Thursday, January 28, 2010

REVIEW: Graffiti Thrill - Graffiti Thrill

A fan of classic rock, Mark Pfau wanted to put together an album of classic rock riff driven songs and with the release of Graffiti Thrill’s self-titled album, I’d say he succeeded. Teaming up with Justin Brown, Tony Salvatore, Zach Eldridge and Chris Bonner, Pfau has simultaneously recreated the sounds of the great classic rock bands while mixing in a little modern influence and giving the album as a whole an original flare.

Sarah starts out with electric guitar and brings to mind the stylings of Bruce Springsteen with a little Foo Fighters thrown in. Leaving Home starts off with a hard-hitting riff and has a Blue Oyster Cult feel. Words has the feel of The Who, but despite the familiar sound of the song is completely new and original. Tonight has the energy of Van Halen and at the same time, the mellow vibes of Chris Isaac. Syracuse stands out from the rest as far as songwriting is concerned. This song is beautifully written and performed. Syracuse brings to mind a young Elton John - minus the piano. Fever is an extremely contagious track. One thing I love about this CD is the familiar sound, I feel like I’ve been into Graffiti Thrill for years and haven’t known it! Kaleidoscope has a Led Zeppelin vibe mixed with a little Lynyrd Skynyrd mixed in. Majestic sounds like a Doors tune when it starts off and then morphs into a more Alice in Chains sound. Girl is a light classic rock ballad full of heartfelt emotion and awesome lyrics. Euphoria closes out the album with a bang! With Van Halen style guitar harmonies, verses with Springsteen-style progressive guitars and and Alice Cooper-style chorus, this song is a great send-off for the listener.

All the fans of classic rock out there have been awaiting this release from Graffiti Thrill for years without even knowing it. Mark Pfau has done an excellent job in proving just how classic rock doesn’t have to be so ‘classic’ anymore.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Graffiti Thrill at

REVIEW: Craig Caffall - Hold Me Up

Craig Caffall has played music around the world. Picking up the guitar while attending a boarding school in England, Caffall later moved to California and has been playing in the U.S. and Mexico since. The Craig Caffall band has had many incarnation over the years and covered many states. The release of Craig’s album Hold Me Up in 2007 is just another brick in the proverbial wall of Caffall’s exciting career in music.

Hold Me Up, the first track on the album as well as the title track, is a blues song complete with blues guitar solos and New Orleans soul. Mudbugs and Dixie Beer has more of southern rock feel with the vocals echoing back to compound the original energy. Cryin’ in the Rain is a classic rock style song that brings to mind the likes of Van Morrison and Tom Petty. Roll On Big Sister, the title track of Caffall’s 1999 release, doesn’t seem to have the same level of musicianship as the other tracks on Hold Me Up although the concept behind the song still deserves merit. The Storm starts out with a little mandolin and fiddle. This song sounds like a mix of bluegrass and some good old classic rock. The vocals in this track stand out in this track as having more energy and emotion than some of the previous songs. Try is a slower song that’s more of a ballad with a ‘Stormy Monday’ feel and definitely fits well here in relation to the rest of the album. I Did It All Bad lyrically mimics Caffall’s bio and has the honesty and poeticism to make a great song. Hope You’re Doing Alright has a 90‘s pop/rock vibe and adds a nice hint of diversity to the album as a whole. Up in Flames is a good song, however the instrumentation is a little repetitive. It would have been nice to hear a little more dynamics in this one. Closing out the album, Hard Life starts out slow with just Craig and the guitar. The song build up to a grand finale - this is the type of dynamics I was talking about earlier - awesome!

Overall, Hold Me Up is an entertaining album and Craig Caffall is an artist with tons to offer musically. The album is bumpy at times, but as a whole, full of soul, energy and some great blues.

3.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Craig Caffall Band at

REVIEW: Glass Delirium - Thanks to a Monster's Many Heads

Colorado band Glass Delirium is probably one of the most stylistically diverse and talented groups in the independent scene. Encompassing many genres, their latest release Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads is a creative collaboration that is sure to leave you speechless.

Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads kicks off with Seeing Double, a jaunty track with an Evanescence feel that works more as an intro to the album. Beside Myself transitions flawlessly from the first track. This song continues with the mood from Seeing Double, but compounds on the energy and works as a great introduction to what Glass Delirium is all about. Secret has a darker yet more mature sound than the previous tracks. The balance of the instruments and the echoing male and female vocals in this track is just spot on! Vanished By the Red leans a little more toward alt rock/funk yet still maintains the level of emotion set forth previously. The title track, Glass Delirium is the first track on the album where you can really tell this band is made of quite different musical minds that fit together like perfect puzzle pieces to create this reggae/hard rock track. The Color Nine has more of a classic hard rock sound similar to that of Heart. I really like how the keyboards accent the overall mood of the song giving it a more ambient feel.

Head First works as kind of an intermission track. At only fifty-three seconds in length, it functions as a spacy, electronic intro into the next track. Quintessence rockets us into the latter portion of the album. This track sounds like a mix of Rasputina, Papa Roach and Tool. Transfixation is probably the best example of dynamics on this album. From super-high energy to an ambient, almost soundscape verses and back again this is a very well rounded and produced track. Ellipsis is another instrumental transition track with strings and percussion that sounds like an epic soundtrack from a movie scene. An Enigma, a personal favorite, is what I would imagine Incubus in their earlier days would have sounded like if they added Amy Lee to the Band. The Clearing is just epic enough to end this album without disappointing. Even though most of this album is extremely high energy, Glass Delirium has done a wonderful job with track order in order to bring the listener up with them and returning them back to earth in the end unscathed.

Overall, Thanks to a Monster’s Many Heads was composed, produced and recorded wonderfully. One can really tell by listening that Glass Delirium is a group of professionals sure to succeed, and I look forward to hearing more from these guys.

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Glass Delirium at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

REVIEW: Corrin Campbell & the Election - Game Night

Maryland-based trio Corrin Campbell & the Election has been described as Heart for the 21st century and after hearing their latest release, Game Night, its quite easy to see why. Corrin’s honesty and genuine songwriting paired with the band’s hard-hitting musicianship and a voice to rival either of the Wilson sisters is sure to deliver a treat to first time listeners.

Find Your Way opens up the album with plenty of energy with a dark melody and a driving rhythm section. Time to Let Go shows the softer side of Corrin Campbell but builds into an epic ballad. Always Be is a pop song that brings to mind the likes of Avril Lavigne. Corrin does a great job in this song of showing attitude and emotion through her vocals. Done With You starts off with a funky bass line and some jazzy vocals and then morphs once again into a mammoth chorus. It’s evident by this point that this band has no short supply of energy! Remember Me has a sort of bossa nova feel. The imagery in the lyrics of this song stand out above the rest. Colors of You sounds kind of like a generic combination of the previous tracks. Not a favorite, yet the lyrics still maintain the honesty and thoughtfulness they have throughout the album.
Bounce opens up with a great piano intro and has a great folky feel. The music in this song even sounds ‘bouncy’. The band does a cover of Apologize from One Republic and adds a unique and personal flare to the song making it their own. Sunbeam is a driving rock song in which Corrin’s vocals scream with emotion. The band captures a mood that fits the music perfectly and makes awesome use of dynamics in this track. Blink of an Eye is probably the most punk track on the album stepping slightly outside the pop blueprint laid out previously. Keep Movin’ is another bouncy song. This track is pretty catchy and it’s good to hear the songs toward the end of the album getting better instead of being cluttered with filler. Cast It Off has a very classic rock feel mixed with a little folk thrown in. Closing out the album is A New Page, where Corrin performs with the piano. This track is wonderful - so full of emotion, this is one of those songs that can’t help but affect the listener.

The album as a whole is worth a listen. Although many of the songs sound similar the lyrics are really great throughout the whole album. So, for some good alt rock poetry, give a listen to Corrin Campbell & the Election and their new album Game Night.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Corrin Campbell & the Election at

REVIEW: Broadway Sleep - Broadway Sleep

Broadway Sleep has released one of the most original, captivating and thought-provoking albums ever to hit the independent market with their release of their self-titled debut album. Covering multiple genres, styles and flavors, this album is full of energy, diversity and, above all, loads of talent and professionalism.

Starting off with Too Late, a laid back alternative rock song with a hip-hop beat and vocals similar to that of The Police this track feels like The Shins meets Radiohead. Sound The Alarm has more of the feel of bands like Garbage with ambient vocals and grungy, ethereal instrumentation. Eternal Garden is a synth and piano driven instrumental that leads flawlessly into the next track. Something to Touch keeps up the synth vibe of Eternal Garden but throws some hip-hop lyrics on top for a completely unexpected change of pace on this album. At this point the listener has no question that Broadway Sleep are the masters of diversity in their music. Sentimental Value has an early 90s pop rock feel similar to that of Savage Garden and the Wallflowers but with a little darker and spacier mood.

Five Four Woman brings to mind the Radiohead album, In Rainbows. The beats in this song break barriers of syncopation and add tons of energy to this ambient track. Watching the Raincloud is another instrumental that’s spacy and trance-inducing. Right Steppin’ All the Way is a dance song that keeps the psychedelic vibe of the rest of the album but brings to the table a very mysterious and high energy tune. Magical Voice has a much darker and more industrial feel at first and then jets into an almost ballad style chorus. This song draws forth tons of emotion in the listener. Ashes is yet another instrumental track with a tribal feel. Shy and Out of Season seems to bring all of the diversity on this album together - ethereal vocals and instrumentation, hip-hop beats and vocals. This track is probably the very best example of what well rounded musicians Broadway Sleep is composed of.

Overall this album just flat out rocks! Definitely one of the future icons in their scene, Broadway Sleep is nothing less than amazing! You just can’t help but appreciate music like this.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Broadway Sleep at

Friday, January 22, 2010

REVIEW: RainPace - Easy Labor

California-based band RainPace steps outside the proverbial box with their album Easy Labor. At first listen, one might think they are listening to the sound track of a Broadway play, however these guys hit it hard with lyrics that make you second guess what you just heard with a subtle flare of comedy that is sure to leave you quite entertained.

Easy Labor is full of emotion, fabulous instrumentation and, above all, lyrics that are completely unexpected. Rain Pace has a jazzy feel that’s sure to leave you relaxed. At times some of the songs break into unparalleled harmonies similar to the bridges in the classic rock songs of Queen and Kansas.

Don’t be fooled though, this is an album you have to hear to really get it. As a great album for hanging out by the pool or warming up next to the fire, Easy Labor is sure to surprise and hold your attention without overwhelming.

Probably the most prominent feature this album has to offer is the awesome harmonies. Very rarely do you hear vocal styles that even come close to as moving and pleasing to the ear as Rain Pace has to offer. There is no question that these guys have their own niche market and surely have taken an off the wall and completely original take on their music.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Rain Pace at

REVIEW: Randy Stern - Give

New York musician Randy Stern has spent the last decade performing with punk/grunge band The Nerve and has recently established himself as a prominent solo performer in the New York music scene. Randy’s new album Give offers well-rounded and captivating performances as Randy defines his solo sound for the first time.

The first track on Give is Deeper and Deeper. It’s evident listening to this opening song that Randy Stern has chops not to be meddled with in this tune similar to that of later Tom Petty tunes.

Better Days has a very 90s pop feel similar to that of Hootie and the Blowfish and Soul Asylum. Once again, though, Stern throws in some classic rock melodies for a new, yet familiar sound.

Rita has kind of an old-timey Johnny Cash feel with walking bass lines and a little bluesy slide guitar thrown in. This track demonstrates early on the diversity that Randy Stern delivers to his audiences.

The Night is probably my favorite song on this album. The chorus is extremely catchy and Stern’s vocal performance is so full of energy and emotion and with a little harmonica thrown in there, you can’t help but like this one.

Give, the title track of the album, shows a little of Randy’s slower side. His voice on this song reminds me of an early Eric Clapton.

The Only Woman is a blues song that seems heavily influence by southern rock legends and gives this track an energetic and authentic bluesy feel.

Into Your Heart takes it down a notch with this emotionally moving song. It’s really impressive how Randy is able to capture so much energy in the vocals while barely letting out a whisper.

Home is just a great song. It brings to mind 90s icons Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

Life is Good is an uplifting song and so appropriately titled. It’s a laid back tune that will leave its hook stuck right in your head all afternoon.

Simple, simply isn’t my favorite track. I think it’s a little lacking in energy and, after hearing some of the previous tracks, I feel Randy has more to offer this song than he demonstrates here.

In The Midnite starts out slow, but builds into an epic song that’s just perfect. I couldn’t say enough good things about this track.

Ain’t Dead Yet is a little folk song at the end of the album. This acoustic track is an awesome performance by Stern. It’s nice to hear a more raw approach to his music.

Overall, Give is an awesome addition to any music collection. For fans of 90s pop/rock, classic rock, folk, blues and country, you surely will not be disappointed with this one.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Randy Stern at

Friday, January 15, 2010

REVIEW: Mark Radcliffe - The Sea Before Us

For all you music lovers out there looking for a musician with catchy hooks, professional instrumentation, unforgettable lyrics and a voice to top it all off, look no further. Former English teacher Mark Radcliffe’s latest album The Sea Before Us is all this and more.

The Sea Before Us starts out with In the Sun. From this track on, the listener is bombarded with the highest level of poetry topping off an overall addictive tune.

The Other Side of the Pillow evokes a darker mood from Radcliffe. The lyrics in this song are reminiscent of a young Elton John while the music has more of a Chris Isaak feel.

Tumbleweed starts out with an awesome piano intro and morphs into another of Radcliffe’s epic choruses. The dynamics in this song are evident throughout the album and definitely a songwriting skill Mark possesses and worth mentioning.

A personal favorite, Blow it all Away is probably the most catchy song on the album. This song hints at flavors of Duncan Shiek and The Fray. Blow it All Away is just an awesome song and perfect for mainstream radio play. This is really the kind of tune you walk around singing all day long.

Miss Hard to Forget is probably one of the weaker tracks on the album, but still a jam-up song. That says a lot about Mark Radcliffe as a musician and songwriter - even the weakest track is still awesome!

Santa Monica Daze makes clever use of mandolin for a little island pop feel. The poetry in these lyrics fits perfectly with the style of the music. This is a song that demonstrates how Radcliffe understands how less can be way more.

One Foot Out the Door is full of imagery and emotion. This track once again demonstrates both Radcliffe’s vocal range and dynamics as the song builds up and then comes back down to the finale.

Falling Star is more of a ballad type song. Most songs on this album aren’t really upbeat, but Mark has a knack for emitting tons of energy without playing energetic songs - surely something to be experienced first hand.

Breaking Up the Band has a classic rock feel and uses acoustic guitar and piano to round off the sound of this laid-back epiphany.

Pick Up a Mirror is probably the most ambient track on The Sea Before Us. This is one of those songs that shows the diversity and well-roundedness of Mark Radcliffe’s songwriting.

No Time to Lose, the ending track on The Sea Before Us, is an acoustic track that fits perfectly to the finale of this collection. As a peaceful, thought-provoking send off, this track is the icing on the cake for an awesome work of art.

Overall, The Sea Before Us is an album of which everyone should own a copy. This masterpiece proves not only that Mark Radcliffe is a master of his craft, but also leaves no question that he has a reserved spot as a prominent musical icon of the twenty-first century.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Mark Radcliffe at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

REVIEW: Sister Girl - Sister Girl

If the Dixie Chicks lived in Canada and added a man to their roster, you’d end up with Sister Girl. Sister Girl’s self-titled album is full of energy, soul and authenticity. The mix of country, bluegrass and even a little blues gives Sister Girl their signature sound.

One thing the listener is sure to notice right away is the awesome harmonies this group creates. These are the kind of vocals that can give you chills (in a good way, of course!).

I was also very impressed at the dynamics between songs on this album. No two songs sound just alike so this album has no problem catching and keeping your attention. The instrumentation used is perfect for each song. Sister Girl is very good at keeping energy levels up and, when they do fall, the void is filled in with boundless emotion.

Overall, this CD is great for all fans of country, bluegrass and folk. Sister Girl is very good at what they do and deserve all the attention they can get!

4.5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Sister Girl at

REVIEW: Daniel Guy Martin - Hollywood Flower

Daniel Guy Martin of Canada has created a wonderful instrumental collection of music with his CD Hollywood Flower. Daniel’s style is unique, especially in modern-day music. The eclectic and transient tones that make up this compilation of artistic expressions take the listener on a journey into the depths of the mind.

Daniel has a flare for taking classical guitar and making it beyond intriguing. With a little eastern influence thrown in the mix, Hollywood Flower is a dynamic roller coaster ride with new surprises around every corner.

One can tell after about thirty seconds into the album that Daniel Guy Martin knows his craft very well and is able to capture such emotion and versatility in his songwriting unlike most have ever heard.

Hollywood Flower is an instrumental masterpiece that should not go overlooked. Daniel Guy Martin is a true master of guitar and, paired with his heart and soul, a musician like no other.

5 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Daniel Guy Martin at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

REVIEW: Jeff Maddox - That's What Love Does

Mississippi singer/songwriter Jeff Maddox is a new and refreshing voice in the country music scene. Complete with a fiddle and a little southern twang, Jeff’s newest album That’s What Love Does is a treat for fans of more classic country music.

Taking a different direction than many other current-day acts in country music, Jeff Maddox has a textbook country signer voice with a more placid, almost reminiscent style. That’s What Love Does touches on influences of Johnny Cash, John Prine and I’d guess even a little Merle Haggard.

One quality of That’s What Love Does that stands out from the rest is Jeff’s songwriting skills. This album is not simply words written to music, but is full of emotional and heartfelt lyrics that fit so well with the style.

The listener is taken on a journey through these sixteen tracks through classic country, bluegrass even a little classic rock and told a tale of love gained and lost, prison time and even poses to ask The World’s Biggest Question.

That’s What Love Does is a great collection of music from Jeff Maddox. Overall, the album is very entertaining although I would have like to hear more tracks like Harmless Hyram to keep the energy level up.

4 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Jeff Maddox at

Sunday, January 3, 2010

REVIEW: Paul Grenier - Human

Canadian Paul Grenier is a songwriter and performer who brings to the stage a message of hope and honesty with his album Human. Human is a pop/synth album where Paul spills his guts with heartfelt lyrics and soft, rolling melodies.

I Belong, the first track is a love song and a great opener to the album. This song gives the listener an overall taste of Paul’s style and is very encompassing of other traits that he has to offer on this album.

Will You Be There has a little more of a motown feel, its a great song, I just would have like to hear a little more energy in the vocals here.

Rollercoaster has a similar feel to the two previous songs. With a name like Rollercoaster, I think this track could use a little more work on dynamics.

Human, the title track of the album, is probably the best song on the CD. With a vibe akin of Jason Mraz’s Human, this song has an awesome message. The catchy chorus sticks in your head.

Frightened is a piano ballad full of emotion. Although slow and drawn out, it sets you up well for the next track, Ghost of You which dynamically takes the energy just one step up.

Is There Something I Can Say, Fall For Me and Losing You all come straight in a row and I’ll admit I had a little trouble staying awake. Let Go, the last track on Human, Paul hits the nail on the head. I think this song should have come sooner as its got more energy than any other track.

This album definitely has a uniform feel to it, yet not that of a concept album. Grenier’s voice is great even though there are a couple of hiccups here and there. Human as a whole has a lot to offer and its easy to see Paul Grenier’s great potential as a musician, singer and songwriter. I think that his songwriting talents should definitely be noted as he has a great and unique perspective on life and the grace of a poet with his words.

3 out of 5 stars

You can learn more about Paul Grenier at