Album Reviews

Hey Romeo!: Pushing Up Daisies

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Submitted by Don Graham

Hey Romeo! the multiple award winning Alberta based trio have a new single to radio and it might be their strongest to date. “Pushing Up Daisies” is great track and the song is the embodiment of the expression “many a true word is spoken in jest.” As lead singer, Stacie Roper explains “Everyone has someone in their life that’s wrongedthem, but still thinks they can be taken right back, and this is a cheeky way of saying that’s just not gonna happen.”

Stacey’s vocal is crisp and clear and considering she sang it with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, very believable.

‘Pushing Up Daisies’ is a swamp-rock, country stomp that features the tight harmonies that are a signature of Hey Romeo!, and after 10 years of touring and recording together their musical unity and easy blend is never more evident.  The song was written by Carolyn Dawn Johnson writer of “Single White Female” for Chely Wright, Brad Crisler writer of “ Some Things Never Change” for  Tim McGraw and MacKenzie Porter.

Hey Romeo! has toured extensively with such acts as Sugarland, Darius Rucker, Gord Bamford, Johnny Reid, Alan Jackson, Terri Clark and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

In that time Hey Romeo! have been awarded multiple CCMA Awards beginning with Top New Talent ofthe Year (2008), and Group or Duo of the Year two years running in 2011 and 2012. In 2014 their single,‘Hello Patio,’ from the I Got This EP garnered the band the Alberta Country Music Award (ACMA) for Song of the Year.

Indian City: Colours

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Indian City captures the sound and color of a vibrant Indigenous culture with a flair for pop and alternative rock. Based and founded out of Winnipeg, in the heart of the Aboriginal arts district, the all star band of award-winning artists and rising stars have gained attention all across North America with their unique live fusions of lyrics, music and personality, expressing the modern conscience of today’s Indigenous people.

The CD ‘Colors’ continues to carve out the musical path that Fontaine has created for Indiana City. The title track ‘Colors’ is hauntingly beautiful, intertwining the vocals of love, with a sold backbeat tying it all into to a great track. Next up ‘Sundancer’ tells the tale of all love stories and the ‘dance’ we do trying to keep it all together ‘all you wanted was to be free, all I wanted was to be me’, trying to invite you to be the Sundancer of life.

‘Sunrise Second’ has the production value that truly is Vince Fontaine, with pulsating rhythm and mounting vocals that pay homage to the native sounds. Hypnotizing musically and full of the hidden drum passes that get you in the heart.

‘I Am Special’ brings the CD back to a rock feel, while excelling in vocal delivery. Lyrically strong, it has a strong message about someone or something being taken away from us.  Solid guitar work rounds this song out completely. ‘Dance 2’ – ft. KZO (Pakesso Mukash) is the perfect tribute to a native sound and the marriage of rock and production. Amazing.

Billy Walton Band Wish For What You Want


Submitted by Iain Patience

The Billy Walton Band is one of those outfits with an East Coast US pedigree. From Jersey, the home of some wonderful music for sure, Walton leads his five-piece crew with some classic sounding blues-soul and a blend of hot, peppery music including that splendid soulful sound of ripping Sax and Trombone brass.

Walton himself plays a mean guitar, with tasteful licks scattered generously throughout this 12-track release. His voice is rich, robust and rolls the whole thing along with an effortless strength and fluidity. This is a well-rehearsed, road-tested band that has successfully toured extensively in UK, Europe and the USA. 'Wish For What You Want' is the band's fifth album and has a well-crafted, seamless maturity that speaks volumes about the quality of the musicianship and the professionalism and experience this band clearly represent.

This is an album that roars along at times with a swaggering rock roar that gives way to soulful horns and vibrant vocal threads. Each track slips readily into its place; powerful, pulsing, pushing forward and leading listeners by the ears towards a masterfully produced musical feast. Walton is a guy worth catching and with this offering is bound to reach higher ground sometime soon.

Melissa Etheridge A Little Bit Of Me: Live In LA

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Melissa Etheridge is clearly hungry these days; this is her second storming release inside the past twelve months, a follow-up to the excellent, high octane 'This Is M.E.' earlier this year and an album that simply seems to be rocket-fuelled from start to finish.

It matters not a jot that many of the same tracks crop-up both here and in her previous 'M.E.' release. Here we have them live, with a bouncing, rollicking, full-throttle performance recorded in LA before a boisterous, happily engaged crowd who are evidently having themselves one Hell of a good time.

The CD itself boats eleven tracks with a further couple added in the accompanying DVD mix to give over two hours of musical brilliance from a seasoned veteran at the very top of her game.  Etheridge always manages to pull-off that tricky sleight of hand that allows her to range from rip-roaring rockn'roll to blues-inbued heartwrench, modern country class and quality. Not many can do this at all, let alone with the ease, pace and style that she brings to the table.

'Live In LA' is Etheridge at her bountiful best. A wonderful follow-up to the equally strident beauty of 'M.E.' and an album that showcases her strength as a songwriter, a guitarist and a sure-fired singer with a strikingly grand delivery. Get this one while you can.

Wily Bo Walker & E D Brayshaw: Stone Cold Beautiful

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is a six-track EP from a decidedly powerful and strong Scottish singer-songwriter, Wily Bo Walker. Now London-based, Walker is noted for his swaggering stage performance and the diversity of musical styles he covers. With this album he teams up with guitarist Brayshaw, to present the second of a planned three-disc set with all tracks penned by Walker and delivered with enormous purpose and strength.

Stone Cold Beautiful is not a release that can be simply pushed into any single genre or musical box; it crosses lines embracing blues, rock, soul, swampy alternative modern styles and should come with a health warning, especially when played full-tilt at high volume - when it's really at its best.

Guest vocalist, Karena K brings her usual deft touch and style to the table here, as she did on Walker's previous outing. She is clearly a gal who sings with both heart and pure passion and adds a sure-fired soulful touch to the overall production.

Brayshaw's fretwork is always tasteful, torrid and demanding, with riffs and runs pouring from his fingers and driving the tracks along with an element of genuine raw emotion and energy. Walker is currently working on the final part of this planned musical trilogy and expects to have it out on release later this year. On the basis of this EP and his previous release with Karena K,  'A Long Way From Heaven', it should be well worth catching.

The Nils: Shadows and Ghosts

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

As comebacks go, this is easily the least anticipated from an influential Canadian act, which makes its quality all the more impressive. The Nils were the brightest shining lights of the Eighties rock scene in Montreal, scoring immediate attention with a handful of great EPs and a wildly praised self-titled full-length debut which made Rolling Stone’s College Rock Top 10 chart and put them on the road for extensive touring on  both sides of the border. The sound the people were raving about was a hooky mix of punk aggro, grabby melodies and slick song writing. They were name-checked by Bob Mould, producer Chris Spedding, the Meat Puppets and others of weight.

The wheels started falling off when their record company went bust mid-tour, leaving the band mostly high and dry. Bandleader Carlos Soria put the band on hiatus and the fans went into sleep mode, awaiting the next burst of music from The Nils. The wait went on and hope ebbed from even the most faithful as drug abuse tore apart the band, the ongoing tragedy being capped by the suicide of frontman Alex Soria.

Louis Janelle Dance Everybody

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

Born in Terrebonne Quebec, Louis Janelle’s musical beginnings were rather peculiar! For instance, at eight years old, he started on a drum set that he put together using old ice cream cans, cardboard boxes and pie plates. He also built his first electric guitar from a discarded entrance stair! And it kept on. He received his first real electric guitar at 10, a gift from his sister. He played it for almost 4 years with HIS tuning, as musical knowledge was lacking at the time! Indeed, Louis Janelle is one of those self-thaught people who persevered to major levels of skill in their art.In the course of his career, he has worked with more than 10 of the best known Blues groups. Since 10 years now, he is working on his solo projects , one of which was nominated for «Album of the Year» at the 2006 Lys Blues Awards.

Hans Theessink & Terry Evans: True & Blue

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Another wonderful release from Europe's finest acoustic blues-roots picker Hans Theessink here partnered by his long-time buddy from Mississippi, Terry Evans.

The pair have now released three joint efforts following their chance meeting at Winnipeg Folk Festival a few years ago. Evans, of course, is probably best-known for his sideman vocal work with one of the USA's legendary acoustic/music greats, Ry Cooder, and Cooder himself has previously guested on this couple's previous recordings.
True & Blue is a full 14-track cracker with all of Theessink's superb fretwork and vocals on display topped and tailed by Evans and his own soulful vocal delivery and quality guitar play. The result is an extremely poised, polished and powerful album of classic, traditional blues and roots music, a release that could well be one of the finest you're likely to hear this year.

Recorded live in Dutch-born Theessink's hometown Vienna,, tracks include Bill Broonzy's 'Glory of Love' featuring some truly sparkling fretwork; Chuck Berry's rip-roaring 'Maybellene'; 'Talk to your Daughter', and Leadbelly's 'Bourgeois Blues'. This is a typically smooth offering from two of the finest current bluesmen at the top of their game.

Definitely an album to relish.

Mitch Mann: Blackwater Creek

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is simply an excellent album. Fourteen tracks of perfectly pitched, Muscle Shoals produced blues and Americana mixed to near perfection. From the opening 'Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad', an old standard on any Americana musician's set-list with strong blues credentials, through solid, distinct takes on classic blues numbers like "St Louis Blues' to 'Tom Clark' and beyond, this release is a true gem.

Mann is a highly respected singer-songwriter/guitarist in the Alabama area and with this album he has returned to his acoustic-guitar roots. The result is a genuinely top-quality bit of work that has more than enough interesting material to cater for most lovers of roots in a general sense and blues and Americana in the more particular. The blend is seamless and on the button at all times. Sax and Trumpet/horns feature on a few tracks - as might be expected from a Muscle Shoals recording - but never dominates, detracts or distracts from Mann's own picking and powerful vocals.

Overall Blackwater Creek is a great album, highly recommended and worth searching out.

Michael Falzarano: i got blues for ya

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Falzarano is one of those largely overlooked US guitarists with a pedigree that should give him a strong profile and following. Probably best known for his work with Hot Tuna frontman Jorma Kaukonen, he also played with the near -legendary New Riders Of The Purple Sage and is little short of a master of US roots music. This is a major blues/roots American sideman with an effortless touch and an astonishing ability and background.

'I Got Blues For Ya' was first released over a year ago but is only now being actively pushed and promoted across the Pond. It's a twelve-track treat, featuring Falzarano's unfaltering fretwork, soulful guitar chops and sly, absorbing vocals.

With a background and grounding as a sideman to Jorma Kaukonen it comes as no surprise to find some Rev Gary Davis included in the mix and Falzarano's cover of one his most commonly covered and haunting numbers 'Death Don't Have No Mercy' is a standout track here, together with the attention grabbing, rolling boogie of 'Snake Box Boogie.'

This album clearly shows why Falzarano has remained at the top of the blues-roots sideman tree in his native USA but leaves me wondering why he still, somehow or other, manages to maintain a low, below the radar profile elsewhere.

Iain Patience

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