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Music Review - `What Kind of World?` by Arlan Feiles (ea)

Arlan Feiles - What Kind of World?  (click on image to watch video)

 1 January 2020

 

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Arlan Feiles is the kind of engaged, political songwriter America needs right now. The L.A. native first emerged in the ‘90s and was nearly swallowed whole by the gluttonous music business. But he lived to tell the tale, carving out a compelling career working with the Band, legendary music producer, Tom Dowd,  as well as Dave Grohl.  He even had his music featured in the Academy Award Winning feature film, “Dallas Buyer’s Club.”

Arlan put down roots on the Jersey Shore and recently recorded his new album, “What Kind Of World.” The 10-song set blends Gospel, Country, Folk, and Rock. The opening cut is the sanctified title track, here lyrics ponder what kind of world will he leave for his children. 

Songs range from the tender encomium of “Layla” to the Big Easy ramble of “If I Were A Dinosaur,” the stately grace of “Homeward” and the poignant piano ballad, “This Broken Heart.” 

But the best songs buzz with socially conscious angst. “You Can’t Ban My Love”  blends conga and mandolin accents, as lyrics quietly excoriate the cruel policies of the tangerine hued despot that occupies the Oval Office.  Even better is the unvarnished antipathy of  “50 Years Of Kavanaugh.” 

Much like Woody Guthrie and ‘60s era Dylan, Arlan manages to vilify the controversial Supreme Court Justice with a few neatly turned verses. Arlan balances the political with the personal. All the while he maintains his passion and commitment without sounding preachy or didactic. He speaks truth to power.

 

 

Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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Music Review - `Hot Chicken Wisdom` by Rich Mahan (ea)

Rich Wisdom - Hot Chicken Wisdom  (click on image to watch video)

 25 December 2019

 

Black

If you have ever yearned for music that weds the Southern Boogie style of Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top to Chicken-centric narratives, Rich Mahan’s new album, “Hot Chicken Wisdom” might be the answer to your prayers.

A California native, Rich grew up digging the Blues, Garage Rock and British Mod music with equal intensity. But it was the Grateful Dead expanded his musical horizons, that journey eventually landed him in Nashville. His debut, “Blame Bobby Bare,” arrived in 2012, now he’s just released a follow-up, Hot Chicken Wisdom.”

Opening with the Dixie-Fried bluster of “Boots Off,” Rich proves that even carnal conquistadors remove their footwear, if a conquest is in the offing.  Humor is on full display with the slinky Samba of “Daydrinking,” as well as the herbal sing-a-long, “I Smoke Pot.”  Meanwhile, “Tick On My Taint” is an arch Cha-Cha-Cha that tells the tale of a perineum parasite; “Just another inch forward, and it would have got the best of me.”

From the smoking shuffle of “Hot Chicken & An Ice Cold 40” to the Stonesy “Exile”-era groover “Stoned As A Roman Slave” and the high-stepping’ “Coffee In The Morning,” Rich proves adept at tackling a plethora of styles. But he acquits himself nicely on a trio of trenchant covers. There’s a loping take on the Dead’s “Loose Lucy” then he recasts the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” as Gospel/Country/Blues.

Finally, in a shout-out to his  Cali roots he offers up a willowy version of  “Open Up Your Heart” from L.A. legend, Chuck Prophet. “Hot Chicken Wisdom” is a wily romp. The puns are fun, but it would be really interesting to hear Rich Mahan drop the comical façade and dig a little deeper. That’s an album I really want to hear.

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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Music Review - `The Road Not Taken` by Nick Justice (ea)

Nick Justice - The Road Not Taken  (click on image to watch video)

 27 November 2019

 

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Nick Vincent comes from California, but his vocals land somewhere between the nasal Gainesville twang of Tom Petty and the rumbling honey and wood smoke of Iowa’s Greg Brown.  His new album “The Road Not Taken” draws from Rock, Rhythm & Blues, Country, and Folk. 

The low-key opener, “Take Me Home” sets the tone for this 10 song set, blending high lonesome lap steel, chugging guitars and a percolating beat.  Sly and mordant lyrics offer this pragmatic view; “All things must pass, we all need to move on, it’s written in every story the conclusion’s forgone, come Holy Spirit, take me home.”  Of course, that enlightened  P.O.V. seems to be coming from a corpse…. 

The title track hews closer to Robert Zimmerman than Robert Frost. Sneering vocals tell the tight-lipped tale of a backwoods outlaw over an expansive arrangement featuring, dobro, slide guitar, banjo, bass, and mandolin. 

Meanwhile, both “Left No Reply” and “Slipping Away” tackle the scourge of drug addiction from different vantage points. On the  former, wistful guitar notes fold into a jittery beat as lyrics recount a friend’s chemical descent; “The pain in his veins, left no reply.” The latter is a bit of a back-porch ramble anchored by a kick-drum beat and accented by bramble-thick guitars, spidery bass and swooping fiddle runs. Nick’s mien is laconic as he lists his vices, before confiding “Ya know, I’m slipping away.”

Other interesting tracks include the loping two-step of “Down Country” and the fatherly encomium of “Song For Caity (A Daughter’s Song).” The album closes the tender benediction of “Calling All Lost Souls.”   Clearly, Nick Justice’s influences inform him, but they don’t define him.

 

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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Music Review - `The Waiting Game` by Buford Pope (ea)

Buford Pope - The Waiting Game  (click on image to watch video)

 23 December 2019

 

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“I once suffered a bruising, a bitter defeat but you all raised your glasses when I was back on my feet/It is love that will cure your heart, but it was also love that first tore it apart”. That’s Buford Pope speaking to the resilience of the human spirit on “Hard Life,” a cut from his new album.

Buford Pope (ne’ Mikael Liljeborg), grew up on a Swedish island situated in the Baltic Sea. At age 15 he discovered Bob Dylan, that opened the door to other touchstones like Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen. But it was another 15 years before he picked up a guitar.

Once he began writing his own music, he hit the ground running. Between 2003 and 2017, he has recorded seven albums. He has just released his eighth, “The Waiting Game.” While his songwriting style follows the paradigm set by his musical heroes, his high lonesome vocals evoke comparison to Heartland Rocker Steve Forbert.

The album opens with “America,” a meandering piano ballad that offers a nuanced take on the immigrant experience. Songs like “Wanna Say I’m Sorry Before I Die,” “In My Hometown” and “Stoned” recall youthful indiscretions, moments of self-doubt and the inevitable growing pains. Stand-out tracks include the burnished “Five Minutes To Midnight,” then there’s “Tell Me What I Am” which offers a wry meditation on heartbreak. The Gospel-infected Blues of “A Hundred” receives vindication on the answer song, “Ninety-Nine.”

Finally, there’s the back porch,  banjo-riffic ramble of “First Blood.” Although he started this journey later than most,he has made up for the lost time. Even as “Hey Hey Aha” charts the struggle to write another love song, it’s clear that Buford has just begun.


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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Music Review - `A Shiver In The Sky` by John Byrne Band (ea)

John Byrne Band - A Shiver in the Sky  (click on image to watch video)

 24 October 2019

 

Black

The John Byrne Band has been part of the thriving Philadelphia music scene for more than a decade. The Irish émigré has recorded three critically acclaimed albums, “After The Wake” in 2011, “Celtic Folk” in 2013 and “The Immigrant And The Orphan” in 2015. The band received rave reviews as a supporting act for artists as disparate as Hothouse Flowers, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian and  Patti Smith. Their fourth long-player, “A Shiver In The Sky,” has just been released.

The album gets off to a rollicking start  with “Special Place In Hell.”Soaring guitars, plaintive pedal steel, buoyant banjo, and swooping fiddle are tethered to a galloping gait. John’s warm tenor wraps around lyrics that chart the course from friendship to romance.

From the back-porch ramble of “All In All,” the defiant “Hold That Against Me” and the album’s magnum opus, “Easy To Get Stuck Here,” the band tackles hot-button issues like the current politic climate, LGBTQ rights and the debate on immigration.  The catchy Country two-step of “Hard Living Lovers,” puts the spotlight on addiction and depression.

           Of course, there are also some nuanced relationship  songs, like the propulsive “Ghost Of A Chance” and the and the high lonesome salute of “Your Love Is All There Is.” The best tracks, “Just Like You” and “Time Ain’t Changed A Thing In This Town” display a piquant, Big Easy Flavor.”

              John Byrne’s blend of Celtic and Folk makes you remember Emerald Isle antecedents like Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, and Luka Bloom, and almost allows you to forget Enya’s soothing “Calgon-Take-Me-Away” music as well as the P.T.S.D. that resulted from the frenetic flailing feet of “Riverdance” and “Lord Of The Dance.” 

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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