Rival Tides’ New Rituals EP – Rocking Hard And “Mixing Aggression With Positivity”

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That comes from a direct quote from the band’s web site… They are a “Los Angeles-based rock band that thrives on mixing aggression with positivity.”

If you cannot say something better, then don’t! It’s a great way of describing both the band and this kick ass EP.

This five-piece unit was formed in 2012 and my first instinct was old Linkin Park, which I mean as an extreme compliment. Catchy, rocking riffs and songs you can instantly sing-along to… and want to. This definitely has that rolling down the PCH with the top down kind of feel… or windows down for those of us without a convertible.

Check out the video for the second track, “Bleed Me Out.”

The musicianship is fantastic, the vocals soar and the message in the lyrics is exactly as advertised… finding the positivity through hard rock. According to the band, “Bleed Me Out” is about an artist with something to say and limited means. Frustratingly, any number of us living in Hollywood with dreams of using our art to actually say something understand that all too well.

But you know what… you make noise where and when you can. And this album is damn good noise!

I have not heard their previous self-titled EP, so this is my entry to the group… Well, aside from running into Jason (the bass player) socially from time to time.

The band is made up of:
Robyn August – Singer/Songwriter
Jason Friday – Bass
Greg Fulleman – Drums

Spencer Kent – Guitar
Alex von Hollen – Guitar

For tour dates check out their web site.

“I Want More” is the opening track and lights the EP on fire.
“I want more
Telling you that I want more
On the day that I was born
They said I crawled into the light.”

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 “Child”, according to the band is about the dangers of social media, though not in the way you’d think… though as the father of  a teenage daughter I can tell you there are many dangers of this new fangled contraption. This is about “those who believe whatever is thrown in front of them without researching for themselves and who continue to spread ignorance and hate.”

Hmmm… was this written before, after or during this current election cycle. It’s crazy how much ignorance and hate is out on the web.

“Better” is about having a good solid support group around you during tough times… such an important message given what is going on way too much and too often… and a really nice lead into the last track…

“Dark Cloud” kills me… Clearly Robyn and I were both really affected by the loss of Robin Williams (See my post from August 15, 2014) and this song is “dedicated to those who struggle with depression.”

The last chorus says it so well:

“I’m tired of these voices
I want to be whole
“Yeah, I want to break these chains
And take back my control
Take back my self-control.”

The lessons in rock and roll sometimes… often, in fact… apply to real life… and suffering in silence is never the answer! Crank it up… sing it and shout it loud… reach out for help and let your words and music save you.

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From Purple To Blues – More Of Music’s Colors Fade With The Loss Of Lonnie Mack

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I still cannot believe Prince is gone… but even worse, because it is my own personal demon… I cannot believe I never saw him live. This is somewhat tragic for a true lover of music. People are shocked when I tell them… disappointed… surprised. Hey, so am I.

It is eating me up right now… torturing and tormenting me… And it happened with a few artists I had the chance to see… Roy Orbison, David Bowie, Merle Haggard… and now Prince. Heck, if I had been a more adventurous rocker at a younger age, I probably could have seen Zeppelin… and I certainly would have come to Bruce way before the Born In The USA tour.

But I wasn’t, and I didn’t and here I am and so it is.

Regret is a bitch, and yet, too often, we do not learn from our mistakes. Is missing a concert the worst thing in the world? Of course not… but the experience and subsequent memory of such an event is… well… priceless. It measures and defines our time on earth. Concerts and music, that is. Our favorite artists and albums help define our lives… or at least give them meaning and insight… understanding and comfort. They accompany us on our journeys and road trips… our arrivals and our departures.

We dance and sway… we swoon and spoon… Music is our everything.

As I have said many times before… and yes, I will vainly quote myself… Okay, less for vanity and more for posterity and to mark this as mine… “A life without music is a life not worth living.”

Music is everywhere… We just need to open our ears and our hearts. It is in the breeze… the rustling of leaves… the chirping of birds… in a conversation… in a laugh… in words…

We can feel music… the beat of a drum, the strum of a bass… Our chest and core literally shake…

The world is filled with music.

Music is with us from the moment we are born, to our very last breath. My daughter literally came out of the womb to Lyle Lovett’s “Here I Am”.

We can mark time and certainly highlighted events with a song… an album.

From a prom and a first dance…
To a first declared love (Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell)…
To a break up… Genesis’ “Throwing It All Away” was playing on the stereo in the frat, when that same, first love called to say we were done.

To albums so depressing, they would help get me out of my own depression… Tears For Fears’ The Hurting.

To those records who force us to dance and sing at the top of our lungs…

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Damn fine rules to live by.

And to playlists designed specifically to seduce and help members of the opposite sex fall for us… See my series of posts Music To Make Love To… (Started on 9/15/2011).

Music…

In the midst of the world losing one its musical heroes… an icon of music and style and fashion… we lost another legend yesterday as well, but one who will certainly fly under the radar a lot more. Lonnie Mack passed away at the age of 74…

Guitar World pays tribute here.

And while I will let that article put his life and music into context and understanding… I will say that I was lucky enough to see him play live… lucky enough to be in the city of Chicago when the Blues were still filled with stars and legends and the diplomats and musical missionaries spreading the Gospel… the names that put that music on the map.

The Blues and Jazz clubs I once spent so much time in are gone… like my beloved Biddy Mulligan’s, where I saw Albert Collins walk himself and his guitar and his 300 foot guitar chord out of the club and onto the corner of the street without missing a note or a beat.

The musicians I saw live formed a living, breathing book… a book on the history of music.

Albert Collins, Albert King, Lonnie Brooks, Lonnie Mack… Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells… Buddy Guy… The list is staggering. And how lucky was I? There are shows I missed… yes… But oh man, there were shows I saw… lived… breathed…

I remember when my friend Rachel was working for Alligator Records… she brought me down into the basement… and it was still like a business run out of the house, at this point… CDs stacked on foldable tables… organized by artist and title… and she told me to take what I wanted… Say what? I did some damage, sure… but I was way too polite and held back…

A kid in a candy shop? Better! So much better.

I still have every one of those CDs, including Lonnie Mack’s Strike Like Lightning!

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How I love the blues… it got me playing harmonica… it got me moving… and it got me through.

So while we mourn Prince… let us not forget Doris Roberts… and certainly not Lonnie Memphis Mack (thanks, Patrick).

I guess Stevie Ray Vaughn needed some more tips and influence from you.

Stretch it out in Heaven, boys! Cause the Blues had a baby and they called it Rock n’ Roll!

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And FYI here is the exact quote…
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
                                       ― William W. Purkey

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From Purple Rain Comes Purple Tears… The Royal Court Of Rock N’ Roll Has Lost Its Prince

UnknownThe playlists of my youth are being decimated… The artists I grew up with are being taken way too early… The history of music and Rock n’ Roll is becoming a posthumous endeavor… And time after time, a sad reminder to never put off tomorrow what you can do today… and to always figure out a way to not miss a concert or show because you think there will be another chance… another year… another tour…

Sometimes… Sometimes there won’t be…

If a star can be taken out of the sky… If a true musical genius and icon can be pulled from the stage… then we all better be doing our best every day… to create life and art… music and joy.

I hate writing these posts… Hate it.

And I’ll say it once again… 2016 can suck it. The things my friends have had to endure so far… and the number of artists we have lost is devastating, but it is the fact that so many of them defined my youth… my proms and dances… my parties… my puberty… my growing up… This is what hurts the most.

It is hard to not feel so very mortal… so under accomplished and under achieved… and while I know that I do not and will not ever possess any of the musical genius that was Prince, it is a reminder to live life, to love and to create, for we simply do not know how long or short our time on this planet may be.

When I was young and naive, I was most impressed by Prince’s ability to get the absolute, most beautiful women as girlfriends… And yes, I was one of those who questioned whether or not it was him or his musical abilities and genius.

As I learned more about music and grew up and older and more mature, I was, of course, able to see the genius behind the music… the brilliance… the wide, wide range of music… from Funk, Soul and R&B, to Rock and pure Pop… the skills as a performer and guitarist.

Prince would find his way onto every genre or themed party tape or mix tape I would make.

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If I wanted to dance and sing… If I wanted to think and contemplate… If I wanted to seduce and have something sexy playing in the background… or if I just wanted some of the greatest Pop songs ever written, Prince would get pulled up… Well… pulled off my shelves of albums and CDs… and now pulled up from my iTunes.

That range was evident on the first album of his I heard and embraced, 1999. And yes, this was FIVE albums in… His first record, For You, coming out in 1979.

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Did we dance?  Hell yeah… But his lyrics were equally profound…

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt U
I only want U 2 have some fun
I was dreamin’ when I wrote this
Forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’
Coulda sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple,
There were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ 2 run from the destruction,
U know I didn’t even care

‘Cuz they say two thousand zero zero party over,
Oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”
And who did NOT want a “Little Red Corvette.”
Man, I miss the ’80s!
In 1984 came Purple Rain… the album and the film having a major impact on me… and of course on Prince’s meteoric rise. That is one of those rare albums I listen to from start to finish… song for song… never skipping or wanting or needing to.
imagesAnd then in 1985 came a pure Pop blast of joy… I love Around The World In A Day… unapologetically… and “Raspberry Beret” is one of my favorite songs… ever…
I will sing it at the top of my lungs with reckless abandon and the car windows down… or yes… even blasting it from my frat room… I mean… um… in between Van Halen and Judas Priest and Rush of course…
In somewhat typical Prince fashion… it is nearly impossible to find a copy of this video online… he would go after anyone posting it… So just pull it up in your mind… I know for me, I can see it clearly on my TV… as I sat for hours and hours and hours watching MTV.
When MTV started I was, for lack of a better word, addicted… enthralled… captivated… Okay, I just came up with some better words…
MTV was my everything… It was my world of music and rock and videos. It gave images to sounds… pictures to tunes… It was a series of three-minute movies… and what a rotation and movie marathon and festival it was!
In 1987 came another masterpiece in Sign ‘O’ The Times… and another CD purchase… I was a fan.
Album after album… performance after performance…
And yet… another artist I never saw live… And again, I just don’t know why.
I never met Prince, but I will always remember the story my friend and writing partner Josh tells… He was outside of Paisley Park Studios… and accidentally or perhaps not… was leaning against Prince’s car.  Prince walked out… saw him there… Josh got excited for the conversation that would ensue… and in that high-pitched and soft, Prince-speaking voice he said only this: “Hey, get away from my car.”
Bowie… Glenn Frey… Prince… These are the artists who defined my youth… who played in the background and foreground of some my life’s major moments… These are the musicians who helped create the soundtrack of my life.
57 years old, folks. That is simply too young. And yes, his music will live on… that is the power of an album… a song… a video… of a captured image. But 57 years old… and still so much to say and write and sing…
Life is short, make it sweet.
Listen to music, make music, play music, embrace music.
Go to shows, be present, put your phone down… and be a part of the experience.
And if you have a chance to go to a concert or show, go!
Don’t delay your dreams and don’t think it is ever too late to pursue them… There is no time limit on our dreams… but there is a time limit on life… and we are not the one running the meter.
Trend setter, icon, musical genius, and music itself… RIP, Sweet Prince… Your elevator is not bringing you down, but the skies and our eyes are filled with Purple Rain.

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LA vs. NY… A Tale Of Two Bruces – Why Seeing Bruce Springsteen Live Matters

IMG_9745Thanks for the above pictures, Brad! And the ticket hook up!

So let’s be honest… Los Angeles audiences used to suck. I’m sorry, but they did. And many artists will tell you the same thing.

My buddy Russ and I have been seeing Bruce shows since college… all around the country… and LA audiences used to be observers, not participators. Used to talk… A LOT… during a show.

I used to have to turn around and say things like “I’m sorry is the live music interfering with your conversation?” Or “let me ask the band to quiet it down so you guys can talk.”

The joke about an LA sports fan showing up in the 3rd inning and leaving during the 7th applied to music as well.

All that has changed… at least at Bruce shows… and the last two concerts at the LA Sports Arena, on March 17th and 19th were EPIC… Truly!

I will say that the dreaded cell phones are still a problem… but this is in every city! Come on, are you REALLY gonna watch the video you shot on your crappy 4-inch screen? Take a few pictures… a few seconds of video and put the damn phone down!!! There is an actual LIVE artist and band in front of you… and they HATE looking out and seeing tiny screens instead of wide, open eyes and faces!

screen568x568I will give you the Zippo Lighter App… I love using that one… or even the light on the phone as a modern-day answer to the lighters that people used to hold up high in the air to show appreciation and community… but limit your phone usage to that! Period!!!

So… Just to give you an idea of how many Bruce shows I have seen… March 17, 2016 marked my THIRD Bruce St. Patty’s Day show!

Any Bruce fan will tell you that seeing Bruce live is like voting… do it early and often. Each show is different from the next, especially in a multi-night stand… and while this tour is a bit more “locked down” as far as set lists go, each night has something new and unique to offer. And yes, Virginia, a Bruce Springsteen concert is as close to a religious experience as one can get, outside a Shul or Sanctuary!

The energy of the crowd was clearly infectious, as the band kept getting better and better. I did not attend the first of the three nights, but a couple we were sitting next to on the last night (Who happened to be at their 200th show!!!) said each night was better the next!

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The Saturday night (3/19/16) show clocked in at an amazing 3 hours and 45 minutes (according to Backstreets.com), which I believe is still the longest show of the tour.  The buzz started when my buddy Brad got a text as we were walking into the arena, that the curfew had been lifted for the night. Play on, Bruce… Play on!

I had heard from my brother that The River portion seemed rushed in New York… and I can say this was not the case at all in LA… Bruce took his time and dove in to The River… deep… and highlights for me were both nights’  incredible versions of “Independence Day”“Point Blank” and “Drive All Night.”

This album definitely requires patience and attention and the LA crowd was right there… sitting on the slower songs, but contemplating them… listening… being an active participant. It made for an amazing show (s).

My brother had also mentioned that in NYC there were a bunch of “Hedge Fund douchebags” who would not stop talking and texting during the slower songs of The River… and who went koo koo crazy during the more commercial songs like “Dancing In The Dark.” Clearly lots of money does not necessarily translate to class and good behavior… and concert etiquette.

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Cut to Madison Square Garden… 3/28/16

The NYC show was a total fly by the literal seat of our pants… and the tickets did not come through until after the show started… but a huge shout out of thanks and gratitude go to Rich and Michael-Ann!!!

It was my daughter Julianna’s first Bruce show… and also the first show for my nieces, Ava and Lila.

J and I missed “Meet Me In The City”… heard “The Ties That Bind” and “Sherry Darling” from the hallways… and got to our seats in time for “Jackson Cage.”

And what seats they were… Holy Cow! Low and to the side, but still in front of the stage… fantastic!

I actually agree with my brother and think The River was better performed in LA… surprising… but he just took his time with it and as I said above… the songs “Point Blank”, “Drive All Night” and “Independence Day” were so powerful and vital and just grabbed you by the heart, throat and balls!

But once the second half started, The Garden erupted and I could see a major change in my daughter’s appreciation, as well… even though I had begged her to really listen to The River so she would be familiar with the songs… Oh well…

“Born To Run” put a huge smile on her face! And that made it all worthwhile!

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The crowd definitely soared during the second half, as well… Second half… How utterly amazing is it to say that Bruce plays for TWO HOURS… and that is just him getting started?! The man is 66 years old!

So as many of you know by now, Bruce danced and shook his booty with his Mom during “Ramrod”… Awesome!

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But the highlight for me was and will always be hearing my first live “Meeting Across The River.” It’s kind of crazy how many times I have “missed” seeing this song. When Bruce opened Staples Center and played four nights… I had to miss one of the shows… and of course, what did he play at that show???  “Meeting…”

But, as my brother Dan and buddies Russ and Jason exclaimed… “You got your Meeting!” I have been waiting for 34 years to hear that one live… and while he did not sit at the piano and play it, as he often does, it was such a moving experience for me. Really, sincerely and hit me in the soul moving… and highly emotional. I literally shed tears as I sat and took in what is one of my very favorite Bruce songs…

And THIS is what Bruce Springsteen is all about. THIS is what Rock n’ Roll is all about. The power of music!

After the concert had ended, the woman behind me, who had thanked me earlier for staying still during Nils guitar solo during “Because The Night” (She nicely asked me to let her film it… and told me she came in from London just to see that)… thanked me again. But this time it was to tell me how moved she was just to see how much “Meeting Across The River” meant to me… how I sat… embraced it… and let it wash over me. She said it made her concert experience that much better.

Wow.

Rock n’ Roll really can bring us together… so long live Rock!

 

 

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A Most Beautiful Story… As Told In Dylan LeBlanc’s Cautionary Tale

I believe the first time I heard the opening track “Cautionary Tale” was on KCSN, and it was immediately Shazamed.

Yeah, I do like saying that… and I do remember the Shazam and Isis Hour. And yes, I just outed myself on the age front.

I Shazam a lot… but sadly, sometimes I Shazam and forget to look at the tags… and so songs and artists get lost… at least for a while.

Remember the whole reason for this blog and the creation of Marc’s Muse: My Tunes was to make sure I was not ignoring the thousands and thousands of songs and artists and albums I had in my iTunes. This blog, which started off by me listening to an album a day and blogging about it (550 straight days/posts mind you… with not a single day missed!!!) was the result.

You would think that true love is strong, that it will just thrive and grow and work all on its own… But we need to remind ourselves of it each and every day… We need to work on it… and sometimes we do that simply be being and listening.

So this is me… reminding myself of those things that I fell so instantly in love with.
Reminding myself to keep working at it… to keep living and loving… to keep listening and hearing… and to keep sharing the music.

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Dylan LeBlancCautionary Tale
The other day I was walking around The Grove with my daughter… We wandered into Top Shop and as I drifted into the Men’s section… really just biding my time… I heard some amazing music.

Smart… I could have stayed in there all day. It was that good… that enjoyable… It was like those restaurants that pump out the smell of roast garlic… or cinnamon buns… or whatever scent will draw you in.

First there was Guy GarveyElbow’s front man on his solo effort.

And then… like an old friend… was “Cautionary Tale” from Dylan LeBlanc. I would not wait any longer… and when we got home I immediately (and finally) downloaded the album.

This album cuts deeply… It really, truly moves me. There is a weepy country/rock feel to a lot of it… and I most definitely hear some ghosts of Gram Parsons. There are also hints of Jim James… and Buddy Holly-type orchestrations, especially on the track “I’m Moving On”. I love it.

AllMusic says that on his “third studio long player” he is: “exorcising some personal demons while injecting some much-needed pomp and circumstance into his signature blend of breezy, ’70s West Coast singer/songwriter pop and Bible Belt-bred gothic Americana.”

They continue: “His high and lonesome croon, a velvety mix of After the Gold Rush-era Neil Young, James Bay, and Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, sits much higher in the mix this time around, and imbues highlights like the lush and lovely Eagles-esque “Roll the Dice,” the snappy and soulful “Easy Way Out”…

Those are two of my highlights as well, though I have to say this record plays beautifully all the way through.

Aside from the title track, which is the one that initially grabbed me… and the others mentioned above, I love the strings and mood and heart tug of “Balance Or Fall.” Almost like a country take on Kurt Weil.

I am looking forward to hearing some of his older records… and definitely need to catch him live.

Enjoy the tale, my friends! Enjoy the tale…

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New Music Monday – O, Canada (Music From Billy Grima… and Ed Roman)

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Some of my favorite places are up north… Heck, we ALL might have to move up there if a certain person, who shall remain nameless, gets anywhere near the house that is white… But there will be no politics here… unless they are musical! So trump that.

I have somewhat fond memories of a family trip to Montreal and Quebec, though my parents probably only remember me torturing my little brother in the back seat…

The… ENTIRE… trip!

Yeah, I was an odd and off kid. Sorry, Dan.

I definitely need to get back to experience Moishe’s Steaks and the bagels at St. Viateur! I also love Toronto, and not just for The House Of Chan (best steak I have EVER had) or the Roots Outlet Store… Okay, maybe just a bit for both of those places…

And I adore Vancouver, such a cosmopolitan city… and yes, I could easily live in the market on Granville Island.

Other than that, my only real connection to Canada, aside from a few Canuck friends, is hearing the Canadian National Anthem at some hockey games, and listening to Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Barenaked Ladies and the phenomenal band Sloan. And okay, Poutine kind of rocks.  Yes, you should check out Smoke’s Poutinerie in Hollywood… You’re welcome, Alan!

Thanks to the post about Nick Marzock and The Explorers Club (who have a new record coming out VERY soon!), I got a message from MTS Management Group and an introduction to two of their artists. I love how the internet works some times… and appreciate how one door usually opens another… and when those doors open… quite often… there is great music coming out of them!

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BILLY GRIMA – SUGAR & CREAM
Billy hails from the Caledon Hills of Ontario, Canada, by way of Australia, and started singing when he was just 8. Now he calls Toronto home.

His singer/songwriters skills are on full display on this 2015 record, his third to date, and tracks like the retro and soulful “Calendar Girl” make great use of horns. I started hearing a little of U2’s “Angel Of Harlem” until it moved rather nicely into a mashup of Billy Joel and Van Morrison.

Same goes with the title track “Sugar & Cream”, which has a great rockin’, R&B feel. Those two, along with “Caroline” are my stand out tracks and personal favorites. “Caroline” clocks in at 8:23 and sounds like it could have been a Styx ballad. Definitely some Dennis DeYoung, especially in the chorus… Absolutely love this song!

Some tracks like “I Miss You Baby” are surprisingly long (10:11), but don’t feel it… This beautiful ballad might be the song to play to get that long-lost-love back in your life. It’s a real stunner. You can also try “Picture Of You And Me” for a slow dance and a little late night seduction.

This is what I would call a feel good record… perfect for a day in the backyard and a weekend get together. If you like Jason Mraz and some ’80s sounding pop and rock (I don’t know why, but this album has me hearing The Outfield a bit, too)… with a dose of good old Americana folk, check out Billy Grima.

 

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ED ROMAN – LETTERS FROM HIGH LATITUDES
Ed is a singer/songwriter from Shelburne, Ontario… and reminds me of another Ed, namely Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies. Definitely a similar vocal quality, especially on the opener “I Told You So.”  His voice just has a wink and a nod to it…

“World Keeps On Turning” definitely has that Paul Simon/Graceland era feel, and leads perfectly into “Roly’s Cottage”. I dig the harp on this instrumental and joyous number. If this song doesn’t make you feel good and get you up and dancing, I think you may need a doctor… or at least a pulse. I love me my lyrics, but I think this is my favorite track on the record!

Not only is “Jamaica” a fun song… but I appreciate that the video shoot was part of a humanitarian aid delivering trip. He also uses his music to support vets, so it’s literally music with a cause. Good stuff!  And it definitely fits in with the “socio-political, earthly-conscious and globally-aware messages” he writes about.

“Rosetta Stone” has a jazzy flare, especially on the smoky horn solo… and Ed pulls out the Rockin’ Funk in “In Your Eyes”.

I like the diversity and range of sounds… and both of these records show that really good music is coming from our friends up north.

So here’s to great music, here’s to French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds… and here’s to Canada!

 

 

 

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New Music Discoveries: Charting A Course With The Explorers Club… And Nick Marzock

It’s all about listening…

Really? You’re writing a music blog and THAT is your amazing insight. Of course it’s about listening!

Hold on… Breathe… Stay with me.

How many times do we move through life and not stop to smell the proverbial roses… or actually listen to the music… really take it in… and perhaps even more importantly, how often do we not listen to each other?!

When we are open… open to sharing and receiving and giving… magical things happen. This is when we bond, connect, love… These are the moments that are magical. Listening is what led me to my two most recent, new music discoveries.

Getting and giving musical recommendations is one of my great pleasures… Word of mouth… or music of mouth, I guess, brings so much joy.

So let us share. Amen!

NICK MARZOCK
As I was driving a few weeks back, I was listening to KLOS and heard actor Greg Grunberg in the studio on the Heidi And Frank Show, with a musician he had discovered… Nick Marzock.

I am starting to come back to KLOS, in bits and increments, and normally do not love the morning show… but I decided to listen.

My normal 4-station rotation is KCSN (88.5), KCRW (89.9) and The Sound (100.3)… with a little KLOS (95.5) or Jack FM (93.1) thrown in to mix it up.

I am more than happy I was station surfing this morning… as I found something remarkable… a true artist… in multiple mediums. (Check out his art and Sketch Gallery)… and insert ENVY here.  Damn!

Again… the KEY is to listen… to be open… to give EVERYTHING a try!

To say I was blown away by Nick’s live performance would be a crazy understatement. And I echoed the sentiment of almost every caller, that the live session sounded as if it was recorded… It was that good and that stellar and tight. You can check it out with the above link… or below…

I immediately reached out to Nick, who is about as decent and kind as sincere as he is talented, and I am hoping to spread the word about his music. I also sent messages to some music managers I know, as I want them to hear his songs.

I told him he reminded me of a more rocking and potent Cat Stevens… and his live version of “Gotta Get Something Right” is what stopped me in my tracks. I hear John Mayer in his bluesy, folksy acoustic pop… and also Johnny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd… especially in his absolutely incredible cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”!!! And okay, really… you are playing every instrument???!!! Show off!😉

 

THE EXPLORERS CLUB
Thanks to my friend Keith Valcourt, the music/entertainment writer for The Washington Times, I was able to work as his photographer on two great events… Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp in North Hollywood… and the rehearsal for The Wild Honey Presents benefit show for Autism and the Children’s Music Fund.

In addition to meeting Micky Dolenz and Carnie Wilson (I looove her!)… I got to meet Jason Brewer, whose band is The Explorers Club… from South Carolina by way of Nashville, now.

After a great conversation and interview with Keith, Jason offered to send some music our way.

Let me just say… Wow! I have two albums and three EPs and I am blown away.
I have no idea how old Jason is… He looks young, with a cherubic, innocent face… but their music is so sophisticated and complex… and yes, massively influenced by The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson… which makes sense that he was performing in a show honoring The Beach Boys.

You will also hear the ‘70s sounds of Burt Bacharach, the jangly rock of The Byrds… and even a bit of Blood, Sweat And Tears on some tracks… that horn washed, jazzy rock and pop… And yes, you will hear one of my all-time favorites The Pearlfishers, though Jason has not yet heard this band! Clearly the Brian Wilson influence bonds them together and I am anxious to hear his opinion once he gives them a listen.

I think, aside from other, very specific bands and artists, most modern rock and pop musicians get their influence from the Big Five, as I call them… At least one of, or a combo of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin.

The Explorers Club is Power Pop at its best, and if you are a regular reader you know I am an unashamed, unabashed lover of all things Power Pop. Luscious… gorgeous… plush… This is the perfect music for a date night or dinner party, or to drift away into an evening of pure romance.

They have a new album coming out in April, and based on the track Jason sent me for that, it is going to be an ideal Spring and Summer record. Keep an eye out… and I will review it once I have it.

2008’s Freedom Wind is a remarkable homage to The Beach Boys and stand out tracks like the opener “Forever”, “Don’t Forget The Sun” and “Do You Love Me?” will make you want to be on your feet, swaying and dancing.

“Run, Run, Run” from the phenomenal Grand Hotel record (2012) would have worked so well on the Austin Powers soundtrack. I love the horns and arrangements on this one! Same with the title track “Grand Hotel”, which I could also, totally see playing over the opening credits of a Peter Sellers film! It makes sense that they have had their music on  The O.C.How I Met Your Mother, and Bored to Death.

That is one common element between these two artists… A lot of their music would serve so perfectly well as part of a movie soundtrack or film score. Nick’s most recent “Riverside Sonatina” screams to play under the flickering images of a movie screen. As I listen to this beautiful piece, I see a relationship coming together… a reconciliation… or some other romantic victory.

Just another way music can also alight our other senses.

The key… of course… is to open up your ears, and your heart, and listen!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me