BLACK MANALISHI
Self Titled
Independent

Nathan Moore (guitar), Adam Ward (vocals), Paul Glover (guitar), Craig Gilroy (bass), Joe Roberts (drums) make up this UK beauty. Deriving their name from Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac (1970, Green Manalishi) the five-piece sew together strands of ‘70s hard rock with funk and soul – a trend popularized by Free, Humble Pie, Deep Purple and more recently The Red Hot Chili Peppers. That said, there is uniqueness to this album that boasts a live “warts n’ all” recording.

With a debut spanning eight tracks, BM craft several meaningful moments. “Just A Simple Man” is a stunning opening track beginning with a delicate acoustic melody before blazing into a king-sized smoker. A raging battle breaks out at the end with both guitars dueling it out for rightful positioning. “B.V.P.” kicks out the funk giving bassist Gilroy complete control to dominate the song. However, it is “Blue Road” and “Jezebel” that bring the band into clear focus. Occasionally reminiscent of Thunders Danny Bowes, Ward’s voice fuses soul with just enough barroom backwash to create a true standard.

“Nothings” could easily sit on a Bad Company record – old school power rock stretched over a high plains landscape. The mood is carefully picked up and continued in the tasteful ballad “All He Knows” with the guitar work perfectly appropriate and tastefully erected around the song’s mood. “Judge” dishes up a nice slab of Hendrix complete with wah wah and a thick bottom while “Seasons Change” eases things down to a fitting end. The production is surprisingly clean capturing the emotional tango of a band in full bloom.

Website:
www.blackmanalishi.com

THE BRAVADO
Intimate with Slaves (5-track EP)
Independent

Sitting comfortably on the shelf next to The Black Keys is Ohio’s The Bravado, a stripped down blues pop-rock duo. They serve up a pocketful of clever lyrics, paste in a catchy blues riff and send you home with an infectious melody. Together Seth Massing and Donny Monaco sculpt earthy songs drenched in feedback and loaded with swagger. The EP contains five tracks each with their own individual scratch of Delta mud and coated with confidence and determination.

“My Parasites” sounds like an unearthed blues rocker from Columbia’s 1930’s Robert Johnson archive. Massing’s hypnotic riff buries it’s self under your skin like a good ‘ol mosquito bite while Monaco’s vocal crackles from a low-fi amp singing “Ah, damn why don’t you call/Why don’t you pick up your phone.” The same formula is used in “Royal Flush” with equal potency and enriched by blistering harmonica.

“Judas” recently won the boys 2nd place in a Cincinnati demo contest. Dark, grinding and catchy as hell, it’s easy to see why the song sparks such attention. “The Whip” mixes up the same pop sting leaving a rash that’s slow to fade. Strange as it might seems Gino Vannelli comes to mind when “Safest Place” oozes from the speakers. Throbbing, lush and possessed by a sugar-sweet chorus that embraces the devils own.

Website:
The Bravado

FROM THE GET GO
Self Titled (demo)
Independent

Suddenly the UK is bubbling with unsigned bands loaded with Les Pauls and Orange crate amps. From The Get Go have been hitting the London clubs with fevered determination to resurrect the soul of late sixties Blues-rock. Built as a four piece, Stuart Farnham (Les Pauls), Brian Hall (bass), Dave Ayre (drums) and Dee (vocals, guitars) keep their songs simple using the backbone of Humble Pie, Free and Ten Years After to create an atmosphere some thought, was long forgotten. Recently the band has assembled an eight-track demo showcasing their best efforts to date.

Though the demo varies in production quality the songs stick out like a sore thumb. “Whisky n’ Blue” gives us our first taste with a plodding blues drive reminiscent of Free’s “Woman”. Farnham’s study of Paul Kossoff’s vibrato is stunning and seals the deal when it comes to honoring their icons. Even their keyboard ejections sound 30-years old with footprints of Traffic ringing out in “Sun Don’t Shine”. Had the boys been around in 1969 they would have easily been signed to the Island stable.

The laid-back, country-tinged “Down The Line” and “Right If You Weren’t So Wrong” sound as if they came straight out of Capricorn Studios in the heart of Macon, Georgia. A nice balance of Black Crowes and early Allman Brothers creeps in with Ayre and Hall driving the groove. Dee embraces a vocal style that embraces the passion of the song with conviction and feeling. Like other great singers that have gone before him, he adapts to the situation doing his best Mick Jagger in “Ain’t No Fool,” and “Now You’re Mine” to Steve Marriott in “No Love Inside” and “The Wayout”. Recorded basically live over the past three years in various studios and benefiting from three writers in the band make From The Get Go our pick for the next big thing to break from the UK.

Website:
Not available

THROTTLEROD
Hell and High Water
Small Stone Records

Matt Whitehead is reaching full velocity on his new opus Hell and High Water. True, the rest of the band lends a hand but it is Mr. Whitehead that puts Throttlerod into your living room. Armed with a Les Paul standard, a fist full of dark lyrics and an angry growl the South Carolina native redefines Southern Rock. Following their Underdogma Eastbound and Down the quartet nail their feet to the floor and get right to work.

Listening to “Marigold” is like climbing into the ring with a champion kickboxer. So many things hit you from multiple angles that it’s dazzling. Whitehead and guitarist Bo Leslie powerhouse their way through leaving just enough room for bassist Chris Sundstrom to drive the verses home. New drummer Kevin White has his work cut out for him as he sets the pace for “Sucker Punch”. Like a madman he attacks his kit and jumps right into a fitful groove that thunders on through “Tomorrow And A Loaded Gun” the funky “No Damn Fool” and the rat-tat-tat of “On The Mountain”.

“Been Wrong” breaks the record in half with a wispy ballad and a tasty lead break but by “Whistlin’ Dixie the band is back in full force COC-style. Riff’s o’ plenty fill this muther to the brim. “In The Flood”, “Snake Into Angel” and “Across Town” build a stagger base leaving it wide open for the manic “Mariana” and the slow burn of “Honest Joe”. The band’s assault is relentless, concise and full of fire.

Website:
www.throttlerod.net or Small Stone Records

DAMN GLAD
And that’s that!
Independent

A poor mans Live, DG have established themselves as a soulful rock quartet in and around the New York City area. Having toured with Sevendust, POD and Filter the band have cut their teeth on a diversified audience yet retain an original pop form. This, the bands first CD, debuts 14 mid-tempo, radio-friendly numbers built on catchy melodies and passionate delivery. Production is crisp and polished with a refreshing air of spontaneity which lends itself to the record’s subtle quake.

After listening to the CD for a couple weeks I’ve become completely intoxicated with it, however the cover kills me. I don’t really understand why a band would spend months getting the songs to this caliber and let this cover sell it. It deserves so much better. That aside the songs are well built. The record is a bit of a slow cooker but by the end its on fire. First track, “Beat of Monotony” is enticing enough with a thick beat framed around a hook chorus. But once the band kick in with “All Made Up” and especially “Handrail” - your are sold as driving guitars and layered harmonies draw you in.

Extremely well balanced and pulling the most from each instrument songs like in “Perfect Fool”, “Just Another Day” and “Few Words Hold Meaning” radiate with swirling pop finesse yet are anchored with thick guitars and pounding grooves. Just as poetic on paper Matt Kurzban’s silk voice embraces the patriotic “Push To Exit”, the acoustic-based “Vital Signs” and the phenomenal “Flight Delay” with chilling effect. The results are quite amazing when it all comes together and proof once again that indy records can blow away the majors. No filler all killer. Damn Glad is that damn good!

Website:
wwwdamnglad.com

CHIP HOUSTON
Chasing The Dark
Independent

Acoustic-based “Chasing The Dark” may appear on the outside like a vanity project for Mr. Houston. After all he writes the songs, plays the songs, sing the songs and co-produces the songs. Though his hand is fully in the till, Chip has surrounded himself with musicians of like vision and has created a seamless, well crafted opus that comes together with sincerity and warmth.

Joined by Scott Patton (guitar, organ, bass) who also co-produced the disc, Greg Partridge (bass), Kevin Andrews (bass) and Sean O’ Rouke (drums) Chasing The Dark could easily sit next to ‘70s-era Loggins and Messina meets Seals and Croft. The songs leave a memorable impression with slick hooks, Beach Boy harmonies and personally honed lyrics. Standouts include “Written On My Heart”, “Take My Breath Away” and “Fall Into My Arms” which coax a delicate mood with Houston’s acoustic playing and soulful voice.

When the band plugs in the songs take on a life of their own. Lead track “Can’t Get Past You”, “Aimless” and even percussion-driven “Alli’s Song” harken back to early ‘90s Richard Marx – rich with melody and class. The record has universal appeal with a positive message and lasting impact. To borrow from the records liner notes: “Let this keep you while you fall asleep.”

Website:
www.chiphouston.com

COEXIST
Art & The Blood Of Life
Wise Records

Hailing from Austin, Texas Coexist are remarkably well established for a three-year-old band. Known for a dynamic, packed, live show they are quickly becoming the next hot export. Taking careful notes from polished punk, hardcore and metal bands like Lucky Boys Confession, Sublime and Rancid the four create an intoxicating blend of ear candy. Guitars are provided by Derek Krighbaum, drums by Richard Avants, bass by Kyle Grant and vocals similar to Sebastian Bach meets early Jack Russell by James Clifford.

Art & The Blood Of Life starts with a haunting orchestrated intro straight from a Laibach outtake when out of nowhere a barrage of guitars comes crashing in the form of “Hold On”. Damn these songs are catchy. Their brooding mood stimulates a reaction on the back of your neck as the hairs rise higher when the hypnotic pounding of “Self”, the guitar buzz of “Momentum” and “Assurance” or even the piano chime of “Recreation Scars” emanate from the speakers.

The band stick close to what they know through most of the discs 12 tracks. “Still I Wait” the power ballad, shows they are just as comfortable slowing it down a bit and will guarantee a few more ladies at their live shows – glad they learned that lesson early on.
Both “Conscience” and “Stand And Follow” bring a shade of Judas Priest to the mix with Krighbaum’s guitar working overtime. Even amid their Hardcore delivery they find space to breath which has the punch hitting that much harder.

Website:
www.coexistband.com

THE PAPERBACKS
Self Titled
Independent

The windy city coughs up another Garage rock contender in the form of female led The Paperbacks. This full-throttled quintet bills itself as Chicago’s “last hope for rock and roll”. Surrounding lead vocalist L. Hotshot are guitarist Chris Butler and Jay Bennett with bassist Robbie Butler and drummer Robbie Butler holding down the back end. Richly crafted “I Know Rock and Roll” could be the band’s signature classic with a slight bow to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I love Rock and Roll.” The song is catchy, melodic and ripe for radio play.

Compared to Rocket From The Crypt and Australia’s punk icon Radio Birdman, PB generate enough energy in six tracks that to light up their own electrical storm. The infectious “You Won’t Get My Tears” talks trash over a declining relationship with a full-frontal guitar assault while “Way Out & Wild” rings in more of a Runaways vibe with capitol “L” doing her best Lita Ford.

Keeping a tight balance on the records forward drive is the feedback overload poured into “Catastrophe” and “Ruin You” - quintessential Ramones meets Kinks standards. The guitars are fierce and poignant with a chain-saw action used liberally in “Drop Dead Crazy.” The EP packs ‘em in with keyboards and tambourines adding just enough spice to make a gourmet feast. Production is gritty, tasteful and charismatic - but it’s the songs and snarling lyrics that make this a Midwestern rave.

Website:
The Paperbacks

FIVE HORSE JOHNSON
The Last Men On Earth
Small Stone Records

Yet another shattering monster from this dedicated Toledo, Ohio four-some. Embracing heavy, chugging blues riffs ala ZZ Top meets Lynyrd Skynyrd FHJ explode into their fifth platter with both barrels blazing. “Cherry Red” goes right for the throat with a simple, intoxicating groove built around more of a ‘70s respect than a carbon copy. Eric Oblander’s vocals flourish under the augmentation of “Three At A Time” and “B.C. Approved” sounding more the part of a whisky-soaked croaker in a Mississippi juke joint.

The guttural “Cry Rain” and the funk of “Sweetwater” show the band in fine form with Brad Coffin’s solos echoing back to the classic Nugent/Schenker delivery. Yet, it is Oblander’s leap as a blues singer in “Soul Digger,” with the polish of a slick harmonica lick, that capitalizes on the band’s time spent opening for R.L. Burnside and makes their foray into swamp blues far more legitimate.

“Yer Mountain” also makes dynamic use of the harmonica stain etched into a rightful bass-driven groove courtesy of Steve Smith and powerhouse drummer Mike Alonso. “Love 2 Lose” and “Blood Don’t Pay” are riff-happy sing-along favorites but it’s the wooly “Sawmill” that meets the devil in both lyrics and a lava-rutted guitar. Bringing to life a respected black history fused with urgent, bone-crushing hard rock Five Horse Johnson just may be the new millennium’s Canned Heat.

Website:
Five Horse Johnson or Small Stone Records

BLIND DOG
Captain Dog Rides Again
Meteor City Records

Introduced to the world through the “Burn One Up” Roadrunner compilation (1997), Blind Dog return with their second full-length opus under the title “Captain Dog Rides Again”. Remaining true to their convincing melting-pot of Sabbath meets Sir Lord Baltimore meets Kyuss the record focuses on chunky, tuned-down riffs and a sludge-filled bottom end. Tobias Nilsson’s graveled baritone remains center giving guitarist Joakim Thell the ability to swirl around in a prog-tinged haze and strike when the iron’s hot.

Recorded in Berno Studios, Malmo, Sweden “…Rides Again” follows closely the formula mapped out in 2000’s “The Last Adventures of Captain Dog” yet expands out into more spaced-out jams with “Follow The Fools” and “Back Off” were they hit a retro-King Crimson mix. Nilsson’s bass playing and Thomas Elenvik drumming are the records backbone whereas Thell paints in the color – his solo in “Unsellable” is amazing. Like all trios, the band lean heavily on each other and in return allow each their spot under the lights. Stoner overload still remains supreme with the dark riff of “There Must Be Better Ways Of Losing Your Mind.”

“Let It Go” rises above the rest cooking up a funk hybrid with elements of Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers in a chugging ass kicking drive. “Iron Cage” is another punishing assault – full on fury with some very cool drum effects. Straight on rockers like “Fading Memories” and “Don’t Ask Me Where I Stand” keep it simple, burning and power-hungry. Both “Would I Make You Believe” and “Be The Same” are the slow numbers in the mix. More than a set course they expand in a Bowie kind of way breathing a variety of ideas and phrasing to songs structure. Creatively free.

Website:
Meteor City

BURNING SKY
A Simple Man
Canyon Records

The highly celebrated Native American trio Burning Sky return with their sixth outing, their third on Canyon records. Last years “Spirits In The Wind” received a Grammy nomination for Best Native American Album. Following a similar path, “A Simple Man” combines the traditional melodies with, Jazz, Blues and even Reggae. The earthy of nature of their playing harmonizes what Aaron White, Kevin Mockingbird and John Katz find essential in their musical path.

Primary to an acoustic backdrop is the texture created by the use of the Native flute, hand made and excellently played. It is the flute that casts a haunting shadow over the work in some cases breathing life as in “Wisdom Keeper”, “Rolling Stone” and “Blood And Faith” while in “Twilight In Your Eyes” and “Hand in Hand” breed a more complex emotion. The guitar work is exceptional. “Wind & Steel”, the Doobie Brother-esque “Buffalo Chips” and the country flavored “Forever One” resonate the beauty of lyrical structure and color. Even the progressive “Land of Lightning” with its signature lick (which could sit next to a Rush intro) radiates with guilty pleasure.

The title track, “A Simple Man”, features the vocal talents of Orchard recording artist Martha Redbone. Much like last years CD which hosted Door’s drummer John Densmore, Redbones soulful vocals lend a warmth and uniqueness to the recording. A subtle delight, this disc concentrates on the band’s dedicated vision of instrumental excellence with beauty and grace.

Website:
www.canyonrecords.com

RANDY WOOD
Round Dance Blues
Canyon Records

In title alone this record has a very real American-rooted heritage. Wood is a founding member of the respected Northern Cree Singers, his beautiful round dance singing is known throughout Native North America and earned him a Grammy nomination in 2003.
What makes his singing so poignant on this release is his respect and dedication to the roots of musical structure. Similar to the native songs of the Sea Islands and the slave songs of the South, Woods arrangements have a thick history and are delivered with convincing authority.

Opening track “As I Walk Alone” is as moving as a black spiritual. Centered around a central drum beat and embraced by a set of harmonized vocals, the song tell the story of love lost with Wood taking the lead verse lines. Wood’s technique of expanding his dynamic octave range cries out in a full moon howl then slides to a deep baritone reminiscent of what a young Elvis did with the blues. His vocal style can take on a sense of celebration as in “Rainbow” – God’s way of saying hello, which has a Polynesian ring to it or the comical “My Chevrolet” to the Gospel-fused “The Meaning of Life”.

To the untrained ear, many of the song fuse together. The drum sets the beat but it is the inflection and personality of the vocals harmonies that distinguish one song from another. Listen close and you can hear the difference. An evangelist of sorts Wood uses his voice and those of his native brothers in much the same way as Blind Willie Johnson or Mississippi Fred McDowell - to capture an emotion and create a mood. The results are intoxicating and speaks volumes of what Wood is capable of.

Website:
www.canyonrecords.com