Mobile phones & PDA Browsers Click Here!


Credits, Contact info, & Contributors Bio. Pages home
ArtFRONT Concert Series
The Listening Room
Concert Listings by City

ArtFRONT free music podcasts, Just go ahead and click it!

ArtFRONT's CD Reviews

We ONLY review recordings that are among our favorites. The reviewers highly recommend each of these CD's for purchase as a permanent addition to your music collection and as a means of directly supporting these artists and their work. Although there are many thousands of recordings fitting this criteria we will, for the most part, concentrate on finding work by contemporary musicians that have come into our awareness through the ArtFRONT talent search for the most dynamic new artists who are available for performance in our communities, many of whom are operating solely on their own abilities without help from any record labels. And then there's the occasional "superstar" whom we just can't ignore no matter how famous they already are.


CD Reviews

"Concert Reviews"
  Click this link to send e-mail to:
It's the address to contact if You are interested in submitting CD reviews to us here at ArtFRONT. Please keep the review no longer than the longest one You see here. I'll send You guidelines or post them here eventually.


"The Glowing Bird "
(October, 2008)
CD review

By Robin Merritt
For ArtFRONT Presentations

Here's an orchestral montage of electric rock gems and lazy ballads with rebellious musical hooks and whimsical subject matter that has made for quite a few pleasant morning listens since I’ve been trying to find words to describe Arizona’s new CD “The Glowing Bird.” In some ways it harkens back to the days of operatic rock, reminiscent of the early “Yes” albums but with melody being the main element of virtuosity rather than any particular musical instrument. You’ll hear cellos and heavy electric guitars getting along comfortably side by side. Soaring vocal harmonies on gorgeous anthems such as “Balloon” will be a challenge for stick-in-the mud rockers but the more lilting melodic numbers should highly please fans of indie style orchestration.

In the same league as Band of Horses, and Tyler Ramsey, Arizona is helping the new Asheville sound begin to take shape. This in part is due to My Morning Jacket producer Danny Kadar’s involvement with the recordings. Glowing Bird is the band's most ambitious undertaking and is poised to snag the attention of new listeners and fans of the group from their days as a Brooklyn NY entity, who've been anxiously waiting to see what Arizona will do next. They could possibly usurp some of the attention from earlier-out-of-the-gate Asheville bands who are currently more well known. This inventive, yet melodic group effort should also reel in fans of Beck and the like once they manage to catch wind of them. I don't really expect Arizona to stay completely underground very long.

There’s lots of good variety on this disk with songs such as “You Were Right” making heavy use of modern/retro effects and 21st C. style compositional arrangements. Oddities such as “Ghost” will entertain those looking for more off the wall fare. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which song DJ’s will pick from an album this varied. I’ve heard “Ghost” on the radio already, although I don’t include it on my suggested track list.
This is definitely a CD to play in it's entirety, start to finish. The Glowing Bird could turn out to be one of those rare CD’s that DJ’s will play two or three songs in sequence from every time they cue it up. Try playing “The Glowing Bird” & “Otto the Eel” together for starters...then let them flow on into “Don’t have the Body” for a full spectrum of what this CD can do for listeners weary of raucous rock but needing a jolt to get them excited about the possibility of a concept album or rock opera resurgence.

The fact that I picked seven songs from the disk as suggested tracks for radio play on the radio promo that I wrote for them says volumes. The normal number for a really great album would be 3 or four. FYI these tracks are;
#2. Balloon (not rock)
#3. Swimming Hole (rock)
#4. You were Right (rock)
#6. The Glowing Bird
#7. Otto the Eel
#8. Don’t Have the Body
#9. Easily

Arizona also have 3 previous CD’s that delighted music reviewers in NYC and beyond. My first exposure came after reading about the band in NYC’s “The Deli” magazine which touts NYC’s local music scene. Afterward I became a fan of nearly every song they posted on their myspace page from the CD's titled "Welcome Back Dear Children." and "The SUn and the Room." Therefore when The Glowing Bird came out it seemed to happen really fast and serve to bowl over the largest audience for Arizona the band yet, since they have embarked on a substantial tour of prestigious venues throughout the eastern USA this fall. A very impressive introduction to the band is their bio at Echo Mountain records web site
which should be read in it’s entirety if any of the following rings any bells.


“Arizona was introduced to producer and mentor Danny Kadar (My Morning Jacket, Iggy Pop, The Avett Brothers) who became influential in helping the band record and mix their first full-length album “Welcome Back Dear Children” (2006) After deciding to release the album independently Arizona received praise from radio stations like WXPN in Philadelphia, and found themselves touring extensively with Band of Horses, The Slip and Indigo Girls.”

Cover Art for Arizona The Glowing Bird

Purchase the new CD directly from Echo Mountain Records

For the earlier CD's
go to


Fameseeker and the Mono (2007)


Welcome Back Dear Children (2006)


The Sun and the Room EP (2005)



Mermaid Police
"3 and 1/2 Stars

CD review

By Robin Merritt
For ArtFRONT Presentations

These 9 new songs are so well made that It's mind boggling to understand that the recordings were done by Jason Dooley, the Mermaid Policeman, mostly in his own basement studio.

I've been Listening to both Mermaid Police CD's pretty much non-stop since I downloaded my free copy, which re-kindled my interest in the first Mermaid Police disk as well.

I'm hearing a heavier version of The Beach Boys influence and the righteous use of electronica in a very musical setting, most notably the distinctive minimalist sound of the Moog synthesizers alongside highly skilled guitar playing and vocal work. This is retro style power pop at it's finest, with plenty of heavy rock guitar chords thrown in to balance and add weight to Jason Dooley's soaring, pitch perfect vocals. There's a lot of joy and inspirational motion in the rock songs and the slower more ethereal numbers such as "Ice Walk" are just the right amount of cushy launch padding to propel the next number into your brain and cause some kind of nerdcore dance ruckus amongst the more energetic listeners. The bright clarity of numbers such as "Eagle Style" and "Shark" have enough presence to snap the attention of any listener of college radio and should be getting loads of airplay if the DJ's and programmers in charge of those stations had any clue as to the skill level of what is really happening in the true underground.

Alongside the excellent first 10 song CD titled "Mermaid Police" I'm counting "3 and 1/2 Stars" among the best music I've found over the last year and would not want to go without it. At this time in history I think that this kind of positive influence is some real necessary medicine for our society in general.

"This is the best deal I've come across in months Some serious listening material & tunesmithing from our Moog wielding guitar and songwriting prodigy out of the sunny land of Cleveland, Tennessee where even getting eaten by a shark looks like a positive experience and there is no longer any need for prozac.
Seriously, metalheads will be scrubbing off their tatoos after listening to this "


As of Jan. 24, 2008 the newly pressed fully mastered CD of "3 & 1/2 Stars" is available at Mermaid Police live shows and through their website and Myspace page. If You have a chance to get copies of these disks You will have scored something very rare and very uplifting and You will be glad You did.

"3 and 1/2 Stars" has 9 brand new cuts that You can download as unmastered mp3's free from their myspace blog and even though I have had my downloaded copy from the moment it was announced I plan on buying the mastered CD at a live show the night after I type this review. If You've ever thought it noble to support a deserving new artist by purchasing their work this is a prime opportunity to do a good deed. Until then, download these songs for free and use them in place of prozac.


Cover Art for Mermaid Police 3 and 1/2 stars
Purchase the new CD directly from the band with pay-pal here!

Download songs from
Mermaid Police, "3 & 1/2 Stars" unmastered version FREE for the time being from


The first 10 song
Mermaid Police Disk





The Chattanooga Times-Free Press Music Podcast Link.

and WUTC 88.1 FM's
"Around & About"
local news program at 10:15am E.S.T. weekdays.


The year is winding to a wintry halt
and that means it's time for
a TOP 10 ALBUMS of the Year list.
CD reviews

By Sean Phipps

2007 was a wonderful year for me and for music. A few of my old favorites put out some great records and I added a few new favorites along the way. In making this list, I was a bit perplexed as to how to categorize the albums. Do I judge them on whether I like the entire album or whether a few amazing songs are good enough? I decided to go with the best albums as a whole. I might do a "favorite songs" blog for the hell of it later. Anyway .
Here are my TOP 10 ALBUMS of 2007.

1.Arcade Fire -- Neon Bible : I must've listened to this album 30 times since I stole it from the radio station during our Spring membership campaign. This album is infectious, intelligent and just cool. Thank you Arcade Fire!

2. Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga : Definitely deserving of a top 5 place on the list. Spoon's latest release is picture perfect ear candy like those little strawberry candies with the soft, strawberry center. This album gets better the more you suck on it.

3.The everybodyfields -- Nothing is Okay : .everything is just fine with this album. Sure, I've known them for years, watched them grow from nothing to something so what? It's my list. And I can promise you; I enjoyed the hell out of this album. "Lonely anywhere" is possibly one of the saddest songs I've ever heard. Good Stuff.

4. Of Montreal -- Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer?: Electro pop magic. I suppose I really into upbeat dance music this year because many of my favorite albums are really groovy. Funny, I haven't danced in forever. It's more like an aimless meander in time to the music though.

5.Richard Thompson -- Sweet Warrior: I'm not going to convince a lot of people on this one, but I'm telling ya this is good stuff. Everyone knows I love RT's music to an almost obsessive level. This is Richard's best in a long time. Although it's not my 1 choice, the album really shows off his skills as a guitarist and songwriter. Thanks, Richard.

6. The Swell Season -- "ONCE" OMPS: I was blown away by the movie and much of that had to do with the soundtrack. Sure, it's sappy. But sometimes we need that. This might not have been as high on my list if it weren't for the concert my girlfriend and I attended. The music is much more elevated in a live setting, or, in the movie. Regardless, highly recommended.

7.Band of Horses -- Cease to Begin : see, beards are cool. This album is near perfect in every way. His voice, my god, his voice. This is definitely, my most rocking album on the list. And as you well know, I'm not a rocker. This may have ranked higher had I been able to get tickets to their show(s) in Atlanta. Oh well, I won't hold it against them too much.

8.The Avett Brothers -- Introducing Emotionalism : From the first track "Die Die Die" this album is pure Alt. Country goodness. I challenge you to be able to get that melody out of your head. The rest of the album is just the Avetts doing what they do best being fucking awesome. This is further down the list for that awful song "a letter to love from hate" or something. A bad spot on an otherwise flawless apple.

9. Peter Case -- Let Us Praise Now Sleepy John: My favorite folk album of the year. Peter goes back to his roots as a street performer with stripped down, solo-acoustic tunes. Highlights are "million dollar bail" & "Underneath the stars." He also features Richard Thompson on "every 24 hours," which is, of course, a major factor. Great album.

10.Richard Hawley -- Lady's Bridge : This is a sleeper among the bunch. I can't get enough of these songs. The title track and "Roll River Roll" along with "Tonight, the Streets are Ours" are the highlights. The rest of the album is just a breezy throwback to the 60's. Unique and very interesting.

Well, I'm sure many of you will disagree with my Top 10. Everything is up for debate. What were your favorite albums from 2007? What did you enjoy that I missed?

Stay tuned for an extensive "honorable mentions" blog. I could've easily done a Top 25 Albums of the year, but for the sake of brevity, 10 it is.














Cover art for the everybodyfields, nothing is okay. your favorite record outlet
and Ramseur Records


Little Country Giants
“Sing Pretty For The People”
CD review

By Robin Merritt
For ArtFRONT Presentations

These new songs by the duo of Russell & Cameron Federal Cook slow down a bit and ring even sweeter than their excellent earlier release titled “Breaking Hearts and Living Free.” The first track, “Yellow Moon” features backing vocals by Jill Andrews of the everybodyfields. One new song, “Telegram” features Julie Evans, who is normally in the background singing harmonies. She has the lead vocals on this outstanding number, which hopefully will signal more of Julie’s vocals coming to the forefront in future performances.

“Sing Pretty for the People” also contains a handful of tunes that fans of The Little Country Giants live performances have already been hearing. Russell just balances out the sweet female dominance of his wife-mate Cameron on this CD with his often remorseful but always soulful vocals on songs like “Fields Are Burning.” And one of my personal favorites that I’ve heard them play live several times, “Can’t Stand The Heartache.” Which anyone who has sat through their concerts lately will recognize from the complex melodies and astute lyrics…
      You left the jukebox playing
      “Everything is Beautiful”
      but honey I don’t think that’s true
       I got an ugly old heartache
      from losing You.

Even with subjects of heartache & occasional straight blade vengeance, the Giants still manage a good humored delivery which often results in regulation southern style whoops of delight during their performances.

One truly great thing about this band is the intelligence and yes even education that it now takes to bring forth this highly stylistic brand of the new, but old… Americana sound. Some dazzling language spills out between the harmonies, which can only come from a genuine rural southern background. Unheard in today’s modern commercial country are phrasings that only a southern lit major will ever hear outside of this traditional style. How often have You heard a jealous drunk in a (Nashville) country song exclaim that his reason for vengeance is because his rival “cast a jaundiced eye” toward the girl of his dreams…? Fans of poet Galway Kinnell can hear an extreme variance of his poem “The Bear” In Russell’s “Loathsome Jody Grinder.” And in “Telegram”
      Every melody You sing to me
       Is like a sweet truncated symphony
      You found my heart small as a sparrow
      You gave me something I could really care for
      Melancholy bee, sting me sweet and slow……
       The only thing that’s real I know
       Is the smell of your pomade on my pillow..

These songs are not tearjerkers because of some schmaltzy sentimentalism but for the heart twisting beauty of the voices that sing them. Anyone out there who is a fan of music of any genera who is looking for the muse and for the artists who have found their own, The Little Country Giants have absolutely nailed the aesthetic quality that makes their music vibrant and effective. Pick up this CD at one of The Little Country Giants live performances whenever You can.

"Sing Pretty For The People"
Fall 2006. Get this CD now from


Breaking Hearts
and Living Free



128 1/2 N.Church St. Murfreesboro, Tennessee "On The Square"


The Shins
“Wincing The Night Away ”
CD review

By The Staff @
Grand Palace Records

Though The Shins took a little while to deliver a new album, "Wincing the Night Away" shows that time was well spent. Neither a retread nor a radical departure - nor, thankfully, a conscious attempt at making "life-changing" music -- the album is a mix of quintessentially Shins songs and tracks that take their sound in subtly different directions.

"Wincing's" clean, borderline slick production is the main concession to the band's post-Garden State fame, but this just makes joyfully sad songs like "Australia" and "Turn on Me" sound like nods to jangly '80s indie instead of jangly '60s guitar pop. "Phantom Limb," Wincing the Night Away's single, is the closest the album comes to the Shins-by-numbers that some fans feared this release would be in the wake of their mainstream success, though the strange, soaring chord change that leads into the chorus keeps things from being too predictable. Actually, many of the album's best moments show how the Shins' music has progressed: "Sleeping Lessons" begins and defines the album, moving from shimmery opening keyboards to strummy acoustic guitars to a rousing, electrified finish. "Black Wave" is another standout, a stark ballad with chilly layers of electronic textures surrounding James Mercer's plaintive vocals and "Split Needles" continues this dark, dreamy, synth-heavy feel. The band ventures even farther from familiar territory with "Sea Legs'" slinky beat and funky bass-line, and with "Red Rabbits'" keyboards, which sound like a cross between dripping water and steel drums.

These experiments never feel contrived, and never get in the way of the vulnerable heart of the Shins' music which beats loudest on the hopeful closing song, "A Comet Appears." Wincing the Night Away is the sound of the Shins acknowledging where they've been and moving on to new territory. While it probably won't change your life, it probably will make it more enjoyable -- and, most likely, that's all the Shins wanted to do in the first place.
~Grand palace Records

Grand Palace Records is located on the town square in Murfreesboro, TN the Home of MTSU and it's famed recording industry curriculum. There are many other reviews available through their web sites. ~R.

"Wincing The Night Away"
Jan. 2007. Get this CD now from Grand Palace Records
Grand Palace Records

I also highly recommend getting a copy of The Shins
"Chutes Too Narrow"
at your favorite record outlet. ~R.


Copyrights © 2006, 2007 ArtFRONT Publishing, All rights reserved