Jersey Beat Music Fanzine
 




Reviews by Joe Wawrzyniak


KAREN HAGLOF - Palomino Steady Rocking (http://karenhaglof.com)

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Karen Haglof comes through with a perfectly catchy and dynamic batch of four songs about horses and horseback riding on this extremely tuneful and enjoyable EP release. Haglof's lively'n'lovely voice casts a strong and captivating spell. The harmonic and spirited guitar playing hits the snappy spot, too. The sturdy drum rolls and heavy bass lines deliver plenty of additional punch and muscle. The straightforward lyrics get right to the point. An on the money item.

THE MORLOCKS - Bring on the Mesmeric Condition (https://mortbe.wixsite.com/themorlocksusa)

Erupting from the speakers with deliciously unbridled rough'n'ready aplomb, this ten song album of raw'n'raggedy garage rock spew kicks all kinds of ass in no uncertain terms. The snarly vocals spit out the simple lyrics with rip-snorting snotty brio. Moreover, the grungy guitars slice and dice everything in their savage path, the steamrolling drums lay down a steady succession of brutal pounding beats, and the churning basslines provide lots of gutty undertow. This band hasn't recorded an album in eight years, but prove with this downright primordial rumble that they are back with a proverbial vengeance.

THE DEMOS - If You Only Knew (http://www.thedemos.net)

This power pop group from upstate New York deliver fours songs that sparkle and shimmer with considerable enrapturing tunefulness. The smooth vocals float and soar ever a melodic array of entracing synth lines, steady drums, cutting guitar vriffs, and firm bass support. What gives this EP release a certain dreamy and uplifting vibe is the way the band approach the music with praiseworthy sincerity and consummate musicianship. A bright and refreshing delight.

THE SHA LA DAS - Love in the Wind (http://daptonerecords.com/shaladas)

Beautifully moody and melodic debut album from a highly promising new band. Offering up an artful blend of elements of soul, blues, and doowop with a dash of psychedelia tossed in for extra dulcet measure, the music contained herein soothes and excites the senses with considerable tuneful aplomb. The lead singers harmonize with exquisite grace and skill. The pretty melodies and atmospheric arrangements vividly evoke an intoxicating dreamy vibe. A simply divine album.

RICKY LEWIS - See You In the Morning (www.iamrickylewis.com)

Singer/songwriter Ricky Lewis delivers ten songs worth of gently harmonic and reflective folksy country-rock on his highly affecting and impressive debut album. Armed with a pleasant soothing voice and a nicely concise songwriting style, Lewis handles life's endless supply of hardships with admirable pluck, honesty, and resilience. The delicately tuneful arrangements further add to the overall sense of graceful melodicism. A lovely and touching album.


BROTHER DEGE - Farmer's Almanac (www.BrotherDege.com)

Beautifully moody country-flavored Southern rock that evokes such a tangy and tasty sense of the Louisiana bayou that you can almost smell the scent of magnolia blossoms in full spring bloom. Dege Legg's raspy, yet soothing voice and sharp songwriting make for a strong and winning double whammy. The tuneful arrangements keep things bouncing along throughout, with especially neat use of cutting slide guitars and forward-ho steamrolling drums. The snappy tempos and meaty beats rarely let up for a minute. Super delicious sonic gumbo.

THE CHANDLER TRAVIS THREE-O - Backward Crooked from the Sun (www.chandlertravis.com)

Ably done with a gentle and engaging stripped-down simplicity, this album wins the listener over on the basis of its considerable folksy charm alone. Chandler Travis not only possesses a pleasantly hoarse voice, but also has a firm grasp of delicately dulcet melodies and an equally sturdy knack for sweet plain-spoken lyrics. The expert playing and hormonic arrangements further enhance the overall lovely quality of this perfectly fine little beaut.

BYRON ISAACS - Disappearing Man (www.ByronIsaacs.com)

Singer/songwriter Byron Isaacs delivers nine tracks worth of marvelously moody and meditative pop-rock on his excellent debut solo album. Starting off with the fiercely simmering "Losing You," taking a more fluidly melodic detour with the boss titular track, chilling out with the exquisite "Summer," and laying down a great grinding beat down on "Daddy's Farm," Isaacs stays on a steady and captivating sonic course throughout. Among the other things to savor herein are Issacs's smooth vocals, sharp songwriting, and cutting guitar riffs. An on the money album.

PALE BLUE DOT - Anatomy (http://www.palebluedotband.com)

This quintet from Charlottesville, Virginia excel at straight-up meat and potatoes rock'n'roll that not only kicks ass and takes names, but also delivers with meaningful and incisive lyrics which make the rousing music contained herein so much more than just simple exciting racket. The raspy, yet passionate vocals soar over a dynamic array of snappy guitar riffs, gutty basslines, and forward-ho steamrolling drums. The smart and reflective songwriting serves as the tasty icing on an already quite yummy cake. An excellent and impressive album.

THE INNOCENCE MISSION - Sun on the Square (www.theinnocencemission.com)

Beautifully delicate and melodic album that keeps things simple and soothing throughout. Lead singer Karen Peris posseses one of those sweet and fragile kind of pretty voices that immediately puts the listener at ease. The gradual tempos and subdued beats further enhance the overal pleasant and relaxing mood. The tuneful arrangements fill the music out nicely with a minimum of fuss and a surplus of gentle harmony. A lovely album.

 

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THE COMPONENTS - Continuum (https://thecomponents.bandcamp.com)

Nail down your furniture and bolt your windows shut, 'cause it's time for some sriously stomp-ass straight-up no-bullshit rock'n'roll rumbling. This two man band go straight for the throat with their robust shouted vocals, incendiary guitar riffs, fat throbbing basslines, and fierce piledriving drums. The brisk tempos and meaty bulldozing beats never let up for a minute. A totally kick-ass blast of pure sweaty'n'sinewy noise and fury.

 

SARAH MCQUAID - If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (www.sarahmcquaid.com)

Singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid digs deep to unearth twelve beatifully moody and melodic songs on her latest album. McQuaid's lovely voice casts a captivating spell while her songwriting possesses a strong sense of clarity and reflection. Moreover, McQuaid's willingness to tackle the meaty issues of death and mortality provides a bracing and affecting feeling of quiet strength and honesty in the face of the inevitable. The delicately harmonic arrangements serve as the deicious icing on an already quite tasty cake. A supremely touching and precious album.

JAGUWAR - Ringthing (https://jaguwar.bandcamp.com)

Exquisitely well crafted pop-rock that's buffed and polished to the point where it positively soars and sparkles. The radiant vocals and dynamic arrangements convey a totally infectious feeling of glee and vibrancy. The straightforward songwriting gets right to the heart of the matter while the brisk tempos and forward-ho charging beats never let up for a minute. Moreover, this band really knows how to milk a severly funky-grinding groove for all it's worth, with several songs going on for upwards of six minutes, but never overstaying their welcome thanks to strong meaty hooks and sharp unwavering playing. Simply stupendous.

RUNAWAY BROTHER - New Pocket (https://INK.to/newpocket)

This Cleveland, Ohio band deliver twelve tracks worth of harmonic and instrspective pop-rock with their second album. The peppy vocals soar to the heavens with utmost ease and agility. The complex arrangements offer a wealth of tasty hooks and surprising mid-song shifts that ensure that things never become remotely blah or predictable. The fluid guitars, smooth basslines, and subdued, yet steady drums all add a sense of polish and melodicism. The concise songwriting ably mines a touching line in regret and reflectivity. An achingly delicate and poignant album.

TODD AND JINGYU - Find Me Find You: A Story (www.ToddandJingyu.com)

Todd and Jingyu are a husband and wife team who collaborated together to produce a beautifully thoughtful and tuneful album that addresses not only the highs and lows of romance, but also the additional effort it takes to cross the cultural gap between an American man and a Chinese woman. The couple harmonize well on the vocals. The straightfroward songwriting gets right to the touching heart of the matter with commendable clarity and simplicity. The elegant piano-driven arrangements hit the harmonic spot. However, it's the obvious affection that Todd and Jingyu have for one another that in turn gives this album it's big and uplifting heart. A fine and moving little jewel.

RED BLACK RED - Resettlement (http://redblackredmusic.com)

Sounding like the wonky electronic score for some obscure and forgotten sci-fi flick, this album projects an offbeat vibe that's totally its own singular thing. Veteran musician Enrico Fernando harnesses this peculiar sound as a means to address the sad plight of refugees and immigrants in today's troubled political cimate. The gradual tempos and heavy trudging beats both further add to the overall oddball brooding mood. But it's the way this album gives voice to those who are often beglected and overlooked in our culture which in turn gives the whole thing extra depth and poignancy.

PETER KARP - Blue Flame (www.PeterKarp.com)

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Peter Karp pours on the lowdown funky'n'gritty blues rock something sweet on his latest album. Karp's hoarse ragged voice fits this genre perfectly: It's the weathered moan of a man who's been through some shit, but still has the necessary strength and stamina to keep on keeping on no matter what obstacles life throws his way. Karp's smart and concise songwriting, fiercely resilent and unsentimental point of view, mean guitar playing, and knack for deep tasty grooves certainly don't hurt matters in the least. A totally kick-ass album.

STEPHEN CLAIR AND THE PUSHBACKS - Push Back (https://wwwstephenclair.com)

Singer/songwriter Stephen Clair and his band deliver eight sly story songs that register strongly thanks to Clair's precisely detailed lyrics and amusing sense of dry deadpan humor. The laid-back bluesy rock sound grounds said songs in a perfectly gritty context, with lots of slithery guitar riffs, rubbery basslines, and rock-solid rolling drum beats on hand to keep things groovy and soulful from start to finish. Clair's weathered voice adds extra credibility to these wayward tales of everyday trials and tribulations. An ideal album to sit back and chill to at the end of the day.

THE NAKED SUN - War with Shadows (www.wearethenakedsun.com)

Beautifully simple and tuneful folk-rock bliss done with utmost craft and sincerity. The peppy vocals project a feeling of infectious joy and verve. The bubbly arrangements offer a rich array of catchy'n'jaunty hooks that are neratly filled out by springy guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and steady forward-ho drums. Moreover, there's a warmth evident throughout that gives everything a certain irresistible extra sparkle. A hugely enjoyable delight.


ROBERT STEWART - Spring 16 (www.robertstewartmusic.com)

Seattle, Washington-based singer/songwriter Robert Stewart keeps things both thoughtful and tuneful on his latest six song pop-rock album release. Stewart's vibrant voice and pleasingly reflective songwriting make for a strong and winning double whammy. The arrangements provide a steady supply of catchy hooks thanks to the ringing guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and sturdy drum beats. Moreover, Stewart brings a pleasant upbeat sensibility to the music that's impossible to either dislike or resist. Nice stuff.

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MIKE DALY AND THE PLANETS (www.mikedaly.com)

Representing pop-rock music at its most catchy, dynamic, and engaging, this album makes for an extremely enjoyable listen. Mike Daly's pleasant voice and thoughtful to-the-point songwriting make for a strong and winning double whammy. The tuneful arragements likewise hit the harmonic spot, with the steady forward-ho drums, bouncy guitar riffs, and neatly percolating basslines all coming through just as clear and pretty as a bell. Better still, there's a lovely upbeat and positive sensibility evident from start to finish which gives the music a teeming surplus of charm and heart. An excellent album.

TINA AND THE BALANCE - Making Monsters (www.tinaandthebalance.com)

This band from Staten Island describe their music as "cinematic indie rock," which proves to be a pretty apt description considering the strong sense of high drama and invigorating go-for-it flair evident throughout. Lead singer Tina Kenny Jones possesses one of those big throaty voices that can roar and bellow like the best of 'em. The rest of the band ain't too shabby as well, as confirmed by the fierce steamrolling drums, catchy poppin' guitar riffs, and surdy basslines. Best of all, there's an exciting and uplifting wealth of passion and energy in every last radiant and harmonic note that never falters or wavers for a minute. An excellent and impressive debut album.

FALLON CUSH - Morning (www.falloncush.com)

This Aussie folk-rock group sure know how to instantly put a big beaming smile on somerone's face with their infectiously joyous and vivacious music. The dynamic vocals soar to the heavens and back with consummate ease and exuberance. The equally energetic arragements likewise hit the stirring spot, with ringing guitars, smooth basslines, sturdy drums, and kickin' keyboards all delivering lots of tasty hooks and galvanizing music. The concise songwriting serves as the yummy cherry on an already delicious cake. An absolute delight.

DYLAN HICKS - Ad Out (http://press.bandbuzz.com/dylanhicks)

Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Dylan Hicks delivers eleven songs worth of perfectly pleasant and relaxing soulful pop on this utterly charming album. Blessed with a smooth soothing voice, a clever way with words, and a laid-back, yet still warm, touching, and reflective perspective on the human condition, Hicks makes for a supremely amiable raconteur as well as a talented musician who knows how to ably craft an engaging story song. The tuneful melodies and spot-on sharp playing rate as additional substantial assets. A total winner.

STONEY SPRING - The Natural Sweetness of Cream (www.stoneyspring.com)

Supremely warm and harmonic alt-country folk weirdness that does its own singular thing with topmost skill and aplomb. The melodies are quite rich and vibrant. Moreover, the arrangements are likewise really tuneful and loaded with tasty hooks while the quirky songwriting addresses offbeat subjects with a winning sense of spaced-out joy. But it's the lively and exuberant ranting and chanting Native American-style vocals that kick this honey right over the oddball goalpost into some heretofore uncharted sonic realm of pure trippy bliss. A gloriously strange one-of-a-kind doozy.


JIM VEGAS - Soul Shattered Sister (www.jimvegasmusic.com)

Singer and guitarist Jim Vegas lays down eleven tracks of tasty blues rock on his latest album. Vegas's smooth vocals and fierce guitar playing make for a strong and impressive double whammy. Moreover, the tuneful arrangements certainly deliver on the sweet slow-grinding funk, with Luke Young's brassy blurting saxophone a particular stand-out throughout. Brad Connor's concise sogwriting cuts to the heart of the matter with commendable directness. A very solid and satisfying album.

PERE UBU - 20 Years ina Montana Missile Silo (www.ubuprojex.com)

This experimental avant-garde rock group certainly have been around for quite a while. Fortunately, they show zero signs of mellowing with age with their latest album, which delivers plenty of gloriously beserko bite and raw go-for-it energy. The band ably crafts a steady succession of deliciously drawn-out deep-digging grooves that dip and dovetail in all sorts of lowdown funky ways. The grungy guitars, burning basslines, and relentless jackhammer drums cough and spit with utmost fury and vitality while lead singer David Thomas shouts and hollers over the roiling racket with equal vigor and abandon. A nice slice of something quirky and creative.

LIFE IN A BLENDER - Happy Enough (www.lifeinablender.net)

Life in a Blender are one of those pop-rock groups you can depend on to deliver exceptionally bright and captivating well-crafted music. Fortunately, this band continues their delightful winning streak with their most recent album. The peppy vocals project an utterly engaging blend of joy and verve while the dynamic and harmonic arrangements keep things lively and stirring from start to finish. The witty songwriting serves as the delicious icing on an already quite tasty cake. To sum up, fans of this group and their infectiously bouncy music should be more than happy enough with this album.

SAMANTHA FISH - Belle of the West (www.samanthafish.com)

Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish knocks it out of the ballpark with this bang-up album. Blessed with a strong sultry'n'soulful throaty voice, a mean'n'lean way with playing a guitar, and an admirably concise just-put-it-to-me-straight style of songwriting, Fish pours on the angst and despair with a winning mix of verve and vulnerability. Better still, the slithering gradual tempos and sinewy, yet subdued beats both ensure that the music contained herein possesses plenty of grit and punch. For a swingin' good right-on bluesy time, this honey certainly hits the spot and then some.

THE CLYDES - So the Story Goes (http://theclydesmusic.com)

Speaking of bands with consistently solid track records, one can certainly add The Clydes to that illustrious list. This group keeps things quite soothing and gently melodic on their latest album, which coasts along in an utterly engaging breezy'n'easy sort of way. The peppy vocals soar over a snappy array of jubilant guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and constant forward-ho drums. The songwriting spells everything out with admirable clarity and thoughtfulness. A damn fine album.

THE SUCCESSFUL FAILURES - Ichor of Nettle (www.thesuccessfulfailures.com)

Representing rootsy rock'n'roll Americana at its most disarmingly robust, modest, and harmonic, this album makes for a very worthwhile and rewarding listen. The vibrant vocals do the rousing trick. Ditto the tuneful and energetic arrangements, which are nicely filled out by springy'n'zingy guitar riffs, sturdy basslines, and relentless steamrolling drums. The intelligent songwriting provides plent of savory substance to go along with the punchy music: Whether covering the harrowing plight of a desperate illegal immigrant in the poignant "The Ballad of Julio Cuellar," or the giving Texas hero "Sam Houston" his exciting do, the songs relate compelling stories that are firmly grounded in bittersweet reality. An excellent album.

PA ANGELO - Neurotica (http://paangelo.bandcamp.com)

This Flemington, New Jersey band gleefully spit out some delectably dirty-ass grungy-as-fuck rock'n'roll racket on their latest album. The gritty guitars cut a fierce swath through the burning basslines and remorselessly trudging clip-clop drums. The snarly vocals sneer the terse lyrics with topmost bitter aplomb. Wonderfully rough and ragged, with a winning dearth of pretense perfectly merged with a spot-on snotty attitude, this baby overall sizes up as great greasy slab of pure grimy spew.

NONA HENDRYX & GARY LUCAS - The World of Captain Beefheart (www.KnitiingFactoryRecords.com)

Singer Nona Hendrix and guitarist Gary Lucas play appropriate tribute to the outre legacy of idiosyncratic singer/songwriter Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart) by not prettying up his funky-groovy blues-infused music with any catchy hooks or elaborate slick arrangements. Instead the pair keep things very basic and intimate, yet still punchy and tuneful, with Hendryx's big throaty soulful vocals perfectly matched by Lucas's searingly intense guitar playing. This album serves as both a terrific ode to Beefheart as well as an ideal introduction to Beefheart's music for newbies

SAVOY BROWN - Witchy Feelin' (www.savoybrown.com)

This amazingly longstanding British blues rock group proves that they still got plenty of bite'n'bark left in them with this blistering serving of straight-up no-bullshit bluesy rock. The music sounds every bit as lowdown gritty as it out to be, with fierce shredding guitar licks, churning basslines, and forward-ho steamrolling drums all laying down a steady succession of chunky thudding beats and constant slithering tempos. Kim Simmonds's perfectly weathered voice and concise songwriting make for a strong and impressive double whammy. This honey gets right to the heart of the matter with laudable clarity and breataking precision. Terrific stuff.

LOST BAYOU RAMBLERS - Kalenda (www.lostbayouramblers.com)

This band serves up a tasty platter of infectiously vibrant and tangy Louisiana Cajun gumbo rock that positively explodes with tremendous joy and verve. The snappy tempos and chunky driving beats steamroll ahead at an exciting headlong rate. The vocals are every bit as fiery and passionate as they ought to be. The arrangements are likewise quite tuneful and spirited, with accordians, fiddles, and acoustic guitars blended together with electronic instrumentation with often rousing and always enjoyable results. Best of all, this group bring a sense of pure heart and vitality to their music that's impossible to either resist or dislike. A sheer delight.

NICK NICELY - Sleep Safari (www.tapeterecords.com)

Supremely spacey and soothing electronic psych-rock album that puts the listener at immediate ease thanks to its pleasantly low-key meditative quality. Nicely's soft voice and sturdy grasp of gently harmonic melodies merge together to craft a delicate sound that's both ethereal and comforting in equal measure. The gradual tempos and kicked-back beats further enhance the overall relaxing mood. A solid and satisfying slice of the subdued.

JEAN CAFFEINE - Sadie Saturday Nite (http://www.jeancaffeine.com)

Singer/songwriter Jean Caffeine commerates her status as a longstanding punk rock fringe culture fixture on this terrifically anecdotal and autobiographical album. Caffeine's plain-spoken, yet eloquent songwriting cuts right to the heart of the matter with touching and absorbing directness as it encapulates everything from high school being a drag to the first time Caffeine saw Patti Smith performing on "Saturday Night Live" to the breakup of The Sex Pistols. Moreover, Caffeine belts these compelling songs out in a lovely throaty voice and has a sturdy grasp of simple, but still catchy melodies. Best of all, this album serves as an arresting and illuminating sonic chronology of the many different permutations of punk rock throughout the decades. A total winner.

BIRDIE NUM NUM AND THE SPIRIT SQUAD -Phoney Beatlemania (https://soundcloud.com/bnumnum)

This psych rock band from New Hope, Pennsylvania have been around for almost two full decades, but fortunately still have plenty of juice left in them as they prove on their enjoyably vibrant and tuneful latest album. The robust vocals spit out the barbed lyrics which savagely critique the more negative aspects of show business with considerable bite and vigor. Moreover, the arrangements keep things lively and thrilling from start to finish, with grinding guitar riffs, churning basslines, and big meaty steamrolling drum beats all ringing loud and clear throughout. To top things off, there's a sense of fierce resilience and incendiary passion permeating every last hard-pounding note that possesses a certain ragged glory which in turn makes this album one to savor.

THE GRIPS WEEDS - Force of Nature Live in NYC (www.gripweeds.com)

This rock concert documentary finds the Grip Weeds in supremely groovy and spirited form. The band performs their trademark highly catchy and dynamic retro 60's psychedelic rock with utmost infectious passion and stirring aplomb. Since this is a live show, the music contained herein has a throbbing pulse and raw go-for-it energy that's quite exciting to behold. Nicely filmed, without too many edits or needlessly flashy camerawork, this honey overall delivers 90 minutes of pure pow.



ARRICA ROSE & THE ...'s - Low as the Moon (http://www.arricarose.com)

Beautifully lush and languid, this album conjures a supremely dreamy atmosphere's that's both captivating and intoxicating in equal measure. Arrica Rose's breathy vocals cast a sweet soothing spell while her sharp songwriting manages to find a strong underlying sense of affecting and unbreakable hope and optimism amid all the sad and despairing hardships to be endured while coping with life itself. The gently harmonic arrangements expertly craft a steady series of achingly delicate melodies. A lovely album.

RICHARD X. HEYMAN - Incognito (www.richardxheyman.com)

Richard X. Heyman rates highly as one of those vintage old school rock'n'roll dudes with an amazing aptitude for deftly merging catchy melodies and dynamic arrangements with smart and insightful lyrics. Heyman's latest album offers proof positive that he sure hasn't lost his touch as he delivers loads of meaty hooks and kickin' riffs along with thoughtful observations on the current troubled state of the world. While Hexman's smooth voice and sharp songwriting are quite impressive, it's his indomitable fighting spirit and positive outlook on facing life's steady succession of hardships head on that in turn makes this album so inspiring and uplifting.

THREE FOR SILVER - The Way We Burn (http://threeforsilver.com)

Super tasty swamp rock gumbo served up thick and brooding with a side order of strange and a heavy seasoning of twangy harmony. The raspy lead singer gets terrific support from a gal with a lovely angelic voice. The busy and tuneful arrangements throw in everything from madly swirling strings to thumping drums to buzzing basslines that hover in the air like angry bumblebees. Better still, there's a gloriously idiosyncratic sensibility at work that blends a dark apocalyptic vision with an equally askew perspective that sees the world through the eyes of a merry demented prophet. A splendidly singular marvel.

JOE BILLY - Let 'Em Fall (joebilly.bandcamp.com)

Clifton, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Joe Billy tears into life's endless supply of bullshit frustrations and aggravations with deliciously bitter and snarky sarcastic ferocity on his latest album. Billy's savage sense of biting humor and say it like you see it upfront honesty are the perfect gut-busting corrective to annoying candy-ass politically correct nonsense and society's equally irritating preconceived notions on stuff like getting older and celebrating Columbus Day without a guilty conscience. It also helps that Billy plays a mean acoustic guitar and shouts his vocals with tremendous go-for-the-throat brio. But it's Billy's viciously hilarious cynical perspective and fiercely defiant "fuck you!" attitude that make this album such an absolute brutal hoot.

ANDY FRASCO AND THE U.N. - Songs from the Road (www.andyfrasco.com)

Andy Frasco and his band are in sensationally spirited form on this dynamic and exciting live concert blues rock album. Frasco's vibrant and exuberant vocals are ably supported by a spot-on proficient group of musicians who all play their merry hearts out. Better still, Frasco and everybody else featured herein are clearly having the time of their lives; it's this sense of pure go-for-it hearty fun that ensures that this album overall makes the grade as one hell of an immensely rousing and enjoyable blast.

ROB JENNINGS - The World Was on My Side (http://robjenningsmusic.squarespace.com)

New Jersey singer/songwriter Rob Jennings delivers fiften songs worth of infectiously bouncy and upbeat pop-rock on his latest album. Jennings's smooth ethereal voice and straightforward songwriting make for a strong and impressive double whammy. Better yet, Jennings possesses a refreshingly hopeful and optimistic perspective that's a pure uplifting joy to behold. The tuneful arrangements and super catchy sparkling melodies serve as the yummy icing on an already quite delicious sonic cake.

 




CINEMA CINEMA - Man Bites Dog (www.cinemacinemaband.com)

Tearing and shredding with utmost cacophonous abandon, this fierce shriek of raw punk rock vitality might not be pretty, but it's nonetheless quite thrilling and enjoyable in its own gloriously grungy way just the same. The open up and scream vocals holler over a blistering array of savage chopping guitars, buzzsaw bass, and full speed ahead steamrolling drums that flatten everything in their relentless path. Executed with tremendous urgency and intensity, this honey stands tall as a highly satisfying slab of primal sonic energy.

THE TELESCOPES - As Light Return (www.tapeterecords.com)

Fiercely moody'n'broody in the best possible gloom-doom way, this group plumbs the depths of despair and human darkness with often striking results. The sullen vocals moan and groan with utmost dismay. Meanwhile, the savage hacksaw guitars, burning basslines, and grimly steady clip-clop drums drudge up a thick and atonal distorted sound that positively reeks of pure decay and anguish. By no means a fun album, but overall a very potent and startling one.

THE 65's - Wolves and Men (https://the65s.bandcamp.com)

This EP release spits up a five song serving of raw and rattling rock. The raspy vocals grumble with considerable growly gusto. The grinding guitars, churning basslines, and constant pushing ahead drums create a sound that's quite gritty and punchy. Moreover, the terse and to the point songwriting astutely nails a strong sense of working class angst and resignation. A mighty howl of everyday anger and despair.


WAYNE OLIVIERI - Electric Mind (https://wayneosongs.com)

New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Wayne Olivieri embarks on a delightfully lively and forthright tour of the basic human experience on his debut full-length album. Olivieri tackles the many ups and downs of both life in general and human relationships in particular with a winning blend of humor, energy, and honesty that basks in the good times and rolls with the bad ones in a disarmingly candid and straightforward manner. Whether he's dealing with the fact that he's broke again or asking God to forgive him for his transgressions, Olivieri keeps on keepin' on no matter what hardships life throws his way with an unshakeable spirit that's moving and inspiring in comparable measure. It also helps that the music contained herein is practically exploding with vitality and catchiness. A total treat.

ANDREW BOSTWICK - Two Tone (store.cdbaby.com/cd/andrewbostwick2)

Singer/songwriter Andrew Bostwick makes a lovely and touching debut with this perfectly tuneful album that addresses the ups and downs of human relationships with admirable clarity and honesty. Bostwick's pleasant reedy voice and thoughtful songwriting make for a strong and impressive double whammy. Moreover, Bostwick sure knows how to craft catchy and harmonic melodies that have a certain quiet way of getting into and staying in your head. But it's the sweet sensitivity Bostwick displays throughout that in turn gives this album an extra substantial poignancy and resonance.

NOORDZO - Shark Funeral Songbook (www.NachtRecords.com)

Marvelously brooding instrumental album that vividly evokes a potently gloomy'n'doomy midnight-in-the-graveyard nightmarish vibe from the very first ominous opening note. Low rumbling bass, sinister guitar riffs, forlorn saxophones, remorseless clip-clop drum beats, and hellish unintelligible vocal moans and groans swirl around and hover in the air like some kind of foreboding sonic storm cloud that's scarily on the verge of unleashing a deadly and destructive downpour rife with dread, danger, and despair at any given moment. Both eerie and entrancing in equal measure, this album casts a mighty strong and unsettling spell on the listener.

LISA SAID - Estranged (http://lisasaid.com)

Singer/songwriter Lisa Said confronts the bittersweet ups and downs of life and romance with unwavering forthrightness on this delightfully (and brutally) honest four song EP release. Said's husky voice and sharp songwriting make for a strong and winning double act. The rattling arrangements add a wonderfully raw rough'n'ready sonic kick: The cutting guitar riffs, rumbling basslines, and unrelenting forward-ho steamrolling drums lay down a steady succession of brisk tempos and driving chunky beats. A refreshingly frank and unsentimental treat.

NEIL HOLYOAK - Second Son (http://www.neilholyoak.com)

Singer/songwriter Neil Holyoak sure knows how to slip in on someone slow and easy: With his reedy, but soothing voice, a sturdy grasp of delicately harmonic lyrics, and deceptively simple'n'straightforward songwriting that speaks volumes about the many facets of the human condition in disarmingly plain-spoken language, Holyoak makes an immediate beeline for the heart that hits the bull's eye with extremely touching results. The way Holyoak confronts hardships and heartbreak head on without ever blinking or flinching gives this album its considerable poignancy and resonance. A lovely and moving little gem.

GREAT GRANDPA - Plastic Cough (https://greatgrandpa.bandcamp.com)

Alternately rattling and whispering straight out of Seattle, Washington, this band impresses with their extraordinary ability to switch between gloriously grungy noise and more delicately harmonic pop with consummate skill and ease. The music contained herein registers as sometimes soothing, often thrilling, and always enjoyable as it boldly explores various inspired and exciting sonic peaks and valleys. A hugely on the money album.

THE CURS -The Big Four (http://www.curs.bandcamp.com)

This Brooklyn, New York band sure know how to rock out with topmost go-for-the-throat brio and passion. This four song EP release certainly delivers the gritty goods, with grinding hacksaw guitar riffs, churning basslines, and relentless steamrolling drums all laying serious waste to everything in their savage path. The shouted vocals likewise zero in right for the kill. A real ferocious blast.

RADIO HEARTS - Daytime Man (https://radiohearts.bandcamp.com)

This group hits it out of the ballpark with this nicely snotty'n'snarly five song EP serving of pure punk spew. The lively vocals holler over a spirited steady succession of springyn'zingy guitars, gutty basslines, and forward-ho charging drums. The snappy tempos and bouncy beats never let up for a second. An immensely enjoyable explosion of righteous racket.

THE HERNIES - If You Can't Think, Then You Cannot Be Afraid of the Consequences (http://soundcloud.com/thehernies)

This Athens, Georgia band sure know how to get down and boogie with delightfully groovy aplomb. The dynamic arrangements come through with a stirring surplus of invigorating crunch and punch: The deep digging guitar riffs, heavy throbbing basslines, and remorseless clip-clop drums ensure that the chunky beats and slithery constant tempos are in deliciously abundant supply. The smooth vocals and concise songwriting are likewise up to speed. An on the money solid and satisfying album.



FROM MOUNTAINS (http://frommountains.bandcamp.com/releases)

This rock group from Buckinghamshire, England deliver five exquisitely well crafted and melodic songs on their highly impressive instrumental debut EP release. The way the songs go through intricate and surprising peaks and valleys, with tempos that start out gradually before kicking into exhilerating sonic overdrive and huge surging beats that roll along with utmost fluid momentum, makes for an absolute pleasure to hear and behold. The stately pianos, sturdy drums, and crisp guitars remain on a steady and stirring course from start to finish. A fine work of delicate beauty.

THE NORMAL LIVING - Signals (www.thenormalliving.com)

This seven member New Jersey band sure know how to craft spot-on peppy and catchy straight-up rock'n'roll that radiates sheer joy and vitality from every last radiant note. The robust vocals project a winning blend of strength and vigor. The harmonic arrangemets boast everything from meaty guitar riffs to rousing horn lines to mighty rolling drums. Whether it's the fist-pumping anthem "American Summer" or the tremendous headlong rush of "Into the Night," there's plenty to relish on this hugely enjoyable album.

ROSELIT BONE - Blister Steel (www.RoselitBone.com)

Beautifully evoking a sad'n'somber mood of bittersweet regret and deep-seated anguish, this dark and despairing, yet still haunting and poignant country-flavored album hovers in the air like an ominous storm cloud that's threatening to open up and pour down from the heavens at a moment's notice. The plaintive vocals and grim lyrics capture a strong feeling of pure gloom'n'doom. The spare, yet melodic arrangements further enhance the overall starkly brooding atmosphere. By no means a pleasant or comforting album, but an extremely moving and powerful one just the same.

HEATHER TROST - Agistri (Living Music Duplication)

Effortlessly radiating a certain exquisitely soothing kind of otherworldly space age vibe, singer/songwriter Heather Trost embarks on a relaxed and idiosyncratic, yet still joyous and captivating exotic sonic excursion on this album. Best known for her work with A Hawk And A Handsaw, Trust's sultry chanted vocals and quirky melodies possess an odd and unearthly as well as supple and gorgeous quality which manages to be quite distinctive and original. Artfully combining 1960's psychedelic pop-rock with flavorsome dashes of soul and samba tunes, Trost's music has a singular beauty to it that's truly something to behold.


KIM RANCOURT - Plum Plum (Clown Heroes Records)

Gloriously scrappy rumbling of straight-up rough'n'tumble rock'n'roll done with plenty of winningly brash New York City attitude. Kim Rancourt's distinctly harsh Big Apple accent and blunt say-it-like-you-see-it perspective both gleefully spit in the face of good taste and decorum. Moreover, Rancourt astutely pegs a positively infectious feeling of pure raucous fun, with scruffy caterwauling arrangements and a raw rattling sound merging together to create a delightfully grungy bundle of rickety noise. A real trashy blast.


SLIM CESSNA'S AUTO CLUB - Cipher (http://scacunincorporated.com)

Rolling down from the remote prairies with a soulful, lively, and overall captivating high lonesome coutry-rock sound, this alternately jaunty and melancholy album paints a vivid sonic portrait of a troubled landscape in which the human spirit is continually pushed to the breaking point, but somehow manages to remain strong and persevere through any hardships thrown in its path heading towards some kind of redemption and salvation. The robust vocals and dynamic arrangements deliver plenty of kick up the dirt stirring thrills. Moreover, the sharp songwriting nails a powerful feeling of despair along with residual traces of hope and resilience with bracing acuity. A damn solid and exciting album.

FRED GILLEN JR. - What She Said (fredgillenjr.com)

Singer/songwriter Fred Gillen Jr. rates highly as one of those musicians you can always depend on to produce music that's intelligent and provocative in equal measure in its admirably candid and direct addressing of the many different facets of the human condition and the key troubling issues of contemporary American existence. Whether he's confronting the harsh reality of Donald Trump's anti-immigrant stance in the touching "Prayer for America," or the sad uncertainties for a better tomorrow in "Future Americans," Gillen Jr. displays an honesty and basic fundemental human decency that's both affecting and inspiring. The gently folksy melodies and delicately harmonic arrangements along with the raspy easiness of Gillen Jr.'s voice add additional feeling of comforting warmth and compassion. A lovely album.

THE RETROLINERS - Mods & Rockers (www.retroliners.com)

Yeah, baby! Ya wanna draw the shades, turn up the lights, and swing the night away until the wee hours of tomorrow morning? You do. Well, here's the perfectly groovy retro 1960's funk-fueled R&B-flavored rock instrumental album for that particular occasion. Chill out to that hip'n'heavenly Hammond B-3 organ. Dig deep into those tasty guitar licks. Get totally lost in a nonstop array of fat throbbing basslines. And keep that repeat button on because this is a platter that's well worth spinning a dozen or so times.

LAKE - Forever or Never (www.laketheband.com)

Beautifully mellow and meditative shimmering pop that ably explores a touching vein in bittersweet reflectivity. The soothing vocals and delicately dulcet melodies give this album a lovely ethereal sound that's every bit as pleasant and relaxing as a gentle spring breeze. The peppy tempos and steady beats keep things bubbling along at a nice kicked-back clip. A most beguiling little beaut.


BRENYAMA - Euphoria Love (www.BrenyamaMusic.com)

This Highland Park, New Jersey band gleefully combine groovy 60's garage rock and more crunchy'n'punchy current power pop with A-plus exciting results. The peppy vocals project a winning surplus of pure joy and go-for-it verve that's impossible to either dislike or resist. The catchy arrangements are nicely filled out by kickin' guitars, smooth basslines, and dynamic keyboards. The simple and straightforward songwriting further adds to the overall infectiously fun'n'frothy uncomplicated charm. Best of all, the lively and harmonic music effortlessly conjures up a swinging Saturday night sock hop party atmosphere. A real zippy blast.

MAX BOURATOGLOU - Idle Intuition (www.maxbouratoglou.com)

Singer/songwriter Max Bouratoglou makes an impressive and engaging feature length album debut with this utterly delightful pop-rock treat. For starters, Bouratoglou possesses a remarkable knack for crafting extremely catchy and sunny melodies. Secondly, his reassuring voice and smart songwriting make for a strong double whammy. It also helps that the crisp arrangements are rife with snazzy hooks and the playing has plenty of snap to spare. In addition, Bouratoglou brings a real depth and maturity to the substantial lyrics, with the anti-bully song "Clay" rating as an especially striking stand-out. An excellent album.

RUSS TOLMAN - Compass & Map (www.russtolmanmusic.com)

This 20 song compilation covers the thirty-plus year career of singer, songwriter, and guitarist Russ Tolman, who starting in 1986 has recorded and released seven solo albums. Blessed with a winningly dry voice, a sturdy knack for compelling story songs, a pleasingly deadpan sense of humor, and a fluid guitar playing style, Tolman takes the listener on an often affecting, sometimes amusing, and overall enjoyable sonic exploration of the assorted ups and downs of life, love (the wonderfully rueful "Blame It on the Girl" rates as a definite highlight here), show business, and relationships. Better still, Tolman specializes in tasty meat and potatoes rootsy rock that gets right down to jaunty business with infectious verve and a laudable dearth of pretense. A nice introduction to a fine musical artist.


THE FLYWHEELS - I'm for the Flowers (http://www.facebook.com/TheFlywheelsLP)

Hoppin' and boppin' along with infectiously bouncy and giddy aplomb, this extremely catchy and dynamic retro 60's-style psychedelic pop-rock album proves to be quite an invigorating blast to hear. The lively vocals soar straight to the sumptuous sonic stratosphere while the mesmerizing guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and sturdy drums deliver a plethora of wonderfully radiant hooks. Better still, this album possesses a sunny upbeat quality that's both charming and uplifting in equal measure. A total treat.

THE FRONT END - Growing Pains (www.therainmakersmediagroup.com)

This four song EP delivers a perfectly crunchy'n'punchy serving of straight-up rousing rock'n'roll. The hoarse ragged vocals scream and holler with tonsil-tearing brio. The meaty guitar riffs provide plenty of pop and snack, the fluid basslines hold everything together, and the hard pounding drums lay down a mighty stomping beat. Tasty stuff.

RAG 'N' BONE MAN - Human (www.ragnbonemanmusic.com)

Pulsating with a remarkably funky and exciting blend of soul, R&B, blues, hip-hop, and jazz, Rag 'N' Bone Man's debut album throbs and beats with a livewire electricity that's positively galvanizing to hear. This guy's strong booming voice and thoughtful songwriting make for a potent double whammy. Better yet, a certain deeply felt sense of passion and humanity can be savored in every last gloriously vibrant note contained herein. A right-on kick-ass winner.

THE SHATTERED HOPES - I Made the Mess (www.TheShatteredHopes.com)

This group sure know how to combine amusing, yet idiosyncratic lyrics and energetic rockin' music into a highly charming and engaging whole. The jaunty melodies, exuberant adenoidal vocals, spirited playing, and wickedly funny songwriting keep things bubbling along throughout, with such gut-busting tunes as "I'm Doing It My Way," "Amway Man," and "You Can't Make Me Do Anything" providing a wealth of belly laughs. Everything from politics to religion gets joyfully skewered in a manner that's quirky and appealing instead of snarky and condescending. Crazy rhythms indeed.

FLAMINGODS - Majesty (http://flamingods.com)

This spot-on groovy group specialize in creating an eclectic and arresting sound with both Eastern and African infuences heavily evident throughout. The pleasant vocals effortlessly soar over a terrifically harmonic array of flutes, congas, strings, guitars, and synthesizers that swirl and whirl with utmost grace and agility. The music itself casts a comforting spell as it dips and dovetails into exotic areas that are like the sonic equivalent to strolling on a tropical beach on a fine summer day. The gradual tempos and subdued, yet steady beats further add to the overall laid-back appeal. A glorious celebration of musical diversity.

A TREE GROWS (www.rufftone.com)

This Brooklyn-based band artfully concoct a marvelously mellow and melodic fusion of jazz, soul, and electronica that's both soothing and soulful in equal measure. The tenor saxophone fluidly flies over a rock-solid bedrock foundation of sturdy drums, a twinkling glockenspiel, and zoned to the groovy bone keyboards. Better still, there's a supple smoothness to this music which in turn gives the richly textured soundscapes featured herein an extra tasty flavor. This is the sort of right-on tuneful and captivating music that conjures up vivid images of smoky nightclubs and casual nocturnal walks underneath a starry sky complete with a sparkling full moon. An exquisitely hypnotic and harmonic delight.


CHANDLER TRAVIS PHILHARMONIC - Waving Kissyhead, Vol 2 & 1 (www.chandlertravis.com)

For those who dig straight-up no-nonsense ramshackle Dixeland-flavored rock'n'roll done on a massive sprawling and spirited scale with utmost go-for-it panache and a refreshing paucity of pretense, this album will sure hit the rollicking spot something sweet. The songs swing and sway like so many particles of sonic dust caught up in a swirling tornado of joyous noise complete with urgently blurting horns, robust vocals, hypnotic keyboards, offbeat lyrics, and catchy guitar riffs. The overall upbeat atmosphere and quirky humor evident throughout ensure that this honey makes for delightful listening from start to finish.

JAKE LEVINE - In Country Sleep (www.jakelevinemusic.com)

Livingston, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Jake Lervine delivers eight songs full of gentle country rock-flavored melodicism that also offers many perfectly moving moments of low-key introspection along with some straight-up stirring vitality for the sake of tasty variety. Deftly blending a delicate and moody, but still occasionally hard-rocking sound with an admirable keep-your-chin-up resilient sensibility, Levine tackles life's endless supply of hardships with a strength and honesty that's both touching and inspiring in equal measure. Levine's expressive voice conveys a wealth of emotion while his songwriting cuts to the heart of the matter with bracing acuity and concision. A fine and affecting album.

MATT NORTH - Above Ground Fools (https://mattnorth.net)

Singer/songwriter Matt North delivers ten songs of wonderfully rootsy country-rock Americana on his excellent debut album. North's dynamite vocals and sharp songwriting that puts a welcome emphasis on carefully observed little details make for a formidable double whammy. Moreover, North's keep your chin up sense of resilence concerning life's endless stream of hardships proves to be both moving and inspiring in equal measure. North scores extra points for sprinklng in some stinging social commentary here and there, with "Conkrite and Cosell" in particular standing out as a poignant critique of the current poor state of the media. The lively arrangements keep things exciting and energetic as well: The simmering organs, funky digging guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and sturdy drums lay down a steady succession of snappy tempos and forward-ho charging beats. A terrific album.

THE JIGSAW SEEN - For the Discriminating Completist (www.thejigsawseen.com_)

Offering up an assortment of inspired covers -- their raw garage rock version of "The Best is Yet to Come" rates as a wonderfully ragged doozy -- and previously hard to find alternate versions of this band's most popular songs, this 12-song compilation serves up plenty of tasty tunes for the listener to happily chew on and digest. The vocals are robust and clear as crystal smooth, the arrangements full of catchy hooks (gotta love the fantastic sitar riff that cuts its hypnotic way through "We Women"), the songwriting sharp and concise, and the playing spot-on proficient throughout. A total treat.

ANDREW JOSLYN - Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean (www.andrewjoslynmusic.com)

Turn down the lights, light up a fine Cuban cigar, and pour yourself a nice tall glass of delicious wine, because it's time to kick back and get swanky. Joslyn's supremely mellow and hypnotic soundscapes conjure up vivid images of of a smoky jazz cabaret on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The smooth vocals and soothing melodies are sheer easygoing sonic bliss while the concise songwriting gets right to the point with prasieworthy clarity and immediacy. Soak it up and prepare to be elevated to a higher musical plain.

THE SHOW PONIES - How It Goes Down (www.theshowponies.com)

This five piece Americana band deliver the rollicking country-rock goods on their excellent and exciting sophomore album. Facing the harsh reality of President Donald Trump's bleak apocalyptic new world order with an unflagging and uplifting sense of optimism at a time when that very thing is in exceedingly rare supply, this group refuses to give up on hope without putting up some kind of fight. The spot-on incisive lyrics tackle such gutsy subjects as never being able to go back to the way things used to be (the heart-wrenching "Kalamazoo"), standing up to bullying men ("Shoulda Showed Him"), and the doomsday holocaust that might just the around the corner (the chilling "How It All Goes Down") with bracing acuity and forthrightness. Powerful stuff.


EVAN TOTH - Everything is Fine (www.evantoth.com)

Paterson, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Evan Toth comes through with ten songs worth of spot-on sprightly and melodic rock'n'roll that cuts to the chase with bracing vigor and directness. Toth's vibrant vocals and concise songwriting make for a formidable double whammy. The lively and tuneful arragements keep things hopping throughout, with especially tasty and galvanizing use of bouncy piano, urgent forward-ho drums, and springy'n'zingy guitars. Best of all, the songs practically explode with pure joyous and infectious life. An absolute delight.

BRIAN CULLMAN - New Year's Eve (www.briancullman.com)

Pouring on the soulful swank like nobody's business, thia album should be enjoyed while either smoking a fine Cuban cigar or sipping a long cool martini. The zoned to the bone organ, fluid guitar riffs, smooth basslines, sturdy drums, and simmering keyboards craft a sound that's both comforting and hypnotic in equal measure. Moreover, Brian Cullman's dulcet pipes wrap around a tune like a stylish pair of velvet gloves while his songwriting keeps thing simple and straightforward. An on the money enjoyable album.

SOLES OF PASSION - Bump Me Up (www.solesofpassion.com)

Proggressive country duo Steven Wolfe and Myla Snow grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground with a winning blend of hynoptic electronic tunefulness and say-it-like-you-see-it directness on their excellent debut album. Snow's captivating voice and Wolfe's toughminded songwriting make for a potent double whammy. (Wolfe plays a mean guitar, too.) But what gives this album its extra snap and bite is the remarkable way these two address both the unavoidable hardships of basic human existence and the bitter socioeconomic realities of the average working class American with unflinching grit and frankness, yet still manage to keep their chins up and persevere no matter what. Inspiring stuff.

ONE WAY RIDE - Put Me On (www.therainmakermediagroup.com)

Hey, buddy? Yeah, you, pal. Ya wanna hear some super fun stomp-ass straight-up rock'n'roll done with plenty of go-for-broke energy and a winning dearth of high-falutin' pretense? Well, then I have just the album for you. What makes it worth a listen, you ask? Well, for starters there are lots of tasty diggin' guitar licks. After that, the churning basslines provide a strong gutty undertow. And the drum beats? Yeah, those are every bit as big'n'bold as they ought to be. The vocals are pretty lively, too. The songwriting cuts to the chase as well. And as for the basic sound? It's pure bluesy rock all the way. And that's all I gotta say on this one.

TIM HOULIHAN - Another Orion (www.tomhoulihan.com)

Radiating a sweetly homespun country-folk charm right from the first gently harmonic note, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter Tim Houlihan scores himself an utterly engaging winner with his latest album by keeping things simple and unpretentious. It also helps that Houlihan possesses a warm comforting voice and sturdy knack for crafting melodic story songs that offer a nice mix of sharp insight and uplifting humanity. Better still, Houlihan can rock out with topmost rip-snorting brio if the feeling to do so hits him, as the rousing and anthemic "What's Gonna to Happen to Me" firmly confirms. A fine and touching album.

DAVID HALLEY - A Month of Somedays (www.davidhalleymusic.com)

Singer/songwriter David Halley explores the pros and cons of the always precarious human condition with a deliciously delicate mix of thoughtfulness and tunefulness on his lovely and moving latest album. Halley's voice -- worn and spent, but still there and plugging away through it all no matter what -- alone speaks vivid volumes about a life that's had more than its fair share of ups and downs; it's the battered, yet resilient voice of a man who refuses to quit regardless of whatever hardships he might have to endure while in the process of simply existing. The gently harmonic arragements perfectly compliment Halley's weathered vocals and eloquently plain-spoken songwriting. A wonderfully poignant jewel.

KRISTIN HERSH - Wyatt at the Coyote Palace (www.kristinhersh.com)

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Kristin Hersh digs deep into life's endless array of ups and downs to produce an incredibly powerful double CD album that's loaded to the gills with twenty-four songs worth of pure angst and raw naked emotion. Hersh's hoarse raggedy voice projects a striking combination of bruised strength and aching vulnerability that's genuinely startling in its gritty starkness and refreshing dearth of sappy sentiment. The harmonic arragements keep things tuneful, dynamic, and compelling throughout. An excellent and affecting album.

MIKE ZITO - Make Blues Not War (www.mikezito.com)

Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Mike Zito sure ain't kidding when it comes to making the blues. Zito's impassioned vocals and blistering guitar playing are red hot scorching to the point were your stereo speakers might just be reduced to smoking embers. The stomping beats and steady tempos slither along with breathtaking forward-ho precision. The protracted jams not only draw out every last ounce of pure angst, but also tear into the tasty fat pulsating grooves in an admirably savage and relentless manner. A fantastic album.


TRI-STATE - We Did What We Could Do (http://tristatetheband.com)

This New Jersey band deliver five delightfully upbeat and energetic songs of pure pop-rock bliss on this EP release. The robust vocals project an utterly engaging sense of positive vitality while the songwriting keeps things admirably simple and to the point. The arrangements offer a steady succession of catchy hooks and hoppin' vigor thanks to the hard-riffin' guitars, smooth basslines, and dynamic drums that offer plenty of huge rolling beats. A total treat.

A HALO CALLED FRED - Lies, Damned Lies, and Songs (www.ahalocalledfred.com)

This always quirky and inventive band of New Brunswick boys prove that they haven't lost a single iota of their gloriously idiosyncratic identity or bold willingness to think way outside the conventional pop-rock box with their latest album. The group's trademark flair for offbeat lyrics and harmonic music are both in tremendous abundance. Moreover, there's a strong feeling of sheer gaiety and upbeat energy that's a true uplifting joy to hear. The sonic equivalent of a big beaming smile, this baby overall sizes as one to relish.

SUNDAY MORNING (www.sundaymorning.band)

Supremely moody and elegant, this album will certainly prove to be a pleasurable listen for those who like their music extremely brooding and mournful. Bruce Wilson's deep raspy voice conveys a potent sense of deepseated anguish and regret while the songwriting gets to the heart of the matter with bracing candor and directness. The songs alternate between slow burning ballads of pure angst to more all-out hard-rocking numbers , with the kick-ass barn burner "Sick in the City" rating as a definite rousing highlight. It's the way this album blends grit and heartbreak together into a tough, yet still touching mix that in turns makes it so powerful and difficult to shake long after you hear it.

CHURCHWOOD - Hex City (westernpublicity@gmail.com)

Conjuring up ten tracks worth of pure gummy'n'yummy voodoo hoodoo bluesy roots rock, this band of Austin, Texas musical maniacs lay down more than enough funky grooves and meaty hooks to satisfy even the most jaded of rock'n'roll aficionados. The vocals mumble and grumble the blithely bent lyrics with utmost growly gusto. The arrangements stoke the flames with a steady succession of gritty'n'grinding guitar riffs, churning basslines, swaggering horns, and roll over deadly relentless drums. Best of all, this group ain't afraid to fly their freak flags high and shoot for the moon with a gleefully gonzo elan that's a complete treat to behold. Great loopy stuff!

THE CLYDES - Comeback Charlie (Mint 400; www.theclydesmusic.com)

The Clydes return with five songs worth of right-on groovy and melodic fun on their latest EP release. The arrangements lay down a pleasantly tuneful sound complete with gnarly diggin' guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and sturdy drums. The vocals are quite robust and passionate while the songwriting remains concise and reflective throughout. A nice little album.

 

TRAILER RADIO - Country Girls Ain't Cheap (www.TrailerRadio.com)

Blending a downhome country-rock sound with a hip urban sensibility, this Metro-Twang group from New York City (!) offer proof positive that you can still be a fullblown hick even if you ain't from the sticks. All kidding aside, the key reason this band pulls off this remarkable feat of unlikely musical alchemy is because they treat country music with respect and sincerity while still being smart and honest enough to crack jokes about their city slicker origins. Plus it certainly helps that such witty ditties as the titular tune and "Jesus Loves You (But I'm on the Fence)" are awful damn funny and engaging. The arrangements are damn catchy and tuneful, too. And that about covers that.

NAIM AMOR & JOHN CONVERTINO - The Western Suite and Siesta Songs (www.Imduplication.com)

Songwriters and musicians Naim Amor and John Convertino join forces to collaborate on this marvelously moody and harmonic instrumental album that conjures up vivid images of sprawling desert vistas, wide open prairies, and long winding backroads in the Southwest. Despite the complete lack of words and vocals, this flavorsome country and western music nonetheless gives the listener a strong sense of space and place somewhere in the vast untamed and untouched American frontier where the cactus still grow wild and tumbleweeds blow through the center of rundown abandoned towns during dust storms. Moreover, the music has a spare beauty and delicate grace to it that's simply breathtaking to behold. A tremendous achievement.

DIMARCO BROTHERS - Counting Backwards (http://soundcloud.com/dimarcobrothers)

This New York band rings the bell with utmost aplomb and tunefulness with this utterly engaging serving of sweet rootsy indie rock. The hoarse vocals possess a certain endearingly ragged charm. Moreover, the harmonic arrangements really hit the soothing sonorous spot, with especially tasty use of accordian, mandolin, and acoustic guitar. Better still, the music contained herein has a lovely and lilting sense of pure warmth and laid-back pleasentness that's a comforting joy to hear. An absolute delight.

THE HAPPIES - Swing High (www.thehappies.com)

Artfully blending an incredibly catchy'n'groovy electronic pop-rock sound with a bright and engaging introspective sensibility, this band sure give listeners plenty to be happy about. The smooth vocals effortlessly glide over a fluid and undulating sonic sea of crisp guitar riffs, liquid basslines, and subdued, yet persistent drums. The intelligent songwriting cuts to the heart of the matter with commendable directness. The overall pleasant vibe that radiates throughout serves as the tasty cherry on an already delicious cake. A hugely enjoyable and impressive album.


ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL - Keep It Greasy! (www.facebook.com/theshovell)

Fuckin' a plus, man! Now this be the shit! We're talkin' a seriously hot and sloppy serving of sheer caterwauling rock'n'roll racket done with loads of raw enery and absolutely zero high-falutin' pretense. The hoarse ragged vocals holler over a ferocious sonic onslaught of gritty grinding hacksaw guitars, churning basslines, and savage steamrolling drums. The snappy tempos and chunky pounding beats storm ahead with fierce forward-ho momentum. Play this one super loud!

FORTH WANDERERS - Slop (http://forthwanderers.bandcamp.com)

This Montclair, New Jersey-based band specialize in lively and catchy pop-rock that gets right down to basics without forgetting to provide substantial lyrics and an utterly engaging sense of sparkling positivity to go along with all that bouncy vitality. The peppy vocals project an irresistibly sweet charm while the arrangements are nicely filled out by kickin' guitar riffs, sturdy basslines, and subdued, yet steady rolling drums. A praiseworthy item.

 

SLOW BULLET - Still Close Enough to Go Back (www.facebook.com/slow262)

Beautifully brooding, tinged with regret and melancholy, Wisconsin-based singer/songwriter Sam DeBurgh's debut album packs quite a powerful emotional punch thanks to its raw honesty and naked vulnerability. DeBurgh's hoarse and trebly voice projects a strong feeling of extreme sadness and underlying resilience with startling directness. Moreover, his songwriting ably mines a moving line in bittersweet reflection. The arrangements are not only pretty tuneful, but also appropriately moody. A fine and affecting album.

TERRY MCCARTHY - Go Fourth (http://TerryMcCarthymusic.com)

Offering up six songs worth of lovely and gently melodic sonic bliss, singer/songwriter Terry McCarthy delivers a sweet and soothing winner with his latest album. McCarthy's pleasant voice and thoughtful songwriting make for a sturdy and engaging double whammy. Moreover, the arragements keep things tuneful and catchy throughout, with a steady succession of jaunty guitar riffs along with plenty of tasty piano rolls and a nice sprinkling of warm harmonica playing. Best of all, there's a real strong sense of heart, sincerity, and compassion evident throughout which gives this album an extra uplifting glow.


KEITH MONACCHIO - The Dust Up (www.reverbnation.com/keithmonacchio)

Trenton, New Jersey-based singer/songwriter Keith Monacchio comes through with a pleasingly mellow and reflective little beaut with his latest album. Monacchio's soulful and reassuring voice casts a soothing spell while his thoughtful songwriting mines a touching line in low-key introspection. The arrangements keep things crisp and tuneful, with jaunty guitars and sturdy drum rolls providing a winning array of steady tempos and peppy beats. Better still, Monacchio has an engaging way of enduring life's constant hardships with a sense of strength and honesty that's affecting and admirable in equal measure.

ADAM TORRES - Pearls to Swine (http://www.adamtorres.tv)

Stemming from Austin, Texas, Adam Torres projects a strong sense of anguish and regret with a wrenching delicacy that's sure to touch even the most hardened of hearts. Torres's trebly tenor voice and plainspoken songwriting lay it all out there in an achingly open and vulnerable manner. The fragile melodies and gently harmonic arragements add a further feeling of a deeply hurt person who's just hanging in there on the slightest of threads, with gradual tempos and subdued beats trudging along like a gloomy funeral dirge. By no means a fun album, but certainly a real haunting and poignant one.

 

MOTEL RADIO - Desert Surf Films (www.motelradiomusic.com)

Chugging along at hypnotically gradual pace, this easy'n'breezy six song EP release makes for a perfectly soothing listen. The vocals are hoarse, yet still pleasant and reassuring. Moreover, the arrangements keep things tuneful and mellow throughout, with a steady succession of smooth basslines, ringing guitars, and sturdy, yet subdued drums. The thoughtful songwriting serves as the tasty cherry on an already pretty sweet cake. Nice stuff.


THE GILLS (www.thegillsmusic.com)

Delivering five supremely catchy songs worth of sparkling power pop, this EP brings plenty amount of pure infectious joy, bounce, and incredibly immense surging brio to the party that's sure to put a big beaming smile on your face. The vocals are smooth and dynamic, the hard-riffing guitars provide a wealth of meaty hooks, the burning basslines supply a gutty undertow, and the mighty pounding drums ensure that the beats are every bit as massive and unrelenting as they ought to be. What's not to like and enjoy?


THE DARLINGS - Live Attack! (www.thedarlingsrocknroll.com)

This straight-up no-bullshit California rock group were certainly cooking with high octane unleaded gas when they performed this live gig: One can almost smell the sweat and feel the electricity in the air as this quartet rip, tear, and shred with a joyful go-for-the-throat abandon that's quite exciting to hear. The raggedy-ass vocals holler over a furious sonic onslaught of slicing guitars, cutting basslines, and steamrolling drums. The speedy tempos and constant driving beats never let up for a second. A real bang-up thrilling album.

 

DINOWALRUS - Fairweather (www.dinowalrus.com)

If you're feeling under the weather and need a quick pick me up by getting lost in some incredibly thick, hypnotic, and captivating grooves, then you'll definitely hit the mesmerizing mother lode with this on the money moody and magnetic album. The arrangements sure keep things busy and boppin': We've got funky wah-wah guitars, buzzing basslines, steady forward-ho drums, and zoned to the bone keyboards wafting and swirling about in these heady soundscapes of sheer soothing sonic bliss. The smooth vocals likewise cast a comforting spell while the concise songwriting gets right to the point. A fabulously far-out delight.


KARYN KUHL BAND - The Stars Will Bring You Home (karynkuhl.bandcamp.com)

This EP release registers strongly with six marvelously moody and melodic songs. Karyn Kuhl's sultry voice casts quite a soothing and seductive spell. The tuneful and intricate arrangements bop and weave with exquisite fluidity and dexterity, with stinging guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and persistent drums blending together to create a beautifully dense and dreamy sound. A divinely enchanting little jewel.

GIRLS ON GRASS (girlsongrass.bandcamp.com)

Delivering eleven flavorsome slices of perfectly catchy and harmonic honytonk country, this album makes for an extremely amiable and soothing listen. Singer Barbara Endes possess quite a robust twangy voice and a solud knack for spot-on say-it-to-me-straight songwriting. The tuneful arrangements give the music an extra folksy appeal, with especially nice use of ringing guitars and subdued, yet steady drums. Best of all, the music has a timeless quality to it, even though the subject matter does address timely and relevant modern issues such as the way social media has severely curtailed one's ability to make strong intimate connections with others (the wonderfully pungent and scathing "Drowning in Ego"). An excellent album.

WATTS - The Black Heart of Rock'N'Roll (http://watts.bandcamp.com)

Shreading it up with deliciously dirty brio, this British group come through with ten thrilling slabs of pure gritty rock'n'roll racket on their latest album. The hoarse ragged vocals scream and shout over a savage onslaught of grungy grinding guitars, churning basslines, and hard-stomping drums. Better still, the concise songwriting cuts right to the chase without ever wasting a single word while the sound blends lowdown scrappy blues and equally scruffy rock with often exciting and energetic results. A seriously kick-ass album.

THE BACKSEAT ANGELS - Saturday Night Shakes (http://thebackseatangels.bandcamp.com/releases)

Representing rock'n'roll at its most gloriously basic and bouncy, this album keeps things delightfully direct and animated from start to finish. The peppy vocals project a feeling of sheer joy and aplomb with infectious go-for-it energy and enthusiasm. The ringing guitars, popping basslines, and chunky rolling drums further inject an invigorating surplus of cheerful unbridled vitality. Best of all, this band captures a certain sweet sense of wide-eyed innocence and exuberance that's impossible to either resist or dislike. An absolute treat.

ED TANG & THE CHOPS - Magic Tricks and the Rolling Stone (www.EdTangMusic.com)

Rattling along with a galvanizing surplus of sheer bluesy swagger, this debut album from an Asbury Park, New Jersey group who specialize in "aggressive folk-rock Americana" sure hits the stirring spot something sweet. The ragged vocals cut loose with hoarse-throated gusto. Ed Tang's down to earth perspective and straightforward songwriting make for a winning double whammy. The strutting basslines, fierce diggin' guitar riffs, and mighty rolling drum beats craft a sound that's all tough-as-old-steak gristle. The refreshing dearth of needless high-falutin' pretense and overall get-down rocking attitude further cement this honey's status as a bonafide winner.

SOPHE LUX & THE MYSTIC - All Are One (www.sophielux.com)

Projecting a gloriously groovy and otherworldly prog-rock vibe, this album shakes and shimmers with an infectiously exuberant aplomb that's a total rousing joy to hear. Gwynneth Haynes' ripe soulful vocals soar to the heavens and back while her sharp songwriting cuts right to the chase with admirable clarity. But it's the insanely tuneful and dynamic arrangements that deliver the most stirring and substantial sock it to you kick: Moogs, synths, and organs lay down these divinely funky rippling riffs, the drum beats are huge and unrelenting, the bass supplies a gutty undertow, and the cutting guitars slice a tasty swath throughout. Intoxicating stuff.

 


LISA PRANK - Adult Teen (http://lisaprank.bandcap.com)

Delightfully vibrant and catchy as all get out, this lively pop-punk album possesses a cheerful vitality and cheekiness that's sure to put a huge smile on your face. Prank's peppy vocals and spunky keep-your-chin persona deliver a double whammy that's engaging and invigorating in equal measure. Best of all, there's a spirited simplicity and straightforwardness evident throughout that cuts through all the crap and gets right to the heart of the matter with bracing unpretentious clarity. A real blast.


TALL JUAN - Taller Than Ever Tour Cassette (http://talljuan.com)

Marvelously stirring and spirited four song EP serving of all-out no-bullshit rock'n'roll. Juan's passionate singing and concise songwriting keep needless pretense at bay in order to put a welcome and refreshing emphasis on pure rousing fun instead. The brisk tempos and forward-ho galloping beats never let up for a minute. Hugely enjoyable stuff.

BROOM VS. THE COMBINE (http://broomvsthecombine.bandcamp.com)

- Anyone who complains that they don't do 50's-style straight-up fun rockabilly racket like they used to needs to give this honey a whirl. The arrangements certainly hit the stirring tuneful spot something sweet: Fat rolling basslines, springy'n'zingy guitar riffs, groovy horns, and bouncy piano. Sung and performed with infectious go-for-it energy and enthusiasm, with a winning dearth of pretense, but a teeming surplus of passion and vigor, this baby rates as a total treat from start to finish.

CLIFF DIVER - Make It Count (http://www.facebook.com/cliffdivermusic)

Wafting along on a lovely and lulling wave of sweetly delicate acoustic warmth, this four song EP release casts quite a soothing and comforting spell. Blessed with both a pleasant voice and a sturdy knack for thoughtful lyrics, Cliff Diver mines a touching line in low-key introspection with beautifully harmonic results. Better still, by keeping the music simple and direct, Diver achieves a sonic intimacy and immediacy that's appealing and affecting in equal measure. A precious little jewel.

THE PHANTOMS (http://phantomsrock.com)

If you've got a thing for no-bullshit, raw'n'ragged, straight-up ass-shakin' rock'n'roll racket, then this fabulously gritty slab of hard-stompin' rock noise will most certainly hit that rough'n'ready primordial spot somethin' fierce. The vocals yell and holler with utmost go-for-the-throat aplomb. The rippin' guitar riffs, churning basslines, and mighty massive steamrolling drums create a sound that's pure sinewy snarl and spit. Okay, we're not talking profound work of art here, but if it's sheer fun you're looking for, then this album delivers that particular item in spades.

THE RIGHT HERE -Stick to the Plan (http://www.therighthere.com)

Shit yeah! Straight-up no-bullshit rock'n'roll rumble done with a winning surplus of invigorating go-for-it energy and positively zero needless pretense whatsoever. The dynamic vocals scream and yell with gloriously hoarse raggedy-ass aplomb. The mighty galloping drums, fiercely cutting guitar riffs, and sturdy basslines provides a nonstop sonic onslaught of tireless fast tempos and unrelenting barnstorming beats. In other words, this album kicks ass and takes names like nobody's goddamn business.

THANK YOU SCIENTIST - Stranger Heads Prevail (http://www.ThankYouScientist.net)

This pop-rock group from Riochelle, New Jersey totally hit it out of the ballpark with their fabulously harmonic and ambitious latest album by deftly blending a hard-crunching, yet still gorgeous orchestral sweeping sound with spot-on sharp playing and equally smart songwriting. The full-throated supple vocals soar and roar with exquisite and exhilerating go-for-it joy and vigor. The right'n'tight arrangements keep things lively and exciting thanks to the fiercely riffing guitar licks, brassy'n'bracing horns, smooth basslines, and meaty pumping drums. The quick tempos and massive steamrolling beats tear and shread with topmost galvanizing brio from start to finish, with lots of dipping and dovetailing in surprising and varied musical territories throughout. To put it bluntly, this is one flat-out awesome and impressive album.

FREE PIZZA - Berlin, DE (http://freepizzarocks.bandcamp.com)

Artfully mixing an infectiously bouncy and happy sound with mature and thoughtful subject matter, this album manages to have the best of both worlds in the sense that the vibrant music always remains fun to listen to while the lyrics provide plenty to think about and be moved by. The lively vocals project a winning blend of joy and optimism. Moreover, the adept and animated playing never falters, with a steady supply of springy guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and sturdy pushing ahead drums. But it's the smart and reflective songwriting that ensures that this album isn't merely a lot of strictly enjoyable fluff: There's some definite substance to be gleaned and appreciated from the relevant observations on the amazing basic human ability to prevail and persevere no matter how hard life can occasionally be. An excellent album.


SPAIN - Carolina (www.spaintheband.com)

Delivering ten songs worth of exquisitely well-crafted country-flavored slowcore melodicism, this album makes one hell of a strong impression with its deft blend of ambitious epic sonic storytelling and beautifully constructed arrangements. This album represents nothing less than the absolute apotheosis of meticulously designed, observed, and executed musical perfection done by true masters who are totally on top of their game: One gets a sense of entire lives lived and decades of remarkable events chronicled with the greatest of care and expertise. Superb.

POPINCOURT - A New Dimension to Modern Love (www.poppincourtmusic.com)

Hopping and bopping with a wonderfully joyous and vivacious surplus of sheer sparkling cheer and vitality, this album represents pop-rock at its shiny happy best. The vocals soar right to the heavens and back with utmost giddy aplomb. The arrangements likewise further galvanize the merry proceedings with a steady succession of bouncy guitar riffs, smooth basslines, sweet horns, and sturdy drums. Better still, this album has a real sense of swanky polish to it that's comparable to an exceptionally glossy photo of a beautiful sunset on a fine spring day. Terrific stuff.

ANDY BILINSKI - The Great Escape (www.andybilinski.com)

Singer/songwriter Andy Bilinski ably mines a very affecting and engaging line in bittersweet introspection on his latest album. There's a winning blend of pleasant honesty and positivity evident in this warm and harmonic music: Bilinski faces life's endless supply of hardships, frustrations, and disappointments with a keep-your-chin-up resilence and wry sense of humor that puts everything in a properly balanced and unsentimental perspective. Moreover, the arrangements are quite tuneful, Bilinski's voice has a soothing raspy quality, and the playing remains crisp and proficient throughout. A real fine and touching little beaut.

MIDNIGHT TRACK - Don't Be Proud of Me (www.reverbnation.com/midnightttrack)

Oh yeah, baby. It's time to get the funk on and groove to some tasty ska punk. The snarly vocals sneer and roar over a fierce caterwauling onslaught of hard-rippin' guitars, churning basslines, and forward-ho steamrolling drums. The snappy tempos and meaty beats never let up for a second. Best of all, the ten songs contained herein are quite short and brisk, with not a single wasted note, to the point lyrics, and a galvanizing surplus of pure sweaty energy. What's not to like?

A CAST OF THOUSANDS - Alone in the Crowd (www.acastofthousands.com)

Nicely grooving with a spot-on catchy pop-rock sound, this album casts quite a pleasingly dreamy and occasionally stirringh spell. Beth Beer's soothing and sultry voice projects a reassuring feeling of poise and confidance. The relaxed tempos and equally subdued, yet still sturdy beats merge together to create an utterly engaging easygoing rhythm. The tuneful arrangements keep things in harmonic check as well, with some tasty ringing guitar licks, smooth basslines, and bang-on mighty rolling drums. The concise songwriting serves as the yummy icing on an already very delicious cake. A totally on the money album.

ROOTS OF CREATION - Livin Free (www.rootsofcreation.com)

Offering up eighteen songs worth of infectiously bubbly and upbeat raggae-flavored tropical rock, this album might be extremely long and sprawling, but its sturdy blend of bouncy hooks, thoughtful lyrics, and overall positive and optimistic attitude make it an absolute pleasure to listen to. It certainly helps that lead singer Brett Wilson possesses a most pleasant and soothing set of pipes. The gentle ebb and flow of the gradual, yet constant tempos and casually bumpin' beats further enhance the basic breezy'n'easy vibe. A real delight.


TOOT SWEET - Dilettante (www.tootsweetmusic.bandcamp.com)

Breezing along with utmost infectious jazzy'n'snazzy aplomb, this album rates as an utter joy to listen to from start to finish. Mary Spencer Knapp's robust voice and witty songwriting make for a potent double whammy. (The fact that Knapp plays a really mean accordian certainly doesn't hurt matters in the least.) The music sounds like the sort of thing one might hear in a smoky Parisian club on a laidback weekend night: It's super hip and harmonic, but thankfully never smug and done with more than enough skill, heart, humor, and pluck to make this honey overall rate as a definite sparkling winner.

VON ZIMMER - Freddie's Extra Teeth (www.VonZimmer.com)

South Dakota-based singer/songwriter Von Zimmer hits it out of the ballpark with ten songs worth of pure straight-up no-bullshit rock'n'roll done with plenty of infectious go-for-it vigor and a winning dearth of pretense. Zimmer's ragged holler of a voice and sturdy knack for biting and incisive lyrics make for a formidable double whammy. Better still, Zimmer isn't afraid to rip into such worthy targets as self-appointed moral watchdogs (the scathing "The End of the World"), armchair ideologists (the equally lacerating "Where Were You"), and women who fall for creeps and psychos (the spot-on stinging "Epic Fail Blues"). It's the bold and confrontational way Zimmer's songwriting tackles serious issues head on which in turn gives this album an extra substantial kick.

FEUDALE BROTHERS BAND (www.feudalebrothersband.com)

This group made up of three siblings from Matawan, New Jersey kicks ass and takes names in a winningly dynamic and exciting manner. Ripping and roaring through ten songs worth of pure nitro-fueled rock'n'roll, these guys deliver a thrilling surplus of passionate shouted vocals and tasty fat hooks. The arrangements are quite tight and lively, with fierce hacksaw guitars, churning basslines, and savage jackhammer drums creating a tremendous surging sound that shakes and rattles with utmost hard-stomping ferocity. In short, this is the sort of album you play super loud while constantly pumping your fist in the air. Accolades don't come much better than that.

SUIT OF LIGHTS - Break Open the Head (www.suitsoflight.com)

Jeez, this group sure are playing for keeps with this album. If it's immaculately crafted, written, played, and produced pop-rock taken to a brilliantly shining zenith that you're looking for, then your search starts and ends here. The smooth vocals vault to the heavens and beyond. The arrangements deliver a steady succession of yummy hooks and startling mid-song tempo changes that that pulled off with breathtaking skill and precision. Plus singer and keyboardist Joe Darone ain't no slouch in the songwriting department, with a downright uncanny knack for blending haunting lyrics and catchy melodies together in a sparkly sonic confection that's sheer nirvana for music afionados. Simply superb.

WATER STREET - Waiting for Martin (www.waterstreetofficialcom)

This group from Northwest hills of New Jersey offer a neat and eclectic mix of jazz, folk, pop, rock, and even country on their expertly crafted and hugely enjoyable debut album. The arrangements keep things perfectly tuneful and captivating, with especially sweet use of soulful saxophones and some gorgeous mandolin playing. The vocals are likewise quite lush and lovely. The thoughtful and succinct songwriting serves as the tasty icing on an already supremely delicious cake. An excellent and impressive album.

JOE BOUCHARD - The Power of Music (www.joebouchard.com)

One of the founding members and the bassist for the classic rock group Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Bouchard roars back with his fourth solo album. The gorgeously melodic and intricate arrangements provide a winning blend of sinewy rock muscle and exceptional musical craftsmanship. Bouchard's smooth vocals and concise songwriting are likewise on the money impressive. Better still, Bouchard's obvious love for music comes through just as loud and clear as his undeniable dexterity, thereby giving this album plenty of heart to go along with all the polish. A complete delight.


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JerseyBeat.com is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.


 
 
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