Album Reviews

Ray Goren: Save My Soul

 

Artist: Ray Goren

Album: Save My Soul

Label: RJRay Entertainment, Inc.

Release Date: September 23, 2014 

Ray Goren on iTunes

 

14 year old Ray Goren is the definition of the word Prodigy. By the age of five, Goren was already playing his favorite tunes by Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis, and Oscar Peterson on a keyboard. Later, while searching Youtube, Goren stumbled on a clip of BB King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins playing together. Before the day was over, with the Internet at his disposal, Goren discovered many other blues and rock greats including Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Otis Rush. After talking his parents into getting him a guitar, Goren found his calling, according to the artist's biography.

A few years later, Goren started to write his own original music which draws from a wide range of influences in all musical genres. Subsequently, Goren penned five songs on the EP, LA Sessions, which was released to critical acclaim in June 2014.

"From first to last note, LA Sessions, is a hit parade, with Goren strumming to his own beat, as the young composer cleverly integrates jazz, rock, pop, rhythm, and blues elements into one distinctly modern soundtrack," writes Bluebirdreviews.

Read more: Ray Goren: Save My Soul

Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades Of Blue

One cannot certainly deny two things about Joe Bonamassa: he is one of the most talented guitarists around and one of the hardest working bluesmen ever.

Different Shades Of Blue is an all-original record of 11 tracks co-written with a team of veteran Nashville songwriters, except for the opening track "Hey Baby," an obscure Hendrix cover. Superbly produced, as always, by Kevin Shirley, the album title maintains exactly the promises made by its title. Bonamassa manages successfully to experiment even further his tried-and-tested formula based on solid blues-rock, in tracks such as the powerful centrepiece of the record "Oh Beautiful," which is a crossover between a Delta Blues lament and a psychedelic-rock anthem.

Read more: Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades Of Blue

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic EyeHypnotic Eye, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Reprise Records/Warner Bros.

Released: July 29, 2014

Produced by: Ryan Ulyate, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell

This is a really exciting release from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and we are honored to preview it. Early press from Rolling Stone and others have said this record was a revisit to Petty's first two albums, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers  (1976) and You’re Gonna Get It (1978). Just a look at the cover art and it is reminiscent of long running LP's that we classic rockers cherish. Album rock is back. However, Petty continues to take this history and move it forward, bringing all of the writing experience, independent attitude and new inspirations right along with him.

Singles were available last month and fans grabbed on to the solid foundation of classic rock that continues to be Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. His vocals sound as solid as they did back in the 1970's, with the warm textures and unique tones that are signature Tom Petty. The Heartbreakers rock out in this 13th release, the 2nd album in the last 12 years. Petty told the LA Times, (who now consider TPATH an LA BAND!)  that they worked on the record between tours and were newly inspired by young rock bands. This new album is not as thick with blues as Mojo, but there are some gems that go right to not only blues, but roots. Tom Petty fans can be reassured, the Mud Crutch days are still in our midst.

Read more: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Hypnotic Eye

Ray Goren: LA Sessions

Artist: Ray Goren

Album: LA Sessions

Label: RJRay Entertainment, Inc.

Release Date: June 24, 2014

Don't let his bashful, adolescent expression mislead you. Ray Goren, a 14 year-old guitar prodigy from California, has the potential to reinvent any genre he explores.

"By the age of five, Goren was already playing his favorite tunes by Thelonious Monk, JJ Johnson, Miles Davis, and Oscar Peterson on a keyboard.

A few years later, while searching Youtube, Goren stumbled on a clip of BB King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Albert Collins playing together," reads Goren's press biography. "After talking his parents into getting him a guitar, Goren found his calling."

What's more, the young artist has played all around the United States since he was 10 years-old, performing in front of thousands of music go-ers at big draw events like Detroit Jazz Festival (2011) and Doheny Blues Festival (2012).

Read more: Ray Goren: LA Sessions

A Bad Think: Sleep

The music of Michael Marquart is a walk through images, presented to the listener in symbolic dreams. Historically, he has been the understated writer for many ground breaking music projects, and a drummer for A Flock of Seagulls. Recorded in Marquart's revamped Windmark Recording studios, and mixed by Jason Elgin (Creed, Collective Soul), his newest release, via band name A BAD THINK, is simultaneously sparse and dense. Progressive and current, Marquart lends his creativity to the score of it with vocals, drums, bass, guitar and keys. The layers are viewed by Ralph (voodoo man) Bruner's guitar and mandolin, with ethereal textures added through the vocals of Samantha Marq. Finally, additional guitars underline the edges by Mark Woerpel.

Read more: A Bad Think: Sleep

Rich Robinson: Ceaseless Sight

Review by Lee Hebert

RICH ROBINSON TO RELEASE NEW SOLO ALBUM

June 3, 2014 Circle Sound/THE END RECORDS

Stream the record on ROLLING STONE.

richrobinsonEvery time an artist releases a solo record, and he or she is a prominent member of a relevant band, there will be comparisons. This very relevant record by Rich Robinson is going to be no different.

He is a member of one of the finest bands in rock & roll, The Black Crowes. He is a principle songwriter, band leader, musical director, guitarist and singer in the band. So consequently, Rich's influence on the sound of the Crowes is huge.

Being a Crowes fan, I realize that Rich Robinson has more to do with The Black Crowes sound than anyone else. Even his brother, front man, singer and songwriter, Chris Robinson, doesn't make solo records that sound like The Black Crowes music. Chris' vocals, of course, but his music, no.

So, with that being said, this is not a Black Crowes record. Ceaseless Sight is a Rich Robinson record. The music has a lot of the familiar song structuring, intros and the same wailing guitar licks that Crowes fans have come to crave. The big difference here, is that Rich is singing all the lead vocals. As the opening song begins, you feel the music could be The Black Crowes, but the voice isn't. By the second chorus, the Crowes leave your mind, as you dive into the strongest Rich Robinson solo album to date.  

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The Quartet: Shattering

The-Quartet Shattering

Like many things in life, if we are open to the journey of exploration, a deeper understanding of ourselves occurs, and more threads appear to be followed, weaving what we love into a personal tapestry. In a conversation with Jack Hues, we discussed projects that are outside of Wang Chung. Hues' interest in jazz has been long standing. Illuminated and Shattering are two gems in the jazz music catalogs of Hues and pianist Sam Bailey. In our interview, drummer, Dave Smith is described as 'heroic' in his mastery of genre eclectisism. The Quartet and special guests are equally entrancing, progressive and pull the listener into the story lines. They create molds, for the sole purpose of breaking them.

Enter: The Quartet with Shattering on Helium Records (2008).

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Stesha Cano: Simple As Everything

Stesha Cano

"Simple As Everything"

One of the joys of running an independent music review website is the freedom to follow artists from their early careers into later seasons. Stesha Cano debuted Like A Bee in 2011 with a mix of jazz and soul that stunned audiences with its raw power.

Her sophomore album, Simple As Everything, is even stronger as she has established herself in the production world and built more sophisticated arrangements, while keeping the core of her writing locked in emotional ground zero.

We had some questions for Stesha about her influences and inspirations. Here is what she said:  

Read more: Stesha Cano: Simple As Everything

TN Twisters: Twister Warning

Album Review, Interview and Commentary

TN Twisters: TWISTER WARNING

Release date: September, 2013

Label: Independent

tntwistersband photoThe Nashville-based cover/original band TN Twisters are as American as apple pie, living out their dream on "the historic Broadway district, where millions trek each year to get a dose of live country music". The sextet formed when Carol "Beth" Garner (left), the band's lead singer and guitarist, collaborated with fiddle player IvaLee Pitts (not shown), Stan Saxon on drums (hat), Gage Boecker on the upright bass (far right), multi-instrumentalist and internationally acclaimed Rory Hoffman (not shown) on accordion, harmonicas, and saxophone, and violin goddess Olivia McPeek (right).

"It's a real grassroots operation," discloses Garner, during our recent phone conversation wherein she freely discusses the challenges of being a small fish in a big pond and her multiple roles as manager, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and website designer. Most recently, artwork creator and music producer were added to an already impressive list of accomplishments. The tone of her voice is friendly, and yet determined. It is clear she loves to have fun and make music with her bandmates. 

I am told the group thrives on crowd interplay and on-stage antics. "The drummer, Stan, "Stanimal", he's the comedian," says Garner, referring to his light-hearted humor that rolls off-the-cuff at any given moment. What's more? The female lead-trio engage in a game of Twister while playing their respective instruments, owing to their unique band name. Such playfulness has set this act apart from other musical line-ups in the area. So much so, they caught the attention of two tourists in 2013, who later flew the entire band to Norway to play at the couple's restaurant/tavern. Plans to return next summer for an expanded tour in the region are in the works.

twister warning coverThe TN Twisters' cross expansive terrain on their debut album, Twister Warning, with twin fiddles, slide guitar, squeezebox, accordian, sax music, and reverberating "yodel le he hoo". The listener is treated to an authentically eclectic mixture of styles that transcend one genre, one space, channeling to the heart of America and the deep South. Country meets rock; Americana intersects blues. And the vibrant sounds of New Orleans fuse with traditional jazz and folk. It's a seven song musical whirlwind that makes you feel like you've visited the Grand Ole Opry, a famous blues-jazz dinner club, and local barn dance, all in one sitting. The songs are well-crafted, with catchy melodies, smooth harmonies and impeccable musicianship.

On first listen, "Trouble of Mine" became one of my favorite tracks. I liken Garner's tender and carefree vocal to that of Ricky Lee Jones or Cheryl Crow. Backed by beautifully sung harmonies, the song wipes away any stress and carries you off to a safe place. It's very well done and, in my opinion, a hit song.

Imaginative songwriting skills turn to reality on "No Reply", as Garner tackles technology and modern day break-ups. It's catchy, up-tempo and a track that'll resonate with anyone who has (unfortunately) been dumped in this manner.

Reminiscent of any number of "corn pone" comedic skits on the American television variety show, Hee Haw, the TN Twisters' dead-pan delivery on "Lil Ol Lady" will have you hanging onto each verse. "Faster! Faster! Faster!" This particular piece must be a visually-dramatic, laugh-a-minute, highlight of their live shows. "Faster!"

All in all, there's nothing stale, traditional, or forgettable about Twister Warning. The songwriting and musicianship is expressive, uptempo, a breath of fresh air and strikingly memorable. It is not to be categorized, but embraced.

Twister Warning is available for preview and purchase via cdbaby. Stay in the loop by following the TN Twisters via their website, Facebook , Reverbnation, and Twitter. And if you get the opportunity to see the band live, please send me some feedback.

Yours in music,

 

DebFromMaine Hebert 

Photos courtesy of TN Twisters. All rights reserved. 2013.

 

 

 

Doug Ratner: Run With Me

drawDoug Ratner and The Watchmen are a rock band from Springfield, MA. This part of Western New England home grows a wide range of diverse and talented musicians. With music hubs like Northampton and Amherst, plus its proximity to Boston and NYC, the Valley is a great crossroads of bands who take the winds from the mainstream, and cycle into their own direction.

We met Doug Ratner and The Watchmen last year when they opened for the historic return of the Spin Doctors to Pearl Street. The Spin Docs got their roots playing Pearl Street blues decades ago. They put on a great show, and Mr. Ratner sent me a hand written note with his full album for review, shortly after the performance.

Read more: Doug Ratner: Run With Me

Mule Dixon: Pillow: American Made

When Pillow:American Made came across my desk, I wanted to collaborate with Mule Dixon directly, because this work has a mountain of research behind it, that deserves recognition.

From Mule Dixon's Biography:

"Mule Dixon is a songwriter and a scholar of American Song, receiving his Ph.D from the University in Texas with a concentration of the History and Practice of American Song in 2009. [Dixon] was born in Philadelphia, and received recognition for his community-outreach program designed to utilize the art of songwriting as a means for troubled youth to express themselves in a constructive way."

The Higher Ed Marketing Blog compared Dixon to William Blake. I agree, Dixon is a visionary, and he instills a lasting presence with the images he creates, both lyrically and musically. Although Dixon uses his lyrics to illuminate injustices, he does not pretend to have all of the answers to the world's problems. Dixon remains central to the human condition, leaving the power with the people.

Given Dixon's status as a well respected scholar, I knew enough to let him take the lead on introducing this record to our readers. Just the idea of questions opened up a very rich dialog. Read Mule Dixon's commentary on his fifth album, Pillow/American Made:

Read more: Mule Dixon: Pillow: American Made

Out On The Tiles

Jane's Addiction at the State in Maine, 2012

Review and Photography by Micah Gummel. thumb janes addiction micah gummel-1

Portsmouth, ME.

In keeping with the trend for the Great Escape Artist tour, this was a sold out show to over 2000 people of the State Theater of Portland Maine. Soon after the doors opened, the fans wasted no time to pile in to the State. Within minutes, we were packed in like sardines.

Read more...

 

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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!