Album Review Saturdays Episode 28

When it’s Album Review Saturdays, the preparation and decisions start way early for obvious reasons.  But this week, with the density of the records that have graced the release windows of September (which came and went so freakin’ fast) it became a puzzle as to how to accomplish getting in some of these records, as well as utilize three of them this week to showcase in our YouTube Channel version of this blog.  We definitely go Beyond Your Radio this week in the three chosen.  One artist has the strangest name but a musical journey that’s led him into a softer, islander adult contemporary that’s not exactly where he started.  The progressive fusion band we selected has the cover, the album and band name to give you all the impression they’re going to give your vinyl the spin beyond this world!  Then, you look at the incredible, diverse and endless superstars entered on the twelve track, one hour and eleven minute feast and you’re wondering how it could even come to be!  And, then– there’s a good fuzzy, stoner, psychedelic rock producing friends at Ripple Music who grace our pages again with a summoning vocalist fronting a very cool classic riffing band!  We didn’t stop there!  Our Album Review Saturdays Episode 28 on YouTube adds a glowing review of the one hour and nineteen minute avant-garde rock jazz blistering recording from one of the coolest and masteful Norwegian guitarists, as well as sludge record with outer-worldly vocals that will stun you!  Shall we!?

 

THE YOU TUBE VERSION LINK CLICK HERE
(Mark Kuligowski discusses these album and adds at two awesome surprise albums you need to hear — check it out)!

 

Bahamas – Bootcut

Did I mention I’m not into country?  I think I did.  So how is it I can review Canadian, Afie Jurvanen, otherwise known in the music capital of the world, Canada, (okay, I overstepped there)?  Well, I’ve been on a journey with Mr. Bahamas since I heard the Bahamas Is Afie record back in 2014, after he had been nominated for a Juno for the 2013 Barchords.  The beautiful vocal range in his adult alternative contemporary style was not only engaging and hypnotic to some degree, it had powerful lyrics that felt so genuine and real.  This unforced songwriting and well captured minimal instrument studio production really made him an instant favorite to see what he was doing next.  While his path has changed in genre from album to album, he still remains vocally genuine and very real in the songwriting style and delivery of the overall recordings.  Bootcut is probably the most excellent example in his entire catalog.

No, I didn’t realize it was going to be mostly a straight up alt-country record, although the title and imagery on the album cover should have been obvious.  However, I never judge a book or album by its cover (until after I’ve listened to it). This album has a unique country-island feel in the musicianship for several songs, and it does not remain complacent within the chosen country genre.  Afie bends things so modestly, but never repents on the song-writing.  That genuine feel and humanity is there from start to finish, even in the bothersome opening track (you’ll understand why once you listen to it, why I call it that).  There is a hint of his alternative, but it is more a ghost in this album, leaving the heart and cut of it to be steel guitar and emotions.  ‘Gone Girl Gone’ is a tremendous example of the alternative-country gathering more blues with addition of harmonica, where ‘Nothing Blows My Mind’ ends the record with the minimalistic steel pedal guitar and piano contemporary that has always drawn me to him.

For fans that might want a modernized, more ballad driven Jimmy Buffett, the feel of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson with maybe a hint of Jim White or John Paul White in lyricism.  Okay, you get the idea that it’s hard for me to give you a categorical nail down here.  It’s okay, don’t trust me.  Listen for yourself.  This is a very good record with all kinds of wonderful qualities, melodies, and even guest appearance from Vince Gill.  Don’t take my word for it, you can listen for yourself, or you can check out Rolling Stone as I think they seem to be smitten with it.  Go to the Bahamas – it will only cost you $11.69 on CD or @22.89 on Vinyl.

The Band

  • Afie Jurvanen – vocals, guitar
  • Vince Gill – guitar
  • Russ Pahl – pedal-steel maestro
  • Dave Roe – bass
  • Mickey Raphael – harmonica

Bootcut Tracklisting

  1. Girls Bugging Me
  2. Just A Song
  3. Working On My Guitar
  4. I’m Still
  5. Somebody Just Like Me
  6. Second Time Around
  7. Into The Unknown
  8. Sports Car
  9. The Only One
  10. Gone Girl Gone
  11. Nothing Blows My Mind

 

The Fusion Syndicate – A Speedway on Saturn’s Rings

I don’t know how it’s possible.  It’s ridiculous to have all these fabulously talented musicians in on one album.  It is beyond We Are the World in scope of artists gathered, considering the monumental scope of the progressive, space rock, jazz-rock fusionistas (not a word, but now it’s going to be), gathered to deliver this near one-of-a-kind undertaking.  When they meant fusion syndicate they were not joking (look the list of musicians in this mind-blowing syndicate).  Okay, now that you have the general scope of the talent in the room, I’m going to review the album in the next paragraph.

If Jazz, Funk, Rock and Progressive Rock met in space, at some swanky, gravity-bound speedway on a certain planet’s rings you have to assume that you are in for a barrage of musical genres, improvisational masterpiece that’s going to come track by track, artist by artist, intermingled with some extremely far-out symphonic tricks, keyboard wizardry, and brassy music balls worthy of Davis’ brewing.  Get yourself on this spaceship, buy the ticket to get there (thank God it doesn’t take 829.43 million miles to get to this bananza)!  There is only misplaced track on the entire record, and if you’re looking at the listing, you can probably get a feel for the one it might be.  Once you’ve dispensed with that, you’re in…one hell of a… “prog seat” (don’t sue me Pete Pardo, I don’t have any money anyway).  This is the ultimate fusion album, reminding you of what true fusion should encompass, and with the listing of the band members reaching from all spectrums of music (Genesis to Megadeth to Mahavishnu Orchestra to Public Image Limited to Yes to Porcupine Tree) they have more than accomplished the mission to Saturn’s rings!  There’s a lot to digest, and these brave fusion souls from all walks of instrumental life truly engage, trying almost impossibly to make sure each genre gets equal share, leaving the audience’s ear as the final music multiverse judge as to whether it did so.  I, for one, believe they have truly done so.  Mission accomplished.  See you for “Throwdown on Neptune’s Moons” (yeah, I want album credit for that title when you steal it — as if — no one’s reading this anyway).  Awesome, fun record!

The Band

  • Al Di Meola
  • Jah Wobble (Public Image LTD)
  • Chester Thompson (Genesis/Brand X)
  • Chris Poland (Megadeth)
  • Rick Wakeman (Yes)
  • Angelo Moore (Fishbone)
  • Bootsy Collins (Parliament)
  • Brian Jackson (Kool and the Gang, Les Nubians, Gil Scott-Heron)
  • Fernando Perdomo (Dreaming in Stereo)
  • Carmine Appice (Cactus, Blue Murder, King Cobra, Rod Stewart, Vanilla Fudge)
  • Jan Akkerman (Focus)
  • Didier Malherbe (Gong)
  • Steve Stevens (Billy Idol)
  • Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report)
  • Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
  • Nik Turner (Hawkwind)
  • Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets)
  • Jordan Rudess (Dream Theatre/Liquid Tension Experiment)
  • Mel Collins (King Crimson)
  • Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree)
  • Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
  • Jay Beckenstein (Spyro Gyro)
  • Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai)
  • Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree)
  • David Sancious (The E Street Band)
  • Larry Coryell (it’s our assumption that he was in on the early recordings of this record as he died in 2017)
  • Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Black Country Communion)
  • Eric Marienthal (Chick Corea Elecktric Band)

A Speedway On Saturn’s Rings Tracklisting

  1. A Speedway on Saturn’s Rings Feat. Al Di Meola, Jah Wobble (Public Image LTD.), Chester Thompson (Genesis / Brand X)
  2. Planet 15 Feat. Chris Poland (Megadeth)
  3. Io Feat. Rick Wakeman (Yes)
  4. Escape from the Black Hole Feat. Angelo Moore (Fishbone)
  5. The Bottle Feat. Bootsy Collins (Parliament), Brian Jackson (Gil Scott Heron), Fernando Perdomo, Carmine Appice (Cactus / Vanilla Fudge)
  6. Blasting Off Feat. Jan Akkerman (Focus)
  7. Lunar Rover on Mars Feat. Didier Malherbe (Gong)
  8. Coming Back Home Feat. Steve Stevens, Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report)
  9. Random Acts of Science Feat Rick Wakeman (Yes), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra), Nik Turner (Hawkwind), Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets / Alan Holdsworth)
  10. Stone Cold Infusion Feat. Steve Stevens, Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater/Liquid Tension Experiment), Mel Collins (King Crimson), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
  11. Molecular Breakdown Feat. Jay Beckenstein (Spyro Gyra), Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), David Sancious (The E Street Band)
  12. Particle Accelerations Feat. Larry Coryell, Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater/Black Country Communion), Eric Marienthal (Chick Corea Elektric Band), Chester Thompson (Genesis/Brand X)

 

Dead Feathers – Full Circle

The Dead Feather’s waste no time in making sure that you know they’ve got the fuzz rock-n-roll down pat.  They’re guitars slay it, hinting at a little psychedelia and they can linger in a luscious riff to make sure you got the guitar groove down.  It is seasoned in a Jefferson Starship-like mojo thanks to the vocal styles of Marissa Allen.  It summons your attention, and I was immediately smitten that it was unique, loud, nearly teetering in an understudy from an opera.  Her note can hang, it jolt, and it can certainly deliver the lyrics above the crush and fuzz of her genuine bandmate’s playing feverishly with her.

When you get to ‘Daughters’ you’re going to realize the true reach and scope of this band.  They can be slow, moody, haunting (fingerpicking finale ‘Galapagos’), under-scored — yet blistering.  Whether it’s through the powerful vocals, which have my vote right now for best vocal of the year in rock, or it can come from the hard rock blues of the guitars and drums.  You will start to notice the waverings (wah-ness) in the background, the layers of rhythm, as you’re caught up in a song’s pace and how it relates to the overall album.  You will start to imagine how they’d be live, and you’ll be like me — searching the internet for the closest show (trust me you — you will).

If you miss Grace Slick, this is your in!  If you love good old-fashioned hard blues rock that teaters on the psych-edge and you like ebb-and-flow in your guitarists, Ripple Music has delivered Dead Feathers on a gorgeous silver plate for your indulgence!  This will be a record that will grow on you with each listen, and bring you back Full Circle to that hard rock seventies, rawness that set the music world on it’s fuzzy, psychedelic, stoner path, where today — so many talented bands are venting, re-inventing and crushing riff after riff in wild, vivacious variety!

The Band

  • Marissa Allen/Welu – Vocals
  • Joel Castanon – drums
  • Tim Snyder – guitars
  • Tony Wold – guitars
  • Rob Rodak – bass

Full Circle Tracklisting

  1. Full Circle
  2. Lightning
  3. Daughters
  4. One Year Before the Island
  5. The Swell
  6. Robbery
  7. Galapagos

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 27

What is about the “end” that has bands and music genres grasping at this title in all kinds of ways now in September of 2023?  Going back just a few weeks of releases, we have seen over six releases (that we know of from our deep dive) that have a title using “end” in their album name, and I am sure there are more on the way, and probably if we went back this year — probably a few more.  This Album Review Saturdays we decide to go with an industrial alternative record from a band that the teeth to make the end really feel that way.  Then we take on some EDM that claims endless.  Finally, one of the most adored instrumental, independent, rock bands of the past two decades puts their latest, long overdue album in the list of “end” titles!  Ready for the end?  If this is how it ends, what do you think it should have sounded like?

 

3TeethEndEx

I like a good industrial metal-rock-alternative excursion as much as the fans of Marilyn Manson, Skinny Puppy, and a lot of other I could mention, and 3Teeth has always had that dimension and scope. They have a production style that emulates but reaches and stretches the genre into soundtrack backgrounds thanks to the Mick Gordon production values, which is also a rabbit hole you could venture down.

EndEx is exactly what I was expecting in the industrialism vocal and condensed guitar and bass driven angst, describing the perils of our current society, technological creepiness, or our path to a potential “end.” The good news, they spare no time getting there with blistering first tracks that have ever nuance of trademark industrial and alternative metalism with heaping texture and layers. ‘Plutonomicon’ is a fine lengthy example of all that is worthy and progressively engaging about this band. The slightly bad news is that the vocal layer doesn’t often reach above to capture, and that’s somewhat too bad, as I really found some of the lyrics (as I dove in another time) to be incredibly well put together poetically. Let me just give you few lines so you get my feeling that it’s really awesome, like ‘Scorpion’: Serpent of desire/Water in the fire/Onyx eyes with diamond tongue/I can see through everyone.

The melodic and timing reminded me much of Marilyn Manson in the delivery and pace, but not without some real surprises! Industrial followers should have already had this band on their radar, but if not, the EndEx is a great place to start and has all the characteristics and modern slants and even some rageful hip-hop to hit the genre-spot you’ve been aching for, as there are really not a lot of bands in this today.

The Band

  • Alexis Mincolla (vocals)
  • Chase Brawner (guitars)
  • Xavier Swafford (keys & synth)
  • Andrew Means (modular synth & bass)
  • Nick Rossi (drums)

EndEx Tracklisting

1. “Xenogenesis”
2. “Acme Death Machine”
3. “Slum Planet”
4. “What’s Left”
5. “Merchant of the Void”
6. “Higher Than Death”
7. “Ali3n”
8. “Plutonomicon”
9. “Paralyze” (featuring Ho99o9)
10. “Scorpion”
11. “Drift”
12. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears cover)

 

MarshEndless

When I saw the cover and the name of the band, I had an instant feeling, as this is my first time with the band, that it was going to be potentially an ambient work. While it does have that, there is a lovely attention to the detail of having instrument in the movement when I finally realize we are really in EDM, techno-electronic environment. There’s a feast for the ears around every few minutes as instrument/production and technological wizardly play their parts in the grand scheme of Endless.

The songs have a good run time, careful not to overstay their rhythm and become droning. I love the way ‘Reminscent’ ends as a good example. They are memorable and have a familiar pitch and tone that joins them but still distances them from each other, and even stays clear of the cliche drop you might be expecting (which is a big kudo here, but I’m sure for others they might have liked that addition). I hear Pendulum, Missio, Zhu and older Delerium.

Now let us talk about the vocals coming from the guest appearances of vocalists Jodie Knight, Leo Wood and Mariel Beausejour. When they are utilized, they do add a lot of soul and sentiment to the delivery, highlighting, but somehow staying out of the forefront.

Whether you are into this for a workout or a perhaps a minor rave on your college dorm apartment stereo, there is a lot to groove on with a descent depth, but it’s the timing of the songs that keeps the flow great and the mix truly interesting, engaging, and a hint worldly accessible.

The Band

  • Tom Marshall (Marsh) – Producer, Synths, Piano pads, strings and a whole lot more.
  • Guest mentioned above.
  • Simon Doty – DJ

Endless Tracklisting

  1. Pneuma
  2. Blue (Ft. Leo Wood)
  3. Reminiscent
  4. Touch The Sky
  5. Fragments
  6. Hymn
  7. All Night Long
  8. Fall To Pieces (Ft. Leo Wood)
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Sleep
  11. Endless

 

Explosions in the SkyEnd

A seven year album in the making had me worried considering the title.  This is one of my favorite instrumental bands of all time.  They have made records that have literally made me cry, and there are absolutely no lyrics.  Their emotional investment in sound might be second-to-none in the instrumental recording industry.  The Texas group has the ability to treat their sound as if it were some sort of motion picture, progressively driven, slow-burning style.  Not just within the timing and delivery of the album.  No.  This can be accomplished in just a song, but in the overall grip of an instrumental album of their design and creative nature, it is a journey that is probably one of a kind.  And, in instrumental work of a rock band, is a very difficult thing to pull off for as long as they have been making albums (since 1999, so you have some context).

End, is another five-star recording, and for me, a return to form, while still managing to engage with the overall space and progressive tendencies that seem to come out in the overall production (or improvisations, if that’s how it came to be). ‘All Mountains’ is a prime example of holding together in form, but letting the element of the guitar chords take it creatively forward.  Every inch of sound uses up all the emotion that can be stirred by each song, and the overall nature and order of the tracks is exactly as it should be and then some.  While there is the sound of ambient, we are very much aware that it is an instrument demonstratively taking center stage in it, like that of ‘Fight’ which sounds somewhat prehistoric and then bridged and then lingered into something completely different.  This is not a first listen record for those that are just starting out, but I do know it leaves an impression in just the first listen (someone was listening with me for the first time, no prior knowledge of the band, and were earfully smitten).

These are seven carefully constructed, engrossing songs that will challenge you as to what the means to the ‘End’ may be.  For me, it was that the ‘End’ is always coming in some form, at some point in time, for something.  It is never going to stop (yes, the last song title) being what it is, and it’s your life to do something with the times in between ‘Ends’ as it can be many things, beautiful, sad…or a wonderful instrumental recording of 45 minutes.  The good news…you can play it again, and again.

The Band

  • Chris Hrasky – Drums
  • Michael James – Guitar, Bass Guitar, Keyboards
  • Munaf Rayani – Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion
  • Mark Smith – Guitar, Synthesizer

End Tracklisting

  1. “Ten Billion People”
  2. “Moving On”
  3. “Loved Ones”
  4. “Peace or Quiet”
  5. “All Mountains”
  6. “The Fight”
  7. “It’s Never Going to Stop”

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 26

The singer-songwriters shine very bright on Album Review Saturdays this week! The elder states-woman of blues rock and R&B reaches the sincerest pinnacle with her latest, while what might be her protege (to some degree in the field of rock-R&B blues) takes on a more flashy, catchy mix to continue her trifecta of first releases. Both are very well done records, they grip in different ways but have a flavor that’s worthy of their skills as musicians, writers, and female vocalists. The male in the group has hit an emotionally wrenching home run that fits every fibre of human being, and is absorbing in a degree that is very very touching and hard to explain unless you’re “in it up to here.” Dazzlingly different are these records worthy of your attention and ear. Let Album Review Saturdays sing-songwriter prospectus begin.

See Mark Kuligowski’s review plus two additional reviews on the YouTube version, by clicking this as a link.

Joan Osborne – Nobody Owns You

There’s always been something about the vocal, this woman’s work blues and whispy-rasp blues crooning.  There’s depth to her voice and how it sometimes hangs a bit, rich, sometimes thick, and sometimes even biting.  On her latest album, Nobody Owns You, which is very rich in the musical depth and production, she’s really connecting with the songs and vocally swaying in and out of surrounding musicianship.  It feels like she is actually having fun, not struggling to write what the radio wants or a hit, but speaking and singing from the heart and mind together.  Something that those first records always felt like.

Her vocals on this record are the best recorded and separated by track than I can remember experiencing in quite some time.  Joan Osborne’s style is the lead and the lyrics are engaging enough to hold every track.  Her unique weak-ish (for lack of a better definition in vocal sound) finishes to poetic versus is more vibrant and prickly in this recording, and it might be what’s making it so enticing.  The notes she can always hang, but it’s that wicked finish that had been missing, and it’s present in a lot of songs like the spaghetti western motif ‘Time of the Gun’ as well in a different capacity in the plucky ‘The Smallest Trees’ and the touching ‘Child of God,’ which probably showcases this the best.

The album has wonderful guitar ranges, steel pedal, and acoustic, which are a rich accompaniment to the song writing.  If there was anything Nobody Owns You might suffer from is the low-key happiness.  It has a lullaby, melancholy that seems like it might have been better sometimes served by some gospel blues, which I thought was coming in ‘Tower of Joy.’  Reflective song writing can be very subjective, so I always love it when it’s vocalist can deliver the drama and enlightening moments, and Joan Osborne is always in that pulpit.  She has put this “in the world right now,” and I feel the timing is well placed, but the question is, will the right people be listening and expecting this ‘Lifeline’ of music, or will they be reaching for the angst and pitch records?  My wife and I will be seeing her on September 26th at the Riviera Theatre with Jill Sobule, and I can tell you that we’ve been longing to see her for a very long time!  Nobody Owns You is a very worthy addition to her excellent catalog.

The Band

  • Joan Osborne – Vocals, Guitar
  • Ben Rice – Banjo (also produced the record)
  • Jack Petruzelli – Baritone Guitar
  • Dave Sherman – Piano
  • Cindy Cashdollar – Lap Steel
  • Rachel Yamagata and Catherine Russell – Backing Vocals
  • Jill Sobule is also featured on “Child of God” and “Lifeline.”

Nobody Owns You Tracklisting

  1. “I Should’ve Danced More”
  2. “Nobody Owns You”
  3. “So Many Airports”
  4. “Woman’s Work”
  5. “The Smallest Trees”
  6. “Time of the Gun”
  7. “Dig a Little Ditch”
  8. “Secret Wine”
  9. “Child of God”
  10. “Tower of Joy”
  11. “Lifeline”
  12. “Great American Cities”

 

ZZ Ward – Dirty Shine

“I’m all right, and I got a good feeling.” Yep, think that sort of sets the tone for this blues-rock soul up-temp album from Zsuzsanna Eva Ward, known cooly — like her records — as ZZ Ward.  We’re still in the same category, genre of music, this one’s taking on heavy production, bigger sounds, and grooves that could pop up in the country-rock dance club.  ZZ Ward again is the lead, her voice has that fun rhythm and blues with great pitch and range that fits her fabulously.  She can sing it, talk-it, or belt it, and she spares nothing.  Neither does the band!  There’s some great bass, playful hidden western licks, and modern movements of Bishop Briggs, K Flay, hint of Pretty Reckless and sprinkle of Winehouse.

‘Friends Like These’ a perfect example of the slam and slithering genre snaking style applied cleverly to her song-writing and delivery.  It’s over the top.  It’s ride or die with bitches and hoes, but more so it’s going to have you straight up paying attention and feeling the slide guitar and purposeful, ripped up rhythms.  You come to understand the cover shot, as the record continues its slight western future bent pace, and there’s some great special guest appearances like Aloe Blacc (from the late 2022 released, ‘Tin Cups’) and more importantly at the production helm that really is where this record shines brightest, including the ridiculous hamonified hip-hop slanged ‘OverdoZZe!’

This blues-rock bender is exactly that, an overdose of all things we just love!  We’ve got cool guitar solos, stomp worthy clapping, soulful funky tracking, and a charismatic crazy blues singer-songwriter at the helm — or in this case on a mechanically demented hell-bound horse?!  Oh yeah, doesn’t that sound awesome!?  It should, as this record does just all of that and even has a few tricks up its Wild Wild Westian sleeves (picture her as Will Smith’s character armed with a harmonica and the best wireless mic contraption you can buy).   Don’t let her down, go to her website and have a bourbon and saddle up with your best headset and get your Dirty Shine on!

The Band

  • ZZ Ward – Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Harmonica (at the time of posting we did not have the physical copy of album for credits)
  • Guests:  Aloe Blacc, Vic Mensa, and Jean Deaux

Dirty Shine Tracklisting

  1. Welcome to Dirty Shine
  2. Ride or Die (feat. Vic Mensa)
  3. Fadeaway
  4. On One (feat. Jean Deaux)
  5. Slow Hum Hymnal
  6. Dead or Alive
  7. Forget About Us
  8. Friends Like These
  9. Baby Don’t
  10. North Bank Blues
  11. OverdoZZe
  12. Cut Me Loose
  13. Tin Cups (feat. Aloe Blacc)
  14. Don’t Let Me Down

 

Noah Gundersen – If This Is the End

The sign on the album says shiny happy people may not need apply.  That is probably correct.  But, if you were to pass this one up, because of the title and the emotional depth and depression thematics, you might actually be missing out on one of the most honest and impassioned song writings of the year.  From the lead, title track through, If This Is the End, is a lyric listener’s dream.  You can’t turn this on in your kitchen and start cooking.  You can’t throw this one amidst your daily routine.  You need to sit down, listen, plug in.  The connection made from Noah’s daring truthfulness and stoic delivery is truly a powerful audio experience.  Again, like the two prior albums I’ve reviewed, Noah’s vocal is the lead.  While it’s much more sparse than the two female’s mentioned above, it is utterly gripping and beautifully sung to deliver the desperate goods within his word choices and contemplative structure.  I did not get this in my first listen — why?  Because I was trying to listen to it in the background — it won’t work that way.  I plead with you — relisten.

The lachrymose feeling crept in so fast, as ‘Better Days’ just came crashing into my soul.  It was some of the exact words and despair that I have fought to this very day.  I have an immediate connection to Noah’s plea, his wonderment, his disappointment, and his position of self doubt.  These are hard things to shake.  It’s self-absorbing, while we realize how destructive it is to the people that care the most about us — around us.  The effect of the ferocious speed and demands thrown upon us is so universal to most people (those that have to or have had to “make a living”).  I’m wondering just how many listeners out in the music-multiverse should actually connect with Noah Gundersen?  It should be millions.

He knows depression.  This I am certain of (considering his lead off track for Lover album was ‘Robin Williams’), but it is a beautiful, educated depression that has a sincerity that’s engaging, provocative, as well as promisingly hopeful somehow.  I leave you with this quote from Noah in a recent article that kind of might just sum up how to digest an album of this nature, or why it hits me as hard as it does.  “My hope is that these songs will find you in the ways you need,” adds Gundersen. “Here’s another message in a bottle – I hope it washed up on your shore at just the right time.” [Americansongwriter.com article    This album is a continuation of a song-writer very self aware, but aware that what he’s feeling and experiencing and struggling with is real beyond himself, which is the gift and salvation he has in his career, and I hope he knows the beauty of that.  If This Is the End is right up there (for fans of Noah Gundersen) with Carry the Ghost and should be in your collection of Best of 2023.

PS:  I know we’re really nothing much here at Beyond Your Radio, but Noah, if you happen to read this, I truly appreciate your album, your talent, and if there was ever an opportunity to have you on one of our shows to share your musical insight — I would be honored.  Thank you.

The Band

  • Noah Gundersen – Vocals, Piano
  • Harrison Whitford – Guitar
  • Tyler Carroll – Bass
  • Dave Dalton – Keyboards
  • Abby Gundersen – Violin, Vocals
  • Sean Lane – Drums, Percussion, Sounds
  • Andy D. Park (co-composer on Better Days)

 

If This Is the End Tracklisting

  1. If This Is the End
  2. Swim
  3. Better Days
  4. Moment Like This
  5. Everything Is New
  6. Painted Blue
  7. Haunted House
  8. Headlights
  9. The Future
  10. Terrible Freedom
  11. Love Is Blind

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 25

Beyond Your Radio Album Review Saturdays are often picked to challenge us, as listeners, into an experience that could be vastly different than the prior week, the month, or in this episode’s case, quite some time.  First off, we have a great appreciation for classical, but it’s been a while for me and Mozart.  I’ve been Bach-ing myself into a corner.  Well, that ended this week after listening to the delicate ivories of Su Yeon Kim, but did it have my Bach when all was said and done?  And since I was apparently all-in for another listening challenge, I dove into what I expected to be an Australian Eagles meets Fleetwood Mac in a low-fi fingerstylings indie folk rock band out of Australia.  Did it deliver my first expectations?  Finally, there’s rumblings in the Ripple Music social media realm and fuzz guitar environment that a particular band’s latest release could very well make them “King” of the albums of 2023!  What?!  Could it be?!  Only one way to find out.

 

This week we were able to pull off another YouTube channel version, which adds two very interesting albums to the great reviews below, so check it out!  [Available Soon]

 

Su Yeon Kim – Mozart Recital

When it comes to the skill set required to play classical, launch it as a recital without accompaniment of other instruments or an orchestra, it is a daunting task that is pretty much reserved for an elite pianist, an experienced veteran archeologist of a music notes and compositions.  While I’m not saying these are scarce, as that is not the case, I am saying those with the bravery to put themselves to the ultimate test of not only conquering the majestic classic mountain but delivering it in published-for-all-the-world to hear for profit are very rare, endangered species.  Su Yeon Kim’s Mozart Recital is tale told by the dangling principles of a Korean master pianist, professoring Mozart into a stand-alone performance that fills every inch of space along the ivories.

While it takes us to Sonata 9 to truly get to those spaces, the compositional tackling is precision.  As I stated before, I do like Mozart, but Bach is my foppish, wig wearing jam with pinkies up.  However, once we hit the Sonata 9 and proceed to complete the recital, I had a much stronger appreciation for the compositions and the exacto delivery.  There’s not a solitary doubt in my mind that Ms. Kim is a dynamo at the keys, and that collaborations and orchestrations would appear as easy as making a cheese sandwich.  Now that this album is going to open up some western doors, I am hoping that her technical expertise needed for competitive reasons might take a slight back seat to compositions that blur the lines and explore classical environments against modern movements, showcasing creativity within, as I have also hear her play Back, Chopin, and Beethoven, and she’s got it all in black and white.  Time for some colour and a leap of structure.  I know I and others that have heard this recording have that similar excited hope.

Mozart Recital Tracklisting

  1. Gigue in G major, K474 ‘Eine kleine Gigue’
  2. 12 Contredanses for Count Czernin (Nos 1) K296b
  3. 12 Contredanses for Count Czernin (Nos 2) K296b
  4. 12 Contredanses for Count Czernin (Nos 3) K296b
  5. 12 Contredanses for Count Czernin (Nos 12), K269b
  6. Sonata No 9 in D major, K 311:  I Allegro Con Spirito
  7. Sonata No 9 in D major, K 311:  II Andante Con Espressione
  8. Sonata No 9 in D major, K 311:  III Rondo – Allegro
  9. Allegro in G Minor, K 312/590d
  10. Adagio in B Minor, K 540
  11. Variations on “Unser dummer Pöbel meint,” K 455
  12. Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K 332: I. Allegro
  13. Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K 332: II. Adagio
  14. Sonata No. 12 in F Major, K 332: III. Assai allegro
  15. Ave Verum Corpus K 618

 

The Paper Kites – At the Roadhouse

Australia’s soft countrified slow blues rock quintet is a beautiful, harmonic, and melody spectacular amidst changing atmospheres and wonderfully connective lyrical compositions.  If you don’t feel that in the first five songs, than this is certainly out of your roadhouse, and while I do not pass any judgement, I’m worried for your music listening career.  I am not an ultra fan of country, that’s been well documented, but when this kind of melody and connection (not only between instruments and vocals, but with the listener) it is a stand up and take notice moment.  There is not a solitary song on this 16 track album.  What’s even more astounding is the recording arena, as stated by the title.  When you come in you know where you are, and by the end of the record, which ends on an emotional stunning, ‘Darkness At My Door’ you can either stand up and clap or maybe cry, and then you hear the people — they never left, and neither did you or your ears.

This album feels good, hurts so good (yes, song there), and the tempered incoming and out-going instrumentalism cuddling, tempting, and flirting with the lyrics and melodies come from everywhere.  I am reminded of listening to Calexico in the lighter deliveries and dustiness, as well as the melody of Blue Rodeo softer songs, and of course the tightness of the Eagles.  This is a slam dunk in its genre, feel, and production.  If you listen to At the Roadhouse, and you love those I’ve stated above, this can easily make your best albums of 2023, and I know it has for us here at Beyond Your Radio.  It’s also time to go down a rabbit hole of their catalog, and hope that they step foot past the west coast into lovely Buffalo, NY or close by (I’m sure they’re not reading this review, but a music multiverse listener like myself can hope).

The Band

  • Sam Bentley – lead vocals, guitars, keyboards
  • Christina Lacy – guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Josh Bentley – drums, percussion
  • David Powys – guitars, banjo, lap steel, backing vocals
  • Sam Rasmussen – bass guitar, synthesizers

Photo: Dara Munnis. @daramunnis

At the Roadhouse Tracklisting

  1. Midnight Moon
  2. Till the Flame Turns Blue
  3. Black & Thunder
  4. Marietta
  5. Rolling On Easy
  6. Hurts So Good
  7. Good Nights Gone
  8. Burn the Night Away
  9. June’s Stolen Car
  10. Maria, It’s Time
  11. Green Valleys
  12. The Sweet Sound of You
  13. I Don’t Want to Go That Way
  14. Pocket Full of Rain
  15. Mercy
  16. Darkness At My Door

 

Moon Cover – Sun King

It’s now time to reach into the Ripple Music 2023 expansive psychedelic, stoner rock cart for Sun King from Moon Coven!  When Ripple Music makes a release, it’s like the sonic, psyche-lord of all things in this genre has spoken, and that will be the end of that, listen if you dare, and drop the needle!  Here comes the sonic!  Her are the crushing riffs swaying demonically in your headphones tempting you further into the lair of psychedelic mayhem that will undoubtedly commense and consume!  And, then, you wait for it.  What are we waiting for?  The vocal.  It’s the big surprise.  It’s their reveal.  And, for Moon Coven, it definitely an Ozzy-ish throwback style and pitch, which for most will throw you into very lap of luxury!  You’ve entered the plaza of ear pleasures and hard metal throbbery of which you’ve been hankering (whether you knew this album was coming, or you just couldn’t wait for the next Ripple release)!

There’s not a moment spared in hard fuzz guitar magnificence.  The lyrics and the delivery are spaced and timed so that the stranglehold of Moon Coven’s pace is never interrupted.  This is an album to be played loud, whipping through your convertible or your biker gang’s caravan!  Go!  Grab the handle bar and twist!  Wrap your hands around the bench press and ripp away with the pent up fever, fire and underlying doom scratching at the surface of your very being.  Who is the Sun King?  My vision is scary as hell, fire-breathing guitar, Mad-Max-Fury Road phantasm, and cool as shit!  Bow down and ‘Behold the Serpent’ in all its slinky splendor my music multiverse doom-stoner-rockers, as this album has all the elements for a final throwdown at the mountain of best albums of 2023!  (Oh, poor, Rhiannon Giddens… maybe she’s get lucky and Hail the Void and Moon Coven will destroy each other at the pinnacle of the decision).  All hail Ripple‘s den of psychedelic doom exquisite ear splendor!

The Band

  • David Leban – Vocals & Guitar
  • Fredrik Dahlqvist -Drums
  • Axel Ganhammar – Guitar
  • Oscar Johansson – Bass & Vocals
  • Justin Boyesen – Guitar

Sun King Tracklisting

  1. Wicked Words In Gold They Wrote
  2. Seeing Stone
  3. Sun King
  4. Behold the Serpent
  5. Below the Black Grow
  6. Gilden Apple
  7. The Yawning Wild
  8. Death Shine Light On Life
  9. The Lost Color 05:39

 

Zhu on Unknown Sundays 2023

“Some of us don’t even know the limitations of our own prejudice.” This is how Zhu (Steven Zhu) speaks of the state of the music listening public and even the people creating/editing music. Mr. Zhu is a secret weapon that hit the production/dance/electronic scene in 2014, and at first listen to the brand new album Generationwhy you know there is a talented, instrumentalist and producer that refuses to be locked into genre black and white issues. His soul-like vocals, horny accompaniments, electronica effects, ever changing synthesizer and piano virtuosity, and sparky alternative approach to real guitar and background dynamics have created a solid body of–well– unknown work within our picky, radio driven, musical hemisphere.

Obviously, no one creates from a vacuum, and there are certain chances to collaborate and respects one pays, and Zhu has an infinite space to draw from. His work with Skrillex on “Working It” winds up as a bonus on the new album (first released on an EP called Genesis Series), and it absolutely showcases a hint of the prospects and possibilities–and his musical spine bending flex. The music of electronica doesn’t always fascinate, as it sometimes can feel and sound more beat driven and computerized.  Zhu is real, fresh and exciting on all levels. It comes directly from the talent of the creator and the instruments and is fed fantastically into final production with a care that reminds me of well aged wine before it is sent for retail consumption.

For a first record, in a genre with endless possibilities of reaching out–touching all kinds of musical gaps and exacting revenge on musical prejudice, Zhu has landed on solid musical ground that should bring a large fan base. Not only of dance/electronica, but of soul/R&B, alternative, pop adult contemporary and jazz (collaboration with Trombone Shorty). Hell, if he lets that guitar work take over, there’s an entire rock community that could benefit from his tinkerings like Skrillex did for a hint with Korn.

Harkening to the first time I heard bands like The New Deal, Thievery Corporation, Daft Punk and Zero 7, I realize a much better musical accomplishment, a creative fever, and an overwhelming need to dance (like that moment in the movie, Begin Again, where James Corden’s character withholds his party guests from dancing–even though the beat/music is infectious). Give Zhu and Generationwhy the opportunity and attention it deserves, as he is going to be doing more amazing work–even if he remains anonymously orchestrating it all from his cool brand and prospective.

In the words of one of the bands above “You better get a pair of headphone, and get’em cranked up!” Or better yet..go old school…and hit that stereo and let it flow through your entire house. You’ll be part of Generationwhy in no time.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Zhu Albums in my collection:  Dreamland (2021) Generationwhy (2016)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on July 31, 2016, and I was really looking into a digging the EDM scene, but I wanted something more tangible in the creative environment, having more attachment to musical sculpting, even some vocal arrangements that had mood and emotion.  In comes Zhu with all kinds of interesting arrangements, moods and emotions.  The only problem in this environment as a whole is that it seems to be singles driven.  Albums do not get made that often.  It’s probably due to the monetary value of what they do versus selling an album.  When you can spin and drop and please the dance-masses at high end resorts and clubs, it’s hard to be creatively conscious of the need to drop an album, although one is coming this year and it will be recorded in a Cathedral (I guess his organ won’t be small – shout out to Prince – Batman).   – Mark Kuligowski  [September 3rd 2023]

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 24

Our Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 24 starts off with a special review on three masters of their instruments and a music magic making moment where skill sets and improvisation met in very progressive jazz session that is finally available to the public thanks to Bardo Records. We then go down a “Road” with a legendary rocker who truly exemplifies the genre and the absolute blast it can be from age to age when surrounded by trustworthy, tight musicianship. Then we leave the standard rock road to take an alternative, industrial, EDM-ish unmarked speed limit highway with a heavy seven year itch that had to be scratched. No scratch that! Heavily gouged! There, are you ready! Of course you are! It’s Album Review Saturdays!

Jonas HellborgThe Concert of Europe

Don’t be mistake that this is live concert, first of all. This is a studio session that puts three genius musicians in the same room for multiple days in the mid 1980s under the engineering of Tim Hunt, who’ engineering credits have Brian Eno, The Hollies, Fastway, Alvin Lee, and one of the greatest bass players of all time, and good friend, Jonas Hellborg.  So, who are the other two legends in the room? Keyboardist and overall maestro of jazz syntha-sonicisms (not a word — it should be), Bernie Worrell! Boom! How about, Ginger Baker on drums! Boom-Boom! Wish you were a fly on the wall, right?  Well, this recording will be as close as you can get, so buckle up!

There’s no question that Bernie Worrell (some credits of his collaborations to put in perspective, Talking Heads, Praxis, George Clinton, Les Claypool) and his keyboard sets that tones when your ears first grapple with this recording. You get the master impression immediately from the sinister tickling intro of ‘Moon Suite Part 1’ as that tuning up mood and modest pace lets you in. Organ with some grinding, Ginger laying a drum pattern march, and Jonas gradually phat’ing up with bass lines and one-of-a-kind sounds from the bass trickery, and then we’re off when Part 2 flows right in. The record’s pace seems to move upward at each track. The improv moments interwoven between the shifting modulations from Bernie, the feeling it thumbing and plucking cleverness of Jonas, and Ginger’s holding the line drumming and tempering his slight movements and shifts, (pay attention here, as there’s a reason he’s holding it all so wickedly well) enjoying every moment and flow from his chair. It’s just pure magic each listen.

There are moments in the recording that are very progressive, like in part three of the Moon Suite, which have multiple genres being tickled (I hear a little western in bass and drum line). But it is definitely a little darker, moodier, and leading to something when the strings of bass seem to linger longer and the keyboard pops and synth layers to the background. Again, wow! Bass playing from Jonas as beyond bass is evident in ‘Zakir’ and the two wise men listening and watching this beautifully accompany what he’s laying down, which is basically the softer moment of the album. From here is an all out sound hunt, crescendo to crescendo to improvisation feast for the ears from all instruments to the end! Remember, how I said pay attention to the way Ginger was holding back, well he’s now adjusted his chair and really starts to further the pace and become assertive with his band mates (he’s full limb tilt on ‘Tim Hunt’)!

Jazz enthusiasts with love for progressive keyboards and a tight trio that leaves the guitar out (although with Jonas at the helm you’re getting that trickery feeling sometimes of one being in the room). While this is the past in recording, it certainly has timeless elements of musicianship that entangle its relevance into today’s music as well as that which came before it (yes, that’s a piece of ‘London Bridges’ improved in ‘African Genesis’). If you don’t know Jonas Hellborg, bassist extraordinaire, I do highly suggest a rabbit hole of his works, as they are all unique and mind-blowing in their own right. Ginger Baker is probably one of the best drummers of all time, and that rabbit hole includes Cream, Blind Faith, Atomic Rooster, Hawkwind, and more. Consider this Concert of Europe a moment in time cultivated and captured for the enjoyment and education of the ears of progressive jazz lovers all over the world.

The Band

The Concert of Europe Tracklisting

  1. Moon Suite Part 1
  2. Moon Suite Part 2
  3. Moon Suite Part 3
  4. Zakir
  5. African Genesis
  6. Ashhark
  7. Tim Hunt

 

 

 

 

Alice CooperRoad

You’re never too old to rock, if you want to rock, and you let all hang out! Alice Cooper has been a modest staple in the rock-n-roll, hard rock community. Well respected, and there was no question, when we saw the release, that he knows not to tarnish that reputation. Without that reputation, he wouldn’t be surrounded by the great musicians he has had throughout his long rocker career. Road, is another solid recording done to please the community of fans, loyalists, and rock-n-roll lovers that are infatuated by the camp-and-circumstance of the clever Cooper. We’re in this community of drinkers of the juice as well. Not always, but most of the time.

Road is exactly as it should sound, catchy – catchy – catchy…hook, hooky, hookiest, and maybe even better than that. The Alice Cooper vocals we’ve known throughout the years love the strain, the tinkerings of an alter-vocal-ego(s), and of course the false drama in melody and harmony, which is the “roll” in their hard rock. We’ve probably got some auto-tuning going on, which is completely understandable given this the 29th studio album (is that even remotely possible), but the delivery is on spot, the production is perfectly in alignment, and the song flow is genuinely in tune from start to finish. What we do have here that’s a bit more is Tom Morello in the alternatively dynamic ‘White Line Frankenstein’ and the return of Kane Roberts, who was with Alice Cooper from 1985-1988. However, when the solos shine brightest — guess who, Nita Strauss! No, she’s not dreaming up something you haven’t heard before, but she’s nailing down common riff with a little upstage and whole lotta lovin’ to the flow of each track – even above Morello (wink).

There are going to be people that are going to say, “This is so — terrible — stupid — low-brow.” Perhaps ‘Big Boots’ falls into the reasoning, but — duh! So is; Seinfeld, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dumb and Dumber(er) and look where those are in the memory banks of we highly evolved humans. But, surrounded by wild acting (in this case Cooper’s lyrics) and setting and timing (that’s the goodness of the band), it becomes catchy, striking a ridiculous chord within us, even those of us that want to shake it off or dismiss it. Alice Cooper is a rock gem of catchy camp-driven chords and lyrical liners that keep you coming back for more. It’s a fun Road. The ring leader and his really good bandmates put on a worthy show, sealing it up with an incredibly quick rock-ballad-like operetic-banger in a Tom Wait-like delivery (‘100 Miles’). Then they come back out from under the tent to end it all with cover of ‘Magic Bus’ just to let you know, it’s okay to be cool, steady and into your old school rock-n-roll. Nice! If you consider yourself a highly evolved music officianto (good luck there), then maybe this is not the album for you to be checking out. But, I still have hope you can join us in the commoner’s car, throwing out your ‘Rules’ so you can join us on the real music-multiverse ‘Road.’

The Band

  • Alice Cooper – Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Nita Strauss – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Tommy Henriksen – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano, additional bass, percussion, backing vocals), “Party Animal” (track 8)
  • Chuck Garric – bass, backing vocals
  • Glen Sobel – drums
  • Bob Ezrin – backing vocals, acoustic guitar, horn synth

Guests/Additional Musicians

Kane Roberts – guitar (track 4)
Tom Morello – guitar (track 6), backing vocals (track 6)
Burleigh Johnson – piano (track 10)
Keith Miller – acoustic guitar (track 11)
Roger Glover – bass (track 11)
Sheryl Cooper – backing vocals (track 8 )

Road Tracklisting

  1. I’m Alice
  2. Welcome To The Show
  3. All Over The World
  4. Dead Don’t Dance
  5. Go Away
  6. White Line Frankenstein
  7. Big Boots
  8. Rules Of The Road
  9. The Big Goodbye
  10. Road Rats Forever
  11. Baby Please Don’t Go
  12. 100 More Miles
  13. Magic Bus

 

 

FilterThe Algorithm

It’s been seven years since we’ve heard the iconic scream and industrial alternative rock of Richard Patrick, Filter. The world’s gone to a fresh new hell during that hiatus, so there’s plenty to write, scream and rage about, so is that what we got here on the perfectly titled, The Algorithm? Of course it is! While the age of the screamer is showing in the vocal arena, he’s still a force to be reckoned with in production and industrialized music. The album is a hint more relentless than those that have come before, as there is little break in the heaviness to both the lyrics, tone and unabashed bashing of sounds, including the addition of EDM and drops, which have been present in the prior record, if I recall correctly. More under heavier use here.

This record has hints of the past in sound, but there is no doubt that Mr. Patrick, as usual, is utilizing a host of genre influences that mesh and thrash about in his own diabolical algorithm of album making. We’re just one small step from Obliteration, is a prime example of the familiarity, but also of the demanding requirement your ears must endure to embrace everything on the instrumentation table, whether they are the actual instruments or a purposefully designed, tormented computerization. Love that. The sonic explosion of nearly every single song on the record is layered and thrusted upon us, while you remember the title, understanding that maybe the underlying thrust upon us — is really the modern algorithm itself, perpetrating a silent whammy every single second we’re participating in the social media, review, likes and comments of our computer controlled environment. Wait, isn’t that at the heart of how unique Filter’s sound is?! They balance the heavy, the sonic, the tempo and the catchiness. It’s their formula, well it’s Richard Patrick’s formula. Oh, no, I’ve created a paradox that’s worthy of a Cloverfield movie. There are two moments on this record that don’t fit this paradox. ‘Summer Child’ and ‘Threshing Floor’ which are more of a hard guitar rocker with catchy riff and no trickery – just a band and raw vocalist delivering unabashedly. This also comes around again, as all Filter fans know, there’s always a lighter delivered song or two (in this case two, and they are at the very end). Or is that another paradox? Re-paradox? Oh stop! Like, comment quick — before they change our environment!

Filter fans, it’s everything you wished for (no reason to be careful). It’s Short Bus in places and a brand new modern runaway train in others. It’s Nine Inch Nails on some very cool steroids with a dash of Skrillex, and shit-load of extremely well done guitar work. There are plenty of themes in the album’s lyrics, heavy and contemplative, which is always the best part of a Filter record in my opinion. For people looking to join The Algorithm, tread lightly. I promise it will grow on you past the catchy backing tracks and industrial grooves. Let the paradox in your ear continue.

The Band

  • Richard Patrick – Vocals, Programming, Keyboards
  • Jonathan Radtke – Guitars, Backing vocals
  • Bobby Miller – Bass, Backing vocals
  • Elias Mallin – Drums
  • Zach Munowitz – Guitar on “For the Beaten”, “Up Against the Wall”, and “Say It Again”

The Algorithm Tracklisting

  1. The Drowning
  2. Up Against the Wall
  3. For the Beaten
  4. Obliteration
  5. Say It Again
  6. Face Down
  7. Summer Child
  8. Threshing Floor
  9. Be Careful What You Wish For
  10. Burn Out the Sun
  11. Command Z