Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

italian-project-cover-artBoulder, Colorado is home to Lisa Bell, a singer-songwriter who picks up where other acts like Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, Alison Krauss and Norah Jones left off. Bell’s style seems to incorporate many different aspects from those musicians and combines them into one sound that continuously shifts the ground under the listener’s feet. The always changing feel of Lisa Bell’s music is contained within her new release entitled The Italian Project.

With the new album, Lisa Bell has incorporated a little technology to help bring her music to life. Writing with Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story, the tracks that make up the new album were created by the three writers using Skype.

Along with the main three artists of Lisa Bell, Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story that created the basis for each song, other musicians help bring the music on the CD to life. On the CD, Lisa Bell is joined by several talented and versatile musicians. Bassist Mario Pagliarulo, drummer Cesare Valbussa, keyboard player Marco Cremaschini and vocalist Christian Codenotti all helped Lisa Marie Simmons with her part of the album as she and the rest of the aforementioned musicians worked on the music in their country of Italy. These International musicians and others from right here in America helped to make The Italian Project the strong album that it is.

The new CD from Lisa Bell of The Italian Project begins with the song “Bring the Love”. “Bring the Love” is a Country-based song that will bring to mind the music of Faith Hill. The track has the same high energy feel to the music that many associate with Hill and her music.

The album continues with the next track of “Come My Way”. While “Bring the Love” has a Country flavor to the song, “Come My Way” has a different feel. The track features a pop sound that has a very commercial “crossover” feel to it. It also contains some powerful guitar playing that helps to add a lot of energy to the song.

With the next track, Lisa Bell sends the music in yet another direction. Part jazz, part R&B, “One Face, One Race” features a smooth jazz feel to the music and that helps to allow Bell’s voice to shine through. The jazzy quality to Bell’s voice on the track proves that she has a definite ability to transition from one musical style to another.

The Italian Project from Lisa Bell stays in a jazzy groove for the next track of “A Brighter Day”. The track takes the listener back in time as the song has a “timeless” sound that feels as fresh today as it would have back in the 1960’s during the days of the Rat Pack. Lisa Bell’s vocals on the track are clear and beautiful. The guitar solo from Bob Story on the track adds a lot of depth to the track and also adds to the jazzy feel of the track.

“Walk with Me” is a track that takes the music on The Italian Project from Lisa Bell in a folk direction. The acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass combine to help form the music of the track. The mandolin playing by Chris Malley and percussion from Chris Sheldon truly gives the song a style that make would any folk music fan happy.

The album once again goes in a very direction with the track “Love Hurts”. The blues-rock music of the track feels very familiar and would fit right in with music from 1980’s radio with the commercial feel of the song. “Love Hurts” is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Just as the listener finishes one of the hardest rockin’ songs on The Italian Project, Lisa Bell presents one of the most beautiful tracks on the release with the song “Quilt”. The folk-rock track brings to mind artists like John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot or even Peter, Paul and Mary. The simple subject of the quilt once again gives the music a timeless feel.

Lisa Bell brings a little Country music feel back to the album on the track “The Best of Me”. The track sounds like Bell combined the music from “Joy to the World” from Three Dog Night with some Country music flavor.

When listening to The Italian Project from Lisa Bell, the variety in the music for the 11 tracks that make up the release is the first thing you’ll notice. And with each track on the album, the talents of Lisa Bell, Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story become more and more evident. No matter what genre of music you like, you’ll find a lot to enjoy on the newest release from Boulder, Colorado’s Lisa Bell.

Click HERE for the video to the song “Walk With Me” from Lisa Bell.

MyloeMyloe is a four-piece rock band out of the city of Boston that is made up of Alan Hokom on guitar and vocals, Fred Mubang on guitar, Tom Shani on bass and Zach Mullings on drums. They incorporate many different styles of rock into their sound. Some of their sound comes from classic rock and some of it comes from more modern rock sounds. It is this combining of influences that helps to shape the band’s music. Recently, Myloe created an EP with the title of Empty out Your Mind that features the band’s unique combination of music.

The newly-expanded six-song EP Empty out Your Mind from Myloe begins with the title track. “Empty out Your Mind” is a track that features a jam band-like quality to it. The quick pace to the track gives it a lot of energy. The song’s lyrics feature a very upbeat quality to them as they tell you to let go of all negativity. The four members of the group work well together to create the song and each member takes a turn as lead on the track. The play between guitarists Mubang and Hokom gives the track a fun, loose feel to the music. And when bassist Shani takes a solo, it is just as strong as any guitar solo.

The song “Paradox” is one of the hardest rocking songs on the Empty out Your Mind EP from Myloe. The track begins with a very strong bass riff from Tom Shani. The riff leads into a song that features an alternative rock feel. The song’s lyrics are sung by vocalist Alan Hokom with such energy that you can feel the emotion in his delivery. The track really shows off the talent of the band as a whole and gives the listener perhaps the best song on the release.

With the next track of “In Your Eyes,” the band slows the pace down just a little while not losing any of the energy from the track of “Empty out Your Mind”. The track begins with a very strong guitar riff that is quickly joined by another guitar part to help create a song that has a very commercial feel to it. The track builds to the full band feel and proceeds to create a very commercial track. Like “Empty out Your Mind” before it, “In Your Eyes” contains lyrics that have to do with perception. However, in the case of “In Your Eyes,” the song takes the opposite approach to the lyrics as they describe a person who has a very pessimistic view of the world.

Myloe slows the pace down quite a bit with the track “Sidetracked”. While the rest of the release features a rock feel to the music, “Sidetracked” has a feel that is a lot closer to soul music. The combination of soul and rock on the track makes for a very interesting sound and really sets the song apart from the rest of the CD. The song also gives the band the chance to jam and show off their talents as individual musicians. The drum solo from Zach Mullings is rather impressive. The energy level comes back up just a bit with the song “Standstill City”. On this track, you get to experience some of the blending of styles that Myloe does in their songs. The rock and Latin influences on the track will instantly make the listener think they are listening to something from Santana. The jam band quality in the music feels like something from Santana’s musical history.

The Empty out Your Mind CD from Myloe comes to a close with the track “What is Paradise”. The final track of the EP is another track that has a jam band feel to it with some alternative rock influence mixed in. The song is a great way to bring the EP to an end.

To see the video to the song “Empty out Your Mind,” click HERE.

Bryan Kirschner is a singer-songwriter that creates music that incorporates several different elements to create his folk-rock music. When listening to the music of Kirschner, you can hear more than a few hints of people like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and other legends that have made a name for themselves. In fact, with his song “Okie Highway,” Kirschner creates a song that takes the listener back in time to days gone by. And since the lyrics of the song itself were based upon a picture of a family in the middle of trying to escape the drought that cost them their farm, the resulting music, subject and lyrical style in the track are very reminiscent of songs written by Woody Guthrie. For the music of the song, Bryan Kirschner allows the piano, guitar, bass and drum combine to create a track that sounds as much like a modern folk song as it sounds like something that would have been created back during the time of Woody Guthrie. The resulting song of “Okie Highway” brings back thoughts of the drought from 2012 that created the same sort of hardship on the people of the U.S. as they tried to survive the long ordeal. The song’s lyrics about the father trying to plead to the bank because of the lack of money due to the drought also bring the song’s subject matter back to the present-day. With this track, Bryan Kirschner proves himself to be just as talented a storyteller as he is a songwriter.

****(Out of Five)


Take one frontman who sings and plays keyboards and match him up with another musician who used to play jazz guitar, match them up with a drummer to add the backbone to the music and you have the core to the Portland-based band Ravishers. Frontman Dominic Castillo and guitarist Jonathan Barker are joined by drummer Nathan Szytel and several others to complete the music for the band.

Together, the resulting group known as Ravishers is a musical outfit that features a sound that alternates between guitar-driven and piano-driven. That guitar/piano mix from the band is found on their various releases. Having already put out one EP entitled Singles for Singles, the band has returned with a new self-titled release.

The self-titled release from Ravishers begins with the track “I’m Him”. The track begins with just a light piano and drums before the guitar joins in. The track finally builds to include the bass about a minute in and from then on, the band creates a pop-driven feel to the music that features both guitar and piano equally. The classic line-up of piano, guitar, bass and drums of the track gives the album a great rock feel.

While “I’m Him” has a pop-rock feel using the combination of piano, bass and drums, the band’s second track of “You Have It” has more of a sparse feel to the music as the same piano, bass and drums are used to create a much more simplistic feel to the music. In fact, at times, the music consists of only piano and drums. At other times, the entire combination of piano, bass and drums as well as guitar come together to create the music in the track. And even though Castillo, Barker and Szytel create a much looser feel to the music on this track there is definitely no energy loss to the rock music. In fact, “You Have It” seems to have a much more commercial feel to it than the previous track.

With the next track of “The Chase,” the band creates a song that features an alternating feel to the energy level of the music. At times, the song has a pop-like feel to the music while at other times; the band lets the music’s energy take control of the pace of the song. The resulting track allows the piano, guitar and bass shine as Castillo sings about enjoying the give and take of a relationship. With this song, you can almost imagine the song being released as a single to be played on your local Alternative Rock radio station.

Perhaps the most commercial track on the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Cruel Love”. The lyrics of the track seem to be perfect to follow the previous track of “The Chase”. With a musical combination that finds the piano, guitar, bass and drums of the band coming together in almost equal parts, “Cruel Love” features a much stronger rock feel to the music than the previous song while still having the same lyrical connection. “Cruel Love” is probably the first time on the album where you will find yourself singing along with the song.

Another track on the self-titled release from Ravishers that has a strong rock feel is the song “Underachievers”. This is a track that seems to have Castillo and Barker working together to create a song that doesn’t feature the piano or the guitar more than the other. The seemingly flawless blending of the two instruments helps to give the track a lot of depth. The track features one of the best lines in rock to come along in years: “It’s nowhere or bust.” That little hint of humor give the track even more character.

Probably the best-known track off of the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Keep You Around”. In fact, the song was actually created at the time that the band was known as Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants. “Keep You Around” has one of the best beats of any track off the release and could easily become a fan favorite. Although the rest of the album features the band sticking strictly to creating their songs using the members of the band, this track finds stepping outside of the usual quartet setting by bringing in an additional singer. It is Kelly Mesigat who lends her voice to the track as she and Dominic Castillo create a duet of sorts as the two sing of being lonely if they ever said goodbye to each other. Not really the most romantic of concepts, “Keep You Around” could be considered an Anti-love song.

The track “Nobody Falls in Love Anymore” is one track that really brings the piano to the forefront of the music. The piano-based song features a slightly different feeling than the rest of the tracks on the album as it features a horn section. The sad feeling of the music and lyrics also separate the track from the rest of the music on the album as the rest of the release is much more upbeat.

“Happening” brings the album to a close. The track is one song that really allows former jazz guitarist Jonathan Barker to show off his skills as a rock guitarist. The guitar from Barker makes the track feel like an all-out rock song….while the song still keeps enough pop feeling to it to not feel out of place with the rest of the release.

From the first track of the self-titled album from Ravishers, the listener gets to experience a band that has a lot of depth to their writing. Because of the piano/guitar base for the band’s sound, the album transitions nicely from one style of music to the next. And with the two different approaches to the band’s songwriting being blended into one album, Ravishers has a sound that many will find to be appealing.

Click HERE for the video to “Keep You Around”.

The previous review is for an album that came out in 2010. Another writer for The Rock and Roll Report, Katherine Miller-Rowan, had created an article for the band at the same time I was going to and I didn’t want to end up with another article on the website. However, I recently discovered the article by Katherine Miller-Rowan was actually an interview of the band and not a review of their album. This review is to make good on my promise to review the album.

As both Dominic Castillo and Jonathan Barker are professional musicians, they have other projects they are currently working on. Both Castillo and Barker have since moved on from Ravishers.

Click HERE for the band’s PR Firm, In Music We Trust PR.

Steph Barrak is a Boston-based singer-songwriter that takes folk, pop and other styles to create her guitar-based music that can be described as indie-pop. One of the most evident reasons for Barrak for being included in the category indie-pop is her lyrical phrasing. While most of the time she uses a normal style in her writing, sometimes Barrak’s lyrics take on a more free verse feel to them. The nearly free verse feel to the lyrics makes Steph Barrak a unique musician. The style of music created by Barrak would fit alongside artists such as Tori Amos and other artists that can be found in the soft rock/pop genre.
Steph Barrak’s new album Words to Break Your Heart begins with the song “Connecticut”. The first thing you notice when listening to the song is the unusual phrasing of the lyrics of the song for the first minute or so. That first minute of the song contains a folk-like approach to the song. The song then transitions to a folk-rock song and the lyrics take on a more standard feel as the song’s tempo quickens and gives the listener a song that would easily fit with either rock or folk playlists.
Words to Break Your Heart by Steph Barrak continues with the track “Painted Face”. While “Connecticut” has somewhat difficult lyrical phrasing, the song “Painted Face” takes on a much more commercial feel to the lyrics than that of the album’s first track. The song feels a lot more like an indie-pop track than a folk track. The music of the song is very catchy and could easily be the first single off the release.
The Words to Break Your Heart album finds Steph Barrak creating her music with mainly the guitar, bass and drums but with the song “Hardwired,” the song has a much more full-bodied feel as the previously mentioned instruments are joined by violin, trumpet, saxophone and Hammond organ. The additional instruments give the song a much soulful feeling. The track is one of the best songs on the album.
The pace and energy of the music on the album changes with the track “Fossil Tears”. While the track starts with a slightly low-key style, the pace quickens. The song alternates between low-key and a faster pace throughout the 5-minute track. There is a slight country flavor in both the music with the inclusion of the steel guitar and in Steph Barrak’s vocals on the track.
With a vocal and musical style that may remind you of someone like Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell, the song “Oh Lo Lo” is another track on the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak that has a light, easy rock feel that will have you thinking back to the sound of music from the sixties. The lyrics to the song are fun and may have you singing along with Barrak.
The pace of the album once again picks up with the song “Natural Progression”. Like much of the other artists in the folk genre, Steph Barrak explores the pattern of life on this track. The song’s lyrics have to do with what is happening with the weather on the planet. The track is probably the closest thing to straight-out rock music on Words to Break Your Heart.
Words to Break Your Heart comes to an end with the song “Watch for Me”. The track begins with just Barrak and her guitar and then, the song slowly builds to include another guitar and drums. The slightly stronger feeling that comes from the additional instruments really gives the track a folk-rock feel. The words to this track live up to the title of the album.
The Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak takes the listener on a musical trip that runs from folk music to Indie rock and back again. The eleven tracks that make up the 2013 release from Barrak help to give the listener a well-rounded glimpse into the talent of this singer-songwriter.

***** (Out of five)

Find the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak on her Bandcamp account.

Click HERE for the video to Steph Barrak’s song “Painted Face”.

rachelbrown6Cleveland’s own Rachel Brown is a musician that has performed with acts like Hillbilly Idol. It is with acts like that that Rachel has started to get some attention by the followers of the local music scene. And with her talents as a singer and as a piano player, Rachel has also proven herself to be a solid solo artist. In fact, her last performance at The Barking Spider Tavern in University Circle that happened in early February was well-attended as many people came out to see her perform.

With Rachel Brown’s abilities as a singer and piano player being what they are, it should come as no surprise that Brown is also a talented songwriter, as well. In fact, she has just completed a new debut album with several talented musicians from the Greater Cleveland area. These musicians help form Rachel Brown’s back-up band. Together, the group and Brown create the band Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys. It is this band that has just created the release called Just Look My Way.

This new album showcases Rachel Brown’s ability as a singer, musician and songwriter. In fact, of the thirteen original tracks that make up the new release by Brown, twelve of the songs were written by Brown. And while the album does include plenty of Country music as you would expect from someone who spends part of her time performing with a band like Hillbilly Idol, it also includes some Honky Tonk influence, some Jazz influence, even some songs that would fit into the “Easy Listening” category.

Rachel Brown’s new album begins with the only song on the release not written by Brown herself. “As We Speak” is a song written bass player (and Hillbilly Idol member) Bill Watson. “As We Speak” is a track that has more of a Western Swing feel to it than a Country one thanks, in part, to fiddle player Denny Jones. With Jones, the rest of the musicians include Bill Watson on bass, Dave Huddleston on electric guitar, Roy King on drums, with Brown on piano and vocals.

The track “Peace in the Valley” is the first instance where the listener gets to experience the writing style of Rachel Brown. As is evident with this track, Brown has been heavily influenced by the style of Country music that was being created before the Rock ‘n’ Roll style became such a big part of the music that is called Country music today. “Peace in the Valley” is a track that sounds like it would have been recorded many years ago by someone like Dolly Parton. The playing style of Rachel Brown on the piano, matched with steel guitar from Al Moss, gives the track its “old-fashioned” feeling. This track is a welcomed reminder of what the music sounded like years ago and would make any fan of the Country stars of yesterday happy.

Many of today’s musical acts enjoy larger success by releasing songs with “cross-over” potential. If any song on Just Look My Way from Rachel Brown could be considered a “cross-over” potential, it would be the song “Another Lifetime Ago”. The simple ballad featuring piano, bass and drums would easily fit on any “Easy Listening” format, while having just enough fiddle from Denny Jones to still be considered “Country”. But it’s Brown’s beautiful vocals on the track that truly makes the song feel “timeless,” as her delivery on this track is reminiscent of Country singers like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Along with Brown’s emotional lyrics of days gone by, the thing that makes “Another Lifetime Ago” so strong is the piano. There seems to be as much emotion in the notes played by Brown as there is in the words she sings. And with the subtle addition of Denny Jones’ fiddle to the track, all of the musical elements come together to create perhaps the strongest track on the album.

While “Another Lifetime Ago” is probably the strongest standout track on the album, another song that could easily get played on several radio formats is the track “What If”. Another track with a strong and beautiful piano part, “What If” seems to pick up where “Another Lifetime Ago” left off. As “Another Lifetime Ago” deals with looking back, “What If” finds the singer pondering certain paths that may have made the situation better.

Much of Just Look My Way stays in a Country vein, but some tracks find Rachel Brown making other styles of music. The track “Enjoy the Dance” blends pop music with a touch of jazz to create a song that is beautiful and energetic at the same time. The feeling of the song seems to invite the listener to do just as the title of song says and “Enjoy the Dance”. Plus, the saxophone from Jeff Rice helps give the track its jazzy feel.

As a debut release, Just Look My Way by Rachel Brown is as strong as anything from artists with catalogs of releases to listen to. And with the different styles of music created by Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys, the album is nicely varied and helps to show off the talents of all involved ………especially Rachel Brown.  

The rock band The Blacklights creates rock music that is cool and just plain fun. The band has just released the song “Cowboy Weekend”. While the song title suggests a country flavor, the music from The Blacklights lies somewhere between garage rock, psychedelic rock and alternative rock. A very simple bass and drum part from bassist/keyboardist Oscar Ordiano and drummer Bryan Mudrick creates the bottom of the song to make a bed for guitarists Anthony Mudrick and Thomas Mudrick to play on top of. Singer/guitarist Anthony Mudrick sings about needing a break from the norm and talks about taking a “Cowboy Holiday”. The resulting track contains not only the band’s rock music but also some unusual elements such as Theremin and electronic noise. The most unusual part of the song is the last minute or so when the band slows the pace way down. The slow pace of the song suggests the band is running out of steam, which goes well with the lyrics of “One Summer Night, I died for real”. Altogether, the various elements of “Cowboy Weekend” by The Blacklights come together to help the band create a sound that definitely sets them apart from most of the bands out there. Having heard this song from The Blacklights, I am very interested to hear what else the band has in store. Until the band releases a new album, you can find some of the band’s previously-released music on the website for their record label Ten Dollar Recording Co. “Cowboy Weekend” will be released around Halloween of 2012. Something to look forward to.

Reviewed by Matheson Kamin

*****(Out of Five)

Discovering Gravity - EP by Steve D. WilsonDallas, Texas-based Steve D. Wilson made a name for himself with the band The Black Doves. With the band, Wilson created a style that alternated between Alternative Rock and ballads.
But with time, everything changes. And the same thing can be said for Wilson, as the singer-songwriter finds himself creating another release.
This time, however, Wilson is on his own as the band has gone its separate ways….at least, for now. So to fill in the sound of his music, Wilson has called on several people to create the sound and feel of a band. Together with Wilson, the rest of the musicians include: bassist Sam Hudson, guitarist Dan Conrad, keyboard player Theodore Allison, drummer Joe Varela, Keith Brown on strings and Becky Newman adding harmony vocals to the songs. These musicians have helped Steve Wilson create a new release called Discovering Gravity.
The new release from Steve D. Wilson begins with the song “Perfect”. The song contains Wilson’s signature acoustic/electric rock that was so much a part of the Moments of Clarity release from The Black Doves. The resulting song creates a bridge that seems to take the listener from the 2008 release from that band and brings them over to today without losing much of what fans of that band liked about their music. “Perfect” still contains the vocals from Wilson that feel so effortless and emotional.
It is on the song “Mess of Me” that the landscape seems to change. While there is still a little bit of The Black Doves in the music of the song that might simply be because of Steve D. Wilson’s vocals. The song contains a rock ballad approach to the music, and with the addition of Becky Newman on harmony vocals, the song ends up being one of the most commercial and radio-friendly tracks of the five songs on the release.
Listeners to Top 40 radio back in the early 80s will no doubt recognize the song “Bringing on the Heartbreak” that was originally done by the British band Def Leppard. For this version, it is Theodore Allison’s keyboards that help create the majority of the music for the song. The updated version of the song from Steve D. Wilson still contains much of the magic that came from the original single, while still containing some of the sound Black Doves fans are familiar with. The combination of the two styles on the new track shows what can happen when someone decides to do a cover of a single… their own style.
“Superstar” is another song on the new release Discovering Gravity from Steve D. Wilson that has a very commercial feel to it. With the addition of some electronic elements in the music, the song also has a slight feel that makes it seem like something from the 90s. While there is a slight “retro” feel to this track, it also feels fresh and would still fit right in with today’s radio formats.
Discovering Gravity from Steve D. Wilson comes to a close with “Cold Steel Rain”. “Cold Steel Rain” is yet another song that tugs at the heartstrings. The keyboard from Theodore Allison is the main part of the music of the track, creating the perfect background for the vocals from Wilson.
While it’s sort of sad another album from The Black Doves was never released, this new EP of Discovering Gravity from singer/songwriter Steve D. Wilson from that band makes up for that. And with each song being composed by Wilson with the help of guitarist Dan Conrad and keyboard player Theodore Allison, the five songs contained within the CD have enough familiarity to them while taking the music in a different that fans of Wilson’s music, new or old, will enjoy the new CD.

Click HERE for a review of Moments of Clarity for Wilson’s band The Black Doves.

Very few times will you ever find a band that lasts very long; but Jackopierce is one of the bands that are made up of musicians who just won’t give up. The musicians Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce have taken their music in several directions over the years. With their new album of Everywhere All the Time, Pierce and O’Neill have created songs that have a very commercial sound to them. With that style, they are sure to make new fans to add to the huge list of fans they already have.

With the newest album of music from this musical group, the duo of Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce seem to take many different approaches to the music on the album. From straight-out acoustic rock to songs with folk influence, the feeling on the Everywhere All the Time album changes from song to song, creating a release that promises something for everyone.

Everywhere All the Time starts off with the song “Into Me”. Taking some influence from Jason Mraz and some more of today’s pop/rock artists and bands, the rock song has a sound that has a good groove and will get people moving.

After one song with a good groove, Jackopierce creates yet another track with a groove. This time, the song “Finally Free” ends up feeling like the first single of the album. The light feeling of the acoustic and electric guitars combine together with a drumbeat that grabs your attention and won’t let go. The song brings to mind the sound of bands like Vertical Horizon and other pop/rock bands that would fit in on today’s Top 40 radio stations.

Taking a chance to create a sound all their own, the song “Around Me Now” by Jackopierce has a stronger rock feel than the previous tracks on the release. While it still has a pop feel that may remind some of songs by Sugar Ray, there’s enough originality in this track to give people something new to listen to.

Jackopierce takes a different approach with the song “Listen to Me”. The duo of Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce create the song with an acoustic feel. The acoustic guitars and keyboards in the background take the listener into a folk state of mind. The song has a very catchy sound that may have you thinking of pop/rock from artists from the seventies. The folk feeling that blends with the acoustic rock on the song helps create a mellow feeling while keeping the catchy melody of the song strong.

Sometimes O’Neill and Pierce wear their influences too much on their sleeves; this is definitely the case with the song “Alright By Me”. It is on this very catchy song that the duo brings forward some influence from Blessid Union of Souls into their musical mix. The song about a girl who falls in love with the narrator of the song comes a bit too close to Blessid Union’s best known track “Hey Leonardo“. Though “Alright By Me” could stand on its own if you knew nothing of Blessid Union, for those who do know the band, the connection between the two bands on this song is too obvious; whether O’Neill and Pierce were aware of that connection or not.

Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce let the lyrics of “Let Go of Me” come to forefront of the song. The ability to take a soft rock song and let the lyrics take control is a sign of good songwriting. “Let Go of Me” is one of the best songs as far as the lyrics are concerned. The play between the two vocalists during the chorus of the song creates one of the best choruses on the whole release. And with the accordion in the background, “Let Go of Me” is one of the best tracks on the newest release from Jackopierce.

The album stays with a soft rock feel with the next song of “Lonely”. Like the song “Let Go of Me” before, “Lonely” plays with your heart as you listen to the emotional lyrics of the song. Like other moments on the album, “Lonely” feels like it comes from a different era of rock. The beauty in the song brings to mind some of the artists in the 70s. In fact, you might find a little bit of The Eagles in the music to the song.

From the pop/rock of “Into Me,” the groove found on “Finally Free,” and the soft rock on songs like “Let Go of Me” and “Lonely,” Jackopierce has created a new release that gives the listener many different styles of rock music on the album. For longtime fans of the band, this is a solid release that should make you happy. For those about to discover the music of the band, Everywhere All the Time’s ever-changing musical style will give you many songs that will fit into your music library. There’s a lot of good music on this release no matter where you fall.

To discover the music of Jackopierce, here is the video to the band’s songAround Me Now“.

ImageThe Midtown Men is a band that used to be the ensemble featured in the Broadway Smash The Jersey Boys. The band consists of Tony-Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony-Award nominee J. Robert Spencer. Having made a large impression during their time on stage in The Jersey Boys, the four performers decided to reunite and keep the magic going. As a result, The Midtown Men have created an album of cover songs that came from the same era as the Four Seasons. The newly released album by The Midtown Men is entitled Sixties Hits.

The album begins with a track featuring two of the biggest and most associated songs of The Four Seasons, “Let’s Hang On/Working My Way”. Known for his role as Frankie Valli in The Jersey Boys, Michael Longoria does a wonderful job capturing Valli’s voice, and this track really makes that point. As they are cover versions of these hit singles, “Let’s Hang On” and “Working My Way Back to You” had to feel just as authentic as the originals and the vocals of Longoria have you imagining the original songs right from the beginning of the tracks.

Since this is an album of covers from more than just The Four Seasons, the quartet of Longoria, Hoff, Reichard, and Spencer prove that they tried to stay loyal to the original songs while adding their own spin to them. A perfect example of that idea appears on the song “Can’t Buy Me Love”. Although staying pretty close to The Beatles’ arrangement of that band’s song, the version by The Midtown Men comes with a little surprise as a horn section appears to give the song added depth. While major fans of The Fabulous Four may resent the band’s songs being messed with, the arrangement of this song should actually have Beatles fans applauding the new version.

Along with the horn addition, the song “Happy Together” from The Turtles finds The Midtown Men giving the song a slightly different treatment than the original version: While the music itself stays close to what was originally written, it is the vocals that have changed slightly. The new vocal arrangement to the song breathes new life into the song without going overboard.

The Midtown Men return to their “roots” once more as they perform The Four Seasons’ hit “Dawn”.  Like the earlier Four Seasons songs “Let’s Hang On” and “Working My Way Back to You,” the group stays as close to the original as possible. It is this authentic feel to the songs the band is covering that made The Jersey Boys such a smash hit when it was on Broadway.

Falling into line with a long list of artists that have created a cover of the song “California Dreamin’” from The Mamas and The Papas, The Midtown Men took a slightly different take on the song. While they didn’t change the arrangement of the original version of the tune written by John Phillips and Michele Gilliam, the performance by the band has a slightly more folk-like sound than the original. And since there are many others who came before to create different arrangements to the song, this new version fits right in.

The Midtown Men’s album Sixties Hits finishes with two more songs from The Four Seasons: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Bye Bye Baby”.

If there was one song on this release that wasn’t really true to the original single, it would have to be “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. The arrangement of the song strays just a little too far from the version by The Four Seasons. Anyone familiar with the original tune may find themselves preferring the original and simply skipping over this track.

For the song “Bye Bye Baby,’ The Midtown Men return to a sound that is closer to their predecessors: With an arrangement and sound that will surely make fans of The Four Seasons happy, “Bye Bye Baby” brings this new release of covers from The Four Seasons and several others to a perfect close.

While starting out simply as a group of actors playing famous musicians on stage, The Midtown Men definitely prove they deserved all of the accolades they received while on Broadway as that group. This album of “Oldies” from this talented quartet will give the older music fans something to enjoy, and the younger crowd will find this album the perfect introduction to the older music.