SoundPress.net Presents
Sights and Sounds of Note
May 2017

Some things don't change here at the offices of SoundPress.net. Once again we received a mother-load of music to sift through for you our loyal readers. We offer this preview as a memorial of the best of the batch. Happy summer!

Lately, Richie Kotzen (www.richiekotzen.com) is on a Hot Streak between his work in the power trio The Winery Dogs and now with the release of his 21st solo album. Salting Earth is a flavorful blend of acoustic, hard rocking music with a dash of soul all peppered with red hot guitar leads. This 10-track CD opens with a triple play of bold rockers including the intense and intriguing "End of Earth" flowing into "Thunder" and the dynamic "Divine Power". "My Rock" and "Grammy" reveal a more vulnerable side of Richie while "This Is Life" showcases a funky yet sensitive vibe. "Make It Easy" engages with its catchy refrain. The majority of Salting Earth is the result of Kotzen's one-man production machine, with the exception of Julia Lage adding background vocals to "Make It Easy," a tasty, sing-along groove stew. "It's really not deliberate when the record is finished and suddenly I'm the only performer on it," Kotzen admits. "It actually comes out of my process of writing and documenting my ideas. It started back in the late-'80s when I had a makeshift studio in my parents' barn. I grew up fairly isolated, and I soon realized in order to get this music out of my head and onto a format where I could listen to it, I'd have to figure out how to do it alone." So single-handedly Richie serves up his 21st savory platter of music. Kotzen will be on tour in 2017 in celebration and support of Salting Earth.

Was there any hotter act in the past few years than HAIM (www.haimtheband.com) who rocketed to the top of the charts with instant international acclaim on the strength of their satisfying debut album that drew immediate comparisons to some of the legends of classic rock? Well, now the talented trio of attractive performers are back with the first single from their sophomore album Something To Tell You and we can tell you "Want You Back" strikes a chord hitting all the right notes in proclaiming that this Los Angeles based sister act is no fluke. Their fans also wanted them back with four years between releases but on the strength of this lead track it looks like the wait was worth it - welcome back, HAIM!

Mike + The Mechanics (www.mikeandthemechanics.com) is the successful side project from Mike Rutherford of Genesis. Called a hobby band, most working musicians nowadays would trade all their talent and then some, to see similar results. But, this group was launched in the heyday of MTV and was helped by the powerful presence of the golden voice of Paul Carrack on many of their biggest hits. That soulful singer and most of the previous lineup is gone but the musical ethos of the act remains firmly intact on the latest Let Me Fly that is helping Mike and his handymen relaunch in the modern era. The new union includes Rutherford himself (guitar/bass), Luke Juby (keyboards), Gary Wallis (drums), Anthony Drennan (guitar), plus vocalists Andrew Roachford and Tim Howar. The title track opens the set with a sense of adventure and follows with the strong uptempo "Are You Ready" that finds the new guys impressively at work and mastering the tools of their trade.

For some fans it was a dark day when rock-chameleon Todd Rundgren (www.todd-rundgren.com) made his latest transformation as he moved into the world of EDM over half a decade ago. On his new record in the genre White Knight he has found plenty of approval from his peers as a diverse group of associates from Robyn, Trent Reznor, Dam Funk, Daryl Hall, Donald Fagen, Joe Walsh, Bettye Lavette, Joe Satriani and more swoop in to aid in the ambitious 15-track effort. The follow-up to 2015's satisfying Global seems to have left the melodious musical appeal of much of that album somewhere on the other side of the planet. There's a lot of low-key low energy explorations even when he's attacking the Orange POTUS in "Tin Foil Hat". The opener "Come" takes a long time to get going but the blue-eyed soul convention of "Chance For Us" with Daryl Hall does show that this record does deserve at least a chance. But, the track with Joe Walsh was a letdown and quickly put us back to "Sleep". Fans of Rundgren's rock music have to wait a long way on this one until "This Is Not A Drill" featuring Joe Satriani with Prairie Prince, Kasim Sulton perks things up. Still, someone should sound the alarm that it might be time for the EDM experiment to come to an end. For a musical legend who loved to bang on a drum there's too many beats here without the beauty. The genius called "god" by many of his fans has forgotten about the manna filled melody that made much of his catalogue worship worthy. Who's gonna tell him?

The Mavericks' (www.themavericksband.com) Brand New Day features 10 eclectic tracks starting with "Rolling Along" which melds bluegrass with Tejano horns. Next as front man Raul Malo explains the album also "embodies a political message in the form of its title track" expressing how they feel about the journey they're as told to Rolling Stone Country of the '60s throwback soul song. "As a band, as a family, as a nation, as a world - now more than ever, we're going to need to be more compassionate, more understanding, more loving than ever before." Next, "Goodnight Waltz" is a sentimental and slower piece allowing Raul's rich vocals to take center stage. At times Malo sounds like Elvis fronting a Tex-Mex bluegrass band - it does not get more genre bending than that. The sassy and smart "Damned (If You Do)", the accordion-fueled shuffle of "I Will Be Yours," and the old-school styled closer "For The Ages" are other highlights. The Mavericks unique sound that brilliantly blends elements of blues, country, folk, Latino, soul and rock are polished and prevalent on Brand New Day. They continue to solidify themselves as a seminal musical force, both live and in the studio.

Buzz Cason (www.buzzcason.com) has a rich history as an artist, producer, publisher and songwriter. His tunes have been covered by the likes of The Beatles, Gloria Estefan, Pearl Jam and U2 to name just a few. Cason's latest release aptly titled Passion proves that this experienced, multi-instrumentalist's first passion is still music. Buzz states that "this record is intensely special for me since we molded elements from various genres musically from my career and attempted to make a recording that will satisfy the taste of the diverse listener." Cason along with his son and producer Parker have achieved that with 11 songs running the gamut from rock, roots and traditional country. The opening, title track is both peppy and poetic which flows into the insightful "Bread" which could be referring to both physical and spiritual nourishment. "Will You Love Me?", "That's The Way It Is" along with "Escape" are edgy and engaging. "Just As Gone" is an ode to the past packed with observations. "The Ballad Of Berry Hill" has a blue grass vibe. "We Soldiered On" closes the collection on a solid note. This album testifies that Buzz Cason still has Passion and polish for song craft and song structure so check out the latest from the man dubbed the "Father of Nashville Rock".

Andy Summers (www.andysummers.com) rose to fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the guitarist of the legendary award-winning, multi-million-selling rock band The Police - a group that was recognized as the most successful and critically acclaimed band of the era. Sure enough, there was a multi-year stretch there for a while when you couldn't turn on the radio and not hear the talented trio hard at work. Upon disbanding Summers launched a prolific solo career that continues to this day with the release of Triboluminescence. This is actually a scientific word that means creating light from dark so it's safe to say that the guitarist's current direction is an experimental one that probably won't be getting much airplay. Most likely that suits him just fine as he's been there, done that and sold the T-shirts. Andy calls his new style "New Exotic" and that fits as the album's nine tracks are individual soundscapes with the power to transport you to far off places if you're imagination will allow. To take you there Summers draws upon all his musical influences from around the globe and takes the listener on a sonic journey that begins with the opening track, "If Anything," a majestic, sonorous piece featuring his guitar with endless layers of rich tone and never-ending sustain. The journey moves to the title track, "Triboluminescence" with its exotic, looping Indonesian Gamelan-like sounds that evoke the feeling of being in a village in Bali, and then to "Adinkra," which is influenced by West African music, with Summers playing all the drums and percussion. Like most police officers, Summers retired early from a demanding career but found rewarding work in a similar field that provides contentment and a creative outlet. You got to wonder if he'd give it all up should that call come in once again from Sting and Stewart somewhere down the line.

The group Night Ranger (www.nightranger.com) has sold more than 17 million records worldwide and they were one of the first big video bands on MTV in the 1980's. Their arena rock style ranges from ballads to bold rockers. Their catalogue includes hits such as "Sister Christian", "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", "When You Close Your Eyes" the anthemic "(You Can Still) Rock In America", along with "Sentimental Street", "Goodbye", "Sing Me Away", "Four in the Morning" and more. Night Ranger's latest release Don't Let Up reflects their recognizable sound in a current setting with a number of interesting twists and turns along the way. Night Ranger comes out galloping on the up-tempo opener "Somehow Someway" flowing into the hard-hitting yet poppy "Running Out of Time" and the compelling "Truth". "Don't Let Up" is a potent power ballad as is the soft toned "We Can Work It Out". The 11-track CD closes strong with more soaring guitars and multi-part vocals on the catchy "Jamie" and "Nothing Left of Yesterday". Don't Let Up proves that Night Ranger has not let up on crafting classic yet contemporary music that would still sound great in an arena with fans holding up lighters or cell phones.

Jefferson Airplane-Thirty Seconds Over Winterland captures a psychedelic moment and time as the band transitioned from Airplane to Starship with a set list that focused on their latest material while acknowledging the Hot Tuna splinter group along with a glance to their groundbreaking 1960's work. On stage Jefferson Airplane were still a unified force with many fans considering this era as the Airplane's live peak. This record originally released in 1973 is a cool combination of catchy shorter standouts including the opener "Have You Seen The Saucers" paired with expansive jams such as the oh so good "Feel So Good" with Jorma Kaukonen soaring on electric guitar. Other high points are a captivating "Crown of Creation" and the dynamic closer "Twilight Double Leader". Jefferson Airplane-Thirty Seconds Over Winterland is available in various formats from Culture Factory (www.culturefactoryusa.com) whose M.O. is to reissue compact-discs which reproduce all the components of the original LPs and are their exact replicas in compact-disc size (5.3 x 5.3 inches), with authentic single or gatefold cardboard jackets and paper sleeves. Culture Factory strives to achieve an authentic sound with the highest possible fidelity to the original studio masters and they have done that with the Jefferson Airplane's 1972 concert from Winterland.

Axel Rudi Pell (www.axel-rudi-pell.de) may not be as famous as his European contemporaries like Michael Schenker, Ritchie Blackmore or Yngwie Malmsteen but that isn't for a lack of trying as he has released well over two dozens albums since his solo debut appeared in 1989. His most recent collection is called The Ballads V which proves that while heavy metal guitarists have a hard shell most have a soft-core. The opener "Love's Holding On" features distinguished vocalist Bonnie Tyler. Notable covers include a take on Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My" that honors the classic with big power chords, long notes and substantial bends. A run through Deep Purple's "Mistreated" closes out the set and may rock just a bit to hard to fit in with the overall theme. As a first exposure to this axe-master this is a good starting point to familiarize yourself with his craft and ample talent. If these are the ballads just imagine the fury that awaits you when Pell really puts the pedal to the metal.

EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Kris Angelis (www.krisangelis.com) is prepping her sophomore EP, Heartbreak is Contagious and the title-track will keep you coming back for more with its signature acoustic style. She sweetly paints heartbreak as a domino effect of hearts toppling into chaos and confusion. Still, hope in the midst of uncertainty abounds abundantly bursting with melody and feeling. We love it...

"Surrender" to the Night (www.heavymetalinthenight.com) as Swedish metal doesn't get much darker than this. They've been honing their skills on the road touring with Ghost and playing festivals all over Europe. You'll fall for their latest track that is a five minute and thirty-three second anthem loaded with classic rock and strong guitar stirrings. Bring it on...

Buffalo native Marc Scibilia (www.marcscibilia.com) has unleashed his latest single "Untamed" as a statement that he's found his own voice once again after being derailed following the collapse of his label in 2015. The Nashvillain rocker is now fully independent and taking his music directly to his fans and in the case of the new anthem, he's put an acoustic and full band version online...

Young punks from Cleveland Archie and the Bunkers (www.archieandthebunkers.com) are eyeing a return to Europe this summer as crowds there are eating up their vintage rock sound featuring whirling keys, driving drums, and primal screams. Brothers Emmett and Cullen O'Connor are onto something with their "HI-FI Organ Punk" that is full of youthful defiant energy. Don't be a meathead, give them a listen...

Mark Duda (www.markdudamusic.com) hails from New York City's East Village and the six-songs on his latest EP Month of Sundays pays homage to many of that region's most famous artistic exports. On this disc there's none better than the Ramones meets New York Dolls ecstasy of "Murder on Delancy" that is one catchy homage to homicide. Sunday never sounded so good...

Burnt Out Wreck (www.burntoutwreck.com) features ex Heavy Pettin's Gary Moat, one of Scotland's original rock 'n' rollers, out front and sounding unscathed from the years on an eleven track exploration of hard rock and melodic metal called Swallow. The opening anthem named for the band will leave a lump in your throat as the power chords start pumping and Moat's gritty and gut-wrenching vocals join the mix. The title track is next and it takes a slightly more soothing approach like a lozenge even as it's delivered with the singer's style that could sit on a shelf with the proven musical medicine of Bon Scott or Brian Johnson. The rest of the album contains more of the glorious same and is rife with full on, punchy classic hard rock with guitar riffs galore...

Cornell "CC" Carter (www.cc2000music.com) is a San Francisco-based musician known as a front man extraordinaire. His dynamic vocals skills, phenomenal stage presence and high powered audience engagement has graced stages throughout the world and his latest Vindicated Soul provides the singer with some vindication as he pays tribute to some of his greatest artistic influences. Elements of jazz, blues, funk, soul, and gospel abound on this record's eight tracks that covers Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green to remarkable effect. Talk about sweet vindication...

See ya next month!

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

(Originally Published on May 01, 2017)

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