LeAnn Rimes builds musical kingdom with ‘Remnants’

LeAnn Rimes - Remnants

LeAnn Rimes has built her kingdom with Remnants. Country with soul, soul with rock, and beautiful ballads are all contained within this album.

The consistency of love is the theme here, and can be perhaps overdone at times. But, the nod to Garth Brooks’ “Thicker Than Blood” on “Love Line” is catchy and addicting.

Rimes’ career has been one of the most fascinating to watch in country music. Beginning in her teens, it is amazing that she has sustained all of these years. At just 34 years old, she is a two-decade veteran of the industry. That longevity is due to her maintaining an authenticity in everything she performs. You feel her pain and strength on Remnants, as you feel her joy on “Long Live Love.”

The music is an interesting cross-section of country music and punk rock. Pink meets Carrie Underwood. Rimes’ manages to create a musical feeling that lets her roots shine through, while the groove makes many of these songs sound like they could have appeared on a Lady Gaga album.

This album has a parental advisory warning because of the honesty with which Rimes handles these mature topics. It is not so much the swearing that earned it this advisory, but its bluntness. This album is pure and simple emotion. Her most loyal fans have watched LeAnn Rimes grow up through her music. This album is her opus. Rimes’ has built her musical kingdom, and we are all her servants.


Brad Paisley pleases WVU live in concert

Brad Paisley - Life Amplified World Tour: Live From WVU

Brad Paisley is quite the showman. In his first live concert DVD, Life Amplified World Tour: Live From WVU, Paisley pleases the West Virginia University crowd. Shot with 20 cameras in front of over 20,000 people on the WVU campus, the two hour show brings Paisley’s persona to audiences everywhere.

Paisley is known for his witty humor as much as his guitar playing. He opens with the drinking song, “Crushin’ It” and blows through a mostly uptempo set. The 20 track collection includes “Water,” “Perfect Storm,” “She’s Everything,” “This Is Country Music,” “Old Alabama,” “River Bank,” “I’m Gonna Miss Her” and more.

Midway through, Paisley brings out Chris Young for a playful duet of “I’m Still A Guy.” Young walked on stage unannounced during the song and began singing the second verse. While singing, the pair walked towards the crowd and even grabbed fans’ cell phones to take their own selfies out front. This was a highlight as it shows how fan-oriented both artists are.

Several times throughout the show, Paisley signed autographs and grabbed cell phones. He even scrolled through one fan’s phone poking fun at the pictures. He also joked that he hoped he returned the phone to the right person. That was a fun laugh. He also signed a guitar and handed it to a young fan and encouraged him to learn how to play it.

Towards the end, Paisley led a sing-a-long version of John Denver’s “Country Roads Take Me Home.” The song has become an anthem for WVU. It seemed like it made the fans’ night hearing this one.

The musicianship of Paisley’s band is top notch. They each had their moments and played flawlessly. I watched the show in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, but had trouble hearing the fiddle mostly, which was disappointing. It would’ve been nice to have that mixed a bit better, but otherwise, the audio was crystal clear and sounded great!

The package is available on standalone DVD and as a CD/DVD combo. The CD only features 13 of the 20 tracks, but is a nice companion to those who want to listen to some of these live tracks in their car. This would make for Paisley’s second live CD, behind his double Hits Alive, released a few years ago.

Brad Paisley fans are going to be sure to add the combo pack to their collection. It’s a great concert from a great entertainer. The combo pack is presented in a single jewel case with a flip disc holder. The CD is on the top with the DVD on the bottom. There is no booklet as the back traycard details the release. The single album sleeve includes a pic from the show on the flip side. Either way, the draw to me is the DVD and it’s beautiful presentation.


Jim James transcends specific audience with ‘Eternally Even’

There’s something completely forgettable about Jim James. Perhaps it’s that name. His anti-pop star take on being a pop star, however, doesn’t stop Eternally Even from becoming music that you want to return to again and again. A second solo album from a multi-talented musician and sound engineer, it’s the perfect music to listen to while driving along an empty parkway on a Sunday morning as if the whole world belongs to you. It transcends a specific audience. These latest songs from the lead singer of My Morning Jacket are expert at setting the mood for non-productive stuff like daydreaming. “Same Old Lie” is that spacey soundtrack you’re in search of when you put your head underwater in the bathtub.

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‘Joanne’ takes another musical turn for Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga - Joanne

Although her last album, the concept project ARTPOP, didn’t exactly wow diehards, one of the exceptions being The Music Universe, Joanne takes another turn musically for Lady Gaga. Always known for her hi-tech pop sounding tunes that always had a revealing, personal side if you listened carefully, Joanne is much more bare-boned, far more than any previous release. In Joanne, Lady Gaga exposes herself and the musical results still come out monstrous.

Experimental can also be used to describe this Gaga/Mark Ronson collaboration. There’s still the dance-y, electronic tunes we’re used to hearing from Gaga but she makes sharp turns musically. Country, big band, acoustic, this is Gaga the well-rounded musician really taking chances, not going back to familiar territory. Another plus Joanne has going for it.

Gaga has Nashville in her heart for the track “Diamond Heart” which has a taste of pop and the results here mesh well. “Joanne” has Gaga pouring her out in this terrific, very powerful ballad dedicated to her beloved aunt. “Perfect Illusion” is a powerful, energetic, raw track that helped defined pop music in 2016. Yes, Gaga is that kind of artist, an artist that can change the game and define the sound of contemporary music. “Million Reasons” is simple but it’s melodies simply grab you in this track that describes an ongoing inner conflict, a ballad that when you hear it you know it’s a Gaga signature tune.

Joanne is an another soon to be classic monster album, more so for the versatility Gaga shows than what you normally expect to hear. When artists attempt to change or experiment it usually doesn’t go over well with fans and sometimes critics. Gaga doesn’t have that problem to worry about with Joanne.


‘Inside Metal’ delves into the classic Los Angeles metal scene

Los Angeles has a rich history of rock and roll. Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal delivers candid interviews with some icons of rock that give fans a more in depth look at the scene. The two volume title includes interviews with Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot, Ratt, Snow), Jack Russell (Great White, Dante Fox), Don Dokken (Dokken), Dave Meniketti (Y&T) and more.

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Metallica takes back metal with ‘Hardwired’

The “metal” in Metallica’s name is back! After an eight year gap in between studio albums, the band has proven it can still write and perform heavy metal like it once did. Fans got a taste of new music in 2014 with “Lords of Summer” (which can be found on the deluxe edition) and won’t be disappointed in the rest of Hardwired…To Self Destruct.

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Savage Henry and the Infamous One Pounders ‘Get Off Easy’

To call Get Off Easy by Savage Henry and The Infamous One Pounders punk porn as some have described it, is an injustice. Rebellious, energetic, fast, loud, those are all the things that make Get Off Easy rock and roll, not rock and porn.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra turns town into winter village on steroids

At a Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) concert, the music is the star.

TSO wowed the crowd at the PPL center on Friday night, November 18th. This was the band’s first time playing in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They have had tour stops in Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania in the past. But this was their first venture to the Lehigh Valley. According to one band member, the show sold out in record time: one hour. Fitting, seeing as the “Christmas City” of Bethlehem, PA is just a few miles away from the nearly 11,000-seat arena.

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Garth Brooks is ‘Pure Adrenaline’ with ‘Gunslinger’

After two years, Garth Brooks returns with his brand new album Gunslinger. The album is “stupid fun,” as Brooks states. It’s full of new anthems, ballads and concert staples, and will sure to please your ears. “Here it is, the only album in my entire career that is pretty much ‘all Garth.’ I really hope you like it,” Brooks states in the booklet.

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Bon Jovi formulaic with ‘This House Is Not For Sale’

It’s taken me awhile, but I have finally accepted that Bon Jovi are never going back to their hard rock days. Their last great album — These Days — was delivered more than 20 years ago and they have a few hits but more misses for my tastes since. The band reinvented itself in 2000 with the release of “It’s My Life” — a good career move to stay relevant and popular. They have delivered an abundance of pop rockers since, and their latest album, This House Is Not For Sale (THINFS), continues the trend with formulaic songs and some recycled ideas from previous efforts.

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