Trevor and the Joneses – There Was Lightning

Trevor and the Joneses – There Was Lightning
Psychedelic can be a word associated with Las Vegas, if nothing else for colorful neon lights of the Strip. Local fivesome Trevor and the Joneses found some of the psychedelia, threw it into a garage somewhere, cranked up the tube-amps and let loose. The result is something that weaves retro touches from the 60’s through the 90’s into a mean machine of seething, V-12 fueled rock that not only does not pull punches, it hits with the force of a Bowery brawl on a simmering summer evening. Guitars that provide not only wicked licks but harken to a time when solos were really SOLOS. Vocals like 60’s California, 70‘s London and 80’s Minneapolis thrown in a blender with the top open while the blades are still whirring. Rhythms like a herd of buffalo stampeding through a 4 inch drainage pipe. That is the sort of power these guys unleash here, and they are top-notch songwriters as well. The lyrics are simple but thoughtful, and the songs catch your ear not just for the musical intensity, but the craft that went into creating them. The production is intentionally rough and echo-y but well balanced, and it works to great affect here. While there is not much that can be considered a sure bet in Las Vegas, I would be willing to lay odds that Trevor and the Joneses will open more than a few ears with this effort. – MW


The High Fidelics – The High Fidelics

The High Fidelics – The High Fidelics
Surf’s up…in Birmingham, Alabama! While I am not sure of the tidal conditions of the Black Warrior River, this debut CD from the Pittsburgh of the South makes no apologies for unabashed retro instrumental surf-rock they have produced here. No apologies needed, this CD is a blast! Heavily influenced by The Ventures, Dick Dale and most of the “classics”, this band slides in enough vestiges of Dead Kennedys/The Cramps styled punk enhanced with some serious musical chops to hone out a signature feel to what they are doing. The instrumentation does have that 60‘s feel, from the fuzz-effected guitar to the farfisa organ, fleshed out by wah-wah funky bass riffs and often frenetic drumming. The songwriting is strong from the full throttled boogie of “Lil‘ Curfew Breaker” to the get-out-the-sunglasses burble of “Spy Smasher” and the Latin-tinged groove of “Mondo Rondo”. They all seem to have a bit of their own personality, while keeping the overall vibe of the music intact. Classic surf rockers like Link Ray and Dick Dale may have helped over the years to keep this niche but entertaining genre alive and even kick start a revival as of late, particularly with the music’s popularity in recent movies. The High Fidelics are a band that can give a high octane boost to that revival if this first effort is any indication. – MW


King Kobra – King Kobra II

King Kobra – King Kobra II
Frontiers Records
This album by hard rocking supergroup King Kobra, a somewhat overlooked band that was a lot better than many bands back in the day, still rocks a lot harder now than many of their contemporaries. Perhaps it’s because of the reunion of four of the original members; guitarists David Michael-Philips and Mick Sweda, bassist Johnny Rod, and drumming legend/founder Carmine Appice. Enlisting the prodigious vocal talents of Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), the power is unleashed full throttle from the first chords of “Hell On Wheels” and does not let up throughout the CD. Songs like “Have A Good Time” and “The Crunch” are good time hard rock party tunes. “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” is one of those fist pumping songs that will test how many calcium deposits you have in your neck. “Take Me Back” is a blues-edged power ballad that flat out scorches. Definitely not a band short on talented players, the boys are all in top form here, with plenty of powerful riffs, blistering solos, thundering rhythms and soaring but gritty vocal work. It is an effort that makes you hope there will be more to come from these guys, because none have them have lost their ability to flat out rock. – MW

KK booklet_cover

Skylar Elise – Skylar Elise

Sklyar Elise – Skylar Elise
Sugar Money Records
When you first listen to this six song debut by DFW area country performer Skylar Elise, you may think, “where has she been? This music sounds great, must be someone who has been around for awhile.” It’s true – Skylar has been performing for some time, but it could be astonishing for some to learn she is not quite fifteen years old yet. Astonishing because the music here has not only a mature sound, but a confident sound – the sound of someone with experience and talent. Beyond the plaudits, this is truly well-crafted music that stands on its own against anything coming out of Nashville these days. The lead track and first single “Gypsy Soul” has commercial radio appeal, with great hooks and a rocking rhythm enhanced by Skylar’s powerful vocal work. “You’ll Never Understand” shows that Skylar can handle ballads with grace and emotion. “You Wish” is a toe-tapper written by Skylar, proving she can pen songs that are catchy but have her own personality infused both lyrically and musically. The CD also includes a unique, country-fied version of Jessie Colin Young’s classic “Get Together.” I don’t know if I want to say “watch out for her”, because that almost does not seem a  strong enough endorsement. If this CD is a glimpse at the talent and passion Skylar Elise already possesses at such a young age, she could truly become one of the next hot acts on the country scene. – MS