Friday, August 25, 2017

RASPBERRIES: The "August Surprise" (2017)

RASPBERRIES
The "August Surprise"
(2017)
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It's NEVER too late to
discover a "new" band.
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As a teen, coming of age in Central Florida during the 1970s, summertime always was magical — a season filled with unlimited fun in the sun — and virtually free of rules. And those memorable experiences always were attached to amazing music — my sizzling summer soundtracks. But oddly, the most powerful music often seemed to find me when I expected it least — at the end of the season. I called it the "August Surprise."

In late summer '75, I was blindsided by the Jefferson Starship masterpiece, Red Octopus. Then, in '76, I was seduced by Fleetwood Mac's self-titled breakthrough — '77 offered KISS' Love Gun. August '78 brought me Don't Look Back, while '79 was ALL about Get the Knack. Years later, the annual "surprise" tended to be revealed more often as retro-type treasures that I'd somehow overlooked previously. In fact, I discovered the complete Runaways vinyl catalog and Nick Gilder's full body of work also during the "dog days" — 10-15 years after it all had been released originally.

Fast-forward — August 2017. I stepped out to the ol' mail box one afternoon, and I discovered a special delivery package from one of my editors at Ink 19. Slipped inside the plastic bubble-lined mailer was a CD copy of Pop Art Live — a newly-released double-live set from legendary pop powerhouse, the Raspberries.

The "August Surprise"
As an admitted early '70s-era AM radio geek, I'd been familiar with the band's fistful of infectious hits for 40+ years. However, by the time I had discovered the album oriented FM radio format, the Raspberries had come and gone — before we were ever introduced properly. And that was the end of the story — until this summer's "surprise" arrived.

Featuring the original, classic Raspberries line-up of vocalist / guitarist / pianist Eric Carmen, guitarist / vocalist Wally Bryson, bassist / vocalist David Smalley and drummer Jim Bonfanti, Pop Art Live was recorded more than a decade ago at Cleveland's House of Blues during a brief reunion run. And it makes for a superb showcase for a band that has influenced stylistically, far more chart-busters than most would recognize — from such veteran acts as Cheap Trick, Queen, ELO and AC/DC, to new millennium artists including Fountains of Wayne, Butch Walker and Ken Sharp. Heck, back in the day, Paul Stanley was so "freshly"-fueled, the first KISS album literally seeps raspberry juice.

But while the punchy and crunchy 28-song collection was more than personally satisfying, the tremendous "high" it offered initially was fleeting. And in short order, I found myself perusing iTunes like a crazed pop / rock junkie — purchasing the band's entire original studio catalog, including Raspberries (1972), Fresh (1972), Side 3 (1973), and Starting Over (1974). Four glorious slabs of authentic analog joy, to be sure.

Yes, it's NEVER too late to discover a "new" band, no matter how long they've been around. And if that band possesses an impressive arsenal of irresistible songs, the discovery can make for quite a "surprise" — any time of year.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

RECORD REVIEW: Howling Midnight "10x15"

RECORD REVIEW
Howling Midnight
10x15
____________________

Dig if you will, a picture 
a snapshot of Jim Morrison,
sparring with Glenn Danzig
at a Black Sabbath after-
show party. Wonder what
that Polaroid sounds like?
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In 2017, the release of a new rock record is far from a headline-stealing newsflash. So, in order to truly appreciate this gloriously authentic lo-fi slab, it's perhaps important to examine what it's missing a prefix. It's not a punk-rock record and it's not a pop-rock record. In fact, it fits none of today's ridiculous rock sub genres. But what 10x15 does possess, is a suffix — roll. Ah yes, the latest from Orlando's Howling Midnight is a bona fide ROCK-AND-ROLL statement. And I haven't discovered one of those treasures in a VERY long time.

Here's the skinny  10x15 is the record you'd hear blasting from a hi-fi unit hidden behind the bar at an LA after-hours club — a PRIVATE late-night soirée attended by greasy-haired, burly guys with names like "Tony" and "Frankie" emblazoned on the front pockets of their sweat-stained work shirts. They're packin' plenty of "party favors," and they're surrounded by chicks — tattoo-covered, 20-something hotties with long black hair and short black skirts. Dance for me, mama! DO IT NOW!

Shawn Corbett
Defining the "less is more" theory, Howling Midnight consists of just two cats  guitarist / vocalist Shawn Corbett and drummer Scott Padawer. Together, they combine ONE enormous guitar with a monstrous kick-n-snare, to create a massive, bulletproof backdrop that's bolted to their uniquely compelling stories.

Buzzing with an "Ace of Spades"-inspired riff, "In the Teeth" sets the stage early for this self-produced, 12-track collection. "Shootin' Blanks" burns with Eddie Cochran-style energy, while "Try Me Later" oozes guitar-driven power pop appeal. Other golden highlights include the faithful remake of the 1969 MC5 classic, "Kick Out the Jams," as well as the ode to family dysfunction, "No Hero"   Daddy doesn't care about your birthday! A stylistic head-on collision between The Joshua Tree and Superunknown, "A Hole in the Head" closes out the crunchy cavalcade quite nicely.

Scott Padawer
As for the title — "'10x15' is the size of the storage locker where we practice," Shawn confessed in a recent interview. "Scott came up with the idea like he does so often and we both really liked it."

Released officially on August 26th, 10x15 packs tremendous punch and bleeds irresistible street-wise swagger. It's also one of my personal favorites of 2017. 

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)
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HOWLING MIDNIGHT
- Facebook -
- SoundCloud -
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

DOLL SKIN: Scrappy Young Combo Drops "Punchy" New Video

DOLL SKIN
Scrappy Young Combo
Drops "Punchy" New Video
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2017 has been a banner year for
what I've referred to often as the
most exciting rock band since
Guns N' Roses hit back in 1987.
_________________________

What a long, hot summer it's been. And few
bands have sweated more or worked harder
than the Phoenix-based combo, Doll Skin.

Early in the season, the band debuted a
video for "Shut Up (You Miss Me)— the
raucous lead-off single from their sizzlin'
sophomore slab, Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Check out "Puncha Nazi," the latest
YouTube treasure from Doll Skin.

Mid June found Doll Skin criss-crossing
the country as one of THE must-see acts
on the Vans Warped Tour. By late July, the
band had completed yet another national
headline club excursion. In August, as
they gear-up for the next outing, the gals
have dropped a super-explosive new
video for their latest single, the turbo-
charged mosh pit anthem, "Puncha Nazi."

What's next for Doll skin? A fall tour with
One-Eyed Doll — then, world domination.
In the meantime, I'm gonna keep praying
to Jesus that I can finally get my exclusive
interview with drummer, Meghan Herring.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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Dig my other Doll Skin
features and reviews

Interview
w/ Meghan Herring
(Coming Soon)

Concert Review

Interview

Record Review

Record Review
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

RECORD REVIEW: Fort Misery "Like Hell Lately"

RECORD REVIEW
Fort Misery
Like Hell Lately
_________________________

Stumbling across this treasure
unexpectedly, a year after it's
initial release, was kinda like
checking a book out from the
library and discovering a crisp
five-dollar bill tucked inside.
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I didn't see it coming. I thought the recent Orlando concert was gonna be strictly a five-band, punk / metalcore showcase. I thought wrong. Wedged between a fistful of high-energy, sweat-soaked, garage-bred combos was, of all things, an acoustic duo. "Ugh, this is gonna suck," I thought to myself. I thought wrong — again. In fact, by the second song of their set, my mission was clear. There were no other options. I had to head over to the ol' merch table and buy the Fort Misery record pronto.

Intended simply as a solo music venture for singer / songwriter, Justin Ross, Fort Misery also features guitarist, Christopher Ryan. And the chemistry shared between the two musicians onstage translates nicely into the digital grooves of their six-song debut slab.

Christopher Ryan ( L) and Justin Ross (R) - live in Orlando.
(August 2017)
Produced at Orlando's CCB Studios by famed Capstan guitarist, Harrison Bormann, Like Hell Lately is a seemingly honest and transparent-sounding record, offering personal snapshot glimpses into Ross' real-life experiences and struggles.

Combining Justin Furstenfeld-flavored sentiment with Adam Duritz-style phrasing, "Ghosts" and "Storms" are both riveting odes to dysfunctional relationships. "Ugly is as ugly does," indeed. Possessing the pop sensibility of Vertical Horizon's disturbed little stepbrother, "Scabs" also shines as another of the record's highlights. "You say you pick your scabs cause true wounds never heal," doggonit, man — that's good stuff! One of the record's most compelling lines is offered in the song, "Monsters," when Ross writes, "All those monsters in your bed make the skeleton in your closet seem less dead."

What separates quality singer / songwriters from the chumps is whether or not you care about the storyteller and if he or she can hook ya with amazing stories. With Like Hell Lately, Fort Misery succeeds at both, quite nicely.

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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Monday, August 7, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: "Addicted No More" by Jason Miller

BOOK REVIEW
Addicted No More
(Book & Workbook)
- Jason Miller -
Red Dove Publishing
________________________

The darker the story, the
brighter the testimony.
And in his debut memoir,
Jason Miller reveals his
chilling, pitch-black tale.
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"Heroine by itself keeps you medicated and somewhat alert, but unresponsive," Jason Miller offers, early on in his story. "But cocaine and crack take you into a dirty world where you're chasing the Devil himself."

His words are from the street  unpolished and real. His story — frightening and disturbing, rooted in the pit of Hell. Abused as a child, addicted as a teen, and incarcerated as an adult, Miller was a man with few options back in 1997 — convicted in more ways than one, as he laid on his bunk, locked away in a Florida prison cell. Yet, oddly, this real life nightmare has a happy ending.

As an ex-con, Miller's personal story of bouncing in and out of prison is riveting. And as a former junkie, his descriptions of shooting, snorting and smoking illegal drugs are brutal. In fact, he still carries the physical scars from years of injecting street drugs. "We started putting crack in lemon juice to break it down," Miller confesses. "We had so many holes, marks and bruises on our bodies from shooting up, that we were forced to wear long sleeved shirts, no matter what the whether."

Author Jason Miller with his wife Sandra.
(2017)
Jesus himself once said, "with God everything is possible." (Matthew 19:26 - NLT). And although Miller does finally find physical, emotional and spiritual healing, his journey back from Hell is a frustrating roller coaster ride — one brimming with non-stop, heartbreaking accounts of continued criminal behavior and drug-related relapses.

Today, Jason Miller is a certified drug counselor and he holds an Associates of Arts degree in Biblical Theology. Hence, Addicted No More is one part autobiography, and one part workbook — a valuable tool for those who are still battling and working through addictions. Miller currently lives in Redding, California, where he is involved in both, secular and faith-based healing programs. (An Enthusiastic 5-Star Rating!)

-Christopher Long
(August 2017)

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Connect with Jason Miller:
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The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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