All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Lizary Rodriguez-Rios - Harp Therapy

Lizary Rodriguez-Rios - Harp Therapy
2009, Libre Productions

Lizary Rodriguez-Rios has wracked up quite an impressive resume, winning four international Harp competitions in Europe. She holds a Doctorate In Musical Arts, studying at the Music Conservatory in Puerto Rico, The University of Arizona and the Royal Conservancy in Madrid, Spain. She has previously performed as part of Grammy-nominated ensemble Harp Fusion, and has composed numerous pieces of television and movies in her native Puerto Rico. Rodriguez-Rio's second album, Harp Therapy, comes as a follow-up to 2006's Harp Voyage, which received favorable coverage from such august publications as The Classical Source (UK) and Fanfare Magazine.

Harp Therapy opens with The Purple Bamboo, a Chinese song played on harp in both pizzicato and lyric fashion. The song is quite lovely and flows nicely once it gets going. Rodriguez-Rios tackles Scarborough Fair essentially as arranged by Simon & Garfunkel in a lovely performance that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. The melody is traded back and forth between harp and violin, with the other always providing harmony or support. Le Cygne is a moving composition, having a sort of relentless motion to it, almost like the slow but steady movement of a river (or a swan swimming upon it, as the title may suggest). It's one of the lovelier moments on the CD. Rodriguez-Rios' reading of Grieg's Morning Song is instantly recognizable and is given a lot of depth by the strings that support and envelope the harp. Bach's Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring is inspired, although the violin gets some of the choice parts here. Other highlights include Water Spirit, Pachelbel's Canon, Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1 and Harper Of The Western Winds.

Lizary Rodriguez-Rios is a master of her instrument, and the arrangements here are superb. Despite the title, Harp Therapy doesn't fit in with the sort of new-age relaxation or healing music that increasingly fills professorships and new age healing centers. For whatever else Rodriguez-Rios may be, she is a first class musician. Harp Therapy is a must-listen for fans of classical and yes, New Age, but don't expect a passive listening experience.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Lizary Rodriguez Rios at Yu can purchase a copy of Harp Therapy at

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing/A Night On The Town Ltd Edition Collector's Editions

Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing/A Night On The Town Limited Edition Collector's Editions
2009, Rhino/Warner Bros. Records

The period of 1975-1976 was one of great transition for Rod Stewart; moving to the United States and saying goodbye to The Faces for a solo career opened new musical avenues to Stewart. Stewart traded the British Folk-Rock sound for one steeped in American Rhythm & Blues, a move that was fostered by producer Tom Dowd who introduced Stewart to Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr. (otherwise known as the MG's minus Booker T and occasionally as the Swampers). This association fueled Atlantic Crossing, Stewart's first "American" album which went on to be a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, gaining Gold certification from the RIAA. The album is presented here with a bonus disc featuring an alternate version of the album plus great covers of the Bee Gees' To Love Somebody, Lee Dorsey's Holy Cow and Elvis Presley's Return To Sender. One of the alternate takes that's a pleasant surprise is Too Much Noise, a very early version of Stone Cold Sober that Stewart fans will go ga-ga over. Also notable is Skye Boat Song, done by the Atlantic Crossing Drum & Pipe Band in a stirring rendition that will have you reaching for your kilt.

In 1976, Stewart followed up with A Night On The Town, which achieved double-platinum status (2 million copies sold) on the strength of the #1 hit, Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright). This is perhaps Stewart's most recognizable tune, still getting regular airplay on Adult Contemporary stations 33 years later. The backing band here is referred to as "The Garage Band" in the liner notes, and again included the MG's as well as Joe Walsh and David Lindley among others. The album also features a great cover of Cat Stevens' The First Cut Is The Deepest and the Southern Rock/Roadhouse The Wild Side Of Life. The bonus disc here is a real treat, with an early take of a cover of The Beatles' Get Back and early versions of the album and one B-Side, Rosie.

The Collector's Editions of these albums will be around for a while, but if you want the 2-disc versions with all of the alternate takes you'd better act fast. Warner Bros. is only selling these limited edition sets through the summer. This fall they'll be replaced with single-disc versions with less bonus tracks. Very often these sorts of expanded editions are take-'em-or-leave-'em affairs, but Atlantic Crossing and A Night On The Town are exceptions. The re-masters are flawless, and the alternate takes give fans real insight into the creative process of these two great albums. Plus, it's great to hear Stewart dig into some classic sounding Rock N Roll. If you're a hard-core Rod Stewart fan, or if there's one in your life, then these two sets are must haves. If you're not familiar with Rod Stewart other than a few fluffy ballads he's done in recent years, then it's time to see where the man come from.


Atlantic Crossing Limited Collector's Edition: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
A Night On The Town Limited Collector's Edition: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Rod Stewart at You can order the Limited Edition Collector’s Edition of Atlantic Crossing and the Limited Edition Collector’s Edition of A Night On The Town at

Review: Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City

Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City
2009, Ardent/Stax Records

Big Star was a band destined to blow apart even as they were being formed. Coming off his association as lead singer of the Box Tops (The Letter), Alex Chilton moved to Memphis at the behest of Chris Bell (guitar) to work with his group Ice Water. The trio became a quartet and changed their name to Big Star, embarking on a brief yet ultimately influential recording career both driven by and mired in artistic and interpersonal tension. Ardent/Stax Records recently re-released Big Star's first two albums, #1 Record (1972) and Radio City (1974) on one CD. Additionally, each album is individually available on vinyl LP. Both albums have been re-mastered for this release, making slight improvements to a previous release of both albums on one CD.

Big Star flew in the face of pop convention in 1972, eschewing both the folk/ rock sound that grew out of the late-60's and the new progressive rock sound that was even then giving birth to what would become known as the AOR radio format. Big Star instead went for Brit-Pop inspired sound that drew on influences as diverse as The Beatles, The Kinks, classic American Rhythm & Blues and singer/songwriter pastiche. This tendency toward a singular band leader in vocalist Alex Chilton was the beginning of the end for Big Star, with guitarist Bell quitting the band before the sun had set on 1972. #1 Record didn't sell particularly well, being a few years ahead of its time, but songs like Don't Lie To Me, Feel, In The Street, The Ballad of El Goodo and When My Baby's Beside Me have influenced a artists as diverse as R.E.M., The Replacements, The Bangles, Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream.

Radio City, made as a trio after Chris Bell's departure is a wonderful dichotomy of artistic and personal tensions, featuring wonderfully crafted pop songs that threaten to come apart at the seams at almost every turn yet never quite do. If it was personal animosity that drove the brilliance of this record then it's a tribute to the professionalism of the three remaining members at the time. Radio City spawned the song September Gurls, to this day still Big Star's best known song. Other highlights include Way Out West, Back of A Car, Mod Lang and O My Soul.

Big Star has reunited for reunion tours over the years, but original guitarist and catalyst Chris Bell perished in a 1979 car accident, and the pure magic of those early days will have to remain forever a memory. Ardent and Stax Records present those memories in new packaging for your listening pleasure. In spite of the re-master, the sound quality isn't significantly improved from prior versions unless you have very high end equipment to play it on (and if you're converting to MP3 then it probably isn't worth upgrading). If you don't own a prior version of this disc and you want to understand the roots of alternative rock with a melodic bent, then Big Star's #1 Record/Radio City is a CD you need to own.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Big Star at You can purchase a copy of #1 Record/Radio City at or download the album on iTunes.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review: Dala - Everyone Is Someone

Dala - Everyone Is Someone
2009, Campus Music/Lenz Entertainment

Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine met in high school music class and first wrote together in 2002. In the seven years since then, Dala has toured across Canada six times; performed at the Edmonton Folk Festival, Mariposa, The Ottawa Folk Festival and have played Toronto's storied Massey Hall six times. Dala is also the only Canadian act to be invited to play at the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival in 2009. With two previous albums and four Canadian Folk Music Award nominations, Dala come into 2009 at the top of Canada's Indie circuit and ready for bigger waters. On June 9, 2009, Dala released their third disc, Everyone Is Someone. With comparisons to the Everly and Louvin Brothers as well as Emmylou Harris, it's easy to see that this could be a breakout year for Dala.

Everyone Is Someone opens with Lonely Girl, a song about how loneliness can breed bad decisions, and vice versa. The narrator shows a strong sense of self ("I'd rather be alone than someone you take home") in response to a man who "holds his lovers like quarters". The song is smooth and lush and yet emotionally charged. It's a definite change of pace, as this kind of emotional backbone in song you might generally expect in a rougher musical environment, but Dala writes/play in a fairly straight-up acoustic rock style with hints of Country on the edges. Crushed throws a wicked curveball at listeners, starting out at the wedding of another person and bemoaning the fact that the protagonist has never known love. Much later in the song we re-visit a wedding scene, and learn that she met the man she loves at her own wedding. The song is a bit of a mystery novel set to music but definitely makes the listener sit up and listen.

Levi Blues has a bit of a Wilson-Phillips feel to it, and would be a perfect marketing song for the brand it plays off (don't be surprised...). This is a great pop song in the classic sense, playing off the melodic and harmonic styles of 1950's and early 1960's female pop vocalists. The ladies of Dala certainly harmonize well, and this could almost be a signature song for their sound. Horses has the feel of memory; a moment from childhood punctuated by the scenery outside a car window. The song is sadly beautiful, declaring victory over sadness but awash in a deep sorrow. Northern Lights is a moderately upbeat song about being apart from the one you love. This is a great Folk/Pop song that deserves a great deal more attention than it’s likely to get from Pop Radio. Younger is a mellow Pop tune that is a pleasant listen but didn't leave the sort of distinct impression that much of the rest of the material on Everyone Is Someone tends to leave. The album closes out with Stand In Awe, a song about love lost wrapped in a melancholy musical shell. A bonus track, a remix of Levi Blues is appended as the eleventh track in a clear case for the argument to never mess with the original.

On balance, this is a very strong album. There were a couple of missteps on Everyone Is Someone, but from a songwriting and performance aspect Dala have proven they have what it takes to gather and hold a crowd. Their crowd will fall more into the Folk and Easy Listening/Pop demographic, but if you're a fan of great female vocal groups then I urge you to check out Dala. This is great stuff.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Dala at or You can purchase a copy of Everyone Is Someone through Maple Music, or download the album through iTunes.

Review: Sipo - The Year Of The White Rose

Sipo - Year Of The White Rose
2009, Sipo Music

Freddie Sipo walked away from it all to create. Sipo gave up a lucrative job as a sound engineer in LA to build his own studio and create his own music, turning down several projects that would turn out to be huge commercial successes. Sipo admits that during the process finances got tight and the temptation was strong to go back behind the boards, but he held his ground. The result is a stunning alternative rock album entitled Year Of The White Rose. The album represents a death of the old giving way to a birth of the new, and the evolution of consciousness that results from walking away from the world and getting in touch with yourself.

Year Of The White Rose opens with He Who Has Ears Let Him Hear..., a song about tuning out from the constant push and pull of the world around you and learning to listen to your inner voice. The arrangement is stark and rhythmic and the vocals carry an uncommon urgency. Sipo comes off sounding like a cross between U2 and Radiohead here and at points throughout the album. Dare You -I- has an urgency to it that rivals the opening track, while Dare You -II- is almost more of a ballad. Sipo's vocals may lose a few points on technical issues here, but the heart that comes through more than makes up for any sonic mischance. White Light is the musical representation of a dream Sipo had while in his self-imposed seclusion and has a vaguely theatrical aspect to it. As noted previously, Sipo's vocals here are more about heart and ambience than technical perfection, but they work as the wailing inner voice struggling to be heard.

Lover If You Lay is a song about dropping out of the rat race and taking in the moments you are in, and how that pertains to the ability to love someone other than yourself. The song is melancholy, as if this realization came too late in one case. Burning Slow is highly contemplative, a melancholy examination of how bad thinking can derail even the best laid plans or intentions ("fear and doubt can lead to long, long years"). See Change is a wail to the universe; a statement of intent or perhaps even a self-demand for change. The vocal dynamics are about what they have been throughout the album, and the music fluctuates appropriately, see-sawing back and forth amidst three essential chords. The album closes out with Rise, a message of transcendence that is welcome but sudden, and therefore a little out of place.

Year Of The White Rose is stunning but retains its human flaws. The songwriting here is deep, with highly pensive lyrics presented in heartfelt vocals that run from the occasional musical mumble to extensive cathartic wails. Sipo isn't a great vocalist, and he's one you might tire of after a time, but his style works very well with the songs presented here. The only negative that really struck me here is that no matter where Sipo starts vocally he always ends up on the same level; singing at the very reaches of his range in a wail that is affecting but might border on annoying with enough exposure. The arrangements themselves are simple platforms embellished as Sipo sees fit from song to song. The two-drummer arrangement makes for highly rhythmic songs, and there is certainly room for fleshing out the sound with other instrumentation than what's offered here, but the album itself is a very positive experience.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Sipo at You can order Year Of The White Rose as a digital download from Amazon MP3.

Review: Estrella Christina - This Is Life

Estrella Cristina - This Is Life
2009, Estrella Cristina

Estrella Cristina is one of those performers who seem born to make music. With classical training in violin, operatic training in voice, and a host of backers with serious music industry credentials, Cristina's ascent in the pop world seems assured. Of course, unless a parent or close relative is an industry mogul, you don't make those sorts of connections without some talent, and Cristina shows no shortage of it on her debut EP, This Is Life. Writing with bassist (and her first guitar teacher) Frank Coglitore (Taylor Dayne, Beth Hart, Marie Digby) and Lane Lenhart, Cristina presents material with distinctive Pop viability while bearing a bit more weight than your usual radio fodder. Cristina's band includes Coglitore; drummer Craig McIntyre (Digby, Josh Groban) and guitarist Kenneth Konnerth (Hilary Duff, Enrique Iglesias).

After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Textile and Apparel Design, Estrella returned home to Nebraska to pursue music; winning out in an audition process for a spot in J Records quartet VIP (think Destiny's Child). For one reason or another the group never panned out, and Cristina set out to learn guitar with Coglitore. Fast forward to 2009 and Cristina's first recorded work is ready for the marketplace. This Is Life opens with Brighter Than Sunshine, a pop nugget about being alone in a new place and finding someone or something gives your existence meaning in purpose (in this case, music). Non Stop is a pop confection all about finding the perfect guy that should fill out a lot of teenage mix tapes this summer and fall. The lyric content here is a bit light, but the song is sweet in its own right. (Non Stop was featured on Fuse TV's Rad Girls in May). Cristina takes on The Cure's In Between Days in a Pop/Dance version that will likely make hard core Cure fans cringe but is perfect for pop radio recidivism. This Is Life is a bit more mature; a realization that working toward a goal isn't so much about plateaus or moments but successive steps. It's a highly optimistic pop tune that probably wouldn't make it as a single but is definitely not just filler as an album track.

For all of the operatic training, Cristina doesn't present a particular strong or durable voice on This Is Life; she has a pleasant voice, but there are definite holes that show through on the EP and the presence of voice altering software is evident. As a Pop radio artist, Estrella Cristina's This Is Life is a strong start. There is some real talent here and over time I should think she's mature into a decent songwriter on her own. Cristina seems destined to ascend in the Pop world, but whether she has the personality and creative talent to ascend into the realm of artistry will take some time to divine.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Estrella Cristina at or You can purchase a download of This Is Life from iTunes

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: Gala - Tough Love

Gala - Tough Love EP
2009, Matriarchy, Inc.

Gala Rizzatto is a Brooklyn-based pop superstar in exile. The exile is of her own making, and her fans back home in Europe are clamoring for her return, but Gala is cutting her own path in a story that's strangely American (and not dissimilar from Prince's struggles to pick his own musical direction). Rizzato has sold millions of albums/downloads, with her song Freed From Desire classified as a Diamond single with over six million units sold. She's had a total of five #1 singles in various countries throughout Europe, with Freed From Desire topping the charts in seven different countries at one time. Italian-born Gala's style has been pure Dance/Europop up until last year, when she broke her European recording contract and made her way back to New York, where she started her musical career. Working then as a photographer, she traded photo shoots for studio time, and a star, as they say, was born. Gala is very diverse musically, having written songs for classical artists Salvatore Liitra, Marelo Alverez and Maria Frangulles, but her life-long flirtation with Rock N Roll has finally bitten her fill-bore. The Tough Love EP is a preview of a full length release to come later in 2009 and travels a rockier road than Gala's fans might be used to, but she doesn't forget her dance roots, mixing the two styles in a fashion that practically ensures commercial success.

Tough Lough opens with DKOL (Different Kind Of Love), thrumming with alternative rock guitar and works in a classic dance beat. Gala's vocals are solid as well, with just enough edge to make her viable in the Rock world. Faraway is a solid mid-tempo dance tune with a bit of New York City attitude and enough Alternative grit to prove a point. Tough Love (the title track) I didn't enjoy so much, as Gala chooses to affect the verse with large swoops that end up sounding like shrill hiccups. It's unfortunate because it's actually a quite well-written song. Without this, the song would be a potential hit. With it, it's annoying enough to get turned off. I'm The World draws on traditional Italian influences to craft a mid-tempo dance/pop tune with real commercial legs. Gala has a strong lyrical talent and a great sense of melody. The fact that she has the voice to back this all up is gravy. Freed From Desire The Un-remix is a rock-oriented re-working of her biggest hit that doesn't change the essential dance character of the song. The re-recording allows Gala to establish control over one version of the song and allows her to retain ties to her biggest calling card. You And Me is an alternative-light pop/rock tune that sounds like it might have come out of the mid-1990's (think late Go-Go's).

Gala has a following in Europe that's akin to that of Kylie Minogue at the height of her popularity. Her voice and material is good enough to attract airplay in the US, but whether she'll ever scale the heights she's used to in Europe is questionable. Between being on her own independent label and the glut of artists walking the rock/dance pop line these days, it's a matter of luck and breaks whether she makes the US and/or Canada her own, but the European fans who've written petitions for her return will snap up the Tough Love EP by the CD and download and clamor for the full length album. The EP has some very strong tracks, although the Rock N Roll seems a bit like an affectation at times. Even the title track is good, but gets knocked down by the hiccup vocals in the verse.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Gala at or Gala’s Tough Love EP is currently available in the French iTunes store, wider distribution should be forthcoming.

Review: George Harrison - Let It Roll: Songs By George Harrison

George Harrison - Let It Roll: Songs By George Harrison
2009, Capitol/EMI

On June 16, 2009, Capitol/EMI released the first career-spanning collection of hits from two-time Rock N Roll Hall Of Famer George Harrison entitled Let It Roll: Songs By George Harrison. Harrison is a Hall Of Famer as a solo artist as well as for his work as a member of those legendary Liverpoolians The Beatles. Let It Roll encapsulates nineteen of Harrison's best-known songs, all of which were re-mastered for this release by Giles Martin at Abbey Road Studios.

Let It Roll opens with Got My Mind Set On You, perhaps the best known of Harrison's songs to the under-35 set. The song has a distinctive Beatles feel to it and was something of a return to his roots for Harrison. Let It Roll also contains three other #1 hits, My Sweet Lord, Isn't It A Pity and Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth). Also featured are live versions of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something and Here Comes The Sun performed live from his 1971 Concert For Bangladesh. Other highlights include All Things Must Pass, Rising Sun, When We Was Fab and Isn't It A Pity.

George Harrison has 11-Grammy's on his shelf for his work with The Beatles and The Traveling Wilburys as well as for his solo work. Let It Roll: Songs By George Harrison is a snapshot of his solo catalogue and, if anything, shows that eleven might not have been enough. Let It Roll is the perfect introduction to George Harrison if you somehow are not familiar with his solo work, and a wonderful set of memories if you've been following along.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn all about George Harrison at You can purchase a copy of Let It Roll at, or you can download the album from iTunes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: Amy Speace - The Killer In Me

Amy Speace - The Killer In Me
2009, Wildflower Records

Amy Speace; Former Shakespearean actress, teacher, playwright and theater company director, releases her third album, The Killer In Me, on June 30, 2009. To say that Speace has had success in most any creative endeavor she’s involved herself in is modest. She spent two years with the National Shakespeare Company and performed in various Off-Broadway shows. Speace also spent time teaching Shakespeare in the New York City Public School system before getting turned on to performing music with her first band, duo Edith O. Speace went on to release the critically claimed Songs For Bright Street in 2006 and takes a giant step forward with The Killer In Me. Produced by James Mastro (Health & Happiness Show, The Bongos), The Killer In Me is the sort of album that vaults an artist into the national consciousness.

Speace opens the set with Dog Days, a lush Country/Rock tune with a sparse presentation that allows Speace's dusky alto to shine for all its worth. It is a fitting opener for an album that should see a lot of airplay and sales over the course of the coming summer. The Killer In Me is a dysfunctional relationship song that turns out to be just a relationship song. The narrator lays out all of her faults and matches them to her partner's, to point out that for whatever differences they might have they are essentially the same. Better takes a very different tack, looking at all of the better options that might be available from the perspective of someone in a hopeless relationship; Better is her last warning to the guy who doesn't know what he has.

Blue Horizon takes on unplanned events that sometimes interrupt our lives or aspects of them, and the unsuspected opportunism they might offer. The song is very well done; highly melodic with a lush-yet-sparse arrangement. Haven't Learned A Thing is a song about missteps and mis-directions along the path of life; a sad and beautiful musical soliloquy that's about as bare as a song can be. Speace reminds me a great deal of Emily Saliers on this tune. Storm Warning tells the first-person story of a woman whose husband dies at war. The tune is stark and raw, reflecting the disconnected understanding of grief that is shock at a traumatic loss; some of Speace's best songwriting. Would I Lie is a song about human nature that Johnny Cash would be proud of. Speace walks the line between Country and Rock in true outlaw style. Dirty Little Secret is an intriguing song; it's never entirely clear what the secret is, but comes round to the narrator wondering if she's good enough for someone who doesn't even see what's going, is she good enough for herself? It's quite a stunning song and not your normal rock fodder; and rock this one definitely is. It's a superb bit of songwriting and the sort of song that could break out as a rock hit. Speace gets a bit traditional on I Met My Love, sounding like she's blasting right out of a 1960's country radio station playlist. Piece By Piece is a serious country ballad that would do very well on commercial Country radio. The vocal here is precise, warm and downright mesmerizing, and the overall arrangement leaves little to be desired.

Speace then goes on to hit listeners with a ton of bricks on Weight Of The World; a presumably autobiographical song about losing a brother in war. The song is all about how life went on while he was away, and the unfairness of such a young man bearing the weight of survival as well as keeping his family from worrying about him; carrying all of those worries alone. In the final verse we learn the brother dies away from home, and comes home a hero to a half-mast flag. It's a gut wrenching song that lays out the personal price of war in a way few other songs could do. Speace has outdone herself here.

Ditto for the album, Speace has outdone herself. Writing from an emotionally charged well of creativity with the precision of surgeon and the artistic voice of a master, Amy Speace takes listeners on a journey of love, loss and struggle to carry on throughout The Killer In Me. As much as we enjoyed her previous disc, Songs For Bright Street, The Killer In Me is a major step forward as a songwriter and performer. Speace is one of the brightest songwriters in popular music, irrespective of genre. The Killer In Me is an indispensable listen; a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Amy Speace at or The Killer In Me will be released in the US and Canada on June 30, 2009. Expect distribution through Amazon and major retailers, with digital distribution through outlets such as iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Review: Rob Thomas: Something To Be Tour - Live At Red Rocks DVD

Rob Thomas - Something To Be Tour: Live At Red Rocks
2009, E1 Entertainment

On June 30, 2009, E1 Entertainment will release Rob Thomas: Something To Be Tour - Live At Red Rocks on High Definition DVD. This June, 2006 performance was filmed for a 2007 edition of PBS's Soundstage, and features seven songs not aired on television. Thomas is a household name both for his solo career and his work as singer/songwriter for Matchbox 20. Thomas already has three Grammy Awards under his belt, as well as a Songwriter Hall Of Fame Starlight Award. He has earned Songwriter Of The Year honors from both Billboard Magazine and BMI for two consecutive years and will also release a new album, cradlesong on June 30th.

All of Thomas' hits are here: Something To Be, If You're Gone, 3AM and Smooth are prominent. The real treats however are among the tracks that didn't make it into the hour long Soundstage program. Problem Girl has long been a concert favorite, and When The Heartache Ends and You Won't Be Mine are inspired. Thomas even gets in a spirited cover of David Bowie's Let's Dance. The crowd on this night at Red Rocks was very responsive to Thomas, and he seems to feed off their energy throughout the show. I have to admit I had always enjoyed the songs I've heard on the radio from both Thomas and Matchbox 20, but have always thought of him as something of a cookie-cutter pop/rock performer. This DVD changed my mind. Rob Thomas is a performer first and foremost. He perhaps doesn't have the flair or flamboyance of some, but he's heart and soul into every song and it shows.

Rob Thomas has accomplished a great deal in the world of music in a short time. Twenty years from now people will be attending his shows and trading stories about the first time they saw Thomas or Matchbox 20 live. As a songwriter he's a rare talent with a keen knack for pop hooks and highly listenable songs. Something To Be Tour: Live At Red Rocks is the perfect compendium of Rob Thomas' career to date. I suspect he's just getting warmed up.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Rob Thomas at or Something To Be Tour: Live At Red Rocks will be released on June 30, 2009. You can pre-order copies at

Review: Fillmore: The Last Days DVD

Fillmore: The Last Days
2009, Rhino Records

June saw the DVD debut of a long lost Rock N Roll treasure. In the 1960's, The Fillmore West (San Francisco) was to California Rock N Roll what CBGB's was to the 1970's Punk scene in New York. Many of the bands known for propagating what became known as the San Francisco sound either got their start there or played there on their way up. Rock legend Bill Graham ran the place, but closed it in 1971 because he felt the music business was becoming jaded: Artists were getting too full of their own success and began demanding too much. Graham decided to get out before the music business ruined the music (he was also a visionary). Graham didn't go quietly however. He scheduled five nights of shows, culminating on July 4, 1971 with a show that included Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tower Of Power and others.

In 1972, the documentary Fillmore: The Last Days was released. Aside from the music it included, it was a gritty look at the dark side of the music business. Some of these insights my seem a bit dated but are still relevant today. The DVD features performances the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jerry Garcia, Santana, Lamb, Cold Blood, Hot Tuna, The Rowan Brothers, The Elvin Bishop Group and New Riders Of The Purple Sage. The track entitled "Rehearsal Jam" (The Rowan Brothers) is probably the musical highlight of the DVD, and that's saying a lot considering the artists and material presented here. While the documentary is 37 years old and focused on the San Francisco sound, it's a shame that at least one track from Creedence Clearwater Revival's legendary July 4 set wasn't included.

The DVD is being released by Rhino Records in conjunction with The Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, which continues its philanthropic efforts on the part of under-represented or under-funded causes. The foundation offers grants in the areas of music, arts, education, social work, environmental protect and spiritual compassion-based projects. If you're a fan of San Francisco Rock scene of the 1960's and early 1970's then this is a must-have DVD. If you're an artist trying to make it in the music business (particularly as an Indie artist), then you really ought to buy or at least rent this DVD. If Bill Graham were alive today he'd undoubtedly be shepherding the Indie movement. The movie is well presented and still highly relevant almost four decades after its original release. Rhino has done a great job with the presentation, right down to the liner notes by original Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres. Fillmore: The Last Days is essential viewing for rock fans and all those who would make music in a commercial environment.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Fillmore West at You can purchase a copy of Fillmore: The Last Days at You can learn more about The Bill Graham Memorial Foundation at

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

We here at Wildy’s World are saddened today by the news of the untimely death of Michael Jackson, who passed away yesterday afternoon from a heart attack that may or may not have been caused by a potent Demerol injection (I am certain the story will change several times over the next week). While we can’t find a whole lot positive to say about his personal conduct, particularly in the last decade or so, we can say that Jackson was, for a time in the 1980’s, the greatest thing to happen to popular music.

Jackson wasn’t, perhaps, the greatest songwriter of his era, but as a performer there was no one then, and perhaps no one now who can equal his presence on the stage in the mid-1980’s. Jackson rose to prominence as the lead voice of The Jackson 5, and though the late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw a brief fall off in his popularity, 1983’s Thriller went on to become the single best selling album of all time, with over 28 million copies sold in the US and perhaps as many as 100 million copies worldwide. Thriller spawned no less than 7 hit singles, and spent 39 non-consecutive weeks at #1 in album sales (80 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100). Thriller also garnered Jackson 7 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, 3 MTV Video Awards and was in large part a responsible for Jackson receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

No one in the history of the music business has wracked up numbers like that. Jackson embraced the MTV video era when it was just beginning, and the medium loved Jackson. Videos like Beat It and Thriller helped define and stretch the boundaries for what you could do with a music video, and the musical production wizardry of Quincy Jones certainly didn’t hurt.

So whatever else you might think of the man, remember that he was a childhood star who never got to be a child. He was likely warped by the childhood abuse and push for stardom that is well documented, and spent much of the rest of his life trying to make up for it. Yet on stage, there’s no one, then or now, who could match Michael Jackson’s showmanship. So while we can’t excuse some of the developments later in his life, for today we just remember him for what he always was – a legendary performer.

Rest in peace, Michael. It’s the 2nd star to the right, and straight on ‘til morning.

Review: Austin Lucas - The Common Cold

Austin Lucas - The Common Cold
2009, Magic Bullet Records

Indiana native and Prague resident Austin Lucas has been making quite the name for himself the past two years. The son of bluegrass/traditional musician Bob Lucas played on Chuck Ragan's (Hot Water Music) Revival Tour alongside folks like Ben Nichols (Lucero), Tim Barry (Avail), Tom Gabel (Against Me!) and Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds). Magic Bullet Records saw fit to revive Lucas's first recorded work, The Common Cold. Up until now this album has been a collector's item, with no regular distribution outside of Germany and only scarce availability in North America. The nine songs presented here feature Lucas at his most raw, but already show the distinctive chops and style that keep fans coming back to listen again and again.

The Common Cold opens with Dead Factories, a gorgeous country tune about living in a town that offers no hope for the future, only memories of the past (dead factories). The husks of lives left behind by the great migration of manufacturing are clearly displayed here in song; the result is highly moving. Darlin' finds the songwriter trying to hold on to someone for as long as he can, knowing full well it won't last. It's a lovely tune. Pigeon Father is a dark tune, dealing with death and illness in a folkgrass tune full of urgency and some wicked banjo playing.

Common Cold is an interesting story song about coming home to someone you've lost amidst the realization that you were at fault too. It's a very well constructed, well-told folkgrass tune, and I wouldn't be surprised to here this song covered by other artists in the coming years. Cruel Brothers is an a cappella song about patricide with deep roots in the Appalachian mountains. The vocal harmonies between Lucas and Chloe Manor are stark, haunting and beautiful. Kith And Kin is all about one of the interesting phenomena most of undergo - the need to get away from family and the place we grew up when we are young, and the need to return as we grow older. The protagonist here badly wants to go home but is fearful he's burned too many bridges. It's a very well told story/song. The album closes out with Last Song For A Sweetheart, a melancholy closer with a gorgeous melody.

Austin Lucas is a songwriter and story teller of the sort you don't often hear these days. This guy should be ruling folk festivals this summer. The Common Cold is a glorious reel of tales told in Folk, Country and Bluegrass styles, full of strong melodies, pleasing harmonies and great overall arrangements. This is a true gem! Get it.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Austin Lucas at You can purchase a copy of The Common Cold from as an import, or you can download the album from iTunes.

Review: Movers & Shakers - Larrabee

Movers & Shakers – Larrabee
2009, Movers & Shakers

Boston’s Mover’s & Shakers bring on the Country grit crossed with punker energy and a Pop glaze on their sophomore album, Larrabee. Recorded in a cabin in the Maine woods, the album has the raw, unadorned quality that only a New England summer could inspire. Compared to the likes of The Replacements, Tom Waits and even Uncle Tupelo, Movers & Shakers certainly seem to have struck a chord with listeners and critics alike.

Larrabee opens with Adventures In Unrealistic Life, a big old Americana pub tune if ever I've heard one. You could almost see the cast of Cheers breaking into this song while Coach Ernie Pantuso serves up another round. Take Your Time is a great upbeat acoustic/electric tune that leans more toward the rock side of the scale. This is a great pop tune but retains enough of a garage sound to be palatable to Indie fans. All Of My Lines sticks loosely within the Americana realm, but struggles to break free into a virulent post-punk rock tune at times. This is swaying on the lawn of an amphitheater in summertime with your lighter raised music.

Find A Reason is a classic country rocker that will get in your head and dance around for days, reminiscent of what The Heartbreakers might sound like if Shane MacGowan were singing instead of Tom Petty. The Evidence, The Proof rips the roof off in a style that I can old describe as Punktry/Americana. This is the best written track on the disc and should appeal to fans across several genres. In The Eyes finds Movers & Shakers back in Tom Petty's neighborhood, with lead vocalist Matt Price providing a rough edged vocal that fits the sound perfectly. Boomsplat gets a little Texas Blues guitar styles going in a fun tune that will make you want to get up and dance. The album closes out with Take Me Home, a classic pop/rock tune dressed up in Americana trappings that will dance around your brain for days after listening.

Movers & Shakers offer up some delicious Americana with Punk energy and Rock N Roll flare on Larrabee. This is perhaps one of the most pleasant musical surprises thus far in 2009. Here's hoping Movers & Shakers keeps coming back with more!

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Movers & Shakers at, where you can purchase a copy of Larrabee, or you can download it from iTunes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review: Cupéro - Cupéro

Cupéro - Cupéro
2009, Cupéro


Warwick, NY native Clarissa Cupéro just bowled me over. Cupéro's self-titled 6-song EP is the sort of introduction that knocks a listener off their feet. Whether it's the distinctly mature tone of 19-year-old Cupéro's songwriting, the no-holds-barred emotional strength of her songs or the absolutely amazing instrument that is her voice, Cupéro is a purely unexpected and welcome surprise on the musical scene. The Siena College student has influences all over the music map, from KT Tunstall to various classic rock artists to Columbian rocker Juanes (17 Latin Grammys). Juanes has inspired Cupéro to be a bilingual artist, writing and singing in both English and Spanish. The EP, Cupéro, was produced by Patrick Ermlich and E-Shy Gazit, who brought Cupéro's songs to life in ways even she didn't suspect when she contacted them as a high school senior. Now, Cupéro is a college student trying to build her fan base in the Albany, NY and New York City markets who has her eyes on bigger stages down the road.

Those bigger stages shouldn't be a problem at all. Not since Marian Call came along with Vanilla have I been so utterly stilled by a debut album. Cupéro makes you want to just drop everything and listen, and she handles active rock tunes and ballads with equal aplomb. With a voice that falls somewhere on a line between Sarah McLachlan and Bonnie Tyler, Cupéro makes fans every time she opens her mouth to sing. Cupéro opens with I've Got Your Number, a song she wrote for a high school talent show that has become her signature song. I've Got Your Number could have been a hit anytime in the last 25 years, and with the right breaks would vie for radio spins even in today's fractured market. La Sombra is a Spanish language song, and while I can't comment on the lyrics (no habla), the song has a powerful, sensuous feel that borders on overwhelming. Cupéro rips the roof on this vibrant rocker.

I Thought I Knew Love is a commanding love song that's chart ready as you read this. It's a bit off the beaten love song track but ideal mix-tape material and the sort of song that lights up request/dedication lines. Life Is A Moment is a song about striving for dreams and never giving up. It's a powerful message delivered in a powerful vocal performance. The arrangement opens with Cupéro and piano, adding in cello and other instrumentation as the song progresses. There's a Paula Cole "I Don't Want To Wait" feel to this song that's unmistakable. Don't be surprised if Life Is A Moment ends up licensed, movies or even gets covered by big name artists down the road (by then Cupéro may be one herself). Quiero Tu Amor is the other Spanish language song on the EP, a gorgeous ballad that would sell a million copies in an English version. I have to say though that the Spanish language brings out a certain sensuality in Cupéro's voice that's more reserved in English, increasing her marketability in an increasingly multi-ethnic culture a hundred fold. Cupéro closes out with You'll Never Be There, an urgent acoustic rocker with Americana leanings that just about proves that she can do, play or sing almost anything.

Clarissa Cupéro has everything but the breaks. Talent and composure well beyond her nineteen years and a killer voice make it very possible that down the road the name Cupéro will be as familiar as names like Prince, Madonna and Beyonce. Yes, it's a grand statement, and practically everything in Cupéro's life and career would have to go just right for that to happen. But based on what I've heard on Cupéro, it's not out of the realm of imagination. Yes, she's that good. Find out for yourself. Cupéro is a Wildy's World Certified Desert Island Disc. Don't wait, get it now.

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Cupéro at or You can download a copy of Cupéro through iTunes or through Amazon MP3. I don’t have any word on CD distribution at the time of publication, but will update with links when/if they become available.

Review: Brydan Smith - Blue Skies EP

Brydan Smith - Blue Skies EP
2009, Brydan Smith

Brydan Smith is a Burlington, Ontario, Canada-based singer-songwriter with a penchant for serious, reserved songwriting and a pleasant voice. His debut CD, Blue Skies EP, will spark comparison to Ray LaMontagne, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, The Decemberists and perhaps even Nick Drake. Brydan Smith was inspired to pursue a career in music after seeing LaMontagne live a few years back, hoping someday to touch listeners the way LaMontagne’s music touched him.

Blue Skies opens with the title track, a pleasant listen that just didn't leave much of an impression other than the fact that Smith sounds a lot like Jack Johnson. Whiskey Dreams is a low-key folk tune about the urge to drown worries while working to climb out of the bottle and trying to live again. The song is very real to life and doesn't really convey a lot of hope that things will work out. Come Down features a soulful but repressed vocal from Smith. It's a great listen, although I'd like to hear Smith come out of his shell a bit more on the vocal line. Marianne is very similar in presentation; it's almost as if Smith the singer is holding back. The song itself is a beautiful tune, but the presentation here just doesn't quite do it justice; almost like a spoken word tune with accidental fluctuations in pitch. Bring Us Down doesn't change the direction of the album at all as the closer, sticking with a similarly monochromatic scheme.

Brydan Smith has a decent voice and a lot to say, but song construction and melody lines are too similar from song to song, and too compressed in range and dynamics to be very listenable over the course of an album or even an EP. There's almost a sense of monotone (ala Steven Wright) that pervades Blue Skies, a title that one might suggest is meant to portray hope for the future or better days ahead. Smith is a talented lyricist, but the presentation of the songs can be tough to tackle.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Brydan Smith at, where you can purchase tracks from the Blue Skies EP. No word yet on CD distribution.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: The Darbuki Kings - Been Laden You Too Long

The Darbuki Kings - Been Laden You Too Long
2009, Darbuki King Records

Robin Adnan Anders (aka Adnan Darbuki) and Antonio Albarran (aka Antone Darbuki) are the Darbuki Kings. Last year we had the distinct pleasure of reviewing their album Lawrence Of Suburbia, which rose as high as the Top 20 on the CMJ New World chart. For 2009, The Darbuki Kings are back with Been laden You Too Long, a collection of 10 folk songs infused with exotic melodies and eastern influences. Some of you may know Anders from his other lives as founder of both Boiled In Lead and 3 Mustaphas 3. If you're familiar with either of those bands I can assure you that the creativity and adventurous musical spirit you're used to carries over to the Darbuki Kings.

Been Laden You Too Long opens with Berber, which sounds like the sort of music you might hear at the opening of a big Arena Rock concert. The mix of orchestration and electric instruments creates a tapestry against which the dark, minor-key, Middle Eastern style melody can have its fullest effect. The instrumental plays out at nearly six-and-a-half minutes and is very vibrant and full of energy. Zimbob Wayout sounds like it could be an instrumental outtake from Paul Simon's Graceland sessions, even capturing the same guitar sound/style. Mango Tango sounds like it shares musical ancestry with Hernando's Hideaway; it's full of rhythmic and melodic surprises that will keep your interest throughout.

The Breath Of The Cobra is a highly rhythmic composition that has almost jazz-style improvisational feel to it. Anders and Albarran play inspired music here across nearly 8 minutes, wrapped around an enduring theme that never goes fully away. Eleven Monkeys is a bit more upbeat and brighter, relying on traditional western scales, but the Kings don't stay there long, going for dark and effecting on Gilgamesh. This song features some of the most dynamic electric guitar passages on the disc and is sure to be a crowd pleaser when performed live. Zanzibar makes the full transition into Bedouin Jazz with a long and distinctive improv-style composition. The musical madness continues through Tunisian Wind and Corinthian Slap and on the final track, Anderslusian, The Darbuki Kings provide the most entertaining track on the CD.

The Darbuki Kings have found a winning combination of traditional sounding Middle Eastern music and jazz on Been Laden You Too Long. While the music presented here is never going to get The Darbuki Kings on Top-40 radio, it is of the quality to gain them significant respect within the music industry, had they not had it already. I highly recommend Been Laden You Too Long.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Darbuki Kings at or Been Laden You Too Long will be released on June 30, 2009. You can pre-order a download through Amazon MP3. Information on CD availability could not be found as of the publication of this review, but keep checking Adnan’s Marketplace for availability.

Review: Silent Killer - Everyone Bleeds

Silent Killer – Everyone Bleeds
2009, Ohm Resistance

Brooklyn’s Silent Killer has a reputation for musical brutality on the Drum N Bass circuit, but his latest album, Everyone Bleeds is perhaps his most accessible album to date. Intermixing his killer Drum N Bass style with hip-hop (East and West), Electrohouse, musical atmospherics and vocal and music samples, Silent Killer has learned to hone his brutality with a spoonful of sugar. Influences include the Notorious B.I.G. and Don Davis, and the album receives some remix assistance from Breaker (Guerilla) and Submerged.

Everyone Bleeds opens with Savior, a hyperkinetic electronic binge mixing elements of Drum N Bass and Industrial. This is one of those songs where you just grab on and wait for the ride to be over; no quarter is given. Destroyer hits a bland and repetitive note, essentially becoming stuck in a loop that's truncated by a spoken word sample but repeats almost continuously throughout the song. Up next is Submerged's remix of Corpse, which plays like a bizarre dance club work-up of a horror movie chase scene. I had a hard time getting into this one because it seemed so at odds with itself. Rockers appears designed clearly for the club circuit, and will likely do well in that realm but doesn't amount to much more than a beat and a voiceover. The repetitive nature of the song makes it a difficult listen even halfway through. Supremacy hits some of the same issues with regard to repetition, although the passages are a bit more interestingly constructed.

Everyone Bleeds takes a bit more from the Industrial well, relying on a heavy rhythm, a similar sense of repetition and a voiceover key that helps to drive the song. The Great Machine opens with ambient synthesizer that becomes a staccato counter rhythm to the percussion. The composition from here becomes highly varied, using voice, drum and synth samples to build an extremely varied and percussive soundscape. Super Orgy (Breaker's Orgy Remix) takes on the speed and urgency of a thundering herd of horses but fails to bring anything new or original out of the composition, which retains a highly repetitive functional construction. This song slides into Amber as the two were one and the same.

Silent Killer's Everyone Bleeds is a highly average collection of Electronic compositions with some material very fit for the monochromatic club scene but little to really light up the synapses. If you're just looking to dance then this is a fine album, but there's not much original here; and there's not much to stretch either the listener or the artist.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Silent Killer at (Check out their blog entry on Silent Killer here.) You can download a copy of Silent Killer at Amazon MP3 or iTunes. A CD version was released on April 27, 2009, but availability is sparse. If you send a message to Ohm Resistance through their MySpace page they might be able to direct you to someone selling physical CDs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: Nick Daugherty - Movin' Higher

Nick Daugherty – Movin’ Higher
2009, Skyrocket Records

Los Angeles singer/songwriter Nick Daugherty is a former military officer with a penchant for deep lyrics and soulful arrangements. Among the upper echelon of performers on the L.A. music scene, Daugherty sets his sights on bigger things in 2009 with the release of his debut album, Movin’ Higher. Produced by Mandi Martin (Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Oleta Adams, Amy Kuney), Movin’ Higher finds Daugherty throwing his heart and soul into every single track. It’s no surprise considering his list of influences, which include Sting, Billy Joel, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dave Matthews, Paul Simon and Derek Webb (Caedmon’s Call).

Daugherty opens with Movin' Higher, the title track, a mix of Americana, Blues and good old-fashioned pop music. The song is highly melodic with soulful backing vocals and a whole lot going on between the staves. Daugherty breaks into some easy flowing R&B on Out Of My League, a Delilah-worthy tune if ever there was one. Sick Day has a Barry Manilow does R&B feel to it that's pleasant to listen to although a bit odd in retrospect. The music here is generally in the Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary category, and works so well because Daugherty's voice is so pleasant and unimposing. Daugherty hits serious mix-tape territory with A Thousand Times Tonight, a sweet "falling in love" song that is sure to melt some hearts.

Staring At The Sun is a song about getting in lost in your own social scene, it's a high energy though slightly muted rock song with a high commercial ceiling. This sounds like movie soundtrack material for a teen comedy; don't be surprised if a bunch of artists pick this up as a cover tune. Daugherty steps back from the precipice of Rock N Roll with a jazz-flavored, Manilow-style ballad in Jamie. The songwriting here is exquisite, with Daugherty showing a lyrical finesse that is uncommon. This is another tune that sounds like licensing is in its future. The same lyrical acuity is noted on I Won't Stand For Watching You Fall Down. This song also hits on some mix-tape magic, but does skate dangerously close to the edge of cliché at times. The album closes out with Something More and Please Come Back Home. The latter is a love song written in a Blues and Gospel Rock format that's highly appealing to the ear.

Nick Daugherty writes Rock N Roll with some Blues, Gospel and R&B flavoring, depending on the mood of the song. Comparisons to folks like Barry Manilow, Marc Cohn and Joshua Kadison are inevitable. Daugherty's voice is a great sounding every man's voice; easy on the ears and with enough energy and heartfelt emotion to get listeners to buy into his songs. As a songwriter Daugherty is outstanding, possessing a talent for crafting lyrics that convey meaning without sounding trite. The material on Movin' Higher has a definite reading on the Schmaltz scale, but so what? When it's done well in the context of great songs, schmaltz is just another form of showmanship. Daugherty proves that showmanship is definitely a talent he possesses, and Movin' Higher is a great introduction who should be making music for many years to come.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
You can learn more about Nick Daugherty at or You can purchase a copy of Movin’ Higher at, or download the album from iTunes.

Review: Foggy Nocean - Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good?

Foggy Nocean – Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good?
2009, Ron Mancini

Rock and Roll is dead. Long live Rock N Roll. Check that, Mancini’s still here.

Ron Mancini is the heart and soul of Foggy Nocean, the last bastion of anti-pop heroes on the Rock N Roll scene. Cranston, Rhode Island is a bit out-of-the way, and don’t be surprised if you don’t hear about it again (unless you live in Rhode Island), but it has the seeds of musical revolution in Foggy Nocean. Mancini rails against the music industry on his website, bemoaning the loss of creativity and music as a force for change in the world. Foggy Nocean certainly don’t fit the current mold of Poplets. Taking his cue from classic rockers such as The Doors, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks, Mancini constructs entire albums as organic creatures, rather than highly vetted, highly focus-group studied pop confections designed for maximum impact. Working in a wicked sense of humor and a quirky eye for the world, Foggy Nocean’s Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good? is politically, fashionably and aerodynamically incorrect (thank you Berkely Breathed), but that sucker can fly.

The title track, Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good?, sounds like Randy Newman sitting in on vocals with They Might Be Giants. If that doesn’t intrigue I suggest you go back and read the previous line until it does. It’s a love song about all the things a cow can become (generally involuntarily). Shattered Image in an upbeat parable for looking to yourself for problems before blaming others. The song is well produced and yet maintains a Lo-Fi, garage aura to it that’s charming. You could picture this as the response to an argument with a significant after the fact. I should say about Mancini’s voice that it isn’t a perfect voice; it works really well with some songs/styles and occasionally doesn’t with others. All Those Things is one of the songs where it doesn’t quite work, which is unfortunate as the song is excellent from a musical perspective. Hurting Me sounds a bit like The Who’s Magic Bus on the verses and has a classic punk chorus. The vocals here are amiably off key and the song itself is very catchy. The piano and guitar work here is absolutely stellar.

Lay Your Hands and 13 Colonies both find Foggy Nocean sounding like Elvis Costello of the late 1980’s. Lay Your Hands is the best songwriting on the disc, coming across with a distinctive 1980’s Pop sound while retaining that Lo-Fi grandeur evident elsewhere on the album. 13 Colonies is a bit of fractured US History delivered with great energy and the panache of a real performer. Capn A Ship is upbeat and highly energetic, a young boy’s dream that’s never fully outgrown. You Don’t Know How Much I Care and Steppin Stone were both enjoyable, and The Foreskin is an absolutely unforgettable closer; a plea to remain whole that most any man who’s been circumcised can find sympathy with. The song perhaps isn’t quite as funny as intended, but should do well with the adolescent crowd.

Foggy Nocean practices one the greatest tenets of Punk Rock; “Here’s our music. If you don’t like it, go XXXX yourself”. If you don’t believe me, go read the bio of Foggy Noceans website. Ron Mancini is a guy who makes music he likes; he hopes you like it too, but he won’t be heartbroken if you don’t. Like most musicians who do what they do because their hearts can’t bear to do anything else, Mancini would still be making music if there was no hope of money or notoriety involved. Those things are nice, desired, sometimes needed; but they are not essential reasons why he or other artists like him make music. Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good? is an experience. It’s a Rock album in the truest sense of the phrase. Not every song here will work for everyone, but there’s something here for most anyone who might listen. Foggy Nocean isn’t like ever to take the airwaves by storm, but they’ll provide you with some great entertainment, 47 minutes at a time.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Foggy Nocean at or You can purchase a copy of Why Do Cows Have To Taste So Good? at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: The Crazy Ivans - Go Back To Russia, Sucka

The Crazy Ivans – Go Back To Russia, Sucka
2009, The Crazy Ivans

Dallas, Texas is ground zero for The Crazy Ivans, a sextet with big dreams and even bigger questions about just who they are. Biographical information about the band is next to impossible to find, but we do know that the band grew out of the streets and clubs of Dallas in June, 2008. Named for a submarine maneuver used during the 20th century to help a submarine crew to see behind the submarine using sonar, The Crazy Ivans look back in mixing sounds ranging from classic, arena rock to punk, and look forward with an edge that is truly post-modern. Their debut EP, Go Back To Russia, Sucka, was released this year. Let’s check it out.

Go Back To Russia, Sucka opens with Frequency, a bit of hyperactive Grunge/Punk. Lead vocalist Kristen Lueken sounds a bit like Rush’s Geddy Lee here. The song is really a fun listen and is a great way to kick off the EP. Still Waters surprises with some arena rock style harmonies blended into what is just a great rock tune. Can’t Go Home takes things down a bit as a mid-tempo bad girl song. The energy just didn’t make it to the CD on this one, leaving it with a ho-hum feel that doesn’t match the “I’m going to be a bad girl” message. Wail Of The Banshee is everything you might expect for the title, and Lueken gets to belt for all she’s worth here. This is a bit rougher than the first few songs, and that sound carries over into the last track, Six Feet Above The Sheets. It’s here that you realize what a treat The Crazy Ivans must be to see live.

The Crazy Ivans get in some good shots on their first recording project together. Go Back To Russia, Sucka introduces us to a band that has an idea of where their sound is going but hasn’t really refined that sound yet. The result is an intriguing and somewhat varied EP that’s highly listenable and entertaining. Get your moshing shoes, your punker tee and your best snarl ready, The Crazy Ivans will make you dance.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Crazy Ivans at or You can purchase a copy of Go Back To Russia, Sucka at

Review: A Louder Disaster - The Sweet Sound Of Revenge Songs [EP]

A Louder Disaster - The Sweet Sound Of Revenge Songs EP
2009, A Louder Disaster

Marie Catastrophe grew up in a Texas town that didn't offer many opportunities for the singer/guitar player. Moving to Los Angeles, Catastophe made the ultimate leap of faith, selling her computer to buy an electric guitar and went to work busking. Before long she was doing open mic nights with material she developed on the streets of L.A. This led to meeting bass player Todd Bishop, recording and playing gigs in hotspots such as The Whiskey, The Troubadour and Spaceland. After a few life lessons about band life, Catastophe took control of the band. With the addition of drummer Trey D., A Louder Disaster found focus and a firm grounding in their own sound. The results can be heard on their debut EP, The Sweet Sound Of Revenge Songs.

The EP opens with (Drag My Name) All Over Town, a post-punk rocker with pop sensibility. Vocalist Catastrophe’s voice is vaguely reminiscent of a cross between Nina Gordon and Belinda Carlisle. The song is good listen and a decent starting point for the EP. Escape gets a bit repetitive, but has a clear 1980’s lineage and is a catchy and compact rocker that will stick with you. Stop The Sound is almost pure Pop. Catastrophe isn’t at her best here but gets by. Somewhere along the way something really clicked for A Louder Disaster; the next two songs are the best on the EP. The Art Of Scapegoating is catchy, almost virulently so. Evil Ways is the best song on the disc, but isn’t as convincing coming from Catastrophe as it might be from another source. Her voice has this vaguely tinny quality to it that distracts from the message. Stupid Kid shows a lot of potential for the band as songwriters; adolescent/young adult angst, love and immature emotions are all wrapped up in song that truly conveys some of the confusion they engender while maintaining a distinct Pop sense. One gets the impression that the song isn’t quite complete, but then again it’s written probably from within the core of those emotions rather than from the detached view that time allows, hence some of its power.

A Louder Disaster is a band with distinct talent as songwriters and musicians. Vocalist Marie Catastrophe has a decent voice, but isn’t always up to the material she’s writing with the band. She falls into a style of vocalists from bands such as Veruca Salt, Belly and the Go-Go’s, but just doesn’t quite capture that same sound. The Sweet Sounds Of Revenge is a bit uneven but shows some promise.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about A Louder Disaster at, where you can purchase a copy of The Sweet Sound Of Revenge Songs EP.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review: Bunmi Adeoye - Paper Dolls, Glass Houses

Bunmi Adeoye - Paper Dolls, Glass Houses
2008, Bunmi Adeoye

Bunmi Adeoye (Boo-mee A-Day-Oh-Yeh) is a hopeless romantic, and one who has been scorned judging by the songs on her debut CD, Paper Dolls, Glass Houses. With the melodic sense of Carole King, the gritty truth-to-tell nature of Tracy Chapman and the vitriol of Ani DiFranco, Adeoye spins a web of tales that will hit home with anyone who's even been on the bad side of a breakup. The Toronto-based Adeoye lists influences as disparate as KT Tunstall, Damien Rice, Barbara Streisand, Judy Garland, WHAM!, Sade, and Harlequin romance novels.

The first thing you’ll notice about Adeoye is that she has a magnificently unaffected voice. I don’t know what sort of vocal training she’s had, but Adeoye sounds like a natural singer. There’s an earthy quality to her singing that sets the listener immediately at ease, and her tone is gorgeous without ever sounding garish. She is the sort of singer you could literally listen to all day long. Adeoye kicks of Paper Dolls, Glass Houses with Stop Lying, an emotionally, lyrically and melodically intense song representing one half of an argument in a relationship that’s going nowhere. The emotional edge here is palpable, and Adeoye’s voice makes it all the more believable. The song has a theatrical quality to it, almost as if you could build a show around it, but retains the Folk/Pop sense it was written in. Unbreakable Heart is a dance song that sounds like it might have come chronologically before Stop Lying, the urgent refrain of someone who will do anything to make a bad relationship work. Long Time Coming is an empowering song about throwing the bum out and works as a perfect prologue to the first two tracks.

Player Hate turns the tables on the players, in one of the hottest songs to emerge from the cauldron of 2008. Player Hate is blunt enough to make Ani DiFranco blush, and is the sort of song that could really break out on Pop/Urban radio. Tell Me is a Reggae-flavored pop song with a melody that just won’t stay out of your noggin. The harmonies here are downright gorgeous in their own right; this is another potential pop hit. Adeoye takes on the Barenaked Ladies’ What A Good Boy next, in an amazing cover of one of the band’s best non-singles. The song itself is about expectations and pre-conceived notions we grow up with around gender and the limitations they can place on us as we grow. It’s not an issue so much of overt sexism but the ideas so ingrained in our consciousness that we never think about them. Adeoye makes the most of a great song. Sad But True is a dark and beautiful song of detached mourning about a relationship the narrator could never win at. Adeoye’s vocal line here is striking and the harmonies are angelic. Adeoye closes out the album with a cover of Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. It’s a beautiful rendition, much slower and more contemplative than the original. Adeoye takes one last to shine on the vocals; a real pleasure to hear.

When I first listened to this album I was somewhat blown away; each successive listen has made that sense of “Whoa!” grow a bit. Bunmi Adeoye is a distinctive talent. She joins a cadre of strong, intelligent female singer songwriters (Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, Tina Turner, Tracy Chapman, etc.) willing to, in turns, be tough, speak their mind, be vulnerable… just be themselves. Paper Dolls, Glass Houses is the sort of disc that grabs you on the first listen and tightens its grip a little on each successive play. Adeoye is a gem who should not stay hidden; she’s ready for the grand stage. Paper Dolls, Glass Houses is a distinctive find, a Wildy’s World Certified Desert Island Disc, and an absolute must for your music collection. Make sure you check it out today!

Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Bumni Adeoye at, or You can purchase a copy of Paper Dolls, Glass Houses at

Review: Connor Desai - Connor Desai

Connor Desai – Connor Desai
2007, Connor Desai

Seattle’s Connor Desai has been warming up Northwest winters for music fans for several seasons now. In 2007, she broke onto the scene with her self-titled EP, Connor Desai. Desai has one of those sultry jazz voices you expect to hear in a seedy jazz club on a Saturday night; a dusky alto that might have been a key to success in any era of jazz. Partly the wanton-woman neo-torch toughness of Fiona Apple and partly the ultra-smooth style of Norah Jones, Desai brings a little sass back into vocal Jazz/Pop.

Desai opens with Trouble Is, exploring a deep and powerful crush that causes you to wake in the wee hours of the morning thinking about no one else. The vocal line and musicianship are A-1, and Desai captures this scenario in picture-perfect fashion. Do I is all about a relationship in transition. The narrator is trying to figure out what she feels, and the hesitation speaks volumes. At All features a lush vocal line set against an almost minimalist arrangement, allowing every nook and cranny of Desai’s voice to shine like the sun. The melancholy and self-doubt of the song almost seems to magnify the emotive qualities of her voice. Wake Up is a funky bit of jazz with enough pop sensibility to make it to the airwaves; it’s a wonderful bit of songwriting and one of the surprises of the CD. Will You Love is more in the Norah Jones style but with more vocal dynamics and a bit more chutzpah. Desai closes out with Deviance, a lush song about the darker side of human nature. Desai crafted this song with a dissonant undertone that eventually becomes a consonant yet separate part of the harmony. The line, like deviance itself, starts out as a musical anomaly, only to become a working part of the full character of the song (or person), separate yet nearly inseparable from the rest. This is the highlight song of the album and some of the most subtly ingenious songwriting you’re like to hear.

Connor Desai has a voice that will floor you, and a songwriting ability that will keep you interested once the novelty of her voice has subsided a tad. The potential for greatness is here, and has already actualized on her first CD, Connor Desai, easily one of the best Jazz/Pop hybrid albums of the past few years. We here at Wildy’s World are excited to see what comes next!

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Connor Desai at You can purchase a copy of Connor Desai at