Sugar + The Hi-Lows: High Roller

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Sugar + the Hi-Lows High Roller (Ready Set) Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars The retro-fashioned Sugar & the Hi-Lows isn’t Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup’s full time project, but it should be. This, their sophomore full length, follows 2012’s debut and two thematic EPs (Johnny Cash covers and a Christmas set). It widens the duo’s scope […]

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Butch Walker: Afraid of Ghosts

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Butch Walker Afraid of Ghosts (Dangerbird) 4 out of 5 stars Based on his voluminous and eclectic track record as a solo recording artist, band leader of the under-appreciated hard rockers Marvelous 3, songwriter for hire, multi-instrumentalist backing musician and producer for artists as diverse as Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Pink and […]

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Review: Yamaha FC5 Sustain Pedal

Yamaha FC5 Sustain Pedal

Sustain pedals for digital keyboards and other devices are typically just momentary switches. You may need one to act as a sustain pedal, start and stop your drum machine, punch in a part with your recording software or whatever. The sad thing is that most foot switches are cheap and become unreliable very quickly. Plus, […]

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Review: Elixir HD Light Guitar Strings

Elixir HD Light Guitar Strings

As songwriters and performing guitarists, we are all searching for acoustic guitar strings that sound great, play well and last. We generally find something that works for us and stick with it. Over the years I’ve had my favorites, but I’d heard enough guitar manufacturers and respected luthiers recommending Elixir strings with NANOWEB coating that […]

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Review: Fishman Aura Spectrum DI

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Great acoustic guitar sounds have inspired countless popular songwriters. Carefully crafted instruments create those signature guitar sounds we love to hear on recordings and inspire us whether we are on stage or deep into a late night writing or recording session. It’s unfortunate that most performing spaces, sound systems and recording studios don’t flatter the […]

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Review: Akai Professional MPK249

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The Akai MPK249 is a rock solid USB/iOS MIDI Controller Keyboard with 49-note semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, 16 performance pads, eight assignable faders, buttons and encoders. It’s an ideal tool for songwriters and producers who are looking for a keyboard with advanced workflow and built-in music creation features, but don’t overlook it for performance situations. […]

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Review: McPherson Kevin Michael Carbon Travel Guitar

Travel-size guitars are great for songwriters. With a smaller, slim style and a good-fitting padded bag, these go-anywhere instruments allow you to write and practice wherever you find yourself. However, with all their benefits traditional travel guitars tend to have thin tone and typically don’t feel as solid as full-sized guitars. Most players wouldn’t think […]

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Gerard Way: Hesitant Alien

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Gerard Way Hesitant Alien (Warner Bros.) 4 out of 5 Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way has never been afraid to do things his own way, whether that means playing dark, theatrical rock when everyone else is playing poppy, radio-friendly material or  making a Brit-pop  record when the genre has long since disappeared from […]

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Robyn Hitchcock: The Man Upstairs

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Robyn Hitchcock The Man Upstairs (Yep Roc) 3.5 out of 5 stars Robyn Hitchcock is one of those rare artists capable of creating anticipation merely through the mention of an impending project. Over the course of his 20 or so albums – not including his numerous compilations of rarities, outtakes and demos, or, for that […]

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Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze: An Appreciation Of JJ Cale

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Eric Clapton & Friends The Breeze –An Appreciation of JJ Cale (Bushbranch/Surfdog) 2.5 out of 5 stars Eric Clapton wasn’t just the late JJ Cale’s highest profile musical admirer, he was arguably responsible for keeping Cale financially stable and professionally active through his hit covers of Cale’s “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.” Clapton also invited him to participate in his […]

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The Raveonettes: Pe’ahi

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The Raveonettes Pe’ahi (Beat Dies/The Orchard) 3.5 out of 5 stars “Crank the distortion,” isn’t a direction you’d likely hear in most recording studio situations, but along with “make it sound like a record being played with a worn stylus” that seems to be what was expressed when the Raveonettes recorded this, the duo’s eighth album in just over […]

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Kelley Mickwee: You Used To Live Here

Kelley Mickwee

Kelley Mickwee You Used to Live Here (CEN/Red) 3.5 out of 5 stars The name may be unfamiliar to most, but just because this is Kelley Mickwee’s solo debut doesn’t mean she isn’t a veteran performer with thousands of miles and hundreds of shows under her belt. First as half of folk twosome Jed & […]

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