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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

Rita Chiarelli back to singing the blues

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It is  great to have a new CD from Hamilton born blueswoman, Rita Chiarelli. And while she won awards for her 2007 CD of Italian folk songs ‘Cuore: The Italian Sessions,’ it is even better to have her back doing  what she does best— singing the blues in her distinctive whiskey and cigarette  soaked gravelly voice on her eighth CD ‘Sweet Paradise,’ which will be released March 22.Click here to hear Rita Chiarelli
She has added  quite a few  traditional instruments including organ, accordion, banjo and mandolin. The mandolin is especially prevalent on the first track  ‘I Believe.’
The upbeat and catchy gospel tinged ‘Rest My Bones’ features violin.
Chiarelli shows how soulfully she can sing on the tender ballads ’Light the Fire’ and ‘If It Was Love.’
A complete counterpoint to those ballads is the sassy ‘French Kiss,’ a CD's highlight which is powered by piano and features a some coquettish French lyrics, plus a pretty sweet solo, one of several on the CD, performed by Papa John King.
‘Stone By Stone,’ is another uptempo, organ powered number  which also has a bit of a gospel feel.“‘Going Down to New Orleans, is another catchy number powered by violin. An old country influence comes to the fore on “Cowboy’s Lullabye,’ with some sweet interplay between violin, piano and acoustic guitar.  But for the most part, ‘Sweet Paradise,’ is a more sedate release from Chiarelli which has a variety of influences from jazz to country to ’60s pop (Especially on ‘Black to Blue.’ But surprisingly doesn’t have as much of Chiarelli’s firey  guitar playing as I would have liked. However her vocal melodies are powerful and heart-wrenching.
—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Cd: Sweet Paradise
Artist: Rita Chiarelli
Genre: blues
Record Label: Mad Iris Music
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Oakalla blends country with rock and cool harmonies

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Oakalla is a Vancouver quintet who have just released their new  self-titled CD on 604 Records, home of bands like Theory of a Deadman, Thornley, Marianas Trench and the Zolas as well as country musicians like Jessie Farrell and Aaron Pritchett.
Click hear to hear OakallaOakalla, including brothers guitarist Josh Hlookoff and drummer Jonas Hlookoff along with vocalist Matt Lebedoff, guitarist Jason Milne and bassist Jed Scharf, falls somewhere in the middle of the label’s hard rock and country line ups.
 Oakalla brings the rock out on the first half of the CD. The second track, ‘Open Door,’ is a catchy roots rocker featuring a Neil Youngish solo. ‘Burn Me’ is a great uptempo rocker with  a few head turning lyrics about a cheating mother.
 Lebedoff’s voice is very reminiscent of Australian ’80s roots rockers, the Church, except with a touch of pedal steel guitar. Mr. Smith is  a tender sounding but hard edged country song and not so subtle middle finger to a bad boss. An ex-girlfriend, ‘Darlene’ gets similar treatment. They are pretty cool counterpoint to uptempo rockers like the punk tinged, (and my favourite)  ’Give It’ which features some pretty cool harmonized guitar playing, which sounds a lot like like Queens of the Stone Age meets the Church. The guitar harmonies are also a highlight of ‘War.’
 ‘Cold, Cold Wind’ has a pretty laid back B3 organ riff played by Simon Kendall, which sounds like a lost Blue Rodeo cut.
‘Waiting to be Found,’ is a mid tempo rocker with  some more harmonized guitars
 The band’s first up beat, almost Theory of a Deadman sounding single, ‘War’ has been added to Muchmusic’s video rotation and the Cd is getting play on campus radio stations across Canada.
It ends on another upbeat, Blue Rodeo style, note with roots rocker ‘Take Me Home.’
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Oakalla
Band: Oakalla
genre: country rock/ rock
Record label: 604 Records

Quitzau takes it slow

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Gulf Island  bluesman Lester Quitzau’s new CD  ‘The Same Light’ really grows on the listener. There is a lot of pretty slide guitar and laid back arpeggios on the first track “In Your Arms Again,’  which sets the tone for the entire 43 minute recording.
His lyrics, mostly inspired by nature, peace  and love are as relaxing as his music.
“The Only Cure”  has a pretty and atmospheric horn section backing it along with a tasteful David Gilmour style Pink Floydesque solo.
“Find My Way Home’ is more of a traditional acoustic delta blues number with some sweet dobro playing and slide.
 Shape Shifter stands out as a Pink Floyd meets Santana instrumental backed by some pretty cool steel drums and volume swells on the guitar.
 He ends with a  pretty version of Pete Seeger’s  “Ode to My Old Brown Earth which fades off at the end to a chorus of crickets. Basically,  “The Same Light”  is the CD you put on when you want to meditate, relax, or just plain chill out.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Cd: The Same Light
Artist: Lester Quitzau
Genre: blues/country
Record Label: indie

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No doubt, Audio Fiction could be huge

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Power pop band Audio Fiction  is starting to make a name for themselves in their  home town of New York City.
 Their new self-titled CD combines the punk and new wave sensibilities of  Blondie, with a bit of Pretenders’ punk edged  snarl with a bit of Gwen Stefani style power pop.

There are lots of retro 80s guitar riffs and some screeching solos, especially on the second track Kite High, a highlight on which an F bomb has never been sung so pretty. The dark riff which powers it and the solo sounds like a New York version of a Raveonettes song.

“Race the HourClick here to hear Audio Fictionglass” was on their debut EP ‘ Songs in the Key of Orange Alert” and should be a hit radio single. It’s comparable to any female powered pop music on the radio today.

The No Doubt influence come to the fore on “I’m Alive,” which also has a tasteful guitar solo breaking up the balladry.

I absolutely love lead singer Kristin’s voice, especially on ‘Days Like These.’ It is immediately powerful and appealing.

‘Ever Wonder’ is slower and a little more psychedelic like Pink Floyd fronted by a pretty blond girl.

And ‘Way Out’ is justifiably the lead radio single as it is a catchy piece of pop rock with some cool harmonies and a catchy riff, which is reminiscent of the band Garbage.

But ‘Johnny Go’ is my favourite with a driving ’70s punk riff which powers this No Doubt style up tempo rocker. It ends with another No Doubt rocker ‘Suffocate,’ another upbeat punk tinged rocker and a wah wah drenched guitar solo.
Hear them at

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor
CD: Audio Function
Band: Audio Fiction
genre; pop/ rock
Record label: indie

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