Friday, December 13, 2019

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: FINNEAS/BLOOD HARMONY

FINNEAS
BLOOD HARMONY

Available NOW!


You’ve heard Finneas without realizing that you’ve heard Finneas. The L.A.-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer has performed on Saturday Night Live, topped the Billboard Hot 100, and produced and co-wrote the #1 album WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? With all that going for him, it’d be OK if you are not quite familiar with his name. You see, his sister is Billie Eilish – you know, the enormously popular Pop singer - and hers is the name linked to all the aforementioned achievements. However, Finneas deserves a nice chunk of the praise being thrown in Billy’s direction because theirs is a truly collaborative relationship.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

PHIL JUDD/Flightless Bird review!




PHIL JUDD
FLIGHTLESS BIRD

Available NOW!

Nearly 50 years after he co-founded Split Enz with Tim Finn, Phil Judd remains one of the most under-appreciated musicians in Australia… or anywhere else for that matter. His unique approach to music was evident on the Enz’s first two albums, MENTAL NOTES (1975) and SECOND THOUGHTS (1976).  By the time the third Enz album, DIZRHYTHMIA was released in 1977, Phil had already left the band and had been replaced by Tim’s younger brother Neil Finn. Judd kept a low profile for a few years before emerging with The Swingers, whose 1981 single “Counting The Beat” remains one of Australia’s biggest selling singles.  The Swingers split after one album and Judd put out his first solo album PRIVATE LIVES in ’83. He then did some soundtrack work before releasing two albums in the early ‘90s with the band Schnell Fenster - which featured former Enz members Nigel Griggs and Noel Crombie. After a few quiet years, Judd resumed his solo career and has released series of wildly creative solo releases that are – as you’d expect – eclectic, eccentric, and filled with imagination and wonder.

FOREVER SPARKS/Firefly review!

FOREVER SPARKS
FIREFLY

Available NOW!

British singer/songwriter Jerry T. Jones has been making records for well over three decades – as a member of One The Juggler, Boom Boom Room, The Reptiles, and Glamweazel – yet FIREFLY is his most intimate release to date. Released under the band name Forever Sparks, FIREFLY doesn’t completely deviate from his most recent work with Glamweazel but it is most definitely its own ‘thing’. A beautifully curated set of songs influenced by British Folk and Psyche Pop, the album spiritually exists somewhere between The Beatles’ WHITE ALBUM and Bowie’s SPACE ODDITY. However, FIREFLY is a very contemporary album that embraces the eccentricities of beloved British songwriters like Ray Davies, Robyn Hitchcock, Bowie, and Martin Newell. From heartfelt to whimsical, there is a lot to take in on FIREFLY, but have no fear: there are plenty of melodic hooks to be found. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

THE FLYS/Today Belongs To Me: Complete Recordings 1977-1980 (2CD) review!

THE FLYS
TODAY BELONGS TO ME: 
THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS 1977-1980
(Cherry Red Records)


Formed in Coventry, England in the mid- ‘70s, The Flys – then operating under the name Midnight Circus – played the pubs and clubs, never fitting in with the Prog, Pub Rock, or Folk scenes. When Punk came along, everything changed. The band – led by singer/songwriters Neil O’Connor and Dave Freeman and featuring bassist Joe Hughes – changed their name to The Flys and finally found themselves an audience willing to listen to what they had to say. The recording of a five track EP led to them signing to EMI Records. And the rest, they say, is history. And by ‘history‘, I mean they recorded two fantastic albums, released a load of great singles, toured quite a bit, recorded a few Peel Sessions, never got the recognition that they deserved, and then split up in 1980. Sadly, these types of stories were all too common. For every artist that made its way into your record collection, there were at least 100 other talented bands more than worthy of that space on your shelves. However, they just never caught that lucky break and were denied proper label support, marketing, radio airplay, etc. The Flys were one of those bands.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

NEW ENGLAND/Archives Box, Vol. 1 review!

NEW ENGLAND
THE NEW ENGLAND ARCHIVES BOX VOL. 1
(HNE/Cherry Red)

Available NOW!

Nobody can quite figure out why Boston-based rockers New England didn’t become massively successful back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They had it all – the sound, the songs, the looks, the musicianship, the right producers (Mike Stone, Todd Rundgren, Paul Stanley), major label support, etc. For some reason, it just never happened. On the other hand, New England never quite fit comfortably into any genre. With early support from KISS’ Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, NE wasn’t exactly KISS proteges, musically or visually. Touted as a Hard Rock band, New England was far more melodic than 90% of their Rock contemporaries. Their melodic hooks were tailored made for the Power Pop kids but the band rocked a little too hard to share bills with 20/20 and The Knack. Obviously, New England had EVERYTHING going for them… except a good marketing angle. Sadly, a band that ignored the rules of the game were ultimately doomed to sit on the sidelines while lesser players made it all the way to MTV. The irony is that, 37 years after their split, people are still talking about New England while a majority of the bands that became more successful are long-forgotten.

Monday, December 9, 2019

SPAZ reviews NINE BELOW ZERO and THE TRUTH!



THE TRUTH
KEEP ON KEEPING ON EP
(Splangsongs)

NINE BELOW ZERO
AVALANCHE
(Zed Records)

It has been four decades since he gained fame as the singer, guitarist, and frontman for British Blues band Nine Below Zero yet Dennis Greaves is busier than he’s ever been. Not only is he celebrating NBZ’s 40th Anniversary, he’s also treading the boards with his other band, The Truth, during his main band’s downtime. Thankfully, both bands have spent time in the studio and the results are nothing less than fantastic. While Greaves is the common link between the two bands, he’s been lucky enough to find musical brothers to act as band co-pilots – Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero) and Mick Lister (The Truth). With such a busy schedule, Greaves has his hands full but judging by his most recent recorded output, he is still at the top of his game.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

SQUIRE/Get Ready To Go with September Gurls!




SQUIRE

GET READY TO GO!
and
SEPTEMBER GURLS 

Available NOW!


With these two 2019 releases, you get two sides of the story. But before I go any further, let’s get you caught up with the band Squire. Here’s what I wrote about them for All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com):