Monday, April 25, 2016

Reviews: GoGo Penguin, 7Horse, Riddle & The Stars, the Bo-Keys, 'Turn It Up!' documentary

Four noteworthy ensembles are breaking new ground across a wide range of genres, while a new documentary celebrates the electric guitar and the masters who will be forever tied with their instrument.

Artist: GoGo Penguin
Title: Man Made Object (Blue Note Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Vince Guaraldi Trio, Robert Glasper Trio, Brian Eno
Tell me more: Manchester, UK-based trio GoGo Penguin crafts soundscapes as lush and exciting as any young jazz troupe in memory. The groundbreaking trio (drummer Rob Turner, double bassist Nick Blacka and pianist Chris Illingworth) have truly created a new sound that draws from a wide range of seminal jazz artists (ranging from the Vince Guaraldi Trio to contemporary heroes Robert Glasper Trio); the three members of GoGo Penguin use a deep sense of composition, acoustic instrumentation, electronic touches (think Brian Eno and Moby) and melody to draw in listeners. GoGo Penguin's latest album, Man Made Object, features 10 extraordinary instrumental selections. While the mesmerizing "Branches Break" and ""Surrender to Mountain" are the most accessible, tracks such as "Weird Cat," "Quiet Mind" and the haunting piano-anchored "Gbfisysih" also have an enormous power to evoke emotions. If you are bound for Coachella, make sure to catch GoGo Penguin at the festival on Saturday, April 23. Information:

Get 'Man Made Object' (Deluxe Edition) here

Artist: 7Horse
Title: Livin' in a Bitch of a World (7Horse Music Ltd.)
You might like if you enjoy: Moreland & Arbuckle, dada, 7Horse
Tell me more: Blues-rock doesn't get much more honest and stripped down than 7Horse. The duo (lead singer-drummer Phil Leavitt and guitarist-vocalist Joie Calio) backed by several other talented players perform songs that thrive on basic, straightforward riffs and deep grooves adorned with catchy choruses whose rich melodies bring welcome layers to the material across the newly-released "Livin' in a Bitch of a World." The gritty "Two-Stroke Machine" begins with a Rolling Stones-styled vibe bolstered by a soaring chorus, honest storytelling and wonderful blues-rock guitar riffs courtesy of Calio. Slide guitar fills the riveting "One Week" and Southwest blues of "Answer the Bell." Elsewhere, the band's hard hitting and reworked take on the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" is truly epic. Livin' in a Bitch of a World cements the fact that 7Horse ranks with Moreland & Arbuckle as one of contemporary blues-rock's most mighty young voices. Information:

Purchase 'Livin In a Bitch Of a World' here

Artist: Riddle & The Stars
Title: New Coastline (Riddle & The Stars)
You might like if you enjoy: The Fallen Stars, the Jayhawks, Dawes
Tell me more: An exceptional follow-up to their 2014 debut collaboration "This Is Happening," the new album from Riddle & The Stars titled New Coastline is truly a reason to celebrate the music-making union forged between Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle and Huntington Beach, California-based the Fallen Stars (husband-and-wife duo Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes). All three singers are featured via memorable performances, with their blended voices providing an additional winning element across the disc (particularly on the beautiful Americana nugget "When We Ride"). Riddle brings a distinctive singer-songwriter touch to the proceedings, notably on the reflective folk rocker "Running Back to You" and yearning "Tracks."  Bobbo Byrnes leads the collective through the rousing roots rocker "I May Never Know" and an affecting take on the John Prine gem "Mexican Home." Tracy Barnes sings the elegiac "Apples & Knives," and the authentic country-styled "Valentine's Day." Information: or

Artist: The Bo-Keys
Title: Heartaches by the Number (Electraphonic Recording/Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: St. Paul & the Broken Bones, James Hunter Six, Paul Rodgers' The Royal Sessions
Tell me more: The fusion of Memphis soul, classic country and R&B burns bright across the Bo-Keys' new album Heartaches by the Numbers (set for release on April 29). Singer Percy Wiggins and company never sound less than incredible on the 10-song set, which finds the ensemble mixing marvelous originals with heartfelt interpretations of material popularized by the likes of Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Swamp Dogg and Ray Price. Perhaps the most impressive showcase of the Bo-Keys' stunning hybrid is a version of Merle Haggard's emotive "The Longer You Wait," with the blend of country and soul offered up via an authentic and stirring performance of the tearjerker. Information:

Get 'Heartaches By The Number' here

Artists: B.B. King, Les Paul, Slash, Robby Krieger, Steve Lukather, more
Title: Turn It Up! (71st Street Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: B.B. King, Slash, Les Paul, Nancy Wilson, Paul Stanley, Kevin Bacon
Tell me more: For those who love to play electric guitar, or are fans of masters from a wide spectrum of styles (rock, blues, jazz), Turn It Up! is mandatory viewing. Featuring the far-flung likes of Slash (Guns N' Roses), Paul Stanley (KISS), Robby Krieger (The Doors) and Steve Lukather (Toto), as well as the late Les Paul and B.B. King, the film is unique in that it really focuses on the deep connection between guitars and the masters who play them. Hosted by actor-musician Kevin Bacon, the Robert Radler-directed film blends amazing photography, performance footage and compelling interviews to tackle the subject. In addition to the aforementioned guitar masters, Nancy Wilson (Heart), Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers), blues star Ana Popovic and Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) are among the other greats featured. Information:


Robert Kinsler

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