Your Vegas – A Town And Two Cities

Your Vegas – A Town And Two Cities / 2008 Universal Republic / 10 Tracks / http://www.yourvegasmusic.com /

Your Vegas came to their current lineup with Mark Heaton in 2004, and released two singles – a self-titled song and “Flybuzz”. While the band had broke it big in their home country of England, they did not attract the attention of the American music market until 2006, when Universal Republic signed them. The average music fan became aware of Your Vegas soon after, when Playboy magazine tapped them to be a “Rock The Rabbit” band. The band got their stuff together and put an EP out – “A Town And Two Cities”, expanding it soon after to a full length recording. Continue reading “Your Vegas – A Town And Two Cities”

Tommy Emmanuel – Center Stage

Tommy Emmanuel – Center Stage / 2008 Favored Nations / 24 Tracks / http://www.tommyemmanuel.com /

Tommy is from Australia. Furthermore, ey is a two-time Grammy nominee. “Center Stage” is a live album, and was recorded at the Sierra Nevada Brewery (Chico, CA). While individuals may not be familiar with the solo recordings of an Emmanuel, ey cut eir teeth in the John Farnham band. If one can remember back to 2000, ey also performed at the closing ceremonies at that year’s Summer Olympics. Over the last 30 years, Emmanuel has released over 20 albums. So, ey has a tremendous amount of material with which to work, and which individuals necessary expect from a live show. This show starts out with “The Finger Lakes”, a newer song, and finishes up with “Questions” (a classic cut from 2000’s “Only”). A number of other releases are revisited during this lengthy concert.  The work of Emmanuel is bolstered throughout a number of tracks by the masterful work of harmonica player Bob Littell, and the presence of some tracks will be exciting to those that have not had the chance to see or hear Emmanuel live at some point. This means that there is a version of “Ruby’s Eyes” that will tattoo itself into the minds and hearts of anyone that may be listening in. Continue reading “Tommy Emmanuel – Center Stage”

Hilary McRae – Through These Walls

Hilary McRae – Through These Walls / 2008 Concord / 12 Tracks /  http://www.hilarymcrae.com /

“Through These Walls” starts off with “Every Day (When Will You Be Mine)”, a track that has a timeless nature to it. That means that the brass that backs up the vocals and the rest of the normal instrumentation (drums) provides hints of the seventies, while McRae’s vocals on this track are very current and modern. The result is a funky type of track that will undoubtedly be on rock rotation even if the style is something pretty unique. McRae’s vocals link together Pink and Tracy Chapman, ensuring that the subset of interested listeners is sufficiently large enough to ensure ey has a large fan base. “Consider Me Gone” is the next track on “Through These Walls”, and it shows McRae in a slightly different light.

The soulful sound of eir vocals is present as it was during “Every Day”, but there is a little more in the way of blues influence present during this track. The song will slide in nicely with the Amy Winehouse style of popular music, and while the instrumentation present is softly-stated, it works well with the vocals. “Let’s Stop” is another strong track by McRae; it blends the two styles that were present during “Every Day” and “Consider Me Gone”, while adding enough unique flair and style to the track to keep individuals listening. While McRae is not a huge star at this point, continued work in regards to live shows and an active fan base should be enough to push McRae’s already solid work into the stratosphere.

The twelve cuts on “Through These Walls” avoid the pitfalls inherent in a number of current artists’ releases, in that there is nothing that individuals should avoid on this album. So, if you like the works of a Kelly Clarkson, Pink, or the like make it a point to pick up “Through These Walls”. Chances are good that a devoted subset of fans will dig this album, and the next release for McRae will be the one that establishes eir as a star. So, grab this album and you can say that you knew about McRae before anyone else did.

Top Tracks: Waiting, Hostage

Rating: 6.8/10

Tift Merritt – Another Country

Tift Merritt – Another Country / 2008 Fantasy / 11 Tracks / http://www.tiftmerritt.com /

Tift Merritt is rapidly closing in on eir second decade in the country music business. 1999 saw the first EP release for Merritt, which featured two original songs and five re-tooled versions of eir favorite country tracks. After three releases beyond this first one, Merritt has settled in quite nicely to a mature style. “Another Country” is the first of Merritt’s releases to hit on the  US Top 200 chart, peaking at #156. While other music magazines are apt to stick a dagger in Merritt the second ey gains the slightest in popularity (I’m looking at you, Pitchfork), the compositions on Another Country are a step above those laid down on either “Tambourine” or “Home Is Loud”. Continue reading “Tift Merritt – Another Country”

Water Fai – Girls In The White Dream

Water Fai – Girls In The White Dream / 2007 White Shoe / 8 Tracks / http://www.waterfai.fem.jp / http://www.whiteshoerecords.com /

I always wondered why it was so hard to get CDs from Japan. It seemed that the prices were exorbitant or the quantity not to be had. The reason why I am musing about this is because Water Fai is from Japan (specifically, from Osaka) and they start out their “Girls In The White Dream” with a sedate bit of indie rock. “To The Green Town” is this introductory track, and it shows immediately that these three are tremendously skilled in making an intricate track, and with arrangements that are intense as all get out, even when the sound is somber and subtle. The band approaches a more tangible type of sound with “You Are The Sun”, with the Spartan approach providing a drum/bass dynamic that is absolutely delicious. There does not need to be much in the way of vocals, due to the skill of each member of the band. However, when the vocals do kick in, the harmonious sound of the vocals add another instrument that then interacts with the guitars and drums already present. Continue reading “Water Fai – Girls In The White Dream”

Kingen – Ride With Me

Kingen – Ride With Me / 2007 Black Cat / 11 Tracks / http://www.fargfabiken.se / http://www.blackcatsongs.com /

Kingen plays a very classy style of rock that will undoubtedly remind individuals of the early days of rock and roll. “Mary-Ann” could easily have been a hit in 1958 as it will undoubtedly be in 2008. The best thing about Kingen’s style on “Ride With Me” has to be the fact that he can create such a storied sound and yet make it into something that individuals in the current period can appreciate. Whether it is the Jerry Lee Lewis-level of piano rolls or the very natural type of percussion, individuals will easily be hooked on what Kingen presents here. Continue reading “Kingen – Ride With Me”

Putumayo Presents – African Party

Putumayo Presents – African Party / 2008 Putumayo / 10 Tracks / http://www.putumayo.com /

First, I still love the fact that Putumayo comes out with these compilations, covering a number of different genres and geographies with each subsequent releases. However, I have a little bit of a problem when it comes to the name “African Party” for this album.  Africa is a huge and diverse continent, and a number of discs could be released, whether one wants to just break Africa into regions (North, East, Central, West, and South) or into various languages (Francophone, Anglophone) or even into different ethnicities (Wolof, Hutu, etc). To have the title of the disc be “African Party” and only have 10 tracks on the disc makes it seem as if Africa can be reduced to one general element, instead of a number of different lands. Still, the music that is contained on “African Party” is catchy in its own right, and the acts present should not be punished for Putumayo’s decision here. The disc starts off with Sekouba Bambino’s “Famou”, from Guinea. The track has a very vibrant set of vocals and horns, which create a traditional approach to dance that will get individuals up and on the floor. Continue reading “Putumayo Presents – African Party”

Asia – Phoenix

Asia – Phoenix / 2008 Frontiers / 12 Tracks / http://www.originalasia.com /

Asia’s music is still some of the most played on classic rock radio, but that is not because the act has been particularly active in the last few years. Rather, “Phoenix” marks the first reunion for all of the original members of the band, and the first album released by this iteration of Asia since 1983’s “Alpha”. This reunion started as a live show band in 2006, but rapidly found the love that they had for each other. This brought them into the studio, and “Phoenix” was the result of these sessions. The band starts their trip back to the top with “Never Again”, a track that feels as if it responds to the criticisms of the band – that they would play “Never Again” as a cohesive unit. Continue reading “Asia – Phoenix”

The New Tragedies – Souvenirs

The New Tragedies – Souvenirs / 2008 Self / 5 Tracks / http://www.thenewtragedies.com /

One of the former writers for NeuFutur reviewed the last New Tragedies albums, so I will have to apologize in advance for being ignorant about the band. “Souvenirs” starts out with “New & Improved”, a slow track that gradually opens to an atmospheric, breath-y type of track that matches well the back cover: two individuals, lounging on the bed, lying together. While the track is a little on the long side in regards to starting off an EP, the progression that the act creates on this track will keep individuals listening throughout. Hints of Lucero and Rufus Wainwright present themselves on this track, and the band moves forward to “Chandelier” soon after. Continue reading “The New Tragedies – Souvenirs”

Senior Discount – S/T

Senior Discount – S/T / 2008 Self / 5 Tracks / http://www.seniordiscountmusic.com /

I guess I forgot to review Senior Discount’s last CD when they sent it over. My apologies. Anyways, the style of music that Senior Discount play is a fast-forward, quick brand of punk music that does not let individuals have a moment to rest. “Ataxia” is a track that will get the pits started and will hammer home the melodies so deep that individuals will be singing along with Senior Discount even in the most inappropriate of situations. The sizzling guitar and bass dynamic that is present during the track is a little additional bonus for listeners. “VBW Song” is the next cut on the album and slows things down, a move that allows the vocalist for Senior Discount to take on the role of Fat Mike. The track is again fun, but come on, the band could throw in a little more of their own sound into the mix. Continue reading “Senior Discount – S/T”