07
Oct
17

MIGHTY DUCK BLUES BAND-DUCK SOUP CD REVIEW-BY JOHN EMMS-“DELUXE HOT BROTH”

Punchy, and with great guest vocals MDBB proves you can never underestimate the backing band on their own original album.

Right out of the gate both guest vocalists John Dickie and Cheryl Lescom up the ante on Hammered and Nailed and Don’t Send Me No Valentine the first 2 songs.

Guitar work by Dave Curry (check out Castaway) rips and tears through and the band anchored by bassist Gary Kendall, drummer Jim Casson and organ man Dave Torosian can’t miss.

Chuck Jackson simply one of the best blues singers on the planet struts the edge gorgeously on 3 AM Blues but gets drowned out a bit out by Curry’s loud guitar mix on Cha- Ching

Love the way drummer Jim Casson completely transforms the Queen classic We Will Rock You in under 2 minutes in 18 seconds, while Paul Reddick pulls out a Springsteen meets Tom Waits vibe on Hurricane (not the Bob Dylan song)

Elsewhere Kendall nails his own vocal on  You’re Driving Me Crazy powered by the rolling piano of Lance Anderson and Curry’s guitar solo.

Whether they are backing the best blues artists in Canada or carving up their own songs MDBB  play it it tough on this rocking set.

JOHN EMMS is a Post Media journalist, former radio host, and singer-songwriter with Canadian blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

http://www.theshaftmen.com/home.htm

 

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07
Oct
17

ANDRE BISSON-BREAK CD REVIEW-SOULFUL SONGS AND MODERN BLUES

Break the new album by Andre Bisson and his excellent band showcases an artist who simply sings, writes and performs with conviction.

The tasteful title track could easily have been recorded by an artist like the late Joe Cocker, while the Ray Charles vibe of The Reason Why is a showcase for his vocal work.

All the horn charts throughout the album never overshadow the strong material. Feelin’ Fine and Next In Line are perfect examples of this.

Elsewhere The Beatles Eleanor Rigby gets a smoky rendition and his own funky I Got The Right could power up any set.

Also have to say there is a great mix on this cd

Without a doubt this Hamilton Ontario native displays chops and integrity throughout this set.

JOHN EMMS is a Post Media contributor, veteran music journalist and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

 

 

23
Sep
17

SHANIA TWAIN NEW CD NOW-15 YEARS AWAY- TWAIN FINDS HER INNER POP VOICE AND GETS PERSONAL-BY JOHN EMMS

If it’s 15 years since you made an album and you have already sold 75 million albums exacting the same formula would be the smart thing to do.

But in 2017 Shania Twain is going to do things her own way.

Looking for the inner voice.

To me this album sounds personal.

In fact her most personal album of her career.

Twain decided to write all of the songs on this new cd.

Off the top you should know this is a very diverse set of songs.

I applaud Twain’s courage.

This album has no reference to the Mutt Lange blockbuster hooks of her career.

For this fact only you don’t know how this album will be received worldwide

This is a pop personal recording.

Not Bruce Springsteen or Chris Stapleton personal.

Twain personal in a pop world.

She could have had 20 or more different c0-writers like every other top artist in the industry.

Personally I don’t like that trend.

It waters down the music to a bland formula.

In fact, over the radio in the last few years I have heard some of the worst songs.

For some reason some of them are hits.

With Now the Timmins’ Ontario hometown sweetheart and international star goes inside herself.

Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed opens with an Any Man of Mine riff  but leads to a sing a long anthem that will have audiences fist bumping and swinging.

Home has a distinct folk but courageous feel and Light of My Life has an almost Nancy Sinatra via 2017 sound.

Personally this alternative feel you would never think would come out of Twain’s songwriting.

It’s a beauty.

Four songs into this album and you realize Twain is getting emotional.

Again Poor Me goes far inside “it’s not white it’s not black, can’t believe he would leave me to love her”

Holy crap you gotta love this folks.

Soldier the piano ballad is a killer vocal performance with no fluff, and that goes ditto for the simplicity of the track Because of You.

We Got Something They Don’t and the first single Life’s About To Get Good sound like solid radio fare but are not the best of what this album offers.

In the end there is a lot to love about the independence of Twain on this album.

Her fans will be behind this album and the tour.

Make no mistake.

Come On Over part 2 this is not.

But that’s ok, this album connects big time on an emotional level.

This album is available Sept 29 2017

JOHN EMMS is a Timmins born songwriter/musician who fronts up Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

John is also a Post Media music contributor and veteran music writer.

Hear John and the band and their albums on Itunes, Spotify,  Youtube and Facebook.

http://theshaftmen.com/home.htm

 

 

20
Aug
17

BLUES MUSIC HAS TO GROW AND IT DOES-REVIEWS-MILLIGAN/VAUGHAN-DELTA WIRES-NIGHTHAWKS-TUCCI/GARY CAIN BAND

I have been saying for the last 20 or so years that blues music has to grow.  Songwriting and playing the blues can be influenced by the roots of Texas, Chicago, Memphis etc that is cool.

Besides you can’t be beat original artists like Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf.. etc. and later Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble…but you can take the inspiration and away you go.

New albums reviewed here are inspired by the past and in some places often they create something new.

Delta Wires-Born in Oakland-Right out of the speakers blasts Sunny Day a funky riff with an almost BS&T horn chart, just killer. Sure this band started 30 years but just listen to Vacation a jumpin’ Huey Lewis and the News vibe and Devil’s In My Headset which reminds me of Al Kooper’s early solo stuff.

This band has groove and feel.

Sure, you can call this West Coast Blues but as the song says “good songs to sing about the feeling love can bring”..Delta Wires are bringing it, on this their 7 th album.

Milligan-Vaughan Project-The first thing you notice about this record is how the soul of vocalist Malford Milligan intertwines with guitarist Tyrone Vaughan’s (Jimmie Vaughan/Stevie Ray Vaughan) riffs.

On the opening ripping power of Soul Satisfaction to the gentle Here I Am both written by David Grissom and Davey Knowles they never lose sight of the song, and they never step over each other.

Covering Gene McDaniels nugget Compared To What (Ray Charles) and Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone (Stevie Ray Vaughan) has been done many times and will draw comparison.

Having said that both songs have real feel and intensity on this album.

A couple of more originals like the slinky Driving You and Little Bit Of Heaven would have been nice.

Both men have deep roots and you won’t be disappointed.

The Nighthawks-All You Gotta Do-Covering Brenda Lee’s That’s All You Gotta Do jump starts this record and then digging deep with Larry Campbell’s When I Go Away (Levon Helm) again shows superb taste.

Sonny Boy Williamson’s Ninety Nine just grooves as Mark Wenner rips. The Standells Dirty Water goes from garage to blues and back again..with axe man Paul Bell sliding in riffs from Gloria, The Yardbirds Under Over Sideways Down and Satisfaction just for fun. Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield  Randy Newman’s classic is devil and spooky.

Having a patio party? Put on this whole cd and just leave it.

Gary Cain Band-Twangadelic Bluesophunk-Talk about an accomplished guitarist, Gary Cain is the real deal. If that was not enough his bassist Tom Nagy and drummer Donnie Mcdougall slip, slide, and groove like nobody’s business.

This album is HOT!!!

The first 3 songs Live Wire, Pipes and Spoons and the funky Thought I Heard You Say with it’s Stevie Ray Vaughan’s flourishes are fiery and dynamic.

Twang Strut is Jerry Reed on steroids and Got Me Where You Want Me gets on the patio ZZ Top style while the ripping Last Dance bares all.

Watch out for The Gary Cain Band in a BIG WAY.

Tucci-Olivia-One dose of Tucci’s latest album Olivia featuring Larry McCray and the late Dan Toler is all the blues inspiration you will need.

I Don’t Need It and the opener High Roller both with McCray reach for the sky and achieve it, Hey Florida and the superb Third Eye recalls The Allman Brothers, while Shawn Murphy rips up a killer vocal on Train Blues.

The band expands on the 4 man format listed on the cover with horns and some excellent organ work by Donnie Richards. (check out his solo on Third Eye)

Larry McCray is such a big presence on this album it will be hard to replace.

Having said that killer axe work from Steve ‘”Doc” Tucci and the consistent stickwork of brother Michael Tucci and bassist Harry Debusk are the glue.

Olivia is one of the best blues albums of 2017 hands down.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and songwriter/guitarist with Canadian roots rockers THE SHAFTMEN

visit JOHN on TWITTER

 

18
Jun
17

SHANIA TWAIN-LIFE’S ABOUT TO GET GOOD-EMOTIONALLY HONEST, REVEALING, AND POP PERFECT-BY JOHN EMMS

” “I wasn’t just broken, I was shattered” sings Shania Twain on her new single Life’s About to Get Good.

When Twain writes and sings about pain and the thrill of making a new life she makes you a believer on this new single

“Life’s about joy, Life’s about pain,  It’s all about forgiving and the will to walk away”

And BTW Life’s About to get Good….I agree with Shania who would use the hook “About to get Good”..maybe it’s a Timmins thing!!!

Musically there’s a touch of Four Tops Motown in the chorus and the mix is cool and transcendent amidst it’s pop perfection

“It took me so long to be strong
But I’m alive, and I hold on to what I can feel
It hurts to heal”

If the search for love and good music is what Shania is looking for she’s got it here.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Post Media contributor and songwriter with Canada’s Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

AND yes John hails from TIMMINS ONTARIO

JOHN is on TWITTER

13
Jun
17

CHECK OUT THE SHAFTMEN ON YOUTUBE

 

JOHN EMMS IS ON TWITTER

 

13
Jun
17

KEITH URBAN- RIPCORD/TIMMINS/ AND SO MUCH MORE BY JOHN EMMS

Now that the Nashville Predators have lost out for The Stanley Cup Keith Urban is going to tear up the stage at Stars and Thunder make no mistake.
Of course hockey or no hockey he will anyway and let’s not forget Timmins is a big hockey town.
But he is going to do it his way.
But fair warning it’s not going to be with your grandparents version of country music.
Considering the New Zealand-born Australian country star is landing  in the town where Stompin Tom Connors and Shania Twain got their start this modern day guitar-slinger is going to reach Timmins and indeed every country fan that comes for the show in a new way
Yes sir, Urban is a man on a mission to bend and blur the rules of country music.
And let me tell you it sounds completely natural for Urban
And if his win for best country album of the year with Ripcord at the Grammy’s sounds strange to some hard core country fans then they are in the minority.
Let’s face it folks, in a land country music songs sounding very similar Keith Urban is in left field in the best way possible on his latest album Ripcord.
Urban takes a ton of chances and uses modern technology to his advantage and then some.
The results show up on the funky beat programming and drumming of Matt Chamberlain which are a perfect fit for multi-layered acoustic guitars that stack up big time on the hit John Cougar John Deere John 3:16.
if that don’t get you moving then check out rapper Pitbull (Yes that Pitbull) and Mr Funk Nile Rodgers’ super clean axe work (Chic, David Bowie) on Sun Don’t Let Me Down.
Or how about the now famous Ganjo (a banjo with 6 strings tuned like a guitar) that Urban uses freely on the album tracks such as Gone Tomorrow (Here Today), Wasted Time and the duet with Carrie Underwood on The Fighter”
As I said this is a player who follows a modern pop focus and blends it with country and if that was not enough the album just went platinum last month
Go figure folks, George Jones who also played Timmins is probably having a laugh in heaven knowing Urban is the real “thang”
Guitar solos are not a big part of the Ripcord album but there is nothing more real then the guitar solos Urban stretches out with in concert.
Urban’s cranked up muscular guitar tone will move a lot of wind across the Hollinger Park and Grandstand
As a guitarist myself I often sit open mouthed telling my wife now that was a “killer” guitar solo.
You want mojo?
Then don’t be caught without a ticket for his show or a copy of Urban’s latest cd Ripcord.
JOHN EMMS is a veteran MUSIC Journalist/Post Media contributor and songwriter/guitarist with Canadian Rockers THE SHAFTMEN
JOHN IS ALSO ON TWITTER

 

11
Jun
17

MY VEHICLE 5 TOP CHOICES-JUNE 2017 JOHN EMMS

Finger Eleven-Criminal-Crushing riff, killer lyrics..I always turn this way up..From the album Five Crooked Lines

Frank Turner..Getting Better…Nobody can touch this guy..for sheer integrity..from the cd Positive Songs for Negative People

The Beatles-Getting Better-yep same title..from the 50th anniversary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band..the remix of this is incredible.

Keith Urban-Sun Don’t Let Me Down–yep from the above album..best mix of ANY cd in the past year..killer..turn it up

Sam Roberts Band-Fiend..from the cd TerraForm–scoop this album NOW..HYPNOTIC..STUFF

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Post Media contributor..  Songwriter/Guitarist…with THE SHAFTMEN

JOHN ON TWITTER

11
Jun
17

TIMMINS’ SONIC DEMOCRACY COMES UP BIG ON DEBUT ALBUM/SHOW REVIEW-BY JOHN EMMS

Whether you are 6 or 60 years of age there is something about watching a very unique experience in your local community.
If it happens to be musical for my taste, even better.
Taking in the Sonic Democracy album release concert June 9th was just that.
I always leave inspired and proud from an SD concert but more this year because the culmination of hard work and originality is very evident.
Teacher Barry Promane provides a template that rewards students in an organic way.
Being onstage playing music is a unique feeling like no other.
Not only was it unique but on this show night some of songs from the full album would be celebrated live by students with a passion for music.
It’s also rewarding if you can come up with an album and shows that display diverse talent on stage and recording.
On the recording side the 8 songs are expansive in content.
Personally the tracks The Best Is Yet To Come sung and written by Paitra Walker and Freedom sung and written by Thomas Sebalj are the cornerstones of what it means to be looking forward and backward musically and life-wise.
Sebalj has a tremendous vocal range and Freedom has a Gowan/Queen influence while The Best is Yet to Come has a Lorde type vibe in a more radio-friendly vein.
Elsewhere the bonus track from Dawson Pablo titled No Needs has an Usher meets Justin Bieber coolness.
Elsewhere We Are Golden and the ukulele and solo Kos tune Here For You, heavy riff rocker My Life, Leave Her For Heaven, and the roots rock of I’m Alive are inspired and round out the cd.
  • ​​I ​can’t think of any player on stage Friday night that did not concentrate and play it for real.
I noticed excellent work on record and live on Friday Night from keyboard player Rylan Chisholm guitarists Griffin Tees Jeremy Moore Ryan Brunette Calvin Fleury drummers Ryan Deschamps and Mitchell Dunstan and dynamic vocalists Katie Kirkpatrick, Antony Kos, and Emma Burton.
With a school band of over 25 members it’s impossible to mention everyone.
 I was totally impressed by the way SD handled the harmonies of The Beach Boys and the 4 way acappella version of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah in the concert setting.
The album is available worldwide..so check it out.
Just go and get it folks!!!
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist and Post Media writer. John is also the songwriter and vocalist with Canuck Rockers  THE SHAFTMEN
JOHN IS ON TWITTER
19
Mar
17

CHIP TAYLOR-A SONG I CAN LIVE WITH “SUBLIME ROOTS MAGIC”- CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

Chip Taylor’s songs have a way of making you feel at home anywhere in the World.

There are not a heck of a lot of songwriters that can pull that off folks.

On his new album A Song I Can Live With Taylor again cuts to the heart of the matter.

The first two songs Crazy Girl and Until it Hurts flesh out a sublime mix that blends J.J. Cale Johnny Cash and Taylor’s genuine spoken word storytelling.

Only Taylor can reference a treadmill, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Eric Anderson and honesty and make it stick in your heart.

That folks is the magic of Chip Taylor aka James Wesley Voight.

The texture that multi-instrumentalist/piano player Goran Grini adds to the songs brings them to a whole new level.

In fact with John Platania (yes one time Van Morrison brilliant guitarist) adding such killer dynamics on tracks such as Save Your Blues And Your Money and Little Angel Wings it’s up to Taylor to infuse any song with genuine warmth and often humour.

The Title track is a heartbreaking number in a Kris Kristofferson vibe that every songwriter would love to have written.

Without question anyone seeking out this album MUST first check out Taylor’s brilliant opus Little Brothers probably one of the best written albums of the last five years.

Make no mistake A Song I Can Live With is not rock n’ roll.

It’s acoustic roots supreme.

John Emms is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media/Post Media contributor, songwriter and blues rock bandleader with THE SHAFTMEN

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

 

08
Mar
17

STEVE KOZAK BAND, JEREMIAH JOHNSON BAND-CD REVIEWS JOHN EMMS

Dynamic, and passionate if the songs and performances you hear on Jeremiah Johnson Band’s latest album Blues Heart Attack don’t get to you then you better check your pulse.

The sheer grit of Room of Fools, the Marshall Tucker Band feel of Skip That Stone and the jazzy textures of Flat Line where we encounter the lines “Flat Line Baby I had a blues heart attack” are superb.

Besides Johnson’s soulful vocals and guitar work the section of bassist Jeff Girardier and drummer Benet Schaeffer swing. Just check out the tracks Get It In the Middle, Everybody Party and Talk Too Much which also features keyboard man Nathan Hershey and sax man Frank Bauer who make strong contributions to this album.

Other standouts are Southern Drawl and the ballad Here We Go Again.

Exceptional work!!!

You just have to break out and smile when you hear the new album by The Steve Kozak Band It’s Time.

Mixing Chicago and Texas blues styles with great roots music Kozak’s guitar work and vocals shine on the opener Cane Sugar Sweet,  the bar room swing of That’s Cool With Me, and the Georgia-esque chord pattern of Stranger In My Hometown.

Elsewhere the swampy Trouble features the Axe Murderer Matthew Rogers and then watch out their is the very hip cover of Anson Funderburgh’s One Woman I Need.

Tone and feel is everywhere on this album.

Just check out the great taste on the covers of Love, Life and Money, Kiddio and Every Night and Every Day which also guests the Harpoonist Shawn Hall.

You want authentic?

Then check out this album which also features strong chops from Kozak’s band bassist Roger Brant, Dave Webb’s keys and the solid stick work of Chris Nordquist.

Very nice indeed folks.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post and Sun Media contributor and musician.

JOHN is on Twitter

 

07
Feb
17

THE BLUES, ROOTS AND MORE-REVIEWS LUCAS HANEMEN EXPRESS, DAWN TYLER WATSON, AND TEXAS BLUES/ROOTS BETH GARNER – BY JOHN EMMS

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Lucas Hanemen Express-Tearing Up the Rails.-Wow, so much variety and tons of dynamics. Check the funky Give Me Life, the soul of Waiting at Your Door, or the excellent roots of Storybook Love which later explodes. Impressive you bet.

Dawn Tyler Watson-Jawbreaker-This is full band DTW and it smokes. Fresh off her win at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis Watson goes Aretha-esque on Shine On,  rolls it out on the whiplash rock n’ roll of Son of A Gun and sings the hell out of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young.  Easily one of the best vocalists in any genre. This is soul baby!!!

Beth Garner-Snake Farm-Can’t say I’m a fan of the Snake cover art, but Beth Garner gets it done for real folks.  A heck of a cool guitarist and amen to her killer band on this album, Check out the groove of Backdoor Freddie, the intoxication of Wish I Was or the smoking Used to Be. I say T for Texas and a holler of a big B for Beth. Get some of this folks!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, also with Post Media/Sun Media and blues/roots songwriter with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

           

 

07
Feb
17

JOHN MAYALL REVIEW-TALK ABOUT THAT-“CONSISTENT, URGENT AND NOW” BY JOHN EMMS

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Track for track John Mayall’s latest album Talk About That is required blues listening because it is urgent and now!

The reason is simple, Mayall loves music. It is a life force.

Even his work in the last 15 years excels, let alone his 60’s and 70’s work.

Along for The Ride, Road Dogs, In the Palace of the King, Tough or A Special Life are all sturdy albums.

At 83 John Mayall does not live in the past.

He doesn’t need to.

Recorded in 3 days with drummer Jay Davenport, bassist Greg Rzab, guitarist Rocky Athas and Mayall himself this album speaks modern grooves.

The title track is funky, and jumps out of the speakers, Eagle Joe Walsh (yes that Joe Walsh)  burns an extended solo on the excellent The Devil Must Be Laughing and plays a vibrant slide solo on Cards On The Table.

Elsewhere the horns on Don’t Deny Me and It’s Hard Going Up both covers have Mayall and the band putting out big time especially with the killer guitar solo on Don’t Deny me from Athas.

Mayall will hit the road as a trio and it will be completely interesting.

But right now you have Talk About That which is a treasure!

JOHN EMMS is a blues roots singer-songwriter, and 30 year published music journalist working with all major and indie labels.

Check,  John with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570             

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

23
Dec
16

JOHN’S X-MAS ROCK LISTENING DEC 2016-THE LAST WALTZ/ DARK SIDE OF THE MOON-HAPPY HOLIDAYS

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Music albums or the complete purchase of an artist’s work was at times a statement on how you lived your life and how you felt emotionally.
In the Christmas season at our house I am still affected by music I first bought on vinyl and then again bought digitally.
The more tougher the year has been, the more I crave that original feeling I had with certain pieces of music.
This year has been very hard.
So what do I do?
You guessed it. I bring out what makes me feel good.
In 2016 I’m not sure if for example Drake and Adele fans are buying up their vinyl albums or the complete cd so they can feel the whole scope of what the artist was trying to achieve.
Will they still listen 40 years from now?
Quite possibly.
Christmas and at all points now in the year, it’s a fast digital world.
Yet today in 2016 old musical feelings I had still had then are now true to me 40 years later on an emotional and philosophical level
In 1978 when The Last Waltz triple album by The Band was released I purchased it knowing I had a steady job at the mine.
I had a little extra cash.
A triple album was a big purchase at least in the stereo album department
I had married Anna the year before and had cut back some on my live band playing.
But I still wanted to buy new music
This particular album documented The Band’s farewell concert which took place at Bill Graham’s Winterland Ballroom
I was a huge fan right from their debut album Music From Big Pink, so this purchase was kind of a final must have.
Every Christmas that album would come out from my storage shelf and I dropped the needle down to listen for 90 minutes or so.
Hearing The Band rip through songs like Stage Fright, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Life Is A Carnival which to my ears were better than the original studio takes was a joy.
Having guest artists like Ronnie Hawkins, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Muddy Waters was icing on the cake.
In the same vein, I recently just purchased Robbie Robertson’s exciting and inspirational new book Testimony, which dedicates the first 30 pages about the influence of Ronnie Hawkins who i had interviewed.
As a musician The Last Waltz represents why being a player and songwriter is so important whatever level you reach.
Full circle folks, each holiday season The Last Waltz is part of it
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon has been played every Christmas every year in every house i have lived in since 1973.
That is quite a statement.
I had bought it originally at Sam The Record Man in Toronto Yonge Street location
Beginning and ending with a heartbeat i can’t think of another piece of continuous music that reflects life as i have experienced it.
I can tell you whether it’s songs like Breathe, The Great Gig In the Sky, Us and Them or Money the music on Dark Side brings unity.
As the ending song Eclipse states in part, “All that you Touch, All That You See, All That is Now and All that is Gone”  always works for me.
In the end, two distinct pieces of music that bring me joy during the holiday season.
Happy Holidays
JOHN EMMS
01
Dec
16

TRIBE ROYAL-COLOURS OF THE SUN-“RADIANT GUITAR POP SUBSTANCE” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Somewhere between the rock and pop of  Big Star, early Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and REM lies Canada’s Tribe Royal

The band’s new album Colours of the Sun interweaves magical guitar pop with ambitious songs.

Catching Up opens up the cd with an almost Sloan/REM vibe, Wasting Time jangles in a mid 60’s Byrds/Skydiggers mode and the guitar hook and harmonies of My Kind of Girl takes it’s cue from a Brit Pop 1965 vibe.

If that was not enough College Radio should be all over songs such as I’m Not Gonna Wait, the almost Greg Keelor/Outskirts haunting moan of Loraine and the gorgeous ballad Don’t You Change which ends with a killer guitar solo.

Impressive?

You bet.

North American Radio and fans should welcome this band with open arms!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post Media contributor, and singer-songwriter with Canadian rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

 

20
Nov
16

THE ARGUES-SOMETHING NEW-‘SUPERIOR POP/ROOTS JANGLE” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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The Argues debut album Something New is pure roots/pop that simply sparkles.

The sonic sweep of the harmonies on the title track along with the chunky rock n’ roll of Get It Done just knocks you over.

16 year old main lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sabrina Argue is always confident but then again the sweet vocal by her sister Lauren on Living Our Lives is gorgeous roots at it’s best.

Mother and Father Michael and Chantale guitar and drums also co-write a number of the songs on this six song EP.

The first single Run Till I Drop is original and exciting pop.

Exhilarating debut and as the song says The Best Is Yet To Be

Wow!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor and songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-baby-says-single/id646408621

JOHN is on Twitter

 

20
Nov
16

SUGAR RAY AND THE BLUETONES-SEEING IS BELIEVING-“FIERCE BLUES POWER”CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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When guitarist Monster Mike Welsh stabs out his guitar solo on the title track of this new album you quickly realize this is the real thing.

That is not new info for this veteran band.

Along with the opening Sweet Baby and the rollicking Sugar Ray harp punch of Blind Date it is however confirmation.

Check out the rolling piano 88’s on Noontime Bell with Anthony Geraci or the killer 50’s echo vocal by Norcia on Got a Gal or even the powerful Two Hundred Dollars Too Long

This stuff smokes.

The band rarely ventures out of the songwriting pocket to blues rock or jazz and if that’s ok with you, this is your ticket to the real thing!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post/Sun Media contributor and heads up his own blues rocking band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

07
Nov
16

MONKEYJUNK-TIME TO ROLL-“ACCESSIBLE, IN THE MOMENT SONGS’ CD REVIEW-BY JOHN EMMS

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MonkeyJunk’s latest album Time To Roll showcases tight and accessible songs that sound immediate and in the moment

The band has refined it’s approach to writing and playing and this album sparkles with that groove.

It reminds me some of The Fabulous Thunderbirds work that stayed true to their roots but also grew them a much bigger audience.

For example Time to Roll, See The Sign and a great cover of The Hunter are killer mainstream blues rock performances that really work.

Recorded at Signal Path Studios with Ken Friesen the big acoustic strum. catchy electric riff, and superb vocals on Pray for Rain written with Paul Reddick just can’t miss.

That goes ditto for the smooth Kim Wilson-esque R & B of Can’t Call You Baby  and the mad shuffle on the song Gone.

Honestly, this album is the most focused I have heard the Canuck trio.

The  essential move by simply adding bass guitar to the mix also works wonders.

It is indeed Time To Roll

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist of 30 plus years, a blues/roots songwriter and heads up his own blues rock band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

 

 

24
Oct
16

OURS AND MY NORTH, SECRET PATH, GORD DOWNIE-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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It’s not the “norm” to not talk about the music right away in a review when I write.

But first some context.

Growing up in the mid sixties in Northern Ontario and going to school in South Porcupine (5,000  people) 5 miles from Timmins everything seemed the way it should be.

It was for us a Mining culture. Your Dad was a lifer, and many of us worked the summers at the mine.

In public school and at high school even though I knew many First Nations acquaintances, in class, out of class, everything seemed cool hanging out on the surface.

That may be hard for some to understand in 2016 but I’m being honest here.

Yet, none of my friends and I  knew nothing of  the misuse of Governments, and Churches further up the treeline.

We did not know of how their culture and families were being broken up.

Maybe the conversation was not that deep at 17 or 18 years of age in 1970?

Nobody told us.

It was never talked about if we were standing watching a hockey game, or later on having a beer downtown.

Yet fast forward to 2016 my wife and I sat stunned last night as CBC broadcast Secret Path.

It was mind blowing, gut wrenching, we could hardly speak

I had been playing the audio tracks for a few days, but with the documentary and animation it had a generational impact on us both.

I’m 64 years of age folks and if takes Gord Downie to show me things up North where I live have never been harder, so be it.

Let’s be honest our mutual friend Charlie Angus has been the leader and educator on these tragedies while taking a proactive approach.

Both Gord and Charlie know this is a crisis. A Canada wide crisis.

Musically, most songwriters don’t go this deep.

Even Gord’s work with the Hip which has been groundbreaking at times in the group’s career has never cut this close to the bone.

The concept of the album and the true story of Chanie Wenjack a 12 year old indigenous boy who ran away from a Kenora school 50 years ago is powerful.

Chanie later died on a railway track from exposure.

That is something that this country should know about for all kinds of reasons let alone the seven generations who were affected.

The sheer isolation you will feel on the songs like The Stranger, Seven Matches, and the title track I cannot describe musically despite the mostly acoustic instrumentation and Downie’s voice.

This has to be felt.

I find it amazing this album sat on the shelf since 2013.

I also have to say the organic approach that musicians/producers Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin as well as graphic novelist Jeff Lemire give is essential to this recording.

On the songs I Haunt Them, Haunt them, Haunt them, and the closer Here, Here, Here where Downie sings about the despair of dying alone with visions of ravens and the wind in the trees I felt shame.

On the big screen as my wife and I sat comfortable in our living room watching the broadcast the hurt was very real.

Maybe this fifth solo album will be Gord Downie’s  last album.

I hope not.

I honestly think it’s his most important work and as he has mentioned the most good for his heart.

Growing up all these years in the North it never occurred to me in 2016 I would learn such a lesson that presents itself with this project.

JOHN EMMS is veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter and contributor to Sun Media and Post Media

John also fronts his own band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter

 

 

20
Oct
16

JW-JONES HIGH TEMPERATURE-“JONES BRINGS THE HEAT” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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It’s very clear the new JW-Jones album High Temperature continues to build upon the solid foundation of his last album Belmont Boulevard.

However, on High Temperature producer Colin Linden makes an immediate impact by condensing Jones natural blues talent into a more traditional roots southern style.

You can hear this all over the album starting with the first two tracks. Price You Pay and How Many Hearts a superb rave-up duo with country singer-songwriter Jaida Dreyer.

Jones’ B.B. King-esque lead guitar solos and fills are still played with the same passion even as he dips into the amplified Chicago vibe of the Little Walter title track.

Working with his very capable touring band of Laura Greenberg and Mathieu Lapensee this album is integrated with the big addition of Kevin McKendree’s keyboard playing on almost every track.

The layering of organ to tracks like Who I Am, Away Too Long and the fantastic R & B Memphis vibe of Same Mistakes brings in a very Reese Wynans vibe.

The teaming up of Jones with songwriter Dick Cooper (The Cooper Brothers) produces sparks on the excellent Leave Me Out and Already Know which reminds of me mid seventies Elvin Bishop.

The covers of Moby Grape’s Murder In My Heart for The Judge and Charlie Rich’s Midnight Blues are excellent Americana choices although as noted they expand out of  Jones live trio format.

Mixing Americana with blues is not new, but it feels simply righteous on this album.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter and Sun and Post Media contributor.

JOHN leads his own blues rocking band THE SHAFTMEN  who are now working on their fourth release.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on Twitter

13
Oct
16

THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS-STRONG LIKE THAT-70’s SOULFUL-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Soulful , grooved out, and steeped in dynamics Strong Like That The Fabulous Thunderbirds new album gets better with repeated listens.

I can’t say why but if this album was made in the mid 70’s it would not seem out of place.

That’s a good thing friends.

Al Jackson’s Drowning on Dry Land, Kim Wilson’s own Smooth which sounds like killer radio fare, the swampy cover of R & B singer Paul Kelly’s You’re Gonna Miss Me and the excellent title track are flat out superb.

Kim Wilson’s lead vocals and harp work are steeped in confidence and soul, and keyboard man Kevin Anker’s feel on every track adds a glue that is essential to the sound of the band.

Other highlights include the smoky groove of Where’s Your Love Been, The Cate Brothers vibe of Don’t Burn Me and the killer funky groove cover of (I Know) I’m Losing You.

Despite their past superb cred Strong Like That is ample proof this band is as vital as it’s ever been.

Wow!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media/Post Media contributor and singer songwriter with Canadian Blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter

25
Sep
16

THOMAS WADE-BLUE COUNTRY SOUL-“SMOOTH TOUCH OF CLASS” CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Class is not a word you hear often when speaking of an artist’s music but Thomas Wade’s new album Blue Country Soul is classy, smooth and intoxicating.

I will say I was not a huge fan of his previous band Wayward.

Although the hits were numerous in a short span (1996 to 1999) the songs here have much more soul, heart and integrity.

From the gentle opening Funny What Makes You Cry, the Bakersfield vibe of Lock the Door, and the superb and righteous 60’s soul/pop of That’s What Love looks Like, Wade and his excellent band of Steve O’Connor, John Dymond and Gary Craig rule with dynamics and feel.

Wade and the band rock it up on A Lot to Unlearn and deliver big in a jazzy/blues take (check out Wade’s guitar solo) on the classic country gem Am I That Easy To Forget.

As a bonus this album is superbly engineered in an almost vinyl type of way.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun/Post media Contributor and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

 

 

06
Sep
16

DUKE ROBILLARD- BLUES FULL CIRCLE-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS-‘”WORTH WAITIN’ ON”

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The other day barbecuing a few steaks with friends I blasted out Lay a Little Lovin On Me with it’s dirty down guitar fills and solo.

A few guys asked (early 50″s) Who Is this?

I replied Duke Robillard and his band.

Nope.

Have you heard of the Fabulous Thunderbirds?

Yes of course.

He replaced Jimmie Vaughan way back when.

No way was the answer. Yes way.

I was not going to go into the whole Duke or Roomful of Blues history or my wife would kill me sitting about 5 feet away.

Suffice to say as Mourning Dove drifted across our patio with Duke ripping another cool solo, it was decided, let’s leave this on.

Mission accomplished.

Of course Duke and his All-Star band sure as heck don’t need my help.

Pretty soon I was boppin to Last Night with Sugar Ray Norcia and Sax Gordon Beadle sitting in and later ditto with the track The Mood Room with a rollicking piano/vocal from Kelly Hunt.

Everyone was smiling.

A bit later, holy crap it’s Jimmie Vaughan himself trading licks with Duke and there is a honkin’ Baritone sax on Shufflin’ and Scufflin’

Folks, Mr Robillard is back from surgery and rehabilitation.

I’m sure Duke and the band are happy.

We are.

You can pick up Duke’s new CD just about anywhere on the planet.

Worth waitin’ on I would say.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor..and YES

John is the songwriter/guitarist who shuffles and scuffles with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN IS ON TWITTER

05
Sep
16

RONNIE EARL AND THE BROADCASTERS-MAXWELL STREET-“GOSPEL IN THOSE FINGERS”

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If the term gospel could be applied to music coming through the fingers of a guitarist then those hands would belong to Ronnie Earl.

That gorgeous tone opens up his latest album Maxwell Street with the heavenly ambience of Mother Angel a major seventh chord pattern that allows Earl and organ player Dave Limina plenty of room to breathe.

Essentially this album leaves space.

Most of the songs are overall slower in tempo than some tracks such as Spann’s Groove or the rockin Blues for the South  Side from previous albums.

Having said that it allows the  band and the listener to be one with the players.

Check out the great feel on the track Elegy for a Bluesman written by Limina.

The song written for the late David Maxwell the former Broadcaster and inspiration for the cd title is bathed in the blue light of Bluesmen past.

Wow.

Although no one could top the Gladys Knight version of her hit I’ve Got to Use My Imagination or the Manfred Mann/Ray Charles version of You Don’t Know Me written by Eddy Arnold vocalist Diane Blue the band’s newest member is a great singer.

Having said that, at times but not always Earl’s fills are a bit busy when she is doing her lead vocal.

The best moments are of course the exceptional Blues for David Maxwell where Limina displays incredible feel on his piano solo and Earl uses his bends and jazzy figures with a Wes Montgomery vibe.

It’s crazy good folks.

I have to say my spotlight has been with Earl and the band’s original material and there are six of them here.

Either way Earl and his band play with deep sensitivity at every turn.

NOTE.. This excellent album is due out September 9

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter/guitarist with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John ON TWITTER

28
Aug
16

HONEYMOON SUITE, HELIX ROCK TIMMINS KAYAK FEST-AUGUST 27 2016 REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Love Changes Everything to quote a Honeymoon Suite song is exactly the way a massive Timmins crowd responded when the band not only pulled out all of their hits but did so with a killer show at The Great Canadian Kayak Festival Saturday night.
This has been a banner year for Timmins music fans and it only got better when Canuck metal bangers Helix smacked the crowd upside the head for 60 minutes with opening sets from local rockers Drivyn and Timmins born A.K. McLeod now out of Hamilton played his hometown for the first time.
HMS had the entire crowd singing Wave Babies, Stay In The Light, Feel It Again and New Girl Now while lead vocalist Johnnie Dee sounding the best I have heard him through the years connected with a rain soaked crowd.
It was as if the crowd was transported back to 1985.
The entire band with killer solos all night from guitarist Derry Grehan, and solid backing from keyboard man Peter Nunn, bassist Gary Lalonde and massive stick work from drummer Dave Betts rocked a very large audience.
A.K. McLeod delivered a very solid blues rock set and local hard rockers Drivyn totally impressed the crowd with originals and covers of Deep Purple and Jimi Hendrix.
After the Fireworks Helix hit the stage at 10 p.m.
The Canuck metal rockers played their hits Wild In the Streets, The Kids Are All Shakin, Rock You and others like the killer Deep Cuts The Knife while lead vocalist Brian Vollmer charmed the crowd with in between song banter.
In a big surprise was the band’s newer songs like Gene Simmons Says Rock Is Dead and Even Jesus Wasn’t Loved in His Hometown drew heavy applause.
Timmins Kayak Fest has continued to evolve with a great roster of artist music bookings and literally thousands of people have responded in a big way.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media/Post Media contributor and songwriter/guitarist with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN ON TWITTER

 

26
Aug
16

ROSS NEILSEN-ELEMENTAL-CD REVIEW -BLUE ROUTE VIA ROOTS ROAD-BY JOHN EMMS

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For all the right reasons the best songs on Ross Neilsen’s cd Elemental are songs such as the rootsy Nobody Get’s Lonely, the gorgeous City of Regret co-written with Paul Reddick and the Blue Rodeo vibe of

Step Into the Light.

Though Neilsen is blues infused his roots road serves up the goods time in and time out on Elemental.

Producer Steve Marriner has a ton of experience and puts it to excellent use to pull out the emotion of Neilsen’s voice on tracks like the MonkeyJunk-esque Woman’s Name the jazzy textures of The Arrow and

the funky take on Willie P. Bennett’s Ballad In Low E

Not enough can be said about the great Jimmy Bowskill. His guitar solos, pedal steel work or any for that matter any stringed instrument are simply jaw dropping.

Sometimes music is made for the right reasons and Ross Neilsens’s Elemental is secure in that category.

JOHN EMMS is veteran music journalist, musician, songwriter and Sun Media/Post Media contributor.

JOHN can be heard with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John On Twitter

 

06
Jul
16

KENNY BLUES BOSS WAYNE-JUMPIN’ & BOPPIN-CD REVIEW “JOYFUL SOUND”-BY JOHN EMMS

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Kenny Blues Boss Wayne creates a joyous ‘groovy’ album with Jumpin’ and Boppin’ his latest cd.

And there is never anything wrong with slippin’ this cd on at a barbecue or riding down the highway.

It rocks on Bankrupted Blues, it grooves on the fantastic Blues Stew and it gets Jimmy Reed-esque on Blackmail Blues.

Duke Robillard stabs in lead guitar all over the album and with KBBW’s supple piano chops you’re in bop land with the great horn section.

One of the best performances comes late in the album with the exceptional Back To Square One. This song has a 60’s Ray Charles feel.

KBBW also does a great cover of You Don’t Know Me which Charles brought into the top of billboard top 5 in 1962.

As Kenny says “If you don’t know how to rock you sure can roll”

Amen to that

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post Media contributor, and singer-songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

check out their latest summer drive blues song Burning Rubber & Gasoline

 

05
Jul
16

LEE AARON-CONCERT REVIEW/TIMMINS JUNE 26TH/HERITAGE ARTISTS-by John Emms

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Two things you should know about Lee Aaron before heading out to see her concert tour or any other acts this summer.

She and her band are in vintage form and her new album Fire and Gasoline  is an intelligent highly listenable rock album.

At a recent tour stop in Timmins, Aaron and her great band “killed it”

Aaron’s set was a muscular one behind the excellent section of drummer John Cody, bassist Dave Reimer and the keyboards/guitar from Kevin Saulnier.

On the front end the expansive technique and superb chops of lead guitarist Sean Kelly provided plenty of firepower.

Aaron’s formidable front lady/voice and sometimes metal queen persona were never in doubt from the opening salvo of Tomboy from her latest album.

In fact if had 10 dollars from every person who approached me after the show or in the following days with the line “Wow, John, Lee Aaron’s voice sounded fantastic” I would have my summer vintage wine selection ready for consumption.

Whether it was songs such as Whatcha Do to My Body, Some Girls Do or Metal Queen (which I banged my head to) or the new and very catchy Fire and Gasoline title track and Bad Boyfriend the band hit a groove that was organic as hell.

However, the one thing that elevates Aaron is her connection to the fans.

It is without a doubt, a total joy to witness.

It is a lock folks!

Stay tune with me later this year when I get my iTunes music podcast back on track with a format that will include Roots/Rock/and Blues.

When Artists such Lee Aaron and others create new and exciting work I will let you know.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun and Post media contributor, former radio host and singer-songwriter with Canadian Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

to read john’s interview with Lee

http://www.timminspress.com/2016/06/22/lee-aaron-playing-parkfest-on-tour-of-diverse-new-cd

JOHN is on TWITTTER

03
Jun
16

MARK MAY BAND-BLUES HEAVEN-“CONSISTENT HIGH QUALITY SONGS AND CHOPS”-BY JOHN EMMS

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It may seem strange this long into a career but Blues Heaven is Mark May’s most consistent song cycle and radio ready album.

The title track is easily the most soulful song any Bluesman has written in the last few years with killer solos by May and sax man Eric Demmer

May is a chameleon of many blues styles.

There is the Jimmy Vaughan influence of She’s a Keeper, the Warren Haynes vibe of Almost Like A Suicide and the Butterfield Blues Band roll of Put Down That Poison.

Other standouts are the R & B groove of Garden of Truth and the superb Bernard Allison vibe on Money (not the Pink Floyd track)

Excellent work, great band.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and singer-Songwriter with Canadian Blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

03
Jun
16

DAVE INSLEY-JUST THE WAY THAT I AM-“BOOTS ON COUNTRY”-BY JOHN EMMS

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Dave Insley’s new cd Just The Way I Am is boots on country, authentic and real.

Opening with the excellent Drinkin’ Wine and Staring at the Phone is classic 60’s Bakersfield via Austin Texas, while the minor chord I Don’t Know How this Story Ends has a Merle Haggard vibe.

This is total mid 60’s throwback Honky Tonk as evidenced on No One To Come To or Win Win Situation for Losers, yet there is a tenderness to the superb title track .

The musicians on the album are totally key to the album’s charm in particular Rick Shea’s guitar work and the excellent piano chops of Matt Hubbard.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is also on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

30
May
16

THE HIP-MAN MACHINE POEM-“THE TRUTH AND THE FAITH IN THE POWER OF SONG” BY JOHN EMMS

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Due out June 17th the Tragically Hip’s new album Man Machine Poem is a testament that the band’s connection and emotional resonance with fans has evolved together.

Off the top I can tell you that after five complete listens it becomes clear there are at least 4 or 5  songs on Man Machine Poem that will kill at radio, yet as a whole the album forges new sonic textures.

How is this possible?

The Hip simply remain true to what they do best.

And that is write memorable songs about life’s everyday experiences.

Like Blue Rodeo, Stompin Tom Connors, Tom Cochrane and even the game of hockey The Hip have faith that what they do matters to Canadians.

Opening the cd with the haunting song Man, the band goes dark pinned by a powerful vocal by singer Gord Downie.

It’s a gutsy type of psychedelia that gives way to a soon to be Hip classic on the next song In a World Possessed By The Human Mind.

Pulsating to the backbeat of Johnny Fay it shivers, and shakes your speakers with a 90’s Day for Night rumble.

What Blue is easily one of the band’s most vulnerable, loving, yet absorbed songs in the context of love.

If you could say this new song defines Gord Downie in the present so be it.

Yet again a laid back groove builds intense on the track Great Soul where Rob Baker and Paul Langlois’ guitars surround and weave hypnotic as Downie lays it bare.

Elsewhere the acoustic Tired As Fuck has a mid 90’s Trouble at the Henhouse feel.

The song suits perfectly to me at least the 2016 approach to the highs and lows and often mundane of what keeps us up at night.

Both Hot Mic and Here in the Dark could be live faves.

In fact, the whole band drives on both songs.

The tracks crackle with the inventive bass work of Gord Sinclair, and again the guitar weld of Langlois and Baker.

Drummer Johnny Fay pushes Downie to his front man best.

The pretty In Sarnia and Ocean Next are atmospheric and revealing, the latter in an almost Led Zeppelin acoustic mold.

Producers Kevin Drew and Dave Hamelin have somehow transformed New Hip vibes while never leaving the past too far in the rear view mirror.

Man Machine Poem proves beyond a doubt that as players and friends The Hip as a unit are one of the most exciting acts on any stage on any given night.

Even with such a storied catologue taking chances as they do on this album has never sounded so righteous.

NOTE. Album is due out June 17th

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Post Media contributor and singer songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

30
May
16

DAVID VEST-DEVASTATIN’ RHYTHM-THE REAL THING AGAIN-BY JOHN EMMS

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David Vest’s new album Devestatin’ Rhythm proves that despite technological advances you can’t beat a great blues combo that play with real feel.

Check out the new tracks Stop This Madness, or Staring Down the Barrel of The Blues. Great lyrics, solos that count and that storytelling vocal work by Vest.

Vest’s Mojo  is working’ folks.

If that was not enough the funky slinky The Blues Lives On with it’s name checking of artists is sublime and so is the solo piece Red Dirt Remedy.

Can’t say enough good things about the stellar guitar work of Teddy Leonard and band mates Gary Kendall and Mike Fitzpatrick

Talk about in the pocket!

Meanwhile tracks such as Kingsnake, West Coast Saturday Night and Biscuit Rollin Baby will get you out of your chair..

If you were born too late to experience rock n’ roll and blues in it’s purest form this is a good place to start.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/Sun and Post Media contributor and singer-songwriter with Canuck Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

30
May
16

STONY PLAIN 40 YEARS-THIS IS WHAT MAKING RECORDS IS ALL ABOUT-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

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Chances are if an artist has songs that contain passion and integrity then Stony Plain or Holger Peterson on his Saturday Night Blues radio show have brought them to an International audience.

Stony Plain is a record company, Holger is a record man, these are records.

And may I say amen to that!

You have to know the difference between records and albums and cd’s and mass music.

When you dig that then you know why Peterson and Stony Plain stands for something

The great thing about Stony Plain’s 40th is that among the 57-track, three-CD album, you find gems of  music from singer/songwriters,  blues, R&B, gospel, swing, jazz genres and much more.

I can’t tell you how much of a thrill it was to find Bob Carpenter who I had never heard.

2 tracks Mister Blue and Satan’s Golden Chain have a tremendous impact on your gut emotion.

Ditto goes for the track Shingle by Shingle by Eric Bibb and also new tracks Mourning Dove by Paul Reddick, No More Cheap Wine by the great Colin Linden or Kenny Blues Boss Wayne’s new track Bankrupted Blues.

This is quality new music.

Maybe you want to hear James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and the great David Wilcox recreate That’s Allright Mama or It Takes Time by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.

One thing is certain you may want to pick up your guitar and woodshed a wee bit more after you hear the above mentioned.

This whole project is quality, care and passion.

JOHN EMMS is long time veteran music journalist, long time music lover and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

The band have released 3 albums and working  on their fourth..Check them out here

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

19
May
16

4 TIME JUNO WINNER PREVAIL TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW PROJECT THE ALPHA OMEGA

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Since the late 90’s PREVAIL has been all over the world gigging. He recorded over 10 cd’s with Swollen Members many of them going Gold and Platinum. His new work is with this nephew in the group The Alpha Omega. We conducted an intelligent and insightful interview and I was excited to hear how urgent their new work is.
“Even though my nephew is in this project Alpha Omega and he is as you mentioned family we could not expect everything to correlate on stage or in the studio. Having said that I was overwhelmed by the progress we made from the beginning” explains Prevail calling in from Calgary about the group’s new EP The Strain.
“I even explained I could show him some short cuts and different styles but he wanted to develop his own style of writing and wordplay and he has turned into an amazing emcee in a short amount of time, adds the multi-Juno Award winner and gold and platinum selling artist and co-founder of Swollen Members.
Neph (Corey Joseph) is the elite of Vancouver’s next generation of hungry emcee’s, who has also been privy to the behind-the-scenes workings of the industry throughout his new career.
Together, Prevail and Neph form Alpha Omega.
To be sure, the new cd The Strain shows the duo in excellent form dropping big time hooks and excellent wordplay
Timmins fans will get to check out the show May 24th at the Working Class.
” I think on the new album as you mentioned and also the former cd The Concept some might say it is a not as dark and heavy as some of The Swollen stuff.
Initially we wanted to get out of the gate and have fun but on The Strain tracks like Ouroboros S.I.N.S. and Abyss we do have a heavy vocal tonality and the topics have some more meat lyrically.
I have to say this group has been a dream come true and I want to bring this project to as many people as possible”
Long known as one of one of Canada’s superb free stylers Prevail has not altered his lyric attack.
“Well, I like it when people don’t get the lyrics on the first listen says Prevail. I stick my lyrics in a compartment a lot like the bands I grew up listening to such as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and more. It’s later you might hear a line in the song and say ahh that’s what they are talking about.
Prevail is also old school in the way he starts to form his songs.
“Yes, I go with a pen and paper. Heck, I wear glasses and if I had to look at the keyboard every time I wanted to rhyme it would not work Prevail says with a laugh.
Having said that Neph or I may come in with some stuff but it’s really the passing off of improvised lyrics that is a great way to explore each others writing process”
With the enormous success of Swollen Members who released nine studio albums, one greatest hits album and 2 compilations Prevail considers this part of his career as important in every context.
” I think some artists may think you have to chase the last great single or album they made. It’s a dangerous mindset and I learned early on that you could get into trying to duplicate those feats and that limits you in creating new magic.
Just recently we did an all ages show and a young man around 13 says wow I really love Alpha Omega with Neph and I asked him how he heard abut us and he said his dad was really into Swollen Members but I love this thing. I think it’s great a new generation can take ownership of something now and later when they do some digging it will lend some substance to what they were already gravitating towards” says Prevail
“I have had a number of musical comrades say the feel they are watching the Prevail from 15 years ago and now with Neph and all the new songs I feel re-invigorated. We live for the live show and it is gong to be exciting”
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter with Canadian blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN
 https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570
JOHN is also on TWITTER
19
May
16

MAY RUN/VICTORIA DAY WEEKEND PLAYLIST-FEATURES ALL CANADIAN/PLUS NORTHERN ARTISTS

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This year I thought we would go with an all Canadian list for our May Run PLAYLIST
As you know each year..we change the artist and song list..This year  North Bay, Timmins, Attawapisktat and more were included
For the most part, we tried to stay away from obvious hits.
You hear those all the time. I like to use the old school term even though all these tracks are downloadable, which makes it easy for me and you.
A drum roll please.
Midnight Shine -Northern Man-Attawapiskat and First Nations identity is a big part of this band’s sound. I just love the production values of the title track. You need this song and the whole album. A must have.
Alan Doyle- 1, 2, 3, 4-Doyle will be up in Kirkland Lake June 24th with the Arkells and both bands make this year’s list. High energy rocker from Doyle’s cd So Let’s Go.
Johnny Reid-When The Sun Goes Down-From his cd What Love is All About. Great roots based rocker, Johnny just has that killer voice. Heck there is even a snappy organ solo. Cool
Tom Cochrane-Sunday Afternoon Hang-“the drinks are cold and the days are hot” Are you kidding? Wow, this is a great summer or a May Run anthem from his latest cd Take It Home.
Colin James-Stay-Absolute fave. Heavy vocal from Colin. Great guitar tone, reminds of his version of a Rolling Stones feel. I pulled this from Take It From The Top, Best of Colin James
Lee Holmes-It’s No Secret-Iroquois Falls native and blues rocker who now does gigs in Italy a good part of the year. Solid album. Check it out.
Honeymoon Suite-What Does It Take-Since the band will be here in late August at the Kayak Fest we just had to include this classic ballad from their cd The Big Prize
SAB-Little Girl- From the cd Flyin High Livin Free-One of Sab’s catchiest songs. Nice baritone sax, cool vocals, guitar solo by Sab and the band sounds just right. Miss that guy big time!
Arkells-Come to Light-One of Canada’s most creative newer acts. From the cd High Noon.
Jake and the Fundamentals-Nothing But Fine-The boys from North Bay add to our list with this catchy blues rocker from their cd Blues & Rhythm.
The Shaftmen-Bright Lights Big City-The only cover we have done. Original by Jimmy Reed with this one. Jack De Keyzer produced and played on it and yes it rocks.
The Skydiggers-We Don’t Talk Much Anymore-When I feel a little low on relationships this is one of my fave drinking songs from the band. I pulled this from the 22 track cd The Truth About Us
Glorious Sons-Heavy-This is pure rock n roll new Canuck style. Catchy, riff hard and oh so good.
Coming to Timmins this summer. From the cd The Union.
Jeff Healey Band-Cruel Little Number-Back to the glory days from 1998. A more polished track, but either way one heck of a great artist and band.
Tragicailly Hip-Boots or Hearts-Classic Hip, but then it’s all classic. And it never falls apart even if Gordie says it does.
Powder Blues Band-What Have I Been Drinking-Classic Canuck blues from the great Vancouver band led by Tom Lavin. I love the live version from Montreux.
Blue Rodeo-Begging You To Let Me In-From one of my fave BR’ cd’s The Days In Between. Killer groove by drummer Glenn Milchem, Jim’s great vocal and a wacked out guitar solo. Never get tired of this track.
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with Canadian Blue Rockers-THE SHAFTMEN
John  is on TWITTER
27
Apr
16

PAUL REDDICK-RIDE THE ONE-“A VITAL RIDE DOWN THE BLUES HIGHWAY” CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

ride the onePaul-Reddick-promo-photo-549x367P REDDICK

Throwing off molten chunks of Sonny Boy Williamson type harp phrases while telling stories often pitted against a driving one chord modal is where you will often find Paul Reddick on his Stony Plain debut release.

As a debut blues album for a new label Ride The One is a vital ride down the blues highway taking more than a few detours.

The first 2 songs Shadows and Celebrate along with the aggressive loud groove of It Goes With You find Reddick scowling out his vocals like he was in the front seat with Howling Wolf driving up from the Delta.

It ain’t safe baby!

The hypnotic Mourning Dove, the R & B of Gotta Find A, the blues rock of Living In Another World, and the very accessible Watersmooth all will kill at radio.

And folks that is important when your “riding out the one” elsewhere on the cd.

This is a much different album than his previous cd Wishbone which was more atmospheric.

Even though the songs are written by Reddick and producer/guitarist Colin Cripps Steve Marriner from Monkeyjunk holds some sway at least in ambience on a few of the tracks

I watched MonkeyJunk in a live context last year with Reddick and some of that feel is evident on Ride The One.

Not many artists would take the chance in the blues landscape to be exciting, brave and refreshing all on one recording.

Unless your name is Paul Reddick.

Album release according to the bio is May 20 2016.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist of over 30 years, a Sun Media music columnist and blues rock singer-songwriter with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is also on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

23
Apr
16

DANNY MARKS-CITIES IN BLUE-AUTHENTICITY AND INSPIRATION-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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With Cities In Blue Danny Marks has created an album that is both authentic and inspired.

In fact, you just don’t hear albums that breathe like the way this baby does!

Even though the songs were used as the soundtrack to the television show, on the cd they come off as songs that hold together.

Houston to L.A. and the excellent Belt Line Blues are prime examples.

On the latter when the song’s dynamics come down and Marks sings in a hushed baritone voice “But I gotta go Mama and my father says hand me the keys” It is sublime.

This is the beginning of many genuine moments that continue to occur on this recording.

Check out the great horn arrangement or the backing vocals by Sherie Marshall on Memphis Got Soul let alone the great groove of Al Cross

It comes off as Mar-Keys approved folks.

Marks nails the vocal and feel on both Heading Down to New Orleans and Blues Came To Chicago the latter with very cool contributions from David Rotundo and Julian Fauth.

Marks and Chris Whitley channel “Ol Satchmo’ (Louis Armstrong) on the cover of Once I Was Crazy, while Lights Out shows off Marks superb Ventures style guitar tone.

Produced by album bassist Alec Fraser and Marks the tracks recorded at various studios sound very vinyl warmth in nature.

And that adds to it’s charm.

We are only barely 5 months into the year and already this album should be on every blues lovers top 10 list.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media columnist, passionate music fan, and singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN is also on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

 

 

22
Apr
16

TIMMINS HEART OF GOLD WEEKEND-PLUS NEW RENEWAL-LEE HANNIGAN, ATWY, SILVERSTEIN..MUCH MORE

All The Wasted Years publicity photo-pat lauzier 1wyatt young live 3lee hannigan

This weekend Heart of Gold Fest is on. Check out The Vic and The Working Class for your rock n’ roll needs.
In fact, all Timmins music festivals seem to be improving the city’s business and artistic side.
Why is this renewal happening?
Could be it be more local coverage, business partners, a good work ethic, better organizing skills, better networking or all of the above I can’t say.
But, I do have to say there seems to be more demand.
This may sound strange considering Timmins’ notorious wait and see attitude through previous years.
I attend shows whenever possible and I don’t see a downside.
Fact is, Timmins fans are scooping up tickets.
The  entire 3 day festival passes have sold out for the Heart of Gold Fest at the Victory Tavern and Working Class Pub
As I write this, individual day shows are still available.
This festival will feature bands from Montreal, Sudbury, Toronto, Timmins and Burlington’s Silverstein who have sold 1 million hard driving hardcore punk albums.
That is a lot of music.
Further to that, with the news that TEFC is just starting to add on more to it’s Rock On the River lineup is also good news.
Expansion is in everyone’s interest.
From my own end I have covered everything from Local Food Bank shows, Club shows, Arena gigs, Porquis Festival, Summer Concert Series, Kayak Festival, Kap Lumberjack Festival, Kirkland Lake Festivals, Iroquois Summerfest, Cochrane Summerfest and yes even played a ton of fundraisers and many gigs with our band The Shaftmen.
From older bands like Soul Doubt, Blind Dog Circus, Compass Rose, BB Wolfe etc  and now Laforge, Lee Hannigan, Head Down and All The Wasted Years it’s been with one purpose.
To showcase the music here in the city.
If indeed large touring acts and the ability to accommodate these artists is the new horizon, then bring it on!
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers The Shaftmen and a roots music podcast host.
check out THE SHAFTMEN here
JOHN IS ON TWITTER
15
Apr
16

JEFF PLANKENHORN-SOUL SLIDE-HIS BEST SO FAR-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

jeff plankenhorn

Hands down this is Jeff Plankenhorn’s best work!

The key is the diversity of the material, the superb vocal work and a bit bigger soundscape.

From the opening spiritual rocking vibe of Lose My Mind, to the gorgeous Trouble Find Me to the strut of Like Flowers with Ruthie Foster, it’s magic time.

Elsewhere the funky Dirty Floor, the killer cover of You Got Me Hummin’ to the heart wrenching Vagabond Moonlight Plankenhorn rules.

Pick any song I have mentioned on this album or others like Headstrong, or Walking in the Sun.

Jeff’s lead vocals just soulfully put you and your heart in that spot.

Plankenhorn may do a lot of gigs, but this particular album is easily one of the best by anyone early this year.

WOW!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter and bandleader THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

15
Apr
16

STEVE HILL-SOL0 RECORDINGS VOL 3-NATURAL RIFFING

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Steve Hill’s latest solo recordings Vol 3 re-imagine what blues rock has been since 1967.

That’ s a good thing.

Yes, blues rock has not changed a lot since The Yardbirds, Cream, Johnny Winter and now Joe Bonamassa  made it very popular

Having said that Hill is exciting.

Original tracks like Dangerous, Smoking Hot Machine and the elegant acoustic Slowly Slipping Away feel very real.

Tracks like Rollin & Tumblin and Going Down That Road Feeling Bad have been done too many times by too many people.

Sure, Hill changes them up and they kick big time, but his original work is much better.

His own acoustic Emily is a total winner.

Happy to be riffing, and oh so natural.

That’s when Hill is best!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter, and bandleader with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

JOHN on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

01
Mar
16

WHAT’S ON JOHN’S IPOD PLAYLIST- MARCH-2016-forget all the crap..and listen to real artists…review john emms

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I won’t be the first person to say let’s get rid of the crap that is on radio and push in some new blood.

I know CBC radio has been good to a ton of artists, (including our own band) so kudos there. But the more people I turn on to new artists or older ones like Big Star, they say ” I had no idea”

I will be getting my RADIO show podcast up and running by summer..in a whole new edition and style.

Here is what’s getting REPEAT play on my Ipod..this week. So check out the artists work.

Iggy Pop/Josh Homme-Gardenia-Ton of David Bowie influence but that’s very cool.

Cecile Doo-Kingue-Thankful-So much great stuff on this cd..This one is breezy, R & B chord changes and yes this is a great country..amen and shine your light.

Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins-Propellers-One of my fave songwriters on any level, This is from Garden Songs 2015. Puts me in a reflective mood every time.

Devin Cuddy Band-Just One Kiss-from Kitchen Knife-Very soulful blues inspired vocal work, with nice gtr fills. Watch out for Cuddy’s new material I heard in concert, it was KILLER

Johnny Rawls-Red Cadillac-from the cd Tiger in a Cage-Memphis soul, love those horns and the groove just won’t quit

Mavis Staples-Take Us Back-Mavis has never went away..and this album just kills-Album title is Livin’ On a High Note

Billy Gibbons & the BFG’S- BG  moves it on out to a 6 piece band/Afro Cuban vibe-Track is Got Love If You Want It.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, radio host and performer.

JOHN’S MUSIC https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

TWITTER https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

28
Feb
16

ALL ABOARD THE BLUES ROCK TRAIN- BOB MALONE, VAN WILKS, JORDAN PATTERSON, BILL DURST -review BY JOHN EMMS

BOB MALONEVan1JordanCDCover_W201_PrintFinal-front-cover-slip-only-500x500BILL DURST

First things first, none of these recordings are straight up blues albums.

And that is the key to their appeal.

Secondly, each one of these blues rock veterans are REAL players.

No pretend “shite”‘ here folks.

Bob Malone Mojo Deluxe-Best known for working with John Fogerty, Malone simply kicks butt on this album.

I thought I had reviewed this in 2015 but checked and no I was wrong. Strange because it’s on my fave list of albums when I’m out driving.

Funky Wurlitzer chops and Hammond B-3 organ at the highest level collide with killer vocals on Toxic Love, the gutsy I’m Not fine and things get heated up with clavinet funky goodness on Don’t Threaten Me (with a good time). Excellent guitar work from Bob Demarco.  .

Van Wilks-21st Century Blues-A monster rock recording, 21st Century Blues is the kind of rock that should be ALL OVER radio.

Hell, every track has a killer hook or riff.

Golddigger may have a slinky feel via SRV Texas, but it’s the songs like Strange Girl, the ultra hip title track, the straight up She Makes Me Crazy and  Livin’ On Borrowed Time a tour de force rocker that stick like glue.

Billy Gibbons co-writes Drive By Lover and Christopher Cross helps out vocally and on guitar, but this is ALL Van Wilks with a killer band.

Jordan Patterson-Back On Track Recording Project-Beautifully recorded and mixed this album just sounds great.

Songs like Can We Fall In Love Again, Do You Believe, and You’re My Girl simply are hook deep, ear pleasing tracks where the band and the players mesh into a natural vibe.

Elsewhere their is a funky Lenny Kravitz vibe to Living Without Your Love, Favourite Boy has a Charlie Musselwhite on steroids kick and Play My Song rips a snaky riff to the ceiling and back.

Not enough can be said how good the band vibe on this album is.

Crank this up and just watch people say “wow’

Bill Durst- Good Good Lovin-Fired up and riffing into Tres Hombres party mode Durst, bassist Joe DeAngelis and drummer Corey Thompson rip on their latest.

The title track checks Tobacco Road for inspiration, while Got Love smokes up a Bad Company vibe underpinned by a Thundermug shot of Canuck rock.

The track I Regret To Say is a stunner of atmospheric guitar love, while King Snake Roll snaps up Ol John Lee grinning in heaven.

Best of all, this album just sounds like fun and should get a ton of play.

Party on the patio or any concert hall this will move ya!!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, online radio host and performer.

Check out John’s music THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

28
Feb
16

Cecile Doo-Kingue-Anybody Listening-Part 2 Dialogues-The new face and sound of urban blues

Cecile Doo-Kingue promo photo 1 - Terry Hughes Images

Exciting, intelligent and bridging the blues songwriting gap the new sound of urban blues is Cecile Doo-Kingue.

Mixing emotion and sharp lyrical content Riot & Revolution’s shuffle blasts the album out of the gate.

Anybody Listening uses a slick soulful laid back strut, and killer guitar fills, while Animal Kingdom jumps and weaves a funky groove.

Elsewhere the track Faith (her best lyric on the album) shoots out blasts of distorted fuzzed up guitar, with a gorgeous bridge before she nails her killer solo.

Many sublime moments abound from a talent so big it can’t be ignored.

Get on board this train!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, songwriter, online radio host and performer.

Check out John’ Music with THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

ON TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

15
Jan
16

SANDY CARROLL LAST SOUTHERN BELLE-SOULFUL SOUTH-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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Not everyone understands the myths or reality of the South of the USA. That is fair and goes for any area on the planet.

You grow up in West Tennessee or the hard rock mining city of Timmins you write about where you live.

This is a beautifully played and sung album wherever you live.

The title track and Southland Rules shimmer with upbringing themes and supple vocal restraint by Carroll.

The best song on the album has to be Heading Out On Empty.

Great guitar solo by Will McFarlane, superb lyrics and of course Carroll wrings out every nuance vocally.

Not every song is as good as the above three, yet there has to be at least a few more (Southern Woman, Family Reunion Day) that would fit easily on any radio playlist

Production by Jim Gaines and guest musicians such as David Hood and Steve Potts go a long way.

DUE OUT FEB 19

JOHN EMMS is a 30 year veteran music journalist, songwriter, musician, and heads up his own blues/roots outfit THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

 

27
Dec
15

2015 JOHN EMMS SOME THINGS I LIKED (AND DID NOT LIKE) MUSICALLY-PART 1

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Creative people live longer. Well, at least we act younger.

Most of my friends in music internationally and locally are creative.

It can’t be helped. Sure, we live your life, but kind of live in our own world.

Colin Linden’s Rich In Love is the best roots album this year. The track Everybody Ought  To Be Loved should be on everyone’s playlist.

There are many more but start with that.

Sure, I listen to new artists. I really did not enjoy The Weekends’ material. The new single Hills was too disjointed.

Disjointed is cool when you have Lana Del Rey with High On the Beach, love that track or the funkiness of Alabama Shakes Don’t Wanna Fight.

Then again what is the idea on the  “Shakes” new cd of  having the mix run over all the lead vocals.

That shit gets messy.

Nothing can beat good band dynamics in 2015 or any year. That’s why you have albums like Monkey Junk’s Moon Turn Red

What, you don’t own it?

Play the track Light It Up then talk to me. Holy crap stand back folks

Ian Fletcher Thornley’s new album Secrets will blow you out of the room

The intelligent emotional songs will find a way into your life.

I can’t put it any simpler than that. Tracks such as Just To Know I Can, Feel and Step Outside the Line are soul deep.

Impressive work from drummer Glenn Milchem and bassist Dave McMillan create ambience that’s intoxicating.

Another killer roots album of the year has to be Jason Isbell’s (former Drive By Trucker) new album Something More Than Free.

If It Takes  A Lifetime and 24 Frames are killer, start with those two tracks.

Of course I listen to Adele.

25 is damn good. Remember it’s not all slow. Funky tracks like Send My Love are blissful, but then again When We Were Young will tear your heart out.

Still what can explain how excellent Keith Richard’s Cross-eyed Heart is

Has he not written enough classics?

Apparently not. Trouble Is. Robbed Blind, Nothing On Me and many more songs raise the bar.

Should it shock us that he continues to be this vital?

More to come soon!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music columnist, Sun Media contributor, and blogger read in 106 countries.

JOHN is also a musician and songwriter with Canadian Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

03
Nov
15

ERIC BIBB JJ MILTEAU LEAD BELLY’S GOLD-POTENT RELEVANCE-CD REVIEW JOHN EMMS

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It’s not a stretch to say that Lead Belly’s Gold is the most important roots/folk album of 2015.

Yes, you have heard these songs by tons of artists, but I can guarantee you NOT LIKE THIS!!

In fact, this excellent new cd by Bibb and Milteau shows that Lead Belly’s music is as potent and relevant in today’s society as it was in the 30’s and 40’s.

The real gift is the interplay by the players (check out Stewball, When that Train/Swing Lo Sweet Chariot) and the sheer sound of Bibb’s voice.

On tracks such as On A Monday, the gentle shuffle roots of Midnight Special and of course Where Did You Sleep Last Night with an incredible solo by Milteau Bibb is powerful and poignant all in one.

The original songs such as When I Get To Dallas and the haunting Chauffeur Blues which I consider a new modern classic are gems.

A mix of 11 live recordings and 5 studio tracks, a gorgeous booklet, plus incredible detailed notes by Bibb.

The care and class of this entire project by everyone involved is timeless.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician, Sun Media contributor and songwriter.

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

John’s blues/roots music with THE SHAFTMEN is on Youtube, Amazon, Apple Music and Spotify

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

13
Oct
15

BRYAN ADAMS-GET UP-“FRESH GARAGE RETRO ROCK- REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

bryan adams 1 get up

Bryan Adams comes off sounding very fresh in a garage retro rock vein on his sparkling new album Get Up.

In fact, I feel 20 years younger just sitting here with this baby cranked up.

Thunderbolt, and Do What Ya Gotta Do smack you upside the head with guitar crunch, while Don’t Even Try sparkles with mid 60’s Beatle-esque vibes.

Adams simply is joyous when he belts out  “A battered Vox and a beat up Gibson, that’s all you need to get the job done” on That’s Rock n’ Roll

And he makes you a believer. 

Working with Jim Vallance and the remarkable Jeff Lynne on the new cd Adams sounds like he has found a new voice.

“We had a ball making this record,” Adams says through his new album bio. 

“The thing was, we ended up doing a song every other month and eventually we had an album. What’s interesting is we’d never discussed the idea of ‘making an album’ together, it just happened!”

If this is what “just happened” sounds like,  then I’m going to plug in my guitar and amp soon as I finish this review.

Elsewhere We Did It All has gorgeous chord changes and a vocal that’s as good as anything Adams has ever done.

You Belong To Me is Canuck groove via ELO and Go Down Rockin whips up Reckless, The Rolling Stones and Oasis in under 3 minutes.

The four recordings of the new material with just Adams on acoustic guitar and solo voice on this album will floor you.

Back in 1965 on the single Do You Believe In Magic by The Lovin’ Spoonful John Sebastian wrote “I’ll tell you about the magic, and it’ll free your soul, But it’s like tryin’ to tell a stranger ’bout rock and roll

Adams has got that magic on Get Up, make no mistake!!

THIS cd is available this Friday-Oct 16th 2015.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter, radio podcast host and Sun Media contributor.

JOHN also has a blast Rockin the blues rock/roots with THE SHAFTMEN

CHECK THEN OUT

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

12
Oct
15

DULCIE TAYLOR & FRIENDS RE-DEFINE COUNTRY ROOTS/ MUSIC WITH WIND OVER STONE-BY JOHN EMMS

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I can’t think of many other roots/country artists whose songwriting is as potent as Dulcie Taylor.

Her new album Wind Over Stone is an Americana masterpiece.

The trick here on this album, like with any great singer-songwriter is to let the listener be able to be on the “inside” with the artist.

And that is what Wind Over Stone captures in abundance

Not Here Not Today is tip of the freedom hero sword,  Only A Dreamer lets you in on the inside heart and When The Cherokee Roamed is cinematic in it’s scope.

And, folks you have only heard by this point the first 3 songs of the cd.

Other highlights include the Mellencamp feel of Heart In A Cage, the gem Love Like Yours and Mine and George Nauful’s vocals on I Wanna Ride.

In fact Nauful’s work on this entire album along with the great mix by Keith Olsen acts like a glue of musical substance

Forget about “bro country” and the top charts of country.

This album is the real thing.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter, podcast radio host and Sun Media contributor.

Visit JOHN on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

JOHN’S MUSIC WITH THE SHAFTMEN  WORLDWIDE HERE

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

23
Sep
15

MADCHILD-SILVER TONGUE DEVIL-PERSONAL PAIN MEETS BIG SKILLS-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS

madchild 1

It’s impossible not to like an album that is this tenacious, angry, inspired, and hopeful all at the same time.

But that’s what you get on Madchild’s latest cd Silver Tongue Devil.

Songs as good as Painful Skies, Jackel, Devils and Angels and Everyday featuring CeeKay Jones galvanize the listener.

To be sure some may find this rhyme fest explicit, disturbing. and controversial.

Yet the lyrics also reflect and inspire thousands with his true life story

The album’s hooks suit Madchild’s confidence in himself.

On this album Madchild continues to push ahead on his own re-invention.

This cd demands your attention!!

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist/songwriter/musician and podcast radio host

JOHN is on Twitter

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

check out John’s and his Blues Rockin friends THE SHAFTMEN

http://www.theshaftmen.com

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/paycheque-blues/id365389443

 

 

25
Nov
10

KEITH URBAN-GET CLOSER-” working the core” cd review by john emms

Keith Urban’s new cd Get Closer proves that when an artist is one with himself his music is one with the world . There are about 3 or 4 killer singles here. And as most people know that by itself will carry an album into the stratosphere.

By nature, country artists don’t make “albums’ as front to back musical statements. (Hotel California, Born to Run, Pet Sounds)

But the more you listen to this record, the more it gets inside you. One thing is clear.

Keith Urban is a man working from the core. This man is putting his soul out there.

What’s going on in Urban’s world you ask?.

For that check out the vintage vibe of Waylon Jennings guitar as Urban pulls it out for Georgia Woods. Hang in there for his monster lead guitar lines on the outro. Check out Keith when he gets swallowed up by enormous weight and substance of Lori  McKenna’s song The Luxury Of Not Knowing. It’s a stunning vocal.

Maybe you want to get inside the push and pull of Right on Back to You. Heck the man can hardly get his breath. This kind of material will move any listener.

Maybe you want to check out the killer dynamics of Urban and the band on Put You In a Song, or the scrappy mid gut punch of You Gonna Fly all done up with some great melody charging out of the groove. There is a “Police/Sting like dynamic to Long Hot Summer and it works big time.

This is a relationship album and for that fact it tries to cover a lot of bases in all relationship scenarios.  Tracks like  Big Promises and All For You at least for me are not as strong as some of  the aforemetioned material.

Urban believes in his instincts. Personally, I believe he should write more of his material.

The album ends with a solid reading of Winning a number that Santana put on the charts back in 1981.

Keith Urban has the ability to put out a classic album in the true sense of the word. Maybe some day he will.

In the meantime this is an album that pulls from his core. Make no mistake it will get inside of yours.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist and musician. Check out John’s own band THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

John is on Twitter https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 




October 2017
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