Blues Traveler – Suzie Cracks the Whip (CD)

The summer of 2012 will likely go down as the “Summer of 90’s Nostalgia”. Every Gen Xer (myself included) who rolled their eyes through childhood while the Boomers re-lived every inane musical milestone of their generation somehow found themselves carrying the torch over the past few months, as everyone from Everclear to Marcy Playground trotted out new records and tours packed to the gills with graying musical acts.

Joining the parade is the latest release from Blues Traveler, their first in four years, and the result is… well, surprisingly good. Destined to be remembered as “that band with the harmonicas” from the 90’s, the group has wisely reached out other musicians to help jumpstart flagging creativity and turns in a solid release. The outside help didn’t completely reinvent the band, but pulled them out of the rut they’d been in for the past several years.

Yes, there are some clunkers, like the tedious “Devil in the Details” which sounds like a Santana cast off and “I Don’t Want to Go,” but there are still plenty of songs to keep you rooting for the band. The infectious “Things are Looking Up” is hard to ignore and “Big City Girls” is bound to become a sing along staple for here on out.

As we’re just starting to learn for the AARP set, you can’t relive your childhood, but damn is it fun to try.

Blues Traveler – Suzie Cracks the Whip/12 tracks/429 Records/2012

Boardwalk Empire –The Complete Second Season (DVD Set)

Steve Buscemi’s Nucky and his corrupt Atlantic City political pals (is that redundant?) are back in the second season of one of HBO’s best dramas. If you missed the first season, adapted by Soparnos vet Terence Winter, stop what you’re doing and get caught up. It’s that good.

Season two finds Nucky on the ropes after being betrayed by his brother and his new crew. There is competition in the bootlegging business when Nucky’s former protégé Jimmy tries to start up his own operation. Cammed with plenty of volence, betrayl and some of the best dramatic story writing to come on TV since that other New Jersey-based crime show.

With storylines around incest, Cain and Abel realtionships and an increasingly tense story lines, Boardwalk Empire is impossible to ignore.
Boardwalk Empire –The Complete Second Season/5 DVDs/720 mins./HBO Studios/2012

Detroit Jazz Festival “Imported from Detroit” Kicks Off Aug. 31

Music lovers will gather this weekend in downtown Detroit for the 33rd annual Detroit Jazz Festival, presented by the Chrysler brand.

Festival attendees will see a lineup of world-renowned musicians playing throughout the weekend, including headliners Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Performances kick off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 with Artist in Residence Terence Blanchard taking the stage, followed by the legendary Sonny Rollins.

“We have an amazing collection of musicians performing this year and there will be a lot of energy downtown over the weekend. We want to bring some of the greatest jazz music out there to the festival, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” said Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation board of directors. “This year really is the culmination of our mission to bring world-class jazz to the heart of Detroit and keep it free for the public.”

Three stages will be set up in Hart Plaza, and one in Campus Martius, showcasing a variety of artists to watch at any given time. Performances start as early as noon and end at approximately 10:45 p.m. Aug. 31 through Sept. 3. But the beat doesn’t stop when the stages close for the night; Friday through Sunday jam sessions will begin at 10:30 p.m. in the Volt Bar & Lounge in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the Festival’s official hotel.

In addition to headliners, this year’s Festival represents a homecoming for some accomplished names in jazz including former Detroiters Charlie Gabriel of the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, saxophonist Charles McPherson who started his career with Charles Mingus and trombonist Curtis Fuller known for his work with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Also, current local musicians will be prominently featured, including bassists Rodney Whitaker and Marion Hayden, and world-renown trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.

In addition to its annual music festival, the Detroit Jazz Festival works to educate students on the music industry year round by creating concerts, jazz workshops and more designed to help foster the legacy of jazz in Detroit. For example, the Festival continued its partnership with Wayne State University for the J.C. Heard Jazz Week at Wayne program at the end of July. Students that excelled during the week-long program will be among the youth musicians performing over the weekend. In addition, the Festival hosts various free concerts throughout the year as part of the Detroit Jazz Festival Community Series supported by PNC Foundation.

“With Detroit’s roots in jazz, we’re really investing in our community by helping young, talented musicians open their eyes to the jazz culture,” said Chris Collins, artist director for the Detroit Jazz Festival. “We have some outstanding youth joining us in concert this year – not only in the J.C. Heard All-Star Youth Ensemble. The high school bands that will be attending are also phenomenal.”

This year, in addition to seeking out top industry performers and enthusiastic young musicians, the Festival launched annual competitions aimed at finding undiscovered artists. Submissions from all over the country were sent in for the national saxophone and arranging competitions. The sax competition resulted in a first place tie after judging by a panel of musicians that included saxophonist Terence Blanchard and Festival artistic director, Chris Collins. Winners Danny Janklow from Los Angeles and Geoff Vidal from Brooklyn, N.Y., received cash prizes and will perform at the Festival. The winner of the arranging competition will be chosen this Wednesday and announced at the Festival.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is the world’s largest free jazz festival and for 33 years people from all over the world have been venturing to Detroit to see some of the industry’s top musicians perform. The Festival enriches the city center by annually bringing in tens of millions of dollars, boosting the local economy. With the help of the DTE Energy Foundation, the Festival is also making a positive impact by continuing its efforts to promote a green atmosphere through recycling, reducing paper waste and more to minimize its carbon footprint.

This year’s Festival has been enhanced due to our new presenting sponsor, the Chrysler brand. In addition to sponsoring, the Chrysler brand will be holding a ride-and-drive throughout the festival to provide attendees the opportunity to test drive the 2012 product lineup. Hosting ride-and-drives and competitions, educating the public and the helping to provide the resources needed to put on a festival of this magnitude would not be possible without the Festival’s many sponsors, including the Chrysler brand, JPMorgan Chase, Carhartt, Mack Avenue Records and DTE Energy Foundation.

For more information, the full list of performers and performance times, visit

About the Detroit Jazz Festival
The Detroit Jazz Festival is an independent, non-profit organization that presents jazz and educational workshops throughout the year. Recently voted number two in North America in a JazzTimes reader’s poll, the Detroit Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in the world and a major tourist attraction for the City of Detroit, with 23 percent of its audience coming from out of state.

The festival receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Erb Family Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Major corporate partners include Chrysler, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Carhartt and Mack Avenue Records. Additional partners include Absopure Water Company, Art Van Furniture, Amtech International, Dominos, Great Lakes Beverage, Charity Motors, Cliff Bells, Comcast, Compuware, Detroit Marriott, Dickinson Wright, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, Fathead, Great Lakes Fireworks, Greektown Casino-Hotel, McDonalds, Meridian Health Plan, MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Panasonic, Pepsi Beverages Company, Plante Moran, PNC Foundation, Quicken Loans, St. John Providence Health System, Wakefield, Sutherland and Lubera, P.L.C., and DownBeat, Hour Detroit, JazzTimes, MetroTimes and Fox 2. The festival’s Greening Program, now entering Phase IV, is supported by a generous grant from the DTE Energy Foundation. For more information visit

SOS – A Guide to Better Living (CD)

“Bumblefuck” begins the album, and it really shows SOS as a band that meshes together a number of different traditions. For those into the current state of rock music, there seems to be more than a hint of Disturbed-like riffs. Riffs also resemble Metallica and the thrash-rock of old Anthrax, while the tempo is more reminiscent of early punk music. “Star Killers” is more of the same, but what is really compelling on this go around is the vocal harmonies of lead vocalist Adam; what is also surprising about tracks on “A Guide To Better Living” is that the session drummer Travis (who is not named as a member of the band) really fits in flawlessly with the rest of the band.

Each of the tracks has a certain drive to it that does not allow individuals the luxury of getting one’s breath. Even if the vocals are slower (and more grunge-influenced, like during “Everything Must Go”), there is a definite drive to each of the tracks. When the band does slow down their tempo, they create a tension (such as in “Middle Ground”) that is not the typical brooding style of metal, but rather the rich, earthy instrumentation of a band like The Appleseed Cast. The only thing that really seems questionable about “A Guide To Better Living” is the fact that there are so many tracks on the album; with seventeen cuts, there seems to be ample material there to conceivably cut a few of the less-essential tracks (not all the tracks enjoy the high standard created by “Everything Must Go”) and come out of the deal even stronger. The random insertion of stronger tracks among the few stragglers means that a listener will have to go through everything to get to an endearing track like “Dead Before Noon”.

In “Dead Before Noon”, the vocals really achieve an “Rust In Peace”-era Megadeth feel that is only strengthen by a guitar arrangement that elicits comparison to the heaviest-hitters in the genre. The late-eighties/early-nineties feel to the track really fleshes the disc out in another way. The dynamic between the band and Travis really takes another step during the latter’s drumming during the late “Rub & Tug”. This louder, more-brash style is more than enough to keep listeners going at this late part, and when the vocals move into a style reminiscent of Rage Against The Machine, individuals will be captured for the rest of the disc.

Top Tracks: Dead Before Noon, Bumblefuck

Rating: 6.4/10


SOS – A Guide to Better Living / 2005 3:16 Productions / 17 Tracks / / / Reviewed 08 October 2005

Sophe Lux – Waking The Mystics (CD)

“Target Market” starts off “Waking The Mystics”, and it shows Sophe Lux as being very influenced by The Turtles and The Doors, with more than a passing hint to Spanish guitar work and ambient music being tied in to their music. The eclectic sound of Sophe Lux is enough to allow individuals from all different genres to pick up the album and find something that they appreciate. The strong female vocal presence of “Lonely Girl” flips conceptions individuals may have had about Sophe Lux just from listening to “Target Market” on their ear.

While the vocals may not always be in key on this track (or use some form of harmony that I am not educated enough to understand), the track links well together with “Marie Antoinette Robot 2073 (A Rock Opera), which blends a Fiona Apple meets Tori Amos set of vocals with the blips and boops of Rush’s “2112” rock opera (which would make sense, as the title seems to hearken back to the sci-fi/rock mashups present in progressive rock). While the vocals seem to be strong, the electronic cum rock of the rest of Sophe Lux seem to play a much too small role in imbuing the track with character. This is rectified by the beginning of the Billie Holiday-influenced “Time Of Light”. In “Time of Light”, Sophe Lux blend a bluesy piano with the vocals, including only what is needed to emotionally move listeners. The grab bag of styles and sounds on “Waking The Mystics” continues with “Little Soldier of Time”, a track that has the vocals and instrumentation take on a sixties, pop meets girl group format. It is almost as if Sophe Lux is trying to make a greatest hits album, out of new tracks, with these new tracks representing the last century.

The approaches are varied, but the tracks are more or less spot on, each subsequent song being another checkmark for the band. I would like to hear Sophe Lux if they limited themselves to a smaller array of styles, perhaps if they took on a concept album framework for their follow-up to “Waking The Mystics”. Other than maybe a small lack in inter-track cohesion (aside from the juncture between “Lonely Girl” and “Marie Antoinette Robot 2073”), the album succeeds in providing catchy songs that have substance and interesting musical arrangements throughout. Contact Zarathustra and try to pick up a copy of this album; it is well worth the cost.

Top Tracks: Lonely Girl, President

Rating: 6.4/10

Sophe Lux – Waking The Mystics / 2006 Zarathusthra / 13 Tracks / / / Reviewed 10 March 2007

Moroccan Gnawa Music Inspires A Cross-Cultural Collaboration

Performed primarily in Morocco and South-western Algeria, a traditional Gnawa ceremony re-creates the genesis of the universe, incorporating trance-inducing music, a clairvoyant, incense, and ecstatic dancing in a complicated liturgy. Gnawa music mixes classical Islamic Sufism with pre-Islamic African traditions, and in recent decades has begun to be performed outside of the traditional closed-door ceremonies, to the wider Moroccan public, and to global music audience at large.

In 2011, the forward-thinking Détours du Monde festival in Montpelier curated a collaboration between French Afro collective Fanga and Moroccan maâlem Abdallah Guinéa, creating a fusion of two distinct musical styles each based in tradition, African rhythms, and drawn-out, trance-inducing arrangements. “The project appealed to us, especially the trance aspect of both forms,” says Korbo, the Burkina Fasso-born vocalist of Fanga. “Our objective from the sessions was not so much to create an entirely new flow but more to bring the real Gnawa sound to some of our songs – we wanted to make the songs work so neither group’s sound was compromised”

The two styles prove to be naturally compatible throughout, building on compositions from Fanga’s 15-year catalog. Korbo and Guinéa share lead vocal duties, with Guinéa building his trademark ‘Fusion Trance’ through spiritual evocations, and rolling, hypnotic rhythms on the gimbri (three-stringed lute). Korbo’s lyrics serve up food for reflection, touching on the right to be different and promoting harmony between man and nature whilst denouncing the social injustices that result from an economic system out of control and designed to benefit the few.

Rich, thought provoking, and effortlessly funky, Fangnawa Experience is an ambitious piece of work, and another significant chapter in the open-minded and cross-cultural climate for modern world music.


A meeting of complementary personalities and cross-cultural energy, Fanga began to take shape in 1998, as hip-hop producer Serge Amiano returned to France from a trip to Africa with a selection of West African vinyl from the 60s and 70s. The nascent band, including Burkina Fasso-born rapper Korbo on vocals, worked with Tony Allen on his album Black Voices in 2000, and began releasing its own recordings in 2001. Acclaimed by tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Wax Poetics, and Rich Medina, the band has built a global following based on a dynamite live show, socially conscious lyrics, and an ever-evolving interpretation of classic Afrobeat and Highlife sounds.
Maâlem Abdallah Guinéa

Descended from a renowned family of artists (his father, Boubker Guinéa, is considered as one of Morocco’s greatest of all maâlems) Abdellah Guinéa began playing the gimbri at age 12, and became a full maâlem and master musician at age 16. Along with his band, Nasse Ejadba, he quickly developed his own musical style, somewhere between traditional and modern Gnawa, which he calls “Fusion Trance.” As well as gimbri, Guinéa plays guitar, banjo and mandolin and has continued the progression of his music by introducing Western sounds into the mix, effortlessly building a cultural bridge between different musical styles.

For More Information, Check Out:

Sons and Daughters – The Repulsion Box (CD)

The way that Sons and Daughters start off their “Repulsion Box” is far and away one of the best ways to get individuals to listen in. “Medicine” is a straight-forward rock track (with more than its fair share of punk influence) that will cause any listener to focus in and devote eirself to the music completely, even as their body bounces to the beat. Sons and Daughters do not let the thrill associated with their punk leanings fade, as the rockabilly sound gets some serious airtime during “Red Receiver”. While the tempo may be slower on “Red Receiver”, the drum and bass present on the track are more effectual, owing much to their more Spartan arrangement. “Choked” shows yet another side to Sons and Daughters, with the vocals of Adele taking a turn towards Stevie Nicks, as the rest of the band’s music straddling the line between The Outlaws and Uncle Tupelo. The band moves back to the general punkabilly sound of “Red Receiver” for “Monsters”, but maintain a greater cohesion in terms of the Scott/Adele vocal harmonies.

While there are some tracks that just act as placeholders, the intensity present at points during “The Repulsion Box” provide the listening audience a quite valid reason to pick up this box. Such is the case with “Rama Lama”, a track in which Adele’s vocals rapidly become more chaotic, with each subsequent line of lyrics doing more to create the perfect chill up one’s spine. The screamed out “shake, shake, shake, shakes” of Adele are the fitting ending to what was an exercise in perfection. Thirty minutes come and go on “The Repulsion Box”, with the band sounding as energetic and excited as they were during the opening strains of “Medicine”. The band may have toured with Franz Ferdinand in the past but one has to wonder whether Sons And Daughters may just have outshined FF on a number of those dates.

The music contained on “The Repulsion Box” is quick-paced, not at all concerned with fleshing out the tracks contained within, and by and large, Sons and Daughters have found the perfect middle ground for the mixture of filth, fury, and accessibility. Sons and Daughters take the best parts from Tiger Army, The Nekromantix, Bif Naked, Fleetwood Mac and The Doors and make them into a high-octane, carefully-crafted brand of rock that at no point falls into the trap of repetition or trying too hard to please the lowest common denominator. that at no point falls into the trap of repetition or trying too hard to please the lowest common denominator.

Top Tracks: Medicine, Rama Lama

Rating: 7.3/10
Sons and Daughters – The Repulsion Box / 2005 Domino / 10 Tracks / / / Reviewed 19 July 2005

DEVIL TO PAY Hit the Road, Including Stoner Hands of Doom

DEVIL TO PAY have announced that the band will be celebrating it’s 10 Year Anniversary by trekking across parts of America to rock out with friends and fans along the way! Having put the final touches on the writing and demoes for their next album (first with Ripple Music), DTP are anxious to hit the road and bring the sonic devastation with them. Audiences along the route will be treated to a handful of brand new tracks that will be featured on the as-of-yet untitled fourth album, as well as some surprise tunes if time permits. On Saturday, September 1st, the Indianapolis-based purveyors of heavy rock will be bringing their catalog of destruction to the 4-day Stoner Hands of Doom Festival (now in it’s 12th incarnation), which will feature performances from Doom Heavyweights, The Skull, Iron Man, Road Saw, and many, many more!

2012 marks a big time for the hard-working doom-masters. Coinciding with their 10 year anniversary, this year also was highlighted by Devil To Pay’s signing with growing hard rock specialty label Ripple Music and an appearance on the Ripple Effect Presents: Volume One – Head Music compilation.

Catch them on the road:

8/29 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups w/ Lo-Pan
8/30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ 31st St Pub w/ Argus & Iron Crown
8/31 – NYC, NY @ Trash Bar w/ IKILLYA & Hung
9/1 – New London, CT @ El N Gee Club for Stoner Hands of Doom XII
9/2 – Newark, DE @ Mojo Main w/ Beelzefuzz, Pale Divine & Admiral Browning

DEVIL TO PAY was formed in the beginning of the millennia as a doom rock band with metal/stoner and rock tangents, effortlessly crushing skulls while simultaneously coaxing them to sing along. The band hails the almighty riff, but unlike many of their contemporaries, the song is still king. That is what separates the great bands from the shoulda & coulda bands. Now celebrating their 10th year anniversary, DEVIL TO PAY has aged like Kentucky bourbon, distilling a culmination of years of sweat, highway miles, cigarette smoke and hangovers into crushing compositions and bone-jarring, heavy musical moments.

With a catalog of underground releases, DEVIL TO PAY gained accolades, awards and a hard earned cult-like status. They have established themselves as the go-to band for those searching out more than just a few killer riffs; a foundation of heavy that will flourish under the Ripple banner.

For more information on the band, please visit:


ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO premiere new track + video on “Decibel” magazine’s website!!!

ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO premiere the track “The Cult of No Return,” as well as its accompany video, at Decibel magazine’s website! A highly exclusive stream from North American’s premiere metal authority, “The Cult of No Return” comes from ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO’s highly anticipated debut album, Torches Ablaze, set for worldwide release on September 5th through EKTRO RECORDS. The track + video for “The Cult of No Return” can be heard/seen in its entirety for a limited time here:

Following a well-received self-titled EP in 2010, ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO’s Torches Ablaze features Finnish eccentric Jussi Lehtisalo, owner/operator of EKTRO RECORDS and whose vast musical activities include Circle, Pharaoh Overlord, Ektroverde, Split Cranium, Slussenanalys, and Rakhim. The band also features Samae Koskinen, who plays guitar in the live lineup of Xysma.

Below is the cover art for Torches Ablaze, as well as a complete ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO biography. Additionally, the tracklisting is as follows:

Complete tracklisting for ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO – Torches Ablaze CD
01 The Cult of No Return
02 Knights of Torment
03 Sleeping Beauty
04 Sea of Madness
05 Bitch from Hell
06 Thousand Snakes
07 Speed, Yog Sogoth
08 Golem Made of Flesh
09 Synthetic Death
10 When the Light is Dead and Gone

Arkhamin Kirjasto was born in 2010, when Jussi Lehtisalo and Samae Koskinen started making music together. Their aim was to combine different aspects of metal, the music they both loved. Would the guttural power of Autopsy and Nihilist work well with the sheer melodiousness of early Iron Maiden and Angel Witch? Arkhamin Kirjasto’s debut album, Torches Ablaze, is the answer to that question.

This versatile record opens with “The Cult of No Return,” a startling riff that pays homage to Judas Priest. “Sea of Madness” takes an ethereal trip to the realms of psychedelia while “The Bitch From Hell” pairs pure glam with death metal vocals. The undead hissing of “Thousand Snakes” and the majestic guitar noise of “Speed, Yog Sothoth” then proceed to turn the metal blueprint inside out.

Lyrically speaking, Arkhamim Kirjasto deals mainly with the green-tinted cosmic horror of Lovecraftian mythology.

Koskinen is a well-known Finnish solo artist who plays guitar in the live lineup of Xysma. When he’s not managing his label, Ektro Records, Lehtisalo plays in Circle and Pharaoh Overlord, among others. The pair previously worked together in Aaron Turner’s Split Cranium project.

BATTLECROSS: Sirius XM Liquid Metal to Premiere New Studio Cover of “Hostile”

Yesterday, Detroit, MI’s BATTLECROSS finished their run with the TRESPASS AMERICA festival, also featuring Five Finger Death Punch with support from Killswitch Engage, Trivium, Emmure, Pop Evil, and God Forbid. Helping to cap such a defining summer in the band’s already accelerating career, Sirius XM Liquid Metal will premiere the band’s studio cover of the track “Hostile” (originally performed by Pantera) on Friday, August 31st. Afterward, the track will be available for purchase on iTunes. The band performed “Hostile” live at several stops on the TRESPASS AMERICA festival (last night’s performance of the song included a guest appearance by Five Finger Death Punch’s Chris Kael).

“TRESPASS AMERICA has been a blast. We can’t believe it’s all over. It’s been a wake-up call, a learning experience, and a privilege to be part of this kick ass festival,” states guitarist Tony Asta. “We’ve made so many new friends along the way and it’s very humbling to see so much support from all our fans. Thank you all for making this dream a reality.”

Tony continues, “We are very excited to release our cover of “Hostile” on Sirius XM with Pantera being heavily influential to the band. Rest in peace, Dime. Now crank it to eleven!”

The band will be taking part in the Metal Blade Records 30th Anniversary Label Showcase, sponsored by Scion A/V Club! The showcase takes place on Saturday, September 15th at The Glasshouse in Pomona, CA. The show is free with RSVP (strictly required) and space is limited. Also performing at the show are Six Feet Under, Cattle Decapitation, Gypsyhawk, and Pilgrim. See above for the official event admat with additional details.

See below for all confirmed BATTLECROSS tour dates.

BATTLECROSS tour dates:

31 Shreveport, LA – The Riverside Warehouse (w/ God Forbid)

1 Memphis, TN – Newby’s (w/ God Forbid)
2 Louisville, KY – Phoenix Hill Tavern (w/ God Forbid)
15 Pomona, CA – The Glasshouse (Metal Blade Records 30th Anniversary Label Showcase)
24 Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
27 Clifton, NJ – Dingbatz (Jose Mangin’s Hard Attack Thursday w/ The Doomsday Prophecy, Carnavarice Breath, Watchwords)
28 Wheeling, WV – River City

19 Detroit, MI – Detroit Princess River Cruise
20 Lansing, MI – Michigan Princess Cruise

Kyle “Gumby” Gunther/vocals
Tony Asta/guitar
Hiran Deraniyagala/guitar
Mike Kreger/drums
Don Slater/bass

The band’s debut album, Pursuit of Honor, is available on Metal Blade Records and can be found at this location:

For more information about BATTLECROSS, please visit these websites: