CD CAPSULE REVIEWS by Mark E. Waterbury

Delta Moon – Low Down

Jumping Jack Records – 12015

Another dynamic effort from the band formed by two of the ATL’s best blues guitarists, Tom Gray and Mark Johnson. The CD is brimming with delectable guitar licks and slide work, plus soulful often haunting vocals and heartfelt lyrical stories. Ranging from traditional blues to NOLA stomp to gritty rock and pain-fueled delta porch-picking, this is a feast for the ears for any blues lover.


Susie Glaze & the Hilonsome Band – Not That Kind of Girl

The fourth CD by roots loving Susie Glaze showcases incredible musicianship and sweetly harmonic vocals treading the many dusty paths of folk. From Celtic to Appalachian bluegrass, from twangy Texas country to spicy Memphis blues, Susie unleashes her talents and passions to wonderful effect. The songwriting is strong, and the music is both luscious and infectious.


Shawn James & the Shapeshifters – The Gospel According toe Shawn James & the Shapeshifters

This fivesome from Arkansas has no fear when it comes to blending styles that normally refuse to be blended. Industrial metal of the Ministry vein meets Skynyrd-esque southern fried rock with side trips to bluegrass, blues and Celtic. If it sounds strange, the strangeness works wonderously. Check out tunes like “Wild Man” and “Lost” if you need further proof. This is for folks who like their rock different, but still darn good.!


The Kahless Clone – An Endless Loop

Hailing from Chicago, The Kahless Clone creates intense instrumental soundscapes that weave the soothing vibes of Marillion or Renaissance with the power blast of Symphony X or Filter. Unexpected twists and turns are interspersed with a hypnotic feel that flows from caressing you to grabbing you by the collar and screaming at you. This shows very solid musical chops without being pretentious – an EP showing serious potential.


Joe Goodkin – Record of Life

Quell Records – QR1010

The founder of Chicago’s indie rockers Paper Arrows produces a solo effort that is intoxicating and subtly powerful. An alt twist on ambient folk, he has a knack of taking somber tones and giving them an uplifting quality. The pure emotion flows freely from tracks like “Gray” and “My Friends.” Joe has opened up his soul on this effort, creating music that will no doubt touch you with its hauntingly beautiful landscape.


Michael Falzarano – I Got Blues For Ya

Hypnotation Records – WR0049

Journeyman blues-master Michael Falzarano (Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage) is one of those talents who knows how to wring every tiny drop of the blues out of his guitar and voice. This new CD is no exception, I am surprised smoke did not come out of my speakers. He’s not inventing new ground, but he is doing tried and true blues styles extraordinarily well, with slick songwriting and lyrics from the deep reaches of his soul.


Anthony Gomes – Electric Field Holler

The first song on the latest by this veteran Toronto-based singer-songwriter is called “Turn It Up.” You can figure that out on your own. This guy cranks out some serious down-and-nasty rock-fueled blues that is simple, but very ear-catching. If you want some pure examples of his talent level, check out a song like “Whiskey Train” with gritty vocals and searing guitar licks. Well, you can find that throughout the CD. It’s a killer effort.!


Ian Siegal – The Picnic Sessions

Ian Siegal – The Picnic Sessions

Nugene Records – NUG1402

Veteran British blues poet Ian Siegal gathered several friends in a studio and played like they were just hanging out and having fun jamming. The result has a lovely rawness with an intimate touch, making you feel like you are sitting on some dusty folding chair or cross-legged on the floor nodding along to the tunes. For those who think “blues from England, really?”, did you listen to the early Stones, Beatles, Kinks, Deep Purple, and multiple others? They grew up on Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and many others who prowled the smoky Mississippi jukes of the past. Ian not only feels like he is influenced by the blues smiths who trod before them, but you can tell he FEELS the blues, and that is always the most required ingredient for creating blues in its truest form. From the first strains of “Stone Could Soul,” you can tell his blues are coming from deep inside, transferring to his dusky voice and fingertip blistering picking that were honed from his years of busking across Europe. Songs like “Beulah Land,” “Keen And Peachy,” and “Hard Times” also display that Ian’s type of blues is far from one-dimensional, as he has musical sensibilities drifting from western country to Chicago soul many destinations in between. Although Ian’s popularity and notoriety seem to be more prevalent across the pond, American blues fans are missing a serious talent if they don’t look further than the USA for great blues. Blues, like all music in general, blurs the lines on a world map and Ian Siegal extends an invite into his session here that you should not turn down. – MW


11th Floor Band – Sweet Mystery

11th Floor Band – Sweet Mystery

It took a long time for this Long Beach, CA-based band to release their sophomore release, a time filled with personnel changes. They must have found the right mixture as this CD blisters from start to finish. They take various tendrils of rock, primarily red dirt country, heartland, and subtle punk facets, and whip it into an edgy frenzy that can be both hooky and envelope pushing. If you miss bands like Jason and the Scorchers, and Cross Canadian Ragweed, this music is sort of like hanging out at a beer bash with them and counting the seconds until the cops come in and tell them to turn it down. The lyrics can be wickedly humorous at times, especially in songs like “Whiskey Train” and “Right Amount of Drunk,” and feature several different vocalists to inject further musical personality into the stew. These guys really know how to play their instruments, too and wring every ounce of blood and sweat that they can out of them. Listen to songs like “The Worst” and “Brother” if you need further proof. For any previous fans who may be asking, “What took you so long?”, just shut up and listen, you will no doubt be satisfied. For those who have not heard them yet, just get it and listen. If you love music that is at the most simple explanation “brash rock and roll,” this will not disappoint you. – MW


The Melody Man, Alexander Ceruzzi – Original Country Music

The Melody Man, Alexander Ceruzzi – Original Country Music

Treasure Chest Records

Canton, Georgia based songwriter Alexander Ceruzzi has an undeniable knack for channeling a sort of inner history book as to what Nashville country music has meant for several decades. He fuses influences ranging from the era of the grand dames and gents to the gritty outlaw era, up until the current (and long ongoing) bawdy rocking side of the genre. Lyrically, you get tried and true country subjects such as heartache, drinking, and cars mixed at times with a tongue-in-cheek and occasionally dark lyrics.

The peppy lead track “Dumpster Diving” is a microcosm of how adept and talented Alexander is at weaving these various styles and influences into a song that feels like it could compete with the radio staples that are popular these days. “I’m Still Loving You” and “Play Your Cards Right” are solid examples of his abilities to write ballads that stand well-interspersed with the snappy rockers like “Vroom Vroom” and the honky-tonk blues of “Mama Was Right.” Enlisting the talents of vocalists Brian Glenn and Debbie Thomas as well as some excellent musicians, Alexander has shown that although corporate Nashville can be a very tough nut to crack, he has the songwriting talent to at least have a step up on some of the others trying to weave their way through the Music City miasma to bring their music to the masses.- MW