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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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ROBBIE FULKS & LINDA GAIL LEWIS/WILD! WILD! WILD!

Why on earth didn’t anyone think of this sooner? While a collaboration between Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis may now make perfect sense, it took a hell of a long time for someone to figure it out. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect – the world has been waiting for a new dynamic duo and they’ve finally arrived. Like a musical time capsule that reaches all the way back to the mid-‘50s, Robbie and Linda’s 2018 album WILD! WILD! WILD! is everything the title of the album suggests… and a whole lot more. From Country & Western to Rockabilly, this is an album created by and artist who was influenced by it (Fulks) and an artist that lived through it (Lewis).

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: TROPHY EYES/THE AMERICAN DREAM

Australia has always been a country that takes influences from the U.S. and UK, blending them together and creating something new and interesting.  This phenomenon has been happening for decades – most successfully in the ‘80s – and definitely sets bands Down Under apart from their American and British counterparts. Newcastle’s Trophy Eyes is no exception. Signed to Hopeless Records, the Punk-fueled Aussies fuse Punk-Pop, Emo, and Hard Rock together, sprinkling their musical confections with just the right amount of catchy hooks. The melodies soar, the powerhouse rhythm section pounds and the guitars slash and burn. While this might not be your grandad’s Punk Rock, it certainly checks all the boxes that inspired your older brother.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GURRUMUL/DJARIMIRRI (CHILD OF THE RAINBOW)

Best known in the U.S. for his work with Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi, blind multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (AKA Gurrumul) is the best-selling Australian indigenous musician of all time. His 2009 debut solo album, GURRUMUL, hit #1 on the independent chart and peaked at #3 on the ARIA Charts. The album was eventually certified triple platinum. His sophomore album, RRAKALA, was awarded the Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album in 2011. His third studio release, THE GOSPEL ALBUM, was released in July 2015 and debuted at #3 on the ARIA Charts. The album won him his third ARIA Award for Best World Music Album. And then suddenly, Gurrumul was gone, a victim of kidney and liver disease.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE INNOCENCE MISSION/SUN ON THE SQUARE

It’s been nearly thirty years since the self-titled 1989 debut album by The Innocence Mission was released. The album was a slickly produced slice of Folk Pop that was filled with enchanting songs that shimmered regardless of the production value. Throughout the years, the band has continued to create albums filled with beautiful melodies plucked from the rain-soaked side of heaven. SUN ON THE SQUARE, their 10th studio album, is no exception. Tender, minimalistic and haunting, the album strikes the perfect balance between frail and strong, heartbreaking and hopeful, and love and loneliness. In essence, it is everything you’d expect from an album by The Innocence Mission.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BEN RECTOR/MAGIC

It has been three years since the release of his last album BRAND NEW but singer/songwriter Ben Rector hasn’t been resting on his laurels. From writing and recording new material to the birth of his daughter in July of 2017, Ben has been busier than ever. Working with producers John Fields (Goo Goo Dolls, All Time Low) and Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, M83), Ben has been inspired by all the positive changes in his professional and personal life and is now sharing his thoughts with the world. Although MAGIC is his seventh album, he approaches the material with a fresh, new outlook. In many ways, this album feels like Rector has re-energized and refocused his talents and now it is time to move forward and embrace the future.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GIN BLOSSOMS/MIXED REALITY

Alt-Rockers Gin Blossoms celebrate their 31st Anniversary this year. While they achieved their commercial breakthrough in 1992, the band originally formed in Tempe, Arizona five years earlier. However, it wasn’t until the following year that the band truly gelled with the addition of guitarist Robin Wilson, who would quickly assume the role of the band’s lead vocalist. The band’s independently-released debut album, DUSTED (1989), brought the band plenty of local attention, which eventually lead to their major label deal with A&M Records. By 1992, the band’s NEW MISERABLE EXPERIENCE album was a smash hit – fueled by the massively successful “Hey Jealousy” single – and their guitarist and main songwriter Doug Hopkins was out of the band (he would eventually take his own life). More successful singles followed – including “Found Out About You” and “Til I Hear It From You” – as well as the critically-acclaimed album CONGRATULATIONS… I’M SORRY (1996). The band ground to a halt in early 1997 but reformed in 2001. They released two additional albums – MAJOR LODGE VICTORY (2006) and NO CHOCOLATE CAKE (2010) – and have toured frequently ever since.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: FATOUMATA DIAWARA/FENFO

Fatoumata Diawara is a highly acclaimed singer, songwriter, guitarist and actress from Mali. Her journey began when she was born in the Ivory Coast and has included stints in her father’s dance troupe, as an actress on stage and screen, as a singer in Paris night clubs and as a show-stealing performer at a star-studded tribute concert at Carnegie Hall. All of these experiences inform her sophomore effort FENFO, an album born from tradition yet entirely modern and unique. The long-awaited follow-up to her 2011 debut full-length, FATOU, FENFO lives up to the promise of that debut… and then some.

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