Music

Music

Fri
20
May

Casting Crowns Announces New Studio Album, THE VERY NEXT THING, Releasing September 2016

Casting Crowns Very Next Thing
NASHVILLE, TENN. (May 20, 2016) - Multi-platinum selling and GRAMMY® winning group Casting Crowns announces the release of its new studio album, The Very Next Thing, on September 16, 2016 (Beach Street/Reunion). This marks the group's 15th release and eighth studio album since the label debut release in 2003. With more than nine million records sold, the band currently holds the position as Billboard’s top-selling act in Christian music since 2007.
Casting Crowns began in, serves in and continues to be rooted in the local church. It is at the local level that they are walking along with people in ministry and where the inspiration for albums are formed.  
Mon
16
May

The Country Network Gets New Life, Focuses on Music and Independent Artists

Country Network TCN Tim Eaton Critical Blast

Music television. From the onset of networks like MTV, VH1, TNN and others, the explosion of what people could watch years ago brought a visual aspect that musical artists had to take advantage of or get steamrolled. If you didn't have at least a concert video to go with your killer song, then you didn't have anything people were talking about -- and worse, nothing they were listening to. As time went by, the networks that built their viewership on music videos have become music networks in name only, with few millenials even realizing what these reality show channels used to be.

The Country Network is looking to buck that trend and get back to the roots of the movement, at least for country fans. We spoke with Tim Eaton, TCN's President and CEO about exactly what his vision is for the revived TCN and how it's going to engage country music fans.

Mon
09
May

Time-Life LP Snapshot Spanning Ages and More Genres Than Just Rock

Time Life Rock Roll Hall Fame Volume 1 Dennis Russo Critical Blast Music Review LP Vinyl

Time-Life Records’ new vinyl LP ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME LIVE- Volume 1 contains some fine performances from the past 28 years of induction ceremonies. I will try my best to stave off the urge to soapbox as to my belief that the RRHF should be made to change its name to the Music Hall of fame, because this review is not about the hall, but performances from the ceremonies (some songs of which certainly prove my case). This is about Time Life putting together a collection of songs to appeal to as many people as ever.

By all means, performers on this record deserve to be in a music hall of fame of one kind or another.

Fri
06
May

Lindsey Stirling Partners With Direct-to-Fan Favorite PledgeMusic For Latest Release

Lindsey Stirling
Lindsey Stirling's 2014 sophomore release, Shatter Me, debuted at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart, took home a 2015 Billboard Music Award for "Top Dance/Electronic Album," and has sold over 320,000 copies to date in the US alone. It was also the highest charting release for a PledgeMusic campaign. The electronic violinist is partnering once again with leading direct-to-fan platform PledgeMusic for her 3rd release out this summer.
 
"We're honored and excited that Lindsey has returned to PledgeMusic for her follow up to Shatter Me. Both Lindsey and her team at Friends at Work truly understand the importance of engaging with their fan base. Incredible talent combined with a tireless work ethic equals value for Lindsey's fans," said Jayce Varden, PledgeMusic Co-founder & Head of Global Campaign Operations.
 
Tue
03
May

Bobby Long's ODE on LP Winner in Content, Recording

Bobby Long Ode LP vinyl

ODE on LP by Bobby Long is the vinyl version of his wonderful CD “Ode To Thinking.” Sort of.

I say sort of because there are some differences between the two that are not just sonic in nature. The CD is titled “Ode To Thinking”, the LP just “Ode.” There are 11 songs on the CD compared to 9 on the LP. And although there are only two numerical songs difference, there are several different songs that appear on one but not the other.

Thu
21
Apr

Tommy Brandt: Authentic Cowboy, Authentic Christian

Tommy Brandt Broken Nuff Said

In a genre where artists are all too frequently "all hat and no cattle," Tommy Brandt is the genuine article. I found Brandt's music while channel surfing and landing on something called Cowboy Church, where Brandt was singing his latest song, "Broken." The message was universal, the lyrics were unique, and the musicianship harkened back to a time when country music was easily identifiable as such, not a shade off from pop.

We sat down for a phone conversatin with Brandt about his music, his future and his faith.


What is it that drives you to do what you do? How did you get the calling and recognize that this is what you were supposed to be doing?

Sat
16
Apr

Tommy Brandt's NUFF SAID Quintessential Country

Raise your hand if you've turned on your favorite country station lately and got a dance mix or a rap song. Yeah, I've been there too. That's why I was so pleased to have come across a new artist on RFD's Cowboy Church, Tommy Brandt, (whom we've interviewed) performing his latest number, "Broken." Delivering the perfect mix of country and western with southern gospel, Brandt's music is a refreshing call to what country used to be.

Brandt's music does more than recall the sounds of yesterday; it openly longs for the values of yesterday, with many songs packed with nostalgia and family memories. For instance, in "If I Had It My Way," Andy Griffith would've stayed in black-and-white and his father would still be alive.

Fri
15
Apr

Sharks in Your Mouth will Shred Your Senses

Announcing on twitter that they've inked a deal with MYO Agency, the Nu-Metalcore band from Ancona, Italy, has released a lyrical video for a single off their debut album (with MYO).

The song, titled 'Say It To My Face', is an ear shattering, senses shredding, cocophany that will appeal to listeners who love it LOUD.

For the new single, Sharks in Your Mouth collaborated with Aaron Matts from the band Betraying the Martyrs. According to their facebook page (which is in Italian), the single is culled from the new album titled: PROMISES.

If your taste in music is head-thrashing, amp-blasting, hardcore metal, 'Say It To My Face' by Sharks in Your Mouth, will have you circling the cage hungry for more.

Sun
03
Apr

2CELLOS Fuses Classical and Hard Rock For Fantastic Concert

2CELLOS played the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, March 31, 2016. Look for their new CELLOVERSE album!

If you don’t believe that a YouTube video about a two man band with over 56 million views is a sign that those two fellows might actually be just as good in person, then you don’t deserve to be on the Internet. I first discovered 2CELLOS the way most of the world has, from fun video clips showing these two good-looking European boys doing to cellos what superstars like Angus Young and Eddie Van Halen do to guitars—namely, beat them up like they owe them money. Two most folks, the word “cello” calls to mind a soft string quartet that plays Celine Dion or The Righteous Brothers while you make your way through the food line at your cousin’s wedding. Unless you were in your school’s orchestra from an early age, you probably couldn’t pick the cello out of any music with more than a couple of instruments involved, sight unseen. After watching them perform live at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, I will never underestimate the power of the cello again.

Sun
13
Mar

Applewood Road Hearkens to Simpler Time; Folk with Rustic Americana Aroma

Applewood Road Dennis Russo Critical Blast

Applewood Road is not only the name of the Album in review, it is also the name of the band--not so much a “band” but more of a trio of young musicians with a penchant for creating music that harkens back to a simpler, less “electric” time. The trio consists of Emily Barker, Amber Rubarth, and Amy Speace.

The three women met for the first time in 2014 in an East Nashville Tennessee café. By the next morning, they had finished writing their first song, Applewood Road.

Six months later, they got back together to write and record “Applewood Road.”

Applewood Road’s music is distinctly Americana with a “folksy” feel to it. It is not at all what I would call country music by today’s (or even yesterday’s) standards. The songs on the album remind me of the music that country music was derived from.

Sun
06
Mar

New Line Theatre's AMERICAN IDIOT Is A Sly But Powerful Wake Up Call

New Line Theatre's production of AMERICAN IDIOT, Mar 3 - 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Jill Ritter Lindberg

The New Line Theatre kicked off their second production in their swanky new digs in the Marcelle Theatre with AMERICAN IDIOT, a mostly sung through musical written by Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, featuring the entire American Idiot album with a few numbers from 21st Century Breakdown included too. Obviously, if you’re a Green Day fan you’ll probably love the show. Me, I’m not a huge fan. I don’t necessarily dislike the band; I just don’t typically listen to them. Immediately after the performance, my first reaction was, “Nice performed by some great talents, but I don’t have much sympathy for these presumably upper-middle class suburbanites being self-destructive by cooking their heroin and meth on the silver spoons they were born with.” And yet something deep in my guts said, “Sleep on this one.

Fri
04
Mar

WE ARE TWISTED F***ING SISTER! is one of the finest Rock Docs you'll ever see!

WE ARE TWISTED F***ING SISTER

Being a child in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s exposed me to the peak years of KISS and their merchandising machine, as well as the launch of MTV.  I like to think I have somewhat eclectic musical tastes these days, but I still love KISS not to mention all those bands that exploded to national fame with some assist by MTV.  You know, bands like Quiet Riot, Def Leppard, and Twisted Sister.  In fact, TS’s “Stay Hungry” album--and I owned it on vinyl--was only the third album I bought that didn't feature Mickey Mouse, Big Bird, or Star Wars characters.  

Sat
23
Jan

The Ritchie Blackmore Story: The Greatest Guitarist You Know the Least About

Ritchie Blackmore Story Bluray Dennis Russo Critical Blast Eagle Rock

"The Ritchie Blackmore Story" on DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment chronicles the long and storied career of one of the greatest rock guitarist of all time. With a career spanning over 50 years and running the gamut from Hard Rock to Heavy Metal, from “commercial hit” Rock to Medieval Renaissance music, and considered by many to be one of the most spectacular visual guitar players, Ritchie Blackmore is also the one guitarist most people probably know the least about.

Thu
14
Jan

Avenged Sevenfold Announces Changes; Uncertainty

In an update on their website, Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) has issued a statement that they've exercised their right to stop recording for Warner Bros. Records.

*     *     *     *

In their statement they cite the incredible turnover of executives since they signed on, including "3 different regimes". There is also a mention of a lawsuit filed by the label against the band:

"In the coming days, you may read about the lawsuit our label filed against us for exercising our legal rights, rights the State of California granted specifically to protect artists." - A7X

Mon
28
Dec

Eva Cassidy, Nightbird: One night, one take, one incredible performance!

Eva Cassidy Nightbird Blix Street Critical Blast Dennis Russo

One of the joys in getting to review music is getting to listen to someone you've never heard of before and after listening to them you realized you missed something special for a long time.

Such is the case for Eva Cassidy. I had never heard of Eva or her music prior to listing to the NIGHTBIRD 2CD set I am reviewing here. I could forgive myself for not hearing of it if Eva was someone relatively new on the scene. That is not the case here, so I could kick myself in the pants for not having heard of her sooner and been listening to her music all this time! Eva Cassidy passed away in November 1996 at the age of 33 from melanoma a mere 10 months or so after the music on these CD was recorded.

Fri
18
Dec

Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Review

Lady Antebellum "Wheels Up Tour" DVD Cover

Lady Antebellum spent much of 2015 on the road on their "Wheels Up Tour," taking off in Olso, Norway, and landing in Las Vegas in early October. About half-way through they filmed a show at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, California on June 27th and that is the basis of this release.

The video opens with a carload of young girls who rode three days from Austin to attend. And no wonder -- they get an up-close-and-personal meet-and-greet with the band. Quickie interviews of fans coming to the concert in Irvine and stage setup and preparations make way for a typical rock concert smoke and lights entrance. They've come a long way since I saw them at southern Wisconsin's Rock County 4-H Fair in the summer of 2008 -- just a simple show following their self-titled debut, but with the enthusiasm you knew would take them far. I see the dude sporting the dual braids is still playing backing guitar.

Thu
17
Dec

Like a Fine Wine, Clapton Just Gets Better with Age

Eric Claption Slowhand at 70 Live Albert Hall

Should someone 70 years old be able to play the guitar like this? Should Vladimir Horowitz have been able to play the piano the way he did in his 80s? While you may have to sacrifice a little finesse, when you’re the master of your instrument age really does become nothing more than a number.

What can be said about Eric Clapton that hasn’t already been said before? Even that line has been said before! I have often found it very interesting that, when guitarists talk about Jimi Hendrix, they say he was the best ever, and they invariably follow up with "I can play him perfectly." Oddly enough, though, I have not heard such banter spoken about Eric Clapton. Yes, there are many that will say, and perhaps justifiably so, that he is the best ever, but I have never heard anyone say they could play him perfectly. Why is that?

Fri
04
Dec

Patty Smyth Delivers Christmas Music So Smooth and Sophisticated, It's Scandalous

Patty Smyth Come On December Scandal

I was a Patty Smyth fan back in the days when she sang such hits as “The Warrior” and “Good Bye To You” with her band Scandal. She was not only beautiful but she also had a way of picking songs that showcased her talents, and a voice that put right up there with Pat Benatar in my book.

After Scandal broke up, I lost touch with what Patty was doing. I knew she married John McEnroe later on, but I lost touch with her musically. I recently discovered that I must have been living in somewhat of a musical shell, because I found out she has written and sung songs that have garnered her Grammy and Academy award nominations.

A short time ago Patty recorded a Christmas album, COME ON DECEMBER, on Parallel 22 Records.

Sun
29
Nov

Spotlight Gallery Rolling Stones Clear Viny and Album Art Lithographs Make Excellent Holiday Gift

Rolling Stones Lithograph Vinyl Time-Life SpotlightGallery

The Rolling Stones Limited Edition Clear Vinyl + Album Art Lithographs.

Normally in reviews such as these I list the email and phone numbers to order the item(s) being reviewed at the end of the review.

Well I’m not doing that here. These collectibles are so beautiful, so well made, and so you-need-to-have-one-of-these, that even at $199.00 they are such a value for what you receive. And because they are limited to only 2,500 worldwide each, I’m afraid that if you wait till the end you might miss out on any remaining. Remember you’re not only going to get the limited edition lithograph, you’re going to get the matching limited edition vinyl album on clear vinyl as well, for the same very reasonable price!

You can come back and finishing reading the review after you have secured yours.

Sat
28
Nov

Straight No Chaser: THE NEW OLD FASHIONED Tour Mixes Fresh "A Cappella" Cocktails

Straight No Chaser performing at the Fox Theatre, St. Louis, 11/27/15. Photo Credit: Jeff Ritter

If you’re in the mood for a classic cocktail, you might order up an Old Fashioned—a jigger of bourbon, two dashes of Angostura bitters, a lump of sugar and just a splash of water. It’s a drink that goes back to the 19th century and is something every bartender should know how to mix. “THE NEW OLD FASHIONED,” however, is an entirely different yet no less potent concoction of heartwarming harmonies, familiar aural flavors and inhibition-busting a cappella, served Straight No Chaser, in the Indiana tradition. Welcome to your new addiction. Please tip generously.

In fact, here’s a tip for you: if you have an opportunity to see Straight No Chaser live in your town, you owe it to yourself to do so. They’ll lift your spirits, get your toes a-tappin’, and stay for a solid hour after the show to meet you and sign your CD, t-shirt, and ticket stub, or perhaps even one of your children. You won’t find too many musical acts more accommodating!

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