Carmine Appice – Guitar Zeus

Carmine Appice – Guitar Zeus
Rocker Records
Legendary rock drummer Carmine Appice has reissued his Guitar Zeus project, and album recorded over ten years ago that if you did not know about then, you really need to check it out now. Created with the help of co-writing cohorts Kelly Keeling (vocals, rhythm guitars, keys) and Tony Franklin (bass), Guitar Zeus brought in some of the world’s greatest guitarists to rip loose some seriously powerful rock music. Just to peak your interest a bit more he kicks off the CD with an unreleased track, “ Mothers Space,” an intense burner featuring the shredding of Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. From there, Carmine chooses a delectable feast of eleven tracks from the original recording. “Gonna Rain” has a subtle funk groove with powerful licks from Bon Jovi axeman Richie Sambora. The mix of radio hooks and grunge edginess are fueled by the the undeniable snarl of Queen’s Brian May in “Nobody New.” “Where You Belong” takes blues to a sonic level beyond 11 on the dial, with maniacally twisted licks by Slash, and some of Keeling’s most intense vocal work on the disc. “Code 19” explodes in the high megaton range with fiery solos and fat cords by Zakk Wylde, and also is one of the many great examples of why Tony Franklin is called the the “Fretless Monster.” The who’s who list of guitarists on the rest of the tracks is impressive; Steve Morse, Neal Schon, Yngwie Mamlsteen, the Nuge, Vivian Campbell, Mick Mars, John Norum, with further guest slots by Dug Pinnick and Edgar Winter. Yeah, there are tons of stars here, including of course the guy behind the double bass drum kit thrashing the thundering beats and intense fills he has always been famous for. But the star power definitely matches the power of the music. There are copious amounts of talent and passion that went into every second of this work. If you did not get a chance to check out Guitar Zeus when it was first released, there is absolutely no reason to miss it now if you love rock guitar playing, singing, bass work, and drumming at its absolute best. Also available as a digital release with even more of the original GZ songs. -MW

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http://www.carmineappice.com/
http://carmineappice.com

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Nathaniel Land – Black Blue Sky

Nathaniel Land – Black Blue Sky
NYC singer/songwriter continues to push his songwriting envelope with this, his fifth music release. There seems to be subtle increases in both intensity and edginess from he previous efforts, displaying some of his finest work to date. The hooky indie-rock potency of the lead track “On The Inside” would stand up against any tune on the radio these days, with emotive vocal punch, fueled by gripping instrumental work. “Turn Your Light On” has the feel of an alt-acoustic power ballad with intriguing tweaks in songwriting eccentricities. The title track is ambient folk that feels both lush yet snappy, while the stripped down “Love Sings” is perhaps the most heartfelt display of passion Nathaniel infuses into his vocals. His voice proves again to be quite intoxicating, with an alt-rock fringe mellowed by a sweet bluesy croon. His words range from touching to introspective to inspiring, and the music he wraps around them really make you experience his feelings. It is obvious that Nathaniel is not satisfied with merely rehashing his previous works. On the contrary, his songwriting talent pool obviously runs very deep and he is still drawing from various areas of it to create fresh but comfortingly familiar music that is captivating and enjoyable.  – MW
http://www.nathanielland.com     http://www.facebook.com/nathaniellandmusic

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Dominic Gaudious – Music From Darkness

Dominic Gaudious – Music From Darkness
Dominic Gaudious is widely known and heralded for his talents on the acoustic and electric guitars, and didjeridoo. In his new recording, Dominic reaches into further depths of his musical prowess as well as delving deep into his songwriting soul for what turns out to be a thoroughly mesmerizing effort. Fueled by synthesized instrumentation, Dominic draws the listener into his feelings and emotions with graceful, ambient soundscapes. The songs “On My Saddest Days,” “You Left Me Suffering” and “I Have Nothing Now” harken of soul bearing, introspective emotion that swirls around the listener and touches the heart. The music becomes more uplifting with tracks like “There Is New Belief” and “You Can’t Hurt Me Now”, caressing the soul like cool waters and sun-splashed landscapes. Dominic’s signature work on guitar and didjeridoo are wonderfully interjected into “Stop Pushing Me Out” and “Let’s Go to Australia” respectively. You may run a gamut of emotions while listening to this CD, but that is most likely the point here. By the time the CD ends with the more joyful feeling “Just Bounce Away” and “Transformed”, you feel like you have truly experienced the soul of this talented songsmith, while still being able to savor the incredible musicianship put into it. – MW
https://www.dominicgaudious.com

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The Sled – Various Artists

The Sled – Various Artists
Melodic Revolution Records – MRDM 026
This is a wonderful holiday music collection from excellent artists that also inspires the season of giving. This is not strictly traditional sounding holiday music, instead you have some seriously ear opening avant garde stylings of both known songs and originals in a variance of stylings. There is stunning piano work here, ranging from the subtly powerful emotion of Andrew Coyler’s “We Three Kings” to David Kelly’s rollicking take on “The Grinch” theme, to Federico Fantacone’s fun but intricate finger magic on “Syrinx.”Jennifer Cutting mesmerizes you and touches your soul with the poignant “Time To Remember The Poor.” Bass/stick master Don Schiff infuses a unique jazzy prog vibe into “Christmas Time Is Here.” There are so many well done tracks here that you can’t help but being enticed to see what is around the next corner, from the smokey barrelhouse romp of DC Snakebuster’s “Christmas Blues” to the the mellow funk groove of Babel’s “We Move Toward the Light” and the intoxicating ambience of Bill Rhodes’ “YES…I Hear What You Hear.” It is not at all cliche to call this a delectable music feast, but this CD is so much more. “The Sled” is promoting giving in a unique way, and are providing a download of the CD for free to those who will send some proof of an act of kindness. Anything from volunteering at hospitals or homeless shelters, donating food or clothing, donating blood or giving to a local charity will give you both some entertaining music and a warm heart during this holiday season. – MW
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Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Antry – Devil Don’t Care
Tres Lobas Enterprises – TLE-CD-8849
Even Christian/Praise music is not immune to having too many artists/songs sound the same. Tulsa’s Antry uses both his faith and musical talents to create something a bit more intriguing musically while still carrying his heartfelt messages. Melding various stylings of blues, country and pop, the music ranges from lush and charismatic to potent and gripping. In any case, this is a very powerful way to spread The Word and the uniqueness and musical talent involved with its creation only enhances the chance of it making a difference in people’s lives.
Antry
Ben Bostick – Hellfire
Simply Fantastic Music
Country artist Ben Bostick loves his roots and he scorches them like a prairie wildfire. From old school honky tonk to Memphis blues-fueled rockers, Ben tears up any preconceived notions about roots country since he is unafraid to kick in some unconventional stylings that lend a subtle punk feeling while keeping strong hooks intact. The vocal work is a robust cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and Waylon Jennings prone to some interesting phrasing calisthenics, further augmenting the often darkly humorous lyrics. The CD is loaded with excellent musicianship fueled by brash power. Ben doesn’t just turn Nashville on its ear with his music, but he boots it down the road with a steel toe and screams “make room for me!” And they had better because this is seriously fresh music.
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Tim Woods – Human Race
To set yourself apart playing blues these days, no need to be strong in your roots but have a bit of something extra. Macon (by way of western Pennsylvania guitarist/vocalist) Tim Woods has that something extra, and it is this undeniable raw feel that ratchets up the intensity of his music. Even the ballads feel potent and some of the rockers are over the top with blistering guitar work and bone-breaking rhythms. Balancing this is his surprisingly melodic voice which still has just the right touch of grit. You can almost smell the tubes in the amps overheating on this one and feel the studio walls shake.
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Gaetano Letizia & the Underworld Blues Band – Beatles Blues Blast

Gaetano Letizia & the Underworld Blues Band – Beatles Blues Blast
The Beatles are one of those bands that if you do a tribute album to their music, you better hit the ball out of the park, lest you commit musical blasphemy. Cleveland’s Gaetano Letizia not only hits it out of the park, it is a grand slam into the parking lot. The veteran blues guitar slinger and his power trio manage to pay respectful homage to the Beatles while also flashing their prodigious musical chops in an entertaining fashion. A blues tribute to the Beatles is by no means a stretch because, as any fan knowsm the Fab Four loved and were often influenced by American blues. Most of the songs carry the essence of the originals, laced with Gaetano’s stunning guitar work, and the stoic but intricate rhythms of bassist Lenny Gray and drummer Mike D’Elia. Some, however, kick a bit a different groove into gear, particularly the songs that have had well known covers done before; “Come Together,” With A Little Help From My Friends,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The latter is a particularly gutsy and intriguing version that stands out against the famous versions by Jeff Healey and Prince. The trio is unafraid to do things a bit differently such as in a Cream-ish instrumental take on “Do It In The Road,” a smoky roadhouse tilt to “A Day In The Life.”  and a snappy shuffle ditty-fueled “Tax Man.” Beatles fans won’t be disappointed and neither will blues lovers because this is a great and unique tribute that is both fun and respectful. – MW
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Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

The Furious Seasons – Now Residing Abroad
Veteran L.A. singer-songwriter David Steinhart has created another masterpiece with his trio The Furious Seasons. David can stand his own against many famous singer-songwriters of the past, and you can feel a bit of the likes of Cat Stevens, Paul SImon and Jim Croce when you listen to him. He has his own distinct personality though, with a voice that is both emotive and subtly intense with mesmerizing timbre, the perfect conveyance for his thought provoking often topical words. The musical backdrop is thoughtfully complimentary, showcasing a further depth of artful talent. Full of warmth and intelligence, this is truly enjoyable music.
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Marshall – Carnivals & Other Tragedies
Hey Man! Records
Chicago is, of course, known for blues, but I would hesitate to pigeon hole veteran Chi-Town songsmith Marshall (Hjertstedt) in that category. While there are blues influences, there is so much more depth to his music with heavy doses of folk and subtle doses of Taking Back Sunday-era indie rock. Perhaps why this music is so ear-opening is because he can weave together those various styles and create music with a delectable pulse and captivating vibe. The lyrics are cerebral without being pretentious and there is plenty of musical prowess tastefully laced throughout the tracks. Wonderful music with heart from the Heartland.
Marshall
Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys – My Life
Nevermore Records
Almost as stoic a Milwaukee institution as beer and German food, Reverend Raven and his band celebrate their twentieth anniversary of creating blistering blues from the Cream City. The music treads mostly familiar territory which is not even close to being a bad thing as the Rev knows how to take traditional blues progressions and do special things with them. The CD is brimming with killer vocal work, snarling guitar solos, wicked harmonica chops, and lyrics that tell stories ranging from humorous to heartrending. These guys bust their butts to bring great music to the Midwest and beyond, and we can only hope they will be around another twenty years.
RevRaven
Hilary Scott – Don’t Call Me Angel
Belltown Records
Not to be confused with the two “L” Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum, Hilary Scott has carved her own name into today’s Americana scene with a breathlessly intoxicating voice and a knack for creating catchy, emotional, and subtly edgy songs. Slipping in touches of country, blues and indie rock, Hilary’s stunning vocal work and soul bearing words will drive deep into your soul with their honest intensity and delectable musical backdrops also created by Hilary’s multi instrumental talents. Beautiful, lush and haunting, this music draws in the listener and holds their attention as you experience her stories and feelings.
HilaryScott

 

Jo-EL Sonnier – The Legacy

Jo-EL Sonnier – The Legacy
Takau Records
To say that music is universal is not cliche. If you have any doubts about that statement, give a listen to “The Legacy” by Jo-EL Sonnier. All the lyrics on this Grammy winning CD are in French, but you do not need to be fluent or parlay any Francois to understand where the legendary “King of Cajun music” is coming from. Sonnier’s talents are immense, as anyone who knows Cajun music can attest to, as will the numerous country and pop performers whose songs have included his mastery of the accordion. You can feel the emotions he puts into each song, whether you speak the language or not.  “Les Blues D’Ennui” translated to “Boredom Blues” will alleviate that affliction if you are experiencing it with its snappy rhythm. “Si J’ai Pas Toi”, (“If I Don’t Have You”) has a subtle pop rock groove with pained vocal works that harken the lamenting of a lost love. “Mama’s Two Step” – the only English titled,  song feels fun and fresh. Sometimes Cajun music can get repetitive and sound to similar to other artists, but Sonnier has a knack for tossing in varied and tasty songwriting morsels in just the right spots and striving to do things just a bit differently while keeping the ethnic vibe intact. So, yes, his music is universal – his language is roots, talent, and passion. If you can’t speak that particular language yourself, you can certainly enjoy this particular interpretation. – MW
JoELTheLegacy

 

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst – Sometimes Jesse James

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst – Sometimes Jesse James
Silent City Records
When I heard the first notes of “Down”, the lead track on the latest from  So-Cal’s Steven Casper, my first reaction was “Tom Petty lives!” High praise from me, but not hyperbolic and while I do feel the ghost of Mr. Petty wafting around Steven’s music, his own personality shines through and he is by no means a clone. It feels mostly like heartland or Americana, but the tendrils of blues, country, and other styles writhe around the songs subtly, giving them both depth, but also a comforting familiarity. His sharp wit and intelligence shine through in the lyrics – check out the words fueling the twisted folk of “Wrecking Ball” if you need proof. Unafraid to try everything, Steven ends the CD with the Spanish flavored instrumental “Mi Sueno, Mi Dolor” – translation, “My Dream, My Pain.” His pain and dream is the listener’s music delight. The Petty comparison goes a bit beyond his similar sounding voice, for Steven Casper is a pure songwriter. And even though there are only six songs on this CD, you will savor them over and over again. – MW
StevenCasper

 

Bonsai Universe – Moonstreams

Bonsai Universe – Moonstreams
I cannot quite put my finger on what to make of this musical project by journeyman vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Woody Aplanalp…and perhaps that is why his music is so intriguing. I am not going to come up with one of those “cross so and so with so and so” references, although I do hear a subtle Bowie influence. I would include it in the progressive realm, and, no, that does not mean it sounds like Yes or Dream Theater; it is because it is so intoxicatingly different. There are lush, ethereal keyboard landscapes in abundance, but there are also folksy acoustic guitar passages and avant garde, but hooky pop passages. Woody has an undeniably catchy voice and a quirky sense for lyric writing, putting an extra dose of intrigue into even the most generic subject matter. This probably will not be for everyone, but I don’t think he created it for everyone either. Rather, if you respect solid songwriting talents that have zero qualms about creating different but captivating, then strap yourself in for this ride. – MW
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