Saturday, July 26, 2014

Album Reviews Morrissey and Tom Brosseau

Listen to more and get Grass Punks here

Listen to more and get World Peace Is None Of Your Business here

Wide range of artists shine bright on new albums

In addition to welcoming the continent-hopping collective Riddle & The Stars to the burgeoning Americana genre via their terrific debut, a strong field of artists have returned with noteworthy new releases.

Artist: Riddle & The Stars
Title: This Is Happening (independent release)
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Fleet Foxes, Johnnyswim
Tell me more: Few movements in modern music have been as rewarding as the explosion of Americana over the past decade. Extending the sonic soundscape first established by the likes of Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, modern-day heroes like Mumford & Sons, Trampled by Turtles and Johnnyswim have extended the reach of the genre in new and exciting directions. So too now have Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle and Huntington Beach, California-based outfit The Fallen Stars on the newly-issued collaboration This Is Happening. The sterling 12-track collection of authentic songs are enriched by a blend indie folk, alt country and roots music as Riddle and the Stars' talented tandem of Bobbo and Tracy Barnes each get to sing lead vocals while elsewhere they combine forces for some crafty harmonies (notably on the stirring title track).  Highlights include the haunting "Favourite Photograph," reflective "Massachusetts," lovely "Stronger Than Steel" (inspired by the Kaylee Frye character on the cult sci-fi show Firefly) and epic "Dam." Note: This Is Happening isn't scheduled to be released until August 2014, but you can get the first single "Chance" via the link listed below. Information:
Get the single "Chance" here

Artist: Jenny Lewis
Title: The Voyager (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: The Watson Twins' 2006 album "Rabbit Fur Coat," Jenny and Johnny, Rilo Kiley
Tell me more: Rarely is an album as interesting or confessional as California singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis' The Voyager. The former singer of Rilo Kiley, Lewis is not afraid to explore and share the deepest reaches of her soul as evidenced by a range of songs offered in different musical styles with lyrics that clearly reflect her own experiences with a rich honesty that is never less than inspired. The evocative "She's Not Me," bouncy New Wave-tinged "Head Underwater" and baroque pop gem "Late Bloomer" are among the wonderful songs on this outstanding album. Information: The Voyager is set to be released on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "The Voyager" now

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Title: Hypnotic Eye (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Mudcrutch
Tell me more: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 13th album Hypnotic Eye not only rocks with abandon but mostly recaptures the youthful spirit of the Florida-spawned ensemble's best '70s and '80s efforts. From the mighty opener "American Dream Plan B" and sparse "Full Grown Boy" to the rollicking "All You Carry" (you have to love Mike Campbell's guitar work in this one) and similarly fierce "Forgotten Man," there is a vibrancy and power that defies the group's "classic rock" moniker. What's more, the edgy "Fault Lines" could have fit in as a track on the Beatles' "White Album," with its savage John Lennon-styled guitar licks and confessional core. Information: Hypnotic Eye is set for release on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "Hypnotic Eye" now!

Artist: Marillion

Title: A Sunday Night Above the Rain (earMUSIC / Eagle Rock Entertainment)

You might like if you enjoy: Peter Gabriel, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead

Tell me more: While British rock artists such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones have achieved widespread acclaim in the U.S., outstanding U.K.'s exports including Blur, Keane and Porcupine Tree have been mostly overlooked here. Add to that essential-listening list the pioneering Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire legend Marillion. The band's newly-released double-album A Sunday Night Above the Rain features the stellar neo-progressive alt rock troupe captured in action in the Netherlands on March 10, 2013 playing all eight songs from their 2012 studio disc Sounds That Can't Be Made as well as long-time favorites including "Garden Party" and "This Strange Engine." Information:
Buy "A Sunday Night Above The Rain" here

Artist: First Aid Kit

Title: Stay Gold (Columbia Records)

You might like if you enjoy: Emmylou Harris, Puss n Boots, Fleet Foxes

Tell me more: Anyone questioning the foundation First Aid Kit  Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Sรถderberg -— set on their 2012 debut, need listen no further than their aptly-titled sophomore effort Stay Gold. The Stockholm-based sisters continue to blend artful and melodic song craft with voices that harmonize in infinite magical ways that haunt and soar simultaneously. There is a slightly edgier approach this time around, both in the lyrics and music making that will further excite the faithful. Standouts on the 10-track disc include the sorrowful "Cedar Lane," the probing "The Bell" and mournful romantic epic "A Long Time Ago." Information:
Purchase "Stay Gold" here

Artist: Michael Lington

Title: Soul Appeal (Copenhagen Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot
Tell me more: As modern as it it retro, Michael Lington's Soul Appeal boasts 11 accessible and grooving tracks that blend Memphis soul, funk and R&B. A skilled threat on alto and tenor sax player, Lington shines every step of the way without stepping on the talented cast of players around him. Most of the disc shines with instrumental tracks, although the '70s-mining romantic song "Gonna Love You Tonight" features Kenny Lattimore; "Leave Me You" (co-written and sung by Ryan Shaw) is one of those kind of timeless ballads that Sam Cooke could have hit out of the park half a century ago. Information:

Buy "Soul Appeal" today

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Farm Aid 2014, Santana, Duran Duran, Jenny Lewis, "Weird Al" Yankovic

Good afternoon everybody. Ready for your afternoon round-up?

Jack White, Neil Young and Willie Nelson will be featured at Farm Aid 2014. Read more here at the Paste site.

The Orange County Register has a feature story on Carlos Santana. Please note, you must be a subscriber to read the story (which is behind a paywall).

Duran Duran
Yikes! Duran Duran is taking its own fan club to court! Read the latest in Spin here.

Make sure to read this feature story on Jenny Lewis if you are a fan of the singer-songwriter.

"Weird Al" Yankovic hits Number One on Billboard. Read the L.A. Times article here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Johnny Marr to release 'Playland' on October 7

I am thrilled that Johnny Marr has another album coming this year. His first solo album 'The Messenger' was one of the best albums of 2013 and I'm hopeful his sophomore effort is just as great...

Johnny Marr has announced the release date for his second solo album Playland,which is set for release on October 7 via Warner Music Group, and available for pre-order now on iTunes and Amazon. Last year, the legendary guitarist for The Smiths enjoyed a monumental start to his solo career with an abundance of critical acclaim (including the honor of being named NME's 'Godlike Genius') for his Top 10 debut solo album The MessengerMeanwhile, his shows were celebrated for his ability to combine the best of his new material with select highlights from The Smiths, plus others from his extensive back catalog.

Johnny Marr's upward trajectory continues unabated with the release of Playland. Work on the album commenced in London in spring 2014 as soon as the year of touring in support of The Messenger came to a close. It finds Marr continuing the creative connection that was forged on The Messenger with collaborator and co-producer Doviak, as well as the other musicians who performed on the album and accompanying tour.

As Johnny states,"When 'The Messenger' came out I kept on writing. I liked that the band had a momentum going on tour and a connection with the audience, and I thought that energy would be good to capture on the new record."

Written around a common theme of "songs that move at the speed of life," 'Playland' captures much of the spirit that made The Messenger so memorable with energetic, post-punk songwriting complemented by Johnny Marr's characteristic guitar style, thought-provoking lyrical ideas and poised vocal phrasing. "It's important to sound like your environment and on this record that's London and Manchester," he adds. "The feeling of the cities and the people make it into the music."

The title Playland is inspired by Homo Ludens, a 1938 book by the highly influential Dutch cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, which explores the concept of play as a precursor and principal element of cultural development.

One of Marr's favorite performances of 2014 to date came when he performed at the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in New York City. His contributions to the film's soundtrack (scored by Hans Zimmer) included a songwriting collaboration with Pharrell Williams, while he also performed the closing credits theme song "It's On Again" with Alicia Keys andKendrick Lamar on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Johnny toured extensively in support of 'The Messenger' with highlights including three sold-out shows in Manchester; major London dates at The Roundhouse and the O2 Shepherd'sBush Empire; as well as festival appearances including GlastonburyReadingLeeds and T in the Park. His next UK headline tour includes his largest London solo headline show to date at the O2 Academy Brixton and also features a homecoming show at the O2 Apollo Manchester.

"Playland" track listing:
1.) Back In The Box
2.) Easy Money
3.) Dynamo
4.) Candidate
5.) 25 Hours
6.) The Trap
7.) Playland
8.) Speak Out Reach Out
9.) Boys Get Straight
10.) This Tension
11.) Little King

His current UK tour schedule runs as below:

13 - Lincoln, The Engine Shed
14 - Southend, Cliffs Pavilion
15 - Bexhill, De La Warr
17 - Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
18 - Cardiff, Great Hall
20 - O2 Academy Bournemouth
21 - Cambridge, Corn Exchange
23 - O2 Academy Brixton London
24 - Bath, Pavilion
25 - O2 Apollo Manchester
27 - O2 Academy Glasgow
28 - O2 Academy Newcastle
29 - O2 Academy Leeds

Visit Johnny Marr online:

Yes' "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" coming to DVD, Blu-ray, 3-CD on September 23, 2014

Long-time fans of YES will be more than thrilled to get "Songs From Tsongas - The 35th Anniversary Concert" when it is released on Sept. 23. Here is the media release including the track listing for the various formats, and a look at the cover artwork for the title too!


New York, NY (July 21, 2014)-- Eagle Rock Entertainment is proud to announce the September 23 simultaneous release of Yes’ Songs From Tsongas - The 35thAnniversary Concert - Special Edition on 2DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Formats, and the first ever release of Songs From Tsongas as a 3-CD set. 
The Special Edition of Songs From Tsongas contains two different concerts from Yes’ 35th Anniversary Tour in 2004, the last tour to feature the classic line-up of Jon AndersonSteve HoweChris SquireRick Wakeman and Alan White. In addition to the originally released Songs From Tsongas show, this DVD is packed with an additional 70 minutes of never-before-released highlights from Lugano. Songs From Tsongas offers a fantastic set list of favorites and rarities including “Going For The One,” “Roundabout,” “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” “And You And I,” “Starship Trooper,” “Wonderous Stories,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Ritual,” “Turn Of The Century,” and many more captured here in all their glory.
Disc One of the Special Edition DVD contains the whole concert from the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, Massachusetts, previously spread across two discs. This epic show features tracks from across the band’s career including an extensive acoustic section (tracks 11 – 18) and some tracks that have rarely been performed live. This entire concert is featured on the Songs From Tsongas 3CD.
Disc Two features a very different concert on the same tour filmed at Estival in Lugano, Switzerland. This outdoor show has a stripped down stage and full on rock versions of the acoustic tracks from Tsongas while the crowd wield a multitude of umbrellas against the pouring rain, which is clearly not preventing them having a great time!
As a Bonus Feature, the DVD includes another track “Ritual,” also filmed at the Tsongas Arena, and an insightful interview with legendary designer and Yes collaboratorRoger Dean who created the brand new stage set for the shows.
Songs From Tsongas – The 35th Anniversary Concert is an incredible collection that no Yes fan should be without!
Eagle Rock Entertainment is the largest producer and distributor of music programming for DVD, Blu-Ray, TV, Audio and Digital Media in the world.  Eagle works directly alongside talent to produce top quality, High Definition and 3D programs, both concerts and documentaries, including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, Queen, The Doors, Jeff Beck, U2, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney and Ozzy Osbourne. Eagle is a Grammy Award winning company and has received over 30 multi-platinum, over 50 platinum and over 90 gold discs, worldwide.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has offices in London, New York, Toronto, Paris and Hamburg.

Follow Eagle Rock Entertainment at:
Special Edition DVD, Blu-ray:
Disc 1 - Songs From Tsongas
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace  
11) The Meeting (Piano Solo)  
12) Long Distance Runaround  
13) Wonderous Stories  
14) Time Is Time  
15) Roundabout  
16) Show Me  
17) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
18) Second Initial (Guitar Solo)  
19) Rhythm Of Love  
20) And You And I  
21) Every Little Thing  
22) Starship Trooper
Disc 2 - Live In Lugano
1) Intro/Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move / All Good People  
5) Long Distance Runaround  
6) The Fish  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart  
8) And You And I  
9) Starship Trooper  
10) Roundabout
Disc One:
1) Intro / Firebird Suite  
2) Going For The One  
3) Sweet Dreams  
4) Your Move/All Good People  
5) Mind Drive Parts 1 & 2  
6) South Side Of The Sky  
7) Turn Of The Century  
8) My Eyes  
9) Mind Drive Part 3  
10) Yours Is No Disgrace
Disc Two:
1) The Meeting (piano solo)  
2) Long Distance Runaround  
3) Wonderous Stories  
4) Time Is Time  
5) Roundabout  
6) Show Me  
7) Owner Of A Lonely Heart   
8) Second Initial (guitar solo)  
9) Rhythm Of Love
Disc Three:
1) And You And I  
2) Ritual  
3) Every Little Thing  
4) Starship Trooper

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicago XXXVI NOW Album Review

Listen to more samples and get NOW here

Veterans and Newcomers Featured on Outstanding New Releases

By Robert Kinsler
Summer 2014 continues to yield musical pay dirt thanks to the far-flung talents of singer-songwriter Morrissey, heartland hero John Hiatt, Americana trio Puss n Boots and synthpop outfit Magic Man.
Artist: Morrissey
Title: World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest/Capitol)
You might like if you enjoy: The Smiths, Morrissey’s previous solo albums
Tell me more: It would be impossible to find an artist as adept as Morrissey at tapping into their biggest self doubts and fears while also being able to confidently poke their finger into the collective eye of humanity. The former Smiths frontman may be 55, but sings with the nuance and force of someone half his age on his new disc World Peace Is None of Your Business. There is simply no subject off limits and just about everyone will likely be offended somewhere along the way; the title track questions the success of mass protest and even voting, the decidedly-Smiths sounding “Staircase at the University” looks at student suicide, while “The Bullfighter Dies” champions the bull over the matador. And the music across the disc is glorious, with an intoxicating mix of alt rock, flamenco, post-punk and art damage providing the perfect backdrop for the confessional icon to sing away. Information:
Get the deluxe version of 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' here

Artist: John Hiatt
Title: Terms of My Surrender (New West Records)
You might like if you enjoy: John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Nils Lofgren
Tell me more: Keeping it real is in John Hiatt’s DNA. One of America’s greatest living songwriters, his newly-released Terms of My Surrender marks another essential sonic incursion by the Indiana native. Mortality is tackled on “Long Time Coming,” probing look at faith via the acoustic blues of “Face Of God” and haunting gospel-tinged Delta ode “”Wind Don’t Have to Hurry.” The beautiful title track looks at love with depth wonderfully at odds in an age where the world seems to live for the moment. A much-recommended deluxe edition of Terms of My Surrender (available via includes a bonus DVD with a live performance by Hiatt captured at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin, Tenn in 2013. Information:
Buy 'Terms Of My Surrender (Amazon Exclusive: CD + DVD)' here

Artist: Puss n Boots
Title: No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, Catherine Popper
Tell me more: Noted singers Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper having been working together since 2008, but only now have released a full-length LP. No Fools, No Fun showcases the three talented artists (dubbed Puss n Boots) playing a variety of instruments and singing with tangible warmth. Among the best songs on the wonderful collection is a sparse acoustic take on Robbie Robertson’s “Twilight,” a high kickin’ country foray on the original Norah Jones gem “Don’t Know What It Means” and a haunting translation of Neil Young’s classic “Down By the River” recorded live. Information:
Purchase 'No Fools, No Fun (Amazon Exclusive - 2 Track Bonus Version)' here

Artist: Magic Man
Title: Before the Waves (Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Phoenix, Passion Pit, the Postal Service
Tell me more: New England-based Magic Man is more than simply another entry on the burgeoning neo-New Wave synthpop movement. The group’s Columbia Records debut Before the Waves boasts the upbeat indietronica-pop of “Out of Mind,” decidedly melancholy-rich strains of “It All Starts Here” and melodic perfection of “Paris.” Produced by Alex Aldi (Passion Pit, Holy Ghost!), “Before the Waves” is bound together by Alex Caplow’s shining vocals. Information:
Purchase 'Before the Waves' here

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Elvis Presley, writer Ben Wener, Johnny Winter, Ted Nugent, Pistol Day Parade

Happy Friday everybody. Here is your morning roundup...

Photo: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
In 1970 - after spending much of the 1960s making movies - Elvis Presley made a highly-celebrated return to the concert stage. Elvis: That's the Way It Is is a long-unavailable documentary that looks at Elvis' rehearsals and road back to music that is being remastered by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Click here to see the trailer and learn more.

As many Southern California-based readers know, long-time Orange County Register pop music critic Ben Wener left the newspaper last month voluntarily as part of a buyout that impacted approximately 75 writers, editors and photographers at the publication. Fortunately, Ben continues to write on a freelance basis (welcome to my world...) and has had several reviews published in the Hollywood Reporter. You can read his review of several jazz greats who performed at the Hollywood Bowl on July 17 including Boz Scaggs here. You can read his review of Steely Dan's July 12 concert at The Forum here.

Johnny Winter at the Doheny
Blues Fest in 2012. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Sadly, I never saw Texas guitarist Johnny Winter at the height of powers, and actually only watched a bit of his set at the Doheny Blues Festival in May 2012. But his impact on the blues scene, including influencing a number of blues fans, was notable. Read the nice celebration of his legacy penned by Randall Roberts in the Los Angeles Times here. Billboard also has a nice appreciation of the guitarist, who died while on tour earlier this week.

I think one of the lessons of the loss of giants such as Winter is that if you have a chance to catch a legend in concert, don't wait. For example, over the years I have sought out to attend to attend shows to catch aging masters before time ran out. John Lee Hooker, Link Wray, Joe Willie "Pintop" Perkins, James Brown and Glen Campbell are among the other greats I caught live not long before they stopped performing or were taken from us far too soon...
Ted Nugent on July 14.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

Finally, I caught the forever loud and proud Ted Nugent for the first time (okay second time; I did catch him as part of a brief Damn Yankees reunion at the NAMM show in 2010. You can read my coverage of that in The Orange County Register here) when he performed at the second night of his two-night run at the City National Grove of Anaheim on Monday, July 14, 2014. I had heard that his political rants were the norm, so I expected that. But to the 65-year-old Detroit rocker's credit, he sure played the heck out of his guitar and seemed pumped up from start to finish. From his high-powered opening ("Gonzo") to the satisfying night-ending one-two punch of "Cat Scratch Fever" and an extended "Stranglehold," I did come away with a somewhat deeper appreciation of his powers playing the electric guitar.
Pistol Day Parade in Anaheim on July 14.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

I was also very impressed by the opening band, Detroit-based Pistol Day Parade. The band, whose hard-rocking straight ahead approach recalls 3 Doors Down and Chris Daughtry impressed early with the infectious "Better" and not long after with the power ballad "Where I Lay." The quintet closed with the ultimate sing-along, the catchy "Rockstar's Girlfriend."
Visit the band's official Web site to learn more.