The Royal Hounds – Low Class Songs for High Class People

The Royal Hounds – Low Class Songs for High Class People 
If you have not checked out the latest from Nashville’s wild and crazy The Royal Hounds, you had better strap in. This is like driving down Monteagle with a load of nitro and no brakes. Not that you would expect any less from this band, and adding some serious extra spice to the already spicy stew is are the prodigious chops of Brazilian guitar slinger Matheus Canteri. Of course, there are a lot of madcap lyrics here with songs about “Chinese Buffets,” “Pizza Parties,” “Tweakers from Outer Space” and other bizarre subjects. Beyond the lyrical antis though are some seriously talented musicians ripping through songs fueled by honky tonk, rockabilly, glam punk, and other styles in often blistering fashion. If you have any doubts about the talent of Matheus Canteri, just listen to the instrumental  “Manteiga Braganca” and those doubts will be blown away with the force of a Great Plains tornado. They also do probably the most raucous version of “Ghost Riders In The Sky” I have ever heard (apologies to the Outlaws and the Man in Black.) If you love unbridled music with equally unbridled lyrics, you really need to check out The Royal Hounds. – MW
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Lasers Lasers Birmingham – Warning

Lasers Lasers Birmingham – Warning
The first full length release by the brainchild of L.A. singer-songwriter Alex Owen continues the current retro country renaissance with a winding road of quirky, mesmerizing, and heartfelt music. There is far more depth here than someone who listened to Waylon or Hank Sr. in his formative years. It is really difficult to get a handle on what that different vibe is, but that is a very good thing since the CD appears to be crafted with a comforting swagger. It is no doubt country at its purest with plenty of lyrics about heartache, simple living, and baring one’s soul, but as with the overall music mosaic, the words delve fully into the depths of Alex’s songwriting spirit. From the haunting title track to the sweetly potent ballad “Sugar Mamma” and the hook- driven but still edgy “Wild Animals,” Alex has a knack for channeling subtle extras into his songwriting that take even the barest bones track to a further level. With this CD, Lasers Lasers Birmingham could easily ride the crest of the next wave of bands washing the generic posers out of Nashville and letting real country take back over the town.  – MW
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Greg Felden – Made Of Strings

Greg Felden – Made Of Strings
New Neighborhood
L.A. (by way of Oregon) singer/songwriter Greg Felden creates music that carves its own unique niche into the world of folk and Americana. Perhaps it is the subtle influences of other musical styles or his intoxicating voice that feels like a blend of Jim Croce and Cat Stevens. Sometimes when you can’t quite put your finger on what the true vibe is, that is what makes incredible music and that is what is happening here. From the smoky bar-room romp of “Every Time,” to the haunting “Bad Guy’ that burns like a prairie fire to the avant-gard blues of “Tell Me What’s Broken”, you have an ear-opening mosaic with a plethora of “whoa” moments around many corners. The lyrics are intelligent, feeling both home-spun and soul bearing, and throughout the CD you find musicianship that is stunning in just the proper doses. When the journey concludes with the thought-provoking bare-bones “Ghosts,” it is somewhat hard to fathom that this is Greg’s very first release. It is nowhere near cliche to say that he is a musical force to be reckoned with.  – MW
https://www.gregfelden.com

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Grant Ferguson – Power and Beauty

Grant Ferguson has once again graced us with with a fantastic CD of instrumental music. in “Power and Beauty,” his fourth release.  Known for his guitar playing prowess and songwriting talents, they are on full display here – albeit avoiding the trap of being too overly zealous that many instrumentalists can fall into. On the contrary: what you have here is various levels of subtlety blended masterfully into the overall mosaic. The lead track “Blowback” is a perfect example – powerful with a backdrop of intricate yet comforting prog hooks. “Present Tense” unleashes a bit more of talent on all fronts but a deft touch with the song crafting thoroughly ensnares the listener. “The Beauty of Her” produces a jazzier tilt in a lush but crisp fashion. The juxtaposing of the emotive piano graced ballad “Petite Mort” and the driving rocker “Playing With Fire” are quite stunning. If you have not yet checked out this Scottish-born Arizona resident, this CD is an excellent introduction to his vast array of talent, musical emotions, and songwriting quirks. – MW
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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

https://www.facebook.com/Carmine-Appices-Guitar-Zeus-140445489010/

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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Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Jenny Van West – Happiness To Burn
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Heralding from Portland, Maine, Jenny Van West is unafraid to try a bit of everything. This creates some fantastic music on her sophomore effort, ranging from folk to rock to country with various sideroads in between. Her intoxicating but also intense vocal work feels like Joan Baez hung out with the great ladies of country, while the lyrics take some provoking turns on tried and true themes. There is an undeniable uplifting groove even in the mellower tunes with more somber subjects with some excellent musicianship throughout. Overall, it feels sort of like a retro marriage of Music Row and Haight Asbury, and what a wonderful marriage it is.
https://jennyvanwestmusic.com

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Meg Williams – Maybe Someday
Singer/songwriter Meg Williams shows a lot of depth on this six song EP. With a touch of Bonnie Raitt here and a bit of Melissa Etheridge there, her battling musical souls of rock, country and blues weave together for some very enjoyable music. Her guitar work is quite ear-opening while her voice toes a nice midline of gritty yet harmonic with some great phrasing calisthenics, framing the well thought out lyrics. Definitely someone to watch out for.
https://www.megwilliamsmusic.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.
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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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