All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Midwest Hype - Dayglow

Midwest Hype – Dayglow
2012, Midwest Hype
It’s been nearly ten years since the seeds of Midwest Hype first sprouted.  Singer/guitarist George Matthew Prellowitz met drummer Max Kepler and bassist Nate Miller and the three began jamming together.  Moving on the Ball State University together, they later added Kevin Krismanich (keys), Ben Morrisey (sax) and Scott Whitford (trumpet).  The band’s eclectic mix of hip-hop, reggae, funk and jazz have made them a local Indie favorite in Chicago, and with the addition of MC Justin “Ideal” Diehl in 2010, Midwest Hype seems as if they have finally come of age.  Their latest release, the Steven Gillis (Filter) produced Dayglow, plays on the band’s strength and musical diversity to create a true listening experience.
Dayglow kicks off with the wonderfully flowing mish-mash of “Behind Our Eyes”, vacillating between ska-tinged pop and rap.  The song is all about making the most of the day but never losing hope over chances missed.  The horn section helps to fill out the sound and make it all flow together.  “Elastic Booty Shorts” is all about having a good time and enjoying the moment.  With rap verses and a spoken/song chorus, this song has all sorts of commercial appeal given current musical mores.  “All Is Water” digs in with a sophisticated island groove blended with a pop-ballad sensibility.  In another era this would be top-40 gold; as it is expect this to be a concert favorite for the band (lighters and cell phones). 
Midwest Hype gets a generic reggae groove on for what turns out to be a middle of the road pop ballad.  The instrumentation here is complex and enjoyable, but the song itself just never quite takes off.  Things get a bit edgier on the motivated and energetic “Do Or Die”.  Everything falls into place for Midwest Hype on this number, an eminently catchy and danceable number that plasters itself to the inside of your skull and declares residency the first time you hear it.  Dayglow closes on a full-on reggae groove in the form of “People Of America”, a celebration of our ability to make the most of our own world.  “People Of America” takes the current mood of national pessimism and turns it around, putting the responsibility for tomorrow where it has always been, in our own hands.  Along the way, Midwest Hype pays tribute to Bob Marley’s “Don’t Give Up The Fight” with a four-line melody snippet that recurs as the primary theme.

Midwest Hype isn’t all hype on Dayglow, seamlessly blending rap, reggae, jazz, pop and R&B into a multi-rhythmic confection that just might turn out to be pop gold.  There have been bands before Midwest Hype who have tried to bring all of these sounds together, but it would be hard to find one who has done it better.  The ideas behind Dayglow are positive, idealistic and full of the energy of youth.  Folks over thirty or gone cynical might have a hard time digging the lyrical wash that Midwest Hype creates.  Anyone still seeing the world through rosy lenses will dig Dayglow hard.  Anyone who has moved on will be reminded of what the world looked like when they were young.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Midwest Hype at or 

Fern - Hopping Into Easter with Fern

Fern – Hopping Into Easter With Fern
2012, Fern’s Music/Fern Forest Enterprises
Fern is a musician, songwriter and educator who writes and plays songs for children ages 0 to 7.  Long recognized for the quality and energy in her songwriting, Fern’s work has been trumpeted by Boston radio stations WERS and USA Today.  Fern has six children’s albums under her belt, and entertains children all throughout New England.  Fern’s latest effort, Hopping Into Easter With Fern, brings the usual blend of sentimentality, intelligence and snappy songwriting that has characterized Fern’s recording career thus far.  Together with her sidekick, Charlie the six foot tall chipmunk, Fern enchants her listeners with a personable style and a sense of childish wonder. 
Fern kicks things off with a song about the Easter Bunny and how he gets all over the world on Easter Eve.  The speculative folk-country number lists through many of the travel options of the hallowed hare, ultimately settling on magic as the means.  At just under two minutes this is a light snack that kiddos will enjoy.  “Powder Puff Bunny” is a funny little tune that celebrates the multi-colored eggs the Easter Bunny leaves on Easter number.  It’s a catchy number that will have the pediatric set dancing about, and will likely drive parents bonkers by the third listen.  Fern digs into a jazzy version of “Peter Cottontail”, complete with finger snaps and some pretty snazzy piano work.
It’s off to the islands for “The Chocolate Bunny”, with Fern spinning the tale of one piece of Easter booty to a reggae beat.  Fern deconstructs her chocolate bunny right before our very ears, ending up with the inevitable tummy ache.  It’s a cute number that kids will appreciate.    “The Easter Duck’s Parade” has romper room cadence of the sort that has pervaded children’s albums for the last three or four decades.  The bouncy feel will keep little ones interested, and the real live duck sounds add some amusement.  “Little Peter Rabbit” goes for a repetitive build, repeating key phrases while exploring new actions for the song’s subject.  This one is aimed at the younger portion of Fern’s audience, and the older kids will be getting antsy before the song is half over. 
“Here Comes Spring” is done in classic folk song style with perhaps just a touch of Appalachian flavor.  The repetitive nature of the song may wear on some listeners, but from a folk song perspective this is fairly standard.  “Pretty Flowers – Just For You” is a sweet little children’s ballad, and is perfectly written for Fern’s audience.  There’s an air of lullaby here, and Fern’s builds in some great atmosphere in the dual piano/synthesizer arrangement.  “Eggbert, The Easter Egg” takes on a vaudevillian style in the arrangement, while sounding like the sort of cutesy novelty children’s tune that Dr. Demento might have played in his prime.  It’s a cute little number that sounds like it should accompany a Rankin & Rankin television special.  Fern closes out her celebration of Easter with “The Egg Hunt”, speculating on whether all the eggs have been found.  It’s a catchy closer that the kids will appreciate.
Fern, along with her friend Charlie the Chipmunk, gets her audience.  That’s a fact that’s very apparent on Hopping Into Easter with Fern.  She displays that enigmatic je ne said quoi that makes a local or regional children’s favorite what they are.  At the same time, Fern’s voice could be a tough sell, to a wider audience.  The personality and charisma that Fern displays on Hopping Into Easter With Fern is unmistakable, but her tone and pitch both have their rough spots, and vocal purists just won’t be able to last long here.  The kids will love the music, of course, and just like artists such as Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram before here, the songs will occasionally drive parents out of their minds.  But Fern is the real deal, and she survives and thrives among the toughest music connoisseurs for one reason – she’s real. There’s nothing fake or contrived here.  In this way, Fern finds her own moments of musical beauty.
Rating:  3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Fern at 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Age/Sex/Occupation - This Side Of The Fence

Age/Sex/Occupation – This Side Of The Fence
2012, Age/Sex/Occupation
Portland trio Age/Sex/Occupation converged on the left coast, but their roots have chutes all across North America.  The darlings of Indie Soul-Rock, Age/Sex/Occupation range from soul to pop to gritty blues on their upcoming album, This Side Of The Fence (due out on May 29, 2012.)  Working with producer Jordan Richter (Caves, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers), Age/Sex/Occupation step out of the past into a fractured present and make it their own.  Songs such as “Dirty Isn’t Dirty” and “Zombie” are a party waiting to happen, and Age/Sex/Occupation shows off a brilliant melodic sensibility on the “Another World” and the McCartney-esque “The Day I Ignored Street Signs”.  The influence of late 1960’s and early 1970’s rock n roll, R&B and blues are all everywhere, and Age/Sex/Occupation play it all out like they lived through it the first time.  This Side Of The Fence is a worthy effort.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Age/Sex/Occupation at or on FacebookThis Side Of The Fence drops on May 29, 2012.  Keep checking the band's website(s) for updates.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Amy Dalley - Coming Out Of The Pain

Amy Dalley – Coming Out Of The Pain
2012, Rock Ridge Music
Country/rock singer-songwriter Amy Dalley has taken a long and winding road to become the artist she is today.  Growing up in Kingsport, Tennessee, Dalley was performing from a very young age.  Her first professional gig was at Dollywood.  Moving to Nashville in 1994, Dalley formed the Hillbilly Gypsies and scored a publishing deal.  This led to one of her songs, “Dream To Small being featured on the taste-making teen drama Dawson’s Creek.  Dalley was then picked up by Curb Records, releasing seven successful singles between 2003 and 2007.  During that time she co-wrote a successful single for Reba McEntire (“My Sister”) and recorded her debut album.  For one reason or another, Curb never released Dalley’s album.  Dalley struck out on her own, releasing It’s Time on her own Madjack Records in 2009.  This album became quite popular through grassroots efforts and word of mouth.

Back in the studio in 2011, Dalley teamed up with husband and writing partner Jack Sizemore (Jason Aldean) to track her newest album, Coming Out Of The Pain.  Coming Out Of The Pain hits tangible and virtual shelves this week.

Kicking things off with the gritty country/pop of “Peace Sign”,  Dalley delivers a brilliant and funny kiss odd song.  This is a sure-fire hit, as they say.  The song is catchy, well-written and seriously entertaining.  Dalley’s iron & wine voice is the main attraction however.  “Breakin ‘ It Down” is more of a classic rock number, think Heart with a country vocalist and you’ll have the right idea.  “Somebody Said It Rained” is a generic country ballad that’s made much more interesting by Dalley’s voice.  Dalley slips a bit into cliché on “Saturday Night Situation”, but that’s sort of the point.  This raucous country rocker is catchy as anything you’ll hear on commercial country radio, and will make programmers drool at the number of spins it might garner.

“Damage Done” is one of the more finely written songs on the album.  The melody could stand alone if it needed to, but Dalley wraps it in complementary instrumentation and delivers it with a warm, tough tone that gets the job done.  The album slips into generic sentimentality on “I May Love You Now”, a regretful ballad without much energy.  Dalley picks up the pieces for “Civil War”, an exploration of how a relationship fell apart.  The full arrangement seems to reflect the complication emotions and full on rush of finding the source of a problem in the middle of a storm.  The song is artfully written and brought to life by Dalley and her band.

“Round And Round” allows a listener a moments respite before Dalley launches into the upbeat pop of “Bottle It Up”.  Try to get this tune out of your head.  Just try it.  Don’t be surprised if you hear “Bottle It Up” once an hour an hour on commercial country radio this summer.  The song has an infectious feel to it that will wrap you up.  Dalley closes out with the title track.  “Coming Out Of The Pain” is solid radio fare, lending itself more to rock n roll than to country.  The song is well written and ready for the mass market, but may have a hard time slotting neatly into one niche.

Amy Dalley shows that she can deliver the hits on Coming Out Of The Pain, but occasionally she also reaches into the well and writes something deeper and more musically profound.  Coming Out Of The Pain is a classic case of an artist trying to balance commercial success with continued growth as an artist.  So far, Dalley is handling the balancing act very well.

Rating:  3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Amy Dalley at  Coming Out Of The Pain drops this week.  You can order it any of the e-tailers below, or through the Wildy’s World Amazon store.

             CD                    MP3                    iTunes.   

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Video: Pamela Betti Band - Betti Blues (live)

Voices like the one possessed by Pamela Betti don't come along too often.  The Long Island blues legend in waiting can belt 'em out like no one's business, and no one knows how to work a crowd like she does.  Betti and her band have toured internationally and pack houses wherever they go.  You'll see why in the video below, a live performance of "Betti Blues".

You can learn more about the Pamela Betti Band at or on Reverb NationPamdemonium, the latest album from Pamela Betti Band, is available from CDBaby.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Matt And The City Limits - Crash

Matt And The City Limits – Crash
2011, Island/Def Jam Records
Matt Berman has been making an impression in gigs over the past couple of years, both for his voice and his jazz-infused saxophone style.  Together with his band, Matt And The City Limits, Berman caught the ear of Island/Def Jam Records.  The rest is a story out of the old days of major label dominance.  The upshot was the release of Matt And The City Limits debut album, Crash.  Dropped digitally last fall, the album saw a full CD release in February of 2012. 
The comparisons to folks such as John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz and Rob Thomas are going to be made.  Berman has obviously been influenced by the sounds of some of these acts, but also brings a sense of jazz construction to his songwriting that is not typical for adult alternative rock music.   At the same time, Berman’s sense of melody and presentation is a bit bland.  In spite of some out of the box musical ideas, Crash never really impresses.

That Girl, the first track on Crash, is highly representative of the aura of the album: commercially viable but a bit too much like too many other things on the radio these days.  “Crash” is a middle of the road ballad with a 1970’s lo-fi feel.  The mix is a bit off, the saxophone over-emphasized to the detriment of other instrumentation.  “Keep Love” is a step up; very catchy and with some real pop sensibility, but there’s a vaguely disheveled feel to the mix.  “Beauty Is That Blind Eyes Can See” puts Berman’s strengths and weaknesses in focus.  From a songwriting perspective, this song is very young and not well developed.  By the same token, Berman shows a talent for delivering songs with a sincerity that can’t be feigned.  This will become more significant as he grows into his songwriting skills over time.
”Change” and “On The Other Side” are relatively bland, filling the space leading up to the closing track, “Bring It On Home To Me”.  This instrumental take on the Sam Cooke classic blends jazz and rock in a near-perfect mix that sounds like segue way music from G.E. Smith’s Saturday Night Live days.  The mix here is a bit off, once again, but the overall effect is a good one.

Matt And The City Limits show real musical potential on Crash.  A young songwriter, Matt Berman nevertheless gets points for raw talent and sincerity.  Crash is a solid start, and it will be curious to see what Berman has up his sleeve the next time around.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Matt And The City Limits at    You can purchase Crash from the e-tailers below, or through the Wildy’s World store. 

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Relay for Life

Good evening, folks!

I want to take a few minutes tonight to talk to you about a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  On July 28th and 29th of this year, I will be walking in the Relay for Life in the town of Geneva, NY.  My family has seen its share of cancer over the years, with my grandfather, Cecil Haskell, my uncle Albert Haskell, and my dad, William G. Haskell, all succumbing to cancer in one form or another.  Now cancer has touched my extended family as well, as my mother in law bravely stares stage 4 lung cancer in the face.

I can't bring back those who have passed on, and the actions I take in July will do little for those fighting today, but events like the Relay for Life can have a profound impact on the chances of survival of those who may one day face this disease.

So I am banding together with family and friends to walk through the night in memory of all who have lost their battle and those who live to fight another day.  We also walk to give hope to our children, that perhaps one day cancer will be an afterthought.

I have a personal fundraising page for the Relay for Life, hosted by The American Cancer Society.  You can check it out here.  I have set a personal fundraising goal of $2,500.00, and I hope to meet it.  You can meet the rest of our team on the Cave Crashers team page.  Anyone in Western or Central New York who wants to join our team is more than welcome, or if you'd care to donate or send good wishes, those are welcome as well.

Now here's the deal.  My personal goal is $2,500.00.  If I meet that goal by July 27th, 2012, I will, in honor of those who have battled, and in homage to those who helped me reach my goal, shave my head.  Further, I will videotape the event and post it here for all of you to see. 

Also, this week is Spring Into Relay, a kick-starter event for the fundraising drive leading up to the Relay.  Each team has been tasked to raise $100.00 through March 27, 2012.  To that end, anyone making a donation of at least $15.00 on my individual page between now and March 27, 2012 will receive a free one month ad here on Wildy's World.  As an added bonus, all donations are tax deductible.

It's a great cause folks, and you can claim it on your taxes next year.  Please give it some thought.

Video: Alyson Greenfield - Mama Said Knock You Out

Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alyson Greenfield builds an eclectic sound by experimenting with synthesizers, beatboxers, autoharps, drums, chord organs, glockenspiels and even a baby grand piano.  Her take no prisoners vocal style captivates audiences, and has made her an early favorite at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn, NY.  Greenfield recently release a video for "Mama Said Knock You Out", a cover of the LL Cool J song performed on a baby grand.  You'll note elements of Tori Amos here, but there's something about Greenfield that is decidedly original.  Check it out!

"Mama Said Knock You Out" if featured on Greenfield's EP Rock Out With Yout Glockenspiel Out, an album of hip-hop covers that includes takes on Coolio's "Gangster's Paradise" and Kelis' "Milkshake".  Greenfield is truly an original voice.

Learn more about Alyson Greenfield at or Out With Your Glockenspiel Out is available through links on Greenfield's website, through the e-tailers below, or through the Wildy's World store.

    Amazon CD          Amazon MP3          iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Saw Doctors – The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors

The Saw Doctors – The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors
2012 Shamtown Records
The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors was released in the UK back in 2011, and received unanimous acclaim.  2012 sees the U.S. release and a 25-date stateside tour.  The Saw Doctors, owners of 18 top-30 singles and three #1 hits in their native Ireland have developed a reputation for high energy folk/rock shows that have fans on their feet from start to finish.  The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors will do little to inhibit that band’s image.
The Saw Doctors have never stopped growing musically, and have worked their way into a full-on Americana sound over time.  This sound is prevalent early on in the new album, right from the opening notes of “Takin’ The Train”, the album’s first track.  “Friday Town” is a paean to the lack of mutability in a working class town.  There’s an inherent subtlety here that sneaks up on you, and wends its way throughout the entire album.  In fact, it would be fair to say that the Saw Doctors never really bowl listeners over on The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors, but capture listeners with consistent quality and quiet competence in both musicianship and songwriting.

Highlights include the melancholy love song “Someone Like You”, the mid-tempo ballad “Indian Summer”, and the catchy and unforgettable “Well Byes”.  By the time the band bows for the night with “Goodbye Again”, you’ll be reaching for your player of choice to start the album over again.

There’s little doubt that The Saw Doctors continue to purvey high quality music twenty five years after their inception, but the continued growth noted on The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors will sit well with long time and new fans alike.  While The Saw Doctors don’t overwhelm listeners at any one point on the album, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the outcome.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Saw Doctors at or  You can purchase The Further Adventures Of The Saw Doctors from the e-tailers below, or through the Wildy’s World store. 

            CD                               MP3                iTunes.

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Rude Jake - Quicksand

Big Rude Jake – Quicksand
2009, Big Rude Jake
Look up the phrase “hep cat” in the dictionary and you’re likely to find a picture of Big Rude Jake.    His capricious blend of jump jazz, blues, ragtime, folk and punk is as unique as his stage persona.  Coming to prominence in the early 1990’s in the then burgeoning Toronto indie scene, Big Rude Jake has always been an enigmatic anti-rock star.  After two albums with Big Rude Jake and His Gentlemen Players, Jake left Toronto for Brooklyn and signed with Roadrunner records.  This partnership led to the release of a self-titled album that has become Jake’s most sought-after release.  After being hit by a taxi in 2002, Big Rude Jake dropped out of sight for a while, but even through the long healing process he never stopped writing.  He began performing publicly again in 2006.  Getting back to his musical roots, Big Rude Jake took some time to put together his fifth album, Quicksand.  Quieter and more nuanced than his previous work, Quicksand still manages to maintain the punk attitude and inherent musicality that have always been Big Rude Jake’s trademarks.
Quicksand opens with “Your Heart Belongs To You”, with Big Rude Jake sounding like a 1930’s nightclub singer.  Jake’s singular guitar style stands out as distinctly as his rough and tumble voice.  “Road Outta Hell (Blues Mix)” is a stripped down and dark blues number.  The stripped down arrangement is the perfect complement to Jake’s vocal line.  “Wild One Come By Me” is a solid anti-ballad that’s all Big Rude Jake, even if you could hear a bit of a Neil Young tribute here if you were so inclined.  “Moses Heard The Calling” is performed in a classic call-and-response, southern gospel style.  This is a wow moment for Big Rude Jake, very catchy and full of energy in spite of the stripped down, sparse arrangement.
“Stealin’ Away” is a bit reminiscent of another Big Rude Jake tune, “Speakeasy”.  Pay special attention to the piano work here.  Jake does one of his trademark voiceovers on “Good Morning Jazz Man!”  While always entertaining, here it actually distracts from the quality of musicianship and a sharp jazz arrangement.  “Preacher’s Got A Brother” plays on the transference that can happen between a shepherd and the ladies in his flock, and the mischief an ill-intended twin brother can play in the process.  It’s a highly entertaining musical turn full of innuendo and rhyme – Jake at his finest.
“Walkin’ In Quicksand” has a quintessential feel about it.  Big Rude Jake is very much in his element here and feeling at home.  Things take an interesting turn on “The Last” however.  Based on a desolate and mad (crazy) waltz, the song is a tremendous contrast to what has come before, and Jake gives his finest vocal performance of the album.  “The Jelly Song (Stompin’ Mix) is an entertaining number about the juxtaposition of food and sex.  Innuendo flies free in this enjoyable little romp. 
Big Rude Jake gets righteous with “Where Shall We Behold The Kingdom”.  This time it’s just Jake, his guitar and a metronome, getting personal with a full on gospel feel.  The melody is gorgeous, and the complementary guitar arrangement is pitch perfect.  Jake strips down “Road Outta Hell” and “Stealin’ Away” before exiting stage right.  “Road Outta Hell” is a solid re-take, but “Stealin’ Away (7th Story Balcony Mix)” brings out a deliciously folksy blues feel that is irresistible.
Like a fine wine or aged Bourbon, Big Rude Jake just gets better with time.  Eclectic?  Hell yes.  Original?  Even more so.  In his punk cabaret days, it would have been easier to overlook the talent of Big Rude Jake in light of the spectacle and energy of his live shows, but Big Rude Jake has come fully into his own.  Outstanding songwriting, sublime musicianship, and the sort of force majeure personality it takes to be a star are all elements of Quicksand.  The album is full of difficult musical choices, and Big Rude Jake and his band nail almost every one.  Jazz, blues rockabilly, punk and gospel all come together (sometimes in the same song) in ways you can’t imagine on Quicksand.  Lucky for us, Big Rude Jake could imagine it, and make it happen.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Big Rude Jake at  You can purchase Quicksand through Big Rude Jake’ website, from the e-tailers below, or through the Wildy’s World store. 
              CD               Amazom MP3            iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Sunday, March 11, 2012

James Scott Fant - Pig Iron: The Blue Room Sessions I

James Scott Fant - Pig Iron: The Blue Room Sessions I
2012, James Scott Fant

James Scott Fant gave up dreams of rock n roll stardom long ago.  This working class son has been through the ringer of the music world; gone to Nashville and returned home to Northeast Texas.  He’s been through the wars both personally and professionally, but he’s always made it through, guitar in hand.  Back in his Northeast Texas home, Fant has won the respect of colleagues and fans alike.  James Scott Fant continues to work every day to be the best singer/songwriter he can be.  It must be working, as he is a regular guest at songwriting circles throughout Texas.  James Scott Fant recently embarked on a series of three five-song EPs under the moniker The Blue Room Sessions.  Recorded in his home with the help of wife, musician, producer and occasional co-writer Sandra Manseill, The Blue Room Sessions represent Fant’s most personal work to date.  The recently released first EP in the series, Pig Iron, will make a believer out of you.

Pig Iron opens with “Out Of Canaan”, a working class an anthem that underscores a carpe diem attitude.  It’s the anthem for a man who has run out of patience waiting for deliverance, and is headed out into the world to find it for himself.  The song is singularly moving in intent and melody.  You’d almost hesitate to use the word gorgeous here due to the stripped down nature of the arrangement, but there is a singular beauty to the song that’s hard to ignore.  Fant sounds more than a bit like a younger Willie Nelson on “Worse For The Wear”, a highly nuanced paean to perseverance.  Once again, there is sort of a primitive beauty here that’s impossible to miss.  The song isn’t a ballad, per se, but definitely pays tribute to the idea of surviving on one’s wits (and perhaps even a little bit of luck).  Fant makes a quiet orchestra of his guitar here, crafting an arrangement that perfectly fits the mood of the song; never doing too much or too little in the process.

“Restless Wind” explores the transitory nature of mankind; the need for change.  There is a darkness that overhangs this song, as Fant touches on issues of divorce and feeling stuck.  The regret here is not so much for the events, but for their base cause.  “8 Lb. Sledge” is a delicious bit of acoustic blues that will get inside your head and stay there.  It’s not often that a low key acoustic number will make you want to get up and dance, but you can just hear the R&B backbeat trying to break out of this with a screaming electric guitar.  Fant manages to do more with his guitar and voice than many artists could do with a full band.  Pig Iron winds down with the singer/songwriter panache of “Annie Sings The Blues”.  Once again, Fant may remind listeners of a younger Willie Nelson or perhaps even Townes Van Zandt, but these comparisons are incidental.  “Annie Sings The Blues” is a living still life to the connection between singer/songwriter and listener, and how an eternity of lifetimes can occur within the bounds of a single song.
James Scott Fant isn’t just a singer/songwriter, he’s an artist.  On Pig Iron, Fant paints masterpieces with nothing more than six strings and a road-worn voice full of primitive beauty.  Fant is ultimate confirmation that institutions such as Nashville have forgotten what making music is about.  Music is about real people like James Scott Fant putting themselves on the line night after night, telling real stories about real people and real life events, in wonderfully crafted and distinctive songs and voices.  If you find one new artist to follow in 2012, make it James Scott Fant.
Rating:                  5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about James Scott Fant at or Iron is available through the etailers below.  You may also purchase the download through the Wildy's World Amazon store.

          MP3                  iTunes

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Asher Quinn - O Great Spirit

Asher Quinn - O Great Spirit
2011, Singing Stone Music
Asher Quinn.  Denis Quinn.  Asha.
New Age Composer.  Interpreter of classic folk/rock songs.  Songwriter.
Whatever name or persona you’ve come to know Asher Quinn by, be contented to know that there is much more you’ve yet to see.  Quinn continues to add to his impressive canon of songs written and performed with each album.  An intuitive pianist from his diaper days, Quinn has never allowed convention get in the way of great composition.  His well-heeled British school days certainly didn’t impair his talents, and Quinn has made a career of standing outside the fire and observing through the filament of song the world around him.  On his latest album, O Great Spirit, Quinn observes a fire more spiritual than ephemeral; delving into deeply theistic themes while maintaining a safe distance from any one doctrinal path.
O Great Spirit opens with “Half Past Ten”, a quiet prayer in song that begins a long night of soul searching and discovery.  The call of the Spirit is central here, and a coming out of darkness that is paralleled by that of the Apostle Paul of the Christian Bible.  The contemplative nature of the song reflects perhaps an old conversion; the joyful mania of the newly found is absent here.  In its place is a quiet peace that is moving; and reflective of a mature sense of what it is to be found.  Quinn builds the song in both complexity and intensity through the addition of strings, synth and percussion to the gently rolling guitar.  It’s a wow start, a true sense of Becoming in Aristotelian terms.  “O Great Spirit” is a gorgeous and moving meditation on Quinn’s Prime Mover, in spite of running for nearly nine minutes.  Contemplative on the surface, the energy runs wide and deep in this prayer of praise and supplication.
Quinn’s cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” takes elements from the later Bob Dylan version and incorporates them into a new age pastiche.  The mellow take on the song is a nice, and manages somehow to not sap the intensity of the song.  “We Are One” is a meditation on the interconnectedness of creation with God.  The gorgeous arrangement houses and Aristotelian lyrical construction, but Quinn does manage to fall into a repetitive cycle here.  “Bird Of Paradise” intrigues as part madrigal and part new age composition.   The intriguing mix of piano, harpsichord and strings brings a sense of ancient and modern styles overlapping, while the song itself evokes deep sadness in a lamentation that will haunt you.
“Angels Watching Over You” is a sweet and simple folk song that’s musically solid, but does fall into something of a repetitive rut.    “Each Holy Child” follows a similar path”.  Things pick up again with “Thanksgiving”, a meditation on the power of giving thanks, and the effect it has one the one saying thank you.  The song is full of spirit, and yet retains an artful perspective that holds the listener’s attention.  Quinn’s “All Over The World” is a solid, mildly upbeat folk/pop number that plays more like a feel good, pop spirituality paean than an austere spiritual work.  Aesthetically pleasing, the song is only as deep as its melody line, a contrast with much of the rest of the album.  O Great Spirit closes out with a pair of solid but uninspiring tunes, “Falling Through Time (The Lord Mix)” and “Blessings On Your Soul (Mariachi Mix)”.  Both songs are solid in their own right, but just don’t seem to have the same intensity or focus of much of the rest of the album.
Asher Quinn embraces deeply Unitarian spirituality in music on O Great Spirit, avoiding specific dogmatic constructs that might limit the appeal of the album.  O Great Spirit starts strong, with a spiritual intensity that is undeniable.  The songwriting and construction are consistently strong throughout; although the energy and intensity wanes a bit by the time you reach the last few songs.  As always, Quinn puts his own distinctive spin on a style, working from his new age base to craft songs that are both subtle and sublime.  O Great Spirit has some amazing moments.
Rating:                  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Asher Quinn at or Great Spirit is available through the etailers below.  You can also pick up a copy in the Wildy's World Amazon store.

            CD                     Download                  iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Monday, March 5, 2012

News and notes

Good morning, and happy Monday!

We at Wildy's World want to take a moment to congratulate all of the recently announced finalists in the 2012 International Songwriting Competition.  The list is long and lengthy, and you can view them all here, but the nominees include Wildy's World alumni such as Gina Sicilia, Carrie Rodriguez, Thomas Calder (The Trouble With Templeton), The Trews, and TAT.

This is one of many contests out there for songwriters, but is among the most prestigious.  Anyone who has gotten this far is worthy of attention.  You'll also note that the list includes a couple of bigger names, such as Jane Siberry and Missy Higgins. 

Judges for this year's competition include Tom Waits, Jeff Beck, Kelly Clarkson, Ozzy Osbourne, Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, Tegan and Sara, John Mayall and Massive Attack.  The music industry is well represented on the panel as well, so this year's winners could be tomorrow's stars.

In sadder news, the music industry said goodbye this weekend to The Monkees' Davy Jones as well as to legendary guitarist Ronnie Montrose.  Jones' passing at age 66 of a heart attack came as a suprise, as a recent check-up had shown him to be fit.  He leaves behind a wife, four daughters, and a legacy of bright airy songs that will keep his memory alive for generations to come.

Ronnie Montrose, the iconic 1970's rock guitarist played with a list of names that could form their own rock and roll hall of fame (Sammy Hagar, Van Morrison, Edgar Winter Group, Boz Scaggs, Gary Wright, Herbie Hancock, The Neville Brothers, and others.  His group Montrose continues to be a favorite spin on classic rock/AOR formatted stations.  Montrose is believed to have died from Prostate Cancer.

On a brighter note, former teen idol Jon Bon Jovi recently turned 50.  Hard to believe, isn't it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Laura Roppé - Rocking The Pink (Laura Roppe)

Back in 2008, Laura Roppé was on top of the world.  Transitioning from a successful law career, she was embarking on a path that seemed destined to lead to stardom.  Roppé's first album, Girl Like This, was creating all sorts of buzz and excitement both in the U.S. and U.K..  Then came the phone call from her doctor; and she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.
A born fighter, there was never any question of giving up.  And in Rocking The Pink: Finding Myself on the Other Side of Cancer, Laura Roppé tells a survivor's tale, sprinkled with wit, charming anecdotes and more than a little bit of grace.  This project has been a labor of love for Roppé.  Part catharsis, part memoir, and part an effort to inspire hope in others who might be going through the same or similar things, Rocking The Pink is revelatory in its gritty charm.  And like all great storytellers, Roppé  knows how to liven up a story with color and humor.
If breast cancer has ever touched your life in any way, this is a book you absolutely have to read.  Rocking The Pink is about surviving, overcoming, and living life to the fullest even when the odds seem impossible.  Don't let this book slip by you.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about  Laura Roppé  at  You can purchase the book, as well as her albums Girl Like This and I'm Still Here there.  You can also purchase the book or albums through the e-tailers below.

Girl Like This
            CD                     Download          iTunes

I'm Still Here
            CD                       Download                      iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Groove 55 - Á La Carte

Groove 55 - Á La Carte

The phrase Smooth Jazz is practically an anachronism nowadays.  What originally started out as a transitional phase in the overall development of the art form has become a marketing term for any easy listening music with jazz somewhere in its roots.  Still, there are those who still create smooth jazz that qualifies as the vibrant form that it can be.  Quebec quartet Groove 55 are one such group, bringing decades of collective experience performing at the apex of the Montreal and international jazz scenes.  Groove 55’s album, Á La Carte, is proof positive that smooth jazz can be appealing to the connoisseurs of popular jazz and still have relevance in the deeper sense where nearly a century of jazz tradition still matters.
Á La Carte opens with “Skyline”, a predictable Smooth Jazz paean that’s apt to generate some spins on like-minded stations but slides out of the mind as easily as it slides in.   Next up is the mildly funky “Desert Moon”.  Born of a traditional improve progression, the song is somewhat cyclic and repetitive, but shows off an incredible blend of musicianship and craft.  The keyboard work of Jacques Mignault particularly stands out, and the horn section matches him step-for-step.  In spite of the repetitive nature of the song, Groove 55 keeps it, and you, jumping.  “Tie Silk” is a pretty piano-based ballad that’s sonically appealing and refined.  The song shows off the band’s lighter sound in a blend that’s bound to be commercially appealing.   “Hip Trip” introduces some progressivism into Á La Carte, while embracing a highly danceable sound that’s occasionally a bit over the top but does not harm. 

“Live That Dream” helps to further establish the radio credibility of the album, but is somewhat bland.  “Double Click”, on the other hand, is full of verve.  Even as the song mellows a bit as the horn section kicks in, bassist Yves Nadeau keeps it driven with the funkiest bass line to be heard north of Memphis.  The song is very danceable without giving over to the penchants of commercial pop jazz, and Vintage Blue has built a tremendous sense of movement into the song that will catch you up and sweep you along for the ride.  “Changing Lanes” keeps that vibe going in generic tones, and leads into the sly and slinky Latin Jazz sounds of “Balladero”.  Yves Adam takes center stage here on saxophone, over an almost martial rhythm that is appealing.  In spite of the mellow presentation there is tremendous energy in the arrangement.

Adam stays front and center on “Cat Games”, but does trade riffs with Mignault in a conversational jazz piece that’s fresh and vibrant.  Mignault’s work is very reminiscent of Kenny Kirkland here, and he keeps the song moving along with a sense of creativity that borders on genius.  Groove 55 leaves off with “Riverside”, an affable aperitif with a soulful edge and soothing sound.  It’s the perfect closer for a dynamic album; cooling down the sound without letting up on the energy that pervades the album.

Á La Carte has a few quiet moments, but it stands out as one of the most consistent and viable pop/jazz albums you’re likely to hear in 2012.  Groove 55 knows what sounds sell, on Á La Carte they manage to imbue that sound with originality and energy that is too often lacking from smooth jazz.  Don’t be surprised if you hear Groove 55 on your local Smooth Jazz station in 2012, but take some time and listen beyond the likely singles.  The depth here will surprise you.

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Groove 55 at www.groove55.comÁ La Carte may be ordered through the e-tailers below.

            CD                          Download                      iTunes

Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lyle Lovett - Release Me

Lyle Lovett – Release Me
2012, Lost Highway
In modern American music there are few singer/songwriter/musicians in a class with Lyle Lovett.  A jack-of-all trades musically, Lovett’s muse runs through the fertile grounds of rock, country, blues, gospel, jazz, bluegrass and folk, sometimes all within one song.  The four time GRAMMY award winner has had his share of chart success, but if you look at the list of people he’s collaborated with over the years you’ll have an idea of the sort of respect he has from his peers.  Names such as Randy Newman, Keb ‘Mo and Allison Krauss are but a few of the folks Lovett has worked with over the years.  This week Lovett released his 15th album, Release Me, and continues to show why he is one of the finest working songwriters in the U.S., as well as one of the most nuanced interpreters or classic country music as well as standards.
Lovett kicks things off with delicious bluegrass instrumental ‘Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom”, showing off not only his chops a musician but also the deep talent of his backing band.   Lovett has never been afraid of letting his backing band shine for their own individual and collective talents.  “Release Me”, featuring K.D. Lang in a duet, will bend your ears a bit at first, but once you get accustomed to the harmonic scheme of the song you’ll never want to hear it any other way.  “White Boy Lost In The Blues” is a catchy, blues-tinged early rock n roll style number that you won’t be able to get out of your head.  The eminently listenable Kat Edmonson joins Lovett for a sparkling rendition of “Baby Its Cold Outside”.  The chemistry and blending of voices here is striking in intensity even amidst the tongue-in-cheek playfulness of the track.
“Understand You” is a moment of pure brilliance.  Lovett has a distinctive talent for translating these quiet, nuanced ballads and creating moments that transcend both music and the human heart.  “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” blends country, blues and rock in a somewhat mysterious take on the classic Chuck Berry-penned tune.  “Keep It Clean” is a wonderfully entertaining bit of ragtime country that will get stuck in your head and stay there.  “One Way Gal” is a working class paean to a good woman.  Lovett imbues this song with wonderful energy, driven by a guitar part that simply will not quit.  “Dress Of Laces” is a classic murder ballad with a twist; written by Saylor White and originally performed by Nanci Griffith.  Lovett breathes new life into a classic, if underappreciated song with a performance you won’t soon forget.
“The Girl With The Holiday Smile”, one of two Lovett originals, is a swinging country number that combines prostitution with the holiday season in entertaining fashion.  This is classic Lovett; well-written and musically superb, with that wonderfully warped wit of his in full effect.  The other original, “Night’s Lullaby” is an amazing country ballad; one that seemingly stops time while it unfurls.  “White Freightliner Blues”, on the other hand is raucous and fun – an instant party.  Lovett’s band is at the very top of their collective game here.  If you can sit/stand still through this number you’d better have someone check your pulse.
“Keep Us Steadfast” is a country/gospel hymn written in mixolydian style.  Lovett’s plaintive vocal line is perfect against the stripped-down beauty of the guitar-driven arrangement.  Kat Edmonson returns for “Christmas Time Is Here”, a quiet calm before the tempest of closing number. “Isn’t That So” finds Lovett up to his old tricks, creating a wonderfully blues-tinged country/pop take that is sure to become a fan favorite.
Release Me is one of those albums it takes a few listens to really dig into, but the time and effort are worthwhile.  Lyle Lovett is a consummate professional as a songwriter and performer, and Release Me is evidence of an artist who is thoroughly in his element.  While the album might run a bit short on original tunes, it once again shows that when it comes to interpreting and performing songs from the American songbook, there are those in the field with similar talents, but nobody puts it all together the way Lyle Lovett does.  Release Me is utterly brilliant.
Rating: 5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Lyle Lovett at  You can purchase Release Me there, or through the links below.

            CD                          MP3                       Vinyl                       iTunes
Please note that the prices listed above are as of the posting date, and may have changed. Wildy's World is not responsible for price changes instituted by