Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Looking forward to ... Al Garcia

I just ordered a press kit for Al Garcia - check out the flavor of his influences! This is gonna be great listening. Review forthcoming if I can stop listening long enough to write ...

New Jersey-born musician Al Garcia has released a new album, Alternate Realities, that has quickly garnered rave reviews. Following the runaway success of his debut album, Make It So, Garcia has combined his eclectic influences jazz-rock fusion, progressive rock, classical, jazz, latin, space rock, electronica, and cinematic music to create a sound that transcends traditional music boundaries. "Alternate Realities is a journey through the universe of jazz rock and progressive fusion blended by a master musician," says JazzWorldQuest.com.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Music Review: Marilyn Scott "Innocent of Nothing"

I hate writing “bad” reviews

I recently got a CD from a jazz singer named Marilyn Scott. I’m not a jazz expert, but I know enough to say her voice is pretty good for a young, skinny chick.

Trouble is, the lyrics on the CD “Innocent of Nothing” are so transparent it’s maddening and almost insulting to listen to them. The music is good, the voice is good and the words are honestly crap. It’s like kindergarten komposing.

And I don’t understand. This is not her debut album and Scott’s voice is the instrument she’s showcasing. So why the predictable pap for lyrics? It’s like Carlos Santana playing guitar riffs on one of those plastic kiddie guitars. He might do it for a laugh, but not in his worst nightmare would it end up on a CD.

So here it is. A “bad” review. Ms. Scott, to need to have someone around you who will tell you when you’re not being challenged. You need writers who know more than words. Lip-syncing bimbos can get away with insipid lyrics, because top pop really is booty without brains. But jazz is smart. Jazz is witty and insightful. Don’t scrimp. Your talent deserves more introspection. Not to mention, more self-respect.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Notes to be noted on Ipod Knockoffs

Hong Kong rocks! It's true. A $45 (with shipping) fauxPod that holds over 500 songs, I can record live concerts with AND holds a zillion or 2 ebooks for standing-in-line reading - you can't beat this. But...

#1. Expect your user's manual to be written in Chinese.
#2. Realize you'll receive funky earbuds that will a) shed the ear condom in 57 seconds, b) jam the edge of the "protective" wire mesh into your ear canal in 37 minutes, c) sound best when the previously mentioned items are torn off and thrown away.
#3. Know that the Chinese believe all foreigners have earholes the size of a quarter,
#4. Understand that the pod will have a 3/32 size connector, meaning if you want to adapt up to that groovy pair of '60s headphones you got on eBay, it will require a chain of adaptors three times longer than the pod itself.

But $45? Bless you, my Chinese friends.

"Rain Maker" by The Grotto

Writing reviews the past few weeks has been hard. I had one I needed to do because the band was hitting town, another because I’d had the CD so long it was becoming embarrassing … and, you know.

But a friend/coworker dropped off The Grotto’s CD in the middle of this. I listened and immediately wanted to fling the other reviews aside and share the great sounds coming out of The Grotto. So what this other international band was coming to town - The Grotto is already here! They are OURS! And they rock.

This CD is a four-song shortie and it was a blast. Perfect to drop into the CD player and fill your commute with local sounds. “Nothing” starts out slows and then hits a very sweet groove. The music and lyrics sound so polished, it makes me proud. What is too hot about this song is that about three minutes in the guitars and Jake Ruybal’s vocals just explode. What a great way to finish off a meaningful song.

“All You Need” lets us know right away that we’re dealing with a multi-talented band, as Lyndsy Pritchard takes her turn on vocals. The chorus of this song is so intense and head-filling it made my hair stand up the first time through. Some excellent keyboard work adds to the originality of this tune, taking it from a “Hey, Fleetwood Mac could have done this” song to something altogether with and beyond its time.

Although a great listen, “No One But Me” is (in my questionable opinion) the “weakest” song on the CD - that’s not to say it’s weak like weak - just comparing it to the others, the vocals are a bit cloudy. The guitars come out so clear and sharp … maybe that’s why the vocals seem a little underdone. The song breaks about two-thirds of the way through and really showcases the instruments. The vocals do pump up, but not enough to break free. Definitely not a song-killer, because this band is clearly made up of talented musicians.

“Rain Maker” is a haunting mix. I really enjoy the almost unsettling shifts in the music and mood. Pritchard’s smooth vocals do perfect service to the lyrics. I don’t know who composes what, but this band is as tight as any that’s been around the block 20 or 30 times. What an outrageous and wondrous thing that they are from Grand Junction. God, this town rocks!

Grab some CDs and other cool stuff on the band’s site Web site. I’m going to be sporting The Eye t-shirt ASAP.

Music Review: Taxi Doll "… waiting …”

If this shorty CD is a taste of things to come, the Big Labels will be knocking on Taxi Doll’s door soon. This hot 8 song disc (3 of the tunes are remixes, but more on that later) goes by in a fantastic flash and I dare you not to dance. And to you poseurs who say you don’t do electronica - or “rocktronica” as the sound has been described - you, too, will dance.

The first song “Waiting” starts with a loud funky bass line that holds up the backbeat, while vocalist Dhana Taprogge does downright anything she wants from strong to sensual with her voice and attitude. This is a great beginning and the quality continues all through the CD.

Although the band has been favorably compared to Garbage, the song “Give Me More” sounds oddly similar to Nelly Furtado. Probably just some short-circuit in my brain. For those who like Garbage, but feel maybe they’re a little too dark for overandoverandover listening, you need Taxi Doll.

Now, about the 3 remixes … most of the time this just burns me as a waste of space and a buttload of ego. Taxi Doll’s remixes are actual - and incredible - reinterpretations of the songs “Look at What You Get” and “Waiting.” I would be hard-pressed to chose my favorite mix if I could only have one. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose.

You or someone you know really needs this CD, I promise you. Visit Taxi Doll or just go to CD Baby and grab the CD.

Little Daytona Presents "The Freshman Class"

Just got handed Little Daytona's "The Freshman Class" - can I say one more time the talent in this town amazes me?

Little Daytona brings together Blackjack, K-nyne, Kialie and L.nix in a 13 song CD that mixes everything from hardcore rap, the smoothest of hip hop - and don't kill me if I say it - a fine instrumental trance number that made my pathetic day shine.

From the CD, I’d judge that these killers' live show would be more than GJ deserves. The slide from Kialie and Blackjack's "Fed Up" into the too hot "Switchz" was as smooth as belly skin. Then the drop from "Switchz" to the transcendent "Abduction" … sweet cool down.

And you hardheaded hardcore lovers will surely be pleased by the just-so-nasty "On the Low." If not, I think you must be posing.

Although the CD has the PA for explicit lyrics, don’t think these artists depend on the F-word and its variations to carry their lyrics. There's plenty of intelligence and art to their words. Seems like you can't be real at all these days without getting a parental advisory.

I'm glad I got the chance to hear this and I'm gonna keep an eye out for their next show. If you can't wait - and why should you? - you can pick up the CD from Four Front Entertainment.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

You call this practice?

I had the honor of attending The Wrong Impressions’ practice session this week. I’ll tell you right off, I love this band, and it’s not just because I know and love its members. These people are not perfect and I’m not going to blow smoke anywhere it might be uncomfortable. Although they can switch between instruments more effortlessly than I can flip through my many personalities, they do screw up and they screw up royally. But more about that later.

I’ve been to many bands’ practice sessions and for the most part they’re very educational. It’s cool to see how a band decides on the songs they’ll cover or how they’ll refine the ones they’ve written. It’s usually more of an exploration of technique and you can clearly see a separation between the band’s perfecting of the music and the perfecting of their stage presentation. Works great. When you have the song down, it’s much easier to bring in the frills and the flash and the crowd-pleasing interactions.

Well, The Wrong Impressions don’t work this way. I’ve never been to a practice that gave me the hair-raising, on-edge emotion of a live show. (In fact, I’ve been to live shows that didn’t give me that.) But these guys hold nothing back. The thrash, the drive, the connection - everything is there. It’s there in every song and it’s there every time they run through the song no matter how many times it takes. It’s incredible and exhausting.

Imagine being face to face with a band in a very small garage that the musicians seem to think is an arena. The sound can be felt from every direction and you’re close enough to see the sweat on their foreheads and the intensity in their eyes. These guys absolutely burn through everything they do and it’s impossible not to get caught up in their emotional and physical reaction to the music.

What really blew me away was they could be so intent on the music but if someone fell off tempo - by what was about a hundredth of second as far as I could tell - they would all stop immediately and each of them would know what went wrong and what needed to be done to make it right. Hit a wrong note in that garage and everything stopped just long for the others to rip on you until everyone laughed and then you’d jump right back into it.

And I’m talking complicated songs here. This ain’t no “House of the Rising Sun” band. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about what they’re working on. (Sorry about the grave thing, Mom. I know you’re not dead, they made me say it.) But there’s at least one song that I don’t think the original artists ever had the cojones to play live.

The Wrong Impressions are something special. Bill (I just put you first because you’re oldest, so don’t get puffed up), Danny, Johnny G. and Bridgett are musicians and performers to the core. If you really love rock and aren’t just some dilettante jammer, you need to see them. Then you need to get in tight and get an invitation to a practice. I’ve used a lot of words here, but the experience is actually beyond description.

Thanks for the experience. As for the 58s … well, you know.