Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Appetite For Destruction Story

So, Guns N' Roses debut album Appetite For Destruction was released 30 years ago. I contend that it is the best hard rock album ever made from start to finish. But that is not the point of my story.

I was in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area that summer (I was in college at the time) and listening to the now defunct (I think) Z-ROCK which had mandatory Metallica every hour (played one Metallica song every hour).

I kept hearing this song by this new band Guns N' Roses. Never heard of them, but, damn, that song was good. That trip also introduced me to Faster Pussycat, apropos of nothing.

I knew I would be entering radio wasteland on my trip home, so before I left I stopped by a record store and purchased Appetite, on cassette (I wore out two of those before I got a CD player).

Four hour drive and it played the whole time. I was so enamored with this album. I played it a lot the rest of the summer and when I returned to college was excited to share it with my buddies. Their reaction was pretty "meh". Whatever. There were a few of us that really dug it and listened to it all the time.

Fastforward a year. "Sweet Child O' Mine" was released as a single in August of 1988. MTV blew it up. Suddenly all the "meh" people had a copy of Appetite. At that point I was already on my second cassette.

Did I feel vindicated? Maybe, a little. I was just happy that this masterpiece of an album was being appreciated.

Side note: Slash's and Izzy's rhythm parts are not stereo. Slash is on the right and Izzy on the left. Slash's solos are stereo, Izzy's solo in "Think About You" is only on the left. So, if you're a real music nerd/audiophile, you can hear two different albums.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Album Spotlight: ZZ Ward - The Storm

The new album from singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Zsuzsanna Eva Ward, better known as ZZ Ward is an amalgam of all things blues, alt-rock, R&B, Americana, smokiness, and swamp. The Storm brings all that together in an 11 song album that works.

If you're a regular reader, you know I prefer interesting and unique. Starting with Ward's voice, this whole album encompasses both interesting and unique.

It's not hard to tell when an artist is making music they want to make and when an artist is going through the motions. The Storm is the former, bringing in all of Ward's influences in which every song feels like she means what she's singing and the instrumentation backs it up, whether sparse or layered or anywhere in between.

The 11th song, a bonus track from "Cars 3", is a fun song featuring Gary Clark, Jr. How can that be bad?

All in all, The Storm is a complete album. There's some fun, there's some heavy, there's some heartbreak, there's some snark and sass. And there is lots of ZZ Ward.




Sunday, June 25, 2017

Joe Bonamassa vs Tina Guo

I'm going to preface this by saying I don't listen to any classical or orchestral music. So, I'm sure there are other cello players on the planet who could have done this, but they didn't.

During an acoustic show at Carnegie Hall, Joe Bonamassa dueled with Tina Guo, Joe on guitar, Tina on cello. The winner was anyone who gets to listen to this fantastic piece of musical genius.

I'm just a big fan of musicianship on all levels. This is at the top level. Enjoy.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Retro Album Spotlight: Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime

Concept albums generally don't play well in today's music world. It was even a risk in 1988 when Queensryche released Operation: Mindcrime.

If you like 80s progressive hard rock and care to follow a story, nobody did it better than Queensryche with this album.

Sex, drugs, religion, politics, anarchy, unrest, brainwashing, redemption. It's all there.

Then there are the characters: The angst-ridden, fix-seeking late teen/early twenties Nikki. The evil mastermind behind the flawed revolution, Dr. X. The "whore from the underground" turned sympathetic sexually abused church-going counter counter culture heroine, Mary. And then the sadistic priest, Father William.

I'm not going to lay out the storyline here. If you are intrigued, listen for yourself and take it in as your own.

Operation: Mindcrime was the fourth output from Queensryche, one EP and two full length albums which never broke them through. So putting out Mindcrime at that juncture in the arc of the band was risky, kind of their 2112.

It didn't hurt that Queensryche landed the opening bill for Metallica's ...And Justice for All tour. All this led to the followup album Empire being a big hit with songs such as "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman". So the gamble paid off.

The songs on Operation: Mindcrime don't just further the story, they hold up on their own merit. Geoff Tate is a phenomenal vocalist. Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton's twin and/or dueling guitars are some of the best of that era, Scott Rockenfield is a monster on the drums while Eddie Jackson holds it all down with the bass.

I'm not going to embed a video because it's not about one or two songs, it's about the album. If you're reading this, you have a google machine and can listen to the entire album, which is the only way it can be appreciated.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Album Spotlight: Vandoliers - The Native

From the first line of the first song, "I was born September 1st, in a little town outside Fort Worth" to the album closer "Weclome Home" the new Vandoliers album The Native is Texas through and through.

If you want to know what Texas music is all about, this album is a crash course. It takes snippets of Red Dirt, Southern Rock, Tejano, mariachi, Rockabilly, Texas swing, honky tonk, country, 80s pop rock, punk and beach/island music to create a diverse 10 song journey. Some of it may be a bit too inside baseball to resonate with everyone, such as the song "Pantego", but hell, if Cairo, IL can get a couple of songs recently, why not Pantego?

The Vandoliers are self aware and The Native never takes itself too seriously. Sure, there is some introspection and some nostalgia, but all in all, it's just fun summer fare with a perfect release date, the Friday before Memorial Day, which kind of indicates the beginning of summer in the United States.

The Native may not be for everyone, and frontman Joshua Fleming's vocals are unique, but they fit perfectly in the context of these songs.  The instrumentation and playing is spot-on throughout the album. This is just a fun album and these guys sound like they'd be great live.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Album Spotlight: Biters - The Future Ain't What It Used to Be

Everybody reading this has access to the Google machine. If you want history and context, look it up.

The new album from Biters is great. The Future Ain't What It Used to Be is 70s British glam, 80s Sunset Strip sleaze and Southern Rock all rolled into a fairly eclectic package.

Biters hail from Georgia, so the Southern Rock connection is easy to digest. The British glam ala The Sweet, T-Rex, Ziggy Stardust is not a natural connection. Then there's the 80s sleaze reminiscent of L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat.

Somehow, it all works.

And here's the thing. There is no one song that makes me perk up and say "That is great!" On the other hand, there is not one bad song on the album, no filler. It all just flows.

Because of where my wheelhouse is, I'm going with my favorite 80s influenced song here: "Vulture City".


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Album Spotlight: John Mellencamp - Sad Clowns and Hillbillies

John Mellencamp's new album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies is an odd collection of songs; two covers, two songs he recorded in the 80s, two songs in which he gets songwriting credit for basically finishing a song, five duets with Carlene Carter, appearances by Martina McBride and Izzy Stradlin. All that may make it seem as though the album would be disjointed, but it turns out to be a very cohesive effort.

You may be wondering why I'm covering a John Mellencamp album at all, since I stay away from mainstream anything. Well, Mellencamp hasn't been anywhere near mainstream music in about two decades.

This started out as project between Mellencamp and Carter that was born out of their collaborations on other projects and playing together each night on Mellencamp's last tour, which Carter opened. They wanted to do an album of old time country gospel songs, but in the writing process it evolved into something quite different.

Sad Clowns & Hillbillies starts out with a cover of the 1971 Mickey Newbury song "Mobile Blue" which fits exactly into Mellencamp's American roots rock wheelhouse.

I'm not going to go song by song here, but just want to point out some stuff that stood out to me. "Grandview" was written in the early 90s by Mellencamp's cousin Bobby Clark and features Martina McBride on one verse and original Guns 'n Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin on guitar.

"All Night Talk Radio" was originally recorded for possible inclusion on the 1995 album Mr. Happy Go Lucky. New elements were added to the version on the current album including backing vocals by Carlene Carter.

On the newly recorded tracks (which is most of the album) Mellencamp's voice shows the wear and tear of years of smoking cigarettes and drinking. That doesn't detract from the quality of the songs here. Hell, he sounds like John Hiatt has always sounded.

Start to finish, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies is one of the best albums I've heard this year.

Here is "Grandview":



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Album Spotlight: Dalton Domino - Corners

Hailing from Lubbock, Texas, Dalton Domino's latest album Corners come out of the gate and straight into the swamp with the album-opening song "The River". That's both a bold move and a statement. A bold move because most people are expecting a Texas/Red Dirt album. A statement by letting it be known that this is not your run of the mill Texas/Red Dirt album.

Not my usual style, but I'm going to take this one almost song-by-song because it's diverse enough where there is no over-arching statement to be made about the album.

"The River" is a swampy, dark song with interesting instrumentation, replete with strings (or at least synthesized strings). After that the album settles into more of the pocket that you would expect from a Texas artist for a bit with the Southern Rock influenced "Decent Man", the modern Red Dirt of "Corners" and the easy pop country leanings of "July".

"More Than You" is an interesting musical journey. It starts out with the grit and groove of a Ray Wylie Hubbard song. Then it moves to a bluesier feel and ends up almost Motown, horns and all, while not changing the beat or tempo. In its texture, it's sublime.

"Rain" is a subtle, stripped down song about loss. Great in it's simplicity.

The funky guitar tone of "Sixteen Years" drives the verses of this Southern Rock-tinged song.

"Mine Again (I'd Be a Fool)" is the closest thing that comes to a skip-worthy song on the album, but it's really just too catchy to fall into that category. It kind of has a an 80's pop rock feel to it.

With "Sister" Dalton takes us back to the swamp with an almost "Juke Box Hero" verse vibe throughout the entire song. Then he stays there with the album closer "Monster" but brings in a Pink Floyd-like prog element.

Corners is the kind of album that always interests me. Diverse, and you never really know what to expect next. I know that some people want something with a more consistent sound. If so, this album is probably not for you. But, hey, here are a couple of songs, decide for yourself.




Monday, May 1, 2017

The ESPN Cuts and Radio

I mostly write about music. And that's why you read this blog. But today I'm going to write about something only tangentially related to music.

As a sports fan, I'm well aware of the cuts that were made by ESPN last week. A lot of good people were let go. All people in sports media were touched in some way or another by the cuts. I'm not going to get into any of the reasons or perceived reasons behind the cuts. There are more than enough articles out there that can explain it better than I. What I want to talk about is the radio aspect of the cuts.

I listen to a lot of ESPN's radio programming (mostly through podcasts). When you spend an hour and 45 minutes (pod time, three hours real time) with someone everyday, they become familiar, almost like you know them.

Ryen Russillo was on vacation when the cuts happened. One of the cuts was his radio partner, Danny Kanell. Russillo addressed this on his radio show today (5/1/17). One of the things that hit me was when he said that radio is more intimate. Now, he was speaking specifically to his work relationship in which he would spend four to five hours a day, five days a week with his co-host. But this also extends to the listeners.

I had a brief Twitter exchange with Sarah Spain after one of her co-hosts on The Trifecta, Jane McManus, was a victim of the cuts, about the intimacy that radio provides. She agreed that it doesn't happen with TV or print. Radio is different. It's more personal.

Scott Van Pelt is great. I catch his late night SportsCenter from time to time. I miss him on the radio when it was the SVP and Russillo show. That show coincidentally, really got me hooked on the intimacy of radio. It became familiar and if one listened long enough, the inside jokes became inside jokes that you get.

The best radio not only lets you get a piece of the hosts' lives, but also introduces a cast of characters that make the show seem even more intimate. When the producers and board ops are given an occasional voice, or become a part of the show, it makes it feel almost familial.

I first got in tune with the ensemble dynamic listening to SVP and Russillo with Stanford Steve, Quinnipiac Steve and Outsider Mike (now best known as Mikey C). Then I found the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz and the shipping container. Music snob/producer Mike Ryan is doing his own show with music rejoins. Each member has their own role.

i don't have the same connection with the reporters and SportsCenter hit people. I don't wish for anyone to lose their job, but the radio people hit me more than others.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Album Spotlight: Angaleena Presley - Wrangled

With the release of her second solo album Wrangled, Angaleena Presley has nailed it. For me anyway. I've noticed that this record has been fairly polarizing. People either love it or wanted American Middle Class (her first solo album) part two and didn't get it.

Presley has been writing songs for years and gained notoriety as one third of the Pistol Annies along with Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe. That's just for context, the important thing here is that Wrangled is an amazing piece of work.

My purpose here is to spotlight albums that I find great, unique and, most importantly, have only one or fewer skip-worthy songs according to me, not to review a whole slew of albums and give my opinion. I'll get to the great things about Wrangled in a moment, but I first want to focus on the only skip-worthy song on the album for me. It also happens to be the most polarizing song on the album.

"Country" featuring Yelawolf, in and of itself, is a terrible song without context. Even with context, as a song, it still does nothing for me. It's a protest song about the current state of mainstream country (radio in particular) and music row. Maybe the point was to make an unlistenable song, I don't know. If it was, Angaleena and Yelawolf succeeded. It's just a bad mashup of punk and rap done poorly. I listen to music to enjoy music, not for social commentary (although if you can combine the two, I'm not opposed to that).

Good for Presley for getting people talking about this song, I guess. Not my thing.

Now, on to the rest of the albums, which is fantastic. Angaleena spends the rest of the album tackling a myriad of subjects with depth and humor. At times pairing dark subjects with upbeat music, sometimes the reverse. The listener doesn't exactly know what to expect from track to track, other than Presley will keep it real.

You may love it, you may hate it, you may not know exactly what to make of it, but you won't be indifferent. I think, as an artist, that's the best you can expect unless you're universally loved. And we all know, that really doesn't happen.

Here is my favorite track from Wrangled.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Album Spotlight: Night Ranger - Don't Let Up

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know, if you're new, let me enlighten you. I only write about stuff I like. I don't have the time to listen to, much less, write about stuff I don't like. That being said, Night Ranger's new album Don't Let Up is excellent. Now I'm going to go off on a tangent before I get back to that album.

I grew up in the 80s, and by that I mean twelve to 22 years old. That's growing up time. Night Ranger always fell into a strange place in music. Historically they might get lumped in with the hair/sleaze/glam bands of the time. But it always felt like they were not at home there. They also weren't at home with other stuff that was popular at the time, Flock of Seagulls, Eurythmics, etc. They fell into a weird place between metal and techno (not that they ever came close to techno, but that's where they fell).

There were a lot of bands in that grey place, Bon Jovi, INXS, The Cult, Duran Duran, Def Leppard, etc. The 80s get a bad rap, but go back and listen to the music, there was a lot of good there.

While never reaching the commercial success, I've always thought Night Ranger was comparable to Bon Jovi: guitar driven hard rock that was softened enough to be palatable to the masses.

Fast forward to 2017. Night Ranger is still making that kind of music. Great songs featuring guitar, big choruses, big harmonies. This album Don't Let Up, along with their 2014 album High Road may be the best they've done in their career. Not that anyone will pay attention.

I just commend Night Ranger for putting out new music when so many of that era just tour based on their track record, which Night Ranger could certainly do. Hell, people would probably come out just to hear "Sister Christian".  But they are so much more than that.

Sure, age has taken its toll on Jack Blades and Kelly Keagey's vocal chords, but even though a bit gruffer, still sound excellent. The musicianship just keeps getting better. And that's saying something since guitarist Brad Gillis could have had a gig with Ozzy had he chosen.

35 years after the release of their debut album Dawn Patrol, Night Ranger are still bringing it and staying true to what they do. More mature? Sure. What you would expect. Rocks? Yep. And they keep expanding their boundaries. One song that stands out is the honky-tonk/Southern rock sound of "(Won't Be Your) Fool Again".

With so many bands not making new music because there is no money in it now, I commend the one's who still have to scratch that creative itch. Buy, stream, download, whatever you do, this album. It's good. Is it great? Probably not, but there is not a bad song to be found. And really, isn't that what we want in an album? No skipworthy songs?

Here's a taste of the new album:


Saturday, March 25, 2017

EP Spotlight: Delta Rae - A Long And Happy Life

As the weather warms up in late March, it is the perfect time for light, fun music. With their latest EP A Long And Happy Life, Delta Rae delivers.

A Long And Happy Life is just four songs, but four very good songs. Including the slower, more introspective "No Peace In Quiet". The other three are fun, upbeat and perfect for the changing of the season.

Is there anything groundbreaking here? Nope. Just four excellent songs that I've had on repeat for the past two days. There is just something infectious about the songs and the twin lead vocals and interplay of Britanny Holljes (pronounced "Hole-Jess) and Liz Hopkins.

Do I prefer nine to eleven song albums? Yes. But if you're going to make a four song EP, do it like this or like Lindi Ortega's. Make sure every song is killer and you have my attention.

Find A Long And Happy Life here:

itunes
Google Play
Amazon
Spotify


Monday, March 20, 2017

EP Spotlight: Lindi Ortega - Til the Goin' Gets Gone

I first found out about Lindi Ortega and her 2015 album Faded Gloryville. A great album. With Ortega's latest release, a four song EP Til the Goin' Gets Gone, there is none of the quirky playfulness found on  Gloryville or her previous release, Tin Star.

Ortega went through some stuff, moved back to her native Canada, leaving Nashville behind. From what I understand, she almost quit music altogether. The four songs on the EP are dark, brooding, somewhat cynical, introspective. There is some real heavy stuff packed into a small package.

And you know what? This is Lindi Orega's best work. I don't know where she goes from here. Maybe it's a catharsis which leads to something else. Maybe it's a farewell. Whatever it is, it needs to be listened to and celebrated.

The closing song is called "Final Bow". I hope it's not.

I can't equate this to anything, really, but I hope it follows the same trajectory as Butch Walker. Afraid of Ghosts was similar in it's introspection and darkness, then followed by the upbeat Stay Gold.

Who knows what is in store for Lindi Ortega going forward, but we will all be poorer if this is the last music she makes.

I purposefully didn't go into specific songs. Everyone needs to relate to them in their own way, but every song will relate to you in some way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Album Spotlight: Sunny Sweeney - Trophy

There's not a lot I can write about Sunny Sweeney's latest album Trophy that hasn't already been written. But I'll do my best anyway.

Sweeney dabbled in Nashville in few years ago and had a bit of a radio hit with "From A Table Away" from her 2011 album Concrete. Now shes' with the indie artist friendly label Thirty Tigers and back in Texas recording the songs she wants.

She had quite the co-writers on the Trophy, but the one constant is Sunny Sweeney herself. She co-wrote all but two of the ten songs on Trophy, one being a cover.

Sweeney's previous effort, 2014's Provoked is very good, but on Trophy, she seems to put everything together to give listeners the full Sunny Sweeney experience. The biting sarcasm and humor is there. The introspection is deeper and more pointed.

I have been quite critical of the trend lately to put 13-16 songs on an album, and then it seems like there is too much filler when a nine to eleven song album would have been great and leaving the listener wanting more. Sweeney does this. Trophy is ten excellent songs and then when it's over, you want more. I'm an album guy, so this is perfect for me.

As far as the songs themselves on Trophy, there is traditional country, there is some swamp, some Southern rock influence, but what resonates throughout is that it seems to be all Sunny Sweeney all the time. Sweeney is never going to be known for soaring vocal prowess, but her voice and vocal stylings fit perfectly in the context of her songs. That authentic Texas twang is not forced. It's the way she talks as well. Full of sass and vulnerability at the same time.

Go buy the album, whether by download or a physical copy. Support the people who make good music.




Saturday, March 4, 2017

Retro Album Spotlight: Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell

In October of 2017 it will be 40 years since Meat Loaf's debut album Bat Out Of Hell was released.

At that time, I was nine years old, so when it was initially released it had no effect on me or my musical tastes. Several years later, when I discovered what I really liked in music and started getting into hard rock, the revelation of Bat Out Of Hell was a game-changer. Not that it changed my taste in music, but that it changed how rock music could be viewed.

Was Bat Out Of Hell a rock album or a rock opera? Or did/does it even matter? Was it a concept album or a collection of songs that told stories? Was it both? Was it an epic opus or a story of teenage sexual repression and exploration?

It was probably parts of all of that. Or none. But what it was, was something no one had ever heard before. What songwriter Jim Steinman and singer Me)at Loaf (Michael Aday) did on that album broke ground in the rock scene that is still evident today.

I'm sure a lot of people re-discovered or found out for the first time about Bat Out Of Hell when Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell came out in 1993 with the big hit "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), but even that was almost 25 years ago.

Meat Loaf and Steinman had a hell of a time selling this album 40 years ago in 1977. They'd have no chance now, although they could just record it and see what happens in 2017.

If you are vaguely familiar with Bat Out Of Hell, I would implore you to listen to the whole album. It may not be your thing, but there is no denying that it is one of the most unique pieces of American music in the past century.




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Album Spotlight: Beth Hart - Fire on the Floor

Grammy-nominated and doing vocals for the likes of Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa and Slash, Beth Hart is not the kind of artist you are accustomed to seeing spotlighted in this space. That being said, how many of you are actually familiar with her work?

I'll admit, I was not until I stumbled upon a video a couple of months ago on YouTube. Then I dropped the ball on the February 3 release date of Fire on the Floor.

Fire on the Floor is not a straight up blues album, though the blues threads heavily throughout, along with jazz, pop and rock. Doesn't really matter though as Hart's sultry, smokey, alluring voice carries the album from start to finish.

Beth Hart can sing anything if she wanted, I'm convinced. On Fire on the Floor, she almost does. Where her voice really shines is when she booms the lower register. So powerful.

This is thirteen songs for grown-ups, with grown-up subjects, dealt with in grown-up ways. No pettiness, no fluff, just real songs about life.

Fire on the Floor is not for everyone, and that's okay. All music is not for everyone, but all music is for someone. But for those that get it, this album is fantastic. Beth Hart has outdone herself with this one.

Official Lyric Video for "Fire on the Floor"


Live version of "Fat Man"

Monday, February 20, 2017

Album Spotlight: Eliza Neals - 10,000 Feet Below

There is no such thing as a perfect album. But there are good albums and great albums. Eliza Neals' 10,000 Feet Below falls into the latter category.

Neals' latest record is 11 songs of fantastic music. 10,000 Feet Below is a rocking blues album with more texture and nuance than you would expect. Neals' powerful, sexy, sultry voice is complemented by a wide array of excellent musicians to make a cohesive yet diverse album of musical genius.

If you even only think you might like blues, check this record out.

This was one album I was genuinely looking forward to this year. So many times, I'm disappointed. 10,000 Feet Below exceeded all expectations. Seriously, I don't know what songs to choose to put here, so I'm just gonna put out a couple that resonate with me the most (and of course, they won't be the traditional ones).




Monday, January 30, 2017

Album Spotlight: Cris Jacobs - Dust to Gold

A veteran of the Baltimore music scene with his former band The Bridge and then as a solo artist, Cris Jacobs is no newcomer. My fist introduction to Jacobs was his most recent album Dust to Gold, released in late 2016 and finding my ears in early 2017.

Jacobs' smooth vocals compliment perfectly his musical style that is reminiscent of The Guess Who and a laid back Allman Brothers.

The big take away from this album? It's good songwriting combined with excellent vocals and fantastic instrumentation.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

Album Spotlight: Susto - & I'm Fine Today

There is some heady stuff on Susto's most recent album & I'm Fine Today. I'll leave that for listeners to parse out. I'm not qualified to comment on social commentary.

Musically and lyrically, it's a mess. And I mean that in good way. Susto lilts their way through difficult subjects, making one think while not coming across as preachy or divisive or angry. Maybe it's in the way the lyric is delivered, Much of it deadpan and nonchalant.

And then you have the music, which is all over the place. Not just throughout the album, but within songs. Just when you think you're locked into a song, it takes a hard left and takes you to another place.

You have to be an album listener to fully appreciate & I'm Fine Today. One or two songs won't do it.

Where does & I'm Fine Today fit in the today's music spectrum? Hell if I know. It checks off the one line that matters to me; good music. Other than that, I don't know, Americana? maybe. But that seems too much of a catchall. I'll just say this; if you like Houndmouth and HoneyHoney, then this album is for you. If you don't know who they are, just listen and decide for yourself.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Album Spotlight: Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth - Tenderfoot

Photo by Lisa Boehm
Tenderfoot is the fourth release from Pennsylvania native and independent artist Caroline Reese, either as a solo artist or with her band the Drifting Fifth. To be quite honest, I had never heard of her until a week ago. I'm sorry I have missed out.

Ranging from hook-laden pop rock to introspective acoustic singer/songwriter songs, Tenderfoot is a great listen from start to finish. From the atmospheric "Stormchasers" to the stripped down acoustic "Unlocked" to the catchy "Airshow" to the swampiness at the end of "Beast", Reese and her band deliver an interesting journey through and amongst genres that all flows and never seems disjointed.

Fans of pop rock, Americana, and country can all find something to like, but the real winners fans of good music, because Tenderfoot is chock full of good music.

Check out some music:






Sunday, January 8, 2017

Retro Album Spotlight: Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna

Stevie Nicks' first solo album Bella Donna was released in 1981, 36 years ago in July. I listened to it again recently and wanted to revisit how good it actually is and how the music landscape has changed so much in the past 35 years.

Bella Donna went platinum (one million album sales) within three months of its release and has sold over six million worldwide since its release. What different times we live in now.

Bella Donna also spawned four songs that hit the top 40 or better of the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Listening now, this album would be thrown into Americana, because it belongs nowhere else in today's musical spectrum. It was pop rock in 1981. And believe it or not, it's too country for country radio in 2017.

All the songs on the album were written or co-written by Nicks except for the Tom Petty duet "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (written by Petty and Michael Campbell) and seven of the 10 songs penned exclusively by Nicks.



Then there was the other duet on on the album with the iconic Don Henley, "Leather and Lace".



"After the Glitter Fades" was the fourth single released from Bella Donna and later covered by Glen Campbell. This is the vibe of most of the rest of the album, save "Edge of Seventeen" (see below) and I'm surprised it hasn't been covered more by country artists.



And finally, probably the most known song from Bella Donna, at least among people who listen to classic rock radio, "Edge of Seventeen". I could put the official video here, but this live version from 2011 is twelve minutes long and features long time Nicks guitarist Waddy Wachtel. Gotta give some love to the musicians.



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Album Spotlight: Eliza Neals: Breaking and Entering

If I had 2015 to do all over again Eliza Neals' Breaking and Entering may have made one of my year end lists. Unfortunately, I didn't hear this album until a couple of days ago. That's the beauty of music, there is no expiration date on good. Whether it be 2015 or 1995 or 1965, good music is good music. And that's what Eliza Neals provides: good music.

Hailing from Detroit, Eliza Neals borrows heavily from the Mississippi delta and combines it with the upper midwest blues style with just a touch of rock. Neals has vocals reminiscent of Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Nicks. That combination makes for an enjoyable listen for those that like the blues but not too pure.

Listen to this, and tell me I'm not right.