Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Andrea Marr new album release "Natural"...high-energy blues-soul with the sound of Stax and Motown

Andrea Marr’s first full-length soul album is a high-energy, horn-laden ride into the music that she loves the most - the sound of Stax and Motown, James Brown, Otis Redding, Etta James and Sharon Jones, but with her own distinct spin on it. ‘Natural’, Andrea’s 7th release, is an album that gives you the best of her, the expressive and passionate songwriter, with 9 originals on the album. Andrea was born in Sri-Lanka then immigrated to Melbourne, Australia at the age of 14. From the age of 19 onwards she sang professionally in bands, forming her own blues band in 1999. Among her many awards and accolades in Australian Blues, Andrea has won the 2009 Australian Female Blues Artist of The Year Award and the 2005 and 2012 Blues Performer of The Year Award, representing Australia at the IBC in Memphis twice.

This album features Andrea’s 8 piece soul band The Funky Hitmen, who formed in 2012 and released the EP “Sass and Brass” in 2013 on Chicago’s Blue Skunk label. This is the full album of what was started back then - although some of the players have moved on, the sound remains the same, dynamic, energetic, joyful and powerful.

Marty's review: Fans of old school soul a-la Motown and Stax will eat this one up with its high-energy, funky, brass-powered assault and the powerful, up-front vocals of Andrea Marr. 11 tracks, 9 of them written or co-written by Andrea, that take you back to that soul sound of the 60's and 70's with a contemporary production that is delivered with gusto and polish. This lady deserves all the credit she has received and definitely delivers in a big way.

‘Andrea is truly a first class singer, with a dynamic, gospel fuelled voice’ - Blues Blast Magazine Chicago
Andrea Marr’s voice is so sensual and sassy, her command of her idiom so assured that one wants to accost strangers to tell them’ - The Age Newspaper Australia
‘Marr has inherited a style that made Etta James a legend and Sharon Jones a cult phenomenon’ - Leicester Bangs UK
‘If you like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings or The Dynamites, you’ll go for this!’ - Rhythms Magazine Australia

Official website: http://www.andreamarr.com/

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Dozens new EP release "Test"...female-fronted blues and southern rock

THE DOZENS return to the airwaves with the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2015 EP.  Their newest release, “TEST” expands upon their swampy, southern R&B roots while also exploring new musical and lyrical territory for the band.  A harder, yet soulful edge emerges from each new track showing a band more determined than ever to get their long form live show condensed and captured on tape.  The powerful opening track TIDAL WAVE is as literal as it is figurative.  Shelley Butler’s vocal fury builds and drops into a sudden halt until the DOZENS' trademark dual lead guitar lines ride out with Steven Butler’s thundering drums. TOOK A WALK features a reflective side of the band with swirling keyboard textures from Dan Hocter while HAVE A HEART inspires with an uplifting and deep message against a vintage R&B bass line from Brent Irvin.  BATTLE SCARS reflects Butler’s introspective and self-affirming lyrics against an energetic rhythm section. Classic New Orleans grooves and straightforward rock are both presented with CHASE ME while THE END allows the guitar section of Travis Posey and Chip Dews to explore instrumental avenues with extended solos and layers of guitars. The final track, SOME KIND OF VOODOO, dives into swamp blues with acoustic slide guitar on top of a sparse but soulful vocal from Butler.

From al.com:
Pot-luck R&B, hippie-rock, skeleton blues, country-funk and candlelit balladry surface on The Dozens’ sophomore EP, “Test.” The North Alabama/Tennessee Valley band cut the seven-song release on analog tape at Decatur’s Clearwave Studios. Jeremy Stephens recorded “Test” and co-produced the record with The Dozens.  Standout cuts include opener “Tidal Wave,” writhing with jungle grooves, wah-wah guitar and front woman Shelley Butler’s river-flow vocals. (The Dozens’ lineup also features drummer and Shelley’s husband Steven Butler, guitarists Travis Posey and Chip Dews, bassist Brent Irvin and keyboardist Dan Hocter.) Allman-esque slide skids across “Have a Heart” and “The End,” while silver Hammond organ swirls pool on “Take a Walk.” A boogie coda gooses “Chase Me.” “Some Kind of Voodoo” closes the EP with an acoustic dirge echoing classic Black Crowes hidden-track "Live Too Fast Blues/Mercy, Sweet Moan." Fans heartbroken about the Crowes going kaput - or just fond of Gov’t Mule concerts and old Delaney & Bonnie records - will find solace in this soulful set.

Marty's review: all elements of roots music abound on this impressive EP release from The Dozens. From blues to soul to funk and groove, all bases are covered here for an entertaining and exhilarating ride on this 7 track collection of outstanding tunes. With Shelley Butler's soulful vocals up front backed up by polished and professional group of musicians, this will please roots music fans, particularly if you're fond of southern blues-rock.


Friday, January 19, 2018

International Blues Challenge # 33...14 tracks of the best in contemporary blues

Over the past thirty-three years, one of The Blues Foundation's key events, the International Blues Challenge, has blossomed into an industry-leading annual showcase of the best new talent the genre has to offer. What began in 1984 as a handful of acts displaying their talents today stands as the world's largest gathering of blues musicians. The IBC makes careers, forges relationships between artists and industry veterans, and unites blues fans in their love for the music.

The 14 tracks on this CD, the result of a partnership between The Blues Foundation and Frank Roszak Promotions, were drawn from this year's Solo/Duo division and Band division finalists. First Place Band winner Dawn Tyler Watson's gospel-infused "Shine On" kicks off the compilation in powerful fashion. "Let’s Hear Some Blues," by Johnny Fink & The Intrusion, is a down-and-dirty shuffle you can't help but sing along to. Randy McQuay's "Til I Get To Memphis" features white-hot slide guitar and an impassioned vocal, while Brody Buster’s One Man Band takes blues storytelling into the future on "2029." Next up is First Place Solo/Duo winner Al Hill with "Don’t Dig Today," a deeply felt piano blues. It's followed by The Sobo Blues Band, whose "Catfish Boogie" builds to a pounding climax punctuated by an irresistible guitar riff. 

"I Don’t Have Proof," by Ruth Wyand & The Tribe Of One, offers a new twist on the time-tested blues topic of infidelity, while The Souliz Band Featuring Sugar & Spice looks at the happier side of romance on the ebullient "Good Lovin' (Hot & Fresh From The Oven)." Felix Slim invokes the down home simplicity of front-porch country blues on "I Hate You Cause I Love You," followed by another acoustic artist, Wes Lee, who tells the tale of an escapee running from the law on "Chains That Bind." Keyboardist Sam Joyner's "Onions Ain’t The Only Thing" plays with a clever blues analogy over some stinging fretwork, and Rae Gordon & The Backstreet Drivers cook up a tight groove with "Elbow Grease." Closing out the CD are King Bee, whose "Dangerous" is as hard-hitting as blues-rock gets, and Sugar Brown, who rides off into the sunset with a world-weary howl on "Meet Me In The Country."

Together, these fourteen wide-ranging artists show why the International Blues Challenge is one of the premier events in today's blues world.

Now available from the official Blues Foundation site

1. “SHINE ON” 5:12
 Dawn Tyler Watson, Montreal Blues Society (Dawn Tyler Watson)
 Johnny Fink & The Intrusion, Dayton Blues Society (J. Fink)
 Randy McQuay, Cape Fear Blues Society (Randy McQuay)
4. “2029” 3:56
 Brody Buster’s One Man Band, Kansas City Blues Society (B.
5. “DON’T DIG TODAY” 4:47
 Al Hill, Nashville Blues Society (Al Hill, Whit Hill)
 Sobo Blues Band, Israel Blues Society (A. Ganzman, D. Kriman)
7. “I DON’T HAVE PROOF” 2:45
 Ruth Wyand & The Tribe Of One, Triangle Blues Society (R.Wyand)
 Souliz Band feat. Sugar & Spice, Suncoast Blues Society (V.Glover)
 Felix Slim, Asociación Musical Blues Hondarribia (Felix B. Amieva)
 Wes Lee, Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola (Wes Lee)
 Sam Joyner, Vicksburg Blues Society (Sam Joyner)
12. “ELBOW GREASE” 3:23
 Rae Gordon & The Backstreet Drivers, Cascade Blues Assoc.
(Ruth Gordon, Pat McDougall)
13. “DANGEROUS” 5:38
 King Bee, Magic City Blues Society (D. Cunningham, S. Cummings)

 Sugar Brown, Toronto Blues Society (Ken C. Kawashima)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Jimmy Zee Band..What You See Is What You Get...rootsy blues with a touch of soul

The latest compilation of tunes from Jimmy Zee features some of Canada's greatest players including, Rob MacDonald, Tim Porter, Harpdog Brown, Darryl Havers, Joel Fountain, Miles Hill, Steve Hilliam, and Nadine States. Feature guests include Annabelle Chvostek on backgrounds, Terry Townson on Trumpet, Elliot Polsky on percussion and Rick Threat (Backroads). Produced by Mark Henning and Jimmy Zee.

Jimmy Zee's unmistakable bluesy-soulful voice is the musical trademark that has forged his path throughout the music business for 25 years. Zee's vocals approximate a cross between Joe Cocker,Tom Waits and Robbie Robertson's latter spoken style. 

Marty's review: It took me a while to get around to listening to this album but I'm glad I did. 10 killer tracks of rootsy blues with a touch of soul and Jimmy's unique vocal style make this a must have for blues fans. A good mix of electric and acoustic numbers, outstanding guitar work, harmonica and tight rhythm section all come together to produce an album that confirms the talents of this veteran blues man. My favourite track, "I Ride Alone".

Sample the album here: https://zeeblues.com/what-you-see-is-what-you-get

Saturday, January 6, 2018

61 Ghosts ...To The Edge...high energy indie blues with razor-sharp dynamics

Joe Mazzari and Dixie Deadwood, a duo based out of the Northeastern USA, draw upon their own personal musical influences, their combined passion and need to create a style of music all their own -- one that's influenced by the urban streets and the restless spirits of the Mississippi Hills. Each had honed their own sound through years on the road: Mazzari with his poignant lyrics, melodies and rock guitar, Dixie with her bare-knuckled approach to drumming. Together, Joe and Dixie mix steamy grooves, razor-sharp dynamics and high energy to create what they refer to as “gritty and primal rock 'n' roll.”

Joe brings his gutter-rock guitar, gritty vocals and strong stage presence fostered through his years touring and recording with Johnny Thunders, Walter Lure and Jerry Nolan of Heartbreakers and New York Dolls fame. Influenced by John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Link Wray, Rory Gallagher and various Delta blues musicians, Joe began writing roots-rock music in his 20's. 

Dixie played drums behind famed blues man Leo "Bud" Welch for years and has performed at more than 20 festivals and venues in the US, Europe and Africa. She is featured in a documentary on Welch, "Late Blossom Blues: The Leo ‘Bud’ Welch Story,” released in January 2017, and on Welch's Mississippi Blues Trail Marker as his drummer. Dixie also played in the All Night Long Blues Band for four years and recorded three albums of Mississippi Hill Country blues. 

Official website: www.61ghosts.com

Marty's review: 61 Ghosts take the blues, strip it down to the bare bones, add a bit of raw-edged rock  and roll and deliver it with high intensity on this 6 track EP release. Smokin' hot guitar licks, a solid back beat and lyrics that are taken from the street, this is back to roots music that asks to be noticed and delivers straight down the barrel with no excuses.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Soul revivalists Soul Messengers back with a new album 'Vision and Faith'..tasteful and catchy grooves

Soul Messengers are from Sydney, Australia. Just as their name indicates, listening to their newest album, “Vision & Faith,” you will get caught by a warmth and comforting feeling, while also delivering tasteful and catchy grooves reminiscent of soul giants like Charles Barkley or Bill Withers.

"We really think this is our best work to date. The arrangements and sound on the tracks are more 'us' than ever. With Sam Teskey mixing we've got someone who really is into and understands that true soul sound. We just love how he has taken care of this record." Richard Aljinovic, Soul Messengers

Previously known as Chich and The Soul Messengers, the Sydney based bluesy-soul revivalists present a dynamite live show honed at regular gigs in Sydney and surrounds, the band having played over 85 shows since 2014 at venues such as Marrickville's Lazybones, Newtown's Leadbelly and Sydney's The Basement. In addition to performing regular shows Soul Messengers have been added to NSW festivals Double Bay Street Festival and The Northern Beaches Music Festival in multiple years. Add in past residencies at Enmore's Vic on the Park, Marrickville's Gasoline Pony and Newtown's Botany View Hotel and you have one of Sydney's most booked originals bands.

Soul Messengers are Rich Aljinovic (vocals, guitar), Simon Morel (guitar), Hadi Ansell (bass) and Dave Kirby (drums). They love to play live and are intent on spreading their soul manifesto. With a great rhythm section and happening lead guitarist behind him, Rich feels free to let go and enjoy the moment, freeing his gutsy, soul drenched voice to float between grooving rock 'n' soul to sweet sultry ballads.

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