Calum Scott’s debut release, ‘Only Human’, came out on Friday, March 9th. A day surrounded by albums from some Hard Rock artists such as Judas Priest, Myles Kennedy, Three Days Grace and even Jimi Hendrix, how did this pop artist catch my ear? Easy, two years ago this former Britain’s Got Talent contestant released a cover of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own”. That song made me stop and take notice. It was absolutely fantastic (more on it later). I have been anxiously awaiting an album from him ever since.
And now, the long wait is finally over. Calum Scott is a cross between many artists. I would say he is a little bit Sam Smith (without the depressing ass songs), a little bit Adam Levine (his vocal stylings only), a little Gavin DeGraw (catchy pop love songs) and a little bit of James Bay (his first record and even a little of his guitar sound). He is the best of all those people rolled into one.
There are 14 tracks on the CD version of the album (vinyl only has 11) so I won’t go through all the songs in detail, but I will highlight several of my favorites. First off, there are two types of songs throughout the album. You get the love song ballads and the upbeat pop songs. I have to admit, I am a sucker for a good love song and Calum has no short supply. The ballads are beautiful showcases of his amazing, soulful vocal abilities.
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Anderson East’s ‘Encore’ is the follow-up to his label debut album ‘Delilah’. With ‘Encore’, Anderson is finding himself and bringing us such a powerful vocal performance. His voice was so soulful with that grittiness and emotion that it reminded me of Joe Cocker. For that reason alone, I really dug this album.
He had some help with this album with songs written by Chris Stapleton (“King for a Day”) and Ed Sheeran (“All On My Mind”) both personal favorites. He also reworked songs by Ted Hawkins (“Sorry Your Sick”) and Willie Nelson (“Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”).
One of my favorites from the album is the upbeat song “Girlfriend” which feels like he is in church testifying his love to the congregation using horns and synthesizer (organ sounds) to give it that churchy feel.
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Richie Sambora and Orianthi are back with their second E.P. this year. From what I understand, they have written 70 songs together and recorded 25. They plan on releasing them as E.P.’s so that means with 2 down (5 songs each), we have 3 more to look forward to in 2018? I hope that is the case as I am up for that. Before we get to those, we have to review the 2nd E.P., ‘Making History’.
The first E.P. ‘Rise’ was not what I expected from these two at all. With both being exceptional guitar players, I was looking for a guitar based album and they did not come close to that on the first one. Thank God they redeemed themselves with this album. They brought the guitars on ‘Making History’.
With the opening track and title track “Making History” you know that they are doing what we wanted them to do. They are rocking out. The guitars on this one are exceptional with an almost Def Leppardesque sound from around the “Euphoria” era at times. The guitar solo is the best thing they have done so far and it is all what I asked for so why should I complain. Of course I have one negative on the song. The vocals aren’t the best. I feel the production is lacking (Bob Rock is the producer which is surprising). Richie and Orianthi don’t sound like they are singing together and I don’t know if it is the effects they put in her vocals, but something is missing with the chemistry and the mix with the two of them singing together.
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Through the tragedies (Rhode Island night club fire), the legal battles over the band name, and even the health scares, Jack Russell has persevered. Jack Russell’s Great White delivers a stellar album with ‘He Saw It Comin’.
The album is a huge surprise as I wasn’t expecting much, but man did Jack and the band exceed all expectations. If you are expecting Great White, this is not that band. Jack Russell has gone his own way.
The album doesn’t have a heavy sound throughout, but takes you on a journey through many different styles that cohesively fit together. Jack raps briefly on “She Moves Me”, they completely rock out on “Spy Vs. Spy” (a throwback to MAD magazine?), have total fun with “Crazy”, and they doo-wop on “Godspeed”.
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As I have said repeatedly, cover albums are not my favorite albums as usually they lack the imagination and creativity to make them feel like it is the band’s songs. They stick too much to the original and who wants that. If I want to hear something that sounds like the original song, I will listen to the original song.
I will keep an open mind with this review and do my best to do it justice. Halestorm is now on their 3rd edition of their Reanimate the Covers E.P.’s. I give the band credit for giving their fans something to tide them over until their next album. As a music fan, it is nice to always get something new from your favorite bands even if it is a cover song. However, Halestorm does a lot of covers.
After listening to the album repeatedly for the last few days, I feel I have a great grasp of the songs and can say that I am not overly impressed with the E.P. as a whole. The band sticks pretty close to the original versions which is where my disappointment lies on most of the songs, but overall it is not a bad effort. I would rather have a full album of new material though.
The opening track is “Still of the Night”, a Whitensake cover. I have to admit I do like this song. Yes, they stick close to the original version, but the vocal range is actually perfect for Lzzy and the band sounds really great. What I like about Halestorm is that when they really rock it out, that is where they shine. This song really gives them the opportunity to rock out.
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When Lady Gaga came on the scene back in 2008, I thought she was just a 21st Century Madonna. Boy, was I wrong. Where Madonna never really grew up in her music, Lady Gaga certainly has.
The album is eclectic in its musical styles, but they all blend nicely together in a very cohesive album. She definitely has her pop/dance songs such as the first single “Perfect Illusions” to “A Yo” which would fit nicely on any P!nk album.
Lady Gaga rocks out on the coolest song of the album “John Wayne” and has a country-blues tinged song “Sinner’s Prayer”. Her vocal maturity shows through on the exceptional songs “Joanne”, “Diamond Heart” and the heartbreaking love song “Million Reasons”.
One of the highlights is the song “Angel Down” that was inspired by Trayvon Martin. It is a very moving and sad song. The only misstep I found was “Hey Girl’ with Florence Welch. It is the one song I found flat musically and not very interesting.
For the album, she worked with Mark Ronson, Beck & Josh Homme (eclectic group) who helped her craft a well-rounded, sensational album. I can now say I am officially a fan.
10 keepers out 11 songs – 91% (4.5 out 5 stars).
NOTE: This is my first 200 word album review which was inspired by a challenge by Mike Ladano from way back in August. I am a little slow getting around to it. Click on his name and check out his site. It has tons of reviews and some awesome stories.
The Afters are a Christian Pop/Rock Band out of Texas and have been around for over a decade. If you aren’t familiar with them, you have missed out on some great music and you should go back and give them a listen. ‘Live On Forever’ is the band’s fifth studio album and was released a little over a week ago by Fair Trade Services (formerly INO Records).
I have had this album on repeat a lot over the past week and it gets better with every listen. If you like upbeat pop songs with a slight rock edge, then The Afters are what you have been wanting to hear. The album is full of positive and uplifting songs all with a Christian message. I always feel good after listening to their music and that is what brings me back time and time again.
The album kicks off with one of my favorite songs they have ever done. It has a heavy drum beat and a darker, more rock tinged sound. The song is “Shadows” and will leave you wanting more. All songs have positive Christian messages, so not going to rehash what each song is trying to say.
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‘Hard Love’ is Needtobreathe’s sixth studio album and one I have been anticipating for quite awhile. Needtobreathe is one of my favorite bands and their last album wasn’t one of my favorite albums they have done. It had a darker tone and overall message and didn’t leave with me the great feeling I usually have with a Needtobreathe album.
When I heard about the new album, I was hoping they would lighten up a little and to my surprise they did more than that. They actually did deliver a much lighter, happier sounding album, but so much so that it feels more like a pop album. A POP ALBUM??? Needtobreathe is a southern rock, country, folk and straight up rock band. They are a Christian based band. They are not a POP Band. Maybe working with Gavin DeGraw on the song “Brother” influenced them greatly.
If you listen to their songs on this album, there is a drum machine. Not real drums, but a freakin’ drum machine. And dance grooves on some of the songs. WTF??? My mind is spinning, what is going on. The world has gone crazy!.
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Hellyeah’s fifth studio album is ‘Unden!able’ and it is undeniably fantastic (sorry, had to do it). It is the best album they have done to date. It is heavy, hard and pounding but melodic at the same time.
I have had the album for 2 weeks now and have really spent a lot of time absorbing it’s greatness. It is funny how the older I get, the heavier I tend to like it (there are so many ways you could take that). When I was younger, I wouldn’t have given them a listen, but now I can’t get enough.
The album opens with the intro “!” and slowly builds to the hard-driving song “X”. The song will get your blood flowing with the pounding Vinnie Paul drums and Chad Gray’s vocals. He is in top form with his gravelly, semi-screaming vocals. He sings with such power and intensity throughout this album.
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Candlebox was formed around 1990 and have been together off and on in some fashion for over 25 years. I have to admit have never been a huge fan of them over that time. Of course, I enjoyed their big hit “Far Behind” and I do have their greatest hits album. I never went and listened to any of their albums in full from beginning to end.
That has all changed. When the album came out back in April 2016, I thought what the heck, I will give it a listen. WOW!!! This was not the album I was expecting at all. I had to make sure I was actually listening to the correct band and album. It was such a refreshingly, unexpected and incredible listening experience.
I know I am a little slow in getting a review out, but that is because I couldn’t stop listening long enough to actually write a review (and also because life gets in the way sometimes). I finally feel it is time for me to let the world know that Disappearing in Airports is so worth listening to and a must have for any one remotely interested in Candlebox or any one reading this review.
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