Album Review - Ivan Beecroft - Liars, Freaks & Fools

Ivan Beecroft gives rock a shot in the arm with Liars, Freaks & Fools
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On his latest album, Liars, Freaks & Fools, Ivan Beecroft wanted to get back to the guitar-oriented rock he heard in the pubs in his native Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. In his own words, he wanted to "turn people back on to this music". If the guitar gods are just, Liars, Freaks & Fools will accomplish just that. The music offers a fresh take on a classic rock sound, with Beecroft wearing his influences on his sleeve, channeling the likes of AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and Nirvana, without sounding derivative. The album opens with the driving hard rock of

DeepSoul: Marvin Gaye's Posthumous Album You're the Man

The planned followup to What's Going On was shelved in 1972; 47 years later, it finally sees an official release.
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After a slew of successful singles in the 1950s, Marvin Gaye started the next decade with a staggering work: What's Going On, a socially conscious album commenting on topics of the day. He continued his exploration of topics including sexuality and divorce in works such as Let's Get It On, I Want You, and Here My Dear. But in 1972 Gaye recorded the followup to Let's Get It On: You're the Man, an album that further examined political issues. However, when the lead single "You're the Man" failed to cross over to the pop charts, he decided to shelve the

Album Review - Joan Torres's All Is Fused - Revolution

Joan Torres issues a killer final album in a four-album story.
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Joan Torres has certainly kept busy with his fusion band All Is Fused. Over the last seven years, the group has released three albums -- Before, The Beginning, Of The Musical and his latest, Revolution. The albums share similar artwork and musical themes and their titles, when combined, seem to make a statement about where All Is Fused is headed musically. On Revolution, the band mixes Latin elements with funk, rock, jazz, and prog rock to form an exciting sound. With a title such as "Before the Musical Revolution," the players had better be able to back it up and

Single Review: Erich Mrak - Fake It

Erich Mrak blends pop, hip hop and electronic music in a strong new single.
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Toronto native Erich Mrak has been on quite the creative role, releasing a single each month this year through June in a planned six-song rollout. His latest, "Fake It," is a pop tune that straddles the line between electronic and hip hop and showcases excellent production from Bento. The song opens with a jittery keyboard over sparse piano before the song fully kicks in, with lush keyboards, drenched in reverb over a more traditional hip hop beat. Mrak's monotone vocal delivery works here, given the subject matter of a person afraid to show his true feelings of a relationship gone

Single Review: Lillimure - Something

Lillimure offers an uplifting view of some of life's harsh realities with her bouncy new single.
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Singer-songwriter Lillimure's latest single, "Something," gives a positive spin on some of the negative aspects of everyday life and making the best of everything. Its chorus stresses that "everything happens for a reason" and while Lillimure may not believe it, it is "Something to hold onto." The song showcases electric pianos played over a bouncy, jazzy, beat with sparse guitars tastefully accenting the track. Lillimure's vocals are strong, powerful, and soulful, sounding like those of a seasoned veteran and not a 19-year-old newcomer. She wanted to write a song about the obstacles one faces in life to succeed and she

Single Review: Krigare - Take On Me

Krigare delivers a fresh take on an '80s classic.
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To say Krigare has lived a full life is an understatement. She backed Kelly Clarkson at the 2006 Grammys at the age of 8, she has collaborated with Grammy Award-winning writers, and she has had her music featured in the Netflix series Elite and in a trailer for Blake Lively's All I See Is You. She also survived two forms of cancer before she turned 18. Her name translates to warrior in Swedish and she certainly lives up to that moniker. Her latest single is a cover of A-ha's '80s classic "Take On Me." While the song's familiar melody is

Women's History Month: Etta James - Security

A favorite performance from the greatest female vocalist of all time...
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It's nigh impossible to get consensus on The Greatest Of All Time in any discussion of music and that's just the arguments I have with myself. There are a few where the question has been settled. One of those concerns the greatest female vocalist of all time. There are scores of qualified applicants for that particular title but no one has ever done it better than the legendary Etta James. Etta James is likely best known for her incomparable command of torch songs like the perfect and impossibly gorgeous "At Last." That's where she shined brightest and her complete command

Women's History Month: Stevie Nicks - Edge Of Seventeen

Saluting Stevie Nicks, the first woman to be twice inducted in the Hall of Fame, during Women's History Month
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March is Women's History Month and that inspired me to write about favorite female artists and their songs. I'd love to tell you I'm going to do this all month (and I certainly could without coming anywhere near exhausting the list of amazing women whose work fills my Tower of Song) but let's be real: this is the first thing I've written in 2019, the first thing I've written in six months. But I'm here and you're here so let's dive right in... It is appalling it took until 2019 for a woman artist to become a two-time Rock And

DeepSoul: James Ingram - "One Hundred Ways"

The late singer's voice could dig down deep or reach the highest peaks, as on this Quincy Jones classic.
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Music recently lost one of its classiest vocalists: James Ingram, a Quincy Jones protege who scored an impressive number of hits in the 1980s and early 1990s. His January 29, 2019 passing from early onset Alzheimer and Parkinson disease marks the end of not only a successful career, but an era when smooth, pop-tinged R&B ruled the charts. Even though musical trends changed, Ingram never strayed from his strength, namely skilled interpretation. Born in Akron, Ohio, Ingram taught himself piano and sang in the church choir. When he reached his teens, he joined the group Revelation Funk and took part

DeepSoul: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas - "New Year's Resolution"

Start off 2019 right with a resolution to hear classic Memphis Soul.
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Today Otis Redding may be best known for his solo hits, but he also recorded with his Stax-labelmate Carla Thomas, the Queen of Memphis Soul (and daughter of Rufus "Walkin' the Dog" Thomas). Hoping to replicate the success of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Stax paired two of their greatest stars for the 1967 album King & Queen, which produced the hit "Tramp." The album featured their takes on classics such as "Knock on Wood," "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "Bring It on Home to Me," and "It Takes Two" (a further indication of Stax's desire for a

DeepSoul: The Emotions - "What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?"

For those who like their Christmas tunes tinged with melancholy, the soul trio's 1973 song fits the bill perfectly.
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Christmas carols may be filled with cheer, but others prefer their holiday songs tinged with some melancholy. For those in the latter camp, the Emotions' 1973 single "What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?" fits the bill perfectly. The Hutchinson sisters' exquisite, heartfelt harmonies, lead singer Sheila's sincere performance, and the stellar songwriting team of Carl Hampton and Homer Banks. Hailing from Chicago, the Hutchinson sisters--Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette--got their start in the church. While they had formed a gospel act, the Heavenly Sunbeams, they shifted their focus to secular music by the late 1960s. Signing with the Stax label,

DVD Review: Imagine/Gimme Some Truth

Newly restored, the Imagine/Gimme Some Truth DVD presents a remarkable time capsule for the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
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When John Lennon recorded his legendary album Imagine, he and Yoko Ono had the presence of mind to film everything. The pair had released albums and films together at this point and for this album, they decided to make a video scrapbook of sorts, combining footage from the recording sessions with a series of vignettes - some poignant, some humorous, some bizarre and all predating MTV by many years. Originally released in 1972, the Imagine film is part of a new reissue, combining it with the excellent documentary, Gimme Some Truth, about the recording of Imagine. For the reissue, both

DeepSoul: Betty Wright - "Secretary"

Need some advice with a dash of sassiness? This 1974 deep cut may do the trick.
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Like the sassy friend who doles out advice, Betty Wright's blues-inflected voice warned women of straying men. Her messages may not exemplify today's feminism, but her vocals come from a woman who has experienced life's rollercoaster and wants to share her hard-won lessons with fans. Best known for her 1972 hit "Cleanup Woman," Wright scored other hits including "Tonight Is the Night" and the 1974 thumper "Secretary." Born in Miami in 1953, Wright started singing in her family's gospel group Echoes of Joy. By 13 she transitioned into secular music by singing background on other recordings and embarking on a

EP Review: Sevi Ettinger - The Salty Water EP

An exciting debut EP from newcomer Sevi Ettinger.
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Newcomer Sevi Ettinger found musical inspiration in an unlikely source - the Syrian refugee crisis. Just 15, the American singer, who lives in Shanghai with her family, channeled the anguish she felt for the victims into the lyrics of her debut single, "Salty Water," a song that also serves as the title of her new EP. Ettinger wrote the song using an app on her phone and caught the attention of songwriter Phillip Jarrell, who played it for Grammy Award-winning producer Jeff Bova, who liked the track as well. The pair agreed to work with Ettinger in the studio, helping

Heart With No Companion: Remembering Leonard Cohen

Legendary poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen would have turned 84 today...
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It's no surprise I should be listening to the Leonard Cohen on what would have been his 84th birthday if for no other reason than it's a safe bet I'm listening to him at any point of any day. His words and melodies whether printed or sung will forever be like a sun to my soul, keeping me in its orbit, informing both my own language as well as the lens through which I see and experience my world. I can't imagine he would have ever read this modest tribute to the enduring importance of his work in my life

Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady

DeepSoul pays tribute to the Queen of Soul with one of her funkiest tracks.
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Music fans remember August 16, 1977 as the day the King of Rock 'n Roll, Elvis Presley, died. This year, the day marks another profound loss: Aretha Franklin passed on August 16, 2018 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She may be best known as the "Queen of Soul," but Franklin contributed even more to music. By bringing in elements of gospel, pop, and blues, Franklin transformed soul and R&B, shaping it to her own unique talents. Today artists still try to emulate her vocal style--passionate, wide-ranging, and spine-tingling. The church was at the root of everything she recorded,

DeepSoul Salutes Ashford and Simpson - "Don't Cost You Nothing"

The late 1970s dance culture is exemplified in this funk/disco track.
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DeepSoul's final entry in this three-column salute to songwriting duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson delves into one of their funkiest tunes. In 1977, Ashford and Simpson released their album Send It, a selection of mid-to-uptempo tracks showcasing their tight harmonies. Proving their readiness to step into the spotlight, they announced their arrival as artists in their own right with the raw "Don't Cost You Nothing" a track that works equally on the dance floor and as a classic funk workout. Upon Send It's release, the album became an instant club favorite thanks in large part to legendary DJ Larry

CD Review: Vincent Poag - Heroes And Demons

The singer-songwriter delivers a diverse third album.
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For his third album, Heroes And Demons, singer-songwriter Vincent Poag continues where he left off on 2014's excellent For The Girls. Not one to be tied to any particular style, Poag mixes pop with touches of rock, blues, jazz and county to great effect. Poag's gritty voice at times recalls Mark Knopfler or Tom Waits, but is never derivative. The weariness of his vocals give his lyrics, which often find him ruminating about everyday life, an everyman feel and give weight to the tracks. The album opens with the bouncy pop of "Beautiful Day." Here Poag channels his inner Paul

DeepSoul Salutes Ashford and Simpson: "It Seems to Hang On"

The pair proved their worth as skilled composers and charismatic performers with this 1978 track.
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While the songwriting duo Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson experienced great success at Motown as the creators of some of the label's biggest hits ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand," and "You're All I Need to Get By"), by the late 1970s they were ready to reignite their performing careers. Although not their first album on their own, 1977's Send It proved to be their chart breakthrough. They grasped onto the flourishing disco trend, but the pair retained their unique chemistry and superb harmonies. The followup, Is It Still Good to Ya, produced their best-performing

Blu-ray Review: Eric Clapton - Life In 12 Bars

An unflinching look back at one of rock's great guitarists.
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Eric Clapton has had a career that any musician would envy. The only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he helped expose blues music to white America while staying a leading-edge, influential figure on guitar since the 1960s, receiving commercial and critical acclaim in multiple decades. His life has had its share of heartache however. Rejected by his birth mother (twice, no less) and raised by his grandmother, Clapton found solace first in music, but later in drugs and alcohol. That the death of his four-year-old son Conner didn't fully send him over the edge is

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