Friday, April 29, 2016

Make Room for the New Big Dog: Albert Castiglia

Should you have any question that the blues are alive and well in the 21st Century, light up Albert Castiglia's new album, Big Dog. They will be answered - Emphatically. For Big Dog, Castiglia teamed up with former Royal Southern Brotherhood guitarist Mike Zito and a rock solid rhythm section of Rob Lee, Scot Sutherland and Lewis Stephens to lay down 11 searing tracks that will make blues fans stand up and take notice.

Castiglia & Co. waste no time making a statement, with a brilliant opening trio: Big Dog is the bait, gritty and energetic, complete with firey guitar work from Castiglia and Zito. Don't Let 'Em Fool Ya, drawing on a big, fat riff and the roots of the blues - lyin' and cheatin' - sets the hook. And Get Your Ass in The Van, with the band channeling the old-school slide shuffle made famous by their forefather, Elmore James, reels you in for good.

Nearly every song has a highlight worth pulling your ears further along. From the soaring leads and vocals of Drowning at The Bottom (reminiscent of Buddy Guy), to the soft, sweet sentiments of Let's Make Love In the Morning. The brilliant harmonica work of Johnny Sansone wraps it all up nicely with Where Did I Go Wrong and Where The Devil Makes His Deal, leaving you with only one question: Can we have more?

The bottom line - Get your ass in Albert Castiglia's van, pull up a chair at the table and let the Big Dog eat.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In an Age Where Everything's Badass, Paul Nelson's New Album Truly Is

Paul Nelson may not be a household name, but you've heard him. If you saw Johnny Winter on stage in the last decade and change, or if you've got a copy of of Winter's Grammy-winning album, Step Back, you've heard Nelson's brilliant guitar work and mastery of the control room.  At the helm of his new solo project, a band bearing his name, The Paul Nelson Band, Nelson brings all of his skills to bear on the band's debut album, Badass Generation.

Nelson has recruited a rock-solid group of musicians to help him usher in a new, 'Badass', generation of classic rock.  Flanked by The Voice's Morten Fredheim, Christopher Anderson and Chris Reddan, Nelson and his new band draw on all their influences, (equal parts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin and 80's arena rock) to put together a rock solid album full of different yet cohesive songs.

But, songwriting and composition is only half the battle. An album full of perfect songs in the 'wrong' sequence will still fall flat. That's where Nelson's excellence as a producer shines through. He and his band have not only put together a dozen songs with no filler and hardly a weakness. From the album's rocking opener Down Home Boogie, through the Southern Rock infused Swamp Thing to the edgier Fooled by Love and Take It Back, Badass Generation is blended perfectly; so well in fact, that you won't even notice when it starts over - the true sign of a great album.

If Badass Generation is indeed the beginning of the new generation of classic rock, rock and roll will truly never die.