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Archive for December, 2011

CD Review – Jeff Lorber Fusion

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Galaxy

Heads Up International

From the man who helped create the “jazz fusion” genre comes another dynamite album that proves why he is a master at the genre he created. Since 1977, Lorber (both solo and with his Fusion) has been releasing some of the most innovative sounds around, culminating in a Grammy-nomination on his last album “Now is the Time.” This time, he takes all 11 tracks and cranks the energy up from the seven-minute opener “Live Wire” to the closer “The Underground” (which features a stellar Randy Brecker), the Jeff Lorber Fusion are firing on all cylinders.

I have to admit, this entire genre sounds like something you’d hear in a hotel lobby, or when you’re on hold while waiting for that corporation to pay attention to you. It’s not my thing. What I do know, however, is that Jeff Lorber (and his Fusion) just keeps adding to his legend. Mashing R&B, rock, funk and a hint of electronica onto a bed of jazz, Lorber and the crew have made leisure music even people like me can enjoy.

http://www.lorber.com

Is Disturbed’s B-Sides collection worth it?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The Lost Children

Label

You’ve heard the sound. Hard guitars, occasional double bass drums and the unmistakably grab-you-by-the-throat-and-scream-in-your-face voice of David Draiman. Chances are you either like them or don’t. There is no middle ground with hard rock groups, especially ones with a lead singer who’s voice is instantly recognizable. If you don’t like them, you can stop reading. You won’t agree with this review. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay, now for the rest of you, this is just like any other Disturbed album. The only difference is that these songs are a collection of bonus tracks and the like from the past three albums. But it sounds just like any other Disturbed album. Pulsating rhythms, crowd-indusing chants of “Hey!” (on the previously unreleased track “Mine”), smoking guitar riffing and of course Draiman’s nightmare-indusing vocals.

The first single “Hell” is on par with some of their best songs like “Prayer” and “Stupify.” The rest of the album is decent, but after a while (just like the rest of their albums) the songs start sounding a lot alike. It’s not that they are bad, they are better than 90% of what’s playing on rock radio right now, they just sound a lot alike.

So, to answer the question: Is The Lost Children worth your increasingly hard-earned dollars? Yes. Even if you have to stop halfway through and come back, it’s better than almost any other rock album out right now. Disturbed knows what they are good at and they prove it 16 times on this collection alone.

http://www.disturbed1.com

Does former Rolling Stones guitarist Bill Wyman prove his worth with Box Set?

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings: Collector’s Edition Box Set

Ripple Records

Bill Wyman was with the Rolling Stones in their prime and up until the early 90’s. That’s when he decided that he wanted to be more than a rhythm guy in one of rocks biggest acts. He wanted to do something different. That something became something of a jam band in the form of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. With this group (and subsequent box set containing all four albums he’s released to date) he accomplished one thing. He knows how to stay generic.

Don’t get me wrong, the group is really talented and throughout the four albums and five discs you’ll hear some great guitar work and guests like Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and George Harrison. But the set as a whole doesn’t have a single track that jumps out as a great track. They are all decent, but I can’t find myself listening to this over and over again. Maybe I’m too young to enjoy Wyman’s crew. Maybe I’m looking for more than 66 tracks of just messing around. Maybe I’m being a little too critical toward someone who is considered a legend.

Despite the talent, I can’t say that I would ever pop this in and listen to it under any circumstances. It’s just too generic and mediocre for me. If you enjoy listening to middle-aged people jam, you would love this. It’s just not for me.

http://www.billwyman.com

CD Review – A.A. Bondy

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Believers

Fat Possum Records

A.A. Bondy is one of those artists that I’ve been meaning to listen to, but just hadn’t until his third album Believers. Now that I have, I realize that I’ve been missing out. This album is an amalgamum of etherial soft-rock, country and bits of electronica.

“Hiway/Fevers” is a ride on cloud 8 1/2. It doesn’t put you completely under a trance, but it is easy to get hidden in the music. “The Twist” is like a one-man Blitzen Trapper or Fleet Foxes. It’s brooding without being depressing and sounds like it could be the soundtrack to Jack London’s short story To Build a Fire. It’s hypnotizing.

A.A. Bondy is an artist that thrives on slowly wrapping his music around you. It’s not instantly accessible, but after a couple of listens he will have you hooked. Once he has you, there is no going back.

http://www.fatpossum.com

Lissie can write great songs and cover others even better.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Covered Up with Flowers

Fat Possum Records

If you’ve read either of my reviews for Lissie’s “Why You Runnin’?” EP or her full-length debut Catching a Tiger, you’ll know that I am a huge Lissie fan. Her voice is beautiful, but she has a spicy side as well. On the opening track of this five-song covers EP, she takes on Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” by telling the audience that “I’m gonna take a shot of tequila before I do this.” She then proceeds to take that track from hip-hop to alt-country and make it sound like it’s supposed to be acoustic. It’s amazing the way she can take any song and make them sound like they were meant to be Americana tracks. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has never sounded so down-home, especially when Lissie yells the line “I’m a freak bitch, baby!” and then flows into the French lyrics in the bridge of the song.

She also takes on Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and makes them sound like she wrote them. The way that Lissie can take any genre, mold it into her sound and make it sound like it’s supposed to be like that is simply amazing. Now, I’m a fan anyway, but anybody who loves Americana or alt-country music like I do has to love Lissie. She’s one of the best artists in the genre and anybody who doesn’t believe that, just needs to listen to this album. It won’t be long before they are on board.

http://www.lissie.com

Is Ray Charles’ Complete ABC Singles box set worth it?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles

Concord Records

Oh man, where do I begin? Let start with the fact that there are 106 songs on five CD’s and that every single track is great. Not good. Great. This is also Ray Charles. One of the greatest artists of any generation. He could make you get up and dance one song and then make tears tickle your cheeks the next song. Add in the numerous covers among this collection and you have a must-have box set for any fan of music.

Charles takes “America the Beautiful” and puts so much soul and passion into it, that you could be listening to it in your cubicle at work and stand up with your right hand over your chest and salute the flag with tears streaming down your face. He also puts his trademark spin on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Sam Cooke’s “Laughin’ and Clownin'” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” And that’s just Disc Five!

Disc Three has a live version of “I’ve Got a Woman” (in two parts) and three Buck Owens covers: “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” “Crying Time” and “Together Again.”

The other discs prove just how truly versatile Charles was. Not only are there dozens of tracks that he wrote or co-wrote, but he covers The Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”), Hank Williams (“Your Cheatin’ Heart”), John Lennon (“Yesterday”) and even the Gershwins (“Someone to Watch Over Me”).

Do I even need to mention that this has “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind?” Probably not because you should already be in the process of getting this set before even reaching this point. Buy this box set right now. It will be the best money you’ve ever spent on music. Period. It’s that good.

Christmas music review!!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits

Real Gone Music

I am one of the few people that loves Christmas music. Especially good Christmas music. I’ve always put the Time/Life Treasury of Christmas on repeat throughout the holidays because the nostalgic feel of Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” and anything by Nat “King” Cole is addictive. So when I received Cameo Parkway’s Holiday Hits, I was stoked. While it doesn’t live up to the lofty expectations I put on it, this collection is still a solid disc of Christmas magic.

Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker apparently love Jingle Bells because they open the album with “Jingle Bell Rock” and then try their best to sing like Elvis, Bobby Darin and even The Chipmunks on the bizarre “Jingle Bells Imitations.” The International Pop Orchestra contributes four instrumentals that set the egg nog guzzling mood: “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” “Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing” and “Deck the Halls.”

The disc includes some strange and, frankly, awful tracks, however. The Mexicani Marimba Band isn’t bad, but when “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is entirely instrumental and the lead instrument is a xylophone, you know you’re in trouble. There is only so much you can do with that. Bobby the Poet contributes one of the worst Christmas songs I’ve heard in a long time with “White Christmas (3 O’Clock Weather Report).” He seems to intentionally speak/sing/slaughter the song “White Christmas” while a weather report (presumably the one at 3 o’clock) runs in the background. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be funny (and maybe it was back when it first came out in 1967), but it is downright annoying now.

From beginning to end, this is spotty at best. The best thing you could do is take the decent tracks (mostly by the International Pop Orchestra) and intersperse them with your Treasury of Christmas collection.

http://www.abkco.com