Saturday, December 17, 2011

California Guitar Trio

California Guitar Trio
A Christmas Album

by Glenn Astarita

Not that there is an abundance of progressive rock-tinged acoustic guitar trios among the ranks, but this aggregation stands tall among its peers as the guitarists' inventiveness surges forward with this altogether warmhearted reckoning of Christmas carols and other pleasantries. The guitarists' nimble yet at times forceful approach is wholly evident during their highly rhythmic spin on "Jingle Bells." They perform the classic "Greensleeves" with a sensitive, chamber-like approach while also tackling the Lennon/Ono favorite "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)." However, part of the magic resides within the trio's ability to delve into the inherent frameworks of each song, while also reformulating themes and rhythms into personalized statements. Essentially, the artists have produced a rather poignant Christmas outing, awash with interweaving lines and lilting harmonies, as they complement their superior artisanship and forward-thinking deployments with a cheerfully rendered collection of holiday favorites.

1 Carol of the Bells
2 Oh Christmas Tree
3 Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)
4 Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
5 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
6 "Unto Us a Child Is Born"
7 Jingle Bells
8 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
9 Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
10 Silent Night

Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Gary Hoey

Ho! Ho! Hoey


by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
It's a little strange for a cult figure like Gary Hoey to release a holiday album so early in his career, but Ho Ho Hoey is a surprising Christmas album. Hoey certainly uses the opportunity to showcase his stunning technique, but he also decides to play musically, creating a true rarity -- a virtuosic instrumental rock album that will appeal to a wide audience, not just guitar fetishists.

Ho, Ho Ho Again

Gary Hoey

Ho! Ho! Hoey Vol 2


Ho Ho Hoey became a surprise hit upon its 1995 release, so it made sense that Gary Hoey would follow it in 1997 with Ho Ho Hoey 2. What's surprising is that this second collection -- featuring such staples as "Deck the Halls," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Frosty the Snowman" and "Feliz Navidad" -- is just as engaging as the first, functioning as both a charming holiday album and a technical tour de force.

1 Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
2 You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
3 Frosty the Snowman
4 Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
5 The Christmas Song
6 Winter Wonderland
7 Greensleeves
8 Feliz Navidad
9 Deck the Halls
10 Ho! Ho! Hoey
11 I'll Be Home for Christmas

More Axemas For You!

Merry Axemas Vol 2 More Guitars For Christmas


Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Like its predecessor, Merry Axemas, Vol. 2: More Guitars for Christmas contains an abundence of clever, surprising instrumental interpretations of classic Christmas carols and tunes. Virtuoso guitarist Steve Vai has rounded up an impressive lineup of guitarists -- including Robin Trower, Zakk Wylde, Neal Schon, Al DiMeola, Steve Lukather, Stu Hamm, Steve Stevens and Trevor Rabin -- all of whom contribute distinctive, unpredictable variations of well-known standards. There are some moments that fall flat -- at this stage in the game, Ted Nugent inevitably sounds like a hack -- but overall, Merry Axemas is an enjoyable album that should satisfy most guitar fiends.

1 The Christmas Song Steve Lukather
2 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Neal Schon
3 Do You Hear What I Hear? Steve Stevens
4 Sleigh Ride Stuart Hamm
5 O Come All Ye Faithful Trevor Rabin
6 White Christmas Zakk Wylde
7 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen John Sykes
8 O Little Town of Bethlehem Robin Trower
9 Carol of the Bells De Meola, Al
10 Deck the Halls Ted Nugent

Ain't That A Kick In The Axe

Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas


Review by Robert Taylor

The variety of Holdiay music has improved dramatically over the years and every 'type' of music seems to have jumped on the bandwagon. Not only are there Holiday Rock recordings, but now there are Holiday Guitar Rock recordings. While the music here is a mixed bag, it turns out to be a refreshing change from the contrived offerings that other Rock artists have produced. Kenny Wayne Shepherd kicks things off with a rousing version of "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," while Eric Johnson proves to be the most technically proficient of the players assembled here. There are other strong offerings from Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Brian Setzer. However, the performances turned in by Joe Perry, Richie Sambora and Hotei do not measure up. Despite the uneven moments, this is worth picking for anyone who truly needs to rock around the Christmas tree.

1 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shepherd, Kenny Wayne
2 The First Nowell Eric Johnson
3 Amazing Grace Jeff Beck
4 Jingle Bells Setzer, Brian Orchestra
5 Silent Night/Holy Night Jam Joe Satriani
6 Joy to the World Steve Morse
7 Christmas Time Is Here Steve Vai
8 Blue Christmas Joe Perry
9 The Little Drummer Boy Alex Lifeson
10 Cantique de Noel (O' Holy Night) Richie Sambora
11 Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Hotei

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dust Yourself Off and Git Back Up On That Horse

Our good friend Shock over at Nosotros Somos Los Muertos let us know that due to the mysteries of the internet and Blogger their original site was brought down.
But wait......
The Shocker and his amigos are back with a new place on the internet and our hearts.
Make sure you update your links and readers to keep up with all of the cool happenings there.