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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews


Reddick knows his sidemen

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Toronto based bluesman Paul Reddick runs the gamut on his latest CD, ‘Sugar Bird.‘ There are almost  too many mellower numbers like ‘I Will Vanish,’ and ‘Blue Wing,’ a lot of New Orleans zydeco influence and  a couple upbeat horn powered jazz numbers like  ‘Devilment’ and  my favourite, ‘It’s Later Than You Think,’ as altwell as lots of harmonica based numbers. Reddick, who formed a wicked band in the early 90’s called the Sidemen, really knows how to pick his own sidemen. The cast of players includes producer  Colin Linden, the band’s  Garth Hudson on accordion on ‘Climbing Up The Hill,’ and ‘ Wishing Song,’ plus Bonnie Raitt’s bassist Hutch Hutchinson, crack Nashville drummer  Bryan Owings who plays with Emmylou Harris and Shelby Lynne and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ rhythm section (drummer Gary Craig, and  bassist John Dymond.) So these cats know how to play.
 Reddick’s voice is similar to fellow Northern Blues labelmate  Watermelon Slim. He carries beautiful melodies which just make you want to sing along, which helps make the slower numbers really enjoyable.
‘Every Temptation’ has some sweet acoustic guitar playing and some of Reddick’s harp playing.
More soulful harp playing and some slick slide guitar playing ends the CD on another cool upbeat number, “Block of Wood,” featuring Colin Linden. ‘Sugar Bird’ is a pleasant listen with some excellent playing.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Cd: SugarBird
Artist: Paul Reddick
Genre: blues/jazz
Record label: Northern Blues

Special Ops melds the rock

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Montreal heavy rock band Special Ops’ third CD, ‘Through the Heart of the Infidel’ is what you’d get if you’d mix Alice in Chains with System of a Down and stirred them up with a touch of Tool.
It starts with a jarring detuned riff on H.M and takes off from there. I like ‘Snakebite’ a lot. and ‘Hard Ass’ is very good as well. ‘Monster in Me,’ one of the Alice in Chains knock offs also stands out, mainly because of a very tasteful guitar solo. The vocals of that one are reminiscent of Big Wreck/ Thornley’s Ian Thornley.alt
The System of a Down influences  leaps out on ‘Anthem of Deceit’ and ‘Full Circle.’ which has a tortured guitar solo.
I like the  cool opening riff of ‘Pressure’  which even includes a bit of rap. There is even a little bit of Red Hot Chili peppers influence in a couple numbers.
 The CD moves quickly  thanks to unstoppable drumming, some cool bass and  some  catchy guitar. And before you know it the half hour is over and you want to hear it again. Very  raw and rocking as it should be, being produced  by Glen Robinson, who lists the likes of the Ramones, AC DC, Nashville Pussy and Voivod on his résumé. Solid.
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Through the Heart of the Infidel
Band: Special Ops
Genre: heavy rock
Record company: Indie

Harp madness with Carlos Del Junco

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If you have even cursory interest in blues harmonica playing, do yourself a favour and check out Havana born, Toronto based Carlos Del Junco — first check out his CD  ‘Steady Moving,’ then his show at the Geomatic Attic, March 28. The mostly instrumental CD is impressive with stunning chromatic melody lines on his 10 hole harmonica , lots of mind blowing playing and note bending.

 altDel Junco drops the names of numerous Canadian communities in “Mashed Potatoes Canada,” a tribute to James Brown.

The first track, ‘Diddle it’  features some of Del Junco’s hottest harp licks backed by some steady stand up bass.

His version of ‘Amazing Grace is pretty sweet and features some of his patented harp note bending and ’overblowing.’

He plays the blues, jazz and more exotic things like on  “Simple Life,” he’s backed by a tight though understated band, who are content to sit back and let Del Junco shine, adding laid back slide guitar and the odd bass.

‘Bye For now,’ features an intricate, almost classical riff infused over something you might hear in a dirty old hillbilly bar, then slows right down.

The last track ‘Doodle it’ features some  a down home banjo solo, while featuring a wicked descending riff. Very cool. Interested in harp playing? Just talk to Carlos.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
CD: Steady Movin’
Artist: Carlos del Junco
Genre: blues
Record Label: Northern Blues

Twisters come out swinging and hit a home run

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Whitehorse/ Vancouver blues band The Twisters are among my favourite bands on the Northern Blues label. So I was pleased to not only receive their new CD, “Come Out Swinging” but to hear they’ve branched out musically.alt

There is quite a bit of rockabilly, a lot of swing, a couple straight up blues numbers  like ‘Dirty Boy Blues,’  which sounds a little bit like a song from David Holt (Storyville). There is even a  really cool gospel rave-up “Party’s Going On.”

“Long Overdue,” has a really cool horn section behind it, which would not be out of place on a CD from fellow Northern Blues artist, J.W Jones.

The Twisters come out swinging rockabilly style on “Doghouse.” A a jazzy blues feel comes out on “I Guess that I Was Wrong.”

They even play  a bit of reggae on ‘Take My Own Advice,’ which is one  of several numbers featuring some sweet and soulful harp playing.

Kiko is definitely an upbeat highlight featuring more peppy harp playing plus some sweet jazz tinged soloing. Throughout there is some in the pocket stand up bass playing.

‘I Refuse to Grow Old,” is a pretty sweet, slower blues tune, with more cool harp and some tasteful acoustic playing.

The CD ends with an upbeat jazz swing number, ‘The Twister’s Theme.’

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Come Out Swinging
Band: The Twisters
Genre: blues
Record label: Northern Blues

Jesse and the Dandelions search for their sound

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Jesse and the Dandelions are an up and coming local band still in search of  their soundJesse and the Dandelions..
They display  several different facets of their personality on their new three song self-produced and designed EP, ‘The Lion’s Tooth EP.’
The first track, ‘Plans’ is an almost Beatlesque  slice of folk tinged pop, during which singer/guitarist Jesse Northey shows off his ’50s and ’60s  style vocal melodies.
“Cait From L.A.” is another ambient more Radiohead style  folk/pop number with some pretty arpeggios and a pleasant vocal melody.
 On the other hand, the third track, and my favourite “The Van Song” is a flat out four on the floor punk pop rocker which  sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on a Weakerthans CD. It sounds like it was recorded live with the three band members, Northey and  vocalist drummer  Nick  Vedres and bassist Chris Banman. It’s fun, loud and raucous.
The EP doesn’t completely capture the energy of their live show, but it is an excellent start.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
CD: The Lions Tooth EP
Band: Jesse and the Dandelions
Genre: pop/rock
Label: indie
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