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Album Review

Lita Ford – ‘Stiletto’ [Retro Album Review]

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Over the years, many fetching femmes have made names for themselves in the world of hard rock. However, to be crowned “The Queen of Metal,” it requires more than great gams, impressive implants, and extreme extensions — it requires creative commitment, ferocious riffs and solid songs. Lita Ford has delivered all of the above, in abundance for the last 45 years.

She certainly had paid her dues. During the mid to late ‘70s, the dirty blond California beach babe established herself as a mighty force in the male-dominated music biz as the trailblazing lead guitarist for the all-girl group, The Runaways. Although the band has since become iconic — recognized rightfully for crafting timeless teen anthems and for possessing noteworthy musicianship, the Runaways had difficulty breaking bad outside of Japan, where the gals were worshiped as bona fide rock stars.

Following the Runaways’ demise in ‘79, Ford struck out on her own and landed a solo deal with Mercury Records. While neither her 1983 debut album, Out for Blood, nor her 1984 sophomore slab, Dancin’ on the Edge, were exactly chart-busting success, they positioned Ford for her ultimate breakthrough.

Produced by Mike Chapman (The Sweet, Blondie, The Knack), Ford’s 1988 album, Lita, oozed polished, radio-friendly, feel-good fist-pumpers — including the irresistible, turbo-charged Top 20 single, “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever” — the monster power ballad duet with Ozzy Osbourne. The album was a platinum-selling, Top 30 smash. And after more than a decade on the international rock scene, Lita Ford became an “overnight” sensation.

The only challenge Ford faced was fighting the “sophomore jinx” by following up Lita with an equally impressive set. The grunge pandemic still was 18 months down the road and the time was right for “the Queen” to drop one of the last great arena rock albums upon her faithful subjects. And 30 years ago this week (May 15, 1990), Stiletto arrived in stores worldwide via RCA Records.

Produced once again by Chapman, Stiletto, packed all the punch of its predecessor. Driven by a Buick-sized guitar riff and accented by a tasty horn arrangement, the lead-off single, “Hungry,” was a high-energy romp — classic Lita Ford, for sure. However, it can be argued that the lyrical cheesecake factor may have been a bit over-the-top for radio, as the single stalled at a dismal #98 on the Billboard Hot 100. But what I find particularly puzzling is how Ford’s authentic remake of the classic Alice Cooper ballad, “Only Women Bleed,” didn’t catch fire. Given the current cultural landscape, I’d wager a bet that this track still could blow up if released today.

Ford’s massive, signature-style riffs abound throughout Stiletto — most notably on the stand-out ball-breakers, “The Ripper,” “Big Gun” and “Bad Boy.” Yet despite Ford’s impeccable reputation for shredding, it’s “Lisa,” the beautifully orchestrated, heartfelt “love letter” to her mother and the mid-tempo title track that shine brightest among the record’s 12 gemstones.

1990 birthed an array of arena-caliber, “last call” treasures from the likes of Cinderella, Damn Yankees, Slaughter, Nelson, Poison, Cheap Trick and Extreme. 30 years later, Stiletto stands tall — serving as a vivid, endearing snapshot from rock’s final gasp of glory.

Stiletto Track Listing

1. Your Wake Up Call (1:59)
2. Hungry (4:57)
3. Dedication (3:34)
4. Stiletto (4:37)
5. Lisa (4:45)
6. The Ripper (5:20)
7. Big Gun (4:37)
8. Only Women Bleed (6:03)
9. Bad Boy (3:59)
10. Aces & Eights (4:20)
11. Cherry Red (4:09)
12. Outro (1:56)

Run Time: 51:31
Record Label: RCA Records
Release Date: May 15, 1990

Christopher Long is an author, show biz analyst, TV / radio contributor, award-winning musician and entertainment personality. Referred to once as “the rock and roll Erma Bombeck,” Long is known for his conversational, common sense writing style and passion for sharing his unique perspectives on pop culture. Raised in Missouri's rugged Ozark Mountains and on Florida's sunny Space Coast, Long currently lives in Cocoa Beach. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)

Album Review

Gianfranco Pescetti – ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ [Album Review]

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts on ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL.’

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Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork
Gianfranco Pescetti ‘DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL’ album artwork

Composer and producer Gianfranco Pescetti recently unveiled his latest album, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL, his first new album in almost a decade.

Speaking about the album, Pescetti says, “DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL is my attempt to explore the depth of emotions and create a profoundly personal and evocative sound without conforming to the rigid specifications of a particular genre, all while keeping an eye to the dance floor.”

Originally from the Tuscan Island of Capraia, he previously lived in France for a few years before moving to the United States to continue his music career. He currently lives on the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

Influenced by an eclectic range of music, including modern chillwave, Depeche Mode, and The Cure, Pescetti’s sound incorporates instrumental atmospheric electronica with dance vibes and elements of modern indie rock.

Comprising ten tracks, DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL starts with “Clownspunk.” Flickering tones shape a rising intro that evolves into a shimmering, ambient-flavored dance melody. As the melody progresses, a psychedelic-lite dance vivacity slowly takes over, pushing the ambient surfaces into the background.

High points include the changing emotional sensations of “Obsidian,” which utilizes amiable layers of shifting colors riding a galloping rhythm to fashion a warm, sparkling melody punctuated by glistening, chiming textures.

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Gianfranco Pescetti, photo courtesy of Gianfranco Pescetti

Sundog” places darker rhythmic pulses against the illumination of drifting, humming, twinkling blushes, thus giving the melody a lingering, hypnotic intensity, at once exotic and full of lavish refinement. “Be My Ghost” swings away from the ambient and pushes into the more muscular momentum of EDM, employing a driving kick drum and elusive tints of disco.

Capraia,” a blend of industrial and heavy, atmospheric dance components, molds a mechanistic mood, simultaneously shadowy and foreboding. “The Wake,” eerily haunting on one level, pours like a waterfall on another level, giving the tune dual interpretations: either a progressive lament or a celebration of natural beauty.

The album concludes with “Stopless,” traveling on a propelling rhythm topped by intertwining layers of scintillating, aerated percolations, heady with impetuousness. For some reason, the melody conjures up the impression of EDM gingered with hints of Ennio Morricone-like Spaghetti Western.

Gianfranco Pescetti delivers a series of ambient/dance bangers, coalescing a nexus of complexity and intoxicating extracts.

DAYSTAR NOCTURNAL Track Listing:

1. Clownspunk
2. Macchia, I’ll See You…
3. Obsidian
4. Sundog
5. Nostalgia Aime Le Rouge
6. Be My Ghost
7. Capraia
8. The Wake
9. Fogbound
10. Stopless

Run Time: 35:47
Release Date: January 25, 2024
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Wabi Sabi – ‘The Love Insane’ [Album Review]

‘The Love Insane’ displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

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Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork
Wabi Sabi ‘The Love Insane’ album artwork

About seven months ago, Atlanta-based ensemble Wabi Sabi released their fourth album, The Love Insane, a record that not only flew under the radar but was also impacted by the pandemic, resulting in it being self-produced.

Pianist/vocalist Damien Cartier explains, “This is the first of our albums that I have produced myself. We have never done an album this way, but Covid mixed with having a spare bedroom home studio seemed like the perfect time to try.”

The genesis of Wabi Sabi occurred in 1999. Initially comprising piano, trombone, and drums, the band’s name was Damien Cartier And His My Newt Orchestra. Before long, the band added horns, bass, guitars, percussion, and singers. However, there was a problem: the band’s name, the spelling of which stymied people.

Then Damian saw an episode of King Of The Hill where Bobby discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese aesthetic that perceives beauty in imperfection and transience. Enter the band Wabi Sabi, whose unique sound amalgamates elements of soul, funk, reggae, and pop with tangs of jazz.

The Love Insane begins with “The Truth,” opening on a soft, low piano topped by tender vocals, mirroring pensive tones. The melody blends savors of rock and jazz, forming a dreamy, almost psychedelic flow of floating textures.

Highlights on the album include the title track, conjuring up the swaying soul surfaces of the ’60s, tinted with twangy, country-laced guitars. Cartier’s vocals are spot-on and convey touching, quixotic aromas.

New Life,” a personal favorite, evinces suggestions of Steely Dan because of its deliciously trippy-lite surfaces and grand brass accents that bray forth finessed tones. The funky “Not Yet, Sister,” with its hints of reggae, features bright horns, skiffing guitars, and a neighing organ.

The album finishes with “The Weirdo Blues,” a luscious fusion of bluesy jazz and orchestral flavors. There’s a delightful, sleazy sensation to the tune, imbuing the song with benevolent craziness.

The Love Insane displays the psychedelic jazz band persona of Wabi Sabi and their talent shifting from genre to genre with aplomb.

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi, photo courtesy of Wabi Sabi

The Love Insane Track Listing:

1. The Truth
2. I Am OK
3. Manifest
4. The Love Insane
5. New Life
6. Not Yet, Sister
7. Sick Tuna
8. The Fall
9. Please Rescue Me
10. Spacetime
11. The Weirdo Blues

Run Time: 48:18
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Record Label: Independent

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Album Review

Spike Polite & Sewage – ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] [Album Review]

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Spike Polite & Sewage’s ‘Punk Not Dead’ projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

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Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork
Spike Polite & Sewage ‘Punk Not Dead’ [EP] album artwork

Punk Not Dead, the latest EP from Spike Polite & Sewage, is an insolent, provocative social satire, a response to the clueless decline of Western civilization, à la Oswald Spengler. Unrestrained, the EP was produced by Ted Sabety.

Made up of Spike Polite, aka Reagan Youth and Cheetah Chrome, on vocals, Michelle Shocked (bass, vocals), Antony Romero (guitar), and Beast (drums), Punk Not Dead follows on the band’s 2021 EP, PANDEMONIUM.

Comprising three tracks, Punk Not Dead opens with “What Happened to the Punk Rock,” rolling out in buzzsaw guitars riding tight, raw percussion. A single voice segues into gang-like vocals, imbuing the lyrics with enflamed indignation. This is old-school, fulminating punk rock.

Twitter is a Death Machine” delivers a short, vicious commentary on the malicious ramifications of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, now known as X. Traveling on a fast, chunky rhythm, the harmonics slice the atmosphere with edgy guitars.

Snarling, grinding guitars give the intro to the title track chaotic textures as sneering vocals infuse the lyrics with ferocious energy highlighted by ringing percussion. The outro reveals the spoken word vocals of Spike and Michelle announcing that “punk is not dead.”

Seething with primal momentum and frenzied, punchy surfaces, Punk Not Dead projects an intensity of defiance and insurrection.

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Spike Polite & Sewage, photo courtesy of artists

Punk Not Dead Track Listing:

1. What Happened to the Punk Rock
2. Twitter is a Death Machine
3. Punk not Dead

Run Time: 3:24
Release Date: January 15, 2024
Record Label: Solid Bass Records

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