Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CD Review: Guitarists Joe Satriani And Trey Gunn Return With New Solo Albums


Guitarist extraordinaire Joe Satriani is preparing to release his new solo album entitled "Shockwave Supernova." It is Satriani's fifteenth solo release and it begins the next chapter of his amazing career. After releasing the massive, career-spanning box set last year, Satriani found a renewed inspiration to create new instrumental music and this latest album is one of his best.
 
Beginning with heavy rocking, progressive feel of the title song "Shockwave Supernova," you wouldn't think that this artist was a thirty year veteran of the music industry. The passion and emotion he displays in the opener reminds us of how good Satriani is a creating new musical journeys through his music. He works the fret board on the wildly energetic romp of "Crazy Joey," then strategically attacks the aggressive nature of "On Peregrine Wings" as the hard-rocking rhythm motors the song. Satriani showcases a tribute to the bluesmen of yesteryear with the classic sounding "San Francisco Blue," then slows the tempo down for the progressive jazz feel of "All Of My Life." It sounds as if his days with the supergroup Chickenfoot have rubbed off on some of his songwriting as in "Scarborough Stomp" and the album closer "Goodbye Supernova" as Satriani's amazing guitar playing fills in for the lead vocals. Joe Satriani will be hitting the road this fall with a tour of Europe. The new album will be released on July 24th through Legacy Recordings, to find out more about "Shockwave Supernova," please visit satriani.com.
 
Former King Crimson guitarist Trey Gunn recently released his latest solo album "The Waters, They Are Rising." This is the first in a series of four releases dealing with different themes. The theme of this release is "water" as the music flows together and gives off an aquatic feel to the album's overall tone.
 
Beginning with a re-worked cover of Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet," you would hardly recognize the song. It was created for the film score to the movie "Every Beautiful Thing" and sung by Dylan Nicole Bandy as it sets the stage for the rest of the album. Gunn's new release also includes live versions of musical pieces he's performed from Peter Gabriel's "Here Come The Flood." The general feel of the music is gentle and fluent as you become relaxed with the sounds of "Three Days" and "Odra."  Gunn gets a little more exploratory with plucking the strings of "The Last Wave," before closing the album with the eight-minute, atmospheric build-up of "The First Return" also from the Sonya Lea film "Every Beautiful Thing." To find out more about this and other releases from guitarist Trey Gunn, please visit treygunn.com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

CD Review: New Music From Singer/Songwriters/Musicians JD Souther, J.C. Combs, Munroe And Sknail

American singer/songwriter JD Souther recently released his eighth studio album "Tenderness" on May 12th through Sony Music Masterworks. His musical career has lasted over forty years and he has written hit songs for musicians like Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and The Eagles. In 2013, JD Souther was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His latest release features his renditions of some of his most influential songs of the 20th Century, beginning with soft, gentle delivery of "Come What May." His smooth classic folk delivery of "This House" is the perfect setting for his vocals, while the sway of "Dance Real Slow" is simply magical. The new release closes with The Eagles-like ballad "Need Somebody" and the piano-led, soft jazz of "Downtown (Before The War)." To find out more about JD Souther and his new album "Tenderness," please visit jdsouther.net.

Canadian singer/songwriter Munroe recently found time to record her self-titled debut album between filming for ABC's "Resurrection" to which she stars on. She lays her vocals upon instrumentals she received from friends in the bands Young Rival, New Hands, Etiquette, Dark Mean and YerYard. Her voice in the opener "Bloodlet," seems innocent amongst the slight pulsating rhythm of the music. The darker tone of "Mercy" is a nice contrast to the lighter feel of "Bonnie" as Munroe's vocals have a warming quality to them. The short six-song EP closes with the wonderful harmonies of "Sycamores." To find out more about Munroe and her new album, please visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/MUSICMUNROE.

Seattle musician J.C. Combs recently released his latest five-song album, "Winter, Spring and Fall." Beginning with "Currents," which sets the stage for the seasonal instrumental pieces as Combs combines electronic techniques with classical music as in "Improvisation For Winter." His "Improvisation" of the other seasons do not stray from this formula, before closing the album with the seven-minute, atmospheric adventure of "Elevator To The Moon." To find out more about J.C. Combs and his latest release "Winter, Spring and Fall," please visit  jccombs.com.

Experimental jazz musician/composer Sknail returns with the latest album "Snail Charmers" as vocals are introduced into their repertoire. Beginning with the mellow jazz backdrop of "Slow Poison,"  hip-hop style lyrics become the focus of the song, while the gentle touch of "Anthem" allows you to enjoy the song's calming feel. Sknail uses beat-poetry to give life to "I Shot The Robot," while "Something's Gotta Give" settles into a more contemporary song structure. The new nine-song release closes with the atmospheric sounds of "Suspended." To find out more about Snail and their latest release "Snail Charmers," please visit sknail.com.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Concert Review: The Who Celebrates 50 Years With Fans At The Mohegan Sun Arena

Not many bands can stake a claim to being around for fifty years and of those bands, only a few can still rock as hard as The Who. The band first stepped foot in Connecticut back in 1968, performing at a small venue called the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford (which my father attended) as they smashed their instruments at the end of their performance. Now 47-years later, The Who made their most recent visit to the state as part of their "The Who Hits 50!" tour as they played to a sold out arena at Mohegan Sun on Sunday night.

Kicking off the night's entertainment was a visit from Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, who were recently inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame back in April. Her 40-minute set touched upon every aspect of her career, beginning with "Bad Reputation" from her 1980 debut album. Jett then dove back into her catalogue for a rendition of "Cherry Bomb" from her time in The Runaways. Joan Jett brought the audience to their feet with her #1 single "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," before closing with a rocking version of Tommy James' "Crimson and Clover" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You."

As the lights dimmed for the headliner, The Who, their six-piece backing which consists of Pete Townshend's younger brother Simon on guitar and Ringo Starr's son Zak Starky on drums took their respected spots on stage. Then the remaining two original members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey strolled onstage to a standing ovation. They started the night off with one of their earliest singles, "I Can't Explain" from 1965. Pete Townshend's signature windmill guitar strumming got the crowd going early as "Who Are You" showcased the full potential of their backing band. As The Who dove far back into their catalog with the songs "My Generation" and "The Kids Are Alright," a giant screen behind them would mix in live video with classic photos of the band's early days. The thunderous rhythm of "Join Together" got the audience marching in unison to the beat, while Roger Daltrey's vocals on "Love Reign O'er Me" left no doubters as to his singing abilities. The Who included their mini-rock opera "A Quick One (While He's Away)" as an introduction to their famous rock opera "Tommy."

The four-song "Tommy" epic was the perfect setting for guitarist Pete Townshend to declare war on his guitar as he attacked the strings during "Sparks." This led The Who into their hit single "Pinball Wizard" to which everyone was waiting for. Then, the famous keyboard introduction of "Baba O'Riley" got everyone up once again singing the chorus, "teenage wasteland" back to the band. The Who closed their nearly two hour set with "Won't Get Fooled Again" as Roger's screams continued to ring through the arena (and our ears) as they thanked their fans for sticking with them for fifty years and more.

Setlist: I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Who Are You, The Kids Are Alright, Squeeze Box, I Can See For Miles, My Generation, Behind Blue Eyes, Bargain, Join Together, You Better You Bet, I'm One, Love Reign O'er Me, Eminence Front, A Quick One (While He's Way), Amazing Journey, Sparks, Pinball Wizard, See Me Feel Me/Listening To You, Baba O'Riley, Won't Get Fooled Again

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Concert Review: Ed Sheeran Amazes And Excites His Fans At The Mohegan Sun Arena

British born singer/songwriter/musician Ed Sheeran is definitely enjoying his success. His latest album, "X" topped the charts in nine countries and his current tour has sold out arenas across the U.S., including the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night. It was no surprise that the young, mostly female, audience was ready to give Sheeran all their energy by singing and dancing for the nearly two hours that Sheeran was on stage.

Ed Sheeran walked onto a blank stage with only an acoustic guitar and immediately received a roaring response from the audience before saying one word or playing one note. Instead of using a backing band, Sheeran used a Looper board which allowed him to record sounds made from his guitar or vocals and replay them in a rhythmic pattern to give his songs substance. Also to help with his performance were fourteen giant video screens that would portray live shots of Sheeran masked with different artistic features.

The evening of songs began with "I'm A Mess" as Sheeran would harmonize with himself, while the screams of the audience would drown out Sheeran's talking between songs. Ed Sheeran would mix in some cover songs with his own songs if the rhythm called for it as he did with "Don't," which lead into Blackstreet's "No Diggity" and "Take It Back" drawing inspiration for Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." One of the evening's highlights was the amazing rendition of "Bloodstream" as he commanded the audience to wave their hands up and down during the song's chorus. The thunderous rhythm of the song was a nice contrast to the quiet ballad of the heartfelt "Tenerife Sea." The audience almost out sang Sheeran during the smooth, mellow delivery of "The A Team" as cell phone lights lit up the arena. He closed his set with "Give Me Love" as his instructed all the voices in attendance to join him in unison of the song's chorus.

After a very quick break, Ed Sheeran would return to the stage to a deafening applause to perform "You Need Me, I Don't Need You." He sprawled through the lyrics like a rapper before leading his fans into singing along to Izzy Azalea's 'Fancy." He would close the night with his big hit single "Sing" as Sheeran exited the stage with the audience singing the song's memorable chorus.

Seeing Ed Sheeran live gives new meaning to "one-man-show" as he keeps everyone involved in his performance. Also, his use of technology to crate a unique experience make his a must see in a live setting. Irish musician Foy Vance started the evening off with a 40-minute set that got the audience prepared for headliner Ed Sheeran.

Setlist: I'm A Mess, Lego House, Don't/Loyal/No Diggity/Nina, Drunk, Take It Back/Superstition/Ain't No Sunshine, Photograph, Bloodstream, Tenerife Sea, Thinking Out Loud, I See Fire, Afire Love, The A Team, Give Me Love
Encore: You Need Me I Don't Need You/In Da Club/Fancy, Sing

Saturday, May 23, 2015

CD Review: Omnivore Recordings Uncovers Unreleased Live Album From Andrew Gold

American singer/songwriter/musician Andrew Gold found success in the late-seventies with the hit singles "Lonely Boy," "Thank You For Being A Friend" and "Never Let Her Slip Away." He also collaborated with a number of artists including James Taylor, Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond just to name a few. He recorded thirteen solo albums during his 33-year career and since his passing in 2011 there has been a lack of releases of Gold's music, until now. Omnivore Recordings recently released a never-before-available live album from Andrew Gold entitled "The Late Show - Live 1978." It was recorded at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood during the height of his radio fame.

The new fourteen song release finds Gold in great spirits amongst the small audience as he interacts with them, telling them stories of his early band The Rangers and the pilots he encountered on his current tour. He mixes in his hits "Thank You For Being A Friend" with piano ballads like "Oh Urania (Take Me Away)" to showcase his talents for finding a way to your heart. You instantly flashback to the California folk/rock scene of the seventies with his delivery of "That's Why I Love You," before showing us he can also rock with "A Note From You." His hit single "Lonely Boy" draws a huge applause, before he closes the evening with a couple of cover songs, including The Beatles' "Doctor Robert" and Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." To find out more about this truly exceptional new live release from Andrew Gold, please visit omnivorerecordings.com.