Sunday, February 14, 2016

CD Review: Popa Chubby Puts On A "Big, Bad And Beautiful" Live Performance

American blues singer/songwriter/guitarist Popa Chubby gathered a following, the old fashion way, by performing live. He played over 200 shows a year during the early '90's and self-released his first couple albums before scoring a record deal with Sony Music for the release of his 1995 studio album "Booty And The Beast" and his first live album "Hit The High Hard One." Now over 20 years later, Popa Chubby returns with a brand new live album titled "Big, Bad And Beautiful." It was released on January 22nd through Cleopatra Records.

The new two disc set was recorded during his 2015 tour of France and contains 27 songs of mixed originals and covers. He begins with the chugging shuffle of "Working Class Blues" and the blazing guitar work of "Stoop Down Baby." He keeps the spirits high with the classic romp of "One Leg At A Time" and "69 Dollars," before letting up on the gas for the slow blues of "Same Old Blues." His guitar skills are exceptional, while he delivers the lyrics of "Life Is A Beatdown" like a skilled rapper, but his does his best talking with his guitar. The first disc closes with a five-minute clash of instrumentals called the "Chubbfatha Medley."

The second disc starts out with a ten-minute session on how to ply the blues as Popa Chubby gives his all for his music during "Rock On Bluesman." He pays tribute to the Rolling Stones with a trio of songs, "Love In Vain," "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses," which electrifies the audience. He bring back that classic rockabilly swing with "Caffeine And Nicotine," before slowing the tempo down for the nine-minute blues journey "The People's Blues." The album closes with Popa picking the energy back up with "Noise Making Love Machine" and ten-minute rocking rendition of "Over The Rainbow."

Popa Chubby is currently touring through the east coast, beginning with shows in Woonsocket, RI and Mildale, CT. For a complete list of shows and to find out more about Popa Chubby and his latest release "Big, Bad And Beautiful," please visit popachubby.com.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

CD Review: Unwritten Law Go "Acoustic" With Their Greatest Songs On New Release

American punk/rock band Unwritten Law started their musical adventure almost 25 years ago in California. They were a major presence on the yearly Vans Warped Tour and broke onto the charts with their hit singles "Seein' Red" and "Save Me (Wake Up Call)." After a five year absence, Unwritten Law return with a new album titled "Acoustic." It features unplugged renditions of some of their most well-known, fan favorites; along with two brand new tracks.

The new 13-song release begins with "Celebration" as acoustic guitars replace the electric ones and a funky backbeat keeps the rhythm on this opening experimental piece of music. Some songs take on a different tone with acoustic guitars as with the island reggae vibe of "Nevermind" and the emotional ballad "Seeing Red." One of the new songs on this compilation is Unwritten Law's rendition of the John Legend song "Hueartbreaker" as they search for the right groove with their acoustic instruments. They try to bring in some of their punk elements for "Teenage," which is one of two songs from their 1998 self-titled album which are the earliest songs featured on this album. Unwritten Law sound like Sublime on the radio pop gem "Starships," which finds new life with the help of the acoustic guitars and an island groove. The album finishes with the love song to "Cailin'" and the other new song "Belong To You," which is alternative-pop gold.

The new album will be released on April 1st through Cyber Tracks. Their tour kicks off on March 9th in Pomona, CA before circling the U.S. the next two months. To find out more about Unwritten Law and their latest release, "Acoustic," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/unwrittenlaw.music.

Friday, February 12, 2016

CD Review: Singer/Songwriters Natty And Patrick Ames Look To Breakthrough With Latest Albums

British reggae artist Natty will be releasing his sophomore album "Release The Fear" on February 29th. The album was recorded live and follows his Top 20 U.K. chart hit "Man Like I." The new 11-song release begins with the album's first single "I'm Alive," which has futuristic sound and an addictive groove that allows Natty to open up his sound. He slows the rhythm down for the island vibe of "SS I Love You," but also involves sonic soundscapes the give the song depth. He brings a much-welcomed dance beat into the sound of "Streetlights" as Natty knows how to spread his fun, energetic sound through his music. His reggae background comes through on the deep groove of "Change," which features vocals from fellow reggae artists Alborosie and Busy Signal. After the heartfelt tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. with "King Had A Dream," the album finishes with the acoustic, reggae/folk delivery of "Things I've Done" and slow pop swing of "Release The Fear." To find out more about Natty and his new album "Release The Fear," please visit nattymusic.com.

American singer/songwriter Patrick Ames will be releasing his new album titled "The Free Will In Patrick Ames" on February 29th. Ames was inspired for this album by Bob Dylan and his 1963 breakthrough album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" and hopes that this album will be his breakthrough into the mainstream. He begins the 10-song release with a raw, spur of the moment take of "Come Back To Me," which sounds like it was recorded on the spot with the musicians surrounding one microphone. He finds his rhythm with a pair of bongos on the Americana/folk take of "Hold Me" and picks the tempo up with the smooth folk/rock delivery of "Mi Gato." Ames' songwriting shines on the acoustic ballad "On The Next Sunny Day," before he experiments with the stark instrumentation of "Freedom Summer." The album finishes up with the bluesy/folk appeal of "Tomorrow" and the modern rock of "Throw Away People" as Ames continues to search for his signature sound. To find out more about Patrick Ames and his latest release "The Free Will In Patrick Ames," please visit patrickames.com.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band Revive "The River" In Hartford



Back in December of 2015, a simple announcement was made that the iconic artist Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band would be heading back out on tour. As soon as tickets went on sale, poof, they were gone. His live shows have become legendary, lasting over 3 hours and containing rare gems and classic covers and his visit to Hartford on February 10th was no different. Except this time, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band would perform the entire double-album “The River,” from front to back. This alone would be enough for the average Bruce Springsteen fan, but he would then continue like a man possessed, until he left everything he had on that stage.

This tour features a “scaled down” version of the E Street Band, as only nine members supported Springsteen’s wishes as he started the night off with appropriately titled “Meet Me In The City,” an outtake from “The River” album. Springsteen was every bit of the showman that you hear tales about. He ran back on forth, front to back on the stage during “Sherry Darling” and went out into the audience, slapping hands, posing for photos, reading signs during a blazing version of “Hungry Heart.” He even crowd surfed along the floor, turning the 66 year old veteran in a young kid again.

Springsteen would discuss the meanings behind songs like, “Independence Day” and “I Wanna Marry You.” He traded verses with the audience during the song, “The River,” before kicking it into high gear with the powerful “Cadillac Ranch” and “I’m A Rocker.” The only slow part of the evening was the string of ballads “Drive All Night” and “Wreck On The Highway,” which closed the first half of the show.

Springsteen and The E Street Band got a boost of energy, beginning the second half of the show with a request for “No Surrender” from a fan’s sign. Guitarist Stevie Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren pulled out some electrifying solos during “Cover Me” and “Because The Night,” respectively. After eight shows into the tour, Springsteen pulled out another first with their rare performance of “The River” album outtake, “Loose Ends,” before closing their set with an amazing delivery of “Thunder Road.”

The encore brought the excitement of the show to another level, beginning with the crowd favorite “Born To Run” as all of the house lights were turned on to show fans dancing in the aisles. A few lucky ladies from the audience were called up on stage to dance with Bruce during “Dancing In The Dark,” while saxophonist Jake Clemons and drummer Max Weinberg keep the juices flowing during the sing-along of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” and “Bobby Jean.” After three hours and fifteen minutes, the night would end with a punk-like, rocking version of the Isley Brothers song, “Shout” as this party came to close.

At the beginning of the show, Bruce asked “Are you ready to be transformed?” I wasn’t sure what he meant. Could it have meant that after this performance you would become a bigger fan of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band? Or that you would remember an earlier time in your life when these songs meant something to you? Or that you would simply be taken over by the energy of the band and have no excuse, but have a great time at one of his shows? I’d like to think that everyone has their own answer, but I for one was “transformed” that night.

Setlist: Meet Me In The City, The Ties That Bind, Sherry Darling, Jackson Cage, Two Hearts, Independence Day, Hungry Heart, Out In The Street, Crush On You, You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch), I Wanna Marry You, The River, Point Blank, Cadillac Ranch, I’m A Rocker, Fade Away, Stolen Car, Ramrod, The Price You Pay, Drive All Night, Wreck On The Highway, No Surrender, Cover Me, She’s The One, Loose Ends, Because The Night, The Rising, Thunder Road
Encore: Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Bobby Jean, Shout

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CD Review: New Music Releases From Rising Indie-Artists

From New York comes the latest release from punk band, Bad Mary titled "We Could Have Saved The World." The short six-song EP is a blast of energy, lead by the amazing vocals of Amanda Mac as she brings in elements of Gwen Stefani with more of a Joan Jett edge. The album begins with the adrenaline fueled "Creeper" and the striking guitar riffs of "Marz Attaqx" as Bad Mary have a great modern punk sound. The band slows down the tempo for the classic Ramones feel of "Cloud 9," before picking things back up with the quick-hitting "Meanwhile" and the revengeful "When You Think Of Me." To find out more about Bad Mary and their latest release, "We Could Have Saved The World," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/badmaryband.

From Chicago comes the latest release from indie-rocker Jesse W. Johnson titled "Primal Scream." This album is a change of direction of his 2013 acoustic based EP "Cannon Rows" as five raw, hook-driven songs make up his latest EP. Beginning with the titled song, "Primal Scream" has a rockabilly boogie rhythm with loud blazing guitars motoring the song. He changes directions with the light, airy, pop of "Why Aren't We In LA?," before closing with the big arena rock sound of "Springfield Supportive Living" and the quiet acoustic, folk build-up of "Expecting To Fall." To find out more about Jesse W. Johnson and his latest release "Primal Scream," please visit jessewjohnson.com.

From New York comes the sophomore release from The Morning Sea titled "Mal De Mer." The album titled means "seasickness" in French, but their sound will enlighten you as the vibes are bright and airy as in "Don't Be Moronic, Merriam." They continue with the high-energetic impact of "Alexandra" and "Backburner Baby." Sandwiched between these rockers is the heartfelt ballad "Lonely Hearts In The Cosmos," which returns again for the wonderfully gentle delivery of the acoustic album closer "The Cold & The Quiet." To find out more about The Morning Sea and their latest release "Mal De Mar," please visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/themorningsea.

From Chicago comes the new release from Nice Motor titled "Seminary St." It features four songs of alternative country that would make Ryan Adams and Wilco proud. The new EP begins with the the twangy guitar of the retro sounding "All The Neighbors" and continues with the contagious steady rhythm of "Turn To Stone" as Nice Motor play it cool with their delivery. Their new short release closes with some funk added to their alt-country sound with "Thick In The Head." To find out more about Nice Motor, please visit nicemotorband.com.

Connecticut singer/songwriter Mark Daniel recently released his latest 4-song EP titled "Repair To New." He is a former student of Berklee College of Music and has toured along side such well-known acts as Living Colour, Steve Vai and Everclear just to name a few. The new release begins with the country/rock swing of "Vacant Beauty" as his voice just soars. The strong rhythm of "The Breakdown" gives Mark's music that harder rock edge, while the wonderful songwriting of "Fall Behind" shows the complete talents of Mark Daniel. To find out more about Mark and his new release "Repair To New," please visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/mdanielmusic.

From Los Angles comes the self-titled, debut album from rock and soul band Sugar Fly. It features amazing soulful vocals from Tia Simone, backed by a strong hard rock groove that works so well with each other. Their new five-song EP begins with the thunderous delivery of "Heartbreak City" as your pulse quickens with each verse. The lead single from the album is the grunge-like guitar driven hook of "Blind" as Tia vocals steal the show. The album continues with the bluesy feel of "Speak To Me," before closing with the rip-roaring rocker "Dig." To find out more about Sugar Fly, please visit sugarflyband.com.

From Chicago comes the third EP from funk/rock band Freaks For Geeks titled "TIN." It features four songs that combines elements of rock, funk and rap to give their songs a wider audience. Beginning with "Sleep, M.D." the music has a Red Hot Chili Peppers vibe, but with a hip-hop style delivery to the lyrics. Freaks For Geeks hone their sound with the lighter, ska/funk feel of "What Might Get Out," then bring in a 311 influence to "Settle The Score," before closing with the spinning rhymes of "Jakfox." To find out more about Freaks For Geeks and their latest release "TIN," please visit freaksforgeeks.com.

The songwriting duo of Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) and John L. Richardson (Gin Blossoms) recently released their debut album as The Small Square. It features some guests from such bands as Badfinger, Ryan Adams and Matthew Sweet to name a few. The new eleven-song release is folk/rock gold, beginning with the acoustic strumming of "So Low" as their warming vocals and laid back vibe puts your nerves at ease. They pick the tempo up, but only slightly for the more rock oriented "Dream Faker (Open Your Heart)," but find the perfect balance with the smooth harmonizing of "Enough To Know." The Small Square have a hit single with "Otherwhile," which has a great classic sound that is highly addictive. The album closes with the quick-paced, up-beat rocker "Wild Chump" and the experimental, country-rock vibe of "The Trip." To find out more about The Small Square and their self-titled debut release, please visit smallsquaremusic.com.