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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The YeahTones: “What Could I Do”

The YeahTones (with Jake Pinto, Doug Berns, Dillion Treacy, and Michael Harlen) )are out with a new music video and if these cats weren’t busy enough releasing their psychedelic-art-blues-grainy-footage they are also embarking on an upcoming October tour. See below if you can catch them live.

The song “What Could I Do” is really gritty. In some ways, it’s a straight-up blues-rock anthem, in the way that Jimi Hendrix or any of his ilk would tackle the genre. The YeahTones; however, have infused their sound with noise and atonal elements which speaks to something stridently more modern (or at least “current day”). Of course, singer/songwriter Jake Pinto has the right mixture of melody and gruffness to make for a convincingly seasoned sound; at the end of the day, the music really has to speak for itself. “What Could I Do” is a well-crafted, passionate, and driving tune.

October Tour Dates and Locations:
Thursday Oct 13th, 2016 New York City Belle Reve
Friday Oct 14th, 2016 Philadelphia Ortliebs
Saturday October 15, 2016 NYC TBD
Monday October 17, 2016 Baltimore Joe Squared
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Charlotte TBD
Wed October 19, 2016 Athens or ATL TBD
Thursday October 20, 2016 Orlando Spacebar
Friday October 21, 2016 Sarasota The Starlite Lounge
Saturday, October 22, 2016 Tampa New World Brewery
Sunday October 23, 2016 Sarasota Growlers
Monday October 24, 2016 Savannah TBD
Tuesday October 25, 2016 Richmond TBD
Wed October 26, 2016 Philadelphia TBD
Thursday October 27, 2016 NYC Belle Reve
Saturday October 29, 2016 NYC Rubulad
Monday October 31, 2016 Pittsburgh Spirit Pizza Halloween Party
Tuesday November 1, 2016 Cincinatti TBD
Wed November 2, 2016 Louisville 3rd St Dive
Thursday November 3, 2016 Nashville Foobar
Friday November 4, 2016 Asheville One Spot
Saturday, November 5, 2016 Harrisburg Wolfe St Brewery
Sunday November 6, 2016 NYC Rockwood Music Hall CD Release Show
Thursday, November 3, 2016 Nashville Foobar (Cold Lunch Recording Showcase)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Richard Cowdrey: Little Red House

It formed the basis for Rock n’ Roll and can be heard in canonized songs from “Wipe Out” to Erykah Badu’s “Pick Yo Afro Daddy.” Of course, I am writing about the blues and I always have to tip my hat, at least a bit, to those gifted musicians who are carrying on this great American style. Enter guitarist and composer Richard Cowdrey; he’s here with a stunning track from his EP “Whispering Mind” – the song is titled “Little Red House.” and seems to be a nod (and quite an homage) to the great Jimi Hendrix track “Red House.”

Cowdrey’s guitar playing is elegant, to say the least; he has a delicate touch on the instrument which is pronounced when necessary, but most of the time he lets the melodies speak for themselves. This isn’t to say that there is a lack power as there is plenty of dynamism in his technique. “Little Red House” is a modern take on something uniquely American and it’s more than worth a listen or two. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Srdjan Brankovic: "Expedition: Delta"

A few weeks ago in July Current Music Thoughts reported on one of Srdjan Brankovic’s songs from his newest album “Expedition: Delta.” Both myself and the staff here at CMT loved the album so much, I’m back to talk about it more as I feel the first posting really didn’t do it justice.

The first track “Spectacular” has all the trappings of classic metal. It starts off with a high energy guitar part and snare-accented drum part. What’s interesting about this track to me is the unabashed nods to pop and even a bit of Andrew-Lloyd-Webber style melody. I mean this as a compliment as it’s done really successfully.  Of course, I talked quite a bit about “Break the Rules” in a previous review.

“Thank You for the Good Times” is a bit more power-ballad-ish. Here, we have a very heartfelt reminiscence number.  Still, Brankovic relies on his ace in the hole, which is his stellar guitar playing seen in a very virtuosic solo towards the end of the song. For a breakup song – it’s quite a bit of a more masculine take on the idea of letting go, as if saying “it wasn’t all bad, even though something led us to no longer be together.” This is quite the opposite of so many songs dwelling on what might have been.

Track number four, “Fly With Me” takes a much more orchestral approach with guitar anthems answered by synthesizer parts leading into a vicious and tough series of riffs. The vocals come in almost like an opera recitative which just works like crazy under pulsing keyboard parts. This song actually reminds me quite a lot of Japanese rock band “Mr. Children.” Again though, there is a sort of musical theater-esque quality here. Especially as the lyrics are scenario-driven.

“Canis Major” (listed as “Intermezzo by Nevena Zivkovic) is an oddity – It’s a loungy, but somewhat Chopin-like piano solo which is used as both an interlude and introduction to the song “Without You.” This song features a vocalist (the attitude driven Nicola Di Gia). It’s just as upbeat as the rest of the tracks but the addition of Di Gia’s voice makes for enough variety to provide the listener something new.

Next up is “The One Who Lives a Dream,” this song begins in a very optimistic and slower sounding languid guitar and piano line. Here, instead of using a slow intro to catapult into a more aggressive metal driven song, the meditative nature stays throughout although short interjections of guitar solos do appear in the song. “The One Who Lives a Dream” is a late-night, before sleep reflection which is echoed in the title. Like “Fly With Me” there is an orchestral/cinematic quality.

“House of God” and “Don’t Believe” continue in the similar vein of the rest of the album, high-energy, vocal driven and overall optimistic sounding. Of course, we are back with the famous guitarist Bobby Koelble, which is always a treat hearing his stellar playing.

If we don’t count the final bonus track, the album ends of the song “Remember Me.” The long sustain pads make a great underscore for the extremely cello-like guitar line.  If previous tracks weren’t orchestral enough for you, this song has you covered. At the same time there are really interesting blues-inspired interjections.  It’s more than an apt on which to end an album. My only criticism here is that it’s such a beautiful song, I wish it was longer.

Let’s talk about the bonus track: “Connected.” I guess Srdjan Brankovic decided he needed a cadenza for the album. If that sounds like a dig, it’s not – in fact, it is his guitar playing that ties the album together. “Connected” is a beautiful and upbeat way to end what is a very enjoyable experience.

“Expedition Delta” is a substantial work, full of twists and turns, at times sad, usually optimistic, always technically perfect. It offers something quite different to the world of rock – it’s a mature statement about the genre’s ability to tackle a range of issues and emotions and for that reason alone, I feel it should be applauded and enjoyed by a variety of fans. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Artist Interview: Anzi

For this week's interview we have singer/songwriter Anzi who is signed to Chrome City Records. She is out with a new song titled "On My Own." 

MW: Anzi, thank you for being here.

A: Thank you so much for having me on! I’m excited to be able to speak to you about my music.

MW: So, I want to talk about your newest release, “On My Own.” Can you tell us how the song came about?

A: Sure. Pretty much as soon as I got signed onto the label, I told them that I wanted to work on a single. I was very eager to get to work since creating my own single has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Once the label gave me the okay, I was struggling a bit at first about what to write about since I have not had too much experience writing songs. Marc from the label suggested writing a song about the feelings a person has after a break up. I kind of hit the ground running with that idea and used personal experiences from my past to help me write the words. I also got some help from Marc Lotus and Chris Coleman on the label. The song developed into the idea that just because a relationship ends, that’s not the end of you.

MW: The arrangement is really interesting – did you work with someone to create that?

A: I did. Marc Lotus from Chrome City Records and Scot Vanderpool from Double Diamond Records were really the masterminds behind the arrangement. They did a great job.

MW: Probably my favorite thing about your voice is that it seems to navigate that grey space between belt and gentle; have you always been able to do that or was it something you had to develop?

A: I’m so glad you noticed that! Growing up, I would always sing in head voice, especially since I was in several choirs but I was (and still am) a huge lover of musical theater so I went to one of my teachers and told them that “I want to sing like Sutton Foster in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. I’ve always been told that I have good projection so my teacher told me that I was perfectly capable of doing that with my vocal register. So over time, I just kind of created this mix of belt and gentle.

MW: Was there always music in the home?

A: Yes, my parents have been playing music and singing for as long as I can remember. My grandparents were also very musical- my grandmother had a beautiful voice and sang opera and my mother’s parents would take me to see musicals about every month starting at a young age. This early influence of music definitely impacted me since my parents have told me that I started singing as soon as I learned how to talk.

MW: Did you work with a vocal coach at any point?

A: Oh yes! I really attribute my technique to the many years of vocal coaching that I had. I probably had about 10 or more years of vocal coaching. In college, it was on and off. I was very lucky because after performing in many school shows and choirs, the school music teacher approached my parents and told them that she would like to work privately with me to help me build my voice because she saw something in me. After that, I enjoyed taking vocal lessons so much that I just continued over the years with a few different teachers. I definitely recommend vocal lessons to anyone who has a natural singing talent.

MW: I noticed you were also reviewed by Brett Stewart over on his site. He had some very good things to say about you; also your label has you number one on their landing page, not to mention a very successful FaceBook following (all at the ripe old age of 26). I’m curious if you are adjusting OK to all the attention. 

A: All the support that I have been receiving so far from “On My Own” has been incredible. We worked so hard on this song (it took about eight months in the making) so the fact that people are enjoying it makes me so happy. I haven’t really felt any different with the coverage that my song has been getting. I think that if it were ever to get to the point where people stopped and recognized me- that might take some getting used to (laughing). 

MW: Many of the readers here are young musicians themselves. Care to offer them any words of wisdom?

A: The best piece of advice that I would give them is the old saying “don’t give up”. There was a period in my life where I was getting rejected from every singing audition. I wasn’t landing any gigs and it was because I would go into auditions so nervous that they would not like the way I sing. After that, I decided to stop singing for about three years. I didn’t want to deal with the rejection anymore. I missed singing so much and one day, I finally came to the realization that I was just going to sing for the joy of singing and that I honestly did not really care if people liked it or not. After that, Chrome City Records and I found each other and the rest is history. So after sharing this long personal story, my words of wisdom would be to work on music for the love of music. You can tell the difference when someone is singing a song with passion rather than just doing it for a paycheck.

MW: Thanks so much for talking with me!

A: Of course! It was such a pleasure to be able to speak with you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Ed Roman: I am Love

So, it’s no secret that we here at CMT are great appreciators of Ed Roman. There’s just something about his head-forward and fearless way of approaching songwriting that is wildly appealing. He’s out with a new song “I am Love” accompanied by a music video with an intro that can only be described as “trippy.” The music video itself features a band of Ed playing bass, guitar, drums, organ (props for the sitar on the organ by the way), and of course, singing.

The song is upbeat and energetic packed with Roman’s signature positivity, tempered with a healthy dose of revolutionary spirit. It’s got a killer groove which seems to be a perfectly appropriate vehicle for Ed’s words. Sometimes the profound can mix easily with the danceable. 

Lily Lambert: "I Forgive You"

The folk world is a hard one to pin down these days. Fifty years ago everyone had a clear image in their mind when mentioning that genre; currently, it’s not so easy. However, I feel this is actually a positive development in the music world, it means that folk is a living/breathing tradition that evolves and changes as time progresses. Enter Lily Lambert with her newest release “moving on” – a series of songs dealing with loss and acceptance (topically, that is, there is a lot more to the songs and the music than just overcoming grief).

One of the standout tracks, “I Forgive you” is thematically very familiar, but there is a uniqueness and raw quality to Lambert’s voice which honors the folk tradition, especially that of Shirley Collins, brilliantly. While Lambert’s singing is no doubt beautiful, it (thankfully) lacks to cold/pristine sheen heard in so many digital recordings out in the market. The song starts out simply with gentle piano chords and a simple declarative melody, towards the end though, it builds to a truly wonderful climax which seems to parallel, to some degree, the evolution of folk music itself. In this respect Lily Lambert’s “Moving On” seems to be not only a personal journey but an ode to the genre she obviously loves so much.