is accessible to the casual listener, but 10 of 13 songs have faced some level of commercial appeal.

Highlights from Pure Hearing include Jenny’s On The Stereo, Skatta-Do, Running In Place and Down In Arms. Career Club strikes me as the sort of band who lives for the live show environment. I highly recommend you check them out live if you happen to be in New York City. Pure Hearing is a positive musical step that should bridge to more great music and exploration by Career Club.

Rating 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Career Club at or You can purchase copies of Pure Hearing at

CD Review: V-Project - New Machine

The V-Project – New Machine
2008, DVaccaro

The V-Project is the brainchild of David Vaccaro, one of the denizens of the 1970s Boston scene that produced The Cars, J. Geils, Till Tuesday, Jon Butcher and Aerosmith, to name a few. New Machine finds Vaccaro mining familiar album-oriented-rock (AOR) depths with aplomb. Assisted by the ever dynamic Robin McAuley (McAuley-Schenker Group, Grand Prix, Survivor) on four tracks, Vaccaro has created a dynamic and authentic piece of late-70’s, early-80’s influenced guitar rock.

New Machine does not break any new ground (although essentially anytime Robin McAuley is involved in anything new ground is broken), but is a very listenable opus that dances around the edges of Southern Rock and 80’s Hair Metal at times. The highlights here happen to be the collaborations between McAuley and Vaccaro (Exit Sign, Somebody Like You, You Don’t Care and Tangled In Your Web). Also interesting is the Steve Miller cover The Stake.

Look, New Machine will not be everybody’s cup of tea. If you’re not into 70’s/80’s guitar rock then you’re probably not going to like this disc. If you are a fan of the era, then this is a must-have. If you’re new to the genre, you could do much worse than to have New Machine as your introduction to the sound.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about V-Project at, where you can also purchase a copy of New Machine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

CD Review: My American Heart - Hiding Inside The Horrible Weather

My American Heart – Hiding Inside The Horrible Weather
2007, Warcon Records

San Diego, CA based My American Heart has been making music since 2002 (previously under the name No Way Out). Their fifth release, Hiding Inside The Horrible Weather was released in 2007. This is an interesting record to review in that there are to My American Hearts evident here. The first four songs on the record I could have done without. They’re not bad, but I think the title of track four sums it up (“Tired and Uninspired”. Tracks 1-4 sound like a band going through the motions, perhaps at the behest of a record label exec who is trying to craft a certain sound for marketing? This is just a guess; the My American Heart that appears on tracks 5 through 11 is a much different, more interesting band.

The title track is an unapologetic rocker with great hooks. The Innocent Letter is a perhaps the highlight of the disc, with driving guitar and a highly memorable melody. There Are More Frightening Things… opens with a guitar riff that is reminiscent of a dark Message In A Bottle, and showcases the band’s energy and spirit. Even slower tracks such as Dangerous, Fantasy and All My Friends have an energy and life to them that is just missing from the early tracks.

The album is worthwhile, and shows a band coming into its own as a collaborative process. I just hope in the future a little more thought is given to song choice (or at least to song order). It’s not unusual to have a few tracks on any record that just don’t work, but it is best if those tracks are either sandwiched among tunes that do, or left for the end of the album (or single b-sides). My American Heart is a talented outfit, and I have confidence that they will continue to strive to create and serve up great rock and roll!

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5) (4 stars for tracks 5-11)

You can learn more about My American Heart at You can purchase a copy of Hiding Inside The Horrible Weather at or most major music retailers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

CD Review: Inga Swearingen - Reverie

Inga Swearingen – Reverie (with The Bill Peterson Trio)
2005 Inga Swearingen

Inga Swearingen may just be one of the finest female vocalists in jazz today. Combining a voice that would make Sarah Vaughan proud with outstanding and aggressive songwriting, Inga Swearingen’s Reverie is a first-class hit.

The last Jazz vocalist who I found to be this distinctive was Cassandra Wilson. Ms. Swearingen has already cut her chops, winning the Shure Jazz Voice competition at the Montreux Jazz Fesitval, and appearing as a regular performer on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. Reverie is the sort of album I would love to have available on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Ms. Swearingen dances and trills her way (and yours) to a magical plateau where music and dreams meet.

Stomping’ At the Savoy is probably the absolute highlight of the album, allowing Ms. Swearingen to engage in vocal fireworks. Down By The Riverside and Just In Time are honest and glorious homages to the original versions

Inga Swearingen deserves a little of your time. On Reverie, she has made one of the most vocally proficient, technically sound and honest jazz recordings I’ve heard in some time. You would do well to check it out for yourself.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Inga Swearingen at You can purchase copies of Reverie at

CD Review: Katie Haverly - Around The Bend

Katie Haverly – Around The Bend
2008, Katie Haverly

Pre-Socratic Philosophers dealt with questions of Being and Becoming: Existence and the powers of change that guide and bridge our existence from day to day. Katie Haverly has struggled with these questions in her music, from Face Down to The City. On Around The Bend, she takes steps to define herself in her own terms, stepping away from the labels of the world. In a word, she has come into her own.

It is difficult to classify Ms. Haverly’s sound. Imagine if Joni Mitchell and Aimee Mann had a musical lovechild, and you’d be somewhere in the vicinity of the area that Katie Haverly plays in. Katie Haverly writes powerfully personal songs, and attacks them with a strong yet beautiful voice. Based out of Troy, New York, Katie Haverly plays in a talented but small music market. It would be easy overlook her just up the Hudson from New York City. Don’t.

My personal favorite here is Fire In The Kitchen, but it doesn’t matter which one I pick. Every song here is strong, and the emotional sincerity and depth of lyrical content will connect with listeners regardless of their usual flavor of music. Other highlights include Real Good, Coffee and Thoreau, and To Keep And To Lose. Around The Bend is the sort of musical Watershed moment that tells you whether an artist has long-term staying power. I’ve seen the future, and it’s very bright for Katie Haverly.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Katie Haverly at You can purchase a copy of Around The Bend at

Sunday, May 25, 2008

CD Review: The Crash Moderns - Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster

The Crash Moderns – Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster
2008, Near

Power-pop bands are a dime a dozen these days. For every power pop band that makes it big, a thousand are started that sound just like them in basements and bars all over the country. Every once in a while, though, one comes along that shatters the popular mode and reminds us all what power pop is about: Big hooks, big harmonies: a soaring good time. If this is what you are looking for, then The Crash Moderns Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster is for you.

Combining the pop finesse of The Cars, and the lyrical veracity of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, The Crash Moderns walk the line between classic 80’s pop and the soaring anthemic sound of many of today’s power-pop outfits. The mix is as delicious as it is unique. Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster is an infectious album with melodies that will stick in your head all day long, and soaring harmony that will knock your iPod headphones into next week.

This is an album full of toe-tappers. Songs like This Time, Pimp My Life, We’ve Got Tonight and Be All That will have you up on your feet. I found 10 of the 11 songs to be unforgettable. Without maligning the one song left out from above in particular, I just felt that the odd song out didn’t quite fit here. It’s not so much an issue of whether the song was good but whether it belonged. Nevertheless, 10 out of 11 songs from one album as unforgettable is an excellent ratio.

The Crash Moderns have a unique sound that is firmly rooted in the past and has found footing in today’s rock scene. This is a first class outfit that deserves much success. Support them by checking out Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster!

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Crash Moderns at You can purchase a copy of Goodnight Glamour Good Morning Disaster at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

CD Review: Parlour Steps - Ambiguoso

Parlour Steps – Ambiguoso
2007 Figment Music/Nine Mile Records

Popular music is full of enigma. Very often what rises to the top in popular music is not the cream of talent, but of difference. Unfortunately there are too many image makers in this day and age, so everyone tries to be different. Nevertheless there occasionally comes along a band that is different not because of what they try to be, but simply because they are. Vancouver, British Columbia based Parlour Steps is such a band. On Ambiguoso they deliver a subtle and nuanced rock album that will scamper its way into your brain like a cold (viral, unnoticed at first and unshakeable thereafter).

Built on jangly guitar, tight harmonies and award-winning songwriting, Ambiguoso is likely to make a lot of critics’ top lists for 2007 or even 2008. There are no clunkers here. Every song is well written and delivered in near-perfect form. Highlights include Only Mystery, World As Large, Thieves Of Memory, and Haunt The Park. I have been wracking my brain to find a close musical tie to explain Parlour Steps sound to the unitiated among my readers, but there is no clear comparison. I would hazard a guess however that The Rheostatics might be listed as an influence by one or more band members.

Ambiguoso is billed as “Thought Rock”. The lyrics are actually worth listening to. The music is well written and performed in top-notch form. Singer and chief songwriter Caleb Stull is a first-class front man, and there is a chemistry apparent in the band that shines through on CD. Parlous Steps’ Amiguoso is anything but – it is a distinctive and delightfully thought-provoking CD.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Parlour Steps at You can purchase copies of Ambiguoso at CD Baby.

Friday, May 23, 2008

CD Review: Sarah VonDerHaar - Are You Listening Now

Sarah VonDerHaar – Are You Listening Now
2008 Sarah VonDerHaar

Sarah VonDerHaar is a multi-faceted artist. First came her stint on America’s Next Top Model; then movie acting, and now a stellar debut album entitled Are You Listening Now. Sarah VonDerHaar manages to place herself firmly into the pop-rock female vocalist niche without managing to sound too much like anyone else. Are You Listening Now is well produced by Marshall Altman (Zebrahead, Marc Broussard, Brooke Fraser) and is highly accessible to listeners.

Playing off a core of seemingly boundless optimism, Are You Listening Now explores love, loss, and the emotional highs and lows of this talented young lady’s life. The songwriting is surprisingly mature for a twenty-one year old artist, with a definite pop sensibility. All Mine and I Got Sunshine are pure pop bliss and prime examples of Ms. VonDerHaar’s abilities in writing/performing pop-rock music. Sing Me To Sleep is perhaps my favorite of the pop tunes here, although it stands second to the poignant title track.

As debut albums go, this is excellent. The songwriting and vocals are top notch, and the CD is ultimately listenable. If Are You Listening Now is any indication, Sarah VonDerHaar will be gracing your CD player for years to come.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sarah VonDerHaar at, where a link is available to order Are You Listening Now.

And we're back!

You might have noticed we haven't had much to post in the past week. It's not for lack of submissions or great music, there was just a new addition to the Wildy's World family!

Savannah Irene Grace, born 5-15-08!

So we're a little (okay, a lot) behind on our reviews. I've got a stack on my desk currently that we'll be working through over the next week or two, and more coming in all the time. So keep those submissions coming, and keep reading!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

CD Review: Black Fortress Of Opium - Black Fortress Of Opium

Black Fortress Of Opium – Black Fortress Of Opium
2008, Black Fortress Of Opium

Goth’s third generation is alive and well. Black Fortress Of Opium prove this point on their self-titled debut. Black Fortress Of Opium is the sonic lovechild of Adja The Turkish Queen, and represents a sort of organically pure Evanescence, if you will.

Black Fortress Of Opium is full of dirge-like songs that flow from one to the next like water. It was a difficult listen for me, to be honest. What I can say about it is that the musicianship is excellent. The songwriting in general is a little too consistent in sound for my taste, but there are some highlights here (House of Edward Devotion, Model Café, From A Woman To A Man). Adja The Turkish Queen offers up unique and interesting vocals on this project that are in themselves quite enjoyable.

Black Fortress Of Opium will find a market, but is not a strong commercial album. The middle eastern influence on a few songs (such as Dulcet TV) helps to spice up the sound a bit, but this is just a little too monochromatic for my taste. There are, nevertheless, bright spots. If you are a fan of Dead Can Dance, The Cocteau Twins, Current 93, or other bands of the same ilk, then this is definitely for you.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Black Fortress Of Opium at You can purchase a copy of their self-titled CD at

Friday, May 16, 2008

CD Review: Joséphine - Unfinished Life

Joséphine – Unfinished Life
2007, Joséphine

Joséphine brings a certain grit and vivacity to her music that is belied by her little-girl looks. To say I was pleasantly surprised by her CD Unfinished Life is an understatement. This Paris native left home at age seventeen for the streets of Montreal, landing in New York City by the age of nineteen. Joséphine discovered her love of performing in Montreal with the Vibe Award winning People’s Gospel Choir of Montreal and has never looked back from there.

Joséphine offers up twelve very mature and emotionally honest songs on Unfinished Life. Songs range from ballad to soul-influenced rock. My personal favorites here are Stronger, Heart Vs. Head, and the moving Can’t Let Go. I Sing is also of particular note, as it is an ode to chasing your dreams.

I Think Of You (Je Pense A Toi) is also a lovely ballad, incorporating both French and English lyrics. All in all there is not a weak song here, and there is life in these songs that would seem to belie a mischievous and fun streak in the artist. It is a talent to be able to project these traits into recorded media on a consistent basis. If Joséphine can project these traits live then her concerts will be a treat worth lining up for.

I was struck by the vocal similarities between Joséphine and one of my favorite Indie folk artists, Jess Klein. The sound of their voices is almost identical at times, although stylistically they differ. The texture of Joséphine's voice would make her interesting to listen to if she were singing names out of the phonebook.

Joséphine is a very talented and worthy artist, and Unfinished Life is very much worth a listen or six. I highly recommend Joséphine’s Unfinished Life to my readers.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Joséphine at You can purchase copies of Unfinished Life at

Thursday, May 15, 2008

CD Review: Marina V - Modern Fairytale

Marina V – Modern Fairytale
2007 Marina V & Nick Baker

Marina V has quite the back story: Escaping Russia through a music competition at the age 15 that afforded her a scholarship to study in the United States for one year. She returned home at the end of that year to find her life in upheaval, and worked to support her family while finishing high school. Marina V then returned to the US at the tender age of 17 to live. In the process she met Nick Baker, who encouraged her to follow her musical muse and try to build a career in music. She is a minimalist who believes in conserving the earth we live upon and who places a higher value on experiences and relationships than on possessions.

Back stories can help fans connect with an artist, but it’s the music that builds the connection and helps it to last. Marina V offers up her fifth recording, Modern Fairytale as a way to build a bridge between her past and the future. Modern Fairytale is interesting, offering a great deal of positive outlook even when the subject matter is relationships that haven’t worked out. The songs are pleasant to listen to. Marina V has a voice that can be captivating at times, with a texture and timbre that is reminiscent of Kate Bush or Tori Amos, but this recording doesn’t seem to inspire in the way it might.

Perhaps it is an issue of production, but the material here doesn’t quite come alive the way I wish it would. I do not doubt that there is tremendous energy and sincerity in these songs in Marina V’s live show, but some of that spark is lost on the CD. It is unfortunate, because there is some great material here. Hope, The Strength I Need and Sunshine Guaranteed all have strong radio potential, and I’ll Stand Up For You is one of the prettier ballads you’ll hear. Unfortunately the recorded media seems to put just a little too much distance between Marina V and the listener.

I will recommend that my readers check out Modern Fairytale, as I think the material and the artist are very noteworthy, but I do wish it could have felt a little more alive for me.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Marina V at, where you can purchase a copy of Modern Fairytale.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CD Review: Tally Hall - Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Tally Hall – Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
2005 Quack Records/2008 Atlantic Records

One of the greatest acts in the history of popular music managed to be witty, musically challenging, and mix different styles/sounds that were then popular in new ways you might not have thought of before. Despite not putting out a new record in nearly 40 years, they continue to outsell younger acts with their style, panache, and straight-forward love of music. It’s the spirit of their music that has made them nearly immortal, and the generations in between have longed for a successor to their spirit. I’m speaking, of course, of none other than The Beatles.

Today I introduce you to the torchbearer of their legacy, Tally Hall. On Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, Tally Hall offer up a smorgasbord of sounds and styles that are sure to please your musical palate. Drawing from styles including rock, rap, pop and calypso, Tally Hall carry the day with the most original and dynamic recording I’ve heard this decade.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is a masterpiece. Thousands of bands would kill to write/record an album like this once in their career. Tally Hall has struck gold on the first try. The album opens with Good Day, and provides a clear picture of what is to come. The song does not adhere to traditional rock song structure, bridging at a moment’s notice. There are hints of Queen here, but don’t get caught up in that comparison. The sounds here draw from many influences, but have catalyzed as something that only be called Tally Hall’s sound.

Greener is one of the most upbeat angst-filled relationship songs you’ll ever hear, and is a true aural treat. Welcome To Tally Hall utilizes a rap, harmonies, Motown horns and Rheostatics-like choruses to introduce the band to the world. This might be one of the most challenging songs on the album, and perhaps the most fun to listen to. Also notable is The Whole World And You, which is featured in the new Crayola 3-D chalk television commercial.

I am not going to cover every song, and I would list highlights but there would have to be valleys in order to contrast them. Just for giggles, check out Be Born, with a hint of Celtic/bluegrass influence, Banana Man with it’s calypso lilt, or the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson inspired Two Wuv.

Look, albums like this do not come along very often. Once or twice a generation a band will release a recording like this. At worst, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum should be remembered as one of the great rock albums of the decade. In fact, it might be the best thing to come out of pop music since Sgt. Pepper taught his band to play. Tally Hall is here to stay.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Tally Hall at You can purchase Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum at most major music retailers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

CD Review: Pamela Betti & Dirty Blues - Dirty Blues For A Dirty World

Pamela Betti & Dirty Love – Dirty Blues For A Dirty World
2007 Pamela Betti & Dirty Love

Commack, Long Island isn’t exactly a hotbed of The Blues, but listen to Pamela Betti & Dirty Love’s debut CD Dirty Blues For A Dirty World and you’d think differently. Centered around the sultry voice of Pamela Betti, Dirty Love is a top-notch Blues Band than can burn the house down. Dirty Blues For A Dirty World is a studio album with a live sound. I would guess that production was kept to a minimum here in order to capture the energy of a live show. This technique is incredibly successful, and yields a recording with depth and energy that is often lacking in recorded media.

Dirty Blues opens with Betti’s Blues, which was selected to be the theme song for the dark comedy The Dysfunctional Book Club . This song is three minutes and thirty seconds of blues-rock bliss, and sets the stage for what is to come. Songs such as Tall Skinny Papa, Dirty Little Secret, Down and Dirty and Oreo Cookie Blues will have you jumping out of your seat.

Throughout Dirty Blues, Rich Thiel and Mike Scalzo comprise one of the tightest rhythm sections you will ever hear. Bill Marino provides smokin’ hot guitar, and Tommy Keys adds some of the filthiest blues piano licks in town. All of this is to counter the gorgeous and over-the-top vocals of front woman Pamela Betti, who can rip it up with the best of them (check out the cover of Janis Joplin’s Piece Of My Heart), or break your heart (Middle Of The Night).

Pamela Betti & Dirty Love are stars in the making. This is a world-class Blues album. They already get airplay on blues stations around the world. Expect to hear a lot more from Pamela Betti!

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Pamela Betti at Dirty Blues In A Dirty World is currently out of stock on CD Baby , but keep checking back!

Friday, May 9, 2008

CD Review: Sheri Miller - Mantra

Sheri Miller – Mantra
2008 Miller Genuine Final Draft Music

Confessional songwriting works when it is emotionally honest. It helps if you are a top-notch musician/vocalist that conveys a kind of tough vulnerability and a sultry, silky-soul voice. Sheri Miller displays all of these on her debut EP, Mantra.

Musically, Sheri Miller takes chances. Her songs are not constructed in cookie-cutter fashion like much of today’s pop music. To judge by the songs on Mantra, she doesn’t take the easy way out to get the sound she wants. This makes the songs more of a challenge and fun to listen to. At the same time, you may become entranced with the voice and miss a lot of the nuance.

I had a really hard time picking a favorite from the six songs offered up here, but The Blade is probably my favorite as I write this. (Like any great album, this will probably change over time). Mantra (I’m In Love) is a beautiful ballad that will remind you vaguely of Fiona Apple. Devil In White is a bluesy rocker that will have your feet tapping. If you’re not careful you might just get up and dance. All He Has To Do is a soft ballad with a surprisingly beautiful melody. It will lull you with its vaguely lullaby-like quality. Right Here Right Now is a ballad that could cross over to any style of music from pop to country to folk. This might be the biggest potential hit here and could make Sheri Miller a star in the right circumstances. The opening track, Waste My Breath is probably the most purely radio-oriented song. It’s a good song, but probably my least favorite on the disc, if only because it is the most conventional sounding song here.

Sheri Miller is a talent. It appears she is working hard to make things happen for herself, and after hearing Mantra is it hard to imagine her not making the big time. This is a very talented, emotional and honest debut. Expect great things from Sheri Miller in the future. For now, Mantra is a top-notch appetizer.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sheri Miller at You can purchase a copy of Mantra at

CD Review: I Am The Heat - The Future Doesn't Need Us

I Am The Heat – The Future Doesn’t Need Us
2008, I Am The Heat/High Five Records

Brooklyn, NY based I Am The Heat will release their 2nd EP, The Future Doesn’t Need Us in July of 2008. I Am The Heat are a post-punk art rock/garage rock band. The Future Doesn’t Need Us mixes funky bass lines, disco drum beats and eclectic guitar work to back the pleasant lead vocals of Jameson Edwards.

There is a bit of a lo-fi quality to The Future Doesn’t Need Us, ala The Figgs’ early work, but as the EP progresses to songs such as Silver Skies and Tonight (I’ll Save You), a little more polish is evident. Dream Machine is ultimate garage sound, and Your Monsters is almost purely danceable power pop. What Would Lou Reed Do is a frenetic exercise in pure post-punk pop.

In the end, I thought this was a solid recording. It didn’t blow me away, but I Am The Heat are obviously a talented trio. The recording is worth a listen to see if it catches you, and I would highly suspect that a live show would be worth your time if you happen to be in the city.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about I Am The Heat at Several websites indicate that The Future Doesn’t Need Us will be released on July 15, 2008, but you can purchase downloads now at Dig Station .

Thursday, May 8, 2008

CD Review: Jessie Kilguss - Exotic Bird

Jessie Kilguss – Exotic Bird
2007 Jessie Kilguss and Super Buddha

Scenario: If I told you I had this great debut CD from an established actress, you’d probably roll your eyes. And if I told you said actress decided kind of midstream in her career that she liked to write songs, you might run away.

You’d be oh so wrong to do so.

Jessie Kilguss has offered a set of stunningly breathtaking songs on her debut CD, Exotic Bird. The veteran of stage and screen (The Crucible with Daniel Day Lewis, and Tom Waits/Robert Wilson/William Burroughs’ The Black Rider) sings and performs with a panache and ethereal beauty that is rare in popular music. Producer Super Buddha (Blondie, Scissor Sisters, Rufus Wainwright) has taken Ms. Kilguss musical visions and helped her create a lush landscape against which to sing her bardic tales.

Jessie Kilguss is your coachman on Exotic Bird, carrying you to lands and ideas you’d perhaps not considered before. Desert Song is a gorgeous introduction: sparse and lush at the same time. It serves as a solid appetizer for the delicious All I Am Is Breath, with the jaunty, evil vocal cameo by Alan Cox (who also shows up later in The Dream). This particular track could be the centerpiece to a musical. It’s that good.

The Word is another highlight. This is a more traditional ballad that reflects the layers of Jessie Kilguss’ voice. She shows shades of Joni Mitchell here, but stylistically Jessie Kilguss has much in common with the great Sarah Slean. The Crypt is a haunting must-hear, and The Acrobat will make you think of Norah Jones just a tad.

The cover of Tom Waits’ I’ll Shoot The Moon is pure cabaret. You’ll find yourself swaying along. If you close your eyes you’ll almost be able to see the smoky nightclub and black-tie crowd. Sometimes conveys a sense of urgency and angst that stands out from the rest of the album. It’s a little zap from the artist who has lulled you in with her storytelling to make sure you’re still with her. It’s unique and a little disturbing, but it works.

Delicate Queen is animalistic, almost a feminine answer to Trent Reznor’s Closer. It is more of a talk-sing song and sets the listener on edge before the closing number, a magnificent interpretation of Jacques Brels’ The Desperate Ones.

I don’t generally spend this much time in a review covering individual songs, choosing to hit the highlights, but Exotic Bird is a different kind of album. I wasn’t even sure I liked it after the first listen. It was like walking into a different culture with which you are unfamiliar and it took a little adjustment, but this is probably one of the most rewarding discs I’ve come across in some time.

Jessie Kilguss gets Wildy’s World’s highest recommendation for Exotic Bird. This is Desert Island stuff, folks. Pick it up, check it out – just make sure you give it a chance. It will grow on you like a weed.

Exotic Bird, indeed.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jessie Kilguss at You can purchase copies of Exotic Bird at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

CD Review: Crash Romeo - Gave Me The Clap

Crash Romeo – Gave Me The Clap
2008, Trustkill Records

Crash Romeo is virulent. On Gave Me The Clap they offer up eleven tracks of infectious guitar-based post-punk rock. This disc is a basement party unto itself, and you’ll find yourself slamming the pit fantastic from the opening notes to the last dying chords.

Much in the vein of Green Day and A Newfound Glory, Crash Romeo fills the chasm between punk tradition and pop rock. Lead vocalist Travis Weber fits the bill perfectly here, delivering clear and pleasant vocals. Crash Romeo surprises with delicious harmonies not often heard on the post-punk side of the charts. The musicianship is first class, and production values are very high.

Having already found placement on MTV’s The Hills, Crash Romeo is going places. Popular seems to be burning up the T1 lines from iTunes of late, but the album is full of great tracks. One Night Only and Better Off In New Jersey are personal favorites, but there are no weak tracks here. In Gave Me The Clap, Crash Romeo have offered up a near-perfect concatenation of punk and power-pop. The results are startling and breathtaking. Check it out for yourself.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Crash Romeo at Gave Me The Clap can be purchased through and most major music retailers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

CD Review: Carla Lynne Hall - Supernova

Carla Lynne Hall – Supernova
2006, Moxie Entertainment

Mixing soul, jazz, and hip-hop with a singer-songwriter panache, Harlem based Carla Lynne Hall has delivered a gem of a record in Supernova. Carla Lynne Hall is a talented and nuanced songwriter, but the first thing that will catch you is her voice. Possessed of the mellow natured exuded by Norah Jones, Carla Lynne Hall brings tremendous energy in her voice, which dances effortlessly from ballad to rocker and back again.

Supernova features eight original tracks and two covers (Little Feat’s Long Distance Love and Nil Lara’s exquisite My First Child). For original songs, Left Side Blues and Fallin’ are the cream of the crop, with My Body’s Keeper not far behind. The class of the album may be the Nil Lara cover, My First Child, as it captures a vulnerability and beauty of voice that rarely comes across in recordings.

The album is book ended by a full version and reprise of the title track Supernova, which easily could see airplay on AAA radio if radio was still about music. Unfortunately it’s not.

Supernova is an experiment in beauty and the joy of music. Strong songwriting, beautiful vocals and lush arrangements make this an absolute keeper. A must for any music collection.

Rating: 4 ½ Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Carla Lynne Hall at, or at her My Space page. You can purchase a copy of Supernova at

CD Review: Little Memphis - Let Me Down Easy

Little Memphis – Let Me Down Easy
2008, East Country Records

Every once in a while we need a reminder that country music, when done right, can rock. Little Memphis is on that message and broadcasting proudly. Let Me Down Easy is a dynamite introduction to this Lebanon, New Hampshire (by way of Nashville) band.

The disc opens with Cutie Patootie, which should inspire its own line-dancing craze if there is any justice in the world. Songs such as Sugardaddy, Feel Like Dancin’, Hot Date and Cinderella’s Fella build on that rockin’ country resume in fine fashion. Part of what makes Let Me Down Easy work so well is that there is a wry sense of humor that surfaces periodically in the music, and it is accompanied by a positive outlook and sense of honesty and goodness. There is nothing contrived here. The songwriting is heart-on-the-sleeve storytelling.

Heart of Steel is particularly poignant for the times. If you know anyone serving oversees at the moment, you’ll hold onto this song dearly. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear this song picked up by radio and become an anthem for the times. Hope He’s Good Enough and Through My Eyes are classic country ballads. Through My Eyes in particular has all the earmarks of a country smash.

Let Me Down Easy closes with The Lights Went Down in Graceland, an ode to Elvis Presley. It’s written in a style that may have fit in with some of Elvis’ later catalog. All in all, the songwriting is top-notch. Little Memphis comes across as a very tight band with a very cohesive sound. The vocals are deep and soulful and a pleasure to listen to. This is a great introduction to a band that should be around for a long time.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of five)

You can learn more about Little Memphis at You can purchase a copy of Let Me Down Easy at

Friday, May 2, 2008

CD Review: The Bangkok Five - We Love What Kills Us

The Bangkok Five – We Love What Kills Us
2008, Long Live Crime Records

Coming June 10th on Long Live Crime Records is the sophomore effort from The Bangkok Five: We Love What Kills Us. The presentation itself is unique, five hard driving rock songs performed in English, and then again in Spanish. The lead singer, Frost, sounds a great deal like John Thomas Griffin from Cowboy Mouth. I actually did research to make sure it wasn’t him on vocals under a different name.

We Love What Kills Us is an outstanding album, although I personally would like to have heard more songs rather than a rehash of the five tracks in Spanish. Nevertheless the songs translate well across the language barrier and likely open up additional markets for The Bangkok Five. The highlight track for this reviewer is Party Machine, a rather stark indictment of the life of the party. The title track is top notch as well. Straight Fell Off and This One’s For The Haters are also quite enjoyable. Outlines Of Us is somewhat jarring here. There’s nothing wrong with the song, but it just doesn’t seem to fit in all that well with the other four tracks.

This Los Angeles quintet is one to watch. My initial impression is they may miss once in a while with a song, but they’ll be dead on most of the time. This disc is a great effort, and will be in heavy rotation on your iPod. In the hey-day of hair bands on MTV, The Bangkok Five would have been mega-stars. It may happen yet.

Rating: Four Stars (Out of five)

You can learn more about The Bangkok Five at We Love What Kills Us will be released June 10, 2008.

CD Review: Peter Bloom Band - Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind)

Peter Bloom Band – Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind)
2008, Peter Bloom

I could spend time talking about all of the awards Peter Bloom has won for songwriting and performing, but you can find that on his website if you care to look. What I do want to tell you about is his wonderful debut album, Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind). Evoking thoughts of Paul McCartney, Jason Plumb and Jim Cuddy, Peter Bloom writes inspired lyrics and envelopes them in beautifully constructed songs.

There are no weak tracks here, but there are definite standouts. Helping Hand is ensconced in beautiful harmonies, and is delivered in a musical form that would make Blue Rodeo proud. Let It Go sounds like what McCartney always strived for and perhaps never quite made. A Little More Love is a beautiful piano driven ballad that will have lighters in the air on summer nights.

Far and away the most moving track on the album is Weight Of The World. This track alone will likely have the repeat button on your CD player worn out within the week.

In spite of all the references to other musicians above, the sound that Peter Bloom has crafted is very much his own. Beatles comparisons are definitely valid because of the quality of the songwriting, vocals and musicianship, but Peter Bloom is a singular talent. His Americana infused pop-rock should bring him much success in a perfect world.

Random Thoughts comes with Wildy’s World’s highest recommendation. Peter Bloom is going places. You’ll want to be along for the ride.

Rating: Five Stars (Out of Five)

You can learn more about Peter Bloom at You can purchase Random Thoughts on his website or through

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CD Review: Jabba James - Baby I Like You

Jabba James – Baby I Like You
2008 Shearwater Music, UK

Jabba James has just this week dropped his latest single, Baby I Like You (b/w Living In An Urban Jungle). Baby I Like You is a peppy bit of electronica featuring James’ impressive guitar play (he himself is a session guitar player at Abbey Road studios). This is great dance music, ala Fat Boy Slim. The B-Side, Living In An Urban Jungle is a little more generic and relies more on a heavy bass line, but is still very listenable.

Jabba James appears to have an ear for catchy dance pop that should serve him well in the long term, as that genre never seems to go out of style. This single was to have been available on iTunes on April 28, but I could not find it as of today. Keep checking back at Jabba James’ website (below) for availability and updates.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Jabba James at

CD Review: Restless Radio - Stay Close To Me

Restless Radio – Stay Close To Me
2007 Restless Radio

When you first open Stay Close To Me, the debut CD from Boston-based Restless Radio, a single message is printed on the back cover of the front insert: “I Knew It Would Be You”. You, on the other hand, may never have seen Restless Radio coming, but you’ll be very happy they came into your life.

Eschewing the outright pathos of Robert Smth, Restless Radio deals in the sort of melancholy you might hear from Toad The Wet Sprocket or Jason Plumb. Thoughtful lyrics are combined with tight musical arrangements to create an enjoyable musical experience. Brothers Paul Erik Lipp (vox, guitar, synthesizers) and Jordan Lipp (drums, percussion, backing vox) are first class musicians with a keen ear for melody and an ability to juxtapose the maudlin and the sublime.

Stay Close To Me opens with After Love, a soliloquy on a love lost (My last bitter love affair lives on and on / Life has been such poetry since you’ve been gone!). Let Me Down, The Oven and Perennial Flower continue the parade of songs about love lost. This is a form of therapy perhaps, but the music is so good and the lyrics so well crafted you become enthralled in the songs.

Personal favorites are After Love and Go Are Gone (If life is like a chessboard, then darling, now I’m moving like a pawn / How the tears came once she left me, but some things that go are gone). Also check out Signs Of Love (I’m remembering falling in love with the world / Falling asleep with a girl who’s showing signs of love).

Restless Radio will interest you on the first listen, and hook you by the third. The Lipp brothers have crafted a worthy debut album, with hopefully many more to come. Pick up a copy, and if you’re in the Boston area maybe check out a live show. These guys are working hard at their craft and deserve your support.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Restless Radio at, where you can order a copy of Stay Close To Me. You can also check them out on My Space.