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.