Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band - Make It Better





Jimmy Jax Pinchak Band - Make It Better 
Sometimes it seems that a lot of hard-edged music has forgotten two important things. The first of those is the value of a good vocal melody. Having something that is memorable and gets you wanting to singalong is key. The second is a groove. What’s the point of music if it doesn’t encourage you to move along? Well, this album puts both of those things up front and it really is a great set because of both of those things.  
Put on your tie-dyes and psychedelic shades as the album opens on “There Is More.” It feels like 1967 on the opening. Even when it shifts to the verse it still has a real retro psychedelic rock feeling. The cut has enough energy to get listeners onto their feet. It’s almost a “Picture’s of Matchstick Men” kind of vibe on the riff that starts it and shows up here and there as little interludes. This is a great way to start the CD. The guitar solo starts with fuzz-laden fancy, but turns to more mainstream hard rock. The outro is totally 1967. 
“On the Run” has a great groove to it. The organ that shows up at times brings more of that psychedelic sound, but overall the tune is sort of a punky hard rock groove. There is a real bluesy sound and it’s mid-tempo but still likely to inspire some dancing. The fast jam later brings some more psychedelia to it and would be a lot of fun on the dance floor. There’s a cool call and response of guitar lines and some honky tonk piano in the arrangement.   
There is a singer/songwriter, electric folk style in place on “Tell Me.” It’s got a lot of energy in a mid-tempo arrangement. The song feels like the story-telling numbers of the 1960s and 1970s. It might be my favorite piece. The vocals really make this a winner, but the music serves as the backing to allow those vocals to shine. The guitar solo really cuts through and stands tall.   
           As the title track opens it has a real punk rock edge to it. The main song section, though really has more of that singer/songwriter vibe. It’s one of the best songs here. You will feel the urge to sing along. You will probably also feel the urge to get to your feet and head to the dance floor. It’s not the fastest thing, but it has an infectious groove.            
The arrangement to “Into the Fire” seems a little more bare bones than the music we’ve heard so far. That works in its favor. It really lets the melodies and song structures shine a little more. It’s not that the rest is over-produced. It’s also not that this is stripped bare. It’s just that this is a bit more “rawk and roll” and that sells it. This is my favorite song here. It’s catchy and fun.    
                   That same stripped back concept works well for “Free Your Mind.” It has a bit of a punk edge that also helps to make it one of the best pieces. The hook is catchy and the song is another fun one. The beat is hard to resist here. The organ lends some old school sound. The guitar solo makes me think of Slash – it’s tasteful and seems right where it should be.            
Next is “Draggin' the Line.” This old Tommy James chestnut has always seemed to be way past its freshness date. There is an infusion of crunchy guitar energy here that helps this stand a bit above the original. It’s probably a mistake, though. This kind of drags the whole set down a little. The guitar solo again makes me think of Slash. It has some punk energy that temporarily freshens this. 
  
The final song is another cover. Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” might lose something because it’s an instrumental (the vocals on this CD are probably the biggest selling point) but it gains something for danceability. This is a great groove that encourages people to get up and boogie. Of course, the drum solo and bass solo throw that off a little. Pinchak and his band seem to channel Santana at time and then use the basics as a springboard to move in new directions and textures at others. This is a great piece of music and a fitting closer to a fun set.       
As good as this CD is, it seems like the kind of music that would be best live. I bet this outfit is a really fun show to catch. For those of us who haven’t had that opportunity this is a great introduction. If you like your music built on solid grooves and full of infectious vocal hooks (and who doesn’t?) this is for you.
Rating: 5/5
Review by Mary Angela Tobin. Posted by Mindy McCall
Review Comments: indiemindymccall@gmail.com
 
  
 
 
 
 

 
 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rick Reynolds Group - Verb


Rick Reynolds Group drops Verb
by Bradley McClure

Rating 9/10

Verb  is an eclectic yet virtuoso offering from Florida area guitarist Rick Reynolds at the helm in which inspiration comes from daily emotive impressions including a bumper-sticker, scribbles on a wall, signs of various purpose and from these static and fixed messages, an evocative and emotive pulse is brought forth. With all songs written and composed by Rick Reynolds and with a red hot 5 piece band backing him up, there’s no questioning musical credibility and this is established from the beginning. Releasing 12 albums in the past seven years, Rick Reynolds is a musical force. As if writing over 1000 songs isn’t enough, Rick is the writer, lyricist, producer, singer and guitarist in three groups, Sounding Rick, Lucky Henry and the Rick Reynolds Group. Since his first single , Passion Beat”  in 1984, Rick has been a production dynamo, like a modern day Tin Pan Alley writer and performer. During the early 90′s Rick wrote, directed and acted in the sitcom, “The Doghouse Swing” in Pittsburgh. The show was a copy of the Monkeys and was used as a vehicle to showcase several new songs per episode. In 2006 Rick recruited Todd Rundgren/ Utopia / Hall and Oats bassist Kasim Sulton to produce his next album Sounding Rick “Unstoppable”. Kasim also played bass and sang backup on the album. In 2007 Rick took the band on a two week tour of Japan where they recorded the album Sounding Rick “Live in Japan” in front of packed houses. Since 2006 he has released 12 albums of original material with the most recent being 2013′s Sounding Rick, “Never Be Famous” again with Kasim Sulton on bass guitar. Rick has also been a guest on WUWF Blue Plate Special numerous times and had a 90 minute show taped for PBS affiliate WSRE Studio Amped where he performed with an 11 piece band. Live, Rick surprises audiences with his unique songwriting style which mixes elements of rock, folk, jazz, blues laced with depth and humor. With the follow up to their last album “Color Theory”, "Walk the Life” and “Beck’s Check” opens with vinyl static and midi bass washes before effortlessly flowing into an Big City Jazz feel with Reynolds laying down a slightly whimsical playing which is but a taste of things to come. "Marching Orders” has Reynolds playing with a sense of musical cohesion that is stunning among two such gifted artists as Grant Green, Jack McDuff, Billy Bauer, George Benson and Jerome Richardson .The next few tracks "Mr. Nice Guy”, “Rooster Booster” and Trane on the Playground” dish out flipped out at times brooding melody that is not to be dismissed easily. These 2 tracks for me are thoughtful and a stellar performance that could easily flip to the more self indulgent. Instead, Verb is a wonderfully organic, slightly eclectic but incredibly artistic vision from an amazing Guitaritst and musical visionary that is deserving of far wider recognition. Weather you like straight up Jazz of more Blues based soul music Reynolds is making his unique musical voice heard in an otherwise commercial myriad of soulless clutter. Perfect pacing, intriguing compositions and a stellar sound have Rick Reynolds Group scoring big here! If this release slipped past you then take notice!

Rick Reynolds Group Links


Edited by Janne Zawa
Review comments: jannezawa@gmail.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dwayna Litz - Counting Your Blessings



Have you ever wondered what is lacking in today’s music? I have. It seems many of today’s best artists lack what they call X-Factor. So what is X-Factor? X-Factor is  that indefinable quality that makes someone very special and unique. Couple this with talent and you have a delay combination for sure. The last big vocalist I felt had talent and X-Factor was Whitney Houston. There is just something missing with today’s popular artists. So where have all the good artists gone to. Actually Singer/Songwriter Dwayna Litz can give us all hope that these types of artists still exist.

“Counting Your Blessings” is her second release and it has much to commend it. Admittedly, there is a whole lot of variety to these catchy arrangements and performances. The CD has many things working in its favor. First: the line up consisting of many solid production folk including Producer Tim Ouimette and the impressive line-up of Top Tiered Musicians. Second: Her look, and overall spirit will no doubt mystify many fans as she possesses a very marketable look. Third: Her voice possessing a clear as a bell vibrato via top flight passion play. Yes all of this makes for deadly combination. Even more impressive the music is commercially viable and delivers a modern day Jazz-Pop vibe. I can honestly hear this stuff on the NPR as it possesses a very marketable ambiance in that respect. Amazing with a polished presentation touch and top flight performances, addictive melodies and thick low end dance grooves. What I do like most about the CD is there is no attempt at deliver what I call "over the top pop" with nothing more than a pretty face and some gaudy choreography. Bottom line – Dwayna Litz has talent. She can write, she can produce, she can sing, and she has staying power within the industry - which is more than you can say for 99% of today’ artists. Litz’s has got the X-FACTOR.  She’s got  an impressive persona, look, personality and voice to go along with it. If she wrote all these songs well she could be bigger than any of us realize at the moment - yep she did. Favorite Track: Title Track.

“Counting Your Blessings” get’s things off to a good start for Dwayna Litz in 2012. It's an endearing CD that is powerful and entertaining in it’s overall posture. I could hear this at a party, club or on the radio. I would imagine in time we will hear more from this artist as time unfolds. Time will tell but I can honestly say this is one artist that had allot of potential. Everything about Litz screams professionalism and talent.

Rating: 5/5

URL – http://www.dwaynalitz.com/
CD can be purchased @ CD BABY - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dwaynalitz4

Mindy McCall
April, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Frostbite - Valentine and Other Stories of Hope


Music can be pretty predictable. Predictable in the sense of band after band releasing album after album, year after year only to get pigeonholed into their applicable genera slot or typical “other artist” comparisons. It’s true that over the years we’ve seen bands come and go, but every once in a great while we see an artist break this mold by releasing music that is fresh. This can also be done by methodically  combining genera’s.  Atlanta based “Frostbite” fronted by musical mastermind Chrs Compton should be classified as one of these bands.

“Valentine and Other Stories of Hope” is his latest CD and it has much to commend it. Admittedly there is a whole lot of variety to these arrangements. In fact “Frostbite” could be classified as a 4 genera project or band: Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive Metal and even spaced out Orchestral-Rock. Yes - I can even hear this music featured in a Feature Film, TV Show or a Prime Time Movie. It’s rare to hear a band walk a fine line between Power, Passion and Darkness. Compton elects to share with up a very personal shapshot of what’s going on behind his two eyes of his. This is one artist that has way too much precision and clarity to live in the shadows with a poetic splendor. Indeed this is clearly evident in songs like “…of my Heart” and “The Metro” which methodically ups the ante to a very respectable level of catchy-rock musical craftsmanship from a Berlin cover song. As a result the music is commercially viable with a fresh sound with a dark-progressive aftertaste. In a nutshell this is Tool meets Chevelle or Marilyn Manson meets Slipknot. Not every square inch is filled with progressive math rock delivered under duress either, but rather musical space the allows the music to breathe.  This is music that is not so easy to pin down during the first listen, but rather a CD blessed with a wide variety of taste and thought provoking musical exuberance.

I would imagine in time we will hear more from this amazing artist. No doubt “Frostbite” has carved a very marketable niche for themselves and are set up well for success in 2012.

Rating: 4/5


Mindy McCall
May, 2012


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Richard Anthony - Love is the Power


Have you listed to the Radio lately, really have you? Is it me or is something horribly wrong with today's music. Do you remember when music actually had really instruments in them with real people playing them? No kidding. How about good songwriting performed by artists that not only wrote the music but poured their heats and souls into the performances - holding nothing back. Why? Because they meant every word of the lyrics they wrote. Now when one listens to the radio what do you hera: a pretty face, cookie cutter songwriting, crafted via a microphone, some fancy sampling and a overly loud mix that sounds more like a commercial than a song. Yes the magic is all but gone from modern-day music, and people are wondering why. Well I Will tell you. Because to many artists are not being true to themselves when it comes to their  musical expression, that’s why. More artists need to be themselves - actually kind of like Illinois based Physics teacher Richard Anthony.   
 
“Love is the Power” is his latest release and it has much to commend it. Admittedly, there is a whole lot of variety to these arrangements and performances: The line up consisting of many mainly Anthony. He’s got an infectious voice and a rock solid band musicians and Top Flight Sampling and Programming backing him up. Second: The songwriting: just cuts to the chase and delivers via compelling lyrics and an emotional vocal front. Yes all of this makes for deadly combination. Even more impressive are the overall message: powerful, genuine, passionate, inspirational are some words I would use to describe them. The songs are heavy, yet commercially viable delivering music that's very melodic, and catchy with a Techno-Pop edge. Yes - I honestly can hear this stuff on the Radio.  Amazing tunes with hooky melodies and a thick low end dance grooves, but more importantly lyrics that cut right to the core of what Love is - yes. What I like most about the CD is there is no attempt at deliver what I call over the top flashy rock with a big beat and an overcompensating commercial sound. Favorite Track: “We Belong” and the title track.

“Love is the Power” is an endearing CD that is powerful and entertaining in it’s posture. I could hear this at a party, club or on the radio.  I would imagine in time we will hear more from this amazing artist as 2012 unfolds. Time will tell but I can honestly say this is one artist that had much in the way of potential, and fills the modern day musical void quite well with music that is – well genuine, powerful and above all full of love. 

Rating: 5/5 
CD can be purchased via CD UNIVERSE –

Mindy McCall
May, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Robert O'Connor - Resistance (EP)


You get that feeling sometimes when you hear a song. That feeling when you realize that the song or artist goes a lot deeper than the next Independent Artist. Irelands Robert O’Connor is one of those artists.  

“Resistance” is one EP that goes deeper than the next Indie Artist and is mostly the work of one man – Robert O’Connor who is based out of Dublin, Ireland. The result though is far from a self-indulgent ego trip for it, instead, is a moving and elegiac artistic statement from start to finish. This is not dark-trippy rock, or overly predictable pop, instead Mr. O’Connor could be classed as one artist that has way too much precision and clarity to live in the shadows of poetic splendor. This is clearly evident in songs like “Older” and "Over” and the invigorating "Too Late.” These songs and more methodically up the ante to a very respectable level of artistic craftsmanship, brilliant creativity and an X-Factor that’s off the charts. Equally as imperative the music is commercially viable, hearfelt and appealing with a fresh sound with a passionate view on reality.

In a nutshell this is Jack Johnson Galvin Degraw. Not every square inch is filled with a vocal delivery under duress – but musical space the allows the music to breathe. This is music is comparable to a musical vacation of sorts for the mind, body and soul, with music that can be described as musical exuberance. To be honest I wish the experience only lasted longer.
I would imagine in time we will hear more from this Irish composer. Robert O’Connor is one artist that clearly gives you a musical snapshot that is highly original, unique, uplifting and dare I say infectiously sexy.
CD can be purchased @ AMAZON - http://www.amazon.com/Resistance/dp/B006YDD0AY

Mindy McCall
May, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Smalltime - Self Titled (EP)


Have you listed to the Radio lately, really have you? Is it me or is something going horribly wrong with music these days. Do you remember when music actually had really instruments in them with real people playing them? How about good songwriting performed by artists that not only wrote the music but also poured their heat and soul into the performances - holding nothing back. Why? Because they meant every word of it. Now when one listens to the radio what do we find: a pretty face, cookie cutter songwriting, crafted via a microphone, some fancy sampling and a overly loud mix that sounds more like a commercial than a song. Yes the magic is all but gone from modern-day music, and people are wondering why. Because to many artists are not being true to themselves with respect to their musical expression that’s why. More artists need to be themselves. Kind of like a 4 piece Christian Rock band from Southern California that goes by the name of Smalltime.    
 
“Smalltime” is their debut self titled release and it has much to commend it. Admittedly, there is a whole lot of variety to these arrangements and performances: The line up consisting of many Top Tiered musicians headed up by Danny Van on guitar and vocals. He’s got an infectious voice and a rock solid band backing him up. Second: The songwriting: just cuts to the chase and delivers via compelling lyrics and an emotional vocal front. Yes all of this makes for deadly combination. Even more impressive are the message: powerful, shocking, and inspirational are some words I would use to describe them. The songs are heavy, yet commercially viable delivering music that's very melodic, and catchy with a hard rocking edge. Yes - I honestly can hear this stuff on the Radio.  Amazing tunes with hooky melodies and a thick low end rock groove, but more importantly lyrics that cut right to the core of who you are - yes. What I like most about the CD is there is no attempt at deliver what I call over the top flashy rock with a big guitar sound and an overcompensating shock rock sound. Favorite Track: “Dead on Arrival.” What kind of Christian band has a song named “Dead on Arrival”? Exactly!

“Smalltime” is an endearing EP that is powerful and entertaining in it’s posture. I could hear this at a party, club or on the radio.  I would imagine in time we will hear more from these 4 guys as 2012 unfolds. Time will tell but I can honestly say this is one band that had much in the way of potential, and fills the modern day musical void quite well with music that is – well genuine, powerful and above all real.  

Rating: 5/5 
URL – http://www.smalltimerock.com/
CD can be purchased via REVEBNATION –

Mindy McCall
May, 2012