The Alan Wauters Alliance "This Is My Life"

Alan has a long musical career that spans several decades, as a session man with The Left Banke, The Standells and The Birth of Spring. This CD is a collection of his own tunes created over the years. “This is my Life” and “Living on the Edge” sounds like a long lost pop singles from those classic early power pop bands 20/20 or The Flaming Groovies. In fact there is some great jangly guitar and folk-rock that you thought they just don’t make like this anymore. “Great Accuser” is an amazing slice of “retro” rock and roll, if you close your eyes you can image a combination of Eddie Money, Boston and Simon & Garfunkel. Speaking of S&G, the pristine version of “Sounds of Silence” is just amazing. Because these songs were recorded at different times with different session men it feels like a collection of singles, instead of a cohesive album. Most of the time it does a great job “Friend of Mine” is a priceless mix of Bob Dylan, The Kinks and Pink Floyd all rolled into one. The album ends with “Resolution” – and it is the strongest track in my opinion, with great guitar and harmonies, almost like what The post-Michael Brown Left Banke may have sounded if they had not broken up. This song also features Steve Coronel (ex-Wicked Lester, with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS). Ahh the sweet smell of nostalgia…Visit the Cherry Bomb site to hear this album streaming.

Cherry Bomb Records | My Space | Kool Kat Records | Not Lame

Jahir & The Experiment "s/t"

Rap and Power Pop are seemingly polar opposites. Some groups like Sugar Ray dip their toe in the water by adding urban elements to pop. To really combine them is a challenge. Producers Brian Halverson and Tony Lazzara have accepted this challenge. Like most experiments, Jahir and the Experiment sometimes works really well and you’re suprised. The bright “New York Original” is a nice mix of pop and rap. Jahir has a nice blend of hardcore and hip hop style, alot like Coolio and does the rap over a blend of instrumental pop. “Brooklyn” is an excellent slow jam, and would be at home as a last dance song at the senior prom. “All We Are” is another good mix of pop and rap and my favorite on this album. But sometimes this doesn’t always work. On “3 seconds” and “Little Mac” the music and rap are fighting for your attention and don’t blend as well. “Hustler” has almost no pop at all and is a cliched unoriginal. But when it works best, Jahir is front and center, like on “Be a Man,” he actually sings AND raps and does a great job, even if the theme is a bit sappy. Also, “Rock Star” and “One of A Kind” are the best pairing of Rap and Rock since Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” with Run DMC. If you want something different, then this disc is for you. Listen to samples on the Cherry Bomb Records site.

Cherry Bomb Records | itunes | CD Baby | Not Lame

Johnny Monaco "Overrated"

Enuff Z’nuff vocalist/guitarist Johnny Monaco’s new solo album has emerged. “Overrated” should really be titled “overlooked” because Johnny obviously is an unsung rock hero that continues the Enuff Z’nuff tradition of buzzing guitar riffs and bouncy melody that Joey Ramone would be proud of. The Cheap Trick vibe is there too, especially on “I’ll take you as you are,” and I dare you not to repeat “drink at the bar” from the chorus! Really strong guitar work just permeates every track here, almost to the point where the vocals get drowned a bit. “The Model of a Woman” is the best track in my opinion, it’s got a head bangin’ groove that doesn’t quit. For Enuff Z’nuff fans this is an essential “must-have” CD for your collection. There is still enough good music here even for non-fans. The album tones down with “Fatal Problem,” and here is where Johnny’s mid-tempo chops are given center stage. The album could have used a few more of these tracks to balance it. On the other hand, the hard-rockin’ tracks are so good you may not notice. The only misstep here is the last track “I can only believe” which is a good song looking for a chorus that never shows up. Listen to some tracks on myspace and get this album directly from Johnny at his website.

MySpace | Johnny Monaco Homepage

Listen to “Tall, Thin and Pretty”

Von Robinson & His Own Universe "Jostle It!#¢"

Von Robinson is best described as musical force of nature with a mission, and this album is his first salvo. “Satellites and Totem Poles” is not just a great melodic slice of genius, but a scathing political commentary as well. “XXXtraordinary Rendition” sounds amazingly like classic Zumpano. The multi-choral harmonies of “Briana” as just as infectious and will stick in your head for days. “Time to think” is a great introspective mellow pop song that would sound at home on a Honeydogs album. Von Robinson surrounds himself with a highly talented cast of musicians, dubbed “His Own Universe” and offers his own socio-political spin in the lyrics of these great pop tunes. Just think, this his his first EP – I am just drooling in anticipation of a full length album. He is a really accessible artist and I hope you buy his album and encourage him to make more great music! A special thanks to fellow blogger, Powerpopulist for finding him first.

MySpace | Itunes | CD Baby | Digstation