Showing posts with label Blues-Rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blues-Rock. Show all posts

Saturday, March 24, 2018

#326 : Ten Second Pistol - You Have No Power Over Me

2018 – Zeven Music Entertainment

By Phillip Smith; March 24, 2018

Ten Second Pistol packs a hard-hitting punch with their delightful and raw debut album, You Have No Power Over Me.  Benny Chang, front man of this up-and-coming blues-rock band out of El Paso, Texas connects with the listener using attention-grabbing guitar riffs and suave smoky vocals.  Alongside Chang is his rhythm section composed of bassist Davis Alexander and drummer Manny Ayala.  They’re a tight outfit indeed.  

Fueled by searing guitar licks and a dire mood, Chang spotlights the slow-baked break-up blues ballad “Get To Steppin’” with a fabulous heart-wrenching performance reminiscent of Tom Waits.  Elegantly played and thought provoking, “Like A Bird” takes a cold hard look at the world today.  It’s quite outstanding.  A buttery electric groove forges the way for a captivating hypnotic listen in “Hold On”.  Riding atop a steady pounding beat, Chang breaks out his slide for the swampy and deliciously ominous “Got No Love”.  This leads right into the powerful blues ballad, “She Left Me”, which splendidly brings the album to its end.  Beautifully played and with no accompaniment, Chang invokes a retro juke-joint vibe with this wonderful blues-soaked track.

When I’ve listened to You Have No Power Over Me, I feel like I’ve actually listened to something with substance.  This is what the Blues is all about.    


Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     

Saturday, February 17, 2018

#320 : Jane Lee Hooker - Spiritus

2017 – Ruf Records

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 17, 2018

There is no other band quite like New York City’s Jane Lee Hooker.  Much like the Rolling Stones, this rockin’ quintet, comprised of Dana “Danger” Athens on lead vocals/keys, guitarists Tracy “High Top” Almazan and Tina “T-Bone” Gorin, drummer Melissa “Cool Whip” Houston, and bassist “Hail Mary” Zadroga, has deep roots in the Blues.  Spiritus, their sophomore album is a ten-song mix of high-voltage rock and roll and blues deliciously delivered with a captivating and unbridled approach.  

An energetic shout-out to the famous Knucklehead Saloon in Kansas City nicely kicks things off in a southern rocker fashion for the opener “How Ya Doin’?”  “Gimme That” sweetly follows.  The swagger in Athens’ vocals is undeniable and that Stonesy riff sounds so good.  Living life to its fullest, taking charge and taking chances takes precedence in the passionately sung “Mama Said”. The dual guitars are terrific.   

Cool Whip and Hail Mary take no prisoners as they forge a raw and intense groove on Big Mama Thornton’s “Black Rat”.  This one is best served loud.  The energy of the band radiates through their ripping performance on Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s 1961 jewel “Turn On Your Love Light”.  It is a pure delight indeed.  To wrap things up, Jane Lee Hooker beautifully winds Spiritus down with a wonderful ten minute dose of relaxing slow-cooked blues in “The Breeze” which certainly hits the spot.  I love every bit of it.


In September of 2017, I caught Jane Lee Hooker at the Bowlful of Blues Festival in Newton, Iowa.  It was a terrific show.  The lineup was The Norman Jackson Band, Rob Lumbard, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, Mato Nanji & Indiginous, with Jane Lee Hooker headlining.  I am so glad I took my camera and captured the event for my blog.  Here’s a link to the photos I took that day …  

Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     

Saturday, February 10, 2018

#319 : Jim Shaneberger Band - Above and Below

2017 – Jim Shaneberger

By Phillip Smith; Feb. 10, 2018

Above and Below, the second release from the Jim Shaneberger Band is an immensely invigorating blues-rock album.  This West Michigan trio comprised of Shaneberger on lead guitar and vocals, bassist Jeffrey Baldus, and drummer Steve Harris are a powerhouse band with deep Zeppelin and Hendrix roots.     

In a flash, they instantly tear out the gate with the magnificent “My Way”.  Shaneberger pulls me tightly in with his massive funky riffs and psychedelic guitar licks.  On the thought-provoking rocker “Indifference” a song inspired by the 2016 shootings of Philandro Castile and Alton Sterling, Shaneberger sings “How many lives must be lost before we set things right?”.  Shaneberger’s guitar mastery is duly noted as Harris tears off a tremendous performance on drums sending this edgy rocker of a track past ten, and right to eleven. The momentum only grows as adrenalin continues to freely flow through the veins of Texas-style blues rocker “Above and Below”. 

I love the slow-paced Black Crowes/Aerosmith vibe running through the beautifully played “Bright Side”.  Shaneberger’s vocals are smooth and cool.  With a SRV influence at its epicenter and a downright funky groove, “I Can’t Sleep” brings a big smile to my face.  I’m also a huge fan of the funky instrumental jam “Just Sayin’ Bro”.  Baldus’ bass is simply amazing on this.

It’s impossible to avoid the trance-inducing hill country blues rhythm threaded through “Way Down South”.  It holds the door open quite nicely for Shaneberger’s shredding guitar solo. It’s plumb terrific.

From start to finish, Jim Shaneberger Band is tight as a drum and solid as titanium.  It doesn’t get much better than Above and Below for fans of blues-rock.  



Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.     

Saturday, August 5, 2017

John Pagano Band - One More Round

2017 –Midnight Circus Records

By Phillip Smith; Aug 5, 2017

It’s been just a little over two years since reviewing John Pagano’s tantalizing Live at Darwin’s album. At that time, he was going by JP BluesOne More Round, his fifth album, and first under the new band name, is another extraordinary recording.  Still playing as a power trio with drummer Shiloh Bloodworth and bassist Tony Hossri, Pagano delivers eleven delicious new tracks to the table.

Pagano pours a double shot of swampilicious slide guitar into the boogie-laced drinking song “Bottoms Up”.  It is slathered and smothered in delicious greasy blues. “Trouble on Wheels” is another great high energy track to get the blood pumping.  His searing guitar licks shine though the rolling rhythm.    

Pagano reintroduces his cover of Hugo’s version of “99 Problems” which he had recorded earlier for his Live at Darwin’s record.  Pagano goes out of his way to make the new studio take sound amazing. It is fabulous indeed.  I’ll be cranking up the volume on “Catch That Train” too.  It’s a fearless Billy Gibbons-inspired rocker which perfectly closes out the album.

One More Round is so good; it’s hard to put down.  Pagano definitely scores again.           


For my July 2015 review of JP BluesLive at Darwin’s, click here .    

For more info on the John Pagano Band …


Take a listen to the album on Apple Music, and if you decide to purchase it, use my special link.  This helps keep the PhillyCheeze site going.  

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Lucas Haneman Express - Tearing Up the Rails

2016 – Lucas Haneman Express  
By Phillip Smith; Mar. 04, 2017

Tearing up the Rails, the sophomore release from Ottawa, Ontario-based Lucas Haneman Express is a savory fourteen track platter of blues-rock with a slightly southern flavor.  Heading up the band is singer/songwriter/guitarist Lucas Haneman, who received the CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award at the 2005 Ottawa International Jazz Festival.  Accompanying Haneman to round out the quartet is vocalist Megan Laurence, drummer Jeff Asselin, and bassist Martin Newman

Steve Marriner from MonkeyJunk, lends his harmonica prowess to “The Verdict”.  This track oozes with swampy bluesy goodness as Marriner and Haneman go toe to toe. Marriner also appears, harp in hand on Brian Adam’s “Run to You”, another terrific track. It sounds so different recorded as a blues song.  There’s no rest for the wicked, when the band breaks into Steppenwolf’s psychedelic hit “Magic Carpet Ride”.  Leaving a smoking trail of rubber on the track, they take this one on going full throttle.   Haneman’s searing hot guitar makes for a standout performance.  I love the relaxed Steely Dan vibe Haneman brings to “Waiting at Your Door” with his smooth jazz approach. “Storybook Love” is plumb mighty too, boasting soulful vocals from Haneman, who guides the song from a slow southern sway into a ferocious intensity. 

Tearing up the Rails is a well-crafted album of poignant lyrics, rich melodies and tight performances.  It’s a great album to sink ones teeth into.  It has definitely sunk its teeth into me.    

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Berdon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings - The Voodoo Sessions

2015 – Roller Records
By Phillip Smith; Feb 13, 2016

The Voodoo Sessions - Live at Down Under from Norwegians Berdon Kirksaether & the Twang Bar Kings is a heady and psychedelic explosion of high-energy, guitar-centric blues-rock.  The four tracks on this EP shell out nearly twenty minutes of musical genius.  The music is indeed magnificent.  This furious foursome is composed of three founding members of CIA (guitarist/vocalist Berdon Kirksaether, drummer Roy Hanssen, and bassist Stein Tumert), along with guitarist/vocalist Erik Gabrielsen.   

“Mama Roll Over” is quick to sweep me off my feet with Kirksaether’s greasy blues riffs and powerful vocals. I love the cool unsettling beat Hanssen sets the mood with on “Some Kind of Voodoo”.  This ominous track conjures up images of a midnight stroll through backwoods Louisiana swampland.  The opening licks of “Mad House” are my cue to crank the volume up a notch.  The band plays this Robin Trower cover wonderfully and unbridled. Hanssen and Tumert keep “When the Moon is on the Rise” on track with a cool bass and drum rhythm while Kirksaether breaks out the gonzo with calculated guitar licks. His voice, laying somewhere in the zone between Bono and Jim Morrison, sounds great on this song.        

After listening to this EP a multitude of times, I am so ready to hear a full-length studio album.  In the meantime, I still have these four songs.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Balkun Brothers - Balkun Brothers

2015 – Dixiefrog Records
By Phillip Smith; Jan 30, 2016

The new self-titled album from the multi-award winning Balkun Brothers is simply put, electric, incredible and rocking.  Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, The Balkun Brothers consists of guitarist/vocalist Steve Balkun, and his younger brother, drummer/vocalist Nick Balkun.  Balkun Brothers contains a dozen ripping white-hot blues-rock songs produced by one of my favorite blues guitarists, the amazing Popa Chubby.   

From the get-go, the Balkun Brothers hit the ground running full speed with “Been Drivin’”, serving hard-nosed blues with a heart-racing delivery. This song gets the adrenalin flowing like the Mississippi.  They keep that energy going in “I Know What Ya’ Did”, and “She Got it All”, both full of catchy riffs and swampy slide guitar.  I get totally swept away in “Control Yourself”, and love the Zeppelin-esque vibe present in “Cold Heart”.  The only cover song on the album, Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues” is a sheer delight.  Steve keeps it rolling on guitar as Nick keeps it tumbling with a cool hypnotic beat.  The album closes with the sweetly performed, acoustic selection “Rainy Day Front Porch Blues”.  Background audio of passing cars on a wet street add a nice touch of authenticity.          
This fantastic album from the Balkun Brothers is brilliantly penned and has everything going for it.  It is destined to be one of this year’s favorites.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bryce Janey - Delta Road

2015 –Grooveyard Records
By Phillip Smith; Sep 5, 2015

I’m engrossed with the latest album from Bryce Janey, Delta Road.  This outstanding collection of bodacious guitar blues is jam-packed with exceptional songs and great musicianship.  Bassist Dan Johnson and drummer Eric Douglas both return to back Janey once again in the studio, keeping that signature sound intact. 

Right from the beginning, Janey delivers the goods. “Keep Marchin’ On” takes the listener on a musical journey.  A funky rhythm and a dab of psychedelic undertones enhance the phenomenal guitar jams he lays down.  This track is surely at the top of my list of favorites. While singing about the strong kinship between himself and his instrument, Janey lays down a catchy smooth bluesy groove in “This Old Guitar”.  This is a great platform to launch some really nice, attention-grabbing guitar licks.

Don’t let the song title “Same Old Thing” fool you.  The song is anything but that.  Once the ignition key is turned, the funk is released and Janey steers the song skyward.  The sound he conjures out of his guitar is simply amazing.  Janey digs in deep with lots of tasty slide on title track, “Delta Road”, a rich and swampy homage to The King of the Delta Blues, Robert Johnson.  I love the harmonica bursts provided by Peter Welsh.  While on the subject of Robert Johnson, I have to mention the stripped-down rendition of Johnson’s classic tune, “Hellhound on My Trail” which Janey closes the album with. This one is clearly remarkable.  

Delta Road keeps the groove moving from beginning to end, and in my humble opinion is Bryce Janey’s best work yet.