AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ZARA McFARLANE/ARISE

British Jazz/Soul vocalist and songwriter Zara McFarlane returns to the scene with her third album, ARISE, the follow-up to her 2014 album IF YOU KNEW HER. Like her first two albums, ARISE is available on the beloved Brownswood Recordings label. Brownswood was founded by Gilles Peterson, the respected French-born British DJ who was also responsible for the Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud labels. Anyone familiar with Brownswood’s eclectic roster and Zara’s first two albums will already know that she is a musical force to be reckoned with and that ARISE does not disappoint on any level.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JON LANGFORD/FOUR LOST SOULS

Jon Langford is a rarity in the music business. I can’t think of another artist that can be called a pioneer of British Post-Punk (with The Mekons and The Three Johns) AND a beloved Americana singer/songwriter.  But don’t misunderstand the man: this is NOT a case of an artist changing musical styles to chase fame and fortune! In fact, one can find traces of the American musical landscape in the early Mekons releases although they are buried amongst the many shadows that the band were prone to throw during their inspiring career. Over the years, Langford traveled many different musical roads, all of which lead to the glory that is FOUR LOST SOULS.

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ODESZA: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

 
 
A MOMENT APART:
 
An EXCLUSIVE
Q&A with 
Harrison Mills
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: A MOMENT APART has just been released.  How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had so far?
HARRISON MILLS: This album represents the next chapter of our project.  We’ve wanted for so long to push our sound and mature as musicians. With A MOMENT APART we’ve accomplished a denser, more cinematic sound that incorporates a lot of organic, symphonic instruments. We’ve always considered ourselves an album band, so it’s hard to give people a song out of context, and even harder to choose those singles.  The advance releases cover a lot of styles and genres, so it’s been interesting to see listeners kind of pick and choose their favorites.  We’re excited for people to be able to listen to the album in full – the narrative of the album gives a lot of context to those songs.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BRUCE COCKBURN/BONE ON BONE

BONE ON BONE is the highly anticipated 2017 album from Canadian singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The album is his first in six years and is the follow-up to 2011’s SMALL SOURCE OF COMFORT. His 25th studio album overall, BONE ON BONE finds Bruce Cockburn at ease as a musician but ill at ease with the world. For those familiar with Cockburn’s work over the years, this may seem like nothing new. However, BONE ON BONE finds Bruce at the top of his game. And for an artist that has been releasing albums for nearly 50 years, this is quite a feat.  Mixing Folk and Blues, the album is warm, intimate and filled with songs that are destined to become Cockburn classics. Amongst the Folk Blues stomp of songs like “States I’m In” (the first single) and “Café Society” is “Forty Years In The Wilderness”, one of the loveliest songs he’s ever written.

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An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with DEAN WAREHAM of LUNA

As Luna reassemble with their first new music in thirteen years, the group’s founder took time to discuss the band’s pair of simultaneous releases; an instrumental EP and an album of covers.

DAVE RAYBURN: With A SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION and A PLACE OF GREATER SAFETY you provide an outpouring of new music than Luna fans might not have been expecting. Why did you opt for an album of covers and an EP of instrumentals for the band’s return to the studio?
DEAN WAREHAM: I know what Andy Warhol answered when asked why he was making short films instead of painting. “Because it’s easy.” Making covers is easier of course because you don’t have to write the songs. And ditto with instrumentals, I don’t have to write any lyrics (the hardest part). So I thought an album of covers would be a nice way for us to record together after 13 years apart. Also we’ve done a lot of covers over the years and people like them. Sean Eden insisted we should do something more, and that’s how we came to record the instrumentals. So it’s cool, we’ve got two things that we’ve never done before, and personally I think that’s more interesting to people than “oh, these dudes got together and wrote some new songs.”

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An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with ANTIBALAS’ Martin Perna

WHERE THE GODS ARE IN PEACE:

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: WHERE THE GODS ARE IN PEACE is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
MARTIN PERNA: We are happy with the way the album turned out, or else we wouldn’t have put it out. It was a lot of work and represents several years of effort working through some problems that would have sunk most other bands. We had some members graduate to other projects not long after our last record in 2012, and this album proves both to ourselves and people who listen to us that we have more juice than ever.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CHARLIE PARR/DOG

 

     Singer/songwriter Charlie Parr has returned with an album that mixes his Folk roots with plenty of heart and soul. Although he may sometimes write as an observer, his songs put him square in the eye of the storm. Parr writes songs that are extremely personal yet universal at the same time.  Listening to DOG, you’ll stumble across people that you feel that you already know, places that you are sure you’ve been and feelings that you most definitely have experienced.  This is a world where both feet are firmly planted on the ground. You can feel the heat of the sun and smell the beer-soaked floorboards. This is an album that pulls no punches.  Life is hard and then you die but in between, there is light in the darkness. However, that light may be only fleeting at times. But that is understandable because Charlie experienced some truly dark moments before making the album.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SHEILA E / ICONIC: MESSAGE 4 AMERICA

SHEILA E. may have become a household name thanks to her work in the mid-‘80s with Prince but she was – and is – much more than that! The daughter of iconic percussionist Pete Escovedo, she began her career in the mid-1970s as a percussionist and singer for The George Duke Band. After leaving the group in 1983, Sheila began a successful solo career that started with her critically acclaimed 1984 debut album The Glamorous Life. More than just a Prince-groomed diva, Sheila E. has continued to amaze and delight her fanbase with albums that blend a potpourri of styles into something that can only be described as ‘the Sheila E. sound’. This multi-talented musician – often referred to as The Queen of Percussion – is back with one of the most important albums of her career- ICONIC: MESSAGE 4 AMERICA.

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An EXCLUSIVE interview with SHEILA E!

COME TOGETHER:

Guided by the forces of family, faith, and music, Sheila E. has made a name for herself as one of the most talented musical icons over the decades. With a fearless nature and a passion for sharing her gifts with others, Sheila truly follows the beat of her own drum. In anticipation of the release of her new album, ICONIC: MESSAGE 4 AMERICA, Sheila took time to discuss her latest work, her hopes, and her legacy.

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THE INMATES/The Albums 1979-1982 (3CD set) reviewed!

     In the late ‘70s, the Rock world was being turned on it’s head by Punk and New Wave. The pretentious ‘old guard’ (i.e. Prog rockers, Folk singer/songwriters, Pop stars, etc.) were
handed their walking papers by the press, who latched onto the shouty, belligerent Punk kids. By ’79, you were more likely going to read about the exploits of Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash before you’d stumble upon a review of ELP’s latest live gig. And by that time, reviews of ELP, Yes and the like were leaning towards scathing.
     However, while the press fell over themselves to discover the latest Punk craze, Pub Rock and British Rhythm & Blues was also a happening thing.  Dr. Feelgood were already established and Nine Below Zero were on their way to becoming legendary. While not always recognized as such, The Inmates were certainly one of the best of the Pub/R&B bunch (in fact, they still are!). With Cherry Red’s three CD box set, THE ALBUMS 1979-1982, The Inmates are finally receiving the credit and attention that they deserve. Containing the band’s first three studio albums (plus bonus tracks), this is a long over-due look at the band’s excellent early output.