Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday/Country Review: Classic Christmas Country Album-Various Artists

Release Date: October 27, 2014
Label: RLG/Legacy

Christmas songs come in every flavor and this year its colorful twinkle lights wrapped around a pair of boots. Sixteen well-loved holiday tracks from artists throughout their careers are showcased in this Walmart exclusive album just in time for the holiday season. From the ever popular “Mele Kalikimaka” from Christmas Vacation to “Jingle Bell Rock,” there are classics abundant.

The first song in this merry little lineup is “Christmas Time’s a Comin’” performed by Patty Loveless. With jingle bells and a plucky little guitar number the song ramps up and starts jamming. Full of country twang, images of a country holiday celebration filled with family and friends appear. Food, candles, hearts yearning for home and snow pack this powerhouse of a song. 

“Rockin’ Little Christmas” starts off with a sexy saxophone solo and on come the jingle bells and the sweet and sexy voice of Deborah Allen. A cross between country and rock, this song is a go getter. No wall flowers need apply. Only delicious love scenes allowed! Slip on those boots and get ready to do the boot scootin boogie all night long. Love and longing under the Christmas tree with a passel of mistletoe to bring down the house. This song smokes trials through the snow and that Frosty had better watch out!

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is the last song on the album. Sung by Martina McBride with a mellow multi-instrumentation providing a snowy backdrop of holiday bliss, this song is a fine end to an album filled with holiday songs and memories from years gone by. Her voice is crisp and pure, giving voice to all of our hopes and dreams for a Christmas filled with love and laughter.

This Walmart exclusive is a great compilation of songs from many country performers spanning many years in the industry. I found several favorites on this album and discovered a couple of new ones. So have yourself a Merry Christmas and if you get the chance to pick up this album, do. And please, pass the eggnog.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Christmas Time’s A Comin’, Rockin’ Little Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Tracks: 
01. Christmas Time's a Comin' Patty Loveless
02. Christmas Time John Anderson
03. Pretty Paper Kenny Chesney
04. Rockin' Little Christmas Deborah Allen
05. Santa Baby Kellie Pickler
06. Blue Christmas K.T. Oslin
07. Please Come Home for Christmas Lonestar
08. I'll Be Home for Christmas Sara Evans
09. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree Alabama
10. Jingle Bell Rock Sweethearts Of The Rodeo
11. Mele Kalikimaka Jake Owen
12. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (Single Version) Ricochet
13. Winter Wonderland Brad Paisley
14. White Christmas Lari White
15. The Christmas Song Brooks & Dunn
16. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Martina McBride

 
Dana Wright, Sr. Staff Writer
November 21, 2014
Review Provided By Write A Music Review

Thursday, November 20, 2014

World New Age Review: James Asher and Sandeep Raval-Drum Travel

Release Date: Nov 11, 2014
Label: Starfield Records

James Asher and Sandeep Raval are two incredibly talented men with the gift of knowledge that encompasses a multitude of instruments, mainly percussive so it is no surprise that the title of their recent release is Drum Travel.

There is a bit more to this than just the title Drum Travel. The artists refer to this recording as the Tipi Experience. The image on the cover is a pyramid with a swirling gateway or rhythm portal, as it is referred to on the CD cover, all brought to you by their Global Percussion. If you notice however there is a city on the water that the beautiful image is overlaid on. There is a message here and you are cordially invited to  find the meaning in the music and what is beyond the portal awaiting your discovery. It all makes more sense once you start off on your journey with Asher and Ravel.

These two amazing artisans are assisted by Simon Brewin (bass, guitar, Wit,The Discerning Don) and Carolina Maggio (vocals, charrango, painting, creativity and enthusiasm) and several other talented folks. These gents have a marvelous sense of purpose but also maintain a good sense of humor. After all, James plays a ton of instruments but gets credit for “Kitchen” so I am assuming he provided sustenance in the form of food and drink for his musical warriors whilst recording this endeavor.

Drum Travel is a two CD set comprising 13 tracks on disc one and 7 tracks on disc two, both clocking in at over 70 minutes. The very first track “Fugira” kicks things off in a marvelous way with splendid percussion, amazing rhythmic vocal styling’s (in Italian) and some fluid guitar lines. This music is a worldly blend; there is new age, world, jazz, blues and rock. Everything blends together superbly into a musical melting pot that will bring joy to your soul and aural beauty to your ears.

The instrumental tracks are a literal omnibus of musical delights. When Asher and Raval combine their efforts it’s like a wall of drums that envelopes you. It does not encapsulate you in a power driven sphere and take you away; it is like being swept away by a gentle wave then feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin and the best part is the wave never ends. You can respect the awesome power it commands but feel grateful for the retreat that it affords you into audio bliss.

“Bring on Brasil” is just that, you feel like you have arrived in that beautiful country and are suddenly taking in all the breathtaking landscapes and walking the city streets. It’s like world travel by osmosis. Then to change things again, “Beside The Blues,” delivers the blues and jazz sensations via the right percussion, keyboards and guitar flourishes. To say that this recording offers diversity is an understatement, you simply do not know what is coming next and that is what makes the listen so intriguing.

Chili Pickle Chaser” is a great example of the percussion collaboration of Asher, Raval and friends. It has an interesting name but let me tell you it is nothing but pure excitement that builds as the track plays out. 

“If The Earth Could Speak” is the first track I heard and was so taken with it I featured it on RateThe Tracks and to no surprise it jumped to the #1 position on the charts within a day and it continues to get plays. The title is quite prolific and so is the music. Everything that is good about what these people do when making music comes flowing forth like a river with a definite path to the ocean. It has meaning, beauty and first and foremost touches your spirit in a way that is most memorable.

Now if all of that was not enough they end the set with “On the Outbreath,” which is one minute short of 30 minutes. If there is one song that takes everything to another level it’s this one. There are some amazing creative juices flowing throughout this mix. This time frame made up an entire album in years past yet it is one song out of 20 that make up this implausible gathering of sound, elements and textures that capture your attention and engage your senses.

There is something true and natural about drums particularly when used in such a manner. It calls to you and invites you into their special rhythm portal. Listen, take the journey, you will not have any regrets.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Fugira, Bring on Brasil, If The Earth Could Speak, On the Outbreath

Tracks:
Disc: 1
 

01. Fugira
02. Takita
03. How it Feels
04. Bring on Brasil
05. Beside the Blues
06. Drums for the Dragon
07. Chili Pickle Chaser
08. Rhythm Network of Sparks
09. Neptune Skank
10. Percussive Kitchen
11. Pappadoms form Persia
12. Breaking Good
13. Seven Veils


Disc: 2
 

1. African Angel
2. Los Cuentos
3. Hey Wanaina
4. If the Earth Could Speak
5. Accelerando
6. The Great Transition
7. On the Outbreath
 
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
November 20, 2014
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

Granddaughter of Legendary Dionne Warwick, Cheyenne Elliott to Release Narada Michael Walden Produced Singles and an EP in 2015


New York, NY – A brand new star has appeared on the US music scene; her name is Cheyenne Elliott. Cheyenne is the granddaughter of iconic singer Dionne Warwick, and a cousin of the late superstar Whitney Houston. In early 2014, producer Narada Michael Walden discovered her exemplary vocal talent and invited her out to Tarpan Studios in San Rafael, California, where Whitney, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and many other artists recorded some of their biggest hits. The young New Yorker was signed to Narada’s Tarpan Records. She will initially release a string of dance music mixes in the winter of 2014-15. Her debut EP is slated for release in early 2015.

Cheyenne’s talent was recognized at the tender age of 9 years old, at which time she started singing in public. Her grandmother, Dionne Warwick, called her to the stage to sing during a performance of her massive worldwide hit “That’s What Friends Are For” in Coney Island, New York. Even as a child she wowed the audience. Cheyenne learned her craft and drew innately from being born into a family of music royalty, including her grandmother, her father David Elliott - who co-wrote Luther Vandross’ massive hit “Here and Now,” and her late superstar cousin Whitney Houston. Dionne would play an instrumental role in Cheyenne’s development as a performer.

By the time Cheyenne was 10 years old, she demonstrated her immense talent while visiting recording studios in the Los Angeles area. She made subsequent appearances with Dionne at renowned venues throughout her youth. The audience’s appreciation of her vocal prowess led to summers traveling with her “Grammy,” performing in dozens of countries all around the world. She made a very special appearance celebrating Dionne’s 45th anniversary of recording at the Hollywood Palladium. Another performance honor included her Carnegie Hall debut at age 12, opening for legendary singer Gladys Knight. At 12 years old, Cheyenne also appeared on Dionne’s My Friends & Me album. She lent her vocals to a duet entitled “Love Will Find A Way,” a song that Dionne had previously recorded with Whitney. Cheyenne later joined Dionne, David, Whitney, Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick, Bobbi Kristina Brown, Felicia Moss and others from the family on the recording of “Family First,” which appeared in the Tyler Perry movie Daddy’s Little Girls.

Cheyenne is following in the socially conscious footsteps of her grandmother, whose 1985 charitable recording of “That’s What Friends Are For” raised awareness and funds all over the world to help people suffering from the plight of AIDS. Cheyenne is featured on Dionne’s brand new release, Feels So Good. Narada produced a touching duet of the dynamic grandmother and granddaughter, entitled “Let There Be Love”.

The song happens to be written by Narada along with Shannon Rubicam & George Merrill, who wrote two of Whitney’s biggest hit songs: “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).” On the Feels So Good album, she joins the company of other luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Cyndi Lauper, Ne-Yo, Cee Lo Green, Jamie Foxx, Billy Ray Cyrus and many other greats.

Tarpan Records, in association with dance music powerhouse Dauman Records, is releasing a series of dance mixes of Cheyenne’s song “With You”. “With You,” which she co-wrote, is intentionally reminiscent of the classic disco era. The mixes are destined to heat up dance floors throughout the winter of 2014-15.

Cheyenne will be making many appearances over the next few months, including some major performances with Dionne Warwick in support of Feels So Good and their duet “Let There Be Love.” Cheyenne currently performs in nightclubs in and around New York City fine-tuning her craft, most often including Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar.

View Dionne Warwick introducing Cheyenne to her audience in Atlantic City, New Jersey earlier in 2014. Cheyenne then performs her original song “Saltwater Tears”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axx2Ny66GZY

Cheyenne’s duet with Dionne Warwick titled “Let There Be Love” is available now on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/let-there-be-love-feat.-dionne/id933306159

Listen to Cheyenne’s cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”: https://soundcloud.com/tarpan-studios/01-lego-house

View Cheyenne Elliott’s Video EPK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SefmE2_sQso ;

For more information, please visit Cheyenne’s website: www.cheyenneelliott.com or her social networking sites:
www.Facebook.com/OfficialCheyenneElliott
www.Instagram.com/TheCheyElliott
www.Twitter.com/TheCheyElliott (@TheCheyElliott)

For information about her new single, EP and dance mixes, please visit: www.tarpanrecords.com

Press and Radio Inquiries: Billy James, Glass Onyon PR, at 828-350-8158; glassonyonpr@gmail.com

Bookings: Jason Abrams, Cheyenne Elliott Entertainment, at 917.576.2835; jeapublicity@aol.com

Track Evaluation: Ides of Gemini-The Adversary

The Ides of Gemini was a quite a find! They make some very powerful music inspired by the doom metal kings Black Sabbath. 

The featured track is “The Adversary,” which is a fine example of their talents on display. I am excited to discover this band and look forward to what they will bring to the table in the future!

MuzikMan Rating: 5/5

More About The Ides of Gemini:

http://idesofgemini.com



The debut EP from Ides Of Gemini
credits: released 14 November 2010

Sera Timms: vocals, bass, drum programming, design
J. Bennett: guitar, backing vocals, photography


Ides of Gemini - The Adversary (New Song 2014) from Hard & Heavy Old on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chamber Rock Review: Clibber Jones Ensemble-I Am The Avalanche

Release Date: 2014
Label: Blood Drunk Records

This release, I Am The Avalanche, by Clibber Jones Ensemble is certainly an album that I would probably not have come across, so yet again, I get to review a new release with no preconceptions of what to expect. The band has been described as a chamber rock band hailing from Atlanta and this release is the second to be issued by the band, following on from the 3 + 3 EP.

Interestingly enough there is in fact no-one actually called Clibber Jones in the band, which currently numbers 7 members. The band is, Olivia “Clibber Jones” Kieffer (drums), Darren “Dibber Jones” Nelsen (guitar), Brandon “Bibber Jones” Dodge (vibraphone, percussion), Tim “Tibber Jones” Crump (tenor/soprano saxophones), Teresa “Fibber Jones” Feliciano (flute, piccolo), Amy “Keyber Jones” O’Dell (organ, keytar) and Bill “Dobber Jones” Pritchard (bass), as well as what the band refer to as the extended Clibber family. This adds a further 13 musicians to the roster, who have varying involvement, but specialize as “substitutes” for live dates.

Musically the  band state that they produce a style which is unique, with Olivia Kieffer, the main person in the band, combining influences from minimalist classical composers to prog rock, early 90’s emo rock all coming together to provide the sound that is Clibber Jones Ensemble.

 
I Am The Avalanche is a 10 track release with a running time of around 25 minutes. The longest and shortest tracks on offer are “I Am The Destroyer” and “The Sun Upon The Earth” at 4:25 minutes and 1:30 minutes respectively.

The starting track, “I Am The Avalanche” (1:54) opens with staccato keyboards and a crystal clear voice that segues into the amazing smoky sound of a saxophone. Add in some piccolo and vibraphone and the track moves along in fine style. A relatively short track, it soon merges into “I Am The Destroyer” (4:25) which continues to build up the atmosphere generated by the opening track. More insistent drumming and a greater reliance on the keyboards and vibraphone is obvious and gives a more powerful sound to the track as it moves into a sound very like a harmonium. The track again morphs into the next track, “I Will Collapse Into The Sea” (1:36) which highlights the guitar and bass sounds with some very neat drumming by Olivia. The saxophone and flute trade riffs above the background before the vocals re-appear and the repetitive lyrics of “deep down” takes the track into “The Sun Upon The Earth” (1:30). Bass and guitar get another chance to shine before the re-appearance of that rich sounding saxophone. This is an undulating track which moves quickly into “I Am The Water Falling” (3:25) with a more insistent, and initially cacophonously shrill piccolo giving way to a short but intense drum solo by Olivia and the rest of the band re-join with some excellent touches, possibly on keyboards or keytar. There is a short vocal around a minute from the end and the saxophone ushers the track out.

The rest of the tracks on I Am The Avalanche, are instrumental versions of tracks 1-5 and allow the listener to fully appreciate the musical themes and skills that the band can generate. 

In effect, what Clibber Jones Ensemble has released is an EP, or mini album, rather than a full album and I find it really difficult to describe the music of the band. Suffice, I think, to say that it is very different, and I felt, generated a feeling of inner peace. The music on I Am The Avalanche is atmospheric and unusual and requires a couple of listens for it to “grab” you. My advice is to give this release a fair hearing and then decide for yourself what you think, but prepare yourself for a fair bit of left-field uniqueness.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: I Am The Avalanche, I Am The Destroyer, I Am The Water Falling

Tracks: 
I Am The Avalanche
I Am The Destroyer
I Will Collapse Into The Sea
The Sun Upon The Earth
I Am The Water Falling
I Am The Avalanche (instrumental)
I Am The Destroyer (instrumental)
I Will Collapse Into The Sea (instrumental)
The Sun Upon The Earth (instrumental)
I Am The Water Falling (instrumental) 
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

November 19, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk



Drum Heroes Carmine & Vinny Appice Go Head-To-Head On The New Release Drum Wars Live!


Los Angeles, CA - Drumming demi-gods Carmine & Vinny Appice have both had extraordinary careers behind the drum kit, beginning with Carmine’s tenure in such legendary classic rock bands as Vanilla Fudge and Cactus as well as supporting stints with Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne. Meanwhile, younger brother Vinny made his name as a metal drummer for monster acts such as Dio, Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell. Recently, these two virtuosos have been wowing audiences with their own rock show called “Drum Wars,” featuring not only the hits of their associated bands but also a thrilling series of solos that pit them against each other like the Gene Krupa/Buddy Rich drum battles of yore. Fortunately for us mere mortals, this unique concert experience was recorded in June of this year at the Iridium in New York and is now available on CD courtesy of Deadline Music and Rocker Records.

Along with Carmine and Vinny, the Drum Wars Live CD features Jim Crean, Ethan Brosh and James Caputo!

For those unsure of their ability to withstand the aural assault that the Appice brothers bring, a free downloadable track from the album has been made available on the Rocker Records website. Visit here: http://rockerrecords.bandcamp.com/

“When me and Vinny play together we push each other to our limits. Either while drum battling or playing great songs from our history on this CD, while backed up with a great band behind us!” - Carmine Appice

“A CD of great music and drums that punch with power and energy.” - Vinny Appice

Coinciding with this exciting release is a series of European shows featuring both Carmine & Vinny performing alongside a jaw-dropping list of metal vocalists and musicians. Dubbed the Metal All-Stars, this year’s crop includes Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde, Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna, Geoff Tate formerly of Queensr├┐che, Dave Ellefson of Megadeth, James LaBrie of Dream Theater, Testament’s Chuck Billy and lots more! For details, visit: http://www.metalallstars.com/

To order the CD on Amazon: http://geni.us/1HXY

Track List:
1. Intro
2. The Mob Rules
3. Drum Wars
4. Holy Diver
5. We Rock
6. The Flintstones
7. Carmine Solo
8. Bark At The Moon
9. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy
10. Drum Wars Part 2
11. Vinny Solo
12. Stand Up And Shout / Heaven And Hell
13. Crazy Train

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

CLEOPATRA RECORDS, Inc.
11041 Santa Monica Blvd #703
Los Angeles CA 90025
www.CleopatraRecords.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holiday/New Age Instrumental Review: Erwilian-Midwinter’s Night

Release Date: December 2009/Remastered November 2014
Label: Independent

Erwilian is a band that embraces acoustic sound at its finest. A blend of Celtic, renaissance, fantasy folk, bluegrass and more, every instrument resounds with a natural symmetry. Midwinter’s Night is the band’s first ever re-issue with remastered, non-continuous sequencing. 

The Seattle based group is comprised of Bill Bowser (Guitar, Violin), Jordan Buetow (Recorders, Hammered Dulcimer), Brian Matheny (Sound Engineering), Bethel Melton (Hammered Dulcimer, Soprano Recorder), Scott Melton (Guitars, Mountain Dulcimer), Robert Schuweiler (Mandola, Bouzouki, Tenor Guitar) and Jeff Reed (Percussion). The group was saddened this past autumn with the passing of Jeff Reed and the void left by his absence has been keenly felt by all who knew him.
keenly felt by all who knew him.


When I first began to play this album, I had never encountered Erwilian before. In a few seconds I was hooked for life. The magic these artists weave is a solid one, bound by years of working together and a harmony of sound and spirit you don’t often find. It was like being at a Ren Fest while I was sitting in my writing room, minus the giant turkey leg in hand and mud on my shoes. Much better.

The album opens up the “In Convivio” complete with the audience applauding in the background. The music spiraled up and out like a smooth bite of seasonal mead going down the hatch. Ah but it made my heart happy. Perfect for the season, the very familiar holiday tune came through, along with the joy of the musicians playing it. I was in love. 

Midway through the play list is “Wandering.” The recorder lilts out a solitary melody that invites introspection and solitary contemplation. It fit my mood on this gray and gloomy November afternoon as time just stopped and I was thankful for good company, a warm puppy snuggling at my side and the blessing of this wonderful music in my ears. Simple, but profound, other instrumentation seamlessly wanders in and takes what is there and expands it. Guitar, percussion and more. It is beauty personified and it made me want to weep. About half way through the piece, it livens up and I thought immediately of the Hobbit and the wandering voyage of our lives. We are all of us wanderers and some of us blessed with companions that love us and little things like this music to brighten the path we go by. 

“Gigues” is the final piece on the album, a medley of five familiar holiday tunes. The multi-instrumentation of this piece brought me back to memories of watching A Christmas Carol when I was young. Then it spun up and became a jolly romp of festive dance music. A ball of brightly colored gowns and gallant gentlemen escorting the ladies as they bowed and curtsied, making their way through the paces. Joy. Pure and simple. 

Erwilian is a band I will now follow like a fan girl. Their unique blend of acoustic instrumentation is bold and lively and brings out all the best from New Age to bluegrass and folk. The remastered album is a seamless live effort without too much in the way of clapping that can be annoying, at least to me. This was perfect. All the music, moderate applause…full on enjoyment. This is an album that you will love all year round but especially now as the holiday season comes upon us and we draw close to those we love best. In closing, a heartfelt thought to the band members and family of Jeff Reed. Some lights never dim even with the passing of time. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Midwinter’s Night, Wandering, Gigues

Tracks:
01. In Convivio
02. Midwinter's Night
03. South Prairie Rain
04. Villancicos
05. Wandering
06. Billy in the Lowground/Swinging on a Gate
07. Calling Birds
08. Memories
09. A-Wassailing
10. This Little Babe
11. Gigues

 
DanaWright, Sr. Staff Writer
November 18, 2014
Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews