Record Label
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FALL 2017

  

 

 


















 

MWE3.COM MUSIC NEWS & NOTES
The FALL 2017 RECORD LABEL SPOTLIGHT



POP & ROCK



ANGEL AIR RECORDS Overend Watts is best known as one of the founding members of Mott The Hoople. The first Mott album—with “Half Moon Bay” and their Sonny Bono cover of “Laugh At Me” and a lead off instrumental of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”—helped turn the prog music freaks sidewise back during the summer of 1969. Going on to work with Bowie and moving from Atlantic to Columbia Records in the early ‘70s, Mott no doubt made their mark. Kings of U.K. rock reissues, Angel Air has a fab album called He’s Real Gone—a 14 track of all new music recorded by founding Mott bass ace Overend Watts in the months before his untimely passing away, at age 69, in January 2017. In 2013, Overend issued his book called The Man Who Hated Walking—a massive 300 page book that detailed Overend walking the 650 miles S.W. Coast Path National Trail. Although Angel Air has a number of Mott The Hoople remasters, including their reissues of Mott’s fabulous early Atlantic Records years, no one was expecting the stunning sonic achievement that is He’s Real Gone. Gone are the over the top glam-rock etchings that made Mott a household word 45 years ago. Instead, He’s Real Gone is a true sonic portrait of Overend, near the end unfortunately, filled with songs that fans of The Kinks would enjoy. To back that up, give a listen to the mid '80s era / Kinks influenced flair of “He’d Be A Diamond” and the Bowie-esque groove of “Belle Of The Boot”. With Overend performing all the lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keys, programming, bass and a range of instruments, He’s Real Gone also features contributions from Mott legends, the late Dale “Buffin” Griffin (drums) and Morgan Fisher (keys), along with post-production by Phil Hendriks. There’s a definite sense of humour about the whole album that is offset by Overend’s quite impressive vocals and arrangements. Some of the tracks like “Prawn Fire On Uncle Sheep Funnel” border on Python-esque humour, yet it's played with sheer sonic accuracy. There’s plenty of Mott and Bowie inspired pop ditties and rave ups. Check out the Bowie-esque “There’s Berkeley Power Station”. Somewhere in pop heaven, Overend and Buffin are now jamming with Bowie and Ronno so keep the faith and crank up the volume. A stunning, ear-opening, posthumous pop-rock achievement, He’s Real Gone will long be viewed as a better late than never pop masterpiece from Mott The Hoople legend, Overend Watts. www.angelair.co.uk

BACK TO THE GARDEN RECORDS – In 2015, the UK band known as Magic Bus released a seminal progressive rock masterpiece called Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden. In 2017, Magic Bus returned again with a bold album of all new material called Phillip The Egg. Continuing on in the path of vintage rock psychedelia, brought up to date in the 21st century, the audaciously titled, eight track Phillip The Egg CD is a true masterpiece for fans the incredible late 1960s / early ‘70s era of classic U.K. prog-rock bands such as Caravan, Steve Hillage-era Gong and Hatfield & The North. Sporting new compositions by group leader Paul Evans (vocals, guitar) and Jay Darlington (keys, backing vocals), Phillip The Egg is a brilliant showcase for the entire band. In the age of digital and mp3, when bands are unfortunately cutting back on actual, "physical" CD releases, Magic Bus has done a fantastic job on their CD presentation. Filled with a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks, the CD sound is brilliant and the disc is actually packaged inside the artwork in an actual inner sleeve! The music of Magic Bus gives progressive rock fans hope for the future while acknowledging that the past was something really important. www.magicbusband.co.uk

BARCAROLLE RECORDS – Singer-songwriter Marvin B. Naylor was only 11 when he first saw the late, great David Bowie on Top Of The Pops, performing the Hunky Dory classic “Life On Mars”. Bowie’s passing in 2016 brought Marvin to a spiritual level, musically. Marvin reflects on Bowie’s illustrious past and other pensive topics on his 2017 CD The Spiral Sky. The high point of the eleven track album is Marvin’s actual song tribute to Bowie, called “Human God”. A fine singer and guitarist, Marvin composed and performed all the music on Spiral Sky, which was co-produced by Marvin and Gary J. Brady. Musically, The Spiral Sky is quite pleasant sounding, complete with eccentric, left-field twists and turns—almost as if Bowie was directing his part from heaven. There’s even a haunting instrumental track here called “Moonsets Of Aerah”. Eccentric pop-rock with all kinds of vivid sonic backdrops, The Spiral Sky can be checked out on Marvin’s YouTube page. The Spiral Sky is well worth the time for Bowie fans as well as disciples of classic UK pop-rock. www.MarvinBNaylor.com / www.youtube.com

BGO RECORDINGS - Following albums that pertained to futuristic science fiction (Beyond Time) and the tried and trusted topic of relationships (Sticky Love Songs), American pop maven Michael Laine Hildebrandt and his entourage / moniker Bubble Gum Orchestra takes on somewhat deeper psycho-social issues on the 2017 CD release of Sixthoverture. Regarding the raw emotional content of Sixthoverture songs like “Living On Earth” and “Lower Than Low” Michael tells mwe3.com, “I was so glad to get Sticky Love Songs out of my life just from the emotional standpoint. I let myself go into somewhat uncharted BGO territory and started writing what was to come for me... a thrilling, emotional and super positive journey of 11 songs. The mood reflects just some of the chaos going on in this crazy world today. A friend told me the album art was ‘dark yet beautiful.” Musically, Sixthoverture features the Bubble Gum Orchestra retro / futuristic pop sound throughout, yet with earlier album concepts of outer space and sticky love songs well done, is Sixthoverture a different kind of BGO album? Decked out with haunting and harrowing album artwork, Sixthoverture is yet another thrilling BGO album filled with soaring pop melodies—Hildy's usually upbeat tracks fueled by lyrics that looks straight into permanent human conditions like love and life. Also on Sixthoverture is a fine Beatles' tribute, to which Hildy adds, “More than any other previous BGO album. I guess I was feeling a little experimental. “The Beatles Made Me” is not my deliberate tribute to The Beatles though. It’s a relationship song about whomever you want it to be about, bringing two people back together through the joy of music and the band that just happens to be doing that is The Beatles.” Music fans who have been hip to BGO since their early breakthrough album Out Of This World will find much to like about number 6—Sixthoverture. Aided and abetted by BGO guitarist Douglas Hildebrandt and guest vocalist Les Farrington of Sugarbomb, Michael Laine Hildebrandt and Bubble Gum Orchestra takes pop-rock to a higher state of the art on the spectacular sounding animated groove of Sixthoverture.

BLUE ÉLAN RECORDS / FATHEAD RECORDS -– Blues rocker Janiva Magness hits blues-rock gold with the six track release of Blue Again. Released on L.A. based Blue Élan Records, the album features Janiva in the studio backed up by a solid band, including guitarists Zach Zunis and Garrett Deloian as well as Arlan Schierbaum (Hammond organ), Gary “Scruff” Davenport (bass) and Matt Tecu (drums). Key to the album are the choice of covers, including a stand out version of the Al Kooper classic “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”—a highlight of the first Blood Sweat & Tears album from 1968. CD liner notes by Janiva are very revealing, with her declaring how the blues refreshes and rejuvenates her. With a powerful set of vocal performances and band that won’t quit, Janiva’s Blue Again CD is a modern day blues-rock masterpiece. www.janivamagness.com

BOOKSHOP RECORDS – Unusual pop, influenced by 1960s bands like The Kinks and The Zombies, Diagrams released their 29 minute CD Dorothy in 2017. Very British with a cool kind of ska beat on some tracks, the group is led by singer-songwriter Sam Genders, a founding member of the English folk band Tunng. The album is kind of hushed but it is superbly produced and there’s plenty of little musical flourishes that enhance the music. There’s also a touch of country rock on some tracks. The catch here is that the music was co-written with Washington State based author Dorothy Trogdon. Genders gets support from a range of supporting players including member of Arcade Fire, Smoke Fairies, strings and things and more. There’s some Donovan influences, most notably on the track six, “Crimson Leaves”. Armed with bizarre cover art, Dorothy by Diagrams is a cool and comfortable album of 21st century pop. www.diagramsmusic.com

COMPASS RECORDS – Nashville based Compass released Carousel One by singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith and in 2017 they follow up with The Last Rider. As a pop tunesmith, Sexsmith has few peers. His voice has mellowed but it still packs a punch on an album that displays his power-pop roots. Sexsmith’s songs are firmly rooted in the 1960s pop logic of Paul McCartney, Emitt Rhodes and Brian Wilson. The Last Rider is filled with smart songwriting, excellent singing and the studio sound is first rate throughout. With The Last Rider, featuring stellar production by Ron and drummer Don Kerr, Sexsmith’s band puts him through the paces and the results are pure pop excellence. www.ronsexsmith.com

DECLASSIFIED RECORDS – Instrumental jazz-rock fusion is alive and well on the 2017 CD by Bangtower. The twelve track With N With Out may be cryptically titled but the music is a breeze to get into. At the core of the Bangtower sound are Percy Jones (bass) Neil Citron (guitars / keyboards) and drummer Walter Garces, who are joined by a number of guests including co-producer Jon Pomplin (keys), Robbie “Pag” Pagliari (bass) and other fine players. Just from a guitar fans perspective, the diversity of With N With Out is staggering—ranging from hard rock instrumental to jazzier fusion workouts to several vocal tracks featuring the ever-diverse Neil Citron. Percy Jones of Brand X is legendary and Neil Citron’s guitar and compositions are consistently brilliant throughout, while Walter’s drum sound is well captured in the CD format. All in all, With N With Out is one of 2017’s finest albums of instrumental guitar fusion music. www.declassifiedrecords.com

DOMINO RECORDING COMPANY – In 2017, Brooklyn based Domino released a 2017 CD by singer-songwriter Peter Perrett, called How The West Was Won. With the passing of David Bowie and Lou Reed, distraught punk / glam rock fans still in shock might want to check out Perrett’s new album. Leader of the 1970s punk-rock band The Only Ones, Perrett has kept a low profile with his output of late, yet the ten track CD was actually recorded with Perrett and his sons Jamie Perrett (guitars) and Peter Perrett Jr. (bass) of the band Babyshambles. The sound is quite good and the tracks have driving rock rhythms, bolstered by Perrett’s dry lyrics and echoes of Bowie and Lou. At 65, Perrett sounds like a man half his age and the driving rock grooves of How The West Was Won brings his legendary post-punk rock sound to new heights. Produced by studio icon Chris Kimsey, every track is great and “Living In My Head” would make a fine single. Fans of NYC based Richard X. Heyman’s 2017 comeback Incognito will dig Peter Perrett. www.dominorecordco.com

DOUBLE SIX RECORDS – The London based duo Trailer Trash Tracys take pop music into some strange sonic waters on their 2017 CD, Althaea. Featuring the breathy vocals of lead singer Susanne Aztoria and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Lee and other fine players, the music blends weird sounds from Filipino carnival music, Latin rhythms and Japanese tropical music ala Sakamoto and the original exotica masters like Martin Denny and Les Baxter, especially on the CD closing instrumental “100 Aspects Of The Moon”. With some mighty appealing grooves, there’s plenty of fine music on hand for fans of strange and eclectic 21st century avant electro-pop. www.trailertrashtracys.com

DUALTONE MUSIC GROUP – It’s surrealistic to think of Chuck Berry as being dead but in retrospect, his era was truly in the mid to later 1950s. Without Chuck who knows if the Beatles and Stones would have been so eager to hone their craft and take rock 'n' roll a step further. An oldies act before the word oldies was even a genre, Chuck Berry released his final album, which was just about completed before his passing on March 18, 2017. It’s almost unreal to think that Chuck outlived John Lennon by 37 years and sure enough, my most vivid memory of Chuck is seeing him with John and Yoko on the Mike Douglas show back in the day! Fittingly, his last album is just called Chuck. Most of the melodies on the songs borrow from Chuck’s vast repertoire of melodic ideas—containing the tried and true riffs that blew the minds of Jagger and Richards and Lennon and Harrison. The CD booklet features complete lyrics, including small corrections with Chuck’s handwritten side notes. To think that Chuck completed this album in his 90th year boggles the mind and there to help him put it together is his son Charles Berry, Jr. and daughter Ingrid Berry and assorted musicians making history. Produced by Chuck Berry, Chuck is dedicated to Chuck's wife of the past 68 years, Themetta Berry. www.chuckberry.com / www.dualtone.com

ENTROPY RECORDS - The name Jan Linton might not be that familiar to rock music fans yet that should change, at least for those lucky enough to hear his recent double CD set I Actually Come Back / Buddha Machine Music. Assisting Jan on I Actually Come Back is Brian Eno collaborator and guitarist Leo Abrahams, who adds much sonic depth to Jan’s catchy, ambient pop sounds. Also here is Matthew Seligman, who played bass on David Bowie’s mid ‘80s masterpiece song “Absolute Beginners”. Fans of Eno and Bowie will love the twelve track 45 minute CD, which is paired with a special 22 minute, 3 inch bonus CD of ambient instrumental sounds performed by Jan called Buddha Machine Music. Based in Hong Kong, Jan has developed a presence in the Asian enclave and there is a bit of Asian mystery about his music. Clearly at home with both Bowie-esque pop and rock as well as ambient Eno-inspired instrumental excursions both CDs are fascinating and hold up well with repeat listens. Commenting on I Actually Come Back and his association with guitarist Leo Abrahams, Jan tells mwe3.com, “It started as an EP or single, really just a couple of songs I had collaborated on with Leo Abrahams. The whole album represents my output and work inspired by him since I met him a decade ago. It has been a very slow process with a lot of updates.” www.bandcamp.com

GREEN SOUTH RECORDS A renowned guitarist from the land down under, Australian fretboard ace Ben Rogers turned mwe3.com on to Heart And Soul, an album he played on as a member of the band called Louey Hesterman’s Whimsy. Ben has been talking up Louey's new Whimsy album on his social media pages and—with the music covering an impressive range of music—Whimsy's Heart And Soul album takes you on a remarkable sonic journey. Imagine the deep folk-rock songs of Fairport Convention with Richard Thompson, with the occasional surf rock instrumental and picturesque, old English folk instrumental. A relatively unknown singer and songwriter outside of Australia, Louey Hesterman is a most entertaining artist and band leader. On Heart And Soul, Louey shares the Whimsy vocal spotlight with female vocalist Cora Browne with other contributions from Christy Cooney and Cyril Moran and of course, guitarist Ben Rogers. Whimsy plays up a storm and the classic, folk-rock flavored lead off track “The Murray River Song” is a splendid choice for a single. Ever the reluctant guitar hero, Rogers gets an excellent center stage spotlight on a rock instro written by Louey called “Waves Of Apollo”. Cover art and imaginative album graphics are by Nikki Scarlett, who is the bass player in Ben Rogers’ bands. Track 12, “Home” is another memorable song masterpiece and gives a good indication as to the depth of Hesterman’s masterful songwriting. With several songs looking back at Hesterman’s ordeals when he served in the Vietnam War, the music of Whimsy merges toe-tapping, topical folk-rock with a shot of rock and roll heart. www.greensouthrecords.com

IMAGINATOR RECORDS – Life gets even stranger on the 2017 CD release of Conduit by the group known as Ohmslice. There’s actually a kind of symbol image for the band’s name that I can’t even recreate here. Highly experimental, the mostly instrumental album features the sonic vision of bandleader / producer / drummer Bradford Reed, who receives help from Jane LeCroy (voice, lyrics), Josh Matthews (drums), Daniel Carter (horns) and Bill Bronson (guitar). Sometimes, with its accent on heavy percussion and double drumming, Conduit echoes the 20th century sound of avant gard legend Harry Partch mixed up with a kind of Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd and Gilli Smyth era Gong influence. Ohmslice is being called a mix of tribal rhythms, electronica meets jazz, meets beat poetry meets avant gard whatever! Anyway, the overall effect of Ohmslice and their Conduit album is both startling, ear-opening and fascinating in a bizarre way. www.imaginatorreocrds.com

JETTY RECORDS - Washington State born / NYC-based singer songwriter Peter Galperin has released a number of critically acclaimed albums including Just Might Get It Right (2014), A Disposable Life (2013) and Perfect World Today (2011). The 2017 CD release of his 4th album, This Burning Sun, is a postmodern pop-rock masterpiece that establishes Peter Galperin as a 21st century Phil Ochs—redefining the significance of the modern day pop musician. It’s a testament to Ochs that 50 years after the tragedies of the Vietnam war, culminating in the end of the Nixon era in 1974, America’s younger generations are in the midst of fighting the latest anti-science power brokers while also trying to establish a kind of 21st century bill of rights on a range of long underrated and too long neglected issues. A strong critic of the current swing to the right in American politics today, Galperin’s forte is crafting catchy pop-rock melodies that touch on a range of significant societal concerns—global warming issues for example, and he brings back the lost art of the protest song with an animated video single from This Burning Sun, called “King Of You And Me”. Living up to the time-honored tradition of musicians standing up in moments of heated political discourse, Galperin further states, “The only weapons that artists have against evil are satire and ridicule, and since “King Of You And Me” is so topical and timely, I decided to try to create an animated video to go along with it.” When Peter Galperin sings ‘What’s normal to you, Isn’t normal to me’, from the album’s lead off track, you better believe he means it. The alien-nation of the 21st century cyberage, the infamous 2016 Presidential election, and the effects of global warming on a planet already damaged by faulty science—all are put under Peter Galperin’s musical microscope. With its urgent lyrics and profound pop melodies, This Burning Sun is one of the coolest albums of 2017. www.petergalperin.com

MICHAEL ARMSTRONG MUSIC – On the self-titled 2015 CD by U.K. based singer-songwriter Michael Armstrong you can hear echoes of the great rock legends—from Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan to Steely Dan, mixed in with the pop exuberance of Jeff Lynne. On the 13 track Michael Armstrong CD, a number of great musicians take part, including Steely Dan guitarist Elliott Randall, and guitarists Albert Lee, Phil Palmer and David Young. Slightly overlooked Stateside, Michael's CD sounds great and astute U.K. pop fans may also pick up on a kind of Hank Marvin vocal sound and true to form, Shadows fans will note Michael is also planning an upcoming album with the gifted son of Shadows' drummer Brian Bennett, triple threat Warren Bennett. Fans of classic rock will want to hear two covers here, including rocking versions of the Billy Joel 1970s classic “Allentown” and a solid cover of Paul McCartney's first big solo hit from 1970 “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Superbly produced, mixed and mastered by U.K. studio legend Keith Bessey, Michael Armstrong is a solid introduction to a rising U.K. singer-songwriter. www.michaelarmstronmusic.co.uk

PIAS – File under: does it get any more bizarre than this? Public Service Broadcasting return in 2017 with a new CD, Every Valley. Essentially a soundtrack to a documentary about the rise and fall of big coal in England, the album pairs instrumental music and the occasional vocal with classical orchestrations and interspersed spoken word clips of famous English politicians and leaders addressing coal and coal mining accidents over the years. It’s truly tragic to see the entire world fighting while striving to find the next level of energy, where it will come from and and how it might save us from global warming, the greedy oil barons and oppressive sheiks and the pollution they create. You can feel the energy here as Public Service Broadcasting—J. Willgoose, Esq. (guitar, synths), Wrigglesworth (drums) and JF Abraham (bass) —sounds influenced by late ‘70s avant rock (This Heat, A. Moore) while even a Philip Glass meets Pink Floyd influence might be stretching it in places. Featuring a number of other musical collaborators, Every Valley is fairly heady stuff. For 21st century U.K. rock historians seeking yet another example of younger musicians addressing global warming issues, and this pressing energy predicament we’re struggling in, the music and subject matter of Every Valley makes for a quite intriguing experience. www.publicservicebroadcasting.net

RIGHT TRACK RECORDS / BLACKHEART MUSIC – UK based Blackheart Orchestra are making waves with their 2017 debut CD, Diving For Roses. BHO are being compared to the music of Kate Bush and even the music of Peter Gabriel and, with singer Chrissy Mostyn taking lead vocals, that is fairly accurate. Accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Rick Pilkington, Ms. Mostyn sounds positively energized on this 54 minute, 12 track CD debut by Blackheart Orchestra. The CD is self- produced yet the album packaging is excellent and the studio sound / album mastering is also quite good. More attention to catchy hooks to accompany their generally first rate production ethics might result in a Blackheart Orchestra breakthrough next time around. Pop and prog fans will catch a solid sonic buzz from the Blackheart Orchestra. www.theblackheartorchestra.com

RISE ABOVE RECORDS – U.K. folk-rockers Galley Beggar are making new fans with their 2017 album Heathen Hymns. The vocals of Maria O’Donnell gives the music a shimmering effect while the six piece band is further filled out by guitarists David Ellis and Mat Fowler, along with Paul Dadswell (drums), Bill Lynn (bass) and Celine Marshall (violin). With their mix of folklore and progressive rock, the band are quite entertaining to say the least. Other sonic signposts include mid 1970s Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, Steeleye Span and even the late Gillie Smyth of Gong. The CD booklet features excellent artwork and also features complete lyrics. England has a rich history of folklore and traditional music and with their rock and acid-folk tendencies, Galley Beggar fit right into that whole scene with Heathen Hymns. www.galleybeggar.com

SCARLET RECORDS
– Country flavored folk-rock is still huge in the U.K. and living up to the spirit is Auburn and their 2016 CD called Love & Promises. Filled with catchy pop played in a rustic manner, Auburn is a fine vehicle for singer Liz Lentin, who gets solid backup from her fine band. Ms. Lenten cites influences like Dusty Springfield and Norah Jones as well as Rickie Lee Jones, and from my perspective, even Marti Jones. Lots of Jones’s here! There’s also a Nashville influence here and the album was recorded, mixed and produced by Thomas Jutz in Nashville, Tennessee. The electric / acoustic guitar work by Jutz is another selling point here. For those who appreciate well-produced albums on CD, the sound of the recording and scope of the packaging is superb with the booklet featuring complete lyrics. www.auburn.org.uk

SLIGHTLY SOUTH RECORDS – Singer-songwriter and guitarist Quinn Hedges is knocking them out with his 2017 CD Slightly South Of Stormy Clouds. Following several CD releases, including his 2006 self-titled debut, Quinn returns with his strongest album yet. For Slightly South Of Stormy Clouds, Quinn teamed with his cousin and co-producer John B. Hedges. The twelve-track CD crisscrosses a range of music including country rock, pop, folk-rock and even progressive rock. Quinn’s expertise as a singer-songwriter is equaled by his knack on both acoustic and electric guitars. Assisted by his cousin John B. Hedges on keyboards, Quinn’s band features a number of musicians who help him put the finished album into the end zone. Pop-rock fans into well-rounded music by rising talent will enjoy Quinn Hedges and Slightly South Of Stormy Clouds. www.quinnhedges.com

SUNDOWNERS MUSIC – Anyone complaining about a lack of good pop music in 2017 is advised to track down the Sundowners album called Cut The Master. Cut the master they did on an album that combines pop, rock and folk music in a most appealing manner. Harking back to some of the great recordings of the early 1970s, the studio sound transports this fine U.K. band back to 1975, before the dawn of punk. Vocals are the band’s strong points with female lead singers Fiona Skelly and Niamh Rowe (rhythm guitar) combining for some heavenly harmonies, while backed up by Alfie Skelly (lead guitar), and the rhythm section of Tim Cunninghamn (bass) and Jim Sharrock (drums). Mixing in some late ‘70s Bowie with early ‘70s Fairport Convention and some fine new inspirations, The Sundowners come up with some truly original music on Cut The Master. www.thesundowners.co.uk

TARPAN RECORDS – Owner of Tarpan Records, Narada Michael Walden has a rich history in both the jazz-rock and pop world and he puts his reputation and good taste to good use once again with the 2017 CD release of Wake Up, by singer-songwriter Jennifer Saran. As with her previous albums, including her 2016 album, Walk With Me, the accent on Walk With Me is on Ms. Saran’s smooth as silk jazz / pop vocal sounds. The central focus of Wake Up is Ms. Saran’s original music (co-written with Narada) as well as her interpretations of classic music made famous by singers such as Patty Page, Doris Day, Billy Withers and others, including a very cool cover of the soul-jazz classic “Me And Mr. Jones” (tribute to Billy Paul), written by Gamble & Huff. Framing Ms. Saran’s appealing vocals are numerous players including Narada on drums, various guitarists, including Carlos Santana, who guests on the lead off track “Wake Up”. Based in Hong Kong, Jennifer Saran sets the pop music world ablaze with the rock solid groove of Wake Up. www.jennifersaran.com

TURN-UP RECORDS A prominent player on the early 21st Century music scene, NYC based Richard X. Heyman strikes pop-rock gold with his 2017 solo album Incognito. Richard Heyman reemerged in the pop resurgence of the late 1980s and early '90s and has gone on to release a range of rock-based pop solo albums—as well as considering the music he’s made, live and on record as the drummer / vocalist with his band The Doughboys, who he's known since way back in the 1960's. While he was still high school, Heyman with the Dougboys went on to open concerts for The Beach Boys and The Buckinghams. A drummer and a versatile multi-instrumentalist, Heyman has been compared to gifted pop giants like McCartney, Rundgren and even cult-pop hero Emitt Rhodes. While also echoing the spirits of rock legends like Dylan and Springsteen, Heyman skillfully cooks up something uniquely all his own on the 14 track Incognito. It sounds like the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle might have influenced the music on Incognito, yet as Richard explains in the following interview, "The country seems to swing back and forth, like a pendulum. I don’t think the political campaign or election had a direct effect on the writing of these songs. It was more subtle. I didn’t notice the effect until after the songs were done. There’s a certain tension and a touch of darkness that crept into the material. As they say, nothing is created in a vacuum. I was inhaling the air like everybody else and when I exhaled, there were a bunch of new songs. If you’re an optimist like me, you never lose hope." The CD features informative liner notes by John Branning, and while no lyrics are printed, they are available and are well worth reading along with the music. Assisted by his wife and band mate Nancy Leigh, on Incognito, Heyman rocks up a storm, playing most of the instruments himself with the aid of musicians appearing on the occasional bass, cello, horns, backing vocals and even trumpet. Pop aficionados have been hip to Richard X. Heyman for years and the 2017 CD release of Incognito will please long time fans as well as providing a solid introduction for the uninitiated. www.richardxheyman.com

UNLEASHED DREAMS MUSIC – Canada-based New Age vocal group Unleashed Dreams released their debut album Dare To Dream in 2017. A stellar mix of New Age Pop that weaves in full-bodied, multilayered instrumentals, Dare To Dream will find a home among fans of both New Age music and fans of harmony-laden, easy on the ears pop. Featuring Lindsey Gaye Walker (vocals) and Sean Michael Paddison (keys / production), the Unleashed Dreams album features a range of guest musicians who fill up the sound stage, including Canadian singer George St. Kitts as well as guitarist Ian Crighton, violinist Maria Grigoryeva and a number of backing vocalists. The CD sound is excellent and filled with vital data about the music and recording, the packaging is first rate. www.unleasheddreams.com

WOODSTOCK RECORDS – The band known as Professor Louie & The Crowmatix continues with the 2017 CD release of Crowin’ The Blues. The thirteen track CD features Profesesor Louie (aka Aaron L. Hurwitz on vocals, keys) and Miss Marie singing up a storm while supported by a range of musicians including Gary Burke (drums), Frank Campbell (bass), John Platania (guitars) and other musicians. Amid the blues-rock tracks is also a pair of cool instrumentals with Cajon flavors called “Blues & Good News” and the CD closing instro “Blues For Buckwheat”. Many of the tracks are originals, yet there are solid covers written by legends like Elmore James, Jimmy Reed and Jimmy Rogers. PL& C were always inspired by the music of The Band and the enlightening album liner notes includes the fact that the Band’s drummer Levon Helm taught them the Jimmy McCracklin juke box hit “I Finally Got You”. Long time PL&C fans will dive into the funky, bluesy rock and roll groove of Crowin’ The Blues. www.professorlouie.com






INSTRUMENTAL


ANOTHER TIMBRE – American-born / Canadian-based composer Linda Catlin Smith breaks new ground for 21st century neoclassical music with her 2017, double CD called Drifter. Credited to performances by Apartment House and Bozzini Quartet, the two CD set is filled with a range of minimalist and light orchestral sounds that feature a variety of strings, percussion and even guitar. Although recorded in the U.K. in 2016, much of the music on Drifter was composed over the past 20 years. Those expecting traditional classical music will be in for a jolt as much of the music on Drifter borrows from avant-garde and other forms of minimalist classical instrumental music. Not surprisingly, Ms. Smith was greatly influenced by composers such as Bela Bartok, Erik Satie as well as John Cage and Anton Webern. The Penguin Café Orchestra influence is never far away. Those classical music listeners with an open mind and open ears will find much musical imagination in play on Linda Catlin Smith’s CD, Drifter. www.anothertimbre.com

BERNIER / DECARLO MUSIC – Fans of 1970 era bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson will be in for a jolt with the 2017 CD release of Strangers by the team of Michael Bernier (guitars, stick, vocals, keys) and Richie DeCarlo (drums, percussion, moog). With its mix of vocal rock and hard rock meets instrumental fusion workouts, the nine track CD features a number of musicians backing the duo, including Tony Levin (electric cello), Pat Mastelotto (drums), Billy Sherwood (guitar) and more. Track two, “Strangers”, features Bernier’s effective vocals bathed in a spectrum of synth washes and percussive pandemonium. Pick to click, the instrumental “Trans Am” features a nice cascading hard rock guitar sound. Overall, Strangers by the effective team of Bernier / DeCarlo is a most fortuitous choice for discriminating progressive rock and fusion fans. www.bandcamp.com

BLUE COAST RECORDS – Australian piano virtuoso Fiona Joy continues to dazzle music lovers with her impeccably recorded solo albums. In 2016 Fiona released her Signature – Solo album and now in 2017 she has unveiled Into The Mist. Once again produced by studio engineer expert Cookie Marenco, Fiona’s Into The Mist album was recorded by Cookie and the music sounds great, especially as Fiona performs the album on a 1885 Steinway 7’ piano. Into The Mist is being called an audiophile recording as it was recorded using a process called DSD (Direct Stream Digital) and it surely sounds clear as a bell. Liner notes by Dr. David W. Robinson indicates that Into The Mist brings to mind the heyday of the New Age based Windham Hill Records releases while the album also benefits from Robinson’s audiophile based Pyramix system. Combining Fiona’s intelligent and emotive piano sound and compositions with Cookie Marenco’s impeccable recording skills, Into The Mist makes for a rewarding sonic experience that unveils fresh sonic details with each successive spin. Fiona Joy fans will want to hear Into The Mist as well as an upcoming album on Blue Coast Records by the group FLOW—featuring Fiona, Lawarence Blatt, Jeff Oster & Will Ackerman. www.bluecoastrecords.com

BROKEN SILENCE / DMG GERMANY - A few years back, mwe3.com featured the 2013 CD by Philippe Caillat-Grenier called Surf Jazz Twist For Horse Riding Heroes and he puts a new twist on his space age surf-jazz guitar twist sound with the 2017 CD release of Secret Agent. The all-original ten track CD was recorded over the past two years and it's truly a unique merger of jazzy guitar technique played with a kind of 21st century retro-surf instrumental groove. Philippe isn’t poking fun at the time honored instro surf genre, he’s just combining it with heavy jazz and also Nashville style country twang ala Chet Atkins. Surf rock fans who enjoyed his 2013 Horse Riding Heroes CD, may not be aware of Caillat’s unique repertoire of albums from the past 35 years but they’re all still well worth hearing. Philippe's English language skills aren't excellent, which stands in contast to his mastery of instro rock music, and especially the retro style and sound of legends like The Ventures and The Shadows. Speaking to mwe3.com about the inspiration behind his last two "Surf Jazz Twist" albums, Philippe explains, "This style of music forces the composition to give the impression of simplicity and minimalism. I love this era of the 1950’s and ‘60s, which gives a joy of life." Since 2013 Philippe has acquired an insatiable appetite for creating music that say, Joe Meek and Hank Marvin would approve of. Some of Caillat’s sonic ideas for his past two albums look back on Meek’s groundbreaking early 1960s work with The Tornados way back when. With one excellent track after the next, Secret Agent jettisons Philippe Caillat-Grenier’s sonic retro guitar vision into the heart of the 21st century. www.PhilippeCaillat.com

DECLASSIFIED RECORDS – Instrumental jazz-rock fusion is alive and well on the 2017 CD by Bangtower. The twelve track With N With Out may be cryptically titled but the music is a breeze to get into. At the core of the Bangtower sound are Percy Jones (bass) Neil Citron (guitars / keyboards) and drummer Walter Garces, who are joined by a number of guests including co-producer Jon Pomplin (keys), Robbie “Pag” Pagliari (bass) and other fine players. Just from a guitar fans perspective, the diversity of With N With Out is staggering—ranging from hard rock instrumental to jazzier fusion workouts to several vocal tracks featuring the ever-diverse Neil Citron. Percy Jones of Brand X is legendary and Neil Citron’s guitar and compositions are consistently brilliant throughout, while Walter’s drum sound is well captured in the CD format. All in all, With N With Out is one of 2017’s finest albums of instrumental guitar fusion music. www.declassifiedrecords.com

ENTROPY RECORDS - The name Jan Linton might not be that familiar to rock music fans yet that should change, at least for those lucky enough to hear his recent double CD set I Actually Come Back / Buddha Machine Music. Assisting Jan on I Actually Come Back is Brian Eno collaborator and guitarist Leo Abrahams, who adds much sonic depth to Jan’s catchy, ambient pop sounds. Also here is Matthew Seligman, who played bass on David Bowie’s mid ‘80s masterpiece song “Absolute Beginners”. Fans of Eno and Bowie will love the twelve track 45 minute CD, which is paired with a special 22 minute, 3 inch bonus CD of ambient instrumental sounds performed by Jan called Buddha Machine Music. Based in Hong Kong, Jan has developed a presence in the Asian enclave and there is a bit of Asian mystery about his music. Clearly at home with both Bowie-esque pop and rock as well as ambient Eno-inspired instrumental excursions both CDs are fascinating and hold up well with repeat listens. Commenting on I Actually Come Back and his association with guitarist Leo Abrahams, Jan tells mwe3.com, “It started as an EP or single, really just a couple of songs I had collaborated on with Leo Abrahams. The whole album represents my output and work inspired by him since I met him a decade ago. It has been a very slow process with a lot of updates.” www.bandcamp.com

ESSENTIAL MESSENGER - New York based jazz guitarist Larry Newcomb joined forces with jazz guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli and the results speak for themselves on the 2017 CD release of Living Tribute—a twelve track CD recorded in New Jersey by Larry Newcomb Quartet With Bucky Pizzarelli. The Living Tribute CD starts off with an overlooked classic track called “I Remember You”—penned by composer / film maker legend Victor Schertzinger, who also wrote the jazz standard “Tangerine” and both tracks were featured songs in Schertzinger’s final film, The Fleet’s In (1942). Amid other covers of Cole Porter, Jonathan Schwartz and Horace Silver are Newcomb originals that fit in perfectly. Other musicians filling out Newcomb’s quartet sound include Eric Olsen (piano), Dmitri Kolesnik (bass) and Jimmy Madison (drums). Guest vocalist Leigh Jonaitis appears on the instrumental album’s two vocal tracks. Bucky Pizzarelli’s acoustic archtop guitar sound gives the album even more cred, but from start to finish, Living Tribute is a solid, straight-ahead jazz recording that will appeal to purists and fretboard disciples worldwide. www.larrynewcomb.com

GINA LENEÉ MUSICOn her 2017 album Red Diamonds, pianist / composer Gina Leneé receives support from a stellar crew of musicians—recorded by the acclaimed production / engineering / musician team of Windham Hill founder Will Ackerman and engineer / co-producer Tom Eaton. The Ackerman - Eaton producing alliance has yielded a prolific amount of spectacular production work in recent years—including recent titles by Australian piano composer Fiona Joy. Clearly, New Age / Contemporary instrumental music fans will catch a positive buzz from both the music and sound of Gina Leneé's Red Diamonds. Speaking about her new album in the following interview, Gina tells mwe3.com, "Red Diamonds is my seventh and most evocative project to date. The songs were inspired by my deepest and most passionate feelings about what is most precious to me; rare and cherished moments that play over and over in my mind. Red is a passionate color and my favorite. I also learned that red diamonds are the most rare and precious gemstones of all; only a handful in the world. I thought the theme was perfect for this album. The musicians that graciously contributed absolutely brilliant additions to my original songs deserved no less than to be considered as red diamonds - gems of the project." Studio support by Will Ackerman (guitar) by Tom Eaton (fretless bass, guitar), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Eugene Friesen (cello) and other top players adds much to the overall sound. Filled with imaginative compositions and arrangements, Red Diamonds is a welcome addition to the New Age music repertoire of Gina Leneé . www.cdbaby.com / www.facebook.com / www.ginalenee.com

GREEN SOUTH RECORDS A renowned guitarist from the land down under, Australian fretboard ace Ben Rogers turned mwe3.com on to Heart And Soul, an album he played on as a member of the band called Louey Hesterman’s Whimsy. Ben has been talking up Louey's new Whimsy album on his social media pages and—with the music covering an impressive range of music—Whimsy's Heart And Soul album takes you on a remarkable sonic journey. Imagine the deep folk-rock songs of Fairport Convention with Richard Thompson, with the occasional surf rock instrumental and picturesque, old English folk instrumental. A relatively unknown singer and songwriter outside of Australia, Louey Hesterman is a most entertaining artist and band leader. On Heart And Soul, Louey shares the Whimsy vocal spotlight with female vocalist Cora Browne with other contributions from Christy Cooney and Cyril Moran and of course, guitarist Ben Rogers. Whimsy plays up a storm and the classic, folk-rock flavored lead off track “The Murray River Song” is a splendid choice for a single. Ever the reluctant guitar hero, Rogers gets an excellent center stage spotlight on a rock instro written by Louey called “Waves Of Apollo”. Cover art and imaginative album graphics are by Nikki Scarlett, who is the bass player in Ben Rogers’ bands. Track 12, “Home” is another memorable song masterpiece and gives a good indication as to the depth of Hesterman’s masterful songwriting. With several songs looking back at Hesterman’s ordeals when he served in the Vietnam War, the music of Whimsy merges toe-tapping, topical folk-rock with a shot of rock and roll heart. www.greensouthrecords.com

GOT MUSIC RECORDS Based in the NYC area, guitarist Doug Munro released an excellent instrumental jazz tribute album to songwriter icon Harry Warren in early 2017. The album features his band, Doug Munro And La Pompe Attack, while the CD is called The Harry Warren Songbook. The timeless "Great American Songbook" music of Harry Warren has long been a favorite among jazz musicians simply because everyone all over the world knows Harry's melodies. Related to Harry on his mom's side, Munro’s guitar playing is in superb form throughout the sixteen track album. To help Doug bring it all about, he’s got excellent backing musicians including fellow guitarists Vic Juris, Howard Alden, Vinny Raniolo, Ernesto Pugliese and Ted Gottsegen along with bassists Matt Dwonszky and Michael Goetz, a couple violinists and more. While Munro’s guitar is front and center, the round robin guitar interplay between all the great players harks back to the Gypsy Jazz sound of Django and Stephane Grappelli, and more recent Gypsy Jazz aficionados such as John Jorgenson and Bireli Lagrene. Speaking about the unusual album title, Doug tells mwe3.com, "Now, La Pompe Attack, that’s the name of my Gypsy swing group. We have two CD’s out, A Very Gypsy Christmas and The Harry Warren Songbook. You are correct, the name of the group is a bit B movie Sci-Fi-ish. La Pompe is the vigorous strumming of the rhythm guitars in the Gypsy swing groups. La Pompe Attack translates as “the attack of the vigorously strumming guitar players!” As for the music on the CD, who hasn’t at least heard Harry Warren songs like “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “We’re In The Money” and “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby”? Liner notes by Harry Warren’s granddaughter Julia Riva, in which she takes pride in the fact that Doug is Harry’s nephew, seals the deal on Doug Munro's latest foray into timeless Americana. www.dougmunro.com

GUT STRING RECORDS Based in NYC, The Nathan Brown Trio released a fine new CD in 2017 called This Is The Moment. Although acoustic bass ace Nathan Brown is the namesake of the trio and he wrote much of the music here, there’s plenty of incredible musical EPS between him and trio mates Félix Lemerle (guitar) and Peter Traunmueller (drums). The music on This Is The Moment establishes Brown as an excellent composer of instrumental jazz, yet he is wise enough to include a range of covers including music written by musical legends like Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil and jazz guitar legend Grant Green. Speaking about the unique sonic chemistry of the trio, Nathan tells mwe3.com, "From the minute I met these guys we became best friends. All three of us have a very biting, sarcastic, almost dark sense of humor. We are always joking around with each other and telling each other things that are hilarious to us, but might be taken the wrong way by others who don’t know us well. This playful openness of communication between us translates to our music. Then we perform, we know each other so well we are able to hold whole conversations together musically, often making each other laugh." Lemerle’s jazz guitar sound on the Grant Green cover of “No. 1 Green Street” nearly steals the show, although with so much new and timeless instrumental jazz music on hand, the real attraction here is the spirited musical interplay between Brown, Lemerle and Traunmueller. Jazz fans will be in for an excellent sonic surprise with this exceptional new CD by The Nathan Brown Trio. www.gutstringrecords.com

HAZELRIGG BROTHERS MUSIC – The sibling team of George Hazelrigg (piano) and Geoff Hazelrigg (bass) makes for a great musical team and together with drummer John O’Reilly.Jr they join forces for Songs We Like by The Hazelrigg Brothers. More than just another piano led jazz trio album, on Songs We Like the focus is on classic music and the album starts off with a jazz trio cover of the 1970 Jethro Tull classic “Living In The Past”. Other tracks covered here include music by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Sting, Bela Bartok and Steely Dan—all given the Hazelrigg Brothers jazz trio treatment. This coverage of jazz and classical music by jazz artists is nothing new, yet it possibly foretells a future that will make rock classics of the 1970s into bonafide future improv-laden jazz classics. Although many of these songs are staples of the rock music canon, in the hands of The Hazelrigg Brothers, Songs We Like exudes a magical feeling and pays respect where respect is due. www.hazelriggbrothers.com

IMAGINATOR RECORDS – Life gets even stranger on the 2017 CD release of Conduit by the group known as Ohmslice. There’s actually a kind of symbol image for the band’s name that I can’t even recreate here. Highly experimental, the mostly instrumental album features the sonic vision of bandleader / producer / drummer Bradford Reed, who receives help from Jane LeCroy (voice, lyrics), Josh Matthews (drums), Daniel Carter (horns) and Bill Bronson (guitar). Sometimes, with its accent on heavy percussion and double drumming, Conduit echoes the 20th century sound of avant gard legend Harry Partch mixed up with a kind of Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd and Gilli Smyth ear Gong influence. Ohmslice is being called a mix of tribal rhythms, electronica meets jazz, meets beat poetry meets avant gard whatever! Anyway, the overall effect of Ohmslice and their Conduit album is both startling, ear-opening and fascinating in a bizarre way. www.imaginatorrecords.com

KULUMO RECORDS - Back in the late 1970’s, Pekka Tegelman was the guitarist in the Finnish band Finnforest, who released several critically acclaimed instrumental jazz-rock fusion albums on the now defunct Love Records label. The glory years of Finland's Love Records label may be a distant memory among Finnish rock and fusion enthusiasts yet, coming back on the scene, Pekka Tegelman released his long awaited return to the jazz-rock world in 2010 with the CD called Bound, recorded with the group Kulumo. Flashing forward to 2017, after several vocal projects, the renowned guitarist is back on track again with Pekka Tegelman & Quartegel. The nine track CD features Pekka on electric / acoustic guitars and keyboards with the aid of Markku Ounaskari (drums), Manuel Dunkel (sax) and Tero Siitonen (double bass). Mixing and mastering at Nevermind Ranch in California by Pekka’s brother and former Finnforest drummer Jussi Tegelman enhances the album's sound as does additional percussion by Pete Korpela. Compared to the structured, neoclassical rock music of the late, great Pekka Pohjola, for example, the music of Pekka Tegelman is much more jazz-centric, with a keen emphasis on creative melody and improvisation. Speaking about his fondness for the American jazz music from which he partly draws upon for his inspiration, Pekka Tegelman tells mwe3.com, "As for the music, John Coltrane was a big influence on me when I was a kid, so this is kind of a humble nod to the direction of Coltrane’s best quartet with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison. The material we play is basically “songs”. Hopefully they have a vocal, singable kind of nature." Dunkel’s sax work tends to dominate the album which also features some excellent guitar work by Pekka. Fans of Finnforest, especially their Demonights album from 1979, will find much to like about the freewheeling, improvisational jazzy fusion sound of Pekka Tegelman & Quartegel. www.digelius.com

MILAN RECORDS – Milan Records was always on the cutting edge of music releases going back to the mid 1990s when they released albums by surf-rockers The Aqua Velvets. It’s been eight years since Japanese avant gardist Ryuichi Sakamoto released his last solo album but he comes through for the fans with the 2017 CD release on Milan of Async. Perhaps a tribute to the unconventionality of his adopted home town of NYC, the fourteen track CD is quite startling in a way that only Sakamoto could deliver. I remember thrilling to the Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1991 with the five part, 13 minute megamix kicking off with the Martin Denny track “Firecracker” EP featured on YMO In The 90s, (The Pete Lorimar Remix) so anyone looking for that kind of exuberance here better look elsewhere. Perhaps related to his recent health battles, Async is a jarring, avant-garde and ultra dimensional album that Sakamoto saus is a soundtrack to an imaginary film by Andrei Tarkovsky. Described as a mix of chaos, noise and music, Async succeeds on a number of levels. Featuring a range of musicians, including guitarist Christian Fennesz (guitars, computers) and a guest appearance by David Sylvian, on a spoken word track, Async combines a wealth of often undefinable acoustic and electric sounds and the end result is both startling and otherworldly. Dealing with the vast casualties of time, Ryuichi Sakamoto steps out of his comfort zone for the jarring, unsettled sonic assault of Async. www.milanrecords.com

MINTUS MUSIC – Pianist and composer Guy Mintus is making waves with his 2017 album A Home In Between. An excellent showcase for The Guy Mintus Trio, the ten track CD features a range of original music and some well deconstructed versions of traditional Turkish music (including a Hava Nagila sound-alike called “Coban Sirto”) as well as a cover of the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile”. “In The Moment” is a composition written by the three trio members. Some sonic signposts include McCoy Tyner, the jazz piano icon who Guy evokes throughout the album. Backing up the jazz pianist is the rhythm section of Tamir Shmerling (bass) and Philippe Lemm (drums). Even though trio sound is all acoustic, the sound is full bodied. Recorded in both NYC and Israel, and mastered in London, A Home In Between is an excellent introduction to the piano magic of Guy Mintus. www.guymintus.com

MOONJUNE RECORDS – Record labels worldwide keep finding new ways to reinterpret the music of Jimi Hendrix and Moonjune gives it their best shot with the 2017 CD release of Machine Mass Plays Hendrix. Machine Mass features the combined talents of Michel Delville (guitars, synths, samples), Tony Bianco (drums) and Antoine Guenet (keys, synths). A number of musicians assist the trio as they rock their way through instrumentals of nine Hendrix classics like “Third Stone From The Sun”, “Little Wing”, “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” and others. A good example of the successful way the music is approached is on “Third Stone From The Sun”, which was instrumental to begin with, although for Hendrix fans and for jazz-rock fans, Machine Mass Plays Hendrix is a most fortuitous CD release. Also worth noting is the excellent solid eye-catching CD packaging. www.moonjune.com

PETER CALANDRA MUSIC – In 2015, NYC-based composer / recording artist Peter Calandra released his First Light album. Peter follows that impressive recording in 2017 with another album of all new music called The Road Home. Orchestral soundtrack music, the all instrumental ten track album is enhanced by a vocal song featuring singer Joy Askew. A native New Yorker, Peter Calandra has earned his musical reputation by scoring music for fifty movies as well as composing over two thousand compositions he’s done for television. The overall sound of The Road Home is very New Age based with just the right amount of soundtrack music influences. In addition to being a fine showcase for his wide-ranging musical ideas, The Road Home also shows Calandra to an inventive musician who skillfully performs on piano, melodica, synths, acoustic guitars and percussion. Speaking about creating The Road Home while comparing it to his 2015 album First Light, Peter Calandra tells mwe3.com, “A few things led me in a different direction. My wife and I took an eleven-week cross-country and back road trip in the summer of 2016. While on this amazing trip, I was able to write a bunch of sketches inspired by some of the beautiful sites we saw and explored. This album has more ambient and jazz influenced music than First Light does.” The Road Home is another deeply relaxing album of meditative instrumental music magic crafted by the versatile imagination of Peter Calandra. www.PeteCalandraMusic.com

PIAS – File under: It doesn't get any more bizarre than this. Public Service Broadcasting return in 2017 with a new CD, Every Valley. Essentially a soundtrack to a documentary about the rise and fall of big coal in England, the album pairs instrumental music and the occasional vocal with classical orchestrations and interspersed spoken word clips of famous English politicians and leaders addressing coal and coal mining accidents over the years. It’s truly tragic to see the entire world fighting while striving to discover the next level of energy, where it will come from and and how it might save us from global warming, the greedy oil barons and oppressive sheiks and the pollution they create. You can feel the energy here as Public Service Broadcasting—J. Willgoose, Esq. (guitar, synths), Wrigglesworth (drums) and JF Abraham (bass) —sounds influenced by late ‘70s avant rock (This Heat, A. Moore) while even a Philip Glass meets Pink Floyd influence might be stretching it in places. Featuring a number of other musical collaborators, Every Valley is fairly heady stuff. For 21st century U.K. rock historians seeking yet another example of younger musicians addressing global warming issues, and this pressing energy predicament we’re struggling in, the music and subject matter of Every Valley makes for an quite intriguing experience. www.publicservicebroadcasting.net

ROCKADILLO RECORDS – Long renowned for their releases of progressive jazz fusion, including the post-1981 and ‘90s back catalog of the late great Pekka Pohjola, Finland-based Rockadillo throws their hat into the acoustic guitar jazz arena with the 2017 release of Arktik Traktor Konspirazy. The ten track CD introduces the guitar-centric sounds of the Joonas Widenius Trio, which features Joonas getting excellent support from Hanu Rantanen (bass, double bass) and Kara Sampela (drums, percussion) along with several guest artists. Born in Finland in 1980, Joonas has an excellent guitar approach that tastefully merges jazz, Gypsy Jazz, classical and flamenco guitar throughout the all-instrumental album. Several of the album tracks feature Joonas in a scaled back classical flamenco setting, while other tracks are more involved. If the main goal of the album is to introduce music fans to ATK's flamenco meets Finnish music with a jazz twist, than the album is a wild success. Acoustic music, flamenco and 21st century classical guitar fans will be quite pleased with the varied, colorful sounds of Arktik Traktor Konspirazy by the Joonas Widenius Trio. www.joonaswidenius.org

SECREST OY – The spirit of Finnish fusion lives on in the grooves of Noxologic the second CD to date released by the instrumental jazz-rock band Progression. The CD was began several years back and was finally completed in 2017 and mastered in superb sound with excellent CD packaging. Produced by drummer Kimmo Pörsti and Otso Pakarinen, the seven track CD also contains four bonus live tracks. Key to the Progression sound is the dual electric guitar sound of founding member Harri Nokso and second guitarist Jaan Jaanson who are teamed with several fine players driven by Pörsti’s excellent jazz-fusion drumming skills. Progression actually formed back in the late 1970s although it was restarted in 2002 by Harri Nokso. The addition of violinist Jussi-Matti Haavisto gives the sound a slight classical and even a Gypsy groove while Finnish bass guitar ace Jan-Olof Strandberg and keyboardist Otso Pakarinen bring the sound to an even higher level. An excellent follow up to the 2007 Progression debut, Noxologic is an excellent return to form by the Finnish jazz-rock fusion band Progression. www.seacrestoy.com

SPOTTED PECCARY MUSIC – In 2017, the New Age music forerunners at Spotted Peccary released Ovum by Chronotope Project. The brainchild of Jeffrey Ericson Allen, Ovum is actually the seventh album by Chronotope Project and the third CD by Chrontope Project on Spotted Peccary, following Passages and Dawn Treader. Allen blends a range of electronic music styles that include New Age, electronica and ambient music styles that takes the listener on an imaginative, musical trip. One of the keys of the Ovum sound is how Allen combines hardware and software synths with acoustic instruments and environmental soundscapes. Influenced by the great past legends of electronic, instrumental music, Chronotope Project represents one of the year’s finest recordings of contemporary, progressive ambient music. www.spottedpeccary.com

SPOTTED PECCARY MUSIC – A long time supporter of instrumental New Age electronic music, Howard Givens is the proprietor of Spotted Peccary. Long time based in San Diego, Howard took his label up north to Oregon and continues releasing excellent albums by himself and his label mates. High on the list of Spotted Peccary titles in 2017 is Being Of Light by Howard Givens & Craig Padilla. Featuring four long tracks that clocks in around 70 minutes, Being Of Light is being heralded as a sonic exercise in “harmonic color and ambient electronic subtlety”. Between both Givens and Padilla, the album demonstrates their proficiency on a range of modular, digital and analog synths blended with grand piano, electric guitars and assorted instruments. In addition to CD, Being Of Light is being offered on various downloads including the 24-bit / 96k high definition studio master. With Being Of Light, Spotted Peccary continues its reputation as one of the finest New Age electronic music labels in the US today. www.spottedpeccary.com

STRIKEZONE RECORDS – It’s amazing that the 2017 CD release of Strykin’ Ahead is actually the 28th album as a leader by NYC based guitarist Dave Stryker. There’s hardly a better straight ahead jazz guitarist than Stryker on the current jazz scene. Dave cut his teeth back in the 1980s with jazz legends like Brother Jack McDuff and Stanley Turrentine—the latter the focal point of Dave’s 2015 album Don’t Mess With Mister T. Prior to Strykin’ Ahead, Dave released a pair of jazzy, instrumental tribute albums to his 1960s pop-rock roots called Eight Track 1 & 2, which featured Stryker’s instro jazz covers of classics by Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Webb and more. Released in 2017, Strykin’ Ahead finds Dave returning to his straight ahead jazz guitar / organ quartet sound, while featuring originals and new covers from the pens of jazz icons like Wayne Shorter, Billy Strayhorn, Charlie Parker and even Broadway legend Anthony Newley, the latter the subject of a fresh cover of the timeless “Who Can I Turn To”. Styrker’s band on Strykin’ Ahead features excellent players, including Jared Gold (organ), Steve Nelson (vibraphone) and McClenty Hunter (drums). Recorded in New Jersey in 2016, Strykin’ Ahead is one the best mainstream jazz albums of the year. www.davestryker.com

WEISHIU MUSIC New Age music is still a valid sonic solution in the post 9-11 world of America. Global warming and endless violence in our culture and country has left people with hypertension and chronic despair. One answer is musical therapy and one album that fits the bill to a tee is Kingdom Of Mountains by the musical group called Mystic Journey. The ten track CD is filled with titles with names like “Delicate Rainbow Flower”, “I Dream Of A Castle” and “Lebanese Girl”, but idealistic thoughts aside, Mystic Journey creates music that will improve your soul and change your life for the better. Players taking part on the Kingdom Of Mountains album include Suzanne Teng (world flutes), Gilbert Levy (world strings, percussion), Dann Torres (guitar, oud) and Jon Ossman (bass, dilruba). Mystic Journey gives life to instrumental World Music that is both ethereal and exotic, as well as soulful and healing. In his album liner notes, no less a musical authority than John Densmore (founding member and drummer of rock legends The Doors) has said that after listening to Mystic Journey, “your inner inner windshield wipers will have washed off what you don’t need”. If you’re down from the troubles of the world or in actual physical pain brought about by the stress of 21st century living, take a good listen to Mystic Journey's Kingdom Of Heaven and take your heart and soul on a most illuminating ride through inner space. www.mysticjourney.net

 



REISSUES
& RETROSPECTIVES


 

ANGEL AIR RECORDS – Angel Air continues impressing collectors and music fans with their 2017 CD release of J2-B2 by the band called Cathédrale. Formed in the late 1980s by Jon Camp, of the prog band Renaissance, Cathédrale also featured Jon Young (keys, Asia, Greenslade and Scorpions), Mark Goddard-Parker (vocals), Brett Wilde (guitars) and Tony Bodene (drums). Recorded between 1989 and 1991, the album is very much 1980s with MTV type animated rock vibes. Musically, Cathédrale was all over the map—mixing post-punk rock with a dose of glam rock and even progressive rock. Track seven “Wise Men (Never Fall In Love)” is a prog-glam classic of the era. Both Jon Camp and singer Mark Goddard-Parker make a good vocal tag team. With July 2017 liner notes by Jon Camp, Cathédrale’s J2-B2 album is a solid spin from start to finish and should appeal to a wide cross section of music fans who dig the overall eclectic nature of the music within. www.angelair.co.uk

BMG – Back in the 1970s, Emerson Lake & Palmer were a huge band, filling up stadiums of audiences eager to see them perform live, all over the world. In a sad twist of fate, both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake died at different points in 2016, leaving only Carl Palmer to carry on the band legacy. Following remixed reissues of the band’s early works on both CD and LP, BMG follows with the completion of the band’s nine studio albums and various live recordings with remastered Spring 2017 CD reissues of Works Volume 1 (originally released in March 1977, reissued as a double CD and double Lp), Works Volume 2 (originally released as one album November 1977, reissued as a double CD with bonus live disc, and as a single album Lp), and Love Beach (single CD with bonus cuts and single Lp of the original 1978 album). Especially in light of the passing of both Emerson and Lake, these CD and Lp reissues, while not remixed, are ripe for rediscovery and the bonus live tracks on Works Volume 2 and the alternate mixes and out-takes from Love Beach reveal a band that could basically do it all. Each of these three ELP CD were remastered by audio engineer Andy Pearce and feature 2016 liner notes by legendary Melody Maker scribe Chris Welch—the noted reviewer / writer who was on the front lines during the rise of the progressive rock phenomenon of the late 1960s and 1970s. Back in 1970, the entire music world predicted great things for Emerson Lake & Palmer and after revisiting their historic repertoire no one in their right mind would contest that fact. www.emersonlikepalmer.com

BEAR FAMILY RECORDS – Based in Germany, Bear Family Records was one of the first CD reissue labels in the world. Going strong for over 30 years, Bear Family released Great Drums At Sun in 2016 and hot on the heels is Great Guitars At Sun. Featuring a number of early rock and roll giants and their guitarists, recording for the famous Sun Records label in Memphis, the single CD features 28 tracks of vintage rock and roll music including Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Rufus Thomas, James Cotton, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Milton and a whole lot more. Most people know that Scotty Moore played guitar with Elvis from the get-go yet many of these early rock and roll giants were also great guitarists as well and/or had a phenomenal guitarist in their band. A good example of an unknown early rock and roll giant playing instrumental music here is the Earl Hooker track “The Hucklebuck”, a jazzy R&B track that was a big hit in 1949 and can be traced to Charlie Parker, even though the song was also a huge pop hit, with lyrics, for vocalists including Frank Sinatra. The 60 page CD booklet for Great Guitars At Sun reads like a history lesson thanks to astute Sun Records historians, Hank Davis and Scott Parker. www.mvdb2b.com / www.bear-family.de

CHRYSALIS RECORDS / RHINO RECORDS – Right up there with the best sounding albums of 1977, the now historic Jethro Tull album, Songs From The Wood had always sounded great—my noting the often-referenced Mobile Fidelity gold CD from 1998—yet the 2017, 40th anniversary Chrysalis / Rhino / Parlophone remix / remaster fashioned by current prog prodigy, Steven Wilson lifts yet another sonic veil off of the CD, giving it a truly magnificent, jaw-dropping sheen. Key to the remix package of the album are a number of Songs From The Wood era songs which never appeared before, at least on an official Jethro Tull album, as well as several Songs From The Wood tracks appearing in an unedited / alternative form, all remixed by Mr. Wilson, and all the while following the original album also given the Wilson treatment. These bonus rarities fleshing out and following the original album remix of Songs From The Wood include rarieties like the nine minute “Old Aces Die Hard” and “Working John, Working Joe” and a never before heard Mike Batt production of Tull’s perennial holiday classic “Magic Bells”—a 4/4 time signature version of “Ring Out, Solstice Bells”—which is track five on the original album. The 2017 40th anniversary 5 disc box set version of Songs From The Wood includes the original album and bonus studio tracks on CD, all given the remix treatments, plus a double live CD of Tull’s November 21st, 1977 concert in Landover, Maryland. Two DVDs are also included, with DVD 2 featuring the entire Landover show in more than decent looking and sounding DVD video and a DVD audio version of the entire Songs From The Wood album plus bonus cuts on the first DVD. The entire Jethro Tull band from the Songs From The Wood era was perhaps the best Tull ever—Ian Anderson on vocals, flutes and guitars backed up by Martin Barre (guitars), John Evans (piano, organ, synth), Dee Palmer (piano, synths, Portative organ), Barriemore Barlow (drums, percussion) and the late, great bassist, vocalist John Glascock. Long time Tull audio engineering genius Robin Black, who helped make albums like Benefit so momentous sounding, was also on hand helping the band record the original Songs From The Wood album at fabled Morgan Studios in London—the same studio where Tull recorded Benefit and Stand Up. Packaging for this 40th anniversary Songs From The Wood box set includes an attractive, book like package complete with an incisive 96 pages of liner notes, new interviews, lyrics, fresh and revealing anecdotes and more. In a fitting tribute to a once in a lifetime moment, Chrysalis pulls out all the stops on their five disc 2017 version of Songs From The Wood—assuring fans and music lovers that this unique period from the time-honoured Jethro Tull legacy will live on well into the 21st century and beyond. www.jtull.com

CAPITOL RECORDS / BROTHER RECORDS / UNIVERSAL MUSIC ENTERPRISES – Following the disappointing non-acceptance and subsequent shelving of Smile, Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys scaled back their operations and their aspirations. After the tepid response to Pet Sounds by the teenyboppers in 1966, Brian came up with “Good Vibrations” yet, just after that it all fell apart. Released after the 1967 summer of love, Smiley Smile took a backseat to the ground breaking sound of John Lennon and The Beatles yet, visionary of the Beach Boys sound, Brian Wilson kept plugging along, even with a sizable step down in popularity. Some of that bad, bad stuff is put under the microscope again with a 2017 stereo remix of the album Wild Honey—recorded just a few short months after Smiley Smile. Part of Capital Records’ 2017, 65 track, double CD release of 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow, the original Wild Honey was originally released in mono at the tale end of 1967. Interestingly, although unknown at the time, things were also falling apart for The Beatles, especially after the shocking death of Fab Four manager Brian Epstein, just a few weeks before the release of Smiley Smile. The chaos of Epstein’s untimely passing and the rapid ascent of psychedelia and the shocking escalation of the Vietnam war were not lost on Brian and the Boys, who tuned it all out and immersed themselves in Transcendental Meditation while recording on their merry way. Great Beach Boys albums like Wild Honey, Friends and 20/20 would, ten years after their original release, become links of vital importance to the same fans, who ironically deemed them passé in the age of Sgt. Pepper. Long time Beach Boys remixers / producers Mark Linnett and Alan Boyd were the sonic masterminds of the 2012 stereo remix CD of Smiley Smile and they rise to the occasion once again with their 2017 Wild Honey stereo remix featured on Sunshine Tomorrow. Capitol and Brother Records sweeten the 1967 deal packing their stereo Wild Honey remix with a wide range of rarities and outtakes, including yet another unreleased Beach Boys album from 1967 called Lei’d In Hawaii, which was originally supposed to be a live album that was shelved and then the band rerecorded the album in the studio. Lei’d In Hawaii is a truly bizarre sounding album that comes across as a near unplugged album of classic Beach Boys hits and covers of songs like “The Letter”, “The Game Of Love” and ironically, the Sgt. Pepper classic “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Some of the live versions of the original Lei’d are also included as are various outtakes from Wild Honey and first recordings of songs that would eventually show up on future Beach Boys albums like Sunflower and 20/20. A till now unreleased rarity called “Lonely Days” (not the BeeGees song) shows that later in 1967, Brian Wilson was hardly bereft of musical ideas even as his band was being left in the record bin dust at the time. Despite flying under the radar by early 1968, since 1977 Wild Honey is considered an underrated album in the Beach Boys canon of musical greatness. With 1967: Sunshine Tomorrow fans can now rediscover all the history and music magic behind the Beach Boys and their underrated Wild Honey era. www.brianwilson.com / www.beachboys.com

ROCKADILLO RECORDS – Although honing his skills in the 1970s, by the time of the early 1980’s Pekka Pohjola was in his compositional prime. Although peerless in his native Finland for ten years, the 1980s saw the rise of slightly younger musicians, who grew up listening to Pohjola’s solo albums, his work with Wigwam and even Pekka’s albums with New Age rock pioneer Mike Oldfield. One such composer from Finland who threw his hat into the Finnish fusion arena in the early 1980s area was Anssi Tikanmäki, who released a fine orchestral instrumental rock album in 1981 called Finnish Landscapes. The Finnish title of the album, Maisemakuvia Suomesta was a true tongue twister for people to pronounce, especially in the US and UK where some less than astute fans even ridiculed the uniqueness of the Finnish language. Anssi’s album was a great success and although forgotten through the years, it has once again been reissued in early 2017 on CD by Rockadillo Records in Finland. The kicker for those fortunate ones who know the album is that Rockadillo has sweetened the deal by including a second CD featuring Anssi and hs band performing the entire Finnish Landscapes album live in 2004—twenty years after its original release. Of course the CD packaging is first rate though you’ll need a translator to fathom Anssi’s 2016 liner notes. 1980’s Finnish jazz-rock fusion in the style of the late great Pekka Pohjola lives on in the grooves of Anssi Tikanmäki’s Finnish Landscapes. www.rockadillo.fi

 


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