2015 Music Reviews

Music Review Archives (since May 2010)

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the Lift

This is the sound of what happens when a former Bravo "Platinum Hit" contestant and a musical heavy hitter, stop playing their parts and start speaking their truths.
"The Lift" is a collaboration between Davy Nathan, piano player & music director for Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton, Colbie Calliet and Simon Cowell's X-Factor & Amber Ojeda, singer/songwriter, placements on networks like VH1, ABC, MTV, Bravo, Oxygen & the Style Network.
Los Angeles based Duo The Lift announces Spring release for debut self titled EP. "The Lift" was recorded at the world famous House of Blues Studio in Los Angeles and includes musical contributions from Matt Chamberlain (Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Frank Ocean), Patrick Warren (Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey), produced by Michael Feingold (Erykah Badu, John Legend) and mixed by Aris Archontis (Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez).The Lift's debut EP elevates and restores contemporary pop songwriting to its classic glories with rich eloquence, melodicism and emotionality, plus an immediately alluring chart-bound ear appeal.
The groups lead single "Lost in The Middle" is already garnering attention from bloggers and YouTube viewers alike click here for a free download of the group's debut single.
"As individual artists, Amber Ojeda and Davy Nathan are absolutely stellar. However, when combined, the efforts of what these accomplished singer/songwriter(s), create is enough to move you from wherever you're at."
You need to listen to "the Lift" on their website, lest you be "Lost in The Middle".

Marc Benno

Marc Benno is a Grammy Award Winning Singer Songwriter! He has many of his songs recorded by well known artists including Jose Felciano, Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge. He appeared as guitarist on THE DOORS LA WOMAN. Eric Clapton appeared on Marc Benno's CD LOST IN AUSTIN
Listen to Marc on his website.


The Hitarda Project was created by two talented and extraordinary music producers, Filipp Logvinenko and Ann Muse, which are part of Filipp's Music Team.
They have become well-known for their charming music that has been a part of famous movies and soap operas, popular games and many other exciting projects. The life purpose of our composers is infinite creativity, which is closely intertwined with various musical trends and styles. Beautiful melodies are born of genuine inspiration that creates true music of the heart, with moods that range from mystical to romantic.
In their spare time, composers Filipp Logvinenko and Ann Muse give free rein to wild imagination and crazy energy that result in a seductive mix of dance rhythms and guitar riffs. It was through this unique collaboration that Hitarda, with one of the best female singers as a front girl, was born.
There were no signs that Ann Muse would be so popular. She was born in Ukraine to a poor family. She soon began to work for a living, but the difficulties of life didn't stop her because she lived with a sincere love of music and a childhood dream. A dream that one day she would be a positive influence on people all over the world through her music.
And a little girl's fairy tale came true; today she is one of the best female singers.
Ann Muse exhibits a unique style, stage presence, and amazing vocal clarity that makes her one of the most intriguing among the best female rock artists of today. Numerous positive reviews and high chart ratings offer more evidence of the Hitarda Project's leadership among current girl singers.
Each song born of the Hitarda Project has a unique quality and creative distinctiveness. This unique creativity can be appreciated by watching any of their videos.
Think this group is all flash and no substance? Listen to "Love Makes You Beautiful" on their website, then think again.

Da Phatfunk Clique

Several New York area venues have experienced the funk/jazz sounds of Da Phatfunk Clique. In September of 1998, violinist Darrell Looney began collaborating with several musicians on what would be the first release in 1999, Pandemic Love. The sound is unique as the violin is the lead instrument. Da Phatfunk Clique was formed as a band by January of 2000, utilizing local talent in support of the album release. Out of this effort came development of a unique sound, both jazzy and funky, that has been described as an amalgamation of jazz from Mahavishnu Orchestra and funk ambience of George Clinton's P-Funk. True to form, these are among the group's influences as are artists such as Jean Luc Ponty, Herbie Hancock, George Duke and Noel Pointer. The band has become redirected as a musical concept, developing the live vibe as various musicians add their creative influence to the music writing process.
Darrell “D-Funk” Looney is an Emergency Doctor who also enjoys making violin-led music with a unique sound and vibe combining Funk, Jazz, Latin and Hip Hop.
Take a listen to "Da Phatfunk Clique on their website.They are a very cool groove!

Western Avenue

For Nikki English, Keith Robertson and Matt Williams, music has been a driving force in their lives for as long as they can remember. Together since 2007, they are the members of Western Avenue. The trio from Central Ontario, Canada is winning over audiences with its "hot country" sound, including the catchy first single, "Highway Headin' Out of Town," which was picked up by Canadian country radio in the summer of 2012.
Now, with the release of their new single, "Wherever You Are," from their February 2013 self-titled debut EP, Western Avenue is taking their melody-driven blend of country and pop music to radio in the US and around the globe. Already spinning on radio in Canada, the single is poised to take Western Avenue to new heights, and introduce them to a worldwide audience of country music fans.
English and Robertson, who are married, live in Peterborough, Ontario, while Williams is from neighboring Cobourg. The three musicians met through Canadian country artist Tara Lyn Hart, who lived in Port Hope at the time and had a music program in Cobourg. Robertson and Williams were hired as back-up musicians for English, for one of her performances.
Since those early days, the members have matured--developing their music style and songwriting. Their undeniable chemistry has remained intact: "I think it has all come from playing together for so long," English says. "We get along so well, and I couldn't ask for better band mates. We click. We're always open to suggestions from each other."
Growing up, English fondly remembers her father Frank always playing guitar and singing around their house. He died in 2001 after a battle with cancer. While her father always encouraged her to perform, English had shied away from the spotlight. However, her father's passing was motivation to give it a shot: "That's what he always wanted me to do, and I wanted to, but I was a wimp," she says. "It gave me confidence to do it in his memory. It's been a challenge because I've always been shy. It's been a lot easier with the band, having people beside you."
There was always music around Robertson's household. The Colborne native began playing instruments at an early age and has been playing in bands since he was 12. He couldn’t imagine having another job. "The only thing I can do is play guitar," he quips. Robertson taught guitar for 16 years, and still does occasionally. He also plays fiddle and “pretty much anything with a string on it." Keith has played professionally with country musicians Tara Lyn Hart and John Landry.
Matt Williams remembers when he knew music was a path for him. He was 10 years old and received tickets from his parents to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in concert:
"As soon as the lights went down, that was it," Williams said. Two weeks after the Tom Petty show, he took up the guitar. "I had to work really hard at it, but it's something I persisted at."
That's a sentiment that the entire band can relate to…hard work and persistence. A line from their debut single, "Highway Headin' Out of Town" says, "I wanna feel those wheels under our dreams keep rolling." Western Avenue's journey is just getting started.
Take a listen to Western Avenue on their website.

Saturday City

Saturday City is a band led by the two brothers Magnus and Stian Gulbrandsen from Moss, Norway. They play what they call 'Soulfull americana/folkpop'. Although they are brothers they started playing in a band together a while after they were both well on the way with their own music careers. Stian as the guitarist in the 60s garage-rock outfit Death by Unga Bunga and Magnus as a guitarist in the powerpop group The Dahlmanns.
Saturday City was started as a result of them both having a lot of acoustic sounding material that did not fit in the other bands.
The brothers got together as a duo and quickly equaled, if not surpassed, their other bands in both national acclaim and achievement.
In 2011 they started recording their first EP themselves in the basement of their childhood home in Moss. The EP was released in 2012 to great reviews. The national music-magazine PlanB wrote they were among the best that was released in the folk/country-world that year, and they were voted "unsigned band of the week" on national radio. The songs "Catch A Flame" and "I'll Be Fine" both got a lot of radio play and formed a sort of base for their sound. The same year they performed at festivals such as ByLarm, Månefestivalen and Norwegian Wood. This year they have been perfoming with a full band line-up at festivals such at the international acknowledged Øyafestivalen and Varnafestivalen.
Listen to Saturday City on their website.

Attention Music Writers!
Music Arts needs your help to review new artists and assist with magazine production!
contact: editor@musicartsmonthly.com

Featured Artist!
Celia Rose

Celia Rose is a singer/songwriter who has performed throughout Africa, Haiti, Europe and the U.S., empowering women, inspiring youth and collaborating with top local artists wherever she’s been.
Originally from Alabama, her country/folk style shines through even when combined with Haitian rhythms and her sound has been compared to Joni Mitchell or Tori Amos mixed with some KT Tunstall spunk. After completing her first album (entitled simply, Celia Rose) in 2000, Celia moved to Haiti where she introduced American folk and country style songs to the jazz/funk and kompa music scene of Port-au-Prince. Working with a local band (who then went on to become famous in Montreal under the name Wesli Band), Celia's name was known throughout the country as she performed regularly on radio and TV and alongside top Haitian artists.
She moved to Paris, France in 2002, where her band, Wrapped in Rain, completed a full length album, Butterfly, performed at top Parisian venues and was discovered by a talent scout and sent on multiple tours as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors to Africa. Not only did they tour 8 countries in Africa and receive additional grant money to make an album of songs performed on their tours, but an up-and-coming Namibian film producer made a documentary of Celia and her band during a week long tour in 2005.
Moving to New York City in 2007, Celia went on to complete her third album, Stories, as well as a music video for her song "Little" (Lyrics for "Little" were printed in American Songwriter Magazine). While in New York, she taught songwriting for Harlem Children's Zone, completed a master's degree in music composition from NYU's Gallatin program and composed music for the Dormia book series, Little Flower Yoga and dozens of other organizations. She performed at Peter Yarrow's home (of Peter, Paul and Mary) and played regularly at top venues around the city.
In 2011, Celia moved back to Port-au-Prince, Haiti where she taught English through songs to students at J/P HRO's School of Hope and performed regularly at Quartier Latin and Mango Lounge. American actor Sean Penn was quoted as calling her performance "sensational" and Celia was invited to sing the U.S. and Haitian National Anthems for the Marine Ball, which took place at the U.S. Ambassador's residence and hosted over 1000 people.
Currently, Celia Rose is working towards completing her fourth album, Esperance, which will include songs recorded in Haiti with her incredibly talented Haitian band.
Celia recently moved to Calgary and is excited to be working with the artistic community on a number of new projects. She is looking forward to supporting the local community through music and to composing new, Calgary-influenced material.
Please go to her website and take a listen. You won't be disappointed!


Do opposites attract? From the Deep South all the way to the New England shore comes a new sound called SoulCrush that will inspire you to ponder this very question. But this isn't a matter of geography. When it comes to music, Erin Stevenson and Jill Zadeh grew up in the same town. Separately, the two powerful vocalists hold impressive credits in songwriting, producing, and performing. Now together, they've joined forces to form an undeniable vocal duo: "Soul Crush". Their unique sound blends R&B/funk grooves, a heavy rock drive, intricate vocal arrangements, and show-stopping performances. A "soulful grunge", if you will. Rarely do you find artists whose music is as pure as their soul. When listening becomes an enjoyment again, and you look forward to what comes next. Erin is a self-described "down south chic" who has been blessed with many gifts including a flawless voice, electric dance moves, producing and writing songs, and the ability to deliver breathtaking performances with her captivating personality. This has led to her starring in her own right alongside Yolanda Adams, Jaime Foxx, R. Kelly, Charlie Wilson, Regina Belle, KEM, Faith Evans, Eric Benet, S.O.S Band, and Laylah Hathaway. Her first released single "Sweat" reached to number 5 on the Billboard Dance Charts. She has several songs featured in films including "Hair Show" starring Monique and Vivica Foxx , and the movie "American Dream" starring Mike Jones. At the tender age of ten she was a member of "Girl's Tyme", a pre-pubescent group of girls who later became Destiny's Child. Her outstanding voice has long held sway over a legion of fans in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
One late night traveling from city to city, the idea to collaborate came to them from the back of a tour bus. They were the best of friends, they were both amazing writers and singers, and they both had similar ideas about the direction of their sound. It suddenly made perfect sense and the two immediately began their journey as SoulCrush. So in short, to answer your question: Do opposites attract? Just listen to these voices and you'll hear the answer loud and clear: "Yes, they most certainly do!" Let SoulCrush into your life and start enjoying new music again.
Listen to the high energy sound of "SoulCrush" on their website.

Laurel Wiley

The music of singer/songwriter/guitarist Laurel Wiley garners it's strength and charm from a perspective that is distinctly feminine, yet at the same time draws on the universal truths of love and loss. From introspective themes carefully woven within lasting melodies, she evokes an ethereal sense with an ironic and sometimes haunting twist. Nancy Wilson of Heart supplements this timeless music with her renowned guitar driven sounds and delicate harmonies.
Listen to Laurel at her MySpace site.

Blue Velvo

Blue Velvo - A master of guitar and vocals, Vel leads us all on a mysterious journey into Bluesy Rockabilly Pop!
Phillbilly - Bass and backing vocals, always energetic and locks into the Whisko's rockin beats with tightness and clarity.
Whisko - A Master of percussion as well as backing vocals provides the solid back beat for Blue!
"Blue Velvo is one of the most talented singer/songwriter/guitarist to come out of the woodwork in quite a while. The authentic "old timey" sound is a refreshing change from the POP IDOL music that you find on whats left of modern radio. "Blue Whiskey" is an interesting story song that takes the listener on a sad journey back to 1949, but we also find a true gem that deserves a few listenings... it's a traditional gospel type song called "I Believe" another interesting story crafted here by the mysterious Blue Velvo. Many more new "old sounding" songs will be released on the forthcoming new CD scheduled to be released in September 2013..."-pavs, The Wire
Listen to BlueVelvo on their site.

Irena Hart

A Ukrainian born acoustic guitarist, singer-songwriter, poet.
Irena Hart delivers a powerful, folk-infused sound that captivates her audiences. Her voice possessing a clear as a bell vibrato, she has an addictive star quality about her both musically vocally and visually. Hart has performed locally and nationally since 2003. Her live performances leave you inspired to save the world or at least take a cross country road trip.
"Hart is an amazing talent and she has proven herself worthy of praise with this latest string of songs. There's nothing more dangerous than a Ukrainian born musical talent armed with a great visual, voice and a one way ticket to your heart. Need I say more?" Rock N' Roll View Derrick Hennessey (UK).
"Irena Hart music "will suck you in like a drug. It's strength - the impressive songwriting, modern-day marketability and infectious vocal presence by Hart herself. Make no bones about it, she is a marquee talent and one would be wise to keep a watchful eye on her over the next several years." -Biz Talk with Cyrus Rhodes
Listen to Irina on her website.


Lyndsi "Laurelle" Hicks was born June 1st, 1992 at Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. From an early age, Laurelle had developed an early passion for music. Her father, John and Tammi, were in a band, and had a studio set up in their home that would help shape her into a young musician.
At the age of 6, Laurelle was struck with viral and bacterial meningitis that nearly took her life. But when she was found singing Celine Dion's, My Heart Will Go On, from there her destiny was for told. By the age of 10 she had performed in many talent shows, and various music competitions around the Northern Virginia area.
In her early teens, Laurelle had started working on her first demo that consisted of four cover songs and one original entitled B-O-Y. She drew inspiration for the song while watching 106 and Park, and envisioning her video was the new joint for the day. From there she realized that her passion was no longer a dream, but a reality. Laurelle continued to work hard and perfecting her craft by enrolling in vocal lessons, competing in competitions, and performing at local spots around the area.
She would draw inspiration for her sound from many of the industries great's. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Billie Holiday are just a few too name. One of Laurelle's greatest achievements was being able to sing the National Anthem for the National Police Department on the 4th of July. Now a days, Laurelle continues to pursue her career by continuously recording, performing, and making new videos for her fans.
She plans to make her mark in music heavy, but also a hard, inspirational, and impacting one as well. Laurelle's goal with her music is to not only be an international phenomenon, but to touch the lives of people everywhere in a positive and effective manner.
Now go and listen to Laurelle on her website.

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Stone Brewing Company

Stop by the Bistro in San Marcos
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By the Editor of Music Arts Magazine

The Big Lyon at the
San Diego Wild Animal Park
reads Music Arts Monthly and Catagorically agrees; it's Roarin!

Christiane Szabo

Christiane grew up in Reston, Virginia where, at an early age, she had a love for the arts. At the age of only four she appeared in the Reston Arts Festival singing, accompanied by her father on his guitar. At the age of ten Christiane appeared in Peace Child at the Kennedy Center OperaHouse. Meanwhile, she began studying ballet at the Conservatory Ballet in Reston and later the prestigious Kirov Academy in Washington, D.C.
Christiane attended Duke University, graduating Cum Laude in three years with a B.A. in English. She promptly moved to New York City where she continued her pursuit of the arts working in New York theater and independent film. While in New York, Christiane continued honing her skills as a musician and songwriter. It was not long before she was performing in local New York venues and up and down the east coast and in Los Angeles. She has performed at NY's Living Room, Rockwood Music Hall, Fez (at the old Time Café), The Bitter End, CBGB's, DC's Jammin' Java and The Stone Room, and LA's The Hotel Café, The Mint, and The Viper Room - just to name a few.
Christiane recorded her first EP in 2000 and shortly thereafter had a song placed on a Budweiser compilation in France. In 2005 Christiane recorded her debut album, Saltwater, which ultimately garnered her a record deal with UK label, Urban Angel. The album has been licensed for numerous television shows and several songs from the album have been placed on numerous compilations worldwide, including Australia's popular Sounds Like Café.
Christiane's song "Giving Up Graceland" was recorded by rising bluegrass star Molly Slemp and her song, "Time Is Now." was commissioned as the theme song for the documentary "The Green House" which debuted at the Environmental Film Festival. She works with Grammy nominated artist and producer Dave Eggar on a regular basis and is currently involved in a songwriting project with Spanish producer Rafael Veiga.
Christiane currently resides in the DC area teaching Bikram Yoga and playing music. She was recently featured in an ABC 7 news column on Bikram Yoga and is happy to be working towards finishing her 2nd album - Fragile Assassin. She plays regular shows in the area with her husband Joe Popperwell - who hails from New Zealand and Australia.
Listen to Christiane on her MySpace, you won't get enough!

Jacques Mignault
and The Jazz Collab

Jacques started playing music in 1965. Two years before Expo67 in Montreal, Canada. He was luckily present at the very first jazz festival organized by Jean Jacques Jourdain, and the next year he played at the very first Montreal International Jazz Festival, and a few times since. In 1982, he won top prize in the international Roland International Synthesizer Contest, first out of 750 entries from 22 countries.
Listen to Jacques and The Jazz Collab on his website.

Jim Bohn

Seasoned Singer-Songwriter. Blue collar roots and a pedigree of old school country music blended with blues and rock.
Take a listen to Jim on CD Baby.


Tabi has been singing ever since she can remember. From an early age, she was influenced by her musically-inclined family. Her father plays the guitar, along with her mother and older sister who can play the piano. At various family gatherings, Tabi was constantly surrounded by music. Whether it was listening to her uncles and cousins jam out to The Beatles, her grandmother playing a classical piece on the piano, or the radio playing funky dance music; the sound of music was resonant at the very beginning.
Tabi says that all of her songs are meant to be inspirational which led to the creation of one of her songs dedicated to Muscular Dystrophy Association advocates titled, "Move a Muscle". She sings, "I can do anything, nothing can stop me, I invite you to take part and do what you can." On one of her latest tracks called, "No Shame", Tabi sings, "let the whole of the crowd compete, I'm here to make the best of things."
Listen to Tabi on her website.

Eron Falbo

Eron Falbo's story begins in his birthplace of Brazil. Along the way it stops off in Paris and London. It takes a road trip across the USA from Los Angeles to New York. It makes crucial stops in the music capitals of Memphis and Nashville. And it leads us back, as all good stories do, to the place where it began.
Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Simon and Garfunkel. Waylon and Willie. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Jim Morrison and Jacques Brel. Their ghosts haunt the highways travelled by Eron on the journey that culminates with his debut album '73.
That's the simple version. But there were spiritual guides from times past and places farther afield: Byron and Shelley, Pythagoras and Leadbelly, Voltaire and Sophocles, Michelangelo and King David. "Explorers of the mind and soul," says Eron.
In his rich artistic life, Eron has been a poet, essayist, novelist and magazine editor. Now he is also a singer-songwriter, embellishing his writing with music for the first time. For Eron, there is no distinction between the disciplines: "If Lord Byron were alive today," he declares confidently, "he would be a rock'n'roll singer."
This might be a new chapter in his story but Eron Falbo has already been garlanded with testimonials from men with half a century and more in the music industry: musicians who have seen aspiring newcomers turn into rock superstars before their eyes and ears.
"Eron is a true world musician," says Kerry Marx, the veteran Nashville session guitarist who has played with superstars from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan and Elton John. "He borrows from a lot of different styles of music. He's got one foot in history - he's steeped in Sixties music - but a real modern thing too."
"He's a deep thinker," adds Shane Keister, another Nashville music man with decades of experience, playing keyboards with everyone from Elvis Presley to Kris Kristofferson. "I really like his lyrics: he's got a lot to say."
This, for Eron, is important. Words are the foundations of his songs, music the bricks and mortar that hold them together. He recorded his album in Nashville, Tennessee, because that is where some of his favourite records were made. And to complete his homage, he tracked down the man who made them.
The American leg of Eron's journey began when he embarked on a search for the man who produced much of the music – the words and music – that inspired him. A man who can claim to have sold "half a billion albums."
Back in the 1960s Bob Johnston produced landmark records including Bob Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde,' Simon and Garfunkel's 'Sounds of Silence' and – most pertinently of all – 'Songs from a Room,' the record that turned a young Canadian poet called Leonard Cohen into a musical icon.
Nearly half a century later, Eron Falbo tried to coax him back into the studio. It was a long shot just to find a semi-retired music producer in his 70s and persuade him to produce an unknown young poet and would-be musician from Brazil. But he did it.
"I had set my heart on finding Bob because those records he produced are the ones that inspired me to make music," he says. "But he was impossible to reach because he has no internet. I had more or less given up hope of contacting him when I came across his son's phone number by chance, on a folk music internet forum."
After making initial contact, Eron and Johnston Jr exchanged emails over a period of months - more than a hundred in all - finding a shared vision of music. "We quickly discovered that we have the same ideas about music: a vision that, for both of us, was formed in the 1960s and found its full expression in 1973. That's partly why we've called the album '73."
Finally he made direct contact with Bob by telephone. "I had emailed him files of my demo recordings but, because he has never used the internet, he had only seen the lyrics. So I sang my songs to him down the phone. Right away, he wanted to get back into the studio with me."
Eron flew to Austin, Texas, to meet Johnston and discuss his plans for the record before they relocated to Nashville and took up residence at Dark Horse Recordings where some of the biggest names in country music have recorded - Taylor Swift, Faith Hill, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings and many more.
Johnston assembled a studio band of seasoned veterans - "some of the best musicians I knew," he says - and two days later they had an album. "It's a sonofabitch," says Johnston. "I think he's gonna be very successful. I think it'll be glorious."
I love balladeers and poets and this man is no joke, Eron is the real thing which I haven't discovered for many a year. So bluesy and intriguing and rich in harmony take a listen at his website.

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