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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews


Karen Romanchuk shows her blues side on Down The Line

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Lethbridge roots/ country singer songwriter Karen Romanchuk takes a more upbeat and almost bluesy journey on her EP “Down The Line.” featuring six solid new songs.Click Here to hear Karen Romanchuk

 She has her full band  playing on the CD, which she recorded in Leeroy Stagger’s Rebeltone Ranch.
 She has an excellent band behind her including Jason Eveleigh, who plays some sweet guitar solos.
 As always Romanchuk’s voice has a straight forward an honest, gritty Lucinda Williams style timbre to it with just a touch of weather worn anger.

 She tells stories a with a lot of emotion like on “See Ya Later.”

 “ I Can” has a rock solid bass groove laid down by  bassist Alex Thomson and Romanchuk’s husband Darwin on drums
 Everything comes together perfectly on the rockabillyish title track “Down The Line.”

It has an addictive groove to it and some country bluesish slide guitar.
 She ends her EP with a mournful acoustic break up number “Anymore.”
 The band joins midway through the song and Eveleigh plays a beautiful outro guitar solo.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
 CD: Down The Line
Artist: karen Romanchuk
Genre: country/ roots/ folk

Samantha Martin explores gospel with sweet delta sugar

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Toronto  based songwriter Samantha Martin has really found her voice on her gospel inspired new CD  “Send the Nightingale.” While she is usually known as an alt country and blues singer, this sparsely recorded Cd showcases her big , beautiful, bluesy voice but also shows a pretty heavy gospel side throughout.Click Here to Hear Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar

She’ll make the seediest sinner “ See The Light” right from the first track of the CD which draws you in.
 The two woman choir of Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb behind her add choral and southern style background gospel styled vocal harmonies and lots of oohs and ahhs which put you in the middle and the mindset of a hot, sweaty, Southern  Baptist church deep in the heart of Mississippi.

 But first and foremost is Martin’s big, bluesey, whiskey soaked and cigarette stained voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Serena Ryder not to mention an amalgamation of female blues singers from the early days.

All of the songs showcase her raw power and emotion particularly on tracks like “Addicted.”

 While Martin holds down the rhythm on resonator and acoustic guitar, lead guitarist Mikey McCallum adds plenty of swampy blues guitar straight out Louisiana for most of the CD.
“ Don’t Shoot the Messenger” is a highlight as is the gospel rave up “One More Day.”

Martin has a few tender ballads like “ Mississippi Sun” and  “My Crown”  and the beautiful ’60s style “When you Walk Away” which drip with heartfelt soul.
Martin ends the CD with her backup singers on the gorgeous acappella song “Tell The Heavens.” The CD is raw and beautifully done. Martin’s voice is unforgettable.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Send The Nightingale
Artist: Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Genre: blues/ gospel / country


Blackberry Smoke back with smoking new CD “Holding All The Roses”

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Southern Rock didn’t die it just went underground.Click Here to hear Blackberry Smoke
 Atlanta’s Blackberry Smoke have been carrying the torch for ballsy southern rock since releasing their first CD in 2004 and carry it further on their awesome new fourth full length CD “Holding All The Roses.”

 There are plenty of catchy riffs superb guitar playing and seething lyrics.
“ Holding All the Roses” features 12 total ear worms beginning with the mid tempo rocker “Let Me Help You (Find the Door)”.
 The title track is my favourite, starting with a huge drum beat, piano and an acoustic guitar riff that morphs into an electrifying riff that would do Govt. Mule proud.
It also features a finger frying fiddle solo dueling with a couple blazing bluegrass inspired guitar solos and finishing with a finger bleeding face melting electric guitar solo backed by an unstoppable beat that just makes you want to press repeat.

 The title track epitomizes everything I love about southern rock and what I love about this CD — a melding of a variety of different musical styles from rock and roll, blues, a touch of honky tonk country, bluegrass and a smidgin of  metal.
 The Cd has an even mix of crunchy riff heavy rockers and mellower material. You’ll find fiddle, some subtle steel guitar and honky tonk piano sprinkled throughout all of the songs. There is enough variety on the CD to make just about the perfect crossover between today’s ’70s style rock and roll revival and modern Top 40 country though Blackberry Smoke has plenty of the grit and rebel spirit sadly missing from modern country.
 They always tell a great story like on “Lay It All On Me” and these boys sure know how to play their instruments.

“ Wish In One Hand” features a pair of harmonized guitar solos which has become somewhat of a lost art.

 They hit you right out of the gate with four big rockers “Let Me Help You (Find the Door), “ Holding All the Roses, “ Living In The Song” and “Rock and Roll Again” before giving the listener a little bit of a breather with a couple slower, acoustic tracks including a beautiful one minute long instrumental “Randolph County Farewell”  “ Woman in the Moon,”  which reminds me a little of Jupitar Coyote, and the haunting country of “ Too High.”
 They pick up the pace with “ Wish In One Hand” and “Payback’s a Bitch.”
  They slow down with the haunting “ No Way Back To Eden” which takes you back to the mellower side of the ’70s.
They end on another upbeat note, “ Fire In the Hole.”

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor
CD: Holding All The Roses
Band: Blackberry Smoke
Genre: country/ rock

The Thrashers take a surf punk take on killer robots

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Winnipeg based surf punk band  The Thrashers explored surfing and shark attacks on their last full length CD and skating on their most recent EP. Now they  take the next  logical step— killer robots on their new CD “ Robot Invaders from the Death Galaxy.”Click Here to hear the Thrashers
 It opens with a Ventures style, twangy instrumental “ Surfer’s Graveyard.” which sets the spooky tone of the CD. it features ’50s  science fiction radio  drama inspired dialogue and a  twangy  sound reminiscent of “Shadowy Men From A Shadowy Planet as well as the instrumental surf rock of the ’60s. They crash into “ Underwater“ after that, adding a few  watery sound effects
 It is a Cd  full of  ’60sish instrumentals and jagged, straight ahead quirky, surf punk that is as much fun a a concept  album about killer robots can be. Their  songs are interspersed with ’50s style science fiction radio drama dialogue.
 They have some catchy quasi-instrumentals like “ Evolution is Slow,”  and the CD ending “ Ghost Tree which are reminiscent of Shadowy Men From a A Shadowy planet.
 While there is  nothing quite as twistedly brilliant as “Shark Attack”, there are some inspirational moments like “Party on the Moon” and the title track, which though it is about robots,  seems eerily relevant today.
 The title track “ Robot Invaders From the Death Galaxy” reminds me of a lost track from original L.A. punks the Angry Samoans.
The adenoidal vocals on other tracks like “ Unknown World” and “ Webbed Feet” are reminiscent of Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys.
 At  a spare 29 minute long the10 tracks on the CD will take you on an escapist journey  into your favourite pulp fiction science fiction novel. Last year a Vancouver band called the Binz released a similarly themed album about killer robots. So here’s hoping killer robots will usurp vampires and zombies as the pop culture flavour of the day. Though the Thrashers  have a catchy number called “Zombie Twist”  that wouldn’t be out of place alongside “Monster Mash” or songs from the Rocky Horror Show.
 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
 CD: Robot Invaders from the Death Galaxy
Band: The Thrashers
Genre: surf-punk


Paul DesLauriers Band is all about deadly blues guitar playing

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With Montrealer Paul DesLauriers, his band is all about the guitar.
 And there is plenty of it on the 2013 Maple Blues Awards guitarist of the year’s  new self titled CD.Click here to hear the Paul DesLauriers band

 The power trio also including drummer Sam Harrisson and bassist Greg Morency rip through a high energy set of high octane, guitar fueled blues rock.
  For extra power, he brings aboard MonkeyJunk harpmeister Steve Marriner to play on two of the immediate highlights “ Going Down Slow” and “ She Should be Mine,“ which launch this CD into the stratosphere with a massive wall of sound  of guitar, bass, drums, Deslauriers ’ huge voice and Marriner’s harp. Together it is reminiscent  of Pat Travers and even a touch of Rory Gallagher.
 Steve Strongman adds extra guitar on “All I Want.”

My favourite track, “ She Should be Mine,” should be the national anthem for the land of the lovelorn for every guy who’s crush is with somebody else.
 He brings things back to earth  on the power ballad “Baby Come Home” for which DesLauriers shows off his leather lunged pipes.
 The hot instrumental “ Green Stripe” has a surf feel to it while “ Blame You” has an unstoppable blues shuffle.

 In addition to DesLauriers’  hot originals, the trio also puts their stamp on blues classics including lengthy jams on  Buddy Holly’s “ Not Fade Away, blues classic “Baby Come Home” and a mellow seven minute jam on Robert Johnson’s classic “Love In Vain” which features some spooky slide guitar.

 He also holds back on the slightly slower “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” which starts slow while featuring  some raunchy slide playing then takes off for the last minute and the guitar solo.
The “Not Fade Away” jam takes a couple of weird twists and turns but brings the CD to a crashing and satisfying close.

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: The Paul DeLauriers Band
Band: The Paul Deslauriers band
Genre: blues/blues rock
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