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Music Review - `Hillbilly Love` by Scott Holstein (ea)

Scott Holstein - Hillbilly Love  (click on image to watch video)

 16 July 2020

 

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Scott Holstein’s twangy new single “Hillbilly Love” harkens back to the Outlaw Country movement spearheaded back in the ‘70s by Willie, Waylon and the boys. His grumbly baritone offers a wry shout-out to  those forgotten folks whose “cultural evolution was written in the mountains and the stars.” Gritty electric guitars and keening lap steel, the song locks into a four-on-the-floor groove. Equal parts sincere and sardonic, it’s the perfect antidote to the Summertime blahs.

 

 


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 - `Under The Influence Vol 2` by Guy Schwartz (ea)

Guy Schwartz - "Under The Influence Vol 2"  (click on image to watch video)

 04 May 2020

 

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Guy Schwartz is a man who wears many hats. He’s a musician, bandleader, songwriter, videographer, music journalist, community activist, and a 2016 Presidential candidate. Born in New Jersey, he began taking piano lessons at age five. By the time he was 10,  his family relocated to Texas and he took up the drums, five years later, he’d switched to bass. 

He began his  career as a session musician in the early ‘70s. For the next 25 years he toggled between a solo career,  playing in bands like Relayer and Z-Rocks, and working as a touring musician. By the late ‘90s he had reconnected with studio wizard Roger Tausz  and the pair formed The New Jack Hippies. All told, Guy has released 25 albums, “Under The Influence Vol. 2” is his 26th.

The 13 song set opens with “Waltz Across Texas” a slightly shambolic, sideways homage to the classic Ernest Tubb tune. Things only get better from there, from the Doors-y groove of “Lost In Time,”  to the Lone Star Blues of “Stepping Stone,” the Cowpoke Psychedelia of “Lonely One” and the Dixie Fried expanse of “Two Sides Of The Mountain.”

The real stand-outs here include the Sticky Fingered climate of “Bad Storm Coming.” “Out Of Control” is a subterranean Surf-Spy combo-platter. “Mac Said” is a rollicking encomium to Big Easy legend Dr. John (ne’ Mac Rebenannack),  that blends fluid piano notes and fluttery brass accents.  “Far Away From Here” seems to channel Texas Garage Band progenitors like 13th Floor Elevators and Zakary Thaks, with a soupcon of  Jimi Hendrix. Meanwhile, “Blues Rumble” brings a cutting contest to life. Over a wicked  12-bar shuffle,  Guy sets the scene; “Up on the stage, each one a master of tone, they studied and learned all the standards, but their own stuff is bad to the bone.” 

The album closes with the slinky syncopation of “Gotta Keep The Music Alive.” 

 


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 - `Superman` by Jay Ryan Beretti (ea)

Jay Ryan Beretti - Superman  (click on image to watch video)

 14 April 2020

 

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Jay Ryan Beretti is a curious cat.  His sound lands somewhere between Rockabilly, Gospel, Blues and Folk. Born in 1972, Jay is originally from Saint-Etienne, France. At the age of five he discovered Elvis Presley, and that was that, he became obsessed. By the time he was a teen, he formed his first band, The Pain Flowers, and enjoyed a bit of hometown success.

            In 1997, he was invited by Graceland to represent France and perform at an event that commemorated the  20th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Since then, he has spent most of his life on the road. He released a debut album, “Runaway Heart” in 2003, now he has returned with his new record, “Superman.”

            The ten-song set  opens with the title track, which provides a showcase for Jay’s stentorian vocals. Jay has written or co-written six of the songs here, which includes the Countrified croon of “My Life,” the mournful piano ballad “I’m Down” and the measured Soul of “Without My Baby.”

            His stand-out original cuts are “Hear My Call” and “Don’t Cry.” The former is an insistent Gospel-Soul blend powered by stately piano and stinging guitars. Lovelorn and bereft, Jay’s anguish is palpable as he pleads with a higher power to facilitate a romantic reconciliation. The latter is smooth and supple, here Jay seems to be channeling the  lachrymose charms of another ‘50s antecedent, Johnny Ray.

            His choice of covers are a bit of a mixed bag.  Just as Gary Jules drastically reconfigured the Tears For Fears song “Mad World,” Jay tackles “Lovesong” by the “Cure.” But slowing the song to a snail’s pace renders it listless and lugubrious. He has better luck re-fashioning David Guetta’s dance hit “Lovers On The Sun.” The original mixed seductive dance grooves with Spaghetti Western accents.  Jay whips the arrangement into a wild Rockabilly Rave-Up.  He also offers a cinematic take on the Roy Orbison deep cut, “Life Fades Away.”

 

            Jay Ryan Beretti has clearly found his niche. “Superman” displays his protean vocal style and pays homage his musical heroes. 


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 - `Western` by James Hyland (ea)

James Hyland - Western  (click on image to watch video)

 04 May 2020

 

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   James Hyland has been making music in Austin, Texas for nearly two decades. He has successfully toggled between a solo career and the  lead singer/guitarist for the South Austin Jug Band. Three albums as a solo artist are matched by three band efforts. His latest solo release, “Western,”  was nearly seven years in the making. 

  The album opens with the razor-sharp “The Edge Of Comancheria,” which features rustic banjo, a tick-tock beat and James’ sonorous rasp. His vocals land somewhere between Leonard Cohen’s gruff gravitas and Steve Earle’s San Antone sneer. 

  Over the course of 20 songs, “Western” is expansive and ambitious in all the right ways. From the rattlesnake Blues of “Texas Ranger,” the prickly locomotion of “First Westbound Train” and the Soulful ramble of “I Was Never Lost” to the lovesick “Kera,” the plaintive “Hill Country” and the spectral Bluegrass of “Ghost.” 

  The best tracks here display James’ trenchant wit. On “Nashville Song” he yearns to write an establishment hit and simultaneously bites the hand that he hopes will feed him; “Nashville folks, let me apologize, I don’t mean to offend, surely you realize what they’re doin’ and what they done to the Country song/You had old Johnny Cash, even had Steve Earle, you got the best Bluegrass pickers in the world, but it’s the other stuff, you can’t spend enough on the radio.” On “Swing It Your Way” he offers a persuasive argument for the 19th amendment from a Latter Day Saint, plural marriage perspective. Meanwhile, “The Ballad Of Eddie Mullet” is a tart narrative featuring a family of outlaws all rockin’ Carol Brady’s signature ‘do.

  Other interesting tracks include the down-home bluster of “Weather On The Wood,” the moody “Dark And Weary World” and  “Top Floor,” which shares some musical DNA with Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susannah.” The album closes with the lonesome ache of “Full Moon.” 

 


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 - `Matamoros` by James Kahn (ea)

James Kahn - Matomoros  (click on image to watch video)

 28 March 2020

 

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Remember when Steve Earle and The Pogues collaborated on Steve’s epochal 1988 album, “Copperhead Road?” James Kahn sure seems to. He has taken that gritty Country Rock-meets-Celtic Punk sound and added some intriguing flourishes on his latest album, “Matamoros.”

The album serves as a companion piece to his novel of the same name. A Civil War saga that takes place below the Rio Grande, it’s filled with smugglers, soldiers, good-time gals, reprobates and rogues. The sprawling title-track sets the scene, powered by piquant mandolin and sawing fiddles. The lyrics chart a course, as the novel’s protagonist winds his way from Memphis to Mexico.

Over a 14 song set, the listener is introduced to a French Foreign Legionnaire on the jaunty “Scully’s Lament” a seafaring buccaneer on the rollicking “Solomon’s Shanty” and El Guerrero Quintero,” a covert Cuban confederate who’s tale is anchored by peppery Mariachi horns.

The best tracks here range from the fanciful “Rio Allie” which blends cascading mandolin and barbed-wire banjo fills, the courtly and propulsive “Mighty Fine Texas Rangers” and the poignant “Mildred’s Waltz.” He even touches on the legend of “La Llorona.” Other interesting songs include the piano-driven “Gypsy Moth” and the bluesy twang of “Harley’s Lament.”

James Kahn has created an insular world richly detailed and deftly executed. The characters of “Matamoros” come alive through this melodious Celtic-Country convergence.


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

 

 

 


Hits: 389

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