Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Quick Artist Profile: Reignwolf

Jordan Cook sounds like an average name. You could probably open up the phone book and find multiple Jordan Cooks (do People even Have Phone Books anymore.) But Jordan Cook has an alter ego, and that is Reignwolf the name of his sometimes one man sometimes three piece band. Reignwolf is definitely an artist to keep an eye out for, as he takes the garage rock thing and makes it his own using amazing showmanship and musicianship to create a sonic brew that can only be described as mesmerizing.

I found about Reignwolf while cruising the internet last week, and started watching his videos and was sucked into my computer screen for hours watching his performances of him. I was stunned by the level of talent and the awesomeness of the music that just came from one man and a bass drum. Truly amazing.

Checkout Reignwolf NOW!

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: Flash Riot

Flash Riot is a great band from Chicago, Illinois.They have a great sound that to me mixes all the best parts of bands such as the Foo Fighters and Muse into their own unique. The band recently finished recorded their self-titled EP with producer Marc McClusky who in the past worked with Weezer, Bad Religion, and Social Distortion.

Flash Riot are going to be a big band and the band are looking to make a big name for themselves in 2013. Having all played in well-known bands throughout the midwest, they feel that this time they have made the perfect storm and will no doubt catch the ears of all lovers of rock. This band is so well composed that I couldn’t believe that this was their first records together, as they are tight like musicians who have played together for a long time.

Check this band out. You will not be disappointed.

-B. Harlow

Take a Listen HERE

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Nile Rodgers: Musical Innovator and Cultural Icon

I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago and I heard a song from Daft Punk’s latest album, Random Access Memories. The track was called “Get Lucky” and features vocals from Pharell and Nile Rodgers on guitar. When the D.J. came back on he told the listeners what they had heard, and he said that was Daft Punk featuring Pharell, but forgot about the guess spot by Nile Rodgers. This angered me because Nile Rodgers is one of my favorite musicians of all time, as well as one of my favorite producers of all time. Not only is Rodgers one of the best guitar players for what he plays, but for what he doesn’t, he picks just the right notes to make the song sound amazing. He also defined the sound of pop music in the 80’s. He is the man who made this hits. You may not know his name, but you definitely know one of his songs.

Rodgers is a New York native and got his start playing studio sessions with other musicians. He eventually left the studio and started playing shows with the house band of the Apollo Theater where he played with such notable acts as   Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, and Parliament Funkadelic.

Nile Rodgers and Bernard EdwardsAt age 18 Rodgers met Bernard Edwards who would become his main collaborator. In 1973 New York City had a big hit with “I’m Doing Fine Now,” Edwards would get a job as the band leader and asked Rodgers to be the group’s guitarist. They would become known as The Big Apple Band, and were billed as New York City and The Big Apple Band. Rodgers and Edwards had found their own groove and formed the band, Chic which would inspire Rodgers to write “Everybody Dance” and many more hits including, “Freak out” and “Good Times.” “Good Times” was a huge hit and important to the hip-hop world as Edward’s bass line was sampled in the first multiple-platinum Hip-Hop single “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang.

In the 80’s the disco fell out of favor, as the “Disco Sucks” trend became the mindset of the music listening public. Chic had been grouped in with this, even though they weren’t disco. To add to this, the music business was going through a huge change. But there was a bright light for the two collaborators, as Diana Ross had committed to working with Rodgers and Edwards on her album, Diana. Rodgers and Edwards wrote and produced the album, and it would go on to 6 million copies. Rodgers and Edwards would go on to work hard on another Chic album, but the band dissolved. Rodgers and Edwards eventually would cut their ties due to drugs.

Rodgers would go on to release a solo album which received a less than favorable response from the public, but did garner a very good opinion from famous art rocker, David Bowie. Bowie would meet Rodgers and invite him to his house in Switzerland where they worked on what would be the track, “Lets Dance.” It would go on to be David Bowie’s biggest selling album. Let’s Dance had several hit singles including “China Girl”, “Modern Love” and the title track, “Let’s Dance.” The album also was a stepping stone for the young, Stevie Ray Vaughn. The album gave Rodgers the production credibility he needed and he continued work with some of the best artists of the day. Rodgers produced the single “Original Sin” by INXS, and would go on to work Duran Duran worked extensively with Rodgers after he remixed their largest selling hit single, “The Reflex.”

One of the crowning achievements was when Rodgers decided to take a risk with a young artist who went by the name, Madonna. With Madonna, Rodgers struck gold upon the release of her album, Like a Virgin; which featured the hits, “Material Girl” and the album’s title track, “Like a Virgin.” The album would go on to sell 21 million copies world-wide. This would give Rodgers the credibility.

During the 80’s, Rodger’s resume would grow significantly working on albums with Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Mick Jagger, Steve Winwood, and records for Cyndi Lauper, and a couple of soundtracks with Genesis madman Peter Gabriel.

In 1992 Chic got back together, and went back on the road, and that’s when drugs and alcohol caught up with him, but nile rodgersit wouldn’t be till 1994 that he’d enter rehab. In 1996 Chic and Rodgers came to Japan to play a show to celebrate Rodger’s career, and after the show Edwards would be found dead in his Hotel room. He had died from pneumonia. Shoot forward 17 years Rodgers is immersed in many projects including touring with a new Chic line-up, and playing his vast discography and letting artists sample bits of his vast catalogue. Rodgers also survived a really aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Rodgers is one of the best musicians of all time. It is truly criminal how many people don’t know who he is, as he is a legend of epic proportions. Not only has he produced some of the greatest artists of all time, but he single-handedly shaped the sound of 80’s pop music and influenced numerous musicians in various genres.  We need to recognize Rodgers for the influence he has had on our culture.

-B. Harlow

Nile Rodgers

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Quick Artist Profiles: Affiance

For a long time it seemed like melody was dead in heavy music. There might be a clean vocal here or there or a melodic guitar part, but the majority of the metal bands that have come along have largely neglected this; until now. Affiance is a great band from Cleveland that are bringing technicality and melody to the forefront of the music, a great departure from the regular formula that seems to plaguing the genre.

Formed in 2007 affiance features vocalist Dennis Tvrdik, Brett Wondrak on guitar, Dominic Dickinson on guitar, and Patrick Galante on drums. The band has released three collections of material. Calm Before The Storm their debut was released in 2008. This was followed by their second collection, No Secret Revealed which was released in 2010. Their latest release was The Campaign which was released in 2012, and is a great record comprising great songs with great vocals and technical guitar playing.

Check these guys out. Metal is alive and well with Affiance!

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: Graham Dechter

Born into a musical family it was no surprise Graham Dechter went into music. His mother, Maureen came from musical theater and his father, Brad is an orchestrated and composer who has worked on 250 film scores and arranged pieces for many famous artists including Johnny Mathis and Barbra Streisand. He credits his parents for exposing him to the music that he eventually would later work with, jazz. But Dechter did not start out playing jazz, originally Dechter’s muse was classical music which he also composed.  This changed however when Dechter met with bassist Marshall Hawkins who exposed him to improvisation, and thus directed the young musician towards playing jazz. In 2005 and at age 19 Dechter was invited to join the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and has been touring with them since, as well as working on sessions, and playing with many singers and musicians including working on Michael Bublé’s, Christmas.

Along with being a fantastic studio musician, Dechter is also a solo artist that has put out two fantastic records. His first record was released in 2009 and featured many great tracks that feature his smooth sounding swing based leads it also featured the tremendous bass playing of John Clayton. Dechter’s second album featured the same smooth playing that will make him a force to be reckoned with within the guitar community.

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: Modern Baseball

Modern Baseball is a Philadelphia based band that originated in Maryland. The group was founded in 2011 and consists of Brendan Lukens, Jacob Ewald, Ian Farmer, and Sean Huber. Their influences are very interesting, and include Brand New, Gaslight Anthem, Motion City Soundtrack, and Say Anything.

Modern Baseball put out their first record, Sports in late 2012. The record which consists of 12 tracks is a great listen and provides an enjoyable listening experience, as the tracks go together nicely, and fit together seamlessly. The album was Recorded over a series of late nights at Drexel University’s free studio and  was released by Lame-O Records, and is available for streaming.

Be sure to check out Modern Baseball, I think you’ll enjoy their music and its unique sound.

-B. Harlow

Modern Baseball

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Artists You Should Hear: Tak Matsumoto

Tak Matsumoto is one of the most amazing musical minds that is out there today. He is a Grammy Award-winning Japanese guitarist, producer, arranger, composer, singer and songwriter. But you’ve probably never heard of him, and that’s because he plays in a band that mostly plays Japan. In Japan, Tak and his band B’z, which aslo features singer Koshi Inaba are extremely successful. To date they’ve released 46 consecutive No. 1 singles, 25 No. 1 albums, and sold more than 80 million records worldwide! Tak is also a true virtuoso with a very successful solo career.

Tak started out as a session musician, but would soon find himself playing in one of Japan’s biggest bands, B’z. B’z was formed in 1988 as a duo featuring Koshi Inaba on vocals. Together they’ve released 19 studio albums including their most recent, 2011’s C’mon. Stylistically the band has changed many times, but consistently they put out an excellent product focused around Tak’s excellent guitar playing.

Tak as a solo artist has released 13 albums. Most recently Tak released his album Strings of My Soul which came out in June of 2012. He has also done some amazing guest spots including appearance with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

Tak is an amazing guitar player who you should hear! Check him out!

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: War of Ages

War of Ages is a great metalcore band that has been putting out music since their inception in 2002. Through many member changes the lineup has stayed consistently strong and produced great music. The band presently consists of vocalist Leroy Hamp, lead guitarist Steve Brown, rhythm guitarist Jack Daniels, bassist Mark Randazzo, and drummer Alex Hamp. Of this line-up only Hamp and Brown are original members,

War of Ages formed during the summer of 2002 in Erie, Pennsylvania. During their early years they went by the name of Point Zero, but would change it to War of Ages when they released their 2005 album of the same title, War of Ages.  The following year the band released their album Pride of the Wicked. This was followed by Fire from the Tomb  a re-recording of the bands first album and was released in 2007.  2008 saw another new album from the band this one was entitled Arise and Conquer which was followed by 2010’s Eternal which charted on the Billboard 200. In 2012 the band released their newest record to date, Return to Life.This album also charted.

War of Ages is a great band and I suggest you give them a listen.

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Quick Artist Profile: The Dirty Dixies

The Dirty Dixies were formed in 2008 in Nashville, TN. The main mission of the group was to provide the listener with songs they can relate to. Some topics from their songs  range from driving down to Mexico, to Buying beer at Texaco. But most importantly for the Dirty Dixies is that the listener remember that the most important things in life are their dogs, their trucks, and their woman.

-B.H.

April fools.

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The Alex Skolnick Trio: Jazz’s New Standard

At age Nine Alex Skolnick found a love for the group Kiss, which caused the young boy to pick up the guitar. By age 16 Skolnick was trying out for local bands, and had stumbled across the Bay Area thrash powerhouse Legacy. By the end of Skolnick’s school career he was recording with the group that later changed their name to Testament. Testament released five records with Skolnick during his original tenure, and after his return they released the record Formation of Damnation, and now we are waiting for their next release Dark Roots of The Earth (Due July 27th).

  In the early 90’s Skolnick decided to leave Testament, and played with Ozzy Osbourne for a very short time. After a little time releasing various side projects, Skolnick moved to New York City and enrolled at the New School University. He studied Jazz, and in 2001 earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. It was at this school where Skolnick developed his new sound, and where he launched his next group, The Alex Skolnick Trio. The Trio consists of two other members, bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski.

The Alex Skolnick Trio has released four albums to date. All of these albums show all three musicians mastery of their craft especially Skolnick, whom molds his influences together to gain a significant amount of different sounds, while never exactly leaving the traditional jazz mold. Their first release was entitled Goodbye to Romance: Standards for a New Generation, this album was a collection of rock and metal covers that were given a unique jazz spin. It featured renditions of Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, along with heavier re-workings such as the traditionally dirge-like Black Sabbath song “War Pigs” which was given tremendous life by the group’s arrangement.

The Trio’s next album was released in 2004 and was called Transformation. It too consisted of numerous covers but included four originals including the title track “Transformation”. It also featured an incredible performance of Iron Maiden’s classic track “The Trooper”. This track with its up-tempo shows all of the musicians incredible efficiency, especially the rhythm section of Peck and Zebroski.

In March of 2007 the group released its third record Last Day In Paris. This album was a ten track gem, which was recorded in the amazingly short span of four days. This album only contained three covers, of which one was a re-arranged version of the Testament song “Practice What You Preach” which was given the Spanish title “Practica Lo Que Predicas”, its literal Spanish translation.

After a four year gap the Trio was back with their fourth album, 2011’s Veritas. Veritas is an incredibly diverse record which features ten tracks and one reworking of the original tracks “Bollywood Jam”, which works as a sort of reprise at the end of the album. The album also features a unique reworking of the classic Metallica song “Fade To Black” which in my opinion is on par with the original.

The Alex Skolnick Trio is one of the most unique groups I’ve heard. Their creativity and innovation is on par with many of the greatest musicians the world has scene, in genres across the board. Make sure to check out the Trio, and also keep an eye out for Testamen’t next record.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video For Their Song “Western Sabbath Stomp” Below:

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