Blue Sky Riders – Finally Home

Blue Sky Riders – Finally Home

3 Dream Records

It’s great to see Kenny Loggins return to the forefront of the music scene in his new band Blue Sky Riders with his latest recording “Finally Home” released by  3 Dream Records. Along with bandmates Georgia Middleman (who has written tunes for Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and Reba McEntire) and Gary Burr (Conway Twitty, Wynonna Judd), it’s proof positive that Loggins is completely in his element with this trio.  Definitely an eclectic set with interwoven Country, Americana, Celtic, Pop and Rock elements, each member brings standout performances to this recording. Laced inside these song renditions are plenty of precisely delivered harmonies and vocal tradeoffs. Exceptional storytelling songwriting is prominent throughout and especially in “Little Victories” with Middleman performing so flawlessly on lead vocals. “Just Say Yes”, “Feelin’ Brave”,  “I Get It” and “You Took The Words” rock out and are great toe-thumpin’ tunes with Kenny Loggins’ musical influences so turn it up!  Blue Sky Riders have amassed an array of prominent musicians to appear on this CD including Joe Walsh. Produced by none other than Peter Asher, this CD is a showcase masterpiece of beautiful vocal harmonies with some fun, some thought-provoking songs, and is highly recommended as a delectable addition to all music collections! – SS


Anders & Kendall – Wild Chorus

Anders & Kendall – Wild Chorus
Nine Mile Records – NMR 0250
With the burgeoning popularity of “alt folk”, however you want to define acts like the Civil Wars, the Avett Brothers or the Lumineers, you could figure there will be many other acts to come along in a similar vein – so they better be good to really stir things up. Anders & Kendall are good, in fact, damn good. The vocal interplay between Anders Parker’s raspy croon and Kendall Meade’s sugary emotion is highly infectious, and holds you mesmerized throughout the eleven tracks of this wonderful debut. The lyrics are full of life and emotion, and are driven by folksy instrumentation that is sort of bare-bones but still flashes the right amounts of instrumental prowess in the proper dosage. “We’re On Fire, Babe” kicks the CD off with a gritty Americana vibe. “Let’s Get Lost” weaves a retro feel, slyly nodding to Simon and Garfunkel with a modern edge.  “Across The Years” is one of the more intriguing tunes with both tempo and emotive changes that really entice your aural sensations. “Getting Ready” rocks out in a subtle early Mellencamp style. Anders & Kendall show incredibly strong songwriting capabilities, showing that they are not holding on to coattails, but are producing music that has been percolating around in their souls for awhile, and are now happily unleashed. Keep an eye on this act! – MW


Glenn Eric – Blanket of Stars

Glenn Eric – Blanket of Stars
Dodu Records – 0720
Glenn Eric is one of those quirky singer-songwriters whose music can fit in several different genres from folk to alt rock to Americana, and manage to push the envelope in all of them. A pinch of Bob Dylan, a dash of Leonard Cohen, maybe a breath of Chris Isaak, the rich timbre of Glenn’s voice electrifies even the mellower tracks here. The gritty heartland rock of the title track is juxtaposed wonderfully by the devilishly satirical ballad “Baby I Need Your Company” and beautifully moody “The Moon.” “Gulls Cry” sounds like Jimmy Buffet decided to write a song after going to a Cramps concert, and man does that bizarre wedlock ever work. This is thinking man’s music without being pompous, sometimes subtly humorous and often soul-bearing contemplative. The instrumental backdrop also is noteworthy for the talent and energy involved in it’s inception, and features several members of Tift Merritt’s band and lively production by My Morning Jacket’s sound man Ryan Pickett. Glenn is also an author, but for those of you who prefer to check out the musical portion of his artistic abilities, “Blanket of Stars” is definitely a great place to start. – MW



Deep Purple – Now What?!

Deep Purple – Now What?!
Eagle Records – ER203182
It has been eight years since the most recent release from one of the more influential bands in rock history. And they come back on the scene and ask with their CD title, “Now What?!” Hard hitting rock and roll is “what.” Could you really expect Deep Purple to come back with anything less? The lead track “A Simple Song” may fool you for a bit with its mellow intro, but then the power is unleashed and that makes the eight year wait that much more worth it. “Now What?!” seems a bit more keyboard heavy especially in the signature Hammond B-3 direction. Perhaps this is a sort of tribute to the late great original keyboardist Jon Lord (the CD is dedicated to him) whose wonderful fingers helped flesh out Purple’s signature sound throughout the nearly five decades of their existence. Whether intentional or not, Don Airey does a masterful job with it. The humble guitar god Steve Morse takes a bit of a back seat to the keys, but fans of the axe slinger should not despair – there are plenty of powerful riffs and incendiary solos to keep you happy with one of the most intense being in the delectably macabre “Vincent Price.” Ian Gillan has had to reign in his trademark screams over the year, but his vocal range and control is still incredible. Check out “Aprez Vous” for a perfect example. The Deep Purple sound would not be possible without the often overlooked but highly talented and stoic rhythm tandem of bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, the latter being the only member to play in every Purple incarnation. As far as the songs are concerned, well, the lead track is called “A Simple Song” and Deep Purple has always been known for doing special things with somewhat “simple” music. Maybe a simple complexity would be a better term. However you describe it , it’s obvious the band put a lot of passion into the writing of every song. No going through the motions with these guys as it is with some bands nowadays. So the band definitely answers the question “Now What?!” in an intense and enjoyable fashion. The wait was worth it and hopefully the rejuvenated Deep Purple will not keep their loyal fans waiting as long for the next one. – MW


Queensrÿche – Frequency Unknown

Queensrÿche – Frequency Unknown
Deadline Music – CLP 0275
After the the acrimonious split of stoic prog metal band Queensrÿche into two separate bands, there were many questions, especially what each new version of the band would sound like. Geoff Tate’s version was the first to hit the streets with “Frequency Unknown” and to put it bluntly, it is a very good CD and showcases that Geoff’s voice is still in top form. “Cold” thunders out of the speakers as a red-hot start to the CD, and Geoff and his cohorts do not let up on the throttle. “Give It To You” has a radio friendly hooky feel albeit still quite powerful. “Slave” has an unbriddled metal intensity with fiery riffs and earthquaking rhythms. “The Weight of the World” is as close to a ballad as the new songs have, lacing mellow passages with seething explosiveness. Geoff also reworks four Queensrÿche classics: “I Don’t Believe In Love,” “Empire,” “Jet City Woman,” and “Silent Ludicity.” Nothing particularly groundbreaking with their treatment, but they are well done. Geoff has assembled a fine group of veteran musicians including journeymen Rudy Sarzo, Simon Wright and Craig Locicero, with guest guitar appearances from KK Downing, Ty Tabor and Brad Gillis, among others. So Geoff has released a killer disc, and whether or not there are some subtle messages to his estranged former bandmates or not, it is a challenge to them to produce a CD as powerful as this one (theirs is due out June 25th). Personally I think they will be up to the challenge, and in an era where numerous bands have two versions performing and recording, hopefully the loyal Queensrÿche fan base will have enough room in their hearts for both and not take sides as long as both camps create some great music. – MW

Queensryche CDart

Nathaniel Land – Make This World Our Own

Nathaniel Land – Make This World Our Own
The first full length release by NYC based singer-songwriter Nathaniel Land is a wonderful collection of songs enticing you to sit back, smile and appreciate the talent and effort that went into their creation. You can feel influences from the likes of David Gray, Ryan Adams, and maybe even a touch of Michael Stipe, but Nathaniel definitely makes the music his own. He has one of those rare voices with a harmonic timbre melded with emotional passion ranging from delicate to intense that really puts the hook into you. This helps you to actually feel his words, which are often soul-opening explorations of life experiences written in intelligent and honest fashion. The music backing the words includes some solid acoustic guitar work and just the right amounts of rhythm and keyboards to enhance the lyrics without overpowering them. The songs are very strong, and although mostly mellow, they still have plenty of subtle power to them.  “Possibility,” “Running’s All We Know” and “It’s The Life” are some of the real stand-out tracks, as good as anything on AC radio these days. Nathaniel Land proves to have the talent to dub him as ‘someone to watch’ without it being cliché to say so. The CD is also dedicated to the Amani Children’s Home in Moshi, Tanzania, a noble cause. – MW