Cape Snow (Burst & Bloom)
3.5 stars out of 5
The origin of Cape Snow — the band and the album — sounds like the basis for the next Apple commercial. While raising two daughters in Los Angeles, singer/songwriter Bree Scanlan sang melodies into her iPhone and sent them off to pals Dylan Metrano and Guy Capecelatro III of New England band Tiger Saw. Metrano and Capecelatro wrote lyrics to Scanlan’s melodies and assembled a band to record what would become Cape Snow’s self-titled debut album.
The 10-track, 34-minute release has some really nice moments, but the lack of sonic variety keeps it from being an essential addition to your collection. Despite Scanlon’s consistently excellent vocals, the same-sounding nature of these slow-burn tunes might make your attention wander.
That said, there is plenty to like about Cape Snow. The opening tandem of personal favorite “All Is Gold” and “One More Time” is terrific, and the band also scores with “I’m Over Love,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Never Let Go.” Here’s hoping they fine-tune their sound the next time out. (Jeffrey Sisk)
The Dead Daisies (self-released)
3.5 stars out of 5
Things went pretty well for all-star hard rock collective The Dead Daisies last year. In addition to dropping a blistering EP (“Face I Love”), the five-piece landed a plum supporting gig for legendary rockers Kiss and Def Leppard. That tour included an August 2014 stop at First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown.
The band — which features guys who have played in Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Psychedelic Furs, Motley Crue and RATT— are back at with hard-driving new full-length “Revolucion.” They’ll also be part of Whitesnake’s Purple summer tour.
“We destroyed Europe (on their recent overseas tour with Kiss),” singer John Corabi says. “It’s awesome. We are bringing the ‘Revolucion’ back to the United States, our home country, and we can’t wait to tour with Whitesnake.”
The riff-tastic album launches with lead single “Mexico” and The Dead Daisies are in full bloom on standout cuts “Looking for the One,” “Empty Heart,” “Get Up, Get Ready,” power ballad “Sleep,” “Devil Out of Time” and “Leave the Truth Behind.” This album proves there’s still a place out there for a balls-to-the-wall classic rock record. (Jeffrey Sisk)
(Photo by Vanessa Heins)
‘If I’ve Only One Time Askin’’
Daniel Romano (New West)
4.5 stars out of 5
Daniel Romano is a ridiculously talented dude. In addition to being a flat-out fantastic musician, the young Canadian is an award-nominated graphic artist and an accomplished leatherworker. Seriously, the guy can do just about anything.
Happily Romano is focused on his music these days and latest album “If I’ve Only One Time Askin’,” is a twangy delight. Romano sported a classic Nudie suit on the cover of his 2013 release “Come Cry With Me” and continues in that old school vein on this near-perfect collection of 11 country tunes. It’s a record so good I probably spun it a dozen times during my recent vacation.
Things get off to a fantastic start with “I’m Gonna Teach You” and “Old Fires Die,” and Romano later soars on keepers “All the Way Under the Hill,” “The One That Got Away (Came Back Today),” “Learning to Do Without Me,” “If You Go Your Way (I’ll Go Blind)” and set closer “Let Me Sleep (At the End of a Dream).”
His current tour takes him to Philadelphia over the weekend, but there are no Pittsburgh-area dates on the schedule. Hopefully he makes his way to Western Pennsylvania in the not-too-distant future. You can bet I’ll be there. (Jeffrey Sisk)
(Photo by Elijah Dominique)
Acclaimed indie duo The Bots take to the stage at Pittsburgh’s Altar Bar on Monday, Aug. 3, at 8 p.m. in support of headliner Death From Above 1979. Tickets for the all-ages show, sponsored by 105.9 The X and Drusky Entertainment, are $26 in advance and $28 at the door. Altar Bar is located at 1620 Penn Ave. in the city’s Strip District. Call 412-206-9719 or visit http://www.thealtarbar.com for additional information.
Bow Thayer (self-released)
3.5 stars out of 5
As a solo performer and as frontman for Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck, Vermont musician Bow Thayer can always be counted on to deliver the goods. My favorite album of his is 2010’s “Bottom of the Sky” with Perfect Trainwreck, but latest solo effort “Sundowser” is another winner.
The new record is a grittier affair that finds Thayer, who impressed the last couple times out with his electric banjo playing, debuting the Bojotar. It’s an instrument of his own invention that incorporates elements of banjo, resonator guitar and electric guitar — and Thayer wields it mercilessly.
Among the highlights of the 12-track, 57-minute set are “Burning Miles,” “So We Build,” “The Funeral Crasher,” the driving “Horus,” “Downtrodder,” “Guild Talking” and “Borrow a Bus.” I’m hopeful for another Perfect Trainwreck record at some point, but Thayer’s solo career is going pretty darn well in the meantime. (Jeffrey Sisk)
‘Desire Forces the Flow’
Satellite Hearts (self-released)
4 stars out of 5
A few times a year I spin a new album from a band or artist I’m unfamiliar with, only to be blown away by the sonic delights emanating from my speakers. Those unexpected moments are the very best part of reviewing so much music each and every week. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, along comes a band that makes me realize — and appreciate — just how much great music is being made these days.
“Desire Forces the Flow,” the sublime sophomore slab from Philadelphia rock trio Satellite Hearts is just such a record. The 12-track release is a wonderful showcase for the talents of Justin Pellecchia, Lucas Rinz and Keaton Thandi — and has remained in steady rotation on my iPod for the better part of a month. I can’t get enough of these guys.
Satellite Hearts blend elements of indie rock, punk and pop together to create a sound all their own on a record that whisks by in a too-short 39 minutes. In addition to the traditional guitar, bass and drums we expect from a rock trio, the lads sprinkle in some harmonica, keyboards and horns.
It’s an eclectic collection of tunes highlighted by the opening tandem of “Carry Them Bones” and “Smoke & Mirrors,” plus personal favorite “Hot Water,” “Whisper on the Breeze,” “Outside the Box,” “Mountainside Breakdown” and set closer “In Twilight.” Here’s hoping these guys visit our side of the Keystone State in the very near future. (Jeffrey Sisk)
‘Live From Mt. Zion’
The Jones Family Singers (self-released)
3.5 stars out of 5
You might say that gospel outfit The Jones Family Singers have been on a, pardon the expression, holy tear lately. Things really took off for the Texas-based collective following a transcendent July 2014 appearance at New York City’s Lincoln Center and have not slowed down since
For their latest project, the Bishop Fred Jones Sr.-led troupe returned to their hometown of Markham to record a live album at Mount Zion Church of God in Christ. “Live From Mt. Zion” is a tour de force performance — especially for supremely gifted lead singer Alexis Jones — that is almost sure to make you believe in a higher power.
The 11-member ensemble rocks with Jesus and rolls with the Holy Spirit on standouts like “I Am,” “He Took the Key,” “You Woke Me Up in the Morning” and “I Love You.” Even if you aren’t a big gospel fan, The Jones Family Singers and “Live From Mt. Zion” merit your attention. Hallelujah! (Jeffrey Sisk)
‘Too Big World’
Bumper Jacksons (self-released)
4 stars out of 5
Think Squirrel Nut Zippers with a healthy heaping of country twang and you get a pretty good idea what to expect from Washington, D.C. based back alley jazz collective Bumper Jacksons The six-piece outfit figure to raise their profile considerably with the release of splendid sophomore full-length album “Too Big World.”
Centered around vintage jazz aficionado Jess Eliot Myhre (clarinet, vocals, washboard) and bluegrass wiz Chris Ousley (guitar, vocals), Bumper Jacksons soar on this 16-track, 60-minute set. Alex Lacquement (upright bass), Brian Pierre (trombone), Dave Hadley (pedal steel) and Dan Cohan (drums) round out the lineup.
The band creates a party atmosphere that manages to thrive throughout the entire album. Along the way are stellar originals like “Coffee Mama,” “Adventure Story,” “I’ve Got My Whiskey (I Don’t Need You),” “Pretty Mama Put a Spell on Me,” “I Learned I Was Wrong” and “Hell Is Hot!” Bumper Jacksons also deliver the goods with covers of traditional tunes such as “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down,” “Jubilee,” “Trouble in Mind” and “The Dying Californian.” Enjoy, y’all. (Jeffrey Sisk)
‘Scorched Earth Policy: Deluxe’
Brother Dege (self-released)
4 stars out of 5
How many times does the deluxe version of an album cut the track list by more than a third? That’s exactly what happened with “Scorched Earth Policy: Deluxe.”
Last summer, Southern-tinged folk artist Brother Dege released “Scorched Earth Policy” as a 19-track digital-only summer mixtape comprised of a handful of new songs, plus assorted demos, covers tunes and field recordings. It was a fascinating (if slightly overstuffed) project that cemented my appreciation for his music.
For “Deluxe,” Dege updated and trimmed things down into a more cohesive 12-track album and the resulting product is even better. Dege’s got some much-deserved exposure in the Oscar-winning Quentin Tarantino film “Django Unchained” and this terrific release should continue his upward career trajectory.
Brother Dege is at his best on keepers “Set It Off,” “Day I Was Born,” “Tower of Babel,” “Souls of the Darklands,” “Jones for War” and “Way of the Lamb,” though there aren’t any real clunkers to be found on the 41-minute slab. Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)
Jeremy Pinnell (Sofaburn)
4.5 stars out of 5
Northern Kentucky native Jeremy Pinnell, who has carved out a nice niche as a first-rate Americana songwriter with bands like The Light Wires, The Great Depression and The Brothers and The Sisters steps into the spotlight on his remarkable solo debut “OH/KY.” With Cincinnati honky-tonk band The 55’s backing him, Pinnell dives head-first into old-school country music on this sublime release.
The traditional approach is perfect for his songs of pain and heartache, complete with twangy guitars and plenty of pedal steel. Pinnell pretty much sticks to mid-tempo ballads on the 10-track, 39-minute slab, but still manages to keep listeners enthralled throughout the proceedings.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a clunker in the bunch, but pay special attention to standouts “The Way Country Sounds,” “Loose Women,” “Big Bright World,” “Outlaw Life,” “Them Days and Nights” and set closer “Angel of Mine.” I can’t recommend this one highly enough. (Jeffrey Sisk)