Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CD Review: The Venetian 'I Wanna Tell You A Story'

The Venetian
I Wanna Tell You A Story

Based in Los Angeles, California, The Venetian is an operatic rock band with flashy, carnival-esque clothing and symphonic riffs that are theatrical and engaging. The crunchy guitars, Italian and English vocals, and rock vein is reminiscent of Queen or Muse. The eighteen songs represent a story that does nothing but satisfy. The operatic theatrics of "Act II," showcase electronic washes, Italian lead vocals, and piano. "The Black Cat" is a bluesy, bass-laden song with jazzy percussion and rock gutiar progressions with background vocals. "My Good Friend" opens with solo guitar lines that are relatively reserved, even after the vocals are added for the first minute. However, the pace picks up and the rock presence adds a bit of glam with drum-kit percussion and keyboard washes. The reverberations of "Sometimes" contain funky guitars and a few muted electric guitar displays with drum-kit. The result is a classy, rock song with influences stemming from the 1970s. The combination of Italian sensibilities and diverse guitar tunings makes I Wanna Tell You A Story glow with rich rhythms, melodies, and powerful vocals. Overall, The Venetian knows how to produce stunning songs with style and grace. ~ Matthew Forss   

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CD Review: Bob Pressner's 'Looking Back'

Bob Pressner
Looking Back

The former New York commodities trader-turned singer/songwriter decided to move to Florida after the first attack on the World Trade Center in the early-1990s. With a slight facial resemblance to Bruce Springsteen and Sylvester Stallone, you know Bob means business with his music. The power-pop-punk of "iGirl" is a fitting song for today's technologically-savvy world. Bob's vocals seem to combine Douglas September and Five For Fighting, but not too far from Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Jakob Dylan. The bluesy "Thinking Man" is slightly alternative country in tone with a good deal of folk-pop-roots music. "Too Old To Die Young" begins with an upbeat guitar and percussion set and a nice country-rock guitar chorus. "The Blue Has Left Your Eyes" is a poignant song on guitar that incorporates brushy percussion and raw folk power throughout. "Next Summer Never Came" is a power-pop ballad with glistening guitar strumming and full-on percussion brilliance that roots music can only provide. "Water Water" is a bluesy, rock song with reverberating B3, tambourine, drum-kit, and power-pop guitars. Bob's latest album is a perfect example of Southern rock, roots, folk, and contemporary adult music. Anyone with an interest in Springsteen, Dylan, Five For Fighting, and roots music will keep looking back to Bob Pressner as a pivotal figure in the world of contemporary music. ~ Matthew Forss      

Song Review: Nick Carter Green's "ADD"

Nick Carter Green
Zuma Records

With ties between Illinois and Los Angeles, Nick Carter Green releases a hit new single with dance, R&B, and hip hop embellishments. The aptly-titled song, which focuses on repetition (both beat and lyrics), as well as a hyped-up melody, takes us on a techno-lined journey with swishy percussion, electronic blurbs, and various electronic noises. "ADD," which is the attention deficit disorder is probably not the best description, since the song is rather focused and tight. Nick's incorporation of electronic adornments and rap lyrics are especially intriguing, since the music is varied and never boring. Nick's vocals are similar in tone to Will Smith. At any rate, "ADD" is infectious, addictive, and something that cannot be ignored. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Julia Wade's 'Solos'

Julia Wade
Watchfire Music

Soulful and operatic pop structures weave in and out of classically-composed creations of sonic beauty mark the magnificence of Julia Wade's crystalline voice. Solos is a work of twelve songs that are spiritual and inspirational. The songs are influenced by the prose of Mary Baker Eddy--a spiritual thinker. "Today" showcases Julia's voice and a contemplative piano melody. "Mind's Camera" has an upbeat, seemingly spritely piano melody and Julia's signature voice that seems to echo operatic and classical influences. "The Sculptor" is a jaunty, almost theatrical song with vocal outbursts of harmonic color that are slightly bluesy overall. "Victory" contains spacious, aural sounds of Christian beauty and symphonic overtones. "Prayer" features the piano early on, but it quickly appears to carry Julia's voice to otherworldly--albeit, heavenly realms--for sure. Julia Wade is the female equivalent of Josh Groban, but there are hints of early Charlotte Church, too. Julia knows how to evoke magic with her beautiful voice. ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

CD Review: Bree Rose's 'Breakthrough'

Bree Rose
Iafelice Publishing

The New Jersey-based power punk singer, Bree Rose, is tearing up the charts with a voice that is nothing unlike the talents of Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, and Kelly Clarkson. Despite obvious vocal characterizations, Bree Rose is a singer and guitarist with a different type of music and vision. The new music is clearly pop-driven, but there is a good amount of power punk thrown in for a little angst. However, the music is largely contemporary with some electronic embellishments and dance rhythms. "Hands Up" is a dance song with power punk elements, electronic infusions, and crystal clear vocals. "Breakthrough" showcases a bit of power rock elements with Avril-esque vocals and upbeat rhythms. "Wake Of Our Reckoning" is a power ballad with rumbling guitars, electronic echoes, and pop vocals. "Just Until You Bleed" begins with a little piano accompaniment and breathy, angelic vocals amidst a string-infused, electronic brew of musical ingeniousness. A bit of power rock music ends the song. "I'm Not Afraid" opens with an orchestral and electronic introduction that quickly delves into a power punk ballad with static-driven guitars. Breakthrough is a work of pure power punk beauty. ~ Matthew Forss  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

CD Review: Brad Hammonds Group's 'Greene Street'

Greene StreetBrad Hammonds Group
Greene Street

The effervescent world folk music of guitarist Brad Hammonds adds another dimension to the world of music with his fellow bandmates. The folk guitarist composes instrumental guitar jams that are accompanied by cello, banjo, mandolin, bass, and percussion. The lightning fast acoustic picking is top-notch and readily processed by all who listen to it's twinkling melodies. The folk percussion and Brad's 12 and 6-string guitars add a little Appalachian splendor to the mix. The ten tracks represent a lush collection of emotive compositions are fun to listen to and each one reveals something new with every listen. Fans of Ben Bowen King, Bob Brozman, European/Celtic traditions, and instrumental guitar-folk music will love it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Bibi Tanga and The Selenites' '40 Degrees Of Sunshine'

Bibi Tanga and The Selenites
40 Degrees Of Sunshine
Nat Geo

The groovy, funkadelic, and Afro-rumba music of the Central African Republic-born Bibi Tanga, traverses a wide array of funk-rock, jazz, and African music with a classy, 70's feel. Bibi Tanga is the lead vocalist and bassist, while others contribute on keyboards, strings, guitars, drums, and turntables. The twelve songs are energetic, bass-heavy, and transcendental with regards to Afro-soul, jazz, and jam rock. The African connections are quite prevalent, as well as European jazz. The vocals are pleasant, earthy, and celebratory. Sometimes the guitar is rock-centered, while at other times, the guitar takes on a more acoustic or funk vein. Some songs are in English and "Kangoya" is sung in Bibi Tanga's native language of Sango. Fans of Afro-funk will love the funkadelic incarnations throughout. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Mamady Keita's 'Mandeng Djara'

Mamady Keita
Mandeng Djara
Fonti Musicali

Guinea's Mamady Keita releases a Guinean-recorded album of percussive ingeniousness. The eleven tracks explore severall different, but related Guinean dance rhythms, including Fe, Fartalen, Kelu, Dunun Kura, Su, Koro, Kenya, Zaouli, Kedju, Kalah, and Djara. The music contains the instruments of the djembe, balafon, flute, kora, sangban, dununba, djabara, and kenkeni. The entire album runs nearly seventy-seventy minutes long, so there are no shortage of dance rhythms here. There are also various chants that accompany some of the songs, but they are not particularly overt. Mamady's wife, Monette Marino Keita, an acclaimed and award-winning percussionist in her own right, lends her hands on the drums for a few tracks. Fans of Guinean percussion music will especially enjoy Mandeng Djara. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Monette Marino Keita's 'Coup d'Eclat'

Monette Marino Keita
Coup d'Eclat
Djembefola Productions

Monette Marino Keita engaging Afro-funk-folk album, Coup d'Eclat, which means 'burst of radiance,' is a debut work that is inspired by nearly twenty-years of rhythms and sounds accumulated from Afro-Latin and African regions. The music is contemporary, but lively with bass, keyboards, drums, guitars, flugelhorn, flutes, sax, trumpet, congas, kora, steel drum, and many other instruments. A master percussionist, Monette Marino Keita probably owes some of her talents to her husband--Mamady Keita--an expert percussionist in his own right from Guinea, West Africa. The eleven tracks represent a highly-percussive concoction of danceable tunes steeped in thousands of years of history. This is an ideal album for the African percussion fan, funk, Afro-Latin, and Afro-jazz genres. Not one track is disappointing. Let the rhythm move you today! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Samite's 'Trust'

Musicians For World Harmony

Ugandan-born and US-based, Samite brings an acoustic style to East African music that is instrumental, upbeat, and brimming with sparkling notes of contemporary beauty. On Trust, which is the soundtrack for a documentary film--Addiction Incorporated--Samite paints images of acoustic beauty with twinkling kalimba, airy flute, folksy accordion, jazzy trumpet, and other assorted winds, strings, and percussion. The mostly instrumental work contains not only acoustic guitar and some electric guitar, but penny whitles, piccolo, cello, and trombone. The upbeat, rumba and highlife style of the instrumental music is very enjoyable overall. Fans of African jazz, mbira, folk, highlife, contemporary African music, and instrumental fusion will love Samite's latest release. ~ Matthew Forss