Team SoundPress.net just returned from our first trip to Nashville, Tennessee, and we simply had an amazing time in Music City. There was music everywhere and anywhere. Sounds continually permeated throughout the downtown, from the side streets and to the outskirts of the metropolis. In honor of our fantastic vacation we offer you this month a very special “Nashville Edition” of Sights and Sounds of Note. But, before we get there we have a few mainstream releases to present.
Musician Neal Schon (www.schonmusic.com) has enjoyed hit making success with Journey but his latest solo album(s) are played from his guitar god heart. Vortex is a double CD that features 18 fluid and forceful instrumentals. The music is often hard rocking with elements of classical, jazz, prog and world woven into well-constructed compositions. Disc one opens with “Miles Beyond” an energetic exploration that honors Miles Davis. The soaring “Cuban Fly Zone” flows into the Spanish flavored “El Matador” countered by “Eternal Love” a pretty piano piece by collaborator Igor Len. Disc two also has plenty of power including the unworldly and Vai-ish “NS Vortex” along with a tender acoustic tribute to “Mom”. There is no escaping getting sucked into Neal Schon’s Vortex an innovative and intense instrumental album.
Trixter (www.trixterrocks.com) are the Garden State’s favorite sons and the purveyors of high powered Gold-selling glam metal. They return in 2015 with their fourth full-length album that finds them older, wiser and still rockin’ just as hard as ever. The pride of Paramus, New Jersey – Trixter – are back at it with Human Era (Frontiers Records). This much anticipated 11-track release is an epic platter that celebrates their historic epoch as able ambassadors of the genre. They open the set with a hot anthemic rocker from their archives that serves as the album’s lead single. “Rockin’ to the Edge of the Night” sounds just as fresh today as it did back in the 80’s and benefits from the group’s collective experience in the studio and on the road. Mix in some Bon Jovi, big Def Leppardy choruses and a Poison-ess party vibe and this one will keep you rockin’ til the sun comes up and is a strong start to the band’s Human Era.
Atlanta-based hard rockers Nashville Pussy (www.nashvillepussy.com) have been denigrating the good name of the Tennessee state capitol for well more than a decade but, regardless, their first ever retrospective double album is called Ten Years of Pussy. The band rocks with a solid sound that’s like AC/DC slap boxing with LYNYRD SKYNYRD while MOTORHEAD watches. With song titles like “Before The Drugs Wear Off”, “Pussy Time” and “The South Is Too Fat to Rise Again” you can see how and why they’re proudly carrying the mantle for the sleaze-rock genre. This satisfying 22-track set is filled with enough vile power, pulsating rhythm and lascivious licks that will be sure to please all the Pussy lovers out there.
Radio Cinematic is Jonathan Jackson + Enation’s (www.jonathanjackson.com) major label (Loud & Proud Records) debut. Many know Jonathan Jackson (guitar/piano/vox) as musician Avery Barkley on the hit TV show Nashville and although this album was recorded and produced in the Capital of Country it definitely is a rock record. The aptly titled Radio Cinematic is both musical yet theatrical. It opens and closes with “Young World’s Riot”. The first starting off subtle then bursts with energy before ending abruptly. “Young World’s Riot (The End)” counters it with a more pensive mood enhanced by strings. The technique of dramatic build-ups leading into rousing refrains is an effective M.O. on this engaging record. Jonathan is an expressive vocalist with brother Richard Lee Jackson (drums) and Daniel Sweatt (bass) crafting a bold backdrop for tracks that run the range from optimistic – “Everything Is Possible” to sorrowful – “The Hands of Your Drug”. “Things You’ve Never Seen” is a personal favorite that flows on an “Edgy-U2” vibe. This polished platter has an air of mystery as Jackson acts out his musical impulses while telling tales of faith, hope and love that should go a long way in helping Jonathan make a name for himself in the world of music.
Lindsay Ellyn (www.lindsayellyn.com) is a Jersey girl who took her friends’ advice and relocated to Nashville in early 2014 and that decision looks to be a wise one. On her second EP Out of Road Ellyn draws you right in on the title track and set opener and makes you want to go with her. With a driving tempo and a sweet meets melancholy meandering Lindsay sets her course with a vivid telling of her musical journey and life story so far. “Helpless” is vulnerable with strong support from her band who shine with uplifting pedal steel and piano parts. “Glory, Glory” is the obligatory Music City spiritual while “Raising Hell” reveals a good girl gone bad in a song that’s mostly fiction yet fabricated from Ellyn’s rocky real-world romantic experience with a double-timer deserving of her ire.
Long-Islander guitarist/vocalist Dave Isaacs used to make country music in the suburbs of New York. He moved to Nashville nearly a decade ago where he met bassist/vocalist Brook Sutton and and drummer/percussionist Robert Crawford. Eventually, they formed Medicine King (www.medicinekingband.com) and now they deliver, go figure, a genre-jumping dose of psychedelic and improvisational jamband rock. However, the offerings prescribed on their self-titled debut might be just what the doctor ordered. “These Days” is a song about recognition and realization that smolders and builds on Isaacs’ narrative and rootsy power from the trio. Together they celebrate finding a true sense of home in Tennessee – a sentiment more are discovering if our recent trip there was any indication. “The Devil Will Be Here Soon” is a stark blues painted with echo and verve while served with a bitter pill to swallow. “Who Died and Made You King?” is the mostly instrumental number that reigns supreme on a chunky and funky throne that proves this trio are truly majestic music makers with a sense of humor.
Nashville is the new musical melting pot and many stars are setting up shop there. You need to look no further than the recent press Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has made for making a move to town. Many of the actors on the TV show of the same name are also making their home in the Volunteer State. So, that’s why it was no coincidence that we ran into Lennon Stella (Maddie Conrad) on the streets of Nashville. We asked about her emerging career and she reported to us that things were really starting to take off. Together with her sister, Lennon and Maisy (www.lennonandmaisy.com) are making waves on the strength of their incredibly appealing output. “In The Waves” is their first original children’s song and a recent cover of “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX are receiving rave reviews for their lovely, evocative and enchanting harmonies and pretty pop sensibilities. We can’t wait to hear more from these two.
Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Anna LaPrad (www.annalaprad.com) is based out of Nashville pursuing her dream of becoming a country star. Anna is well on her way with her strong second studio album Storyteller.The 12 track CD is book-ended by the compelling title track with plenty of persuasive prose in between. LaPrad herself is a fine storyteller sharing her tales of life and complicated relationships. Anna’s voice runs the range from smoky to smooth in songs that blend elements of country and rock. Highlights of Storyteller also include the wanton “Wanted Woman” paired with the fiery “Watch It Burn” and later the prayerful “Preacher’s Daughter”. Anna is already leaving her mark as “Till It Breaks My Heart” a song Laprad co-wrote was used in the film Category 5. Keep an eye out for this rising star.
Matt Campbell (www.chicagotalkingmachine.com) is an American, traveling troubadour who we happened to meet in Nashville at one of Matt’s stops on his “Back in the Country” tour. Campbell’s 2013 release No Tattoos captures the essence of songs composed on the road over a three year period. Some of the sixteen-tracks on this CD features Matt solo on guitar and/or harmonica singing his vivid tales in a distinctive voice. Others songs showcase diverse line-ups of players who give Campbell’s tunes a fuller sound. Matt’s travels begin in a bar with a contemplative country-flavored band balled asking “How Can I Love You?” The journey continues through other musical landscapes and by track eight Matt finds himself with the lonesome “West Texas Blues”, which he shakes off with the lively “Can’t Slow Down” punctuated by a feisty fiddle. Be on the lookout as this talented troubadour may be coming to a town near you.
EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! One of our favorites on the site Church Of Betty (www.chrisrael.com) returns with a new doctrine for our Swirled World. Charismatic frontman Chris Rael is seeking new followers for his alluring brand of sitar-tinged Indo pop that is sure to convert you with this album’s 10 commanding tracks that Billboard has called “Brilliant” and the New York Times, “Irresistible”…
The church theme continues as Finland’s The Vatican Space Program www.annalaprad.com (merrimackrecords.us/artist/vatican-space-program/) deliver their far-out debut, A Cobble of Songs that reflects the band’s wide range of musical backgrounds. Drop the needle and you’ll discover a startling array of styles from folk to indie rock, country to doo-wop, British pop to punk to New Orleans jazz. “I Like” is lovable with enough energetic swagger to be convince y’all that there’s life in these grooves…
The Pinder Brothers (www.pinderbros.com) Michael and Matt are sons of one of the founding member of The Moody Blues and their penchant for solid songcraft on Melancholy Sea indicates that the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree. “Same Mistake” is flawless and agile pop with tantalizing teeth in the mid-section that sets the tone for the records that follows. Often, the music is still and calm with breathtaking depth. Often, the waters get stirred up and things get a little more choppy and dangerous. “Talk To You” gets its message across with bouncy and bright rhythm guitars punctuated by sharp leads and waves of harmonies. The Pinder Brothers make crafty sing-a-long melodies with enough of a rock edge to entice the masses to join them on their musical adventure.
See ya next month!
About Sights and Sounds of Note: SSON column editors Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch are the founders of SoundPress.net, an Internet-based music industry magazine and review site, online since 1999. Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z (www.positivepowersecrets.net). Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (www.richlynchband.com).