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SoundPress.net Presents
Sights and Sounds of Note
November 2017

A good month for football and feasting is upon us. We’ve gone the extra yard to make sure the column is absolutely stuffed this time around. The music is tasty and has scored with us so let’s celebrate the winners!

Black Country Communion (BCC) (www.bccommunion.com) consists of vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa. The quartet have recently release their long awaited and highly anticipated new album. BCC IV their first studio recording since 2013’s Afterglow builds on their solid foundation of American and British classic rock. The super group is back with a sound that is bigger, bolder and harder yet also has melodic moments melding with memorable hooks. BCC’s latest ten-track collection opens with the catchy yet crushing “Collide” where atmospheric keys crash into potent riffs and rhythms. A combination used effectively throughout the CD. “Over My Head’ is slightly softer but still delivers a punch. The mood shifts on “The Last Song For My Resting Place.” Here a mandolin with strings assists in paying tribute to the musician (Wallace Hartley) who played people off the Titanic to the detriment of himself. BCC addresses the serious topic of dolphins being slaughter in the dark and daunting “The Cove.” The second half of the platter meets and exceeds expectations for compelling classic yet contemporary rock presented by some of the best in the business. BCC has cultivated a reputation not only as amazing songwriters, but as a powerful live act which is only surpassed by their commitment to their craft, and a willingness to have challenged each other to present the choicest material they can on BCC IV.

A minor miracle occurred in 2016 when Spock’s Beard (www.spocksbeard.com) and Neal Morse reunited for a powerful weekend at Morsefest III that featured the first ever live performance of their last album together called Snow. Now, just in time for the holidays and the winter season up north a sack full of choices are ready for the consumer with the release of SNOW LIVE in 2 DVD/2CD Digipack, 3 LP Vinyl (available in four different colors), 2 Disc Blu-ray and as a 2 DVD/2 CD/2 Blu-ray pack complete with a 48-page Artbook formats from Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/SONY on November 10. All we can say is we were there when all the band’s current and original members converged with laser like focus to present two amazing nights of music. We’re still beaming. Now with stunning audio and visual to boot you’ll be able to as well. Prepare to be stunned.

After a period of really too much death in Rock ‘n’ Roll including the latest loss of Tom Petty that many fans around the world are still processing – Van Morrison (www.vanmorrison.com) stands as one of the few musical heavyweights we have left. Perhaps he’s aware of that fact as the 15 tracks on Roll With The Punches mirrors the rounds of a championship fight – each one with its significant moments with a few lulls in the action along the way. Boxers get beat up in the ring and the veteran Morrison is delivering the black and the blues with a collection of mostly covers by Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Little Walter that pays homage to the glorious soulful genre’s greats. With an incredible team in his corner Van has gone the distance to emerge victorious once again. With the powerful original “Transformation” and the quirky “Automobile Blues” leading the way on his 37th studio album that is both raw and intimate that makes for a solid one-two punch from Van the Man.

Tom Keifer (http://www.tomkeifer.com) made it to the dance once before as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the band Cinderella who put out four albums at their height. That group disbanded and Keifer has been promoting the idea of a solo record for many, many years. He returns in 2017 with The Way Life Goes which indicates that he probably hit a few bumps along the way in the production and presentation of this record. On this strong and vibrant collection of 14 rockers, blues, anthems and ballads Keifer is getting back to his roots in a decidedly more rootsy style, too. The slyly named “Ask Me Yesterday” and “A Different Light” are two standouts in the many tracks that shine. It’s all good and it sounds like T.K. is having a ball.

Jonathan Jackson + Enation (www.jonathanjackson.com) have released their fourth studio record Anthems For The Apocalypse co-produced by Greg Archilla (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul). The trio has developed a reputation as one of the most creative and dynamic independent bands in the industry today. Originally from the Northwest, they now call Nashville, TN home – and for good reason, Jonathan Jackson (lead guitar/vocals) currently stars as “Avery Barkley” in the primetime drama Nashville, now in its fifth season, which airs Thursdays on CMT. Jonathan cites artists such as Coldplay, Peter Gabriel and most noticeably U2 as inspirations for their music that ranges from reflective to rocking. Jackson is in strong voice bringing varied emotions and ranges to their songs spiked with sizzling guitar solos all backed by a riveting rhythm section (Jonathan Thatcher-bass, Richard Lee Jackson-drums). The aptly titled album is solid from start to finish opening with the rousing yet thought provoking “Blame-Shifter.” Also of note is “Revolution Of The Heart” the most anti-political piece Jonathan has penned. Commenting on the composition Jackson shares that “our world is more divided than ever it seems and the political climate is driving deeper wedges in society. Ultimately, politics can only offer some of the answers we’re looking for. The deeper longing that I’m “marching for” personally is a revolution of the heart. It’s an inner revolution. We need to first love each other and remember our common humanity. Then we can approach politics and work towards important solutions.” Following the success of Radio Cinematic (2014) Anthems For The Apocalypse proves Enation is a band to watch with songs that are catchy, compelling and contemporary.

When sports and television executive Jim Dolan announced a musical undertaking called JD & The Straight Shot (www.jdandthestraightshot.com) over a decade ago even the least cynical person to a man would say “that’s nothing more than a vanity project”. But, the effort to take Dolan’s straightforward form of county, roots rock, Americana and bluegrass straight to the people certainly hasn’t been in vain. In 2017, he emerges with many critic’s favorite release in the form of Good Luck And Good Night. Sure, Dolan has largely failed in his efforts to redeem the Knicks, but, “Redemption Train” gets the new record chugging off to a brilliant start announcing a collection of songs that truly carry a lot of weight. The title track featuring a child chorus crescendo, is a thoughtful commentary on the divisive state of news reporting today and Billboard says lead single, “Run For Me,” “channels the thrills of horseracing and an Irish folk-meets-country soundscape.” “Moonlight” entrances with soaring melodies, while the banjo-and-fiddle-driven burner “Ballad Of Jacob Marley” re-tells the tale of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Story about greed and the ability to change. Influenced by artists such as The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Beatles along with traditional Irish folk music and classical music, Good Luck And Good Night delivers a huge sound steeped in the quiet fire of American roots music and the swagger of rock n’ roll. Dolan has built a winner on his latest record. He’s in the big leagues having touring with music’s greatest franchises like the Eagles, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Dixie Chicks, Jewel, Joe Walsh, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and more. He shoots, he scores!

Podd (www.poddmusic.com) is an instrumental, progressive rock group. Their name is an amalgam of Peter Olsen (PO) and Dejan Dejkoski (DD) who form the creative core of this quartet. Each Podd member comes from unique backgrounds to bring diversity and divinity to their muse. Cosmic Forces is the band’s 10-track debut drawing inspiration from the flood plains of the Mississippi Delta, the mountains of Macedonia, to the foothills of the Himalayas. Podd’s original songs are born from personal introspection. It is a kind of musical storytelling without words, told with the impressions and colors only sound can evoke. Podd’s complex compositions will take listeners through landscapes of classical, funk, global, jazz, progressive and rock. They explore textures and tones that are spacy – unworldly – yet also of this world – so give Podd a whirl and experience Cosmic Forces for yourself. The group is currently working on a feature video for “Beyond Beyond” the opulent opening track from their debut and they have already started recording new material for their sophomore release.

There’s not a lot of musicians who have gotten as many second chances as Deen Castronovo who was reportedly reprimanded many times in Journey before they had to ultimately let him go due to his well-documented personal and legal strife. But then, bandmate Jonathan Cain invited him to play drums on his religious record in a sign of true forgiveness and concern. Now, Deen’s band Revolution Saints (www.revolutionsaints.com) return with their sophomore album called Light In The Dark. This record doesn’t quite excite us as much as the debut which had the world anticipating what a trio with the singing drummer Castronovo with bandmates Jack Blades and Doug Aldrich would sound like together. For some reason Deen’s vocals sound pretty buried in the mix. Maybe he’s paying for past transgressions on the release’s 11-tracks – many that seem to detail Castronovo’s recent troubles. Deen was reluctant to even step out in front from behind the kit originally and now it seems he’s taken a step back in that role. “Don’t Surrender” feels like a cliché-ed attempt to recreate “Don’t Stop Believing”. However, we did find one track glaring through the darkness that is alone worth the price of admission. On the Perryesque ballad “I Wouldn’t Change A Thing” Deen conveys warmth and sorrow on a song that shows why he was a logical choice to sing lead for his very famous former band. Maybe I’m just jaded and cold-hearted because Deen blew off a radio interview with me on the group’s first revolution. But hey, unlike J.C. I’m no saint – never claimed to be.

Susan Shann (www.susanshann.com) made the move to Nashville to pursue a career as a songwriter and performer. That leap of faith has resulted now in her critically-acclaimed third full length album Rhythm of the Road. Produced by Grammy-winning veteran Bil VornDick, Shann is fueled up and in the driver’s seat as she leads us though a musical landscape that is humming with integrity as it hits on all cylinders with raw energy, honesty and sincere pop/rock sensibility. As passionate as she is about music Susan is a lightworker in the fields of climate change and other pressing environmental issues. She has established a reputation as a local leader and tireless advocate for needed change. On her latest Susan keeps up the activism through a dozen hopeful and heartfelt songs that move in the direction of positivity as she sings about looking for the “good things around the bend”. On Rhythm of the Road Susan Shann is packed and ready to embark on a journey that should help transform this “Earth Mama” into a musical goddess and her arrival looks imminent.

Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee the band Ten Years (www.10yearsmusic.com) would love to change the world with their music. They are not to be confused with Alvin Lee’s group after all but the guys do reference another classic rock band The Doors in the opening track on their now eighth studio album (How to Live) As Ghosts. While their sound is more reminiscent of the late 90’s and modern rock they are most recognized as an alternative metal band – so their roots go deep. So does the lyrical content as Jesse Hasek (lead vocals), Brian Vodinh (drums, guitar, backing vocals), Chad Huff (bass guitar) and Matt Wantland (guitar) craft compelling music with an underlying urgency and a dash of doom. “Phantoms” has a spooky and high register that is as anthemic as it is ethereal. This stuff is great — too bad it took us 18 trips around the sun to discover 10 Years.

CAIRO (www.cairorocks.com) is pretty cool. It starts with an authentic Old World trip back to the Middle East but then journeys a thousand other places on the stunning record’s thirteen tracks. Think Alan Parsons meets the type of music we wished YES was making at the moment with more world influences than an outdoor marketplace. Some spoken words, some Pink Floyd, and 80’s pop sensibilities make this more than your run of the mill prog rock production. This is something else! A musical mystery on par with the Pyramids or The Sphinx – etched in rock with a heart for the Cosmos…

EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Sifting through the digital postcards this month we’re delighted to discover that music is alive and well the world over. Let’s takes a look…

Prior to his passing John Wetton (www.johnwetton.com) personally selected Akustika – Live In Amerika & Akustika II – Return To Amerika as two projects to be released. They’ve been packed in one double disc set that reveal the Supergroup singer in a stripped down setting as he provides captivating, career spanning sets with music from ASIA, King Crimson, iCon, UK and his solo work. A perfect item for those still mourning the loss of this legendary and iconic rocker…

Andy Golledge (www.andygolledge.com) is a new and notable voice and songwriter on the Australian music scene. His highly anticipated debut album 1170 strikes all the right chords with us. Rooted in American 70’s music he turns it all upside down on his first effort that has us wanting to hear more…

Tim Sorbs (www.timsorbs.com) is a self managed independent artist claiming to sound like the offspring of David Bowie, Johnny Cash, and Green Day. All we know is we’ve checked out some tunes from his dramatic Over My Heart Acts I – III and we liked it. The solo artist played and produced everything on the record and really poured his heart into it while pouring it out as well. We’ll be back…

Now comes word that the masses are going ga ga for The Gaa Gaas (www.thegaagaas.co.uk) – these art rockers hail from London/Brighton and many are regarding their edgy sound as a modern incarnation of such greats as The Cure, Bauhaus and Public Image Ltd. Just don’t ask Gary Moore what he thinks….

My, My – MY (www.facebook.com/OHHEYMY/) has “Skeletons” in their closet somewhere in Sweden. This unique trio is a true collaboration between lead artist/singer My Helmner, drummer/producer Johannes Andersson and fierce guitarist/writer Simon Westerdahl that yields sturdy pop songs alive with force and feeling…

Adult Future (www.adultufure.com) clearly has a future and the Toronto band is still stuck in our heads for their sticky “Gluegun” and they plan on sticking around for awhile. They’ve returned with the curious “The Dufferin Jog” that promises a break from the current bleakness of the world. Do you find yourself worrying about tyrants or the nagging threat of global nuclear war? Sure you do – but, Adult Future invites you to take a detour and have a dance on them…

Swingin Hammers (www.swinginhammers.com) is a Nashville recording project that seeks to be a lonely outpost in the dark, shining a light to say to those who have felt the struggle deep in their souls, the war inside their bones, the tension that no words can describe, you are not alone. Join them as they sink their Roots deep with a new album of the same name…

Eric Leach (www.ericleachmusic.com) is gravel-throated singer from Los Angeles, California who makes exciting and upbeat music that has a way of getting under your skin. We highly recommend that you take a closer look and zoom in on his Sax-strong “Zoom” from his latest effort…

Rose Tiger (www.rosetiger.net) is the brainchild of French musician Wendy Killmann, a young man who dreams of a parallel world where humans coexist with dinosaurs and whose musical taste is inspired by 80’s British new-wave (Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode…) and 90’s video games. Composed and performed completely by the artist the songs like “Submarine” go deep and come alive like reading a comic book in an arcade gallery. This one scores points with us…

Chris J Connolly (www.chrisjconnolly.com) returns with his remarkable sophomore release, Moving Maps. Drawing from a wide range of influences, the album finds Chris rediscovering his rock roots while interlacing an eclectic mix of instrumentation and further evolving his songwriting. If there’s one positive about the recent passing of so many musical greats is that maybe there’s room for some more – and CJC is one poised to make the ascent. Blues, folk, pop, rock, acoustic is all here as you make your move with the talented Englishman now in America on a weighty record that deals with family, separation, perseverance, and the bonds and challenges of modern human connections…

London-based brothers Tom and Nick Shirm are Goldsmoke (www.facebook.com/goldsmokemusic/) – and the pair light a brilliant inferno on their most recent single “Like This” that confirms their polished, inventive, future soul sound. Raised on rock, disco, funk, R&B and more the siblings could represent a new wave of British music. Let’s hope they get along better than some of the other famous duos because where there’s smoke there’s fire…

Radio Drive (www.radio-drive.com) is an alternative pop rock band hailing from Rochester, Minnesota. They are purposefully driven by the confident Kevin Gullickson who is up front in the driver’s seat already guiding the project to much acclaim winning international awards and nominations for his songs and music videos. “A Taste of Heaven” presents just a taste of the lo-fi, bright and jangly aural offerings they can deliver. If you’re on the road and Radio Drive is on – then don’t touch that dial…

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (www.hatsoffgentlemen.com) sounds like a back handed compliment but on their third album Broken But Still Standing the project emerges with a lengthy mix of prog rock, rock, ambient, experimental and electronica that is quite good even if the proggy, funky, defiant and sometimes poignant London, UK based rock band has some flaws. They’re okay with it…

See ya next month!

ABOUT US: Sights and Sounds of Note column editors Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch are longtime activists in the music industry. Together, they have reviewed thousands of concerts and music releases through their network of websites including www.soundpress.net, www.kweevak.com and www.musiccitynashville.net. Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z (www.positivepowersecrets.net). Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (www.richlynchband.com).