Thursday, March 31, 2011

Step one, two

Let me tell you about my exciting experience with Step class. I'm a member of Bally's gym, and they offer numerous classes including riveting Pilates, the sleep-inducing yoga, and the mind-numbing spin class. I like a little adventure and I'm a bit of spunky person myself, so a class with loud pumping music and jumping around is more my style.

I see "Advanced Step" on the class schedule. "Oh, I'll give it a go. How hard can it be?" After parking the mile away from the gym as is inevitable at the after-workday hour of 6pm, I made it to the room and set up my step. The instructor comes in: "Anyone new here?" I raise my hand like a good little student, and she gives a little snicker. "If you haven't taken a step class before I highly suggest you don't start with this class." I think, I'm in pretty good shape, and I'm a fast learner, lets do this. The music starts pumping, we start stretching. Well 5 minutes in, above the pounding music, I hear the instructor instructing through her head mic "grapevine...left...vstep..*mumble*..right- LETS GO!...*unintelligible words*..up, left, kick, turn." At this point, trying to keep up, I have about as much grace as a donkey on roller skates. I put my tail between my legs, pick up my step, put it in the back room, and leave.

Attempt 2. A week later I decide to try again. Let's try Beginner Step! Different instructor, different people. I can do this, piece of cake, I'll learn the steps and come back and show that evil Advanced Step instructor!

After the same procedures with parking, and getting situated in the class, the lady asks if there are new people. Again, I'm the only one. What the heck? Were all these people doing Step class coming out of the womb? We begin. So far, so good. And then, outta nowhere, it turns into Advanced Step reincarnate. What's going on!? It's not only me that doesn't know what's going on. I look around, and about 7 other people are also flailing around like Tinkerbell after she's flown into a closed window. A few times I attempted to do the -hey, lady over there, look at me, let's silently commiserate and chuckle together because neither of us know what the hell's going on- thing, but no one reciprocated and seemed to be fine with looking like an idiot all on their own.

Half way through, I decided enough is enough. If I want to stand around, getting no help and no exercise, I can do that in the comfort of my own home, not in some cheesy-smelling, humiliation room that is known as Bally's. I returned my step, and left.

Michael Stanley - Just Another Night

With over 4 decades of making music under his belt, it’s hard to fathom Michael Stanley stopping any time soon, and all signs indicate he won’t. Just Another Night, his 25th studio album, gives his listeners more of the rock and blues sound that they adore.

Stanley, from Cleveland, Ohio, started his musical career in 1965 in a band and moved on to release a solo album in 1973. He led The Michael Stanley Band from the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s which shattered records of local venues by sheer audience attendance. Unfortunately their label dropped them, and due to financial and other reasons, the band regretfully had to break up.


Rock on...

Pyewacket - 1967

The term “Pyewacket” comes from the book Bell Book and Candle referring to the spirit of a witch. The group, which formed in 1967 in California, thought the name was hauntingly fitting and stood out more than a name with a “The” preceding it. Their multitude of songs were recorded in the span of 2 short years, but like many bands in the 60’s, the lack of soaring popularity and life got in the way, and the band crumbled.

However, one band member was not satisfied with their songs falling into song limbo and wanted to resurrect them. Last year, that member, John McKindle, took on an amazing feat. McKindle played all of the instruments, created and sang all of the harmonies, and wrote and produced all but one song on 1967.

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Kat McGivern - My Kamikaze Heart


Take the bubbly pop aspect of an early Britney Spears, the ‘lovey dovey’ messages of Mandy Moore, and the warbling of a young Avril Lavigne, put them in a blender and pour yourself a Kat McGivern smoothie. McGivern, growing up in a musical family from Massachusetts, started her own musical journey at just 13. She went from teaching herself Gaelic ballads to becoming a classically trained vocalist. During college and thereafter, her style shifted to a more rock and pop influenced genre.

My Kamikaze Heart, though a pop album, contains no truly danceable tracks. Swaying, maybe, and bobbing to the beat, sure. All seven tracks deal with love, broken hearts, and staying strong through loss. The messages aren’t anything the world hasn’t heard before, but those may not exist.

Keep Poppin'

De Lion - Ego Maniacs

Trash, Birds, Rats, Idea is how De Lion identifies themselves, and consequently is also the opening track on their album Ego Maniacs. The idea of the group is to recreate a New York-style rock that was popular in the 70’s and 90’s when progressive, punk, metal and rock & roll genres were big.

De Lion obviously thinks they are a big deal. They state “…the name De Lion can feel like a bit too much. To name your debut album, ‘Ego Maniacs,’ again, might be too much…so we can be described as too much.” Vocalist Ariel de Lion’s voice is either pretty monotone or wailing in a wavering whine. Either way, the lyrics are unintelligible for the majority of the time.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Project Autumn review made the Pick of the Week!

On IBerkshires

Kirby Howarth - My Life

When you hear the term ‘acoustic’ you hope the artist has a good enough voice to keep up with the usually sparse musical elements. Don’t worry, because Kirby Howarth certainly does. The singer/songwriter from York, England has been writing songs since his teen years when he was in love and he “just had to sing about it.”

His EP, My Life, reflects bits and pieces that he finds worthy enough to sing about. The title track doesn’t follow the usual pattern with a verse, chorus, or bridge; it just has a steady flow of story-telling progression. The listener hears about light-hearted matters - Howarth going out for a pint - to more serious ones - deterring his friend from shooting someone.

Read more here!

Thieving Birds - Architect Of

Hailing from London, Canada, Thieving Birds bring us their debut album, Architect Of. The band describes themselves as “pop music with an Indie sensibility,” but personally I’d describe this CD as more of an alternative album, with flavors of pop thrown in.

At first I thought the sound quality was poor on the lead of “Back Into The Fire,” but it’s just an old-time sounding teaser before the song launches into an upbeat, high energy track. ”Loaded Heart,” is a lyrically relatable and pitch perfect number.


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Marc Béziat - Gloria, The Star of Peace

Marc Béziat of France was working in IT, when he realized he wanted to be able to express himself through a creative outlet: music. At age 28, he taught himself for a year, then went to school to learn musical composition for 2 years. His creative expression was then put into play in the release of two CDs.

The two singles Gloria and The Star of Peace are the product of a digital audio workshop through which Béziat creates a choir-like, elevating mood. Both tracks are pretty smooth and relaxing, and include the sounds of organ, both string and wind instruments and minimal vocals.

It Goes Ahhhh'n...

Project Autumn

Project Autumn’s first, self-titled studio album should rewrite the saying to “Jack of all trades, master of all.” For listeners who appreciate a wide array of genres, Project Autumn dabbles in quite a few. From rock, to jazz, to folk, and back again, this CD is sure to have something you’re looking for, if not everything.

Erin Bruno is a classically trained vocalist who has been singing for over a decade and auditioned for American Idol last August. Joseph Schwab is a heavy metal rock guitarist who has been playing for the past 15 years. The duo met in New York while playing with another band where they decided to produce some tracks together. Those are the songs which ultimately became their first album. Project Autumn also features musical talents by jazz and rock musicians of the New York Metro scene, including jazz trumpet phenomenon James Gibbs III.

Rock on...

Epigene - A Wall Street Odyssey

Husband and wife duo Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes comprise Epigene, a musical group that has been together for more than a decade, beginning in Seattle and now making music from upstate New York.

Their third album, A Wall Street Odyssey, is a 25-track rock opera that took three years to create. It follows the life of Yossarian, an investment banker following in the footsteps of his father, who turns to drugs as his life starts to spiral out of control. Yes, the character and his name are, indeed, inspired by Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. With big city life pressures upon him, his brother calls him to live in the country where he can live off of the land. After Yossarian learns to become one with the earth, he decides to advocate the lifestyle in his former home, and warn the city dwellers of how money and government corruption will lead to society’s downfall.

Continue On..

The Procession - Sometimes

Sometimes is the first release from the UK-based band, The Procession. The group has been performing at local shows for years, and now they are ready to gain more notoriety.

Album opener and title track, “Sometimes,” has an intro that starts slowly and builds up to screaming guitar riffs. It is a very cool sound. The whole song is enjoyable, with faster guitar work and steady percussion beats. The outro is a bit siren-like.

“Johnny Got a Raw Deal” sounds like it could come have come out of the 80’s punk wave. Read More