Sunday, December 20, 2009

REVIEW: Trick Bag - Hip Shot

Trick Bag, a funky jam band with a little New Orleans thrown in, has indeed pulled quite a creation out of the proverbial hat. With tight grooves that get your body moving and shaking, these guys never disappoint and never miss a beat on their album Hip Shot.

Hip Shot is a collection of grooves and tunes full of impressive syncopation and dynamics. Trick Bag is a band that knows music - well. Never, in my opinion, was there a band that could say so much almost without saying a word.

The eight tracks on Hip Shot include awesome originals by Trick Bag as well as some covers of The Meters, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers. Even though these guys include a few covers on their album, they deserve quite a big applause for making each of these tunes their own with a unique style and flare.

One thing that stands out throughout Hip Shot as a whole, is how each of these four aficionados of music alternate leading and following in each jam without over or under-doing anything. From fat bass lines, grooving guitar solos, jamming keys and multi-rhythmic drums to an all out auditory celebration, one thing is for sure - these guys are all about musical creativity and style.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Trick Bag at

REVIEW: Voice of Addiction - Re-evolution

Illinois band Voice of Addiction has encapsulated energy, poeticism and overall their clear and evident message to the masses with their album Re-evolution. This trio is made up of post-90s punk/ska poster children with a lot to say.

Broken Bones and Broken Homes is the opening track on Re-evolution. Its punk rhythms and highly energetic vocals give this song a Clash meets Sublime kind of vibe.

Got Your Number, the second track, is once again jam-packed with energy - this time Voice of Addiction throws in some 80s hair-metal guitar and dissonant harmonies.

The Walls is a highly politically-charged tune detailing corporate greed, taxes and government cover-ups. This song shouts in the face of government and process.

Right Now continues with a message of plastic buildings and the turmoils of living in a society spoon-fed by mass media and controlled by money.

Grease the Wheel is a much more laid back song. Kind of a breath of fresh air after such emotionally abundant tracks that came before. With a reggae back beat, this tune has a “why can’t we all just get along” message.

The final track, Martyr, polishes off this album with another reggae track that evolves into a dark rock tune and then back again.

At first listen, you wouldn’t expect Voice of Addiction to have such a "tree-hugger" message, but they do - and they pull it off great. For all you hippies out there who just can’t stand jam bands, check out Voice of Addiction and their album Re-evolution.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Voice of Addiction at

REVIEW: Flowers for Lily - A Name Will Come

Australian band Flowers for Lily has created a dark, psychedelic melancholy with their album A Name Will Come. With pockets full of emotion, these troubadours of dark rock have brought to life a powerhouse collection of great songs.

Starting off with Cemetery Forest, the listener really gets a taste dynamically for what Flowers for Lily is all about. This track starts of with a great guitar intro and then switches into full gear.

Brand New Blinded has more of the dark sound of A Perfect Circle with epic overtones not unlike The Who - much darker, of course.

The third track, Cupid, is where this album switches gears. With a more mainstream rock feel, this song seems to have a little Weezer influence thrown into the mix.

Hill of Skulls surprisingly, despite its title, takes the ‘dark’ out of dark rock. This track really shows the diversity that Flowers for Lily has in their music.

Breaking Bread is an epic song that will simply take your breath away. The dynamics in this song especially stand out as they play a key role in building up the energy for the awesome guitar solo towards the end.

Awkwardly, Prelude is the last track on A Name Will Come. This song makes an excellent ending track. It is a calm, acoustic style track to bring you back down to earth.

Flowers for Lily has done a wonderful job with A Name Will Come. It is a well rounded album with a lot to offer musically and lyrically.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Flowers for Lily at

Monday, December 14, 2009

REVIEW: BARDO - Recurring Dream

BARDO, of Los Angeles, CA, is a powerhouse collection of musicians comprised of front woman Leslie King, guitarist Korel Tunador, drummer Dave Johnston and bassist Chuck Bramlet. With their debut album, Recurring Dream, BARDO has created a raw, highly energetic, captivating and consuming work of art.

When you play this album, GP Boulevard is the first track you hear. This song starts off with a little whimsical guitar and Leslie King’s sweet sounding voice. By the end of the song, I was blown away by the dynamics and buildup that this track offers. The attitude King portrays in the vocals on this song is anything but sweet.

Ain’t That a Shame, the following track, builds on the energy from the first song. The raw energy and soulful sound of this song just goes to show how much BARDO has going for them.

Beautiful brings it back down a notch in a similar, yet more graceful approach as GP Boulevard. This song brings to mind the songwriting and vocals styles of Fiona Apple.

Run has all of the attitude of a Courtney Love tune, with the musicianship and attention grabbing motives of the Naked Beggars. There is no doubt that this is one of the most intensely rockin’ songs on the whole album.

Don’t Get Me Wrong has an ethereal quality and, once again, is full of powerfully emotional and soulful vocals. It’s amazing how BARDO has a unique ability to keep your adrenaline flowing even when they seem to slow down for a little while.

Free to Go sounds like a mix of the Wallflowers and Alanis Morrisette. With an epic chorus and the signature guitar work found throughout Recurring Dream, BARDO has added the perfect finishing touches to a great album.

Throughout Recurring Dream, the band uses dynamics, fabulous instrumentation, outstanding vocals and an overall honesty and level of real that is bound to leave audiences dumbfounded and speechless.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about BARDO at

Saturday, December 12, 2009

REVIEW: Paulina Logan - If You Try

Californian singer/songwriter Paulina Logan has one of the most natural-sounding styles in the music industry. Her edgy yet peaceful, melodic and powerful voice captures the emotion of her songs with integrity and style on her latest album If You Try. Paulina’s captivating songwriting talents are entirely evident throughout this album as her songs catch your attention and draw you in.

Shut the Door, the first track on If You Try, demonstrates both Paulina’s completely natural and instinctive vocals and introduces the true variety of the album with this driving rock song. The energy and dynamics in this song are absolutely amazing!

L.A., the second track, starts out with a folky feel and evolves into a pop song and then into full out rock n roll complete with electric guitar solo. This is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head all day.

Write You As Song is much slower than the first two tracks, yet Paulina’s haunting voice in this song is mesmerizing and full of emotion. Both melodic and percussive, Write You As Song is
heartfelt and enchanting.

Forever is a catchy song with an islandy sort of feel. Here, Paulina’s voice takes a turn for the softer side and, once again, shows her true diversity as an artist.

Lovely is a powerfully emotional song that showcases both Paulina’s vocals and her talent as a songwriter. And, of course, no album is complete without a remix. At the end of If You Try, you’ll find Lovely (Omen Room Remix). It’s a little funkier than the original, but executed masterfully.

If You Try is a great album in all aspects. With songs that stick with you and evoke such powerful emotions, Paulina Logan has proven herself to be a wonderfully well-rounded musician.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Paulina Logan at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

REVIEW: Bernee - Late Night Show

Australian band, Bernee has an original style that defies genre and is more entertaining than anything you’d find on mainstream radio. With the musical finesse of Ben Folds and all the attitude of Weezer, these piano-busting wranglers of the entertainment industry have released a catchy and unconventional tour de force with their new album Late Night Show.

The introductory track, Where Do You Want to Go Today? starts out with a memorable piano riff. This song is a personal favorite on the album. The hook will stick in your head all day as the song is perfectly composed and performed with style and enthusiasm.

Spinning Wheel, the second track on Late Night Show, is yet another captivating tune. With a style comparable to that of Spoon, the happy-go-lucky feeling of the track makes it clearly evident that Bernee makes great music.

Miss Busybody gives a glimpse at Bernee’s softer, more mellow side. This track demonstrates a huge dynamic from the first two tracks.

On My Way picks up the energy level a little and adds a little harmonica flare to the album. This song mixes the style from the previous tracks with a little classic rock influence.

With the song Man, Bernee falls right back into the groove of the earlier tracks on the album which is simultaneously a relief and a surprise. These guys are strongest with what they do well, and Man is a track of which that is surely representative.

Finishing off with Roll On, a melodic folk-style ballad, piano and strings back up Nicole Weeper’s vocals. This song is extremely well written and a great conclusion to a great album.

From start to finish, Bernee has done a wonderful job at defining their own original style and going further to develop it into several sub genres that fit together perfectly to form an extremely entertaining artistic creation that is Late Night Show.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Bernee at

REVIEW: Mirek Kwiek - Forever With You

Mirek Kwiek started the band Sekta Fzhut in Tarnow, Poland in the 1970s. Since then, he’s moved to Illinois and has been discovering new sounds in the world of rock and roll. Mirek’s lateset album, Forever with You, is a collection of original classic rock-style songs with the Polish singer’s twist on the legends from whom he is influenced.

The opening track, Rock and Roll Show, is a hard-hitting rock song where Mirek captures all of the emotion of a concert gearing up and the massive party that will ensue. One thing is evident in this track and that’s how well Mirek knows his way around the fret board of an electric guitar.

The next track, Journey of My Life, is rock ballad about passing time and waiting for love. It is touching with energy and, supporting the emotion, a dissonance in the music that will capture your attention. Like most of Mirek’s songs on this album, you’ll find an epic guitar solo about halfway through.

Missing You is an electric guitar-driven instrumental where Mirek is really able to showcase his lead guitar skills.

The title track, Forever With You, has a similar feel to Journey of My Life in that it is another rock ballad about love. Mirek doesn’t try to avoid rock cliches, but that’s ok because he pulls them off with his own original style.

The album finishes off with as much energy as when it began with New Sensation. This track has vibes of 80s metal. Mirek definitely shows his ability once again as a composer and guitar player.

Overall, Forever With You is a pretty entertaining album. One can surely tell by listening that Mirek has been influenced by great groups like Deep Purple, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin and probably even a little Kansas. While Mirek may not be the next American Idol, he seems to have the attitude and chops to brush it all off and just get down to rock and roll!

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Mirek Kwiek at

Sunday, December 6, 2009

REVIEW: Linda Basso - Night Hub

Linda Basso is a bilingual singer/songwriter from Canada. Her wonderful voice and songwriting skills have won her several recognitions including Honorable Mention in the VH-1 Song of the Year Contest. On her CD, Night Hub, Linda’s musical style covers a few niche genres including Adult Contemporary, Jazz, Pop and Blues while her voice has more of a folky attitude.

Night Hub opens up with the Adult Contemporary tune, Another Dragon. With a laid-back beat and a stellar vocal performance, this track is great for sitting back and sipping a glass of wine.
Magical Night is a jazz song that has the ability to take you swimming through the seas of time in this lounge style tune with spectacular horn accompaniment.
No Shame shows Linda’s more mainstream side as classic rock/pop song and solidifying the songwriter’s diverse talents.
Payback Time, co-written by Bob Lewis, is real, crude blues tune executed with all of soul and emotion that you’d expect from the blues.

Night Hub concludes with Follement en Amour, the French version of Magical Night, showcasing Linda’s talent as a bilingual songwriter and appeals to a more a diverse audience.

Overall this album is a delightfully relaxed listen and brings the smooth vibes of a lounge straight to your living room.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Linda Basso at

REVIEW: The Jacob Conspiracy - Self Titled

Forming in Luxembourg in November of 2008, The Jacob Conspiracy has taken Europe by storm. The four-piece band has recently recorded a demo album at Charles Stoltz’ studio in Luxembourg-city. Their signature rock/pop sound is derived from a variety of rock influence ranging from Led Zeppelin to Incubus.

The Jacob Conspiracy’s self titled demo opens up with No Reason, a progressive rock song that shows the more punk side of the group. This track has driving drums and bass with a catchy chorus.

The second track, Cigarette and a Drink, has a more alternative feel complete with tons of emotion. Cigarette and a Drink shows The Jacob Conspiracy’s similarities to bands like Jet and Third Eye Blind.

Devil’s Smoke is kind of a biker, hard rock, jam song that surprisingly brings to mind such acts as the B-52s, Blind Melon and The White Stripes.

The CD finishes off with Turn the Page, which has more of a 90s-era rock feel. Kind of a mix between the styles of The Stone Temple Pilots and The Goo Goo Dolls.

Overall, this is quite an enjoyable demo. I only hope to hear a full length album from these guys in the near future. Make sure to check out The Jacob Conspiracy live if you’re in the neighborhood of Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands or France.

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about The Jacob Conspiracy at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

REVIEW: Guitardogs - Dog Years

Pennsylvania band, The Guitardogs have been rocking the Keystone state since 1988. Having gone through a couple of lineup changes over the years, The Guitardogs have developed their sound into an awesome classic rock experience with their ‘best of’ album, Dog Years.

Dog Years is a collection of great memories the band has had through the years all on a two-disc set. This album is great because it shows the diversity the band has as a whole - ranging from Allman Brothers-style classic rock to traditional bluesy jams. The Guitardogs is a group of songwriters as well as performers. This shows as each of the writers has a unique style that they have masterfully crafted together to form a diverse and eclectic sound.

From blues, to classic rock and even a little metal influence, Dog Years is packed with great lyrics and melodies, jams and, of course, epic guitar solos from start to finish.

Dog Years also includes plenty of live recordings for fans. These tracks, according to the band, are from some of their most memorable performances over the years. One thing is for sure, The Guitardogs are in no short supply of rhythm, blues and a whole lot of rock-n-roll!

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about The Guitardogs at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

REVIEW: The Blackberry Blues Band - Self-Titled

For all of you looking for soulful blues with a funky rock twist, The Blackberry Blues Band is what you’ve been waiting for. These guys have been around the block in the music world and it shows. One of the things that stands out with this band is how well they play together. Each part accents the others and makes way to the forefront at precisely the right moments.

Combining blues, rock and even a little funk, The Blackberry Blues Band has created a collection of songs that are memorable and hit straight to your soul.

Fronted by the vocals of Pamela Moore, The Blackberry Blues Band sounds like a mix of Blondie and The Talking Heads paired with the powerfully soulful blues of the Allman Brothers Band that will take your breath away.

There’s no argument that this band is overflowing with talent. This is very well demonstrated with tracks such as One Good Reason to Believe and How Can You Do This Thing to Me. Every note is spot-on and the instrumental sections will leave you lost in the music.

Fred Scribner’s guitar playing is also worth noting. He takes a unique approach to traditional blues leads by mixing in some psychedelic overtones. This paired with the thumping bass lines laid down by David Meyers, the powerful rhythms of drummer Jim Verdi and the graceful keyboard skills provided by George Meyer give The Blackberry Blues Band a very well-rounded and full sound.

Covering not only the blues, but also some rock, country and even gospel influences makes The Blackberry Blues Band a wonderful listen for music fans across several genres.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about The Blackberry Blues Band at

REVIEW: Jon Davidson - Perfect Cliché

Hailing from Portland, OR, Jon Davidson is an awesome new voice in the alternative rock scene. As a very talented multi-instrumentalist, Davidson plays all the parts, writes the songs and leaves audiences spellbound with his latest album Perfect Cliché. Davidson has performed in 5 countries and over 35 states, so it’s not an understatement to say that he may be taking over the world of alternative rock right before our eyes.

The diversity on this album is definitely worth noting. Davidson demonstrates his talent through many genres from soft acoustic rock to grungier hard rock, and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that his musical influences cover an even wider spectrum.

It Won’t Be Long is a track that sticks out as very radio friendly. Energy paired with powerful imagery gives this track a very mainstream feel and exemplifies the success that lies ahead for Jon.

Perfect Cliché, the title track is a little more laid back with an epic chorus that easily portrays why this track takes the title of the album. Once again, lyrically this song is off the charts.

For Davidson’s softer side, take a listen to What Can I Say?. The wide spectrum of Davidson’s music is demonstrated with this acoustic love song. Davidson paints a picture of love, obsession and a loss for words. It’s songs like this that show how Jon Davidson rivals all songwriters of the modern era.

The album also includes a couple of remixes, giving it a very well rounded appeal for play in all atmospheres for fans of all genres in music. The dynamics Davidson has at play on this album go from monstrously powerful, emotional, heartfelt powerhouse songs down to almost a whisper. Perfect Cliché is a musical masterpiece that is sure to be the source your next favorite song.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Jon Davidson at

REVIEW: Lloyd MacHardy - 4 Door Hardtop

Canadian singer/songwriter Lloyd MacHardy has been performing his rare variety of humorous and charming folk songs for the past 28 years. Playing a variety of coffee houses, benefits and festivals around Nova Scotia, Lloyd has made a name for himself across Canada, The United States and much of Europe. His album 4 Door Hardtop is an eclectic collection of folk songs from Lloyd’s heart with a little goofy humor scattered in here and there.

The album starts out with And The Children Came, a traditional folk tune with a storyteller vibe. Lloyd’s voice and instrumentation in this songs gives rise to imagery of sitting next to a campfire with eager ears.

MacHardy goes on to detail his love of the sea and denounces the land in the catchy tune That Dirty Old River, a song about a dirty river that runs through town to the sea.

I Guess Nothing Stays the Same is a funny song where Lloyd jokes about nothing staying the same. With a catchy melody, he goes through the changes in life even including a sex change operation.

4 Door Hardtop continues on with more timeless folk tunes including I’m a Busy Beauracrat and Oh Those Union Dues. Lloyd MacHardy has a unique way of taking adjusting traditional folk music to his own perspective and bringing the genre up to date with modern times.

3 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Lloyd MacHardy at Sonicbids

REVIEW: Dan Rio - Listen to the Rain

Dan Rio is a perfect balance of singer/songwriter and guitar player. With his album Listen to the Rain, this is clearly evident through his thoughtful lyrics and spectacular guitar solos. Rio’s soulful voice and instrumental talents give rise to a plethora of emotions with music that really touches you on a personal level.

First and foremost, Dan Rio is a great songwriter. And with influences like James Taylor and Eric Clapton, you’d expect nothing less. Listen to the Rain is a great demonstration of Rio’s talents as a singer and songwriter with descriptive imagery and ambient vocals that will capture your attention and leave you dumbfounded.

Dan’s skills at singing and composing are only part of what makes this album great. Tucked in cleverly throughout the CD, you’ll find great lead guitar solos that rival Clapton at his best.

One track that sticks out in particular is the title track, Listen to the Rain. This is a killer song to say the least. This is the kind of song that you’d hear overplayed on the radio and not mind because it never gets old.

For fans of all genres, check out Dan Rio’s Listen to the Rain. Rio has proven, with this album, that he is a force to be reckoned with in the world of contemporary soft rock.

4.5 stars out of 5

You can learn more about Dan Rio at

REVIEW: Person X - Wreck the Flow

Person X, based out of Saint Louis, MO, brings highly energetic, politically-infused, genre re-defining hip hop to the the stage with their album Wreck The Flow. Person X, formed four years ago on the south side of St Louis, have captured audience with their intelligent lyrics and wild electronic soundscapes.

You can get a good feel for this group from the first track on Wreck The Flow, Mr. President (Chief Culture Thief) with their perspective on the current political zeitgeist.

Person X took a unique approach to a title track by splitting it into Wreck the Flow Parts 1 & 2. Wreck the Flow Part 1 gives you a glimpse more at the electronic side of the group while Wreck the Flow Parts 2 is more geared toward their hip hop side.

To the Gods We Serve is nothing less than an epic, emotional journey questioning faith and the status quo.

Wreck the Flow is jam-packed with thoughtful lyrics and strong opinions on the thoughts of the times. With well executed rhymes layered with electronic instrumentals, Person X has created a roller coaster ride throughout the entire album - never with a dull moment.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Person X at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

REVIEW: Poland - Please Interstellar Policeman

Seattle band Poland’s music is like taking a magical journey back in time. With jaunting instrumentation and melodies and psychedelic tangents, Poland’s new album Please Interstellar Policeman is sure to earn its place as a classic album while Poland becomes a household name.

With numerous influences including The Beatles, Queen and The Kinks, Poland has created a unique art form with their genre-defying music. The layering on this album of guitars, violins, saxophone and percussion captures the listener’s conscious mind and takes you further down the rabbit hole.

Mundo Finé, is energetic and captivating. With a 60s-ish feel, this track entices the listener and will solidify that you are about top listen to a great CD. The next track Your Sunday Book has an almost bossa nova sort of feel with a hypnotizing tune with hints of The Shins. Terrapin Lane has a cheery vibe detailing a fantastical place akin to the type you’d find in a classic English rock song. Each song has a unique flavor and is blooming with creativity and musical flare.

More than just a great album, Please Interstellar Policeman is a portal into the psyche, entertaining, captivating and overall, a creation of genius.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Poland at

REVIEW: Zac Mac Band - ...Don't Look Down

The Zac Mac Band of Massachusetts has created a collection of hits with their first full-length album, Don’t Look Down. With a sound resembling Snow Patrol, The Killers and at times Ben Folds, this CD is a classy soft rock collection with the edginess of the Talking Heads and the songwriting prowess of Duncan Sheik.

Highest Level, the opening track on Don’t Look Down, shows the well-roundedness of The Zac Mac Band with awesome harmonies akin to Collective Soul with a catchy melody and ambient guitars backing thought provoking lyrics about love.

MySpace Heartbreak is a lighter weight track about the social networking website, MySpace. Anyone who’s been online in the past 5 years and fallen victim to MySpace can relate to this funny tune about being deleted from someone’s friends list.

While all of you AC/DC fans probably won’t find your screaming, hard rock angst on this CD, The Zac Mac Band has proven talent and skill through every facet of their music. Don't Look Down is a great CD for the well-rounded listener with both excellent lyricism and epic instrumentation.

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about The Zac Mac Band at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

REVIEW: Amie Penwell - King in a Temple

With an ethereal, resonant voice, Amie Penwell has talent oozing through her veins. Amie’s outstanding voice captivates and captures her audience with her unique style and intense emotion behind every word. Amie’s album, King in a Temple, is nothing short of a thought provoking emotional roller coaster through the many truths of life.

Show Me to the River is gospel style tune with all the soul you would expect from such a ballad. Penwell paints a picture through lyrical imagery and powerful, strong vocals with a beautiful tone that will touch your heart.

In Mercy, another great tune, Amie once again displays her truth and emotion with a chorus that will send chills up your spine. Amie also covers the Talking Head’s tune, Naive Melody, giving the song new depth and meaning and making it her own.

King in a Temple is an extremely moving album. Amie’s voice at times is reminiscent of Melissa Etheridge while maintaining her own unique flare. With such soul and powerful pipes paired with intellectually and emotionally transforming lyrics, King in a Temple is a relaxing reprieve from the norm while at the same time inspiring hope and truth.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Amie Penwell at

REVIEW: Indofin - Self-Titled

Austin, TX indie rock/reggae band Indofin plundered their way into the Austin music scene in 2005 with their debut self-titled album, also referred to as The Orange Album. These guys go one step beyond parental advisory stickers giving listeners the first track of their album, Disclaimer. And quite appropriate the disclaimer is.

In the familiar style of Sublime, Indofin does a great job of producing songs that seem to come from extraordinary circumstances in life such as, but certainly not limited to, run-ins with law enforcement.

Combining reggae, hip-hop, rock, ska and a little punk styles, Indofin exhibits a unique style and perspective on popular music. Indofin’s songs are pretty complex in structure as well. On several tracks, the songs have tempo changes and instrumental sections that add depth to the album and show the band’s overall talent. They even throw some Cheech and Chong references and samples in with reggae rhythms and clever rhymes that will stick in your head all day.

This album is, no doubt, a feel good album. Upbeat songs about reckless actions can give a freeing feeling. Similar in overall vibe to Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom, this is a great album for the center of a party or just kicking back and letting your mind wander. These guys have got the attitude and skills to go far.

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Indofin at

Saturday, November 21, 2009

REVIEW: The Aviation Orange - Self-Titled

Brooklyn’s Indie/Synth Rock band, The Aviation Orange brings to the stage a brilliantly executed work of art with their self-titled debut. Seemingly influenced by bands such as The Police, The Shins and Franz Ferdinand, these musical super heroes have created nothing less than a masterpiece.

Opening up with CCSS, the male/female vocal harmonies gracefully drift into the listener’s mind in an epic sea of guitars and synthesizers with a break down that puts one in an almost dream-like trance.

A memorable track, Chemical Reaction is full of powerful bass lines and more wonderfully melodic vocals. This song combines the attitude of The Cure with the complexity of Incubus.

Seattle Slide, the last track on the album, has flavors of The Doors or Radiohead, and no doubt gives a strong finish with a pleasant psychedelic send-off.

Much of the album is very complex in instrumentation and lyrics. By layering parts to create a full sound that captures your attention, The Aviation Orange has proven themselves as true masters of their craft.

The Aviation Orange has got it from start to finish and every song on this album will leave you hanging on for the next. This is the kind of album you can just let play over and over again.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about The Aviation Orange at

Friday, November 20, 2009

REVIEW: Ricko Donovan - Lucky Sevens

Ricko Donovan “puts all his cards out on the table” with his new album Lucky Sevens. Donovan, who spent the better part of the last five years busking the streets of Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Madrid, Brussels, Barcelona, Dublin, London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, brings to the stage traditional Irish folk music with a twist.

Ricko is a fabulous instrumentalist, including the hammer dulcimer, mandocello, mandolin and violin in his performances, he provides a rich and cultural experience bringing Irish music into the spotlight. He has sold thousands of his previous three CDs worldwide.

Lucky Sevens is an album full of jaunting tunes that transport from the Irish countryside to sitting behind the poker table. As a lyricist, Donovan has a poetic flare for story telling and artistic descriptions of life - in Esperanza he even sings a little in Spanish. The album also features a traditional Irish song, My Darling Asleep, performed with Donovan’s lyrics.

Lucky Sevens is a great album for all those who delve into Irish folk and maybe some that don’t. Ricko Donovan has proven himself as an Americeltic artist to remember.

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Ricko Donovan at

REVIEW: Clint Lawrence - Arrows From a Warrior's Quiver

Clint Lawrence of Atlanta, GA recorded his debut album Arrows from a Warrior’s Quiver in Austin, TX. Clint has been writing songs for years and with the help of his son, Craig, he has created a wonderful collection of country/folk songs for the whole family. With an insight into life and the ability to express himself through song, he has captured true emotions in the style of Gordon Lightfoot, Jimmy Buffet, and Peter, Paul and Mary.

From the Sands of Iwo Jima to the Cliffs of Normandy is an epic tale and a similar listen to Gordon Lightfoot’s Legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Lawrence’s songs are definitely heartfelt and well written. His style is one that will be very familiar to all who delve into folk music and remember the great country folk legends.

Montana Brown Eyed Girl, a personal favorite, is a slow folk ballad about love lost and realization of love found through the Montana brown eyed girl. Clint chronicles relationships with girls of all eye colors and cleverly states that “brown eyes may comfort you tonight.”

While for most listeners this album may seem outdated in the modern music scene, Arrows from a Warrior’s Quiver is a diamond in the rough for all who enjoy the genre.

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Clint Lawrence at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

REVIEW: Sinem Saniye - When I Don't Sleep

For all you fans of pop music out there, the genre is being redefined. Pop artist Sinem Saniye combines pop music with Bossa Nova, Jazz, Latin and Turkish influences with her debut album When I Don't Sleep.. Sinem has won numerous awards including 2008 Billboard World Song Contest and 2006 John Lennon Songwriting competition. She has showcased and performed at numerous venues in front of thousands of eager ears.

Sinem Saniye has had radio play in many countries over the globe and its easy to understand why. With a multicultural take on pop music, she portrays truckloads of creativity and originality. Comparatively, you might say Sinem is a German/Turkish Shakira with songs you can either dance to or lose yourself in their thoughtfulness and meaning.

Most tracks on her debut album When I Don't Sleep.. seem to be geared a little more toward American pop which is excellent for radio play and listener appeal, but tracks such as Boom Sheke Nana and Baba Bossa show her cultural influence and understanding of music around the world.

Unlike Shakira, however, Sinem Saniye is able to perform all of these styles without alienating any of her audience. When I Don't Sleep.. crosses the lines of music classification and just makes you want to move with the beat and get lost in the outstanding vocals that Sinem brings to the world of music.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Sinem Saniye at

REVIEW: Bud Buckley - It's About Time

Bud Buckley, of Florida, with his acoustic guitar and songwriting finesse, has been renowned by numerous publications and has performed numerous live shows including some of the larger festivals on the scene. While acoustic artists have somewhat smothered the music scene, Buckley sticks out from the sea of folk and classic rock with jamming grooves and multi-genre masterpieces.

Influenced by legends like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer, Bud Buckley creates his own style with It's About Time, mixing in some great leads and poetic lyrics that genuinely leave you bobbing your head with every track.

Let Me Go, a track that gives rise to images of an early Eric Clapton, captures the feeling of pushing away the world to go somewhere deep inside where time is non-existent.

Elevator takes a different approach than most tracks on this album. With kind of a funky almost 80s style, this track describes the similarities between time and an elevator with a mind of its own. Elevator has the feel of the Police mixed with a little Peter Gabriel.

There's no way this album will be lost in the mix as Bud Buckley has proven himself as timeless musician whose songs, although maybe not fit for mainstream radio at the moment, may very well take music back to its roots of genuine songs and lyrics that people can relate to. Its only appropriate that It's About Time has the theme of timelessness as the listener can easily be lost in the music and enter into a place where time is meaningless.

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Bud Buckley at

REVIEW: Silverbird - Silverbird

Silverbird adds yet another great collection of songs to the folk rock genre. Southerners David Leinweber, Bob McMillan, Billy Gewin and George Sandler capture the style in its truest form. With well thought out lyrics and classic rock instrumentation Silverbird's self titled album takes the listener on a journey through the mind of the musicians to a time when folk and rock music ruled the world.

Thursday Ride, the opening track, has a classic rock feel similar to the songs of Tom Petty where lyricist David Leinweber takes a trip to the past and illustrates a ride down the highway listening to Rod Stewart reminiscing on good times past.

Rain Keeps Falling Down is a ballad similar in sound to Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers describing, poetically, another rainy day and the good feelings of a new day crisp in dew.

The Musicians Prayer is a clever take on a kind of folk gospel request of god to bless the band's instruments, friends, family, the guy at the bar and of course musical legends The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Band and the Grateful Dead.

Silverbird is an enjoyable listen especially for fans of classic rock and folk music, but with performances from such seasoned musicians as these (and this album does include a couple of stellar live performances from Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA), most could probably find at least a track or two to listen to over and over again.

4 stars out of 5

You can learn more about Silverbird at

REVIEW: Kathryn Caine - Down Home Girl

Kathryn Caine began performing years ago in Charlottesville, North Carolina. She instantly captured listeners with her authentic vocals and passionate songwriting. As her fan base began to expand, Kathryn departed the music scene after releasing two albums to take care of her family. Caine, however, never let the spirit of music wane in her heart. After eight years, she's made a return to performing with the release of her new album Down Home Girl. All who are lucky enough to get their hands on this one will, no doubt, be glad she's back.

With a voice that rivals such acts as Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton, Caine delivers an awesome performance throughout her new album.

Wheels, the opening track on Down Home Girl, is a good representation of Caine's bluegrass influence. Using the imagery of a wheel, Caine ponders through the cycle of all good and bad in life. The instrumentation on this track stands out with the outstanding guitar performance of Andy Thacker.

Honey Hill is a rockin' country song that sticks to the roots of country music and refuses to give way to modern pop influence in most country music today. This is a breath of fresh air for those who enjoy the genre in its most authentic form.

From Caine's the perspective of small town life comes an album full of wonderful lyricism and bluegrass rock that's sure to capture audience of all ages. As an avid painter and performer Kathryn takes a break from painting when songwriting ideas take form. Let's all hope she continues to trade brush for pen.

4.5 stars out of 5

You can learn more about Kathryn Caine at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

REVIEW: Katie Garibaldi - Next Ride Out

It's no surprise that yet another good album comes out of San Fransisco, CA. Singer/Songwriter Katie Garibadli, however, raises the bar. Katie is no stranger to music as the owner of her own record label, Living Dream Music, a recording artist and touring performer. On her sixth full-length album, Next Ride Out, she showcases her skills as a true Americana artist.

From the first notes of Say the Word, one can't help but notice Katie's outstanding voice bringing to mind such established acts as Sheryl Crow and Ani DeFranco. Katie's style is very genuine with a little edgy vibe thrown in similar to the grungier Alanis Morisette.

Lyrically, Next Ride Out, stands out from the crowd, giving a well thought out representation of soul, truth and understanding of life. This album is kind of a hybrid of mid 90s rock and true roots americana. It's the kind of music you could easily hear at a huge concert or just as well beside a campfire.

Katie has a very distinct style of her own as demonstrated by Went Too Far (Foot in my Mouth) and the more mellow Falling For You. With a voice you can listen to all day long, Katie Garibaldi has emerged with plenty to say and the skills and musical know-how to create a unique musical art that will be around for generations.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Katie Garibaldi at

REVIEW: Last Charge of the Light Horse - Fractures

With their new album Fractues, Last Charge of the Light Horse successfully brings to the music scene what so many artists attempt. This album is full of thought-provoking lyricism and mind altering instrumentation. Covering many styles from song to song, Last Charge of the Light Horse has created a complete chronicle of the mundane happenstances of life.

Starting out slow with tracks like The New Year and Face to Face, the listener is gently introduced to the tale about to unfold before them. With unparalleled harmonies the group captures their audience early on, setting the stage for what's to come.

Something Out of Nothing has a tone similar to A Perfect Circle with heavy bass lines and dark melodies questioning everyday activities and what they seem to add to human creation.

Going further through this album, the listener is constantly confronted with thinking out of the box and questioning everything they take for granted. Vocalist Jean-Paul Vest sounds like a mix of Tom Petty and Billie Joe Armstrong with an edgy vocal style sure to capture listeners with familiarity and encourages a deeper look into the meaning of this story to each individual.

This album ends with 100,001 which is once again very cleverly written and composed. Adding a conclusion to this epic tale, 100,001 seems to look toward the future with a new understanding and new perspective aiming for progress and achievement. Fractures is the kind of artistic creation that exponentially delivers more and more every time you listen.

4.5 stars out of 5

You can learn more about Last Charge of the Light Horse at

Friday, November 13, 2009

REVIEW: Josh Nielsen - 99E

Josh Nielsen, of Portland, OR, began writing music at age 12. Now, years later, he has released his first album, 99E. Josh's songs are obviously very close to his heart and you can tell because his songs glow with authenticity. Taking a laid-back, folky approach to composition with a delicate mix of grunge influence thrown in, 99E seems to be more of a complete story rather than a just collection of songs.

The album starts off with Don't Expect Me, a folky song reminiscent of Jack Johnson's style - even though the first line clearly states that it is Johnson impersonating Josh Nielsen. Acoustically driven, like much of the album, this track sets up the listener to wonder what could possibly be next and sets Josh apart from the status quo.

A track that sticks out as a winner, Your Life has hints of jam band influence mixed quite well with vocal harmonies that sound like they are straight out of the 90s grunge area. Think Scott Weiland meets Christopher Thorn.

Suchandsuch has a catchy title and tune. Once again acoustically driven song with a little reggae back beat mixed in, Nielsen seems to be painting a picture of getting over a intense separation.

If you want to get to know Josh Nielsen, take a listen to 99E. He's managed to poetically and gracefully capture the feelings of love, heartbreak and independence while mostly avoiding any real cliches.

3 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Josh Nielsen at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

REVIEW: Jason Mraz - We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Jason Mraz's latest album We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things is just what you'd expect from a quirky songwriter like Jason Mraz. Lifting his fans' moods with upbeat almost rap-like rhymes, Mraz lays out his thoughts in an eclectic way.

Featuring his single I'm Yours, a pledge to another from in front of the bathroom mirror, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things has a great balance of care-free living and unending contemplation.

Lucky, Mraz's duet with Colbie Callait is a slower, melodic song with some decent harmonies and on The Dynamo of Volition, with a quick tongue, Mraz will have you "twisting up a Rizla" before its all over.

Only Human
, showing Mraz's hippier side, gives a unique look at humanity by cleverly listing out problems with humanity and sarcastically justifying them by being "only human."

As an album, the songs are laid out in a good order to give you smooth transitions between the battling styles.

4 out of 5 Stars

You can learn more about Jason Mraz at

Monday, November 9, 2009

REVIEW: Keller Williams - Dream

Multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams never ceases to amaze me. On his new album Dream, Williams once again delivers his audiences a 'freeky' look on music. Funky bass lines, hilarious lyrics and ridiculously complicated guitar riffs make this an album to enjoy time and again.

Featuring, throughout the album, great folk music stars such as Bela Fleck and Bob Weir, Dream will have you on the edge of your seat for the next track.

"Cadillac" encompasses a feeling of joy riding in an awesome red cadillac with several religious figures including Jesus (who's riding bitch seat), Allah and Santa Clause. Anyone who claims Keller Williams songs are not memorable should take a listen to this one.

"Restraint" is a journey into the male mind, giving Williams a kind of puppy dog-like attitude towards the opposite sex - again, quite humorous.

Over all, the album has a few great songs and a few you may not remember. Of course it might be you were distracted by something...

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Keller Williams at

REVIEW: Paolo Nutini - These Streets

Scotchman Paolo Nutini is at it again - this time with a bit more energy. The long-awaited release of "These Streets" is titled appropriately as it gives Nutini's style a new direction. While most fans probably expected a more mellow approach to this album, the upbeat tempos keep you going strong.

Starting off with "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" you have to realize this album is a winner! It's upbeat, cheery and gives you a feeling of listening to classics like Tom Petty or newer Black Crowes.

Throughout the album, the listener is taken on a journey of love, loss, hardship and curiosities. With hopeful track such as "New Shoes" and "Loving You" you get a feel for Paolo's sensitive yet funky side.

Finishing out the album, "Alloway Groove" sets the stage for a pop-style groove with a cheerful feeling however you wouldn't know it by reading the lyrics which are full of depressing and hopeful tones.

Most tracks on the album don't stand out at first, however if you give it a second listen, you are sure to have a couple of favorites. I definitely recommend "These Streets" to old and future Nutini fans alike.

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Paolo Nutini at

New Reviews Coming Soon!

Welcome to the new online edition of Swift Reviews and New Release Reviews. Here you will find reviews and ratings of new an upcoming artists from around the globe. With over 20 years of music industry experience, I'll always give you the best in my own personal insight to new music.

If you'd like to have your CD reviewed, you'll need to submit a screener copy which will not be returned. I try to be completely fair and give my honest opinion of your album.

In addition, I plan on adding other music news as it comes. All artists that are reviewed will have a chance to become the 'Artist Spotlight' which will include a spotlight on the homepage and a link to your website.

Remember, this website is here to support musical artists. If you have an idea of something I can add to make this blog better, please let me know.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2010 Swift Reviews Independent Music Awards!

It's finally here! We're announcing the 2010 Swift Reviews Independent Music Awards. Selected bands will compete in the following categories:

- Best Solo Performer
- Best Female Artist
- Best Male Artist
- Overall Favorite Band
- Best Songwriting
- Most Original Sound

More categories will be added soon! For a chance at a nomination, submit your music at!

Winners will be chosen based on online polls and announced on April 20, 2010.