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Various Artists

IAC Records - Artist Release Sampler - 2018

Review by Gary Hill

Various artists collections are often difficult to pin down in terms of musical style. This one is more difficult than many are. That's because it samples a number of artists connected only by the label on which they are released. That label seems to be a particularly diverse one, making this release similarly diverse. This is definitely a good way to sample a wide range of music. It should be noted that I've reviewed each of the albums listed here (the CD is organized two songs from each album). For the sake of consistency, the song reviews here are modified or copied from those original reviews.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Dirk Hamilton - Live at the Palms
          
Heart of Soul

I dig the mellow guitar sounds that open this track. The number feels a bit like John Mellencamp to me in some ways. It has a classic vibe to it and some great hooks. It grows upward to a more soaring number. The harmonica later lends some real folk music texture to the piece.

Alias I
A mellower cut, this is more thoroughly folk and country based. The guitar soloing later in the track is magic. It explores a lot of territory and really soars.
Eric Westphal - Alice Street Sessions
             
Footsteps

Here we get a cool rocking groove that works quite well. I really dig some of the guitar work on this quite a bit.

Stop and Smell The Roses
A killer horn arrangement brings this jazzy, soulful tune into being. It drops to a mellower, more stripped back sound for the verses, but rises upward for the choruses. The feels like something that you might have heard on R&B stations in the 1970s. It's tastefully retro-styled.
Napa Valley Duo - An American in Paris
            
Hotel

The piano and cello both work together well to create a pretty and rather sad musical texture on this piece. This instrumental is fairly short and a nice addition to the set.

See Me Feel Me/I will Fight And Never Slack
The strings start this, playing the familiar Who passages in a slow and measured way. The second half of this brings an almost Celtic angle to things. It's not until that movement kicks in (and nearly two minutes in) that the piano joins. They work things to a fast paced and playful jam from there. Then, just after the three minute mark, they bring it back to the Who melodies, this time with the piano added to the mix. That movement takes the cut to its end.
Willie Hines - Letters to Maria
             
Let's Not Waste Time

I like the hooks on this. It has a classic texture and works pretty well. The balance between dropped back and more rocking is good. I dig the melodic guitar solo, too.

On Fire
A mainstream rocker, this works pretty well. I like the guitar solo quite a bit. It has an almost Allman Brothers kind of vibe to it.
James Blonde Band - Stockton Rhythm
                
El Dorado

A straight ahead rocker, this has some great hooks, both vocally and instrumentally. It's full of energy and really works particularly well. The tune is one of the highlights of its original disc. The first part of the instrumental section on this makes me think of AC/DC a bit. It has a killer guitar solo. Then they drop it to a mellower movement that almost leans toward the prog end of the spectrum. The cut eventually works back out to the song proper from there. This is just so tasty.

New Wave
A song with a real punk rock edge to it, this has plenty of energy and hooks. It's a particularly effective rocker. .
Andrew Durr - Time Frame
  
Pleasures A Plenty

A powerful and dramatic folk tune, this is so cool. It's evocative and among the best of the original set on which it was released. .

The Way You Look Tonight
A dramatic and powerful tune, this has great piano in the mix. It's packed full of emotion and has an exceptional vocal arrangement.
Nathan Ignacio - A Step Behind
        
Broken Hands

Electric guitar and a real rocking sound bring this into the blues-rock zone. It's a real powerhouse with a lot of cool and style. It's also my favorite on its original album. The harmonica brings something tasty and special to this. In some ways this makes me think of early Led Zeppelin just a bit. It does get a bit of a parental advisory.

She Never Knew
Acoustic guitar elements create the opening of this. A clip from "The Pursuit of Happyness" is heard creating an inspirational moment. The piece gets quite powered up and inspired as it continues. The vocals bring a bit of a country, down-home twang. The tune has a great folk rock kind of vibe. It's a classy number and a solid start to the set.
Napa Valley Duo - A Soft Message to You
             
Chimera

There is a decided jazz bent to this cut. That said, there are still classical edges to the piece. This wouldn't be out of place in a film soundtrack.

Clair de Lune
This piece is very classical. It starts quite sedate, but does get more involved, particularly as the piano solo enters. This is complex, dynamic and very intriguing..
James Blonde Band - International Orange
     
Marie

There is a real punk rock edge and energy to this cut. It would have fit in quite well in the days when Elvis Costello and Tom Petty were first taking over the radio airwaves. It's catchy and has some cool guitar riffs. The ending jam is a cool change, but grinds on a bit too long.

Money
The chorus here is particularly catchy. That helps to elevate the track a bit. The punky guitar riff is another element that allows that to stand tall enough to work as the closing shot.     
 
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