AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BILLY BRANCH & THE SONS OF BLUES: ROOTS AND BRANCHES

The harmonica has long been a neglected instrument in Rock music.  In a musical environment ruled by guitars, drums, keyboards, and vocals (including harmonies), the harmonica – AKA mouth organ – is often used as a novelty… and even then, very rarely. There are those artists who have managed to fit the harmonica into their hits – Billy Joel, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, etc. – but by and large, there aren’t many Rock musicians who proclaim themselves as first and foremost a harmonica player. However, if you’re talking about the Blues, that is a completely different story. Blues musicians known chiefly as harmonica players include James Cotton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Charlie Musselwhite, Junior Wells, Kim Wilson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), Paul Butterfield, Mark Feltham (Nine Below Zero), and many others. […]

By | July 5th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BILLY BRANCH & THE SONS OF BLUES: ROOTS AND BRANCHES

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS/NO GOOD DEED

The Blues genre may have spent the last century travelling around the world, but it has remained America’s music. Born from the crust of the earth, the Blues came to life when it was introduced to the sweat of humanity and the darkness buried deep in the hearts of America’s downtrodden. While Blues Music had been around for decades, Robert Johnson’s deal with the Devil helped to propel the genre forward. In the 80 years since that deal went down at the Crossroads, Blues has remained the music of the people. It is also the foundation of practically every genre that has come since – from Folk to Country to Jazz to Rock. The Blues is part of us and we are part of the Blues. […]

By | June 28th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS/NO GOOD DEED

MINDI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your 2018 album NO GOOD DEED is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far? MINDI ABAIR: This album is deep to me. It feels like the band has gelled … we complete each other’s sentences musically and play together so effortlessly at this point. We joined forces as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers at the beginning of 2015, but I had played with Randy Jacobs for 20 years before that, and Rodney Lee has been in my band for 17 years. Third Richardson is from my hometown. I hear the camaraderie and the friendship and the sheer abandon we have playing together, and I love it. We chose songs we loved, whether we wrote them or someone else did, and we played them like only we would. […]

By | June 14th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on MINDI ABAIR & THE BONESHAKERS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AURORA/A DIFFERENT KIND OF HUMAN (STEP 2)

Norway isn’t just the hotbed of Black Metal, you know. While that genre has kept a handful of Norwegian musicians gainfully employed, the country has also given us some artists who remain popular throughout the rest of the world. Mentioning Classical composer Edvard Grieg is a given, but many other influential artists hail from Norway including a-Ha, Jan Garbarek, Royksopp, Terje Rypdal, Jaga Jazzist, production team Stargate, and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad, one of the two A’s in ABBA. With each passing year, Norwegian artists make their presence known outside their homeland and Aurora Laura Aksnes, who releases music under the name Aurora, is now making waves as she dances on the cup of international stardom. […]

By | June 7th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: AURORA/A DIFFERENT KIND OF HUMAN (STEP 2)

MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!

THE LONG REVIEW: Fifty-three years after he stepped into the limelight with the release of The Monkees’ debut single in August of 1966, Michael Nesmith remains a musical enigma. The story of The Monkees has been told so many times – perhaps TOO many times – so I’ll respectfully skip over most of the details. One thing I will mention is how Nesmith seemed slightly out of step with the Pop charts yet completely in step and confident of his own musical vision. While Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones handled the bulk of the lead vocals for The Monkees’ glorious hits, Nesmith added a sophisticated depth to the album tracks he wrote and/or produced. Although the most naturally gifted as a songwriter in the band, his lead vocals were not featured on a Monkees A-side until 1969, the year he graced the topside of two singles in a row! […]

By | June 6th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on MICHAEL NESMITH/SONGS (12CDs) review: SPAZ explores the musical universe of Michael Nesmith!

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NEW FOUND GLORY/FROM THE SCREEN TO YOUR STEREO 3

Regardless of what the Billboard charts might insinuate, Pop Punk – AKA Punk Pop – was not born in the mid- ‘90s. The roots of the genre first came to prominence in the late ‘70s thanks to bands like Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Dickies, and The Undertones. The blending of the raw power of Punk Rock and soaring, sing-a-long melodies reignited the Indie scene and made Punk more -for lack of a better term – consumer-friendly. Pop Punk was not watered-down Punk aggression – it was just more focused. Bands soon realized that they could get their messages across if they packaged them in tight, melodic musical blasts. Add a little bit of harmony here, a catchy hook there, and, voila, Pop Punk was born. Pop Punk was never about playing it safe – it was about communicating to their audience via raw and urgent Rock ‘n’ Roll and melodic hooks. The movement’s popularity weakened a little bit over the next decade but in the late ‘80s, bands like Descendents brought Pop Punk back to the surface. And then came the ‘90s… […]

By | May 3rd, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NEW FOUND GLORY/FROM THE SCREEN TO YOUR STEREO 3

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS/IN LEAGUE WITH DRAGONS

The Mountain Goats don’t seem like a band that celebrates anniversaries. However, if they did, they’d be celebrating their 28th year of existence in 2019. Let that sink in – 28 years! Singer/songwriter John Darnielle formed the Mountain Goats in 1991, the very same year as Operation: Desert Storm, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and the death of Freddie Mercury. Time has marched on and, just like our lives, The Mountain Goats have evolved, matured, and [...]

By | April 26th, 2019|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MOUNTAIN GOATS/IN LEAGUE WITH DRAGONS

LARKIN POE: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

VENOM & FAITH: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with LARKIN POE’s Megan and Rebecca Lovell. SPAZ: Your album VENOM & FAITH is ready for release. How are you feeling about how the album turned out and the reaction you’ve had so far? MEGAN LOVELL: Thus far, the response to VENOM & FAITH has been incredibly positive. We feel very fortunate to have a supportive and openminded fanbase; as we have continued to grow and shift over the years, honing our sound, our fans have been willing to make the musical journey of Larkin Poe with us. […]

By | November 14th, 2018|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on LARKIN POE: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

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 Davis, Weather 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… […]

By | August 17th, 2018|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: JEFF LORBER FUSION/IMPACT

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE INNOCENCE MISSION/SUN ON THE SQUARE

It’s been nearly thirty years since the self-titled 1989 debut album by The Innocence Mission was released. The album was a slickly produced slice of Folk Pop that was filled with enchanting songs that shimmered regardless of the production value. Throughout the years, the band has continued to create albums filled with beautiful melodies plucked from the rain-soaked side of heaven. SUN ON THE SQUARE, their 10th studio album, is no exception. Tender, minimalistic and haunting, the album strikes the perfect balance between frail and strong, heartbreaking and hopeful, and love and loneliness. In essence, it is everything you’d expect from an album by The Innocence Mission. […]

By | July 2nd, 2018|News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE INNOCENCE MISSION/SUN ON THE SQUARE