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Maxxess – Authenticity / Offroad [Jan. 1st, 2008|11:32 am]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Electronica/ Instrumental Progressive Rock/Metal


Review:  Offroad is the latest release from German guitarist Maxxess.  The combining of sonic elements and music, creates very intriguing atmospheres.  It sounds organic yet, at the same time, strange and unfamiliar.  You can really feel the energy and the power behind it.  This merging of many musical styles presents a moody collage, demonstrative of his great musical spectrum.


In general both Authenticity and Offroad are an intriguing marriage of progressive instrumental guitar and electronica.  The album is an easy to listen to, and the playing is first class.  It is not just an excursion into otherworldliness, it is also a celebration of the mixing of different genres of music.


Tracklisting:  Authenticity – Elements; Crypto; Authenticity; Red Earth; Spyrit; De-Layed; Trance-Lation.


Offroad – Pulse; Miracle; Offroad; Crazy Blue Thing; Adrenaline; Sleepwalk; Q.E.D.; Avebury Henge; Slow Motion (Live).


Personnel:  Maxxess – Guitars, bass, drums, keyboard.


Similar Artists:  Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Adam Law


Playing Time:  Authenticity – 56:08; Offroad – 62:32


Website:  www.maxxess.de
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The Well Wishers – Under The Arrows / How I Won The War… [Oct. 15th, 2007|08:17 pm]
Instrumental Observer


Genre:  Power-Pop/Punk


Review:  Ex Spinning Jennies founder Jeff Shelton’s new band The Well-Wishers brand of power-pop sounds purely American in scope and attack.  In a nutshell, Jeff has it all down to a science as he is the one who arranges and composes everything including the keyboard backing parts.


The band pursues a punk/power pop vibe that lies somewhere between the Beatles and Green Day.  Throughout the frontman’s penchant for incorporating catchy hooks, loom as an attractive and substantive attribute.  In sum, Jeff elevates the tried and tested formula into a mark of authenticity.  That notion alone speaks proverbial volumes.


Tracklisting:  Under The Arrows – In Search Of Alter Egos; Double Vision; Break It Up; Before The Race Was Run; Lost At Sea; Lucky You; Waiting Alone; Peace & Quiet; Fourth Of July; Brain Trust Odyssey; Only Sky.


How I Won The War… - Grey Skies Black; Seashells; Merilee; Hope Is Fading; After Dark; The Optimist; I’m In Love (Slight Return); Broken Glass; Resistance Is Futile; It’s True What They Say About Girls; Soldering.


Personnel:  Jeff Shelton – Vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards; Nick Laquintano – Drums; Chris Brown – Piano, strings, vocals; Justin Weis – Lead guitar.


Similar Artists:  Green Day, Beatles, Kinks


Playing Time:  Under The Arrows – 41:30; How I Won The War… - 40:45


Website:  www.myspace.com/thewellwishers
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Calusa - A Form Of Love [Sep. 13th, 2007|08:45 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Garage rock/power pop


Review:  The music Calusa play features a garage punk type gala, spiced up with snappy pulses and vocalist Joel’s edgy choruses.  However it is Chris’ right handed voicing and broad comprehension and implementations of the rock vernacular that serves as the prime accelerator throughout.


Grady is all over his kit on the buoyant opener FRBRUVTKNMY, yet he grooves out to soothe and relax the listener’s psyche within certain regions of sound on the later tracks, largely aided by Chris’ airy guitar chords.


Nonetheless, Joel and co. generate a mixed bag of sounds, where capacious group-based performances attain equal involvement.


Tracklisting:  FRBRUVTKNMY; 13 Words For A Ten; A Form Of Love; Sexy To Be Strong; Peace Like A River; Have You Lost Your Interest, Or Have You Lost Your Phone?; Gamekillah; Vanina; Heysada; Dog & Pony;


Personnel:  Joel Carlson – Vocals, guitar; Chris Valenty – Guitars; Fred Hanson – Bass, backing vocals; Grady Appleton – Drums.


Similar Artists:  Pixies, Some Assembly Required


Playing Time:  34:47


Website:  www.myspace.com/calusarocks 
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Krome - Krome [Sep. 3rd, 2007|08:09 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Heavy Metal/Rock


Review:  Krome is four piece band from California, with their full length just released.  I have received their demo which has four tracks from the album.


While the demo is a grungy rock cd with some metal influences, it is truly an album for the rock masses.  It is true enough for the most hardcore elitists, but it is catchy enough for the flowery rocker.  The music is a celebration of bombastic flare done right, but most of all shows that the underground will remain an unwavering pool of untapped talent.


Tracklisting:  Taken; Wild I Roam; The Knife; Blind; Bleed; Far Away; Down Before; End Of The Last Days; Sin; Why.


Personnel:  Randy Pilot – Vocals, guitar; Joe Dagilus – Lead guitar; Steve Bray – Bass; Brian Sowers – Drums


Similar Artists:  Alice In Chains, Godsmack


Website:  www.myspace.com/krometheband
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Kraig Kilby - Satori [Sep. 1st, 2007|11:07 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Nu-Jazz/Jazz Fusion


Review:  A strong jazz trombonist can thrill any audience through his tone, technique and creative powers.  Over the years however, we’ve heard some who just don’t make the grade, mostly through poor tone quality or lack of imagination.  Kraig Kilby represents the epitome of a jazz trombone player, and gives us a prime example of what the instrument can do for contemporary jazz.


He’s got all the elements in their proper place, and seems quite free with his delivery.  It seems to come from the heart as he fills each selection with a warm balance of technique and buttery tone.  It is however the trombones lovely voice that stands out so eloquently, with a mystically eerie tone.


Tracklisting:  Incantation; Lately; Sometime Soon; Musing; Lonebone; Satori; Ketchee; Strawberry Point.

Personnel:  Kraig Kilby – Trombones, keyboards; kalimba, small percussion; Paul Jackson – Bass; Michael Clark – Drums; Lyn Haet – Harp.


Similar Artists:  None


Playing Time:  34:35

Website:  www.kraigkilby.com

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Buzz Bahdur – Horizontal Life [Aug. 23rd, 2007|07:54 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Nu Jazz Guitar


Review:  Among the multitude of jazz guitarists developing individual voices through traditional guitar sounds exists a smaller group of players who view the instrument as means to a different end.  Buzz’s improvised soundscapes still lean towards thematic development, and doesn’t entirely eliminate the concept of melody from the process, but he’s just as likely to create a slowly evolving but static wash of sound, as heard on New World Bliss.


What distances Buzz from other guitarists is his collaborative nature.  While this is not a group record, Buzz only truly stretches out on Trance Migration.  Horizontal Life constantly stretches the imagination and challenges the boundaries of jazz.


Tracklisting:  Cut To The Chase; Solaris; Trance Migration; Tilly; Chanduli’s Voyage; What Happened Last Nite; Secret Life Of Plankton; After The Rush; Dance Of Shambu; New World Bliss; Searching For Way; Meeting In Caracas.


Personnel:   Roy Venkataraman – Guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, synthesizer; plus guests.


For fans of:  Terje Rypdal, Eivind Aarset.


Running time:  1:13:43

Website:  www.buzzbahdur.com

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Emiliano Sicilia – Devotion Materialize [Aug. 19th, 2007|09:02 am]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Instrumental Rock/Industrial Metal/Bluegrass


Review:  Emiliano is a complete package ready to rumble.  His music sounds like a direction is still being sought between the adrenaline fueled instrumental rockers and the vocal led progressive industrial metal tracks.  The unlikely epic Splatter On A Bluegrass gains momentum throughout it's eight and a half minute course, and the musicians throw into the looped locomotive mix the sounds of a distant distorted guitar, twisted banjo plucking and dense bass rhythmic lines, until it all crystallizes into a new blend.


Seeing how this is Emiliano's first full length album, we can expect wonders from him in the future.  Devotion Materialize is very recommendable for all fans of instrumental rock and industrial metal.


Tracklisting:  Cyber Room; Splatter On A Bluegrass; Neurosaloon; The New Reality Suite; The Green Mirror; 3000 Zombies; Thermodynamic Hypothesis.


Personnel:   Emiliano


For fans of:  Static X, Rob Zombie, Joe Satriani


Running time:  49:20

Website:  www.emilianosicilia.com

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Dig Trio - Dig Trio [Aug. 17th, 2007|07:54 am]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Jazz Rock


Review:  Dig Trio is a jazz rock, guitar/bass/drums trio.  Gustavo’s guitar is the main solo vehicle, which is memorable despite its chameleon-like nature.  There is plenty of room to stretch, but Gustavo’s innate sense of construction never loses sight of the bigger picture.  Peppering linear phrases with attractive chordal voicings.  David creates tension by taking things ever so slightly outside, but never at the expense of melodic development.  This quality is showed by Mauricio, one of today’s most distinctly musical drummers.


With the number of guitarists flooding the scene these days, it is hard to stand out, but Gustavo does just that on the album, further evidence of a vibrant independent scene.


Tracklisting:  Sanguessuga; Hearts and Minds; Next Week; One Day At A Time; Just B; FFUTS; Glove Loser; Baiao Do Adeus; No More Illusions; Collect Call; N-Gene; Toka Gang.


Personnel:  Gustavo Assis Brasil – Electric guitar; David Pinto – 5 string bass; Mauricio Zottarelli – Drums, pandeiro; Garo Saraydarian – Trombone (tracks 6 and 9)


Similar Artists:  Stekpanna


Playing Time:  64:28

Website:  www.digtrio.com

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The All Nighters - Dance 'Til Dawn [Aug. 14th, 2007|05:00 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Instrumental Surf Rock/Indie


Review:  One can only imagine what The All Nighters have done for Bellingham’s surf scene.  This quartet has created a mélange of gypsy swing, 70s rock, punk and surf. Dance ‘Till Dawn is an impressive second endeavor by the band.


Throughout the record, Jimmy’s lead guitar swings mellifluously along with Jeff’s rhythm guitar riffs. Bobby and Gabe’s pulsing rhythms and steady hands complete the unwieldy ensemble.  The bands authoritative voice rides along the ebb and flow, anchoring the compositions between indie and surf.


Tracklisting:  Escape From The Nuthouse; Swingers Club; Cruisin’ & Rockin’; N20; Crackerjack; Riding With Outlaws; Showdown; Sex Maniac; Starfish Lagoon; Glory Boy; Surf Detective; Drink The Night; Oceans Of Time.


Personnel:   Jimmy Kastelic – Lead guitar; Jeff Kastelic – Rhythm guitar; Bobby Lind – Bass; Gabe Taylor – Drums; James Taylor – Slide guitar; Dylan


For fans of:  El Ray, Toploader.


Running time:  39:46

Website:  www.allnighters.us

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Cherry Overdrive - Clear Light [Aug. 12th, 2007|02:10 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  60s Blues Rock


Review:  Cherry Overdrive are fine group of musicians with a warm, zesty feel to their rock which give listeners some excellent music.


There is a distinct bluesy, kitschy feel about this music, and each musician gives his very best in performance.  Did You? is a wonderful track that deserves much air time on the radio, and so is the selection titled Hey Sugar. For those rockers who want to hear something refreshingly new, this CD will fill the bill nicely.


Each song is perfectly performed by musicians who care what they are saying musically and want to share those special feelings with the listeners.


Tracklisting:  What It Takes; Sheryl’s Faith; Shake It Up!; Reptiles; Did You?; Venture; Hey Sugar; Clear Light; Don’t Trash My Tale; Hit The Right Note; Sharks; The Fall.


Personnel:   Lene Kjaer Hvillum – Vocals, guitar, percussion, glockenspiel; Cecilia Cresso – Lead guitar, backing vocals; Jirasol Pereira – Bass; Jeanne Dahl Mikkelsen – Drums; Heinzz – Space farfisa, echo-hammond; Lorenzo Woodrose – claves.


For fans of:  L7, Donnas.


Running time:  42:36

Website:  www.cherryoverdrive.com

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Bob Ferry - Believe In Me [Aug. 11th, 2007|10:05 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Smooth Jazz/ Jazz Rock


Review: Bob’s debut disc shows him as a nuanced and lyrical player, and as a leader that emphasizes tight organic interplay.  He leads the program masterfully on the up-tempo Never E Nough, flowing with ideas that he continues to explore, while always keeping the improvision coherent and concise.  The elliptical pieces Country Cool, and Believe In Me bring to mind some of Ronny Jordan’s melodic compositions from his nineties work, with their warm and elegant feel.


Believe In Me suggests Bob as an economical musician.  An adventurous and emotional artist, it also relays his commitment and the mature music personality.


Tracklisting:  Country Cool; I_Eee; Believe In Me; Never E Nough; Lejos De Casa; My Ride; Bob B Bop; Way Finder; Take Shelter; Spirit Call.


Personnel:  Bob Ferry – Guitar; Bob Miller – Producer.


Similar Artists:  Ronny Jordan


Playing Time:  48:48

Website:  www.bobferrymusic.com

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Tapwater - Shift [Aug. 8th, 2007|09:03 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Jam Band/Latin Rock


Review:  Tapwater are a jam rock group from San Diego and Shift is their second release.  The quartet rocks hard on Where’s The Asteroid, evokes bittersweet melodies on the balladic To Find A Way and burns brightly on the fiery Ya Mar.  There is plenty of energy and the overall vibe is more about smooth surfaces than sharp edges.


The band draws from a broad spectrum of sources such as funk, latin and country.  Each musician has developed such an idiosyncratic language and an almost telepathic interaction with each other, that the musical outcome blurs any conventional concept of listening, yet the music sounds very natural and organic and surprisingly quite harmonic.


Tracklisting:  Where’s The Asteroid; Ya Mar; Lookin’ Up; The Sharpening; Link Sausage Lady; Spring Jubilee; Lazy Lightning Lily; In The Dirt; To Find A Way; Bear Sleeps In; Baga Bones; I Wish; Shame On.


Personnel:  Steve Moore – Vocals, guitar, banjo, percussion; Wes Elliott – Bass, vocals; Marc Tropeano – Drums, percussion; Tim Jones – Keyboards, vocals; Ravi Laird – Guitar, vocals, percussion.


Similar Artists:  Blues Traveller, Santana


Playing Time:  55:13

Website:  www.tapwater.net

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Mark Dwane - Planetary Mysteries / The Sirius Link [Aug. 7th, 2007|12:22 pm]
Instrumental Observer


Genre:  New Age


Review:  Creative music is called such because, regardless of instrumentation, it tests boundaries, develops new approaches and fosters originality.  In addition by serving as a stimulus, it engenders creative listening.  Guitarist/keyboardist, Mark Dwane’s works meet these criteria on all counts.  Planetary Mysteries and The Sirius Link are structured progressive keyboard compositions with live guitars that capture a highly organic musical experience in time.


The amazing style of vocalist Michelle Nader takes Planetary Mysteries to the next level.  She uses phrasing, range and sheer power to joust with the music or melds with the timbres all the while remaining mysterious.  Creative music for creative listeners and an outstanding vocal treat.


Tracklisting:  Planetary Mysteries – Forbidden Archeology; Under The Sphinx; Planetary Energy; Underwater Stargates; Geoglyphs; Hyperdimensional; Memory Alpha.


The Sirius Link – The Sirius Link; Lion People; The Mists Of Uncertainty; Stellar Presence; Cosmological; Quantum Leap; Legend Of The Dogon; Binary Star.


Personnel:  Mark Dwane – Midi, Acoustic/electric guitars; Michelle Nader – Vocals.


Similar Artists:  None


Playing Time:  Planetary Mysteries – 48:21; The Sirius Link – 46:49

Website:  www.markdwane.com

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Rod Oliver – Needle In The Eye [Aug. 6th, 2007|05:03 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Grunge/Folk


Review:  Needle In The Eye is the latest record in the impressive discography of Rod Oliver, which will appeal to the faithful as well as win new converts.  Rod sets of on his gun-slinging ways in favor of comparatively restrained, straightforward preaching, consisting of some basic harmonic-rhythmic rhetoric and of course his distinctive vocal style.


Rod’s down beat, gruff vocal style is somewhat reminiscent of Kurt Cobain’s but without the over dramatic screaming, replacing them with tension-filled, dramatic alternatives.  In brief Needle In The Eye is curiously engaging.  If you ever need a fix of folk-grunge, you can’t go wrong with Rod Oliver.


Tracklisting:  Out Of Luck; Accused; Set Me Free; Betrayal; Deceiver; Shame; T.R.O.; Thorn In Your Side; I Feel Like Rain; Derail; Needle In The Eye.


Personnel:  Rod Oliver – Performer, engineer, mixer


Similar Artists:  Nirvana, Johnny Cash


Playing Time:  44:04


Website:  www.rodoliver.com

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Stygian - Struggle [Aug. 5th, 2007|05:29 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Heavy Metal/Heavy Rock


Review:  Stygian started back in 1999 when Frank, Steve, and Mike came together in middle school.


Disbelief sees Stygian at it's finest hour. This one's an excellent example of their ability to write very strong melodic heavy metal. With Alice In Chains style vocal harmonies, big fat slicing riffs and a chorus that will certainly get stuck in your head, this one gets my vote for the best Stygian track yet!


It's the sort of album that has enough catchy melodies and choruses to make an instant impression on you. I found myself listening to this one a lot more than is normal for me to review an album.


Tracklisting:  Wasted On The Day; Disbelief; Sinking Further; Pay Your Way; Rise Alone; The Game; Dearly Departed; After Here; Pieces From Another Life.


Personnel:  Frank Leary – Vocals, rhythm guitar; Ed Sobon – Lead guitar; Mike Stewart – Bass; Steve Bacchia – Drums.


Similar Artists:  Alice In Chains, Metallica


Playing Time:  47:46

Website:  www.stygianrock.com

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J. Tex & The Volunteers – Lost Between Clouds Of Tumbleweed & Space [Aug. 2nd, 2007|11:22 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Country/Bluegrass


Review:  J. Tex & The Volunteers play music that is a mix between alt-country and bluegrass. They don’t bring anything to the table that hasn't been done before in the genre, but there are vast improvements in the melodies and in the song writing.


The album gets underway with Day By Day, a very cliché ridden melodic track that has a pounding and driving beat.  This album is a very enjoyable listen and one that was an easy one to review. There's nothing ground breaking or mind-blowing here, just solid melodic country with a sombre guitar sound and great overall production.


Tracklisting:  Day By Day; Nine Pound Hammer; White Paper Plane; What A Bummer; Left With Someone Dear…; My Kind Of Town; Me And Bobby McGee; Bring You Down, Down; Sometimes I Feel Like An Angel; Tennessee; Going Back To Memphis; Deep, Deep Valley; Good Morning, Mr Railroadman; Baby Tonight.


Personnel:  J. Tex – Vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin; Frank Borgaard – Bass, banjo, backing vocals; Jens Jones + Jason Bedard – Percussion, drums, backing vocal; Peter Knudsen – Lap steel, guitar, backing vocal.


Similar Artists:  Johnny Cash, Drive By Truckers


Playing Time:  59:37

Website:  www.jtex.dk

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Tempus Sans - The Ultimate Sacrifice [Jul. 29th, 2007|11:44 am]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Progressive Thrash Metal


Review:  Formed in 2004, Tempus Sans was born out of the common vision of the band's three core members, area music vets and band co-founders Pete and Chris, along with Stephen.


Pete really cuts loose with some great scale climbing shredding lead guitar sprinkled throughout many tracks on this album to add atmosphere.  Track after track, the listener is hit with melodic hard rock of the highest quality.  The vocal melodies are top notch as are the choruses to just about every track on this album. The title track, uses a very tight blend of guitars with instrumental lead work that absolutely shines.


Tracklisting:  The Ultimate Sacrifice; Fighter; Lights; Burn; Don’t Tread On Me; Desert Sand; Today; Best Of Times; Kyrie Eleison


Personnel:  Chris Croak – Vocals; Pete Calamusa – Guitar, keyboards; Steve Harrington – Guitar; Joe Antonelli – Bass; Joe Chirco – Drums; Mitch Kamen – Saxophone, winds


Similar Artists:  Megadeth, Queensryche.


Playing Time:  39:26

Website:  www.cdbaby.com/cd/tempussans

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Carbellion - Villains [Jul. 27th, 2007|05:25 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Heavy Rock, Grunge, Blues Metal


Review:  Carbellion was founded in late 2004 based on the idea that a band with soulful eclectic vocals, guitars that are equally comfortable being aggressive and subdued, drums shifting from tranquil to thundering, and a bass that conjoins them into complete balance can do more with the sum of these parts than by the strength of any one.


The sound of Villains pretty much starts off with it's brilliant and catchy collection of solid melodic hard rock that borders on grungy metal with driving bluesy riffs and pounding heavy drum work.  These are the building blocks of this album.


Tracklisting:  Wager Cage; Sapphire Eyes; 20th Century Boy; Shake It; A Patriot’s Eulogy; Some Years Of Living Dangerously; The Fires Of Rome; Scarring Card; Hunting Sirens And Wolves; MacArthur.


Personnel:  Reagan Collett – Bass, backing vocals; Peter Ruesch – Lead guitar; Cameron Kellenberger – Vocals; Brandon Bauer – Guitars, backing vocals; Aaron Craft – Drums, percussion.


Similar Artists:  Metallica, Creed, Soundgarden


Playing Time:  41:55

Website:  www.carbellion.com

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Brian Chris - Fight For The Cause [Jul. 25th, 2007|06:36 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre: Heavy Political Rock


Review:  Since 2004, Brian Chris has been wowing audiences with their heavy brand of rock, and powerful messages.  The quality song writing and brilliant execution of ideas by both Brian and Chuck was a musical "marriage" that was made in heaven.  After hours of writing, playing and recording, their debut album "Fight For The Cause" was produced.


Favorite tracks are simply a matter of personal taste.  They set the bar extremely high with their debut and it will be hard to top it.  A definite blind buy, for any fan of great melodic hard rock.


Tracklisting:  Fight For The Cause; Midnight Train; Believe; Filmore Road; 22/33; Change; Too Tired To Fight; Sweet Child; Second Chance; The Game; Climb; Five To One.


Personnel:  Brian Levering – Vocals; Chuck Morrongiello – Guitars, bass; Mike Tzigos – Drums, percussion; Rob Stony – Keyboards, organ, piano.


Similar Artists:  Hurricane Cletis, Nickelback.


Playing Time: 56:00

Website:  www.brianchris.com

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Blairnt Central - Organic [Jul. 24th, 2007|07:52 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Instrumental Rock/Metal


Review:  Gifted guitarist Bill is the new "king" of melodic instrumental rock. Taking a page from giants in the genre such as Joe Satriani and Frank Zappa, he has created a truly wonderful body of work with Organic.


We see Bill performing his duty as principle musician; playing the entire guitar, and most of the bass and drum parts himself.  Bill also mixed the album by himself; his mixing style gives the album a slightly harder edge.  After the first listen, to me this album was simply a typical quirky instrumental rock album. After a few more listens, I started to focus more on the solid performances as well as the prominent lead guitar work and different instruments used.


Tracklisting:  AM; Alternate Agenda; Boot Device Not Found; It Tastes Just Like Chicken; Freedom Is Beautiful; March Of The Neocons; Got Dog?; War; Fog; The 4th; Organic; Johnny Paper.


Personnel:  Bill Pitts – Guitar, bass, drum, keyboards; Mike Peterson – Drums; Redeyec – Lead guitar.


Similar Artists:  Joe Satriani, Frank Zappa, Oingo Boingo


Playing Time:  63:03

Website:  www.blairntcentral.com

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Rich Fortuna - Heathen Machines [Jul. 23rd, 2007|07:25 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Instrumental Metal


Review:  Heathen Machines features a steady stream of hard edged melodic rock instrumentals with catchy chorus lines, layered harmonics, and memorable hooks. The attitude and vibe of the tracks is clearly 80's - early 90's metal, yet the sonics of the album are very contemporary.


Rich has taken the recipe from yesterday and made it very palatable, relevant, and even fresh nearly two decades later, imagine old 80s Metallica doing an instrumental album.  The cd offers cuts that have a bit more to chew on in terms of musicianship. As a result, the melodies and hooks really hit you like a sledgehammer after about the second listen.  Highly recommended! . – There is also a bonus DVD containing a chilling music video for the track Test Subjects.


Tracklisting:  Warbride; Bloodtrails; Throwdown; Disciple; Where Are You?; Hessian Divisions; Libido Unleashed; Test Subjects; Crooks n Demons; Spanish Devils; Nasty Christians; Hand Over Fist; Sinister; Alone.


Personnel:  Rich Fortuna – Guitars, bass, keyboards; Jose Lopez – Bass; Ben Saltzman – Drums; David Snediker – Drums.


Similar Artists:  Metallica, Sepultura


Playing Time:  53:18

Website:  www.richfortuna.com

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Contemporary America - Another Circle [Jul. 19th, 2007|05:04 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Latin Jazz/Folk


Review:  Contemporary America is a cross country project headed by Benjamin Taubkin.  The project’s aim was to have Brazilian musicians working alongside musicians from various other South American countries.


Lucia Pulido opens the disc with her haunting vocals, and shows a talent of rare profoundity and breadth.  She is backed by Benjamin’s fractured piano and twirly notes from the horn section.  The peaceful solemnity of The Music And The Word, a recurrent theme of disarmingly charming simplicity, instantly grabs the listener and acts as a gateway into a magnetizing landscape.


Artful, stylish and captivating, Contemporary America is assuredly one to watch for in the future.


Tracklisting:  Carmelita, Goodbye; The Music And The Word; Mysteries Of May; Doing The Panguito; To My Brothers; Cowboy Songs; Juca’s Valley; Cajoning; A Tonada For My Little Girl; Spring.


Personnel:  Alvaro Montenegro – Sax, flutes; Ari Colares – Percussion; Aquiles Baez – Guitar, cuatro; Benjamin Taubkin – Piano; Carlos Aguirre – Guitar, accordion, voice; Christian Galvez – Bass; Lucia Pulido – Voice; Luis Solar Narciso – Percussion; Siba – Violin, voice; Ze Miguel Wisnik – Voice, piano.


Similar Artists:  Mario Adnet, Maria Vasquez


Playing Time:  54:34


Website:  www.adventure-music.com
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The Mike Keeney Trio - The Mike Keeney Trio [Jul. 18th, 2007|10:42 am]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Guitar jazz, funk, rock


Review:  The Mike Keeny Trio bring together elements of jam bands with jazz fusion.  They blend funky rhythmic phrasing with thematic melodies.  Mike encourages the band through example.  You can quickly imagine the sweat pouring off his face as he reaches out with a thrilling personal message.  Sometimes he sacrifices technique for spirit, which can be heard in the opening and closing tracks of the album.


Along with Eric and Brian, the music commands both silence and abandonment of oneself to the music.  Mike’s innate sense of textures, as well as his free-flowing lines and dramatic use of pedals, makes him a guitar poet.


Tracklisting:  321 Contact; Extreme Alien; School Supplies; Big Heads; Beijos Para Voce (Sayun’s Song); Kaleidoscope; Two Sisters; Fall Festival ’86; Sleepyhead; Lifesigns.


Personnel:  Mike Keeney – Guitar; Eric Sittner – Bass; Brian Abraham – Drums.


Similar Artists:  John Scofield, Eivind Aarset


Playing Time: 53:27


Website:  www.mikekeeney.com
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Mario Adnet - Jobim Jazz [Jul. 15th, 2007|08:10 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Brazillian Jazz/Brass Band


Review:  In an era of over saturation in jazz characterized by an abundance of young performers who seem to favor imitation at the expense of originality, it is invigorating to hear a timeless gem like Jobim Jazz.  It is hard to contemplate that some of the music here was recorded almost half a century ago.  The precision and inventiveness of Mario Adnet and company make this album sound fresh and hip.


The inspiration for this recording came from the fact that, on January 25, 2007 it was Antonio-Carlos Jobim’s eightieth birthday.  The Jobim tunes have been transformed into brass arrangements with many improvisions and Brazilian rhythms.  A definite runner for one of the albums of 2007.


Tracklisting:  Domingo Sincopado; Quebra Pedra; Sue Ann; Tema Jazz; Rancho Nas Nuvens; Surfboard; Meninos Eu Vi; So Danco Samba; Paulo Voo Livre; Valsa Do Porto Das Caixas; Frevo De Orfeu; Bate Boca; Polo Pony.


Personnel:  Mario Adnet – Guitar; Jorge Helder – Bass; Armando Marcal – Percussion; Marcos Nimrichter – Piano; Nailor Proveta – Alto Sax; Marcelo Martins – Tenor Sax;  Vander Nascimento – Trumpet; Vittor Santos – Trombone; Antonio Henrique Sexias – Bass trombone; Philip Doyle – French Horn.


Similar Artists:  Stan Kenton


Playing Time:  57:48


Website:  www.adventure-music.com
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Edison Suit - B [Jul. 12th, 2007|10:21 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Electro Pop/Industrial Rock


Review:  Edison Suit, for me anyway have managed to create a style of electro rock which unquestionably stands out from the rest of the crowd.  For some genre bending is trying to throw things into the mixer, grind thoroughly and see if anything is going to stick by throwing it at the wall…not Edison Suit.  Their concoction of acoustic/electric guitars, sampling, violins and jazz tinged electro rock is a winning recipe.


The revolving guest vocalists have a smooth and soaring vocal delivery which brings a certain prog feel to the material.  It definitely adds to the very melodic qualities of the album.


Tracklisting:  CD1 – Fluorescent Moon; Fool’s Cage; Brother Darkness; A Dead Man (Spoke With A Machine); Hydrolic*Empire; Infinite Dark Mass; Colors Of A Vanished Sun; Burden Of Information; Bullet Hole For A Mouth; Stone Christ.


CD2 – Neon Depths; The Long October Demise; Eyes Of Broken Crystal; Modes Of Perception; She Is A Sea Of Code; Plant Philosophy; Metaphysical Vertigo; Cognitive Dissidents; Textured Darkness.


Personnel:  Mark Smith – Electric/acoustic/bass guitars, vocals, Barry Wood; Barry Wood – Keyboards, percussion, programming, vocals; plus guests.


Similar Artists:  VTG, Nine Inch Nails


Playing Time:  CD1 – 53:52; CD2 – 52:40

Website:  www.edisonsuit.com

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Alien Music Club - Zero Digital Gravity [Jul. 9th, 2007|07:07 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Jazz Guitar/Beatles Pop


Review:  I have to confess to being fooled by this recording, the second from Alien Music club.  It begins in a rather ordinary smooth jazz on the first few tracks.  Guitarist/pianist Jonathan Pearlman’s playing generates a pleasant ambiance with drummer Robin Tolleson. 


Then comes a Kinks cover, the mood shifts to a vocal setting which is closer to Beatles style of power pop.  Then the album falls back into that pattern of jazz rock tracks with another vocal one later.  This all makes it difficult to pick out the guitarist’s real style, since he seems more versatile than I originally thought and comfortable in different musical environments.


Tracklisting:  Long Story Short; Evaporation; Sunny Afternoon; Inertia; Hot Hombre; Zero Digital Gravity; The Incredible Shrinking Man; A Postcard From Barbados; Armageddon; Mutation; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Let It Fall.


Personnel:  Jonathan Pearlman – Guitars, piano; Robin Tolleson, Jaron Pearlman – Drums; Joel Spenser – Flute.


Similar Artists:  Kenny Burrell, John Scofield


Playing Time:  56:14


Website:  www.alienmusicclub.com
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Clonecircle - Superimposed [Jul. 7th, 2007|07:31 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Genre:  Industrial Metal


Review:  In short, Clonecircle have managed to deliver a pretty solid album, much more faithful to the old-skool industrial metal sound.  There is nothing new, but as always the incredible, strong and pounding guitar riffs as well as the awesome chorus parts are ever present.


Hellgren has some great vocal melodies especially on the choruses, and which I believe are the trademark of this band.  The more you listen the more the melodies and strong riffs carve pathways to your neural net.  The band’s other secret weapon is the strong, almost mind crushing riffing.  It supports the songs and gives them their ultra heaviness while the chorus is a more melodic deliverance.  Recommended for all industrial heads.


Tracklisting:  Descent; In Your Head; Superimposed; Soulman; Freak Like You; Mirror; Waiting For The Kill; Paper God; Hate Me; Anatomy Of Hate; Neverminded; Ghost; Ascent.


Personnel:  Hellgren – Vocals, bass, keys; Sandberg – Guitars, keys, programming; Kvist – Drums; Yde – Guitars.


Playing Time:  52:01


Similar Artists:  Fear Factory, Zuul FX


Website:  www.clonecircle.com
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Hurricane Cletis [Apr. 28th, 2007|10:07 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Hurricane Cletis – Hurricane Cletis


Genre:  Pop Metal/Heavy Rock/Grunge


Review:  Perhaps the greatest part of Hurricane Cletis is that they do not have to rely on a barrage of heavy guitar riffs to make an impact.  The group works together to create a fantastic moodiness to their music, ranging from beautiful acoustic bits, to catchy hooks and superior melodic guitar riffs.  You are being presented with a success story in the making.


In this reviewers mind catchiness is very important.  Anyone can train themselves day in day out to become the most technically proficient musician possible, but musicianship is art before skill, so when an album full of recognizable songs is released, that is the most important factor when appreciating good music.  I expect the debut to lead Hurricane Cletis out of their native land and onto the international stage.


Tracklisting:  Disgusted; Don’t Wanna Wait; Stained; Spend My Time; Little While; Break You; Can’t Follow; Wastin’ Time; The Vicious Cycle; Stories Before; Pieces Left Behind; On My Way.


Personnel:   Greg Dyck – Guitars, vocals; Rob Dyck – Drums; Darren Dyck – Vocals; JK – Bass; Chris Smith – Guitars, vocals.


For fans of:  Nickleback, Alter Bridge, Motley Crue


Running time:  43:13


Website:  www.hurricanecletis.com
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Swing Of Sahara / Raise The Shield [Apr. 25th, 2007|08:23 pm]
Instrumental Observer

Swing Of Sahara – Balk ‘N’ Roll


Genre:  Jazz, Surf/Balkan Rock


Review:  The name of this superlative album by Swing Of Sahara, clearly a play on words, refers to the fact that the group mix rock with Balkan music, and the two are no less resourceful and exhilarating.


While space doesn’t permit an exhaustive appraisal of every number, suffice to say that each of them is marvelously performed, and there are impressive solos by the guitarist, trombonist and trumpets which are showcased on Tres Mujeres and Spanjolski.  The album closes with a couple of ‘swingers’ that find the telepathic quartet quickening its pace and raising the collective energy level.  One of the most impressive, instrumental releases of the year.


Tracklisting:  Viruskilla; El Canibal; Hajen; Tres Mujeres; Spanjolskij; Long Horn Love; Intermezzo; Slowology; Nothing Toulouse; Jarvo Rock; Kattekillingen; Be My Turk; El Viento.


Personnel:   Andreas Ugorskij – Guitar; Peter Dobronyi – Guitar, harmonica, crooning; Ole Algreen Reimer – Trumpet, flugelhorn; Jesper Lund – Bass; Sigurd Djurhuus – Drums, percussion.


For fans of:  Dick Dale, Umbrella Bed.


Running time:  50:58


Website:  www.swingofsahara.dk

Raise The Shield – Play With Fire


Genre:  Heavy/Thrash Metal


Review:  There's a lot of aggression and quirky, off-center energy in Dave’s playing; his style brings Jeff Waters or Dave Mustaine to mind.  He is the leader of the group Raise The Shield, and he is also the composer of all the tunes on the band's debut disc, Play With Fire.


It's great to hear a debut that comes out of the gates blazing like this, full of confidence, with a distinctive modern sound anchored deep in the metal tradition. The group dynamic is loose and spontaneous, and Dave solos with a solid, percussive left hand nailing down his free-flying right-hand explorations..


Tracklisting:  Fight Ourselves; Play With Fire; Born A Liar; Life Run Cold; Dream; Gods; Darkness; Deathwish.


Personnel:   Dave Cardwell – Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals.


For fans of:  Megadeth, Judas Priest, Annihilator.


Running time:  31:55


Website:  www.myspace.com/raisetheshield
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Elewout De Raad Project - The Cross [Apr. 10th, 2007|07:03 pm]
Instrumental Observer
Elewout De Raad Project – The Cross


Genre:  Jazz Fusion


Review:  If Hollands’s own guitarist got comments on his report cards, they were probably along the lines of: “Plays well with others.” With The Cross, Elewout has proven that he has ‘big ears’.


Jorrit and Hendrik afford ample room for dialogue, to which Elewout responds with running commentary, blurring and blending the traditional division of labor between bassist and drummer.  Elewout is fiery in his solo spots, tipping the time to create forward momentum.


On this debut the leader embodies fusion, a vision of collaboration and egalitarianism, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.


Tracklisting:  Mamaloe; Precious; Inspiration; Down Deep; The Cross.


Personnel:   Elewout De Raad – Guitar; Jorrit Godeke – Bass; Hendrik Mulder – Drums.


For fans of:  Bill Connors, Allan Holdsworth.


Running time:  38:50


Website:  www.elewoutderaad.com
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