Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Recently released: American High - Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement (Independent - March 8 2017)

Recently released:
American High - Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement
(Independent - March 8, 2017)

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Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basesment is the first release for Sacramento, CA based quartet, American High. The band is cagey about names and bios, but not about the message of their music.

"This is an anti-war record.  Songs like SEPTEMBER and I CAN'T CHANGE are our attempts to put a human face on the costs of trying to force the world to do what we want them to do.  We think everyone should concentrate on minding our own business rather than point guns at each other and demand obedience."

Take retro pop, add a dash of acoustic/electric punk, Cali surf songs, melodic sixties pop, and even shades of classic Americana here and there, shake it up, and you'll get an idea of their sound.

"We think songs are more interesting when they can be seen in different ways.  We shun the tired INTRO-CHORUS-INTRO-CHORUS-LEAD-CHORUS-EXIT blueprint."

It's a sense of invention and urgency that drives the songs. The lyrics are clever without becoming overwrought, and like the music, they draw from a range of influences. From Fairfield, CA,

Take a bus ride, suicide
Chance a ticket to go
And if I never get there
It just means I was never meant to go...

Moon is a stand out track with a relentless, hypnotic groove that ends abruptly, surprisingly. That's part of their musical bag of tricks. Test Pilot is another great track that mixes driving pop rock with interesting rhythmic changes and an almost contrapuntal approach in parts.

Band members go only by their initials - D.T.(rhythm guitar), E.S.(lead guitar), F.M. (Bass), T.M. (drums) - so I can't say who's singing lead or harmony, but there's a nice sense of expression and great harmonies to go around.

Along with social commentary, the songs delve into the usual romantic vein that's given an edge by their inventive sense of musicality. Forgive+Forget You has an interesting sound, part retro pop, part country/Americana, with a distinctly modern sensibility.

I want to burn it down
Burn it down forever
So when you see me
You can't try to pretend

This is a cut well above the usual alt-rock crowd, and it will be interesting to hear from this crew in the years to come.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Upcoming Release: Jody Cooper - 'Serenades & Odes to a Cracked World' Part 1 (Independent - June 2 2017)

Upcoming Release:
Jody Cooper - 'Serenades & Odes to a Cracked World' (part 1)
(Independent - June 2, 2017)

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“With everything that's happening in the world, the time has come for people to start engaging with the problems around them in an attempt to make a positive change. This album is my attempt.”

That's a statement by singer songwriter Jody Cooper about his latest release. It's an album with a message, but one where relevant words meld with solid pop/rock songs and musicianship for an entertaining delivery.

Multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, performer, busker and “Walking Jukebox“, Jody Cooper grew up as an English boy in a Scottish village, and was drawn to music early. From violin lessons as a six year old, he graduated to local bands as a teenager. After a few years playing in bands, he went to the University of Liverpool for a degree in music. That led to Ten A Penny, his 2007 indie release, a stint in Sense of Sound, an a cappella group, more releases and extensive touring.

In 2013, he left the UK for Germany, more touring, and a couple of single releases. After his first visit and concerts to the U.S. in 2016, 2017 he's released his most ambitious project so far, 'Serenades and Odes to a Cracked World': his first crowd-funded concept album on the themes of
disintegration (part 1) and integration (part 2, release TBC).

One is the first single from the release, a piano driven ballad with a meditative message of unity.

When all is said and done,
When every race is won,
When all that's left is blame,
When will we ever learn?
There's only one.

Forsake The Joneses blends its anti-corporate consumer message inside a driving pop rock song. Jody plays all the instruments himself on the album, including lead and backing vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, and percussion.

He's got a great voice for the genre, melodic and expressive, but with a rough edge where he needs it. He lists the Beatles as one of his early influences, and his compositions flow into a similarly melodic pop vein, but he adds a more modern alt-rock sensibility.

There's a little romance mixed in with the social commentary. Don't Know You Now is a stand out track, mixing plaintive vocals and clever lyrics with a multi-layered arrangement. Home is another intriguing track with interesting changes and a haunting melody.

Jody's an accomplished musician, singer, and composer, and all of those talents go into making this an interesting listen - for both the words and the music.

Album Tracklisting:
1. I Forsake the Joneses
2. Leave a Light On
3. One
4. You Can't Make It on Your Own
5. Don't Know You Now
6. Living in Hell
7. Home
8. The Great Divide
9. Silence
10. You Say You Own Me (But You Don't Own Me)
11. Breakdown
12. It's Alright
13. Song for the Oppressed (Cruelty Dies)

Official website: www.jodycoopermusic.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/jodycoopermusic
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodys_musings

Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi - The Journey & Inter-Continental Concerts

Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi - The Journey
Inter-Continental Concerts

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The Journey is the brainchild of Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi, a collection of music that you could truthfully call a global collaboration.

The Journey is the 1st official music album of Inter-Continental Concerts. Inter-Continental Concerts (ICC) is a multimedia production organization that produces music, live concerts, performance videos and feature films. Their goal? ICC values diversity and promotes unity among all people on earth. The primary goal is to bring together artists from around the world to participate in various productions and projects, including - so far - about 145 artists from over 45 nationalities.

Iranian award winning Musician/Media Producer Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi has a passion for music and its ability to cut across cultural and even language barriers. Born in Tehran, he's now based in Los Angeles, and got his start in music at the age of eight, paying the Santoor, a traditional Iranian instrument. He started composing music not long after. He's got a varied background in IT, video production, and computer engineering, as well as sound engineering and video production.

The music takes you on a lively musical journey that fuses traditions from Asia to the Mediterranean and the African continent, where Spanish guitar and Middle Eastern rhythms dance around West African drumming. As a collaborative project, the music draws on a web of global influences, and they emerge in a seamless groove.

Eternal Love has the synthy pulse of dance music, embellished with layers of melodic flute, and an insistent world beat. It's a seamless marriage of electronic and acoustic instrumentation. In Life, a virtuosic guitar riff merges into a driving beat, rap, and a vocal line in Greek.

Persian Norwuz takes the traditional music of Iran and adds modern pop and dance riffs. It's a stylistic smorgasbord, but one that adds up to solid music that ultimately needs no explanation. There's

You don't have to know what styles or genres, or even what instruments they are playing to enjoy the music that is played with obvious passion. It's eminently danceable and perfect for parties.

"World music" is often an inadequate term, one that's used to label undefinable music, and that's the case with this release. Simply put, this is modern music of our world.

Accordion : Sefkat Saglamer
Bass  : Emmanuel Paul, Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi
Drums : Samson Tinz
Electric Guitar : Babak Mahbaei, Emmanuel Oluga
Electric Piano : Izu David
Flute : Behzad Heidarshenas, Isil Akgüç
Guitars  : Salar Hamzei, Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi
Piano, Synths & Santoor : Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi
Percussions : Ehsan Shafiee, Mehrdad Jadidzadeh, Okan Sadioglu
Violin : Isam Qaimari
Vocalists: Judith Okon, Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi, Chinedu Ayinotu, Shakhnoza Kurbonshoeva, Qais Nedal Rahal, Sam M. Pour, Nubi Kayode, Tambe Maria, Gaius Rosilu, Yasaman Behshad
Rap Artists : Maria Musaeva, Olaniyi Teidi (DJ Java)

Composers / Writers:
Music Composer and Songwriter: Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi
Salar Hamzei (Spanish Guitar Solos for “The Cyprus Station” and “Life”)
Nubi Kayode (Songwriter of “My Life is Çok Güzel")
Maria Musaeva (words for “Life”)
Sam M. Pour (Words for “The Fellowship”)

Track listing:
1.    The Cyprus Station
2.    Eternal Love
3.    Life (In Russian Language)
4.    Persian Nowruz
5.    Gole Eshgham (In Tajik Farsi Language)
6.    Far Away
7.    Power of Love
8.    The Fellowship
9.    My Life is Çok Güzel
10.    Unrecognized Country


Recently Released: Jakob Pek - Acoustic Medicine (Independent - May 4 2017)

Recently Released:
Jakob Pek - Acoustic Medicine
(Independent - May 4, 2017)

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Acoustic Medicine is the result of three years of Jakob Pek's experimentation with the acoustic guitar. Guitar is actually not Jakob's first instrument. Violin is the first instrument Jakob picked up at the age of four. Since then, he's also added piano and percussion.

The results come out in soundscapes that meander in and around the varied musical influences from the classic folk vibe of Surrendered to Grace, to the avant garde sounds of Sweet Memory's Melody. He explores tone in Angel's Hymn, and a variety of global influences in The Great Return.

He draws from a wide range of influences and sources, and uses a variety of techniques, including fingerstyle, bowing, and alternate tunings to create a range of sounds and effects.

This is meditative music, engaging the mind as well as the ears. It's avant garde for those who may not care about the avant garde, with warmth and sonic experimentation in an easy partnership.

Along with his solo work, Jakob performs regularly as half of DunkelpeK, a duo he formed with like-minded percussionist Nava Dunkelman. He has also performed with many pioneers of contemporary music such as Fred Frith, Arrington de Dionyso, Theresa Wong, Rent Romus, Chris Brown and David Behrman.

Jakob's more notable performances have included the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Musica Medicina Festival in Pisac, Peru, and the Haight Ashbury Street Fair in San Francisco.

1. Surrendered To Grace
2. Acoustic Medicine
3. The Great Return
4. Angel’s Hymn
5. Sweet Memory’s Melody

Recently Released Space Motel - Arrival (Independent - February 1st 2017)

Recently Released
Space Motel - Arrival
(Independent - February 1st 2017)

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Space Motel's second release builds on their growing reputation for finely crafted funk/jazz/rock. However you classify it - or whether you do - you'll find yourself moving to the irresistible grooves of this album by the Providence, Rhode Island USA band.

Space Motel builds around a core of Jim Muro (Rock/Reggae group On The Drop, touring with 311, Spin Doctors, Bad Fish, State Radio,) Willie Myette, Zach Paquette and Nate Davignon (Mystic jammers). Space Motel first got together in 2007, and recorded their first album Departure between 2008-2012. Departure was officially released in 2015.

Their sophomore release builds on their strengths - tight musianship, expressive and capable vocals, including churchy harmonies, and a distinctive, if tinged dark and plaintive, sense of songwriting that defies today's formulaic pop models.

The crew of nine musicians on the album is made up of seasoned players, including Garrett Shiderwho's been touring the world continuously since 2010 as the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for Parliament-Funkedelic, and a horn section of Frankie Moniz on Tenor Saxophone and Grayson Farmer on Trumpet sitting in for Can You Use This and Don't Lean. The welcome addition adds a layer enbellishing the sinuous throb of the vocals and bass. Don't Lean has a lilting, reggae-flavored swing, with the horns adding to a melodic swing.

The music is compelling and hypnotic, with a fluid sense of style and melody that includes Latin and Caribbean influences. Jim Muro's vocals are adept, with a nice range and raspy edge that gives them emotion. From Way Home,

Do what you want to do;
Say what you want to say.
Just know that in the end,
They're going to make you pay.

That edge in his voice, and the way that he bends it, gives it just the right plaintive note to carry the words. On songs like It's Not Over, he's accompanied by harmony vocals and lush instrumentation.

Space Motel delivers songs that stick in your head and sweep you into a tightly crafted, danceable groove.

Band lineup for Arrival:
Jim Muro: Lead Vocals & Guitar; Garrett Shider: Vocals & Guitar; Willie Myette: Keyboards; Zach Paquette: Bass; Nate Davignon: Drums; Mike Baez: Acoustic Guitar & Lead Guitar-Tracks 1,2 & 7; Steve Malec: Lead Guitar-Track 5; Frankie Moniz: Tenor Saxophone-Tracks 2 & 3; Grayson Farmer: Trumpet-Tracks 2 & 3

Track listings:
1. Intro
2. Can You Use This
3. Don't Lean
4. Blackwoods
5. Unexplainable
6. Way Home
7. Going The Wrong Way
8. Arrival
9. It's Not Over


Acoustic Folk Recently released: Deb Montgomery - 'Long Long Journey' May 1, 2017

Recently released:
Deb Montgomery - Long Long Journey
(Independent - May 1, 2017)

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Acoustic/folk singer/songwriter Deb Montgomery recently released her debut full-length solo album, Long Long Journey. It's a thoughtful journey into modern folk lit up by her melodic and expressive vocals.

Canadian born, she's now based in Seattle, Washington, after a stint in New York City. Her career has spanned twenty years and four records, some film credits, and the pleasure of sharing stages recording with musicians, writers, and producers—like Andy Stochansky (Ani Difranco), Ron Sexsmith, Bob Wiseman, and Julia Kent—along with playing solo.

Her lyrics are thoughtful, with a romantic heart. From Long, Long Journey,

Pierce me, pierce you
Let your love cut me through
You know I need what is true
You know how much I need you

"I think of songwriting as my cave wall etchings: sometimes prison walls, sometimes dream walls, sometimes mysteries, and sometimes stories.  Songwriting for me has been a way through…" she says in a media release.

The words are poetically insightful. From Fear,

It don't matter where I put my fear
When I'm pushed, it reappears...

A taste of the stripped down style:

Long Long Journey is a Collection of Songs from the last twenty years, including newly crafted tracks. She recorded the album with Floyd Reitsma in Seattle, at Studio Litho.

A varied finger picking style of playing and a voice that can go from sweet to harder edged flesh out the words with a sense of passionate sincerity. On Awake, she switches to a subdued piano accompaniment and throws the focus directly on the words. I want to stay awake...with you.

Love Rocks You enters a more rhythmic, upbeat mode and words that are half spoken, half sung for a sound that evolves into a trance-like groove. With the classic stripped down folk instrumentation of acoustic guitar and voice, Deb pulls a variety of directions to explore.


A version of Fly Free performed with a full band:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Discover Germany: Celebrating 25 years of the sun-kissed Saxon Wine Route

From a media release:

Celebrating 25 years of the sun-kissed Saxon Wine Route

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If you're looking for a place filled with wine and wonder, then Saxony is the destination for you. From these ancient hillsides adorned with vineyards, you can gaze down at the Elbe river's glistening waters and its famous palaces.

The region's stunning beauty is enough of a reason to visit in itself, yet the landscape is so artfully interwoven with indulgence and history that you'll struggle to find an excuse to stay away. 25 years ago, the 55km stretch of land that lies between the towns of Pirna and Diesbar-Seusslitz was officially designated the Saxon Wine Route. However, we know from the writings of monks that its history dates back all the way back to the 12th century. It's no surprise that the route has captured people's attention for so long. Winding your way through the sun-kissed Elbe valley, you'll almost feel as if you're in the Mediterranean.

A history told through the grapevine

There's more than one way to explore the Saxon Wine Route. For instance, you can travel by river cruiser between Dresden and Meissen, cycle along the Elbe Cycle Route or go walking on the 90km hiking trail. This takes you past steep hillsides with terraced vineyards and 400-year-old dry stone walls to magnificent viewpoints, idyllic villages and historical wine cellars. There's plenty of art, culture and architectural variety to experience along the way, and a stunning landscape to enjoy that provides the perfect soil for a whole 61 different varieties of grape. Thirty-five official vintners produce high-quality wines that are then sold at their vineyards, local wine taverns along the route and fine restaurants.

Dresden - Florence can wait!

In Dresden, you can drench yourself in culture at the Green Vault or Grünes Gewölbe in Dresden, a unique historic museum incorporating the largest collection of treasures in Europe. Founded by Augustus the Strong in 1723, it holds a variety of exhibits from the Baroque to Classical eras. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Of course: Culture

Resistance is futile in Dresden. It starts with the main train station, covered by leading architect Sir Norman Foster and does not end at the kennel for a long time. It wait Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" and the works of Gerhard Richter and Otto Dix. You'll want to drink in the baroque splendor of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) as well as the very special architectural style of the "Military History Museum" by Daniel Libeskind. And in between: take a ride on a Gondola on the Carolasee, stroll through the zoo or take in the panoramic view from the town hall tower.

Sizzling Nightlife

At night the city is divided: Elegant and bourgeois left bank of the Elbe, where long robes find their way to the opera. Across the river: a hot young nightclub scene and the avant-garde. Pub crawl through the Neustadt, club nights in the industrial area and so many other ways to stay up all night.

Dresden information on the Frauenkirche
Neumarkt 2
01067 Dresden
Tel .: +49 351 501501