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Nathalie Maines "Mother"


Though it's been seven years since Natalie Maines released a new album, her first steps back into the studio were extremely cautious. "When we started, we weren’t necessarily making a record, so I wasn't even thinking in those terms," she says. "The stars just aligned when my friend Ben Harper opened a studio on the west side of LA—I started going in and working with his band, with no agenda, just to see what happened."

Maines recorded six or seven songs before she told anyone, even her manager, that she just might be at work on an actual album. "I was afraid of anyone hearing about it," she says. "I didn’t want anyone to have any expectations."

Any expectations that listeners might have, though, will likely be shattered when they listen to MOTHER, the first solo effort in Natalie Maines's storied career. As a member of the Dixie Chicks—the best-selling female group of all time—she has sold over 30 million albums and won 13 Grammy awards. But the ten songs on MOTHER reveal different sides of one of the most acclaimed voices of our time.

"I wanted this music to be very different from the Dixie Chicks," she says. "Lots of albums by lead singers might just as well have been made by the band, but I think this is very different from anything the Chicks could make. That separation and distinction was important."

Maines knew that she didn't want to record conventional country songs, but she wasn't clear what direction her new recordings might take. Crucial to the more rock-based, edgy and intense sound of MOTHER was the input of Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and guitar wizard Ben Harper, who co-produced the record with Maines and wrote or co-wrote three of the songs.

"I’ve always been a fan of Ben’s instrumentation," says Maines. "As the daughter of a steel guitar player, I’m drawn to his playing, and to his band’s sound. As we started to work together, we fit together as a band and gelled, we had fun, and it all felt very organic."

Since the release of the Dixie Chicks' triumphant Taking the Long Way in 2006, Maines has concentrated on raising her two children, returning to the studio only for such occasional sessions as duets with Tony Bennett and Neil Diamond or her version of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" for the HBO series Big Love. So last spring, when Harper invited her to sing on a hard-charging rocker called "Trained," she didn't realize that she was starting the next chapter of her musical life.

The first collaboration they attempted in earnest was another composition by Harper and his band, a heart-wrenching junkie's lament called "Vein in Vain," which Maines says she was "a little hesitant" to take on. "It felt very masculine, and I wasn’t sold that I should be singing it," she says, "so we rewrote and rearranged it a bit until it felt comfortable."

One of the initial songs they tackled was the soaring, tortured ballad from Pink Floyd's The Wall that ultimately gave this album its title. Maines went to Roger Waters's concert in Los Angeles, and she reacted to the familiar song in a new way. "I had heard 'Mother' my whole life, but that night it struck me differently," she says. "I heard how I could do the song; I could hear an original idea for a woman singing it. and how it would take on different meanings.

As the sessions went on, Maines was learning more about herself and her work, especially as a producer. "It always felt good when the Dixie Chicks would make a decision, because if we agreed, then it was right," she says. "It was more difficult to depend on myself, but I got used to being the boss and being artistically in charge—it was liberating but scary. You really have to pay attention to every step of the process, you can never check out mentally at any point, so I had to be a lot more focused and available. And I realized that I write a lot more of the music than I ever knew, I’d sing the musicians their solos. I wish I could play an instrument,” she adds with a laugh, “because I’d be awesome!"

As distinct as the new music is from the music of her past, some of the songs on MOTHER do inevitably link back to her remarkable history. "Silver Bell" was written by one of her long-time favorite songwriters. "I secretly wish I was Patty Griffin," says Maines. "I couldn’t do a whole album of her songs, so I had to pick one." And the songwriting credits on "Come Cryin' to Me" reveal that even her fellow Dixie Chicks Martie Maguire and Emily Robison still kept a hand in the new project. "That was a song we decided was too rock for Taking the Long Way," Maines explains, "but it really felt right to have a piece of them on here."

DAWES "Stories Don't End"

California-based roots rock band Dawes consists of brothers Taylor Goldsmith and Griffin Goldsmith (lead vocals/guitar and drums, respectively), Wylie Weber (bass), and Alex Casnoff (guitar). Formed in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hills, the unit was heavily influenced by the gentle, acoustic-based musical trappings and rich vocal harmony of the Laurel Canyon sound (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell), as well as by the shambling, romanticized Americana of the Band.

After connecting with producer Jonathan Wilson, the group began participating in informal jam sessions at Wilson's house with Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench, and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. The loose feel of these get-togethers informed the group's aptly titled 2009 debut North Hills. The album was actually recorded in Laurel Canyon live to analog tape, which lent Dawes' recorded sound an authentically vintage vibe. The group soon embarked on an extensive tour in support of the disc (often sharing the bill with wildman indie folk singer Langhorne Slim), bringing its spare, earthy sound to audiences across the United States.

Arthur Lee Land "Cracked Open"

“How come my heart feels cracked open”... There’s no wonder why Arthur Lee Land’s 4th album Cracked Open, offers an exciting invitation for the musically adventurous to discover a boundless, transcendent world. Arthur’s groundbreaking style is driven by the integration of sophisticated musical, emotional and spiritual juxtapositions. It’s been said; “Every one of these songs sticks to your soul….”

Whether it’s our own world or the world at large falling apart around us, Cracked Open speaks of the suffering and the transformation that is taking place in these times of uncertainty. Ironically for Arthur, shortly after finishing the album, it was losing his voice completely, finding a polyp on his vocal cord (and the miraculous healing without surgery 6 months later), relocating back to Colorado and then being diagnosed with Graves (Hyperthyroid) Disease that forced him to wait almost two years to finally release this album. Those experiences ultimately became a test of faith that “cracked him open deeply” and in the end strengthened him as a person and an artist.

After the release of his previous recording Dragonfly (produced by Grammy nominated songwriter and producer Wendy Waldman), Arthur, wife/lyricist Carol Lee and his label, Perfect Groove Records, felt he was at a pivotal point in his career. He decided to embark on a studio project that expanded upon the sonics he had been creating live for years allowing him to play most all of the instruments including the 6-string banjo which became a central tonal focal point for this album. Songs include the electro/bluegrass title track “Cracked Open,” the traditional and futuristic juxtaposition of “Do You Ever Think Of Me?” and Arthur’s only lyrically penned autobiographical “Good Enough.”

Musically speaking, Electro-Americana may best describe Arthur Lee Land’s eclectic fusion of folk-rock, worldbeat/bluegrass and electronica, but cannot fully explain the unique dynamics at work when Arthur enters the studio or takes the stage. The multi-talented performer blends elements from distinctive parts of his career for this recording: his longtime wheelhouse as a touring musician playing folk-rock, country and roots; a world beat/bluegrass hybrid, inspired by a tour of West Africa; and his Art of Live-Looping techniques which have defined his solo live shows since the early 2000s. Then add to this mix - co-producer, engineer and DJ Aaron Shier, who brought in his influences of electronic, house and pop music.

From the first day of production, Cracked Open unfolded as a "whole Album" in the truest sense of the word, taking on a life of it’s own. “We recorded one song a week in my home studio, and we didn't know what the next song would be until the day before we recorded it. It was always like "what's next?" We had about 40 songs to choose from but we had no idea what songs were going to end up on the record and we had to trust the process,” says Arthur. In fact the song order on the CD is the exact order that the tracks were recorded in. One of Carol’s lines in the song True North comes to mind: “there’s something bigger going on, so learn some trustin’ ”

Currently based in the small town of Lyons, Colorado, Arthur tours as a multi-instrumental solo act in which he utilizes “live looping” (live recording) technology to create “on the fly,” a full band sound by layering guitars, six string banjo, mandolin, bass, African percussion, drum samples, beat boxing and other electronic sonic textures.

Arthur’s intuitive collaboration with his lyricist/wife Carol Lee is an integral part of the artistic landscape of “Arthur Lee Land ….
”How come my heart feels so cracked open / When the love is running deep / Someday we all will cross over / Maybe right now is all we’ll ever be.”

Thanks to Peter Holmstedt at HEMIFRAN

Thierry Condor "Stuff Like That"

Thierry Condor’s origins are Italo-German, yet he grew up in Switzerland. He owes his love of music to his father, who played guitar, and to his son, who encouraged his musical development. Already for years the singer has been active in the Swiss studio and music-scene, and through his TV appearances in the 90’s is well known to a wide audience.

For his newest solo album he has allowed himself time and on it he offers a combination of a youthful voice, coupled with technical maturity and personal coolness, which lends itself to an appealing newness. The artist is married and father of three children and lives with his family in Switzerland.


In his album, “Stuff Like That,” Thierry Condor interprets classic songs of the typical US west coast pop sound of the 80’s. This style of music, which reminds one of convertible joyrides on the coastal highways of California, and which stands for a lifestyle of a whole generation, fits Thierry Condor and his unmistakable voice perfectly.

The album contains, ”Blue Looks Good On You”, an unreleased song by Tom Snow (and Eric Lynn), who among others wrote for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Tina Turner. The several times nominated Grammy and Oscar songwriter, Tom Snow, says, “Thierry brings a soulful voice and an experienced heart to “Blue Looks Good On You”, and did I mention it? – a big smile to this songwriter’s face. Great singing Thierry!”

Also included on the album:“Memories”, originally interpreted by ”The Temptations”, written by David Batteau/Donald J. Freeman, is a funky, swingy song with a super retro-dance groove. The idyllic L.A. ballad “If I Could Hold On To Love” was originally sung by Kenny Rogers and written by Toto guitarist, Steve Lukather, as well as Randy Goodrum, Hollywood’s absolute “secret weapon” in song-writing. The nostalgic voice and piano song “We Will Dance” by Steven Curtis Chapman, interpreted by Thierry Condor and accompanied by Russell Ferrante, is performed with feeling without sounding corny. “Is It You” is a west coast classic of the first degree. Written and originally performed by Lee Ritenour and the session singer, Eric Tagg. Bill Champlin, the former lead singer of the group, Chicago, also played a part in its writing.

Guests, who appear on the album, are singer Myra Audrey, G-SAX, guitarist Dominik Rüegg as well as Bernhard Schoch and Dave Feusi (horns). Also taking part are several well-known Californian studio-pros, such as the session drummer John JR Robinson, the pianist/keyboarder Russell Ferrante and the guitarists Chris Camozzi, former leader of the Michael Bolton Live Band, and Jay Graydon. The last of which has worked with capacities like Al Jarreau and for Earth, Wind and Fire, for which the hit, “After The Love Has Gone”, was written.

Download available of "Stuff Like That" on iTune!

Photo credit: Sir Robin Photography - Thanks: Nick Heizmann

Ronny Johansson "Steadfast"

Ronny Johansson grew up in a musical home in small town called Landsbo outside Vetlanda in Sweden. Even as a 7-year-old Ronny started playing bass, before that he had practised on a guitar with only 4 strings. He released his first solobas album, "Mirror of Light", 1998 and over the years he has played with many different artists. 
Ronny likes to play different types of music, from jazz, gospel to rock,  though he is really in to groovy funk and west coast music.

Now comes the new CD Steadfast.
"Steadfast was born as an idea more than a year ago," says Ronny. "I wanted to create a groovy funk / West Coast / rock CD with songs that turns to a slightly wider audience." 

Ronny is the vocalist and bassist on the album. Major influences for Ronny is for example Paulo Mendonca, Toto, Tower of Power, Seal, Giant and bassists such as Marco Mendoza, Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius, John Patitucci.

The texts have been written out of Ronny:s personal experience of life, "they are my reflections on the society we live in today," says Ronny.

Ronny think the music is a great gift. "I see it as a tool - a tool that can convey a message and touch people." Ronny hope his music will do just that through the instruments, songs and texts on the new record Steadfast.

Ronny Johansson: Steadfast

Sedona "Free"

Sedona is located in arizona, not to far from the famous and great grand canyon. the red stones whichwere set on the indians spirit ground inspired the band to name them : "sedona band".

This magic back country gave the creativity to the band, in order to relate and sing their life and, are their experience with you. all the band appreciate the back country of red stones of arizona and the wild space of utha, nevada and california. They also travel in east to celebrate their success in new york, where they discover manhattan, the jazz club and the new tendency musical way of life. The passion for the united states guides the sedona band in its creativity. They realize themselves in this new california country music style. their dream is to produce them in "blue notes club", in greenwich village ny. The choise of their instruments and sonority make their success in europe.

Patrick and Erick are the base of this musical formation. They knew theselves 30 years ago to elaborate adverting music for big companies in europe. they create from that, a lot songs and step by step erick found his creativity when he travelled for business, all over the world. He was so amazing by the wild and huge space in different states and lands in usa. They decided both to change their life and went away on 66 road to discover the and live one part of historical way of musical life in united states. their passion for guitar and mythic musicians and bands like Chicago, Foreigners, Alan Jackson, Tim Mac Grow, Clint Black, Terry Clark... and many other country celebrities in blues and rock'n roll broyght them the technical and feeling to elaborate their own creativity, style in respect of tradition.

Erick is a "globe explorer" and patrick is waiting the creativity to arrange like a "wizard", the Erick's compositions. thus, the musical invention of erick, takes off wish the sublimation of Patrick arrangements. the combination ! so incredible and so powerful. that's it...! so, Sedona is honored to present you the new album, "free" which represent more than two years of hard job, but so pleasure and great. despite of trouble period of creation, this album was so true authentic like a trip in alaska.

The heart feeling permit to write and create the most sensitive music never created since the beginning of the Sedona band. The target is to awake in your soul the sensibility and try to bring the "dream catcher". Dreaming of ideal life, in wild country, to save you and protect you.

Erick dedicates this album to all people, friends, family who help him to cross one part of his life so sorrow and injustice in the different tracks, he speaks about his life, sentiments and try to explain the hope in new future better life. This is an hymn to rebuild life, to love where everybody can find himself. This album is extremely positive and with simple words, try to explain that life is so wonderful. In his lodge in alaska, Erick try to relate his experience, what he sees and how he is going to do reach the good way of life and happiness. enjoy this moment ... have a great musical trip. faithfully.

Sedona: Golden Valley

PARIS "Only One Life"

The Melodic Rock outfit PARIS has its origins in the French capital, but a short look at the album credits of the band's debut album illustrates that we are actually dealing with an international affair. The two main characters, Frédéric Dechavanne and Sébastien Montet, hail from France, the duo is responsible for the songwriting, the lead vocals, the guitars and the keyboards. The Italian delegation is represented by producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Lionville, Hardline, Issa), the rhythm section Anna Portalupi (Mitch Malloy, Lionville, Hardline) on bass and Alessandro Mori (Mitch Malloy, Lionville, Axe) on drums. Guests are in-demand Swedish songwriter Robert Säll (Work Of Art, W.E.T.) on guitar and Steve Newman (Newman, Big Life) from the United Kingdom on backing vocals.

Frédéric and Sébastien grew up in the suburbs of Paris. They were already long-time friends when they discovered their common interest in AOR and Melodic Rock in the mid 80s. Later in High School they founded their first band and instantly started writing their own songs, inspired by some of the most successful acts of the genre, attending countless concerts of bands like Def Leppard or Bon Jovi in the late 80s. Until 2003 they kept on working on their own material, but life had other plans for the guys and their songwriting activities were put on hold for almost two decades.


In 2010 the two friends, who always kept in touch through the years, rediscovered the joy of making music together. New technologies paved the way for their revitalized musical collaboration with Frédéric now living in Germany, and they eventually recorded a demo album with 11 brand new songs in 2011.

Ready then to take the next step, they contacted Alessandro Del Vecchio. The internationally renowned producer took them under his wings and produced the songs, including a couple of jewels they had written 20 years ago. PARIS debut "Only One Life" was recorded with the help of an international line-up of studio musicians, resulting in a collection of truly catchy Melodic Rock tunes.

Lenny Leblanc "Anthology"

Worship leader/ songwriter veteran, Lenny LeBlanc, releases his new Acoustic project, “Anthology,” just in time for Christmas. Most known for his award winning songs, “Above All” and “There Is None Like You” within the Christian music genre, Lenny’s record includes two new, powerful worship songs, “Unchained” & “Hope”,  as well as an acoustic recording of his 1970’s hit “Falling,” a song still ranked as one of Billboard’s all time greatest hits. Along with these two new songs, Lenny has included some of his all time favorites like, “Above All”, “Rainbow Song”, “There Is None Like You”, “I Believe” and several others.

A huge pop success in the Seventies, Lenny would confess he thought he had it all; however, then God found him. He became a staple in the church but always remained a songwriter at heart.  “I had this desire to write songs that were relevant,” says Leblanc, “I was touring a little and leading music at my church and radio stations would ask me, ‘Are you an artist or a worship leader?’  And I would say, ‘Both.’  I love writing songs to help people keep that connection to God.”

Leblanc’s name appears on dozens of beloved songs of the church, including the highly successful, “Above All.”  His voice and his compositions are featured on dozens of classic worship recordings for Maranatha and Integrity. He continues to write pop and country songs, including hits like “Treat Her Right” for Sawyer Brown and his latest “You First” for two time CMA Musician of the Year, Mac McAnally.

“His heart for God and incredible songwriting continue to shine through this newest release, “Anthology”. The record is an incredible reflection of a life lived wholly toward worshipping God.  These songs reflect an overflow of the personal and corporate journey of one of the most respected worship leaders and songwriters of our day. We are proud and honored to be a part of his ministry, “ says in:ciite, CEO Chris Thomason.

Jeff Pevar "From The Core"

For his work over the past three decades, Jeff Pevar deserves the Academy Award for best musical actor in a supporting role. The guitarist has toured or recorded in the bands of Ray Charles, Rickie Lee Jones, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and many others. Yet, he’s never released an album of his own. Until now.

“From the Core” is a collection of 12 acoustic-based songs, all of which display the virtuosity that has kept Pevar busy through the decades.
He’s always enjoyed being a supporting player — on Tuesday, he opens a month-long Australian tour as a member of Rickie Lee Jones’ band. But he’s been apprehensive about stepping into the limelight himself. “I’ve wanted to put out a record my whole life, but to do a Jeff Pevar CD has always been daunting to me,” he says.

Read the post by Kevin Widdison of the Daily Courier HERE

Laneslide "Flying High"

Avenue Of Allies will release the anticipated debut album Flying High for new melodic rock outfit Laneslide April 12. Laneslide is a new Melodic Rock project developed by Italian songwriter / guitarist / producer Bruno Kraler (Brunorock). The international line-up of the band is made up of vocalist extraordinaire Frank Vestry, best known for the successful and critically acclaimed Marcello/Vestry album and the classic one off-record by US Melodic Rockers Last Temptation.

Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Lionville, Edge of Forever) one of the rising stars of today's Rock scene plays keyboards and the rhythm section are John Billings (Rick Springfield, Donna Summer, Lancia) on bass and Dominik Hülshorst (ex-Bonfire) on drums. Four additional renowned musicians also lend their musical talents to the Laneslide album: Lino Gonzalez from Argentina on lead and rhythm guitars, Bobby Altvater on guitars and backing vocals and Erik Mårtensson and Michael Bormann on backing vocals.

Laneslide are one of the most exciting collaborations in recent years, their hard hitting yet very catchy brand of Melodic Rock is powerful, passionate and it has all the trademarks to let it stand out from the bulk of releases coming out this spring. Ladies and Gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts, turn up your stereo and get ready for the Rock'n'Roll Laneslide.