Streaming the Unknown – Unknown Sundays 9-2016

Streaming music services are both a blessing and a curse (please note, as always, this article was written July 18, 2016), much like the radio has and will continue to be. While it is utterly fantastic to have supposed and complete access to an entire catalog of music that spans generations and genres, it is also left unmanaged and flat by the inability and inefficiencies of these establishments to actually continually fulfill and modify content. For example, try keeping up with Buckethead releases and loading all that content up on your server, or the issue with keeping up with recent classical and jazz album releases, or even the simplest—which is the spelling of the band information right—or even the album. (insert swear emoji here)

I go through each release week and right down between 12 – 15 albums on average to listen to. Of course the usual ones—the popular ones—they are there and ready for play at the highest exposure level. However, there are a lot that are not entered at all, mistyped or mis-entered into a genre, and left to the diabolical search engine of us, the musical mutliverse traveler, to somehow decode and find. Sure it is aggravating for us, but how did the musician feel?! (insert swear emoji here)  Then, there are those that are just lost in the “not so popular” by-gone, supposed unnecessary musical past that most engines don’t wish to pay to have. That’s even more criminal!

I don’t know all the services out there, but I have partaken of three, and have settled on one. I’m not going to say which, but the main reason was the pricing and the ability to have multiple devices without getting hassled into more monthly fees. However, my own musical collection dwarves any of them in their ability to store it all, which leaves me feeling a little worried for the future of this streaming media type getting better.

All the above being said, let me tell you how much I love it! The unknown amounts of hours that I spent perusing used record store bins makes up for any diabolical searching by finger typing. Don’t get me wrong…I loved the time I spent, but we do have to realize our full potential, and I am very positive I could be more productive back doing something more productive. The ability to listen to an entire record first, in the comfort of my own non-head-liced headphones surely is worth the subscription! You know you’ve put them on, wondering if you were going to have that unwashed nail salon-like experience. The obscure record releases are there most of the time.  And, in record stores of now, they would probably not even be considered for bulk or expensive singular purchase in distribution, which is both sad and understandable. It’s not every local record store that has an eclectic, buy it on impulse, junkie like me weekly. Then there’s the one absolute that the streaming services have that is unmatched! The “related” artists! This is wicked fun with a mysterious algorithm with a tormenting god-like complex, which has led me and countless other music infatuation junkies on a clicking–listening spree in hopes of discovering that hidden musical artifact amongst hundreds of musical acts that have some relationship that can only be in a broad correlation coefficient. Still, I have a riot taking it on, and will continue to do so, as long as they allow!

Like the radio and internet stores and retail store—you’re going to see/hear what you’ve been told—marketed. Sorry. That’s the same truth with the services for the most part. Sure, you’ve got your styles and what not that have a certain way of leading you to other interesting, unknown artists, but when it comes to new releases and genre visibility, things have not changed.

I can’t wait for the week that I click the “New Releases” and see them listed in genre, alphabetically, or better yet—why don’t they pay me to have an “Unknown” developed section, where we suggest that which is Beyond Your Marketing: Royal Wood, Markus Stockhausen, Melanie DeBiasio, Mirosalv Vitous, Holly McNarland, and go back and find those gems like Dusty Trails, Copyright, Carmen Rizzo, Snake River Conspiracy, and Love in Reverse.

Streaming? Hell yes! Looking through my private collection? Still! Never a better time to be–then now–to be traversing the music multi-verse…”Unknown” the future is.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Side Note:  The music service I purchased monthly eventually was sold to YouTube, and I was grandfathered in as a Premium Subscription, which was very nice.  The service is good.  Is it the best.  I will never know, truly, as I have no plans of exploring any others.  I have a heavy addiction, which you all are aware of.  I still love my music store, and I still purchase physical copy.

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on July 18, 2016, and while there was a time when I thought it to be nearly the end of the record store (many many lost), we can thank Taylor Swift and a few others that have really revitalized the popularity of vinyl, as well as a slight return to CD(s) [yes they know we’re out there].  My disposable income is nowhere near where it once was, and I am very thankful for the streaming service, as it allows me to work it into Beyond Your Radio, while I’m waiting for opportunity of affordable copy.  I still search endlessly, and the service does spark my curiosities and allows me to communicate with my panelists so they can utilize a service to participate in the many shows.  Since 2016, I have listened to over 3,200 albums, some more than once.  I’ve spent over 1000 hours searching, investigating, and making notes.  I’ve discovered over 500 bands of which I had no idea existed in just these few years, and in actuality, this year, the count is already above the average thanks to some great connections on Twitter and YouTube.  It was a great investment.  It was the worst investment for my addiction.  It was a great investment…oh…found another we can talk about on a show…   – Mark Kuligowski  [August 27th 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 23

This week for Album Review Saturdays 2023 we had all kinds of cool choices, so we tried to mix it up, but go a bit out of the mainstream flow of things with artists/bands that have all kinds of mainstream appeal, when you really get down to listening to them.  In one instance, we’re talking about an absolute stunner in production and vocal from an artist that’s really been doing fantastic organically fused, genre-pushing, folk-americana for decades now!  We’ve been feeling this southern-rock band thing for a few weeks now, so we decided to stay in that realm to check out a relatively unknown to us her at Beyond Your Radio southern-rock and blues band that had a catchy-name and found out how easily mainstream this band could be.  Finally, we revisit an oddly named band out of Canada (no surprise right, considering our attachment to that scene) and their latest release that had us realizing and reminiscing on their sound and delivery.  Let’s dive into this week’s Album Review Saturdays’ picks!

 

You Tube Channel Link to Video of this Album Review Saturdays with two additional reviews!

 

Robert Jon & the Wreck – Ride Into the Light

Now, this is what we’re talkin’ about when we say Southern that rocks!  When Robert Jon Burrison has put together a tremendous album here that has one of the tightest quintets (including him) in the genre.  You know the minute this record starts that, not only does his easily accessible vocals make you feel at home, but the accompaniment of guitars, jumpin’ keyboard/piano, slick and slide guitar works, and drivin’ n’ thumpin’ drums, you’re being sucked into a farther electrifying southern-blues-rock experience than you’re expecting!  The production is spot on in every tempo they choose, and your foot tapping and butt wigglin’ will be prime evidence of that.  The record starts off with that blues and riff with southern tint in ‘Pain No More’, and you should be immediately wowed as to, “Why don’t I know about these guys?!” The songwriting and vocal delivery is the most evident in ‘Come At Me’ with a playful yet tough lyrics against the pure southern guitar slides and solos and the band’s harmonic delivery of the refrain!  And it doesn’t stop there, going right into ‘One of A Kind’ keeping pace with soaring guitar and vocal and such memorable choruses.

Is this something new?  No. However, the familiarity, the flavor and the dynamic production truly gives your ears all kinds of delights!  You want slide guitar with the space and lyric drops like John Lee Hooker meets Joe Bonamassa?  It’s there!  You want some soft harmonies and chorus after some heavy riff or blues-rock ballad?  There’s even a little country ballad, ‘West Coast Eyes’ for you looking for a softer side from these Californians!  Oh, “Ride Into the Light” has that and a whole lot more!  Remember how cool Bad Company, The Call and Big Country used to be (oops maybe some of you aren’t in our age bracket)?!  How about some Jason Isbell with Robert Randolph and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats thrown down on some Southern California garbage plate (you still don’t have an idea of what I’m talking about, but it’s fun for me)!?  Oh, just go pick this up! Whatever you do — #GetWrecked as they!  Thirty-one pleasurable minutes – I assure!

The Band

  • Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals, guitar)
  • Andrew Espantman (drums, background vocals)
  • Henry James Schneekluth (lead guitar, background vocals)
  • Warren Murrel (bass)
  • Jake Abernathie (keyboards)

Ride Into the Light Tracklisting

  1. Pain No More
  2. Why Can’t You Love
  3. Come At Me
  4. One of A Kind
  5. Bring Me Back Home Again
  6. West Coast Eyes
  7. Don’t Look Down
  8. Ride Into the Light

 

Odds – Crash the Time Machine

When the title track kicks us off to Odds seventh studio album, “Crash the Time Machine,” the band from Vancouver, that started back in the hay-day of the Canadian Invasion (known to us in Upstate New York), we immediately identify the power-pop and alternative delivery that we’ve known for three decades.  They still have that alternative pop-mix, that lyrical quirk, and flare to bounce in and out of each song as if they’re holding your ear’s hand on the journey.  This album, if I am remembering all of them as well as I believe, has the most production and layering that I recall, which is what makes this a very fun entanglement between the always engaging song-writing and the music surrounding it all.  From cool bass lines, simple chords, to odd noises and electronic keyboard synth tricks (hint of psyche in ‘The Traveling Light’) the band holds absolutely nothing back.

After listening to this several times, I started to pick up on a feeling that I’d felt this kind of delivery, before an obvious vocal tone that could be compared to Elvis Costello-like.  What was that? I really felt like the flow and lyrics had a very Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers set up.  No, it doesn’t “sound” like them, but in some spaces and harmonies, like that of the cleverly told and bridged, ‘Fall Guy’ it hit me a bit harder, and at that moment I started really sinking my ears into this record.  It has such dynamic sound layering, touches of genius genre additions, all of this while maintaining their signature without falling too far outside themselves.  A truly cool, professional, old Canadian favorite really came through!  If this is how time has affected them — I’m up for the next crash, and you should be, too!  And yes, they certainly deserve to be on “That’s Your Band Name” one of these episodes.

The Band

  • Craig Northey (vocals, guitars)
  • Doug Elliott (bassist, background vocals)
  • Pat Steward (drums, background vocals)
  • Murray Atkinson (guitars, background vocals)

Crash the Time Machine Tracklisting

  1. Crash the Time Machine
  2. Unlikely Saviour
  3. Fall Guy
  4. The Traveling Light
  5. My Mind’s On Other Things
  6. Fairytale of Heaven
  7. Walk Among the Stars
  8. Staring At a Blank Page
  9. Dark Rainbow
  10. Revolution Singing
  11. 25 Words
  12. Winning Is Everything
  13. Somehow In a Dream

 

Rhiannon Giddens – You’re the One

The gifted and talented, mesmerizing musicianship of Rhiannon Giddens is known in passionate, award winning circles.  She has some of the most honest, deserved, accolades and respect in the music industry, and with it all kinds of music freedom in her gorgeous folk-fusion, ever-expanding fiddle-house (see, I didn’t do wheelhouse there).  Her new album release was immediately on our list, as she is always an uplifting, soaring, and fearless vocalist and musical inspiration.  What was even cooler, was our panelist, the Grateful Dude, out of the blue said, “Can I do Album Review Saturdays video this weekend?  There’s an album I want to talk about.”  It was so refreshing that he was going into the new releases, exploring, and what a fantastic record for him to find!  This is why we do the shows, and why we have the articles!

“You’re the One” is an all out grand slam in the catalog!  There, I said it!  This is like her moving from the music hall to the symphony to the stadium.  The sound here goes beyond the usual acoustic flares and old school microphones into electric and big, big sounds and gorgeous layerings of instruments.  Her splendid, calculated genre bending is on full tilt from big band to jazz to Cajun Americana to soul stealing blues, and even a lick that has us thinking, “Is she doing the theme to the next bond film?”  She should be, as ‘Another Wasted Life’ has us shivering in anticipation of a darker Giddens.  Oh, how wicked and ravenous she would, could be!  I’m certain of it!  Oh, but don’t think she’s traveling too far off the reservation, as she takes on that pump-organ and fiddle on ‘Louisiana Man’ but just amps up the volume with the horn sections that are on this album!  It’s just such a amazing sound ride!

We’re gushing. Yes!  This is easily on the best albums of 2023, and right now, as I listen to this album for the fifth time, it’s now at number one, and will be extremely hard to replace!  Production is flawless.  The vocal performance amongst all recordings so far this year is by far and away the best.  This is a nearly perfect album from start to finish (yes, there’s one track that’s well performed but a hint too savory for me), but I can’t hold that against her greatness and all that this album is.  We invite Ms. Giddens to cook in our musical kitchen anytime!  This one is just real-special (add Cajun accent here)!  A “Meal to Music” maybe?!  There’s no doubt in our mind.  Now, if we could just get her and the band to come and play at the house that night…

The Band

  • Rhiannon Giddens (vocals, banjo, fiddle, viola)
  • Francesco Turrisi (multi-instrumentalists)
  • Dirk Powell (multi-instrumentalist)
  • Jason Sypher (bass)
  • Niwel Tsumbu (Congolese guitarist)
  • Miami Horn Section (unknown at time of press)
  • Western String Section (unknown at time of press)
  • Special Guest – Jason Isbell

You’re the One Tracklisting

  1. Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad
  2. You’re the One
  3. Yet to Be (feat. Jason Isbell)
  4. Wrong Kind of Right
  5. Another Wasted Life
  6. You Louisiana Man
  7. If You Don’t Know How Sweet It Is
  8. Hen in the Foxhouse
  9. Who Are You Dreaming Of
  10. You Put the Sugar in My Bowl
  11. Way Over Yonder
  12. Good Ol’ Cider

Michael Kiwanuka – Unknown Sundays 18-2016

The greatest testament to a musical feeling—must be from the very soul, right? After all, isn’t it our life’s work to soul search? We all try to do—yet feel so far from it at times? Don’t we feel right now that there are a lot of lost souls on this earth—in one way or another (please remember the date of this archive is July 10, 2016)? Whether it is those that have lost their soul to the pursuit of nothing but money or power, or those that have lost their soul to simple hatred or ignorance… there is evidence in the world around us, in our America, and around your very corner. It could be you, someone you love, colleague, or friend. “All that you have—is your soul,” is the popular statement we hear so much in musical lyrics and in the themes of stories (Tracy Chapman’s song as one example in title). What you do with your soul is the question, or better yet—as one soul man from London has mastered—how to interpret the soul.
Michael Kiwanuka has a brilliant and budding ability to capture an almost iconic-like sound, deliver soulful and soul-felt lyrics, and all this under a fusion of genre-dipping passionate musicianship under an acoustic armed guitar—and a harmonizing throwback feel to bring it all home. What may have started out as studio musicianship for this London singer-songwriter, has gone far beyond what he has learned, interpreted, explored, and honed. He has wound soul music around both his guitar playing fingers and his mind’s gifted tongue. This soulful understanding exceeds a genre that has been sinking into monotony for more years than most will admit. This is no calculated homage. This is careful, interesting, and meaning filled delivery within a variety of simple and complex arrangements, respectfully and artistically pushing every moment under a rich and raw vocal.
His new album Love and Hate (coming out this Friday [again this article from July 2016]) is going to be a classic in the modern era! The title track is quite possibly the most inspiring and passionate performance of music and lyrics that has graced soul music in a decade! It has a timing that is pointed directly at us all, as great singer songwriting should. There was no question when listening to Home Again,’ back from 2012, that this gentleman has a musical embodiment that was going to shake and move the foundation of soul and singer-songwriter music, while not offending—but up-lifting the artists of the past like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Terry Callier. The progression of his work is pride and profession. Love and Hate has this luxurious push and pull with the interpreted souls of past and present blues, reggae, and jazz structures with an unprecedented parade of themes to engage all.
Explore this honest and ambitious man’s recordings. You will be hooked. There are two clips attached to this article. The one at the top is the lead single—because it’s just that emotionally honest in lyrics, in blues guitar (wait for it five minutes in, when it reiterates in its own way), and in the layers of harmony. The other is from the unbelievable cover of Waitin’ Round To Die’ by the late Townes Van Zandt, which he performed on Austin City Limits. Sorry I don’t have the video footage, but I wanted the rawness to hit you—because he has captured something so strong in every moment.
It’s unknown where the soul comes from and where it goes—but if you want to hear it, if you want to feel it, and–allow it–, I am 100% positive Michael Kiwanuka can give your soul a therapeutic intervention that will bring you back—from….well…that’s between you and the music.
SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE:
Michael Kiwanuka Albums in my collection:  Kiwanuka (2019) Love and Hate (2016)  Home Again (2012)
This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on July 10, 2016, and there’s no question that Michael Kiwanuka continues, as the 2019 album was nominated for Best Rock Album at the Grammy awards, as well as winning the Mercury Prize. He worked with Danger Mouse on the 2019 album, but he also loves to be unique in his collaborations, like that with UNKLE on the Roma Soundtrack. I like the fact that he’s gained confidence, using his last name as a title, so it’s apparent to me that this soulful modern artist has much more on the album horizon, especially post pandemic. His website. and Facebook page seem to have been stalled since possibly November 2022, but there’s plenty of live past performances to scroll there and on his YouTube to introduce or reacquaint yourself with his style and delivery. – Mark Kuligowski  [August 20th 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22

Welcome to Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22, where we explore a raw, dusty, southern rock soul record that takes on a different road less traveled.  We “tune” in for a brilliant jazz record from an Argentinian composer that blends his technical talents at the keys immaculately with the accessible, if you are so in-Klein-ed.  Then we leave our comfort zone for an 80’s pop-rock superstar as he makes a twenty-song new album at the brilliant age of 74, against a catalog of over 20 records in his solo past!  Daunting task, yes!  However, this Album Review Saturdays is worth the road, the tune and the ride!

 

See our additional YouTube Version of Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22, which features two additional album reviews and some audio files!  [Should Post before 9pm]

 

Grace Potter – Mother Road

Grace brings in a solo dusty gravel venture that revels in rawness, reach, and country-rock slinky delivery that entices and bewitches.  Here we are treated to a slightly different register from previous Nocturnal blues southern rock albums of her past.  Although, you do have the first track to keep you in the good-Grace(s) you might have been expecting, while it kind of hints at where she’s going.  And then we go!  The minute the car door opens (yes it’s there), we’re drawn to a Bonnie and Sheryl kind of frolic (I’m hoping I don’t have to use last names there — Raitt and Crow early albums – ). I’m certainly not saying that the subject matter is light and love, but when it’s heavy — it’s presented light, lovely and passionate so the connection lingers with her voice, lyrics, but also with the flow and musicianship surrounding it (hell even the background noises).

Here’s my basic take.  She’s not being clever.  She’s not trying to let the vocal be the coolest thing ever, or over-drive the lyricism.  What’s she’s doing is telling a story in personae and delivering it so true that it works, and it works so damn well!  So, if you’ve been missing an old-school southern-organ soul-filled-rock and roll duster, you should get on this road!  I could see her opening for Tedeschi Trucks or hittin’ the road with Duane Betts that would be a slam southern dunk!

The Band

  • Grace Potter – Vocals
  • Nick Bockrath – Guitar
  • Tim Deaux – Bass
  • Matt Musty – Drums
  • Dan Kalisher – Pedal steel guitar
  • Benmont Tench – Keyboards

Mother Road Tracklisting

  1. Mother Road
  2. Truck Stop Angels
  3. Ready Set Go
  4. Good Time
  5. Little Hitchhiker
  6. Lady Vagabond
  7. Rose-Colored Rearview
  8. All My Ghosts
  9. Futureland
  10. Masterpiece

 

Guillermo Klein – Telmo’s Tune

The calculated, complicated composer takes the piano into a beautiful, technical, but extremely accessible and enjoyable jazz ride! While you know by the sound and key changes that there is a superb technique and musicianship being applied by Guillermo and his four master band-mates, you don’t have to figure it out, nor are you so perplexed by it that it invades your thoughts.  Telmo’s Tune, which seems all interlaced by my ear (and it’s not trained), is packed full of jazz genre changes, odd meters (or at least that’s how I’m hearing it) that flirt with you but bring you back within the pieces.  Argentina’s proud composer doesn’t seem to linger in borders or roots.  Instead, he seems to focus on the music, the impression it can make or leave, and most importantly the tempo and flow to get you in and out of those impression. You’ll have your head bobbin’ then foot tappin, and in some cases your mind’s ear focusing keenly on that drum switch, electronic mephisto minutely messing with the music. While the piano is at the master’s hand, it’s not overly dominant (except the piano keyboard duelishness of the clever, ‘Camello’).  It can be eerie in a moment, gorgeous in another, commonly cool in an instant, or darn right dishin’ when it strikes.  A great record with groove, balance and appreciation for every instrument’s involvement in Telmo’s Tune. After your second listen, you are even going to pick up more!  You’ll start feeling Cheek all over (sax is so fun).  Then you’re trippin’ on Genovese space keyboarding, and busting out the fake drum hands trying to mimic what Pavolka is putting down!  Telmo’s Tune will tickle you in all the right jazz places, and it will sound unique, yet pure and accessible.

The Band

  • Guillermo Klein – Piano(s), Composition
  • Chris Cheek – Tenor and Soprano Saxophones
  • Leo Genovese – Fender Rhodes, Keyboards
  • Matt Pavolka – Bass; Allan Mednard: drums.

Telmo’s Tune Tracklisting

  1. Criolla
  2. Push Me Not
  3. Si vos me queres
  4. Telmo’s Tune
  5. Amor profundo
  6. Burrito Mirror
  7. Camello
  8. Quiero
  9. A Navarro

 

Rick Springfield – Automatic

I am reading the track listing, and I see the “Sha Do Wup,” and I’m wondering why I even thought about doing Automatic as a Album Review Saturdays album. I do not have an affinity for Rick Springfield, and I’m not sure if there’s a generational aspect of this singer that’s going to possibly relate to anything beyond the pop-rock culture from that 1980’s moment in time for him.  Hell, he even cashed in on looks for acting opportunities beyond the fact of his skills as guitarist and songwriter.  It was “Jessie’s Girl,” that I remember always gettin’ down to in my early listening years (1981).  So, let’s fast forward to 42 years later, and this his 21st or 22nd solo album (give or take)…and we’re treated to not a time warp, although that’s what the press docket is selling you, but an all out, no apologies, guitar singer-songwriter doing a bit of re-living and a return to non-adult rock with some 80s strength and those catchy (easy) guitar riffs!  His older-school vocal hooks and songs that deliver quickly and effectively with a heavy dose gloss-pop, too, are going to connect with everyone that knows, respects and loves Springfield.  Except thinking it’s going back to Working Class Dog.  No.  It’s not.  That’s a classic, and perhaps, the one album that can cross generations of smart musicians and listeners that truly appreciate the process and time.

I like the Automatic.  It has a lot of sounds and accomplishments within it.  I was cringing, remember.  Turns out that ‘Love Ain’t Cool’ actually held itself well, fitting into that catchiness I spoke of.  ‘Works For Me,’ which has that Carlos Santana – Matchbox Twenty feel, does a sexy job of playful lyrics and wonderful vocal delivery, which at 74, Mr. Springfield is still a great studio vocalist. I though twenty songs could have been a bit much, but having gone through three times now, I’m pretty sure it’s a nice mix, and why cut any of it.  There’s something for keyboard 80s lovers, and that drum-like machine pop, but what is missing is a genuine rock ballad, or a hint of rawness.  This is my only true complaint.  The only moment that might be construed as raw, would be ‘Make Your Move,’ but it’s a piano duet in honesty (it’s ok).  So, if you’re into the 80s synth and guitar Springfield you’re in that wheelhouse with new over-production and dance-2023 tendencies (which my opinion is there to reach newer audience over). His vocals and song writing are good, very good, in fact.  I don’t feel like he’s hanging on to a memory or trying to get back.

So, not only was I pleasantly surprised, I found a lot to like, and a genuine appreciation for what the artist here is working and doing.  He’s connecting with the songs, and the musicianship remains in tack from vocal to guitar to overall production, which should bring it all into a very favorable memory in the vast solo catalog of Rick Springfield.

The Band

  • Rick Springfield – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
  • At the time of writing this we did not have the album:  Horns and Background Vocalists – unknown at the time of posting.
  • Drums (or used machines), considering her does like to play as many of the instruments himself.

 

Automatic Tracklisting

  1. Exit Wound
  2. She Walks with the Angels
  3. Come Said the Girl
  4. Automatic
  5. Broke House
  6. This Town
  7. When God Forgets My Name
  8. Heroes
  9. Love Ain’t Cool (Sha Do Wup)
  10. Works for Me
  11. Fake It Til You Make It
  12. The Cure for Loneliness
  13. Invisible World
  14. Make Your Move
  15. In Case of Fire Break Glass
  16. Did I Just Say That Out Loud
  17. Someday I Will Fly
  18. Neutron Star
  19. Feed Your Soul
  20. We Are Eternal

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 21

We are all about the guitars on this Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode!  Our first album drops all “kind” of riff and fuzz in a clever hard rock grunge atmosphere.  This one reaches deep dark grooves with some crank and angst.  Then there’s that feeling you get when you just can’t shake a groove, pace, and realize it’s infected everything, locked you in, sonically tickled you all over, and then embarrassingly enough left you smiling ear to ear.  We knew we wouldn’t be disappointed, and neither will any of the fans of years past that have waited eleven since their last.  Finally, we explored an unusual duo from different eras coming face to face (bass to axe) with how their guitars can become the rhythm, the trick, or the acoustic palette of their vocal arrangements!  I know, you’re ready to drop d, get your wah wahs out, strum it, or whammy that bar!  Yeah, you already realize I’m an appreciator of God’s musical handle — not a player!  Wish I was, but thanks to these three Album Review Saturdays apostles of the amped up stringed instrument, I am born again and again!

 

Kind – Close Encounters

Our closest encounter yet this year with the bombasticism of riff magic!  Huh?  There are so many tracks on Kind’s new record that have such heavy hitting, elongated hard riffs that you might tap out at first!  Ripplemusic’s knows they’ve got a burner, here, so they’ll send you smelling salts with the record!  You think Metallica laid it on thick, you’re right!  But, Kind makes it massive (oh – song title there, correctly chosen), and uses every inch of sound for the power grab (oh – shit they did it again – great song title), all while being very aware of the need to gather up and reach for more pace!  They realize what it is to be free (oh – they’re too good — song title again) in battling of fuzz and shred and solo!  The layers work, even within the stoner, Alice-n-Chains-like low vocal harmonies and the delivery of the lead vocal.  It will take you time to find the impression and message of lyrics just because of the overall crushing guitar work, sonic solos, and awesome hard rhythms.  There’s even a little space rock in this all, too!  Great ride for those that love their fuzz cranked to 10, delivered and lingering long after the last song, cooly called ‘Pacino’ sonically ends.  And you realize — damn — those boys are having some fun on those guitars, I’m surprised they stopped.

The Band

  • Matt Couto (ex-Elder) – Drums, Percussion
  • Tom Corino (ex-Rozamov) –  Bassist
  • Craig Riggs (Roadsaw) –  vocalist
  • Darryl Shepard (ex-Black Pyramid) –  Guitarist

Close Encounters Tracklisting

  1. Burn Scar
  2. Favorite One
  3. Black Yesterday
  4. Snag
  5. Massive
  6. Power Grab
  7. Of the Ages
  8. What It Is To Be Free
  9. Pacino

 

The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons

The Hives are back! And they’re not only making a grand entrance or return, they’re nailing their usual routine, and sticking the staccato guitar work landing! This record does not take a breath, but it’s enormous in it’s clever lyricism, poignant delivery timings, so as to completely engage you beyond what you were expecting! I love the band, but I’ve never been this excited about a record of theirs after a listen, and after the second listen, I’m still having a gloriously good time with it! You will, too! Right when you see the tracklist, you know you’re in for it, and they don’t disappoint right off the bat with Bogus Operandi, where they quickly in the first line acknowledge their long departure from the making of albums. But, once that’s settled in a second, who cares! Moving on, and rapidly, the album quickly throws your ears into a wonderful rabbit hole of wholesome sonic guitar work, brat-fused romping lines, and kick as rhythms. Watch you time here, because they don’t linger long, and this isn’t going to take all day. It’s fulfilling, like a certain lustful one act play! We’re orgasming — you will, too! Oh, we didn’t talk about this, Randy Fitzsimmons! Who cares, but it might count against them slightly at time of possibly being one of the best albums of 2023 (lore shmore). They could have named the album, “Here’s 12 Songs We Thought Were Ok,” and we’d still be pumped! For fans of The Stooges’ ‘Funhouse’ swagger (no production issues here), Jet like energy, with some Louis XIV sassafras flicked like Emeril’s essence.

The Band

  • Chris Dangerous – Drums
  • Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist – Vocals
  • The Johan and Only – Bass Guitar
  • Nicholaus Arson – Guitar
  • Vigilante Carlstroem – Guitar

The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons Tracklisting

1. “Bogus Operandi”
2. “Trapdoor Solution”
3. “Countdown to Shutdown”
4. “Rigor Mortis Radio”
5. “Stick Up”
6. “Smoke & Mirrors”
7. “Crash Into the Weekend”
8. “Two Kinds of Trouble”
9. “The Way the Story Goes”
10. “The Bomb”
11. “What Did I Ever Do to You?”
12. “Step Out of the Way”

 

 

Suzi Quatro/KT Tunstall – Face To Face

Oh, don’t even think about dissing or dismissing this record! This one is not just some side project. These two were meant to do this! Their vocal styles, timing, impeccable mesh of bass and electric guitars is a match made in rock-n-roll, glam-folk radio heaven! If this isn’t played, acknowledge on radio, then it’s as dead and dumb as we already think it is, and the hope for Beyond Your Radio to be more successful is possible every single day! Suzie’s legendary 70’s bass lines and rocker vocal delivery seem completely as cool here as they were 50 years ago (is that right — double-check, yep). We already know the “Black Horse and A Cherry Tree” root rocker well enough, and we have followed her every album of her journey, which has been very cool, too, and this one is no misstep! These two women from different generations seem to have a true, rooted rock connection and technical style to put together a strong set of songs, exploring and entire canvas of root rock, hint of folk and rough-pop (yeah, I’m coining a new genre — accessible pop songs without the filters, autotune, and production corrections–sue me). While we start off at that comfort adult-contemporary with ‘Shine A Light’ there’s nothing but development, movement, and dynamite musicianship in not only guitar and bass guitar, but beautiful accompaniment piano as well. Between Tunstall’s alt-edge and Quatro’s straight-ahead raw steady rock the album is a gritty, attention worthy, rock pop recording that should be in your ear! Hey, if you like Melissa Etheridge, Lucinda Williams, and Patti Rothberg (there’s a name from the past), you need get this album in your ear or on your stereo on vacation right now!  Oh, Happy Days (okay – we went there) this is a record
to share!

The Band

  • Suzi Quatro – Vocals, Bass Guitar
  • KT Tunstall – Vocals, Electric Guitar
  • Musician information was sparse — really wanted to know who’s playing the those keys.

Face To Face Tracklisting

  1. Shine A Light
  2. Face to Face
  3. Scars
  4. Good Kinda Hot
  5. If I Come Home
  6. Damage
  7. Overload
  8. Illusion
  9. Truth As My Weapon
  10. The Ladies Room

The Endless – Special Unknown Sunday 16-2016

Endless, meaning to have, literally, no end.  Seems like a simple enough concept, yet not all things or people get to this place (or at least that we are aware of).  Please hang in there with me, as this first paragraph is written in the present, and modified to fit, but it will all become clear as you move down the article as to how it fit in Unknown Sundays, and still does to this day.  The Endless came from the Pink Floyd release at the time, and I was so smitten with the cover and the visual of it, and all that it could possibly mean that I used it as the inspiration.  The Endless – Special Unknown Sunday here is all about the time we have, and taking that into consideration.  Now back to the original archive text (thank you).

Life comes at you like some invisible “unknown” baseball game with devastating curve balls, life changing knuckle balls, and bases loaded pressure situations. And, just when you thought you were going to take a nice walk-in run, you get hit with that pitch. You move on, but it hurts…it hurts bad.  Much like the sad songs of musicians who have passed (too many recently to mention) and those that announced they’re in dire straits. It has been a gloomy first months of 2016 on all fronts in my musical and personal opinion, but we’ll stay on the topic of music because we all have our life stories of trial and tribulation.

This “Unknown” Sunday has me taking Wednesday to write because it has been personal, and we always want what we share personally to be just so. We never know what life will have to offer, or if we will even know what to make of it’s vast or brief offering.  We want to make that grand impression and leave a certain–well–legacy, which is too big a word really.  I have written this article many times, each with a variety of musicians listed–famous, infamous, and barely known whom I’ve had the continuing pleasure of listening to long past their lives.  So, I offer this, which was read at my best friend’s son’s funeral this Monday.

“Do not judge a song by it’s duration, nor by the number of notes. Jude it by the way it touches and lifts the soul. Sometimes those that are unfinished are among the most beautiful. And when something has enriched your life, and when it’s melody lingers on in your heart–is it unfinished? Or is it endless?” – Unknown Author

Cherish every note my musical-multiverse travelers. Give every sound your attention with ears and heart open. Give the devil and the ghost in the instrument it’s due, along with the possessed soul who has been fortunate and blessed with the generous and torturous, selfless gift. Judge not! Sentence thyself to a sonic understanding or reckoning that will shake the foundation of your own life–for the very duration it is intended upon.  We feel everyday from and for all of you (legacy or not), because hopefully this is all–as endless–as it seems. And more hopefully, it helps us all realize that no matter our life’s journey–the commitment IS real, so that when it is no longer ours, people will know just how real it WAS.

SIDE NOTE
We can all appreciate and will forever be grateful to Prince, David Bowie, John Berry (Beastie Boys), Merle Haggard, Maurice White (Earth Wind & Fire founding member), Glenn Frey, Lonnie Mack, and Sir George Martin (British Record Producer/Beatles), but I’d like to mention some that have gone on (over the years) and maybe their commitment should be revisited:

  1. Mark Sandman/Morphine (gone before his time…his band Morphine the dark INXS?)
  2. Jeff Healey (there is more to this blind guitar man–way more)
  3. Joe Cocker (famous, yes–but do we appreciate that voice–the heart of a cover song?)
  4. Wayne Static (he could produce, too–modern metal-mix with devastating growling cleverness)
  5. James Horner (Composer is much more than Titanic)
  6. Vic Chestnutt (It ain’t Supernatural, or maybe…one of the best haunting songs ever written)
  7. Laura Nyro (so many singer songwriters known why–do we the listener?)

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Endless – Unknown Sundays  Side Note of Others that have passed recently:   The endless; Jeff Beck, Burt Bacharach, David Crosby, and Gordon Lightfoot, but here are some of those maybe in the “unknown” type status worldwide:

  1. Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees was a smidge of the solo artist he became and the astounding song writing he leaves behind)
  2. Gordon Downie (The frontman extraordinaire, Canadian charismatic lyricists, and genuine human being)
  3. David Jude Jolicoeur (Trougoy, Plug 2 was just — well De La “heaven”)
  4. Ryuichi Sakamoto (Composer, Pianist an inventive catalog and music scores – The Last Emperor, The Revenant to just name drop)
  5. Sinead O’Connor (Unique alternative vocal, passionate in her delivery no matter the song choice)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on June 29th, 2016, after a long hiatus of weeks between the death of a friend’s son, other goings-on in my professional and family life, and after writing about the terminal diagnosis of Gordon Downie of the Tragically Hip (which some day I might release).  So that’s where my headspace was at.  Still, to this day, I am continually touched by the artists that have had long or minimal catalogs, success, or very little, attempting to put into perspective the quote above.  I am not a musician, nor a famous blogger or You Tube sensation, barely with a gathering of subscribers, and my time might be limited, but I am still going to try to keep the endless idea that somehow what I might say, show, and/or tell on my platform might open an ear or two to something they didn’t understand, had no idea of, and find such a connection that it might make a difference — a connection.  Endlessly searching, listening, and reporting for you  – Mark Kuligowski  [August 6th 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 20

These three albums come from different places, but it’s quite possible that one’s legendary status is understated, the other’s status is legendary lineage, and the final review is one that should become or already be that of legend.  The first, which the written review was done by Chef Jeff Johnson, is a southern blues rock album with a lot of those familiarities that makes the genre so loved, especially the well handled slide guitar, and considering the lineage of the person delivering, it does not come as much of surprise how well it’s handled.  Next up is a bandmate of two solid rock institutions, Crazy Horse and the E-Street Band, and his songwriting, multi-instrumentation, and singing makes him extremely legendary but maybe in a different way, even though his solo material is not as well known as the contributions he continues to make to Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young.  Finally, we come to a Canadian singer, song-writer, incredibly gifted guitarist (maybe the most underrated guitar front men in the modern era) and reincarnated, rich vocalists in progressive rock, who adds to his solo catalog.  Let’s check them all out, shall we!?

 

Click here for our YouTube Channel “Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 20” which features discussion on these albums, as well as two (2) more album reviews not in this article.

 

Duane Betts – Wild & Precious Life

Article written by Chef Jeff Johnson (with some Mark Kuligowski additions)

Wow! This blast from the past album brings southern rock full circle. It’s the glory days of southern rock. Without knowing, you might think this was an old Allman brothers album (close your eyes and you’re definitely in the southern most blues valley of Allman). Nope! Fooled you! It’s Duane Betts, son of Allman Brothers Band member and co-founder Dickey Betts and his then-wife, known now as Paulette Howell. Duane was named for Duane Allman, Dickey’s bandmate who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971. Duane, here on this record, is at his best with his cheeky licks and his magical ways with southern style recordings (or is it his legacy-like heritage). He embraces the heart of this genre of music. He starts with “Evergreen,” a beautiful little song with typical Betts guitar and some good ole organ thrown in for excellent measure.

This album is just classic. It’s new songs done in the classic way. The song “Stare at the Sun” is a nice combo of blues and southern with the addition of Derek Trucks (yeah, that’s got no chance of sucking). The Trucks family even offered up the recording space for the album at their Swamp Raga Studio in Jacksonville (it’s a family thing). It’s smooth and classy with clean licks and wonderful organs. Vocals are great, just a bit of country twang. “Under the Bali Moon” showcases Duane’s masterful skills at guitar. This little instrumental is fine, smooth and romantic. Great addition to this excellent album! All and all this album is great for people dying to hear some fabulous southern root rock. It’s done with simplicity and elegance. Folks — this is a winner!

The Band

  • Duane Betts – Guitar, Slide Guitar, Vocals
  • Johnny Stachela – Slide Guitar, Guitars, Background Vocals
  • Berry Duane Oakley – Bass Guitar
  • John Ginty – Keyboards, Piano, Organ
  • Tyler Greenwell – Drums
  • Special guest appearances: Derek Trucks, Nicki Bluhm, and Marcus King

Wild & Precious Life Track listing

1. Evergreen
2. Waiting on a Song
3. Forrest Lane
4. Colors Fade (featuring Nicki Bluhm)
5. Saints to Sinners
6. Stare at the Sun (featuring Derek Trucks)
7. Under the Bali Moon
8. Sacred Ground
9. Cold Dark World (featuring Marcus King)
10. Circles in the Stars

 

 

Nils Lofgren – Mountains

I can start off by saying that I am definitely a fan of how he integrates into the bands he is a definitive part of (E-Street Band, Crazy Horse), as well as the accompanying musician with Neil Young. Whether it’s his guitar playing, which can shift from acoustic beauty to fantastic roots blues, or the simple magic of a piano or organ, right through to the lyric and well-traveled vocal delivery, Mr. Lofgren has earned a certain respect, and has always brought out interesting albums that fit the human condition and his passion for allowing music to tell the stories. Mountains, while the title doesn’t exactly match what you’re about to experience, has a full arsenal of his capabilities both as s song-writer and a storyteller. What it might lack in places is what we might have been expecting in guitar work.  We certainly start there with the opening track, “Ain’t the Truth Enough,” where we treated to the whole host of guitar, slide guitar and organ with the roots rock and harmonies that wheelhouse us right in!  Then we feel an 80’s rock attitude with that edgy guitar work we do love, so all systems go. You had to expect some harmony gospel and modestly sappy ballad at least once, but that’s because his vocal can carry this in an honest area that keeps it grounded and real, but the vocals still hold.  Then we’re back with what we love, “Won’t Cry No More” (which is the best track), and followed tightly, yet in somber style, is “Nothing’s Easy.” Both are totally wheelhouse songs that make the record!  The second half of the album bounces into and out of an 80s Big Country meets adult-contemporary blues, which is okay, but just flows oddly until we end with the “Angel Blues” ballad that reaches for it (and over another two listens you realize the champion of lyrics that Lofgren has), yet the backing vocals and his own voice doesn’t always keep with the beauty and that of the harp.

This is still a well produced record that has all the right mics in all the right places.  It’s a singer-songwriter type album that allows anything to go, which in a few moments doesn’t hurt — but doesn’t help in the flow, but let’s face it, that’s a tough thing to put together when you’re emotionally attaching yourself to writing and then delivering the songs.  If you like Crosby Still Nash & Young, there’s great moments here to hear, and even that 80s Big Country and, of course, fans of Nils Lofgren will cherish the singer and the blues guitar along with some of the guest appearances that you might have expected.  A nice, timely record in the midst of what we’ve been listening to lately.

The Band

  • Nils Lofgren – Guitar, Piano, Vocals
  • Guest appearances: David Crosby, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, and Ron Carter

Mountains Track listing

1. “Ain’t the Truth Enough”
2. “Only Ticket Out”
3. “Back in Your Arms”
4. “Won’t Cry No More (For Charlie Watts)”
5. “Nothin’s Easy (For Amy)”
6. “Dream Killer”
7. “Only Your Smile”
8. “I Remember Her Name”
9. “We Better Find It”
10. “Angel Blues”

 

Jeff Martin – Seven Deadly Sins [EP]

Jeff Martin is no doubt a more occultist Jim Morrison re-incarnate with an incredibly engaging vocal reach as well as Page-like guitar virtuosity that can rip with the best of them as a front man! His band, The Tea Party, is internationally known (for those that understand and appreciate the beauty, pageantry and elegance that rock-n-roll can bring, absorb, and deliver in progressive alternative rock). His solo album, here, is rooted in a middle-eastern gaze, and while his title seems to hint at the harder edges, the album is in fact more rock ballad than his usual progressive alternative tendencies. It does start there with the lustful opening track, but the rest of the album comes at you like “The Messenger” and the tempered areas of Splendor Solis. It still dabbles in occult sinfulness, but it’s also harmonic and hopeful, nestled beautifully between sitar, acoustic guitar and vocal lamenting that only Jeff Martin’s signature vocal can powerfully compel your spirit and ear to!

There is not a solitary moment wasted in this 32 minute conceptual journey EP (is it an EP at that length).  The lyrics are as one would expect from this amazing lyricist. It’s very deep, well thought out, and uniquely universal. His recording style as a soloist has the lyrics and their romanticisms (sometimes dark and lovely my sweets) always at the forefront, while they bask in the musical accompaniment that he provides with whatever string instrument he decides to master over.  Listen long, listen deep for you have 32 minutes that your soul and road will keep, here.  No that’s not lyrics from the album, it’s my statement to you, if you’ve never heard from him solo wise, as well as to the many devoted fans, as this is a splendid recording that’s sinful only in that it’s missing that dark blues he can conjure without even trying.  It’s symphonic.  It’s lyrically lovely.  It’s surprisingly still an acoustic and electric guitar lover’s listen (listen deeper — it’s all there)! It’s another notch in the coolness he exudes no matter himself or with his beloved band — hell, the coolness he probably exudes while cutting his lawn.

If you like progressive psychedelic and Middle Eastern tints with the most charismatic, pitch perfect vocals — you either already know — or you’re in for a musical ride that only he can provide!

The Band

  • Jeff Martin – Guitars, Sitar and whatever else he possesses from the string occult instruments across the world.
  • Darren Evans – Drums, Percussion

Seven Deadly Sins Tracklisting

lust 1. Şehvet Nora
gluttony 2. Down On Your Knees
wrath 3. So Bitter
greed 4. Sorted and Sold
envy 5. Send Her My Love
pride 6. Blinded By
sloth 7. You Move So Slow