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David Michael Miller: Same Soil Review

August 28th, 2015

samesoil-300x300Same Soil is David Michael Miller’s second solo album and the follow up to last year’s Poisons Sipped. The sound might be best described as  “modern traditional.” With it’s mix of blues, gospel, and soul influences, Same Soil is a celebration of traditional roots styles. The album opens with the acoustic guitar driven riff of “All the Blues to You,” which lays the foundation for the entire album of soulful songs with relatable themes. There is always enough familiarity to make you feel at home and enough twists to keep you interested but this is Same Soil’ssecond major strength. The first is David Michael Miller’s voice.  This man has a command of the human voice that few can match. Dynamically he is always right on the mark without ever sounding like he’s showing off. Every line seems to roll off his tongue with total and complete ease. From the highest, most intense passages to those that are barely spoken; each melodic figure and lyric ooze soul.

David explores songs inspired by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Bo Diddley among others. The main riff of the down and dirty “Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong” references’ “Manish Boy” but takes a more modern turn that would make Muddy proud. “Got Them Blues” is an up tempo gospel blues jam that with more than a nod to Robert Randolph. “Friend of Mine” is a soulful blues ballad with sax and guitar work that are reminiscent of early Tom Waits. When David’s voice comes in with the soul and savvy of Robert Cray and a hint of Al Green, the goosebumps really start.  He draws on many influences and styles, yet still  sounds very natural and always earthy.  This may sound like hyperbole but every track on Same Soil is a total winner. This is one of those rare albums where you aren’t skipping around looking for the good songs.  “Just Ride” is great blues rocker.  “Shoes To Shine” is dynamite funk/soul number with surprising chord changes and a great solo section with the sax and guitar trading fours.

No review of Same Soil would be complete without mentioning the band hand picked by David to bring the songs to life including keyboardist Jim Ehinger (Bonnie, Raitt, Albert Collins, Billy Vera and The Beaters), saxophonist Jason Moynihan (Buddy Guy) and drummer Carlton Campbell (of The Campbell Brothers). Everyone is giving one hundred percent but no one is “over blowing”, They all play to perfectly serve the songs, David’s voice and the rootsy production.

David Michael Miller has the potential to go anywhere and be anything in this business that he wants. He could easily be the next great blues super star ala Robert Cray or Bonnie Raitt. In the mean time we can all groove to Same Soil while we see what the future holds.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– All the Blues to You
– Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong
– Friend of Mine
– Shoes to Shine
– Got Them Blues

The Big Hit

– Shoes to Shine

 

 

Jeff Fetterman: Bottle Full of Blues Review

June 30th, 2015

Bottle Full of Blues is the second release from guitarist/singer/songwriter, Jeff Fetterman. This eleven song collection has plenty to satisfy any blues rocker. It also demonstrates how much an artist can grow from his first album to his second album.  Bottle Full of Bluespacks a lot more punch in the production, and playing departments than Fetterman’s noteworthy debut Long Hard Road. With influences as diverse as Prince, Springsteen, and Hendrix, Fetterman and company take us on unique musical journey while stopping off at a lot of familiar destinations.

This album covers a lot of territory from funky rave ups like the opening track, “Paradise” that showcase Jeff’s in the pocket riffing, to the driving Delbert McClinton inspired boogie woogie of “Southbound.” The latter, flavored with pounding piano and screaming harmonica is a real hip shaker. The title track “Bottle Full of Blues” is a drippy soulful blues ballad and is a lesson in blues guitar tone and phrasing. Jeff’s lines seem to slowly tease and tempt as he takes his time resolving each phrase. His soloing is as melodlic as David Gilmour and as soulful Hendrix. On the instrumental “Devil’s Shuffle” he lays down some southern blues picking that would put a smile on Dickey Bett’s face. The rhythm section of John McGuire on drums and Ralph Rietinger III keep it tight and driving from start to finish. Rietinger’s funk style is a great addition to the Fetterman sound and makes tracks like “Talk to Me” and “Funky Candy” really pop. Judy Kessler shines on backing vocals and helps elevate songs like the southern gospel inspired “Wash My Blues Away” to heavenly heights.

With only two albums under his belt, Jeff Fetterman is a relatively new artist, but he seems to have come to the world stage very well developed as musician. Great playing, singing and songwriting never go out of style and Bottle Full of Blues is a testament to all three.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Out of Time
– Bottle Full of Blues
– Paradise
– Wash My Blues Away

The Hit

– Funky Candy

Review by Lou Lombardi

Charlie Wheeler Trio: Rewind Review

June 23rd, 2015

rewind-300×273.jpgThe Charlie Wheeler Trio exudes a toughness and desperation that can only be cultivated in the working class, unforgiving hills of of northern, PA, from which they hail.  On their latest CD Rewind, they sport a driving brand of groove-rock that is reminiscent of the Black Crowes and The Allman Brothers Band, coupled with the blunt force of post grunge hard rock. Powered by the rhythm section of Rad Akers on drums and Dave Fink on bass, Charlie Wheeler describes his trio as a “song first” type of band. While expansive, improvisational jamming is a key component to their live show, Rewind (their third album) is a solid group of structured songs which allow Wheeler to tear into his vocal and lead guitar work with reckless, pent up hostility.

Rewind, uses a much more basic approach than Charlie’s previous CDs. Relying solely on bass, guitar, drums and vocals, Wheeler, along with producer and engineer Anthony Brown opted to make an album with “more mud on your boots and grit on your hands,” as Wheeler states.  Wheeler’s guitar work is aggressive and in the pocket and always serves the song. He has a great mix of chops and soul,  but it’s  his voice that will get most people’s attention. There is attitude in his delivery that you just don’t hear that much in this genre.  It’s conversational but the conversation always has a hint of “go f**k yourself”. Imagine Joe Strummer or Mike Ness singing the blues and you’re getting close.

While Charlie is a great guitarist and vocalist what really makes Rewind work is the song-writing. Strip away the crushing rhythm section, smoking guitar work, snarling vocals and we are left with a set of very beautiful and touching songs.  From the tough, woman done me wrong of the opening track “Love Letter” to the sardonic humor of “Semi Good Lookin’,” Charlie introduces us to a cast of very memorable characters. “Makin Love in the Afternoon” tells the story of a couple who’s Facebook relationship status would mostly likely read “It’s Complicated.” He muses about  mortality and human frailty  in “The Ghost of Who You Were”, and while his lyrics may put a lump in your throat, the music always says, “get up off your ass and deal with it!”  There is no shortage of muscle on this album. Wheeler’s guitar work and the band’s incessant grooving perfectly compliment the solid song-writing. Rewind will have you rocking hard and driving way too fast while you contemplate, life, love and loss.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Rewind
– The Ghost of Who You Were
– Lady Luck
– I Like to Wander
– Love Letter

The Big Hit

– Love Letter

Review by Lou Lombardi

Don’t Kill The Full-Length Album

April 23rd, 2015

 

 

April 22, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

In this age of digital downloading and music streaming services, many artists feel that the death of the full-length album is upon us. And that is 100% false!

 

The full-length album is still the industry standard. All major artists from Kanye to U2 are releasing them and fans are buying them. The full-length album is your resume, especially if you’re a songwriter. You are showing your fans that HEY; I can do a lot more than just write and release one song. I can put together 10-12 songs in a cohesive format with the same sound. It says a lot about where the artist is in Anybody can sit down with the awesome technology we have today and bang out a song with software on their computer. It can be uploaded to YouTube or Facebook and in just a few hours the entire process, from writing to recording to uploading, has been completed. But the full-length album says I’m serious.

 

I’m here to play in the big leagues. I’m a lot more than an EP. If you plan on selling your music and doing shows, fans will balk at paying $10 for a six song EP. Give them a full-length album and don’t forget the physical product component to all of this. Sure a download  is nice, but fans want to take something home with them after your show. They want the actual CD, the tangible product in their hands. A CD with extras will allow fans to pop that into their computer and access any type of special content you want to share. Maybe it’s an interview with you, a behind-the-scenes look at your writing process.

 

Whatever it is, you’re allowing your fans to step into your world, making a true connection. I don’t think enough artists are doing this.  Don’t waste your time doing an EP, especially if you’re a band. EP’s are great for bands that have a few  records out already and want to give something small to their fans while they work on something bigger.

 

 I know what you’re thinking. I can’t get 10 songs together that I like. And that’s OK. One option is to  create some clever remakes of already popular songs. Choose songs that work really well with your  existing style, or think outside the box and do some songs totally out of your genre putting a cool new twist on them.

 

The remake is important in terms of marketing. People search songs online and yours could come up which can lead them to your website and ultimately your entire album.

The full-length album is the pinnacle. It’s a major milestone for any artist and the more of these that you  put out, the better. Don’t get discouraged and feel you spent too much time and money and didn’t see a massive return. If you couldn’t sell it, if people weren’t downloading it, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t well done. There are other factors that go into the marketing of your album and we will discuss that in an Solidify your place in the business by consistently making music. The first album is the first step and it’s a major one. If you are just starting out, jump in with two feet. I believe in you!

Anthony Gomes: Electric Field Holler Review

April 13th, 2015

Electric Field Holler

It might be easy to sum up the latest album by Anthony Gomes with one word, “fun” but it’s so much more. While Electric Field Holler may be a record that doesn’t take itself too seriously it is by no means comedic. Electric Field Holler is a raucous celebration of blues based guitar driven rock. From the “more cowbell” intro of “Turn it up” to the joyful innuendo  of “Junk in the Trunk,”  Anthony makes no apologies. He is here to rock the house and that’s exactly what he does.

With his powerful picking attack and Hendrix on krank phrasing, Anthony’s guitar playing sounds as good as ever. He tears up lead after lead, with soulful lines peppered with bursts of shred.  He also has a great sense of melody. For instance, his solo on “Love Crazy” becomes another hook in the song (a melodic lesson in restraint). Theo Harden (bass) and Chad Cromwell (drums) keep it solid and simple and David Smith’s keyboards provide some smooth texture without ever over shadowing Anthony’s hard driving rhythm playing. Electric Field Holler also features some of the best vocal performances of Anthony’s career. He’s got all the soul of an Otis Redding on the tongue-in-cheek “The Blues Ain’t the Blue’s No More” and all the swagger of Steven Tyler on “Back Door Scratching.”

The songwriting is well crafted and to the point. His lyrics tickle your ear just as much as his guitar playing and singing. Check out the story telling in “Redhanded Blues” and “Junk in the Trunk” and the down home spiritual musings of “Listen to the Universe.”

Like many of the classic rock artists of the 1960s and 1970s Anthony joyfully blurs the distinction between the blues and rock and roll. One could  postulate that if Electric Field Holler had been released in 1975 instead of 2015 it would easily top the the rock charts and dominate FM rock radio. If you long for the days when artists like Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer packed stadiums you will adore Electric Field Holler.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Turn it Up
– Junk in the Trunk
– The Blues Ain’t the Blues No More
– Back Door Scratching

The Big Hit

– Turn it Up

Review by  Lou Lombardi

My Own Holiday: Reason to Bleed Review

February 26th, 2015

Reason To Bleed

It might be easy to lump My Own Holiday in with other Guitar and Drum ensembles, like The Black Keys or The White Stripes but on their latest album, Reason to Bleed, My Own Holiday carve out a niche all their own. Their traditional meets modern approach is blues for the next generation.

Joey Chrisman’s post Nirvana voice could very well redefine what the traditional blues singer sounds like. He’s vulnerable in all the right places and just when you think he’s about to falter he flexes his muscles like Popeye after downing a can of spinach and puts a whooping on your ass that you’ll feel for days. Nick Bartolo’s drumming is solid and holds the low end together so well that you don’t really miss the bass guitar.  The stripped down sound serves the material very well. There is no overplaying or long jams. My Own Holiday seems to have adopted the Tom Petty philosophy of “don’t bore us; take us to the chorus.”

The album opens with a groovy little rocker, “Hold On Me” and progresses from there. “Whiskey in the Well” is a David Rawlings-esque acoustic ballad, and “On the Floor Blues” is an example of how these guys can play down and dirty blues with the best of the them.  They reinvent boogie rock with the track “Smile” and create one of the most interesting moments on the record.

While there is definitely a lot of rock and roll on Reason to Bleed, don’t be fooled. Chrisman and Bartolo are blues men at heart. Reason to Bleed is spattered with all the blood and guts that made Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Water’s such powerful artists in their day.With Reason to Bleed,  My Own Holiday joins the  fraternity of blues based acts like Gary Clark Jr. and others who are redefining the genre.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Hold On Me
– Smile
– Reason To Bleed
– On The Floor Blues

The Big Hit

– Hold On Me

Review by Lou Lombardi

Always Serve the Song

February 4th, 2015

serve1.JPGAlways Serve the Song

Why Sometimes You Need To Give Up What Is Most Precious To You. 

 

You’re sitting in traffic, you’re taking a shower, you’re daydreaming at work, and it comes to you. THE IDEA. And you literally cannot wait to get home and start writing. If you’ve ever sat down to write a song, you know it’s not easy. Finding the right balance between all of the elements involved is quite an art form.

 

But you have that magic idea and you know that it’s going to be awesome. You’ve come up with a sweet guitar riff and you’ve been air guitar-ing it all day; you’ve created the catchiest hook and you’ve been singing it non-stop; or you’ve developed the perfect melody and you just know that you’re on the edge of a hit song. You are inspired. You are confident. You are ready. You are.   You start working and you’re coming up with more and more parts. Now you have A and B and   C. But then it happens…you hit the wall. You’re stuck. You’ve got great material individually. 

 

That original idea, that original inspiration is now stopping you, it doesn’t fit. So you struggle. You tell yourself it has to fit; it was the basis of this whole song! You wrestle with it for days, weeks, even months, always coming back to it, but never finding the solution. You have become emotionally attached to this part of your song and it’s precious to you. But you know what, it’s not only okay, it’s necessary, to give up what’s most precious to you sometimes. If you’re really listening, the music will tell you what belongs and what doesn’t. And more often than not, that original idea is what needs to go. Sure, it got you going, gave the song life, and maybe it can be incorporated into another piece, but for this particular song, it has to go. 

 

I was talking to one of my friends who is an artist, and he was telling me how this applies to his craft, as well. He would start a piece and then realize it was going in a completely new direction and he had to scrap his original idea. It doesn’t mean that the original idea wasn’t great; it just means it wasn’t great for right now. But it did help create something beautiful. 

 

Maybe you get this awesome idea to write a song about all the injustice in the world. It’s on your  mind and you want to get the words down to match the feeling. But as you start writing, the song turns into more about love and relationships. And trying to incorporate injustice into the lyrics is what is making you stuck. So stop. It might be precious to you in that moment, you might feel  attached, but letting go and serving the song is always the answer. 

Maybe it’s an arrangement. You think it’s revolutionary, it’s going to be a massive hit, but the pieces just don’t fit. Songs are like puzzles, and you know that even the slightest difference in a piece causes the puzzle to be incomplete, so learn to adapt and let go, find the pieces that fit. 

 

Serve the song.

 

A great guitarist knows that even if he has an awesome lick he wants to play; he has to play a The music will tell you what it wants. Always. Never forget that. Don’t be afraid to scrap what you started with and let it evolve into something so much more. And those scraps can be saved into a file to revisit at a later time. I have a file just like this on my computer. Be grateful for those ideas. Every idea is important and serves a purpose. But don’t  let attachment ruin your process. It’s just one piece. You’ll write many more. To your success!

 

#llstrangelove #loulombardi #loudinipodcast

S.Y.S.T.E.M

January 30th, 2015

SystemSystem. That word might make you think of a lot of things. A video game system, a surround sound system, an exercise system, etc., but I want you look at that word in an entirely new way. Remember this simple mnemonic device: Save Yourself Sacred Time, Energy & Money. Run into a lot of musicians and we talk about what they are doing. Some are trying to figure out how to play their guitar faster, others want to sing higher in their chest voice, some are trying to book more gigs.

All of them are trying to figure out how to accomplish these tasks, but why?? Read more.

 

Eric Gales: Good For Sumthin’ Review

January 6th, 2015

Good For Sumthin'

This is Eric Gales’ thirteenth album under his own name since his debut with the Eric Gales Band in 1991. Eric got started early in his life playing guitar at the tender age of four when he began “borrowing” his brother Eugene’s guitar. Although Eric isn’t naturally left-handed, he plays that way because his brother did. However, unlike a lot of other “lefties,” he strings the guitar for right-handed playing. This is one of the things that gives Eric a unique voice on the guitar. Since his 1991 debut at the age of 16, Eric has received accolades from all the great guitar masters of our day including Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Eric Johnson, to name a few. He has also guested on many records, as well as been a part of some well received compilation albums over the years. Most recently, he’s been a member of the supergroup Pinnick, Gales and Pridgen who just released their second album this year, simply entitled PGP2, and also announced a 2015 tour. Read more.

 

Mike Zito and the Wheel: Songs from the Road Review

January 6th, 2015

Songs From The Road

Songs from the Road by Mike Zito and the Wheel is Mike’s latest album under his own name. This is a burning set of blues-based rock, Americana and soul. This live album is part of a two disc set that also includes a DVD of the show at the Dosey Doe in Houston, Texas. The playing is tight and flawless while the mix is clean and clear. You hear every nuance of Mike’s soulful voice, and what a voice it is! Mike has the soul of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, with the thick grit of Duane Allman, Delbert McClinton and Bob Seger.

The album opens with the funky blues jam “Don’t Break a Leg” but Mike quickly shifts gears to the Springsteen/Seger-esque “Greyhound,” a song about life on the road. Mike changes the mood once again during the mid to slow tempo soul ballad, “Little Red Corvette.”  Yes, a cover of the Prince song. This is definitely one of the album’s highlights. Mike’s treatment is reminiscent of Ben Harper’s remake of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” He takes this familiar song to a whole new place and suddenly a song about getting laid in a Corvette takes on a very romantic feel. Read more.