BRUCE C. STEVENSON – February Song of the Month Preview – “Unforgettable One”

19 Feb

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“Thanking Jupiter” is available on CD and VINYL. For more information please visit







18 Feb

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“Stimuli is an American heavy rock band from the Bay Area of California. They formed in 2013 when Tai Hake (bass and theremin) and Jimmy Tomahawk (guitars and vocals) left the band Yeibichai. The addition of Australian drummer Cole Andrew completed the power trio format.

The tunes mostly carry a mid-tempo groove but there is enough sophistication and rhythmic changes to ensure a pretty captivating listen. It isn’t prog but it isn’t your typical radio friendly fare either. Some of the tunes have a ‘90s Alice in Chains vibe and there is a definite alternative angle to some of these tracks. Very good lead vocals is another strong plus for the band. Tomahawk has a sensitivity to his voice but can also ramp up the intensity when the need arises. Another cool trait is the use of theremin, adding mood and atmosphere to the band’s heavier riffing. The first track “+X-“ is emphasized by a massive rhythm section and the band displays tight musicianship throughout with heavy riffing and a moody guitar solo. The use of theremin is very noticeable. Some tricky drum work pushes the title track in a heavy but proggier direction and “The New Dream” has a decidedly Alice and Chains bent with lower range vocals and powerful rhythms with some pretty cool tempo changes as well. With “Sandstorm” the band throws a bit of a curveball adding sitar into the mix. The sound is more exotic because of it and is my favourite track thus far. The flute and acoustic guitar adds a sort of mysticism on “Prize Of Nothingness” that is really quite enchanting and shows a band not afraid to explore different sounds. There are really no bad tracks here which is pretty excellent in my book.

Stimuli have created a well thought out and rather sophisticated rock album with They Are We. The melodies don’t necessarily jump out at you and may require a bit of digging in on behalf of the listener. I think this one will have some staying power. A solid debut that I wholeheartedly recommend.”



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15 Feb

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Dr. Chrispy



Review by Gary Hill

I almost landed this under “non-prog” because of the EDM characteristics of the set. The thing is, those are tempered by textures that are closer to things like Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and Synergy. While most of this is purely instrumental, a couple songs have vocals, most particularly the album’s closer which might be the highlight. Similarly, while the main elements here are electronic keyboard based, there is a song that features rocking guitar, too. Overall, I find this to be a considerably effective and entertaining set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6 at


Track by Track Review
Be There Soon
Keyboard textures open this in style. It works out to a classy sort of groove that’s infectious. The vocals on the cut, although pretty far down in the mix, bring some soulful vibes.
Gotta Getta Gatta
Feeling almost like an extension of the previous cut, this instrumental is so cool. The horns lend a real jazzy vibe to it.
Sleeping in Tokyo
More purely electronic, this lands well in the EDM vein. Still, it has some decidedly electronic prog elements to it, feeling not that far removed from something like Synergy. This is pretty and quite cool. It has some space rock things at play at times, too.
Blue Sky Line
While there is a definite groove to the rhythm section on this piece, the keyboard elements bring a decidedly proggy sound to the proceedings. It’s another classy electronic number.
I love the melodic elements on this, and the rhythmic structures bring a lot of energy and driving power. Again this makes me think of a lot of the electronic prog of acts like Tangerine Dream and Synergy. The short dropped back section at the end is all cool.
Goodbye Shanghai
I dig the funky groove on this cut. Now this one lands more fully under the EDM heading, but it still has a healthy helping of the proggier element at play.
60 Miles Up
This feels scenic and cinematic. It’s decidedly proggy and so cool. It does get more energized and EDM related further down the musical road.
I love the rhythmic groove that starts this. There is a bit of a vocal bit as sort of a percussive element. This has an intriguing nature, very artsy and very cool. There are more EDM things at play on this tune.
We’re back into more Synergy related territory on this thing. There is a huge change later as this fires out into some serious guitar rocking prog. It drops to just a dramatic synthesizer bit around the four and a half minute mark. That takes it to the end.
A distorted sounding groove starts this. An EDM groove joins. As it continues some healthy helpings of something like Kraftwerk is added to the mix. The cut evolves and grows from there.
Dreaming of Home
There is another rhythmic vocal thing here. Again I’m reminded of Synergy on this. It has some energy and groove, but is more firmly on the proggy versus EDM side of the equation. There are both world music and jazz elements in the mix here.
I’m Going Down (Under)
With some space rock in the mix, this definitely feels like shared territory between Vangelis and Tangerine Dream to me. It’s another classy cut. There is more of an EDM edge later in the number.
A bit slower, there is still a cool rhythmic groove to this thing. The cut has some great electronic textures and melodies built into it, too. It seems a solid merging of the EDM with more proggy elements. After the half way point of the cut it gets into more pure progressive rock zones with some killer synthesizer soloing.
Speaking of progressive rock, this one lands pretty fully in that camp. It has a nice flowing energy and some killer melodic excursions. The synth sounds are so tasty and this thing is one of my favorites here. There are some interesting twists and turns here, and this does get some more EDM like stuff later. I am particularly enchanted by the melodies on the closing movement.
Follow The Wild Geese
Arguably the most purely progressive rock piece here, this one features vocals of the female variety. It’s the most mainstream cut here, too. It’s also one of my favorites. It represents a great bit of variety. The vocals are quite effective, and there are some great synthesizer melodies built into this. There is a real symphonic bombast here, and this gets so powerful.


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14 Feb

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Andrew Durr: “Time Frame” (2018) CD Review

Migrant Mother is the title of a famous photograph by Dorothea Lange. That photo and its subject and its creator inspired a play of the same title written by Ken White. The play debuted in January of 2017 (though apparently a shorter version was put on in 2014), with music performed by Andrew Durr. Now that music is available on Time Frame: Songs From The Play Migrant Mother. This is a folk album sort of in the original folk tradition, covering some well-known and beloved songs, songs from the Dust Bowl era. But Andrew Durr delivers some unusual, intriguing takes on the familiar material. Joining him on this album are Ray Vazira on percussion and keys, Janet Baltzo on keys, Steve Ashman on electric bass, John Ady on acoustic bass, Kevin Pallotta on drums, Narayan Baltzo on trumpet, Jeffrey McFarland-Johnson on cello, Patrick Durr on harmonica and backing vocals, Alexandra Durr on backing vocals, and Melissa Dawn on spoken word vocals. The disc’s liner notes were written by Ken White.

The album opens with “Hard Times Come Again No More,” a song that predates the Dust Bowl years. This version by Andrew Durr is delivered honestly without adornment, and features some nice work on harmonica. There is also some excellent, passionate vocal work, and I love the backing vocals. “Many days you have lingered around my cabin door/Hard times come again no more.” That’s followed by a lively, fun number, “Are You making Any Money?” This playful tune features some delightful work on piano, as well as more good work on harmonica. “Make fun when you could make trouble/Make mistakes, but they pay double/Say, honey, are you making any money?/Because that’s all I want to know.” Then we get a good rendition of “Pastures Of Plenty.” Any album of material covering this time and subject must include at least one Woody Guthrie song. It just wouldn’t be right otherwise. This rendition of “Pastures Of Plenty” has a more serious, somber tone, and a power. Toward the end, the snare drum takes on the feel of a march for a time.
“Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” is one of the most famous songs of the Great Depression. It was written by Jay Gorney and E.Y. Harburg. As presented here, it has a darker folk vibe, which is quite fitting for the lyrics. I really like the way Andrew Durr tackles this one. He starts to belt out the lyrics toward the end, giving a passionate and raw performance, fully invested in the song. Another well-known song from that time is “Pennies From Heaven,” written by Artie Johnson and Johnny Burke. The version here begins with some vocals delivered basically as spoken word, and sounding like an old recording, or like they’re on a radio or perhaps even from over a phone. Then the musicians come in, and the song takes on a sweet, warm folk vibe, with more good work on harmonica. That’s followed by “Who’s Been Polishing The Sun” a fun, bouncy, peppy folk number, with yet more lively, wonderful work on harmonica.
“The Way You Look Tonight” is a song that gets in my head quite often. I’ve heard a lot of different renditions over the years, but I’ve never heard a version quite like the one on this album. It is sort of folk, but has a strange, cool jazzy feel. I like it a whole lot, especially the work on piano. Andrew Durr follows that with an equally unusual rendition of “Keep On The Sunny Side.” He establishes a darker, more serious vibe, fitting the song’s first line, “There’s a dark and troubled side of life,” much more than its second, “There’s a bright and sunny side too.”  I’ve never heard the song approached this way before. It has more of a “House Of The Rising Sun” vibe, or perhaps even “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Listening to it, you get the feeling that it is probably impossible – or at least incredibly difficult – to do as the song says and “Keep on the sunny side of life.” Then “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” begins a cappella, before the guitar comes in. This version is folk, with a gospel element in the backing vocals, and sounds wonderful. The album ends with “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries,” a fun, playful version that even includes some whistling and then kazoo and then horn. So there! I love it.
CD Track List
  1. Hard Times Come Again No More
  2. Are You Making Any Money?
  3. Pastures Of Plenty
  4. Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
  5. Pennies From Heaven
  6. Who’s Been Polishing The Sun
  7. The Way You Look Tonight
  8. Keep On The Sunny Side
  9. Will The Circle Be Unbroken?
  10. Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries
Time Frame was released on CD on November 9, 2018 through IAC Records.

Stay tuned in 2019 for even more great artists and releases from IAC RECORDS!

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13 Feb

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Canada Review: NOA LEVY “TAKE TWO”

12 Feb

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JENNIFER SARAN featured on Big Blend Radio & TV Magazine – Spring 2019

11 Feb

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