CAPSULE REVIEWS by Mark E. Waterbury

Megan Wilde – Wildfire EP

Rowdy, sultry and soulful all in one, this Chicago born songstress now living in Seattle lights a serious bluesy rock fire under this debut. A very powerful voice with excellent emotive control is a perfect foil for retro yet edgy songs that also have comforting hooks.

Ray Goren – Save My Soul

A youthful and fresh perspective on the blues from a talented Chicago based singer-songwriter-guitarist. Mixing deep roots with more modern wafts of pop-alt rock, hip-hop and other stylings creates refreshing music that is unafraid to bust loose from typified blues rock stereotypes to produce something special. -

Jon Spear Band – Old Soul

This central Virginia band has a definite old soul when it comes to their heartfelt nod to blues and soul, running a gamut of delectable styles. Some very intelligent songwriting, excellent musicianship and lyrics that delve into deep recesses one second and speak plainly the next flavor this debut with vibrant life and listenability.

Chris Daniels & the Kings – Funky to the Bone

This is feel good music at its finest that truly is what the CD title suggests. The highly talented core of Colorado’s Chris Daniels and Freddi Gowdy deliver soulful vocals and direct an absolute powerhouse of a band. Laden with comforting funk, blues and soul hooks but with enough unique songwriting flavor to make the tunes stand out.

Easy Roscoe – Keep The Dancin’ Dancin’

This fivesome loves to have fun with their music and they transfer that fun attitude to the listener. Whipping up a wild stew of funk, jam, ska and post-punk alt rock, this music tightrope walks the fence between hooky and edgy to perfection. The songs all have that feel-good, infectious quality that can brighten up any day and get you…well, you see the CD title!

Etherlit – Etherlit 1

Although this seems like the kind of music you would hear in college dorm hallways in the early 90’s, it seems quite refreshing what this band has done with it. Pulsing, hooky, edgy, its as if Brian Ferry found the fountain of youth, hung out in said dorm rooms nowadays and started cranking out the songs. Very retro but also very well done and a lot of fun.

Patrick Ballantyne – Days of Rain

A veteran songwriter from suburban Toronto area, Patrick Ballantyne has started crafting his own songs lately and his finely honed talents shine. Highly versed in various modern pop styles, he really showcases rounded talents in songwriting, vocalwork and instrumentation through a variety of styles ranging from bare bones folk to gritty rock. Music that is both catchy and ear-opening.

John & Judy Rodman – Here We Are

Nashville veteran husband and wife team have not let the corporate miasma of Nashville cloud their songwriting judgement. Their songs are dripping with country roots and when they do go pop it has more life then the homogenous country so prevalent these days. They are smiling in the CD cover, you can tell they are smiling when creating their music, and if you enjoy good ol’ country, you will smile, too.

Anne Stott – Love Never Dies

Anne Stott – Love Never Dies

The third CD from this Massachusetts based singer-songwriter is a stunner, and it is even more stunning that Anne Stott is not one of the more popular ladies in music. While I do hear some influences from the likes of Tori Amos, Fiona Apple and Melissa Etheridge, Anne’s music personality is refreshingly unafraid to take chances and create music that is both edgy and soothing. The musical diversity flows effortlessly from bare bones folk to orchestrated power, from lush piano graced harmonies to potent explosions. Anne’s lyrics are thoughtful and topical, with subject matter that appears dear to and straight from her heart. Her voice is the true star here, from little girl passionate lilt to gritty soul-bearing emotion with a range from bluesy croon to near operatic power. Songs such as “Hold Me,” “Clap Clap,” and “I Looked Up at God” are as good as anything I have heard from any singer-songwriter, male or female, in quite awhile. Seriously, more people need to check this lady out; she has the passion, the talent, and she fuels every note and word of her music with it. – MW


Jon Chi – Another Rising Sun

Jon Chi – Another Rising Sun

Something truly innovative is brewing in Brew City. Milwaukee’s John Chi’s sophomore effort is intoxicating music with mesmerizing musical landscapes driven by vestiges of rock, funk, soul and country-jam, and laced with thought-provoking lyrics that tell a variety of stories from harsh to darkly humorous. “Words You Can Believe In” launch the CD with a snappy folk vibe that really hooks you with some of the subtly lush backdrops. “Killer From Our Hometown” is haunting and soul-snaring blues at its deepest, darkest hue. “The Battle Is Over” is a funky but gritty rocker, like Dick Dale, the Grateful Dead and Urge Overkill hanging out at a backyard concert. Jon appears to have the full package here; lyric writing intelligence, a push-the-envelope songwriting mentality, and one of those breathlessly emotive and agile voices that is undeniably infectious. Jon Chi breathes serious life into the Midwest music scene with this excellent effort. – MW


Breezy Rodio – So Close To It

Breezy Rodio – So Close To It

Windchill Records – 1001

Sometimes you have to appreciate more traditional bluessmiths who hold tightly to their roots but just do it really really well. That describes Breezy Rodio and then some, because he absolutely smokes through this highly enjoyable mix of originals and covers. He has it all; the voice, the guitar chops, the great players, and you can tell he FEELS the blues, and that is the most important facet. I would hesitate to say he is breaking any true new ground or trying to re-invent the wheel, but sticking to old fashioned ideas in the face of so many wanting to hear something new is very commendable if you make it work. Listen to sizzlers like “When My Heart Breaks Like a Hammer,” “Walking With My Baby” or a heart render like “Please Accept My Love” and I dare you to tell me it doesn’t work to perfection here! What makes it work is the obvious passion, Breezy not only feels but loves the blues, and that deep love translates into music that even the most ardent blues snob is sure to savor. – MW


The Neighborhood Bullys – Callin’ All Rockers!

The Neighborhood Bullys – Callin’ All Rockers!

Ruff Mix Records – RMR EP5

When you can take a simple premise and make it edgy enough to really put the hook into the listener, you know you are doing something right. The Neighborhood Bullys have that simple premise, one that makes you think when they first sat down together, the just said, “Damn it, lets just rock!” Yeah, if you leave it in those simple terms that can mean a lot of things, but with these guys it means taking various influences from bands who have the same attitude about rock and roll, putting it in a blender, and standing back while you rip the top off. You can just conjure up visions of ballsy rockers like the Ramones, ACDC, the Sonics, blended with the riffing sensibility of Aerosmith melded with a vocal punch that retains its harmonies. So the title here is apropos, they called all rockers, got them into a fight in a smoky alleyway, and came up with music that puts kicks butt with a steel toed leather boot. Look out for this L.A. foursome, they may just run you over. -MW