News Rock 01/12/2017

If You Like Good Music, You Will Enjoy Volume XIV By Various Artists - The Grouch

If You Like Good Music, You Will Enjoy Volume XIV By Various Artists - The Grouch

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Volume XIV - Various Artists - Album Review
Hej America!
My friends at Bongo Boy contacted me today and asked me to give a listen to and share my thoughts about their most recent compilation album entitled Volume XIV which is scheduled for release on December 1, 2017. The first thing I have to say is that I really like the cover art; the quasi art Deco post-apocalyptic vide really grabs my attention. It looks like some monster high-heeled show, along with a pair of ruby red lips are ready to devour a 1950s era American Graffiti soda fountain. (Of course, I could be wrong the older I get the more I miss the full-sized album cover art of the old vinyl days. Yes, kids once upon a time you had to leave your house and go to a physical store to purchase music and that music came on huge vinyl discs.)

1. Human Revival - Mark Baxter 3:29 - In the poll position on this album we have a track by Mark Baxter. I really like this song. Right from the start the band gets my attention. I swear I hear a prog/country vibe here. The funny thing is I really dislike a lot of prog music, but there is something about the bass that reminds me of Skunk Baxter. In all honestly, this track has more in common with the Black Crows than Steely Dan. The organ adds some old-school R&B while that bass carries the groove. Lest I forget Mark has a great voice for this kind of music and the background singers really warm my old Motor City heart.

2. Animals - Zombie Garden Club 4:48 - I have been a Zombie head for quite some time now. If you are not familiar with the Zombie Garden Club, you need to be. This guy is capable of some intense dark music as well as beautiful piano pieces. (Check out his cover of a A Whiter Shade of Pale for my money his version is right up there with Bauhaus' cover of Ziggy Stardust and Siouxsie and the Banshees' cover of Dear Prudence.) So, what is this song like? Simply put, it is a a melodic sonic blast. The guitar is both haunting and intense leaving no doubt the Zombie knows how to play. The thing that really strikes me, however is the fact that despite all the interesting and cool 'noise' his vocals are spot on and melodic. The dissonance works well; I find myself grooving to his music. Man, I would love to see the ZGC live. (Note: to Bongo Boy, you should bring a plane load of artists out to the Targhee Fest which is a music festival about 15 minutes from where I stay in America.)

3. Bad Girl - Annemarie Picerno 4:05 - OK, first off, I feel compelled to say I think I like this song even before I hear it. I mean, c'mon, some of the best times I have ever had have been with Bad Girls. Yeah, I dig that funky beat the drums are laying down and the rest of the band has the soul to take that beat and make is blister. Hands down, though, the vocals are taking the spotlight. Annemarie has a gritty, yet smooth voice and a range that extends very far indeed. She makes great use of her background singers. Man, I feel that Motown vibe. All I can do is smile. Then the drummer throws in some very tight, really nice rolling fills and I have to tip my hat and say well done! This is another band I really want to see live as I can only imagine what a killer old-school R&B evening it would be.

4. Invincible - Lisa Coppola & Ray Powers 3:08 - This song is a duet that is a little more on the pop side of the musical spectrum. The thing is it is really good pop. Lisa and Ray can sing well, and the band can play. I am remanded a bit of the duel Tom Petty did with Stevie Nicks. I like the Country Rock guitar jam and their drummer is really walloping his cymbals. A+ for intensity, Dude.

5. Those Eyes - Kathryn Shipley 4:16 - This is another song with some grit. I like Kathryn's voice. The drummer seems to be fighting for attention as every once in a while, he lays down a lightning roll that makes me smile. After three or four of these the guitar player seems to say "Oh, yeah? Watch this!" He totally opens up with a massive jam - I am loving it. I mean what is not to love? A singer with soul, a guitar player who shoots lightning bolts and a drummer who can pound. Add in a rock-solid bass and a general groove and what you are left with is a killer song that just made my personal play list.

6. Tears (A Cappella) ft. Armand Hutton - Bruce Lev 3:05 - Man, I am speechless. Really, there are many very good musicians on this album including a couple I think could become superstars, but for pure take me home soul Armand and Bruce win hands down. LISTEN to this track. I am sure you will agree this is simply fantastic work

7. God Help Me - One Supernova 5:03 - I like this song. It has a mellow vibe, yet their percussionist is in the pocket. Then suddenly the acoustic guitar is eclipsed by a massive blast of electricity. There is something about his voice that I cannot put my finger on, his vocals have a soothing quality. Well, soothing until he goes into screaming mode and the guitar really opens up, then all of a sudden, the mellow somewhat religious overtones of the song are gone and I am listening to some massively blistering ROCK AND ROLL. Absolutely excellent segue guys, I never saw it coming.

8. No King of Mine - Anthems for Autumn 3:13 - Man, another raunchy blast! Bongo Boy has put together a smoking album. Good God I dig women who can ROCK and ROCK HARD. This is a headbanging song that for my money is right up there with Avenged Sevenfold, who, in my opinion are one of the most blistering bands on the planet. This song is now on my personal play list.

9. Pumped Up Kicks - SQUISH 3:07 - This is a unique track. I really dig the fuzz bass that drives the song. The first time I heard the organ I thought my computer was beeping. I then realized Microsoft can't rock, that has to be in the song. In all honesty, I am a bit perplexed by this track, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Interesting work guys!

10. Make Music Not Money - Above The Sun 2:58 - What a heavy post-hippy jam! OK, he does quote Paul Simon and the chorus is make music not money, so there are hippy overtones, but he makes a valid point when he says remember when being on the cover of Rolling Stone used to mean something? Now, all you have to do is plant a bomb at the end of the Boston marathon. I don't think I could have said it better myself. I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that the man playing lead guitar absolutely smokes!!

11. Crush - Ricky Persaud Jr. 3:07 - Ricky is back and I, for one, am glad he is. Honestly, I have not heard anything by this young cat that I did not really like. This time around Rick tells us about a young man's encounter with true love. (I vaguely remember that feeling.) All in all, excellent reggae jam!

12. - 1 Of Us 3:13 - This is an interesting song. I like the strings and almost choir sound of the music. I could see this song being played in a new age church. It is beautiful and haunting. I can't say it is really rock and roll, but whatever genre it is, it does sound good and keeps my attention. Anyone who has read any of my reviews knows that I have an extremely short attention span, so well done guys.

13. This Time - Studeo 3:38 - This is kind of a modern country song that uses orchestral strings in the background and some nice keys off to the side. The keys do step up for a couple of bars before my attention is pulled away by the drummer doing some nice snare work. Over everything, though is her voice which is beautiful and totally dominates the song. It is safe to say that without these vocals the song would be no where nearly as compelling.

14. Needle in The Mirror - the oOhz - What an ominous title! His voice is just as ominous. The minimalist guitar only adds to the effect. Then the song takes what I think of as a Rocky Horror Picture Show turn. That is suddenly the band goes into a section that grooves and the listener discovers that the phrase Don't Put the Needle in the Mirror is an earworm that will get into your head and stay there...for a long time. (Thanks for putting this track last Bongo Boy!)

So, what is the bottom line? Simple, as I have come to expect, Bongo Boy has found a gaggle of Indy bands that do what they do very well. As the man said, being on the cover of Rolling Stone used to mean something. If I were Rolling Stone, I would take a close look at what Bongo Boy is doing. If you like good music, you will enjoy this album. I know I did.

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