Reviews


Classic Crack Attack: Crack the Sky Live

Monday, April 25th, 2011 by The Professor

Crack The Sky packs in its fans for a score of musical memories

– by Radio RockonTour host Timothy Tilghman
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Crack The Sky achieved eternal Rock `N Roll glory within generations of Baltimorian hearts. Originating as a garage band from neighboring West Virginia, CTS found a permanent home playing venues in Maryland. The fact that John Palumbo and company are willing to continue to schedule scattered dates throughout any given calendar year is a testament to their desire to appear live before their loyal legions of fans.

CTS have recorded several outstanding albums during the course of their early career even if the majority of the baby boomer record buying public that should have been buying their masterpieces did not. This unfortunate oversight does not in any way negate their catalog of classic rock songs that diehard CTS fans enjoy so deeply to experience live on stage.

Once again the sultry siren of Baltimore’s rock radio airwaves, Sarah Fleischer, was on hand April 23, 2011, to introduce Crack The Sky. The never ready for prime time musicians ignited their extended set with the title tune “White Music” off their quintessential 1980 opus. The classic Crack tracks just kept on piling up one after another.

The best addition of the long evening was welcoming the Crack Pack Horns on stage to embellish and empower the classic Crack The Sky sound. The horn section comprised Barry Caudill on saxophone, Dave Makowieki on trumpet, and Jim McFalls on trombone. The horns add a new dimension to the music altogether.

The CTS anthem “Surf City” was punctuated with five Beatles segues. These Fab interludes were well received by the Charm City revelers. CTS’s musical mutation on Pink Floyd, “Hot Razors In My Heart”, was the perfect closer. Palumbo’s affection for John Lennon was reaffirmed by a double dose of Beatles psychedelia as back to back CTS’s encores. “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am The Walrus” are perennial stage faves.

Although Crack The Sky was hyped for its debut in Baltimore at Rams Head Live, the gig itself did not reach sell out status for a Saturday night. The capacity crowd certainly created an unavoidable obstructed view of the band on stage. It was a surprise to discover that there is a dull zone where the projected sound suffers directly dead center on the second level. This was not a reflection of the band or the tech mixing the sound.

Guitarist John Palumbo is the exalted leader of Crack The Sky. Founding lead guitarist Rick Witkowski is as animated as ever tearing up his axe with the intensity of a tornado. Original drummer Joe Macre continues to anchor the band behind his drumkit. Bobby Hird is no slouch on the guitar neck himself often trading or dueling guitar leads & licks with Witkowski.

Glenn Workman is their talented keyboardist. Dave DeMarco is now handling the bass guitar for live appearances. Overall, Crack The Sky have recorded 15 studio albums. Their recent efforts Dogs From Japan 2004, The Sale 2007, and Machine 2010, confirm Palumbo continues to be a prolific composer. Maryland musicians should be encouraged launch a Music Hall of Fame in Maryland to induct Crack The Sky. It’s a long overdue accolade that they certainly deserve.

Crack The Sky, Rams Head Live, Baltimore, April 23, 2011 setlist: White MusicHold OnNuclear ApathyFrom The Greenhouse * Go * Zoom * Sea EpicWet TeenagerMaybe I Can Fool EverybodyI Don't Have A TieHere It Comes AgainIceLighten Up McGrawSkin DeepFlashlightMind BabyShe's A DancerSurf CityLucy In The Sky With DiamondsA Hard Day's NightLady Madonna > The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (Skin Deep) > I Want You (She's So Heavy)Surf CityHot Razors In My Heart * Encore: Strawberry Fields Forever * I Am The Walrus



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Spokes – Everyone I Ever Met

Sunday, February 13th, 2011 by Eric Loose

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Everyone I Ever Met is orchestrated in a different vein than Spokes’ rookie EP, People Like People Like You. Risks have been taken, and mind you, these aren’t “risks” like we normally think of them. People Like People Like You was a fairly conventional post-rock EP, but this description belies its beauty. Poor Spokes watched from outside the lines as less-worthy post-rockers enjoyed oodles more fame than they. With soaring violins and condensed song lengths, Spokes crafted a mellifluous Shortcut to Enjoying Post-Rock. Somehow the Englishmen crammed the magic of every spellbinding post-rock record you’ve heard into a delightfully accessible package. Three years later, Spokes sound bent on transforming this winning formula, and unexpectedly it pays off. (more…)



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Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

Monday, February 7th, 2011 by Eric Loose

This could very well be Bright Eyes’ swan song. Hinting at the dying days of his Bright Eyes project last year in Rolling Stone, indie darling Conor Oberst sounded like he was ready to say goodbye to the band that garnered him fame as the poster-boy for skinny, bedroom-dwelling high school males everywhere, the 00’s answer to 80’s punk and 90’s emo. The kid is talented too, no denying that. Besides eliciting comparisons to the oh-so-comparable likes of Dylan, Oberst could weave his own warbly lines of genius. Whether they be drug-infused, lovelorn, or downright depressed, Bright Eyes’ lyrics tore at heartstrings with ease. Arriving at his most recent effort with the band’s impending mortality in question, we’re left with one, main query: should this be the finish line for Bright Eyes, is this how we want it all to end? (more…)



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Mogwai – Hardcore WIll Never Die, But You Will

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Eric Loose

Grandfathers of post-rock, Mogwai, have had a tumultuous career of highs and lows. Pattern is, Mogwai will either floor on first listen (Young Team, Happy Songs For Happy People) or alternatively leave much to be desired (Zidane, The Hawk Is Howling). The pioneers’ most recent work displays Mogwai both drenched and layers and effects while dabbling in more minimalist pieces also, as Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will spans an impressive array of emotions aesthetics. This sensation is compounded when compared to the tepidness of their recent output. Mogwai’s ferocity on Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will is evident at once, and the album lives up to its intriguing name. Immersive and intense, Mogwai’s seventh LP sets the bar high in early 2011. (more…)



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Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 by Amanda Nolan

Cee Lo Green, more famously known for his work as one half of Gnarls Barkley, is back with his third studio album, The Lady Killer, which dropped November 9. Ever since the first single from the album, “F*ck You” (or more appropriately titled “Forget You”), was dropped, the music industry was abuzz about Cee Lo, with good reason. The Lady Killer proves to be an album worth giving a listen. Cee Lo transcends the R&B label, with a sound that strikes as being more alternative. This isn’t Gnarls Barkley, and you won’t find anything similar to “Crazy” on the album’s fourteen tracks; however, that does not matter because The Lady Killer offers that great Cee Lo sound.

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Rock Show 2010

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by The Professor

Paul McCartney inaugurates the hall in Pittsburgh

by Radio RockonTour host Timothy Tilghman

James Paul McCartney inaugurated the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh as its premiere concert act on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Scoring under face value tickets outside on the walk was nearly next to impossible but as luck would have it, Macca was running behind schedule and a $20 print-out ticket surfaced shortly before curtain call.

McCartney fans were queued up in long lines outside all of the entrances encircling the new venue that stretched onwards along the surrounding sidewalks in the unrelenting afternoon sun. Patron expectations were cresting high and fan anticipation was creating a decisive buzz of apprehension as spectators waited impatiently to enter the building.

Sir JPM enjoys an exceedingly rare position among popular live performers and his remaining career peers. Paul can safely bank on being a virtual sellout wherever he appears. His envious Beatles pedigree guarantees him an eager audience willing to hurl their expendable capital at buying pricey venue tickets whenever he heads out on tour.

The evening began with an exciting Wings medley comprising “Venus And Mars”, “Rock Show” and “Jet” that energized the audience with an unavoidable adrenaline rush. McCartney observed, “Good evening Pittsburgh. I’m getting a feeling we’re going to have a ball”. Then, Paul paused to soak in his view of the clamoring crowd before him from center stage. After five decades of appearing before live audiences, McCartney is the consummate performer.

“So, welcome to this new building here. We are the first people to play here before the first audience”, was McCartney’s christening comment on the hall’s opening night. Only two tracks from his highly acclaimed 2008 Fireman disk Electric Arguments made the setlist. The gyrating rhythm of “Highway” bounced along in concert and Paul’s soaring chorus on “Sing The Changes” transformed the uplifting gospel rocker.

Paul strapped on an electric guitar for “Let Me Roll It”, an intense 1973 Wings rocker from Band On The Run that was originally intended as a musical send-up of his estranged partner John Lennon. The ensuing climax transitioned into an instrumental jam of “Foxey Lady” with McCartney soloing fiercely.

Macca shared an incredible story from the first Sunday in June 1967, when the Jimi Hendrix Experience performed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety at an intimate London club the first weekend of its commercial release. Paul was in the audience totally blown away by the fact that Hendrix had learned the album note for note. Rumors implicate Eric Clapton may have tuned Jimi’s guitar on the sidelines during that debut London appearance.

Brandishing a ukulele, McCartney played his unique version of Harrison’s Abbey Road classic “Something” as a lovely tribute to George. “I’ve Got A Feeling”, “A Day In The Life” segueing into “Give Peace A Chance”, and “Day Tripper” were tunes that Paul sang in performance, which John Lennon either wrote or helped compose from the Beatles sensational songbook.

By the end of the concert, the performance pieces morphed into an avalanche of one monster hit after another heading into two rounds of encore appearances with a total of seven major Beatles favorites as Paul switched from piano to bass guitar to acoustic guitar and electric guitar.  Before exiting the stage, Paul took a moment to sign the shoulder of Ivela in the front row, which prompted a retort from Paul, “You are the end of the show”.

Several lost Wings classics were unearthed for the 2010 Up And Coming Tour that have not been featured live since the documented Wings Over America tour in 1976. “Letting Go” and “Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five” were exceedingly welcome additions to Macca’s hit-heavy setlist. Paul even dusted off a few choice Beatles gems for inclusion on this tour. “I’m Looking Through You”, “Two Of Us”, and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” were each outstanding selections to perform live before an audience.

McCartney has been touring with his present entourage just shy of a decade now. Guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Laboriel, guitarist Brian Ray, and keyboardist Wix Wickens have jammed as Paul’s trusted back-up band at dates scattered all over the globe. This current touring unit has released several live albums and live DVDs archiving ecstatic audience applause for a living legend.

Paul continues to record new material as the most prolific composer of his exceptionally talented generation. The Cute Beatle is advancing in age, but thankfully shows no outward signs of slowing down whatsoever. Certainly his loyal audience is thrilled to enjoy experiencing both his Beatles and Wings classics live along with his heartfelt musical tributes to his late wife Linda and fellow Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison.

Paul McCartney, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA, August 18, 2010 setlist: Venus And Mars > Rock Show > Jet * All My Loving * Letting Go * Got To Get You Into My Life * Highway * Let Me Roll It > Foxy Lady * The Long And Winding Road * Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five * Let ‘Em In * My Love * I’m Looking Through You * Two Of Us * Blackbird * Here Today * Dance Tonight * Mrs. Vandebilt * Eleanor Rigby * Something * Sing The Changes * Band On The Run * Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da * Back In The USSR * I’ve Got A Feeling * Paperback Writer * A Day In The Life > Give Peace A Chance * Let It Be * Live And Let Die * Hey Jude * 1st Encore: Day Tripper * Lady Madonna * Get Back * 2nd Encore: Yesterday * Helter Skelter * Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Reprise > The End



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Fitz and The Tantrums

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 by Ryan Nisley

For some bands, it takes a lifetime to build this success, but few performers deliver an unrestrained blast of soul-clapping, get-down-on-the-floor, moneymaker shakers like Fitz and the Tantrums. Fitz and the Tantrums have resurrected a sound that’s been dormant for decades: the blues of a 1970’s love affair. It all started with a neglected vintage organ, and since then they’ve been keepin’ it real like it’s 1969. The organ became a driving force for the front man, Fitz, and helped him to find his voice. When his ex-girlfriend called him about the old organ, he knew exactly what to write about. It inspired him to compose the breakup song, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” which is also the title of the album.

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Lollapalooza 2010

Monday, August 16th, 2010 by Taylor DeBoer

With 240,000 people, 130 bands, on 110 acres of the beautiful Grant Park, Lollapalooza saw its 19th year as a festival as an overwhelming success for the Austin based promoters C3. Perry Ferrell’s traveling festival is a distant afterthought. Instead we’ve become accustomed to the three-day event and are finally getting used to it as a mainstay Chicago event every August.

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Arcade Fire: “The Suburbs”

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by Taylor DeBoer

Arcade Fire WLOYIf Funeral was the personal homage to life, love, and loss and Neon Bible was a straight shot at the gut of political immoral corruption, than Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is merely a simple acknowledgment of the two concepts along with the reluctant but powerful realization that “we can’t run from our upbringing” especially when two story brick houses and shopping malls stand in our way. And as Win Butler and company convey on their third album, each new generation is engulfed in a more brutal “suburban war.” With so much indie cred on the line, Arcade Fire delivers once again with their longest most expansive album yet. (more…)



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Interpol & Twin Tigers Concert

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 by Ryan Nisley

I was first introduced to Interpol in 2004 when I heard their album, Antics. I became fond of the band after listening to the album, but I admit I lost faith in them after Our Love to Admire (2007) received less praise than Antics. However, I think I need to revisit the album, now that I found a new appreciation for Interpol. I had always heard great things about Interpol’s live show, but it was difficult to ignore all the hype and avoid preconceived notions. I expected a great show and that is exactly what I got. Their sound filled the venue, reinforced by a brilliant light show. What impressed me was the balance between the vocals and instrument sound levels. The lyrics were clearly distinguishable over the rest of the band, not to mention that Paul Bank’s voice was perfect.

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