2015 Music Reviews

Music Review Archives (since May 2010)

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Shakila is a Persian/American vocalist from Tehran. Her dream of being a singer started when she was a young girl.
At the delicate age of nine years old, Shakila's career began when she was invited to perform on a major television show. It is here that she caught the attention of numerous producers that wanted to transition her into a professional artist. While Shakila so eagerly wanted to become the star she was so destined to be, she made sure to focus on her education, and limited her performances to talent shows and school competitions.
Through hard work and determination, she completed her studies and ultimately succeeded in becoming a professional performer in 1990. That year, she released her first Persian hit album.
In addition to her passion for music, Shakila also expresses her deep connection with poetry. Using her lyrics, she paints a scene with her voice, which allows the listener to become a part of her journey. Alike many artists, Shakila shows her personality through her words and uses poetry to create distinctive metaphors to empower her songs. She holds true to her devotion to spirituality and the values of life that she so deeply holds on to.
Music is not just a sound to Shakila, but an expedition through emotion. Her music allows the listener to connect with the music on a level unmatched by most artists.
In particular, she has always taken exceptional interest in Rumi's poems, which has inspired her to sing many of his pieces in such a way that would make any listener feel empowered by pure emotion. With the combination of her angelic voice, and the meaningful words, it is obvious that Shakila obtains the true essence of love.
She was also the featured artist on the album ‘Operatica-Shine’, which includes two of her own outstanding performances.
In 2012, Shakila broadened her horizons by extending her talents to the International market. She released multiple singles such as, Fall Away, El Corazon (My Heart), Xmas and more. In addition to these singles, Shakila plans on releasing a new World Music, English album in 2015.
She also won the Persian International Artist Award, and she is also an official Grammy voting member.
So far she has released over twenty Persian albums, which have helped her gain millions of followers all around the globe.

Shakila has an essence and a musical spirit all her own. She sings her poetry and inspires the soul. Listen to her on her website.

Tony Hernandez

Tony Hernandez is a U.S. Citizen living in the United States and lives in Miami, Florida. Started music at the age of 11 and has written numerous songs. Graduated from the University of Miami. Has had the opportunity to work with great artists as well as Engineers.
We are One! Great song about Freedom, the United States, and the core of our society which promotes equality for all with Freedom! Dedicated to our diverse population and all those that believe in one society. It reminds us of all those soldiers that fought for this Country which is why we are free. The soldiers that fought for this country were from all types of nationalities, ethnic groups, race, and religion. This is why we should all be treated equal and have respect for everyone regardless of color, religion, ethnic group, etc...

You can check Tony out on CD Baby and listen or buy his music.

Hugh Morrison

Born in Wick, in the far north of Scotland, Hugh Morrison served his musical apprenticeship with the Tain Scottish Dance Band and quickly made his name as an exponent of the three-row button key accordion. Upon moving to the USA, he formed Celtic Folk-Rock band, Murder the Stout in late 2004. Murder the Stout have toured extensively and perform at major festivals across the USA. Morrison has also appeared with a few bands as guest musician, including Boston based Street Dogs, whom he has toured and recorded with. As a solo artist his squeezebox and whisky fuelled vocals have him gathering new fans of his music wherever he performs.

Find out more about Hugh and listen to some good Scottish music on his website or www.murderthestout.com

Devin Dygert

American singer-songwriter Devin Dygert is breaking into the music scene on one of the catchiest pop choruses this year. Debuting with his single entitled "Give Into Me" which released on iTunes.
The single "Give Into Me", fits perfectly in every ear with it's upbeat melody. A push between heartbreak and hope Devin sings about facing love head on "if you never try you'll never know". His sound reminds a perfect mix between Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran, and leaves a need to hear more from this exciting new artist.

Take a listen to Devin and catch his new single "Give In To Me" on his website.

TJ Doyle

TJ Doyle believes in harboring a deep connection with the natural world by listening, observing and living at peace with your surroundings. He draws inspiration from nature, utilizing his passion for the environment to infuse his music and lyrics with a unique sense of purpose and direction.
"Nature has taught me that everything is alive and it's own way conscious," TJ quotes. "Music is a language that has found it's way into every culture on Earth and has a common meaning in each one. I think music can lift people into more conscious awareness when they let themselves go with it."
TJ’s sophomore album, “On The Horizon,” reaches even deeper into the realms of human experience. In it, he looks for secrets to unlock the world around us and process nature in its entirety. Utilizing the producing talents of Tom Weir and collaborating with lyracist Lynda Levy, TJ is intent on furthering the energetic sounds and messages that have already united his loyal fan base.

Inpiring and fullfilling. Check him out on his website.

Richard Tyler Epperson

Richard Tyler Epperson is a twenty-nine year old multi-instrumental artist from Salt Lake City, Utah. Richard started playing bass guitar at age twelve with the help of his father and two older brothers. At age fifteen he taught himself to play the piano after receiving a keyboard as a gift. Richard began writing and recording instrumental pieces soon after. He later played in bands throughout his late teens and early twenties as a bass or rhythm guitarist. In his mid twenties, Richard began focusing on his own songwriting and creating his own style. In 2013 with assistance on drumming and mixing, Epperson wrote, produced, and played all of the instruments on his debut album "Falling Between the Stars". Richard’s music has been described as "reminiscent of classic John Mayer, Bob Marley, Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars". Richard has been praised for his "strong voice and compelling tension between the acoustic and electronic sounds" in his songs. Following the release of his debut album Richard played multiple shows across the state of Utah. Richard also performed on local broadcasts on KUTV News and Park City TV. Richard played live acoustically on local radio station KXRK. Richard has just recorded his follow-up album "Hourglass" which was released on April 8th 2014.

you can listen to some of Richards' songs on his website. They are really quite good.

Grant Vogel

Grant Vogel is a young musician who loves to write, play and perform music for the glory of God. From Fort Worth, Texas, he began playing for local church praise teams at the age of 12 and continues this ministry presently. At age 14 he began traveling with independent music artist, Maria Long as a guitarist/pianist for her at various concert events across the United States. This experience fueled his passion for music ministry. Changing lives of the youth they performed for by bringing them to Christ through music, grew in Grant his own passion to be a voice for Christ. Music is innately a part of his soul, and using it to bring a positive message to listeners, is his privilege.
Grant co-founded a concert series, Not Alone Concerts, which provides opportunities for local Christian artists to perform, while giving awareness to local and international missions, and he donates 50% of concert proceeds helping these missions. Grant's motto has been "Serving God and man through music." This concert series has allowed for him this opportunity that has blessed many in need.
Grant Vogel hopes his music brings positive change in the lives of those who listen to it. He continues to write and wants to share the message of God's gift of hope. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.

Grant's music is inspiring and he if truly gifted and as he says those gifts are are used for the "Glory of God". Feel his excitement and righteous expression on his website.

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Martini Garden

Martini Garden was formed in 2007 and performs original contemporary mix of blues, jazz, rock, and folk rock music.
Songwriter and guitarist Jim LoPiano has been playing guitar and messing around writing music since he was 17. Christine his wife and lead singer has been singing since elementary school. She was trained as a soprano singer and sings at church. Jim and Christine formed Martini Garden with their neighbor Michael McBride and drummer. His college friend Rich, and bass player then joined us.. Miriam then came on as their backup singer. Christine and Miriam were in a band 15 years ago and even performed at the Nassau Coliseum once. Martini Garden has just debuted their first CD in 2013 and are trying hard to promote it. They have played at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett and been on a few public access TV shows.

The name of their album is "Give A Little Love". We think they give a lot of love! Good strong vocals and a vibrant, rich sound. Listen to more "Martini Garden" on their website.

Peter Charles

Peter Charles is a Los Angeles-based singer songwriter best known for the placement of his song "Helpless" in Sony Pictures Hotel Transylvania under the name Peter Tvrznik.
Peter Charles grew up in Monterey, California and first found his love for music listening to the R&B sounds of artists such as Brian McKnight and Boyz II Men. Upon entering college, Peter began to focus on songwriting and drew heavily from influences including John Mayer, Dave Barnes, and Colbie Caillat.
Graduating from college with a degree in English, Peter relocated back to Monterey, only to return two years later with guitar in hand, ready to make the most of his music. He has since performed at venues including the Whisky A Go Go, The Roxy, The Viper Room, The Mint, Amplyfi, and the House of Blues Los Angeles.

Peter's album "Between The Black Keys" is a collection of modern soft ballads that really satisfy. He paints a picture with his words and takes you on a journey which is the keynote of a true ballad. Listen to Peter or buy some of his music on his website.


Born in Detroit and raised in Tampa, Lia is well on her way to becoming a pop princess. Pulling elements from her background, her love for creating art and legendary icons like Whitney Houston, the young chanteuse is preparing to become a star unlike anyone her generation has seen. Her music is upbeat pop while showcasing an individualism sure to make her stand out -- that much is evident in her lead single, "Y.A.L.I. (Young and Living It)."
Less than a month after its release, the visual for "Y.A.L.I." hit an impressive 198,000 views proving that there's a demand for the brand Lia and her close-knit team are building. "I think it's really important to connect with your fans," she says, "You have to try and understand where they're coming from and what they like." Her follow-up single "Changing the World," is due in December, and should create an even bigger buzz around the Tampa native as she begins her promotional run nationwide this fall.
For Lia to be so young, the singer/actor fully understands the value of longevity as well as embracing multi-talents. "I really, really like acting," she says excitedly. "That's something I love. I also like to draw. One day in the future I hope to get into doing animation." In a world that celebrates instanteous fame and dims the spotlight before a full 15 minutes, Lia is ready to make her mark in entertainment sure to last for years to come -- this is only the beginning.

You won't be disappointed when you tune into Lia's FaceBook Page and check out her STAR quality!

Aaron Vaughn Barrera

Aaron Vaughn Barrera is an accomplished musician who's vocal and songwriting skills are superseded only by his guitar playing abilities. With an impressive resume, he has toured extensively in the US and has shared the stage with many well established artists. Aaron has opened for major acts such as The Roots, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Deftones and Rufus Wainwright to name a few. Blending his soaring vocals and slide guitars into sonic landscapes with intimate lyrics, Aaron Vaughn Barrera has vocal elements of artists such as Jeff Buckley, Chris Cornell and Thom York with guitar skills to boot.

Aaron has unique lyrics and melodies. Really should give him a listen on his website.

Daina and the Tribe

Daina Shukis recieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance/Drama from New york University, as well as studying voice and specialized in writing her own music for her choreography. As a dance accompanist at Skidmore College Daina choreographed and wrote music for their dance group which she brought to her Alma Mater Emma Willard School. She directed the production of the william Butler yeats play "At the Hawks Well" at Skidmore where she met Don Alias, gene Perla and Jeremy steig when they performed with Elvin Jones.
This album has an array of jazz masters with studio and LIVE recordings from the "Bottom Line".
"CBGB's" and "The Lismar Lounge" playing music written by Daina Shukis as well as co-author Jeremy Steig. Daina plays finger cymbals showing her expertise in the middle eastern venue giving a trance ethnic flavor to some songs. Her vocals are sensuous, incorporating a clear almost operatic tone in some parts of this musical experience. Percussionist Don Alias and Ray Mantilla are amazing talents whose emotional input ranges from delicate triangle to the fire of congas in the african jungle to the urban street. Jeremy Steig who won the Jazz Forum Top People poll, no 1 for the world in 1982 in the flute category has been preserved in rare vintage audio. There are too many talents to mention here but I am sure you will enjoy this creative mix of exceptional musicians.

Please give this talented lady a listen and catch her snappy beats on Daina website.

Kevin Campbell

Kevin Campbell's love of guitar and music started in a sixth grade music class. Unfortunately this love affair ended shortly there after when an incident involving his smart mouth, and an undeserving classmate got him banished to last chair for the rest of the year.
Abandoning music altogether, Kevin navigated the oft taken route of athlete-turned-professional mascot-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker before a chance encounter at age 26 with a shitty guitar in Montgomery Ward reawakened his love of music.
Though a couch superstar, playing and songwriting came awkwardly for the next decade. Then at 35, playing his songs in front of an audience for the first time, he realized that this was the scariest thing he'd ever done. Suck in front of people. His friends even. He was hooked.
Kevin's songs draw from a lifetime of disappointments, regret, relationships both good and bad, bouts of frustration, and some actual real fun moments.
If pressed to describe his sound, Kevin would most likely say, "Back off man! I told you I don't know!" So let's just say if Blues, Soul, Mowtown and Folk did the deed and had a baby... And that baby was given up for adoption, and raised by a sweet lovely deaf couple that always nodded with approval, though they heard nothing... Kevin's music is that baby.
When not playing shows around LA or occasionally making short videos about monkeys (www.Nacho.com), Kevin can probably be found not doing much. Just the way he likes it.

Kevin sounds are outstanding and we mean that sincerely! Listen to him on his website.

Britt Daniels

Oklahoma's Britt Daniels delivers a New Country Pop sounds that blends new modern music with the timely Country roots that we all love in Country Music. From partying on the beach to sending a selfie of yourself enjoying the life, Britt Daniels brings us Country stories that you can bob your head to!

Britt's sound is quite good if not a little "Cocky". See for yourself on his website.

Selina Zakaria

After reading the musical prose that colored her grandmother's poetry at an early age, Selina Zakaria's inner voice began to seek an outlet for artistic expression. Selina's music is filled with smooth musicality and neo-soul which weaves pop, introspective lyrics, and a voice colored by an unbreakable spirit and the raw attitude.
"Most of my music is autobiographical and personal, but occasionally, I try to speak on behalf of issues I know people can relate to,” says Zakaria. "Whether I'm writing music people can dance to, or putting together an acoustic piece that's more reflective, I'm always writing from the perspective of a storyteller looking to share experiences with the world."
Zakaria's words hold hints of self-reflection, compassion, and strength. "Insecure Girl," a song about Zakaria's own struggles with womanhood, includes a buoyant chorus that accentuates Zakaria's soulful voice. In "Morphine," Zakaria uses a 90's alt-rock arrangement to tell the story of chasing her dreams while struggling with the ever present mix of emotional overtones society inflicts.

Visit Selina's website and listen to some really good sounds.

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Jim Granauro

I was born in NY, and was singing in a rock band by the time I was 12. At 14, I became a Christian and now a new reason to sing. I began learning to play guitar and over the years honed my guitar playing skills while doing the same for my song writing. I played every weekend with a friend in a duet called bush as well as being in a Christian rock/wedding band, where I learned to play bass and enough keyboard to back myself up. As I got older, I wanted to escape the fast pace of NY and moved to GA, where I continue to play, primarily in church and the occasional restaurant gig. I also keep trying to hone my playing and writing skills, which I will never stop, God willing!

We certaintly hope that Jim never stops singing and writing music as well! He has a rich, rewarding sound that make one feel closer to their God. We think that's a good thing! Keep writing, keep singing and keep recording (or else how can we listen?). Listen to Jim or buy his CD "The Road to Damascus" on CD Baby.


James Pemberton (Vocals, Guitar), Alessandro Improta (Vocals, Bass), Zach Collier (Guitar, Vocals, Keys), and Jared King (Harmonica, Keys, Percussion, Vocals) have exploded onto the local music scene as DateNight. Playing underground shows in unique and unconventional venues, they are known for their energetic and personable performances.
DateNight formed in February 2014 after longtime friends Pemberton, Collier, and King decided to fuse their musical abilities. They quickly found company with Improta through a mutual friend, and began writing music and playing at parties and in friends' homes. After repeated, positive reception, they decided to take their music more seriously. They found Larsen in June 2014 and that completed their lineup. Their debut EP is slated for a fall 2014 release.
DateNight's signature sound comes from a wealth of sugary hooks and insightful lyrics. With a unique blend of catchy hooks, anthemic choruses, and tight harmonies, DateNight's music will make you feel like you're driving an expensive car with the top down and an attractive person in the passenger seat holding your hand, while the summer wind ruffles your hair.

Datenight takes you back to those nights out with your girl or best fiends. Lauren Francome adds a great demension to their sound. Listen to "Datenight" or buy some of their tunes on CD Baby.

Billy Crain

In his own words, "I've played in front of 1,100,000 people in Washington, DC on the Fourth of July and performed for no one in a club called The Losers on Christmas Eve. I was taught guitar by the best, my brother, Tommy Crain. I got to see Duane Allman, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Albert King, and Jimmy Page perform when I was a teenager. I've shared the stage with The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Halen, ZZ Top, The Cars, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Allman Brothers Band, The Charlie Daniels Band, and all the heroes of old. I've played a show using Duane Allman's Les Paul, done a record using Steve Gaines's Stratocaster, and am the proud owner of my brother's beloved Gold Top Les Paul. I've stayed up all night flipping quarters with Gregg Allman, jammed with Dicky Betts on "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" in the wee hours of the night in a hotel room in Philadelphia, and almost had the bottom half of my left ear bitten off by Allen Collins. Oh yeah, I drank whiskey with Jimmy Page too. I've shared the stage with a Blues Brother named Dan Ackroyd, traveled in Econoline Vans, Silver Eagles, and puddle jumper airplanes, and toured the world many times over. I've recorded with little known acts at the time like Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks. I've received royalty checks for as little as 15 cents and as big as $80,000. I've been an Outlaw, a Bellamy Brother, a Music Row songwriter, producer, and session guitar player, I've won multiple songwriter awards, received multi-platinum sales awards, and ended up shoveling horse manure to pay my child support. I'm a sinner but have been saved by the Grace of God, been a foster parent, a humanitarian to Haiti, and buried my brother, my parents, been sued, helped my wife survive cancer, adopted 2 children and had to retire indefinitely from the road, all in a 2 year period. I still love to play guitar and make records. I love Jesus and my wife and 4 children and that's about all you need to know about me....."

What a history! Billy Crain has been there and done that! Musically speaking he ain't half bad either. Check him out on his website.

Angela Rust

Known for her versatility as a singer/songwriter, teacher, entertainer and model, Angela Rust continues to positively impact others with her many talents.
Starting at the piano at age 7, Angela's love of music grew gradually and steadily increased with her abilities. She began entertaining audiences at 15, playing piano at her church. Her first vocal solo came a year later at "Across America", a music competition for teens. Through coming short of a victory in the voice category, she earned first place for her piano solo. Her love of music and performance were cemented into a passion that would guide the rest of her life.
Most recently, Angela is excited to announce her relocation to the Vancouver area. The opportunity to further her career and gain exposure to a wider market was too good to turn down. She looks forward to becoming a part of the diverse music scene as well as exploring the booming film and television industry.

Ethereal and somewhat haunting songs. Check her out on her website.

Cody Smith

Like other recent acoustic rock success stories, Cody is bringing a fresh sound to modern rock while maintaining a link to its roots. Cody believes that great music should have moving lyrics, singable melodies, classic instrumentation and a hook that reels the listener in. Each song is crafted with these goals in mind. While most modern music simply relies on a formula or fad, Cody insists that each song be unique and special, never settling for what a producer or record company thinks will sell. Most new music today is created for the teen market, but Cody writes songs for adults of all ages.
A mixture of classic rock and roll, pop and acoustic rock, this music represents a truly unique sound. The songs vary in style and mood, but most are fun, yet meaningful. Cody's music is a unique blend of vocal ability, style and emotion combined with powerful songwriting and great lyrics. Cody is one of the truly unique singer/songwriters performing today.

Listen to Cody on his website.


Swirve is composed of musician Lawrence Buck and features various artists on his records such as Danielle Deanda and Matthew Mann. Lawrence Buck, got his start as a Film Composer on the short film, "The Law", which was written and produced by good friend, Gabriel Campisi in 1992. After that he did the Libertarian Television spots for the 1992 Presidential candidate Andre Marrou, which aired nationwide in America.
Forming Divine Art with Vinay Anne in 1993 and released the single "Deep Thrust Telescope Probe" on LIVE 105 in San Francisco, CA. Quickly following that up with "Count on Me", and "Deep Thrust" remixes. Divine Art released the debut 7 song EP on CTI Records, later that year.
Divine Art broke-up in late 1994 and Lawrence worked on various local projects and including Spencer Nilson on the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Sega CD score. After that, he moved to Los Angeles in early 1994 and worked for Alesis, LA Riot, Voice Crystal and various film studios as a sound developer. He taught "Sound Design, Synthesis and Direct-to-Disk Recording" at UCLA, after friend Jeff Rona offered him the opportunity.
In 2008 he released Love and Devotion, his first solo album to limited success. In 2013 he met Danielle Deanda and the pursuit to create pop/dance music excellence was born.
Danielle hails from Wichita, Kansas and has been making music for over 10 years. An accomplished singer and dancer, she is poised to break out in 2015.

Listen to "Swirve" on their website and feel the inspiration of this band.

All the Seals lying at the Cove read
Music Arts Monthly They say.."It's Slick!"

By the Editor of Music Arts Magazine

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