Thursday, October 23, 2014

Progressive/Alternative Rock Review-The Pineapple Thief-Magnolia

Release Date: September 16, 2014
Label: Kscope
Website



The music of The Pineapple Thief’s Magnolia is as refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot and humid day.  There is a good chance that it not quite anything that you have heard so far this year.  The music has an emotional and enduring power in a way that only great music can.  Magnolia is one of the few instances where, when the last song finishes, you will think that this could be one of those rare perfect albums that stay with you for life.

Hailing from Yeovil, Somerset, England, The Pineapple Thief formed in 1999. Consisting of Bruce Soord (guitar, vocals), Dan Osborne (drums), Jon Sykes (bassist), and Steve Kitch (keyboards), Magnolia is there tenth album and it is one for the ages, “representing the best of everything that The Pineapple Thief have achieved to date.”  Front man Bruce Soord said that “All I ever wanted was to write catchy songs that stay with people” and he does that and more on Magnolia.

Catchy, melodic, harmonious, emotional, and lasting are some of the words that I would use to describe the music on Magnolia, and this is no more evident than on the opening track, “Simple as That.”  It is simply beautiful sounding music with the right touches of light and heavy to make for some amazing progressive/alternative rock that will be running through your head all day and night.  “Alone at Sea” is another vibrant song that encompasses The Pineapple Thief’s breathtaking sound.  It is a relaxing song that really hits its stride with the chorus and instrumental parts.  Also, the vocals are just absolutely pleasant and soothing.  “Don’t Tell Me” slows things down a tad and brings the album to a different emotional height.  The music has the type of power that will just sweep you away, much like the song that follows it, “Magnolia.”  The title track is catchy as a pop song and as awe-inspiring as a great painting.

Heavy on the emotional side of things, “Season’s Past” is as serene as a day dream.  The lyrics paint a pretty picture, but there is a hint of melancholy behind it all.  Starting off slow and brooding, “Coming Home” has a cool rock vibe and a great atmosphere.  “The One You Left to Die” kills it with its sick riffs and moving vocals.  It has that hypnotic quality that will have you rushing to hit the repeat button.  It is one powerful and enchanting song.  “Breathe” is a decidedly stellar rock song with short, intense moments between long, calmer sections.   

“From Me” weighs heavy on the heart with its depressing lyrics and is like a sad lullaby.  “Sense of Fear” brings things back up to a livelier pace with roaring drums and wailing guitars.  It is another example of The Pineapple Thief’s catchy and memorable rock sound.  The penultimate song, “A Loneliness,” is a light, emotional song that has an uplifting atmosphere.  “Bond” brings the album to a close on an emotional and harmonious note.

If The Pineapple Thief’s Magnolia was a painting, then it would be hanging in the Louvre, because it is a masterpiece.  There has not been an album all year with music that makes an impression like this. It is the type of music that gets better with each listen. There are about two months left in 2014 and Magnolia is my top album of the year. 

5/5 Stars

 
Key Tracks: Simple as That, The One You Left to Die, Sense of Fear

Brian McKinnon

October 23, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Tracks:

01.Simple As That
02.Alone at Sea
03.Don’t Tell Me
04.Magnolia
05.Season’s Past
06.Coming Home
07.The One You Left to Die
08.Breathe
09.From Me
10.Sense of Fear
11.A Loneliness
12.Bond



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Instrumental New Age Review: Richard Theisen-Mayan Stars

Release Date: 2014
Label: Indie

Richard Theisen is a Grammy award winning composer and performer. His new release Mayan Stars was inspired by the lost civilization of the Maya. The tracks presented on this release
are a smooth blend of new age, classical and world. It’s an enticing musical stew of instrumental pleasures.

Each track is like a brush that paints all the notes on a broad musical canvas. Within each song are stories that unfolds and words are not necessary. Theisen knows how to shape the music into a creation that is a reflection of each title.

What I found most impressive is the range of music on display and the number of instruments played by the artist. With the exception of a solo guitar on “Blood Moon” he does it all on Mayan Stars. The title track drops the curtain appropriately ushering in the age of a people long since passed. The wonder we still hold for that highly advanced civilization is present to this day. The track is as majestic as their legacy. When “Jungle Zen” starts you know that it’s going to be an adventure…a musical tapestry that unfolds before your senses and leaves you tingling and excited to explore more. Perhaps it is time to go on your own private adventure and let the music lead the way? This music has the ability to take you there in a matter of minutes.

The music all seems to fall together so nicely and each track has a different feel and overall atmosphere of intrigue and beauty. Whether it’s a simply placed acoustic guitar or building layers of keyboards the music invites a sense of wonder that is within us all. 

“The Red Queen” is so perfectly picturesque I found it easy to see the Maya in their ancient world in my mind’s eye. While all of the music is developing and enveloping my soul I was at peace and one with it all. I can see this entire album being a soundtrack to a special on a History Channel program or used for relaxation and or meditation as well. This music heals and allows the portal of your soul open to the exquisite vibrations that the sounds provide.

Richard Theisen has created an aural masterwork of history, humanity and music all into one beautiful package with Mayan Stars. The goal of any artist is to captivate and engage their audience and I think Richard Theisen answered the call brilliantly on Mayan Stars.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Jungle Zen, Mayan Stars, The Red Queen

Tracks: 
01.Mayan Stars
02.Jungle Zen
03.Tulum
04.Return of the Jaguar
05.Magia Luna
06.La Premiere Lumiere
07.The Red Queen
08.Blood Moon
09.Beloved
10.A Dolphins Dream

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder

October 22, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rockin' the Wall – 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Announcing US Theatrical Tour & DVD and Digital Release!


Featuring David Paich (Toto), Robby Krieger (The Doors), Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), and Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot)

Studio City, CA - Lightyear Entertainment and Specialty Studios, in association with Rockin' the Wall Studios announce the Consumer release of “Rockin' the Wall” on November 4th, 2014. And a US Fall 2014 Theatrical Tour in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The feature length documentary offers an entertaining exploration of the power of rock music as a force for social change & liberation.  

The film by Larry Schweikart and Marc Leif is based on Schweikart's book “Seven Events That Made America America.” It shows how music become a liberating force  behind the Iron Curtain and helped give strength to the anti-communist revolution.

The documentary features interviews with several well-known rock musicians, including David Paich (Toto), Robby Krieger (The Doors), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), and Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot), and Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge), as well as individuals who experienced life behind the Soviet controlled side of the wall.

The official motion picture soundtrack for “Rockin' the Wall” includes more than a dozen original or newly performed songs, featuring powerful re-makes of 60's and 70's classics “Ball of Confusion,” “People Got to be Free,” and “Train Kept a Rollin'” as well as original songs by Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge, Peter Rivera, and Mother's Finest, as well as all songs performed in the film.

“Music has the power to change the world!” -  David Paich (Toto) 

Schweikart is going 'on tour' with the film and will be participating in post screening discussions providing audiences with a rare opportunity to get an even better understanding of this monumental moment in history.

Since September, the “Rockin' the Wall - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall” tour has been in Dayton, Cincinnati, Greenville, Ohio, Toledo, Atlanta, Asheville, N.C., Greensboro, N.C, Raleigh, N.C., Cullowee, N.C., Danbury, CT,  Winter Garden, FL, Ave Maria, FL

Future USA Fall 2014 Tour dates below: 

10/14, Wheeling, West Liberty University
10/30, Eureka, IL, Eureka College
11/4, Tacoma, University of Washington
11/6, Los Angeles, Luxe Hotel Sunset
11/7, Seton High School, Mesa, AZ
11/8, Chandler, AZ, Chandler Center for the Arts
11/9 (pending) Scottsdale, AZ, Shea Harkins Theater
11/14, Fulton, MO, Churchill Museum/Westminster College
11/20, Grand Rapids, MI, Acton Institute
12/1 (pending) Chicago, Theater of the Arts/Polish American Film Society

2/2015 (pending)  Notre Dame and a Dallas showing.

(All dates and locations are posted on the film's website:  www.rockinthewallstudios.com)

Schweikart is available to add more Theatrical screenings, but will need the public's help. Visit the film's website to learn how you can be a part of this amazing opportunity and get free tickets to your screening for family & friends at http://www.rockinthewallstudios.com

###

“Rockin' the Wall” will be released on DVD and digitally by Lightyear Entertainment, a distributor of independent films and music founded in 1987 (www.lightyear.com), through eOne Distribution, in association with Specialty Studios, a fully integrated media, content and distribution studio that harnesses the power of socially conscious media to touch hearts and engage minds (www.specialtystudios.com).

Consumer DVD and Digital distribution will commence next month with a street date of November 4, 2014. To learn more contact Lightyear: Sky Spooner, 917-407-2771, sky@lightyear.com

View trailer here.

To pre-order: http://www.amazon.com/Rockin-Wall-Adam-Baldwin/dp/B00NN78TZU/ref=tmm_dvd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1413823049

Larry Schweikart, Filmmaker : 937-231-8387, larry.schweikart@gmail.com
DVD & Digital Sales:   Margaret Poindexter,  415-382-1459, margaret@videoproject.com and Lightyear: Sky Spooner, 917-407-2771, sky@lightyear.com
Educational Licensing:  Kelsey Smoot,  415-981-9710, Kelsey@videoproject.com
Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

Post Rock/ Shoegazing Review: Engineers-Always Returning

Release Date: 11th August 2014
Label:   KScope

This album, Always Returning by Engineers is yet another of those releases that would probably have escaped my notice but for the fact that it landed on my desk for review. Not a new band, Engineers have previously released 3 albums, Engineers (2005), Three Fact Fader (2009) and In Praise of More (2010), and the current release, Always Returning, bumps that up to 4 albums.

The band was formed in London in 2003 by bassist, guitarist and keyboard player, Mark Peters. There have been several changes in the band’s make-up, but founder member Mark has been present since the outset. The current members of the band are Mark (vocals, guitars, bass and additional keyboards), Ulrich Schauss (synths) and Matthew Linley (drums, additional synths, additional organ and piano). Helping out on this album are the guests, Sophie McDonnell (vocals), Craig Sergeant (harmonica), Maud Waret (backing vocals) and Anna Drysdale (French horn).

Influences that have been cited by the band are fairly wide ranging and include Beach Boys, Brian Eno, Cocteau Twins, Spiritualized and Pink Floyd, and their style has been described as post rock, dream pop, shoegazing and indie rock. 

Always Returning is a 10 track album with a total running time of around 41 minutes. The final, and title, track, is the longest on offer at 6:17 minutes and track 6, “Searched For Answers”  is the shortest track on the album at just over 3 minutes (3:05).

The opening track on the album is “Bless The Painter” (3:13) which has the voice almost merging as another instrument and although it works well, the track, with repetitive synths, just seems to start and then finish without much happening in between. “Bless The Painter” is a pleasant enough opener, but not a track that demands attention. The second track, which is also released as a single, “Fight or Flight” (4:23) is slightly more up-tempo and although the music is good and the vocal harmonies are great, I feel it is another example of a piece of music that once it has gone, it has really gone, as there are no hooks or stunningly unforgettable passages.

There is a very distinct Beach Boys influence on “It Rings So True” (4:18), “Drive Your Car” (3:51) again highlights the harmonies and the melodic passages, without really immersing the listener in the music, although there are some interesting touches, and “Innsbruck” (4:19) with the melodic guitar and repetitive drum beat draws the listener in initially, and the track is almost over when you realize there has been no vocals.

A very familiar passage, which I just can’t place, starts track 6 “Searched For Answers” (3:05) and despite the familiarity, or perhaps because of it, this track is a very catchy, commercial little number. A tempo change in the next track, “Smiling Back” (4:43) initially piques the interest, but fails to have a lasting effect. “A Million Voices” (3:25) and “Smoke And Mirrors” (3:43) with synth/keyboard intros, again missed the spot and at this point the variation between the tracks was becoming less and less.

The final track, “Always Returning” (6:17) seemed to work better than previous tracks, with perhaps the length allowing the music a bit of “fleshing out,” and although a little repetitive, this track did come close to the spot.

At best, I would class this album, Always Returning, as a pleasant album, which had some good moments, but my overall impression was that it didn’t possess enough variation within the tracks to “drag the listener in by the ears.” There were some individual tracks that I found good, but an album was just a step too far.

As always however, I stress that this is a very personal opinion and my advice would be to give the album, Always Returning, several plays and then make up your mind what you think of it. I would dip into this album, on the odd occasion, for a track or two, but no more.

3.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Bless The Painter, It Rings So True, Always Returning

Tracks: 
Bless The Painter
Fight Or Flight
It Rings So True
Drive Your Car
Innsbruck
Searched For Answers
Smiling Back
A Million Voices
Smoke And Mirrors
Always Returning


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

October 21, 2014

Review Provided By Write A Music Review

Monday, October 20, 2014

Legendary YES Singer/Songwriter Jon Anderson and Counting Crows Matt Malley To Release Charity Single “The Family Circle”


London, UK - GONZO Multimedia is proud to announce the release of a new charity single “The Family Circle” by legendary YES vocalist/songwriter Jon Anderson and former Counting Crows bassist Matt Malley. The money received from the single will go to the following charities: Flutie Foundation - www.flutiefoundation.org (Jon Anderson), Sahaja Yoga Meditation - www.sahajayoga.org (Matt Malley) and National Autistic Society (Rob Ayling, GONZO Multimedia president)

“ 'Family Circle' came together when Matt sent me the beautiful music earlier this year. I sang the song and lyric idea and sent it back to Matt, thanking him for the great energy. Eventually, Matt added some more sounds and the haunting guitar solo. We decided to have all sale proceeds go to our respective charities. It's a pleasure to release this around Thanksgiving time, reminding us of our connection with our families and how our children keep us together, bonding our love of life.” - Jon Anderson

“Not only am I a fan of Jon's voice but I’m a fan of his fearless spiritual outlook which appears in all of his music. A mutual friend said we should meet and got us in touch and after talking a little, Jon said, 'So send some music!' - so I had a cup of my best Darjeeling tea, went into my studio and came up with the instrumental arrangement that you hear on 'Family Circle'. I sent the file up to Jon and it came back with his marvelous voice, lyrics…everything that brought the song to becoming fully realized.” - Matt Malley

Jon Anderson is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable voices in progressive rock as the original lead vocalist and creative force behind YES. Anderson was the author and a major creative influence behind the ground-breaking album 'Fragile' as well as the series of epic, complex pieces such as “Awaken”, “Gates of Delirium” and especially “Close to the Edge” which were central to the band's success. Additionally, Anderson co-authored the group's biggest hits, including “I've Seen All Good People”, “Roundabout”, and “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. In addition, Jon Anderson had great success with a series of albums he did with Vangelis, and most recently released the critically-acclaimed solo album entitled “Survival and Other Stories” (GONZO Multimedia). In the fall of 2014 Jon Anderson teamed up with jazz violin legend Jean-Luc Ponty to form the AndersonPonty Band.

Matt Malley is an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated songwriter who is best known for co-founding the multi-platinum selling rock band Counting Crows back in the early 90's. He appears as bassist on their biggest hit records and songs. In 2004 Matt retired from the band so he could work from his studio at home and be with his family. He is a student of the Indian Slide Guitar and a fan of Progressive Rock, Celtic Folk, World and Indian Music.

Listen to a sample of the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hATdN-XMBSQ

To purchase Jon Anderson & Matt Malley's “Family Circle”: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/family-circle-single/id911786898

Read GONZO Weekly's 100th issue! http://www.flipsnack.com/9FE5CEE9E8C/gonzo-100.html

Jon Anderson's official website: www.JonAnderson.com
Matt Malley's official website: www.malleyablemusic.com

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Age Instrumental Review: Trevor Gordon Hall-Mind Heart Fingers

Release Date: September 15, 2014
Label: Independent


Some albums don’t need words. This is one of them. Mind Heart Fingers is Trevor Gordon Hall’s newest album and one that resonates through the soul of the listener. Produced by Windham Hill Records Will Ackerman and production whiz Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios, this album is as deceptively simple as a rising soufflĂ©. Light and airy, it soars over your taste buds in a melody of flavors and experiences.

Gordon’s fifth album, Mind Heart Fingers shows just how talented this artist is. Mellow guitar and intricate finger work bring to life a thoughtful time in “Blue Hour.” Staring off into space, the mind whirls and clicks, taking the machinations of the day and breaking them down into slower moving parts to dissect and understand. This piece is a breath of silence and inner searching for those times when you just need to be introspective and solitary.

“Surviving Ordinary Days” is a mantra for the rest of us. Quirky and light guitar movements accompany the soundtrack to my day…not always graceful in action or thought, but bumbling towards a hopefully successful outcome with hope in my heart and a plucky soul to keep me going. This music says it all. We all want that perfection. We want to get through the ordinary to find the extraordinary so we can breathe it in. Just for a little while before the grind of everyday reaches back up and pulls us under. This piece is a machination of that. Quirky…bopping along and then swimming with the stream to make it where you need to go. Because there is always tomorrow. Because we choose to survive for the ones we love.

“Short Story” is the last track on the album. Just as the title suggests, the piece reminds me of opening a book while you’re curled in a window seat, eager to start a short adventure while you have a moment in between life and car pools. Tentative and well composed, this tender composition brings to life the peaceful joy of a quiet moment in a world that just won’t sit still.

Trevor Gordon Hall is an artist to watch. His work with the wizards of Imaginary Road Studios shows him for what he is—a man who speaks his passion through his guitar. With a few sprinkled instruments and percussion throughout the album, the essential sensation remains the same. Emotion of the everyday expressed through a pluck of string. Mind. Heart. Fingers. Play on.

4.5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: The Blue Hour, Surviving Ordinary Days, Short Story

Tracks:
01. Intro
02. Morning Sidewalk 3.0
03. The Blue Hour
04. The Meeting At the Window
05. Almost Spring
06. The Shining Barrier
07. My Dearest
08. Surviving Ordinary Days
09. The Discipline of Curiosity
10. Midnight and Raining
11. Turning Ruts Into Grooves
12. Short Story

DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer

October 19, 2014

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Judas Priest In Concert At The Tsongas Center At UMass Lowell

Judas Priest In Concert At The Tsongas Center At UMass Lowell

Lowell, Massachusetts

October 14, 2014



Priest, Priest, Priest…the familiar battle cry from an anxious crowd rings true whenever you attend one of their classic heavy metal concerts. This is the third time I have attended a Judas Priest concert over the last nine years. I can honestly say that every show was fantastic and the band has not lost a step in presenting the old and the new tracks from their enormous catalog.


This tour celebrates their recent release Redeemer of Souls album. After checking out their previous set lists I could see a definite pattern and knew what to expect. So much for expectations…what happened was they decided to mix it all up and provide a hungry audience with a diverse set list spanning the last 40 years of heavy metal. It was a nice surprise to hear songs I never expected to.


The warm up band Steel Panther kicked things off with their over the top “porn rock,” for lack of a better term. I was a bit surprised that Judas Priest would have a band like that open for them. I fail to see the connection to their music as there is a lot more to it than it being just metal. They are talented musicians but their lyrics and in between song banter I could do without. I was glad to see them leave the stage.


The traditional pre-concert song “War Pigs” only ran for a few minutes, not the usual full length before we could hear the Judas Priest guitars bursting out of the speakers. A huge curtain covered the stage while the band played and then it eventually dropped as they got the crowd into a metal fanatic frenzy with “Battle Cry.” 

I was a bit surprised at the subpar turn out for this show. I expected a packed house however there were many empty seats around the venue and even more surprising were the gaps on the main floor where all the head bangers reside. We sat to the left of the stage looking down with an excellent view of all the proceedings.

“Dragonaut” introduced their new material in a live setting and it sounded fantastic as anyone would expect from a seasoned band. Richie Faulkner has stepped up to become the featured guitar player (in place of K.K. Downing) and his youthful energy is like a rock double cappuccino to get your blood pumping. His guitar playing is excellent and Glen Tipton seems to feed of that energy as they do the call and answer guitar licks throughout a show. 


What can one say about Rob Halford?  It is beyond my comprehension how the man continues to sing like he does. His patented screams are legendary and as the night wore on I never heard him falter once, not even after repeated screams within one song. Who would have thought he would still have these abilities at 63 years old? He is a true star and phenomena of the metal scene.


As these heavy metal gods made their way through an impressive range of songs it reached a fever pitch between the audience and band. With Halford stalking the stage from side to side and Faulkner egging everyone on to clap in unison, it was a true team effort as band and audience became one huge wall of sound. It’s a beautiful thing to witness if you are a metal fan.


Old favorites such as “Hell Bent for Leather” and “Breaking the Law” drove everyone crazy with excitement and glee prompting those in attendance to sing along as requested by Mr. Halford. It was great fun and those are can’t miss numbers on any night. The song selection was excellent and well presented as I would have expected from this great band. It was well worth the trip for this music fan.


Halford and this band show no signs of slowing down at this point and that is good news for heavy metal fans worldwide. They are the keepers of the flame right now and continue to burn bright as ever.


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