All posts filed under: Music

Monkees trio color


And…  the win goes to this Paul Weller/Noel Gallagher composition, sung mainly by Michael Nesmith, with Micky Dolenz – a slice of vintage Monkees-style and as psychedelic as The Monkees have been since “Daily Nightly”.  Tuneful, catchy, well-orchestrated and buoyant, “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” is (in my mind) a perfect return to form. On the whole, the album is, truly, a return to form. Full album review coming soon – in the meantime, here ’tis…: Good Times! is available now


E.P. REVIEW: KARYN KUHL BAND, “The Stars Will Bring You Home”

This six-song e.p. is simply delicious.  Karyn Kuhl’s been part of the New Jersey scene for quite a while (I used to see her when she was in a great Hoboken band called Gutbank – track down their Coyote Records release from ’86!); these days, she’s doing her own thing with The Karyn Kuhl Band.  This tight 4-piece includes James Mastro, guitarist extraordinaire (and owner of the incredible Guitar Bars in Hoboken – when in the area, check them out); Mr. Mastro is also the producer who gives this E.P. a clean, sparse sound that resonates with every instrument and makes Ms. Kuhl’s voice just reach right into you.  Alternating from soft to warm to sultry, this is absolutely, devastatingly good. “Sad Eyes” has a dark quality about it, yet in its semi-bleakness, the guitar figures weaved in gives the song an emotional uplift; a sweeping solo in a country vein counters the swampiness of the underlying keyboard; the deep/heavy rhythm section which is easily recognizable as tight from the first beats is stellar.  And …



The first thing that immediately strikes you when you listen to this first album from Austin-based Charlie Faye & The Fayettes is the vintage AM-radio production; a very warm ’60’s feel that works perfectly in the poppy-soulfulness of the Motown vibe.  Or if, you’re like me,  you can imagine some of these songs being lost Northern Soul classics.   But be assured, these three ladies are of and in the here and now and it’s a joyful sound coming out of my speakers that makes me enjoy this album to no end. Think about this – amongst the players on this album include Pete Thomas (yes, him) on drums, Tony Gilkyson on guitar, Roger Manning on keyboards – and so on.  The three Fayettes:  Charlie Faye on lead vocals, Betty Soo and Akina Adderley on some remarkably silky harmonies have a pretty strong pedigree on their own and this is one of those happy combinations of performers that strike the right balance. Now as for the music itself, which are all original compositions – beginning with …

Two-Time Vegas ‘Headliner of the Year’ Frankie Moreno Talks New Show, New Influence

Las Vegas. For many, it’s the solid-gold frame around the big picture. A residency there often guarantees not only something of stability in rough sailing waters but also a chance at infamy. Not everyone gets to stake their claim to a piece of Sin-City real estate. Names like Liberace, the Rat Pack, Elton John, Celine Dion, and more have become synonymous with moving onto the Strip to delight fans night after night. Add to that list Frankie Moreno, a fresh-faced singer, songwriter, and showman. Don’t let his boyish good looks fool you; he’s something of a Vegas veteran who’s honed his craft amid the glittering lights. In a town where most tourists come to hear familiar tunes after a night of table games, Moreno stands as something of an anomaly, performing largely his own material. Collaborating with artists ranging from world-famous violinist Joshua Bell to Broadway darling Kristin Chenoweth to Sting, Moreno has carved his own path in that other city that never sleeps. And for it, he’s reaped the rewards, earning the prestigious title …



And here it is – the third new song from the forthcoming Monkees album, Good Times.  Unlike the uptempo poppiness of the prior two tracks, “Me & Magdalena” is a beautiful, somewhat mournful contemporary piece written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie.  The most powerful element of this song, melody and structure aside, is the beauty of the harmonies supplied by Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz – this track is a perfect reminder why The Monkees were such skilled vocalists and 50 years later, it hasn’t changed a bit. Enjoy… Good Times will be released on Friday, May 27th, 2016  



There is a sudden buzz about Parquet Courts, especially with this new release, their 5th, Human Performance.  I usually stay blissfully unaware when it comes to New York bands (because of my disdain for The Strokes, etc. – those that never represented New York as far as this native is concerned) thanks to the deluge of nauseating hipsterdom and mediocre pseudo “new wave revivalists” or whatever bullshit they call themselves this week.  Nonetheless, the word of mouth from friends who I trust and respect led me to seek this one out and give it a try.  And being that they’ve been at this now for six years, there must be a ripening. Having said that, the first track, “Dust” caught me by surprise – quite pleasantly.  I was struck by the Wire-like manner of the song – a singular riff with taut rhythm and short verses repeated; hypnotic and interesting.  The title track, “Human Performance” has shades of Lou Reed (around Loaded) but vocally, I hear Warren Zevon’s delivery.  Musically, it has again, Wire’s structure …

Alexandra’s New Single and the Surprising Act That Inspired It

In the past decade or so, music has seen a resurgence of empowered female artists. Voices like Hayley Williams of Paramore, the resilient Rihanna, and revered singer-songwriter Sia have ushered in a renaissance — we are women, hear us roar! Add to that list Alexandra, an Australian songstress who takes the music industry by the ears and leads it in a new direction. Unafraid to tell her truth, she embraced the label of “unusual,” stamped on her by a teacher, and used it to create a career on her own terms and sound that’s majorly shaking up playlists around the world. Inspired by echoing gunshots on a nearby farm, Alexandra took the melody she heard in the pops and bangs as a basis for her new single “Criminal.” Adding lyrics and arrangements, she illustrates her creative process, which is anything but typical. “It’s like being possessed when a wave of inspiration hits [me],” she says. “It won’t let go until what needs to be said has been said and explored from every abstract angle.” Take a …



You may be tired of me saying “I’m not going to pretend to be objective”, but what’s the point of a review if you’re not being honest?  We’ve already been treated to no less than four songs (one of which, “Fool Of Myself”, the flipside to the debut single, “Lucky Guy” is NOT included on this album, surprisingly), so now we get to enjoy the other seven tracks that make up this debut, self-titled album. And “enjoy” is the key word.  The music Those Pretty Wrongs makes is enjoyable, warm, heart-filling, soulful pop with acoustic flavors and harmonies – and I can ask for nothing better.  I don’t need to give you the background on Those Pretty Wrongs – you know it’s Jody Stephens and Luther Russell and you know their histories.  So let’s focus on the here and now. “Ordinary” – well, there’s no way around it.  It’s going to be familiar, because there is a unquestionably a Chris Bell-like presence.  And it’s beautiful – listen to those harmonies and the guitar arrangement, with …


WTSTM: The Sounds, Bill Bruford and creativity’s curse

“Standing in the shadows I hear people say, I got confessions to make, listen up! No one sleeps when I’m awake.” What’s THAT supposed to mean? Like some of the other songs in this series that I really should stop neglecting, this song is relatively straightforward. It’s a young band asking a simple question: “Is my message getting through?” Rock stars often don’t do themselves any favors when they sing about their jobs. Bullet With Butterfly Wings isn’t one of Billy Corgan’s most relatable lyrics. Even Rebecca Black recorded a song about dealing with fame, which seems a bit like an arsonist singing We Didn’t Start the Fire. But musicians are in the perfect position to give us insight into creativity, that vital force no one really understands. We can feel the frustration in the Rush song Losing It or Suzanne Vega’s paean to writer’s block, Rusted Pipe. And sometimes, creative people bare their souls or produce something that seems so important, only to see it fall on deaf ears. That’s devastating, even if your …



A legend such as Bobby Hart really doesn’t need an introduction; as a songwriter for The Monkees, Jay & The Americans, Little Anthony & The Imperials and so on.  For several decades, he (along with late partner Tommy Boyce) created some of the most memorable songs that have stood the test of time and trends and are just as wonderful to listen to today. This video for “Hurt So Bad” is from the originally-released-in-1980 The First Bobby Hart Solo Album, which was released in only a few foreign territories and then disappeared.  7a Records has now reissued this fine album, along with the video for Bobby’s own version of his smash hit for Little Anthony in 1965.  A different take, it has a groove that fits with the here and now. So sit back and enjoy! The First Bobby Hart Solo Album is available now


E.P. REVIEW: DAN HENIG, “Paper Planes & Hurricanes”

This five-song E.P. from Ann Arbor native Dan Henig is a crisp, soulful and completely pleasant listening experience; it fits the time of season as it’s warm and has different elements – groove, danceability and some very mellow moments. Starting with “Hostage”, which has definitely radio-friendly polish and beats, you feel its familiarity and think this is going to be all dance-oriented, but “Crash and Burn” takes it into a smooth acoustic direction and Henig’s vocals are particularly powerful on this track.  “Habit” is another acoustic piece that’s equally mellow and yet has a cool groove about it; “Tell Me” goes right into that electro-pop feel and “Paper Plane” is softer, yet atmospheric at the beginning and building up into modern radio pop. An interesting, well-crafted mix of songs and styles.  Dan Henig is definitely a name to watch as I’m fairly certain he’ll be making an entry onto the national charts sooner than later. RECOMMENDED Paper Planes & Hurricanes is available now



Having very much enjoyed Brian Cullman’s recent album, The Opposite Of Time, it’s nice to be able to bring to you the latest video from the collection.  “Times Are Tight” was one of THE standout songs (in an album full of standouts) and this very clever animated video seems to fit the vibe. If you haven’t done so already, after watching and listening to this video, you seriously need to go and check out Brian Cullman’s work.  He’s that good… The Opposite Of Time is available now. And in the meantime, here’s “Times Are Tight”:

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It isn’t often a concept album based around the theme of classic philosophers comes along.  However, that’s the case with this new release from Al Stewart’s guitarist, Dave Nachmanoff, Spinoza’s Dream.  Nachmanoff has a Ph.D in philosophy and here he has melded his two worlds and passions to create this interesting song cycle. “That Guy” is an upbeat opening track; poppy and with groove while “Temptation” has some definite Reinardt-esque guitar textures and “One Black Swan” has a very easy ’70’s soulful feel.  The title cut, “Spinoza’s Dream” is gentle, acoustic-bodied and airy; “No Matter How Close” does, indeed, remind me of Al Stewart’s style but has a crispness all its own and to me, “Bruise On My Soul” is possibly the album’s standout with great arrangement, harmonies and powerful (yet simple) chorus.  “The Painter” is another standout with its hooky melody; “Time Of War” has a clever structure of major to minor chords on the verses and some meaty Hammond and “All Good” closes out the collection in an upbeat, hopeful way (listen for …


ALBUM REVIEW: Leland Sundries, “music for outcasts”

The worst you can say about Leland Sundries’ two EP releases — 2010’s “The Apothecary” and 2012’s “The Foundry” — is that they were frustratingly short (as EPs are wont to be). Thick stews of steampunk Americana that made the most of frontman Nick Loss-Eaton’s gnarly rasp, both pointed toward bigger things to come. With “music for outcasts,” the band’s first full-length album, that bigger thing has arrived, and it was worth the wait. Operating on a broader canvas than the EPs, and boasting a more alternative feel, the band finally gets to stretch on “outcasts.” They find their inner Clash on guitar-fueled rockers like “Greyhound From Reno,” wail through wild psychobilly distortion on “Bad Hair Day” and conjure up what could be a long-lost “Blonde on Blonde” outtake with “Freckle Blues.” “We rushed uptown see Bob Dylan sing and play,” sings Eaton on that melancholy blues track, appropriately namechecking the bard. “Afterwards, you didn’t have nothing to say.” But one thing that “music for outcasts” carries over from the EPs is a cutting sense …

Remember Jones

A Fan’s Notes: Ladies and Gentlemen, Remember Jones!

It seems that there are a number of musicians in NJ with the name Anthony D’Amato, or something similar enough to make it uncomfortable for all of the Anthonys. So after trying on a few different monikers, one of those Anthony D’Amatos took on the nom de guerre Remember Jones. I have no idea where it came from, but it’s a pretty cool name. At that point our hero began assembling a large band that includes some of the Jersey Shore’s finest musicians, and started drawing large crowds with tributes to iconic albums like Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, and Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen. In his most audacious move yet, Remember Jones will fill Asbury Park Convention Hall, something unheard of for a local musician whose name is not Bruce Springsteen, for a Soul Revue & Dance Party on Saturday night.



If it wasn’t enough that John David (J.D.) Souther’s debut self-titled album was a stunner, then it shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise that his sophomore effort, Black Rose, was a masterpiece.  Originally released by Asylum Records in 1976 and produced by Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon fame, etc.), this now-expanded 17-track edition recently re-released by Omnivore Recordings breathes new life into this vibrant collection. Featuring the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, David Crosby, Joe Walsh and Art Garfunkel amongst others, the original ten tracks shine brightly on their own – a brief but powerful piece like “Simple Man, Simple Dream” or a slow country-soul epic like “If You Have Crying Eyes” which features the heavenly voice of Ms. Ronstadt and a string section.  “Bang My Head Against The Moon” is a neatly upbeat groover; “Baby Come Home” is another of those “great lost Eagles tracks” since Souther was very much the unsung 6th Eagle; “Black Rose” is a perfect example of mid-’70’s mellow and there isn’t anything wrong with …



I suppose I could go on and on as to why you should immediately download (buy it first, dammit  – these people have families and homes!)  The Cucumbers’ newly released digital compilation of their entire Fake Doom Records output from the ’80’s, the aptly titled The Fake Doom Years.  Start with the fact that these are great, classic, clever pop songs with a sense of humor, intellect, natural-ness, charm and heart.  One of the most wonderfully striking things about The Cucumbers was their unpretentiousness, which came across clearly.  Once you’re immersed in the songs, you’ll understand immediately how good this band was. Coming from the legendary Hoboken scene, The Cucumbers, driven by Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, first struck a chord with me by way of their highly-infectious single “My Boyfriend” around 1983 or so – I can remember hearing it on the radio and thinking, “yes – neat – cool”.  I saw them a few times at various venues (including, of course, Maxwell’s).  But here are the facts – this compilation has 19 tracks; …