Music Morsels July 2006 
by Mark Waterbury
  Revery - Avarice and Absolution
EVO Records

This is what Velvet Revolver should have sounded like. While drawing influences from STP and GNR, and maybe a touch of Collective Soul and the Def Tones, Virginia Beach’s Revery still inject a freshness into their intense, riff-heavy rock machine. “Popstar Wedding” and “Sugar Star” are  gritty, nasty rockers that grab you by the throat and take you for a wild ride. “3 Weeks" slips a bluesy edge into a metal power ballad. “August” is a frenetic romp with fiery vocal pyrotechnics. Blending songwriting talent and lyrics from the soul with music that flat out rocks, Revery is a band to watch for.
  Def Leppard - Yeah!
Bludgeon Riffola/Island Records - B0005340-02

Def Leppard’s long awaited tribute to classic early 70’s Brit rockers is killer. While sticking to more faithful renditions of Faces’ “Stay With Me” and Badfinger’s “No Matter What,” the band Leppardizes some of the more obscure tracks. Their raucous versions of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy,” Sweet’s “Hell Raiser” and “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” by one-hit-wonder John Kongos absolutely smoke. There are also excellent treatments of songs by Bowie, the Kinks, ELO, Mott The Hoople with a glistening rendition of the already-radio-hit "Rock On". OK, so it’s not a new album of original songs, but is does wonderfully flaunt the roots that have anchored the undercurrent of the Lep’s signature sound throughout their near three decades of existence.
  Cheap Trick - Rockford
Big 3 Records - 804983678825

With their latest CD named after their hometown, you would expect Cheap Trick to pay homage to their roots, which they certainly accomplish. The more balladic songs “Oh Claire” and “All Those Years” have a decided Beatles flavor. The CD is primarily stocked with pounding rockers like “Perfect Stranger,” “Come On Come On” and “Decaf,” which harkens to the band's early years. Laden with the buzz saw guitars, driving rhythms and delectable harmony vocals that fans have always locked on, “Rockford” proves Cheap Trick isn’t through rockin’ us yet. Not even close to it.
  Walter Trout and Friends - Full Circle
Ruf Records - RUF1117

On “Full Circle,” Walter Trout collaborates with numerous peers for a blues guitar lover’s dream CD. Some of the real standouts include the smoky “Working Overtime” with Jeff Healey, the traditional pickin’ party “Firehouse Mama” featuring Eric Sardinas, and the blistering shuffle “When Will It Ever Change” with Bernard Allison. Of course “Highway Song” with Walter’s Bluesbreaker mentor John Mayall is phenomenal. Walter’s legendary status increases with every CD and every hectic tour.
  Jonathan Hape - Letters to India

Ohio based singer/songwriter Jonathan Hape creates highly unique music that has an absorbing moody quality. Jonathan’s music has obviously emanated from a deep sector of his soul. Songs like the alt folk “Picturebox,” subtly joyful “Happiness Needs Hired Help” and Beatle-esque blues “Fish Song: Throat” are real gems. With lush vocals, ethereal guitar work and intricate but laid back rhythms, this music is quite fresh and enjoyable.
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  Lily Holbrook - Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt
EMI - 7243598806-2-4

Lily Holbrook’s sweetly provocative voice snags your soul from the first strains of “Welcome To the Slaughter.” Like a more sultry Tori Amos, with a touch of gruff vibrato ala Stevie Nicks, Lily is like a tortured angel trying to keep aloft. Her attempts create music that is stunningly beautiful and often brutally poignant with the lyrical content. The intensity she creates through mostly mellow music is mesmerizing.
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  Frequent Flyer - Self Titled

San Francisco musician/songwriter Jarond Gibbs has created a wonderful project melding various World stylings with touches of new age and retro-pop crooner vocals. “Paris Blues” has a happy-go-lucky feel good vibe that is infectious. “Brown Corduroy Blues” kisses a subtle South American vibe with ambient psychedelia. This is the kind of music that just kind of makes you close your eyes, nod in time to it and smile.
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  Category IV - The Storm

This foursome from Columbus, Ohio makes no apologies for producing a debut CD that is very rooted in classic rock sound. They shouldn’t have to apologize, because they do it very well.  Elements of bands like Bad Company and REO with a nod towards Bowie vocally, there are some very strong songs here. It is good, solid rock and roll, created by musicians who have enough talent to make it interesting.
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  The Hipwaders - Self Titled

The Hipwaders flaunt their music as hip music for kids, and that it is. Where some people think that music for kids has to be juvenile or silly (I guess they don’t want them to mature or think) The Hipwaders music maintains a more intelligent sense of humor backed by some really good music. Running the gamut of blues, snappy retro rock, folk, and even a bit of an alt buzz, this kind of music can make kids with minds pay attention to the subjects and grow appreciation for music as well.
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  Nicole Russo - self titled EP

In the five tracks of this debut, Nicole Russo proves to be a lady who is going to turn some heads. Her vocal versatility shines from the first notes of the folksy alt rocker “Difficult” to the country tinged blues of “Brand New.” Working with Brian Fechino and Chris Williams from the Pat McGee Band, Nicole’s lovely emotive voice and intense but hooky music interpretations are a harbinger of a bright future.
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