Friday, November 20, 2015

Retro Album Spotlights: Billy Squier

Yes, the plural in "spotlights" is intentional. I initially was going to do only Billy Squier's breakout album Don't Say No. But then I started listening to Emotions In Motion again.

Keep this is mind, at one point Def Leppard opened for Billy Squier. For context, that was Leppard's Pyromania tour.

Billy Squier himself has said that Don't Say No is the best album he's ever made. I prefer Emotions In Motion.

Don't Say No has the four monster songs: "In The Dark", "The Stroke", "My Kinda Lover", (those three open the album) and "Lonely Is The Night". Emotions In Motion had the never-forgettable "Everybody Wants You" and the lesser known "She's A Runner."

I'm not here to tell Mr. Squier that he's wrong, just giving my personal preference.

Listen to the first three songs of Don't Say No and you're hooked. "In The Dark" is a rock masterpiece. This is where Squier excels. As a songwriter of good songs. The we get "The Stroke", which incidentally is the first Billy Squier song I ever heard. And now one of the most sampled songs ever. Then it bleeds into "My Kinda Lover". Another rock classic.

"You Know What I Like" is a good rocker, but nothing special.

"Too Daze Gone" is the most underrated song on the record. It's bluesy, it's Stonesey. It's groovy.

"Lonely Is The Night" is the other big song.

"Whadda You Want From Me" is very Zeppleninesaue with some Van Halen thrown in.

"Nobody Knows" is the clunker on Don't Say No. The falsetto is not appealing. The song itself is not good..

"I Need You" is bubblegum rock with big guitars. While not a bad song, it's nothing special.

The song 'Don't Say No" is not bad. The choice to fade into the first verse, however, was bad. The whole song seems disjointed.

Emotions In Motion starts out where Don't Say No left of with the iconic "Everybody Wants You".

Then things go off the rails a bit with the Rod Stewart inspired "Emotions In Motion" . I like things off the
rails. One of my favorite tracks on the record.

"Learn How to Live" is vintage Billy Squier in the verses and bridge, but the chorus is pedestrian.

"In Your Eyes" is a good ballad.

"Keep Me Satisfied" evokes boogie-woogie, blues inspired Aerosmith.

"It Keeps You Rockin'" is a straight up Billy Squier rocker. Nothing special, but not skip-worthy.

"One Good Woman" is one of those groovy rock songs that we all love (ok, maybe not all, but I do). Reminiscent of vintage Styx.

"She's A Runner" is what the quintessential 80's hard rock ballad aspired to be. Billy Squier wrote the book that 80's pop metal followed.

"Catch 22" is another song that you could hear Rod Stewart and/or the Faces recording. It's bluesy sultry rock at its best, replete with horns.

The album closes with "Listen to the Heartbeat", which is not a bad song, but it's time to restart the at track one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Album Spotlight: Brandy Zdan: Brandy Zdan

I really don't know what to make of Brandy Zdan's self-titled debut solo album. And that's not a bad thing.

I hear so many things going on throughout the record that I can't really pinpoint what it is. And again, that's not a bad thing.

The Canadian born, Nashville residing Zdan is no newcomer to the scene. She was a part of the gothic-folk duo Twilight Hotel before spending time in the Texas-based Americana band The Trishas.

Brandy Zdan the record is an amalgam of many things, including Americana, folk, rock, country, pop and more. Which I'm guessing is all Brandy Zdan the artist.

Zdan's smokey, sultry vocals are the common thread among the diverse musical ventures on this album.

All this just to say, it's good.

Here is "More of a Man". Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Q and A with Plastic Rhino

The Los Angeles-based duo Plastic Rhino recently released their third album Recondition. You can read on their website what they think. Here's my take: very good hard rock album. Sure, you can try to break it down and do all the sub-genre stuff, but what it all boils down to is that it's hard rock done well.

For all the doomsayers saying "rock is dead", artists like Plastic Rhino are proving that it is not. You can read my Album Spotlight here.

Vocalist Atara Gottschalk and guitarist Jack Glazer were kind enough to to grant me a Q and A. The results follow.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Q and A With California Singer/Songwriter Frankie Bourne

I'm a few months behind on finding Frankie Bourne's debut album Californicana. That means I'm a few months behind in getting to listen to it. Better late than never.

I had the opportunity to conduct a Q and A with Frankie recently. His answers to my questions were so thoughtful and thorough, I don't know how much I can add. But I'll try.

Frankie is California through and through, so you'll find out below, but it's not the glamour and glitz Hollywood and L.A. California. It's the 70's laid back California rock. It's the Bakersfield sound influences. It's the 60's and 70's Bay Area scene. But then there is so much more.

There is a strong blues influence. And not that it's an influence, but the music of Frankie Bourne would be appreciated by anyone who is a fan of Texas/Red Dirt music. I guess that's where I felt most connected. It's real music, played by a real singer/songwriter with real instruments for real people.

We delved into genres a bit in the interview. Regular readers know how I feel about that. There are so many different influences represented in the songs, Frankie Bourne cannot be contained by one genre. And that, to me, is a good thing.

I've already written too much. Frankie says it much better than I can. He's lived it.

Here are the results of the Q and A:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Album Spotlight: Plastic Rhino: Recondition

I was provided the opportunity to get a pre-realease listen to Plastic Rhino's upcoming record Recondition. The album reinforces my notion that rock is definitely not dead.

The duo of lead vocalist Atara Gottschalk and guitarist Jack Glazer bring their own brand of multi-decade influenced rock to life on Recondition.

Great riffs, strong vocals, heavy with a sense of melody. What's not to like? Oh, and I didn't even mention the pop sensibilities and punk tendencies.

The lead single,  "Big Man Baby", is a straight up rocker. If this is the first time you've heard Atara's raspy, passionate vocal stylings, you're in for a treat. From there. no drop off in quality. Tasty guitar, kick ass vocals, great songs.

The album closer, "The Ballad Of The Rhino" shows a softer side of Plastic Rhino, up until 3:50 mark when it turns into a full blown rocker. That kind of diversity is much appreciated. To me, the record compares very favorably to Halestorm and Chaser Eight. That's not bad company.

The record drops October 13. It's good. Check it out.

In the meantime here's the lyric video for the lead track on Recondition , "Big Man Baby":

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jessica Mendoza: Baseball Analyst

The title says it all. Jessica Mendoza. Baseball analyst. At least it should.

There was a big deal made of Mendoza being the first female analyst on ESPN's national baseball broadcast. And it was a big deal. And it wasn't.

You know why it wasn't? Because it sounded just like a baseball broadcast. And that is the best compliment I can provide.  It wasn't schtick. It wasn't a novelty. It was just providing a competent analyst an opportunity.

Did Mendoza ever play Major League Baseballl?  Nope. And neither did you.

Maybe as fan of tennis I'm used to a female voice. Mary Carillo is one the best in the business. Chris McKendry. Martina, Chrissie, Hannah Storm, Mary Jo Fernandez, etc. Nobody questions them calling men's matches. Nor should they,

So why is it a big deal that Jessica Mendoza is calling MLB? Because it's never been done before. Here's hoping to that it's never a big deal again.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Q and A with Peter Anthony of Polaris Rose

Polaris Rose is a Los Angeles-based duo that makes good music. I tried to pin down guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Peter Anthony on what genre they are. For those that read regularly, you know I don't care for genres. Peter's answer was perfect. He didn't know either.

Polaris Rose is the aforementioned Peter Anthony along with vocalist/bassist Madelynn (Maddie) Elyse, and most-of-the-time drummer Kiel Feher.

Peter was kind enough to participate in a Q and A for The Cheap Seats.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Open Letter to Independent Artists

I love music. I used to play in a band. It didn't work out. That's OK. I'm not bitter.

I hate music. Or at least what is played on the radio. That's why I dig for music and have this blog. I'm pretty much done with mainstream, any genre.

I have had the privilege in the past couple of months to be given an audience with several independent artists from a variety of genres. The way I see it, we're all in this together, the artists, the goofballs like me that support them, and the writers who have devoted much time, effort and their own money to create killer sites.

"Sea Change". That's a pretty cool term. But have you ever been to the ocean? The sea does not change, in the words of Stevie Nicks. Or if it does, it takes a hell of lot more than me, or you by yourself.

Right now, I have an eyedropper and a bucket in the Gulf of Mexico. I may affect a few people, but that does not a sea change make.

I'm fairly new to this. But I know there is community out there. I also know it's fragmented and disjointed. Why would the Dead Deads from Nashville care about Jenni Dale Lord from Lubbock care about Chaser Eight from Connecticut care about Kate Lynne Logan from Seattle care about Kate Vargas from New York? Because you're all in the same boat.

I get it. I've been there. It's all about local and regional. You have to nurture that in order to pay the bills (along with your other jobs, because I know you have them).

Why would I care about a site dedicated to saving country music or bringing back glam or promoting stoner rock or underground techno artists? Because those people share my love of music. I don't have to be a fan of that type of music.

I've heard enough independent artists and read enough blogs/sites to know that there are lot of people who take ownership in good music.

I've really only reached out to artists, selfishly, to further my blog along. Now I've come to the point where the sum is greater than the parts and I need your help. Who are the people that you trust who support independent artists? Who are some artists that would be willing to do  a Q & A? I'm open to all genres.

Leave comments here or some of you have my contact information.

Thanks for your time,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Album Review: Chaser Eight: Chaser Eight

Photo: Phil Hovey of Find Your Lights
Edits: Alberto Torres
For my regular readers, you know I don't really do reviews, but when I do, I break it down song by song. It has to be something special.

This one is special.

Chaser Eight's self-titled debut album Chaser Eight is musical gold. (Yes, I know, it's not their first release, just their first full length record). Released in February of this year, it took me six months to find it, but that's the landscape of independently made records, it may take a while, but if you keep looking you will find the good stuff.

Here's the thing, there is not a bad song on the record. That's hard to do. There are very few albums I can put on and listen to from start to finish without skipping songs. And if you care about music, albums still matter. Songs are great, but to get the full effect of what the artist is about, albums.

To me, the best way to really know how good or bad a record is, is to listen to it by yourself driving in your car. This one passes that test with flying colors.

There is an interesting dynamic within Chaser Eight. Lead vocalist/frontwoman/guitarist *AUDRA* and lead guitarist Pat Walsh write all of the songs independently of each other. But they may be the best male/female songwriting duo this side of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Or Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Album Spotlight: Jonathan Tyler: Holy Smokes

This record has been out for a couple of weeks. I have been remiss in not spotlighting it up until now.

Holy Smokes, Jonathan Tyler's latest offering, is Southern Rock, the Stones, the Black Crowes, the Doobie Brothers, The Band, Butch Walker, Ryan Adams, country, alternative, rock, etc.

But it's none of that. It's all Jonathan Tyler. Or maybe it's all of that, which is Jonathan Tyler.

Judge for yourself. Here is "Hallelujah".

And now, "Riverbottom".