Spring is a season of eclectic and colorful variety as is the latest batch of CDs to arrive at the SoundPress.net offices. Starting off the musical mix this month is one unlikely reunion that we were happy to see take root.
Santana’s (www.santana.com) latest IV reunites the early 1970s lineup of Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums). The album signifies the first time in 45 years that the quintet has recorded together. It is seminal Santana with a dash of Supernatural grafted in to the mix. The 16-track CD of originals opens with the snappy “Yambo” propelled by an array of guitars, keys and riveting rhythms that sets the pace for the rest of the album. “Shake It” keeps you shaking as does the first single “Anywhere You Want To Go” a hyper hybrid of classic and contemporary Santana. “Fillmore East” is a more mellow meandering jam but the pace soon picks back up with sassy instrumentals like the swinging “Suenos” countered by the contemplative “Caminando”. Santana IV echoes of classic era Santana within a modern context. Perhaps Carlos says it best. “It was magical,” Santana says. “We didn’t have to try to force the vibe – it was immense. From there, we then needed to come up with a balance of songs and jams that people would immediately identify as Santana.” Four plus decades later that signature sound still stands.
Sticking with stars who were first planted into our consciousness in the early 70s we next listened to a new compilation from Rick Wakeman (www.rwcc.com). The prog legend has for decades established himself as a visionary keyboardist and showman. Wakeman has crafted some of the most colorful and complex music in modern rock with the band Yes and as a solo artist. His aptly named Starship Trooper is an out of this world collection of covers along with two previously unreleased tracks. It starts with a stunning interpretation of Tool’s “Sober” and concludes with an orchestrated on-fire version of “Light My Fire” by The Doors. In between are dynamic instrumentals that explore classical, jazz and, of course, progressive music. The compilation also features performances from Gong’s Steve Hillage, Yes’s Billy Sherwood, Steve Howe and Tony Kaye, William Shatner, Colin Moulding, Jerry Goodman, Nik Turner, Carmine Appice and more. Wakeman also known as The Wizard certainly works his magic on his latest release.
Pro athlete Ric Savage (www.officialricsavage.com) is now wrestling with a career in music debuting with an energetic take on the classic “Born To Be Wild” dedicated to the memory of Lemmy Kilmister. While he’s not throwing any steel chairs around he is joined in the ring by an All-Star cast of heavy metal giants to help him pin down just the right sound on this one. The band consisting of Mike Orlando (Adrenaline Mob) on lead guitars; Steve Brown (Trixter, Def Leppard) on rhythm guitar; Greg Smith (Ted Nugent) on bass; Ted Poley (Danger Danger) background vocals and the legendary Carmine Appice on drums all deserve an oversized gaudy belt for their efforts in bringing this 4 minute and five second track to life in mat slamming fashion.
The Church (www.thechurchband.net) are the neo-psychedelic new wavers from Down Under who began assembling their adherents in 1980 and reached the worldwide masses eight years later via the pulpit of music television. On FURTHER/DEEPER they open a new chapter with the revelatory message of “Pride Before a Fall” that is soaked in plaintive soundscapes and layered with ethereal emotion. For the band this effort was all about the creation and evolution. “The magic started on day one,” says singer and bass player Steve Kilbey. “Someone strummed a chord or struck a drum or plucked a note and we were off. We wrote and recorded like demons and it was inspiring to feel every member using all his resources in the service of this record.” While the twelve apostolic tracks on this album each tell their own story The Church are really singing to the choir on this one. We don’t hear anything that will send them into the stratosphere and convert more of the unbelievers like their radio hit “”Under the Milky Way” once did. But, they’re still making solid music this far down the line and that’s a minor miracle in itself. Can’t wait to see what comes next from them a little further on down the road.
In advance of their next full length album Jonathan Jackson + Enation (www.jonathanjackson.com) have returned to the studio with Grammy nominated producer Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul) to record Blame-shifter their new six-track EP. Building on the momentum of their anthemic rocker Radio Cinematic the talented trio presents a diverse and dramatic platter of melody and moods. The opening song “Ascending” is edgy lyrically and musically as is the bold and thought provoking title track along with the beguiling “Let The Beauty Out”. “Alleluia” is softer as is the pensive piano based “Wasteland”. The EP closes with a compelling cover of “Unchained Melody” (recorded live at the Grand Ole Opry) that showcases Jonathan’s expressive vocal range. Blame-shifter is articulate alt-rock for the masses.
Fan favorite Paul Gilbert (www.paulgilbert.com) returns with his 17th solo album I Can Destroy and with it he’s ready to dismantle some notions about his music while stamping out some personal pet peeves of his own – all with his axe in hand. For the latter, he addresses one of modern society’s daily annoyances – people who refuse to use their turns signals while driving. It’s a real concern, creating unneeded danger resulting in destructive wrecks and many destroyed lives. Gilbert tackles this issue with high-energy humor and anger provided by aggressive riffing that gets this record moving in the right direction right off the bat. A long overdue answer song finds Gilbert addressing the most famous tune he’s known for as he turns the tale on “I Am Not The One (Who Wants To Be With You)” referencing the huge hit for Mr. Big. The title track explodes with joy from the speakers as Gilbert celebrates his artistic freedom with upbeat abandon. Loads of guitar, pounding drums and expert production from kingmaker Kevin Shirley round out the 12-track disc with a fun bonus tune about the “Great White Buffalo” helps keep the guitar legend alive until next time.
In recent years keyboardist Marco Benevento (www.marcobenevento.com) has been exploring and expanding his music boundaries. In follow-up to Swift (2014) where Marco took the helm as his own lead singer Benevento continues in that role but at the same time wove new innovations into The Story Of Fred Short. Along with plenty of peppy piano parts Benevento melded guitars into his groovy grooves. Along with guests and Marco’s core team of Dave Dreiwitz on bass (Ween) and Andy Borger on drums (Tom Waits, Norah Jones) Marco used a rare Casio drum machine to add even more bang to the beats. The first half of the record revolving around the catchy single “Dropkick” is very danceable. The second half of the album a side B so to speak tells the story of Fred Short in creative moody tones with a pace that keeps moving. Fred Short was a Native American who owned the land that Marco now lives on. People in Woodstock, NY still tell stories of his shamanistic gatherings and parties on the property. Marco whose home studio is named after Fred pays tribute to that legacy on this festive platter where dance party meets psychedelic.
EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Technomancy is the debut solo album from Victor Love (www.victorlove.com), mastermind of electro-rock/cyberpunk band Dope Stars Inc. This incredible album features appearances from artists such as KMFDM, Deathstars, Army of the Universe, Spiritual Front, and many more and finds Love diving even further into his quest for musical exploration. With elements of industrial, dark electro, cyberpunk, cryptowave, distorted beats, obscure leads, and synth guitars, this exploratory effort finds the artist, musician and producer continues to push his musical boundaries…
Lody Kong (www.facebook.com/lodykong7/) is an American sludge metal band from Phoenix, Arizona led by brothers Igor and Zyon Cavalera, both sons of Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera. Together, the pair keep the family business alive as their new, raw and frenetic debut Dreams and Visions has been released ready to pummel you with its power. The lead “Chillin’, Killin'” kills it as the progeny tackling the ills of modern society with a venomous and unrelenting mix of grunge, post-hardcore, thrash and all wrapped up in a punk to the core ethos that creates their own blend of experimental sonic bedlam…
On Charcoal & Vines the German-British trio Small Fires (www.smallfires.de) play an atmospheric mixture of Indie-Pop and Electronic. The pulsating drums and warm synthesizer bass heard on lead single “Set to Glow” are surrounded by the echo of the guitar, crackles and electronic beats spark all around. It’s all about melody and sounds. In combination with the narrative lyrics of their British singer, they create a sound greater than the sum of its parts. Small is beautiful…
Toronto’s Marc-Antoine Robertson aka AlphaCub (www.facebook.com/alphacubmusic/) had previously released two acclaimed albums and amassed a run of successful tours with his band. But, alas they disbanded as groups often do. With that his new project emerged from the proverbial ashes and he has returned with the infectious “Comet” from his forthcoming solo project. The three minute and fifty-three second track begins its flyby with electro pulsations and really gets moving with some well-placed hand claps before we hear the instantly believable and earnest Robertson take control to deliver his timely and danceable message…
Nine Lies (www.ninelies.net) from Belfast, Northern Ireland make a strong return with 9 Lies that connects from the get go with “Take Me Away” featuring an epic, moody intro followed by deep dark guitars and mystical dark male vocal. This album has it all from the anger of breakup in “Damn” to the lust of the rebound in “Nothing left for Me”. On the no-kidding front did you know – Nine Lies Bassist John Rossi started his career in a little known band called Snow Patrol? Or that, Lead Singer Stevie Mann is the second Cousin of Singer/Song Writer Damien Rice. We wouldn’t lie to you. They might, we won’t!
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).