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The Jellybeans, Look At Us Now

05 Sep, 2013 Andrea Guy

The Jellybeans return with their third album, Look At Us Now These ten girls never cease to wow the listener.  The Jellybeans play the kind of music that most parents would prefer their pre-teen kids to listen to. The songs that are performed have a kind of innocence that you don’t find much in today’s music scene, not even by the Disney crowd.

This six song album is bound to please anyone fortunate enough to find it. Just as with their previous recordings, the girls vocals are pitch perfect. Anthony Coviello, who plays keyboards for the girls, has also written some wonderful new songs that take The Jellybeans to a new level. The songs still retain that youthful innocence, but they have some more maturity.

The title track was released as a single last autumn and was dedicated to the Our Lady Of Mercy Class of 2008, Our Lady Of Mercy is the school that the girls once attended. The song is uplifting and has a very retro sound, think of the girl bands of the 1960s.  The song is one of growth, growing up in particular and friendship.  This is probably the most youthful song on the album, focusing on friends reaching a turning point in their lives.

“This Place I Go” stays with that girl band retro sound. This is a more mature sounding ballad that’s melody is a bit reminiscent of the Beatles “And I Love Her.”  The song is soft and sweet.  Everything about this song is relaxing and soothing. This song will take any listener to “That Place” where the bad things in life don’t exist anymore.

The song “Forever Alone” is a song that will speak to many of the pre-teens. A darker melody with lyrics that speak of the frustration of pre-teen girls that long to have boyfriend, but can’t because they aren’t old enough, and crushes that don’t call.

“How Will I Know When It Is Love?” is the question that most young girls find themselves asking someone, during that time of firsts…crushes, boyfriends and kisses. Everyone asks that question, Whitney Houston did with “How Will I Know” back in the 80s. And both songs, have a similar innocence to them.

“If He Only Knew” really shines brighter than all the other songs on Look At Us Now.  Once again, the girls go for the 60s girl band sound, but on this track, they really rock out. It has a rollicking melody and it is super catchy.

The album closes with “How Do I Walk Away Now?” a song dedicated to the Our Lady Of Mercy class of 2012.  It is probably the most grown up song on the album. One look at the title and you know it is a break up song.

Look At Us Now is the perfect title for the new Jellybeans album. It is an album that shows that these girls are growing up and ready to take on the world. The six songs on this album still have the signature harmonies but the girls are now singing about grownup stuff, or teenage stuff, like crushes and boys.

The music is perfect for young and old alike. What sets these girls apart, is that for the size of their group, they don’t sound like a choir, they are really a unit. Their voices blend beautifully together. The girl group sound that the girls do so well is perfectly suited for the songs Anthony Coviello writes. That time period was still innocent, and most of the girl groups conveyed that in their performances, and The Jellybeans are no different.

Look At Us Now is an album that everyone should give a listen to, so you can be wowed by the voices of these ten young women from New Jersey.

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating: 5 out of 5

 

 

Twae Left Feet, Guess Into Frank’s Reel

04 Sep, 2013 Andrea Guy

“Guess Into Frank’s Reel” is a song, consisting of two songs “Guess” written by Twae Left Feet members Galen Fraser and Scott Burn and “Frank’s Reel” which is a traditional Scottish tune.

 

The song is spirited and well played with Guess transitioning effortlessly into “Frank’s Reel.” These songs together really demonstrate how lively Celtic music can be. The tune is infectious and the fiddle seems to taunt the listen to give a bit of traditional Celtic dancing a try.

 

“Guess” is a little bit slower and slightly melancholy in comparison to “Frank’s Reel.” If one were to dance to “Guess Into Frank’s Reel” they would start out with a close more intimate dance and then slowly slip into the more lively dance.

 

“Frank’s Reel” was one of the band’s favorite songs to perform in Scotland, and it is easy to see why. The melody is such fun, and full of energy. Galan’s fiddle playing is masterful. Listening to the fiddle makes you long for a live performance, so that you can truly experience the skill involved in playing this music. Scott plays the bodhran, an Irish frame drum, which gives the song its distinct sound.

 

It is difficult to believe that only these two instruments make up the beautiful sounds that you here on “Guess Into Frank’s Reel.”  The arrangement seems to be much more complex to the ear, yet it is only the fiddle and drum that bring this song to life.

 

This song is a wonderful introduction to Celtic music and it is a teaser for the full length album to be released later this year by Twae Left Feet to commemorate their one year anniversary as a band. That is definitely an album that any fan of Celtic music will want to put on their wish list.

 

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)

Kevin Wilson, Rise Up

18 Jun, 2013 Andrea Guy

Kevin Wilson has to be one of the hardest working indie musicians on the scene today.  On Rise Up he delivers a solid blues/rock album.  Kevin’s strong suit is his guitar playing. Vocally, he’s better when the musical focus is on more acoustic based or pop sounding songs, but Rise Up is an exception. Kevin’s vocals are gritty and full of emotion.

The album opens with the title track, which instantly takes the listener to a smoky bar in the Deep South. The guitar wails and whines and Kim Harpo’s harmonica really brings a special touch to the song. “Rise Up” really opens the album with a bang!

“16 Days” is all about guitars and angry vocals. Kevin seems to be growling at times. This song is so full of angst and energy. This one is bound to be a favorite with the fans.

“Come A Little Closer” is blues at its slow and sexy best. Kevin has written a lot of songs over the years, but none of them are as cold shower inducing as this one. The line “Come a little closer and let me lay it all over you,” is pure sex with a touch of romance.

While “Come A Little Closer” is more sexy and romantic “Little Pieces” is a flirty rocker. This is a more in your face kind of song that flashes back to the 60s, a’la Eric Burdon and the Animals.

“Liars” is more traditional Kevin Wilson. It’s a slower track, a little bluesy and a little bit country. His subject matter is full of relationship angst.

“I’m A Criminal” might make fans take a second listen. This song is pure blues with a vocal that is as dark as the title suggests. This is definitely a departure from Kevin’s norm.  An overly dramatic vocal however spoils this one.

“Barn Burner” is the album’s one instrumental track. This is Kevin and his guitar in all of its glory. It’s fast, furious and frantic. It is very high energy and just what you’d expect from a guitar driven artist.

“What More” is a fun little song. A good straight rocker that needs to be played loudly

“The Hell You Say” is another sexy rocker. It’s refreshing to see this side of Kevin. A lot of his past recordings are more serious in nature or simply fun acoustic pop. These sexier tunes are something new and fun.

Wilson takes on, ZZ Top’s, ”Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.” This song wants to be a country song. The opening lyrics even suggest it, “An if you see me walkin’ down the line. With my favorite honky tonk in mind.” In ZZ Top fashion the song ends up being a bluesy rocker, and for this listener it is a bit of a let down. This song needs to have a more country flair. Sure the guitar solo is fantastic, but the lyrics and the melody just don’t click.

The album closes with a fantastic acoustic version of “Rise Up.” This version is slightly slower and really lets the harmonica take the spotlight.

Rise Up is something different for Kevin Wilson. This album really shows his versatility as a musician as well as a singer/songwriter. It is well rounded album with a prime focus on blues.

If you haven’t listened to Kevin Wilson before this, you’ll really want to give this album a try, especially if you are fond of blues rock albums.  Kevin’s fans will want this one, just because. Once you’ve listened to his music, you know Kevin doesn’t disappoint. There isn’t an album that has throw away tracks or filler. Its good rock n’ roll, the way nature intended it!

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating: 4 (out of 5)

Kevin Wilson, Thieves Among Us

18 Jun, 2013 Andrea Guy

Kevin Wilson is a one a prolific musician. On his twelve song album, Thieves Among Us he treats fans to his unique brand of acoustic rock. The songs on the record will appeal to fans of 70s rock, particularly Tom Petty and Neil Young.

Like many classic rock singers, Kevin doesn’t have a classically beautiful voice. At times it is smooth and other time gravelly, “Run Away” is one of those times when it is more gravelly, shades of the late Warren Zevon.

You can throw out a lot of 70s artists in comparison to Kevin’s music, either in his songwriting or his singing. Probably the strangest comparison that can be made from a song off Thieves Among Us is Barry Manillow.  All “Going To See You” needs is a piano and Barry would be knocking on his door asking for his song back. The song is that super catchy pop nature that is reflective in all songs Barry has ever done. If Barry wrote more guitar based music, well this song would be a fine example of what he’d write.

“All The Same” returns to an acoustic melody. This is a stripped down, guy and his guitar song. This song is really a showcase of Kevin’s talent, because it is really all him. The simplicity of the arrangement really brings out the emotions in the lyrics.

“Sometimes we’re blind to the world around us.  Except for the things that we want to see. Lovers and leavers, heartache and fun and all the deceivers. Can sometime just end up to be…All the same.”

The songs that really shine are those like “I Do It Anyway” that lean towards a more pop/adult contemporary type style. “I Do It Anyway” is a thoughtful song who claims he doesn’t love someone but as the title suggests, he does it anyway.

Kevin’s voice seems more suited to the acoustic melodies. The title track is a rocker, and his voice just doesn’t seem suited to that style of music, at least when it comes to singing. His guitar work, however is always spot on no matter what style of music he’s playing.

“Said It All” returns to a jangling guitar based melody. It is very much a power pop gem. The guitars stick with you and the chorus is the kind you find yourself singing long after the song is done playing.

The next three songs on the album all share a similar sound. They are darker, more thoughtful and introspective in their lyrics.

“Private War” is a dark rocker. The overall feel of this song speaks of the 90s Seattle grunge scene.

One of the more surprising songs is “Lonely.” Slow and moody, this is one of the more introspective tracks. The arrangement is simple and haunting. The song really stands out in an album that is full of stellar tracks.

“So Goes The Sun” is a more electric psychedelic song. Its darker tone and arrangement give it a more progressive rock feel.

Kevin steps out of the darkness on “Like Yesterday.”  Acoustic pop is really what Kevin does best vocally. This song is sure to be a favorite among his fans. I simple melody and lyric that tugs at the heartstrings.

“I don’t know what went wrong, like a love sick breakup song. I need to know if this will last for long. I’m here to make you stay. Like yesterday.”

The album ends with the rocking  “Before It Hits The Ground” which features Robb Vallier, who is also the album’s producer. The guitar riffs really stand out and though Kevin’s vocals aren’t always there best on this type of song, he really gets your attention here. There’s something angry in the music and a real electric energy to this track that spills over to the listener.

Thieves Among Us paints a good picture of a versatile artist. Those that are already fans will be thrilled with this album and those new to Kevin’s music will fall under his musical spell.

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating: 5 (out of 5)

Bogdan Ota, Day of Wrath

05 Mar, 2013 Andrea Guy

At first listen Day Of Wrath may seem like a score to an action film, or some supernatural flick where evil is out to ruin the world.

Storms seem to be brewing in the first notes of “Black Friday.”  It is obvious that this piece is about something more ominous than the start of the holiday shopping season. The music is a reflection of several points of history, Good Friday included where bloody acts took place on a Friday.

The music is dark and sinister sounding.  It creates a mood that lets you know that death is near.

“Mourning” is the next piece.  The piano and strings convey the sadness of the song.  It truly brings forth the feelings of those grieving the loss of a loved one, in the case of this song, Jesus.

The title track is truly fearsome and at times soothing.  ”The Day Of Wrath” is about The Judgment Day.  The first half of the song perfectly illustrates the destruction of the world as we know it.  The melody is fierce and dark.  About midway through, the music shifts to something lighter where paradise has been found and sorrow will cease.

All of the music on Day Of Wrath is emotionally driven and powerful.  “The Story Of My Life” is one such piece.  The brass and the percussion are so strong at times, you can feel your heartbeat quicken just listening.

“Glimpse of Happiness” is a turning point in the tone of the music.  The music is a reflection of love in the course of life.  The melody is soothing and the piano is the perfect instrument to reflect that emotion.

Perhaps after you glimpse happiness, you’ll need “Solitude” to take it all in.  The instrumentation on this song is very simple and very solitary to begin with.  As it progresses the melody becomes more intense and complex.

“Harald’s Dream” is a song that tells a story on its own.  It is based on a love story between a prince of Avar and a beautiful princess with golden hair.

“Fantasy For Piano and Orchestra” is just as it sounds, a beautiful piece of music that takes the listener to a land of happily ever after.  It is a dreamy sounding song full of hope and possibilities.  The music seems to spill out in waves.

As much as “Fantasy” is full of hope, “Reverie” is full of reflection.  It is a quieter piece, almost somber, but not quite, with the piano again in the forefront.  The melody is somber, which is perfect for looking back on things that once were or could’ve been. Bogdan, describes it as looking at door that is forever shut.

Edgar Allen Poe’s poem of the same name is the inspiration for “A Dream Within A Dream.”  When you think of Poe, you think of things of a darker, spookier nature, yet this song is light, with a relaxing melody.  The sweeping melody speaks of a perfect love that doesn’t exist

Just as the album opens a crash of thunder rolls by in the opening strains of “Sahara.” This is a haunting Middle Eastern melody.  It is a touch of world music, on an album that is primarily orchestral.

Each piece of music found on Day of Wrath is full of emotion and tells a story.  This is more than just instrumental music that can play idly in the background.  Bogdan Ota has created a masterpiece of sound that fills your ears with breathtaking beauty.  This is music that you can’t forget once you’ve heard it, and once you’ve heard it, you’ll want to play it again and again.

Review by Andrea Guy
Rating 5 (out of 5 stars)