Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gravity by Paul Mark and The Van Dorens

Gravity by Paul Mark & The Dorens, is an album that comes with an abundance of originality and current topics plus a Yardbirds cover which is a must hear. These songs all follow the quality level of the great songwriters of the same level in which Mark and company are. I had just never heard this great band before, so it was also fun to listen to some other titles from the past to bring me up to speed with Gravity and get some of that ground itself covered. And what I discovered was a seminal artist and producer that really delivers. 

“Gravity Is Failing” works to get the whole show on the road for an album that rates very high within the first listen and grows with every listen from there. Fans might find similarities with Leon Russell, Willie Nelson at times and even Bob Dylan. Paul Mark is clearly a virtuoso musician and a maestro producer in the studio, so he’s totally in control of his work, but accompanied well as usual by the band. “Forever” and “Spin Of The Wheel” are as good of examples as any to back that and keep you interested for more magic. That magic happens the second he starts singing “The Next Fight,” as it is perfectly placed in the track list, as if to come to this point in what is loosely story based without being too progressive. But that is not to say the next cut doesn’t bleed some progressive undertones as an instrumental that pushes the album’s musical boundaries with some crazy organ work.

It’s all enough to remind you there is a concept going on here and “Con Man VIP” is at the epicenter of it and where the album truly delivers the business it may or may not have set out to in the first place. I really like this album, especially the piano, keyboard/organ playing of Paul Mark, as well as the songwriting and vocals for that matter I am happy to be turned onto this release and his prior work. “Friend Gone Astray” is another thing of beauty and it even tends to remind of Bruce Springsteen or even Bruce Hornsby. 

You Can’t Take It With You” keeps the ball rolling with more of a Sunday reflection song but worth a mention. But the Yardbirds hit song “Heart Full Of Soul” is revisited with much integrity, and I like it so much it’s going on my covers playlist. This should bring the band some attention because it’s so good it’s worth the price of admission. “Waiting Round For You” and “December At The P.O.” come last but not least with the former being the least to write home about, but the closing track on the level of everything else to be heard on Gravity, which is a remarkable album by a band I’m glad to know about. 

Paul Mark deserves top songwriting and producing praise for this enormously satisfying musical statement in a time well needed for it.

Jonah McPherson

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Alonzo Interview

Hey Alonzo! Thank you for your time. Tell us what has been your favorite cheat food in quarantine?  

Hey! Thank you for this interview. I think I’ve been enjoying food a little too much during this quarantine haha. I’d say my recent cheat food has been cookies. There are these Sea Salt Carmel Chocolate Chip cookies I’ve been baking a few nights a week. I’m going to try not to buy anymore because they are addicting LOL.

Any exiting news you want to share with us? 

Exciting News…Hmmm…Well my Album is DONE! We’ve been planning our next moves but it has definitely been difficult during this time. I think our biggest focus is now the fall and 2021. New Music is definitely on the way!

Any loves other than music? 

I loveeeee going to concerts. Does that count? Haha. Honestly my life revolves around music. Im really loving Tik Tok right now as well. 

Do you ever get nervous before you play music live?

YES! I always have the most random thoughts before going on stage. What if I forget all of the words? What if I fall off the stage? Haha I definitely have to keep my nerves under control before I play. The cool thing is that almost instantly when I walk on stage and the microphone is in front of my face my nerves are gone.

What is your next goal as a musician?

I’d say I have many goals but my biggest one right now is to secure I opening slot on a major artist tour. If there are any major artists out there looking for opening acts please keep me in mind.

What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke? 

Omg this is so embarrassing but right now I am obsessed with Jessie J’s version of “Part of your world” from The Little Mermaid. Don’t judge me hahaha

Name one your strengths? 

I think a great strength of mine is leading

What is your own definition of happiness?

Ahhh I love this question. My definition of happiness is the feeling of Love, Gratitude and Peace occupying the space of Anxiety and Fear.

How do you see yourself in 5 years? 

In 5 years, I will be headlining a world tour and I will be one of the most known entertainers in the world. I will have opened a arts school in my hometown Rockford, IL and I will be inspiring people around the world.

How would you describe your fashion style? 

I’m still discovering my style. It changes often. Sometimes I’m very Chic, clean cut and classy. Other times I like a little edge more on the Sexy Rock & Roll side. Just depends on my mood. 

Where we can follow you on social media? 

Please follow on my Instagram @StoryOfAlonzo

Press Inquiries:

End of Interview 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Leo’s Guitar (EP) by Izzie's Caravan

As its title implies, Leo’s Guitar is all about artistic expression via an electrified six-string courtesy of Izzie’s Caravan, and in four fantastically engaging songs, this EP does everything its creators designed it to. Izzie’s Caravan come in blistering hot at the start of the tracklist with “Two in the Bush” before ripping through the slow-rolling “Lightnins-A-Howlin’,” crushing “Dorian’s Lament” and the instrumental juggernaut title track. Inside of just twelve minutes’ time, these blues-rockers manage to dispense one fiery eruption of tonality after another whilst making use of every melodic tool at their disposal. A great example of what can come from dedicated songcraft meeting passionate players in their prime, Leo’s Guitar is as top shelf as electric blues records get in the contemporary age.

The strings are mightily textured throughout the whole of this EP, and I’m not talking about the guitar parts alone. The basslines in “Lightnins-A-Howlin’” and the title track are bursting with detail upon closer inspection, and though they never come even close to stealing any of the spotlight away from the leads at the top of the mix, their sonic contribution makes this material as chill-inducing as it is. Most everything in the mix is arranged as to create additional tension through the physicality of tone and harmony, and while there are moments that sound almost nauseatingly crisp, nothing here feels overproduced to me. Izzie’s Caravan are putting some serious effort into making this a meticulous sampling of their talents, and for my money, they couldn’t have done much better.

The almost conflicted, hesitant rhythm in “Two in the Bush” and “Dorian’s Lament” allows for maximum melodic exploitation in both of these songs, which won me over in right out of the gate when I sat down with Leo’s Guitar for the first time. Nothing in this extended play seems even slightly rushed or thrown-together, and even in the case of up-tempo tunes that require ridiculous dexterity, you can tell that no one in Izzie’s Caravan was sweating the task at hand. They’ve got a great energy in this disc, and if it’s something I can expect to experience in their live performances, I’ll make a point of checking out their stage show the next time they’re in my neck of the woods.

I’ve been a guitar buff for the better part of my life, but I don’t think you need to be to fall in love with what Izzie’s Caravan are doing in Leo’s Guitar. Fiercely streamlined but not lacking in any of the compositional bells and whistles that diehard blues fans expect in a modern release, Leo’s Guitar is a credible offering from a band clearly capable of getting a lot done in the studio. A full-length album of this crew’s blues style would be quite enticing indeed, and if given the right space to record it, I think such a record could make a serious impact both in and outside of their native scene. I’ll be looking out for more, and I’d recommend you do the same.

Jonah McPherson

Friday, April 10, 2020

Interview with Joey Stuckey

Welcome Joey! We know this is a crazy time for most. How are you doing?

Thanks for having me. 

I am doing okay, nervous like everyone, but trying to stay positive and productive! 

My commercial studio is shut down temporarily but I am doing as much production/recording work from home as I can. 

As a brain tumor survivor, I have to take extra care with my health. I encourage everyone to take COVID19 seriously and stay home as much as you can. We’ll get through this difficult time but we all have to be on the same page in our response. 

You have a new campaign out - called "One Song at a Time" - tell us about that. 

I decided to release a new song on the 29th of each month until I run out of songs or the virus is beaten—and I’ve got a lot of songs! 

I chose the 29th because that day is important in my life story. It is my birthday, but also the day my brain tumor was successfully removed. 

These new releases are songs that haven’t been released before or, if they have been, they are out of print and were never available digitally, which is the only format I am releasing at this time. 

My live album that was recorded at a number of different venues in 2019 is on hold, but I am excited for my fans to hear my new material. Again, some of these songs have been in the can and just waiting for the right time to release them and now seems like the perfect time. 

The first song in this campaign is called “One Song At A Time”. I wrote it with my dearly departed friend Charlie Hoskyns and I am so excited to share it. 

Lyrically, it is about my desire to leave the world a little better than I found it and I am willing to do that one song and one person at a time. 

Tell us where we can find/stream all of the new music you will be putting out?

Has this time allowed you more time to focus in on music or has it been harder to focus for you?

Honestly, I am having a harder time doing the musical things I used to do every day during the COVID19 crisis because of worries about health and money, but I am still getting things done!

Tell us your favorite quarantine snack?

Well, I am trying not to snack as I am dieting and getting more healthy. In fact, I have lost 20 pounds. But If I do snack, I am doing so on frozen fruit, olives or hummus and wheat crackers.

Thank you for your time!

My pleasure, stay safe everyone!

Press inquiries:

End of Interview

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chords of Eve release EP

Bursting at the seams with grooves as lush as they are intoxicatingly cerebral in “Brightside,” evenly distributed in a stony deluge of moderate distortion and crisp string harmonies in “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be,” the musicality that Chords of Eve are throwing down in their new extended play Dear Engineer is nothing to scoff at, and for critics like myself who have been lucky enough to score a sneak preview of the record’s five fabulously surreal tracks, it’s enough to get quite a buzz storm going.

From the electropop title track in Dear Engineer to the rambling rhythm of a beefy “Rebuild Ourselves Tonight” and haunting rhymes of “Evelyn,” Chords of Eve deliver a relentlessly dreamy debut in this EP that draws reference to some of the more ambient offerings in modern electronica/rock fusion, but make no mistake about it – theirs is a sound that stands on its own without question. There have been a lot of exciting new hybrids making headlines in the American underground in the last few years, but I can’t say that I’ve come across very many that have held my attention quite as well as this disc recently has.


The vocals in “Evelyn,” “Brightside” and “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” are ironically utilized as a frame for the lustrous instrumentation that each of these tracks contain rather than the other way around, and although this might seem like a complicated way to induce textured chills, I think it’s partly what makes Dear Engineer so hard to peg using conventional artistic terminology.

There’s a great use of contrast in “Rebuild Ourselves Tonight” that dispels any tethering of the song’s conceptualism to trends in progressive electronica, and while “Brightside” and the title track share a certain duality that would seemingly make them prime fodder for rock radio over a commercial pop format, the tension in their individual grooves make them plenty danceable just the same. On paper, a lot of what Chords of Eve are doing here could qualify as black and white experimentalism, but upon closer inspection, the indulgent cosmetics they liberally employ in this record make it a much more elaborate offering to decipher.

It’s a highly eclectic effort that requires a discriminating ear to fully appreciate, but if you ask me, Chords of Eve’s Dear Engineer is more than promising enough to bring those who give it a spin this April back to their music when they decide to cut a full-length album (which, judging from the caliber of this content, won’t be too far down the line). They’re coming up against a lot of competition both in their home scene of Austin, Texas as well as throughout the underground in the United States at the moment, but as long as they continue to pursue compositional techniques and stylizations that their peers would just as soon shy away from, I think they’re going to see more and more success as this new decade begins to take shape for all of us.

Mark Druery

Monday, August 19, 2019

Ooberfuse “Call My Name”

Shades of post-punk surrealism are met with hypnotic, somewhat ambient textures as the bassline in “The Noise” remix of “Call My Name” thrusts back and forth, pulverizing the distant percussion with its unimaginable weight. Regardless of where the volume knob sits on your stereo, you aren’t going to stop the physicality of the bass that draws up a foundation for this mix of ooberfuse’s latest composition. Singer Cherrie Anderson’s voice is the only light in this dark, gloomy environment where tonality plays a villainous role in creating as much tension as would be possible within a three minute club song. As intimidating a listen as it can be, it’s got a magnetizing quality that seems to be a bit of a theme among all of the Call My Name remixes that I’ve heard, from the chiming “Hal St John Radio Edit” to the rather muted “Paul Kennedy Radio Edit” and its fiercely indie music video. Ooberfuse have made one heck of a summer melody here, and in these different versions of it we get to see just how talented the British twosome of Anderson and St John really are.

There’s more of an alternative/punk influence in the construction of the “Hal St John Radio Edit,” “Patrik Kambo Radio Edit” and “Push The Frequency Festival Mix” than there is in “The Noise” and “Paul Kennedy Radio Edit,” which lean more exclusively on the electronic tones in ooberfuse’s sound. The mashup of styles doesn’t create any sort of disfluency in the harmonies as we go from one track to the next, but instead makes the entire record feel like a picture window into the band’s history, and more explicitly, the roots of their music.

There’s a little bit of The Cure in the St John remix, perhaps a touch of Kraftwerk in “The Noise,” a dash of strange, Massive Attack-like eccentrics in the “Push The Frequency Festival Mix,” and even a brutish, Ministry-esque industrialism to Kambo’s radio edit (spare the vocal track, that is). I listen to Call My Name and I can’t help but hear bits and pieces of the European underground spanning well over the last four decades, and that’s not something that I see very often as a critic, if ever at all.

Aside from a few minor speedbumps on the soundboard side of the glass, Call My Name is an excellent collection of masterfully made remixes from ooberfuse and their collaborators, Paul Kennedy and Patrik Kambo. These tracks are more than experimental enough to keep the eclectic electropop and ambient fans happy over the summer season while still boasting a streamlined production quality that, I believe, will get a few of them some time on the radio in both the UK and the United States this year. Call My Name is full of richly evocative, heterogeneous harmonies that are anything but easy to come by in 2019, and even if it doesn’t tell us anything that we didn’t already know about ooberfuse, it essentially confirms everything that their biggest fans in the media were already well aware of.

Heather Savage

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Ronnue’s Introduction 2 Retro-Funk is wrecking ball

The American underground has been producing hit after hit this summer, and one of its most profound stars comes to us out of the Northwest R&B circuit in the form of Ronnue’s Introduction 2 Retro-Funk, a wrecking ball of an LP that can get anyone grooving inside of its twelve deeply melodic funk tracks. Ronnue is no stranger to the spotlight up in Seattle, where he’s been building a cult reputation for his one of a kind flow and adherence to classic funk rhythms, but in Introduction 2 Retro-Funk, he brings a caliber of content to the studio that tops anything he’s issued in the past by a mile.

Both “17 Days (The Hood Mix)” and “Do It (The Remix) [feat. Roc Phizzle, Soultry]” show this skillful songwriter giving up a huge share of the spotlight to the instrumental swagger that drives the music behind him in what I would call a rare act of selflessness in modern R&B. Ronnue is really good about balancing out every batch of lyrics that he lays out here with a powerful harmony in the backing track, and while he’s always the most commanding presence in any given composition, he never sounds like just another talented artist with an ego the size of Alaska.

“Be Your Freak,” “If We Stayed 2gether,” “Something About U (The Retro-Funk Mix)” and “I’m a Lesbian” use a lot of callous bass tones to get our attention, but it’s the vibrant dispatch of verses that keeps our focus trained on the vocalist in these tracks. As a lyricist, Ronnue has only grown more capable with every release he’s stamped his name on, and if this game really is all about creative development, then I would name him as one of the only Seattle players near the forefront of the “New West Coast” sound at the moment.

Some songs here, like “Why,” “Be Your Freak” and “You Tried Me (The Man’s Anthem)” sound more structured than others, like “In Love,” “I’m a Lesbian” and “Do It (The Remix),” which all feature a more freeform, improvisational feel. Everything on Introduction 2 Retro-Funk is rooted in professional-quality precision, but it’s important to draw a distinction between the loose, easygoing vocal style of Ronnue and some of the duller mainstream poets that he’s challenging for dominance in 2019. This guy doesn’t want to fit in – he’s a rebel, and honestly, this genre needs his kind of attitude now more than ever.

Ronnue’s talent isn’t any news to those of us who have heard his music before, but to the listeners who are finding out about his abstruse but always accessible brand of funk for the first time, Introduction 2 Retro-Funk is the best means of getting into his head. The harmonies are off the chain, the beats never tiresome nor timid, and the lyrical content is consistently more positive than the garbage that major labels have been tasking us with sorting through across FM stations around the country this year. He’s got the Emerald City in the palm of his hands right now, and if this record catches fire on the opposite coast, soon he’ll have the rest of the country as well.

Scottie Carlito

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