Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top 5's of 2014 - Mike Bravener

I know it's now 2015, but I had one late comer with a top 5 list and definitely want to share. Mike Bravener always throws recommendations my way for new music and most of the time I agree with his taste. I always look forward to find out his years favorites.
Here is Mike in his own words:


1- Paolo Nutini - Sunny Side Up 

Sunny Side up was released in 2009, so it’s a few years old and I don’t know why it took me so long to find it. It was by chance that I discovered it. When I worked at Chapters I heard this song 10 out of 10 playing in the background and I swore I was listening to a Bob Marley track. I shazam’d the track and found out that it was Paolo. He’s a Scottish born Italian with a vocal style that is soulful, reggae, mellow and fun!! This CD has 12 tracks and I couldn’t stop listening to it for almost 4 months. My favourite track is one called “Pencil Full Of Lead” and has a big band sound and is pure fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-xd3NuWQI0

The Cd was followed up in 2014 by Paolo’s 3rd full release called “Caustic Love” which has an old Motown, RnB sound.

Sunny Side up was a “Heather’s Choice” at Indigo which means if you bought it and didn’t like it,
you could return it. It’s now a Mike’s Choice. Most played CD of the year for me

2- Queen - Live at The Rainbow’ 74 - 4 LP vinyl Box set

I love Queen and Freddie so getting a chance to hear Freddie and the band when they were just starting out live is a treat! He could still hit all of the high notes and he was starting to build his stage banter and repertoire. The musicianship is incredible and what you hear is Rock n Roll. Songs are from their 1st three LP’s so for anybody who only knows Queen from Bohemian Rhapsody onward and fell in love with them. GET This 4 LP collection or double CD. Also they released full concert DVD or blue ray, remixed and remastered. 

Stands up to and beats, in my opinion, any Queen live concert footage from the 80’s. Complete with liner notes and mp3 download card, I now have Freddie singing me to sleep through my iPod most nights.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8Rfb1Jtmic Stone Cold Crazy originally from the LP Sheer Heart Attack, and here live at the Rainbow.

3- Queen - Forever 2 cd deluxe edition

OK People complained that the queen marketing machine took mostly songs that have been released, which is true, added 3 new unreleased Freddie tracks and voila an easy $15.00. The 3 unreleased tracks are great. One unreleased track includes Freddie singing with Michael Jackson “There Must Be More To Life Than This” What’s interesting Michael Jackson’s vocal was weak and leads me to believe his portion was a demo. I dunno for sure. The other 2 unreleased tracks are strong and have that classic Queen sound. I’m hoping they got more because it’s great hearing new tracks from my favorite vocalist of all time. Let Me in Your Heart Again is on repeat when I drive, Great and haunting tune. It’s like Freddie is asking us to open up to Old Queen again.


 And that’s what this collection does. It takes some familiar Queen tunes like “Love Of My Life” or “Somebody To Love” and puts them alongside incredible tracks like “Nevermore” You’re probably saying “Never heard that tune. It’s on their 2nd LP Queen 2. So you listen to that song and wonder hmmm what’s the rest of the LP Like? I think it could be right up alongside A Day At The Races and A Night at The Opera. Some of their best material is on Queen 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGj2HulhzPE

4- Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes

Well what can you say about the BOSS. Some really neat tunes on here, Almost like they were left over from Wrecking Ball. Two cuts stand out and play regularly on my iPod. First “Frankie Fell In Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ru2iL-fQuM Catchy fun tune about what love is and how it doesn’t make sense. The 2nd track that stands out is a track called “This Is Your Sword. I love hope and this song screams hope, never give up and that’s why I love this LP. the title track High Hopes should have been on the radio somewhere. I know this will get me in trouble with a lot of people but I believe that the modern King Of Rock N Roll is Bruce Springsteen. Sorry Elvis!

5- Dolly Parton - Both Sides of

Now this is a surprise to me, but I’m hooked on to Dolly Parton, and this LP has a collection of some of her greatest hits. Pure fun, pure story telling, and the more you listen to Dolly’s voice you get hooked. Did you know she’s outselling Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and others in Europe? Yessiree. Now I’ve know about her, liked her songs but the more I dug into her discography I discovered that there is some great Americana.

And here is something interesting… Try and find a Dolly LP on vinyl in great shape in any record store. You Can’t. When Dolly joins that great bluegrass combo in the sky her LP’s will be worth their mint in gold. Her first single, Puppy Love, was listed on eBay recently for $5000.00

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cory Paul Hill - Where We Live

Where We Live is the debut album from Fredericton’s own Cory Paul Hill. According to his bio on his website, Cory considers himself a songwriter first and instrumentalist second. This album proves he has what it takes to succeed at both. He is a strong multi-instrumentalist and an even stronger lyricist. This album features twelve songs of heartache, loss, love and death.

The music falls close to the folk-rock genre, but I hear lots of country influence in his vocals as well. During slow numbers like The Right Time, it reminds me of a Garth Brooks ballad with slow acoustic picking and strong vocals (I can swear I also hear a pedal steel far away in the background). These slow ballads like The Right Time and I Do is where I think Cory excels the most as a songwriter.

But all songs are not this slow and folky: the opening track, Where We Live, has some distorted guitars and drums sounding steering it farther away from folk and closer to rock.

Cory did all the recording himself and did a decent job. The mix is not consistent and I found myself adjusting the volume on my stereo often between tracks. Some songs have his vocals a bit too loud, but others have it damn near perfect. I don’t see any of this as negative, he did a hell of a job doing this by himself, but perhaps with a little bit of guidance he could make this even better.

The only real flaw I found on this album is that he seems to be trying to make some songs catchy using gimmicks. There are a few too many “la de da’s” and “do dee do’s.” My favorite track on the album is I Do, but I personally think it doesn't need those added fillers in the background. Cory has enough talent and skill as a songwriter that the “catchiness” is not required, these songs can hold their own ground.

Where We Live is available for as a CD or digital download at www.CoryPaulHill.com. It’s a great first effort from some young local talent. With the right guidance and loads of persistence, I can see Cory going far with his music.