Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Classic Rock Review: The Rolling Stones-Sticky Fingers Deluxe

Release Date: June 2, 2015
Label: UME

It is hard to think of rock music without The Rolling Stones.  Formed in 1962 and one of the leaders of the British Invasion, they are one of the biggest acts of the last fifty years, and do not appear to be stopping any time soon.  Considered to be one of their best albums, Sticky Fingers is their ninth British and eleventh American studio album and one of their “golden era” albums of the late sixties and early seventies.  Though now a four-piece, The Rolling Stones consisted of Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Mick Taylor (lead guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), and Charlie Watts (drums) back then.  This two disc deluxe edition is a must have album for rock fans.  With a remaster of the original and another album featuring alternative and live versions, Sticky Fingers does not disappoint.  

There might not be a better opener in rock music history than “Brown Sugar.” It is a song that once you hear it you cannot forget it.  The music is fun, playful, and upbeat that takes on a new dimension when the lyrics are considered, dealing with sex, race, slavery, and drugs.  There is a sweet horn section and the guitar riff will be forever recognizable.  Following up “Brown Sugar” is “Sway,” a great, sultry blues rock jam, with a superb outro on guitar.  “Wild Horses” is a low-key country rock ballad and a real emotional piece.   It is the kind of song where you just need to lean back and let the music wash over you and take you in. 

With an opening guitar riff that sinks into your bones, “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is one beautiful rock song.  The music is lively and thrills like lightning during a summer storm.  It also has a fabulous instrumental part.  It starts around the end of the two-minute mark with Bobby Key’s saxophone solo, before some smooth guitar work takes over.  “You Gotta Move” is a short blues song that is heavy on the slide guitar.  “Bitch” really turns up the heat.  It is one jumping rock tune, with tons of punkish attitude and a great use of horns that gives the song some extra flavor.

Taking things in the other direction, “I Got the Blues” is a toned down, anguished blues rock song.  The low-key music is continued in the somber, acoustic song “Sister Morphine.”  The country rock song “Dead Flowers” has a little more pep in its step than the previous two, though the lyrics carrying some darker undertones. Capping off the album is the wonderful ballad, “Moonlight Mile.” It is a great song that is a dark and emotional journey reflecting on the loneliness of the open road.

The disc features an additional ten songs with five being alternative versions of songs from Sticky Fingers and the other five from a live performance.  The alternative version of “Brown Sugar” features Eric Clapton and there is an acoustic version of “Wild Horses” that is just as good as the original.  The condensed version of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” does not have much on the original.  The saxophone is sorely missed.  The extended version of “Bitch” is pretty rocking with instrumental parts.  The live performance songs include the single “Honky Tonk Women,” while the rest come from earlier Stones’ albums, Beggars Banquet (“Stray Cat Blues”) and Let It Bleed (“Live with Me,” “Love in Vain,” and “Midnight Rambler”).  The live versions sound clean and clear, and add a nice value to this deluxe edition.  “Live with Me” is a sweet, rocking song and the blues rock epic “Midnight Rambler.”

The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers is just an exceptional album.  This is a quintessential rock album that is a must have for fans of The Rolling Stones and rock music, in general.  I will go so far as to say that is definitely one of those albums that you should listen to before you die.  

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Brown Sugar, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Bitch, Moonlight Mile

Tracks:
Disc One
01.Brown Sugar
02.Sway
03.Wild Horses
04.Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
05.You Gotta Move
06.Bitch
07.I Got the Blues
08.Sister Morphine
09.Dead Flowers
10.Moonlight Mile

Disc 2
01.Brown Sugar (Alternate Version with Eric Clapton) 
02.Wild Horses (Acoustic Version)
03.Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (Alternate Version)
04.Bitch (Extended Version)
05.Dead Flowers (Alternate Version)
06.Live with Me (Live At The Roundhouse, 1971)
07.Stray Cat Blues (Live At The Roundhouse, 1971)
08.Love in Vain (Live At The Roundhouse, 1971)
09.Midnight Rambler (Live At The Roundhouse, 1971)
10.Honky Tonk Women (Live The Roundhouse, 1971
)
 
Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff
July 1, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Prog Ensemble Kinetic Element Releases Highly Anticipated Second Album “Travelog”


Richmond, VA – One of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2015 has finally been released by prog ensemble Kinetic Element titled “Travelog”! Kinetic Element is a neo/symphonic progressive rock band from Richmond, Virginia that harbors musical roots in classic artists like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Asia and Genesis and blends those influences with philosophical and spiritually powerful and uplifting lyrics. They are a known act in the prog rock genre.

Kinetic Element's two principal writers, keyboardist and founder Mike Visaggio and guitarist Todd Russell, began collaborating on new music for the band towards the end of 2013 following the departure of two members. Deprived of the ability to play out, they decided to focus on composing and recording KE's second CD. They began working out sketches to five grand scale pieces of prog rock with founding member and drummer Michael Murray. Soon they had a working model of the album and began recording in earnest.

Says Mike Visaggio, “Although normally I prefer to let listeners ferret it out for themselves, the new album is most definitely inspired by current events. We believe that liberty is what humanity's preferred state of being is. The lyrics of the CD then are understood as standing up for that. The train imagery came to me when I heard the old song 'People Get Ready' which talks about a train to freedom. The design was the result of an image Martin Kornick did for us when we were looking to create a new logo last year, and we just applied that whole concept to the logo image.”

Kinetic Element was formed to perform the music of Mike Visaggio's solo CD, “Starship Universe” which was released in 2006 after Mike was selected to perform at the 2006 Pop Montreal festival. They are now performing selected classic prog and classic rock covers and their new prog pieces they have put together since they formed which comprise “Powered By Light” (2009) and their new CD “Travelog”. The cover art for both CDs was executed by the incomparable Martin Kornick. “Powered By Light” was nominated for Best Debut CD of 2009 by The Prog Awards, which was at that time an Italian reviews website. They were signed to Melodic Revolution Records at ROSfest 2013.

The band is comprised of Mike Visaggio (keyboards); Michael Murray (drums), Todd Russell (electric and acoustic guitar) and Mark Tupko (basses). In May 2008 the original incarnation of Kinetic Element was privileged to be a support act for Circa (featuring Tony Kaye, Alan White and Billy Sherwood of Yes, at Jaxx in northern Virginia), Rare Blend (at Orion Studios in Baltimore, Maryland one of prog's must-play venues), IZZ (who have played every prog festival in America, at the Artomatic festival in Washington, D.C.) In 2009, KE's Powered by Light lineup supported Morglbl (at Capitol Ale House Music Hall in Richmond VA) and in 2010, with Edensong (at Orion again). Kinetic Element opened the nation's longest running prog rock festival, Prog Day, at the Pre-Show on August 29, 2008 with Speechless and again on Sept. 3, 2010 with Jack Dupon. They played The Magic Room in Boston in November 2011 headlining, with support acts Eccentric Orbit and Resistor. In 2015 KE has headlined at Orion Studios again (May 29) with support band Brave, and supported Lo-Fi Resistance at New Jersey Proghouse (June 6). Kinetic Element was featured in Progression Magazine #59 in 2010.

Kinetic Element's new album “Travelog” was recorded by the band at their cavernous garage studio in Richmond VA with Michael Murray performing engineer duties, between December 2013 and February 2015. In May of 2014 bassist mark Tupko auditioned and joined as the band's fourth permanent member.

Unable to find a suitable vocalist in their hometown, Mike Visaggio reached out to their musical friends Odin's Court whose lead vocalist Dimetrius LaFavors agreed to perform the vocals for Travelog and join the group while remaining with Odin's Court. However Dimetrius could not continue due to changes in Odin's Court's schedule, and was forced to cease recording after appearing on three of the five tracks. Riding in to KE's rescue came Michelle Schrotz of Fredericksburg, VA's prog icons Brave, and stellar CProg artist Mike Florio, to record the remaining two tracks.

When Mike Visaggio let it out on Facebook that KE would be seeking a professional prog rock engineer to do the mix, he was approached by Fred Schendel and Steve Babb of prog legends Glass Hammer about engaging them to mix. The resulting collaboration produced the terrific sound you hear on Travelog. They also did the mastering at their studio Sound Resources in Chattanooga TN.

Early in the spring 2015, Kinetic Element was offered a show at New Jersey Proghouse for June 6, and all the production went into high gear in order to have product in hand for that show and another one that was booked for a week previous on May 29 at Orion Studios in Baltimore. Both shows came off well with Mike Florio and Michelle singing. However there are no shows on tap at this time because their vocalists do not live in Richmond, but are available if a suitable concert gig comes KE's way.

Kinetic Element's “Travelog” can be heard in its entirety at:
www.cdbaby.com/cd/kineticelement2 and http://melodicrevolutionrecords.com/album/travelog.

Here's what the press have raved about Kinetic Element:

“The Powered By Light Suite is an enjoyable release, filled with great keyboards work, beautiful melodies and appealing sound. I’m looking forward to the band’s future output.” - Progressive Ears

“This is their latest disc and it will certainly appeal most to the fans of classic progressive rock” - Music Street Journal

“Instrumentally KINETIC ELEMENT is at the top of their game. The driving force behind the group is keyboardist Mike Visaggio who is positively brilliant, some of the most energetic keyboard work I've heard since the Golden Age of Progressive Rock when Wakeman and Emerson were producing their best work. Yes, he's that good. And his surrounding cast of players are equally adept.” - ProgNaut

“Fans of progressive rock in all its forms - including Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Tiles, KDB3 and Proto-Kaw - will find a lot to like here.” - Angelic Warlord

“The musical expressions in this release could only come from highly-intelligent lifeforms. Much of its mimicry is provided by organs, Mellotrons and synthesizers, and its artificial sheen has an uncanny resemblance to Transatlantic.” - Ytsejam

In closing Mike Visaggio has this to impart, “Prog Lives! It keeps us young.”

To purchase Kinetic Element's “Travelog”:
http://melodicrevolutionrecords.com/album/travelog
www.cdbaby.com/cd/kineticelement2

CONTACT INFORMATION: bigroad3@gmail.com to correspond with Mike Visaggio.
www.facebook.com/kineticelementband
http://mrrmusic.com/kinetic-element/
www.sonicbids.com/kineticelement
www.kineticelement.com
www.mikevisaggio.com

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

Progressive Metal Review: Unified Past-Spots

Release Date: 11th June 2013
Label:  Melodic Revolution Records


The band, Unified Past has been around for a fair bit of time, since 1999 in fact, although they existed as an earlier band in 1990, called Labyrinth, including two members who are still part of the band today, although only one has had continuous service. Spots is the sixth release from the band following From The Splintered Present Surfaces (1999), Power of Existence (2008), Breaking Up The Atmosphere (2009), Tense (2010) and Observations (2011). Spots was originally released back in 2013 and has been revamped ahead of the expected 7th album later this year.

The band members for the recording of the album, Spots, were Steve Speelman (bass, keyboards, guitars and vocals), Victor Tassone (drums, percussion, effects and backing vocals) and Dave Mickelson (bass). I hadn’t heard of either Steve or Dave before but had come across Victor as a guest on the self-titled debut album by Corvus Stone. Unified Past certainly show that they have been influenced by Rush and Dream Theater, and seem to have their feet planted firmly in the melodic rock area, albeit with a bit of leaning toward prog metal.

Spots is an 11 track album with a total playing time of around 59 minutes. The majority of the 11 tracks have single word names with the only exceptions being the last 2 tracks. The penultimate track is only a single letter, “G” and the final track is called just that, “The Final.” These 2 tracks are also the shortest, with “G” clocking in at 1:21 minutes and, the longest, with “The Final” running on for in excess of 8 minutes (8:27).  Although Steve and Victor are listed as vocalist and backing vocalist respectively, 6 of the 11 tracks on offer are instrumentals.

The opening track on Spots, “Blank” (5:17) has a short atmospheric build up, only around 18 seconds before the power trio of guitar, drums and bass announce their entry in a fairly forceful way. Seconds later, the vocals appear, and a minute after that the guitar throws in a great little riff which surfaces again later. This opening track is one which moves swiftly along, almost with the feeling that the music is being “kept in check” and not allowed to go careening off in any direction. The song benefits from this restraint being imposed.

“Deep” (5:42) is a slower paced track which still allows some excellent guitar work over the rock solid rhythm engine that is the bass and drums, which underpins the track. “Hot” (4:44) takes a step into the jazz zone with some excellent driving passages and superb guitar themes.

“Seeing” (3:49), “Tough” (8:18) and Age (6:26) move away from the jazz area back to the “classic power trio” playing of the earlier tracks. This then leads on to a series of tracks that are instrumentals, “Sun” (3:48), Big (6:35), “Wet” (5:07) and “G” (1:21).

“Sun” is a short punchy track that drives along, “Big” is a slower tempo and goes through a number of time changes, “Wet” continues the slightly slower style and “G” is a quirky, very short piece, which in reality makes me question the inclusion of the track, as it is just so removed from where the other tracks are at.

The final track, “The Final” (8:26) is another slow burner of a starter, with greater emphasis than before on the atmospherics, created by the majestic keyboards and the superb touch of Steve on the guitar. “The Final” is an excellent relaxed, laid-back track which finishes the album on a very positive note.

In general terms, this is a satisfying chunk of prog metal/power metal, but seems to lack the spark that ignites an album for the listener. This is a pleasant album comprising melodic prog by excellent musicians, but never “hits the heights.” I also tend to find that any album that has many instrumental tracks, or is fully instrumental, needs that special “feel.” Until the run of the 4 instrumental tracks toward the end of the album, I was enjoying the album, but they certainly tested my “staying power.”

Spots is an album that just doesn’t reach out, grab your ears and shout “this is great music!” It is an album that I think I will dip into from time to time and pick a few tracks to listen to. As always, my personal opinion may not be the same as anyone else, so give Spots a few listens and see what you make of it.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks:  Blank, Hot, The Final

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk
June 30, 2015
Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk



New Age Instrumental Review: Heidi Breyer-Letters From Far Away

Release Date: 2015
Label: Indie

Heidi Breyer’s first encounter with music happened when she was a mere two years old. There, dancing in a paper flower skirt, she and harmony became one. In her newest two CD set, Letters From Far Away you can still see the little girl dancing and smile. In this unique compilation, Heidi has taken two sets of songs and breathed both instrumental and piano solo sound into them. Each set of pieces has its own flavor depending on the mood of the listener. An award winning artist for many of her past works; this is Heidi’s first solo album.

The first piece on the album is “All the Good Things.” Both the instrumental and piano solo versions hold a light that shines deep into the soul of the artist. Music and beauty are one with each unwinding note. The instrumental version holds elegant multi-instrumentation that adds a splash of color I found especially appealing. The sorrowful sighs of string instruments take the listener by the hand and lead them out onto the dance floor to sink into the essence of the music.

“Letters from Far Away” made me think of hidden trunks and discoveries of love affairs long past. Of finding things out about loved ones and realizing they too had lives before us. Both versions of this piece are poignant, with the solo piano version all the more stark for lack of busy instruments in the background. 

“Small CafĂ©” was reminiscent of sidewalk cafes where a walk was an adventure and the journey all the more important for the destination at hand. The solo piano version has a peculiar audio thunk at the onset, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the album. In fact, I have been playing it nonstop since I received it. Think Paris and sipping a coffee or perhaps a walk to an ice cream shop where the seating is outdoors. The physical world and music meet, forever intwined.

Heidi Breyer has given us much to think about in this dual CD experience. In the solo version of Letters From Far Away you get a crisp listen to piano solos with no distraction. This lineup is more stark and clean and provides an excellent stage to set the scene for your mind’s eye. The instrumental portion is the glittering highlight that takes the extra step and illuminates the world. It is the cursive in writing, the curl in your hair and the sweetness as the hot chocolate (or as this is summer- cold mocha) goes down.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: All the Good Things, Letters From Far Away, Small Cafe

Tracks: 
01. All the Good Things (Solo)
02. Small Cafe (Solo)
03. 1960 (Solo)
04. First Impressions (Solo)   
05. Old Photograph (Solo)
06. Touchstone (Solo)
07. Letters from Far Away (Solo)
08. Welton (Solo)
09. Scarborough Fair (Solo)
10. No Man Is an Island (Solo)
11. Starry Pond (Solo)
12. All the Good Things (Instrumental)
13. Small Cafe (Instrumental)
14. 1960 (Instrumental)
15. First Impressions (Instrumental)
16. Old Photograph (Instrumental)
17. Touchstone (Instrumental)
18. Letters from Far Away (Instrumental)
19. Welton (Instrumental)
20. Scarborough Fair (Instrumental)
21. No Man Is an Island (Instrumental)
22. Starry Pond (Instrumental)
 
DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer
June 14, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews



Monday, June 29, 2015

Concert Review: Huey Lewis and the News

Huey Lewis and the News With Jamie Kent At Tanglewood
Lenox, Mass.
June 28, 2015

The unseasonable weather did not stop people from filling the grounds at Tanglewood in Lenox Massachusetts on a Sunday afternoon when Huey Lewis and his band arrived.

But before the main act hit the stage a local native named Jamie Kent entertained us. Living in Nashville now, Kent grew up in Northampton Mass. He was thrilled to be on stage and he and his partner Reese Williams performed a fine opening set. Williams played a standup bass with energy and style while Kent strummed his guitar and belted out songs like his was born to be there entertaining us all.

After Kent did his set he left the stage and we took a walk for the break. We saw he was walking around and stopped to speak to him, which many others did as well. He invited us to the merch tent to pick up his CD Embers & Ashes. He was very kind and signed the CD as well as many others for folks that were patiently waiting for him there. Along the way to the tent he told me that he got his website URL www.jamiekent.com when was in seventh grade. He must have known he would be using it at some point. 


Jamie Kent is a very talented singer/songwriter that is gracious and humble. I can understand why everyone loves him and wants to be around him. If you want to catch him live go to the Northampton Summer Concert Series (Old Courthouse Lawn) on July 17th to get a taste of his folk, Americana rock music. He is currently working on his new album in Nashville.

I had never had the opportunity to see Huey Lewis live before but I certainly remember how he was pumping out all the hits back in the 80s when I was actually living in the Bay Area from whence he came. He was one of many artists that took advantage of the popular MTV to help make his music reach a worldwide audience via videos. Today of course he is a household name. The current tour is titled While We Were Young, after the new song they recorded. They did play the song and everyone loved it. 

Huey sounds as good as ever and his band is so tight! The brass section really adds a touch of class to everything and gives the music another layer that helps to drive home each song with more impact. 

Huey and his band are rooted in the blues and they know how to lay down a number with emotion and endless energy. They kicked off the proceedings with “The Heart of Rock & Roll” one of their big hits from the early days. After that the crowd was under his spell as Huey and his band rolled out the hits, a few acapella numbers as well as some tasty covers like “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” and “But It's Alright.”


After about an hour it was time to say goodbye but we knew it wasn’t over yet, after about 5 minutes of applauding, whistling, hooting and hollering they came back out on stage and gave us four more great songs to complete the set.

Huey assured us he would return to Lenox so I hope to see him back next year; I would not hesitate to go again.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Founder of Write A Music Review, MuzikMan.net, Prog Rock Music Talk, Rate The Tracks and New Age Music Reviews

Set List:
        The Heart of Rock & Roll
        If This Is It
        I Want A New Drug
        He Don't Know
        The Rhythm Ranch
        Back in Time
        Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um
        (Major Lance cover)
        Little Bitty Pretty One
        (Bobby Day cover)
        While We're Young
        Heart and Soul
        (Exile cover)
        But It's Alright
        (J.J. Jackson cover)
        We're Not Here for a Long Time (We're Here for a Good Time)
        Encore:
        The Power of Love
        Do You Believe in Love
        (Supercharge cover)
        Bad Is Bad
        Workin' for a Livin'

Sunday, June 28, 2015

New Age Review: Tina Malia-Bridge to Vallabha

Release Date: July 15, 2015
Label: Indie
Tina Malia is an artist rich in voice and spiritual essence. Her first album Shores of Avalon was critically acclaimed. Her other self-produced albums include Jaya Bhagavan, The Silent Awakening, The Lost Frontier and her newest album Bridge to Vallabha.

As a child both of Malia’s parents encouraged her musical growth. She has become an accomplished singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and sound engineer focusing on the healing energies of folk, world music, dream pop and sacred sounds. In Bridge to Vallabha Malia incorporates sacred chants in Sanskrit, Hebrew, Gurmukhi and English.  Instruments included in the album are nylon string guitar, Rhodes piano, charangon, vibraphone, lap steel guitar and cello.

I first heard Malia when she released Shores of Avalon nearly fifteen years ago. Her musical style and clear voice resonated with me on a deep level and the album is one I continue to play to this day. Her newest work is less in the Celtic/Goddess realm and more universally spiritual. While I can’t understand most of what she sings in this album, the chanting is a healing force just the same.

“Om Sarve” is the first song on the album. It is a blend of world music and melodic resonance that captures the imagination. Lilting vocals and strumming notes caress the ear into sublime bliss. Oceans of sound flow over you and the day retreats just a bit, letting you wallow in the tidal pool of Malia’s angelic voice. 

“Ek Ong Kar” begins with the textured sounds of the jungle. Chirping insects, birds and the croaking of frogs intersperse with percussive elements and chanting. The repetitive nature of the piece reminds me of sitting across from a friend as a child playing patty cake and trying not to be the one who misses the hand. A joyful song, it resonates with youth and vitality.

“Long Time Sun” is performed in English. Sweet and languid, Malia’s voice sweeps along guiding the listener toward a path of peace and tranquility. This song, more than any of the others reminds me of why I fell in love with this artist so many years ago. She has a purity of sound and a creative spirit. The vocals are interspersed with piano and the twang of a lap steel guitar.

Tina Malia is an artist with a rich background. She uses elements of pop, folk, world music, new age and sacred chanting to craft an audible landscape to enchant the listener across boundaries of language and time. Her voice is crystalline and with the textured instrumentation of her work Bridge to Vallabha is an album not to be missed.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Om Sarve, Ek Ong Kar, Long Time Sun

Tracks:
 

01.Om Sarve
02.Ima Adama
03.Sita Ram
04.Shivo Hum
05.Kol Galgal
06.Ek Ong Kar
07.Yoweino
08.Om Namo Narmadev
09.Oushadhim
10.Long Time Sun
11.Karpura Gauram

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer
June 25, 2015
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Men With Ven Single Review



A group of Deptford market traders have taken it upon themselves to spread awareness about prostate cancer. The 3-some were hit by a tragic loss of a friend due to the disease and were inspired to create a song in his honour.

‘Check Your Prostate’ is a comic ditty with in depth instructions relating to the preservation and defence of your prostate. At times unseemly, the track does not hold back in its intimate detail of the male anatomy. 

The tracks main quality is that it presents a serious issue in a humours way whilst also being catchy and musically astute, Men with Ven are an acquired taste but their message and their persona’s are so endearing it would be hard not to love them.

Watch here:




Live:
July 4: Hutstock, Whitstable

Links: