AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE BOTTLE ROCKETS/BIT LOGIC

So, what do you do if you create music that is completely in step with what should be popular but is apparently out of step with what is actually popular? Playing great music that reaches a specific audience is definitely admirable but it can be frustrating – for the band and their fans – if a talented act continually releases outstanding albums that don’t immediately race to the top of the charts. Sadly, this type of situation is quite common. For example, for nearly 30 years, St. Louis’ The Bottle Rockets have released a series of albums that embrace the heart of American music while reinterpreting it in fresh, new ways. BIT LOGIC is their 13th album and might be the album that finally connects them with a larger audience.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: J.P. HARRIS/SOMETIMES DOGS BARK AT NOTHING

If you go to Wikipedia and look up ‘Honky Tonk’, you’ll find the following description: “A Honky Tonk is both a bar that provides country music for the entertainment of its patrons and the style of music played in such establishments. In the 1950s, Honky Tonk entered its golden age, with the popularity of Webb Pierce, Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Faron Young, George Jones, and Hank Williams.” So, given that description, it’s no wonder that singer/songwriter J.P. Harris is often referred to as one of the finest purveyors of Honky Tonk music in America today. As ‘modern’ Country takes up space on the charts, it is refreshing – and dare I say it, exhilarating – to experience an artist so in tune with the roots of the genre’s pioneering artists. Harris ain’t no Americana bandwagoneer – he is as Country as Country Music gets.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AMY RAY/HOLLER

Amy Ray is best known as one-half of Indigo Girls, the Grammy-winning Folk duo she formed with Emily Saliers. Formed in 1985, the duo released an EP before signing with Epic Records and becoming one of the most popular Folk-Rock duos of all time. Although they have remained active for over three decades, Amy would use her downtime between projects to follow her own path. Beginning with her 2001 solo debut, STAG, Amy has pursued a slightly different path than that of Indigo Girls. Her voice may be instantly identifiable but her solo releases tend to travel down different musical paths that eventually converge onto the same road that she travels down with Indigo Girls. HOLLER, her 2018 album, is no exception…

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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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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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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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