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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

Dan McKinnon takes listeners to blues-rock paradise ASAP

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If you like rocking ’70 style blues rock  guitar, you will love Dan McKinnon’s new CD ASAP (As Sharp As Possible).
 There are actually two Dan McKinnons playing in and around  Canada. This Dan McKinnon is definitely not the Nova Scotian folk and roots singer.
 Click here to hear Dan McKinnonThis Dan McKinnon, who calls Toronto home, likes his guitars bigger, louder and bluesier.

While last years’ self titled debut EP showed his variety of musical styles,  ASAP focuses on big, beefy riffs drawn from the well of ’70s rock.
 The first track ‘Ain’t Looking Back’ draws the listener in and he keeps the energy up pretty much through to the end with ‘A Different Road’ which also has some hot guitar soloing. While ‘Ain’t Looking Back’ draws you in, the next track ‘King of the Hill’ will pretty much melt your face.
‘Got It Bad’ is in a similar vein.

 He totally tears things up on ‘Heart Attack,’ which shows a touch of soul as well as big, loud guitar.

 Fellow Toronto bluesman Jack DeKeyser produced the CD and adds his prodigious guitar talent to the very sweet instrumental ‘The Recipe.’ So you know this young up and comer is in good hands. McKinnon himself shows blues music in Canada is in more than capable hands as ‘The Recipe’ has some of the most tasteful guitar playing on the record.

He shows some of his softer side on ‘Killing Time,’ with some tasty, slow guitar solos. The softer, more soulful side comes out again on ‘Lucky One.’ Another pleasant, slower, soulful track is ‘One Regret,’ which has a ’60s pop feel.

Mid-tempo blues rocker ‘Perfect Ten’ stands out from the crowd as something a little different and slightly laid back.
If you like the blues and blues rock and lots and lots of guitar, then you will love Dan McKinnon. So check him out ASAP.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: ASAP (As  Sharp as Possible)
 Artist: Dan McKinnon
Genre: blues/ blues rock

Soulstack oozes soulful rhythm and blues on Five Finger Discount

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Kitchener born R and B band Soulstack have the soles of their feet firmly planted in the sounds of ’60s style STAX Records soul with their sophomore CD ‘Five Finger Discount.’
 As expected there is a lot of ’60s style soul and R and B music featuring  excellent vocal harmonies and a whole lot of soul right from the first track ‘Long Way Down.’

 But, in part thanks to gorgeous organ and electric piano, they also delve into more ’70s roots rock along the lines of the Band on tracks like ‘Not the Only One’ and ‘Fold Up Your Heart.’
 That organ is addictive and those vocal harmonies are to die for.Click here to hear Soulstack

Lead vocalist/ guitarist Jonathan Knight’s appealing tenor vocals sound like a mix  of Steve Marriner of Monkey Junk and Blind Melon‘s  Shannon Hoon, with massive doses of  ’60s soul and R and B and a smattering of gospel mixed in.

 The vocal harmonies give a gospel feel to ‘Warm Bed To Sleep On’ which stands out.
 I also love the shuffle of ‘Hangin’ In The Kitchen.’

They slow things down for  several tracks after that, but throughout the organ and keyboards make this CD an enjoyable listen, which is always supplemented by tasteful guitars.
 They pick up the tempo on ‘Living Room,” which begins with a guitar riff reminiscent of the Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper.’

They end their CD with another gospel tinged number — a live version of ‘This My Be The Last Time,’ on which Jon Knight shows how well he can belt out the soul.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Five Finger Discount
Band: Soulstack
Genre: blues/ soul

Treeline and Shaela Miller further explore traditional country

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Treeline and Shaela Miller continue to explore the roots of traditional country music on their new CD ‘Curtains’ which takes the listener back to the ’50s.
 While  Treeline collaborated with Sean Brewer for their previous CD “Prairie Sentimentalist,” the collaboration with Shaela Miller on ‘Curtains’ takes them even further into traditional country territory.Click here to hear Treeline and Shaela Miller
 The new CD features songs sung by Shaela Miller and Ryan Dyck individually, plus one song, a tender ballad ‘Heavy Wind,’  sung by stand up bassist Tyler Bird and a darker song ‘Bad Thoughts’ sung by lead guitarist Taylor Ackerman.

The CD begins with ‘Daylight Savings Time,’ one of several highlights which is about  the husband working hard, then going out and coming home drunk.
 Even better, the CD features some very pretty duets featuring Miller and Dyck singing together, particularly on my favourite track ‘Problems’ which features some sweet, sighing steel guitar played by Danny Dyck, which adds to the a country air of the CD.

The title track ‘Curtains’ is another superb duet between the duo.
 Miller’s songs are mostly about either breaking up or waiting around for her characters’ husband to come home after a night of drinking, Dyck explores a variety of other themes. MIller’s unique warble perfectly complements Dyck’s  countryside twang especially on duets like ‘Still Call Me Baby.’
Miller has an instantly appealing voice and an adorable twang especially on ‘Sentimental Cowboy.’

 Another standout is Dyck’s ‘Tennessee Sweater,’ which shows off his own twang and is one of the most memorable tracks on the CD. Another highlight is the up beat country foot stomper ‘Leaving Over You,” which is marked by a hot fiddle solo from Shannon Johnson.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Curtains
Band: Treeline with Shaela Miller
Genre: country


The Perms supply sugar rush with new EP

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Winnipeg punk pop trio The Perms have returned with their sixth recording — a sugary sweet new EP called ‘The Aberdeen Ep’
 It is pretty sweet.

It is four tracks of of addictive catchy pop tinged punk music.

Click here to hear the Perms
The title track is more straight ahead pop punk.

 The first track ‘It’s Mania’ sounds like Buzzcocks’ style British punk pop with a touch of new wave. There are and catchy guitars and some excellent vocal harmonies, especially on the ‘whoah whoa’ chorus.

The most addictive of a real ear worm of a CD is ‘Parent Thing,’ which features more of those whoah whoah chorus and enough sweet guitar to glaze a chocolate cake with.

The CD ends with ‘Walk Away,” which is more  of a contemporary sounding  alt rock tune with just a touch  of ’90s pop punk tune. but which also has some sweet guitar solos.

— By Richard Amery, L.A Beat Editor
CD: The Aberdeen EP
Band: The Perms
Genre: pop/punk
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