Matt Nathanson – ‘At the Point’ – Album Review

For the regulars of my site, they already know I am a huge Matt Nathanson fan.  For those non-regulars, I will let you know I am a huge Matt Nathanson fan.  I have been re-exploring his earlier catalog lately and I want to point out a great live set he has available called ‘At the Point’.

‘At the Point’ was recorded, well, at The Point.  The Point is an intimate club in Philadelphia, PA.  It was recorded in the Summer of 2005 and released in 2006.  It is only Matt and his acoustic guitar.  Nothing or no one else.

What I love about this album is it is a lot of his old songs from before my discovery of Matt which was around 2007 or so.  The album showcases his live performance, his ability to own a crowd, his comedic stylings (he is one funny SOB), his voice and most importantly his songwriting and musicianship.

From such classics as “Church Clothes”, “Answering Machine”, “Curve of the Earth” and “I Saw” to his cover of Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” and Drivin’ N Cryin’s “Straight to Hell”, you get lost in his performances as they are delivered so flawlessly and seem so personal.  You get laughs as he tells stories that will have you laughing your ass off and you just get an hour and seven minutes of pure enjoyment.  This is what a live album should be.  Something you can feel and connect with.

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Rob Thomas – ‘Chip Tooth Smile’ – Album Review

Rob Thomas has sort of been absent from my existence for quite some time.  And that is on purpose.  Years ago, I got a little Rob Thomas burn out.  So, I stopped listening to him and Matchbox Twenty.  When I saw he had a new album coming out, I figured it was time to open up my world to a little Rob Thomas again.

Rob’s last album was ‘The Great Unknown’ back in 2015 and after 4 years, he thought it was time to come back with some new music.  So, the album came out and I dropped the needle (not really, I pushed play on my phone but you get the point).  The album is 12 songs and at less than 40 minutes in length, it was a quick listen.  Almost perfect for my drive to work.

And what do you get?  You get a simple set of songs that are so well crafted and so catchy and pure pop bliss.  Rob has delivered an album that is so spot on and refreshing that you walk away with such a big smile after listening that you have to hit repeat and play it again.  Maybe my time away has made me long for that great voice and the Rob Thomas sound, but whatever it is, this album is that jolt of lightning I needed and has quickly become a favorite for the year.

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Paul Laine – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

After doing the Danger Danger Album Ranking, I thought why not continue and do all of Paul Laine’s albums as well.  So, here we are with Paul Laine’s albums ranked Worst to First!.  Who is Paul Laine you might ask?  I will tell you.

Paul is a singer, songwriter, musician, producer from Vancouver, Canada.  He started out as a solo artist way back in 1990 and later joined the band Danger Danger as their lead singer.  He also formed a band called Shugaazer, a band called Darkhorse and a band called The Defiants.  He likes band names that start with “D” except for Shugaazer so not sure what he was thinking there.

Paul is a gifted singer and sings mostly Rock and his voice has matured nicely over the years.  It has gone from a wild-untamed sound to a more controlled, smooth instrument.  And he has even delved into Country music (more on that later).

I have followed his career from the beginning thanks to working at Sam Goody back in 1990.  His CD came in to the store as a promo copy (and I played it a lot) and when it was time for that CD to retire from the playlist, yours truly got to take it home with him.  It was from that point on, that Paul could do no wrong (even though he has had a few missteps).

It is out of that fandom, I bring you this list.  Enjoy!!

THE WORST – ANDERSEN, LAINE, READMAN – THREE (2006):

This is an interesting side project from Andre Andersen.  Andre is the keyboardist and composer in the band Royal Hunt.  Andre brought in two sensational voices to split the songs.  You have David Readman of Pink Cream 69 and Paul Laine.  They each get 5 songs and for the most part the songs rock and as a set is pretty cool.

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Billy Idol – ‘Cyberpunk’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After ‘Charmed Life’, Billy wanted to do something different.  He didn’t want to keep repeating his previous work over and over again.  Let me tell you he completely succeeded.  The album is nothing like his previous work and I think was way ahead of its time. ‘Cyberpunk’ delivered Billy’s most experimental and most controversial album.

Billy became fascinated with technology and the cyberpunk movement of the early 90’s.  He saw how the advancement could be used to make music and in fact, this was one of the first albums to use ProTools for almost the entire recording of the album. He felt the use of the computers allowed him to do things faster and he felt it gave the whole feel of a garage band.  I don’t know about that last part, but it was the very early stages of how albums and music would be recorded down the road.

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When he released the single for “Shock to the System” he released it with a 3 1/2″ Floppy Disc.  MP’s eat your heart out.  The disc housed pictures, bios and all the things you now see issued in todays electronic press kits (EPK).  He was also was one of the first albums to actually have an email address in the booklet that came with the album (don’t try it, it no longer works).

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Def Leppard – ‘The Story So Far…The Best of Volume 2’ – Album Review (#RSD – 2019)

I bought ‘The Story So Far…The Best of’ back in 2018 and at the time not realizing it was only Volume 1.  I also bought the CD Deluxe to get all the music as the vinyl didn’t have everything.  Well, now it does.  For Record Store Day 2019, Def Leppard released Volume 2 for those suckers, like me, who will buy everything they put out.

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Now Volume 1 has all the songs from their 3 biggest albums (Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalice).  Volume 2 covers pretty much everything else.  And for that, it has a much better selection of songs than Volume 1 for me.  It covers the band’s history better and is a lot more diverse and entertaining.

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But before we get on about the set list, let’s talk the album cover.  It is styled the same as volume 1 with some alterations to color.  The biggest pet peeve for me is the picture when you open up the gatefold (oh yeah, 2 LP set with gatefold).  It is the same DAMN concert picture as the first!!  Really, you couldn’t come up with a different picture. At least the pictures of the individual band members are different.

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I Prevail – ‘Trauma’ – Album Review

I Prevail is back after a potential career ending vocal cord injury for singer, Brian Burkheiser.  Brian wasn’t sure if he would be able to continue, but with a successful surgery, that ‘trauma’ has led to the band returning with their sophomore album, ‘Trauma’.  And let me tell you the band is not suffering from any sophomore slump or suffering any side effects from that surgery.  This is a band that has found who they are and delivered one of the most impressive albums of the year.

I Prevail is a metalcore band and as I am not overly familiar with that genre, all I can say is if it sounds like this, I will be getting to know more of this band and this genre.  All I do know is I hear sounds of Linkin Park and Hollywood Undead in their music and since I like both those bands, then this is something for me.  It is at times brutal and other times beautiful.

The unclean vocals, Eric Vanlerberghe, don’t distract from the songs as it is not excessive.  It only enhances the performances and gives it an edge and attitude that fits perfectly with the music.  The clean vocals, Brian Burkheiser, are smooth and so melodic and he has this great rock voice that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.

The opening track, “Bow Down”, is an assault on the senses.  It comes at you with such power and force that you are immediately engulfed in the shockwave and blown back in your seat.  Then we go into the song “Paranoid” which is so different than the opener. It includes a little rap and Brian’s clean vocals sound great.  It slowly builds up and then drops back slower.

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Billy Idol – ‘Charmed Life’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

Billy Idol’s world was different now after ‘Whiplash Smile’ and ‘Vital Idol’.  Steve Stevens was gone, his manager Bill Aucoin was gone and he needed a fresh start.  After reconciling with his girlfriend, Perri Lister, they moved from New York City to Los Angeles to give things a go.

Billy and Perri had a baby boy, Billy bought himself a motorcycle, Billy got the acting bug and Billy couldn’t stay faithful to Perri.  A lot was going on.  Oh yeah, and he continued to use drugs.  So, where to begin.  I will give a Cliff Notes version as it would be a rather long synopsis if I didn’t.

I guess we will go with the fact that he had a baby and was now a dad, but it didn’t seem to stop his infidelity. He continually cheated on Perri and even fell for a girl 13 years younger than him.  Well, he knocked her up and she gave Billy a beautiful baby girl.  This of course was the end of Billy & Perri when she found out.

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Billy also met a lot of people in the movie business and actually got a big role in the Oliver Stone movie ‘The Doors’ about Jim Morrison and the band.   But before he could do that role, Billy went and had himself a little motorcycle accident which nearly cost him one of his legs.  As a result, he couldn’t do the role and had to settle for a much lesser role in the movie.  In fact, it was so bad he wasn’t able to promote his new album he had been working on called ‘Charmed Life’.  He did appear in the video for the first single (more on that later), but not much else.

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Kiss – Kissworld: The Best of Kiss – Album Review

I know what you are thinking.  Why do we need another Kiss Greatest Hits compilation?  Honestly, we really don’t.  We have tons already and there is nothing new on here that the real fan doesn’t already have.  So Why?  Well, easy.  Kiss is touring their End of the Road tour and they wanted product out there that the casual fan or new fan that they get from all the press can run out and grab.  Simple!

But is this something worth getting?  As a casual fan…No.  Probably not as there are better compilations out there.  As the Hard Core Fan….Well, I did buy it if that tells you anything.  I had to because I didn’t have it in my ever growing collection.  Plus, it is so pretty.  Yes, pretty.  I bought the Special Edition double LP with Yellow/Red Splatter vinyl.

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The packaging is a gatefold with the Group photo on the front and the track listing on the back such as below…

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Bryan Adams – ‘Shine A Light’ – Album Review

Bryan Adams is coming in concert to Charlotte, NC on May 4th, 2019.  I thought this would be a great date night for my wife and I so bought 2 tickets.  With each pair of tickets you buy, you get a copy of the new Bryan Adams album ‘Shine A Light’.  I hadn’t bought any new Adams stuff in quite some time so I was glad to get this and I thought, why not review it.  So, here is that review.

The first thing I noticed is that Bryan is more Easy Listening than he is rock now and I guess that comes with age.  And getting through those first two tracks was not easy to listen to at all.  The first song is the title track, “Shine A Light”, and was written by both Bryan and Ed Sheeran.  Yes, the Ed Sheeran.  It is a catchy enough song, but it is pure pop dribble.  And the second track is no better as it is a duet with Jennifer Lopez called “That’s How Strong Our Love Is”. Yes, the J-Lo herself.  Now if you can make it through those tracks, it will get better, I promise.

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“Part Friday Night, Part Sunday Morning” is probably my favorite song on the album.  It is a fun, good old-fashion rock song that Bryan is really good at it.  Great tempo and great rhythm and all around good time.  Not to be out done is “Driving Under the Influence of Love” written with his long time writing partner, Jim Vallance.  Another rocker that takes me back to Bryan in the 80’s.  These are the two songs that should have kicked off this album rather than that crap before it.  It is uptempo and has a guitar solo.  What more could you want.

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Harem Scarem – The Ultimate Collection – Album Review

Formed in Canada around 1987, Harem Scarem has been rocking for well over 30 years now.  With 15 studio albums, 8 live albums and numerous compilation albums, they have been delivering solid rock music for the masses.  The band only has two original members still in it from the beginning and they are the two most crucial in this scenario.  Lead singer, Harry Hess, and Lead Guitarist, Pete Lesperance.  Why would these two be the most crucial, well they are the principal song writers as well as the voice and sound of the band.  I would say that is crucial.

The Ultimate Collection is a box set that contains 12 of their studio albums plus a collection of songs from early in their career as well as a disc of unreleased tracks.  And to top it off, the studio albums include all the bonus tracks from those albums as well.  That is a lot of music and there are 175 tracks in this set. Incredible.

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What does that look like all sprawled out?  Here you go…

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