Archive for December, 2005

Album – The Christmas Album – Dusty Hughes

Posted by admin on 18th December 2005

  • Band / Artist : Dusty Hughes
  • Genre : Rock / Easy Listening / Christmas
  • Sample Track Download : Little Drummer Boy
  • Buy CD : N/A
  • Buy Digital Download : Buy
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

Christmas comes but once a year, and I’m pretty much OK with that, because on the whole Christmas music, while getting you in the mood for the holiday season, does tend to drive you nuts, with that tinkle, tinkle, bell ringing. For me the Christmas staples are Slades “Merry Christmas Everybody”, Mike Oldfield’s “In Dulci Dubilo”, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”. However I do now have an additional song to add to that collection, indeed I now have a whole album to add to the mix, with Dusty Hughes’ “The Christmas Album”.

This really is a killer album, with a whole different sound for Christmas. The album comprises of 16 tracks including everything from “Little Saint Nick” to “Jingle Bells”, all performed with real soul and passion and sometimes even a hint of angst. The album opens with the absolutely stunning track “Do You Hear What I Hear”. This is one of those songs, that just builds and builds, engrossing you from beginning to end. I would buy the album for this one track alone. There are just too many excellent tracks to go into in depth, but for me the other stand out tracks are, “Mary Did You Know”, “Thank God It’s Christmas”, “Little Drummer Boy” and “Happy Christmas”. The full track listing is :

  1. Do you Hear What I Hear
  2. Please Come Home for Christmas
  3. Little Saint Nick
  4. Oh Holy Night
  5. I Saw Three Ships
  6. Mary Did You Know
  7. Thank God It’s Christmas
  8. Away in a Manger
  9. Snoopy’s Christmas
  10. Little Drummer Boy
  11. The Saviour has Come
  12. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
  13. Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You.
  14. Silent Night
  15. Light of the Stable
  16. Happy Christmas

I think for me the only low point of the album comes with the track “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”, which is just a little too syrupy for my taste and stands out as the odd track on the album.

Dusty Hughes isn’t a name I’ve come across before, but it’s definitely one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future. With an additional 2 albums behind him, I’m looking forward to hearing what he can do with a more conventional rock album. Dusty has a very unique voice which is what first brought him to my attention. Its a voice with a very dark edge, something akin to Creed.

Conclusion : I can’t recommend this album highly enough. Not only is it a cracking album with tons of Christmas favorites, it’s available at an unbelievable price of $4.99 via download only. That’s just under 5 bucks for 16 Christmas classics. I’ve had it in my car for the past few days and with the tons of snow we have , it’s really getting me into the Christmas spirit.

Posted in Christmas, Easy Listening, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Just Before Dark – Mike Viola

Posted by admin on 16th December 2005

  • Band / Artist : Mike Viola
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy Vinyl : Buy
  • Buy Digital Download : TBA
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

Mike Viola of the Candy Butchers releases his latest album as a solo artist and a mighty fine album it is. I have heard this album numerous times now and I just know this is what the love child of Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Donovan and Bob Dylan would sound like, if he were a boy and he could sing and this whole assumption wasn’t totally ludicrous.

This album was created live in front of an audience at Largo in Los Angeles and I must say the sound quality and performance are incredible. You would never know that the album was live, until the audience starts to clap and gives it away.

The album opens with “Hair of the Dog” and is beautifully simple and slightly haunting. In fact it will always have a very personal meaning to me. I first listened to this album the day after our dog Kosmo died and it imediately struck a chord with me. It wasn’t till much later that I found out the name of the title track.

Throughout the album, the emphasis is on an acoustic sound of guitar and piano. The lyrics are very well crafted and the whole sound is very remeniscent of Paul Simon. In fact I must say that much of the music and lyrics, could be easily performed by Paul Simon and people would be none the wiser. That’s not to say that this is a poor imitation, it’s not. It easily stands up on it’s own merit and is certainly an album that will be in rotation on my CD player for a while.

If I had a single complaint it would be that this album is too short at just under 30 minutes. I got to the end of track 9, expecing to hear more, but all I got was the sound of silence. I think that’s what they call in the entertainment field ‘Leaving them clamouring for more’. I suppose I’m going to have to go out and buy some more albums. Boy won’t my wife be pleased 🙂

This album is only available in vinyl, but the first 200 orders will also receive a CD of the album. I can just imagine the beautiful sound of the album in conjunction with the turntable. Ah, I love vinyl and miss the whole experience of buying an album. A digital version of the album will be available next year.

Conclusion : This is Mike Viola / The Candy Butchers 8th album and I’m astonished I haven’t heard of them before. Good music is timeless and this is much, much more than good music.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »

EP – Mentum – Gecko

Posted by admin on 16th December 2005

  • Band / Artist : Gecko
  • Genre : Jazz / Rock
  • Sample Track Download : Donkeys and Elephants
  • Buy CD : Buy
  • Buy Digital Download : N/A
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

I’ve heard many strange song titles in my time, but it will take a very strange one to beat the opening track, Donkeys and Elephants from Gecko. No matter how strange the song title, this is one seriously catchy track. In fact it’s so catchy I’ve been driving my family crackers by coming out with random bursts of the main chorus, but not the whole chorus, just the Donkeys and Elephants bit.

This 5 track EP has a sound I haven’t heard in a while. It’s a sort of fusion between Jazz and Rock, which reminds me a lot of the 90s band Hue and Cry. I heard the first track on the Tartan Podcast and it immediately stuck in my head. The rest of the EP however, took a little longer to gel with me, but it’s now firmly implanted as one of my favorite CDs at the moment.

Track 2 finds yet another influence being introduced, reggae, something you totally wouldn’t expect, but it all hangs pretty well together. The final track 2FU finds Gecko in a more mellow laid back mood and this track rounds the EP off nicely.

Conclusion : Even if this genre of music isn’t your cup of tea, give the opening track a good listen and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t draw you in.

Posted in Jazz, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Half Alive – The Paul Rose Band

Posted by admin on 13th December 2005

Let me get this out of the way first. Man can this guy play. I’m not going to get into the comparisons with Hendrix, Clapton or any of the many other fantastic guitar players, but suffice to say my air guitar is totally worn out and my speakers are in need of a long rest. Yes, this is one of those albums, that really needs to be cranked up to 11 and crank it up I did.

This is sort of a semi live album, but it’s much better described on the bands website, “The CD is a half live, half studio album. Recorded at ‘Kich’ studios in Chorlsey, near Oxford, with the live tracks from the 2003 show at the ‘East Grange Loft’ in the Scottish Highlands. It has very few overdubs and is as honest a representation of the band as you’ll get”

Consisting of 9 fantastic tracks spanning 49 minutes, all featuring a faultless performance by Paul and his band, I can only say you have to hear this to believe it. The CD opens with the classic Bob Dylan song, later covered by Jimi Hendrix, All Along the Watchtower and featuring some blistering guitar work. Upon reaching track 4, Touch Wood, things get a little more laid back and it’s good to have a pause from the frenetic pace of the early part of the album. The later half of the album is much more relaxed and rounds off with a wonderful rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe.

I have to admit I’ve never heard of Paul Rose, but it’s definitely a name I will be keeping an ear out for.

Conclusion : For anyone that enjoys rock music at it’s finest and appreciates a master of his trade, then this is a must have album. There is much to love about this album, even for the casual music lover.

Posted in R&B, Rock | No Comments »

Album : Before They Were Famous Volume II – 3 Blind Mice

Posted by admin on 11th December 2005

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of this band. This is the second volume of their Before They Were Famous series and although recorded at around the same time as volume 1, it has a much more rounded sound with some great harmonies. The song Emily Has Compassionate Fatique was the track that first brought the band to my attention and it is still my favorite song of theirs. It’s one of those songs that fools you with it’s simplicity, but man does it tick in your head. Another of the wonderful thing about this track is the lyrics. Where else can you find a line like “pizza eats a millions tree”, fantastic stuff.

I’m finding a pattern at the moment, in that I often find the opening track of a CD to be my favorite. I wonder if this is bands putting their strongest track first, or mere coincidence.

With 8 tracks this is again a little on the short side, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. Storyteller has one of those great openings with beautiful harmonies that unfold into a wonderfully simple melodic piece. Other stand out tracks on this CD are Don’t Go Telling me and Baby and All.

A special mention has to go to track 6, Steel, which is a song of epic proportions, not only in it’s very Genesis sounding production, but also in it’s epic 10 minute 33 seconds length. It starts very simply and build and builds. A very interesting sounding song, which I’m sure was very interesting song to produce.

Conclusion : For anyone who is a fan of 3 Blind Mice, you won’t need any prompting to go out and buy this CD. For anyone who hasn’t heard 3 Blind Mice before, I personally would say this is the best of the two CDs, to purchase first. With a new album on the horizon I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from them in the near future.

Posted in Folk, Pop | No Comments »

EP : The Soft EP

Posted by admin on 8th December 2005

  • Band / Artist : Soft
  • Genre : Rock / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : Higher
  • Buy CD : Buy
  • Buy Digital Download : N/A
  • Rating : 7 out of 10

I’ve listened to this EP a number of times. I love the music. I love the lyrics. I love the singing, however there is a but, more of that later. Soft have a sound that is very reminiscent of Oasis and also another band who’s name escapes me. They have a hard guitar edge, softened with a subdued vocal performance. The 5 song EP opens with the track Higher and the further you go into the EP the stronger it gets. The 5 tracks are :

  • Higher
  • You Make Me Wanna Die
  • Gold
  • Droppin’
  • All That You’re Shown

Musically this is a very strong opening CD, but the only thing that I found disappointing is the production. Whilst the music is excellent, it does tend to drown out the vocal tracks, resulting in some frustration trying to work out what the singer is actually saying. The worst offender here is the opening track, as after that things aren’t so bad.

Now maybe this is just me, but when compared directly with Oasis, who have a very similar sound, their vocals are very prominent, where as Soft’s are almost lost. Upon further investigation of this, I found that my car CD player was the biggest culprit. My home stereo gave a much better sound, but the understated vocals were still noticeable.

Production aside, this is a very good EP and definitely worth a listen. My favorite track on the EP is You Make Me Wanna Die. To buy an actual CD costs just $6.49, which in this day an age is a bargain, but I would have really liked the option to purchase the songs online, specifically in MP3 format.

Conclusion : If this vocals were more prominent, I would have definitely marked this as an 8 out of 10, but when all is said and done, this is an excellent opening EP and I will definitely be looking forward to new material.

Posted in Pop, Rock | No Comments »