2018 Music Reviews


Music Review Archives (since May 2010)

2017 Music Reviews



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The April Fools

The April Fools' self-released, self-titled debut in 2015 enjoyed airplay on over 140 radio stations across the US and Canada, including 90.3 KFAI and 89.3 The Current in the Twin Cities. The New Release "COLORWHEEL" is witness to the bands growth and musical breadth that can only occur after years of live performances and countless hours in the recording studio. So strap on your seat belt, kick back and enjoy the ride.
The four band members got together for their first jam on September 15, 2013 with the agreement that this was simply a project-a project with a beginning and an end. Then, a funny thing happened; they became a band. The ease of collaboration—the charmed chemistry that presented itself-was apparent almost immediately and they all knew, without saying anything about it, this was something they wanted to continue to do as an ensemble.

This is no joke The April Fools sound like a talented foursome that needs a good listen. Hear them on their website.



CATHY VARNA

Cathy est une artiste auteure-compositrice-éditrice et productrice de caractère, une interprète d'exception aux multiples facettes qui nous enchante, nous étonne et nous surprend aussi bien avec son répertoire de chansons inédites avec la reprise des normes de Chanson Française , Internationale et même du monde lyrique. Son talent, sa classe et sa voix est transporté dans un univers mystique, romantique et tourné vers l'amour universel et la paix. Comme une rayonne de soleil sur une bouffée d'air frais, le romantisme au bout du cœur, la sensibilité au bord de l'âme, Cathy Varna est la nouvelle égérie de la chanson française d'amour, un soupçon d'éternel dans un monde éphémère ... Elle est née à Paris sous le signe du verseau dans une famille mélomane, elle a étudié le chant, la danse classique et moderne jazz, le piano, mais a déjà vécu jusqu'en 2007 où elle acquit une expérience importante scénique.

Great voice and lot's of talent. Listen for yourself on her YouTube channel.




All Those Who Wander

All Those Who Wander is a two piece folk alternative group creating original and traditional music. The group creates an eclectic mix of American, Scottish, and Irish folk styles combined with recorded sounds. From virtuosic penny whistle to tight vocal harmonies, All Those Who Wander is a dazzling Colorado folk group with an original sound like no other.
The group is composed of Colorado natives Nicholas and Danielle Booker. Both are versatile musicians who perform on guitar, piano, penny whistle, flute, bodhran, trombone, and vocals. The duo makes bold stylistic choices with their fresh take on traditional playing and songwriting. They live and work in the tradition of great and varied folk artists such as Stan Rogers and Old Crow Medicine Show while paving their own way with their exciting new music.

With a mix of the traditional Emerald Isles and American folk music and their own ballads we would be amiss not to linger on to enjoy the folk music of this duo. So sit down and enjoy some of their smooth celtic character on their YouTube channel.



Radio Stranger

Americana artist Kelly Brightwell and folk-rocker Woody Moran have fused their talents, writing and performing together as Radio Stranger. This Portland, OR based act serves up catchy melodies and heartfelt messages with their collection of Eclectic Acoustic Pop tunes. Their sound is reminiscent of Birds of Chicago, The Swell Season, and the UK band The Shires. Their 2nd EP, entitled CROSSTALK, was reviewed with high marks from Music Connection Magazine (Nov 2017) and they are included in Dec 2017 Music Connection's Best Unsigned Bands of 2017. They recently were awarded an Official Showcase at the Far-West Conference, also appearing as songwriter panelists alongside Beth Wood and Jim Bruno (Shawn Colvin) at the conference. Radio Stranger opened for David Wilcox's only Portland appearance in 2017. "Really good songs, great harmonies... you got pocket!" David Wilcox.
RADIO STRANGER CROSSTALK is Brightwell & Moran's second EP of Eclectic Acoustic Pop. "Crosstalk" is the technical term for leakage between two audio circuits, such as two channels on a sound mixer. Released in the fall of 2017, this collection of songs showcases Kelly and Woody’s individual musical strengths, as well as the places where their talents have merged to become something altogether different. The subject matter also hints at the places where individuals and their stories overlap to reveal something new and unexpected.

I can only say that I wish I thought of those lyrics! This duo does it good. Just the kind of music you want to hear when you need that good feelin'- Marcus Walton, Editor See what I mean on their YouTube channel.




Todd and Jingyu


The album parallels the artists' own story: both were love-wrecked...then breakdown... reboot… meeting and falling in love... navigating the Chinese/American cultural divide... embracing commitment and exploring universal ideas on relationship...aiming to go deeper.
Todd Lerner has worked for Rolling Stone and Spin magazines, and his previous album of songs was played worldwide and positively reviewed... from The Detroit News: "12 Finely polished pop-rock tunes" and from Nights and Weekends: "Every single tune is as good as the last." Jingyu Yao is from China and has been living in America.

Very innovative and insightful is the music of this duo as they come together to express feelings most of us has felt at one time or another. Listen to their wisdom on their YouTube channel.



Chile Colorado

"Chile Colorado" is a three-piece power rock band from Monterey, California. They have released a new self-titled album featuring seven high-velocity tracks. Led by singer / song writer / guitarist Ron Wright, and anchored by the bottom-line support of Paul Goss on bass and John Ferraro on drums. Producers: Ron Wright and Chris Minto, Lyricist: Janet Planet, Photographers and Videographers: Serge Richard & Rick Shaffer, Recording and Mixing Engineer: Ron Wright, Engineer: Richard Bryant, Recorded at Studio B, Monterey, CA. Tec Support: Trevor Wright.
Chile Colorado's is in Power Rotation with 100's radio stations across the USA and growing strong. The album also entered the national Americana Music Association airplay chart (AMA) and was #18 Jambands.com radio chart. They have thousands of views on there YouTube channel "Chile Colorado Band". Including international radio play in London, France, and surrounding countries. Also, receiving hundreds reviews on their sound cloud account.

Great logo design and rock and roll like the good old days. Give them a listen on their YouTube channel.



TOZ Antonio Piretti

Antonio is a singer-songwriter with Italian roots and an international spirit. He started his music project in Italy in '06 and '09 he came to Canada, changing his life completely, from a business suit & tie to a guitar & lyrics. In Toronto, music became his way of living.. being also a licensed musician for the subway system (TTC), joining gospel churches and acting for theatrical plays. Nowadays he can be found on any kind of stage in venues, festivals, churches, theaters.
He released 4 albums, demos, singles and performed in more than 360 gigs among Canada, USA, UK, Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. Last releases: "#Stronger" in '18, "In 10 Years" in '14 - "My Name Is Not Important" in '12 - "Acoustic Italian Versions" in '10.

Rock and Roll with Italian roots. Beautifully rendered, quite insightful. Hear him on his YouTube channel.






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Aria Nichols


November 2017 marks Aria Nichols' debut, with her single 'See Where This Goes'. A highly-creative burst of contrasting emotions merging together angelic vocal dexterities with a moody Trap instrumental. The emotional lyrical hooks create a dream-like atmosphere that precedes Don Fuego's devastating drops. The result: a high quality rollercoaster ride of production that will have you hooked from the first play.
Dubbed the Adele of Trap music, Aria Nichols is an exciting up-and-coming artist, ready to take the Electronic music world by storm. Raised in New Zealand, but based in Dubai, Aria kick-started her musical career during her final year at medical school. She teamed up with talented producer Don Fuego, forming a solid tandem and fusing deep, authentic songwriting with EDM.

Aria has a great voice and some pretty amazing lyrics but just when I was getting into her sound it goes on some wierd syntho-esoteric trip then back to her. Kind of like flipping channels on Saturday morning. But don't take this wrong give her a listen on her YouTube channel.



Animal Sun


With the release of their self titled EP, Animal Sun takes on a some classic genres, and gives them a fresh, youthful spin all their own. Lush with addicting progressions, an around edgy but soulful vocal style, and persistent pop undertones, the record boasts the aesthetic of pop rock anthems. Although songs are diverse from one another, there is a glue holds them all together much like a concept album would.
The first single, "Just for The Night", immediately grabs you with it's infectious pop sensibilities, followed by intimate and passionate vocals, guitar hooks, and an almost punk rock attitude. The song seems to build and breathe as it plays on.

The second song on their EP "Enough For You" caught our attention as a carefully layed out song with deep roots. Hear more of "Animal Sun" on their YouTube channel.



Phaze II jazz

Since 1997, PHAZE II has been providing Smooth and Funky Jazz sounds on the local music scene in the Washington, DC area, by honing its craft of delivering quality music to their listeners. PHAZE II has embarked on a journey to show the world the many talents that this jazz band has to offer. Determined to broaden their vision, PHAZE II entered the 13th Annual Capital Jazz Festival 2005 Capital Jazz Challenge Competition. This competition was sponsored by Washington DC's Smooth Jazz 105.9 and Baltimore, Maryland's Smooth Jazz 104.3. The final competition consisted of 6 bands chosen from 600 competition entries. Phaze II was chosen the winners of the competition received a monetary contribution and had the opportunity to open the next day on the Capital Jazz Festival's main stage.

Phaze II jazz would be welcome in anyone's smooth jazz line-up. These guys deliver a sweet sound that cools the soul. Hear them on their website.



Phil Circle


After eight album releases, Phil Circle has begun work on his ninth, and this time it's going to be available on vinyl (with download cards included), CD, and of course via download.
After completing the release of his now critically acclaimed book The Outback Musician's Survival Guide, Phil got to work planning for this next album release. There was only one problem; his local Chicago fans were bothering him for one track in particular that he's been playing at all his shows. It had become so familiar that some people were even singing along with it. In one case, the host of a radio show Phil visited was singing along by the end of her first listen!

It's something how Phil combines elements of jazz, blues and classic rock to form songs with lyrics and sound all his own. Take a listen to him on his YouTube channel.



Freudz Couch


Freudz Couch originated in 1992 touring, recording and release multiple albums and singles until 2003 on the indie scene. Disbanding in 2003 never thinking a reunion could be possible, an unlikely reunion took place in 2016, the band released the new EP 'ego' in 2017 and currently in the writing process of a new full length LP to be released in 2018. Freudz Couch has recently signing two Publishing deals for the entire existing music catalogue with Music of the Sea and Sextillion Music.
This MPK represents singles from each of the Freudz Couch released albums titled 'id', "Embraced' and the new EP 'ego'. The band reunited in 2016 after a long absence committed to bring Rock n Roll music back into the spotlight.

Looks like Sigmund is back with some insights into our reality. Listen to them on their YouTube channel.



Strangely Alright


Strangely Alright is a quirky,colorful band of brothers that create rock sprinkled with some electronics and a lyrical message to be who you are and that love is the answer. The peace and love vibe along with some crunchy guitars and pretty harmonies give a sound of that has, as Rockford Rowley from The Weekly Volcano says, “an undeniable emotional appeal. Ringing, triumphant chords and lyrics that allude to conquered tribulations immediately make the music relatable to everyone." And time can have a tricky way of beating people down and telling them to forget who they wanted to be and who they are. The fact that some members of the strangely clan are in recovery brings to mind the reality that people can find what was once lost.

Aptly titled "Strangely Alright" we must agree this band follows with music that "Paints Outside The Lines". Hear them on their YouTube channel.



Will Sims


Baltimore-based alternative rock and pop artist, Will Sims, creates themes that focus strongly on both romantic and social relationships, and the difficulties faced in our modern society. His rich, powerful music reaches out to connect on a personal level while still maintaining infectious components that make his songs stick in your head.
Through his music, Sims tries to answer questions about how relationships work and the roads people take to get to where they are. He aims to reach out to those who are struggling to let them know that they can make it through the hard times because others have been through the same ordeals. With music that is catchy, fun, and occasionally emotional, Will Sims aspires to make a connection with his audience in a way that will be as timeless as his music.

Soaring vocals and expressive rock that raises the roof. Hear Will Sims and company on his YouTube channel.







Derek Jordan

Ever wanted to leave your day job of 10 years to travel around Europe? Derek Jordan did just that. As a lifelong dreamer, his restless soul knew there was more out there. In May 2017, he said goodbye to certainty and security and packed his bags, visiting 12 countries over the span of six months with his girlfriend. On the last day of the adventure, he proposed to her inside a castle where Henry VIII frequented.
Derek Jordan is a songwriting, recording and performing music artist and fitness advocate based out of Los Angeles, CA. He founded the organic rock band Decoded in 2012. Decoded toured much of the West Coast before disbanding in late 2015. Their single "Topanga" received national radio play on over 120 college radio stations and reached #1 for 4 weeks at 88.7FM WPCD.
Derek's
debut song "This Will Be My Year" starts out like Woodstock and ends with a New Years resolution but sounds tight and is quite upbeat. Hear him on his YouTube Channel.



Collins & Streiss

Collins and Streiss are a Canadian duo from the Toronto area. Formed in the summer of 2013. Their musical style covers a broad range of genres such as Folk, Rock, Alternative, Indie, and Jazz.
Having met and occasionally played together in rival high school bands, the two lost touch for many years only to be reunited in the summer of 2012. After an afternoon of catching up, some drinks and some jamming, the two would once again not see each again until the summer of 2013, where they decided to try and do some writing together. After a couple of hours, the song "Saturday Night" was written and recorded as a demo in Anton's studio Harmelod Sound. Six more sessions followed and another half dozen tracks were written and recorded as demos. The process had gone so easily, they decided to form a duo writing and recording, with most of the instruments played by themselves. To date, they have released several singles and a 4 song EP and LP titled "Cornerstones".
Other musicians on Collins and Streiss tracks include: Dave Dawe - Bass on "Saturday Night", Steve Wingfield - Sax on "Saturday Night" and "Free", Davide DiRenzo - Drums on "Black Diamond" "Saturday Night" and "Free", and Sebastian Meadows-Helmer - Violin on "At Hand".

Creative well thought out lyrics with good sax and backup vocals. Listen to them on their YouTube channel.




Kayla Jay


Aware that a certain type of body image is promoted throughout the music industry, alongside often trivial subject matter, Kayla Jay's music encourages listeners to seek a deeper meaning in life, and consider more than aesthetics before reaching conclusions on issues. Her soulful new single 'What If?,' reflects on elements of self-doubt within a relationship, such as questions over whether committing is the right thing to do, or whether a partner will end up taking advantage of this commitment and hurting you. 'What If?' covers real-life issues, without pulling any punches. Kayla does not make generic pop songs presenting a false, simplistic image of life.
As well as exhibiting Kayla’s philosophy, 'What If' also exhibits her outstanding vocal ability as she reaches a range of complex notes with immaculate precision.
These lyrics are laid over a sumptuous, melodic beat to create a track that you will play on repeat for days and days.

Kayla style of music does indeed grab you and gives a desire to want more, to think more and to feel more. She is a rising star. Hear her on her YouTube channel.



Temptation

Originally from New Zealand but now based in Dubai, Aria has put her signature on Trap, adding Jazzy undertones, unique melodies and soulful, emotive lyrics to the distinct heavyweight drops associated with the genre.

This is the second offering this month with her "Trap" music. If you don't know what "Trap" music is here is the defintion according to Wikipedia. "Trap music is defined by its ominous, bleak and gritty lyrical content which varies widely according to the artist. Typical lyrical themes portrayed include observations of hardship in the "trap", street life, poverty, violence and harsh experiences that artists have faced in their urban city surroundings. Trap music employs a heavy use of multi-layered hard-lined and melodic synthesizers; crisp, grimy, and rhythmic snares; deep 808 kick drums; double-time, triple-time and similarly divided hi-hats; and a cinematic and symphonic utilization of string, brass, woodwind, and keyboard instruments creating an overall dark, harsh, grim, and bleak atmosphere for the listener." So listen here to hear more.



Livia

Livia is a female singer/songwriter from London, England with a sprinkle of Italian and French mixed in. She has been singing and writing since she was 4 years old. Growing up, she listened to many different styles of music; everything from rock, pop, latin, metal, dance, dark wave, world music and folk - you name it. Livia uses the many influences, elements and forces in her life and works them into her music.
Livia is proud to announce the release of her debut CD titled "Journey of an Empath" with single "Read Your Mind" leading the way. The title of this single describes the song - a story of someone who has learned from a hurtful past and is now wiser and more experienced in choosing a positive future. "It's about learning from your past mistakes, not letting people destroy your spirit and taking a bad experience and become a stronger person. An empowering song hopefully and about healing", states Livia.
This single has great lyrics. The vocals, rhythm and the energy are explosive. The music arrangement for this song gives a power punch to the audience. Its hard intro grabs your attention from the very first note right up to the last. It has plenty of catchy hooks and great melodic sections. These ingredients, fused together, deliver a very powerful and impressive single. It is very radio friendly and relatable to audiences worldwide and for any adult age.
"Read Your Mind" is a good representation of the style of musical arrangements Livia creates. She wears her heart on her sleeve and her audience adores her for it. Holding nothing back, you can feel the intensity of what she is singing about. Her music is eclectic and very diverse. This is what her audience loves and expects from her. This is Livia.

So although her music is quite seductive you had better listen to this "empaths'" lyrics if you are a current or potential pursuer and don't say she didn't warn you! Really though Livia has the magic to go the distance with her unique sound. Listen to her on her YouTube channel.



Stephen James


With the release of the full length "Optimum" LP, Stephen James takes on some classic genres, and gives them a fresh, youthful spin all his own. Lush with addicting progressions , an edgy but soulful vocal style, and persistent pop undertones, the record boasts the aesthetic of indie rock anthems. Although songs are diverse from one another, there is a glue holds them all together much like any concept album would.
The first single, "Scratched Up Windows", immediately grabs you with it's infectious pop sensibilities, followed by a passionate vocal , and changes you'd never expect. All in all, the song builds and breathes while it plays on.

This band has it's own unique sound that is right up there with the rightous musicians of all time. Listen on their YouTube channel.




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