Archive for the ‘CD Reviews’ Category

CD Reviews: The Kennedys’ “West” and More…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015


(The Kennedys, 2015)

Heart of Gotham
(The Kennedys, 2015)

Villanelle: The Songs Of Maura Kennedy And B.D. Love
(Varese Sarabande, 2015)

When a band celebrates its 20th anniversary, they usually celebrate by looking back over their musical history together by:

a) releasing a greatest hits album
b) re-releasing one of their iconic albums
c) releasing a big over-packed box set

Fortunately, the Kennedys – who play at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs on Friday (September 4) – aren’t that predictable. And they aren’t all that interested in looking backwards, either.

In honor of their two decades together, instead of some sort of nostalgic retrospective, they released a new album, West. And Pete Kennedy released a new five-years-in-the-making solo album, Heart of Gotham. And Maura Kennedy released a stunning new solo album, Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love.

That’s right, three albums of new material…



The Capital Land Crate Digger: Radiator Hospital’s “Torch Song” (2014)

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Review and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

Radiator Hospital: Torch SongALBUM: Torch Song
ARTIST: Radiator Hospital
LABEL: Salinas Records
YEAR: 2014
PURCHASED: Rocket Number 9 Records, Kingston
PAID: $10
DATE: April, 2015

Try to remember a perfect, exuberant night.

Stumbling over a pile of beer cans that clutter your porch, you tumble out the back door of a nearly dead house — the type of dilapidated place you know you will never live five years from now. Behind you are your best friends. Guys and girls — none coupled, but all in love. You amble down the street to the bar with the best trivia and the cheap pitchers. A good jukebox means more Clash and less country. Someone at the table has an idea for a magazine. The person next to you is starting a punk band. The art student wants to paint the bass drum. Films, books and music all get discussed — the things that High Fidelity’s Rob Gordon taught all of you to appreciate.

And then you enter back into the night, taking the shortcut home across the college campus in town. Careless, you stop to roll in the giant leaf piles left behind by someone with more responsibilities than you. You wrestle with the girl you love, laughing joyously. Victorious in stealing a kiss, you take in the smell of her fresh, powdered cheeks while warming your cold nose with her human heat.


New Release Rack: Urban Gumbo’s “Hard Times for Love”

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Urban Gumbo: Hard Times for Love

Review by Greg Haymes

Hard Times for Love
Beezer Records

Longtime Local 518 music fans will recall that Urban Gumbo had about a 10-year run on the Nippertown club scene back in the ’90s. They recorded a couple of albums – 11 Stories and Tea Time in Tokyo – before finally calling it quits in 1999. But as it turns out, that wasn’t the end of the story…

A couple of years ago, three of the band’s original members – drummer Bob Girouard, guitarist Rob Piorowski and bassist Gary Butts – recruited some new members and started playing out again – mostly at the River Street Pub in Troy.

And now they’ve just released their loooong-awaited third disc, Hard Times for Love, in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

Urban Gumbo is the perfect name for this band – while there’s an overall rowdy, party-time rock & roll vibe, they don’t stick to any one musical genre – but the songs stick in you ears.


New Release Rack: The Lustre Kings’ “Go Green”

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Go Green

Go Green With the Lustre Kings
Wild Boar Records

Nippertown’s fave rollickin’ rockabilly roustabouts are back with their fifth album, Go Green With the Lustre Kings, and I’m happy to say that I was mistaken when I thought that perhaps bandleader Mark Gamsjager & Co. were goin’ all Celtic on us, judging by the title.

But as guitarslinger-vocalist Gamsjager explains, “The fact is that I’m not a songwriter, and I wanted to make a record that would represent really good songs that we’re doing in our shows. So I titled it Go Green, as in recycled songs.” And given that the album is slated for release just prior to Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22), the title gives it a double meaning.


CD Review: Kevin McKrell’s “I Wish I Had a Boat”

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Kevin McKrell: I Wish I Had A BoatKEVIN McKRELL
I Wish I Had a Boat
(Overit Records)

Review by Greg Haymes

Back in those fondly remembered days of the Grinch (if you can remember them), Kevin McKrell was a founding member of the much beloved Irish music trio Donnybrook Fair. Since then, he’s helmed several like-minded bands – including Hard Times, the Hard Road Ceilidh Band and, of course, the McKrells. He’s also been a regular at the annual holiday concerts Mountain Snow & Mistletoe and Melodies of Christmas. And let’s not forget his venture into doo-wop in the ’80s with the all-star Fabulous Newports.

But all the while, he’s also maintained his solo career, and his new album serves as something of a retrospective, as McKrell offers new recordings of some of his earlier songs, revisiting “I Miss the Rain,” “Lost in Your Eyes” and an exquisite take on “Bound for Boston.”


CD Reviews: Jazz 2K for January

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Reviews by J Hunter

In an effort to keep the momentum going from the last month of 2014, here’s some music you need to check out – either on your own, or on “Jazz2K @ The Saint”:

Between working with Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band and being the George Gee Swing Orchestra’s musical director, trombonist David Gibson has been plenty busy since his tasty 2011 Posi-tone release End of the Tunnel. That said, the Oklahoma native must have found a few minutes to scribble down some notes, because Boom! comes out of the chute like a Brahma bull on Red Bull and doesn’t let up for a second. That doesn’t mean it’s all pedal-to-the-metal like the hard-bopping “Eyes of Argus,” the swirling dervish title track or the charging opener “The High Road”; some of the best moments are the softer ones, like the loving ballad “The Dance” and Gibson’s joy-filled take on “Change the World.” What keeps this date’s emotional needle pinned in the red is Gibson’s choice to bring in two players who match his intensity volt for volt: Josh Evans’ trumpet has the kind of counter-punching power Freddie Hubbard delivered back in the day, and Theo Hill’s Trump-rich keyboard lines weave stunningly striking colors, be they acoustic on Gibson’s high-flying treatment of Tom McIntosh’s “The Cup Bearers” or electric on the sneaky-good “Grass Fed.” David Gibson may have been doing great work for others, but Boom! shows it’s time for him get out there and really blow his OWN horn!


CD Review: Tas Cru’s “You Keep the Money”

Friday, January 9th, 2015


Review and photographs by Wanda Callagy

There’s the CD release party. And then, there’s the music…

On their way south to Memphis for a three-night stand at the International Blues Challenge on January 18-20, Tas Cru and members of his band, the Tortured Souls, recently stopped by the Fuller Roadhouse Grille in Albany on December 28 to introduce their new CD, You Keep the Money at the Capital Region Blues Network’s Sunday Night Jam. The house was full with standing room only, with many familiar faces and new ones taking the stage to jam after Tas Cru’s opening set.

The wait for this was worth it. And here are some of my impressions:

On this new album, Cru carries through some familiar themes. His tongue-in-cheek love song “Half the Time” is fun and hard not to tap your foot to. The upbeat tune has a lot of interesting guitar exchanges, with strong harmonica skills from Dick Earl Ericksen. Here, I looked up a couple of his other songs, including “Cover My Love” from his 2006 album Biscuit and 2008′s Gravi-Tas. No boring repeats – almost a continuum or, let’s say, another chapter.

The instrumental “La Belle Poutine” brings to the album one of the most soulful pieces I have listened to, ever. Here I hear skills and a sound that remind me so of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Cru’s French influence from his time in Montreal is a treat. Haunting.


BEST OF 2014: Greg Haymes’ Top Concerts & Albums

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
The Ed Palermo Big Band

The Ed Palermo Big Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, 4/18/14

By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Rudy Lu

1. Rosanne Cash @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy (March 5)
2. The Ed Palermo Big Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, Schenectady (April 18)
3. Mary Lambert with Howie Day @ College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, Albany (October 17)
4. The Mavericks @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (November 6)
5. Harriet Tubman and Cassandra Wilson Present Black Sun @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (March 15)
6. Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy (October 10)
7. Paul McCartney @ the Times Union Center, Albany (July 5)
8. King Crimson @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (September 9)
9. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band @ the Times Union Center, Albany (May 13)
10. Queens of the Stone Age with Brody Dalle @ the Palace Theatre, Albany (July 13)
11. Wussy with Bloodshot Bill @ the Low Beat, Albany (July 24)
12. Beck with the Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger @ MASS MoCA, North Adams (June 23)
13. Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue featuring Los Straitjackets with the Cactus Blossoms @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (December 19)
14. Living Colour with Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds and Mirk @ Empire State Plaza, Albany (June 4)
15. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (January 12)
16. Nickel Creek @ Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival at Walsh Farm, Oak Hill (July 17)
17. Dust Bowl Faeries with Swamp Baby @ Steamer No. 10 Theatre, Albany (March 1)
18. Dom Flemons @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs (August 15)
19. Chris Isaak @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (September 16)
20. Regina Carter @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (March 29)


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