Monday, August 17, 2015

It Came From ReverbNation - The Ripple Music-ReverbNation Playlist Part 1: featuring Pushing the Sun, Kingshifter, Lauren Marsh, The StoneCoats, Ambrosia and Gentlemen and Scholars

Welcome waveriders.  Once again the good folks at ReverbNation asked us to participate in a promotion for their millions of bands and artists.  Who ever was interested had 60 days to submit one song to us.  I then promised that I'd go through each submission and write a quick line about the 20 that caught my ear.

2480 artists submitted from all genres.  Originally, I only wanted to review heavy rock stuff, you know, Ripple Music record label kinda stuff, but wouldn't you know it, I simply fell in love with some of the voices, songs, craft and melodies of some very surprising (to me) submissions. I don't really lean towards Country/Americana, yet the Tennessee Stiffs grabbed my ears and refused to let go. I've been bored with too many emo-ish pop bands and intended to skip the whole scene, but a talented young signer/songwriter named Danielle H was way, way too talented to ignore.  Not looking for any indie, folk or alternative yet you'll find amazing songwriters/performers like Lauren Marsh, Gentlemen and Scholars and NMBR11 on the list.  That's not even to mention some of the amazing bands that crossed my computer, like StoneCoats, Ophelliah, and Axis/Orbit.  Way too many to name here.  And despite the fact that ReverbNation ranks submissions by how many fans, facebook/followers they have, etc, I intentionally ignored those rankings and often started at the bottom of the list where the funky as all get-out, bluesy hip hop of PR Stunt was just waiting to be found.

Its a very mixed, eclectic playlist for all kinds of moods.  In other words, it's what the Ripple Effect is all about.

My apologies to all the others who submitted.  Some of these cuts were brutal for me.  It was a brutal process, listening to each and every one of the 2480 submissions and trimming it down.  Once I got the list down to about 100 the process trudged to a snail's pace.   I wanted to keep them all, but simply couldn't.  Often it wasn't that a submission wasn't worthy, it just may have been not what I wanted to write about at this point in time.  Case in point, The Black Marbles, who I passed over the last time I did this, but jumped out at me this go around.

So, without further ado, the Ripple Music ReverbNation playlist, part 1.  Part 2 plays next week.

Pushing the Sun - Preacher

First up is a local band.  I'm pretty sure I'd heard of these guys, but never had the chance to see them play live.  That will change now.  Under the expert guidance of Tim Narducci, the mastermind behind Spiralarms (and producer of Ripple's own Zed) Pushing the Sun plow a road through the grunge highways of the 90's, fused with an excellent sense of melody and a lead singer with a voice that can effortless carry the emotion of the song.  Guitarist Billy Connally launched Pushing the Sun in 2012. After his successful instrumental album release, The Silent Canvas on Steve Vai's Digital Nations label, Connally was ready to return to his roots — a rock band with a charismatic lead vocalist.  And he found one in Andrew Saman who's voice lends power to the anthemic, charging riffs.  To Billy's credit, eventhough he was signed to Vai's label, here he plays the roll of a true rock group guitarist.  Tasteful licks, restrained leads.  No excessive noodling or trying to steal the thunder.  Throughout the musicianship is solid and the results are an epic movement of melodic heavy rock, from the gentle acoustic intro to the thunderous chorus.   A nice lead in to this list.

Kingshifter - Downin' Booze-Rasin' Hell

Hailing from Wichita Kansas, this may be more what you'd expect from Ripple.  No frills, riff-mad, alcohol-fueled mayhem rock n roll.  KingShifter don't play games with their heavy groove riffage.  The title of  this songs says it all, "Downin' Booze and Raisin' Hell"  That's all that matters to these bearded, denim vest wearing bikers.  Booze, bikes, babes, barfights.   And in the end, that's all that matters to me too, because the riffs are fast and furious, dirty and downright mean.  Despite the steady diet of steel chains and axle grease, the song is still thick with melody.  To summarize, KingShifter is all about the riff and the booze.  Got it?  Good, because in the the end that's rock n' roll!

Lauren Marsh - Ledge

Time for a change of pace.  Lauren Marsh was the first artist I accepted for this promotion.  And it took only 9 seconds.  That's the exact moment her voice joined in with the acoustic piano and held my attention in a captive embrace.  The song is good, melodic and catchy, moody and atmospheric, but it really doesn't matter.  It's all about that voice, that remarkable angelic voice.  Coming across like a fusion of Adele, Sinead O'Connor, and maybe Sarah McLachlan, Lauren Marsh has an amazing instrument at her disposal.  It caresses my ears, gently sways into my brain's pleasure center.  I played this song for every member of my staff when they walked into my office and the response was unanimous.   Its'a voice for the ages.  Ledge showcases it well with it's soaring chorus and moody verses.  This is a voice that needs to heard more.  This song should be a hit.  Lauren Marsh should be a star.

The StoneCoats - Blues Boogie

Blues Boogie does just that.  Grooves and boogies over a jazzy blues vibe with a touch of retro, super-cool guitar.  And when that thick Doors-like organ layers on top the song really kicks into gear.  No other way to describe this tune but infinitely cool.  Blues laced, surf-tinged garage pop, with soul and verve.   This is music for the ultimate late night early-60's jam party, with martinis and mini-dresses, be-bop poets, mescaline and anything else cool.   The verses honestly drip out of the speakers, coating the hips of some phenomenally dolled up go-go dancer.  The chorus amps it up to a full butt shaker, finger-snapper, head bobber.   The song simply swaggers and sways.  Ultra is the word to describe this.  Just ultra-cool, in the hippest sense of the word.  Hope the guys put this out on vinyl, cause I'm buying.  The boys come from Branson MS, so there's a southern swagger and front porch bluesy vibe to all they do.  Other songs on their ReverbNation page sound just as good, so check em out.

Ambrosia - Hopes and Dreams

I kinda freaked when I saw this submission in the queue.  Ambrosia?   THE Ambrosia?  The killer 70's art rock/prog/jazz rock band of "Nice, Nice Very Nice" and Somewhere I've Never Traveled fame?   The mega -million selling ballads of "You're the Only Woman" "Biggest Part of Me" "How Much I Feel" and "Holdin' on to Yesterday?"   These guys were a huge part of the soundtrack of my youth, with some of their lesser album cuts like "Apothecary" and "Rock N a Hard Place" being huge on my turntable rotation.  Like many, I assume, I thought the band was done after Road Island, their follow up to the multi-platnium One Eighty.  But I was wrong.  After a hiatus, the band reformed in 1990 and have been playing in one incarnation or another ever since.  Here we have three original members, Burleigh Drummond, Joe Puerta and Chris North joined by Mary Harris and Ken Stacey on  vocals, and Doug Jackson on guitar.  "Hope and Dreams" is an anthemic MOR melodic rocker showcasing the new direction for the band.  Of course I miss David Pack's vocals, how could I not, I grew up with the guy, but that shouldn't take away from the vocal performance these cats bring to the table.  The song soars and lilts and ultimately is an uplifting slice of FM pop.   Good to have the lads back.

Gentlemen and Scholars - County Hound Ramble.

After the measured production of Ambrosa, let's get down on our hands and knees, way deep into the mud and swamp and find something thick and dirty.  Gentlemen and Scholars roar out of the speakers like a Gulf storm blowing across the green algae of the Bayou.   Jeremiah Galey may bust out singing "I wasn't born on the bayou/I'm not a son of the south" but damn, he'd fool me. This song is all hot n sweaty, swamp-bred boogie, blues and funk.  With Galey having one of the more captivating voices I'd heard in ages.  Thick and whiskey and gumbo fed, it's rife with emotion and dirt.  Love it. The rest of band are killer also with loose guitars, a nasty slide action, some tasty organ, and horns.  This song is a killer summertime stomp. Reminds me of a more fleshed out Black Bone Child.  Should be playing over cold beers and boiling crawdads.  Actually, should just be played period!  Over and over again.


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