Spotlight on Deko Entertainment
One of our favorite labels here at RockPile is Deko Entertainment who've recently released awesome records by Dianthus, Little Caesar, separate releases from former Blue Oyster Cult stars Joe and Albert Bouchard, pop star Tiffany and more. Let's have a listen!
Dianthus - Realms
This band is named after a kind of flower but don't get any ideas that their music is delicate. Fronted by twins Jessica and Jackie Parry, Dianthus plays melodic metal with Jackie on lead vocals and Jessica providing harmony and background vocals. They sing primarily about personal relationships but with lyrics that aren't of the typical sort, for example on the title cut "Realms," a relationship is questioned with words like, "Can you see me between the lines/Blinded!/Deny it/Only dying in your secret realm." Other cuts are more forthright; on "Don't Change" Jackie sings a chorus of, "Fall for you/The world will fall for you" that the listener will quickly want to sing along with. The ladies employ metal hallmarks like buzz saw guitar and pummeling drums in quantities just enough to satisfy those who want to head bang but mostly they emphasize the beauty of their melodies and voices; there's a brief instrumental called "The Quest for Nessie" that shows their softer side. With the exception of additional synth parts by Charlie Calv on one song the twins play all the instruments here: guitar, bass, drums, synth and piano.
Albert Bouchard - Bombs Over Germany (Minus Zero and Counting)
This is the second of a planned three releases where Bouchard revisits material from Blue Oyster Cult, the band he is no longer with but was a founding member of. Not merely a covers album, Bouchard changes things up inventively on his look back at early BOC songs, many of which he co-wrote, with "OD'd on Life Itself" losing its hard rock edge in favor of an eerie groove that's heightened by violin playing from Greg Holt. For "Quicklime Girl (Mistress of the Salmon Salt)" Albert lets a little bit of psychedelia into the creepy tale of the mysterious figure who oversees a harvest of arms and legs, of toes that crawl and knees that jerk. Bouchard stretches out "Dominance and Submission," infusing it with bluesy riffs and makes "7 Screaming Dizbusters" sound just a tad less evil as he sings about, "Where devil dust becomes the sale and Lucifer the light." Many got their first taste of BOC through the early single "Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll)" and Bouchard includes it here with its catchy chorus intact. Bouchard sings and plays drums, organ, acoustic guitar, harmonica and more under the alias Prince Omega; brother Joe Bouchard guests as do current BOC members Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma.
Joe Bouchard - American Rocker
Unlike his brother Albert, Joe Bouchard, also a founding and former member of Blue Oyster Cult, performs mostly self-penned new music on American Rocker. The effort begins with a vibrant on-the-road anthem with a hook-filled chorus, "My Way or the Highway" and continues with "In the Golden Age," a song about life on the road during the '70s that's obviously inspired by Bouchard's time with BOC. "Off Season Hotel" is an eerie tale of the bleakness of tourist towns and resorts after all the seasonal visitors have departed. The slightly sinister cut is an album highlight and has the feel of a Blue Oyster Cult hit (complete with cowbell!) Bouchard ends the effort with a get-me-back-home driving rocker that nods to the '80s, "Hey There Suzi Dear." Albert Bouchard guests on rhythm guitar, percussion and that all-important cowbell.
John Elefante - The Amazing Grace
Elefante was the lead singer for classic rock band Kansas for four years in the '80s and his love for lush prog rock is on full display here. "City of Grace" opens the album on a relaxed note as he sings about finding a refuge from the messed up state of the world. Portions of "Stronger Now" have guitar and keyboard interplay that remind of Kansas but the song also has a very non Kansas-like George Harrison-esque guitar solo. "Time Machine" is a straight ahead rocker augmented by strings and featuring a great chorus and killer guitar from Dave Cleveland and Elefante; the song would have been a smash hit back in the day when bands like Asia ruled the airwaves. A jazzy vibe powers the sublime "We Will Be Fine," a cut that will sound familiar to fans of Toto. Jimmy Nichols plays piano as lead instrument on the bittersweet "And When I'm Gone," the set's final song before a long reprisal of "City of Grace." A very satisfying set from this journeyman.
Tiffany - Pieces of Me (Deluxe Edition)
Former teen heartthrob Tiffany is now 35-years beyond her 1987 #1 hit, a cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells favorite "I Think We're Alone Now." Her music these days is more in the oeuvre of singers like Melissa Etheridge and Alanis Morissette and she makes a powerful showing with rockers like "Worlds Away" and the Stevie Nicks-recalling "Feels Like a Storm;" "Beautiful" on the other hand nods to her teen days with a Go-Go's-like pop vibe. "Waste of Time" has a grunge feel to it while "King of Lies" is ready to romp on mainstream rock radio; "Hey There" is a quiet reflection on a failed relationship that features just Tiffany's voice accompanied by piano. If you are one who wrote Tiffany off a long time ago you will not be merely surprised by how good this record is, you'll be stunned. This deluxe edition includes three bonus cuts, all of which are unplugged versions of songs that also appear in their original form.
Little Caesar - This Time it's Different
You may remember this Los Angeles-based band from their 1990 hit cover of Don Covay's "Chain of Fools," covered by many and made into a smash by Aretha Franklin. While the band is still active today, This Time it's Different was originally released in 1998. It features a set of straight ahead rock 'n' roll in the vein of Aerosmith ("Ain't Got It"), older ZZ Top (the bluesy "So Damn Tired") and the Rolling Stones ("New Life"), all of which show off front man Ron Young's whiskey-soaked vocal chops. The CD's cover depicts the devil riding a motorcycle and if he were real, Little Caesar provide a rowdy good time here that he'd love. The Lynyrd Skynyrd-recalling and innuendo-filled "Good Lickin'" is a late album highlight and two live cuts are appended to the reissue; "Down and Dirty" and "Ballad of Johnny."
Cold Weather Company - Coalescence
Consisting of Brian Curry (vocals, acoustic guitar, synth), Jeff Petescia (vocals, acoustic and electric guitar) and Steve Shimchick (vocals, piano, synth), Cold Weather Company is an "alternative folk band" that recalls the Dave Matthews Band on opener "Golden Hour" but that employs a quieter sound on cuts like "Haven" where the harmony vocals are honeyed and the gentle acoustic guitar playing understated. Title cut "Coalescence" offers a sparkling melody and a horn line from guest player Frank Rein. Lightly orchestrated, the overall feeling of the song is that of someone experiencing a nature-inspired epiphany, a joy that easily translates to the listener. "Awakening" is a charming set closer emphasizing vocals, and true to the song title includes lyrics like "Don't forget who you are/Just another chip off a star." And while the song itself is flawless, it's also reminds that people don't need to be perfect.