Sights and Sounds of Note – March 2017

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Busy month! Spring arrives, daylight savings returns and we raise a pint to the Irish. How’d we find time to peruse the pile of submissions that came through the door? Well, we did and we’re springing into action to shed a little light on the lucky releases that in our humble opinions are parade worthy!

In follow up to 2015’s heartfelt Better Than Home Beth Hart ( is back with a diverse and sizzling new record entitled Fire On The Floor.This prolific California blues songstress invites us into a cool jazz club with the opening track “Jazzman” flowing into the smoky “Love Gangster” and “Coca Cola”. The pace pick ups with harmonies and horns punctuating the peppy “Let’s Get Together”. “Love Is A Lie” is harrowing sung with passion and power. It is countered by the funky and rocking “Fat Man” co-written with Glen Burtnik. The title track is a slow simmering brew and the R&B vibes of “Good Day To Cry” are also hot. “Tell Her You Belong To Me” featuring guitarist Jeff Beck completes this 13-track collection of insightful, intense music. “I’ve always written all over the place,” Hart notes. “I’ve got a lot of different artists I love from a lot of different genres, so as a writer of course I’m going to write in different areas like that.” Fire On The Floor runs the gamut from ballads to blues all executed with expressive vocals by Beth Hart an artist who puts her heart and soul into her music and muse.

“One of the best,” declares Joe Bonamassa. “He is absolutely incredible,” exclaims Carlos Santana when speaking of guitarist Eric Gales ( Santana is one of many mainstream artists singing the praises of Eric Gales who has been working diligently at his craft since his 1991 debut album. Eric a child prodigy was only 16 years old back then and he has lived a life of hard and high times. Middle Of The Road is a culmination of his journey going from renegade to redeemed as told in compelling tunes such as “Change In Me (The Rebirth) and “Help Yourself”. Gales writes provocative, personal songs all punctuated by his potent guitar leads and big bass lines. Listen closely for loads of lavish licks paired with life lessons in songs that are bluesy and bold. This 11-track CD features a number of guests including Gary Clark Jr. The two tip their hats to the legendary Freddy King with their scary good version of the seductive “Boogie Man”. Eric returns to his roots to jam with his brother and mentor Eugene Gales on a rousing “Repetition” flowing into the serious and spiritual “Help Me Let Go” played on an acoustic. This fine collection closes with the inventive instrumental “Swamp”. Eric Gales has won the respect of his colleagues and with his latest record Middle Of The Road. Eric should win new fans with music that is direct and diverse.

Drummer Simon Kirke ( of Bad Company presents All Because Of You. Simon plays more than just drums on this record. He handles guitar, keys and lead vocals. With help from the talented Empty Pockets (Josh Solomon, Erika Brett, Nate Bellon & Danny Rosenthal) this eclectic 12 track record really comes together. The CD also features guitarist Warren Haynes (ex-Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule), who guest stars on Track 10, “Trouble Road” a rousing tale of sins to salvation. The warm and winning title track starts the record off right and flows into one of our favorites “Warm Gulf Waters” a reflective look at a dream that does not end quite the way one planned. Kirke’s cover of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love” is totally unique as the lead instrument is a ukulele. “Into The Light” soars with an inspiring gospel choir. “Friends In The Wood” is a charming country flavored critter tune that should appeal to children and adults. The album closes with a lovely ballad called “Stay With Me”. All Because Of You is a varied and visual collection of stories from a veteran musician. Says Simon Kirke, “I finally got a chance to record some of my best songs with a superb band – the Empty Pockets. This CD has become one of the highlights of my career.”

Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame said of Australian Geoff Achison (, “Geoff is one of the finest blues guitarists that I know with a completely individual style. I have never seen anyone play quite like him.” Kaukonen is such a fan of Achison’s craft that he has made Geoff a charter guitar instructor at his celebrated Fur Peace Ranch in Ohio, teaching there for 17 years. Another Mile, Another Minute is Geoff Achison’s 14th solo effort. Geoff pens poetic songs about journeys, life, love and vices all punctuated by potent acoustic and/or electric guitar leads. Achison has a distinctive, slightly gruff voice ideal for storytelling. On this platter he is supported by some of the best players from the Land Down Under. The end result is 14 originals that are based in the blues but explores a range of styles including funk, rock, roots and soul. Horns and backing vocalists add to the diversity of Geoff’s groove. We have been fans of Achison for years and Another Mile, Another Minute is a solid addition to his compelling catalog. This album was nominated in 2017 for 4 Australian Blues Music Awards. So check it out for yourself and see why Geoff Achison is a well-respected, award winning artist.

Just in time for the season we received The High Kings ( – an Irish folk group formed in Dublin in 2008. Their latest Grace & Glory has garnered them widespread worldwide appeal for what’s been called an ambitious departure from their traditional Irish roots. On this album’s eleven tracks you can hear how the band has veered sharply into modern American and country stylings with a fresh and unique approach. The lead single “Hand Me Down My Bible” has helped spread the group’s gospel beyond the folkies. Coupled with the harmonious joy of the uplifting “Schooldays Over” it’s easy to learn how they have elevated themselves to royal status in their native homeland and beyond.

Natalie MacMaster ( is a masterful violin player who has sold hundreds of thousands of albums. Natalie happens to be married to Donnell Leahy the talented musical director of the family group Leahy. Interestingly, One was the first opportunity for the first couple of Celtic music to record together. Stranger still is that Bob Ezrin who has produced some of the heaviest artists in rock (Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Kiss, Pink Floyd & many more) ended up spearheading the 13-track album. Amazing that a chance meeting lead to this compelling and unique collaboration. Backed by some of the finest session players in the world One is one heck of an instrumental exploration. The mood of One runs the gamut from spirited to serious versions of tradition songs mixed in with originals. The animated dueling fiddles alone would be enough to carry this platter but some of the unorthodox studio approaches add to the dynamic of One. Listen for the distorted electric guitars on the feisty “Fiddler’s Despair” or two players on one piano for the pretty “Pastiche Anne” or the unusual percussive elements on the engaging “Joyous Waltz”. In addition Natalie in a first time lead vocal performance sings the haunting “Cagaran Gaolach”. Beautiful music played and produced by some of the best in the business makes One a wonderful one of a kind record.

The Tygers of Pan Tang ( rode the new wave of British heavy metal movement but a revolving door of membership kept them from really sinking their teeth into the hearts and minds of the listening public in the same way their compatriots like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden did. But, with the release of their self-titled collection the fierce quintet led by founder Robb Weir have found a winning formula. He says, “Once in a while in a band’s career comes a special time, a period where you feel it’s all finally coming together and that time I’m proud to say is NOW! The new Tygers album is finished, done and dusted and ready to unleash on our ‘Tygertastic,’ audience. You’re gonna love this one, it’s a MONSTER……” and we don’t disagree. The opener “Only The Brave” is courageous and throbbing yet remains accessible enough to have appeal outside the genre. “Dust” will give your speakers a good dust-flying shake and the pace continues until Track 4 delivers an obligatory but worthy ballad in the form of “The Reason Why”. It’s safe to say the boys have earned their stripes with this cool and convincing collection of hard and melodic rock.

Jack Russell ( was on the premises as the headlining act when the most horrific tragedy in North American rock history occurred as The Station rock club in West Warwick, Rhode Island went up in flames killing 100 rock fans. Russell saw the unthinkable event unfold from the stage before running for cover so it seems a curious choice to call his new record He Saw It Comin’ complete with Death as the fortune teller on its cover. Still, Jack Russell’s Great White represents the next phase of a hair band institution. Rather than look backwards and merely attempt to relive the multi-platinum Hard Rock entity’s storied origins, Jack Russell set his sights on the future. In December 2011, Jack Russell’s Great White first bared its teeth. Since its inception, the frontman welcomed back longtime bassist and friend Tony Montana-this time as a guitar player and keyboardist-lead guitarist Robby Lochner, and drummer Dicki Fliszar. Now, this group has a sharp, soaring and slick new album ready, boasting the bluesy Hard Rock stomp that made Russell and Montana icons in the first place. Some songs are predictably good including the convincing opener “Sign of the Times” soon followed by the demented swagger of the captivating “Crazy”. The album’s 11 offerings point to a solid future for one of rock’s most notorious legacy acts.

Stephen Pearcy ( recently made news for reuniting with his pack in RATT but there are times on his fourth solo album Smash where it sounds like he’d rather be singing with Led Zeppelin. After opening with the plodding “I Know I’m Crazy” the next track “Ten Miles Wide” finds Pearcy chasing the cheese with the most RATTesque number here. Then he goes all out ZOSO on “Shut Down Baby” and reprises the approach a bit on the pleasing “What Do Ya Think”. Still, there’s a good amount of diversity and genre chasing here to keep things interesting – and the singer is in good voice with more good tales to tell.

EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! PETE RG (www.pete-rg) is an American singer/songwriter/producer from Los Angeles with a sturdy new album in tow in the form of Tender Souls that is earning the artist widespread critical acclaim. “Our Escape” is an expansive soundscape opener that finds him embarking on a journey with realistic optimism, a solid backbeat, uplifting harmonies and fueled by a quick lick to send him on his way. Tender Souls is smart rock for tough times…

Animalistic and aggressive are two ways to describe Ape Shifter ( a new intense, progressive and loud instrumental species of rock that is set to be uncaged upon the world. Rising out of Deutschland from the mind of rocker Jeff Aug this album was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs – a fact that should impress the planet! Born on Friday the 13th in Washington, D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland, Jeff Aug is a cool underground guitarist who lives at the foothills of the Alps in Southern Germany for the last 18 years. He has toured with Allan Holdsworth, Soft Machine, Johnny A., Albert Lee, and has performed shows with many others but now his Ape alter ego is set to take over….

The Murder of My Sweet ( are a Swedish cinematic metal band founded in 2007 by drummer and producer Daniel Flores. The music is inspired by movie scores, film noir storytelling and bands like Queen, E.L.O and Genesis, presented with a modern twist and heavy sounding production. Their lastest on Frontiers Records is Beth Out of Hell an album that was described “Almost Wagnerian in style” by Sonic Cathedral. That perception hits almost immediately with the dramatic “Sleeping Giant” that along with the record’s dynamic dozen tracks will be sure to waken something inside of you…

Smoky and smoldering singer STACEY ( invites you to make the “First Move” the title track of her upcoming sophomore EP that is as sultry as it is seductive. Breathing with hesitation & warm swells of choral pleasures that is laced with casual persuasion and laid-back urgency. Where do I sign?…

Tania Chen / Henry Kaiser / Wadada Leo Smith / William Winant ( present Ocean Of Storms an exciting album of improvised music by four of the most celebrated titans of contemporary sonic innovation. The five pieces on the album take their titles from geographic features of Earth’s Moon. Incorporating elements of modern composition, the music is both otherworldly and grounded in the American roots music most notably jazz and blues. A day at legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley resulted in this work, one that runs the gamut from whisper-quiet acoustic music at the beginning to a terrifying maelstrom of electric intensity on the final track. Ocean of Storms is a state-of-the-art recording and performance of 21st century improvisation. Elegance, humor, mystery, awe, and surprise intertwine in a cosmic musical braid created by four master musicians…

Wild Rivers ( flow back into action a short ten months after releasing their debut album with the upbeat love song “Do Right”. The Toronto-based folk pop quartet wanted to show off their areas of expansion that features a larger, richer sound that still focuses on vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyrics. We can’t wait to see and hear what’s around the next bend…

For the half of the population still having trouble coming to terms with the ascension of The Donald to the highest office in the land pop-rocker Graham Elliot ( provides us with “Psycho” which is a four minute analysis of the current state of relations in the land. Graham’s 80s influenced pop style draws comparison to artists like Bruno Mars and Daft Punk, with danceable beats, and thoughtful lyrics inspired by the likes of Billy Joel and Steely Dan. This track leads the pack and shows that at least we songwriters will be put back to work for the next four years…

ABOUT US: Sights and Sounds of Note column editors Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch are longtime activists in the music industry. Together, they have reviewed thousands of concerts and music releases through their network of websites including, and Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z ( Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (


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