Album Reviews

Walter Trout - ALive In Amsterdam

Alive In Amsterdam

It gets always very difficult to review a live album, doesn't matter who the artist in question or the band may be. The reason is because, often, such type of releases are targeted to boost the revenue of artists and record labels, without having those elements that a live recording should have, like energy, passion and commitment to music.

Luckily, there are artists like Walter Trout that distance themselves from this kind of concept because they truly believe in the message of music and what music gives to them and to the fans.

ALive In Amsterdam is not just the celebration of a Tour that for Trout meant the return to make and play music but also his return to form. The health issues that troubled the American guitarist for quite some time have long gone and this live album proves indeed that Trout is, again, on full force.

There were no better places for Walter Trout and his band than Amsterdam in Netherland and the Le Carre' Theatre to record this live album, due to the long-lasting love relationship that the Dutch fans have with Trout and his music.

The two-hours plus new live recording from Walter Trout is like a family album, where one can see how people's lives move on and develop through music. Age has never been an issue neither for the American guitarist and singer/songwriter nor for his band, because they sound as strong as ever. Sammy Avila on keys, Michael Leasure on drums and Johnny Griparic on bass, added to Trout's incredible talent, constitute one of the most solid music machines worldwide. In addition, the Evergreen Maverick from Huntingdon Beach can even afford to have two highly skilled extra guitarists on this Tour, such as his oldest son Jon and the Dutch singer and guitarist Andrew Elt, to make this live show sound even more powerful.

There is obviously a lot of material coming from Trout's most recent album, Battle Scars, included in ALive In Amsterdam. Among those tracks, two in particular, which come half a way of the show, Haunted By The Night and Fly Away, are real killers. Trout and his boys have never sounded better than this before on stage. The sound is explosive, at times pleasantly erratic, thanks to the sonic dissonance coming from that master of keyboards that is Sammy Avila. The Rhythm Section of Griparic and Leasure is as strong and pulsating as it can possibly be.

Walter Trout's enormous talent on guitar has always been undisputed but his voice is reaching now new highs too. It's deep, almost raucous and booming at times and gentle and emotional  other times. Like in the crowd-pleasers Marie's Mood and the closing The Love That We Once Knew, where Trout shows his gentle side, when it comes to love for his wife Marie and for life in general.

ALive In Amsterdam is not just a record for fans of Trout's music. It's a musical tale of a man and an artist that has been given a second chance in life and doesn't want to miss a moment to create and play music for himself and for people. The very same people that helped him and stood by his side when it mattered and showed their love and affection in many ways.  ALive In Amsterdam is the best payback in music that Trout could possibly give to those fans and friends. Welcome back, Walter Trout, mission accomplished. Once again.  

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato 

ALive In Amsterdam is out now and is available via Mascot Label Group

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Dave Hanson - Almost Horizontal

Dave Hanson

When Bluebird Reviews heard for the first time Blind Faith, the EP released by the British singer/songwriter Dave Hanson later last year, we had the clear feeling that the forthcoming full-length debut album of Hanson might have been an extraordinary one.

Almost Horizontal is an album that tells a lot about the talent and the potential of the young and talented artist from Leeds. It's a record that allows Hanson to explore music genres very close to the heart of the English artist but executed in a way that makes Hanson's sound to be always distinctly recognisable.

Joanna, the album's opener, it's a clearly winning track. Catchy and upbeat, Joanna is a flawless tune, with excellently balanced bridges and choruses throughout a song that deserves to be blasted on any radios worldwide.

There are some true moments of brilliancy in Almost Horizontal. Hanson showcases not just his great ability as a guitarist but also a very inspired songwriting style, with lyrics that may carry, at times, profound thoughts as in songs like Devil or elements of humour, as in the funny Por Favor Senor.

Musically, the album is truly impeccable. Dave Hanson, through the support also of a large group of highly skilled studio musicians, balances cleverly through the whole record rootsy atmospheres with touches here and there of reggae, glam, rumba, R&B and 90's British rock, making Almost Horizontal feeling like a relaxing walk in a park on a sunny day.

The closing track, Make Hay, is a delicate, acoustic tune, in which the slide guitar of Martin Harley, one of the many excellent musicians present on this record, fly in the air as light as a feather.

The artistic promises arising from Hanson's EP Blind Faith have been fully accomplished in Almost Horizontal. A splendid debut album by one of the most clever and talented contemporary Troubadour with a brilliant future ahead of him.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Almost Horizontal is out now and available via Six String Social Records

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock - On A Mission, Live In Madrid

Michael Schenker Temple Of Rock

A live concert constitutes always a special celebration not just for music fans but also for the artists themselves. To celebrate a career span of 40-plus years of rock and roll, Madrid in Spain was an obvious choice for Guitar Hero Michael Schenker and his latest project Temple Of Rock. On A Mission, Live In Madrid is a perfect sonic photograph of all the musical places where Schenker has been and where he is right now.

Recorded and filmed in November 2015 in 4K HD technology, this live CD and DVD contains more than two hours of music and footage and expresses the sound of a band in full force. A band that pounds energy, entertainment and magistral artistry from beginning to end.

To call Temple Of Rock simply a band is not enough. When you have a Scorpion's rhytm section made by Herman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, an ex-Rainbow singer like Doogie White and a very talented musician like Wayne Findlay on guitar and keyboards, who has worked with Schenker for many years, anybody would be in the right to call Temple Of Rock an All-Star Band.

The show in its entirety is very accurately calibrated. Schenker, through the magic of his guitar, travels through his whole music career by playing classics of the period in which he was with the UFO, like Lights Out and Rock Bottom or when he was touring the world with the project Michael Schenker Group, by performing some of the most inspired songs of that era, like Victim Of Illusion or the wonderful Rock My Nights Away, amongst others.

Having two ex-Scorpions member within the band is not just an incredible luxury for Schenker & Co. but also give them the right excuse (not that Schenker needs any, anyway) to perform some of the Scorpions most recognisable classics such as Lovedrive, Coast To Coast, Blackout or the thunderous Rock You Like A Hurricane.

Schenker's guitar sound is pitch perfect throughout the whole concert and not even once, the German guitarist shows any signs of slowing down in energy and timing.

The show is a time capsule of Schenker's career but surprisingly, the true highlights of the concert come from material belonging to the Temple Of Rock albums. Vigilante Man, Saviour Machine and Communion are powerful, highly energetic and perfectly executed by the whole band. Doogie White on vocals is impeccable, especially on Vigilante Man.

On A Mission, Live In Madrid is not just the ultimate musical statement for the Mad Axeman Michael Schenker. It's the biggest, most loud and joyous rock party in town. A rock party that Schenker and Temple Of Rock will keep on playing still for many years to come.

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato 

 

 

On A Mission - Live In Madrid is available as a DVD or as a 2-CD via Amazon

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

The Hitman Blues Band - The World Moves On

The Hitman Blues Band

The music business is, sometimes, a funny old game. There are artists or bands that, as the years go by, tend to slow down and gradually lose their spark, settling down with their music format and becoming increasingly monotone and repetitive.

This concept certainly does not apply to artists such as Russell "Hitman" Alexander and The Hitman Blues Band. Their new album, The World Moves On, is a celebration of the traditions of the Delta Blues mixed with the glorious groove of the Memphis and Chicago blues.

The album is a true mirror of what this band is all about; respect for the history of a great music genre and a capacity to infuse, at the same time, their personal artistic touch as a collective. The whole album is not just excellently played by this group of highly skilled musicians but also contains here and there some humour and little cheekyness in the songwriting.

The re-work of a couple of the band's classic, Hammer Down and Two Trains Running, is a classic example of what The Hitman Blues Band does best. Fast foot-stomping blues, showcasing in particular the unique singing style of Russell Alexander and his flamboyant guitar style, together with the powerful sound of a very solid band. On these two tracks in particular, the work of Mikey Vitale and Nick Clifford on horns and Kevin Bents on keyboards reach some incredible peaks of ability. In addition, throughout the whole of the record, Mike Porter on bass and Guy La Fontaine work in perfect synchronycity and they constitute the ideal rhytm section for any blues musicians, thanks to their almost metronomic precision.

The World Moves On is not only, though, the sound of a fast-paced blues collective because when The Hitman Blues Band slows down the tempo, the results are equally astonishing. I'm All About You is one of those soul ballads that get stuck into your head, once you have listened to it. The song unfolds an almost Motown-esque side to their music formula and once again, Alexander's voice is as light as a feather while Mikey Vitale solo on sax tenor offers one of the most beautiful solos on the album. The closing Willie Dixon's cover Hoochie Coochie Man is fast, furious and showcases each and everyone's craftmanship and there would be no better ways to sign off a wonderful record like this.

The new album from The Hitman Blues Band is not just an ode to the blues genre but expresses as well true passion for music, joy to play and phenomenal skills from all the elements of the band. The Hitman Blues Band reach a new high in their career through The World Moves On. Their sound is robust, intense and carries an incredible amount of fun and happiness. Which is excatly what playing music should be all about.

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

The World Moves On is out now and available via the band's Website

 

The Hitman Blues Band will start their European Tour on 10/06/2016, the full program is listed here below:

The Hitman Blues Band Tour 2016

 

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

 

 

Malaya Blue - Heartsick

Malaya Blue

The second album is something that many artists notoriously fear. Malaya Blue from Norwich, United Kingdom must have been feeling in the same way, after the English music press praised her debut album Bourbon Street.

Instead, Malaya Blue followed her own instinct and wrote an album very personal, without falling into the temptation of going for big pomps and circumstances,lyrically and musically but rather doing what the English artist does best, writing and singing from the heart.

Heartsick, Malaya Blue's new album is a record inspired, as the title may suggest, by the many matters of the heart. The record is a delicate blend of soul and jazz and offers many inspired moments, not just through the beautiful and intense voice of the English singer/songwriter but also from the great skills of all the studio musicians playing in the album.

From a songwriting aspect, Heartsick is a definite step forward for Malaya Blue, either when the artist sings about the bitter feelings coming from the end of a relationship, like in the song Acceptance or when singing about how hard work in life always pays off, in that splendid,  soulful track that it is I Have Arrived.

When Heartsick turns to a more jazzy sound, those are the musical territories on the album where Malaya Blue's voice extrapolates all its brilliancy. Hunny Little Dream, Color Blind and Share The Love showcase the best vocal parts of the album, where Blue's voice really goes up a notch in terms of quality and power of her delivery.

Perhaps, the only minute little floor in Heartsick is the lack of more uptempo tunes throughout the album, which is a pity, given how wonderful and eclectic Malaya Blue's voice is.

Still, Malaya Blue's new album is excellently written, produced and played. Heartsick showcases not just a classy album but also an artist in constant evolution, both as a singer and songwriter. As the Norwich-based artist sings in one of her songs: "I have arrived, I might be late, but I'm through that gate". If Blue was referring to the gate to global music stardom, through this new album, she has certainly got all the rights in the world to get through it.  

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Heartsick is out now and can be purchased at Malaya Blue's Official Website

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Harper And Midwest Kind - Show Your Love

Show Your Love

 

Music is one of the very few art forms able to express not just sounds and rhytms but also the traditions and history of countries worldwide, a bit like a paint would do. If Peter D. Harper was a painter, he would have been certainly an expressionist.

Nobody better than this versatile and extraordinarily talented artist from sunny Australia is able to enfuse his songs with Aboriginal sounds mixed with the blues of the 50's and 60's with touches of roots and R&B. An original formula that the Artist Himself likes to call World Blues.

Accompained by the Detroit-based band Midwest Kind, Harper's new album Show Your Love is a breathtaking sonic kaleidoscope, a journey divided in 11 tracks that fully catapults the listener in Harper's personal take on blues and rock. Frankly, not many artists have been able to deconstruct and reassemble those two genres in the last 25 years in such a clever way as Harper has done, especially on this album. Through his incredible talent as a multi-instrumentalist, the English-born artist has been able to apply new layers and shapes to his personal vision of rock and blues, combining to those qualities an excellent and versatile singing style, depending on the genre played on each track.

Show Your Love also epitomizes, more than any of his previous albums, Harper's excellence in playing harmonica, didgeridoo and djembe.

There are many moments of true brilliancy, on this record. The rootsy It's All In The Game starts with a droning didgeridoos that gradually unveils an irresistible foot-stomping tempo.

Drive Brother Drive is a magnificent stripped down acoustic track, where Harper showcases his many talents once again on harmonica and djembe.

His vocals on the whole album are as clean and perfect as they can possibly be, demonstrating furthermore the great skills of such a polyhedric artist as Harper is. The Midwest Kind provide a solid support to Peter Harper's music throughout the whole record and it's almost impossible to find sonic smudges on this immaculately recorded album. 

Show Your Love is where music pays gratitude to the past by incorporating the present and building ground for the future. Harper's new album is, undoubtedly, the pinnacle of his career so far.

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

 

Show Your Love is out now and is available to be purchased at Harper's Website

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

A Thesis On The Ballad (EP) - Jack Hues And The Quartet

CD Artwork

When poetry and music work side by side, the results cannot be less than spectacular. On their new EP called A Thesis On The Ballad, the Canterbury-based avant-garde band Jack Hues And The Quartet delivers musically, works of the poet Kelvin Corcoran in 6 astonishing mesmerising tracks.

The EP, is Volume 3 of an intended record trilogy written with a selected group of poets. This is the first one, whilst the other two parts will be released, according to the band's website, later this year.

A Thesis On the Ballad is a set of poems written by Kelvin Corcoran, from which Jack Hues took inspiration and created the six tracks on the album. He wrote the music to Corcoran's lyrics in 2 hours in just one day. The record is a journey of love, sadness, hope and mysticism in which Hues and The Quartet, with their artistry, create wonderful harmonies suspended in time and space, making the album become an ageless masterpiece.

Every song on the album lives a life of its own and travels in different territories. From the opener Barbara Allen, sweet and ethereal, with Liran Donin on double bass and Sam Bailey on piano creating the best possible musical carpet to Hues' soulful vocals, to the catchy An Expanse Of Water, perhaps the most up-tempo track of the album.

One of the greatest strengths of this project is in the excellent skills of each individual musician, able to showcase their craftmanship on each tune, adding elements of great finesse on an already exquisite record.

Even when Jack Hues and The Quartet march into haunting musical territories, such as in the instrumental The Truth, one can still perceive the nature of the band's project, to be able to create atmospheres and unique sensation through the power of the music.

A Thesis On The Ballad is a record to cherish, because it combines two of the finest arts in the world. Full credit to Jack Hues And The Quartet for believing in their music vision and in one of the finest projects of 2016 so far.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

A Thesis On The Ballad is out now and available in CD, vinyl and download via Bandcamp and download only on Amazon

"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Dan Patlansky - Introvertigo

Dan Patlansky

 

It must have been not easy for Dan Patlansky to deal with pressure and expectations for his next record, after all the praises that the South African artist received back in 2014 by the music press and fans worldwide for his album Dear Silence Thieves.

Despite all this, Patlansky delivers instead one of his most interesting, intense and compelling records to date with Introvertigo, a collection of brand new songs showcasing a well-crafted blend of rock, funk and blues that will grab the listeners' attention by the neck straight from Track 1.

The South African guitarist and singer/songwriter shows his big respect for many artists on his new record, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Rage Against The Machine almost in an effortless kind of way, flying with his guitar through different decades of music thanks to his enormous talent. Tracks like Run, which Patlansky performed several times prior to the record release whilst touring with Joe Satriani, the closing Queen Puree and Sonnova Faith are a true homage to the 90's rock era and they are wild, thunderous and played with incredible ability and swagger by Patlansky and his band.

Theo Crous is, once again on Introvertigo, in the driving seat not just as a producer but also as a musician and provide an excellent support to Patlansky's wall of sound on tracks like the slow number that it's Loosen Up The Grip. Together with Crous, it is also important to cite the merits and great work made by Patlanski's musicians on the album. Clint Falconer on bass guitar and Andy Maritz on drums are as eclectic and polyvalent as humanly possible, no matters what genre's played and constitute the ideal backbone to any musicians on the planet.

Dan Patlansky's work on Introvertigo, both as a guitarist and as a songwriter, reaches new highs on this album. The level of his artistry as a guitarist goes up a couple of notches, even more than on the universally acclaimed Dear Silence Thieves. The clever combo of acoustic and electric guitar on Heartbeat is phenomenal, the bluesy Poor Old John and that beautiful slow number that is Still Wanna Be Your Man contain some of the best guitar riffs Patlansky has ever done in his career.

From a songwriting point of view, Introvertigo has got several gems too but the shiniest one of such gems is certainly the song Western Decay. The tune is about the loss of overall values in the present society and one can almost read between the lines of Patlansky's personal feelings not just as a human being, but also as a father, worried for his children about the future of this crazy, modern world.

Introvertigo is a great step ahead for Dan Patlanski's career and showcases not just his great talent but also an artistic maturity on many levels. This record is the musical consecration of a hard working artist that, like the finest bottle of wine, gets better and better with each passing year.

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Introvertigo is out now and can be purchased on Amazon

 

 

 

"Buy a CD, protect the future of music"

Broken Witt Rebels - Georgia Pine EP

Broken Witt Rebels

After having been called, deservedly, one of the best new live act in Britain in 2015, Broken Witt Rebels returns with an EP which is an absolute joy to listen to from start to end.

Georgia Pine contains 5 tracks fuelled not just with the power and energy that come with young age but also with the real desire of showing how much these quartet from Birmingham, UK understand about blues, rock, roots and americana.

It is rather difficult to pick a song in particular as the real highlight of the mini-album because all of them showcase a different and fascinating aspect of Broken Witt Rebels' vast musical background.

The opener Low, chosen as the first single of the EP, it's the band's firm declaration of intents of love for blues-rock, with big guitar riffs and catchy choruses. One of those tunes destined to be a live favourite for the band's fans.

Broken Witt Rebels create a solid wall of sound throughout the whole EP but it is Danny Core's voice, the lead singer and guitarist of the band, that ties all together on Georgia Pine. Core's vocals are so incredibly powerful,intense and able to adapt to any genres, from the beautiful, rootsy Suzie to the almost soul-esque Georgia Pine.

One of the real strengths of the record is the presence of great songwriting, in an album never overplayed or too self-indulgent. The lyrics present excellent structures, without using stereotypes too often abused by artists of any music genres or artistic structure. Broken Witt Rebels, instead, always sound genuine and honest in their first musical offer.

Getaway Man starts as a slow ballad, then it grows in an irresistible crescendo, with James Dudley on drums commanding the tempo with incredible presence and charisma.

Guns defines completely the sound of a band that knows and appreciate a lot music in its globality. The tune has got that infectious rock tempo that would push any true rocker to stand up and jump to the rhythm of a truly wonderful tune, worthy closer of a maybe short but fabulous musical rollercoaster.

"Born and raised where guns are made....", sings Danny Core in the closing track of the album. Judging by the quality of Georgia Pine, there is no doubt at all that Broken Witt Rebels will be among the finest rock and roll guns of the music industry in the years to come.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Georgia Pine is out now and can be ordered on the Band's Website

Banshee - Say My Name EP

banshees

It's a new beginning for the Scottish electro alt-rock band Banshee. Previously known as Life On Standby, the UK quartet has decided to start a new chapter of their music career, although remaining loyal to their trademark sound.

Say My Name, their debut EP under the new artistic identity, is a little dynamite box of energetic rock tempo. The record carries sonic influences echoing the likes of bands such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Biffy Clyro and translated through the powerful voice of Erin Donnachie and the incessive drumming of Gianluca Demelas.

The secret of their winning formula is not, though, just the talent of Donnachie and Demelas. The band's unique sonic recipe spices up cleverly their detonating sonic attack by adding an excellent work throughout the EP by Gavin Williams on keys and Liam Walker on bass, especially on tracks like Eagles and the closing Landing Strip.

The 5-tracks Say My Name is a refreshing work of a band that has been working very hard on finding their own music formula and succeeding, overall. Banshee's offering on this EP balances well the aggressiveness that comes from a genre like rock, combining to it a good dose of melody, enough to guarantee surely, to the Scottish quartet, plenty of airplay on radios or any kind of media.

If Say My Name is the appetiser, music fans will be impatient to taste the next musical main course to come in the future.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Say My Name is out now via Banshee's Big Cartel

 

Janiva Magness - Love Wins Again

Janiva Magness

 

Every album, for an artist, represents a new chapter in their sonic book about their life stories. In Janiva Magness's case, the new album Love Wins Again portrays a really special moment, dense of positivity and love for life in the new chapter of this very talented singer and songwriter's career.

This is, without a doubt, one of the happiest times for Janiva Magness, judging by what she mentions on the sleeve notes of the record too. On her twelwth release, the American Artist offers a splendid blend of soul and roots with tints of Americana here and there, all carried through with her incredibly powerful voice.

The opener Love Wins Again tells a lot about Magness's good feeling. The song is very catchy, one that can surely be radio friendly enough, due to the perfect combo of Magness's voice and the tune's upbeat tempo.

Janiva Magness's range of styles is pretty unique too. She moves so graciously from soulful tunes like Long As I Can See The Light or When You Hold Me to the splendid, bluesy Moth To A Flame with such simplicity, something that comes from true talent.

Your House Is Burnin' deserves a special mention on Love Wins Again. This is the track in which the American Artist put the Soul Sister mantel on, due to a magnificent combination of different elements of R&B, blues and soul and her voice, which reaches some incredible highs. She truly becomes, on this tune, a female version of the late great James Brown in every sense of the word.

The new album reaches another great, although this time more personal, peak on that very delicate, intimate song which is Just Another Lesson. Magness explores, lyrically, relationships between couples with great honesty and her voice draws beautifully the different emotions carried by the imaginary couple in question, during the track.

Love Wins Again is a genuine album, there is absolutely no doubts on that. Although it may be not Magness's Magnum Opus, this record is a great return to form and contains some really great songs. Moreover, it shows an artist in splendid shape, vocally and lyrically. It's easy to say that, on Magness's new record, it is not just the love that wins again but also the talent of one of the finest singers and performers worldwide.

 

 

Giovanni "Gio" Pilato

Love Wins Again is out now and available on Amazon

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  • Vinyl Spin

    New and classic vinyl reviews, including Record Store Day releases.

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Out On The Tiles

Boston Tea with Robert Plant, JuJu and Messing with The Blues

Do you JuJu?

Full circles often happen in the natural evolution of living things, but the exact space and time that it takes to complete this curve cannot always be known. The given distance from the locus of a point, must be constant in order to support the return of its boundary. The seeker. Robert Plant, is true to the art of not only music, but discovery. Music fans should not be surprised that Plant's latest tour with the Sensational Space Shifters incorporated world music influences. Plant created an atmosphere of warmth, exploration and adventure

~ And he did this through ritual.

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Maine Music News

Dont let the name fool you! Maine Music News provides live concert reviews and photography for shows throughout all of New England. Our photographers cover shows in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and anywhere else we can! Our writers provide detailed album reviews and expertly written interviews as well. We may be called Maine Music News, but we dont let the Maine border stop us!