The Not-Its’ New LP Will Keep Audiences Of All Ages Listening

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Courtesy: Little Loopy Records

Late this winter kindie rock band The Not-Its released its latest full-length studio recording Are You Listening?  The band’s sixth album, it comes a little more than two years after the release of its fifth album Raise Your Hand (2014).  This ten-song record is not only a fun follow-up to that record but also some of the band’s best work to date, too.  That is thanks in part to the album’s catchy pop punk sound.  That is just part of what makes this record such a success.  The album’s wide variety of lyrical themes is just as important to note as its musical foundation.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.  Each element is equally important in its own right.  Altogether they make Are You Listening? a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen.

The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will make audiences of all ages want to listen to its ten songs.  As a matter of fact after hearing this record it could even leave audiences of all ages wanting to listen to each of the band’s previous offerings, too.  The main reason that it proves such an enjoyable record is its musical foundation.  The foundation in question is formed by the catchy, pop punk sound that is present throughout the course of the album’s ten songs.  In the world of mainstream music pop punk is very much limited to a specific audience in terms of its appeal.  But there’s something about the way that the band—Sarah Shannnon (lead vocals), Danny Adamson (rhythm guitar, glockenspiel, vocals), Tom Baisden (lead guitar), Jennie Helman (bass, vocals), and Michael Welke (drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals)—executes the songs on this album that makes their sound one that will appeal to a much wider spectrum of listeners than that of more mainstream pop punk acts.  Maybe it’s in the songs’ instrumentation as with the near Ramones style sound of ‘Kid of the Week.’  It could be in the vocal arrangements, such as in the dual harmony in ‘Done With The Science Fair’ or maybe it’s both elements together such as in ‘Washington D.C.’  Regardless of which aspect applies, it can be said with certainty that from beginning to end, the album’s musical content serves as a solid foundation for The Not-Its’ new album.  It is an element that is certain to keep audiences of all ages listening from beginning to end if only for that element.  It is just one part of the album that will keep audiences listening.  The album’s varied lyrical themes are just as important to the album’s presentation as its musical content.

The catchy, pop punk sound exhibited throughout the course of The Not-Its’ new album is in its own right hugely important to its presentation.  That is because the manner in which the band executed each song sets the album’s sound apart from that of so many mainstream pop punk acts.  The manner in which the ban executed the album’s song makes it more accessible to a wider audience than say those mainstream pop punk albums that are obviously aimed more at teens and tweens.  Even with its importance it is just one part of what makes this record stand out.  The wide array of musical themes presented throughout the record’s twenty-nine minute run time is just as important to the album as its musical content.  The lyrical themes presented here include the silly (‘Brain Freeze’ and ‘Grandad is a Spy’, the educational (‘Done With The Science Fair’), the motivational (‘Don’t Fear The Dentist’) and even the deep (‘Washington D.C.’).  The latter of those songs is among the most important of the album’s varied lyrical themes.  The main reason for that is that while educational on the surface, it clearly serves a much deeper purpose than just educating.  That is clear as the band sings in the song’s chorus, “D.C./Do you hear me/D.C./Are you listening/D.C./Are you tuned in to me?” In the verse that follows there is mention of contacting representatives, speaking publicly about one’s views (essentially protesting) and basically being active in the political process.  This is obviously way over younger listeners’ heads.  So one can only imagine that this was aimed largely at older listeners while the song’s first half was aimed more at those younger listeners.  Thinking about it, spitting the song in such seemingly blatant style was pretty smart.  It ensured that it would be accessible to listeners of all ages.  The first half would cite all of the sites that make the nation’s capitol so great while the second half encourages older audiences to get involved in the political process.  Such a presentation, when set alongside the rest of the album’s other lyrical themes, makes the greater picture of the album’s lyrical content all the more entertaining for audiences of all ages.  When those themes are set alongside the album’s catchy, pop punk sound the two elements come together to show even more clearly why this record stands out.  It still is not the last remaining element to consider in examining why the album will keep audiences listening.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its presentation.

The foundation established by the musical and lyrical content of Are You Listening? goes a long way toward keeping audiences of all ages listening to this album.  While both elements are unquestionably important in their own right to the album’s presentation, the album’s sequencing cannot be ignored in its presentation.  The album’s sequencing is so important to its presentation because it is what keeps the album’s energy moving throughout the course of the album.  Older audiences will take greater note of this than younger listeners.  But there is a clear, intentionally set sequence here in regards to the album’s energy.  The album opens with a bang in ‘Dance With Me.’  ‘Done With The Science Fair’ follows with a gentle opening that eventually leads into a much higher-energy presentation.  ‘Washington D.C. is very much the same stylistically speaking.  It starts off with a decidedly reserved sound before really launching into the song’s more energetic core.  The energy becomes more direct in the album’s next two offerings—‘Grandad Is A Spy’ and ‘Don’t Fear the Dentist.’  One can’t help but wonder if this is a tribute to Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper.  Older audiences will get that joke more so than younger listeners.  Getting back on track, the band keeps the energy at just the right levels through the remainder of the album right up to the exhibiting more energy at times and then pulling it back just enough at others.  The end result is a ten-song set that will keep audiences of all ages listening just as much for its balanced energy as for its musical arrangements and its varied lyrical themes and in turn another candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.

The Not-Its’ new album Are You Listening? is a record that will keep audiences of all ages listening.  That is thanks in part to its musical foundation.  The album’s catchy, pop punk sound will appeal to a much wider audience in this case than that of most mainstream pop punk acts.  The album’s varying lyrical themes will keep audiences of all ages just as engaged.  The album’s sequencing brings everything full circle.  It keeps the album’s energy just right at all of the right moments.  All three elements, when combined together, make The Not-Its’ new album not only an album that will keep audiences of all ages listening but also an album that is another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via The Not-Its’ website at https://squareup.com/store/the-not-its/item/cd-are-you-listening.  More information on this and the band’s other albums is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.wearethenot-its.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheNotIts

 

 

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Dust’s Re-Issue A Welcome Re-Introduction To The Rock World

Courtesy:  Sony Legacy/Legacy Recordings/Kama Sutra Records

Courtesy: Sony Legacy/Legacy Recordings/Kama Sutra Records

New York based hard rock trio Dust will finally see its albums Hard Attack and Dust re-issued later this month thanks to Legacy Recordings and Kama Sutra Records.  While the trio only released two records in its time together, the records became the forebear to records from the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and others of its era.  But again, thanks to the aforementioned record labels, this band’s music can once again be enjoyed by fans of true guitar driven rock and roll.

Both of the band’s albums have been culled on a single disc with a total of seventeen tracks between the two.  Audiences will be taken aback right from the opening moments of Hard Attack.  Drummer Marc Bell—who would later go on to become Marky Ramone of Ramones fame—plays just as bombastically and solidly as the late great John Bonham on the album’s opener, ‘Pull Away/So Many Times.’  Vocalist/guitarist Richie Wise is equally solid in his duties providing some rather impressive guitar licks.  And bassist Kenny Aaronson maintains the song’s low end without missing a beat throughout the dual song’s roughly five minute run time.  That same energy and solid musicianship is carried into the album’s second track, ‘Walk in the Soft Rain.’  This song is just as impressive as anything released by the band’s counterparts across the pond during what is easily rock music’s greatest era.  So with any luck, this song will prove to be just one of so many that will open a whole new generation’s ears to one of the best bands that they’ve never heard.

Hard Attack offers listeners quite the experience, especially for those who are new to the band’s sound.  It offers quite a few tracks that will opener said listeners’ ears to a whole and much needed breath of fresh air in an environment overly filled with bands whose music is dominated by down tuned, crunching guitars and cookie monster growls.  If the music on Hard Attack isn’t enough, then maybe the band’s complete seven track debut self-titled record will win over new listeners.  One of this record’s best tracks is its second song, ‘Chasin’ Ladies.’  This pure blues-infused rock song will impress any true rock and roll reveler.  The up-tempo guitars and hard driving drumming mixed with Aaronson’s base work make this great party music and equally great driving music, especially with the warmer weather right around the corner.  And the audio effect used on Wise’s vocals on this song adds another interesting touch.  This critic doesn’t know the exact term for the effect in question.  But it’s something of an echo effect.  It’s one more interesting element to the song that makes it the highlight of the album.

Just as impressive as ‘Chasin’ Ladies’ is ‘Love Me Hard.’  It’s just as hard driving as the aforementioned song.  What’s more, listeners will love how Wise mixes in a touch of flamenco style guitar work into the song’s otherwise hard rocking sound.  Even had that flamenco flourish not been added in, this song still would have exemplified everything that was and still is today, right with real guitar driven rock and roll.  Hopefully with the release of this dual album disc, other audiences of all ages will realize this too about this song and others on this re-issue.  And while Dust may have been long broken up, hopefully this release will help re-introduce a whole new generation not just to Dust, but to what seems to be an increasingly lost art.  The only thing that would make this record any better is a vinyl release for nostalgic types such as this critic.  The dual album disc will be released April 16th via Sony Legacy and Kama Sutra Records.

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Sony Legacy Re-Issuing Veteran Rock Band’s Albums

Courtesy:  Sony/Legacy

Courtesy: Sony/Legacy

Sony Legacy is set to release two classic albums from veteran rock band, Dust.  Fans of the band—Richie Wise (guitar), Kenny Aaronson (bass), and Marc Bell (drums)—will see the band’s self-titled 1971 record and its follow-up, 1972’s Hard Attack released on CD April 16th.  As an added bonus, the label will release a special vinyl edition released especially for Record Store Day on April 20th.  Both albums will be released on one single CD.

Most of today’s audiences might not recognize the name of Dust or its members under the band’s banner.  However as solo musicians, they came to much more fame.  Marc Bell went on to become Ramones drummer Marky Ramone.  After Dust disbanded, Aaronson went on to record and perform with some of rock’s top names, including: Bob Dylan, Sammy Hagar, and Joan Jett.  Wise and fellow songwriter Kenny Kenny Kerner went on to become a rather well known production duo.  Among the pair’s credits are the debut and sophomore albums from legendary rock act, K.I.S.S. 

The band’s members recently sat down and discussed the impact of the band on the music industry and memories of performing and recording.  We were loud and fast, and it was just unreal,” Wise said.  “When we got our record deal, I got three Marshall stacks, Kenny Aaronson bought four Acoustic 360 watt amps, Marc bought this huge set of Ludwigs with a big 28-inch bass drum.  On stage, it was just an amazing amount of exhale – not a whole lot of inhale.”  Bell echoed Wise’s thoughts.  “Musically, locally, we stuck out,” he said.  “We were teenagers, but we were pretty developed as musicians – concerning that genre.  Nobody else in Brooklyn that I knew of could do what we do as a threesome.  And we had a style.  Yeah, we could all play blues and rock, but we took it further.  We took it to different time changes within the songs, and people weren’t doing that at that time.”

Bassist Aaronson shared his own thoughts as the topic of the remasters came up.  “We tweaked it a bit,” he said.  “But didn’t want to stray too far from the original, because that’s what people who do know it are used to.  If it was up to me, I was thinking, ‘I wish I could remix the whole record,’ but the remastering was nice.” 

Wise’s co-songwriter Kerner also shared his thoughts on the music.  He expressed his feelings about the relevancy of the band’s music in today’s music industry.  “I think the music is relevant today,” he said.  “I think young kids who never heard it before will find new metal heroes, and people who grew up with Dust will rekindle their love for this music and this band.”  For more from the band, fans can go online to YouTube at http://www.youtu.be/U4KnOFDxW0c.  For more information on the band’s upcoming re-issues, audiences can go online to http://www.legacyrecordings.com.

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Idelsohn Society’s New Album This Year’s Best Holiday LP

Courtesy:  The Idelsohn Society

Courtesy: The Idelsohn Society

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is the best of this year’s annual crop of holiday records.  The record, which was released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, is subtitled The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights.  The catch is that this record is anything but a musical battle.  Rather, this record does exactly what music is said to do.  It’s a unifier.  It joins two distinctly different cultures through the medium of music.  On a side note, The Idelsohn Society for those who perhaps may not know was named for its namesake, musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn.  Audiences can learn more about him and the Idelsohn Society’s website, http://idelsohnsociety.com/about-us/

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is just the latest in a series of releases from the Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation.  The compilation features thirty four tracks from across both the Jewish and Christian faiths.  Those songs celebrate, as the subtitle notes, both Christmas and the just ended annual celebration of Hanukkah.  What makes this double disc compilation even more interesting is that both the songs of the Jewish and Christian faiths are sung by both those in the Jewish community and those with Jewish roots.  Among some of the more notable of those artists are the likes of: Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, and Herb Alpert just to name some.  Adding even more interest to this already worthwhile listen, the music presented by the variety of artists makes the record even more multi-cultural.  Some songs are standards, while others are more original, crossing the cultural borders of the music industry. 

All thirty-four tracks in this compilation present enjoyment thanks to their cultural variety.  One of the most enjoyable and interesting of the songs in this compilation comes not from the Christmas side, but from the Hanukkah side.  Gladys Gertwiz’s presentation of ‘A Chanukah Quiz’ is a wonderful starting point for young members of the Jewish community.  Gerwitz sings to her audiences of a “Hanukkah riddle” of sorts.  In reality, this song is a history lesson both of Hanukkah and of Jewish heritage.  She tells parts of the history, and leaves parts blank for listeners to answer (in song form) back.  It’s fun and creative.  On a completely different tangent, ‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah also offers a Latin style holiday song in the form of ‘El Die de la Navidad.’  It’s one more example of just how multicultural this record is.  The upbeat sound alone makes this another enjoyable song.  Add to the danceable sound the lyrical holiday celebration and listeners get another enjoyable addition to this release.  It’s just one more of so many enjoyable songs included in a record that is simply put the best holiday record of the year.  The album is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct at the Idelsohn Society store at http://idelsohnsociety.com/store/albums/

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