AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: STEVE FORBERT/THE MAGIC TREE

Forty years since the release of his debut album, ALIVE ON ARRIVAL, Steve Forbert remains one of the most honest and warm singer/songwriters in Folk, Rock and Americana. Unfairly declared ‘the new Dylan’ for a brief moment in the ‘70s thanks to that debut, Forbert proved himself to be more than just a guy strumming an acoustic guitar at the front of the stage. His hit single “Romeo’s Tune” (1979) became a Top 40 hit thanks to Forbert’s earnest performance, great songwriting and that incessant piano riff. But Forbert was not one to crank out formulaic Pop or Folk – he was always moving forward while still paying tribute to his past. With more than two dozen studio, live, and fan-club albums in his back pocket, Steve Forbert still remains a songwriter that finds inspiration in the every day. His Mississippi soul may have moved to New Jersey but this is one cat that understands and connects with every inch of America.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MIKE FARRIS/SILVER & STONE

There’s just something about Soul music. It has a different effect on every listener. Where one person can hear joy and jubilation, another may sense a feeling of loss and sadness while listening to the very same recording. The listener’s differing opinions revolve around just how deeply they immerse themselves in the music. On the surface, Soul and R&B is engaging and powerful but once you allow yourself to be surrounded by the music, you feel the emotional depth and intensity that went into creating the music. Mike Farris’ SILVER & STONE album is one of those releases that shows both sides at the same time, offering up layers of powerful music that is both engaging and engrossing.

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STEVE FORBERT: An EXCLUSIVE interview!

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: THE MAGIC TREE is about to be released. How are you feeling about the way it turned out and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
STEVE FORBERT: I feel pretty good about it. We got the cat ears and legs and tail and whiskers – I think we got the cat in the bag. It’s hard to do.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: COURTNEY HARTMAN & TAYLOR ASHTON/BEEN ON YOUR SIDE

Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton were already successful in their respective outfits before coming together as a duo. Hartman, the singer, songwriter and guitarist for Nashville-based Americana outfit Della Mae, met Canadian singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player Taylor Ashton when her band crossed paths with his band, Fish & Bird, while out on the road. The two began writing songs together and within four years, they decided that they had enough material for an album. Named after one of the first songs they wrote together, the duo is now releasing BEEN ON YOUR SIDE, their debut album as a duo. On paper, their collaboration may sound like a perfect match but, in reality, it is so much better than that.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MURDER BY DEATH/THE OTHER SHORE

Americana is a modern name for a genre that has existed for decades. Back in the day, many artists were too hard to categorize because they were too Rock for Country, too Country for Folk or too Folk for Rock (or a mix of the three). While many artists today remain difficult to pigeonhole, at least there is the term Americana, which acts as an umbrella genre for bands that fall outside the Country, Rock and Folk guidelines. However, for a band like Murder By Death, it is best to toss any genre label out the window and start from scratch. Yes, they certainly fit comfortably into the Americana genre but they can also be filed in Rock, Country and Folk just as easily. Their latest album, THE OTHER SHORE, is proof of that…

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THE VIBRATORS: ALBUMS 1979-85 reviewed!

Here in the U.S., veteran British Punk band The Vibrators are not held in the same high esteem as bands like The ClashSex Pistols, Buzzcocks, and a few other of their contemporaries. And I must say that is an oversight that must be corrected. Is it because they were too British? Were they too raw? Did they challenge the listener with stylistic changes to their core sound? Were they too Pop to Punk purists? So many questions, so few answers…

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TASH SULTANA: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: FLOW STATE is finally being released. How are you feeling about the project and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
TASH SULTANA: Thank fuck it’s done ‘cos it was an ordeal. Like, making an album is hard work – I thought I’d just get in there and record songs I wanted to, and it’d be done, but it’s hard work. I can’t believe I can actually hold it in my hands now. The love is a bit surreal.

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THE CHANCELLOR reviews the 5CD box SAILOR: THE ALBUMS 1974-78

If you’ve never heard Sailor, then I feel pretty confident that you’ve never heard a band quite like Sailor.  One of the most unusual and original bands to emerge from the UK in the mid-‘70s, Sailor achieved great success in the UK, Holland and across Europe but never made much of a mark in the U.S. However, the band did attract the attention of American Rock and Pop legends like Bruce Johnston and Curt Boettcher (billed as Becher), both of whom produced their CHECKPOINT album. If you missed Sailor and their albums the first time around, 7Ts/Cherry Red Records is making it easy to catch up with a five CD set entitled SAILOR: THE ALBUMS 1974-78, a box that contains their first five albums including bonus tracks. Fans of band like 10cc, Deaf School, and City Boy should take note…

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JEFF LORBER FUSION/IMPACT

According to Wikipedia, Jazz Fusion is “a musical genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with Rock music, Funk, and Rhythm & Blues.” During the ‘70s, Fusion was often looked upon as music for ‘sophisticated’ listeners. Artists like Miles DavisWeather Report, and Return To Forever sold plenty of records but seldom would you hear their music played in restaurants or department stores. However, by the end of the ‘70s, a change was a-comin’. Fusion was always a fluid genre so when certain artists began to take it in new directions, new ‘genres’ were born. Jazz Rock, Jazz Funk and Smooth Jazz were three of the most popular subgenres that emerged from Fusion’s womb. And this is where The Jeff Lorber Fusion (JLF) comes in…

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WHITE DENIM: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Steve Terebecki

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your album, PERFORMANCE, is just about to be released. How are you feeling about how the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
STEVE TEREBECKI: We are really excited about how the album turned out. This is the first album we’ve fully produced since LAST DAY OF SUMMER. I’ve enjoyed working with producers in the past, but being able to run with our own ideas feels the best. So far, people seem excited. “Magazine” was a different kind of style song for us, so it was cool to see it get picked up by so much radio.

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