Reviews
"Lilith"

Right off the bat, you hear Involusion infusing powerful feelings and intense emotions into their latest album Lilith. Jacob Willey and Matthew Randall write with a depth in their songs that shine through in each track. The album's darker tones have roots deep in heavy metal/art rock, along the lines of Deftones and A Perfect Circle.

Involusion is an alternative post-grunge band from Pensacola, Florida. Lyricist Jacob Willey served a tour in Iraq, and upon his return he had many memories he couldn’t let go of. As a result of his therapy sessions, he turned his memories into these songs. Willey has created an exceptional experimental rock group that clearly connects intensely with its fan base.

The album starts off slowly, easing you in, then gradually turns to a bit faster and dark, keeping a mellow tempo—“The Night” demonstrates this superbly. It starts off with some soft guitar chords, followed by a nice bass introduction. Then the electric guitar and drums kick in giving the song a rich, dark ambience. Bringing it all together are the mid-song keyboards, similar to the build found in “All For You” and “August”. “Sorrow” is more vocal-focused, and nearly overwhelming from beginning to end.

Involusion is a good listen when you’re in the mood to just kick back, and either chill out or find some introspective inspiration and motivation.

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"Soundcloud Demos"

manteye is an independent artist from Toronto, Canada. While listening to his numerous recordings on Soundcloud.com, I was taken by his casual sound and its potential widespread appeal. Band leader Mark Manthei and his quasi-namesake band had a short burst of success in Canada, Europe, and the United States in the 1990’s. Today, his newer tunes sound fresh and vibrant, unlike he is trying to replicate his sound of the past.

The first track, “Kill The Music,” opens with piano builds with electronic drums and a flute. Adding to the ambient atmosphere are Manthei's vocals, which are comparable to Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October. Throughout the song, a female vocalist adds a subtle beauty, though her voice comes through weaker than the lead. A Soundcloud comment on this song describes it as “soft, soulful, and rich,” which is spot on. This song is perfect to listen to on a rainy day, when there is not much going on, as it allows you to slip away into your own thoughts.

“Pray For Rain” is a pop acoustic song featuring the same rough vocals—another perfect campanion to “Kill The Music.” Acoustic music fans take note: manteye fits your record collection perfectly. He is quiet, unpretentious, and refreshing to listen to. It seems as though the intent of his music is to take the listener away.

“Long After John Lennon” is more upbeat and slightly more 80’s and early 90’s influenced, reminiscent of manteye’s successful years in Canada. Almost an arena rock hit, this song sounds like it wants to explode out of the speakers.

Overall, manteye is talented. After reading that the band had only limited success in Canada, the U.S., and Europe, it makes one wonder if he could have had more success outside those territories, perhaps with just a wider distribution and promotion. Such success might have been, given Mark’s well-crafted songs blend together such a vast array of compelling sounds.

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"Intexicated!"

T. Tex Edward’s latest release, Intexicated!, is a compilation of his most recent material, as well as demos and outtakes from his past projects. It makes for an interesting journey as the record takes the listener through a maze of different sounds, influences, and well crafted songs that still sound fresh given Edwards' long career. T. Tex began his career in 1975 with his first band, the Nervebreakers. Since then, Tex has been in a slew of bands which have mostly been short lived, with his experience and talent culminating in what we hear on Intexicated!

By mixing genres such as swing, jazz, and punk, Tex takes his fans into the creative unknown, which works at times, depending on your flair for the unknown. “Intexicated! Part 1” is solid opening song with wailing guitars and drums that have a jazz and swing like quality. “Baby’s Got a Gun” lays back and allows Tex’s gritty vocals show off his punk upbringing. “Love Power” throws in a twist to the punk vibe, a ballad with its intro seemingly taken straight from an old Western.

With Intexicated! including demos and outtakes, you can imagine that it can be hit-or-miss to listeners not out to round out their complete T. Tex collection. Some vocals come across more rough (“Move It”) and production-wise you might yearn for another round of mixes (read the hot guitar in "If Looks Could Kill"). The last third of Intexicated! includes a number of demos/outtakes that may likely appeal less to the average listener who's uninterested in the rare goods of T. Tex Edwards.

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"Protégé of Plies"

Jeb Bush is making some noise down in The Sunshine State. No, not John Ellis "Jeb" Bush the former politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Florida. This noise comes from Jaycent “Jeb Bush” Jackson from Fort Myers, who's built a rep opening up for major artists such as Chip Tha Ripper, Tom G, Iceberg, Trick Daddy, Royce da 5’9, and Frank Lini.

His latest EP titled Protégé of Plies is five tracks of a “Southern Rap” or “Dirty South” sound, laden with synthesizer; drum machines, turntables, and legitimate rapping skills. “I Do Dis” simply demonstrates his determination of hitting up the studio, working hard, real talking, and sexual innuendo with the ladies. If that does not catch your attention, then you might need to check out his music video for this track. Jeb is literally working his ass off in the studio and showing people that he is the real deal.

“Outta Fort Myers” captures Jeb's originality, with the lyrics and style he writes to sing about his hometown, women, money, iconic natives, and fashion, with believable, authentic lyrics. Jeb personally connects with his fans through “Dats My Bae,” which truly defines who he really is as an artist: a prodigious rapper who tells it as it is.

All in all, this Jeb Bush is one to keep your ears open for in the near future as he prepares to make a huge impact in the rap game. Not only does he pride himself to promote his own music the right way, but he also does everything for his fans. Jeb’s EP is a very personal and deep project that allowed him to speak his mind (real talk) about the issues he wants to speak. Remember, his flows are very persuasive, dark, humorous, and truthful, and leave you asking for more.

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"Faces Got No Race"

The rhymes on Young Slay's Faces Got No Race brilliantly tackle social and emotional issues and set them against singsong melodies and catchy hooks. Not since Arrested Development's "Tennessee" has a song done what "In My Belly (Feat. Jonny Lyrks)" does: laying painful realities, both historical and present-day, over an otherwise positive musical track and sing-a-long melody.

Originally from Haiti, Young Slay's Creole accent brings an international flavor to his music, which smartly blends his influences that cross genres across American rock, metal, classical, soul, and Hip-Hop.

Young Slay's strength lies in his rhyming—both in his lyrics and phrasing. His own words point out "if I were a better singer, I'd hold this note longer." For the melodic voice and some guest rapping, Faces Got No Race features several guests. Ralph, Jonny Lyrks, and Wayne lend their voices to the cause.

The album was written by Yveton Isnor, a BMI writer in Young Slay's hometown of Pompano Beach, Florida. Together, Isnor and Slay have found a magical musical niche. Faces Got No Race brings together rock, rap, and reggae in a radio-friendly sound ready for larger exposure.

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"Politikal Pimpin’ Volume I"

Chicago rapper RoGizz Black Blago doesn't fuck around. His beats are fresh, creative, and rival the best in the game right now. RoGizz rhymes are raw and dirty, but witty and well-crafted. His lyrics aren't suitable for work, and Politikal Pimpin' Volume I is not an album you'll buy for your mom.

The album starts off with an old school R&B big band groove in "Intro-Blago's Theme (prod. by S.C.)." The track sets the tone with his crisp vocal tone and declarative, almost humorous delivery. The album cover carries a similar vibe—professionally done, but satirical and not overly serious. RoGizz isn't as wacky as Outkast, but imagine some of their more straight hip-hop tracks put through a Dave Chappelle filter.

"Legal Off The Law" drops names like Keyser Söze and Samantha Fox but is far from a collection of pop culture references. His rapping is at his fastest, and the production is Kanye-esque in its tighness.

Politikal Pimpin' Volume I continues with graphic statements about former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and graphic descriptions of oral sex in "Swimming With Her Jaws." "Cigarettes and Pepsi" isn't the best song on the album, but it thrives on its catchy title and steady lyrical pace.

RoGizz is the real deal. Throw him on 106 and Park and he's a natural superstar. Dreamworks Records recognized his talent and signed him before their own demise, as the entire record industry crumbled.

RoGizz Black Blago is a worthy addition to your iPod, and he's been around long enough that you have several albums to choose from. Politikal Pimpin' Volume I is the latest addition to his collection and should be yours, too.

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"PONG Live At The Continental Club"

Pong. It’s a short name with a lot of originality, once you hear the band behind the name. The band was formed after Austin post-punk band Ed Hall disbanded in 1996 after releasing a string of albums and touring across the United States and Europe. Guitarist and vocalist Gary Chester fronts the band and explains in an interview with Weekly Wire that the name Pong “fits the retro-futuristic mood we’re in.”

Their latest effort is a live album entitled Pong: Live At The Continental Club, and was recorded in Austin, Texas. While the live recording does not display any hint of post-punk roots, it is a pleasant reminder of the 1980’s, when keyboardist Shane Shelton throws in some synthesizer sounds to give the band its futuristic vibe that makes Pong unique among the Austin music scene.

The opening number “Rocket Fuel” is heavily focused on vocals and guitar. “Killer Lifestyle” has a catchy guitar intro and kicks off the record’s very prominent space theme. It makes a well done attempt to transport their listeners to another musical genre, which could categorized as retro-futuristic pop (something the band has carefully crafted). While the synth sounds of the 1980’s can seem a bit stale these days, Pong creates likable and dancy bass lines that keep the songs going.

“Secret Meat” is by far the strongest song on the album. The band makes their sound entirely their own, without seeming to try very hard. The keyboards in "Secret Meat" add spice and color to what might otherwise be a boring song. “Interpol” is the most arena-rock sounding song in the set list, with Shane Shelton adding color to the song by adding in a keyboard part that brings out the bands 80’s influences. “Click OK” brilliantly displays the group’s vocals talents.

Towards the end of the show, you can envision that “Sunshine” gets the crowd dancing. And to end the set, Pong appropriately closes with “Finally," a song that truly captures what Pong is all about: fun and winning over as many fans as possible.

Pong is definitely one of the unique bands that are playing in the Austin area today, and they are sure to win even more fans with their fun and energetic style of music.

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"Sleepless"

Fun. Wacky. But not without a serious approach to their craft. Post Trauma aren't the metal band their name seemingly conveys.

Sleepless is the first half of a double album that Post Trauma is releasing within six months of each other. The songs cover every day, ordinary topics—the bummer of waking up each day, stealing girlfriends in spite of "the man code," and a humorous biographical exploration of "that guy."

Post Trauma embodies the laid back attitude of Jimmy Buffett, the silly humor of They Might Be Giants, and the music of...hmmm...well, Post Trauma. It's somewhat like country, but not. At the same time, it's not quite rock 'n' roll. Take a listen and decide for yourself.

Sleepless (and its counterpart Dreamless) is the brainchild of Billy Ulrich, who decided one day he needed to put his thoughts to music. The result are the 25 tracks that comprise his debut double album. The songs also seem to serve as a veritable psychological profile of Ulrich himself.

Some of the songs are about pivotal events in my high octane life, while others simply describe the daily routine of being a health care professional by day, a rocker at night, and a full time dreamer, all day, every day.
- Billy Ulrich, Post Trauma songwriter/lyricist

Critically speaking, Sleepless isn't going to win a Grammy for its multi-million dollar production budget. It's a band with some gear who've chronicled their first couple dozen songs in studio. But the band isn't going for the razzle dazzle of Lady Gaga, or even the sparse (and overplayed) brilliance of Gotye.

Post Trauma want you to hear their songs, smile, and come along for the ride with them. With all the fun and quirkiness packed into Sleepless, one can only wonder what's in store for Dreamless, due out in the summer of '13.

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"The Epidemic"

The Epidemic is the new album by rap duo LEL Brothas. Currently based in Arizona, the group's roots stretch back to Long Beach and San Diego, giving their music a fresh West Coast lean. With songs produced as crystal-clean as tracks can be laid, The Epidemic is laced with bold grooves, clearly hip-hop yet designed for a dance floor.

"Hatas" has the rough-and-tumble vibe of Busta Rhymes—aggressively voiced and rhymed. A more laid back "Drunk In Da Club" evokes, coincidentally, a smoother tip along the lines of 50 Cent's "In Da Club." DJ Clone and LBC collaborate with their sometimes third member CB5 on "Big Basic," as well as R&B vocalist Jaileen Thomas, who lends his warmer melodic voice to "I Like To Party."

LEL Brothas have gone worldwide since their formation in 2007, including a string of dates in Saudi Arabia in 2011. That tour took them to venues including the U.S. Embassy, the American School, and the U.S. Ambassador's Residence. They were also dubbed American Cultural Ambassadors of the Hip-Hop culture.

The Epidemic is available both streaming and for download from iTunes and Amazon. Buy it now, and keep an eye out for performance dates near you.

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"Raise Up"

Phil Jones has played music since childhood, and late in the last century was performing with Mad Tea Party in Hermosa Beach, California. In 2000 Phil relocated to Kauai, where his sound became infused with the music of the island. Today, Phil is preparing to release his next album, Raise Up.

The sound of the Phil Jones Band is unique. Phil's vocal style is a low spoken rumbling, reminiscent of Leonard Cohen or Mark Knopfler. The production style is very reverb-friendly, creating an ethereal vibe often laid over uptempo percussion tracks, topped with multiple lead and slide guitars.

The combination of dance-like beats, Phil's ghostly voice, and the island-influenced multiple lead guitars make for an odd, compelling combination. Envision a Polynesian club remix of a Pink Floyd song, with guest-vocalist Tom Waits.

As mysterious as the Phil Jones Band is musically, their lyrics are clear and decisive. Phil writes inspired by positivity, equality, and peace. The Phil Jones Band would challenge the cookie-cutter approach of mainstream radio, to both their credit and detriment. But should you find yourself on The Island, look up the Phil Jones Band for an experience unlike most may encounter while on a Hawaiian getaway.

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"R.U.O.K."

Unlike many mainstream hip-hop artists, up-and-coming rapper Robert Davis aka “Recycled Sounds” debuted his album R.U.O.K. on December 12, 2012 and is redefining true hip-hop underground with his detailed storyline lyrics. To truly understand the mindset of his music you must LISTEN to the meaning behind the lyrics. It’s tragic enough to say that Robert Davis was in a shooting incident—one that nearly killed him—on July 18, 2007 in a hospital. Unfortunately his fellow comrade didn’t survive the tragedy, but his spirit lives on through Recycled Sounds' music.

The song “Carried Away in 1979” is the true definition of his deepest thoughts and feelings behind his music. Even though the song sounds dark and ominous it is safe to say that it has nothing depraved about it. Actually it has a positive message of hope and love, with the intent to heal.

Robert attended the REI Audio Recording School where he learned how to develop beats and sounds that we hear in his music. What makes him stand out in the underground game is the fact that the vast majority of artwork and music videos are completely original in concept and execution.

The self-titled track “R.u.o.k.” gives you the best understanding about the struggles of being a true rap artist. He doesn’t try to replicate his lyrics to sound like everyone else in the underground game. He lets you know it has nothing to do with "being" or "rapping" evil, but he likes to show people that you shouldn’t jump to conclusion when you hear his music.

His music has subtlety, truthfulness, struggles, and the importance of being who you genuinely are. Even before releasing his 12/12/12 album R.U.O.K., Robert has been gaining a generous fan base on the East Coast, and it's certain to grow as reviews of the album come in. R.U.O.K. is a must listen to if you are a true underground lover.

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"One song is all you need…"

UK’s Phillip Foxley’s EP, One Song Is All You Need… represents a bit of American blues guitar from the perspective of Conwy, North Wales. Professionally, Phillip is a design engineer; when he isn’t dealing with technological and scientific complexities, he is usually creating original tracks from his home.

After having an epiphany over a couple of drinks with several other musicians, Phillip decided to release a free 6-track demo EP for download, in October 2011. The EP received overall positive reviews following its release, but some feedback touched on the recording quality's deficiencies and lack of professional production. Looking ahead to the full-length release of One Song Is All You Need..., Foxley will be re-working and remastering his existing songs as well as recording three more with vocal tracks.

What is so impressive about Phillip’s creativity on this EP is that he is able to play a wide range of diverse genres—punk, blues, rock, and electric blues. “All Or Nothing!” starts off with punk-like guitar riffs with some heavy metal percussion and a groovy bass line. This intense track shows that he can bring the noise and bring it very loud.

Another track that should be heard is “Racing Thru Time.” While the album contains nine instrumentals, this song features Foxley's dark vocals alongside his echoing guitar riffs, with lyrics centering on a significant someone. His vocal work sounds impressive, with the improved production quality, and if you consider yourself a true blues/rock fan then you’ll be delighted to hear what he has in store.

Foxley is interested in pursuing songwriting opportunities in television and film. If it works out for him, you may hear his riffs and leads in the next big action film. As of right now, he is anticipating 2013 for the release of his debut album, in hopes that he'll start his year off with a bang!

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"My Resignation"

Jerome Luke, a country and American guitar player from Denver, Colorado, plays a haunting and relaxing blend of Americana and country music, which is a breath of fresh air when picking apart the bands that are coming up in the current music scene. His music is comprised of acoustic guitars, simple bass lines, and low deep vocals that take after many old-time country artists like Johnny Cash, without sounding like he is trying to fake the distinctive twang heard in country music today.

The songs slated for his upcoming release, My Resignation, are good, solid efforts that will engage listeners from the beginning to the end. His soft blend of light country tunes will be a welcome respite for the country purists who want to listen to country music’s roots—exactly what Jerome seems to be doing.

The two songs that stand out the most are “For Your Soul” and “Just So You Know.” “For Your Soul" is a slow country tune that talks about a woman leaving her relationship for a man that will do more harm than good. It shows the depth of Luke’s talent and musicianship, with the roots of country music peeking through complete with country guitar riffs and good storytelling. “Just So You Know” is a song about a road that never ends and finding a friend that will always be loyal while staying on one particular path. Its vocals and guitars complement each other perfectly as Jerome tries to go for a relaxing song that takes listeners away from their troubles and go into someone else’s world.

Jerome Luke is a talented musician and songwriter whose music can be enjoyed by old and new country fans alike, as well as those music fans that do not enjoy country music. Look for the release of My Resignation in 2013.

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"Everyone & You"

Everyone & You is the latest release by Bieler Bros. recording artist InAshton. The New York City based quartet plays a poppy-yet-driving brand of rock, which comes across entirely ready for radio. The band's singer and primary songwriter, Morgan Clamp, also produced Everyone & You, giving the songs their mainstream pop/rock sound.

"Waiting," along with several others, is almost over the top with respect to its fan-friendly melodies and Top 40 sensibility, while "I Just Can't Let Go" channels a bit of Liam Gallagher, with its plaintive vocal and post-Beatles guitar arpeggios. The Oasis vibe exists sporadically throughout the album, in places like the string arrangement of "Days Away" and chord progression / vocal intro of "This Might Be It."

But beyond the comparisons, InAshton have a beautifully crafted album. Most any song on "Everyone & You" could be dropped into a Top 40 radio station's Top 10 Countdown and would fit in seamlessly, both from production and songwriting standpoints. If there's a contrary thought to be had about InAshton, it may be along the same lines as their strength—the band is so ready for the mainstream now, they may not be pushing the envelope hard enough to distinguish themselves from the masses.

Not yet having seen them live, one could envision InAshton fitting in nicely on a festival bill with Daughtry, David Cook, and Lifehouse, though Pandora suggests (erroneously, in my opinion) that Alkaline Trio is a "similar artist" (InAshton's music has little to no punk influence).

With Everyone & You, regardless of a fictitious show line-up or website algorithm, InAshton has a recording of which they can be proud. The songs can flow across playlists for all ages, and the album can stand on its own merits next to the biggest names in popular melodic rock today.

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"Lockstar"

Dylan Lock is an Ontario-based singer/songwriter who brings to mind a blend of Ben Folds' piano-first style and the pop-meets-reggae lyrical melodies of Maroon 5. His new album is set for release in 2013 and shows great promise, even while still in its recording and production stages.

While Dylan's songs are undeniably catchy and fun, his voice is not to be overlooked—not quite the grandeur of Michael Bublé, but Lock's wide vocal range is evident throughout his music.

On the new album, "Killer and the Sin" brings a deliberate, mysterious aura to the table while the danceable "Don't Stumble" is a radio-ready sing-a-long pop hit. "This Girl" offers a stylistic change-up, featuring Lock's vocals and diverse songwriting ability. For the pogo-ing and polka-ing crowds, "She's Lost" lacks only a crowd for it to work a live-show audience into a dancing frenzy. "The One" is an honest and genuine toe-tapping tale of adoration.

Dylan Lock's star is on the rise. With a stout following of online fans, and most of the songs ready for his upcoming album, expect 2013 to be a good year for him. Don't be surprised if you hear his name on Top 40 radio in the near future.

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Red
"Red"

On Taylor Swift’s new record Red, some might say that she has finally broken out of the mold of country music and has crossed into the rock genre, but after listening to the deluxe version of the album, Swift still has a ways to go.

After releasing three highly successful albums of country pop tunes along with her girl next door personality shining through, it should be no surprise to music fans that Swift’s latest effort Red would follow in her previous record’s footsteps and be a hit. While it’s nice to hear that Taylor is quietly moving towards becoming a fully fledged pop singer, she is staying within her safe writing cocoon and focusing her songwriting efforts what she claims to know best—love and all of the drama that comes with her romantic relationships, while remaining frustratingly cryptic about who she is singing about on Red.

The first track on the album, “State of Grace,” which illustrates all of the possibilities when entering into a new relationship, is the singer’s first foray into rock music. And while it is a good start in this musical experiment, it sounds like Taylor is taking baby steps in order to be conscientious that she does not alienate the fan base who have grown to become extremely loyal. While Swift is not known for having a beautiful voice, “State of Grace” showcases that Taylor can definitely carry a tune with a voice that can be described as pretty. “Treacherous” is another tune that is favorable to Swift’s vocals as it is a quiet song, which displays her talent for being a pop singer, since she does not have a voice powerful enough to carry arena rock songs.

The forth song on the album, “I Knew You Were Trouble” is by far the most overproduced song on the record. Its vocal effects make Swift's voice sound fake, but aims to please her listeners who are only familiar with her singles. “Stay Stay Stay” is a catchy tune that talks about Swift’s most famous topics: love and breakups. In the song, Swift sings about an overindulgent boyfriend and their breakup. While some may tire at hearing about Taylor’s failing relationships, the song is one of the reasons why Taylor’s popularity has remained constant throughout her career—it's a relatable song that young women will eat up.

The highlights of the album are “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Begin Again.” On “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” all country influences have completely disappeared, as the song asks the question of whether or not Taylor is tired of being pigeonholed as a pure country artist. Complete with a catchy chorus and a good breakup story, it became Swift’s number 1 single after its August release. “Begin Again” is a quiet song that describes starting anew on a first date. Beautifully arranged, it is sure to be a fan favorite.

In all, while Red does not live up to the catchiness of her previous albums, it is a good start on the road to what Taylor Swift can become: a versatile artist who can transcend more than one genre. If she plays her cards right, Taylor can have a very long career.

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"Moondancer"

Until today, Coyote Music's reviews have covered live shows, albums, EPs, and demos. But recently, I stumbled upon Tu Michael, a dancer from Hanoi, Vietnam. I'm inspired to write this review of his work because I think it underscores the universal nature of music itself.

Tu Michael works at a bank in Hanoi. He's got the dreaded "day job," just as many artists do, so he can financially support his artistic outlet: dancing.

Ultimately, it was the music and moves of The King of Pop that brought Tu Michael under my radar. You can find him online and place your order, then "Moondancer" (Tu Michael's stage name) will dance in the style of Michael Jackson to an MJ song, or any other song of your choosing.

From quality standpoint, Tu Michael is not up there with the renowned Michael Jackson impersonators, nor does he claim to be. Performers like Navi and Maxx Vega appear have shared Michael's plastic surgeon—their authenticity reaches clone-like levels. Instead, it is Tu Michael's normalcy, his every-man persona, that I find most compelling.

The moves and grooves of Michael Jackson have inspired a guy in Vietnam to dance in the public eye. Then taking it a step further, the world at large is taken enough by Tu Michael's dances and his incorporation of those into short videos, that Tu Michael has made himself into a bit of an internet sensation.

Having a video of a stranger dancing like MJ may or may not be your thing. But just as you might go out to a club to support your friend's band despite them not being U2 or Lady Gaga, some of you may opt to check out Tu Michael's whole Moondancer persona. He's a real guy, actually dancing, working to carve his own niche in the entertainment industry. And by virtue of the internet, this particular guy on the other side of the planet has successfully made his way from his living room to you.

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"Sample This: Saustex 2012 Sampler"

Saustex Media’s latest sampler for 2012 has a variety of interesting bands, ranging from punk to blues influenced rock. The label, based out of San Antonio, Texas, signs bands that they “feel are interesting and/or important, regardless of its mainstream commercial viability,” according to their Facebook page.

The first band on the sampler is El Pathos, with the song “Straight Into the Sun” off of their latest release Hate and Love. The Austin-based group has a surf punk feel that is guaranteed to show they play for a good time, with their fast punk-style drum beats and surf guitar riffs.

The next track is "White BBQ Sauce" by Glambilly, whose music also falls into the punk genre featuring simplistic guitars and a good drum beat to get you dancing. While Glambilly may not garner huge national popularity with their music, they do really well in Central Texas, being based out of San Antonio.

Piñata Protest are up next, and while they continue the pattern of punk music featured throughout this sampler, this band is embodies the punk music and lifestyle the best. Their songs “Jackeee” and “Rocket” are both short and to the point and would make great songs to mosh to if you were to start a mosh pit at the old Emo's in downtown Austin.

The Creedence Clearwater resemblance for the next band, Snowbyrd, is apparent as the band changes the pace of the sampler for a few minutes and plays songs that sound like old time rock tunes that are pleasing to the ear. Their song “After Party” is easy to follow musically, and they are sure to be a hit with the older generation who grew up in the early years of rock and roll.

"A Message From Firmin Deslodge" by Churchwood sounds like a mixture of funk and punk, and has more of a different sound than anything heard thus far. After hearing a lot of the same things musically on this particular sampler, it is always refreshing to hear something that is a little bit off the beaten path.

Similarly different, Chief Fuzzer's “Transcendental Road Blues” is a five minute long tune that has a blues rock sound. Just from listening to the live track, it seems that Chief Fuzzer can keep the crowd engaged in their live show with little trouble. It will be interesting to hear what Chief Fuzzer comes out with in the future.

The next artist, T. Tex Edwards, sounds like hardcore punk with a hint of a 1980’s influence on “If Looks Could Kill.” T. Tex is different enough to appeal to someone who is looking for a good band with punk rock appeal.

A local Austin band who originally hail from Mexico, The Copper Gamins, play a mix of blues and rock with two songs from their EP The Copper Gamins: “Ruby Red” and “Candyman Blues,” a cover of blues legend Mississippi John Hurt. While I praise the band for completely going DIY (Do It Yourself) in recording their latest release, they are one of the worst bands to come out onto the music scene in recent years. For a band that plays their own instruments, it seems they took little care in making their recordings listenable to audiences. The group may have a hard time winning over new fans due to the sloppiness in recording their EP.

The last two groups on the sampler are Los #3 Dinners and The Gay Sportscasters. Both are talented with dance floor appeal, and have a rock sound that you would hear in many local clubs.

While not a totally unique compilation, for the most part the Saustex 2012 Sampler includes some promising bands worth a listen.

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Sample This: Saustex 2012 Sampler
Change in Motion
"Change in Motion"

Oh yes, Frank Roberts can shred. He can also melodically play the hell out of his jet-black Ibanez.

Formed in the mold of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, and other guitar gods, the Ontario-based Roberts is stepping out from behind the mixing board and putting his own name on this marquee. Having played with others in various line-ups, Frank has taken on Change of Motion as an entirely solo project.

The funky title track starts the 4-song adventure. "Change of Motion" showcases many licks, techniques, and Roberts' full, precise tone. "The Missing Element" is more deliberate and majestic, more Vai in its melodic structure, bringing me back to my own wearing-out of my Passion and Warfare cassette. If there's a rocker on the album, it's "Conflicting Ambitions." Go ahead: bang your head. And wrapping up with a reflective piece, "Under the Cali Sun" channels the 6/8 time and melody lines of Satriani's "Always With Me, Always With You."

If there is any fault to be found in Change of Motion, it's in the originality. While all the songs are Frank's own, there are many guitar heroes with albums. And in the rock genre, it's hard to break new ground. To both his credit and detriment, if you played this album to new ears I'm not sure many could identify it as not being a currently established guitar legend.

As a drummer, I always tip my cap to the guitarist who can find a human drummer good enough to play with metronome precision, as opposed to going the drum machine route as Roberts has. I acknowledge that drummers can be pains in the ass to deal with, but would always prefer to hear sticks-to-heads over electronic backing beats.

All in all, Frank Roberts clearly knows his 6-string shit. He's got stellar technique, the production on the album is full and crystal clear, the mix is well-balanced, and this album stands on its own right alongside those released by Frank's heroes. So if you're into guitar instrumentalists, Frank Roberts is the real deal. Keep an eye out for him in the guitar mags...it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him and Change of Motion featured soon.

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D.E.V.Y.N.
"D.E.V.Y.N."

Devyn Rose's latest release, an EP entitled D.E.V.Y.N., brings together beauty, sex appeal, independence, and attitude and rolls them together into a complete representation of the artist herself.

The longtime aspiring singer caught the attention of multi-platinum producer Dame Grease, and later Ron Hunter, a former Lifestyle and Marketing Rep for KOCH Records. D.E.V.Y.N. benefits from those introductions, as well as her experiences working behind-the-scenes with artists including 3 6 Mafia, KORUPT, Mims, and others.

"Heartbeat " is a sparse, soft-grooving love song that features Devyn both singing and rhyming. It is followed by "Pieces," reminiscent of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" in its breakdown verses, semi-rapping lyrics, the melodies, and the song's sing-song-y chorus.

D.E.V.Y.N. takes a decided turn with the final two tracks, "Pay Me" and "Whipped." "Pay Me" assertively drops F bombs at will...

I'm so amazing, I thought you'd know.
Fuck you, pay me. Act like you know.

The EP ends with "Whipped," which could just as easily be Rihanna's next single. "Whipped," as you might imagine, mocks a vaginally-trained man, set against grandiose production and another catchy sing-song chorus that I'm almost disappointed Prince hadn't written already. It's tastefully dirty, in The Artist's vein of songwriting.

With D.E.V.Y.N., Devyn Rose has a well-produced variety of songs to get out to the world. If her promotion continues on the high pace it's been on since the 11/2/12 release date, you may be seeing her name all over the place.

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"Hate & Love"

El Pathos' latest release titled Hate & Love is a solid rock record with large chunks of punk and blues influences thrown in, which guarantees a mass appeal to Austin’s legions of music fans. David Duet, the group’s front man, has a deep and gravely vocal range, which resembles Tom Waits, and Rob Buford plays catchy surf punk riffs that keeps the music appealing, while taking obvious influences from the punk guitarists of the 70’s and possibly the 90’s. The band’s musical roots go back to the 1980’s, where all five of its members have played in various Texas bands such as The Dicks, The Offenders, and Crotch Rot. While their paths would continue to cross at various times they would finally come together to form El Pathos in 2009.

The first track on the album “Election Day” is a great intro track in which you could roll your windows down and roll up your sleeves, and remember why music is such a great form of artistic expression. The instrumentation on this track is great as well, features drums that are mid tempo and Duet’s Tom Waits like vocals. The second track titled “Into the Sun” has a surf punk feel, which resembles Green Day’s early days of somewhat sloppy punk rock with a lot of heart and passion thrown in. “Into The Sun” is a rock song that brings the vocals to the forefront of the song. While the structure of this song does not reinvent the wheel in modern music, Duet’s vocals are punk rock vocals at its best, with no range or beauty to be found, but are used more as a vehicle for the lyrics.

Another track on the record “Of Days” sounds like an Iggy and the Stooges song. A dancy, predictable punk beat that with a big enough pulse to bring people out on the dance floor to mosh the night away.

While El Pathos will not gain worldwide mass appeal, they will gain fans among the local rock and punk rock fans in the Austin area. It is clear from listening to Hate & Love that the band set out to record this record to have fun and entertain people who are looking for a good rock band that can play well and put on a good show.

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"Live at Padres (Marfa, TX)"

"I think this is the loudest band in the entire festival," commented one audience member, who was on her fourth straight day of helping run the inaugural Viva Big Bend music festival and industry conference. Indeed, that was the case. Most of the 50+ artists booked that weekend ran more along the lines of singer/songwriter, Americana, or venturing into the realm of pleasant, organic country, rock, and bluegrass. But the Hickoids were a special case...as they tend to be.

The crowd at Padres had just been treated to a sweet, endearing set by Matt the Electrician, who was joined onstage by Scrappy Jud Newcomb. Matt ended with an audience request, a delightful narrative called "Angela" about his reluctant but surprisingly helpful experience at a Walmart auto service center. Transitioning from that to the Hickoids could not have been more of a shock.

While the Hickoids put on an admittedly "safe" set by their standards, their "safe" is another band's "utterly debaucherous." They were loud, to be certain, but lead singer Jeff "Smitty" Smith remained relatively sweat-free and fully clothed further into the set than usual. The audience even seemed cautiously optimistic that the Hickoids were merely a louder version of some of the rockabilly bands they'd seen earlier in the fest.


Rice Moorehead & Davy Jones
Wouldn't *you* trust these fellows?

Maybe it was the smiling Lance Farley, the Hickoids' new drummer. He and the sportcoat-donning bassist, Rice Moorehead, laid a tight groove that many raucous bands tend to lose sight of amidst their raucousness. Then there's Davy Jones and his color-caucophony of a suit and cowboy hat. Between musical tightness, a pleasant appearance, and Davy's visual humor, the crowd seemed ready to embrace the band despite the volume being a bit on the loud side.

It wasn't until Smith hollered a few particular lyrics that the tide began to turn. In "Stop It You're Killing Me," he tells a story set at San Antonio's legendary punk venue, Taco Land. The lyrics include a groupie explicitly requesting a few favors involving her genitalia. At that point, Padres didn't empty out. It more accurately...altered its state. By the end of the show, the crowded room was comprised of entirely different people—younger, drunker, and a bit more Hickoids-appreciative—than those who had watched Matt and Scrappy Jud.

The Hickoid's show was spot-on. Though more conservative in their presentation than usual, the Hickoids always put on a boisterous show that's musically tight and infused with the essence of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Onstage the Hickoids emit a humble-yet-cocky confidence, almost an indifference to what's around them. They seem cock-sure that they are the most compelling band on any given bill (and few would argue otherwise). On a night when they were sandwiched between Matt's amiable songwriting and Texas Tycoons' adult contemporary cover tunes, the Hickoids ruled the roost by virtue of default. And as the next-to-last band of a 4-day festival, the Hickoids left Marfa and the Viva Big Bend festival with a unique, loud, and poignant musical taste in their gaping, wide-open mouths.

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"The Copper Gamins"

On first listen to the latest EP by Austin rock and blues band The Copper Gamins, it would appear that the group took inspiration from Nashville duo The Black Keys, but with a lot less punch.

The guitar and drums duo, made up of Jose Carmen on guitar and Claus Lafania on drums, hail from the Mexican towns of Metepec and Zinacantepec. The group began collaborating in their high school days and went on to play in bands that featured a mix of Latin and American rock tunes. After returning from college, Lafania got together with Carmen who had started playing guitar and formed The Copper Gamins.

While the groups DIY (do it yourself) approach to writing music is to be admired, basically consisting of a few microphones and a mixer on a Teac reel-to-reel recorder, the effort sounds bland and rushed, which does not capture the blues rock sound the band was trying to embrace for the EP.

The first track “Ruby Red” sounds like a Black Keys song that could have been from the band’s last album El Camino, with the guitar having a sound that sounds overblown, which is usually done when plugging a guitar into a tube amplifier and the drums acting as a human metronome. Hearkening to the band’s blues influences, the next track is a blues standard titled "Old Lady Sitting in the Dining Room (Traditional)," which leaves much to be desired. It seems like Carmen and Lafania did not care enough to make sure that the group knew how to play the song in time, making it sound like both members are struggling to keep up with one another.

The next track, “Oh Girl,” is an original song with the vocals sounding so muffled that it’s hard to decipher the lyrics without referring to the liner notes. Along with muffled vocals, the drums tend to overpower the song, with Lafania keeping the beat with the crash cymbal, only to make it sound like he is trying to make as much noise as possible, and completely forgetting that a drummer must know how to keep the band from falling apart. “Candyman Blues,” originally performed by blues legend Mississippi John Hurt, sounds like the band did not take the time to polish the song to appeal to wide audiences, because the original version is blues music at its finest. The original version of the song, recorded in 1928, with just an acoustic guitar and vocals, is a light-hearted song that is enjoyable, and conjures up images of sitting on a porch in the southern United States sipping sweet tea. The version that The Copper Gamins recorded sounds sloppy and under-produced with vocals, drums, and guitar sounding muddy and unbalanced. Finally, the last song on the EP, Maxima clocks in at one minute, and is so awkwardly placed it sounds like it could have been a part of another song the band has composed.

While I can see the band attracting fans due to their blues rock sound and for their efforts at sounding different from other bands in their genre, the band needs more time to flesh out songs for their next EP. If the band were to take better care to ensure quality and not quantity on their future releases, The Copper Gamins have the potential for success. Overall, this EP seemed to be put together hastily, and it seemed that time was of the essence in recording this EP. If The Copper Gamins make quality songs a priority for their next record, then they have the potential to have decent success with their music, but until then not much success can be gained from this self-titled EP.

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"Live at Darwin’s Pub (Austin, TX)"

Last-minute shows can go one of two ways, usually not for the better. But after scheduling an appearance at a San Antonio festival on October 6, Paco Estrada decided to make a stop in Austin on the 5th to play a relatively rare show in the Live Music Capital.

So...Paco Estrada at Darwin's Pub? Darwin's is more of a cover-band fueled party bar on 6th Street than than a quality listening room. So as Paco took the stage with just his acoustic guitar and a drummer playing a scaled-down kit, you couldn't help but notice the distractions: a full table in front of stage right watching the Rangers/Orioles play-in wildcard game, the wide-open floor-to-ceiling windows letting in 6th Street's Friday night cacophony, and the club's own sound system still playing Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy." Darwin's Pub won't be mistaken for the Cactus Cafe anytime soon.

But those who know Paco know that his voice conquers all, despite most any odds. His mid-range vocal brightness cut through a fire engine siren passing by the bar's open windows—twice. And Paco's fans found their way to the club, the crowd growing steadily throughout his hour-and-half show.

Mostly because of the vibe of the crowd and venue, Estrada mixed-up the set with a combination of covers, originals, and then some originals with covers deftly incorporated within their melodies. It was during a slow-tempoed original that the audience slowly picked up on the lyrics of, what? Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"? Yeah, that was it. Later in the set was another mellow interpretation, this time Paco brilliantly transformed of Prince's "Kiss" into a performance all his own.

Paco played songs from throughout his career—from his days fronting the DFW powerhouse, South FM, to several from his most recent solo release, the definite and indefinite​.​.​. integrals of logarithmic and exponential functions.

The jaw dropping moment of the night came from an audience request. Paco transformed the piano-driven single from South FM's Swallowing the Pill, "Blue & Grey," into a magnificent, sparse guitar/vocal/percussion arrangement. As he sang, the sounds from the street ceased. The hits of the 90's stopped flowing from the house's iPod. And those who hadn't yet been drawn from baseball collectively dropped their jaws at what was transpiring onstage.

and I've spent all this life, I'll carry the burden of a beaten wife
raped and bruised and battered by the hurt not seen

you've got to be strong and proud
don't let the loss of dignity get you down
you're more then just the flower in the field he found
silence can't overcome with a truth so loud

Paco silenced Sixth Street's roar with "Blue & Grey." During the last half of his set, in particular, he transformed a raucous party bar into an intimate listening room. Estrada is brilliant—the type of singer who can please a crowd by singing the phone book.

Even as he and his drummer began their set Friday night, they seemed understandably skeptical that they would be a hit that evening. But by night's end, Paco had left another indelible mark in the musical conscience of his long-time fans, along with a handful of West Virginia Mountaineers fans who were innocently just looking for a place to party.

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"Armadillo Road"

In the new era of country music that saturates country radio with performers such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, it is refreshing to hear the self-titled album by Austin band Armadillo Road, a country band paying tribute to their country and Texas roots by playing more traditional music that is reminiscent of local country music legend Willie Nelson. The band’s description of their music on their web site, "with their brilliant melodies, soulful harmonies, and rich lyrical content, it's easy to get completely absorbed by their music," describes this record and the band completely.

The first track on the record "Take Me Back," about asking a higher power to take the singer back to before when things went wrong, begins with a haunting guitar intro and original country guitar riffs. The second track on the record titled "Annie" a ballad that does a good job of not being too sappy, is about a man asking a woman named Annie to keep their love a secret so that they can start a new life together without anyone causing a rift in their relationship: "Annie, gotta leave Arkansas behind, bought some land, west of Houston, gonna leave it all behind, and Annie, I want you to be my wife."

The third track on the record "Pour Me A Double" is the first upbeat track that runs from the law with the opening line "selling my soul in San Diego, making a fortune LA, lost in my head in Frisco, and kicking it all away." "Pour Me A Double" is a wonderful country tune that you can imagine would get die hard country fans out of their seats and dancing in their cowboy boots at the likes of local Austin venues like The Broken Spoke. By far the weakest song on the record is the fifth track titled "A Perfect Song," with a beat that is too slow to keep you interested, and at times the vocals sound very strained. The rest of the tracks on the album ("Good Times," "Jail Song," "Goodbye LA," "Never Been Mine," "Eyes of Brown," and "Light a Match") are all solid efforts to make a record that their fans will enjoy.

Overall, Armadillo Road’s efforts to make what sounds like true a country record was a great success. Each song takes listeners on a journey, with each telling a unique story, which is why country music is so appealing and relatable. Armadillo Road has released a solid effort, with only one song that could be labeled as "filler." I look forward to what Armadillo Road will release in the future.

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