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Music Reviews

Built of Stone
Review by Frankie Hagan

Performers have to be made of pretty sturdy stuff to endure the rigors and trials of the music industry. Thankfully, the Cigar Store Indians and their special brand of swingin’ rock ‘n’ roll, country western ballads and rockabilly riffs have stood the test of time.

The band has been long overdue in releasing a new album, and they do not disappoint their fans with their latest CD, Built of Stone (Overall Records). Two major changes separate this record from CSI’s previous two releases: Continue Reading »

Boy from Tupelo
Review by Frankie Hagan

It must have seemed like such a small thing, then: a young boy arriving at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis in 1953. He paid $3.98 to make a “custom record” and, as a special bonus, change the course of music history. That young man was Elvis Presley, and his impact on popular culture has spanned half a century. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the recording of Elvis’ first single, “That’s All Right”–a moment some music historians refer to as the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll–HEAR Music and BMG Special Products have released 15 Elvis classics on Boy From Tupelo. Continue Reading »

Back on Track
Review by Janine Veazue

I’ve never been a huge fan of the group uniform when it comes to rockabilly or western swing bands. There’s just something about a group of men all wearing the same neatly pressed honky-tonk shirts that unpacks repressed memories of dance recital costume trauma. This isn’t saying, however, that Rhythm Train’s wardrobe assistants should be the downfall of the sweet satisfaction that Back on Track (Raucous Records) brings to my ears. Continue Reading »

Settin’ the Pace
(Featuring vocalist Carla Cook)

Review by Doug Boynton

Settin’ the Pace (GJazz Records) from the George Gee Big Band is a fine CD, worth every dime I paid for it. Of course, I got my copy for nothing, and you need to decide if it’s worth 15 bucks.

The band–heavy on the sax, please–sounds much bigger than its listed 17 members. They play with some regularity at the legendary Birdland jazz club in New York, which isn’t a bad reference, at all. Without question, they can be very good; I’m just not sure this uneven disc is one of their better outings. Continue Reading »

In Spy-Fi
Review by Will “The Thrill” Viharo

Every once in a while a band like the Metrolites–and there aren’t very many–comes along to remind you how good life can be. This swingin’ lounge combo from Iowa create a sonic tonic for your shattered modern nerves with their smooth but rockin’ cocktail mix of spy, monster and exotic sounds. Continue Reading »

Taboo: The Greatest Hits of Arthur Lyman
Review by Alden Gewirtz

Exotica fans, rejoice! With the release of this new Greatest Hits album from Empire Music Werks, Arthur Lyman finally gets his place in the sun. For those unfamiliar with his story, Lyman was a master percussionist who excelled at marimba, vibraphone, congas and bongos, among other instruments. He performed and recorded more than 30 records and 400 songs from the late 1950s until his death in 2002. Although his renown in the exotica genre has been somewhat eclipsed by Martin Denny and Les Baxter, Lyman’s music is more sincere, rarely resorting to gimmicky effects or kitschy arrangements (save for the remarkable, authentic-sounding birdcalls). Continue Reading »

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