Gibbons’ New Solo LP Is 2018’s “Baddest” Rock Album

Courtesy: Concord Records

This year was a very productive span for the rock realm.  New offerings from well-known acts, such as Joe Satriani, Billy Gibbons and Stone Temple Pilots were joined by some enjoyable offerings from some lesser-known acts, such as The Magpie Salute, The Marcus King Band and Black Coffee to make for quite the selection of new offerings.

Simply put, the mainstream and the independent offerings turned out this year gave audiences plenty to appreciate. Many of those offerings made their way into Phil’s Picks list of the year’s top new rock albums, including and not limited to the offerings from the acts already noted here.

Topping off this critic’s list this year is Billy Gibbons’ new album The Big Bad Blues.  The ZZ Top star’s latest solo offering features some impressive covers of classic blues and blues rock tunes, while also offering some equally entertaining originals to round out the record’s body.  The whole is a record that is a solid listen from start to finish.

Taking second spot in this year’s list of the year’s top new rock albums is legendary guitarist Joe Satriani’s latest offering What Happens Next.  The full-on instrumental offering is everything that fans have come to expect from Satch, with touches of his past and present.

Third spot in this year’s list goes to Slash, Alter bridge front man Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.  The group’s new offering Living The Dream is a well-produced and engineered album with plenty of radio ready singles that go a long way toward displaying the group’s collective talents.  The lyrical themes are just as easily accessible as the record’s arrangements.  While not a perfect record, it is still enjoyable in its own right.

The remainder of this year’s list is noted below.  Also featured in this year’s list are new efforts from Black Coffee, Pop Evil and P.O.D.  As always, the list’s top 10 titles are the best while the five that follow are all honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Rock Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW ROCK ALBUMS

  1. Billy Gibbons — The Big Bad Blues
  2. Joe Satriani — What Happens Next
  3. Slash ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators — Living The Dream
  4. Clutch — The Book of Bad Ideas
  5. Michael Schenker Fest — Resurrection
  6. Black Coffee — Take One
  7. Black Stone Cherry — Family Tree
  8. Pompeii — The Secret Sessions
  9. P.O.D. — Circles
  10. The Marcus King Band — Carolina Confessions
  11. The Zealots — Only Rocks Live Forever
  12. Roine Stolt’s Flower King — Manifesto of an Alchemist
  13. The Magpie Salute — Highwater I
  14. Royal Tusk — Tusk II
  15. Stone Temple Pilots — Stone Temple Pilots

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Black Coffee’s ‘Take One’ Is A “Strong Dose” Of Rock Music That Rock And Roll Purists Will Appreciate

Courtesy: Black Coffee

Roughly one year ago, the independent rock and roll outfit Black Coffee (not to be confused with the hip-hop group by the same name) formed in Columbus, Ohio, and in the months since its formation, the band has already released its debut album Take One.  Released independently on April 20, 2018, the nine-song, 34-minute record presents this young up-and-coming act as potentially one of the next big names in the rock industry mainstream or otherwise.  Considering the hip-hop group Black Coffee has been around far longer than this act, it – Black Coffee the band – might have to change its name to avoid any potential copyright issues related to names.  That aside, regardless of names, this album is a good start for the Columbus, Ohio-based band.  The album’s new single and opening combo ‘Creamer/I Barely Know Her’ easily supports that statement.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Hurricane,’ which immediately follows that dual composition, supports that statement even more.  It will be discussed a little bit later.  ‘The Traveler,’ which comes a little more the halfway through the album’s run, also supports that statement and will be discussed later, too.  Each of the noted songs plays its own important part in Take One’s overall presentation.  When they are joined with the other six songs not directly noted here, the whole of those songs makes Take One a welcome *ahem* dose (yes, that awful pun was fully intended) of rock and roll.

Independent rock and roll act Black Coffee’s new full-length studio recording Take One is a healthy and welcome dose of music for any rock and roll purist.  That statement is supported in part through the album’s combo single ‘Creamer/I Barely Know Her.’  The first half of the single is a short, 41-second instrumental track that both opens the album and leads into the record’s first full song, ‘I Barely Know Her.’  The manner in which they were composed and sequenced though, makes them more one whole than two separate songs.  Combined though, the songs’ collective arrangement easily lends itself to comparisons to work from Black Coffee’s contemporaries in Horisont, Zodiac and other similar acts.  That neo-stoner rock sound is sure to appeal to plenty of listeners.  The song’s lyrical content will entertain listeners in its own right.  Front man Ehab Omron sings here seemingly about a woman, hence the title, ‘I Barely Know Her.’  If the lyrics are any hint, the song’s subject is someone who definitely has strong feelings for the woman, despite not knowing her.  This is inferred as Omron sings in his Chris Cornell style delivery, “I’m tired of/Feelin’ like I don’t belong/I know it…your boyfriend’s/Blowing up your phone/I won’t stop/Oh, hell no/Not til I’ve got you/On my phone/You’re hypnotizing me.”  This leaves pretty much no doubt as to the song’s subject matter, lyrically speaking.  It focuses on a man’s clear fascination with a woman and his desire to know her since he “barely knows her.”  If the noted lines aren’t enough to prove that statement, the song’s second verse definitely removes all doubt as Omron sings, “I’m comin’/On stronger/Your trance, it holds me longer/I feel so/Diluted…but he won’t come around, no.”  From here he sings about not turning his back on the woman in question and “doing his best” for her.  It’s a pretty straight forward song that is made all the more enjoyable when its musical and lyrical sides are joined.  The musical arrangement goes a long way toward illustrating the emotion that the song’s subject must have been feeling.  To that end, both elements work quite well together and by themselves.  The end result of that partnering is a song that shows strongly by itself why Take One is a welcome new dose of rock and roll from Black Coffee.  It is just one of the songs that makes this album so strong.  ‘Hurricane’ shows in its own way, too, what makes Take One a good start for Black Coffee.

‘Hurricane’ is a fittingly titled song, because it is a raucous musical storm that mixes elements of so many classic rock acts.  As raucous as it is, that combination — which includes influences from Van Halen, Poison, Guns ‘N’ Roses and even Motley Crue – is quite well-balanced in those influences.  Right from the song’s outset, drummer Tommy McCullough and guitarist Justin Young join to conjure thoughts of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher.’  The pair wastes no time – interestingly enough – launching into a work that mixes the best elements of the other noted bands to make a musical arrangement that proves to be one of this record’s best points.  That’s speaking at least in a musical sense.  In regards to its lyrical content, it generates just as much interest.  Omron’s rapid fire delivery is anything but easy to decipher here without a lyrics sheet to reference.  However, just enough can be understood that it can be at least somewhat inferred that this one is also directed at someone in particular as Omron sings, “Am I more than you can chew/What am I to you?”  He sings in the song’s second verse, “Little mother at a hundred degrees/I want you just as bad as you want me/I ain’t talking about no kiss on the cheek.”  It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here.  This is someone who is head over heels for a woman, and it shows.  The whole thing is a fun ride both musically and lyrically that is certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  Keeping this in mind, it still is not the last of the most notable additions to Take One.  ‘The Traveler’ is yet another key addition to the album.

‘The Traveler’ conjures thoughts of Bon Jovi circa 1986 (the year Slippery When Wet was released) thanks to its easy comparison to the band’s hit single ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive.’  That comparison comes as the song moves from the simple pairing of Omron’s vocals with Young’s guitar work to the harder edged sound that includes Omron’s low-end and McCullough’s solid time keeping.  That in itself makes for plenty of reason for listeners to hear this song.  Its lyrical content builds on that foundation and strengthens it even more.  Lyrically, the song comes across as another work about a broken relationship of sorts.  This is inferred as Omron sings in the song’s lead verse, “I carry on/All in the eyes can see/Falling, you can reach…When did we go…See you stand/I/See you at last/Don’t you wanna wonder/Don’t you wanna wander inside/But now that you’ve settled down/You hide…Now that you’ve broke down inside.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s final verse, “the sun goes down/Over the ocean sky/I see you there/But I wondered why/I hope you find a way/Away from here/But I’ll talk to you/When my mind’s more clear.”  It all just comes across as a song about a broken relationship of sorts.  If that’s the case, then it is definitely an original way to present that message, and its musical arrangement does just as well to illustrate the emotion of the song.  Keeping this in mind, it becomes clear, in hearing the song in whole, why it stands out just as much as the album’s other offerings.  When those offerings – including the works discussed here – are joined together, they make the album in whole that healthy, welcome does of rock and roll that is easily one of this year’s top new independent albums.

Black Coffee’s new full-length studio recording Take One is a welcome new offering that is easily a work that rock and roll fans across the board will appreciate.  That is thanks to songs whose musical arrangements take the best elements of some of rock’s greatest acts and uses them to create their own musical landscape.  The songs noted here clearly support that statement.  The same can be said of the songs not noted, including ‘Born to Lie,’ (which clearly was influenced musically by AC/DC), ‘Psychedelic Red,’ (which fuses elements of Black Crowes and other similar acts for its sound), ‘Fade,’ (which mixes so many classic rock and roll elements) and the album’s remaining songs.  The songs’ lyrical content overall gives listeners just as much reason to remain engaged throughout the record.  All things considered, this record proves over the course of its 34-minute run time, to be one of this year’s top new independent albums, and gives plenty of hope for Black Coffee’s future, whether it continues under its current moniker or another name.  Take One is available now.  More information on Take One is available online now along with all of Black Coffee’s latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/officialblackcoffee.

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Black Coffee Debuts ‘I Barely Know Her’ Video

Stoner rock fans have another new band to check out.

Black Coffee released its debut album Take One last month — April 21 to be exact — and now in celebration of its release, the band released the video this week for the album’s lead single, ‘I Barely Know Her.’  Shot at the Johnstown Opera House in Johnstown Ohio — only about 30 to 40 minutes from the band’s home town of Columbus, Ohio (depending on the route and traffic) — the video was directed and produced by John Payne of Payne Productions.

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Payne’s treatment gave the video a decidedly grainy look, almost like the look one might get from an 8mm camera.  That was meant to go along with the clear classic stoner sound that the band generated in its composition.  Speaking of the composition, its sound is such that it will appeal easily to fans of Zodiac, Horisont, and to a slightly lesser degree, Black Stone Cherry among other similar acts.  The can be downloaded now via iTunes.

Even more interesting in this composition is the sound of front man/bassist Ehab Omran’s vocals.  Listening to Omran sing without hearing him, one might find one’s self making comparisons to the late great Chris Cornell or to BSC front man Chris Robertson, adding even more interest to the song.  Drummer Tony McCullough’s secondary vocals, when joined with Omran’s create some very nice harmonies here, too.

More information on ‘I Barely Know Her‘ is available online now along with all of Black Coffee’s latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/officialblackcoffee.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.