Greg Felden – Made Of Strings
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
Carmine Appice – Guitar Zeus
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
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
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
Jenny Van West – Happiness To Burn
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.
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.