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FXRRVST, May XXVI, 2017

fxrrvst - may xxviDon’t break your tongue trying to pronounce the name of this outfit. Simply put this is to be referred to as Forrest. And the members are Holly Forrest and Matthew Fuentes, from Toronto Canada. Influenced by the lyrics and unconventional song structures from Tegan and Sara and the vibes and guitar of Fleetwood Mac, the duo is sees this as their first step in taking world domination.

Now that is quite a bold statement in the press information. I will spare you most of the rest of the press blurb and just focus on what my ears tell me. And there is no denying that the 9 songs on offer are catchy. Every song has a hook and melody that is instant. And much to my enlightenment, they still manage to stay away from all too obvious choices and routines in their songs. So that is indeed a plus, and a big one.
And while this is marketed as a alt-rock band, for me this is not quite true. Alt is a tag that I suspect will put off people, thinking that the weirdness outweighs the primal attraction. And in this case I am quite sure that a lot of people would find it easy to enjoy the music, once they are persuaded to give it a listen.

I have been playing this for quite some time now, and I still think they musical vocabulary goes way beyond your average radio hit. And that without losing the instant lovable factor.  So maybe that world domination aim is not so dumb after all…

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Uriah Heep, Raging Through The Silence, 2017

uriah heep - raging through the silenceUriah Heep have also gone independent and this is their second release on their newly formed label. The band are determined to close all the gaps in their discography so the core fans (me included) will be pleased with this double disc and DVD, as this has only been available on a long lost VHS at the time.

What we have here is the 1989 concert of their 20th Anniversary show. Also included is an interview which was recorded at that very same time. Which makes 2018 their 49th year of existence… In the band besides ol’ Mick Box (RESPECT), Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon, are Trevor Bolder (RIP) and Lee Kerslake. Besides mandatory pieces like July Morning, Stealin’, Gypsy, Easy Livin’ or Look At Yourself, we also get more recent material from that time. Like Bad Bad Man, Blood Red Roses, Too Scared To Run, Cry Freedom or The Other Side Of Midnight.
Because Uriah Heep never was a band content with delivering another greatest hits set and always look to perform their newer songs. And in the process captivate every audience they can play for. A live band par excellence! And even when I own 5 live albums now, as well as all the studio albums, I never get tired of listening to the band. Classic songs and a bunch of guys thoroughly enjoying what they do.

On to the 50th anniversary! And more music please 🙂

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Sonja Kristina, Anthology, 2017

SONJA-KRISTINA anthologyThis double Anthology disc from Sonja Kristina, of Curved Air fame, features a collection of her solo work and rare and newly recorded exclusive tracks. It also features custom cover art and her personal liner notes. Makes sense because she personally picked the songs. Or as she puts it; “these are my reveries on life and love through the decades”. Decades? Yes, after topping the British Music female vocalist polls throughout the seventies and being the first woman fronting a rock band, she is still vibrant and edgy today. And catching the spotlight whenever she performs live.

The 21 songs on the discs are proof of a lady willing to experiment (no wonder after being in a prog band for 50 years), but also does not shy away from delivering intimate songs. And everything in between. So the variety on the album is enormous. From folk, singer songwriter, to pop, Beatlesque pop rock and so on. All held together by her voice and a feel for melodies that are able to seduce you.
I guess it is safe to say there is something for everyone here. For the casual listener, as well as the more demanding aficionado. Not sure this collection will find its way to all who would enjoy it. Alas so many today are so unaware of all the real music that is available…

I very much enjoyed listening to the album and hit repeat several times. That ought to tell you something!

Website

Focus, The Focus Family Album, 2017

the focus family albumDon’t mind listening to Focus, and even better when it is a double album. But wait, it’s a “family” album. Isn’t that supposed to be a kind of best of from Focus and related bands? Well, in this case that is only partly true. Because this is in fact extensive unreleased and new material! On offer are 20 tracks, of which 15 are unreleased, some are alternate versions of the Focus X sessions, solo tracks from current members and tracks from the beginning of the Focus 11 sessions. All wrapped in a cover that can only be from the one and only Roger Dean.

And does that mean that quality is an issue here? Of course not, we are dealing with world class musicians here. They care too much about music to release anything under par. So you will get: 2 songs by Thijs van Leer on flute, over some nature sounds. Very relaxing. 10 Focus songs, all in their usual mix of instrumental and vocal, fusion, blues and or rock. Also 2 songs from drummer Pierre van der Linden, 2 songs by guitarist Menno Gootjes (definitely check Hazel, beautiful), 2 songs by Swung, who are Focus without Thijs and 2 songs by new bassist Udo Pannenkeet, who takes over from Bobby Jacobs.
Besides the art work from Dean, another thing of note is that this is released independently on their In And Out Of Focus label! With their status I guess that is not a really bold move, but still.

Anyone familiar with their output can buy this on sight, class us usual.

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Ghostly Beard, Invisible, 2017

ghostly beard - invisibleSince bursting on the scene with his fantastic first EP Infinite, the multi talented Patrick Talbot, the enigma behind Ghostly Beard, has been anything but invisible. Constantly letting the world know about his musical discoveries, or writing articles sharing his knowledge, he has proven a firm advocate of Indie Music.

So hot on the heels of that first offering, we now get the first full length, Invisible. On it are 11 songs, with a total playing time of just under 50 minutes. The first that struck me about the album was the change of direction. Or change, maybe it is more of an enhancement to his style on the EP. Did I mention Pink Floyd then, a name that popped up listening to this was Steely Dan. A band known for playing deceptively simple sounding songs which actually were far more complex, and always played with stellar musicians delivering timeless performances.
And throughout the songs on this album, I hear some of the same typicals. On the surface they are melodic, with great lyrics too. Fairly short, so fit for airplay on any station. But underneath that surface, his compelling bass work, his fantastic feel for guitar solos, or the shining keyboard work, tells you here is a master at work.
So far there have been 2 videos to get into the album, the tasty wonderful Blue and the very funny Fool. But there are many songs on this album I could mention. Too many really. Personal favourites now are Set Me Free and A Reason To Leave, but that might change over time.

Yes he did it again and simply surpassed my already high expectations. Wonderful colourful music that everybody needs to check. What’s next Patrick?

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John Wetton, Akustika (I+II), 2017

john wetton - akustikaAnd here another re-release, at least disc one of it. And of course, also John Wetton (R.I.P.) needs no further introduction either. Be it as a solo artist or participating in bands like King Crimson, Uriah Heep, UK and probably the commercially most successful Asia, the man has been around the block.

Disc 1 was originally released in 1996 and features 12 songs, including Voice Of America, Rendezvous 6:02, Only Time Will Tell and of course Heat Of the Moment. What you get is that mighty voice, accompanied by either acoustic guitar, or keyboards. Timeless music and a class A performer, you can’t go wrong there.
Disc 2 was hand picked by the man himself, before he left us after his battle with cancer. It is a concert from 2005, aptly titled Akustika II, return to Amerika. On it are 15 tracks, and while there are a few doubles from disc one, it is still worthwhile. Part because of the extra songs, and part because some of his talking between the songs has been left to listen to. And he comes across as a humble, honest and quite humorous man.

So while I will miss there will never be new music coming, I am thankful for his legacy, as many of his songs are in the soundtrack of my life. Impressive.

website

Giant Flying Turtles, Waltz To The World, 2017

giant flying turtles - waltz to the worldAnother new band whose album has been making many rounds in my CD-player the last weeks. The funny thing is, looking at the band name, the album title or the album art, will probably not give you a clue as to what to expect. Well, here’s where I come in I guess 🙂

The Giant Flying Turtles are a 4 piece band consisting of Calvin Bennet on vocals, upright and electric bass, acoustic guitars and cello, Johnny Young on vocals, piano, keyboards and rhythm guitar, Jim Toscano on drums, percussion and whistle and TJ Jordan on guitar and vocals. There are also some guest on banjo and violin.
Looking at that it seems the guys are able to add a lot of colour. And that would be the needle on the head. This album is filled with songs that cover a broad spectrum of genres. Think everything between Rockabilly, Prog rock, Alternative, Americana, Blues, Swing, Bluegrass and Folk. And while some might be put off by that, those would be missing out!
Because whatever is the root of a song, these guys are able to convince. The songs have great spirit and energy. And I for one admire a band with the balls to just go out and do what they like. Especially when served so expertly. Of course for me personally the more rocking tracks (check One Of A Kind for instance) are closest to my taste, but I have found every track to be enjoyable and just very well done.

I think a lot of people could fall in love with this, so please have a listen!

Website

Guy Paul Thibault, It’s About Time, 2017

guy paul thibault - its about timeFor reasons not disclosed in the press sheet, Guy Paul Thibault has been absent of releasing new music for 17 years. Back in the day he released 5 successful albums, so that makes It’s About Time (duh!) #6. The 10 songs are written, recorded and performed by Thibault, with guest appearances from Shawn Cherry (drums) and David Bradshaw (violin and mandolin).

Opener Here She Comes is a contemporary folk song. Great acoustic guitar and a light footed feel that is easy to catch on to. Misdemeanor is a catchy pop rock tune that will please both the casual listener as well as, well people like me :). Songs like Hills, Tallest Man On Earth, Stay (For Riley) or Saturday Night show a mature writer at work, able to add depth to his songs. And songs like We Just Don’t Care or Saving Grace just plain rock. And then there is still a ballad and a singer/songwriter track. So yes diverse, but all held together by the confident delivery of the man’s voice.

Despite not being familiar with older work, I think that Guy Paul qualifies as an experienced musician who delivers well crafted songs that will appeal to many music lovers. So personally I hope that the next set of songs will not take another 17 years to surface.

Website

B.D. Gottfried, Through The Dog’s Eyes, 2017

bd gottfried - through the dogs eyesA couple of years have past since the previous album from B.D. Gottfried (vocals, drums, keyboards) landed on my desk. And that was quite an enjoyable affair. And now Through The Dog’s Eyes has been released. Even when you might not be familiar with the name, Gottfried is a seasoned pro who has been around. His writing style is probably best described as pop / rock combined with often witty lyrics. In fact, I guess production wise this album rocks a tad more than before. But that extra bite only adds to the charm.

And charm this has in spades. Every song owns the ability to nest itself in your brain for you to hum along to. And while that might make you think that the songs are predictable and simple, they are not. Every track has an edge to it. A break, a non standard bridge, you name it. But the combination of all the used elements is just working. At least for me they are. From the opening track Something You Weren’t, to the should be a hit Blame It On The Money, to the suspense of Frequencies. Any of the 10 tracks on offer brings something to the table.

So it is safe to say that this is another album that the world should hear. Fingers crossed it is listening…

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Dudley Taft, Summer Rain, 2017

dudley taft - summer rainWith a family tree heavily present in politics (senators, governors and even a president), becoming a guitar player is probably not the most obvious career choice. Yet Taft chose that path and never looked back. So after playing and touring with Trey Anastasio (Phish), Sweet Water and Second Coming, he is now releasing his fifth album under his own name. With influences ranging from ZZ-Top to The Cult to Jimi Hendrix.

And while I must confess I had never heard of the guy (sorry man), I must confess that if this album is anything to go by, we have been missing something here in Europe. Or at least I have. Because, even when it speaks of being dedicated to the blues, I have found this to be a pretty bad ass rocking album. And in my book that is a good thing!
So expect the songs to rock and rock with power. Yes, extended solos all over the place, but nothing of what I would consider typical blues. Even if that could be contributed to me never listening to pure blues albums. 🙂 This is 11 songs and over 52 minutes and authentic music, delivered with passion. Very melodic, varied and energetic. No dull slow 12 bar blues that lasts way too long in sight! (Not that there is anything wrong with that if you like it, it’s just not my cup of tea)

A very convincing and pleasant acquaintance, let it rain!

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