Category Archives: Music Review

The Answer – Rise

I’ve been singing the praises of The Answer on Facebook lately, so I decided to introduce them here on my blog. I theanswer_2was introduced to the band by fellow blogger Rob Rockitt @ Hard Rock Hideout a few weeks ago. Until then I had never heard of them. I downloaded their UK hit “Never Too Late” from their album release “Rise” and loved it right away. So I downloaded another, loved it, and another, and another, each time thinking that the taste to hear more would flatten out. It never did. I have since found out that their only release in the United States came last year in the form of an EP. They have a new release for the U.S. coming March 31st called “Everyday Demons”. I am looking forward to that.

The Answer is a hard rock blues band from Northern Ireland. They are Cormac Neeson on vocals, Paul Mahon on guitar, Mickey Waters on bass, and James Heatley on drums. The band has many influences, but their biggest influences have come in the form of such classic blues rock greats as Humble Pie, Free, and Led Zeppelin. Many kudos have been heaped on this Northern Ireland quartet; but the praises that weigh greater are not from peers, but from already crowned rockers like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Joe Elliot of Def Leppard, who are also fans.

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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in Music Review, Rise, The Answer


Phil Keaggy – Phantasmagorical: Master & Musician 2

The first music review for 2009 will be an album from a Christian musician I phil-keaggy-phantasmagorical-master-and-musician-2have been a fan of since the middle 70’s. The musician known as Phil Keaggy is also noted as one of the best guitarists in the world. To know Phil Keaggy is to also know some of the many urban legends created about him. Several rumors have circulated about Phil Keaggy and whether or not he had been observed by the guitar god Jimi Hendrix. The rumor begins with an interview of Hendrix on Johnny Carson or Dick Cavett where he was asked what it’s like to be considered the greatest guitarist in the world. The rumored response from Hendrix was “I don’t know, you should go ask Phil Keaggy.” Keaggy has stated that even though he did record with his old band Glass Harp at Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios, it was well after Hendrix’s death in England. Another rumor that has circulated about Keaggy is the one about the middle finger on his left hand. If you’ve ever seen Keaggy perform you would notice that half of this middle finger is missing. The wildest rumor supposedly occured prior to his conversion to Christianity. The legend says that in a drunken stupor he wanted to prove he was the world’s best guitarist and cut the finger off himself. There are many variations as to just how he did this finger execution. Keaggy busted all those rumors many years ago. I found this video the other day where he describes what really happened to his middle finger.

Phillip Tyler Keaggy began playing guitar at age ten in his parents small farmhouse in Hubbard, Ohio on a Sears Silvertone guitar. He has frequently been listed as the top 3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine. I received my first exposure to this masterful virtuoso guitarist while listening to a live recording of The Second Chapter of Acts, a contemporary Christian group that consisted of Matthew Ward and his sisters Ann and Nelly. Phil Keaggy has recorded, by Wikipedia count, 47 records spanning over 35 years. When I purchased his 1978 album “The Master and the Musician” I was totally hooked on Phil Keaggy. Since then I have collected only a small portion of his many recordings.

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2008 – A Year in Music Review

Considering the classic picture of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, did you led-zeppelinhear the buzz about Led Zeppelin reuniting for a tour? I guess Robert Plant doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Let me digress a bit more. Lately I’ve been waxing nostalgic for the great rock bands and albums of by-gone decades. Some of the rock music albums released this year were really good, but not great in the classic sense. I even reviewed some of those new releases. Maybe it’s me, but why don’t I find any great rock music from bands like those of the 70’s. Bands like Rush, Yes, Foghat, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, or BTO? These bands were not flashes in the pan like most bands today. Some of these bands are even around today, and still making great music. Maybe those bands and their music just remind me of my youth? But I think something can be said of those great “classic” rock bands and the music they created. I run into teenagers and young adults (including two of our own) every day who are into those classic rock bands. Their music definitely has staying power. Enough said.

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Posted by on December 30, 2008 in classic rock, Music Review, Top Albums of 2008


10 Years – Division

Initially formed at the turn of our new century, 10 Years is a unique 10_years_divisionexception to the American alternative metal genre. Raised on Axl and Slash, Mozart and Beethoven, the music of 10 Years is based on equal parts provocative lyrics and massive sounds. Their influences range from Nine Inch Nails and Deftones to Simon and Garfunkel and Tori Amos. The backgrounds of the bands five members, who hail from Knoxville, Tennessee, are as diverse as their musical influences. They include an artist, a tennis champ, a rich kid, an outcast and an introvert. I guess you will just have to get to know these guys to find out which one is which.

In a quote from 10 Years frontman Jesse Hasek, the essence of their music is as much to do with what they aren’t then what they are.

Humanity is slowly shutting down

as he points to the current rock scene as prime example.

Music is supposed to be about intensity and feeling, but there is no thinking behind the music that’s out there today. We want people to think, to feel emotions again. We’re always plugged in or connected to something, part of the machine. But the more we plug in the less human we become.

The current line up for 10 Years is Jesse Hasek on lead vocals, Ryan “Tater” Johnson on one guitar, Matt Wantland on the other guitar, Lewis “Big Lew” Cosby on bass guitar, and Brian Vodinh on drums and backing vocals. The band 10 Years is similar in style to the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Nickelback, or Chevelle. But don’t plug them in altogether with those bands. After the second or third listen you get the sense of a different texture and tone. Just try and put your finger on it. 

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Posted by on December 23, 2008 in 10 Years, Division, Music Review


Steve Winwood – Nine Lives

The tell tale sign of growing older can be seen in the aging of the musicians winwoodnineliveswe listen to. This is the case with Steve Winwood who turned sixty this past May.  I was about sixteen when I first heard of Steve Winwood. A friend of mine had a Blind Faith album that I loved to listen to. This led me to some of Winwood’s earlier recordings with The Spencer Davis Group and the classic “Gimme Some Lovin’” which has appeared in numerous movie soundtracks over the years.

In the eighties Winwood pursued a solo career and his sound blended with the pop culture of that time. You could sit back and just mellow out to “While You See A Chance” and “The Finer Things” or dance to the sounds from “Roll With It” and “Higher Love“. One of my favorites of Winwood is “Back In The High Life Again” with it’s hint of mandolin playing throughout the song. In the late eighties and early ninties my musical tastes didn’t sway to far from hard rock and heavy metal so Winwood fell from my musical radar screen.

Over the past decade my musical tastes have diversified quite a bit. I have spread my eclectic wings to sample the goods from Rap (Toby Mac and KJ-52), and Country (although it’s mostly pop-country), to R&B and Big Band. Although my heart lives in the safe waters of hard crunching guitars, I have found some sonic pleasure in the dark waters of the less head-banging realm of music. This branching out has lead me to such music sensations as Duffy, John Fogerty, Mark Knopfler, and Josh Groban. Such is the sensation with my album review today.

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Posted by on December 9, 2008 in Music Review, Nine Lives, Steve Winwood


Tesla – Forever More

One of my favorite bands of the late eighties and early nineties is Tesla. Named for the Serbian-American tesla_forever_moreinventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, this band had some diverse music that fluctuated between head-banging hard rock to edgy blues rock. This band may have actually been the first rock music our youngest daughter Crysta heard. She was within weeks of being born when Robin and I attended their 1992 concert in Tampa, Florida. Tesla have sold over 16 million albums in the United States as of this year. Tesla has wrongly been categorized as a glam metal band with the likes of Def Leppard and Poison. I think it’s namely due to the fact their popularity rose about the same time as those “polished” metal bands. The band has proudly proclaimed that their music is pure guitars and drums with no synthesizers or anything to distort their sound. Their previous six studio albums have all proudly proclaimed “No Machines.” As a guitar player myself I recognized that their musicianship and skill set Tesla apart from all the other “hair” metal bands of the eighties and nineties. The current band lineup is still Jeff Keith on lead vocals, Frank Hannon on guitars, piano, and Hammond organ, Brian Wheat on bass, and piano, and Troy Luccketta on drums. The only exception to the lineup is Dave Rude who replaces Tommy Skeoch on the second guitar.

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Posted by on November 11, 2008 in Forever More, Music Review, Tesla


Black Stone Cherry – Folklore and Superstition

Those Southern rockers from Edmonton, Kentucky are back with their sophomore release “Folklore and Superstition“. The latest album from Black Stone Cherry was released by Roadrunner Records on August 18th, 2008. Straight from the back roads and hills of Kentucky, these guys know how to bring the rock with a Southern flare and a little spice of invention. As mentioned in a previous review, these guys formed a band out of the boredom of growing up in a small town. The hard Southern sound and attitude emanate from the pores of these guys with potency reminiscent of the edginess of Molly Hatchet and the down home mythical folklore of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This is my second helping of this Kentucky concoction of simmering rock hooks, classic rock riffs, and blues tinted solos, and it feels more their own than their debut release. Black Stone Cherry is still Chris Robertson on lead vocals and guitar, Ben Wells on guitar, Jon Lawhon on bass, and John Fred Young on drums.

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