Monday, March 22, 2010

Jenny Whiteley - Forgive Or Forget

How would you answer the question “What kind of music do you like?” Maybe a list of favorites, or a single genre label that mostly describes your taste? One common answer is “I like anything but country.” Jenny Whiteley's recent release Forgive Or Forget is a great retort to that unfortunate declaration. She sings ten of her own beautiful folk and country songs without a snag. The album features clever, catchy, and inviting tunes and Whiteley delivers her heartfelt vocals with subtle prowess.

Simple melodies can be the easiest to sing, but the hardest to sing well. It's up to the vocalist to make a simple song interesting with the right presentation. Folk melodies have acres of wiggle room for interpretation. Whiteley brings her songs to life with...More

Saturday, March 6, 2010

David MacKenzie And Josh Johnston - Notes Home

Partners in jazz David MacKenzie (violin) and Josh Johnston (piano) recently released a second studio album called Notes Home. It's a flavorful mix of vintage and contemporary sounds. The classic swing music of Stephan Grappelli (a jazz violinist like David MacKenzie can't avoid this comparison anyway) is their jumping off point, but they mix in elements of blues, Latin, contemporary jazz, pop, and classical styles, and the result is music with real depth.

All 13 songs are original compositions and not one is a dud. Whether straight from the Gypsy jazz playbook like “Cap Mortola,” or alluding to the songs of Robert Schumann like “Through The Night,” each tune...More

Why Make Clocks - These Things Are Ours

Why Make Clocks is the plugged – in folk-rock brainchild of singer/songwriter Dan Hutchinson. The 2009 release These Things Are Ours is the third full – length album from this Des Moines – based artist. The first release was in 1998 and, for better or for worse; the band’s sound is rooted in the rock music of the 90s. The influence of 1990s mainstays REM, Gin Blossoms, and Sonic Youth is easy to hear.
All ten tracks share a disaffected tone, but they range from despairing to up-tempo dissatisfaction. My favorite song “Circles” moves at a pretty good clip and is arranged with the most variety of all the tunes. The opener “Self Impressions” is a slow, melancholy song with...More

Bernie - The Legend Of The Mythical Man-Month...

Bernie Durfee records under just his first name, Bernie. After listening to his brand new, first – ever release The Legend of the Mythical Man-month and More Tales from the Confines of the Corporate Cubicle, with its quirky humor and clumsy charm, the name seems to fit just perfectly.

Bernie is a one–man band who writes and performs all the music on this fifty – minute, unhip mishmash of classic rock, quirky jam band clutter, dub bass lines, and punk rock rambling. I kind of liked it. There’s lots of guitar soloing, some of it pretty nice and some mediocre. Bernie’s lead guitar is...More

I Love Rich - Season Of The Rich

When listening to Season of the Rich, the latest release from Chicago rockers I Love Rich, one thing about the band is obvious: I Love Rich loves Kiss. A lot. In fact I would guess they started as a tribute band and evolved gradually into an original outfit, possibly without noticing. They sound a lot like Kiss.
This style of rock is about celebrating the old “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll,” having fun and playing loud. It’s about raw instinct and unapologetic brashness, and not thinking too much. Maybe the only fair way to judge this album is...More

Mike Rinta - Eponymous

Mike Rinta’s resume as a sideman is as impressive as it is varied: he’s backed up jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval, but he’s also shared a stage with Jerry Garcia, Santana, and, just recently, Sly and the Family Stone on an international tour. Rinta’s solo debut Eponymous makes it easy to see why such stellar and diverse artists seek him out. He plays with lyrical charm and mixes styles seamlessly. The 12 original compositions on Eponymous are tasteful and fun, extroverted yet thoughtful takes on traditional jazz, blues, hard bop, and R&B.

Traditional New Orleans jazz is a big influence for Rinta. The music doesn’t sound old fashioned, though, just...More

Dave Keller - Play For Love

Bluesman Dave Keller makes his home in Montpelier, Vermont, a town not known as a soulful blues mecca. His new album Play For Love may be enjoyable, but Montpelier’s reputation isn’t changing anytime soon.

Keller plays a mild, bluesy R & B that’s pleasant but not too exciting or moving. His band backs him up with

A Life Of Science - The Apneist

Theodore Roosevelt famously promoted a “life of effort.” So which eminent figure championed a “life of science?” Bill Nye? Thomas Dolby? Regardless of who said it, I think they would all be proud of Phoenix – based indie rockers A Life of Science for their new multimedia project TheApneist.

In a mysterious laboratory, the freshman quartet has created...More

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flying Machines show they can certainly rock on their self-titled debut album. It’s a classic kind of rock (the influence of legendary artists is obvious) but these guys aren’t throwbacks or copycats. As others have already observed, Queen is the most noticeable inspiration for these New York songsters, but Flying Machines aren’t clones. The similarities seem to come from a heartfelt camaraderie with Doctor Brian May’s venerable band. They’re sort of picking up where their idols left off, blazing their own...More

With a name like Hear Hums, the musical brainchild of young Floridian Mitchell Myers could be minimalist ambient drones. It isn’t. The music grooves, rocks, entices, surprises, quips, and howls. I listened to four tracks from Hear Hums’ self-released debut album Notions Shift at Tryptamine Bay and I wanted to hear more. Myers’ tunes are chock full of interesting sounds, lyrics, and real instrumental skill...More

On her forthcoming EP, Pittsburgh native Melinda Grey sings bluesy rock with a whiff of country and pop. Her previous release titled The Melinda EP, from 2007, leaned more toward pop music. She attempts a rougher, more down-home sound this time around. Her new style is part Etta James, part Aerosmith, and part Britney Spears. It's a solid performance by a talented and well-trained singer (she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston) but she was at her best singing upbeat country and pop. Even if I ignore her teen-idol style PR photos, I just can't buy her as...More

45th Parallel - Take 2

It's called Take 2, but it's the first release from Washington-based hard rock trio 45th Parallel. At first I was struck by how similar their sound is to overplayed mainstream 1990's radio staples like Staind and Creed. Any song on Take 2 could be slipped, unnoticed, onto a mix CD of late 90's uber-commercial hard rock bands, but they might...MORE