Archive for banjo

FRUITION-Labor Of Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2016 by TheManicBlogger

fruitionFruition, based in Portland, Oregon, released their latest album, Labor Of Love, in April, 2016. Filled with addictive melodies, insanely good 3 part harmonies, and catchy hooks, the songs are wonderfully inspiring, with infectious musical references to Reggae, and Louisiana Swamp Music.  I heard mandolin, 12 string acoustic guitar, dobro, banjo, violin, cello, and some way cool organ. The varied instrumentation is exciting, and allows for some wonderfully creative arrangements. 10 tracks of roots-soul music at its best. Favorite tracks: ‘Labor Of Love‘, ‘Early Morning Wake Up‘, and ‘Death Comes Knocking‘.

You can check it out for yourself on their bandcamp page, and then buy a few copies. Share it with friends & family. Definitely one to consider for I Can’t Believe My Earz Indie Album Of The Year, 2016.

 

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THE HOT SPROCKETS-Brother Nature

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

hs6I have been following The Hot Sprockets since their 2011 release of ‘Honey Skippin. I was fortunate enough to catch this Dublin, Ireland band at Canada Indie Week, part of a North American Tour to promote the June, 2014 release of their latest album, ‘Brother Nature‘.

The album opens with “Quarter Roam“, with its powerful vocals, great changes, and choral harmonies. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is wonderfully melodic, and I think I heard some slide guitar in this track. The melody rocks, the effects are cool, and I dig the drumming. The early rock and roll influences on “Boogie Woogie“, are almost Rockabilly. This song delivers a high energy tempo, with dynamite and unexpected changes, some dynamite harmonica, and a great vocal track. “Shake Me Off” brings great harmonies, cool changes, and wonderful hs3instrumentation. The country-blues sound of “Comin’ On‘ offers some sweet guitar picking, a dynamite bass line, and a great melody. A wonderfully lively track. “Lay Me Down“, a beautifully sweet song, with acoustic guitar, nice harmonies, wonderful vocals, and, as an added bonus, some way cool banjo. The western style of “El Torro“, an instrumental, comes across like a cowboy tune, a great song to listen to on a cattle drive! It brings wonderful guitar, and great harmonica. The powerfully “Show Me The Weight” gives up dynamite guitar and great harmonies.  “Women & Chile”  delivers some R & B vibes, incorporating great guitar effects, wonderful drumming, a cool melody, and perfectly placed harmonica. One great track! The melody of “Someday” joins the acoustic guitar picking to create a simply serene track. “Soul Brother” just plain rocks. A wonderful tempo brings this blues-rock track to life. There are great guitar riffs and a way cool solo, wonderful harmonies, dynamite changes and insanely good vocal effects. The bluesy, acid hs2rock sentiment of “Heavy On My Mind“,  reminds me of Steppenwolf. With a cool guitar riff that drives the great melody, and incredible drumming, what else could I ask for? Well, The Hot Sprockets thought that flute would be a good idea. They were right. Amazing! The incredibly wonderful “Homeslice” offers a great melody, coupled with sweet harmonies, over what sounds like strings and a mandolin. My favorite track on the album, “The Worried Kind“, brings a great melody delivered by a wicked vocal track. The changes and harmonies are wonderful, and I hear strings! The song has a John Lennon thing going on, both in melody and vocals, and I like it. A beautifully written and performed song!

 

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Well, there you have it. Brother Nature. 13 tracks, and not a bad one to be found. I have listened to this album for the 4th time, and it just keeps getting better. The songs are insanely good. The production, wonderful. These guys can write. These guys can play. The album has a ‘live off the floor’ feel to it. I haven’t heard this much energy in an album in a long time. The Hot Sprockets refer to their music as ‘country dirt”. I prefer to call it Irish Soul! Brother Nature is one of the most powerful albums I have heard in 2014, filled with the unusual, and the unexpected.  A definite must have for your collection, and a definite contender for I Can’t Believe My Earz’  Album Of The Year. Don’t just take my word for it, listen here: http://thehotsprockets.bandcamp.com/album/brother-nature

 

 

 

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GAR FRANCIS-The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

I am not sure if there is anything Gar Francis cannot do. The Guru Of Garage has swung his guitar into The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same. Released in 2010 to the European market only, the 12 track album of Americana has finally hit North American shores and has been released by New Jersey’s Bongo Boy Records.

gf3The opening track, “Midnight In Rome“, delivers a great melody, with wonderful changes. The guitar picking is cool as hell, while the keys smolder under a hot vocal track. “How Its Supposed To Be” has an insanely powerful chorus but it takes nothing away from the licks and riff, and the dynamite organ. The Latin feel of “Palaces”  is wonderfully created by bongos, acoustic guitar, strings and organ. The effects on the harmonies are brilliant, and I dig the ‘Mexicali” themed guitar solo! “Down At The Ocean Gate” offers a great acoustic guitar solo, and way cool harmonies amid multi-tracked guitars. I like the mandolin and bongos on “Bank Of The River“, the way cool reverb of the almost rockabilly “Ole Tom’s River“, and the wonderfully Dylanesque feel to “Another Cowboy Rides” , with its great organ, guitar solo, cool riffs, and a dynamite vocal track.

 

 

The jug band vibe of “She’s Still Blue” proves once and for all that Gar Francis can write and play anything! The washboard and concertina are amazing, and the melody, so sweet. Gar’s vocals are spectacular on “Raise A Hand“, and the song’s socio-political gf4message resonates, at least,with me. The melody and harmonies highlight some way cool changes and incredibly melodic instrumentation. “The Sun Will Never Go Down” offers cool changes, a great chorus, a wonderful bass run, and beautiful choral style harmonies. I like this track. The acoustic guitar solo in “Adeline” shines amid the mandolin and bongos. The song is beautifully simple yet manages a great bridge, a dynamite chorus, and a wonderful ending. And, that leaves “Oh Annie“, my favorite track on the album. The wonderful chorus, dynamite guitar, including a way cool riff, an amazing melody, and some great organ, make this the standout track. A wonderful song with a way cool blues-rock-folk-country thing going on, that is reminiscent of Levon Helm and The Band. “Oh Annie, someone’s got to settle you down“. Indeed.

gf54This album demonstrates just how talented Gar Francis is. As a song writer; as a producer; as a musician, and a performer. I hear rockabilly, jug band, Latin, roots, blues, folk, and rock. I listened to bongos, banjo, mandolin, and organ. I heard a washboard, a concertina, and I think an upright bass. There are vocal and guitar effects. But most importantly, there are 12 incredible tracks that will hold you from beginning to end. I have been a Gar Francis fan for years, and this album has me wondering, why isn’t everybody? Get it as soon as you can. Then, put on your cowboy boots, grab your honey and have a blast. The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same is a must have album. Get yours here:  http://www.bongoboyrecords.com/Albums.html.  You can stream some of Gar’s other music here:  

 

 

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JANE ALLISON-Just Another Girl

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

ja2The first thought I had about Jane Allison‘s ‘Just Another Girl‘, was how could a Welsh girl living in Bristol, England release an album of American roots music? Well, she did. Set for release in September 2014, this 10 track album nails it.

Hymn To Hope” opens the album with a great melody, beautiful harmonies, and I dig the brushes on the drums. A blend of Americana and an Irish folk song,”Faded Moon” has great harmonies, and a sweet melody, and a dynamite bass drum. The way cool guitar licks on “Country Lovin” are only over shadowed by the amazing vocal track. “Just Another Girl” offers acoustic guitar, and some sweet banjo, while “Catch Me” delivers Americana with a layer of surf guitar. The piano on “Joan Of ja3Arc” blends perfectly with the great harmonies. “Real Life“, a rockier song, has wonderful changes, a cool hook, and a terrific guitar solo with cool effects. There are wonderful changes, nice harmonies and a great guitar riff on “Wait For Me“. The final track on the album, “Farewell My Boy“, has a beautifully haunting melody, which supports the vocal and piano only instrumentation.  My favorite track, “All Over Now“, has a wonderful melody, floating over terrific organ and piano.

 

 

 

ja1‘Just Another Girl’ is a well written, wonderfully executed album. The songs paint exceptional images, weaving emotions throughout. Definitely one to check out. You can have a listen to the album  and purchase a copy for yourself, your friends, and your family, on Bandcamp.  A wonderful listen, demonstrating that Jane Allison is not just another girl.

 

 

 

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DRUCKFARBEN-Second Sound

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

druckfarben3I recently received a copy of the new album Second Sound, by Toronto band Druckfarben, and I have spent the last 3 days repeating the same 2 words: Freakin’ amazing!!

The 8 track album is filled with cool keyboards, great drum shots, and wonderful harmonies. The guitar is dynamite, offering wonderfully subtle riffs, and blistering solos. The melodies are insanely good, fused with beautiful harmonies. The bass lines are intricate and subdued.  The instrumentation, rich and varied. Piano, organ and synthesizer appear throughout. I heard banjo, and mandolin. The arrangements are spectacularly full, and layered with texture.

 

druckfarben1Two tracks merit special mention. “Long Walk Down“, a sweet, melancholy ballad with a Klaatu-esque feel, delivers a wonderful melody with a spectacular vocal track. “Second Sound“, without a doubt, the best progressive rock track I have heard in 40 years, is reminescent of Yes: Somewhere between “Siberian Khatru” and “The Gates Of Delerium“, with shades of Tales From Topographic Oceans. This suite offers incredible keyboards including some interesting piano and organ, and way cool violin, that wanders from classical to rock to western themes. The instrumentation in this track is wonderful. There are cool changes and transitions, and a kick ass guitar solo. There are sweet melodies and terrific harmonies. The song ends with  beautifully arranged acoustic guitar.

 

I am not certain why this band has been a mystery. These musicians are insanely talented. It is an impressive work. Standing out is Phil Naro’s vocals.The style, the sound, the inflection, had me thinking Jon Anderson. Second Sound offers wonderful musical themes in an array of movements that are woven together in layers to create an incredible musical journey. This is way cool arena rock, out of the 1970s, with a 21st century bite. Druckfarben is the real deal.

Check out Second Sound  here:  https://www.facebook.com/druckfarben/app_204974879526524

 

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BONGO BOY RECORDS-The Singles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2014 by TheManicBlogger

There seems to be a whack of incredibly cool music coming out of New Jersey, and Bongo Boy Records seem to have their hand on most of it. Aside from the 2013  Mark Lindsay release, Life Out Loud, and the Gar Francis EP, Shine On, this Indie label out of Belvidere, New Jersey has a truck load of singles that they are about to release on a “Singles” album. Being quite fond of Bongo Boy Monique and Garage Guru Gar-the coolest musician to come out of Jersey since Frank Sinatra– I agreed to listen and wax poetic about this soon to be released compilation.

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Jana Peri, the New York City rocker with power pop and punk influences, delivers a knock out tune with “Ballerina Of The Bowery“. Written by Gar Francis, the song has a great surf-pop groove, great harmonies and a wonderful bridge and chorus. The choppy guitar  rocks and the riff, subtly great. Terrific opening track on any album.

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I didn’t know who The Easy Outs were, but  the New Jersey rock-punk-garage band’s “Come On, Come On” is up there on my list of coolest songs I have heard lately. The track has a great 1960s feel, delivered through wonderful keys and an amazing melody. There are great horns, beautiful transitions, and a dynamite bass line. I can hear Gar Francis all over this song. The riff, clean and crisp, and the solo, as always, class, not flash. Consider this a hit.

 

gr2The wonderfully multi talented Genya Ravan contributes a Gar Francis song, “I Won’t Cry Anymore” with a powerful voice and a delivery that made me shiver.  This rock-blues tune reminds me of something that should be on Janis Joplin album, and hands out great choral harmonies in the bridge and a wonderfully R & B harmonized “whoo hoo hoo”. This woman can sing.  Powerful and pleasurable.

 

 

rk3I don’t know where he finds the time, but Rockids is another Gar Francis project. Originally formed in 1973 by Gar and Wayne Olivieri, this garage band recorded Eddie Cochran‘s “C’mon Everybody” in 2012. I love this song. I dig Rockids cover of it. The guitar layered underneath, the amazing Jerry Lee Lewis piano, and the great hook, deliver an incredible track. Might as well stand when you listen, ’cause it will get you dancing.

kcBorn Dainty“, a country-rock song, was written and produced by, you guessed it, Gar Francis. Recorded by New Jersey’s Kelly Caruso, daughter of The Doughboys bass player, Mike Caruso, this track offers some amazing banjo, cool drumming, and a great chorus. The transitions are wonderful and the guitar riff, great. Kelly delivers a wonderful vocal track. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this song covered by Kelly Clarkson.

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The Swinging Iggies,  with one of the coolest band names around, offer up “Lady Gaga“. This New Jersey garage-rock band is another one of Gar Francis’ projects. The song,  humorous and up tempo, has a dynamite power start. There are great transitions and I dig the guitar riff. Great song. Still, what a wonderful name for a band.

gfrocketOne of the most meaningful songs I have ever heard, Gar Francis’ “Rocket” touches me. This heartfelt tribute to American soldiers, raises powerful emotions as an acoustic number. The vocals are something out of Bowie’s Hunky Dory, and this is not the first time I have made a Bowie reference about Gar. The beautifully played strings set the tone and mood amid the haunting melody. Wonderful lyric like, “rest my faith against my gun”, drive home the message. I like Gar Francis unplugged.

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New Jersey singer, songwriter Gigi, contributes one way cool tune. “Put Your Freakin’ Hands Up” a  pop-dance track, in the Carly Rae JepsenCall Me Maybe” style,  has a great guitar intro and some amazing double tracked vocals. The melody, pure pop and the guitar riff in the bridge/chorus, wonderfully cool. The minimized instrumentation during the verses highlights the vocals that come with some great effects. Wonderful song with an incredible hook.

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Plainfield Slim, Gar Francis’ alter ego, offers 2 blues tunes. “Dirty Girl” has wonderful southern blues-rock guitar and sweet, double time drumming. The slide guitar rocks within a cool vocal track and nice harmonies. I swear I hear a train in there. “Let Go My Hand“, delivers a wonderful blues riff and a great rock beat. I love the guitar solo and the muted effect to the entire track. Jersey blues are way cool.

mark-lindsay_life-out-loudMy choice for coolest song of the year, “Merry Go Round (Christian’s Song)” by Mark Lindsay is a definite bonus. What can I say about this song that I haven’t said in my review of the Life Out Loud album? Way cool 60s organ, great harmonies, exciting guitar, wonderful changes, and I really dig the “less is more” drumming style. The vocals rock, the melody, dynamite and well, this is my favorite Mark Lindsay song since “Kicks“. Coolest song of the year for sure.

Well, there you have it. The Bongo Boy Records singles compilation. The genres are varied, with something to please everyone.  11 tracks destined to amaze and entertain. This album will rock you, and  it will surprise you. An amazingly eclectic collection of songs by incredibly talented artists. I would liked to have seen Gar Francis’ “Back In 1985”  included on this record.  Check it out for yourself and see what’s really going on in New Jersey. Its not just Snooki and The Sopranos. A must have for every collection.

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ELLIOTT BROOD:Days Into Years

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2013 by TheManicBlogger

eb1 Since their inception in 2002, Elliott Brood has defined their style with Tin Type (2004), Ambassador (2005), and Mountain Meadows (2008).  Following their signing with Paper Bag Records in 2011, Days Into Years was released.

The album opens with “Lindsay“, a simple song that seems complex with the exceptional musicality of the band, a classic rock guitar riff and beautifully arranged pop harmonies. “Lines“, with its railroad sounds, blues/rock guitar and acoustic opening captures the theme of the song and has me wondering why wasn’t this on Mellancamp’s Scarecrow? “If I Get Old”  has a blues/rock feel, and a rock guitar riff all supporting Casey’s vocals with  Arlo Guthrie inflections. The banjo focus on “Hold You” coupled with Marc’s country styled vocals and the use of brushes on the drums, give this song a creative, rustic feel. The rock beat of  “Will They Bury Us” opens up this song for heavier vocals, repeating guitar riffs, harmonies, tempo changes and piano that seems to slow the song down briefly until it winds up again. An amazing piece of music.  “West End Sky” is a mellow song, played with acoustic guitar, banjo and brushes on a suitcase. “Northern Air” delivers great harmonies, an amazing bridge and harmonica to create the transitions. The harmonized vocals, ukulele and pedals used to create some amazing sounds, make “Owen Sound“. The eb3haunting intro of “Their Will“, which slowly builds into great melodic guitar sounds,almost  turns this  into a rock song. This is Elliott Brood rock; with great harmonies, distortion and special effects guitar. “My Mother’s Side” is a blues/rock song, utilizing slide guitar effects, guitar changes and drum shots, powerful vocals and the use of power chords throughout. The subtle guitar faintly playing in the background just puts this over the top. By far, the best track on the album.

With 10 solid tracks, Days Into Years is a must have album. The instrumentation is simple, yet the music is as creative as any I have heard. The songs are wonderful, personal narratives that invite you into the world of Elliott Brood. The music is addictive. It both soothes and excites at the same time. Not surprising that the album won the 2013 Juno for Roots and Traditional Album Of The Year.  Days Into Years is a classic piece of Canadianna that blows me away with every listen.

To listen to Elliott Brood, use the link below.

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