The Choir and Brady Harris Band

The Choir

The Choir “Artifact: The Unreleased Album”

Pop aficionados know The Choir well — the mid-’60s band eventually became the power pop supergroup The Raspberries in the 1970s. The Cleveland mod rockers had a Top 70 hit in the summer of 1967 with “It’s Cold Outside,” which was included on the celebrated 1998 box set Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968.

The band never had a proper album release despite the high powered talent in it, the 1994 album Choir Practice compiled their mid 60’s singles. But this truly “lost” album recorded in 1969, is a fascinating “what if” story. At this point, the band was lead by keyboardist and singer Phil Giallombardo – a founding member of the James Gang, which would later include future Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. It will please Choir and Raspberries fans alike.

The opener “Anyway I Can”  and “Boris Lament” are pure pop gems in the Left Banke mold. “I Can’t Stay In Your Life” shows the beginnings of the power pop sound, the harmonies, Kieth Moon styled drums and hook-filled riffs. The band at this point has more diverse influences, clearly Procol Harum and Cream amongst them on several tracks. The descending chords and harmonies on “Ladybug” make it another standout. Highly Recommended.


Brady Harris Band

Brady Harris Band “NoHo Calling”

Texas-bred, Los Angeles based Brady Harris delivered this follow up to his 2016 album NoHo Confidential.  Brady has laid back, slightly lounge lizard approach to rock here. “Let’s Live” has a bouncing bass line that helps guide the melody and the boozy toast “Raise A Glass” uses a county styled shuffle and subtle pedal steel guitar.

The impressive “Better Late Than Never” is a catchy standout with a Beatlesque approach. And a slowed down cover of The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” is an interesting addition. The Beach Boys-styled backing harmonies on “The Noho Sound” lends some sophistication to this simple acoustic song. I really enjoyed his NSFW song “Old Drunk Motherfuckers” about the worst people you meet in a bar, and his slide guitar ballad “Drain Me” has a nice Lennon-like weariness to it that makes it another standout. Brady’s music is ready-made for late nights over a bottle, so open a cold one and enjoy the cool refreshing taste of NoHo Calling.

Kool Kat Musik

Fastball and Raspberries


Fastball “Step Into Light“

One of the most successful and consistently great power pop bands that emerged with the turn of the century has been Fastball. And the band’s latest does not disappoint. Guitarist Miles Zuniga and bassist Tony Scalzo have been the steady force that keeps things together, each share songwriting duties and both have different styles that complement each other. Scalzo with his hook-filled simplicity and Zuniga with his roots-influenced emotion. And its this variety, with the impressive composition and catchy melodies that make this album a gem.

Starting with the driving “We’re On Our Way,” it brings to mind past radio-ready rockers the band is so well known for. “Best Friend” is another great song, with its optimistic riff that asks, “Wouldn’t you like to be my best friend?” Next, the moody acoustic guitar melody of “Behind The Sun” shows off those crisp harmonies. But my favorite here is the ear-worm “I Will Never Let You Down,” with its earnest twangy lead and sing-along chorus.

It then takes a detour with “Love Comes In Waves,” with its quick-tempo riffs reminded me of the band Shoes, and then we are back to the classic Fastball sound with “Just Another Dream.” Overall not a single wasted note, even when Scalzo lets loose with the indulgent “Secret Agent Love” that feels like it was as much fun to play as it was it listen to. And that’s another key to this album. It’s a damn good listen all the way through with fresh sounds everywhere. Makes my top ten album list of 2017! Super highly recommended.


The Raspberries

Raspberries “Pop Art Live“

“…the house lights went down, we looked at each other and said the words that we never thought we would ever say: ‘We’re at a Raspberries concert.’ Then it began . . . ” —Ken Sharp and Bernie Hogya from the liner notes to Pop Art Live.

On November 26, 2004, the stage at Cleveland’s House of Blues was set for a reunion most thought could never happen—the Raspberries Live In Concert! It had been over 30 years since the original four members of Raspberries last played together, Pop Art Live captures the opening night as the band powers through 28 tracks of hits and a few covers. Mixed by long time Raspberries’ associate Tommy Allen, the band sounds amazing as they recreate the sound that carried the power pop torch during the early 1970’s. This performance led to the successful reunion tour in 2005.

The hits are all here from “Go All The Way,”“I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Tonight,” “Nobody Knows,” plus several Beatles covers and the Who’s “I Can’t Explain.” Another treat is The Choir’s “It’s Cold Outside,” which was a band most of the original Raspberries came from. Another great feature is the lesser known hits here like “I Saw The Light” and “Come Around And See Me.” Founding members Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley, and Jim Bonfanti pull out all the stops to deliver the definitive live experience and triumphant return of these legendary power pop pioneers. My vote for best “live” album of 2017!

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